Saturday, July 30, 2016

Run Your Own Race

by L. R. Trovillion
Today was as humid as a greenhouse here in the Mid Atlantic, even in the morning when I decided to go for a run. Understand, I am not a long distance runner or rabid devotee--I just want to get fit. Towards the end of the session I was pleased to hear by Runkeeper tell me I ran much longer and farther than before, but before I could bask in the glow of my own accomplishments, a sinewy woman who probably weighed all of 95 pounds after a heavy meal, blew past me and motored up the steep hill ahead. I watched, aghast, as she tackled the climb as if she were riding an escalator. Meanwhile, I was chugging like a steam engine pulling twenty cars loaded with coal. I had to break to a walk. So, of course, I immediately got to comparing myself with her. Why can't I do that? I resented her and wanted to be her at the same time. And that's what's wrong with me and a whole lot of other people. We look around, compare, find ourself lacking, and launch into any number of negative responses: quitting, tearing others down, making excuses, criticizing oneself. While all that is going on, what we really need to do is center ourselves and run our own race. That woman on the hill may have been running all her life, whereas I just started. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because I was there to do what I needed to do and accomplish the times and distances I had set out for myself. And then I needed to celebrate those accomplishments. That last step is important, too.

The same thing happens in writing. How many of you out there have seen other writers zoom past you on the road to publishing, snagging an agent or signing a 3-book contract while you feel as if you're languishing on the by-roads. Have you felt jealousy, envy, resentment or even surprise to learn that another author is now wildly successful and his marketing campaign is raking in new readers by the thousands while your Amazon sales statistics are flatlined? Yeah, it's hard not to compare. That's what human beings do, but do it at your peril writer friends. We are all running our own, unique race and no two journeys are alike.  So when you feel the breeze from that author running past you up the hill, do not despair. You don't know his journey, what he's done to get there, or how long he's been at it. Run your own race. Be the best runner, writer, rider--whatever-- you know how to be.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What I Wish I'd Known When I was Eleven

When I was young, all I could think about was horses. From the time I stole a tiny, plastic horse from the farm set at my nursery school (I was two), horses were my thing. After years of raking yards and many summers of lemonade stands I finally saved up enough to buy a pony when I was eleven. From there I moved up to an Appaloosa mare and began to compete. Since then I have trained, instructed, and shown successfully on a national level, although I sometimes feel my journey with horses is just beginning.

I have learned a few things over the years, however, so I thought this might be a good time to share what I wish I’d known when I was eleven. And, in reviewing this list, I found that it applies to books and writing, just as much as it does to a journey with horses.

1. It’s okay to ask questions. In fact, never miss an opportunity to ask. It is the very best way to learn something that is important to you. Ask more than one person, then compare answers to develop your own opinion.

2. Set a goal, one that is doable. Your goal should not be winning a class or writing a best seller, but more along the lines of improving your performance. You might not reach your goal, but you will have learned something along the way. When you do reach a goal, celebrate!

3. Prepare, then prepare some more. Think of every possible scenario regarding your goal and walk yourself through all of them, as best you can. Then do it again, and again.

4. As much as you can, read. Then read again, and discuss the ooks with others. There is always something to learn.

5. Watch your horse and the people around you as he or she interacts with others. That is probably how the horse or human will try to interact with you. Then adjust your demeanor accordingly. Some horses and people respond best to a soft voice, others need firm, business-like directives. Make sure your horse and your friends are a good match for you.

6. Always wear a helmet when you ride. Always. I have seen far too many accidents, many at the walk and trot, to feel it is safe for anyone to ride without one. (Okay, not much in common with books here, but it is important.)

7. Follow  basic safety guidelines in all that you do. Most injuries happen out of carelessness. Keep your lead rope from dragging on the ground, check your girth or cinch often, make sure your equipment is in good condition. Constantly think the equine mantra: is this safe?

8. Have fun, and try new things, such as a Dressage or barrel racing lesson, or reading a SciFi  novel or a biography. It is important to expand your horizons in all that you do.

9. Make friends and encourage others. Then, your new friends will encourage you, too. Remember that you do not compete against others, but against your own best self.

10. It’s okay have a bad day. If you’re smart you will learn something important, so smile and take time to digest what went wrong so you can come back better and stronger the next day.

Just like you, I have learned so much more during my journey with horses and books than just this. But I really, really wish I’d known all of these things when I was eleven. 


Lisa Wysocky is a bestselling and award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, including the Cat Enright equestrian mystery series, now optioned for film and television. She is also a therapeutic riding instructor who consults with PATH and other centers about their horse herds. Find her at

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Final Letter to my Old Man, TC

I’m not sure when the story started – early on in these 8 years we’ve shared perhaps – that in your final moments, a blissful peace would sweep over you as you lay down in the sunshine, and in the next moment, you are running as fast as your hooves can carry you across the rainbow bridge. I would find you in the pasture, looking relaxed and asleep, the wear and tear of this world left behind. Your soul at peace. This is what we all wished for you.

You’ve always been healthy, even for a gelding of your age and history. Sure, you choked on grain that one time, and you aspirated it on that other occasion, but between the vet’s knowledge and drugs, my checkbook and your strong will, we beat them all. Even when you gas colicked this past winter. It was a rough one, but you pulled through.

This Spring seemed like business as usual. I was quite amused as you gingerly trotted through the pasture, picking up a jaunty canter when you felt sure-footed. I kept thinking about how lucky I was to have found the magical combination of feed and exercise that kept you healthy and your eyes sparkling. You were voraciously hungry, you were drinking more than ever and you were even a tad round.

And then this crazy Upstate New York Summer weather happened. 90’s and humid during the day. 50’s and 60’s at night. You were sweating more than you had in the past three years. Fourth of July weekend you stopped eating grain altogether. You acted uncomfortable for days, despite vet visits and medications. Suddenly, after 35 years of riding, driving, showing, and trails, you had developed laminitis. I was beside myself. That Sunday morning I haltered you and took you out to the lawn, hoping you would eat something. In those cool, quiet early morning hours, I found a place to release my frustration. I could not make you eat. I could not fix your feet. I felt like I was in the middle of a perfect storm for your downfall. I leaned over your now bony sway back and sobbed as you slowly wandered around the yard before deciding that you wanted to be in your pasture more than you wanted sweet yard grass.

And yet you continued on. I changed your meds a bit, added ulcer guard. Mixing your meals was four star service and yet it was a crap shoot as to whether or not you’d actually eat it.

I lay in bed that night, thinking. I tried my best to meet each new issue as it came along and I was not deterred as they began to pile up. I chatted with our vet one night, making sure we were doing everything we could to help you, to keep you comfortable. I started to analyze other food choices and ponder where I could get samples – perhaps you were bored with yours. If I could just stem to tide of old age –

As I lay there, all of your laundry list of meds running through my head - your routine of easy boots on all day, off while I was doing chores and monitoring you, back on at night as you loved to roam under the light of the moon, five o’clock sponge baths, snacks in the yard – I started to pray to God to keep you healthy. And that’s when it hit me.

What if I was asking for the wrong thing? The last thing I ever want to do is to go against nature. I would never want to be seen as warring with the Creator. I also realized that if you colicked again, I would call the vet and fight to fix you. I would continue to fight to heal your laminitis. I would find something for you to eat that gave you the energy to fight for yourself.

In that moment I realized I would never be able to let you go unless it was the result of something I couldn’t fix. That’s when I knew what to pray for.  The prayer eased my mind. I had found my greatest fear when it came to you, as well as my way to find peace.

Ten days later, I found you down in your stall. Slick with sweat, eyes dull from exhaustion. I knew I couldn’t get you to your feet. I called my neighbors and they came to the rescue. It took six of us, but we got you to a standing position. I was encouraged. Even though your shoulders trembled, even though your heart raced – you were standing. This felt like winning.

And then I ran my hand over the soft rim of your nostrils. It was 86 degrees that day, and your nostrils were ice cold. The corners of your lips were the same. Ten minutes after the vet arrived, your gums were turning blue even as you ferociously grabbed a hay bale, ripping it off the ground.

I knew it was time. That’s when I remembered the fairy tale ending I had wished for you for so long, realizing in hindsight that I had gone against my word and fought to get you up anyway. And that’s when I heard my prayer softly echo through my soul.

“Please, when you take him home, please let it be because of something I cannot fix. Because if there’s the possibility that I can fix it, then I will try. I cannot help myself. This is just the way that You made me.”

Old Man, when you first came to my farm, I used to say, “if you’re here for five months or five years, you will be safe and you will be loved.” And you were.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Co Authoring Horse Stories

Perhaps it’s your desire to break into the world of writing horses, but you’re not sure where to start.  Or you’d like to do something different to further your writing career and attract a different group of readers.  Have you considered collaborating with another author?

I have recently finished reading City of Angels, which was a free download on Kindle.  It was appealing because of one author Tracie Peterson – I really enjoy her works!  I am not unfamiliar with James Scott Bell, either.  These two Christian authors have worked together to bring this story to life and I really enjoyed the read!  From having finished this novel, I would be tempted to look into other works by James Scott Bell, because of my interest in novels by Tracie Peterson.

Co Authoring Horse Stories: What do you think?
If two horse authors have a readership base, chances are some of these fans may overlap, but many won’t.  Particularly if you write about different aspects of horses – children’s books, teen stories, adult novels, equestrian, racing – whatever it is, you may find that co authoring a novel is a way for you to each compliment the other author's writing and grow your readership base.  Food for thought!

With access to many people over the internet, working together on a story wouldn’t necessarily need to be done in person.  As long as communication lines are kept open, authors may find that they can develop ideas for a plot, themes and characters via email or chat.

An added bonus could be that two creative minds can develop a strong story that is entertaining and informative with a unique twist.  And when it comes to marketing the story, there will be two lots of ideas about what works for gaining interest!

What novel have you read and enjoyed that was co authored?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Trimming the Deadwood and Other Painful Experiences

Last week a tornado hit our small town, which was quite a shock for this area of the Mid Atlantic. As roads again became passable, telephone poles replaced, electricity restored, neighbors gathered at grocery stores, churches, schools and work comparing the damage and sharing their experiences. Everyone pretty much agreed that they felt lucky it wasn't worse than it was. The damage to our farm consists of broken trees, some hanging precariously over fence lines. The man hired to remove the deadwood gave me the unfortunate news that many of my trees could not be saved. When a tree sustains so much damage and the interior is exposed, it is open to disease, infestation, and rot. My beautiful shade tree in a small paddock has to be completely removed, lest on some future date it dies and falls on the fence. This hard news made me think of writing, of course! How often do we look at our work in progress and procrastinate over making the necessary cuts...cuts that will be for the good of the whole story. The first draft of my last book, False Gods, eventually got a deadwood trimming of nearly 30,000 in order to tighten the plot, keep the pace moving, and eliminate fluff. Oh, but how we fall in love with our own fluff! At first, I snipped a few leaves and branches here and there. Then a few bare limbs. Eventually, I saw that whole chapters had to go. Clear the deadwood. Make way for new growth. Rev up that chainsaw and do what's necessary, no matter how hard it is to say good-bye to that lovely shade tree.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My New Ride

I'd been toying with the idea of adding a second horse for some time. A horse that could walk trot and canter, a horse that would be sound. A horse I could actually take up the levels in dressage. As much as I love my Paint mare, she has her limitations and while she's had good years, they always seem to end in another injury. Another setback. But horses are expensive and time-consuming, and I wasn't sure that I wanted that much responsibility. I wasn't sure I could be the kind of horse owner I strive to be with two horses. So I kept going with my one horse, my clunker, my best friend horse, through a winter of no riding and a lot of massaging and hand-walking in the hopes of making a difference in her comfort.

Then one day in the spring, I saw a notice on the board that one of the boarders was selling her horse. He was a horse I knew well enough to know he was at least worth a test ride. I was still in denial about it, but I had enough presence of mind to invite my mom and my boyfriend out to watch our trial ride.

He was well schooled in dressage but had been putzing around trails with beginners on board for the last two years, and sat for much of the winter on top of that. I wasn't expecting much, but he quickly responded to me, and we worked out a few issues and saw improvement within one ride. I couldn't deny his potential, and I knew what he had been, so I bought him. It was the easiest transaction ever. He lived at my barn already, so no trailering, no muss, no fuss. The seller gave me his bridle, halter and blanket. My saddle fit him. And I was freaking out (especially when I handed over the cash...waving goodbye to that much money physically hurts).

At first I was somewhat indifferent to him. I am deeply bonded to my mare, and I wasn't sure if there was room to form a bond with another horse. I was also anticipating a long road ahead of earning trust, since that was my experience with Sofie. But Riley has been fortunate to always have good owners, and his personality shone right away. He is very friendly and expressive, and I soon realized he has a heart of gold under saddle. In our early rides he sometimes struggled to do what I asked, as we were both out of shape, out of practice, and I hadn't yet learned how to ride him. But no matter how poorly I rode, he never said "no". He tries his hardest all the time, even when I take things too far and turn a so-so session into a complete disaster. With the help of my wonderful trainer, we have come so far in a few short months, and I have the biggest smile on my face when I ride.

Sometimes things do happen for a reason. It is terrible that my horse hurt herself (she is now doing much better, but I still won't ride her for another six months or so), but her struggles opened me up to the possibility of adding another horse, and Riley came up for sale at just the right time. Financially, I was able to take on the responsibility (which I would have struggled to do when he was for sale two years ago), and I am in a place in my life where I can balance it all. I am so glad I did the scary thing and bought him. I knew he was a very nice horse, but I never expected to love him as much as I do after such a short time. He is truly a gift.