Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 in the Rear View Mirror

A huge chunk of this year was given over to getting The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon out of my drawer and into the hearts and minds of readers. It is receiving 5-Star reviews, so I feel gratified that it was worth the effort.
It is re-connecting me with the horse world in ways I had not imagined when writing the story. Initially, it was my way of dealing with being injured and having to give up riding and my mare. My injury forced me to turn my focus onto my writing. Until then, my best energies were given to taking care of my mare, taking riding lessons and entering local riding events. Today, I am back in the saddle having fun going to guest ranches in our wild west, trail rides in foreign lands and collecting stories for my next book.

Which title do you like the best? I would love to have your feedback.

(1)    Wild Ballou Wander
(2)   Tuck you in Tales
(3)   Lost Angel Rides Again
(4)   Let Me Take You There
(5)   Whet Your Wanderlust

I went to the Central Coast of California and did some nice hikes for my birthday in June and snuck off to St. Croix in September for an equestrian wellness week with Sharon Pohl.  Both wonderful trips that I have written about. Here are the links to those stories as they appeared on my column on The National Association of Baby Boomer Women.







 In 2016 I want to devote more time to travel. There are some big trips I want to take that require a lot of planning. Now, that TheCowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is alive in the world, I am free to get back to exploring our beautiful world.
  


Wishing you a very happy New Year filled with exciting adventures!!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spend Christmas in the Islands



A sumptuous read that captures the poetry and mystery of old Hawai’i

Linda Ballou weaves legends of old Hawai'i and an evocative love story into a poetic rendering of the "people of Old.". Be transported into ancient Hawai'i. Feel present in the lives of royals and learn the secrets of the mysterious Polynesian culture that called for human sacrifice. The story is told through the eyes of Wai-nani, a fiercely passionate, free-spirited woman who takes the reader on a seductive journey. Ballou delivers vivid imagery, historical detail, emotional impact, tragedy and triumph amidst the sensual beauty of the Islands.
Purchase on kindle and get the audio book for $1.99





 


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 at www.LindaBallouAuthor.com
Buy Now on Amazon

Friday, November 13, 2015

Armchair Traveler's Delight

James Dorsey & Linda Ballou
Armchair Traveler's Delight That was how Bank of Books described my afternoon with James Dorsey, world explorer, and author of Vanishing Tales from Ancient Trails. It was quite an honor to share the podium with one of our finest living travel writers. I’m glad James made treks to places I would never go. From Timbuktu to the jungles of Peru, into the dark heart of Africa he makes friends and is embraced by primitive tribes. He writes with compassion and partakes of ceremonies and entertains beliefs alien to his own, or what moderns might find acceptable. I especially enjoyed his tale of smoking from a pipe handed to him by a woman in the Amazon and being transported into an altered state for a day or two. He is experimental, not judgmental, and sincerely wants to be accepted by the primitive tribes he seeks out and respects their wisdom.

I was very flattered when James said this about my book:

Lost Angel Walkabout takes the reader out of their armchair and into the vast world as few travel writers can. Her eye for detail combined with intimate knowledge of her surroundings sets Ms. Ballou heads above most of the travel writing pack. In this age when everyone with a back pack proclaims him or herself a travel writer it takes a book like this one to re-define the genre. The stories are personal and inviting, giving the reader not only a feeling of participation but leaving them with a memory of where they have just visited. This is just plain great travel writing.

It was fun to hear him read a story about slipping  unspeakable edibles to a cat beneath the table in China. I chose to read an excerpt from No Exit from Auckland about driving on the "wrong side of road" in rush hour traffic. This ended


a good year of travel and writing with the hope that we would leave them laughing!

Images compliments of Suzy Demeter

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 at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hats Off to Susan Hutchison

Susan Hutchison, a petite, powerhouse, was recently inducted in the Hunter Jumper Hall of Fame.
In the Ribbons
Her show jumping career has been highlighted by more than three dozen Grand Prix wins. She represented the United States at six World Cup Finals and the World Equestrian Games in Holland. I interviewed her legendary mentor, Jimmy Williams, in 1993.
Jimmy Williams and Susan  Hutchison
At that time she was his most promising protégé vying for the World Cup. Susie was the rider I had in my mind while I was writing TheCowgirl Jumped Over the Moon that takes you from the Grand Prix circuit, to the high Sierra’s, and back again. I felt honored to sit down with her beneath a shady tree at Susan Hutchison Stables in Temecula. She has about twelve prize mounts stabled there and a
 fistful of students she trains in between competing in International events.
Her life has been like an arrow shot from a bow destined to hit the bull's eye. Groomed to become a riding champion from the age of 5, she has had no desire to become anything else in this lifetime. She is totally focused on the riding world, loves what she does, and aims to win. She often competes against her own students, decades her junior. She says horse jumping is one sport that you can actually get better at with age. She has had the litany of broken bones that come with the territory, but has no intention to slow down.  Her motto given to her by Jimmy “No Guts, No Glory” is tattooed on her arm.
Susie with one of fine horses


Linda meets Susie
My hat is off to Susan Hutchison. More to come about her incredible career and unshakable spirit in future articles.

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 at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sharing the Love with the Big Heart Ranch

I wrote the first draft of Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon standing up at my breakfast bar twenty years ago.With the publication of the now polished version of the story, I am finding myself re-connecting with the horse world that I loved. 
At the Bank of Books in Malibu I shared the podium with Bobby Kane who is a volunteer worker at the Big Heart Ranch in Malibu.
Bobby Kane and Bella
The ranch is home to an array of farm animals; an alpaca; a rescued deer, and a couple of mini, as well as life-sized horses that are used to help people sort things out. Children from the Braille institute are regular visitors, veterans suffering from PTSD become grounded working with the animals, and those with substance abuse problems find a connection in the real world. It felt good to be a part of the healing work being done at the Big Heart Ranch every day.
Kristen and Billy the Kid

Bella  the mini-horse was the scene stealer, but Kristen and her baby goat also helped make the day special for all who stopped by to say hello. I fought back tears during my brief reading.  In the first chapter my protagonist has a riding accident that turns her world upside down and forces her on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to a place she never dreamed she would be. My own life has taken some wonderful turns since my injury forced me to change my ways. But, as I read the lines it felt like twenty years ago was just yesterday.
Linda and Ginger Back in the Day

Images of the day courtesy of Suzy Demeter


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 at-  www.LindaBallouAuthor.com



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 at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com. 





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.

Kindle price reduced to $4.99
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!!
                                                   WWW.LINDABALLOUAUTHOR.COM

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

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

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!



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