A King’s Ransom.
April 23, 2009

It’s been a good, hard few months. These moments, below, are the defining ones:

1) I’ve toiled over my quirky YA novel, The Girl Next Door, seven days a week since November 2008. Time not spent on life’s basics (or tending to dogs and horses) was spent in a sort of mental pilates, making TGND tight and lean.

I’m tired, but happily so. I’m very pleased with the end results, too. It ‘s amazing how abilities and skills solidify from one novel to the next — it’s what a writer always hears about, but to experience the process as it’s happening is pure magic.

Writing skills can morph into writing gifts if a writer is willing to put in the work. And even if you already have a knack for writing, still, it takes work.

2) We lost a bunch of photographs a few years ago when an old computer crashed. We certainly learned the hard way. At the time, I was devastated. I’ve often thought wistfully about those photographs.

I lost photos of old friends, photos of a friend who passed too young, some wedding photos, pet photos (some of the pets having since crossed the Rainbow Bridge) and photos from the apartment where we used to live, including our first Christmas lights together and a 9/11 memorial I’d started on the apartment lawn in the dead of night. (Originally being an East Coast girl, 9/11 hit hard. I’d also worked on the 79th floor of the World Trade Center after college.) The memorial was against the apartment rules, but they bent the rules for a whole week.

Just a few weeks ago, I came in from flaking the horses to see my husband bent over some strange device on the kitchen counter with a hard drive laying next to it. I still don’t know what it was, but it was miraculous; it accessed ALL the photographs we thought were irretrievable.

Wow.

I’ve spent the last few weeks going through the pictures a little at a time, surprised by the emotions that shadow these images, on the verge of tears (both happy and sad) — to see old friends, former lives, former selves — and to see my animal babies, their likenesses captured so clearly it feels like, in a small way, they’ve come back to me.

The photos have even seeped into my dreams, and in my dreams, whether they be about horse, dog or cat, I remember scents, mannerisms, barks and meows I’ve been unable to hold onto in my waking life.

It’s both salty and sweet

how the heart remembers in dreams

what the waking mind can’t keep.

I kept a hank of Takoda’s tail (my first horse) who died of colic in July of 2007, although it broke my heart to cut it even after he was gone. I vacuum-sealed the hair in a plastic bag to keep his scent close, but even so, the scent disappeared.

Gone is really gone.

3) Querying is tough. Chasing the dream is tough. You toil and research and pray. You put in the work and hope for good results, but even then, you can’t be sure. For writers, that’s part of the journey; it builds character and characters. It’ll prove you to yourself in one way or another, holding up a mirror to both your writing and your fortitude (or lack thereof).

The query process is curiously endowed with more than its original, intended aim. I understand why it drives some writers crazy. I understand the intensity and the despair. Nothing of great importance comes easily, and perhaps it shouldn’t. But perspective and a bird’s eye view remain a querying writer’s best friends.

No doubt about it — staring your dreams in the face is heady stuff. You roar, you soar, you crash, but you still burn. You rise up from the ashes humbled but determined and even more sure that you’re the real deal: you’re a writer. You need no ones permission. You are who you are. Now, you REALLY know.

Sure, you could quit. Go ahead — quit. Seriously. Most likely you’ll find you can’t quit for long. You’re a writer, you know. Pens and paper, keyboards and fingers, words and thoughts, they go together like up and down, on and off, light and dark.

Rejection is tough, dream-chasing is tough, remaining steadfast is tough. And yet, there’s no other choice. We want to master our craft. We want to share new worlds. We want to be published, yet not sell our souls nor sell out.

All these things and more rear their subterranean heads; important things withheld in the past and those who withheld them. Feelings of not being good enough. Voices from long ago, critical or incredulous or condescending. Self-doubt, heavy as an avalanche, along with the dizzying flight of believing in yourself and your abilities during those crystal-clear, this-is-why-I’m-here moments.

The query process is literally haunted by one thousand ghosts.

If you’re a querying writer, validation can be hard to come by. Please feel free to plug yourself into the letter below:

Dear My Querying Self,

You ROCK for hanging your lily-white a** in the wind and sailing your work out there. Sure, it can feel like TORTURE at times, but you have to keep putting your work out there — it’s the only way to get to HERE.

I admire your courage and cajones, by the way. They’re just what’s needed to make magic happen, on or off the page.

The world can always use more magic, more understanding, more connection, more alternate worlds that teach us what’s important in this one. Do what you need to do, amigo, but whatever you do, don’t give up.

I know it can look bleak down there in the query trenches, but we got where we are now because of those rejections — they paved the way to that one YES that changed everything — EVERYTHING. The process made you tougher. It made the writing better. It was sooooooo worth it.

You want proof? See this book I’m holding in my hands? That’s YOUR first novel! So keep querying, keep dreaming, keep hoping and keep working — but most importantly, KEEP WRITING.

With gratitude and admiration,

Your Published Self From The Future — I owe it all to you!

P.S. I’m really sorry about the a** in the wind thing, though.

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uShip’s Charitable Efforts For Rescue Horses — Highway To Help.
December 15, 2008

Mr. Bean, slaughter-bound rescue

Below is a guest post from Leslie Hsu of uShip, a great company with a user-friendly way to ship merchandise and even horses!

I used uShip personally, when I shipped my slaughter-bound draft horse, Mr. Bean, from South Dakota to Arizona. I’m very grateful to uShip for making such an undertaking easy and cost-effective.

Recently, I was delighted to hear that uShip now has a charitable shipping program to help rescue horses!

Please feel free to crosspost this article in all your horse groups, horse blogs, and don’t forget to tell your friends! 

    Finally, a Charitable Shipments Program! 

by Leslie Hsu

 It’s pretty clear the economy as of now is not in the greatest condition.  Unfortunately, many non- profit and charity organizations have felt the negative impact from the current state as well.  These organizations still need our help!

 

At uShip.com, we recently launched our charitable shipments program called Highway to Help.  While we enjoy helping others save money, we get even more satisfaction being able to provide a way to help people and animals in need, especially in times of need.  Our users seem to share the same philosophy.  When a crisis strikes anywhere in the world, we receive thousands of emails from our users asking if they can ship charitable items in need or if they can help transport the items for free. This program aims to provide shipping solutions for non-profits and other charitable shipments.  However, our Highway to Help program isn’t just for disaster relief, it is also open for donations year round.  There shouldn’t have to be a crisis before people want to start giving.  Charity categories such as education, food banks, and rescue animals need help on a daily basis, and now this charitable shipment program is able to help out.

 

Highway to Help essentially works the same as the original uShip market place.  If someone wants to send a charitable shipment, they post it on our Highway to Help site, and then a service provider will select the shipment and get in contact with the sender to make sure the shipment arrives at the right destination.   The key difference is this program is free of shipping fees. There are no costs to donate!  Highway to Help extends to the equine category as well.  There are numerous non-profit horse association groups out there that could benefit from this service.  Shipments could range from the transporting of horses, feed, equipment, or anything needed for that organization. 

 

Also, if you’re looking to buy a horse, why not consider adopting a rescue horse?  Rescue organizations, when they first get a new horse in, they have to monitor and evaluate the horse.  They make sure the horse is in good health and will train it if necessary.  So even if the horse does come with bad habits, the rescue organization potentially can correct it before it is put out for adoption.  They are able to get to know the horse completely to better inform and match up with potential adopters. The feeling of personal gratification comes along with adopting a horse.  Knowing that you saved and gave a horse a second chance is priceless.  Many horses come from abusive or poor backgrounds, and they deserve another chance.  uShip’s charitable shipments program can help transport rescue horses to owners for free and ease the cost of adopting a horse.   If you want to learn more please come visit Highway to Help here .

 

For any of your shipping needs keep uShip.com in mind.  More importantly, for any charitable shipment service, keep our Highway to Help program in mind and Give a Ship!

 

Written by Leslie Hsu of uShip.com, an auction-style marketplace for Horse Transport

 

My Boys

Shooting Star and Mr. Bean, rescued from slaughter.

(photos by Emily Murdoch)

Author’s Note: Before contracting with any shipper, especially of horses or other live animals, please be sure to do your homework.

Ask the shipper for insurance and license information (DOT) and be sure to choose a legal shipper. Illegal shipping goes on all the time and often these shippers will offer their services at lower bids. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is — your horse’s life and safety are paramount.

Shipping is stressful for horses; ask for references and speak with former customers before shipping your horse with any company on the internet.       

The I Love Your Blog Award!
October 21, 2008

 

I’m excited to announce that Lefty In My Write Mind has won the I Love Your Blog Award for horse rescue work and the anti-slaughter advocacy in my post:

Click here: All The Pretty Rescue Horses.

I’m just so thrilled!

I was nominated by fellow horsewoman, I Love Your Blog Award winner and Lefty reader Cheryl Ann. You can read more about it on her wonderful blog, Desert Horses, in her post Blog award! 

Cheryl Ann has three rescue horses and two BLM mustangs. Her blog is a feast for the eyes and heart.

Click here: Desert Horses and get a wonderful peek into Cheryl Ann’s life with horses.

Through women like Cheryl sharing their horse knowledge on online groups and blogs, my own humble rescue efforts have been made possible.

Thank you for all you do for horses, Cheryl Ann!   

I, in turn, would like to nominate these five blogs for the I Love Your Blog Award:

1)  Click here: From Hell to Heaven: Saving Argus 

I have been following Argus’ journey and Katie’s blog for almost a year now, and it’s an incredible account that not only lifts the spirits, but oftentimes leads to a search for tissues to blot happy tears. Katie’s writing is wonderful; if you’re looking for evidence of a kinder world, you’ll find it at Katie’s farm. 

Katie, your blog never fails to do the heart good. Thank you for your big heart, hard work, and service in the name of horses.

2) Click here: Gypsyscarlett’s Weblog

Another wonderful writer, Tasha and her Victorian blog take you away to another era that is not only interesting and entertaining, but important to our history as human beings. I love to learn new things, and especially the history of our technology and inventions. Cast off the present and slip through the door of a former world. You’ll love every minute of it.

And, if you are a writer, too, you’ll be amongst friends.

3) Click here: In Other Words

Steph is on a hopeful journey through life and her blogwriting makes it so that you, too, can come along. Reading her blog is like hanging out with a dear friend, reminiscing. Both a wonderful editor and writer herself, her take on the world makes it a warmer place.

Pull up a chair and a cup of something, and you’ll wonder how you got through the day without her blog!

4) Click here: Curry Pan

Aarabi amazes me with her old soul, her observant eye, her awesome writing and her depictions of life in far away lands I can only dream of visiting. I always look forward to learning about different cultures and catching up on her adventures.

5) Click here: Art Calling

I find this highly creative blog both soothing and smart. Not only is Sarah a gifted painter, she shares her awareness of how art connects us all — art heals — from her art-filled life in Holland.

Congratulations, ladies! To accept your award, please right click on the award badge above, save it to your computer, post it on your blog and link it back in thanks to Lefty In My Write Mind.

Next, please choose five blogs you believe deserve this award, post them on your blog, notify the winners, have them link the badge back to your blog, and the cycle continues! 

Please email me at EMurdoch@wildblue.net with any questions.

(I myself need to figure out how to post the badge on my blog, so I’ll be no help there!)  

A big thank you to all of you who share your lives and loves through your blogs!

The Little Things.
October 10, 2008

Elizardbeth (one of the resident “little things”.)

One of the things I love about being a writer is the intensity that comes with the writing mind. Always ticking, turning, whirring, we deconstruct life in order to recreate life in our work. You could say we study life itself, and then report back to the page. We tell the things we need to tell, most likely always aware of a need to tell, to capture, to record, bending time and space to create our new worlds of words.

I find this writing and creative life, on the flip side, also requires a lot of alone time, time thinking and reflecting, daydreaming, even. That’s when the little things really come into focus, the small details that add joy and texture to our days (and our writing), along with the people, places and things that make life sweet and worthwhile.

It’s especially why I love the weekends. The weekends are all about the little things — not so much writing, unless inspiration strikes, but the little moments in life, in my life, that happen off the page.

Like how, last weekend, when I began the usual afternoon ritual of hoof-picking Cloud, he unexpectedly lifted his foot for me and held it in the air. He then proceeded to do the same with the remaining three.

Coming from Cloud, a slaughter-bound horse who came to the ranch underweight, grumpy, and distrustful after so many broken bonds, I was floored.

I can’t quite put the feeling into words; I’ve been trying all morning, yet I come up woefully short. It’s the feeling of a wary, distrustful animal handing over its heart for safekeeping. You almost expect to hear a sigh of relief follow, as the horse’s muscles visibly relax. After almost a year of patient reassurances, good old Cloudy was finally home.

I get a lot of dog play-time in on weekends, which means I’ll do a lot of laughing. On weekend mornings, the sun is peach-colored and slow to rise, and often a cool breeze blows through the desert like an apology for summer.

The songbirds are beginning to arrive in flocks from places grown colder, singing into the evening. Also, the butterflies are back, as they are every year, and I stand still next to where they land, willing them to land on me. Supposedly, when you’re still enough inside, they will.

Saturday and Sunday mornings are the only days I don’t need to jump out of bed immediately, hurrying off to feed hungry horses and dogs, each a hair-covered alarm clock set for early breakfast. Therefore, my favorite part of the weekend has to be the carefree, lazy mornings sipping coffee in bed and reading blogs in my pajamas.

I hope your weekend is filled with all the little things that make you laugh and smile. Sometimes it can be hard to shift gears after whirring through the work week, and other times things are tough in so many ways that it’s hard to let go and enjoy the moment. Yet when we don’t, especially during the tough times, we end up feeling worse.

So, slow down. Do something fun. Laugh hard, and make it a weekend to remember. 

 

Cloud and Mr. Bean

(Two horses saved from slaughter.)

Photos by Emily Murdoch

All The Pretty Rescue Horses.
September 24, 2008

Hush a bye, don’t you cry

Go to sleep my little baby,

In your dreams, you will ride

All the pretty rescue horses,

Dapples and grays, sorrels and bays

All the pretty rescue horses. 

Faithful and brave, free as rain,

All the pretty rescue horses.

These horses were saved from slaughter.

(photos by Emily Murdoch)

As some of you know, I’m an advocate for slaughter horses. I use my writing to bring attention to the inhumane practice of horse slaughter, with the goal of ending the transport of America’s horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. 

The fact is, Americans don’t eat their pets. Pets are family, not food. Horses are pets, companion animals, and deserve a dignified ending no different than our dogs and cats. If Americans don’t eat their horses, foreigners shouldn’t be eating America’s horses, either. 

I hope if you or your family are considering buying a horse, you might consider adopting a horse, instead. In doing so, you not only give a deserving equine a home, but avoid adding to the problem of equine overbreeding. You can help to change the world for horses by offering a space in your barn and your heart for one or several horses in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Speaking of horses, have you read my Blog entry, Your Voice For The Wild Mustangs.? Presently, the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM), a government agency, has mismanaged its budget and wants to kill off some or all of the 30,000 wild horses in BLM captivity.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the massacre of thousands of wild horses in order to balance the BLM budget is both ludicrous and out of the question.  

The post link above provides more information and will take you to a petition you can sign to help save the horses. You can make the world a better place, today, without even getting out of your chair.

Please sign it today, and pass it on to three friends through the “pass it on” function. The original goal was 30,000 signatures, a mark which has since been reached. New goal: 50,000 signatures.

There would be no America without the horse. We care about the horses!   

To read an update on this petition, along with an update on the fate of the BLM horses, please go to:  Saving The World, One Horse At A Time. and scroll to the bottom of the page. (The Care2 update won’t fit into my wordpress theme’s column width.)

Whether they’re domestic horses on feedlots or wild horses rounded up and sent to slaughter, we need to do better by America’s horses. They’ve done better by us than we could ever repay. 

This country was born on the back of a horse. It’s time to show our gratitude.