Monthly Archives: October 2014

Shadow Harvest is live!


Shadow Harvest is now live for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, and Google Play! It’s a blend of science fiction and Western themes, with a somewhat OK Corral-ish climactic moment. And corporate hijinks.

Here’s the blurb:

Diana Landreth encounters a witch’s brew of personal, professional, and political problems when she returns home for a quick visit. Her dying father’s ranch has been poisoned by an unknown radiological and/or biological agent. The Third Force’s Relocation Affairs office has given him a low buyout bid insufficient to support Diana’s stepmother and young half-sister after her father’s death. Her husband Will continues to struggle with PTSD in the aftermath of his imprisonment in the Petroleum Autonomous Zone. Her mother, Sarah Stephens, and Will’s father, Parker Landreth, engage in a shadow war where Will and Diana may be no more than proxies for higher stakes in a battle for corporate dominance. Can Diana discover the truth about what’s been done to her father’s ranch? Can she and Will enhance their own bioremediation company’s reputation by rehabilitating the ranch while supporting her stepmother and sister? And can they finally overcome the shadows of the past to earn their freedom from their families’ desires?

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Well, that was a birthday

I am now the same age as the last two digits of my birth year. Auspicious or what? I’m taking it to be a promising new development and plan to make the most of it. The day started out pretty well with my first email being the notice that Shadow Harvest is now live on Kindle. Let the promotional games begin….

I went onward to showers of birthday messages on Facebook. I have to love that part of Facebook because the birthday messages started the day before and they’re still trickling in, as people check their Facebook accounts. There are some things that social media does right and that’s one of them. Once again, thanks to everyone who shared. I couldn’t answer all the messages but I loved every one of them. Thanks, folks.

Mocha time was pretty anti-climactic, nothing big or dramatic there.

Then I joined a friend for a drink, plus a visit to a comic book store. We shared a few laughs and thoughts, then I came home. Had a lovely takeout dinner provided by the husband and just plain partied out (as much as one does as a member of Club 57).

So I’m a little slow and fuzzy this morning, but that’s okay since I am just plain waiting around for a serviceperson. Have some work to do, primarily promotional for Shadow Harvest, plus finishing off Alien Savvy, then plotting and planning for two short stories and a novel.


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And….it’s a book.


I liked this cover better than the one I previewed a few weeks ago. The e-versions just need a couple of polishing runs on them, tweaks here and there, but they’re pretty much complied and ready to post, possibly as soon as Thursday or early next week. I also plan to put out Winter Shadows in hard copy at the same time that I issue Shadow Harvest in hard copy. That….could take longer. Or I could end up releasing Winter Shadows first. We shall see. I need to learn how to design hard copy covers instead of handing them off.

And what’s this one about? Here’s an early version of the pitch.

When Diana Landreth returns for a quick visit home from a long-term bioremediation project in the Amazon, she encounters a witch’s brew of personal, professional, and political problems. Her dying father’s ranch has been poisoned by an unknown radiological and/or biological agent . The Third Force’s Relocation Affairs office has made him a low buyout offer that will not support her stepmother and young half-sister. Her husband Will still struggles with PTSD from his imprisonment in the Petroleum Autonomous Zone. Her mother, Sarah Stephens, and Will’s father, Parker Landreth, engage in a shadow war where Will and Diana may be no more than proxies in larger battles for corporate dominance. Can Diana find the truth about what’s been done not just to her father’s ranch but to their neighbors? Can she and Will use rehabilitating the ranch to establish their own bioremediation company’s reputation while protecting her stepmother and half-sister? And can they finally overcome the shadows of the past to become free from their family histories?

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The joys of soaking hooves

So here is the promised post on the process of treating Mocha’s feet, complete with pix.

To start with, I have a set of soaking bags prepared. It’s possible to buy heavy-duty soaking bags, but they cost around $2.50-$3 a bag. That’s a lot of bags for what I’m doing now. I’ve been able to cobble together a substitute using gallon freezer bags and duct tape.


Like this.

Then the first piece of duct tape wraps around the bottom.


You want half on one side, half on another, to protect that bottom seam.

After that, you add overlapping layers, about three of them. You need to have some loose space at the top to tie it around the horse’s fetlock to trap the gas that is created and fumigate the hoof.


Next, you mix the White Lightning with vinegar, 2 oz of WL, 2 oz of vinegar.


Don’t breathe it. Insert horse hoof into bag, making sure that the heel clears the duct tape with plenty of space. Vetwrap makes a nice tie.


Soak for 40 minutes. You can see vapor from the contained gas in this picture if you embiggen.

After 40 minutes of bored horse standing around, wrap foot using diaper/Vetwrap/duct tape combo. Should keep working for a bit longer. Repeat 2 x 3 days a week.


And that, in a nutshell, is part of what is occupying my days of late.

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New things on the writing front

Right now I find myself playing with some of the writing things I am doing. Between editorial work and my own stuff in different stages of production (both self and small indie press), I’m juggling about five different projects and figuring out how to advance work on some others.

Additionally, Mocha’s white line disease flared again, in the old site, and I’m having to check on it daily, plus get her out of her stall for a little bit to do some light work. We are at the stage of doing White Lightning soaks (at 45 minutes) three times a week on the affected foot and last weekend I did maintenance soaks on the other three hooves. I was doing iodine and Epsom salts soaks every other day, but I’ve decided that maybe that’s a bit of overkill. So I’m just doing an iodine flush on the days I’m not doing White Lightning. Which is a chlorine compound (oxine) that, when mixed with vinegar, creates a gas that fumigates the hoof and kills the dang fungus that causes white line. This fungus is the same dang fungus that humans get in fingernails, and oxine/White Lightning works on it. It’s just a challenge to find ways to get the White Lightning to where the fungus is in a horse hoof, especially since the horse is walking on it.

Ergo, the gassy soak. Mix White Lightning and vinegar, and pour it into a bag that can contain the gas for an extended period of time. Regular hoof boots don’t retain enough gas by volume to be effective. So it has to be a bag, and the bags for sale are not cheap. But finding a bag that is a.) cheap and b.) durable requires some thought. I’ve found that gallon generic freezer bags reinforced with duct tape works nicely. Yes, I was raised redneck. Anyway. Tie the bag with a strand of whatever you have handy to tie with, and proceed to bribe entertain the horse for 45 minutes of hanging out in the crossties.

Yeah. Time consuming. So very glad I’m not teaching right now. As it were, once this hit, I realized I had to focus a bit more on the writing organization if I was going to keep the writing AND the book production together.

It’s not perfect, but I think I’m starting to develop a system. Which is good, because:

Shadow Harvest needs pictures, perhaps a cover revision (must do research first), then compile and check, plus PR copy. I still plan to release it at the end of October.

Alien Savvy is chugging along for release in November. This is a 5500 word short story that I’m blowing up into a novelette. The way it’s going (I added some scenes), I think it could easily crack 15,000 to 20,000 words. It’s an interesting little Cuban Missile Crisis-era Western story with aliens and UFO conspiracies, and features a nice little buckskin cutting horse mare. I have no freaking idea what the market will be for this story, but I’m having fun with it.

I plan to release an omnibus edition of Winter Shadows and Shadow Harvest in December.

Netwalk’s Children. Dear God, what can I say about Netwalk’s Children? This is the toughest book of the series, in part because I’m trying to be so mindful about it and I’ve also written a lot of words just playing with this world. I have also decided that this is going to be the book that I compose entirely in Scrivener, including the notes. I’ve gotta have a system with this series. It’s getting too big and too complex. That said, I’m finding it to be a help. Now I just have to get to the point where I’m ready to write.

Seeking Shelter at the End of the World (eTreasures Publishing). I should be getting galleys next week for a projected October 27th release. I also need to start promotional work, but the release date needs to be firmed up.

Plus there are editing jobs and beta reads to keep up with. How on earth did I ever do this when I was working? And there are move-related things which will become more imperative as time passes, and, and, and….

I am developing systems. I am trying things out. I’m reading books about writing and being mindful and conscious of what I am doing. I’m also thinking about where I want to go with this career, which comes back to–what do I want to write?

Growth is happening. I need to find my place to thrive. Perhaps that is coming…soon.

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A short story review here

So I got an interesting review on my Trust and Treachery story, “Live Free or Die.” The reviewer considered the story to stick too close to a couple of traditional tropes, but…she did comment that elements in the story reminded her of Ann Leckie’s writing in Ancillary Justice. Kind of a back-handed compliment…but you know what? I’ll take it, with a note to myself that yeah, I missed the theme I was really trying to hit with that story. Not bad, though. Any review where you even tangentally (no, I did NOT mean that as a pun ;->) earn a comparison to a Hugo winner is nice.–other-reviewsmenu-263/anthologies-reviewsmenu-107/2520-trust-and-treachery-tales-of-power-and-intrigue-ed-by-day-al-mohamed-a-meriah-crawford

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Yikes. Life.

I didn’t really intend to not do much writing in the past week and a half. Last week was supposed to be when I did a lot of final touches on Shadow Harvest. But then, well, life. In short, hubby and I got hit with a nasty gut bug which is only now letting go of us. We got sick at the same time and we recovered at the same time. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Mocha’s white line disease has returned, in the same area. The farrier pointed out an area to watch and treat on Thursday–basically, the very tip of the resection that had been difficult to clean. I doctored it before I put her away. Because of being sick, I didn’t make it back out to the barn until Monday. At that time, the watch area didn’t seem too bad. I cleaned and doctored it, no problem.

Then, Wednesday. Oy. The fungus/whatever decided to take off. I scraped white crumbly stuff out of her heel area and in that toe. She was sore (it wasn’t later until I put two and two together and realized she was ouchy because we were outside). I had a few drama moments of “omg, my horse is going to DIE what am I doing?”  involving crying on her neck, worrying at the trainer (who has his own worries about it; her dam had to be put down for similar problems and he loved that mare) and so on. Meanwhile I was doing the one thing I had stuff on hand at the barn to do. I soaked her foot in a slurry of Epsom salts and iodine for fifteen minutes, then slapped a disposable diaper over it, covered that with Vetwrap, and finished with duct tape. Then I went home, regrouped, did my research, and finally caught up with the farrier.

We have a plan of action. Right now she gets a daily dose of either White Lightning soaks or a soak in Epsom salts and iodine, at least for the next few days. It has to be kept clean. Back to the diapers, Vetwrap, and duct tape. I’m to check back with him next week if she needs to be resected again because that means hauling her to Salem…

My additional pieces include turning her out or light work at the walk with the wrapper off to let the foot dry. I have to clean it out and check to see if it’s progressing, anyway, and letting her out without the wrap affecting her balance is good for her mentally. I’ve gone through something like this with my other big mare, Sparkle. Mocha is generally more settled than Sparkle was, but I’m starting to see the same light of rebellion and annoyance on her part about all these restraints. Normal, and I’m glad to see it, but…it has to be managed. She has to feel good and have a good attitude, so if that means I’ve gotta clean out her feet, well so be it.

Today, I took her out of her stall, cut off the wrapping, then turned her into the sand pen while I set up for the Big Soak. I’ve got all the bottles of stuff in a tall five-gallon bucket. The diapers. The Vetwrap. The duct tape. The wire brushes. The Epsom salts. The iodine. Dang, talk about hazardous waste.

When all was ready and Mocha had been able to wander and roll, plus snitch some grass, we started on the Big Soak. White Lightning is made from the same stuff used to fumigate fruit and vegetables. It’s inactive until you mix it with vinegar.  Do this in a heavy plastic bag, insert horse hoof, watch bubbles happen as the hoof hits the liquid. Then you secure the top of the bag around the horse’s fetlock, and settle in for a 40 minute soak.

I think the bubbles must have startled Mocha, because she got pretty dancy (for her) there at first. The gas or else her hoof cracked a seam and the bags started leaking, so I had to put two more bags over it. As the gas settled down, she settled down, and I began the Next Stage. White Lightning also comes in gel form, so I decided that I was going to treat some suspicious spots on her other three hooves.

Of course, that means wrapping those hooves as well.

Mocha was pretty patient when I started in cleaning and doctoring her feet, right up to the point where I shook out the diaper and started fitting it to that hoof. We Had Discussions. However, I prevailed and managed to treat all three hooves. I eventually had a horse with three silver-wrapped hooves, a fourth in a clump of plastic bags, and a rather disgusted look on her face.

At last I freed her from Those Bags and wrapped the fourth hoof. Foot looks pretty good. There wasn’t any new stuff today, after the first iodine soak, and no new stuff worked loose after the Big Soak. Whew. Hopefully it stays this way.

I decided that the most efficient way to deal with the plastic bags was to duct tape their bottoms. I taped about seven of those bags after I’d put Mocha back in her stall and picked up. I was on about the second or third when she nickered plaintively after rustling around the door a little bit, so I opened it about a foot and let her watch the process. She seemed to find it amusing. I just taped the bottom seam, then worked my way up about three layers, leaving the top flexible enough to secure around her fetlock. After years of watching middle school boys duct tape their folders, their shoes, and their wallets, I figured that it might work for soak bags as well. Still cheaper than buying the special-made soak bags at nearly $3 each.

So yeah. Hopefully this will turn the white line disease around. What we don’t want are complications like the main bone in her hoof rotating. White line disease is threatening because it compromises the integrity of the hoof capsule which holds that bone in place. It’s also a sneaky little fungus/bacteria (there are arguments about this detail) that can hide out in the bone and come back. That’s what has happened here. So to get it all, we’ve either got to cut hoof or attempt chemical means. This is the second stage of those attacks. There’s one more treatment after this, and it involves a 90 minute soak with a special boot. Um…hoping to avoid that.

But I’m still not sure where we’re going from here.

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