Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wellness Week in St Croix USVI

St.Croix-The Gentle Virgin

Floating over lavender, green and yellow fan coral doing a graceful underwater ballet beneath the turquoise waters of Tamarind Reef, I lost track of time. Blue see-through fishes darted among enormous brain and pipe organ corals. A baby green turtle swam with us for about 30 seconds letting us see his black mottled markings on his head and flippers, then he wafted away. My breath became in sync with the wash of the waves as we glided over the reef balanced on foam tubes called noodles. This was the first day of my wellness week for equestrians with Sharon North Pohl of Zealous Horses fame. She invited me to test drive what I concluded is a week, not just for equestrians, but for anyone seeking to recharge their batteries in the translucent waters of the Caribbean Sea.

The second day began with breakfast at Dirty Nates on the sleepy boardwalk in Christiansted, a colonial town built in the 1700’s overlooking yachts moored in the aquamarine harbor. A seaplane landed bringing in tourists from busy St. Thomas sitting on the horizon. We watched day-trippers boarding boats headed for Buck Island, a marine preserve with a well-marked snorkel trail, and powder white sand beaches. Sharon wanted to hike down to  Jacks & Isaacs Bay, a less-traveled beach on the eastern tip of the Island, with superb snorkeling where we picnicked and lazed away the day.

St. Croix, known as the “Gentle Virgin”, is the largest island in the USVI and offers the most diversity in terrain with a host of outdoor activities that include hiking through a verdant rain forest to tide-pools as warm as bath water for a soothing soak at the end, a sunset sail with outrageous colors taking over the stratosphere, kayaking, and horseback riding along sun-splashed beaches where lapis- lazuli waters kiss the shore. I looked forward to “limin'” at the beach bars after a day of exploring. My favorite was Rhythms on Rainbow Beach featuring lobster salsa and jerk chicken tacos.
Sharon and Lawson at Rainbow Beach

Mornings start off easy with a mushrooming clouds framed in gold and yoga on the beach. A week of adventure, with plenty of time to slosh in the soothing water made my heart sing. Sharon hopes to offer an all-inclusive week in April 2016 when the town comes alive with one of the best carnivals in the Islands. If you prefer independent travel she is happy to help you plan your trip to her beautiful Island home. You can contact her through her website Zealous Horses.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Equus Education Blog Hop:Author

Christine Muenier graciously offered participation in the Equus Education Blog Hop. She wants to know how my book The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon relates to Equine Education. It does in a roundabout way. For those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of the show jumping world and what goes into the training of top riders it is totally educational. Readers have told me that they had no idea how demanding the discipline is and that top riders are fine- tuned athletes.

What is your horse related career?

My first articles were published in Horse Illustrated and Equus Magazines. I was in my late 30’s when I was finally able to buy a horse and afford training. I was told that I would fall, but I was not told how to fall. I interviewed a vaulting champion, a gymnast, and an orthopedic surgeon to create a safe way to meet that eventual parting from the saddle. The result of this research is a piece titled “The Art of Falling.”  It has helped many a mature rider stay out of trouble. My interview of the legendary trainer Jimmy Williams appeared in Equus. He was the inspiration for the character Billy in my story. Presently, I am adventure travel writer with a penchant for horse treks. I educate others on where to go and what to expect when they get there.  

Where in the world can we find you?

I live in Topanga Canyon an artistic enclave in Los Angeles. The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon opens in Hidden Valley home to celebrities and those who can afford the sport of kings.

Is your horse career able to be carried out in part online?

I share my articles about riding adventures I've taken on my website Linda Ballou Author. and in e-zines like Real Travel Adventures. My horse trek in Ecuador with Sally Vergette, owner of Ride Andes, fulfilled all my riding fantasies. 
Hacienda trek in the Andes of Ecuador

 I have enjoyed guest ranches in Colorado, Arizona, California, and Montana that I share them with readers in my articles.  Almost all of my book marketing is done online. Cowgirl has a dedicated page on my site where you can purchase a signed copy and receive free shipping and is available on
Spotted Horse Ranch in Wyoming

Do you need qualification to do your job?

Well, yes. You have to be a good writer and to love what you do

What is the best thing about your job?

It opens doors for me I'd never dreamed of. I am off to an Equestrian Wellness Week in St. Croix in September. I was invited by Sharon North Pohl, owner of, to test drive this week of relaxation that will include riding in the surf and in the mountains, sailing on turquoise waters and doing a little yoga on the beach.  She is offering this week on her site that includes horse aids and information for riders of all stripes, including a couple of my horse adventure stories. This is my bonus for writing The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon. Yeehaw!

Wellness Week in St. Croix

Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's Not All About Book Sales!

Linda and Sharon in Santa Barbara
On the journey of marketing my books there have been many pleasant surprises.   Most recently, Sharon North Pohl read my story ‘’ Irish Mist” about my adventure as a stow-away on a cross-country ride in the wild west of Ireland. It is in my travel collection  Lost Angel Walkabout. She contacted me and we met in Santa Barbara and had a fun time beaching it and became friends. 

A consummate horse person, Sharon has just launched her site which is chock full of good advice and information for riders of all stripes. I am pleased that a couple of my riding-adventure stories, including “Irish Mist” are available on her site.  She read and endorsed The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon. Subsequently, she invited me to test drive the Equestrian Wellness Week she is planning to offer at her home in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
Sharon at home in St. Croix

Big Fun Ahead

I have my ticket in hand! I can’t wait to ride in the surf, hike in the green hills, and sail on turquoise waters. Publishing Cowgirl has re-connected me with the riding world that I had to leave behind due to an injury. Writing Cowgirl was part of my healing process and has brought me full circle. Today it is opening doors for me I had never imagined existed.
One door closes and another opens!

So what is the moral to this story? It is that it is not all about book sales. It’s about self-actualization that brings like-minded individuals and wonderful experiences your way. To my fellow authors I say don’t be discouraged if you don’t top the charts there is more satisfaction and gratification to be had than just the $$. That said, I do love people to read my books. That is why I wrote my stories, so that I could get them in the hearts and minds of others and enjoy being part of the literary tradition that is the “long conversation.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wai-nani Whispersync’d on Amazon – LEND ME YOUR EARS!

Now you can switch between reading the Kindle book and listening to the professional narration from Audible seamlessly. When you own the Whispersync for Voice-ready Kindle book and the Audible audio book you can switch between reading and listening without losing your place.
You can get the Audible audiobook for the reduced price of $1.99 after you buy the Kindle book.

From August 6th-August 13th I am offering Wai-nani in kindle format for .99 cents.
This will enable you to purchase the audio book for $1.99 and you will be able to read the text while you are listening to the story.
There are many Hawaiian words in the story that might be unfamiliar. Being able to follow along while listening will enhance your enjoyment. Plus, you can take the story with you anywhere!!
                                               THE LISTENING REVOLUTION IS HERE!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cowgirl Goes Down Under with Christine Meunier

Since publishing The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon I've enjoyed connecting with other horse people around the Globe. Christine Meunier is an accomplished rider, trainer and author of horse books who lives in Australia. She was kind enough to give Cowgirl a 5-STAR REVIEW! I wanted to know more about her so I asked her a few pointed questions.
Christine Meunier

Christine was introduced to the wonderful world of horses at the late age of 13 when her parents agreed to lease a horse for her. She started experiencing horses via books from a young age and continues to do so, but recognizes that horses cannot be learnt solely from books.She has been studying horses from age 16, starting with the Certificate II in Horse Studies and is currently undertaking her Bachelor of Equine Science via distance education.
Christine has worked at numerous thoroughbred studs in Australia as well as overseas in Ireland for a breeding season.
She then gained experience in a couple of Melbourne based horse riding schools, instructing at a basic level before heading off overseas again, this time to South Africa to spend hours in the saddle of endurance and trail horses on the Wild Coast.
Particularly passionate about the world of breeding horses, she writes a blog about equine education which you can view at Equus Blog. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
I have a history of working in the horse industry and loved to tell friends and family about events that occurred over the years.  My mother would often laugh at some of the incredible moments and told me, “you should write this down!”
Over time, I did, and started to develop an idea for Horse Country – A World of Horses, my debut novel.

How much of the book is realistic?
A lot!  Horse Country focuses on 4 women working in the horse industry and their daily working lives.  The idea was to introduce those wanting to work with horses, to the idea of what their working life could look like.
It spans a 6 year period and covers the seasons in Australia and in the UK.  Two of the women work with breeding thoroughbreds and the other two instruct horse riding.  It’s based a lot on my own experiences and travels.

What books have most influenced your life?
My favorite book to read for a horsey theme and enjoyment is the Silver Brumby. I think it truly developed my love of horses, reading and writing.

The most influential book in my life is the Bible and it is something I read on a regular basis and over and again.  It’s practical, relevant and has an awful lot of good advice!!

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Many over the years!  I am often asked to read and review horse books on my Equus Blog and have come across many debut writers that I have loved.  They can be found reviewed on my blog, or on Goodreads.

What are your current projects?
I have just recently published the fifth book in my Free Rein series, titled A Dollar Goes a Long Way and am working on making this known.
I am also working on two adult novels that are horse themed.  One started writing itself two months ago and focuses on a single mum who is employed to cook for a trail riding business; the other is about a woman who moves to a tropical island to live with her husband and decides to introduce horses to the island and set up a trail riding business.

Do you see writing as a career?
I do!  Not just of novels, but of many things.  I love to write novels, horse courses, educational resources and about horse careers.  Each of these loves of writing is generating a small income (at this stage!).  I am working to increase it to a reliable income.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always loved words.  I love reading, writing and song lyrics.  I think an interest in reading, particularly horse books turned into an interest in writing some.  I would get frustrated with horse books that appeared unrealistic or had information in them that was just incorrect.  I try to write books that are educational as well as entertaining.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I can!  This is a rough draft of a novel that decided to start writing itself.  I was rapt to get the first 50 pages in a couple of weeks.

It was a nice place where Ben worked.  Good physical work, great views and accommodating bosses.  He definitely couldn’t complain.  And to be honest, if he could, it tended to be toward the end of the season when he’d had enough of clients, but that didn’t matter – he was moving on in a short while by that stage.
The business – Happy Trails – focused on providing just that; trail rides that customers could truly enjoy and have a good time on.  It was seasonal work, running through the spring and summer months with a break in February due to the heat, then back on for the autumn months and slowing down over winter.
Generally this meant one of two things for Ben – he did maintenance odds and ends in the early mornings and late evenings of February and then went back to taking clients out over autumn, 
or he headed off for a break and a scene change at another job an hour down the road until spring came around again.
Ben enjoyed his work with Margaret and Peter – the owners and managers of Happy Trails – but he also enjoyed that he could go off and carry out another job for a spell before coming back to the busy but laid back environment of trail rides.  He’d been working this way for the past five years and nothing had changed much over that time.
Margaret and Peter worked hard to keep any staff that they liked – encouraging them to travel and gain other skills in the off season – but always maintaining that there was accommodation, food and a job waiting for them when the riding season started again.  Ben liked it that way.  He knew where he stood, and he knew the people he worked with.
There was one other regular trail guide – Jake – and a handful of part timers who helped care for the horses and occasionally came out on a trail ride with clients.  As much as you had to be ready for anything with horses – you never knew what the day would hold even though you could plan what you would like it to include – Ben was averse to change.
He found he could handle random events that occurred with his equine friends – a sudden lameness, a client falling or a horse running away with him – but he wasn’t the same with people.  He liked them to be predictable – and more often than not – he liked them to leave him alone.
Even though he dealt with strangers six days a week, he felt no obligation toward them other than a safe and enjoyable ride.  He didn’t need to build up an ongoing rapport with them or become their best friend.  He could just answer questions; tell them about the horse they were riding and point out the highlights of the surrounding countryside.
That was enough for him.  In fact at this point in time, it was all he wanted.  He couldn’t shake the feeling that things were changing though.  Ben glanced up from the girth he was tightening on Red, a trusty chestnut gelding often used in trail rides on the farm.
He’d noticed the female figure flitting between the large vegetable garden and the main farm house a few times over the past couple of days.  He figured she was a relative of Margaret and Peter’s, or something equally as boring.  It didn’t really matter; she was just another figure that was showing up from time to time and therefore a part of his day.  Granted, she appeared to have something about her from a distance.  But what appeared good from far away often had faults that were obvious up close.
Red stamped his foot impatiently, snorting at the stationary figure beside him.
“You’re right, mate.  Stop sleeping on the job,” Ben said as he slapped the horse affectionately on the shoulder and then said, “thanks for the wakeup call.  Let’s see if we can’t get another few horses tacked up before Jake finally gets out here.”

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at all!  The internet is great for any research that is needed, but I have found that most of my ideas have come from traveling not planned for books!  Any trips I have taken or moves I have made for work related reasons, have resulted in fodder for writing!

Who designed the covers?
For Horse Country I got a professional graphic designer in the form of Graphic Design City, although the photo is one of mine from work.  For the Free Rein series, my husband and I decided to try designing and we’ve done this with photos taken by Cait O’Pray. 

Christine can be contacted via and you can follow her on Twitter @ChristineMeuni3 or check out her books at and

Monday, July 6, 2015

How writing Cowgirl helped me deal with loss.

I wrote The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon standing up at my breakfast bar. A tingling sensation in my lower back had turned into a debilitating condition brought on by a herniated disc that brought me to my knees and would not allow me to sit.  For six weeks I wore knee pads to crawl from my bed to the refrigerator and took my meals lying on my belly. This injury forced me to give up the riding world that I loved.  At that time, I was busy fulfilling my dream of competing in the jumping arena and doing three-day events with my headstrong little mare. She was my best friend and we had many wonderful adventures together. One of my favorites was rising at dawn on Easter morning and galloping across the top of ridge beneath pearly skies.  I can still feel the joyous sensation of being one with her powerful body—heartbeat to heartbeat.

My way of dealing with the terrible loss I felt was to write this story. Gemcie’s world is turned upside down when she is injured while jumping her horse. She loses everything and needs to be alone to sort out what has happened. She turns inward on a solo horse trek in the high Sierra’s that John Muir loved so well. This opens the door to a whole new world for her that I will tell you more about in my next post.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Human/Horse Connection Photo Contest

The bond between humans and horses is as old as time.  The Greeks envisioned the Centaur--half man-half horse— with both species melding into one. In my “New adult” novel, The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon, Gemcie strives to achieve balance and harmony with her horses movements in her reach for the perfect ride. I am offering a $25. Amazon voucher and a copy of Cowgirl to the best photo illustrating the horse-human connection.Please post your entry on Cowgirls page on FB. I would love for you to comment/like other photos entries that you see on the page. You may even want to share it with your horse loving friends. Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is more than a horse story, but without the bond between horse and rider there would be no story to tell.
Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon will be released on June 30, 2015. The contest will run until July 31, 2015- Until then let’s have some fun! I look forward to seeing your entries

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wai-nani is Available on!!

Sign on to my blog to enter contest to win a free download of Audio Book in exchange for honest review.

I am very excited to announce that Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i is now available  on Audible .So many friends have told me they don't have time to read, but that they love audio books. Christine Padovan, an award winning narrator on,  has done a superlative job capturing the nuances and poetry of the Hawaiian language in the telling of Wai-nani's story.

Wai-nani transports you into the wild heart old Hawai’i when Captain Cook stepped upon the shores of Kealakekua Bay in 1779.  In the writing I tried to capture the romance of the time by  weaving legends and myths, fabled history, and an evocative love story into a poetic rendering of the “People of Old.” Lavish images of the Islands splash the page as you tread inside the mysterious Polynesian culture.  Hawai’i’s story is told through the eyes of Wai-nani, a fiercely passionate, free-spirited woman.

One of the challenges in writing this book was that I could not use any modern words that would snap the reader out of old Hawai'i and back into the 21st. Century.  Christine uses classical Hawaiian pronunciations of Hawaiian words in her  effort to be true to the time. I am thrilled with the outcome and hope you will take this seductive journey into the past that spans the most dynamic period in Hawaiian history.
                                             Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy B-Day to Ka'ahumanu the woman who inspired my novel.

Chiefess Ka’ahumanu

On March 17, 1768 (some say 1777) Ka’ahumanu was born in a cave at the fortress hill of Ka’uiki in Hana. The fierce Moi of Maui, once her mother’s lover, became so enraged when she chose Ke’eamuoku over him that he set his warriors upon her parents. They chased them through Haleakala Crater, but lost them in thick mountain forests. While Ka’ahumanu was still a baby her parents fled from Hana to Hawai’i where they lived in royal comfort. Wai-nani,A Voice from old Hawai’i my historical novel (1750-1819) is inspired by the life of the precocious Chiefess Ka’ahumanu. To some she is remembered as the” loving mother of the people” and to others she is the “flaw that brought down the chiefdom.”
 Ka’uiki in Hana

Brave, athletic, strong, passionate, caring and centered in herself, I saw her as a forerunner of the modern woman. It was a tremendous gift to be given the opportunity to visit the cave where she was born. It took the entire crew of six members of the Hana Canoe Club to paddle me to her birthplace.  We pointed the tip of the outrigger into the oncoming waves that sloshed over the bow and paddled through the foaming surf to the protected shallow waters lapping at the lava rocks beneath  the cave where she was born. I climbed the jagged black lava to a path that led to a large opening with two indentations big enough to accommodate a human.  Her mother enjoyed a lovely view of Hana Bay and the green mountains floating on the horizon. Offerings of flowers were placed in front of the openings. Before leaving I floated in the waters at the foot of her cave considered to be healing by those who come here for sacred ceremonies. 
 Big Mahalo to friend and fellow author, Lorraine Brodek, for fulfilling my desire to visit the sacred birthplace of the woman that inspired my novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i

Written With Warm Aloha

In the Name of Ka’ahumanu

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wai-nani is discounted this week in Kindle Store

In honor of Women's History Month, I am offering Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i for
$2.99 in the Amazon Kindle Store from Monday the 9th until Friday the 13th of March. My novel is inspired by the life Ka'ahumanu, the most influential chiefess in old Hawai'i, who I felt embodied the empowered woman. Enjoy this sneak peek into her world. Go to
 Amazon Kindle Store to take advantage

If  you take advantage of this limited time offer, I hope you enjoy traveling with Wai-nani and the people of old and will take a moment to write a peer review on Amazon.