At any rate, I've not had a lot to say. A lot happened in April, but the words kept to themselves, mostly.
I lost a sweet horse, Mariah, to a heart-breaking decision I didn't want to have to make. Her weight was good through the winter, but her joints just seemed to give way. We spent the afternoon before the vet's visit brushing her and stuffing her full of the treats she loved so much... After I had to chase her back to my property when she turned tail and ran through the neighbor's hay field. That burst of spunk caused me to second-guess myself up until the moment she walked away from the barn for good. Really, there wasn't anything to second-guess. Even with her halting gait, she nearly bowled me over to go through the gate for the last time, never to return. My step-dad says I'm reading too much into it--she was just a horse, after all--but I think she knew her time had come. She was ready to be whole again in some other place.
Two days after we said good-bye to Mariah I began what I assumed would be the long process of horse-hunting and test-rides. That day we looked at two ponies and bought the second one, a grey draft pony named Ellie. She reminds me a lot of the pony I had when I was a kid, another horse I loved and lost. Thank goodness I can think of that pony and smile. The wounds are still a bit too fresh from losing my Moe and Mariah nine months from each other. Back to Ellie, though--she is talented and quick, so I've been working at slowing her down and getting her back in shape for the kids to ride. I've been riding a lot, for me, at over two hours a day in the saddle. I'm one tired muchacha, most days.
My step-dad decided the tack room in our barn was in need of a major overhaul, so they began that project around the time they purchased the grey pony. Now instead of dust, cobwebs, and mouse droppings, we have wood paneling, fluorescent lighting, and linoleum. There are cross-ties for three horses instead of only one. It's super-fancy. You know, I've been riding for the past 30+ years in squalor so I don't know how to behave in nice places. I might have to let the mice and birds into the tack room to relieve themselves, for old time's sake.
Yesterday my sister also bought a horse, a bay Tennessee Walker gelding. His name WAS Henry, but he has been renamed "Romeo". Despite my mare's (Trinity) best attempts to scare the bejeebies out of him with her crazy front legs and ear-splitting squeal, he is not very concerned with the goings-on of our barn.
The reintroduction of my family to the barn has been difficult. For decades it has been my safe haven, the place I go to escape everything. One by one, the horses are being replaced. Board by board, [beautiful] improvements erase the little bits that remain of my memories of horses past. The air is laced with the conversations of others instead of the whisper of the breeze. It is all changing. The changes are not all unpleasant, but, to me, they are all related--directly or indirectly--to losing a loved one. I'm still grieving. Not with the intensity I did when I lost Moe, but it's still there. I'm crying for all of them. There's little emotional leeway for much else.
Things have been happening in my non-horsey life, too. A while ago I entered a contest attempting to attract the interest of a literary agent. My submission didn't make it past the slushpile readers whose job it was to wade through all of the entries for the agents. At the conclusion of the contest we were given a second chance to submit a Twitter pitch so the agents could see what they'd missed. My Twitter pitch received requests from one agent and a brand new publishing company. The agent ended up passing once she read my query and first several pages, but the publishing company requested my full manuscript two weeks ago. Last night as Mr. Ohboy and I walked back from feeding the horses, I checked my e-mail and found a message from the publisher saying they were interested in signing me.
This afternoon I talked with the woman who runs the company, firing off questions and concerns and sharing our mutual disdain for "50 Shades of Grey" for over an hour. The premise of the company is promising: Treating writers with respect, fostering community amongst the authors in this house, allowing authors as much control as possible, and a lot of other things that made me feel comfortable about possibly letting this company help me bring my stories to the world. The biggest problem? They are so new their first round of acquisitions isn't set to publish for another month or so. They are a total unknown. On one hand, it's flattering to be considered for this fledgling company, getting in on the ground floor, so to speak. On the other hand, I worry that once things get moving they will discover that their nice ideals and flexibility aren't making them money and all of those "pros" will disappear. What if they don't survive? What if they take my reputation with them? I'm not sure if any of that makes any sense, but I've been processing it all day long.
The next step is to lay my eyeballs on their contract and figure out if it makes any sense to me. It won't. It's completely written in legal-ese. I barely speak redneck-tinged English.
And then I think of this publisher, someone who doesn't know me from anyone, who personally read my manuscript and saw something of value in it, and in me. Enough that she'd be willing to take a chance by bringing me in to be part of the building effort for her company. It's scary and humbling, all at the same time.
I've not signed anything or given a commitment of any kind because all I've had is a nice phone conversation with a stranger. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and this will all be a weird dream, but tonight I will smile remembering her compliments. I don't get enough of those, do you?
Also on the writing front--In April, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. My hopes had been to add 30k words to a project I've been working on, a Young Adult thriller tentatively named "In the Middle". With everything else going on, I managed about 10k. This big "miss" did give me time to think about the plot a little, so look for more happening with that story in the near future.
What else? Oh, I have a new nephew! He's adorable and I need to visit him. Other than that, I haven't had time for much else. What about you? Anything big happening where you are?