OAVS #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath Coming Soon!

Hi all! We can’t wait for our Summertime Boxed set to be released this month, including seven great new novellas by Authors of Main Street authors! It’ll feature my Once Upon a Vet School #6: Fifth Miles at a Breath!  (Yes, you noticed… I’m going backwards… LOL)

Well… mine’s sort of a novella… I seem to have this little problem with “writing short“.  It’s come out at 59K… when it was meant to be… much less. :/  I hope you enjoy it!

Like horses? Things veterinary? You’ll love Fifty Miles at a Breath!

Fifty Miles at a breath

Here’s the first chapter from Fifty Miles at a Breath:

Fifty miles at a breath break

Southern California, 1986

“You’ll regret you refused me,” Gareth Barnett-Payne menaced, reaching for me, but I spun and ran until my legs—

“Lena… Lena” Raywyn, the head veterinary technician, waved her hand before my eyes.

I blinked, shaking my head and willing my heart to stop pounding in my chest.

“Are you okay?” Her brows knitted together.

I gripped the edge of the desk before me. “Yes, fine,” I mumbled, wondering how anyone could be so vicious. “So,” I swallowed hard and dragged myself back to today, “what’s the surgery schedule for tomorrow, Ray?”

She looked at me sideways, then turned to the schedule before her.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to release the tension stacked up from three weeks of flea allergy dermatitis, hotspots, anal glands and catfight abscesses. Through those stinking hot Santa Barbara summer days, I yearned for the touch of a velvet nose, the solid muscle and bone, and the scent of a horse. Any horse. It wouldn’t be much longer before I could go home to my own roan. I bit my lip and scanned the small animal clinic, my eyes and nose running as freely as they’d been since the moment I first walked in through the practice doorway. Cat allergy in a vet—great. Thank god I was going to be an equine vet.

“Let’s see,” Ray’s finger ran down the page, “two dogs spays, a cruciate surgery, four cat neuters, and… hmmm… I can’t read it. I’ll need to ask Dr. Franco.” She flashed a grin at me. “With your handwriting, you should make a fantastic veterinarian, too. I can’t read a thing you write.”

“I really do try,” I said, with a rueful grin.

“Could have fooled me.”

“Not too many cats for tomorrow, then,” I sighed, “that’s a good thing.”

“We don’t have many appointments, so Dr. Franco will be free to supervise and you should be able to do most of the surgeries.”

“I’m pretty lucky,” I nodded, “I get to do so much surgery here. I’ve been speaking with some of my classmates. They just don’t get the opportunities I’ve been handed. I’ll be forever grateful to you and Dr. Franco for that. I’m going to be a horse vet, but I’m sure there’ll still be other animals in my life.”

Ray looked at me, brows narrowed, until I began to squirm, with an overwhelming urge to cover myself. “What?”

“It’s a man, isn’t it?”

I gritted my teeth and held my breath. “Maybe.”

“No maybe about it. Who is he?”

“Some creep with a control fetish.”

Ray blinked and shook her head. “Tell me he isn’t your problem anymore.”

“He’s not my problem anymore.”

“Truth?”

I nodded. “Never was, much, though he encouraged the idea… rather forcefully.”

“You need to come out with us to a few clubs tomorrow night. Just the girls.”

“I’d rather stay away from men, but thanks all the same.”

Ray’s smile faded. “It’ll be fun, Lena. It’s a group of women. We’ll dance, have a blast, and go home. Alone. Can you think about it?” Her smile was hopeful.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, biting my lip. “Can I tell you tomorrow?”

“Sure, but we’d love to have you along.”

“I don’t know… I’m truly over men,” I swallowed hard. “They’re just not worth the angst.”

“All you have to do is come out with us. You don’t even need to dance with them. You can dance with the rest of the girls.”

I was far from certain, but I had no other plans for my hot Friday night. “Okay,” I finally said.

Fifty miles at a breath scene break

The electronic music throbbing across the dance floor jangled in my head. It was so loud, my heart thumped in shock along with the beat. With a deep breath, I forced my butt to stay on the barstool. And tried to smile. And look pleasant. Hard when everything about the place made me want to run screaming out the door. The men either plastic and young in their shiny, synthetic shi—

“Aren’t you glad you came with us, now?” Ray’s voice cut into my thoughts during a momentary lull in the noise,

I bit my cheek and nodded. No use wrecking her night, too. There certainly wasn’t anyone here with whom I’d want to wake up, much less spend the rest of my life. Maybe I was just too serious.

“That guy,” Ray nodded her chin, “the one who looks like he never leaves the beach, has been eyeing you up for the past half hour. Why don’t you go put him out of his misery?”

I rolled my eyes as the music started pounding again. “Come on, Ray, you know I can’t shoot guys in here,” I shouted over the music and smirked. “Someone might object.”

Ray closed her eyes and shook her head. “You really are a tough case, aren’t you?” she yelled back.

“Okay, I’ll go. I don’t imagine he knows how to dance Western Swing,” I said into her ear as I hopped from my perch.

“You go girl!” Ray barked, her eyes twinkling.

Mr. Lifeguard may have been eyeing me up, but he looked ready to bolt at my approach.

“Hi, my friend thought I should come ask you to dance.”

“Hello,” he said, with a heavy accent and I blinked.

“A Danish hello?” A smile cracked my visage.

This could be interesting.

His rabbit-in-the-headlights look dissolved and he laughed.

Hvordan har du de?” he said, in my mother’s native language.

Fint tak,” I replied. That made me smile. My mother would be pleased,

He started off on a stream of rapid-fire dansk, and with a laugh, I put a hand on his arm to stop him.

“Whoa there. You’ve already heard most of my Danish. From my mom, I learned hello, thank you, you’re welcome, and stand up. Baby words.”

His smile melted, and he bit his lip.

“It’s okay,” I smiled. “Want to dance?”

Tak, thank you. That, I would love,” he said, as he put a hand on the small of my back and guided me to the crowded dance floor.

“You wouldn’t know how to dance properly, would you?”

With a smile that lit the whole room, he took my hand and whirled me around the floor. The man could dance—and I was thankful once again for my many years of Latin and ballroom lessons. I never knew when they’d come in handy, like now.

“What are you doing so far from home?” I asked, after we’d been dancing for what seemed like hours.

“I’ve been at University here, studying marine biology.”

“Really?” So, the lifeguard guess was close. “I almost did that. I love to dive—I started when I was an undergraduate here,” I shouted, “but I’m in veterinary school up north now. Maybe we could go for a dive before I have to go home.”

“I would love to,” he bit his lip, his brow furrowed, “but I fly back to Danmark tomorrow morning. I wish we’d met sooner.” He genuinely looked wistful and my heart twinged at the thought of the friendship we might have had.

“Believe me when I say I’m gutted to hear you’re leaving.” That’d be right. I finally meet someone with the same interests… and he’s heading halfway around the world the next day.

“Gutted?”

“Sorry, very sorry.” My mouth twisted.

“Me too,” said the Viking. He took my hand and made a little bow over it, then he kissed it. I had to take a deep breath and lock my knees to keep from melting. I love Europeans.

“It seems your friends are ready to leave.” He nodded at Ray’s table full of women. They looked at us over their empty glasses, purses slung over their shoulders. “Mange tusind tak, and goodbye for now,” he said, as he turned away toward his own friends.

Many thousand thanks…

My heart sinking, I rejoined Ray and her friends as they walked out the door.

Outside on the street, Ray and I split from her friends and turned toward our apartment over the clinic. Ray stared at the retreating back of the blonde Viking as he and his friends headed away from us and tripped over a crack in the pavement. She recovered and turned back to me. Her mouth twitched in the light of the streetlamp. “Well, you’ve certainly found yourself a live one,” she said, with a wink. “When will you see him again?”

I snorted. “Probably never. He flies home to Denmark tomorrow.”

Ray’s face fell. “You can’t be serious.”

“Story of my life.” I nodded. “Told you it’s not worth it,” I couldn’t repress a smile, “but the dancing was spectacular.”

“You two were awesome out there.”

“It was all him. I just followed.”

“Could have fooled me,” Ray muttered.

“Truth be told, it’s easier, or safer, anyway, than dancing Western Swing, where the only rules are to try to stay on your feet while they fling you around. It’s fun, but Jesper’s dancing was… so much more subtle. It was easy, like… like… dancing.” I beamed at my friend. “Thank you for dragging me along. I really enjoyed myself.”

“You at least have each other’s contacts, right?”

My mouth dropped open and nothing came out.

“I can see,” Ray sighed, “I’ll need to take you under my wing. You clearly lack training.”

We both laughed, but mine was a bit self-conscious.

“I’ll be okay.” I gave her a half smile. “My focus needs to be veterinary school now. I really don’t have the time or the energy for anything other than that. The next two years are going to be hard enough just taking care of me and my animals, without worrying about the ups and downs of a relationship.”

“I see,” Ray said, though she looked like she did no such thing.

“It’s really true,” I said firmly, wrapped an arm around Ray’s shoulders, and gave her a squeeze. “I have friends like you. What more could a vet student want?”

“I guess you’re right, and you have your precious horse waiting for you back at home.” Ray stopped dead and stared at me. “Oh my god, horse.…” she slapped her palm to her forehead and jerked her head toward me. “How could I forget about you?”

“Pardon?”

“A vet tech friend of mine asked me last week if I knew anyone who could help at an endurance ride next weekend.”

“Like a horse endurance ride?” I goggled at her.

“No, you goof, they’re racing penguins. Of course, it’s a horse endurance ride.” Ray’s eyes sparkled. She’d grown up with horses, but with her head tech position at the clinic, she didn’t have time for them now.

“Where do I sign?”

“Have you ever helped at an endurance ride?”

fifty miles at a breath

“I’ve been on the ‘P & R Team’ at the vet school and my family’s done endurance since before I was born—I’ve been on my family’s Tevis Cup crew since before I could walk.”

“Boy, am I glad to hear that.” Ray let out a breath and shook her head. “Sarah’s desperate for some helpers.” She turned to me, brow furrowed. “What’s a P & R team?”

“P for pulse, R for respiration. It’s a team of vet students that helps at local endurance rides by taking heart rates and respiratory rates on the horses before they go on to the vets at the control checks. It frees the vets up to focus on lameness and metabolic problems.”

“Oh, of course.”

“Where is it?” A tingle of excitement ran up my back.

“It’s at Los Lomitos, about an hour and a half from here. I’ll make you a deal: if you go help Sarah, you can leave on Friday at noon and needn’t be back at work until Tuesday morning—you can take some time for yourself up there.”

The weight, the tension sliding from my shoulders made me want to dance the rest of the way home. I was grateful for the opportunity offered by this summer preceptorship, but I wasn’t sure if I’d survive a whole two months down here, away from home and my animals, with only patient dogs and cats for company. Ray was offering me not only respite, but horses, too.

“Sweeten the deal,” Ray said, at my continued silence, “I’ll send you with my tent, sleeping bag and everything you’ll need to camp in luxury. Including poison oak medication.”

I laughed, afraid my cheeks might split from smiling so widely. “I’m in. You had me at hello.”

Fifty miles at a breath scene break

It was still early afternoon on Friday when I arrived at the endurance race campground and found Ray’s friend Sarah, the ride manager.

I’d beamed at myself in the rearview mirror for most of the drive. Four days of horses, camping, and outdoor life after the desert of life in a city. I’d owe Ray forever.

The somewhat frazzled Sarah managed a welcoming smile for me. “There’s nothing you need to do until later, Lena,” she said, handing me a lanyard and passes. “Ray told me your history, and I can’t say how glad I am to have a volunteer of your experience and training.”

“Happy to help,” I said. “I just want to touch some horses.”

“Plenty of opportunity for that.” Sarah’s eyes twinkled. “The P & R team briefing starts at 7 p.m. and there’s another session afterward to practice taking pulse and respiratory rates. You wouldn’t want to help with that, would you?”

“Of course,” I said. “I’m at your disposal.”

“I’d hoped you’d say that. Most of the team are experienced horse people, but only a few have taken vitals before.”

“I’d be happy to help them.” I smiled.

“Thanks so much.” Sarah’s eyes glinted. “Go ahead and set up your camp. There’s a nice swimming hole in the creek, just down there,” she pointed, “if you feel so inclined. I need to run,” she said, as a man wearing an OFFICIAL badge touched her on the shoulder, an expectant look on his face. “I’ll see you at dinner.” Sarah and the man headed off at a trot.

As my meals were supplied by the ride management, setting up camp took only minutes and I was soon free to enjoy my afternoon.

A luxury I haven’t had in long months,

Inside Ray’s tent, I dropped my jeans and slipped into my shorts and bikini top, grabbed a towel, and headed for the proffered swimming hole. I hadn’t gotten far when the throaty rumble of an Arabian caught my attention. He stared at me intently from his wooden tie stall and I approached him, looking around for someone connected to this magnificent creature, but no one was near. His blood bay coat gleamed over a faultlessly muscled body. He whickered again as I neared him. With his body carriage, he had to be a stallion, so I peeked under his belly. Yep, a stallion.

I reached out a hand to him and he lipped gently at my palm.

“Ooh, aren’t you the most handsome man?” I murmured.

I jumped when he answered.

“Why, thank you,” came a deep voice, tinged with humor.

I chuckled into the laughing gaze of the man who raised himself from the ground behind the short wall at the stallion’s feet. “I thought he answered me, for a moment.”

The man’s face creased into deep laugh lines around his gorgeous blue eyes. He was as handsome as the horse, to be sure.

“He talks, this boy,” he said, as he slid one arm over the bay’s back and gave him a scratch on his withers, then stuck out his other hand. “Blake, Blake Sagan. Pleased to meet you.”

I smiled and introduced myself. “Just admiring your stallion. He’s a beaut.”

“Thanks. He’s pretty special. His name’s Prince. Prince Witeż, after his grandfather. My pride and joy. Are you racing tomorrow?”

“Not this time. I’m here to help, P & R team.”

“Ever been to an endurance ride before?” He looked sideways at me while he waited for my answer.

“Oh, a few. My grandfather’s done the Tevis Cup numerous times, my mom and stepdad a few more, and I’ve done some shorter rides plus ride & ties. I usually get to crew, though.”

“Ah,” his eyes glinted, “you must be the vet student from Santa Barbara.”.

I blinked. News traveled fast.

“I knew Sarah was looking for helpers.” He smiled. “Thanks for coming along.”

“Glad to help. I was in serious need of a horse fix. I’ve been working in a small animal clinic this summer.”

“Not keen on the smallies?”

“I love them, but my heart’s with the horses.”

“You off for a swim?” He nodded at my towel.

“Sure am. Sarah told me to go down by the bridge.”

“It’s a nice spot, but there’s an even better one a little way upstream. I’m taking Prince down there for a swim shortly.”

“I’ll see you down there, then.”

“Be there soon,” he said, and waved at me as I walked away.

Blake’s gaze—there was more light in that man’s sparkling eyes then I’d seen in ages. I wondered what he did besides ride horses—with that quick, intelligent spark, it must be something special.

What can I be thinking?

The next two years are not about more devastating relationships. It’s time to finish my doctorate and establish my career.

I cannot go there.

I simply cannot.

 

 

Fifty miles at a breath break

Want to read more? Keep an eye out for Fifty Miles at a Breath in Summertime Romance on Main Street!

Coming in June 2018!

Fifty Miles at a Breath

“But why do you write about history?” They Ask….

Many have asked why I write about history.

“Writing about history takes so much time, you know, all that research!” they say.

Let me introduce some of my history… about history.

I love the Old West. I love New Zealand. I love stories of “the old countries”.  I have relatives from Denmark, Scotland, Russia, and the American South, all of which interest me no end. My genealogy charts are getting more branched as I continue to delve!

  • I grew up on Highway 84 in La Honda, CA…
  • where the Younger Brothers used to hang out after big heists…
  • where the Stage ran through…
  • and the Peek-a Boo Inn (yes, it was what it sounds like), the eleven bars, three churches and one store were the standard, back in the day. La Honda and some of its history is now featured in the third story of The Long Trails series, in  A Sea of Green Unfolding)history

Then I went away to university, finished veterinary school…(had to be a hoss-doc, didn’t I?)…

  • and lived in Placerville, CA on the Pony Express Trail.history

So, I was rather steeped in the Old West from a very young age.

Well, things led to things and I made my way to New Zealand, where I’ve lived for the past 27 years and have just published my fourth book. They comprise three 1860’s historical fictions in The Long Trails series and the newest, a contemporary novella, placed in the middle of the new Once Upon a Vet School series.

“But I hate reading about history,” some others say.

I love and write history, but rather than vomiting facts and figures all over the pages in what authors call “info-dumps”,  I offer it in a palatable way, by letting my fictitious characters interact with real historical ones in real historical settings. In essence, offering history in a tasty mix. It might just make history buffs of some people who didn’t think they’d ever go there!

History is good, but what about Food?

Recipes, oh yes, did I mention recipes? history Each of my books contain a recipe, pertinent to the story and time. Food. Always important, but I digress…

In case you were wondering what my historicals are about, have a read!

The Long Trails Series

Tales of factual fiction, adventure stories rich in historical detail, following the escapades of Aleksandra, Xavier, and Tatiana as they travel across continents and seas through the 1860’s.

Book One: A Long Trail Rolling history

She didn’t expect to become a target…but she is one now.

Aleksandra is alone and running to prevent her father’s killer from discovering their family secret. Disguised as a Pony Express rider in 1860’s Utah, Aleksandra winds up in even deeper trouble when she rides full speed into the Paiute Indian War. With Xavier, her compelling Californio boss, can she escape the Indians on the warpath and evade the man who’s already killed her father—and set his sights on her?

Book Two: The Hills of Gold Unchanginghistory

No one will stand in their way—and live.

As the Civil War rages, secessionists menace California. Aleksandra and Xavier are trying to get back home—through the oncoming Civil War, the mining camps of 1860’s Nevada and California, and the Sacramento floods—to Xavier’s Californio Rancho de las Pulgas. Embroiled in the Confederate’s fight to drag the new state from the Union and make it their own, can Aleks and Xavier survive?

Book Three: A Sea of Green Unfoldinghistory

When you’ve lost everything, the only way to go is up—isn’t it?

Follow the young couple’s journey to adventure in the turbulent wilderness of 1861 New Zealand. Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly found paradise on their California Rancho and von Tempsky’s invitation draws them to a new life in New Zealand—where the land wars between the European settlers and the local Maori have only just begun.

Book Four: Tatiana   Due out 2018!history

When the tsar holds the reins, nothing is certain—even life itself.

Stableman’s daughter Tatiana rises to glamorous heights by her equestrienne abilities—but the tsar’s glittering attention is not always gold. She and her husband Vladimir become pawns in the emperor’s pursuit of a coveted secret weapon. While Tatiana and their infant son are placed under house arrest, Vladimir must recover the weapon, or risk losing his wife and young son. With the odds mounting against them, can they find each other again—half a world away?

Find my books here!

Tatiana is my WIP (Work In Progress) right now. Does anyone have anything they’d especially like to see in the story? 

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Take care,

Lizzi

Something Special About Growing up in a Small Town

There’s something special about growing up in a small town, my name for a Main Street town. Like the song says, you know everybody and everybody knows you…and their parents might as well be yours, if you stepped out of line. But they were always there for you, just like your own parents, whenever you needed them.

 

My true home town…plus there are two bars and two churches not shown…used to be a gas station, but that was even before my time. The trailer at the fire station is new, though!

I live half a world away from there now, but if I wandered back tomorrow, they’d still be there for me, as I’d be for them.

 

People are there for each other in a small town. Many I know grew up in cities and never knew their neighbours. Now they’re adults, they still don’t know the people up and down their street. I don’t get it. I couldn’t live with myself—being so close to others and never even knowing them, what’s going on in their lives, if they’re okay. They look at me blankly when I ask.

My adopted High School town–where I nearly stayed. 🙂 xxx

 

What I Learned in a Small Town

I learned gratitude in a small town, and love, respect, and caring. How looking after others was important. Sure, it got me into some binds when I left that small town for the big smoke…but I survived, because I knew there were still many, many people back there in my family, but not of my blood, who loved me. Unconditionally.

 

4-H. Without it, and its caring parent leaders, I’m sure I’d never, ever, have gotten into Veterinary School at UC Davis! I pay it back when I can. Small towns taught me this.

 

I wish more people had the opportunity to grow up in a small town, or in a “small town in a big city”. I’m sure they exist. While people, wherever they live, are getting “closer via the internet”, often it’s merely virtual—further away from real human and animal contact, the thing which makes us “human”. In a small town or rural area, people still get the contact, because their friends and families are still there for them.

 

 

Without this contact, it becomes that much easier for people to hide away and not get the care and love they crave, but fear to request. Some retreat from the world, disappear, but others become increasingly capable of “inhuman” actions.

 

I know, this is more morose than my usual post, but there has to be an answer. We’ve lived in one of the most peaceful times in history, in the States, Canada and New Zealand. I think it blinds us a bit to what much of the rest of the world experiences daily.

 

Can we help create small towns wherever we are?

Can we begin to show those around us, city or town, some interest, care, compassion? Whoever they are? Maybe that neighbour who doesn’t talk with anyone is afraid to try? Maybe they just truly want to be left alone, but what if they didn’t? And you made the difference to their life? Go outside and do some fun things together with others…

 

Starting small, one candle at a time, we can create a small town anywhere…

One candle at a time, we can light up the world.

If we’re willing to take that step outside ourselves.

You never know the difference it might make,

To someone.

I think that’s why I was so pleased to be offered a place with Authors of Main Street. It felt a little like coming home. A group of people who support each other, cheer with each other, and sometimes, cry with each other. Now we’re putting out another “sweet” romance boxed set for Christmas. There’s a lot of care going out in one big package.

 

I hope it gives you some positivity and warm feelings as the weather turns colder for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

Take the chance to share a little of your light.

Xx

Lizzi

 

 

Seeing as this is my last blog post before the 12 October release of our new Christmas Boxed set, I thought I’d post Chapter Three of Once Upon a Vet School for you. It’s one of the nine complete stories in our set. No teasers in our sets! The previous two chapters are in my last two posts, in case you missed them!

14 OVS 7 Lena EBOOKcoverLG FILE

Once Upon a Vet School #7 is now available for preorder as part of our new boxed set at

004 website

Amazon!

It’ll be delivered to your Kindle on 12 October! Only a few days away!!!

I hope you enjoy reading all the stories. I sure have loved the ones I got to beta!

All your favorite Main Street authors have stories tucked inside. Remember, we are an international group so everyone’s Main Street is a little different. But don’t you think that’s what makes it fun?

These are clean stories you don’t have to hide from the children, and of course the same wonderful quality that you’ve come to expect from us. They’d make a great Christmas gift for just about anyone on your list.

And if you have any horse lovers in the family, expect your Kindle to vanish while they read  my novella!

All though September and October, you’ve been reading snippets of these stories, which are all complete and brand new stories!

So grab your 99c copy today! It will be delivered to your Kindle on October 12, USA time. There’s not a sinker in the bunch, so read them all!

What’s Christmas without a little romance?

 

xx

Lizzi

 

And here’s your excerpt!

 

Once Upon a Vet School  #7   Lena Takes a Foal

CHAPTER  THREE

 

Dr. Rye was our lecturer for Wednesday’s Equine Surgery lecture, so I didn’t have to see Ki—Dr. Allen, and my focus in class was impeccable.

It seems all I had to do was think of Kit for my face to heat up, and it was starting to look like I had it bad. Maybe that’s why I nearly dropped a container of colostrum when his voice came from over my shoulder as I struggled to get into a comfortable position, half-kneeling, halfway underneath a mare in the Large Animal ICU stall.

“What the heck are you doing under there?” he growled.

“What does it look like? Milking a mare,” I said, my voice shaky. It had taken the better part of a half hour to milk this much out of her, never mind having to do it in strange contortions around my non-bending limb.

“Does your supervisor know what your leg looks like?” He frowned.

That got my attention. I whipped my head around to see if my boss had heard him and nearly tipped over, then clambered the rest of the way to my feet.

“Please Ki—Dr. Allen, please don’t say anything to Frank. I need the hours—I can’t feed that horse or me without it.” I was pleading, now.

“You’re a pain in the rear, you know?” Kit shook his head. “But you’re a trier, I’ll give you that. Hasn’t anyone shown you how to milk a mare with a syringe?”

“A syringe? I think she might object.” I had to grin at that. “She’s really been good—hasn’t moved a muscle for me all this time,” I said, wrapping my arms around the mare’s neck and burying my steaming face in her mane. She whuffled softly as she nosed my bottom, then returned to her hay.

He stroked the mare, while he looked over her back at the premature foal sleeping in the straw.

“Is he nursing yet?”

“His suck reflex is improving a little, but we’re still tubing him with colostrum every few hours,” I said.

“Want to learn to milk a mare…a little faster?”

“You bet.” He had my full attention, now.

“Sit down and put that leg up while I do this.”

I sat, thankful to get my weight off it for a moment, while he searched the cabinet drawers for a big syringe and pulled the plunger out.

“You cut off the business end of the clear part, here,” he began sawing at it with a pocket knife, “then turn the plunger around.” When he was finished, he handed the contraption to me.

I stared at it, with no idea how to begin.

“You place the smooth end around the mare’s teat,” he grinned, “and slowly draw down on the plunger.”

“Seriously?” I jumped to my feet with a wince and tried it. With only gentle pressure on the plunger, the golden, syrupy colostrum just flowed into the syringe. I shook my head and swore softly.

“Works, doesn’t it?” He grinned.

“I can’t believe it,” I breathed. “Thank you so much.” If he wasn’t my hero before, he surely was now.

“That should speed it up a little.”

I filled the rest of my container in three minutes flat.

“I’ve spent…you don’t want to know how long…getting that same volume…” My voice dwindled off and I gazed at him. If student ICU techs hugged residents, I would have.

He took one look at me, then backed away, the beginnings of a smile running screaming from his face.

“Good, well—” he muttered, and spun toward the patient bulletin board, his knuckles so white on the pen in his hand, I thought I’d be cleaning up plastic fragments.

I shook my head and filled another container with the precious golden liquid while he stared fixedly at the pink treatment sheets. His fingers had relaxed, and now he merely played with his pager buttons.

“How is that mare, Charlotte, over in C-Barn?” he called across the room.

“I’m on my way over there now, thanks to your milking gadget. Without it, I’d have been ages longer.”

His narrowed brows softened and the corners of his mouth even lifted a little.

“No worries,” he said.

I stifled a chuckle. Sounded like he’s been hanging out with the new Kiwi Equine Repro resident. New Zealand idioms were popping up all over the vet school. I covered the beakers of colostrum, put one into the fridge, and left the other out for the little guy’s next feed.

“So why,” he remarked, under his breath, “the heck are you working? You should have that leg up somewhere, not running around barns making it worse.”

“I already told you why,” I hissed, glancing around. “It’s been up long enough. Time for exercise, Doc. Soon I’ll be a hundred percent again.”

He shook his head.

“You said you were a farrier before you became a vet,” I said, changing the subject.

“Yes, I was. Why?” He looked sideways at me.

“I spend as much time in the farrier shop here as Sean will have me, but they’re all client horses, so I can’t trim them. I’d like to learn.”

He flicked a glance my way.

“Why do you want to trim feet? You’re training to be a vet, not a shoer.”

“Horses depend on their feet for their living. It’s important they’re right.”

“It’s a lot like hard work.” His brow wrinkled, and he looked away for a moment.

“Way I figure it,” I said, “horse vets need to know about feet—and the fastest way to lose an owner’s confidence is to mangle a shoe removal or basic trim. I don’t want to be a farrier, but I’d sure like to be able to pull a shoe and decently trim and balance a hoof.”

His eyes lit up and his lips slowly formed a twisted grin.

I couldn’t help beaming back. Encouraged, I rattled on.

“I’ve spent a lot of time reading about feet, but I haven’t had the opportunity to actually trim them.” I fell silent for a moment, waiting, but Kit didn’t offer.

He turned away and began looking at records.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then turned back toward the fridge and stared at it, unseeing.

“Guess I’ll have to take a farrier course when I’m done with vet school. Doesn’t look like I’ll learn much about trimming here,” I mumbled, half to myself, half to the fridge.

Behind me, Kit sighed.

“I could teach you,” he said.

I spun to stare at him, just as he blinked, as if he didn’t quite believe he’d just said that.

“Would you? Would you really?” I was stunned. After his last words, I truly hadn’t expected him to say that.

He swallowed hard, then nodded.

“Yep,” he said. “There are plenty of horses in the research herds that could use a bit of attention.”

“When can we start?” I was so excited, I nearly forgot to breathe.

His jaw tensed as he held his own breath in silence for long moments.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he finally said.

I narrowed my brows at him. This couldn’t be good.

“You do only what you absolutely must on that leg for two more weeks, and then if it’s significantly better, I’ll take you out and teach you to trim feet. Mind you, they’re pretty unkempt, and they’ll be a bit rough to handle—”

“—oh please?” I interrupted. Oh cripes, I was begging to do feet…but I meant it.

“Yes,” he sighed, “but remember the conditions, eh?”

“Got it loud and clear, Doc,” I said, and hobbled on before him, eager to show him the progress Charlotte had made since he’d changed the heel elevation of the shoe on her injured leg.

***

“Hey, want to go for some pizza?” one of the girls in my class asked the students standing around me.

“Yeah, let’s go. I’ve got room for one more in my car, Miranda,” one of the guys said, and walked past me to steer her in the right direction, without a glance at me.

I took a deep breath and shook my head, riffling through my pack for my schedule to see what else I needed to do before heading home.

Maybe I was just born different.

But horses liked me…and men, until they got to know me—usually too well, too soon. And then they’d disappear. I couldn’t seem to get that one figured out. My female friends usually kicked me from here to Christmas when I did it…again. I only gave the guys what they asked for…and then they despised me for—

—with a shudder, I saw it—in black and white on the page and my heart hits my boots.

Oh hell. My cousin’s wedding is tomorrow.

More people. I closed my eyes and sank down onto the nearest planter box.

“You okay?” Jess walked up and dropped her pack next to me. “How’s the leg?”

I sighed and let my bag slide to the ground, too.

“Okay, but I’ve a wedding tomorrow.”

“Why so glum? I love weddings. I’ll go.”

“Fine, you go in my place,” I said, and gritted my teeth.

“What’s not to like about a wedding?” She scrunched her face up.

“Too many people, all in one place. When your parents and grandparents all have retail stores, it doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert—you still need to serve the customers and act extroverted, regardless.”

“Probably the best thing they ever did for you—probably helped you get into vet school.”

“Yeah, maybe, but it makes my heart hurt.”

“You’re pretty extroverted now,” she said.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I tell myself it doesn’t matter what people think of me…but it’s not true,” I whispered. “Nobody, even you, gets that I’m terrified—of what they might say, what they might do. At least horses and dogs love you when they love you, even if it’s just cupboard love—and they don’t bother to lie or make promises they won’t keep.”

Jess blinked and stared at me.

“The thought of going to a wedding brought out all that?”

“Well, yes. I mean, the ceremonies are all right. I usually even cry. And the dancing’s good, if there’s someone there who can swing dance…but the rest isn’t so hot…drunk people who want to get close,” I shuddered, “and think it’s okay because it’s a wedding.”

“True. You don’t do drunks, period. I’ve seen that.” Jess put an arm over my shoulders and gave me a hug.

“I can usually escape into a kitchen,” I said, with a hint of a grin. “I hate weddings with caterers, though. No escape hatch.”

“Didn’t you used to work for a catering company when you were an undergraduate? How’d you deal with that?”

“They didn’t maul the kitchen minions. Hey,” I grinned, “that’s an idea. I can take along a black skirt and white blouse…and just disappear into the woodwork.”

“So where is it?” Jess said, shaking her head and chuckling.

“At my Aunt’s ranch.”

“What’s wrong with that? She’s the one with all the horses, right? If the kitchen trick doesn’t work, you could always head for the stables.”

“That’s why I love you so much, Jess. You get it.”

“Yep,” she said. “Are you done feeling sorry for yourself? Because I’m hungry.”

“Aren’t you always?”

She beamed back at me. She’s a tall, gorgeous beanpole and eats whatever she wants. I am eternally jealous.

***

“Oh, Lena, how’s Sunshine been?” The new resident, Dr. Masters, nodded at a post-op colic horse standing with one hind leg cocked, his tail lazily twitching at a fly in the ICU stall beside her.

“He’s looking good,” I said, with a smile, and reached for a second fluid bottle. “He grazes well, ate his feed tonight, and started my shift with a full flake of hay. It’s half gone now.”

“Good, so he’s eating again…” Dr. Masters looked down at the horse’s record in her hand and cocked her head, brows coming together a little. “Have you been writing up the records?”

“If I can squeeze in the time, I do.” My face heated, and I bit my lip.

Did she mind?

“As busy as it is today? You don’t have to do that,” she said. “It’s my job to write them from your treatment sheets entries. You have enough to do.”

I blinked.

“Seriously? You residents never even get time to sleep. If you’d rather write them up, that’s fine, but if not, I’m happy to help.”

“Thanks Lena,” she said, with a sigh. “It’s appreciated. Make you a deal. If you think it’ll be good for your training, go ahead and do them if you want. I’ll critique and sign them off.”

“Really?”

“Sure. Happy to.”

“I’m after all the practice I can get,” I said, as Dr. Masters picked up a stack of records and ferried them toward the office. I jumped when I saw Kit already there, head down over his papers, scribbling for all he was worth. I hadn’t seen him come in. Butterflies bashing to escape my stomach walls, I shivered and turned on my bad leg with two, five-liter glass fluid bottles in my arms. I only just managed to keep my feet, and keep the profanity under my breath on my way to the barns. I really must learn to pay attention, even if the illustrious Dr. Allen was present.

Our residents, all of them, made me smile. For people, they’re pretty awesome, especially after my exposure to the wedding crowd last week. I’d survived, but only just. Ended up grooming horses in my silk dress. By the end of it, I could have come out of the pages of a Thelwell book—the sequence of drawings where a tidy rider begins all dressed for a show with the shaggy, muddy beast she’d evidently just pulled from the paddock…and their magical transformation to a gleaming, braided pony beside an exhausted and filthy ragamuffin with a trashed riding habit.

In C-Barn, I pulled the rope to raise the caged fluid bottle high above Cotillion. The palomino swung her head around and whickered at someone’s approach.

Kit. My heart jerked and I swallowed hard.

He reached out to the mare and she lipped at his fingers as our eyes met and held.

“How’s she going?”

“Her IV drip had stopped, but I’ve fixed it,” I said. “She’s looking a lot brighter than yesterday.”

“You know, you don’t have to write up records.” Kit looked at me sideways.

“I don’t have long until I get to be a real vet…and I need all the help I can get.”

“You’re doing pretty damn well already,” Kit said, his brows lowering. “Most third year students haven’t even tried procedures you do every shift as an ICU tech.”

“Yeah, well, that’s why I wanted to work here,” I said. “Even with this hospital’s big equine case load, the time in clinics is too short for me. I seem a bit slow to learn things.”

He rolled his eyes at that.

“You’re doing just what you need to be doing, and makin’ a good job of it.”

“It’d be nice if other people thought so,” I said, biting my lip. The black plastic cap from the new fluid bottle clicked into place as I shoved it onto the empty one.

“Who doesn’t think so?”

“Nobody,” I said, to my feet.

“Who?”

“I’m a pain in the neck, apparently, to my class.”

“I’d bet no resident or prof would say that,” Kit said, but he squirmed a little.

I swallowed hard. Guess he thought so, too. Must be my questions in class. I truly didn’t do it to show off. I just wanted to understand. If I learned it wrong the first time…

“Maybe if you kept your head down a little in cla—” Kit started.

“Seriously, you too?” I shook my head. And I’d thought…but that wasn’t worth thinking about, clearly. “Is there anything else you’d like to know about this horse, Dr. Allen?” In my iciest tone.

“Now don’t go gettin’ all huffy, I’m only trying to help.”

“Thank you for your concern.” I don’t imagine it sounded overly grateful, coming from between gritted teeth.

He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

“Okay, if you want to be that way about it,” he said. “Thanks, anyway, for taking such good care of the horses.”

“Any time,” I spat out, tucked my bottles beneath my arms, and bolted for B-Barn, the hemostats and stethoscope clipped to my scrubs swinging with every hop.

***

My alarm shocked me out of whatever pleasant dream had cocooned me. I smacked it on its head, then lay blinking at the sunshine streaming through the jasmine vines that waved in the open window. Their sweet, heady scent heavy in the early morning air. I rolled over, then sat bolt upright.

Today was the day.

My two weeks of penance were up. I had an appointment to make with a certain resident to trim feet. I stilled, though, thinking about our last meeting. I’d certainly have to apologize. I should’ve done it last week, but what can I say? I was gutless. After a deep breath to settle my butterflies into place, I shot out of bed and leapt into my clothes.

“What’s the hurry, girl? It’s early yet,” Tamarah said, dodging the gooey tennis ball the Lab spat at her from two feet away.

“Susie’s aim is improving.” I laughed. “Soon she won’t miss. I’m off.”

“You really are better,” she said, looking down at my leg.

“Amazing what a little water, sitting in the sun massaging, and jumping rope has done.” Most of the odd colors were gone and it was down to nearly normal size.

“So can you ride your bike yet?”

“Did it yesterday,” I nodded, pouring uncooked oats into a bowl. “Felt fine.”

“One lucky girl,” she said, and disappeared into her room, followed by the bouncing dog.

I wolfed my breakfast and shot across town. The only fly in the ointment was my treatment of Kit the other day. I chewed my lip over it while I waited outside K—I shook my head at myself—Dr. Allen’s office door. He arrived after only a few minutes, so I didn’t have long to stew.

“You all right?” He gave me a quizzical look.

“If I were any better, I’d be twins.” Cocky cover-up, with the butterflies bashing away inside me and my face doubtless bright red. “Um…Dr. Allen,” I groped for words, while I fisted the sides of my shirt, “I’m sorry about my attitude last week.” I dropped my eyes to the linoleum. “I had no call to jump down your throat like that—I’m…just a bit sensitive about the topic.”

“It’s okay, I understand.” Kit tried for a smile and shook his head, then he glanced down at my leg, below my running shorts. And froze in his fumbling with his door key. “What have you done with it?”

“Worked on it? It’s much better…” My heart sank. I thought it looked better…but maybe I was getting ahead of myself.

“It’s amazing.” He blinked, and stared again. “I’ve never seen bruises change that fast. How’d you do it?”

“I had motivation,” I said, resuming breathing again, and told him how, then continued. “I…I wanted to see if we could please make a time to go out and do feet.”

“You sure you’re ready for that?” He winced, glancing at the offending leg.

“I can jump rope, I rode my bicycle over here, and I’ve been working.”

“There’s still swelling on the front of the shin.”

“It seems to be a split muscle—it now sits over the top, see?” I propped my foot up on a handy chair and showed him.

“You’re right,” he said, his face coloring. “Well, I guess we’ve got a date.”

I gulped, at the same time he shuddered and stepped backward.

“Ah…” I said, backpaddling.

“Let me check my calendar,” he said in a rush, then tried a few more times to get the key into the lock.

If we weren’t both so uncomfortable, it would have been comic. As for me, tempting as he might be, it was time to take care of myself—and that didn’t include getting my heart burned again.

For quite some time in the foreseeable future.

 

ENJOY!

Again, if you wish to preorder Christmas Babies on Main Street, by Authors of Main Street, click here!  It’s only 99c$  What a deal!

Merry Christmas, early!

xx

Lizzi

 

On Writing ‘Short’…Yeah, Right.

Hello! I hope you’re having a great week!

 

Those of you reading this blog generally know the Authors of Main Street write a Christmas boxed set, right?

Well, I was honoured to have been asked to join AoMS this year…between boxed sets, so this upcoming Christmas edition will be my first with this group of lovely ladies!

Here’s a little giggle for you…

When I told my man I was going to write a short story for the Christmas Box, he laughed…again…

like the last time.

 

Picture this…

I’d just uploaded my first novel, A Long Trail Rolling,

and jumped into NaNoWriMo for the first time with the second novel in my series, A Sea of Green Unfolding…

Well, yeah… it’s now the third, for those of you  familiar with The Long Trails series.

 

 

Well, about that…

As I wrote a few months ago on this blog, my Matt, and independently, one of my other beta readers, decided there was another story between Book One, A Long Trail Rolling, and its Epilogue.”

“Oh no, there isn’t…” I argued. I tried that a few times, but noooooooooo…

SO, I tried to ignore it, which was getting a little difficult, because by now Matt and I had become an item…

So, we were at a local RWNZ branch meeting at the home of a teacher-writer member, who also did a lot of art. She’d made some LOVELY storyboards for her stories…and she is an artist. Being a primary teacher, she also had BOXES of ’stuff’ for us to play with and create our storyboards.

 

Matt looked at me. “What storyboard are you going to do?” He lifted a brow at me pointedly.

“Sea of Green,” I challenged.

He raises both brows.

I occasionally know when I’m beat. This was one of those times.

A big sigh. “Okay,” I finally murmured.

I sat down to create the storyline for what was to become the new Book Two.

 

as I worked, I became more and more excited. Soon the story was just falling out on the canvas before me, made easier, of course, by the fact that I knew the areas through which my hero and heroine were travelling like the back of my hand.

SO, thanks to Matt and my wonderful writing group, I did it. Now I was keen.

This was going to be a quickie novella, mostly to get Matt and Kate off my back and get back to A Sea of Green Unfolding.

 

Well.

Hmmm…

The Hills of Gold Unchanging didn’t turn out much like a novella…more like 510 pages, by the time I’d finished it. Nearly 170K words.

Today I finished the final edit for A Sea of Green Unfolding. It’s finished up around 122K words. Hmmm…not short either…

I redid the cover before its official release. 🙂  Here it is… complete with photos of our farm, my youngest son, and my big bay carriage horse.

 

I told Matt I was going to write Book 4, Tatiana, ‘short’.

As I expected, he laughed.

 

At a writing workshop in Auckland a few months ago, even Joanna Penn told me I needed to write ‘short’.

 

SO, when I told Matt I was going to write something that was twenty to forty thousand words for Authors of Main Street, guess what?

You guessed it, he laughed.

Then grinned. “I know you can do it,” he said. “I can’t wait to watch.”

 

I’m still shaking my head.

 

Three weeks ago, I started thinking of the story I’m going to write for our boxed set on one of my dog and author walks around our farm here by the river. (this pic is on the island in the middle of our river)

 

I desperately needed to finish A Sea of Green Unfolding, but I snuck into a new workbook and started scribbling down the new story… and couldn’t stop.

Fifteen half-sized pages. Not bad for a few stolen moments while my dinner cooked.

Now to plan out the rest and get it done.

 

Oh, what’s it to be about?

 

It’s a story about this horse-crazy chick in vet school and what she gets up to. It’s to be the first in a series Matt’s been encouraging me to do for ages. For years, I kept telling him I didn’t have any vet stories…and every time I told him another vet story from my life that eyebrow would shoot up again.

“There’s another story,” he’d say. Well, yes, I guess so. Now I can’t wait to get on with it.

 

It’s going to be a lot of fun…but I’m NOT going to tell which things really happened and which I made up. That would take all the fun out of it…

 

…and the names were changed to protect the innocent…and the not-so-innocent.

 

Have a wonderful week, all!

 

Take good care, and big hugs from New Zealand!

 

xx

 

Lizzi Tremayne

Casket or Coffin? The rivulets down which writers may find themselves…and does it really matter?

Not to be getting morbid on you this early in the piece, but really, it’s important. Getting the detail right makes a difference to the discerning reader. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a writer may have to leave the main stream and travel down smaller and smaller rivulets until the detail becomes clear—and correct, to the best of their understanding.

I’ve known this for quite some time, but was reminded the other day, when writing a scene for one of my 1863 historical fictions. In the interest of avoiding word repetition—by using varied words to say the same thing, I used the word coffin in one line, and casket in the next…and then, as I often do, began to wonder whether substituting one for the other was appropriate…for now, and as well as 1863. As my best friend, a techie, tells me whenever I ask him a question, “Google is your friend.”

So I went online…once again.

As any writer of historical works will tell you, do your research before you begin. I do, I do…but ‘when in the course of human events, it become necessary’ to figure out the plausibility of, for example, substituting ‘casket’ for ‘coffin’, one must hit the proverbial books again.

In this case, it turned out that mere word substitution was definitely not OK.

The name selected for the burial container of your historical heroine’s uncle implies vastly different things, with respect to the period in which he lived, his cultural affiliations, and his social status as well. The number of sides? Coffins have six or eight, while caskets, in North America, at least, have four, and are designed to look like a bed—apparently, to ease the mourning process—sheltering those left behind by making the deceased seem less dead than they are. (Really? No amount of makeup could have made my grandfather look alive, to my eight-year-old eyes.) Are they shaped like the deceased, as in the anthropoid shape of a coffin, wide at the shoulders and narrow toward the feet, or rectangular like a casket? How many layers?  And the composition of those layers? While common in England a few centuries ago, a tri-layered coffin, with the middle one of lead, would have been difficult to manufacture for burial of one’s loved husband while crossing the Sierras in a covered wagon. There certainly wasn’t the space to carry a spare.

So you see why it takes a writer so long to finish even a simple paragraph?

Likewise, some readers are pretty particular about their hobby. Take, for instance, horsey people. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been riding since I was seven, and luckily, made a career out of my love for horses. I’m not a snob in general, but when I pick up a book that has a horse in it, and its characters do something a horse person would consider just plain stupid, I tend to drop the book. Say, if a character does something like whip their reins around a hitching rail (your horse will rip their mouth to shreds if they panic and pull back), wrap the reins or lead rope around their hand (good way to lose fingers), or drive a pair or team from the wrong side of a carriage (the reins are buckled together at different lengths, specifically for the side on which the driver traditionally sits). I don’t want to read any more.

Some may call it snobbery, but it’s really more that the author has just lost credibility in the reader’s eyes. If they couldn’t bother to research enough to get that simple detail right, what else could be a lie in the story?  Research, research, research, and then run it by a person in that hobby. An author won’t always get it right, but they earn points with me for doing their best.

Detail, detail, and more detail.

During The Great Flood of Sacramento, having your fictional steamboat pilot tying his boat up to the dock would have local history buffs jumping up and down in hysterics, because the pier was beneath three stories of water.

The piles for said docks were just not that long. There was an awful lot of water filling up Sacramento, not to mention the whole Central Valley of California.

In fact, there was so much water that Leland Stanford had to go to his inauguration in downtown Sacramento in a rowboat. I can suppose his wife would not have been amused. Imagine the difficulty that would have posed for management of her crinoline, and keeping her ankles covered.

HOWEVER, and this is a big one…one can research and research…and then put it all into the story.

No, you say? Whatever can you mean? I’ve discovered all this information, and I want to tell the world, now that I’m an ‘expert’ on the topic!

It won’t fly. It just won’t.

If a reader wanted a history book, they would seek out a history book.

If one is writing historical fiction, the historical detail must be used with delicacy. Subtlety. It is far too easy to launch into historical exposition, and bury the story in pet research.

I know. I did it. And I must constantly prevent myself from doing it again.

Other authors ask why I released a 3rd edition of A Long Trail Rolling.

“Move forward,” they said. “It’s your first novel, get on with the next book!”.

I couldn’t.

This may have been my first book, but it was also the launching pad for my first series. The suboptimal reviews I’ve received (from the first edition) have complained of historical exposition, or history book-type rants about what I loved from my research. As Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings”. To those of you who offered these comments, thank you—it’s helped my writing evolve.

Writing historicals can be an exercise in trying to get out of the research and into putting words down on the page—for me, anyway—but maybe I’m just easily distracted. It’s also my excuse to keep delving deeper into the period in which I’m engaged. I love it, but it’s a bit of an addiction, this research. I can’t seem to get enough, and it will probably remain a compulsion, best kept under control.

Maybe we can start a new club. RA—Researchers Anonymous.

Maybe I’ll write a contemporary. A short one. I might finish it a lot faster…

Oh yeah, I’m doing that…soon…for Authors of Main Street’s next Christmas Boxed Set!

Here’s a teaser for that story…horsey girl in veterinary school…what she gets up to—and beyond.

 

   

I’m getting set to release Book Three in The Long Trails series of historical romantic thrillers, called A Sea of Green Unfolding, in digital and paperback.

During the run-up to release day, I’ll be offering digital copies of Book One of the series, A Long Trail Rolling, for only 99c, and preorders for A Sea of Green Unfolding at a discounted rate until release day!  Come on by my author site to sign up for my newsletter to stay informed!

Thanks so much for reading, I’ll see you again soon!

xx

Lizzi

Lizzi Tremayne

A New Member on Main Street: Lizzi Tremayne

Hello!

I’m Lizzi Tremayne, an award-winning author of historical romantic thriller/suspense, veterinary non-fiction and soon, veterinary small town contemporary fiction! I have two novels out now, and two more in the works!

I’m ecstatic to have been asked to join Authors on Main Street, because I feel so at home with the people here, not only the author members, but also those of you who comment on the blogs.

I grew up in the little town of La Honda, in the redwoods of California, but my small town is now Waihi, New Zealand, where I live on my six acre riverside farmlet with my horse, cows, dogs, cats and chickens. This pic was taken on a little island in the middle of the river, only 40 metres from my house!aut-island-paradise-3mb

I’m excited to be writing my first contemporary fiction for our 2017 Christmas Boxed Set—hint..I’m an equine (horse) veterinarian, so it might have something to do with that!

The excerpt below is from THE HILLS OF GOLD UNCHANGING, book 2 of The Long Trails series, released only two weeks ago!  My books are available in digital, paperback (in both standard and large print), and book 1, A LONG TRAIL ROLLING, is also available in three forms of hardcover!

cover-hills-of-gold-6x9-ebook-2-7mb

About The Hills of Gold Unchanging:

No one will stand in their way—

                                                and live.

 

As the Civil War rages, secessionists menace California.

Trying to get back home, Aleksandra and Xavier journey through the mining camps of 1860’s Nevada and California, the Sacramento floods and Old San Francisco to Xavier’s Californio Rancho de las Pulgas.

Embroiled in the Confederate’s fight to drag the new state from the Union and make it their own, can Aleks and Xavier survive? The secessionists mean business.

This is Book Two of The Long Trails Series of historical romantic thriller sagas, following Lizzi’s characters from the wilderness of 1860’s Utah to Colonial New Zealand

Setup for the excerpt:

This is the beginning of the book…

The Excerpt:

June 1860, Echo Canyon, Wasatch Mountains, Utah Territory

His blade glinted in the sunlight as he lunged toward her, but she ducked and spun, her own sword flashing in figure eights while she retreated, and his strike met with only air. He recovered and set himself up for the onslaught he knew would come, coughing as the dust kicked up by their boots thickened.

Blade up, he parried the blows she rained down upon him. He managed to get in one of his own, and retreated for a moment, breathing hard. She stepped back as well, her breasts heaving beneath the thin linen. Blue eyes glittered below brows narrowed with concentration, before her sword returned to action with a vengeance. They circled, dodging and striking in turn. Her skill was far greater, but the girl’s injuries from her last fight, combined with his greater reach and fitness were beginning to tell. A movement tugged at the edge of his vision—he glanced up from her sword to see her hat tumble off. Her hair cascaded down in a tangle to her thighs, and his heart surged.

She’s mine now.

He offered the ghost of a smile as he moved in to disarm her with a passing lunge and struck at her sword arm.

The air left his lungs and he tasted dirt in his mouth as he hit the unforgiving ground face-first. He groaned and rolled over, expecting the worst.

Above him, her laughing visage met his eyes. Her glorious curls, molten gold, fell around his face like a veil as she bent to wipe his face and kiss his lips. She slid the hilt of his sword from his hand.

“All right, halte, hold, you two,” their instructor said, in his heavy Russian accent. “There’s still work to be done, Xavier, but you’ve done well.”

Xavier Argüello took the hand his opponent offered, hopped to his feet and dusted off his clothes.

“Well done, Querido,” said his intended, Aleksandra Lekarski, as she returned his sword.

“Xavier, come here, please,” Vladimir Chabardine said, from the doorway of the cabin, where he was propped up in his sickbed. “You have worked hard. I am impressed, and it is rare that I am compelled to say that. That shashka now belongs to you. Use it in good health.”

Xavier stared at him, then at the Don Cossack saber in his hand, its leather grip smooth with years of use. He was silent for long moments.

“But it’s yours, Vladimir,” he finally said.

“It was one of mine, yes. Now it is yours. Tatiana brought my other two shashkas with her from Russia. One is for Nikolai, when he is ready, and this one is for you. It’s the least I can do, after my part in,” he looked at Aleksandra and grimaced, “your papa’s death.”

She nodded, her face grim, in acknowledgement.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” Xavier said, shaking his head at the Russian, as he ran a finger from the tooled embellishment on the pommel through to the rawhide bouton and strip they used for their practice sessions. He slid the protectors off and his new shashka whispered into its scabbard. He turned to face Aleksandra, and bowed to her. “Thank you,” he said, then turned to Vladimir, “and again, to you.”

She returned the bow and smiled at them both.

“You’re not quite done,” Vladimir said. “Xavier, replace the guard.”

“What would you like?” Aleksandra asked.

“One more bout. En garde,” he said, and they prepared.

Prêt.” They nodded.

Allez,” Vladimir snapped, and they began.

Aleksandra feinted, then moved to strike, but Xavier saw a hole in her defense and lunged. She twirled way, with a laugh, then drew back, looking frightened, her body twisted strangely to the right.

Was she injured?

His gaze lifted to her face, but no pain resided there, though her brow was furrowed. What a chance! Her whole left side was unguarded, and he went for the opening.

Before he could alter his course, she unwound and her shashka flashed toward him. For the second time in his life, he froze as he found her blade across his throat.

¿Recuerdas? Remember this?” she said, her eyes merry.

“How could I forget, Querida,” he spoke for her ears alone, “our first meeting?”

Hands clapped behind them and they spun as one, hands on their sword hilts.

“No need fer that, no need fer that,” said a man, mounted on a chestnut horse. Beside the horse walked a black man, tied by the wrists to the rope in the rider’s hands.

“What do you wan—” Xavier began, then clamped his jaw, as his breath came short. Blood pounded in his ears and his face heated. “What can I help you with,” he finally managed, past gritted teeth, as he walked away from the house door, toward their callers.

“Well, hello theah,” the rider said, his Southern accent heavy. “Good fightin’, and fer a girl, too.” He looked sideways at Aleksandra.

“Aleks,” Xavier hissed, as he felt, rather than saw, her bristle beside him. He glanced at her knuckles showing white on the pommel of her saber. He reached out and covered her sword hand with his own and she took a deep breath and stilled.

“We’re yer new neighbors down th’road. Y’all wanna buy a slave? We’ve jus’ done come West ‘n now we’ve done finished buildin’ the house, he’s,” he nodded at the man at the end of his tether, “jus’ ‘noth’r mouth t’feed. Ca’int use ‘im to grow nuthin’ in this rock y’call dirt around heah.” He stopped and looked at the yard and cabin. “Nice place y’all got here.”

Xavier nodded, silent.

The man’s brows narrowed, then he continued. “Well, ah wondered if y’all had a breedin—ah, a woman slave I could trade fer him. The missus wants help in t’house, an’ I could use a little…too.” The glint in his beady eyes turned his grin into a leer.

Xavier closed his eyes and clenched his fists. “This territory may allow slavery, but nobody holds with it around here.”

The Southerner was silent for a moment, then answered with a voice dripping with sarcasm. “Now that’s mahty neighborly of ya. Are y’all some o’them ab’litionists we come West to git away from?”

“As you wish.” Xavier raised a brow at him, then shifted his gaze to the man on foot, staring at the dirt. “I apologize to you, sir, but you’ll have to go home with him again. May you find yourself a better life soon.”

The corners of the slave’s mouth lifted briefly. His eyes flickered up to Xavier’s, brightened, then dulled again as he dropped them to the ground.

“C’mon Jordan,” the rider growled, “we’re not welc’m here, by all accounts.” He jerked his horse around and they retreated the way they’d come.

Xavier stood silent, watching them go, then began to shake. He closed his eyes, willing himself to control the anger, and the deepening darkness. He inhaled sharply. When he opened his eyes, Aleksandra was staring at him.

“Are you all right?” she said, her brow furrowed.

“Yes.” Xavier nodded.

“More Southerners,” Aleksandra scowled as she wiped sweat from her brow with the back of her sleeve, “running from home before the government takes their slaves away?”

“That’ll never happen,” Xavier said, from between clenched jaws. “Too strong, too wealthy—cotton—slaves. Poor beggars down South.” He peered around. “Even here. I can’t believe it.”

“Believe it,” she said. “They’re coming.”

He shook his head. “I just wish we could stop it—the abuse, the owning.”

Aleksandra wrapped her arms around him, held him close until the tremors quieted. She leaned back in his arms and studied his face, then seemed satisfied with what she saw.

“Having you here makes it bearable, I think,” he said, and kissed her.

“I’m so used to you being the strong one…sometimes I forget the demons that still eat at you,” she said.

The Hills of Gold Unchanging

Awards for the series:

With A Long Trail Rolling:

Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings

Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award

Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel

Third place 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section

Finalist 2015 Best Indie Book Award

Hope you love the story! See you soon!

xx

Lizzi

ltr-3rd-ed-front-ebook-cover-529-kb
cover-hills-of-gold-6x9-ebook-2-7mb

aut-maya-bnw-2-5mb