So the conversation last Friday went something like this:
Me: Sweetie? Can I borrow you for a few hours this weekend?
Arizona: Sure thing. What’s up?
Me: You know that interview I’m doing for my college’s alumni magazine? They want a picture of me with a horse, because of the Mustang Ridge books. So I thought we could pop over to the rescue with your camera.
Arizona: We’re helping paint the rec center first thing Saturday. How about we do it after that?
Me: I’ll need to come home in-between. You know, photos? I’ll have to do chick stuff, like take a shower, find the hair drier ….
Arizona: Put on a bra.
Me: Hey! I’m … (pats self) … darn it. Yeah. That, too.
So … you know what they say about a photographer’s greatest challenge being to work with children or animals? It was like that, except that I was the child-slash-animal and the horses played their parts perfectly. These horses, by the way, have all been saved from auction and are being rehabbed and adopted out by a nonprofit equine rescue, where I volunteer a couple of days a week.
Anyway, the day began, as these things often do, with a miscalculation—namely me arriving, clean and ready for photos, when the horses had been rolling in spring mud and shedding like fiends. Here I am with a shy but lovely mare named Mia, wearing a protective layer of Polar fleece, and trying to keep my body as far away from the flying horsehair as I could manage.
Though, if you’ve ever been around a shedding horse, you know there’s really no safe radius. Take your favorite dog or cat, imagine them at their shedding worst, and then triple it and make them pony size. Bonus if, as in this case, the animal is two or more contrasting colors, so they’re always guaranteed to shed the opposite of what you’re wearing. Kind of like a calico cat or a Bernese Mountain dog.
After I got Mia cleaned off and brought her out for our photo shoot, I managed to leave my Polar fleece on for the first dozen or so shots, which wasn’t exactly stylin’.
Then I moved into the face-making phase of the day’s entertainment. I’m almost afraid to ask what I was doing here.
Or here. Even Mia looks confused.
Eventually, though, we (ahem, I) pulled it together, and we got a good picture.
Then we repeated the process with a little yearling mini who will soon be on her way to her new adoptive home. Because, seriously, how cute is this?
I liked this one.
Until I started editing. Eeek! Where did those horse teeth (not the pony’s) and all those wrinkles come from?? Next.
It was hard not to just snuzzle her, forgetting that I was supposed to be posing for pictures. Arizona, of course, came through for me with the winner for the magazine—with a high cute factor that is entirely thanks to my costar and a pocket full of Froot Loops as horsey bribes!
And so, that was our Saturday, or at least part of it. We finished it off by playing with the donkeys for a few minutes, with Arizona saying things like, “Are those really her ears?” and “Awwww.” In the end, we got the pictures we needed, along with some amusement at how, out of a hundred or so shots, the horses invariably look fabulous and I look deranged 95% of the time.
How about you? Do you look great in photos, or are you in the same boat as me? Anybody want to share an embarrassing photo story? Misery loves company, yanno.
Oh, and heads up … we’re working on fixing the SPAM filter here in Jaunty Quillsville, but there may be a delay before your comment posts. Please comment, it will appear!
I once read that every writer has a signature theme, a theme that shows up in almost every book.
Your theme, the article said, can probably be expressed in one line, if you dig deep enough.
At first, I thought that couldn’t possibly be true. Not about me! My stories may all be romances, I assured myself, but within that they are diverse, as different from one another as winter from summer, dawn from twilight. I’m special.
Oops…not so fast. As I was writing my Bell River Ranch series, I realized I do have a recurring theme. I even know a single line that expresses it perfectly.
The line is from an old country song about a man who wants to help a broken-hearted woman find happiness, but she won’t forget the past. He compares it to rescuing a drowning person.
“If I’m ever going to save you,” he says, “let go of the stone.”
This is my theme! Maybe it just took my Bell River Ranch series to make me recognize it. The theme is front and center for all the Wright sisters. They were traumatized years ago when their father killed their mother, and they haven’t trusted men – or love – since.
But, when I looked at my other books through that prism, I discovered it everywhere. I guess that’s because, bottom line, I believe all of life is really a variation on that theme.
The humiliations, the insecurities, the failures. The strict father, the smothering mother, the mean girl, the boy who broke our hearts… The mistakes, the regrets, the missed opportunities… The shy years, the wild years, the lost years…
We carry them around like a ball and chain, often letting our past get in the way of moving forward. Even if we’re lucky enough to meet the perfect person to love us back to happiness, they can’t help us if we don’t let go of the stone.
What about you? Either as a reader or as a writer, is there a theme you are drawn to, over and over? Is there a line, from a song or a book or a friend, so full of wisdom you can’t forget it?
I’m giving away a copy of my upcoming SECRETS OF BELL RIVER, a May Superromance, to two random commenters today.
Our spam filter is a bit touchy lately, and we’re working on that. In the meantime, be assured that Jaunty P. Quills will liberate your comments!
Each year at Lent I try to give up something that has become an addiction for me. Something that I don’t have the willpower to give up on my own. When I tell you some of the things I’ve given up you will discover that I’m a weak person.
This year it was candy. Mainly because I’d been using peanut M&M’s as a crutch to finish a book and had consumed more bowls of them than a human should. I put the candy in this tiny bowl so I can feel like I’m not eating that many. But I refill it frequently.
Last year and let’s be honest many years through the course of my life I gave up french fries. I don’t know what it is about a fried potato but I can’t resist it. At home (in the US) I can limit myself to McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A’s yummy waffle fries, but in the UK you get “chips” with everything. It’s a dream come true for my sweatpants because after eating all those “chips” they are my favorite item of clothing. :)
The year before that I gave up all of my beloved Facebook games. And it was hard. Especially Castleville where I had my lovely castle and I was Lady Katherine at least in my head. But those games I found I didn’t go back to. I’m not saying I don’t play games any more–I totally do. But I kept to staying away from the *Villes and I’ve been pretty happy about that.
I’ve always wished I was addicted to carrots. Just think how healthy that would be. :)
Have you ever given anything up–not just for Lent at any time? Or do you have an addiction that you know you need to manage but just can’t?
You all gave so many great suggestions. Thank you! The five winners (chosen at random) are Susan G; eap; Katie Jo; Marcy Shuler; and bn 100. Please email me at nrobardsthompson @ yahoo. com and give me your mailing info. I’ll get your book out ASAP.
When College Girl was in high school, she made some great friends. Wonderful, smart, talented girls I was happy for her to call friends. What was even better was her friends had great moms who became my friends. When the girls graduated and went off to different colleges, the moms made a pact to keep in touch. That can be difficult as we’re all busy career women. Barb is a journalist; Debbie is a financial guru for an international company, and, of course, I’m always in “the cave” writing. Since we love reading, we decided each month we would read a book and then get together for dinner and discuss it. Whoever hosts the dinner gets to choose the next book. It’s been great fun. I’m so happy to maintain and nurture a friendship with these women.
Next time, it’s Barb’s turn to choose. She asked me what I would consider the best contemporary romance novel. It’s a question I should be able to answer. I could name several. In fact, many of the books on my best-loved list are written by my sister Jaunty Quills. But name just one? Wow. That’s difficult.
Still, I was so happy she wanted to read a contemporary romance. As you can imagine, that’s near and dear to my heart. I immediately thought of turning to you for help, dear readers. I told Barb I would pose the question to you and see what you said. Then I would compile a list and let her choose what sounded best to her.
So what say you? What is THE BEST contemporary romance novel? Or if that is too difficult to answer, which contemporary romance novels should be on the best contemporary romance novel list?
I will give away FIVE copies of my May release FALLING FOR FORTUNE, book five in the 2014 Fortunes of Texas series, to five people who make suggestions.
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!