Category Archives: blog

Meet Hemingway

on June 8, 2017

It’s been two weeks since we welcomed this little Yorkie, named Rocky, into our home. It was amazing how quickly the adoption from Little Yorkie Rescue transpired after being notified that the little man was available. He’d just been picked up from his vet appointment after being neutered, had five teeth extracted and treated for a UTI. Not even two years old and the poor little guy was severely underweight and needed lots of TLC.  Donna Rickard of Little Yorkie Rescue met me at her house last Thursday night in Lorain. I’m new to small/toy breeds and the little guy was so thin and fragile I was afraid I’d hurt him. Donna was wonderful and made sure the tiny Yorkie was kept warm with a new shirt and blanket. He slept in his new crate and bed for the hour-long drive home. We arrived after 10:00 and had just enough time for me to read his medical/prescription needs and then tuck the little guy into his bed for the night.

He settled right in to life in his new home and now has us on a schedule that works for him. He had that grumpy old man look with his head full of silver hair . . . he was definitely not a Rocky. He was a Hemingway!  It’s hard to believe that so much joy could come into our lives all packed in a four-pound package.

 

 

IT’S TIME FOR A COMPANION

on May 11, 2017

I know it looks like I’ve been MIA for months now. The truth is, I’ve been in a kind of funk. Oh sure, I’ve been writing, actually rewriting, attending my critique group, participating in INDIE panel discussions and running CANTER Ohio. CANTER’s kept me busy with everything from fundraisers to the daily issues revolving around the care and adoptions of our horses. But the spark’s been missing––that mental jolt that sends me flying into each new day and ending it with a contented sigh.

It’s been four years since our Golden Retriever, Murphy, made the journey over the rainbow bridge at the age of thirteen. He was the best dog ever and we just knew we could never replace him. Oh sure, we dog sat for family, and pets were always welcome for a visit, but they went home at the end of their stay. But as the years passed the house became lonely, cold winter days dragged on, and I’ve been noticing how many tiny little dogs are tucked lovingly in their owner’s arms.

I’m now searching for a little buddy. Being the Executive Director of CANTER Ohio I understand the importance of rehoming our four-legged friends. Okay, so I’m talking 1,200 lb horses and 5 lb dogs. But it’s really the same thing, so I’m watching the local dog rescues for a little Yorkie. A little ball of fluff who will keep me company in my office as I struggle with multiple plots and not complain when I kill off his favorite character. A little tyrant who will say “Enough! Time for a walk.” when I’ve been sitting at my computer for hours.

 

And a little guy who will jump into his tote bag when it’s time for a trip to the barn or book signing or days spent keeping me company in a booth at a fundraiser.

Yep, I’m getting my spark back.

 

 

Serendipity at work . . . AGAIN

on October 30, 2016

funny-cideI saw the signs for Lexington on I75 while driving back from the 2013 RWA conference in Atlanta. I’d been admiring the beautiful countryside when I passed the exit for Man O War Boulevard. Suddenly there’s a new story in my head. It’s a paranormal. I don’t do paranormal. I already had one finished book that needed polishing before publishing and two more in various stages. But some things you just can’t control and I couldn’t make the story go away. By the time I reached Cincinnati I had a book to get on paper. But to my chagrin, it was a story about a ghost horse . . . really? I wrote the first draft and decided that someday I’d get around to the research needed to make my premier thoroughbred horse farm believable.

Race ahead three years and I’m working out the details for coming down to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Retired Racehorse Project. I’d be working the CANTER booth for four full days so just maybe I’d have time to visit one of the farms in Lexington. I was given the contact information for a “friend” of CANTER who may be able to help me with research for the book that I didn’t have time to finish.  CANTER Ohio had two of our adopters who were competing, Smuggler’s Hold (polo) and One Wild Kitty (dressage) so I spent my days between manning the booth and racing back and forth to the barns for photos and visiting. By Saturday morning I’d crossed off trying to call my horse farm contact.  But heck, it would be at least a year before I could get around to finishing a story about a ghost horse. Today was grueling and I was exhausted after dismantling the booth and loading the vehicles. I had just one more thing left to do before heading out and that was to finish conversations I’d had with an organization where we have a horse in permanent retirement. Hot, sweaty, and out-of-breath I arrived at their booth to find they’re talking to a lovely woman with a warm, infectious smile. Yep . . . she was the contact I’d given up of ever finding.

We had a great chat and she’s intrigued with the story.  We’ve made plans for me to come back next summer, after the foaling and breeding season in the spring. She suggested that I check out the Keeneland library tomorrow for history on the thoroughbred racing industry.

That darn ghost horse is back in my head. Serendipity has, once again, stepped in.  I think a ghost is telling me that he wants his story told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serendipity at work

on October 24, 2016

bassisls-002I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on In the Shadow of The Lighthouse. People want more stories set in the Lake Erie islands.  I love history and doing research so my stories, although fiction, are based in real places with some history thrown in.  I love Kelleys Island and decided that my fourth book would be set there. Of course I need at least one contact person who I can pump for the bizarre and gruesome that will trigger a story in my head. Not an easy task when the island is only about four square miles in size with a population of just over three hundred permanent residents. This wasn’t going to be easy, but heck, I still have books two and three to finish.  I thought about hanging out at one of the B&Bs on the island for a week or two, travel the back roads (really?) in a golf cart and look for an old-timer with stories of dead bodies, smugglers, and horrendous storms. That plan got put on a back burner.

stormy-dude-going-homeAs the Executive Director for CANTER Ohio I see a lot of adoption applications from all over the country from people wanting to adopt our horses. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the potential adopter lives on Kelleys Island. Horses on Kelleys? Who would have thought? Even as a fiction writer I wouldn’t have put horses on Kelleys. Not only did my contact come to me, but she brought a resident of Marblehead with her.  Oh yeah, she loved the horse.  Stormy Dude, the tall chestnut ex-racehorse, left today for his new home. I wonder how he handled the twenty-minute ferry ride with the scents of Lake Erie and the raucous call of sea gulls overhead?

So, serendipity stepped in and I have my contacts. I’ll be spending a lot of time on Kelleys Island searching for my next story. It may even contain a horse named Stormy Dude.

Editing . . . Grrrrrrrr

on August 1, 2016

Pam C BlogWriting is such a solitary process. Sitting alone at the computer with only your ideas awaiting their translation into black-and-white. However, for me, the creative juices keep flowing wherever I am or whatever I’m doing. The new story keeps me company whether I’m gardening or running errands. Editing, however, keeps me locked in my chair and rewriting what I thought was a fascinating manuscript. My editor picks the story apart like a vulture on road-kill. In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse was too long. I needed to cut 60,000 words, bringing the total word-count down to 100,000. Then I needed to put the first chapter toward the end of the book. I wondered if it would ever be published.

I’m what is known as a Pantser in the writing world. I don’t outline, chart character development or pre-determine what will happen in each chapter. I write the story that’s in my head (first draft). Then I begin researching, making sure my scenes are accurate to the period of the story and give my characters life (second draft). The third or fourth draft goes to the editor and the hard part begins.

That’s where I am now, and have been since last December when I received A Beacon In The Dark back from my editor. I’ve made the requested changes, only to have more changes noted. It’s frustrating, especially since a third book, It Started With Besse, is waiting in the first draft stage. I love writing . . . I hate rewriting. However, I’ve found a part of editing which allows me to travel back to wonderful places.

Whenever possible, I travel to the locations I’ve written about to make sure I have my facts correct and get the “feel” of the surroundings. In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse took me to Marblehead, Ohio and Port Clinton. There were also side trips to Kelleys Island and Put-In-Bay. A Beacon In The Dark took me to the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Norfolk, Virginia and the plantations along the James River. Back in the early 1970s, I was given a book of Notable American Houses.

A two-page photo of Westover plantation caught my attention. I thought it the most beautiful house I’d ever seen. So when I needed a Virginia plantation for my story, it could only be Westover. I searched for information, which at the time was limited since the house was, and still is, a family residence. Then in 2011 following the Romance Writers of America conference in New York, I drove to Virginia. Only the grounds were open to the public, but that was enough . . . I fell in love with Westover. I took pictures of everything and spent hours walking the property and sitting on various benches. Through the many photos of the house and outbuildings, I was able to make my story come alive. The sounds of the river and the scent of the huge boxwoods will always be with me.

I may be sitting at my computer editing, but I’m not alone. My memories of Westover are with me, encouraging me to add this-or-that little piece of information I’d forgotten during the last edit.

Cicadas, Cicadas and Cicadas, OH MY!!!

on June 15, 2016

CicadasSummer has finally come to the north coast of Ohio, and so have the cicadas! I look forward to summer. It’s the time when Clevelanders can actually plan outdoor activities with some assurance of sunshine, or at least warm temperatures. Okay, so we witnessed snow just a few weeks ago, but it reached 92 yesterday. I waited until the middle of May to make my annual trip to my favorite nursery where I happily filled my SUV with hanging baskets, large pots of geraniums and flats of petunias. With the various beds, window boxes and urns filled with vibrant color, I headed to the basement for the outdoor chair cushions. Visions of days spent writing under a colorful umbrella, sipping frosty glasses of iced tea, danced in my head. This was the year I was going to embrace summer . . . then the cicadas emerged.

It wasn’t as though the noisy things were a surprise. The news stations had been filled with the stories of the event that happens every seventeen years.  I guess I’d forgotten what it was like. Then again, I remembered the old Maple tree in the back yard looking like it was covered in feathers. I’d forgotten about the loud vibrating sound they make beginning each morning around dawn, getting louder and louder as the day wears on until dusk. Then all is quiet. The ground is peppered with thousands of small holes . . . the door to the world beyond from which the insects emerge, then leave their shell behind to fly off. They aren’t very good at the flying part. They just seem to fly until they hit something then latch on or fall to the ground. That something is often me. I have a new routine now. I make sure there aren’t any sitting on the thresholds or hanging on the doors just waiting to “drop in” or being carried into the house on my shoulder. The good thing is that they don’t bite. The birds, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes and probably a whole host of other creatures find them delicious. Well, not the wings. I find piles of them at our chipmunk’s favorite dining places.

Needless to say, I’m not writing outdoors. Between swatting the flyers, brushing off the landed ones and listening to their loud mating calls, it doesn’t leave much room for a creative mind. However, I’ve been assured that their short life span will be over soon, their larva burrowing deep into the ground and life will return to normal, at least for the next seventeen years.

WRITING AGAIN

on April 18, 2016

Pam Cleverly CanterI’m finally back to a routine writing schedule after an exhausting month of CANTER Ohio projects. March was a month with many deadlines. The Board Meeting started off the month with new projects and timelines. I had this year’s t-shirts to design (designed and made before April 4th), 40 horseshoes to decorate to sell at Equine Affaire (a four day event held at the Ohio Fairgrounds in Columbus), one of our major grants to write, and the follow-up report on another. I did manage to squeeze in time for editing and the weekly meetings of my critique group.

Equine Affaire is a giant equine expo with folks from all over the United States and Canada showing their horses, Pam Cleverly 41816putting on workshops and demonstrations and retailers selling everything equine. It ran from April 7th thru the 10th with doors open from 9:00-7:00. For a booth holder, it’s a long day to keep your public/happy face on even with additional help. Our booth is in the Breed Pavilion, which means we’re surrounded by horses, demonstrations in the arena, loud noises and dust. It’s sensory overload for ten hours a day . . . but I look forward to it every year.

I had great intentions of writing in my hotel room at night. Well, that just didn’t happen!!! As the Executive Director for CANTER Ohio, I had the daily financials to complete and emails to answer. By eleven o’clock I was pretty much brain-dead and ready for bed––six o’clock the next morning came too soon, after trying to sleep in a strange bed, and my day began with a marathon schedule all over again.

I’m now back home and have a somewhat normal schedule . . . unless you count that my new office is under renovation and I’m writing in a corner of the den.

HOW DO AUTHORS PUT OUT MULTIPLE BOOKS PER YEAR???????

on February 29, 2016

010I’ve spent enough time in workshops with Nora Roberts to know the answer. “You put your ass in the chair and write!”

Well, my ass has been in the chair for weeks and I haven’t written a single new word in my third book, It Started With Besse. Why, you ask? It’s not for lack of trying––more like a lack of scheduling. Maybe I missed the session when Nora explained the art of prioritizing. What to do when you’ve received your manuscript back from the editor with a gazillion changes (it’s like re-writing the book). And you have the final editor waiting for the pages to proof for punctuation and grammar. Just when you’re on a roll and the end is in sight your publisher sends the final proof of your first book. Yep, it needs to be read for any changes before going to print. Right now I’m feeling about as much in control as I did walking in Times Square!

Meanwhile, what keeps sneaking into my thoughts is the final research needed to finish Besse. This time, I don’t have to travel to New York or Virginia. Everything I need to see is no more than a half-hour drive away . . . old buildings, tunnels and a mine. But that adventure must wait until after Lighthouse goes to print.

In case you’ve lost track, I’m working on three books. In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse is almost ready for print, A Beacon In The Dark is being edited, and It Started With Besse is, well, just hanging right now.

I’m trying, Nora. My ass is definitely in the chair!

WHEN WILL IT END!!!

on February 14, 2016

I’m still working on the final draft of A Beacon In The Dark. I wrote the book – I know it has to end. Along with the pressure of getting the manuscript ready for the last edit, is the joy of remembering. Remembering the time spent at the Waldorf Astoria in New York doing research for the diaries part of the book. It was the time of World War II, and the wonderful thing about the Waldorf is that it hasn’t changed much since the 1940s. The scenes had been written, but I needed to get the details right. So, this past July, while attending the Romance Writers Of America conference in Times Square, I walked over to the Waldorf for a VIP tour.

What a fabulous adventure. Do you know they keep beehives on the roof? Yep, and I was given a small jar of their honey.

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That red giant is a mixer!!! Can you just imagine lugging that bag of flour around? The hotel takes up one full city block and the kitchens take up one entire floor, and I got to see all of it. The pastry kitchen was amazing and I was given a sample of what had been made that day. WOW, I had to say stop. I would end the tour with lunch consisting of the Waldorf’s various entrees, including its famous Waldorf salad.

Today was a good day. Although it might be in the single digits outside, and the editing never ends—I had my memories of the Waldorf Astoria for company.

WINTER FINALLY ARRIVED

on January 18, 2016

IMG_1388I woke up this morning to eight inches of the white stuff. I’m not complaining, we’re long overdue and the otherwise blah brown countryside has been turned into a beautiful fairyland. The world outside my window looked pure and refreshed, setting my imagination racing off in new directions. I sat at my computer, my head full of changes and additions to the manuscript in its final stages of revisions. These sudden bursts of inspiration are wonderful when creating a story, but they don’t help when trying to meet deadlines. Mixed in with all this creativity were ideas of ways to reach my New Years resolution of getting my life organized. Yeah, right! I’m about as much on track with that as the swirling wind sending plumes of snow racing across the lawn.

I need to keep focused on my immediate goal of having In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse ready for print copies by the end of February. I know there are a lot of you out there who are waiting for a book you can actually hold in your hand. I’ll let you know as soon as I have the release date.