Horses! Writing! Writing! Horses!

Bay Quarab gelding with thin blaze and white sock on right hind

That’s actually a pretty good summary of the day; in other words, an excellent day in Joyce world.

On the horse front: yesterday, we moved Marker to the field where Mocha is. There’s a Paint gelding next door, over the fence, who has an intense attachment to Mocha (it doesn’t hurt that she’s the only mare in that area, near as I can tell). That led to much gelding posturing in the latest installment of “As the Pasture Turns.” Squeals, bellows, and of course, The Girl is in heat. But nobody appeared to be hurting today and the three of them seem to have settled. Mocha’s due for a ground driving session this weekend so we’ll see if the two boyz console themselves or if both go into a freakout because The Girl has gone somewhere. Neither of them are all THAT energetic, however, so it won’t last for long.

(if you’re reading this for horse stuff, scroll down. There’s more at the bottom. I’ve bolded the sections to make it easier. But hopefully you’re reading both!)

On the writing front: over the last couple of years of serial drafting, I started a process where I would outline a few chapters ahead in each book I was working on. One–the Martiniere books–was serialized weekly on Substack. The other–all sorts of other stuff–was serialized three times a week on Kindle Vella. I’d work on one project until I hit a wall/had a month’s worth of Vella episodes loaded, then switch to the other. Both books were also different in tone or genre.

I found I kind of liked writing in this process. Generally, I’d get ahead to some degree before I hit a plotting wall. Interestingly, switching to a different book often helped things stir in the stalled project. I’d make notes about the chapters.

Alas, however, I’m not only reaching the end of the already considered projects that I want to put up on Vella, but the Vella bonuses and payouts seem to be diminishing. That also fit into my calculation because with something new like Vella, it either does well for a while until it doesn’t, or else it keeps building momentum and becomes the Next Best Thing. At this point, I needed to stop and consider how I was going to proceed in the future.

I have two trilogies that I’m actively planning to work on. One is a kick-out-the-jams science fantasy trilogy set in the Martiniere Multiverse. One book of that trilogy is already written. The other is the long-avoided Goddess’s Vision trilogy, a continuation of the Goddess’s Honor series because while I resolved one series arc, there’s still a bunch of stuff hanging around. Because I have the one book of The Cost of Power finished, I decided it would be a smart thing to outline the remaining two books, and…I finished that middle book outline today.

Well, perhaps it makes sense to say that it’s more of a synopsis than an outline. One thing I had started doing was writing chapter synopses that I tuck under the research tab in Scrivener. I like the process of having both Scriv and Word open, and draft chapter-by-chapter in Word rather than the entire document. When the chapter’s done, it gets pasted into its own chapter in Scriv. I’m finding that makes things a LOT easier if I need to retcon something while writing. Or if I need to look something up for continuity reasons. I’m really liking this process and am grateful I figured this out.

Then there’s the process of chapter synopses. Instead of deleting changes, I’ve been striking them through. Sometimes I rewrite the whole outline because something has changed. That’s the flexibility of this process. However, I decided that since I’m working in a series, I wanted to have more than the first few chapters outlined. So I sat down after devising some series arcs using my favorite tool, the endless roll of paper, and began to break it out for the second book.

It’s taken longer than I thought to plan out this first book, but the notion is that this way, I can hit the major chapter and character beats, and if something ends up getting pushed into the next book, then so be it (the first book in The Cost of Power, Prodigal’s Return, has had that happen). Fourteen chapters should bring me in at around 90,000 words, maybe a little more.

Anyway, today is one book down, four more to go. I’m glad I planned on just doing planning, production, and editing for August, no drafting or work on anything new other than these blogs. That should give me enough time to get this done. Especially since I also have the new horse to work with.


On the horse front Part Two: Marker’s training progresses. He had a meltdown when husband led Mocha away (we’re concerned that she will feel abandoned and jealous if we don’t transition her appropriately to sharing me with Marker and I wanted a second person on hand to be with her during these early days in a new setting). One thing about this boy is that he needs to move his feet when he gets worried. A LOT. I knew this about him, and had ridden and handled him for several days before making the final decision to buy him. He also tends to be clingy to other horses. Not a big deal; that’s pretty common and I expected there would be some fireworks this first day of working him when his life has suddenly changed. Once he got his bridle and then the saddle on, he settled down.

Then it was taking him down to the area where I want to work with him. Of course, he was tense and worried about the new space. I lunged him a little bit, matching the routine we had established in the round pen and in riding at the ranch. My goal in all this is to get him to relax and chill out before we start riding. It’s a good practice for a horse who is going through a rehab training process, because it helps them get their head into the work. Eventually we’ll stop doing it. Mind you, I don’t believe in the wild careening at high speed either on the lunge line or in the round pen that some people do. What I’m looking for from him right now is calmness and relaxation when we work, and if lunging ends up being the only work we do for the day because it takes so long to get to relaxation, then so be it. He’s not in working condition yet so it’s way too early to ask him for anything too demanding. I’m riding him five days a week because I know we’ll lose days in the fall and winter due to weather, and I want him to get somewhat fit before then. I have to be careful about doing this, though, until his back muscles up like it should.

Husband and Mocha came back as we started to work in the field and I asked him to bring her into the field, for both horses’ sake. It took me a while to get Marker past his meltdown in the field–okay, maybe about fifteen minutes, not a big deal. He kept hanging up on lunging in his good direction, but I just persisted. A few loops on that side, and then I hopped up for a short ride around the field. He settled quite nicely and was relaxed. Of course, Mocha was around and visible.

On Mocha’s part, husband reported that she seemed to be disappointed at just being handwalked down the road. But she’s just reached the point where riding regularly is not a good idea for her comfort. It’s her retirement time. He also reported that she spent a lot of time watching me work Marker. He seemed to pass her standard for acceptable behavior because she reached out to sniff his nose when I dismounted, and didn’t ignore him when we walked back up to the pickup.

(The Mocha girl can get pretty opinionated about horses acting up when being schooled. I’ve observed her pulling mare face–pinned ears and glare–at misbehaving horses.)

Things could have gotten a bit wilder, but what I’m pleased about is that it wasn’t that difficult to reinstall his brain after the meltdowns. That, combined with a productive writing day, makes me feel pretty good.

Sigh. Now I just need to figure out what size of riding jeans I need to replace my Auras that are wearing out. The measurement chart online for Wrangler doesn’t work worth a hoot. Or, as I said to the husband tonight–“I’m too damn old and too damn married to be wearing buckle bunny jeans.” I suspect I’m spending tomorrow morning trying on jeans at the Grain Growers.


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