Travel at Holiday Time

Travel is generally good, fantastic even. Any travel at holiday time, especially when one is in the Northern Hemisphere, is special.

travelAs a small-town girl from the little redwood hamlet of La Honda, California, cities are not my favorite, whether we’re talking about Auckland or San Francisco.

 

My partner’s a big-city boy, London born and bred. And still in the city much of the time. He gets his big city fix during the week and comes home on weekends. I go up there sometimes to go to events… and remind myself why I brave the farm, the mud, and the animals, living in at P.O. Box Middle of Nowhere, somewhere between the Hauraki and Coromandel Districts of North Island, New Zealand.travel

But I digress.

I’m in the SF airport en route back home, and it’s been a wonderful, if busy, trip. The second visit to California in the space of a month. The first took me to visit family and attend my 30th reunion of my U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine class.

 

I hadn’t realised how much I missed all of those people. The official reunion at the school, and the fantastic three-night stay with a twenty or so of them at the lovely Zephyr Point, with daily long hikes in the Sierras.

travel

Then back to NZ for a few weeks, followed by more travel to California, this time to…

  • have a book signing at Chapman’s Books in Ferndale, CA, which was wonderful. Thanks Christine Chapman for having me!

traveltravel

  • travel to Butte County Fairgrounds to help the horses and other animals who have been injured or displaced by the Camp Fire. I no longer maintain my California veterinary license, so I went as a technician, but I was happy to help make a lot of horses happier. 🙂

OOPS, WE WEREN’T MEANT TO TAKE PICS, SO NONE, SORRY!

 

  • exhibit my Equi-Still Portable Equine Stocks at the AAEP, the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Annual Convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

TRAVEL   

I stayed in San Francisco at the old Hotel Grant. Once it must’ve been opulent. The rooms are huge, still with wainscoting and WINDOWS THAT OPEN, with NO AIR CONDITIONING. TRAVEL TRAVELMy favorites. Hands down.

I had a whole week in San Francisco, probably the longest I’ve ever stayed in a city.

And I enjoyed it, some of it, but with all the getting ready (including 8 hours cleaning my recently transported stocks, which had been stored outside in PA over the winter, under trees, etc.  Not ideal…) and playing tourist, it flew!

TRAVEL

TRAVEL

Three days of conference and transport of said stocks to their holding place, repairs, etc. and visitation of old, special friends wrapped it up! And the Russian Cultural Center… I need some research help for Tatiana!  Awesome museum and curator!

Found the Union Square Apple Store… wow!

The holidays, though… pretty lights in SF, lighting up the palm trees and huge Christmas tree in Union Square, beside the Happy Hanukkah menorah, against Macy’s wreaths in every window, the opulent decorations of Williams-Sonoma and ice skating in the Square.

  

 

Now back to New Zealand summer and more writing. Speaking of writing, have you read Authors of Main Streeet’s  Christmas Wishes on Main Street? It’s out now! Find it here! 

My story in Christmas Wishes on Main Street is another installment in the Once Upon a Vet School series, this time it’s #10: Greener Pastures Calling, featuring Lena in the country of my heart, New Zealand.

Greener Pastures Calling

A new country, a great job, and a “good Kiwi bloke”.
Life couldn’t be better.
Until it gets worse.

Lena loves her new adopted country of New Zealand, its horses and dairy stock, her veterinary workmates and her boss… but her luck with men is, shall we say, funny to watch… from the outside. She’d love a “good Kiwi bloke”, but they’re proving as elusive as their nocturnal namesake.

Nigel’s staying away from females, unless they’re cows, horses, or his mother. After his first marriage went off the rails, or the road, anyway, he just plain won’t be responsible for anyone else’s life… but Lena’s a bit of a different kettle of fish… or is she?

Sparks fly when they meet for the first time—the first official time, anyway. Not the time they conversed over the dirty instruments after she’d just survived an afternoon of malodorous veterinary treatments. They seem to be made for each other… but then Nigel remembers where he first saw her. And the questions start. Can they get past their past to see to the future they both want so badly?

Travel Greener Pastures

Get it now 

Travel ChristmasWishes

Get it now, just in time for Christmas!

xx

See you all soon!

Lizzi Tremayne

 

 

Once Upon a Vet School… This Time in New Zealand!

Hi all!

Can’t wait for the release of our 2018 Christmas Boxed Set! I think you’ll love it!

And I think you’ll like my contribution. It’s set in New Zealand. Yep, same heroine, different country. 🙂

Oh, and quite a few people have asked me, of this SEMI-autobiographical series, which parts are real and which are made-up?

As I tell them, sorry, that’s going to remain my secret. 🙂

We’re having a little jump, like from # to #10.  Trust me, it’ll be better this way. 🙂  Though each story is designed to be read independently, it’ll be fun when it’s a complete series.

The plan is to make the series applicable to readers of the heroine’s age. That means, as horse crazy Lena first hears she needs good grades to get into veterinary school as a seven-year-old, Book One will be written for readers of that age group, ie: young readers. And so on. 🙂

So young, and ever-older  readers can relate to the stories as Lena grows with them.

So it’s your turn, readers:  what do you think of the idea of having reader-age-linked stories in the same series?

My story for the upcoming  boxed set: 

Lena loves her new adopted country of New Zealand, its horses and dairy stock, her veterinary workmates and her boss… but her luck with men is, shall we say, not ideal. She’d love a ‘good Kiwi bloke’, but they’re proving as elusive as their nocturnal namesake.

Nigel’s staying away from females, unless they’re cows, horses, or his mother. After his first marriage went off the rails, or the road, anyway, he just plain won’t be responsible for anyone else’s life… but Lena’s a bit of a different kettle of fish… or is she?

Sparks fly when they meet for the first time—the first official time, anyway. Not the time they conversed over the dirty instruments after she’d just survived an afternoon of malodorous veterinary treatments. They seem to be made for each other… but then Nigel remembers when they first met. And the questions start. Can they get past their past to see to the future they both want so badly?

And there’s more!

Jude Knighton, one of our authors, mentioned the Bluestocking Belles’ box set a few weeks ago, and I talked about it but couldn’t talk about it because we hadn’t had our cover reveal party yet!

SO HERE IT IS!  Follow Your Star Home.

Somewhere Like Home:

From the Highlands to Waterloo—can love prevail over fate?

1813, Scottish Highlands

When Robert refuses to become clan tacksman after his father, he is disowned and off down the road to build a life for himself and his beloved Sofia.

Sofia’s waiting turns to despair when her mother buys safety during the clearance of their village at Sofia’s expense, leaving her to the lusts of the laird’s son.

Rob emerges from the hell of Waterloo wanting only to see Sofia again…and his father.

Meet my hero and heroine!

 

Follow Your Star Home is available for preorder now right here!

 

And once again, I ask:  what do you think of the idea of having reader-age-linked stories in the same series?

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Take good care, and happy reading!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne

 

Organization needed!


 

Hi all, hope you’ve been well and safe.

I’m good, but have been a bit overwhelmed this month, having set myself some fairly challenging goals. Complete one novella, beta read a few more, start a totally new website, and hold a Facebook Event… with 8/11 of the participants party newbies.

Somewhere Called Home

I’ve just finished a novella for another boxed set in the Bluestocking Belles group. It’s an historical fiction novella, which I’ll be turning into a novel soon! If you’ve read The Long Trails series, it’s Scotty’s story! It’s Scotty’s story. If you’ll remember, Scotty is the trading post proprietor in A Long Trail Rolling. It features the Scottish Highland Clearances, Waterloo, and everything in between, so it was hard to write as short as required for this set.

It will first be published as a SHORT (for me) novella as part of the Bluestocking Belles’ Christmas Boxed Set later this year, called Somewhere Like Home, and few months later, I’ll release a more developed novel: Somewhere Called Home. Can’t wait to put out the full novel!

Here’s the cover background image I took up in the Highlands.

In the far background is an old neolithic hill fort. The tumbled stones in the foreground are the remains of several shielings, where the herdsmen lived in the summertimes. Nothing left but drystone walls of their homes… they left rather… abruptly. Read them and see what happened!

I’ll let you know when it’s out!

organization

 

The new website’s called HorseAndVetBooks.com

And it’s about, get this… horsey and vet-related fiction and nonfiction!

For years, I’d sought a website dedicated to horse and vet related books… and I didn’t find it. So, I’ve created one. (Yes, by myself) I assembled a stellar cast of authors from who write everything from children’s stories, through YA, NA, and adult, horsey historical fiction, as well as educational materials  to take part in a virtual horse and animal lovers extravaganza to launch this new website.

https://horseandvetbooks.com

It was a celebration of our kind of stories and books! Our readers were able to chat with authors and hear about their stories! There were prizes to be won and fun to be had! And even better, it was timed to work for readers of all ages, from all over the world! It’s rated G, so your young horse and vet-mad children can participate in the party!

Launch of OAVS #6

Of course, I had to launch the individual release of Once Upon a Vet School #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath, on the same weekend as the famed Tevis Cup Western States 100, running for a hundred miles over the breathtaking and treacherous trail from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California… in the heat. The story is centered around endurance racing, so it was appropriately timed!

And here it is!

organizationOnce Upon a Vet School #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath

will be #FreeForKindleUnlimited or 2.99 USD for the rest of the month!

Can’t get a much better deal than that!

Find it here

50 MILES AT A BREATH 

Horses bring them together and their future looks rosy—it’s the present they can’t handle.

When equine veterinary student Lena and veteran pilot Blake fall in love, vet school and his past experiences intrude. Add in a long-distance relationship, and things get just plain hard.

A grueling endurance race forces them to draw on their strengths and face their fears—together.

 

Here’s the cover! It features my grandmother riding up Cougar Rock in the Tevis Cup Western States 100 miler race:

100 miles in a day. (my stepdad RAN the thing).

Enjoy! Buy it here!

And guess what happened just after the release party?

organization

How exciting!

Take care, all!

Until next time,

Lizzi Tremayne

 

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

Our Christmas Tree, or New Traditions for New Lives

This year, with my boys grown and moved away, my partner and I decided to simply decorate our living room for the holidays with a ficus tree, a veer away from tradition. Rather than purchase a cut-your-own pine Christmas tree, for the first time we chose to honour our own tree—the one which lives with us every day in our home.

traditional non treeMy partner, a native of the UK, has a history of disappointment and sadness at our New Zealand Christmas. I, too, was transplanted to New Zealand (by choice, of course…). Getting used to a summertime Christmas hasn’t always been easy for me, either.

Tradition at NZ Christmas

Credit to NZ Post, with thanks, at https://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/

Seasonally-inverted southern hemisphere Kiwis (New Zealanders) have imported the northern hemisphere holiday traditions—but someone forgot to change the dates. In doing so, we’ve essentially lost the fundamental reason for celebration of the midwinter festival: the anticipated return of life after the still-to-come times of hardship—the release from darkness and want, toward the time of renewal and plenty.

tradition Cold Winter

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Early on, I realized this concept was more deeply ingrained in me than I’d dreamed. Moving to New Zealand was a big change in more ways than one.

Whether we move away from our childhood home or relocate a long way from our families and close friends later in life, we may find the need to create our own holiday traditions. As children, and now grandchildren, enter our lives, our roles may change even further, necessitating further adjustments.

Those living far from their birth homes often confirm that being away from family and close friends can be daunting.

Tell me about it.

My first December 25th in New Zealand had to rate as my most depressing Christmas up until that date. I had a wonderful boss, but no real friends outside of work, as I had spent every weekend with my boyfriend out on the coast, an hour away from home—and he ended our relationship over the phone, out of the blue, on 23 December.

Tradition not so good.

Thanks to https://awakened2torah.com/2017/07/19/stay-in-the-box-jack/ for the use of the photo. 🙂

Looking back, I can see it was for the best, but at the time… let’s say it wasn’t ideal.

On the other hand, sometimes one must sink to great depths to plumb the true strength of one’s spirit and guts.

Eyes blurred by tears, I managed to create the day for myself by cutting out intricate paper snowflakes from wrapping paper.

Tradition snowflakes paper

Thanks to The Balance for use of the pic! https://www.thebalance.com/

I still remember as if it were yesterday: The paper was red on one side, white on the other, and thin enough for light to shine through it. In fine pencil, I wrote around the perimeter of each, and on inner circles, what the holiday was really about—about the day being about love, and not presents. About those whom I cared for, and who cared about me. About the beautiful country in which I had ensconced myself, the tremendous job as an equine vet in an otherwise eight-man dairy practice.

tradition NZ view

The little piece of NZ beside my home on the cover of my third novel

As the years passed, I found new ways of satisfying the yearnings in my heart at Christmas time when I was unable to return to my family for the holidays. Celebrating a sit-down, full-on Midwinter dinner on 21 June for a roomful of my Kiwi friends, many of whom had never experienced a northern hemisphere Christmas dinner, not only did something for them, but did something for my own heart. It gave me my Christmas back and let me begin to enjoy true Kiwi summertime Christmases.

“Christmas is so commercialised, I don’t want anything to do with it,” I’ve heard from several friends lately. This isn’t a problem for me. I don’t watch television at all, and since I began writing, I avoid town… even my radio time has diminished. I don’t hear the commercials or Christmas jingles, so the commercialism isn’t a part of my life. I have only my memories and traditions from which to browse.

In speaking with my partner in mid-June about it, he said Christmas really didn’t mean anything to him. We discussed it at length, what would make it for him, what makes it for me. The result? He enjoyed his holiday, and this year we will have a midwinter Christmas feast and hopefully, he will regain his joy of the holidays, no matter what time of year they arrive.

I hope this helps someone, estranged by distance or circumstance from loved ones, find peace in their life.

In Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal, Lena finds herself in a situation. She was going to stay in her vet school town and take extra Large Animal ICU shifts over the holidays, as her family was out of the country, but she was invited home with her hero, Kit.

Here’s a little excerpt of their traditional Christmas:

Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal

Kit’s pickup eased off the highway into his family’s driveway, snow crunching beneath the tires. He slowed as we approached a beautiful bay Thoroughbred with a matching foal at foot, standing behind the post and rail fence.

“She’s my favorite jumper — the one I kept when everything got split up,” he said, and tightened his jaw.

“Glad you still have her then,” I said, taking a deep breath, and squeezed his fingers. “It’ll all be fine.”

“I know. Thank you for comin’ home with me,” he said, as we drove on toward the house.

“Glad you asked,” I said, taking my eyes off the pair of horses and looking forward through the windshield at what could only be Kit’s family members, by their resemblance.

“The welcoming committee awaits.” He smiled and shut off the engine, opened my door and handed me out into the freezing, dazzling sunshine, accented by the tang of the snow-drenched pines. His arm, warm over my shoulders, led me toward the group.

Any anxiety I might have had about meeting his family vanished into thin air as handshakes turned to hugs. Kit’s sister, a female version of him, stood tall and leggy in designer clothing and manicured nails, while his father offered a hint of the distinguished gentleman Kit would become. His beautiful mother was kindness itself as she pulled us in the door, toward her warm, cinnamon-scented farmhouse-style kitchen.

Christmas music played in the background when we eventually migrated from the hand-hewn kitchen table toward the living room with our foaming mugs of fresh eggnog. The huge tree caught my attention, its fairy lights and ornaments glittering against long pine needles, but my mouth dropped open at the view of Lake Tahoe completely filling the longest wall of the room. Its blue-black expanse shimmered against the snow on the surrounding mountains.

“Who’s dishing out the presents?” Kit’s mother asked, settling herself on the sofa.

“My turn.” Kit’s sister smiled and began delivering packages around the room.

I hadn’t expected anything, but had made gifts over the month since Kit had invited me. For his mother, a gardening apron; his sister, some padded hangers for her fashionable clothes; and for his pop, a big tin of the Danish Christmas cookies I’d grown up making with my family. Kit had already inhaled most of his cookies on the way up the mountain.

Soon there was a pile of gifts beside me. I stared at Kit over the top of it, my mouth open.

“What did you expect? You’re part of the family, now.

Enjoy it,” he said, and leaned across to kiss me.

My face heated. I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I picked up the first gaily wrapped package.

“A western shirt,” Kit said, holding up his first present. “I haven’t had a new one in years, thank you, Lena!”

“That forest green with chocolate is perfect on you,

Kit,” his sister said. “It looks designer, where did it come from?” She turned to me.

“It’s a Lena original,” I said.

“No, it can’t be,” she said, peering over her brother’s shoulder at the label. “It is!”

“What does it say?” his mother asked.

“Made Expressly for Kit by Lena,” she said.

Kit pulled it on and clicked the pearl snaps.

“It fits,” he said, astonished. “They never fit… and it’s actually long enough.”

“Of course, it fits, I’m a professional. Just remind me to give back your ratty old denim work shirt that was falling apart at the seams.”

“You didn’t cut it apart, did you?” Kit said, horror written all over his face.

“Your precious shirt is safe,” I said, squeezing his fingers. “I know how long it must’ve taken to get the fabric that soft.”

“You got that right,” he said, with a grin.

I glanced around, but everyone was absorbed elsewhere.

“Truth be told,” I whispered, “you might not get it back.”

He frowned, and I quirked my lips at him.

“What have you done with it?” His brows narrowed.

“Nothing, but it’s awfully nice to sleep in… it’s got your scent.”

He peeked toward the rest of the family, then turned back to me, eyes glowing.

“Now that, I’d like to see,” he said, in an undertone. “You can keep it, if that’s why you need it.” He chuckled.

The first present I opened was a beautiful copy of Robert Frost’s Birches.

“That’s for you, my dear,” Kit’s mother said, after I unwrapped it, “because you’re a swinger of birches.” Her eyes glowed as she gazed from me to her son and back again.

Everyone was happy with my homemade gifts and I was touched by the thought that had gone into their presents for me.

Kit disappeared for a moment, then returned to the room carrying a large, gaily decorated box. I glanced up at him with a smile and returned to reading about birches in the snow, my legs tucked up beneath me on the sofa.

All talk in the room ceased and I looked up to see Kit standing before me.

“This is for you.” He gently handed the package to me and sat down. “It’s breakable. Very.”

Looking sideways at him, I slipped my feet to the floor and pulled the end of the silk ribbon to untie the bow, then pulled off the paper. Whatever it was, it’d been packed securely.

Kit cut the heavy tape securing the box with his pocket knife and I opened the flaps.

Traditional Christmas in Once Upon a Vet School

Want to read more? 

Once Upon a Vet School #7 is available in print and digital. See details on my website here

It’s also available as part of Author’s of Main Street’s current boxed set Christmas Babies on Main Street here 

Come on by and check out my website here!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Enjoy creating your own holiday traditions!

xx

Lizzi

 

Once Upon a Vet School: The First of the Series…Volume SEVEN??

Ever thought you wanted to be a veterinarian?

I did, when I was seven…and I’ve been on track ever since, with a minor diversion for a year. I’ve been that equine vet since 1988, when I graduated from vet school at UC Davis.

Following an injury (yes, another one), I started writing historical fiction, and wrote the first three books of The Long Trails series, and now, I’ve written my first contemporary, a veterinary tale, which will be included in our Christmas Boxed Set!  It’s to be Volume Seven in the Once Upon a Vet School series, and…I’m starting in the middle of the series, just to confound people. 🙂

Here’s the cover :

I posted the first chapter in my last post, but here’s Chapter Two!

It will be available in OCTOBER!  Just around the corner!

 

Once Upon a Vet School

Volume 7

CHAPTER TWO

I rested, leaning against a wall in the foyer, after my struggle to get to the classroom. When I’d gotten my breath back, the mere thought of the upcoming session’s topic had me hyperventilating…and the talk hadn’t even started.

When the lecturer enter the anteroom, I closed my eyes for a moment, and my already-warm face heated some more. It wasn’t Dr. Rye today, as scheduled, but Kit.

No—it’s Dr. Allen, I reminded myself, because I needed to think of him that way again. He looked up and our eyes met.

“How’s the leg?” he said, his own cheeks flushing as he approached.

“It’s fine, thanks.” I ducked my head and tried to ignore the fist curling in my gut, then I peered up at him.

He raised an eyebrow and glanced down at the crutch lodged in my armpit.

“So you did see a doctor, after all?”

“Yes, and thanks for your help that night.” I looked at the floor. “It would have been a long walk home.”

“It could have been rough,” he agreed.

I nodded while he hovered, as my fellow students flowed past us into the lecture hall, glancing our way before they walked down the steps toward their seats.

“Well, I’d best get prepared for my lecture.” Kit hesitated, then frowned. “Are you OK? You’re awfully pale.”

“I’ve been behaving, staying inside with my leg up.” I looked away, then glanced back to see his eyes narrow further.

“You take care of yourself, eh?”

“I promise.” I risked a smile upward.

He motioned for me to precede him down the steps, then headed for the podium. His slide carousel clicked into place as I worked my way across the row of seats. I stowed my wooden crutch by my feet and sank down with a sigh of relief. It was a long hobble from the bus stop, but it beat walking or driving my beast of a pickup. It’d be awhile before I could ride my bicycle.

Jess bounced into the seat beside me, glancing down toward her feet.

“A crutch? Whose is that? Yours?”

“Nailed, first guess.” I gave her a lopsided grin.

“What have you done now?”

I hesitated. She’d scream at me, class or no class.

“Slipped on some stairs and twisted my ankle. Sprained, doctor says.”

“Seriously? Sprained on steps?”

I bit my lip.

“Welcome back to school, everyone,” Kit called out, right on time.

Jess looked at me from the corners of her eyes while she pulled her notebook out, then turned her attention to the lecturer.

It seemed everything might just be all right. Kit, no, Dr. Allen, had plenty of cute slides of healthy mares and foals cavorting in grassy fields. He even got a grin out of me. I began to breathe again and shared a smile with Jess.

“That’s when everything goes as planned,” Dr. Allen’s voice cut into my reverie, and I gulped, “but this is a surgery lecture,” he continued, “and I wouldn’t be here speaking with you if everything always went right.”

I gripped my hands together as they began to shake.

“When everything goes to plan, most mares drop their foals within twenty to sixty minutes after their water breaks.” He flicked slowly through the next few slides.

He proceeded, relentlessly—pre-and full-term mares, late ones—and finally, presentations of the fetus requiring veterinary intervention. My pen clattered on the concrete floor as my world began to fragment.

Image after image of ropes attached to tiny legs that protruded from beneath the tails of down, sweaty mares, and one with red—oh man, the red—coating the mare’s backside, the veterinarian, and the straw. I gripped my armrests and bit my lip until my own blood came, willing myself to hold on, but I finally gave up, staggered sideways along the aisle and raced for the back door. I barely made it to the women’s locker room.

I wiped my face after my time spent kissing the commode and tried to rinse the foul taste from my mouth. Hot, flushed cheeks and haunted, green eyes peeked from beneath my profusion of brown hair in the mirror. I bullied the mass into shape with my fingers and braided it down my back to my waist, then collapsed onto a bench, eyes squeezed shut against the tears threatening to escape. I couldn’t go back in there. How would I ever pass my equine reproduction service rotation? I wouldn’t graduate, much less practice, would never finish what I set out to achieve at seven years of age—and most importantly, couldn’t ever pay the horses back what I owed to them.

I wanted to melt into the shiny pink and gray tiles on the floor and not have to face my classmates, Dr. Allen, or anyone else.

***

I jumped, with a yelp, as the door slammed back against the wall. Jess strode into the locker room, lugging our backpacks and my crutch.

“Are you okay?” Her concerned frown helped.

“A little better now,” I said.

“Stomach bug?”

“Last night’s chicken must’ve been bad.”

“You missed a great lecture,” she said, as a smile stretched wide across her face. “He talked all about cesareans, midline as well as standing flank—”

“—can we talk about it some other time?” I interrupted.

“Sure, I’m sorry. Are you well enough to make our next lab?”

“I’m sure I will be. Maybe I’ll go over to The Granary and have a drink.”

“Thought you’d never ask,” Jess said. She held the door for me as I stumbled out into the hallway—and nearly crashed into my last disaster.

Gareth Barnett-Bayne dodged clear, his bedroom-brown eyes taking in my tearstained face. He looked me up and down as I stood like a rabbit in the headlights, frozen. He flicked his dark mane back, smirked, turned on his heel, and continued down the hall, whistling beneath his breath.

“Glad you’ve done with that creep,” Jess muttered, with a scowl at him. “Come on, we have better things to do than look at the likes of him.”

I inhaled slowly and followed her. Kit, Dr. Allen, I nearly screamed at myself, caught up with us as we neared the front entryway.

“I didn’t think you looked well,” he said, with a frown. “Are you sure you should be up, with that leg?”

Jess glanced at me and I looked away.

“I’ll go have a rest before my lab.” I tried to smile at him, but I think it came out more like a wince. “Thanks for asking.”

“Any time,” Kit said, with his killer smile, and a glint in his eye. He held the front door to the building open for us before he turned back toward his office.

I gathered what was left of my wits, while my gaze shifted back to the front entrance. As I did every time I entered or left the vet school building’s hallowed halls, I nodded a greeting to my old friends, the menagerie of raised-relief marble animals surrounding the doors. I’d first seen them on a 4-H visit, as an elementary school student. They always reminded me why I was here, and that whatever effort it took to get here was completely and utterly worth it. I owed animals, especially horses, so much. My heart a bit lighter, I limped on down the steps to catch Jess.

Just down the block, beside the road teeming with students on bicycle and foot, the front door of The Granary stood open, and I sighed in relief. Jess flicked a look back toward the vet school, then rounded on me.

“What does Dr. Allen know about your leg?”

“He saw me twist my ankle.” I bit my lips together and stumbled as my bad leg gave way beneath me. I lost my balance and staggered sideways into the pannier of a passing bicycle.

“Sorry,” called the bicyclist, as my world exploded.

Only years of working with green horses stopped me from shrieking as I sprawled face-first, willing the pavement to swallow me, while the blinding white pain in my leg blanked everything else out.

“Are you OK, Lena?” Jess’s voice came from far away, as I hunched into a ball over my tucked-up leg. I didn’t think it could bend that much. Go figure.

“I—I think so.”

“You aren’t OK.” She ducked down beside me.

“Yeah, well, it’s a bad sprain.” I struggled to a sitting position and blinked away the blurriness.

“Lena, you look like a ghost—tears? He didn’t hit you that hard, what’s up?”

I couldn’t tell her. She’d warned me.

“And what’s with the skirt and thigh-high boots? I’ve never seen you out of jeans.”

Silence.

“Oh,” she said, assessing. “Why aren’t you wearing jeans?”

“Can’t,” I mumbled to my pearl snaps. She’d find out soon enough anyway. I probably wouldn’t be able to walk after this—the leg felt like it had at the beginning.

“So, what’s up, chick?”

I froze as she lifted the hem of my skirt and gasped.

“Let’s go,” I muttered. “I’m glad it’s close. Don’t think I could walk much further.” Yep, it was worse now for sure. Jess pulled me to my feet and I turned toward the smell of brewing coffee from our favorite haunt. Trying to think of anything but my screaming leg, I wondered how something that smelled as good as coffee could taste so bad. I wiped the sweat from my brow as Jess and I struggled up the coffeehouse’s steps. She dragged me to a corner booth and slid me onto the smooth seat.

“Put your leg up on that,” she said. “Chocolate?”

“You’re a godsend,” I whispered, as she scurried off, then I bodily lifted my booted foot up onto the cushion.

I thought I’d need a scalpel to cut the silence after she returned. I looked up at her cute blonde curls peeking from beneath her cowboy hat and dropped my eyes again.

She sat in silence for a few minutes, then narrowed her brows and cut straight to the quick.

“It was that horse.”

“OK, I fell off,” I murmured, looking away. I scrabbled in my bag for a pen, hoping she’d believe me.

Her fingernails beat out a tattoo on the table tap and I finally glanced up to her frown.

“Let’s have a better look at that leg.” Refusal wasn’t an option, by the tone.

As my clammy fingers slowly pulled the skirt up to my groin, and Jess pushed the boot down toward my nonexistent ankle, her complexion faded to a sort of gray. Heck, the leg looked better than it had a week ago, but I wasn’t about to tell her that.

“Shit.”

Uh-oh. Jess never swears.

“What did the doctor say?” She raised a brow at me, and the steel in her baby blues warned me not to lie. “You did go, didn’t you?”

“Yes.” I’d have to remember to thank Tamarah. Without her insistence, Jess would be dragging me down the street toward student health right now.

“Why aren’t you in the hospital? By the colors in that leg,” Jess said, “it’s been two weeks. Just when did you see this doctor?”

I stared into the depths of my mug for as long as I dared.

“Three days ago,” I murmured.

“No time like the present, eh? Why’d you wait so long? Death wish?” Jess was nearly shouting. “What, did Tamarah make you go?”

“You should thank me—you get to see pathology in action,” I said lightly, but neither the full-color contusion demonstration nor my attempt at veterinary humor did the trick. I gulped.

“Why is it so hard to take care of yourself?” Jess said, shaking her head.

“You know why,” I growled. “She’d have put me in the hospital. I can’t just stop—”

“—oh, hell,” she snarled, “you could have gotten a stroke and died.”

“I’m still here.” I shrugged, with a twisted grin. “Hard to kill a weed.”

She closed her eyes and leaned over the table to hug me, carefully.

“But a much loved one, you idiot. Drink up, we need to move on soon—” she broke off and frowned, but then seemed to reconsider. She drank her coffee, peering at me from the corners of her eyes occasionally, then we headed slowly back to lab at the teaching hospital barn, watching over our shoulders for more demon bicycles.

***

I’d hoped I’d effectively distracted Jess from the details of how my injury happened, but I should have known there was a reason she cooked dinner for me that night. Turned out it wasn’t just pity, after all. Fancy that. She waited in silence until I was cornered behind the little table in her student digs.

“Tell me,” she said, picking up her fork.

“About what?” I knew what was coming, and concentrated on slicing a piece of spaghetti into 0.25 cm lengths like a microtome, afraid to look up from the perfect sections.

“How you did that.” She nodded at my leg.

“I told you.” I squirmed. “I fell off.”

“No, you didn’t,” she said, barely audible, and I jumped as her fork hit the table with a clatter. “The truth,” she barked.

It never pays to mess around with a horsey girl.

Jess sat, waiting for an eternity, arms folded against her chest.

I took a deep breath.

“Mickey and I disagreed. I wanted to go on and he wasn’t so keen.”

“And?”

I took a deep breath. This wouldn’t be pretty.

“And he reared,” I said, in a rush.

“And I suppose you fell off and knocked that leg on a branch, right?” she said, from between gritted teeth, as her eyes shot daggers. “How stupid do you think I am? That blasted nag threw himself over backwards and landed on you, didn’t he?”

I couldn’t even try for a reasonable excuse. Jess had known all along—and she’d begged me not to buy him, for this express reason.

“That horse’ll be the death of you.” She sat still, head in hands, and finally looked up. “And this isn’t the first time. He’s been doing it for years at that riding school where you bought him. He knew the fastest way home from a ride on the levees was to back up to a deep, steep-sided irrigation ditch and rear.”

“Yeah,” I whispered, staring at my plate. “I saw him do it, once. That student took one look over her shoulder at the water in the bottom of the drain and she practically let him gallop home. Never rode him again.”

“So why did you think Mickey’d be any different for you?”

“We usually get along well…this was the first time he went that high with me.”

“Yeah, well,” Jess drew a big breath, “it might have been the last. Don’t you get it?”

“Yeah, but what else can I do? As fantastic as he is in the arena and on the cross country course, nobody else’ll tolerate his behavior. He’d just end up in a can.” I stirred swirls into the sauce on my plate, and the scent of garlic tickled my nose. “I can usually keep him in line—but I wasn’t on my game that day and he hadn’t had enough work lately. Mea culpa.”

She shook her head, then jerked it up and stared at me.

“So what does Dr. Allen really know about it?”

I shredded my nails beneath the table while I my brain scrambled for an answer.

“He was at Mickey’s stable when I rode in after my accident.”

“And?”

“And, it was dark. No one was around. I had no idea how I was going to get off the horse, much less drive my truck—and there he was. My knight in shining armor, just coming out of the barn. He was…a lot kinder than I expected.”

“Lucky you.” She raised a brow. “Was it nice?”

“As nice as it could be, with my leg, ribs, and scraped-up body throbbing all to hell.”

“Miranda will be so jealous.”

“Miranda?” I stared at her blankly.

“In our class. She’s been tagging along after him, but he seems to be running just a little faster than she is.”

“He’s a resident, and we’re students,” I said, flatly, then added, in my best snobby tone, “Not a gratuitous combination, by all accounts, according to the edicts handed down from the vet school hierarchy through perpetuity.”

“That’s never stopped you from looking at him before,” she said, with a sly look at me.

“Yeah, well,” I flushed so hot, my cheeks burned, “no use being a fly on the windshield…again. It’s not going to happen. I’m sure I’ll get over a little crush.”

Jess gave me a twisted grin and chuckled.

“We’ll see,” she said.

For more, keep tuned here and our boxed set of many, many novellas will be available soon!  Preorders will be available before you know it!

See you soon!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne