Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Z's and Zohan

Last day. I thought I would fail to find a Z grammar tip. I was ready to just give you the horse of the day. But I actually found a good one.

How do you indicate possessive for names ending in Z? Is it Martinez' or Martinez's Same question for S. I'm curious to hear what you think because I don't like the answer!

The circle goes round and round, and it seems most grammar books and style guides have returned to recommending that the possessive form of Martinez is Martinez's. For Carlos it should be Carlos's. Regardless of whether pronouncing the possessive adds another syllable or not.

Carlos's face turned red.
Mr. Martinez's car bumper fell off in the middle of the road.

I guess I got left behind on this cycle. My MG sci-fi book has characters named Carlos and Brutus. I really hate the way Carlos's looks. I know I've been consistent, but I failed to find a formal supporting site allowing me to stick with Carlos'.

Yay for search and replace! What's your opinion on the final s after possessive S and Z names? Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment.

And now for the last horse of my A to Z Challenge. His name is Zohan. Yes, he was named after "You Don't Mess with the Zohan."

Zohan is an arab Quarter cross. A friend owned him, then left him at our barn when she and her husband moved to Las Vegas for a job. They were never able to afford boarding him in Vegas, so asked me to train and sell Zohan and two other horses.

I loved Zohan and would have bought him if I didn't already a ridiculous number. He could run forever and would have loved endurance. Another friend bought him, but she ended up with a rare breast cancer and had to give him back. A boarder at our barn was looking for a horse for her husband, and they were a great match. He's still a horse I'd love to own, but I'm glad he and his owner are happy together.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Your/you're and Yellowhawk

Second to last day! So I'm going to make this an easy one. We all accidentally typo this when we're not paying attention, but just in case you suffer from a brain fart, "your" indicates that you own something. "You're" is a contraction for "you are." If you can replace "you are" in the sentence, use "you're."

All done! Are you excited that AtoZ is almost over - or sad to see it go? Will you keep up with a more frequent blogging schedule? This was part of my New Year's resolution, so I intend to post a couple times a week, as something interesting happens in my writing journey or to another author. Let me know if you'd like me to post an author interview, cover reveal, or book launch.

Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment.

Oh yeah, the horse of the day. Today I've got pictures of Yellowhawk. He's a dappled palomino (sorry for the picture quality.) He's not a horse I owned, but a friend brought him to the barn for a little training and asked me to help her sell him. He was a funny boy. Loved kids, hated adults. Which is why he didn't work out for the owner. I tried to ride him and had some better luck, maybe because I'm small. But he didn't like that I expect immediate responses from my cues.

One of the girls that boarded with us hopped on and he was fantastic for her. We made sure she was around to help show the horse and advertised him as a kids only horse. He made a wonderful 4-H horse.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - eXclamation points and eXcalibur

This was the first letter I really had to scramble to find a topic. My husband thought I should discuss the use of expletives, but I don't have an opinion there - do what works for you!

I could tell you to put a hyphen in x-ray, but heck, Word will fix that for you.

So, exclamation points it is. I am a naturally upbeat person. I can almost see the exclamation points when I talk (especially about horses and endurance), so I tend to write the same way. My first, horrible attempt at writing a book was full of, in addition to the oft maligned passive voice, exclamation points. I probably deleted hundreds. I still have to delete them from my emails, Facebook and Twitter posts, and even blog posts.

The point (!) is that you probably shouldn't sprinkle too many through your manuscript. And never, ever put more than one at a time. Make sure they're necessary. And when you decide to use one, don't make the mistake of adding "...!" he exclaimed. Or shouted or screeched. Of course you might be able to avoid the exclamation with "he exclaimed." But some people will tell you to avoid all dialogue tags except he said/she said. I don't quite agree with this, especially with MG and YA, but I do strive to choose language so it's obvious the speaker is excited, and if identifying the speaker is necessary, then use a motion.

I hope that's enough of grammar X. I'm done! Truly!! Did you have a hard time with X? Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment.

My X horse wasn't as hard, but she's still a bit of a stretch. Excalibur is an arab/quarter mare (doesn't seem like a female name right?) who was abandoned at our barn when her owner lost his business. Her original name was Callie. But the boy who bought her from me loved all things King Arthur and decided Excalibur was close enough to Callie.

Well, she attacked the trail with a singular mind of arriving to her destination first, so maybe it fit.

The day I delivered her to her new owners, they asked my husband to trim their other horse's feet. We'd already turned Callie out to her new pasture and focused on the other mare (who had initially told Callie she wasn't welcome.)

Apparently Callie took that lack of welcome to heart and left. She found some barely loose fence wires, stepped and crawled through, then climbed a 300 foot hill. When we noticed, we had to drive the long way around because of a locked gate, but she was gone. This was a huge area with only two houses and grazing cattle over a couple thousand acres.

I went home and grabbed another horse to search for her. No luck. Before we left for the night, we found the cattle tank empty, so left a few buckets of water around. Early the next morning, a neighbor found her with his ATV and brought her back to her new home (with a newly tightened fence) without any evidence of spending the night alone. This time she stayed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bloggin from #AtoZChallenge - Who/what/which and Whiskey

I've had a couple requests to discuss who/whom, who/that, and which/that. I'll try not to let this get too long, but I'll try to discuss each.

Who/whom - which to use when (is that enough W for you?)
Here's the technical answer. Use who when referring to the subject of a clause (the person doing something) and who when referring to the object (the one being acted upon.)

Who will ride Whiskey? (Jen will ride Whiskey, Jen is the subject.)
Whom did the barn assign to muck duty? (The barn assigned Sarah to muck duty, Sarah is the object)

Tip: from Grammar Girl's site
If the answer to the who/whom question could be him, then use whom. Both end in m. Check the above examples.

Who/that - the easy rule is to use who for a person and that for a thing. You'll never be wrong. But apparently this has become a bit gray and okay to say Mary is the lady that wanted to talk to you. Maybe it can be okay, BUT some people won't like it and it isn't likely to ever be wrong to say Mary is the lady who... Things may also become unclear (and personal preference) when referring to an animal. A dog may be a "who" to many people, but most will agree a cockroach is a that. Unless you keep strange pets!

Which/that - this is the hard one!
The simple rule is to use "that" before a restrictive clause and "which" otherwise. So what's a restrictive clause? It's a clause you can't eliminate from the sentence because it limits or further identifies the subject.

Put Whiskey in the pasture that we repaired yesterday. (If the horse were to be put into a pasture with a broken fence, she might escape.) Now I will also argue this use of "that" is superfluous. It makes just as much sense to say "Put Whiskey in the pasture we repaired yesterday."

The grass, which is turning green, will provide good nutrition for the horses. All the grass is likely turning green at the same time since it's spring, so this doesn't identify any specific grass. Note the use of commas around the non-restrictive clause.

Now I bet you need a little Whiskey after all those Ws. A local breeder of Paint horses passed away, but he didn't leave the ranch or the horses to his kids. All the horses went to auction and the proceeds donated to charities. These were well know horses, so no risk of them ending up with killer buyers. And the guy's kids bought some too. One of our boarders owned a horse she'd bought from the ranch, so I decided to attend to buy a horse to train and sell.

Someone mentioned to me, "You know those mares haven't been handled much." I thought that meant they might be a little impatient with the farrier. No. It meant they'd never had a halter on or been groomed. Little difference from a BLM mustang - except they were even more fearful of humans.

I bought a 5yo mare who (note the use of who!) was expected to be pregnant. It took weeks to be able to halter her. She actually became more friendly just before she foaled. Maybe she knew we might be of some use.

All went well for the birth, and she had a gorgeous filly. We named the mare Whiskey (she had Whisker in her registered name) and the filly Freckles Irish Cream (her sire was Freckles), but we called her Bailey.

Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment when I get back from my endurance ride this weekend.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Virgules and Venesza

I originally planned to discuss verb agreement - but how boring! And we all know verb tenses should agree with the noun form. Since my V horse is Venesza (yes, pronounced Vanessa, but what can I say, she's an arab, and Polish at that.) So when I saw the word virgule [vur-gyool] in the index of one of my grammar books, I knew this was the word of the day!

A virgule is a forward slash. The forward slash can also be called a solidus or a diagonal. It does have a function in writing fiction, although somewhat limited. But it is often misused.

The purpose of the virgule is to show alternatives. Like "or." But many people use it for "and" or to show something is functioning in multiple ways (like owner/operator which is more correctly owner-operator.)


Other uses of the virgule is for dates (4/25/2014), ratios (5/16th inch wrench), and something we're all more familiar with - internet addresses (

Can you think of other terms whose usage has changed with technology? Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment when I get back from my endurance ride this weekend.

Now back to Venesza. She was my first endurance horse. I'd broken my back the year before I got her, getting tossed off a cranky Quarter horse that missed his burro buddy (he was a cute burro). After this experience, I was a little nervous about my next horse. My boss raised arabs, and I bought a yearling colt (Sudan, who sadly didn't make it to the Challenge) because I wasn't afraid of a horse too young to ride.

On a horse forum, someone mentioned the sport of endurance and that arabs were particularly suited for it. I'd always loved arabs, so I Googled "arab endurance Colorado" and found an endurance trainer within an hour from me.

My mom and I visited and (somewhat stupidly) fell in love with a bay mare. She was 7yo and very, very forward. And spooky. Probably not the best choice for a novice rider dealing with fear issues. But I'd never enjoyed riding in the arena, and I had no idea endurance existed before this. Basically, I wasn't thinking.

However, Venesza and I did quite well. I'm a bit of a control freak (yes, by definition people who enjoy grammar and critiquing are control freaks, and I also held a job as a software tester) and I laid down the law. Venesza wasn't allowed to trot or canter unless I gave permission. And I didn't. I didn't take her to a competition until she learned to walk a single loop around the round pen (it took a year). At our competitions, I didn't allow her to canter. At all.

But she could walk or trot as fast as she wanted. And boy did she!

I eventually gained a lot of confidence on her. She spooked, but I always knew when she would and in what direction, so I never went off. We never cantered much because her gaits were rough. I would need another horse, Kit, to improving my riding skills beyond hanging on. But I was good at hanging on (heck, I could ski black diamond slopes in CO when all I knew was snowplowing - I am strong and controlling!)

Venesza is 24 now and still going strong. We call her the locomotive.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Up/down and Undefeated

A little over four years ago, I started my first ms. I'd never taken a writing class - I have a degree in Physics and a masters in engineering. So I had a LOT to learn. My husband taught me about passive voice as he shook his head reading the first draft. Then I learned how much education is available online.

One of the first sites I found pointed out the uselessness of words like up, down, and over when they don't add information. It made sense, I took it to heart, and these words have become one of my pet peeves. Clearly I was proud of learning something!

She dropped down to the ground. There's really no other way to drop - she dropped to the ground. Doesn't that sound better?

The raven flew up into the sky. The raven flew into the sky. (I bet you could give more colorful information and get rid of "into the sky," as well.)

He reached over to the window. He reached to the window (or maybe stretched or leaned for more visual.)

The important thing to remember when polishing is to make sure every word is necessary. If the sentence makes sense without the word, chances are it's cleaner and better without it as well. Another often useless word is "that."

Do you have a pet peeve for words used incorrectly or uselessly? Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment.

We bought Undefeated with high hopes. He's a 6yo arab gelding of unknown breeding. He was nervous, but nicely conformed, and we thought he'd make a wonderful endurance horse. He went through a series of names. I don't remember what he came to us with, something starting with H. We tried Hancock, the Will Smith super(anti)hero, but that was a mouthful.

When he did his first endurance ride on an army base we named him HMV for Humvee for a while. He was built like a tank and seemed like he could go forever. So we named him Undefeated formally, but still called him HMV most of the time. Then he decided, yeah, he could go forever, but not at the speeds we like. He became a perfect climb around mountains at a walk or slow trot type horse and his new owner loves him like crazy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Telling flags and Topper

One of my favorite bloggers is Janice Hardy, author of the Healing Wars trilogy. She gives back to the writing community in many huge ways. Her blog will probably give you every bit of information you need to improve your writing, plus she does first page critiques. Definitely worth following.

Anyhow, I grabbed a few telling flags from her site, but I'm going to explain further so you know why this subject is so important and why you should nip over there and spend copious amounts of time. Unless of course you know all this - in which case you might just want to skip down to pictures of my husband's rotten endurance horse!

Every writer hears "telling! you need to show." Many writing faults with different names are really forms of telling. When we use distancing words (I heard, she saw, he watched etc), the sentence becomes telling. Instead of "I heard the train whistle," change it to "The train whistle blared. I pulled my coffee back from the edge of my bench just before it tumbled to the sticky ground." Not only are we closer to the character, there's tons more room for details.

There are words that almost guarantee the sentence is telling. When the reader is told WHY a character does something - to reach the other side, sighed with relief, gasped in fear.

You'll also hear to avoid adverbs. But no one tells you why! Many of them are telling. She spoke angrily. Much better: She shouted, her voice rasping across each name she called the man in bed with her best friend.

Do you know other signs of telling? Is this something you struggle with?

Topper is a grandson to our stallion Max and nephew to my mare Csavannah. He is 3/4 arab and 1/4 saddlebred. He got his coloring from the saddlebred side although Max sometimes threw some interesting color as well. Topper's color is rare though. He's considered a medicine hat, a pattern prized by some Native American tribes. The classic pattern is mostly white, with color around the ears and what's called a shield on the chest. Topper also has some color around his eyes, which is good, it helps them be less sensitive to sun.

Topper is a big boy - 15.3 hands tall (a hand is four inches) and a total goober. He is still learning where his feet are. He has no patience - but with his size, he can be hard to handle. But he is super smooth and will be doing his second 25 mile endurance ride at the end of the month - along with his one-year-younger aunt, Csavannah. She's about seven inches shorter, so they'll make an interesting pair.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Swam/swum and Santana

I had to include swam/swum in my grammar challenge because it's a rule I just recently learned - when I used it in my ms. I used to think it was just personal choice or maybe a Brittish vs US thing. Nope, there's an actual rule and it's not too hard to remember.

The past tense of swim is swam, but it's changed to swum when preceded by a helper verb.

Example: (from my MG sci-fi ms MIGHTY MIKE SAVES MARS)
Mike already knew he could handle small spaces since he’d swum into an underwater cave when a Jellybean turned him into a fish.

In this example "he'd" is the contraction of "he had" and had is a helper verb. And since I didn't do helper verbs for H, here's a link to a list of helper verb and a handy mnemonic to remember them (which coincidentally involves the word "swim"!)

Santana is a gorgeous arab gelding that also came from our favorite rescue. One of my boarder's bought him. He had actually been surrendered to the rescue as a donation, and his purchase price was a bit higher than normal. But he came with registration papers, was in beautiful condition and had been well trained.

Have you ever gotten a pet from a rescue or the Humane Society? My rescues include dogs and horses and some of them have been better than we ever expected. Partly cuz I'm just not into potty training puppies!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Reflexive pronouns and Royal

Reflexive pronouns have -self or -selves at the end. They are often misused. To be used properly, they must follow a proper noun or pronoun and refer directly to it.

I should have shot myself for agreeing to ride Royal on his first endurance ride.
Barb felt too exhausted to compete in the ride she'd signed herself up for the previous day.

Reflexive pronouns must also be used in the correct form. Be careful not to mix forms - themself. (like your editor would let you get away with that!)

Singular: myself                           Plural: ourselves
Singular: yourself                         Plural: yourselves
Singular: himself, herself, itself   Plural: themselves

Royal is a purebred arab gelding that we found at the same barn as Pride. Someone had tried to use him as an endurance horse, but as she put it, he lawn-darted her. When I test rode him, a mare and filly were wandering the property and Royal kept grunting at them and threating to buck. Never did figure out what that was all about.

We brought him home and tried to figure him out. We managed to contact his breeder and get his registration transferred to us. A trainer friend tried to work with him, but he scared her off - literally. She'd fling off every time he humped up to buck. She also insisted on working him in the arena and many arabs just aren't interested in circles. I suggested she take him on the trail, but she was afraid. She gave up, I didn't have time, so he got to enjoy pasture for a year.

Finally, I had some time and my husband needed a new horse. We took Royal on the trail and he did great. But he would occasionally act weird, hump up and refuse to go forward. We'd eventually find a reason: an abscess in his hoof, a sore back, pure laziness. We addressed everything we found and had some success with him. But he always had my husband's number. Hubby is a sweet guy who doesn't want a horse to be unhappy. So every time Royal would refuse (something silly like the hill leading off our property), he'd get off and lead. Just like the trainer had. Royal got that trick all figured out.

We finally decided Royal didn't like doing the miles and speed we enjoy although he'd turned into a nice trail horse. I got him over getting away with refusing (took a twenty minute fight, I won) and he became a wonderful horse for a lady who lived in the mountains and just liked to wander around.

I think it's important for animals and their owners to be a good match, don't you? Or in the case of cats, people and their overlords.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Qualifier and Quest Star

Bet you thought I'd have a hard time with Q! Nope. This is one of my favorite writing issues. If you use qualifiers, you're weakening your words, hedging, sitting on the fence. If you've got something to say, say it!

Sometimes, sort of, well, just, maybe, might, quite (oh this one gets me, I use it as an affectation, voice, but it goes too far), bit, somewhat, kind of (kinda - can't let it slip through this way!), very, mostly, pretty

Now sometimes we want to create doubt for solid reasons, but it's important to recognize the difference. Here's a great table from

WillMay, might, could
Forms of “be” (am, is, are, was, were)May be, might have been, may have been
AllMany, most, some, numerous, countless, a majority
Every(Same as “all”)
None/noFew, not many, a small number, hardly any, a minority
AlwaysOften, frequently, commonly, for a long time, usually, sometimes, repeatedly
NeverRarely, infrequently, sporadically, seldom
CertainlyProbably, possibly
ImpossibleUnlikely, improbable, doubtful

Do you find yourself using qualifiers in your writing? Do you use them in real life too? I know I do. It's just not as easy for my inner editor to take them back!

My Q horse was an easy one too. This pretty boy's name is Quest Star. He's a 16yo arab gelding. He's had a rough life and we'll probably never know all of it. When he was young, his owner committed suicide and didn't make any arrangements for someone to take care of Star. He was half-starved when he managed to escape. We think he's had a trailer accident because he's afraid of the trailer when he's alone, but will follow another in easily. He won't eat in the trailer even if you stuff a carrot in his mouth. He's got a scar that runs most of the length of his back and a caved-in cheek. He's a spooky boy, and when he gets scared, he won't listen to his human at all.

Star is also one of the best bred, best conformed horses I've ever owned. He's wonderful to ride as long as he's with another well-behaved horse. He can go any speed from top-ten endurance speeds to nose-to-tail dude rides. He's done two 50 mile rides, one in WY and another near Moab in Utah.

Maybe (darn qualifier) someday we'll figure him out enough to do a 100 miler.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Night House by Rachel Tafoya and Giveaway

If you're here for Blogging A to Z, either scroll down or click here.
Check out this cover - doesn't it just pull you in, begging to be read?

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

The Night House by Rachel Tafoya

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Bianca St. Germain works at a Night House, a place where vampires like the aristocratic Jeremiah Archer, pay to feed on humans, and she doesn’t much care what others think of her. The money is good, and at least there, she’s safe. Bianca also doesn’t care that the Night House is killing her. All she cares about is: nauth, the highly addictive poison in vampire bites that brings a euphoria like no drug ever could.
But when Bianca meets James, a reclusive empath who feels everything she does, for the first time, she considers a life outside of the Night House and a someone worth living for. But Jeremiah has decided to keep Bianca for himself; he won’t allow her to walk away.
As she allows her feelings for James to grow, she struggles to contain nauth's strong hold on her life. If they are to have a future, James must make her see what she's worth, what she means to him, before Jeremiah and nauth claim her for good.

add to goodreadsTitle: THE NIGHT HOUSE
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Rachel Tafoya
Rachel Tafoya
Rachel Tafoya studied creative writing while at Solebury School and was published in their student run literary magazine, SLAM. She attended a writing program for teens at both Susquehanna University and Denison University, and the Experimental Writing for Teens class and Novels for Young Writers program, both run by NY Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry. Rachel is the daughter crime author Dennis Tafoya.

Connect with the Author: Tumbler | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!


Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Preposition and Pride

Today I'm focusing on prepositions - prepositional phrases to be exact. One of the signs your writing is leaning toward the wordy side is an excess of prepositional phrases.
First, what are prepositions? A preposition is a word that shows a relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. I'm not going to show all of them, you can google "preposition list" for more, but here are a few of the most used.
of, to, at, by, for, onto, with, toward, along, above, over, between, onto, below
At the barn, the rider placed the saddle onto the horse's back, over the blanket, and led him through the trees of the large property behind the fence.
Exhausted? When you feel a repetitive rhythm (duh duh duh, duh duh duh) there's a pretty good chance you've overdone the prepositional phrases.
Often we're trying to add description, but it could be done cleaner. When a critique partner mentions tightening the passage, removing or rearranging prepositional phrases can be the key.
The door of the barn... could be: The barn door...
The gate to the pasture... could be : The pasture gate...
The stream ran below the bridge... could be: Tom leaned over the bridge rail. His eyes followed the waves crashing against rocks. (Yes, against is a preposition, but the first sentence is boring, telling, impersonal, and we learn so much more in the second. You don't want to delete them, just use them effectively.)
The sneer on the face of the saleslady... could be: The saleslady's sneer...  (you know a sneer belongs on a face!)
What do you think? Have you seen writers completely overdo the prepositional phrase?
This is Pride. We found him abandoned at a hunter-jumper barn by an owner whose life got too busy. The barnowners liked him, but they did the BIG jumps, 3 feet or more and Pride is more of a 2'6" or less jumper. He's half-arab, half-paint.

My husband had a grand time jumping him. We used him for lessons and a friend (the owner of Flicka) rode him for his and her first endurance rides. They were both hooked.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Oxford comma and Ozzie

Ah, the dreaded Oxford comma. Some love it, some hate it, and some don't get it. As you can see, I use it. In case you don't know what the Oxford comma is, it's the second comma in a list of three or more items followed by "and".

Another example:
We visited the horse rescue and brought home Ozzie, Bahzra, and Santana.

I'm a recent convert. My previous thinking was that the word "and"  is there, why do we need the comma? How is there any room for confusion?

The Chicago Manual of Style recommends using the Oxford comma, but I don't think they do a great job of giving a reason why. It does say it prevents ambiguity and gives one example but doesn't point out the importance.

For breakfast, I chose between waffles, scrambled eggs, and biscuits and gravy. Biscuits and gravy are essentially a unit, I didn't have to choose between biscuits and gravy. Since these situations exist AND we want to be consistent, it does make sense to use the Oxford comma.

Another explanation that won me over (in my own head) is the situation of a list of three independent phrases.

I ran toward the loose horse, he spun and bolted in the other direction, and the dumped rider lunged to catch him.

Maybe not a great sentence, but as we discussed for B (separating independent phrases by but or and requires a comma), this comma is required. So again, for consistency, the Oxford comma does have a solid case. I came to this conclusion reluctantly, but here I am.

Do you use the Oxford comma? Love it, hate it? Just happy you have an editor to decide for you?

Now for Ozzie's story. A friend of mine, the lady who owned Jackson, wanted to move on to a more challenging ride that would be able to keep up with our arabs on the trail. We visited a rescue, Dreamcatcher Equine Rescue. They had over 100 horses out on a big pasture. Since the owner was driving back from a fundraiser, my friend and I toured the pasture. I identified two horses that I thought were awesome. When the owner showed up, she said one of them was her personal horse and the other was an untrained arab. I wasn't at all looking for a horse, but I couldn't pass up that arab - he became Bahzra (pictured on B day).

They found a little black-and-white pony for my friend. I'd hoped she would try out several horses, but she fell in love at once. Ozzie got his name from the first three letters of the license plate on my trailer (OZY). Ozzie was a spoiled pony, but smart and a good challenge for my friend to improve her riding skills. By the way, most horses at rescues have absolutely nothing wrong with them, have never been starved, and are often nicely trained. (note that Oxford comma?) Rescues are a great place to start when looking for a horse (or dog).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Numbers and Nova

For today's A to Z Challenge, I'm going to discuss formatting numbers in your manuscript. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends spelling out all numbers up to one hundred and other round numbers above that.

Nova was five years old when I bought her.
The oldest horse at the barn was thirty-seven. (note the hyphen)
In the US, we often think a house standing for 127 years to be old, but in Europe, many structures are over two hundred years old.

I've also seen style guides that only recommend spelling out one through ten or one through twenty. This is another area where your editor will probably have the final say, but when writing, just be consistent.

There are a couple more rules to consider. Don't start a sentence with a numeral - spell it out. Rearrange the sentence if you really don't want to spell out a complex number.

Follow the same rules for second, 185th, and one thousandth. If you have a sentence that might use both spelled out and numerals, choose which looks best for consistency and make them the same. The auditorium held between 950 and 1000 people. We celebrate the Fourth of July or July 4th.

Here are some pictures of Nova, little Paint mare I got for free. Her owners were moving and didn't have enough space in their trailer to move across the country. She wasn't trained, but that didn't take long to remedy. Nova was fun to ride on the trail, nothing scared her, and she could climb anything. She was very happy when she got her new owner that only focused on her.

Nova turned out to be quite the little jumper as well. She was only 14.1H and not built for jumping, but she made up for it with heart. I wish I had a good head shot - she has beautiful blue eyes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MORTAL ENCHANTMENT by Stacey O'Neale - Cover reveal and giveaway

Ooh, I've been waiting for this one! (Looking for my "M" Blogging A to Z post? Click here.)
Stacey O'Neale and Phoenix Reign Publishing are revealing the cover for
MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, releasing on May 20, 2014!
Check out the awesome cover and enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card!!!
On to the reveal!
Mortal Enchantment
“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.” Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
In Kalin Matthew's world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she's built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she's attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.
Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.
To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.
As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more...
The Shadow PrinceIf you haven't read THE SHADOW PRINCE, you can download if NOW for FREE from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!!!
Every sacrifice has consequences. Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission: Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king. Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Available for FREE on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Also available in PRINT from Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Photoshoot-21Stacey O'Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she's not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter. Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing. Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at

a Rafflecopter giveaway