When Winter Comes a Knockin’

I get a hidin’.

Or so it may seem. It’s actually just general malaise from the short, dark days (I think 75% of December has been overcast or raining), cold making it hard to move, and trying to be part of three tabletop RPGs, ride horses, and get ready for the holidays. But I think I’ve done it.

Point one: I’m ready for the holidays. All my presents are purchased, I’m just waiting for one to come in and only two need to be wrapped yet. Now, I’m only buying for eleven people, so it’s not that many.

I also knitted this scarf, since every Christmas my 4-H club goes around Christmas caroling on horseback. There’s a chance it’s going to be cancelled due to weather this year, but I’m ready! And festive. We always don our gay apparel, and generally go overboard, decking the horses in garland, antlers, and red and green until your eyes bleed.

My plan this year was to be more classy (black wool hunt coat, my scarf, and maybe a festive saddle pad with some red ribbons for the horse). The horse I plan on taking has been through this a lot, so I’m not too concerned, although with all the jingle jangle of bells, it gets loud!

But she knows what she’s doing. Of course, I rode her two weeks ago, but haven’t ridden her since. Last week the weather was terrible, and the ring a swamp, so I didn’t bother bringing her from the fields (it’s a ten-minute walk).

This week she had a cough, so wasn’t really fit to be ridden hard, but should be okay for an easy ride out caroling.

Here’s hoping!

A fair chunk of my time has been lighting a fire under my butt to finishing a big knitting project (it’s a baby blanket, but on small needles with a not-thick yarn). It was knit in the round (and around and around), and I want to give it to my friends for their newborn’s first Christmas. It’s taken a little longer than I expected it to (and I expected it to take a while!) but I’m NEARLY there. Just adding the outward black lines, then filling in the center, and then I’ll be done!

And then back to writing 😉

What a Week

Life is kind of funny in that when you have a deadline approaching, you will of course have more things to do. 

For instance. I had a deadline on Thursday for a manuscript and I’d gotten a later start on writing it than I’d planned, so I was cutting the submission close. Weekends are prime writing/revising time (when I can write a couple thousand words instead of a couple hundred).
So what did I have on Saturday? A horse show. Now, the shows take all day generally, plus preparation in the week before. And then it usually exhausts me, so I’m completely useless the next day.
No pressure.
Thankfully, while the day itself was exhausting, I was able to get up on Sunday and work on the story. I got enough done on Sunday that I wasn’t in a panic on Thursday trying to do One Last Edit before submitting it. The story went out the door!
It taught me two important things: I can hit a tight deadline, and I never want to do that again!
But the horse show (which is a fund-raiser for the 4-H club), went really well. The day was hot, my first horse was kind of a brat, but I still got a ribbon in every class and generally had a good time. There was a BIT of stress in the morning, since the horses at the barn didn’t want to come in, it was going to be too hot to leave them outside, and so we got a late start. Which mean we barely had time to warm up before our classes. I was a tad stressed. Just a tad. But I survived.
Sunday, aside from working on the manuscript, involved rewatching the anime Princess Tutu and knitting. I told you I was worthless after a show 😛
I’ve also started a new knitting project yesterday (because two projects at once just isn’t enough). I’ve had this yarn sitting around for a year or so, and I’ve never been sure what to do with it, but I decided to finally try making full mittens (instead of just fingerless mittens/wrist warmers). 
I’m not following a pattern, because I’m sort of just planning on knitting up like normal and then finding a pattern on how to end the mitt part. Should be fine. Right?
Well, if you want to see more of my knitting pictures, I’ll post them on Instagram, I’m trying to actually be active there: AlextheRate. Sorry for the quality. I’m currently using an older iDevice for Reasons. 

When Drama Happens, Pull on Your Boots

Earlier this week there was a bit of kerfuffle in the M/M community (I know, surprise, right?). My original post today was going to be about my frustration with people, in general, who are uninvolved with something, yet feel free to state their opinion/beliefs (generally unasked). I mean, obviously people are allowed to state their opinion about things whenever, but I just find it happening so often on social media, that it feels like it’s only there to stir the waters and make people angry–often about something they don’t have all the facts on, if the person is being vague in their spouting.

Today’s post (ironically) was going to be my opinion on people keeping their opinions to themselves. On how people need to just kinda sit down and shush sometimes. That we don’t have to scream our thoughts from the rooftops every time something comes up.

Then I decided I’d rather not. (Well, not more than I just said.) What’s the point of getting angry. Instead, I give you cat picture.

This is Lily. She’s sort of a barn/house indoor/outdoor cat. She’s a love muffin and every time I have to go to the fields by the house where she reigns, she stops by to say hi and beg rubs. Unlike some cats, who beg rubs and then attack you completely unprovoked when they’ve reached max rub, Lily just walks away.

And I didn’t really realize this when I was originally planning on posting, but Lily is doing something we could all learn from. Absorb the love while it’s there and when you’ve had enough or are no longer enjoying it, Walk away. There’s no need to make a fuss. (Look at me bringing it back around. Don’t expect the same for all of these :P)

My Monday ride was kind of crummy. The weather was gorgeous and cool. Unfortunately, the horse was in a bad mood from the beginning, and while lately he seemed to have settled down and be doing okay, on Monday he’d returned to his insane self. To say that my ride was not stellar is accurate. It may have been related to the level of stress I was feeling. Maybe the horse knew. Maybe I was just already on edge. It wasn’t a good combination, whatever it was.

On Wednesday, however, when summer finally decided to show itself and make it hot, the horses were good. First was Dish, the quarter horse I’ve been exercising for a friend, and we’ve been making some nice advancements in our ride, but today was just great. She had good energy, I was positioned right, and things just clicked.

Part of it, I’m sure, is that she was feeling good and energetic and like she didn’t want to challenge me at every turn. But I also feel like the work we’ve done together has give us this progress. I kept my legs stretched down, I sat up straight, I didn’t lean forward, and I was there to give cues when she needed them.

A good ride is a tenuous thing, because you know that the next ride can always be horrible (see previous horse mentioned). But it also makes you feel like master of the world. Because you managed to get in sync with a half-ton animal, get it to do what you wanted, and both of you ended up happier for it (because they don’t really like when you get pissy with them either). So being able to connect with the animal and advance in your personal goals/skills, is amazing. And because it’s a physical sport, the results of the victory are also physical: sometimes that means you’re energized, sometimes that means you’re exhausted, but you still have a grin on your face. (Sort of like when writing a huge emotional scene.)

After I finished my ride, circumstances were such that I could ride another horse, a sweet, dead quiet mare whose owner rarely comes to the barn and never rides. The only exercise this horse gets is when she’s (sometimes) ridden from the field she stays at to the barn for the day. It’s a 5-10 minute ride.

I wasn’t really planning on giving this horse a hard ride, just plod around while waiting for someone else to get done, so I just threw on a bridle and rode bareback (well, I used a bareback pad because she has bony whithers, but mostly bareback!). I only did walking and jogging (she has loping issues), but it was another good ride. Nothing magical, but it was nice to get this girl moving and working. And I ended up working her for a lot longer than I’d planned.

Of course, that means I dismounted and my legs are like Jello-O and I ended up getting home a lot later than I wanted.

But horses, man. This is what it’s all about.

And the Days March On

The past week (since Sunday) has been very sad, and I’ve mostly been removing myself from social media, because knowing the harsh realities is one thing, but the barrage of information is overwhelming. Constantly thinking about those who have suffered, the ongoing problems in our country, and fearing for yourself and friends and all your brothers and sisters…is overwhelming. My heart is sad and I’m mourning and I feel helpless. But I’ve also worked hard to continue living my life and BEING ME. 
Which, you know, means riding horses. This is me doing a selfie with Khade. (He has some strange Arabian breed name but everyone calls him Khade.) Like most Arabians, his deck is short a few cards. He’s old enough to know better, but OMG DID THAT LEAF JUST MOVE I THINK IT DID – WHY ARE YOU ON THE GROUND?
His training (whatever it was) before we got him didn’t really help this, as far as we can tell. He has a lot of neurosis (when he’s nervous, he HAS to touch his nose to his knee and give it a rub). He’s also physically unbalanced and his back muscles are weak on the right side, so the rider tends to list to the right. 
This summer I’m riding him once a week and another girl is riding him too. She’s a much better/skilled/experienced/confident rider than I am, but between the two of us, he seems to be making a lot of improvement in a lot of different ways!
Wednesday I ride the quarter horse named Dish, and she’s less stressful in being nervous, but she takes a lot more leg/seat than Khade. But she’s also helping me learn things and improve my riding, which is helping when I ride Khade, so it all works out. Those two sure are different, but I’m having a lot of fun switching back and forth. I love a challenge!
And that was the first half of my week. Lots of horses and riding and being connected to the community and nature. It was great.
I’ve also been thinking about switching to a different blogging site, because Blogger just doesn’t feel like it’s really satisfying my needs anymore. There’s a lot I like about Blogger, but there’s so much social media posting that other sites do FOR you (rather than me linking to a billion places) that I’m really tempted. Just a heads-up. I will of course spread the word far and wide 😉
Finally, I’m planning something for my birthday toward the end of August, so keep an eye open for that!

A Much-Deserved Weekend

So after an amazing book release, a whirlwind blog tour, and a long trip to Vegas (which I was totally going to do a write-up of and then…didn’t and now it’s too late;), I had a very nice, relaxing weekend.

First off, I spent Saturday morning writing. It’s a short story that may not amount to anything, but I’m playing around. I’m having fun. It’s been a little while, so yehaw 🙂

Then I got on my little goober of a pony and went on a trail ride. The weather was perfect, the ground was perfect, the company was perfect (a 15-year-old boy, D, was riding his horse with me), and it was just relaxing. D is still recovering from a concussion, and his horse P is a beauty and a sweetheart. Despite the fact my pony is roughly 14 inches shorter, they are a good pair for an easy ride.

The dogs didn’t come with us, but it gives you an idea of how short my pony is.

After that I went home, went shopping, and then relaxed in front of the TV to watch Hotel Transylvania, which had cute moments, but didn’t really blow me away. And I was a little disgruntled about the fact that they raise the point that humans likely still wouldn’t be able to accept monsters, then they had humans TOTALLY accepting monsters. I wish humans would “accept monsters” but because it was a point that was raised earlier and specifically said the opposite, I felt like the movie lied to the audience something fierce. Still, Jonathan, who I sort of hated at first, really grew on me, which I appreciated. And I may have felt a terrible kinship with Dracula.

Sunday started with more writing, then I went to my brother’s house to hang out. His one son broke his foot (involving a pin and a cast), and when you’re not even 5, that’s a huge deal. (It’s a pretty big deal anyway, but the little man isn’t even 5!) It was a blast playing Old Maid, building Marble Run, and then playing “Guess what marble I have in my hand.” (For…hours. I swear. HOURS.* He was having so much fun.) They also glopped a ton of icing on top of cupcakes….because decorating skills are unique among 4-year-olds. Still, the double chocolate fudge cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles were delicious.

Then I headed into town to go to the Welcome to Night Vale: Ghost Stories tour that was stopping by. Visited with friends, grabbed a bite to eat (mei fun, always a winner), then headed to the show. Bought two shirts. BECAUSE NIGHT VALE.

Also, if you’ve been following me long, you realize that I AM A HUGE SCAREDY CAT. So I was a little…tentative going into something called “ghost stories.” But I survived. I love their live shows, which have so much more personality than even their podcast episodes do. Plus the cast can sort of interact with the audience, and there’s lots of body language that gets to be seen. Fantastic.

A long drive home and a late night out means Monday came too soon, but I had a much needed relaxing weekend.

And next weekend is my tattoo! I’m nerv-cited.

*May not have actually been hours.

Breaking news: I’m excited

Spring is here (that’s why it’s snowing, right?), and that means it’s Horse Season for me. Right now my main task is grooming ponies to help them shed out their winter coats (and considering how fuzzy some of the ponies get, this can be intense!). I wish I’d taken pictures of the barn floor after I groomed my old retired pony. I could have built a dog out of the amount of hair left. (And I mean a german shepherd, not a miniature poodle.)

But my favorite pony is ready to go! One of the kids who uses him for her 4-H project has been riding him on and off all winter, and since we both started riding again in March, he’s in good shape and not nearly as fuzzy as the others.

I can’t quite tell if he’s happy to be back to work or not.

This summer I also have the opportunity to exercise a friend’s mare. I’m not wild about mares, or quarter horses, so this will be an adventure, but it will be nice to have a consistent mount (who is sane and not a pony!). The nice thing is that I still won’t have to feel guilty if I don’t get a chance to get out as often as I should, since I’m a secondary rider 🙂

There’s also an 18-hh Warmblood (that’s 6 feet tall at the whithers) that might need ridden, and if the owner works the kinks out, I may ride him too. Of course, at 5’3, I’m going to look like a pimple. I’ll share pictures if that happens.

If you missed it, Second Skin is now available to order/download at Riptide’s website! It’ll be available at all other vendors on Monday 🙂 So if you just can’t wait, you know where to go.

Also, if you want to follow my blog tour, here’s a list of the stops I’ll be making.

Finally:

I’m going to be at RT Booklovers Convention from Tuesday through Sunday this coming week, If you you’re going to be in Vegas and you want to say hi, just drop me a line! I’ll mostly be gofering for Riptide, but I have a fair amount of flexible time too. Let me know, and I hope to see you there.

Massages, peppermint fudge, and 1k

Despite the fact that it’s winter and I should have plenty of time to be getting things done, February has been raucous. Fighting depression, plus my usual busy-ness and my old back injury acting up, has kept me very occupied.

This morning, however, I wrote another 1k for my shifter story, so that felt good. And I got in contact with a potential beta reader (…and then later realized I haven’t put the final touches on the one sex scene, but THAT’S beside the point).

What I love about this story is that because it was born and killed so many times, I actually plotted everything out. And so while sometimes the blahs keep me from writing, when I do sit down to write, I at least know where I’m going. And so far things have been doing okay like that. They don’t always unfold quite the way I planned, but I’m not off-track (yet).

I spent the rest of the day getting a massage (because my old back injury was waking me up in the middle of the night in pain, boo-hiss) and making peppermint fudge.

Because my friends and I have started having themed gatherings. We don’t see each other often (we’re a motley crew and don’t live terrible close for frequent visiting and are all in very different parts of our lives). The first party started as a pumpkin spice party, because someone kept posting delicious pumpkin spice recipes and we ALL wanted the food. So we decided to each make something, get together, and gorge!…I mean hang out!

It was a blast, and so we made plans to do it again, and this time the theme was peppermint (which most people aren’t doing because there aren’t a ton of peppermint recipes and 99.9% are super sweet desserts). But I made peppermint fudge. My first attempt at fudge, and it’s not half bad. But it’s chocolate, so I think I’d have to work super hard to screw it up!

After my massage, I swung by the barn to visit my riding instructor/the horses (and to drop off some fudge). My instructor wasn’t there, so I just hung out with my main man, Hoover.

I love this pony so much. He did nothing but tear at the grass like a starving man and beg for treats…but he’s a horse, so I sort of expect that from him. I also suspect the kid who’s riding him his spoiling him. A little.

I grazed him and groomed him (and didn’t give him a treat, the little bugger…but mostly because I didn’t have any, because I’ll admit I spoil him a little bit myself). It was a gorgeous day (in the fifties!) and it was fantastic to get out of the house and down to the barn. Hopefully the weather keeps being this gorgeous (or at least NICE) and I can start wiggling in some pony time. Um, once the ring unfreezes and dries. Or else my pony is going to need ice skates/galoshes, depending.

Well, it’s time to head to my peppermint party. Hope you enjoy your evening!

Oh! I’m going to be doing a blog tour when Second Skin comes out, so if you have topics you want me to talk about, or questions you want me to answer, feel free to drop them in below.

AND the cover for Second Skin is revealed now. Go drool over it!