So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Guest Post: Justinn Harrison

I read the first book in the Gallant Hearts Series and was totally bowled over. I’ve never read anything about modern jousting and it was a mind blower. Great read, strong characters, romance and well understood horses.  Possibly my book of the year for 2020!   

Justinn,tell us a little about yourself, where you live, family, career, horses etc.

Hi, my name is Justinn Harrison, though I publish as J.D. Harrison. I love living in Colorado, though I have traveled all over the United States working with horses. I’ve been an upper level eventing groom, riding instructor, squire to full contact jousters, commercial carriage driver and mostly stall mucker, blessed with a huge variety of equine experiences. Currently, I am a part time stallion handler and barn manager, which gives me plenty of freedom to write and enjoy my own horse. My husband deserves an award for encouraging both of my passions, often to his detriment. He shares me with my dog, Cherry, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, and with my heart horse, Smoke. Smoke is a very rare breed, the Canadian Horse, or Le Cheval Canadien. They are very smart, hardworking, people oriented, courageous and sturdy. To my constant gratitude, they are also long lived. Smoke is 23 this year and while a bit slower some mornings, he is still going strong. We enjoy carriage driving and trail riding mostly, though he is game to try just about anything.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to put together works on paper, telling stories for myself or writing poems when I needed an emotional outlet. I always took advanced English and creative writing courses with high marks. However, I did not start novel writing until a very serious fight with H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009 shook up my world. When you unexpectedly have to face your own mortality it helps you reevaluate what is truly important to you. The first finished novel came about in 2014, with several more on its heels, but they weren’t quite publication ready. The Gallant Hearts series began in 2016 during National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve been chasing the stories that sprang from that point ever since.

Are you a plot in head first person or does it grow as you write?

I have ideas of where the story is headed, but it’s mostly pointing my characters at that objective and turning them loose. Sometimes I throw situations at them and am just as surprised as the reader at the results. Makes every writing day an adventure.

Plug one of your books!

I’m always going to love book one in the Gallant Hearts series the most. Well Armored Hearts is everything I love all rolled in to one story. A strong heroine, friends who become family, unlooked for romance, renaissance festivals, hard hitting modern day jousting, and more than anything, horses that you fall in love with just as much as the people. It’s a meaty story that reads fast and there’s something relatable for almost everyone.

Coffee or tea? chocolate or crisps? Romance or thriller? Horses or dogs, or both?

ALWAYS tea. Preferably Glenghettie (a Welsh tea) brewed dark with just a lump of sugar and the barest splash of milk.

Oh goodness! If I must pick, then chocolate. Dark mostly. But I do love a salty crunchy snack too. Torture!

Romance. Sometimes romantic thrillers, but honestly, I read to escape and not much beats a believable happily ever after.

And definitely both horses and dogs! The horse often fancies himself a bit dog like, but he’s too big to cuddle with in bed at night. LOL

You can find my work at www.gallanthearts.com, I am on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJDHarrison/

Always happy to chat with other authors, readers and fellow horse lovers.


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Cover reveal!

The third in my series of books about horses, love and faith. I thought the series was finished, but there’s going to be a Christmas story and one set in Austria… Here’s the blurb!

Chris and Mollie thought it was time to move on; change is good, isn’t it?

But in going their separate ways, they just hit more problems and complications.

Chris leaves the farm to meet his mentor Alan. But his dream of a happy time sorting himself out in the community on the Dorset coast is ruined by a terrible accident. Chris must return to work with horses to make amends. Returning home brings more shocking revelations throw new light on his troubled gender identity. More trapped than ever before, can he find a way out?

Mollie starts her dream of boarding girls from her old school but finds herself out of depth and struggling with the teenagers’ demands and moods. It seems the idea is a disaster for all. But maybe, Ann from the stables has a solution.

Galloping through all these misadventures is the equestrian sport of Vaulting and the struggles of Keith, the stallion who has caused the two so many problems. Strange arrivals, a new horse, a Nun and Mollie’s mother all combine to bring even more chaos to the struggling pair. The journey for all ends in a shattering conclusion but will Mollie and Chris finally get their happy ending? Does it need God to step in and change things?

A standalone follow on to Compromise.


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Compromise

At last in paperback, yippeeeeee!

Sometimes, things just can’t get any worse, but for hardworking Mollie, they do!

Not only does she have to leave her job at the stables, but she also has to find a new home for herself and the dogs. Then a chance encounter with old friend Chris at the Hazeley show brings a solution; Compromise living. Mollie gets a new start on his farm and Chris gets freedom from being harassed by the riding club ladies.

But will this just make things worse? As tangled emotions and hurt begin to surface, Mollie has to make sense of her past and Chris has to come to terms with his deeply buried sexuality.

None of this is helped by the cows and  Keith, a slightly dippy stallion, whose combined antics and dramas cause confusion and heartbreak.


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Compromise – a review!

This is by Christine Meunier on her equus blog, I was so honoured!

Compromise is the second book by this author that I have read, the first being Challenger.  The two novels are loosely related with some characters that are in both stories. But readers are able to read them as standalone novels.  In Compromise, Molly finds herself struggling with the day to day tasks involved in her job in a local riding stable.

Compromise by Anna Rashbrook | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Compromise by Anna Rashbrook | Equus Education (Click to buy)

As more pressure gets put on Molly to step up into an overseeing role whilst their manager is in hospital, she finds that the joy of working with horses diminishes.  The gossip and nastiness of the women she works with overrides any joy that she used to get from horses and working with them.

As things come to a head, Molly is amazed to find herself suddenly without the security of a job or a home.  An unexpected compromise is provided to her in the form of Chris, a man who has been helping with her previous employer’s stallion.  Molly is surprised by Chris’ solution to her problem but feels that the situation offered may work for her.  She just questions if living with a man she barely knows is a good idea.

As time passes, Molly comes to learn the role of milking cows on Chris’ farm. She also learns that the recluse farmer has a lot more going on than you may first suspect.  Compromise is an insightful look into the world of someone struggling with gender identity.

It features horses throughout and they have a healing affect on the main characters.  There is a faith aspect that is touched on lightly but seems to sit under the surface.  There are a couple of characters within the story that readers may love to hate, as they provide a good amount of friction in the story.  Compromise is an interesting read that finishes off nicely for each of the main characters involved.


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Riding Festival, Burg Moosham

First time we’ve been for a few years. Really made me miss the horses and riding. But it was great fun, with the first time I’ve seen a musical chairs competition in Austria. Lovely Norrikers, Icelandics and Haflingers. And a most odd enactment of a local fable with goats!


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Guest Blog: Amanda Wills

Now an author from the UK, Amanda Willis, enjoy! This is her latest book, newly released!

Amanda Wills is the Amazon bestselling author of the Riverdale Pony Stories, which follow the adventures of Poppy McKeever and her Connemara pony, Cloud. She is also the author of the Mill Farm Stables series and three books for younger horse fans, The Pony of Tanglewood Farm, Juno’s Foal and The Midnight Pony. Amanda, a UK-based former journalist and police press officer, has been writing fiction since 2012. Since then she has notched up 15 novels and her books regularly top the UK Amazon horse ebook bestseller charts. Amanda lives in Kent with her husband and fellow indie author, Adrian, and their two sons.

Amanda with Dobbie, a Connemara she rides every week

Amanda with Dobbie, a Connemara she rides every week

Blog:

As a pony-mad child growing up in the early 1980s, I was an avid reader of pony books.I devoured the Jill series by Ruby Ferguson, read my way non-stop through the many books by the great Pullein-Thompson sisters and wished with all my heart that I was Jinny, Patricia Leitch’s feisty heroine in the Jinny and Shantih stories.

So, it was probably inevitable that when I decided to try my hand at writing fiction in my 40s I should start by writing pony adventure books.

New writers are always urged to ‘write what you know’ and I took the advice on board. I knew exactly what it was like to be a horse-crazy 11-year-old, which is exactly what Poppy, the protagonist in the Riverdale Pony Stories, is.

My first book, The Lost Pony of Riverdale, took a whole year to write, which seems like an awfully long time now! Six years and 15 books later, I definitely write faster these days. In fact, I finished the first draft of my latest book, The Mystery of Riverdale Tor, in just over three months.

The eighth book in the series, The Mystery of Riverdale Tor sees Poppy and her best friend Scarlett taking part in their first TREC competition.

But first Poppy must turn detective and discover who owns the dog that has been terrorizing local sheep near her Dartmoor home. Coming to the end of a 50,000-word book is always a great achievement, but I am particularly pleased with this one. It has all the ingredients of a rollicking good adventure story: a mystery hound, an evil villain, competition rivals, best friends, and – of course – plenty of ponies!

My all-time favourite horse book:

Such a hard question to answer! The books I adored as a child, and the ones I returned to again and again until the pages were almost worn away, were my battered but beloved Silver Brumby books.

Elyne Mitchell’s much-loved series about the wild horses of the Australian bush was both magical and evocative, and her stories of a brumby dynasty will stay with me all my life.

 

You can visit Amanda’s website here: https://www.amandawills.co.uk/, find her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/riverdaleseries/ or follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/amandawillsauthor/?hl=en