Nutrition Mafia Series:

One Good Eclair

Sedona O'Hala Series:

Executive Dirt

Moon Shadow Series:

Ghost Shadow

Now Available:

Soul of the Desert

Short Stories/Anthologies

Amazing Artist Assnezana, Short Stories and Translations

I’ve always wanted to have at least one of my works translated into Spanish. Never mind the why of it, but it’s part of my heritage and I always felt it was necessary. I had plans for how I’d get here, but sometimes dreams take longer than you plan and don’t come together quite the way you expect.

At any rate, I’ve been working with a translator on a fantasy short story called “Snitched, Snatched.” Getting it right in English was hard enough, now Gustavo Bondoni must tackle trying to get it perfect in Spanish. Luckily he is skilled as a story teller, and I’m counting on that skill to come through in “Snitched, Snatched.” He has his own short story collection out (in English) on Kindle: Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (20 stories.)

All of this leads to needing a cover that reflects the story, captures its essence and has a magic of its own. Enter Assnezana and her fantastic artistic talent.

You can find more about her here: Assnezana and see more of her work on Jaguarwoman.com and also on Dreamstime/assnezana .

She has some awesome artwork; more magical settings like the one in the cover, some aquatic settings and some fabulous garden settings. Check them out!

As for the story, look for it on Kindle in about a week if things go smoothly, two if they don’t! I’ll post more about the release date as it gets closer.

Around the Bend – Audio

dunesteef.com has decided to produce Around the Bend in audio format! I say “produce” because more and more podcasts are not just reading stories–there’s music, acting, different voices–they are getting more complex and more professional. Dunesteef, in particular, wanted to involve authors more so asked me to read a blip on how the story came about.

Me????

I wasn’t too certain this was a good idea. Okay, I was completely against it. I’m basically quite lazy and can be a rather self-conscious creature. I’ve never liked my voice; I took singing lessons off and on for years thinking something might help it, but other than learning how to “breathe” right, nothing rubbed off.

Unfortunately, despite my reclusive nature and extreme laziness, I do believe in supporting the magazines that give authors like me an opportunity to spread stories. So I began recording. Who would think that one tiny paragraph would take so much time? First off, I sounded bored. I don’t mean a little bored, I mean a monotone that could compete with Alan Greenspan testimony, only a lot shorter and sounding more like your grandmother. Second off, who wrote all these extra words??? The more words in a single sentence, the more air that is required…and ups and down in tone so that I didn’t sound like a dead pickle.

I had no idea that so much acting was required to read aloud: Lilting. Pauses. Hints of lightness or intrigue. Emphasis. Pacing. And I wasn’t even reading the story.

After some practice I managed to sound like a moderately interested human, if not a talented one. Then came the technical part of recording. I forgot to turn the sound off on my machine, so incoming email pinged right at the beginning. Got rid of that only to have the stray cat show up in the back yard, which set off the birds–quite loudly–in the background. Husband opened the garage door. Air conditioner came on. Then…the perfect lilt, the perfect pacing…I had it!!!!! Only…the first word was strangely cutoff so “there” could have been “where” or just “ere” or perhaps not a word at all, but a gagging sound.

Hmm. I had no editing tools. I’m sure a professional could have recorded the one word and glued it on the front in place of the miscellaneous chopped noise. Barring that…I had to record it again. Only I had to sneeze in the middle of that one…and so on.

Oh bother.

At any rate, much to my complete surprise, I learned a few significant lessons. One: If I am ever to give a reading of a short story or excerpt, I had better practice. A lot. Two: I should probably avoid doing readings, but if I do, I need to think about whether I will do a single voice, many voices or just try not to sound like a dead pickle. Three: The job these readers do on the podcasts is hard. Adding background music, artwork, introductions, editing the scripts–all a lot of work. And more talent that I would have guessed.

So next time you hear a podcast or an audio book that you like, make note of the reader. If you enjoyed the book/work, it could have a lot to do with a reader making the work sound interesting, because even the most interesting work, read by a dead-pickle reader, is going to be a flop.

Posted: July 28, 2008
Filed in Short Stories/Anthologies

Around the Bend — Online, Print and Audio

Around the Bend

My most recent short story has just been published over at www.CoyoteWildMag.com: Around the Bend

In this story, look carefully into the shadows, but beware what lurks there.

Psst: It’s a free read–enjoy!

Around the Bend is also available at Dunesteef.com as a podcast production! At the end of the story, there is discussion from Rish and Big and three songs from Jonathan Coulton.

 

 
Around the Bend is also available over at www.AnthologyBuilder.com!!! I’ve created two different anthologies with this story in it–you can order the exact anthologies from their library or you can pick and choose your own stories. Check out the artwork on these two!!

I just love them both. The Dragon Wings cover art was done by Jacquelyne Drainville and the Escape cover art was done by Kevin Wasden. Both are just fabulous.

Here are links to the books along with cost and shipping information:

Dragon Wings
Escape

Posted: January 16, 2008
Filed in Short Stories/Anthologies

Black-Tie Bingo

Update: These stories are now available at multiple outlets including the BMB online store.

I am publishing a duo of short stories called Black-Tie Bingo. The stories are exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. ANYONE with ANY reader can buy the short stories from Amazon. If you have a reader that supports ePub (as opposed to Amazon’s format) that file will have to be converted after you download it from Amazon. If you have the free tool called Calibre, it’s pretty simple to do, but if you aren’t already familiar with Calibre, it’s probably not worth learning over a short story or two. Unfortunately I can’t give away ePub files (that would be a problem with the contract) or sell it anywhere else in any format. However, once the exclusive period is over, I plan to sell the ePUB file from here.

The main reason I’m doing an exclusive is to make some of my work available for lending to Prime Amazon customers. Many authors are reporting increased visibility of their work after joining the program.

At this point, I have no intention of entering any exclusive deals with any retailer for any of my novels. We’ll see what I learn, if anything. If you are a Prime Amazon member and you try out the stories through the lending program, let me know what you think of the program and the stories! Of course, the stories are also on sale at Amazon, and I hope you enjoy them!

Two short stories:

Black-Tie Dance: an undercover caper that sends an agent running for his life, dangling from a windowsill and visiting the morgue. Let’s hope he makes it out of there alive.

Bingo: Not your ordinary deal with the devil.

The clipart for the cover was done from two main pieces that I found on despositphoto.com. The artists are: Mellefrenchy (Fanelie Rosier) and Krisdog (Christos Georghiou). I was already familiar with Fanelie Rosier’s work because her clipart appears on a few of my favorite covers. I LOVE her work; it’s zany and fun. I hadn’t seen Christos Georghious’s work before, but his devil certainly fit the cover–and the story!

Black-Tie Bingo at Amazon. The book is also available at Amazon UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany as well.

Posted: December 23, 2011
Filed in Paranormal/Fantasy, Short Stories/Anthologies

Cattle Prod – Back on the Ranch

I recently visited my parents in NM. There were the usual chores, but on Friday, it was supposed to rain or snow–a much needed event in what has been a terrible drought. Unfortunately as it started to threaten rain, Dad remembered he had left his welder uncovered out on the ranch. The drive out there is about one and a half hours each way.

Well, it’s never good for him to go alone, so in the truck we went. The roads aren’t paved and a lot of the time the term “road” is very questionable. There are 3 gates to get into the property and then two more used to separate the grazing pastures. In NM, grazing even 20 cows on a thousand acres has been a trick. There hasn’t been rain, which means no grass grows. Trees are dying. Many ranchers are getting out of the business entirely. It’s expensive to feed cattle when you can’t graze them at least a little bit. Dad goes up twice a week to check on the cattle and to pump water. We have two main water tanks. We have earth tanks too, but they have been completely dry this year and last. There wasn’t even mud on the bottom.

When we arrived at the corral, Dad said, “This is GREAT! The cows are coming in there. I need to take two calves back. We’ll have to go back and get the trailer!”

Wait a minute. Did we just drive and hour and a half to get here, and now you’re telling me we have to drive back to get the trailer?

Yes, that is exactly what he was telling me. Argh.

“I’ve been trying to get the cows to the corral for over a week without bringing the horse up here.”

“Uh-huh.”

We drove over to the welder and covered it. Rain spit on us now and then, and it was cold, about 35 to 40 degrees out.

We went back to the corral to separate the two calves from the other cows. Dad told me to guard the gate. This means I stand with it open, and he herds the cows he doesn’t want out the gate. In theory. Getting just the ones you want out is trickier than you might think. I asked Dad, “What is the plan?”

“You just stand there. I’ll herd them out.”

“Okay.” This seemed sharply lacking in detail to me. I am a planner by nature. I want to know exactly what is happening so that I can form contingencies, plan A through plan F and so on. Maybe this really would be that simple. I didn’t remember it being that simple growing up, but maybe the cows were smarter now.

The first two went out easily. The next was a bull, and he was more than suspicious of me. He headed for the opening, but along came a calf, one we wanted. I ran with the gate to close it. This is not a small gate so when you want to shut it you have to move FAST. Faster than a running bull.

“Let the bull out, but not the calf!”

They were right together and the calf ran faster. I clapped at the calf to get him back and closed the gate. Silly guy ran right into the fence and bounced off.

Rather loud cursing followed. “I told you to let the bull out! Do just what I tell you! Don’t start thinking and getting fancy ideas! And don’t be making loud noises!” The man was yelling at the top of his lungs. This means that people in Utah probably heard him.

Dad chased cows around the pen and eventually separated the two calves. “SHUT THE GATE!” he yelled. “HURRY UP! Both of them! Can’t you do any thinking on your own? DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU EVERY LITTLE THING??”

Wait just a minute…I thought I wasn’t supposed to be Miss Idea over here…and what second gate? I don’t see a second gate…you never mentioned a second gate in the ‘plan.” Oh, THAT gate. Now WHY didn’t you tell me you were chasing them in there? I thought the plan was to LEAVE them in here and get all the others out. I didn’t even KNOW there was a narrow pen over there!!! He had added the entire corral since the last time I was up here.

Dad may be old, but he is used to moving fast. He jumped after the calves and shut the other gate. “I thought you knew what you were doing,” Dad muttered.

I could have pointed out that I didn’t need to know what *I* was doing, I needed to know what *he* was doing. Hmph.

Dad eyeballed the truck, wondering if he could convince the calves to stay in the back. It has high sides added, but no top. Calves that get spooked might try to jump out. In the end, we decided to head back and get the trailer.

It wasn’t terrible; just a long drive home and back. My job was to manage the gates, put the truck in four wheel drive (this is a manual operation involving turning a dial on the front wheels) and guide the truck to the cow ramp. Getting the trailer in place was the lengthiest operation because it had rained some and was getting muddy. Dad jackknifed the trailer once, but we were lucky. No damage.

Eventually we got the little guys on. I put away a side gate we had used to close a gap on one side between the trailer and the ramp (This prevents them from trying to squeeze their way to freedom). “Side gate” means we rigged a spare ladder that was at the water pump station. Because I was carrying this long ladder, I was not watching where I put my feet and managed to step directly in a fresh cow paddy. Just lovely.

The weather was worsening. What had been spitting snow was now a mix of sleet, occasional rain and wind.

On the drive back, I got out at the first gate, and my hat blew off. The truck grill caught it. Good thing. It was really Dad’s cap, and I borrowed it from his other truck for this event. I recall some sort of instruction about, “Make sure you put it back. I need to have it in there for when I need it.”

At the next gate, it started hailing the very second I got out of the truck. It stopped almost as soon as I was back in. The third gate–the wind blew it open as we approached!!! Too bad that it hit the sandy hillside and bounced back before we could actually get through the gate. The fourth gate, a wind gust took that hat and blew it to Utah or maybe Mexico. I was busy with the lock and never even saw it leave.

“What happened to my hat?” Dad said as I climbed in the cab. “You lost it this time, didn’t you?”

“No, the wind took it. I had nothing to say about it.”

“Hmph.”

True story. I couldn’t have caught that hat. I never saw it leave.

We made it safely home and Dad installed the calves in their new corral. As I cleaned my boots, I realized I had mud all down one pant leg. I washed up and started on dinner. Just another day at the ranch, but I’m really glad I had those boots on. Wear your boots people. Life is often full of shit that is unavoidable even when you know it is there.

Possible related book: Soul of the Desert Soul of the Desert is a novel about survival, hope and overcoming impossible adversity.
(Click on the tag “ranch stories” in the lower right of this post for more stories about Dad and the ranch!)

Free Short Story: The Nutrition Mafia

A Day in the Life of Ivy (Nutrition Mafia Short Story) — This short was originally written and published for Dru’s Book Musing Blog.

A Day in the Life of Ivy (Nutrition Mafia Short Story)

I go by Ivy, no last name if I can help it. When your family is the mafia, there’s no point in getting too cozy with strangers.

Mostly Uncle Tom sends me on generic errands; deliveries that may or may not require a disguise. I’m mafia by necessity and a nutritionist when there is time for catering or cooking classes. Just remember the mafia never lets you go, not unless they decide you need to do the grocery shopping.

Of course, being in the mafia makes you a target.

“I wasn’t speeding,” I told Officer Kurt. He knew me or at least he thought he knew enough that he could pull me over and fine me for something.

“You were talking on a cell phone while driving,” he said, eyeing the boxes of cookies stacked on the front seat.

“Was not.” There were probably three cell phones in my purse; at least one was untraceable, one was for personal use and there was a backup just in case Uncle Tom told me to deliver a phone to someone.

“Your mouth was wide open, babbling away, completely oblivious to the rest of the world.” His lips thinned with disapproval, almost disappearing under his beard and mustache. His K9 kept his eyes squarely on me, the target.

“Hi Chance,” I said to the dog. “How are things?” Chance didn’t answer, although we had met more than once. “I was singing,” I told Officer Kurt. “The South Austin Moonlighters.”

His pen stopped scribbling. “What?”

I nodded. “Ask the dog. I bet he could hear me.”

“Chance could not hear you from the back of my vehicle!”

“My phone isn’t even out.” I gave a little Vanna White wave around my uncle’s van.

Officer Kurt was in his forties, old enough to know when he’d been outmaneuvered. His face, under his beard, turned red. He had highlighted his natural dark brown hair to mimic that of his German Sheperd. “This vehicle is not registered to you. Are you sure you have permission to drive it?”

Kurt knew crimes happened around my uncle, and he was pretty certain they happened around me too, but I’m not like my family. I just happen to be related to them. “It belongs to my Aunt Olivia.” It would have been more truthful to say it was registered under my dead aunt’s name and my uncle kept the records up to date, but I never offer more details than necessary.

“Singing, huh?” Officer Kurt folded massive arms across his chest. “Go on, then. Sing a verse.”

“What?!?” My voice was not what you’d call trained. I considered myself a nutritionist, not a musician. “I am not singing you a song!”

“You weren’t singing! I knew it.” He clicked his pen and went back to writing.

“You’ll be very embarrassed when cell records prove I was not on the phone,” I muttered.

The pen stopped. He stared into the back of the van via my window. There was only one back seat. The other side was open to the back. Shelves lined one side and a cabinet took up space on the other. Nutrition business is what you’d call “slow.” The only food needing delivery was on the front seat.

I glanced at Chance, more worried about the dog’s reaction than Officer Kurt’s casual search. Luckily, Kurt didn’t ask Chance to check anything out. There was no illegal contraband to be found because my uncle’s assignments were related to what he called the “government mafia,” not the crime syndicate. Still, if Uncle wanted to remain anonymous in this situation, it was better if the dog didn’t sniff around too hard.

“Start the car,” Officer Kurt ordered.

“He’s very suspicious, isn’t he, Chance?” The dog had cocked his head. One ear was tilted to the back of the van. My talking to him didn’t sway his gaze either. I quickly cranked the ignition.

The speakers obediently floated out the soulful pain of, “Mooovin’ On.”

Officer Kurt glared at me before snapping his book shut. “Something isn’t right here. You’re guilty.”

“La, la, la,” I sang while he made his way back to his vehicle.

“Is he gone?” the single back seat asked in Uncle Tom’s cultured tones. His voice was muffled from the cushions that pulled over a hidden space between the seat and the cabinet.

“He’s easing into traffic,” I said. “I don’t see why you can’t ride in the front like a normal person,” I grumbled.

“We aren’t normal, Ivy. Never forget that.”

As if I could. All I wanted to do was deliver a healthy batch of oatmeal whole wheat cookies to a customer. Uncle Tom, for reasons unspecified, decided to come along. My family always had a different recipe in mind, one that usually led to disaster.

Join Ivy in her quest to stay out of jail in One Good Eclair:

eclair_maria_schneider_avatarOne Good Eclair


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I Did Not Go Hunting

Bear Print

Bear Print

As y’all know, I often visit my parents at the ranch. I was there last week. One of the mornings, not bright because it was too early to be bright, Dad asked if I wanted to drive over to the nearest ranch area with him.

“Okay,” I said. “Let me put on my boots.” It seemed kind of early to me since the sun wasn’t up yet, but many things happen early on the ranch.

When I came into the kitchen he said, “Did you eat breakfast?”

“Well, no. I just got out of the shower. I haven’t even had my tea. But if we’re just going to check the cows or water, we’ll be back shortly, and I can eat then.”

“You better eat something. I want to walk around and scout.”

“What?!? Wait…what do you mean scout?” My eyes had been sleepy, but they went wide with sudden suspicion.

“In case there are deer.”

“We’re going hunting?!?”

He shook his head and put his cap on. “No. We’re just going to walk around.”

“Don’t we have church in a few hours?”

“Yes, but that is…” He studied his watch. He calculated. He tilted his head and then tilted it the other way. “Almost 4 hours.”

Four hours? That was cutting it close. It was more like three hours, and if we hurried we’d make church. I got my boots on, crammed a half a tortilla down, guzzled my tea and went out to the truck with half a banana in my hand. I wore my mother’s orange knit cap because I may not be the brightest candle in the dark, but it seemed to me that since it was hunting season, even though other hunters aren’t allowed on private land, that didn’t seem to stop some bullets from crossing now and then. I wanted to make sure I did NOT look like a deer.

When we arrived at the dusty hillsides and arroyos on the ranch, Dad drove like a grandfather who had all day to get somewhere. This slow pace was because we stopped frequently to study the shadows between the squatting oaks and junipers. Sometimes we paused so *someone* could lean out the window to identify possible deer or cow tracks.

When we reached the far side of the ranch, we got out of the truck. The morning was as quiet as a graveyard with nothing much moving except a gentle breeze. Dad strapped on a long knife, checked to see that he had his hunting license in his pocket and grabbed a rifle complete with a giant scope.

We started up the hill, and I asked a question about the fence line. “Shh. You have to be quiet,” Dad said.

“Well,” I whispered, “We aren’t hunting.”

“Nope, but you don’t want to scare the deer.”

“Uh-huh.”

We hiked around not hunting, stopping to look at tracks to determine how old they were. When we came across deer poop, *someone* had to pick it up to see if it was fresh or dried or just how dried it was. I was not that someone because I was not hunting.

We followed trails for an hour. Didn’t see a thing. The further we got from the truck the more I wondered to myself, “If I see a deer, should I tell Dad?” I mean, we were getting mighty far from the truck and there were some big hills. If he shot a deer waaay over here, who was going to drag, haul and carry it back to the truck??? Hmm. But if I didn’t say anything, and he saw the deer after I saw it, would he know I saw it first??? Hmm…

We continued to traipse about. The morning was quite beautiful for a hike.

Dad finally paused and studied the mountains on either side. After a bit he said, “Well, we should head back so we’re in time for church, don’t you think?”

“Sure.”

He started walking again. Now, far be it for me to point out to Dad that the truck was back the other way. He knows those hills better than the back of his hand so he knew darn well we were still hiking out and away. We continued on for the better part of another hour before turning back.

As we turned, he shushed me and knelt down. I got myself down too. When you’re “not hunting,” you always follow the actions of the leader with the gun. He searched the terrain across the arroyo through the scope. Two steps forward, more scoping. “There might be something. Let’s move.”

“Let’s move” meant that instead of a slow hike, we hightailed it back across those mountains like our butts were on fire. Dad began laying out possible paths that a deer might take from that hillside. “Could go down into the riverbed or might go towards the truck.”

We continued to move and he continued to speculate and scope things out. Eventually we made it to the truck, but we never saw any other hints. We even made it to church, but of course, I had to shower all over again.

Next year I’m going to tell my brothers to visit during hunting season. Let them “not” go hunting with Dad. Hmph.

Possible related book: Soul of the Desert

Maria Schneider is the author of the Sedona O’Hala humorous mysteries and the Moon Shadow urban fantasy series. You can find her books at Amazon, B&N, Kobobooks and other book retailers.

(Click on the tag “ranch stories” for more stories about Dad and the ranch!)

Lower Tesuque Hike, Santa Fe, NM

There’s a lot of information available on the web about hiking Tesuque Canyon—but most of it seems to be the upper part of Tesuque. The lower part of the canyon is just as close to Santa Fe and makes for a nice morning walk. The trailhead is a little hard to find, but worth the effort if you’re staying in Santa Fe and want a fairly easy stroll. From the Santa Fe National Forest site, these are the directions to get to the trailhead for Trail 254 Winsor Trail Part 1 Tesuque to Aspen Basin:

Turn off of Bishop’s Lodge Road (County Road 73A) onto County Road 72A, at a sign here that reads Big Tesuque Canyon. Watch for the two small areas on the right identified as trail parking areas. Park here and follow up the road, go across the stream and behind the residences to a dirt road. Turn left on the road, and then follow the trail east as it passes through more private land to the forest boundary which is about a half mile from the parking area.

The sign for Country Road 72a is small—like a neighborhood street sign. It also has a “dead end” sign because the end of the road basically turns into the trail.

I didn’t follow the trail for more than an hour. It may be possible to turn it into a loop, but I didn’t have a map. I believe the USGS Map: McClure Reservoir shows this trail.

Lower Trail At the beginning of the trail, you’re surrounded by tightly bound juniper fences on either side. Between the fences and the trees, you’re almost in a tunnel. The stream is behind the fences here. It’s a fairly easy walk with sounds and smells of horses and other livestock until you reach the forest.
Lower Trail Once in the forest, the stream is still fenced off for riparian protection. This fence doesn’t last very long. The trail meanders upwards at a gentle rate and follows the stream. The colors in the fall were very nice indeed, especially along the stream where there were deciduous type trees. The hillside was mostly piñon, ponderosa and various juniper trees, including the one-seed juniper. There were some bluish-hued junipers that I didn’t recognize.
Lower Trail After about a mile there’s a log down for a stream crossing. At this point, the trail on the other side of the water went in two directions. Going right took me back along the stream—but I don’t know if you would end up back at the starting point. Going left led further up into the mountains.

You can turn this hike into an all-day hike or just a nice morning walk.

Related book/series — I used this trail for a scene in Under Witch Moon

On the Ranch – Branding

When I was an exchange student in Japan, I took almost a full year of Karate. I continued it while in college for a couple of years. You just never know when you’re going to need that kind of thing, right?

Last week I visited my parents on the ranch. Unbeknownst to me, Dad had bought a new bull and small calf from a neighbor. That means they needed branding. Branding cattle is right up there on the list of chores that I really don’t want to do. Ever. But it’s part of the ranching life and has to be done before a calf, cow or bull can be sold or butchered. More’s the pity.

At any rate, off to the corral we went. Dad has a nice setup at the nearby corral, complete with a chute for holding the calves and all the other equipment right where it needs to be. Of course…the calves still have to be persuaded to go into the chute and stand still while they get tagged and branded. My job was mostly to lock gates and pull levers…and chase the calf and bull down the channel. Sure, my job is the easy job. Hmph.

I don’t have to do the branding or make sure it doesn’t smear, or get near the hot flames, or douse flames if something nearby sparks (some of those cow paddies are dried. They are essentially dried hay, so you want to be careful).

I chased the steer down the chute, flapping at him with my long plastic pipe swatter (Think long, flexible stick). He ran down the chute channel and Dad nabbed him quickly, trapping his shoulders behind the steel panels that would keep him from moving around too much.

While Dad held the chute lever in place with both hands (this takes a lot of muscle because often the calves are pushing against the steel panels until the locking pin is engaged) I ran back out of the holding pen to put the pin in place to keep the panels from opening. The steer was quite docile and really calm. In the old days when Dad threw the calves sideways and tied their feet, they got rather upset.

Dad branded, tagged his ear, checked his ears for ticks and he was ready to go in minutes.

When it came time to drive the bull down the channel (this is a small bull, mind you, under a year old) I got in the holding pen…and realized I had forgotten my pipe swatter. Well, it’s more trouble to leave and come back because there were two extra calves in there and they were already nervous. I didn’t want anything bolting through a gate that I might be using so I just sucked it up and instructed the bull to get going. He thought about it and declined. Not all that politely either.

We negotiated.

Me: Run after the calves, try to separate the bull and get him in the chute.

Calves and bull: Churn feet and create a huge dust storm in an attempt to choke the human. If the human gets too close, change directions, try to run over her or lift tail and poop.

Finally the bull started in the right direction…only to turn and push the other two calves out of the way in his hurry to avoid the channel.

Around and around we went. FINALLY, I got him in the channel. But…I had no swatter!!! He backed his big butt back out. For the love of…cow paddies.

Well, there was a short swatter pipe in the pen, about half the size of the one I wanted. I hated to lean over to pick it up. You need to keep your eyes on these monsters or they can run you right over. So I chased them around to the other side of the small pen and then quickly dipped down to get the swatter. Excellent!

We went around again, and I got the bull headed in the channel! Only…blast it all, he started backing out. I waved my swatter. Dad yelled. I yelled.

The dang swatter was too small to convince the bull that I was dangerous and not to be messed with. I jumped up and down waving that thing like an escaped clown convict, but the bull backed up anyway.

In desperation, I gave him my best rebel yell complete with a high karate kick square across his butt. Never mind that I whiffed it completely; the bull ran in fear of his life. Because seriously, if you saw me jumping and kicking like a lunatic, wouldn’t you run???

We got him branded and cleared of ticks and released. Whew. There are better jobs out there. And yes, if you must know, right before I climbed back in the truck, I stepped directly in the center of a fresh cow paddy.

The picture below is Dad using a professional tool (stick found nearby) to get the ticks out of the bull’s ears).

ticks

This next shot is the pen where all four calves waited while one went down the chute. I sorted the steer first and then the bull. The calves in the photo are ones that we didn’t need–so after we were done, Dad chased them out. They got to escape down the channel without being captured at the end.pen

That’s just one of the many highlights of ranch life. Those of you who have read Soul of the Desert know that the characters in that novel share a number of other…interesting escapades that might occur on a ranch.

Over My Dead Body! – Top Secret

omdbtitle Some fabulous news to share!!! Over My Dead Body has published my latest short story: Top Secret.

I’m thrilled! This is my first mystery sale that has no speculative (i.e. fantasy) element. The mystery market is a tough market. There are very few short story magazines just for mystery. Many of the markets are noir…and I don’t happen to read or write noir! So it’s a very big thrill to be a part of Over My Dead Body!

(It’s also a bargain: It’s a free read online!)


Posted: July 30, 2009
Filed in Short Stories/Anthologies
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