My New Toy

ok, ok.... so my dog is almost as big as my horse...

Between various family drama and issues, I've managed to pick up a cart (ebay, where else?!?) and MIREE, after all these months of ground driving and pulling the drag, finally gets her chance to shine. She's doing wonderful! (how else would my little wonder-mare do?)

We've been down the road one time, and trotted today for the first time. The weather has finally cooled off and so I'm looking forward to much more riding (and driving) through the fall than I was able to do this summer.

Cowgirl Boot Camp

The shooting has fallen by the wayside, to some degree, because of family stuff keeping me busy, and in hindsight, I'm doubly glad that I got to attend the Cowgirl Boot Camp managed by the CMSA Club Texas Smokin Guns and taught by the wonderful Tammy Sronce. Her sponsor, Maytex generously donated a stack of saddle pads that were given away as door prizes. (Beri loves hers!)

Beri and I are the first grey from the left!

We had a wonderful time and learned lots. Lots of stuff I knew (*argh*) but wasn't using, as Tammy politely yet firmly pointed out.

Horsemanship is key to this sport. You have to have a horse that has a good mind and is light and responsive to the aids, and I haven't required Beri to be as light as she needs to be. And yes, even though we've missed the last few competitions, we're working on our being light and responsive to the aids.

Tammy also gave me a needed 'wake-up' call to a couple of issues with my guns. One thing I was doing that is really quite dangerous was cocking before I crossed Beri's neck when I was going for a cross shot.

I wonder how many cowboys in the Old West ended up shooting their own horses in the back of the head?!?!

The other main thing she helped me with - it's been making me nuts to look at my photos and see how I was leaning so far forward - she helped me settle down and "let the balloon come to me".

I can't say enough nice things about working with Tammy, but we also have another incredible resource here in North Texas and that's Curt Moore at the Shootfire Ranch. He's offering a beginners clinic October 18-19, in conjunction with the Texas Smokin Guns. Check their website for details. I've cliniced with Curt before and highly recommend him.

Otherwise, the club will be at the Equine Expo in Fort Worth and also doing a demo at Teskey's on September 20th. Any of you writers who are writing westerns or even modern cowboys - this is your check to get out and hear the gunfire, smell the smoke and ask questions.

Thinking Sideways ~

Lots of us here in the inter-spaceways are taking Holly Lisle's "How to Think Sideways" class, I've seen a lot posted around on various forums and blogs, but I find I have to throw out my own two cents about it.

First, let me say that I've been a fan of Holly's for a long time. Her books first, and I used to lurk in the Forward Motion community. I've read over and over again all the good free articles and advice she has on her website. At a point, before I had really gotten a good start, I'd been beaten down and was close to giving it all up, but the encouragement and support that she offers to anyone who will take the time to read what she has to offer tossed me back on my feet and helped me find my backbone and keep going.

When she started making her writer's workshop series available in the Holly Shop -- I elbowed my way to the front of the line.

Now, the second thing I want to say is that I've done the usual round of online classes as well as f2f workshops at various conferences and worked somewhat extensively with some very talented authors - and not to take anything away from any of that, because I've learned a lot in so many different places it would be impossible to list them all - and I have a full shelf of 'how to' books, including a short stack of well-thumbed favorites -- but on the whole, Holly's workbooks are in a class of their own.

There are a lot of good authors out there, good writers and good teachers. But it is a rare and unique individual who has the extraordinary talent to teach well the thing they are successful at. It takes a special *combination* of skill and talent that few people have.

Holly has that extraordinary, unique combination of talents -- not only of being able to figure out what she's doing that helps make her successful but being able to break that down into steps and explain it in a way that others can use what she's done to build their own skills.

I have most, if not all, of the writers workshop series and love every one. I have links to her shop in my sidebar because I believe in what she has to offer. When she opened up submissions for the '33 Mistakes' Series, I was excited to be included and ecstatic to get to be the first release.

So when Holly opened up registration for the first Think Sideways course, I was right there.

- my life has a series of explosions going on right now, so I wasn't able to keep up with weekly lessons for the 2nd through 6th week ... but I got caught up over the holiday weekend, which leads me to the reason I feel compelled to blog about it, even though so many others are as well, is because even though I went into the course with the highest of expectations - she totally blew me away.

It's not the kind of course I've seen anywhere else. She doesn't necessarily tell you anything.

What she does is show you how to use tools you need in order to learn the skills to ask the right questions and how to use the answers.

By the time I had worked past the barriers, through the clustering and done my Sentences, I had three muses screaming at me in full Technicolor scenes with plots, characters and conflict with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back explaining why each one was on the Group W Bench ... *ahem* ... or something like that. Amazing stuff came up out of the back of my mind and coalesced into complete stories faster than I could work through the pages of the workshop.

I had to physically cap the pen and close the notebook and put it away for a couple of hours so the muses would quiet down enough that I could hear the voices of the stories one at a time and get some notes down for them.

And, with all that, she shows you how to make the connection between writing what you love and writing something marketable. ...and I'm only six weeks into a six month program. I can't even imagine what else she might have in store for us, but I'm very excited about it.

I will say it should come with a warning label: not for the part-timers, wannabes and light-weights. I printed the first six weeks' lessons to take on the road with me last weekend and it completely filled a three inch binder. But the beauty of it is that you can go at your own pace so you don't miss lessons because of the ebb and ka-booms in your life.

If you are serious about a career in writing, if you love writing and you want to make a living doing it, this course can help you learn the skills you need. I haven't seen another single course that comes close to offering what just the first six weeks of this one does.

It's on sale, now, Monday Sept 1-Monday Sept 8. It's a full six months to a year long with weekly or bi-weekly lessons and much more affordable than it should be given the value of what you're getting. It comes with a guarantee, if you don't like it and want out, let her know and the payments stop.

LOL! ... I've been sitting here for 20 minutes trying to think of a way to say "you owe it to yourself to give it a try" without sounding cliché, but it's simply the truth and there isn't a better way to say it - so there ya' go. ;)