Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ready for Christmas Caravan for Kids!

Sadly, I'll be in Las Vegas for work next weekend, so I'll miss the annual trek to Denver to join all of the rest of the Colorado Four Wheelers for Christmas Caravan for Kids, which benefits the U. S. Marine Corps' Toys For Tots program.  Jay and I, after we got married, decided that each payday we'd spend ten dollars from each of our paychecks to buy toys for the toy drive.

Ten dollars doesn't seem like a whole lot of money, unless you don't have it.  At one point in time, I didn't have ten dollars a year to donate, much less ten dollars a paycheck.  Life has been a whole lot kinder to me and mine this year, so it's been thrilling to be able to do this.  After only five months of buying toys, Jay and I managed to buy toys for fifty-eight kids this year!  (Fifty-nine including Ashee's donation of the very large SpongeBob ball.)


It astounds me that the small sacrifice of just ten dollars twice a month was able to do this, and it excites me for next year, when we have an entire year to collect toys.  We're playing around with the idea of putting our ten dollars into a separate savings account all year and going on a big toy buying spree.  That would be a lot of fun, too.  We figure that if we do that, we'll have between $450 - $500 to buy toys with.  We haven't decided what we'll do, but no matter what, it will be a blast!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Anti-Gunner Comes Out Of The Woodwork (or Bunk House)

So, another character caught me by surprise today.  I haven't had time to work on my NaNo because, well, I've got my required 50k and the last couple of days at work have been hellacious very busy.  I sat down to pick up where I left off with Shelby shooting VW Bear in the ass (boy I've wanted to do that myself for a long time).  Turns out that one of the wrangler applicants is an anti-gunner and cannot work in a place where there are guns on the property. 

I love that I can talk to Jay about my characters, because when I told him what Carrie (the character) told me, he looked at me and said, "Well, duh, the ranch is in the mountains.  Of course there are guns."

This is the shotgun that Shelby shot VW Bear in the butt with.
Damn I love that shotgun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Won, I Won!!!!

At 10:47 pm, I reached my goal of 50,000 words! 

Is my novel complete?  Not by a long shot. 

Have I built confidence in my ability to write what seems an exorbitant amount of words? Yes. 

When I first joined NaNoWriMo, I was completely overwhelmed by the task, but by breaking it down into words per day, it seemed more doable, only 1, 667 words per day.  What I found was that I had pretty much composed the story in my head, so on my first day of writing, I managed to spill over 9,000 words.  My biggest block came when I realized, I'd only thought ahead a couple of days in the book.  Once I finished writing about those days, I had a really bad block. 

What I found most helpful to increase my word count wasn't padding at all, it was my overly competitive nature.  The timed Word Wars at write-ins pretty much guaranteed me five hundred words in ten minutes.  I found one of my fellow NaNos who was writing at approximately the same pace as I, and pushed myself to keep up with her.  Going into the weekend, she had 14,000 words on me.  After the Night of Writing Dangerously, I had closed the gap to just a few thousand.  I caught up and had her by two hundred words this morning, but she rallied and jumped ahead by a few hundred words.  My competitive nature jumped into overdrive and I cranked out the required number to beat her to 50,000.  I just got my 50k posted just a couple of minutes before she posted hers.  If we'd been in a horse race, it would have been a photo finish. (Thanks, Molly!).

So, I've "won", now what?  Keep writing.  It won't do any good to have a half-finished novel.  Even if nothing ever comes of it, at least I can say I did it.

Here's the winning scene, the one that put me over my 50k.
Jake’s low growl wakes me out of a deep sleep about two o’clock in the morning. I have a hard time shushing him, but once I do, I hear what set him off. There’s something big on the deck snuffling around. Jake’s growling gets louder until it covers the sound of whatever is on the deck. I shush him again, climb out of bed and into my jeans and boots. I had hoped that whatever it was on the deck would lose interest and move on, but the snuffling is getting louder and I can hear things being moved around on the deck.

I’m pretty sure that it’s a bear on the deck, so I get my tactical shotgun from the closet and load it with 12 gauge rubber slugs. I shut Jake in the bedroom and move through the house in toward the kitchen, trying to get a lock on where the bear, or whatever it is, is on the deck. Remembering the BBQ chicken that we had at lunch, I’m pretty sure that he’s checking out the grill and if I go out the kitchen door, I should be in a good position to get him the hell of the porch. Just as I’m moving through the kitchen, Allie joins me with her own shotgun.

“I forgot to burn off the grill,” she whispers at me, “I’m so sorry.”

“No worries, we’ll just train him right off the bat. Stepping up on the deck hurts.” I whisper back and open up the kitchen door to step out on the porch.

I shoulder my shotgun and trigger the tactical light on the forend, lighting up an enormous black furry butt. The bear is sniffing around the grill with his back toward us and as he lifts up one enormous paw to take a swipe at it, I pull the trigger, shooting him square in the ass with a rubber slug. I rack a new round into the chamber as he jumps a mile and turns to face me. I shoot him in the shoulder while he’s turning and Allie nails him in the chest. He’s less than twenty feet from us, so I know that those rubber slugs hurt like hell and I’m hoping that they didn’t break his skin. I’m hoping to just cause a couple of deep bruises and instill in him that getting up on my deck is a very bad idea.

He doesn’t immediately move off of the deck, instead we have a stand-off of sorts; Allie and I with our shotguns shouldered and our fingers on the trigger versus six hundred pounds of post-hibernation black bear. If he wanted to, he could take us, but we are determined to teach him a lesson. It feels like our stand-off lasts hours, when in reality, it only lasts a few seconds, but each passing second is an eternity. Finally, he huffs at us and ambles off the deck, deciding that our chicken drippings aren’t worth the effort. We keep our shotguns shouldered and follow his movement across the yard until we’re sure he’s gone and not coming back.

I didn’t realize that I’d been holding my breath until I let it all out in a rush, relaxing the shotgun from my shoulder. I flick the safety on and turn to Allie, “Good shootin’, Tex.”

“Me? I can’t believe you shot him in the ass. I wish I’d had my camera. That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” She puts her safety on and doubles over laughing. “Only you would think to shoot a six hundred pound bear in the ass.”

“He was going to destroy our grill. It’s a good grill. He deserved a shot in the ass.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009


*unless you're gay.

Why is it that the very government that makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender, race, religion or sexual orientation is allowed to do just that?

I'm talking about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.  One of my fellow bloggers, a young, articulate, gay man serving in the Army, currently deployed in Baghdad, has just had his discharge paperwork processed for being gay.  Nathanael has been blogging about DADT and his rather abrupt dismissal from the Army for a couple of weeks now.  What I don't understand is Why?  Why were the Commanders at Fort Hood afraid to get rid of a Muslim with potential terrorist leanings because he was an American citizen, but the Commanders on the front line don't think twice about singling out our gay men and women, who are also Americans? 

I just don't understand it.  Can someone please explain it to me, because this whole DADT thing makes no sense whatsoever.  Nathanael is fighting his discharge, but he was told that if he went quietly, he could have an honorable discharge.  But if he doesn't go quietly, there's a chance that he'll be dishonorably discharged, which means that he loses his right to vote (and therefore his right to change policy, hmm...) and his right to bear arms (which, as you all know, is a sticking point for the Gun Diva).

We're not talking about someone who was drafted into service; we're talking about someone who volunteered to risk his life to help protect ours.  How is it right to say, "thanks, but no thanks"?

Go check out Nathanael's blog, join his FB fans, write to your Congressman, do whatever you can, because this is flat-out wrong.  No matter how you look at it.

42k In And Finally, Shelby Starts Her Online Search...

So, Mom's been whining about no romance yet in the book.  This isn't romance, but possibly the start of it...

The kids are sitting around the coffee table, working diligently on their homework, pretending not to watch Allie at the computer. I bend over her shoulder, “Alright, I’m here. Show me my virtual matches.”

“Trade me places, so you can see better. I’ve already got you logged in and brought up your hits. All you have to do is sort through them.” She gets up and grabs a chair to drag over so she can watch over my shoulder.

“What about your hits?” I ask, taking the desk chair.

“Oh. They were all losers, but don’t worry, there will be more tomorrow, I’m sure of it.” She’s treating this online dating as just another adventure in her life.

I start scrolling down my list of potential matches, or hits, as Allie calls them. I suppose the ten or so I see aren’t bad considering that my profile hasn’t even been up for twenty-four hours. I start at the top and work my way down. I’m really trying not to be too picky, but the hits who are blatantly looking for nothing more than a bed buddy get denied, along with the ones who can’t spell or punctuate. If that’s the best they can do while trying to impress someone, I can’t imagine how bad they would be when they quit trying to impress. In less than a half an hour, I decide that my hits, too, are losers and turn hopelessly to Allie. “C’mon, Al. Have we really been reduced to this? Are we really so horrible in person that we can’t find our own dates?”

“Hell, no, we’re not ‘so horrible that we can’t find our own dates’. The problem is, we never leave the ranch to meet anyone else. Everyone we come into contact with is business-related. Even the hot guests we get are off-limits. How the heck are we supposed to meet any decent guys this way?” She gestures around us. “Look, I love our life here, being a part of your family and helping raise the kids and run the ranch, but you know, occasionally, I’d really like to get lai…,” she catches herself, remembering that the kids are right behind us at the coffee table, “I mean, I’d really like to have some companionship.”

Luke snorts behind us and I know he caught Allie’s little slip of the tongue. I glare at him in warning to keep his knowledge to himself. He looks away, grinning.

“I know,” I say quietly, “We really appreciate everything you do for us, really. I’m sorry that being here with us is screwing up your life.” I feel guilty about depending on her so much, at the same time, the thought of her finding someone to start a family of her own with scares the hell out of me.

“Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. Just stop.” She puts up a hand, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. And I love it, I really do, it’s just that sometimes…”

“I know. Me, too.” I turn back to the computer, “Show me this dynamite profile that you’ve created for me that’s attracting all of the losers.”

“Not all the losers, I got my share today, too.” She reaches across me and clicks over to my profile.

The picture she has posted for me takes my breath away. I usually hate pictures of myself and was wondering what she’d post. My profile picture was obviously taken this morning during my wild ride from the barn to the trail on Purina. I’m leaned up over Purina’s neck, practically glowing with the thrill of the ride. My long auburn hair is streaming back from under my cowboy hat at the same angle as her straw-colored tail; her mane is flowing back up over my hands, which seem to disappear into it. Allie and her camera with its ultra-fast shutter speed managed to capture Purina with all four hooves off the ground; we look like we’re flying through the air.

“Wow,” I finally breathe, “this picture is amazing.”

“I heard you two coming and got my camera out just in time. I got a lot more, but I think this is the best.”

“Heathi, come look at this picture Allie took. It’s amazing.” I can’t move my eyes from the monitor I’m so mesmerized by the picture, so I just wave to them to join us. Allie clicks on it, enlarging it to fill the whole screen.

“Mom, that’s you! And you look so happy!” Caitleigh squeals.

“Free,” Luke corrects, “You look free.”

“Mom, you’re the prettiest Mom in the whole world,” CJ tells me seriously, choking me up.

“Thank you guys, but Allie took this, isn’t it the most beautiful picture? Look, she even got Purina with all four hooves off the ground. Doesn’t it look like we’re flying?”

Cait climbs up onto Allie’s lap and squeezes her neck in a tight hug, “Thank you for making Mom look so good. Now she’ll be sure to find a boyfriend!”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stacy Westfall - My Big NaNo Boo-Boo

While re-reading my bareback scene, I realized that Shelby had told the wrangler applicants that she didn't expect them to turn into Stacy Westfall, who is known for her amazing bridleless bareback riding skills. 

However, I did manage to forget to have Shelby give them bridles to ride with.  They arrived at the arena with their horses in tow, a few sentences later they swung their reins (apparently they were imaginary since Shelby forgot to give them bridles) over their horses' necks and rode into the arena. Oops.  I did manage to get all of the wranglers into helmets, though (surprise, surprise, Heidi and Julie - and you thought I'd never use my helmet again).

The good news is that when I realized my mistake and fixed it, I'd added a couple hundred words to my word count.  And Shelby's wranglers don't have to ride like Stacy Westfall.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Hit The Wall...

I was doing so well, cranking along with nary a worry.  It looked like the challenge of 50k, one I started, was actually going to be a breeze. Yeah, until now.  I'm 31+k in and stuck.  I know where I want to go.  I can see it, but I'm getting bogged down in the details and can't seem to get there. 


Last night, in an hour, I only had added six hundred words to my count.  Today, I've been sitting at the computer for going on two hours and haven't managed to squeeze one hundred words out of my fingers.  I keep hovering them over the keyboard like it's an Ouija board; I just need to channel my inner writer and I'll be just fine.  Problem is, my inner writer seems to be on a vacation where NaNo is concerned.  Anyone wanna hover their hands over my Ouija board, I mean keyboard, with me?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Birthday and A Day of Surprises

Happy Birthday, Dear Deejo!  I told all of my funny stories about you last year on the blog, and I haven't seen you except for my reception this year, so I guess all you'll get from me is the standard Happy Birthday greeting.  Love you, brudah., while writing, I found out a couple of things I didn't see coming.

  • Shelby's son, Luke (13), finally asks for a horse of his own, since Taco (the kids' horse) is a baby's horse and he's old enough to have one of his own.  Shelby and Allie had already been talking about it, so she was ready to agree until he threw her a curveball and said that he wanted to adopt a BLM mustang from Canyon City's WHIP.
  • Shelby's equine baby, Callie (short for Calypso) is preg checked on advice of the woman whose winter pasture the herd roams.  One of her neighbors claimed to have seen some feral mustangs mingling with the herd.  Turns out those ferals were potent, as all of the mares in the herd are pregnant.
And, Shelby released one of her potential wranglers.  I've included an excerpt of the exchange:
“Heidi, Twila, stop for a second and take a few deep breaths. Turn your back on your horses and relax. They’re moving away from you now because they can sense you’re frustrated and angry and they can’t figure out what you want. They can tell the difference between confidence and anger.”

“But we’re not angry!” Heidi hollers back at me.

“Really? Because the tightness around your eyes and your tense body posture tells me otherwise. Your jaw is practically locked shut. If it looks like anger to me, it definitely looks like anger to the horse. Relax your jaw, take a deep breath and just release the tension.” I smile when I see Heidi do what I say and watch her horse take a tentative step toward her. “Great, do it again and then look behind you.”

She takes another deep breath and exhales. This time I can see her body release the rest of the tension and her horse takes another step toward her, stretching out her neck, almost close enough to touch her back as though asking ‘what’s wrong?’. Heidi looks over her shoulder at Raja, who is standing respectfully behind her, waiting to be caught. Heidi murmurs Raja’s name, loops the lead over her neck and halters her without any further drama. I smile when I see her give Raja an extra pat before leading her to the barn door.

Twila huffs and puffs a little bit before she calms down enough to try my way of catching Shy. As soon as the tension leaves Twila’s body, Shy turns to face her and takes a step in her direction. Resigned to the fact that I do actually know my herd, she tosses the lead rope over Shy’s neck and roughly halters him. Shy can’t figure out what the heck he did wrong and balks when Twila yanks on his lead rope to pull him toward the barn. I can see that she’s seething with anger and am at her side before she can swing the end of the lead rope at Shy, “You’d better think twice about hitting my horse. You’ve got a choice to make right here, Twila. Chill the fuck out or leave. Those are the only two choices you’ve got. What’s it going to be?”

“What do you mean chill the fuck out?” She screams in my face, yanking on Shy’s lead rope, “He wouldn’t let me catch him and now that I have, he won’t follow me to the barn! He needs to learn some goddamn manners!”

I put my hand on Shy’s neck and take the lead rope from her fisted hand, “Twila,” I start quietly, “I had high hopes for you, but your temper and my horses won’t mix. Please go back to the bunk house and pack your stuff. Allie will meet you there.”

“You’re sending me home! I’ve got the most experience here and you’re sending me home?” She screams.

I catch Angie’s eye and hand off Shy’s lead rope to her. Angie quietly leads him away from me and Twila, headed out to the dude rail.

“Yes, I’m sending you home. Please stop making a scene and go quietly,” I tell her calmly.

“You can’t fucking do this to me you bitch! Do you know how much work I put in for you? And this is the thanks I get? You’re sending the most experienced horse person home?” I stand my ground as she takes a step closer, really getting in my face and doing her best to intimidate me with her height. She does have a good few inches on my five foot four, but if I’m not intimidated by a herd of one thousand pound horses, I’m sure the hell not intimidated by her.

“Just because you’ve grown up with horses and riding does not make you a horse person. The people who will be staying are the ones who want to learn, not the ones who think they know it all. This is the last time I’m going to ask you nicely, please go to the bunk house and pack your stuff.” I refuse to get caught up in arguing with her or escalating my temper to meet hers.

She makes up her mind and brushes by me, trying to knock me off of my feet. I step to the side and let her stumble her way out of the pasture before heading to the barn to phone Allie. As I walk toward the barn I hear someone singing, “And another one down, and another one down, another one bites the dust. Hey, we’re gonna get you too, another one bites the dust.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNo-isms: When Your Brain Thinks Faster Than Your Fingers Can Type

Oh, I've got a couple of doozies from the last twenty four hours:
  • Leaving the keys in the transmission, I park the car in first gear and set the emergency brake.
  • I put her rack up on the saddle...
No, it's not a lesbian romance, so quit thinking about Shelby woman-handling another wrangler's rack.  I meant "her saddle up on the rack" just like I meant "leaving the keys in the ignition".  Oy.  It's going to be a long month.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day Six Update

First, let me say, THANK YOU GLENNA!  Our ten rounds at the range were exactly what I needed today and I'm already looking forward to next week when we splurge and shoot two magazines.

NaNo update: I got not one word written yesterday for my NaNo, instead I worked on a post for Tales from the Trail during my lunch hour at work.  However, I did manage over 2,000 words today, which means I "only" have 18,000 words left in the 20k weekend word challenge.  Maybe I did bite off more than I can chew since I don't have 18,000 words total yet.

Shelby and crew managed to stack fourteen bales of hay, after sending the two Buckle Bunnies packing.  Allie spent the morning gossiping with Ed and Sam, the hay guys, about how she and Shelby were going speed dating.  So far, everyone's managed to make it through lunch.
Truly depressing that so much hard work can be pared down to three sentences.  I'm giving into the headache that has been plaguing me all day and calling it quits.  I'll pick it up tomorrow and hopefully it will make a whole lot of difference.

G'night y'all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Exhaustion - I Mean NaNo - Update

Finished the day with just over 15,000 words.  Lost my mind and joined a challenge to write 20,000 words between Friday at 4:00 pm and Monday at 7:00 am.  Probably won't be able to write tomorrow, as it's finals day and I'm way behind on my grading, which I only have 24 hours to turn in.

NaNo summary of the day:
Fourteen ton of hay was delivered.  The Buckle Bunnies copped attitude with Shelby and got sent packing.  Allie (Shelby's best friend and live-in cook/nanny) decided that she and Shelby were going to go speed dating in the very near future.
It's kind of depressing how easy it is to boil down all of that hard work into three short sentences.

I'm still trying to figure out which story to write for Tales from the Trail and I've got to get a new post up for Lyon's Roar.  Those posts may be my break from NaNo this weekend.  I've got a couple of things in mind for Mr. Brody's reception dinner to liven up the story a bit again; we'll see what ends up on the page.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNo Update, Day Two

I slowed down considerably today, finishing the day with a grand total of just over 13,000 words.  I know, rationally, that of course I wouldn't get almost 10k today - hello - I have to work, but maybe getting off to such a strong start is kind of depressing.  I whipped out the first 9,498 without breaking a sweat.  It also took me hours to do it; hours that I won't have during the week.  All I can hope for is to stay on track during the week and really crank out the words on the weekend.

Summary of today's work:
First full day on the ranch.  Already, half of the girls missed breakfast because they were fussing with their hair and make up or were sleeping until the last second.  Their choice, but I can tell you, they are going to be starving come lunch time.  The first load of hay was delivered and the crew is learning how to stack it in the hay barn.
Yup, that's pretty much what happened in 3,300 or so words today.  Pretty sad that I can boil down that many words into a four sentence summary, ay?  Let's just say that conversations are the best way I've found to pad my word count.  Heck, we haven't even laid in a hundred bales.  I've still got all of the horses to introduce; that should be good for another 3-4k right there.  A couple of lines of description on twenty two horses will add up.

One of the girls in our region has already cranked out more than 20,000 words, which makes me feel like a big ole slacker.  Jay's closing in on 6,000 as I type this and Jordan's last update was about 5,700, so we're all just tooling along.  The trick, they say, is to maintain the enthusiasm for the entire month, not just the first week.  We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Busy Day And A Big Goal Met

Whew!  The day's winding down and I'm happy to say that I not only met my goal of 5,000 words, but I obliterated it and I'm more than halfway (well, barely more) to my second 5,000 today.  I was thinking that 10,000 words would be a lot to post here, so I'm just going to give you an overview of today's work.

The wranglers arrived at 3 Heathens Ranch for Wrangler Boot Camp.  Ten women, mostly young girls, arrived bright eyed and bushy-tailed to compete for four full-time positions at the ranch.  After a couple of years doing hiring the tradional way, Shelby came up with the idea of Wrangler Boot Camp.  The applicants arrive to do what the restaurant industry calls a stage, a working interview, for a week.  And then at the end of the week, the four top applicants are offered the job.  Some of the things the applicants will be required to do:
  • unload and stack three hundred fifty eighty pound bales of hay,
  • clean and oil tack for twenty two horses,
  • de-worm and vaccinate twenty two horses,
  • spend some serious saddle time learning the trails and the horses
Also, we got a glimpse into Shelby's past and find out how Allie, her best friend, came to live with her and her three heathens at the ranch.
Surprisingly, at one point while I was writing Shelby's past, I made myself freaking cry.  WTH?  But I wiped my tears and got over it.  Hmmm.  Damn RCC putting me in touch with the softer side of GunDiva.

Off To A Good Start!

Today I'm celebrating two wonderful things! 

First, this is my 100th post.  I spent some time the other night reviewing some of my old posts and thinking, "why didn't I ever keep a diary?".  This blog has become my living diary.  There are lots of memories stored in each of the one hundred little (and some not so little) blurbs about my life I've put up for the world to see.  And, of course, this blog has created two spin-offs: Tales from the Trail (which is featured in Easy Street Prompts' Blog Carnival, 2nd Edition) and Lyon's Roar (which won Easy Street Prompts' Blog Carnival "Must Read" award, 1st Edition).  Really, this blog has created a writing monster.

Second, today is the official 1st day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.  In order to stay on track to write 50,000 words in thirty days, I have to write 1,667 words per day.  After we got home from Wicked last night, Jay and I plugged in and got started.  I managed to cough up just over 1,700 words before I called it a night and Jay got just over 700 in.  I'm currently at 3,100 words and hope to reach 5,000 today; Jay's goal is 2,500 and he's more than halfway at this point.  The big difference is the speed in which we type.  I'm awfully thankful that I had a "mean" typing teacher in junior high who made us learn how to touch type.  Jay's just enough younger than me that typing wasn't a required class, so he's a two-fingered typist.  Pretty darn quick for only using two fingers, but it still slows him down.

If I have any fellow NaNo reader, my NaNo name is CSWilson and I'd love for you to add me as a writing buddy.  I'm quickly learning that I'm going to need all of the support I can get :)

I'll post some of my finished 5k later today.