Category Archives: horse

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

It was a cold night in the Texas Panhandle, and I was a little girl going to the rodeo with my family. This was not a slicked up rodeo but a nitty-gritty rodeo out in the country with real cowboys, some of which were my older cousins. I remember sitting on one of my cousins’ laps. She already had children of her own but she helped warm me up on that chilly night as we watched the cowboys rope steers and ride bulls.

strongsilentcowboyMaybe that’s where my love of cowboys began. Because most of my cousins were many years older than me, I didn’t know them well and simply watched and admired them. My dad also raised me on John Wayne movies. My favorite movie growing up was True Grit. Just the opening song could get my blood pulsing.

As I grew up, I fell in love with country music. One day, I was driving around Dallas, to and from work, listening to Rodeo by Garth Brooks when a character came to me. He was wearing chaps and boots and he had a slight stutter. I immediately fell in love with Kirk and had to write his story, Strong, Silent Cowboy, which became my very first published book.

So began my writing career, which started with writing about cowboys. I love cowboys’ strength, ingenuity, traditions, and love for nature. I love that they are real men, with a bit of swagger, but also a touch of humility. They know God created the land and bow their heads to pray. I’m proud that I know real cowboys, and I’m blessed to have been able to write about them.

christmasinjulyChristmas in July was my second published book and a sequel to my first. This book features not only a cowboy but also a cowgirl–a barrel racer. These girls have courage and big hearts. Geena, a young widow, has more than her share but she also has a wall around her heart that the right cowboy is going to have to jump.

fortheloveofcody

Finally, my latest release, For the Love of Cody, is actually a re-release of my 5th book. It garnered the National Readers’ Choice Award when it was published. Since then, it went out of print but I gained the rights back to it and recently brought it out as a Kindle ebook. But now, it’s also available in paperback! You can click on the titles of my books to find out more about them.

So for a long while, my heroes have always been cowboys. Next year, I’m publishing a brand new cowboy story! Hope you’ll hang around until it’s ready.

So what about you? Do you love cowboys? Country music? Western movies?

Contest: For a copy of the paperback For the Love of Cody. At the end of this week, I’ll draw a name from those who leave a comment below for a winner.

Marlo Schalesky and Jewel



Le: Hi, Marlo! Thank you so much for being here with us! What is your favorite kind of a pet? Dog, cat, guinea pig? And why?

MS: Definitely a horse because you can ride them and have adventures!

Le: Yes, probably not a good idea to ride a cat around the house. ☺ How many pets do you have today?

MS: Six – four horses, a cat, and a goldfish

Le: Have you ever rescued an animal?

MS: We rescue wild birds from our cat all the time, which is appropriate since we rescued the cat too (somebody dumped him on the side of the road and he found us).

Le: How do they have that ability to find the people they need? But I definitely believe they do. Do you ever incorporate animals into your novels?

MS: All the time. Jewel makes an appearance under a different name in my latest book, Shades of Morning.

Le: And Shakes of Morning just came out! What was your favorite character animal?

MS: Max, the iguana. He’s Marnie’s one and only pet in Shades of Morning. I don’t know why that woman had to pick an iguana for a pet when I’ve never had one, but she did. Insisted that I write in an iguana for her. I suggested a nice kitten or hamster, but she’d have none of it. It was an iguana or nothing. So, I had to learn all about iguanas just for her. Turns out Max was pretty cool.

Le: Isn’t that funny how characters make their own choices. ☺ Has one of your own pets been the inspiration for a pet/character in a novel?

MS: Jewel, in Shades of Morning. I also have a new idea I’m working on in which my daughter’s little Paint mare, Oreo, is a main character.

Le: Ah, I love Paint horses. And Oreo is a great name. What is the funniest thing you’ve seen one of your animals do?

MS: For six months, Jewel braided her own mane by rubbing against a post in her stall. THAT was a sight to behold!

Le: I bet! Is there a secret that only our pet knows?

MS: I don’t mind scooping horse poop as long as I get a few minutes of peace and quiet while I’m doing it (sometimes it’s my only quiet of the whole day). Shhh… don’t tell my daughters because I told them that poop-scooping is their job!

Le: What is your pet’s pet peeve about you?

MS: I don’t ride her often enough, and we don’t go fast enough. Jewel loves to go!

Le: Love that! Go Jewel! And did I tell you that Jewell (two l’s was my grandmother’s name?) What is your pet peeve about your pet?

MS: She doesn’t like to open her mouth for the bit, even though she LOVES for us to go riding. Silly girl!

Le: Well, I’m not sure I’d like a bit either. Hilo doesn’t like her collar but she loves to go for a walk and as soon as we get back home she is trying to get that thing off. ☺ Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us! Now, I’d love to ask Jewel a few questions. Don’t forget to give your sweet pet a treat afterwards. ☺

Le: Hi, Jewel! You are beautiful! Thanks for coming by. What would be the title of your autobiography?

J: Let’s Ride! Tales of a horse who loves to go.

Le: Well, of course! If you were to write a novel, would your friend inspire one of the characters?

J: Sure. She’d be the one with all the kids.

Le: Ahhh. What’s your favorite movie?

J: Seabiscuit.

Le: A very good movie! What musical instrument would you like to play?

J: The drums, with my hooves of course.

Le: What do you think about cats? Dogs?

J: Cats are fine. They keep the mice away in the barn. Unless of course they’re very big cats (like mountain lions) that eat horses. I don’t like big cats at all. I snort at them. I don’t like dogs either. I don’t see the point of them. (My friend likes dogs a lot, though, so she must see something in them.) My philosophy is to ignore dogs completely.

Le: I would imagine a dog like my Hilo would be annoying as she likes to bark and would want to chase you. You would not like that! Where do you sleep at night?

J: In my stall, at the barn, next to my friends Valentine and Smokey.

Le: Ah, tell Valentine and Smokey hello and that they’ll have to come by sometime. What do you do when your friend is writing?

J: I take care of everyone at the barn and make sure they are all getting along. It’s my job to run things in a reasonable and equitable fashion so that there’s no fighting, biting, or kicking.

Le: I bet you do a great job! What is your idea of bliss?

J: Turning the last barrel and running as fast as I can back through the timing poles. I love gymkhana!

Le: I want to come watch some time! What is your friend’s idea of bliss?

J: Turning the last barrel and running as fast as we can back through the timing poles! I think she likes gymkhana too. We have fun!

Le: Thank you so much, Jewel, for being with us today! You take care of your friend now, ya hear? Thanks again, Marlo! And everybody go by Shades of Morning so Jewel can have lots of oats to eat. ;)

Candace Calvert and Winter Winds!


Hi, Candace! Thanks for stopping by today! What is your favorite kind of a pet? Dog, cat, guinea pig? And why?

My answer is the same now as when I could first utter the incredible word: Horse. It’s in my soul to love them—I think it’s that way with some people. Just. There. A fascination for these big, lovely creatures and the yearning to connect with them. It’s genetic: my daughter has it.

How many pets do you have today?
Sadly, none at present: we lost our mini-schnauzer nearly two years ago. And my favorite horse, Winter Winds, long before that.

Have you ever rescued an animal?

Feral kittens that lived in the bushes near the entrance to my ER—we adopted two.

Do you ever incorporate animals into your novels?

Yes. All of my Mercy Hospital books have pet subplot. Critical Care has Smokey the one-eared cat; Disaster Status has three: a yodeling Chihuahua, a horse, and a geriatric goldfish named Elmer Fudd. (Book three) Code Triage features a horse known as Frisco and his pal, a rescued miniature donkey, Tag. Animals are great characters, and they reveal much about their human friends.

They do, Candace! What was your favorite character animal?

Oh, tough to choose: probably Tag, the donkey. He was a victim of abuse (“tagged” by gang graffiti, lost an eye in the incident) yet had such a sweet, nurturing, spirit.

Has one of your own pets been the inspiration for a pet/character in a novel?

Frisco the skittish, “hot house” thoroughbred was a bit like my young gelding, Nate. He’s the rambunctious son of my beloved mare, Winter Winds—and the infamous horse that broke my neck (among other bones). That dramatic true story, “By Accident,” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and started my writing career. Despite the trauma, I own him for that.

That is an amazing story, Candace! Truly wonderful to see how God has worked in your life. You have such a joyful spirit. I still love how you find humor in things. What is the funniest thing you’ve seen one of your animals do?

My elegant bay mare, Winter Winds, would “laugh”: shake her long, blaze-embellished, face and flap her lips, clown-like, making the steel bit rattle against her teeth. I’d be riding her (singing “Waltzing Matilda,” her favorite song) and she’d trot me along, laughing and laughing for miles. I sometimes wondered if she was critiquing my singing ability.

She probably would have bucked me off if she’d heard me sing. ☺ Is there a secret that only your pet knows?

Winter Winds knew all of my secrets. I would sit in the corner of her stall at night and listen as she snuffled and chewed her oats—talk to her, even cry during some tough times. She would listen, never judge . . . solid, warm, quiet. Just. There. A perfect friend. My best friend.

Ah, that is so sweet. What is your pet’s pet peeve about you?

I insisted that she and I compete in horse shows—braid her mane, shave her whiskers, polish her hooves, wedge her into a trailer and drive down the highways before dawn. She would have preferred to sleep in. Especially after I wallpapered her stall in Ralph Lauren. Seriously. It was beautiful. And our vet was speechless.

That’s hilarious! So, what is your pet peeve about your pet?

I suspect she learned to fake a limp—it always was “cured,” by cancelling the trip to the horse show. Coincidence? Not sure.

Like a kid having a tummy ache. Funny. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us! Now, I’d love to ask your pet a few questions. I’m sure Winter Winds is answering from the Rainbow Bridge.

Hi, Winter Winds! What would be the title of your autobiography?

Spoiled Rotten And Worth Every Single Penny.

Oh, I can tell you gave Candace a run for her money! If you were to write a novel, would your friend inspire one of the characters?

Oh yes. A comic mystery. Candace would play a very gullible but good-hearted woman. Who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. And suspects her horse is conning her. In my friend’s own novel, she’d probably be Dr. Leigh Stathos in Code Triage. In truth, they both deserve a happy ending.

Oh, Candace certainly does! As do you! So, what’s your favorite movie?

Vintage TV Show, actually: “Mr. Ed.” That smart aleck Palomino who had a phone in his stall—now he knew how to live.

You mean Candace didn’t give you a phone in that posh stall she wallpapered? Unbelievable! What musical instrument would you like to play?

Steel drums. Here: listen, if I rattle this metal bit between my teeth, I can get a pretty decent reggae beat going . . .

Oh, very good. Now we know which of you has the musical abilities. ☺ What do you think about cats? Dogs?

I’m okay with barn cats, as long as they don’t have kittens in my stall. I have big feet, too risky. Can’t abide Australian Shepherds, always nipping at my heels—I’m 1200 pounds; do I look like a sheep, for goodness sake?

No, you certainly do not. Where do you (or should I say ‘did you’) sleep at night?

In a stall with a rubber mat floor and a nice mound of soft pine shavings. No phone—but a night light, Dutch door, barrel of chrysanthemums. I’m a little embarrassed about the wallpaper. The vet thinks my friend is crazy.

Yes, well…she is a writer and you know what they say about writers, don’t you? So, what did you do when your friend was writing?

Eat pasture grass. Try to open the gate so I can eat the lawn around the house. Fake a limp when she looks out her office window.

I bet she came running to check on you! What is your idea of bliss?

A warm summer night, a bucket of molasses-laced oats, topped by a few carrots—maybe some apple wedges. And my friend . . . sitting in the corner of my stall. Just content to be with me. Like I’m her best friend, too. Priceless.

Oh, I love that! What is your friend’s idea of bliss?

An autumn evening, dusk, wood smoke in the air: we’ve had a gallop along a cornfield and now we’re walking in quiet solitude. She slips her boots from the stirrups, lets them dangle along my sides. Pats my neck, gives me a long rein. As we head toward home, she starts to sing Waltzing Matilda. And I laugh . . .

Sounds perfect! Thank you so much for being with us today and for sharing your special relationship with us!

Thank you for having us, Leanna—though Winter’s been gone many years, she’s with me, always. Her bridle hangs on a brass hook in our home. And her name appears in the Acknowledgements of my third Mercy Hospital book, Code Triage:

“ . . . in memory of a bay mare named Winter Winds—you gallop on in my heart. Forever.”

Oh, Candace! You made me cry! Thank you again for sharing with us.