April Book Recommendation

It’s a few days before April, but here is my book recommendation arriving April 3.  The Sweet Life by Dakota Star is available for pre-order on Amazon.

The Sweet Life PREODER

Book Blurb: My job is everything to me, and climbing the corporate ladder is my one and only goal. Now that I’ve landed an important account for a popular dude ranch, I’m more determined than ever.

There’s just one problem I didn’t count on…Mitch Johnson, the tall, hot-tempered, brown-eyed cowboy with the potential to bring my career crashing down around me.

He’s a distraction I can’t afford—and a temptation I can’t ignore.

But the real kicker? He also happens to be the ranch owner’s son, which means I’m about to saddle up more problems than I can handle.

Grab a copy at: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Life-Dakota-Star-ebook/dp/B07BN4D118

The Sweet Life Arrives April 3

Country Sweet Meets City Spice …

My job is everything to me, and climbing the corporate ladder is my one and only goal. Now that I’ve landed an important account for a popular dude ranch, I’m more determined than ever.

There’s just one problem I didn’t count on…Mitch Johnson, the tall, hot-tempered, brown-eyed cowboy with the potential to bring my career crashing down around me.

He’s a distraction I can’t afford—and a temptation I can’t ignore.

But the real kicker? He also happens to be the ranch owner’s son, which means I’m about to saddle up more problems than I can handle.

The Sweet Life title on transparent for light background (1)

Why Are Zombies Popular?

FrankzombieFrom World War Z to The Walking Dead (graphic novel and TV series), zombies make their presence known in books and on the small and big screens. While watching zombie movies and reading books in the genre, I became a little overly infatuated with the undead. The family would say I went through a “thing,” attending comic cons and watching, rewatching, and revisiting certain movies featuring animated corpses.

These movies are some of my favorites.  They are gross, grossly funny, and engrossing, and in doing so both scare and entertain me.  More importantly, they teach lessons. My love of zombies started with watching movies such as Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978).  Soon after, I moved on to films such as 28 Days Later (2007), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Resident Evil (2002) and Zombieland (2009). My feelings on Warm Bodies (2013), still undecided. Recently, I loved Girl with all the Gifts (2017) and Train to Busan (2016) is one of my all time favorites .

Why do we love zombies so?

  1. Zombie movies and books provide commentary on society. We all have days when we feel like the walking dead, overwhelmed with work and stressed with life.  Zombies help remind us that we need to put negative feelings behind us, break away from complacency, and live for the moment.
  2. The zombie genre often combines humor and horror allowing viewers to laugh at their fears and learn lessons. While each story is unique, there is often a deeper meaning behind all the hoards of brainless undead roaming the streets and eating the living. We just need to figure it out. The process to do so is often as fun as the results.
  3. The fears played out on screen and in books are universal. While movie stars battle and kill hordes of zombies, most individuals have little control over global warming, economic downturn, or school shootings.
  4. Similarly, zombies provide some catharsis over the problems people hear about or have to face in daily life. Reading or watching as others overcome their fears and survive unbelievable situations provides escapism and hope.  If protagonists can create a happy ending in fiction and film, maybe we have a chance to conquer whatever problems come our way.
  5. Zombies reflect the best and worst of humanity. The zombie genre movies and books shed some light on what it means to be human. Do we fight for ourselves or for others? Do we turn to each other for comfort or destroy one another to survive?  While no clear answer emerges, zombie movies and books offer different scenarios about humanity at its best and worst.

Now it is up to you. Start reading and watching today.Graves

How Horseback Riding and Writing Compare

Originally published in 2016, I thought it was time to dust this blog off, especially with an upcoming contemporary romance release from Dakota Star set at, of all places, a Pennsylvania dude ranch. Got to love the mix of smart women, cowboys, and horses.

Hold on to your cowboy hats. I have a love hate relationship with two thing in my life: Horseback riding and writing.  I can’t seem to live without them, but I don’t do either as competently as I would like.  Maybe that’s okay because both have taught me so many important lessons throughout the years.

Horseback riding and writing both take time dedication.

The first time on a horse is daunting.   There is so much to remember.  You can’t learn it in a day.  When on a horse, correct commands are critical. The rider must hold the reigns a certain way and position his or her feet down in the stirrups.  Those are only two of two hundred things to be accomplished.  Who can even comprehend what the correct diagonal and lead are?  Writing is very similar.  All the components must fit together for the story to work, including well developed characters, pacing, and plot.  These are only a few of the necessary elements. If a rider forgets to do something with a horse, it is likely her face hits the dirt.  This leaves nasty bruises and scabs by the way. With writing, when an author’s story falls flat, the audience moves to other authors.  While internal, the scars feel about the same as a face plant in the dirt.  Yet, even when your story is awful or your body and ego are bruised from a bad ride, you can’t quit.  There is something, whether a live animal or a developing character, waiting for you.  Both need, no demand, your attention.

There’s a touch of crazy.  

Seriously.  Who wants to get on the back of a 1000 pound beast just to race around a round pen, jump over cross rails and likely get thrown off? But people do every day and they love it.  Most horseback riders spend every extra penny and all their time perfecting their jumping and pampering their ponies. Writing is similar.  You’re pulling characters out of the netherworld, creating new settings, possibly new worlds, and putting them out for the public to see. You are putting every penny into promoting your book and developing your skills whether through classes or writing groups or hours on the computer.  It’s more than a hobby, it’s a calling.  A slightly insane one, but a calling non-the-less.

It’s more than a skill.

Riding a horse and writing a book are as much art as science.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  There is something magical between the horse and the rider and between the writer and the developing book that makes it all worthwhile.  Ask any rider and they would sell their car (possibly more) for extra hours of riding.  When a rider jumps 3’6” for the first time, there is an incredible feeling of accomplishment.  Every moment to that point was worth it to be able to accomplish something so amazing with another living creature as a partner.  Writers are the same.  The characters come alive, the world spins as strongly as any in orbit, and sharing it with an audience is about the most amazing thing ever.

 

The Pen or the Pup: What’s Harder?

27629507_10213253886639681_2297835058664040093_oBoth fostering a dog and writing a book are complicated tasks, but which is hardest?

When writing a book, you are up all hours of the night. The characters swim like minnows through your mind, making you crazy. Plot points that don’t pan out wake you up in a panic.  Watching television at midnight? Not for enjoyment you tell yourself, but to examine character body language and dialogue. Even wine doesn’t help.

You are up all hours of the night with a foster dog. The first few days the poor pup is settling in and that means he’s pacing the floors or whining in a crate. Once your furry friend has adjusted, you are up all night because he’s taken over the bed. The pupster allows you under the duvet only if you promise to provide cuddles. Dog treats help.

When writing a book, you’re extremely tired.  With every line penned, there’s at least three rounds of early revision. After a page, even though you know not to stop, you can’t help but go back and examine each word, reread each sentence. When you scrutinize it a day later, you’re astonished at the banality of the draft and how many mistakes you made. Time for a rewrite and a huge mug of coffee.

And you are extremely tired when fostering a dog. With a new foster dog, the focus is routine. That means walks, long walks at the same time every day. First in the morning before work, then in the afternoon, and once again in the evening. Five inches of snow can’t stop you. The dog doesn’t know how to walk straight? No problem, you were planning on booking that appointment with the chiropractor anyway.

When writing a book, you have no nice clothes. You roll out of bed in your pajamas and start writing. As the day speeds by, you change into yoga pants and a sweatshirt to walk the dog and later grab a slice a pizza from the fridge only to watch it end up in your lap when the dog begs for a crust. Otherwise it’s easy to ignore the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the hamper. It’s not like you have any upcoming book signing events.

You avoid wearing nice clothes when you have a foster dog. Not knowing the new pup, it’s always hard to tell if she’s a chewer, drooler, or a hugger, leaving dirty paw prints on every clean item of clothing after digging up the back yard.  As feathers fly around the house, you realize you didn’t need that down coat anymore, it’s almost spring. You do need to look somewhat presentable for work, so you travel with a Pet Plus Extreme lint roller. Of course, you’re always on the last sheet with no refills in sight.

In both cases, writers and fosters are constantly out of breath. Whether running after a pup who has stolen a single Ugg to chew on or separating dogs in the middle of a heated tug of war, with a new canine friend, fosters are constantly on the run.  And while most people think writing is a stationary activity, many author’s say that their best ideas come when they exercise so there is a lot of jogging and hiking the trails, hoping for inspiration.

Whether tired, covered with dog hair, or suffering from wrist strain thanks to long hours at the computer, I highly recommend both activities.  The few drawbacks are minimal and easily overcome with abundant pizza, coffee, and alcohol.