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 christine@horsecountrybook.com and you can follow her on Twitter @ChristineMeuni3 or check out her books at www.horsecountrybook.com and www.freereinseries.com

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 Audible.com!!


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 Audible.com,  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. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sneak peek at Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i



Award winning narrator
Christine Padovan created this lovely trailer for Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i -  The Audio Book is coming soon for all those people who don't have time to read.  Christine is doing a marvelous "talking story" and bringing my characters to life. I am thrilled with her work!





Working hard to get Wai-nani audio book out by March!



Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Gift of Understanding

Pi'ilanihale-Hana, Maui
A rutted road in Hana, Maui leads to the site of Pi’ilanihale, the largest remaining heiau (temple of worship) in all of Polynesia. You must cross over a creek to get to the entrance of Kahanu Garden where the heiau was hidden from sight until 1999. It is hard to believe that this immense structure spanning three acres built of basalt rocks could be so overgrown with jungle foliage that it would go unnoticed until modern times. The side facing the sea rises steeply in five stepped terraces. Construction of the main terrace dates back to the 14th century when remote, water-rich Hana was heavily populated by Hawaiians.
Lono -God of Agriculture

Our guide, also named Pi’ilani, one of 14 children in a blended Hawaiian family, explained that Lono, the god of fertility, was worshipped here for agricultural bounty.  She said, the Hawaiians were so embarrassed about the paganism in their past that they let the heiau become overgrown. They may have also wanted to spare it from being demolished like so many of the ancient sites were at the behest of missionaries who prohibited hula, surfing, and even the language in schools in the 1800’s. Perhaps, the gods did not want this structure trampled upon by disrespectful tourists. Regardless of why it was hidden from time, the people of Hana cut back lush jungle foliage that threatened to swallow the edifice fifteen years ago, revealing a monument to a race of industrious, ingenious and loving people.

Kahanu Garden where the Pi’ilanihale is located is a flat expanse of green overlooking a tempestuous Pacific Ocean crashing on black lava cliffs. It was a landing place of early Polynesian settlers bringing plants they would need to survive. It was chosen by the ancients to be the site of the Makahiki Festival that ran for four months from November to February.  Warring was forbidden as this time of peace that allowed warriors to practice skills with contests and games. Elders played Konana, a form of checkers, and talked story while children frolicked. The tax collectors came around at this time collecting the bounty of the common people to be given to the royal class.

 Chief Pi’ilani, who ruled here in the 16th century was beloved by his people for uniting the warring tribes of Maui and bringing prosperity in his reign.  Under his rule the Pi’ilanihale (House of Pi’ilani) Heiau that began construction in the 1200’s was completed. Rocks from as far away as Hana Bay, seven miles away, were used to finish the task.
Wandering the grounds that boasts the largest collection of breadfruit trees in the world, as well as samplings of all of the indigenous plants brought by early settlers in double-hulled canoes, you can imagine the joyous village that thrived here under Chief Pi’ilani’s rule.  Our guide, Pi’ilani, talked to us about the many uses of the kukui nut used to keep the fires burning at night. She said the day began in the evening when the work was done and people came to share what they had gathered that day in their fish nets, in their taro gardens, and fruits from the mountain trees.
Linda, Lorraine, and Pi'ilani



 Pi’ilani generously answered all of my questions about the realities of the people of old. At the end of our tour she told me she wanted to empower me with the gift of her knowledge. Instead of correcting or judging my tale of her ancestry in my novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i, she told me that she understood that my work was built on what I knew. She said that she would be happy to add her knowledge, as it was handed down to her, to my pool of understanding. We held hands while as she invited us to join her in a chant to the gods who reside at Pi’ilanihale and give thanks for the bounty of the Kahanu Garden, a gift to all who find their way there.A big mahalo to my friend Lorraine Brodek, author of Nobody in a Somebody who resides in Hana, for making this very special tour possible for me. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Join me at the Best of the Best at the Slack-Key Festival





Excited to be a part of the best Polynesian music fest on the mainland. The Slack-Key Festival happens once a year at the Performing Art Center in Redondo Beach on Jan. 18th. I am joining Patti Bielma
 at her table where she displays her incredible ipu gourds carved with intricate one-of-kind designs.
 I will be sharing my novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i which is a celebration of the people of old.

At the festival the finest Slack-key musicians in Hawai'i, and on  the mainland come together to jam. Graceful dancers and talented singers join them in a rousing production that brings the magic of the Islands to your doorstep. Wai-nani and I will be there to greet you!

Don't miss this event.  Slack Key Festival January 18th at 2:pm

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Postcard from Paradise

When fellow author, Lorraine Brodek, invited me to stay at her exquisite home high on a knoll in Hana, Maui, I had no idea what a treat it would be. Sipping coffee on the lanai overlooking a dew-laden expanse of emerald green, and the shining Pacific in the distance, watching a Technicolor sunrise, I couldn’t imagine a more idyllic setting.



My friends not only designed  this custom (3,650 sq. ft.) home, and built the mile long road to it, they planted the ten acre estate with every tropical plant imaginable. I strolled the grounds, a veritable Botanical Garden, with Lorraine to her artist’s studio with views that would inspire anyone with a creative bone in their body. Her producer husband, Tom, was busy in his work shop next to the three car garage. She pointed out that the foundation for a guest house is already in place and that a lot split is possible. (Buyer to verify)
Lorraine arranged a canoe ride for us in Hana Bay to the birthplace of Ka'ahumanu who was the inspiration for my novel Wai-nani, AVoice from Old Hawai'i and a visit to nearby Kahanu Garden where the largest heiau in Polynesia remains hidden from time. Hiking, horseback riding and “pasture” golf are favorite pass-times of locals, and visitors on day trips.

A dip in the delicious waters of Hamoa Beach, a mile below the house, where soft foaming waves kiss a sandy shore capped off another glorious day in paradise.
A daily flight from Kahului, Maui to Hana makes Hana, the last bastion of old Hawai’i, accessible.
The home is for sale for $2,995,000. A small price to pay for paradise.

For more information contact Mary Anne Fitch at sold@maui.net