A HORSE CALLED TROUBLE
by C.K. Volnek
Published by MuseItUp Publishing
(Q) Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you.
Greetings, Marva. Thanks for allowing me to visit your blog today. It is such a treat to be able to visit. I’m so excited to be here and announce my newest tween novel, A Horse Called Trouble! I would also love to offer a FREE copy of my e-book to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment! (I hope you love free stuff as much as I do.)
My readers can contact me at ckvolnek (at) yahoo (dot) com.
They can also join me on my web page: http://www.ckvolnek.com/, or visit me at my blog: http://www.ckvolnek.com/blog.html >
I am on Facebook (C.K. Volnek) or Twitter (CKVolnek), as well as Good Reads and Jacket Flap.
Also, check out my book trailer on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyJ1J9wESEY
(Q) Tell everyone a bit about your books including buy links.
My newest book, a tween horse story called A Horse Called Trouble, just made its debut and is available in both e-book and print.
A Horse Called Trouble
Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Tara Cummings has been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she’s skeptic and suspicious, with no family, and no friends.
Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect, and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only broke her heart, perseverance meant more failures, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid.
At the farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. Tara is frightened of the enraged horse, until she realizes Trouble is as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. Pushing aside her fear, a special bond is formed, much to the surprise of everyone at the farm. Trouble trusts Tara, and Tara in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again herself.
But, Tara’s confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble’s mean and manipulative owner is the one and only Alissa, Tara’s nemesis. Can Tara overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse who freed her heart and gave her life value and meaning? Or will Alissa destroy them both?
A Horse Called Trouble can be found at the MuseItUp Bookstore: http://tinyurl.com/7s7asu2
At Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/7vhdo6e
As well as other great on-line bookstores.
I’m also happy to have my tween ghost story, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island available in both print and e-book as well.
(Q) Where did the concept for the book come about?
I have always loved horses. Such marvelous creatures they are. Proud, elegant, powerful yet gentle, compassionate. And I was fortunate enough to be able to call several of them my friend and confidant as I grew up.
I knew I wanted to immortalize some of my treasured equine friends but I never expected to write the story of Trouble in such a fashion as I did. It was after visiting a horse farm that also entertained a horse therapy program for troubled youth that the story sky-rocketed. Tara came to life and shared her entire sad story with me and I couldn’t help but oblige and put it down on paper. And Trouble? He’s a mix of several of the horses I knew. Full of spunk, spirit, trust and devotion. It’s a horse story, full of conflict, with antagonists you’ll love seeing get what they deserve.
(Q) How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?
The story of Trouble spilled out in less than six month, but it took over a year before I had a manuscript I was ready to shop around. I am lucky to have a very thorough critique group. That is a must for any author.
(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?
I love to read. And I take away something from every book I read. So it is hard to pick just a few authors who have really impressed me but two come to mind right away. Jane Yolen and Jay Asher. The book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher still haunts my thoughts and I adore the rich prose of Jane Yolen. Her book, Briar Rose remains one of my favorites
I dabble in a variety of things other than writing…spending time with my family is a priority but I also love love to dabble with flower gardening, jewelry making, hiking, and taking long walks with my Papillon pups… I am officially known as the ‘dog woman’ around our small town. Lol.
(Q) Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?
I’m a night-owl. And I have a laptop. So most of my writing is done sitting in my most comfortable chair in the front room with at least two pups sitting by me or on the ottoman. I have my I-pod, loaded with Yanni, and a Diet Coke at hand and I’m ready to write, write, write.
(Q) If you could time travel (accompanying Doctor Who in the Tardis, of course) to any point in history, when/where would it be and why?
Oh, my that is a pivotal question. I didn’t like history when I was a child…too many dates to remember. But now I am so intrigued by it and would love to witness so many things…like what DID happen to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, were the Knights of the Round Table as valiant as I think them to be, or how would it feel to be standing on the streets of Rome as Emperor Constantine went by. But most of all I would love to witness the time of Jesus’ birth. I would love to be with the shepherds on the hill as the angels announced the glorious birth.
(Q) Plotter or pantser?
Actually I am a bit of both. I do outline some, and then continue to outline as I write by the seat of my pants. I can’t do the whole outline before I start writing or my muse will revolt and take the story a totally different direction. And what my muse wants, my muse usually gets.
As for when I write…I am a night-owl, so most of my writing is done at night. I work a day-job (at least for the time being ;-) and am able to check e-mails and blogs from there, leaving me free to put my feet up in my favorite chair and write, write, write on my laptop. I try to write at least 15 minutes every night on my WIP. If I don’t, my muse gets cranky and will jump ship to a totally new WIP. I already have three WIPs going so I don’t want to give my muse any further reason to start another one. lol
(Q) What are your writing strengths? Weaknesses?
I think my greatest writing strength is my muse. She is incredible with the number of stories she comes up with. I can read a news article and she’s already posing questions to turn it into a story.
My weakness is also my muse! I can’t keep her under control and often find her taking me off on another adventure before I’ve finished the last one. Sigh…she’s a fickle beast but I love her to death.
(Q) Favorite movie of all time?
I blush as I say this, but my favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice. I love watching this type of historical romance…and what woman wouldn’t want a man to look after her the way Mr. Darcy does Elizabeth? Sorry, I’m a romantic at heart.
(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on?
I am excited to have two other books to chat about. The first, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is a tween ghost story and is already available in both print and e-book. It’s a ghost story with a twist of Native American folklore and based on the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.
In April, The Secret of the Stones will make its debut. It is the first of a series called The Lost Diaries of Northumberland. It is a lighter story, a Harry Potter meets Merlin the Magician kind of story. . A Merlin-loving tween is thrust into magic mayhem when the gift he’s been entrusted to protect turns out to be the enchanted object detailed in a mysterious prophecy.
(Q) What do you do to market your work? How did you start and where do you learn to market?
That is a loaded question! Marketing is a giant beast, as big if not bigger than writing the novel. When I received my contract one year ago, I knew nothing. I started to build a platform by building a website, getting involved on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Jacketflap. I’ve joined local writing groups and on-line groups. I’ve also joined several boards such as Kindle Boards, Verla Kay, KidlitChat, Shewrites, and BookBlogs. Each day I try to make one small baby step forward. With baby steps, I have come a long way to gaining recognition and setting up my writing platform, but I know I still have a long way to go. I’m still a little fish in a very big pond!
(Q) If you'd like to add anything, please do so.
I would love to offer a free prize to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment. I’m offering a FREE e-copy of A Horse Called Trouble as an early Christmas present!
(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?
A Horse Called Trouble…
The massive barn towered up, into the Midwest sky, a prison of whitewashed boards, sunlight glinting off it. Might as well be barbed wire. Tara Cummings blinked, momentarily blinded.
So this was her punishment—horse therapy?
She shook her head, letting her mousy brown hair fall over her face. Another time she would have been thrilled to be here, to see a real horse, to actually touch one, not watch it on TV or the internet.
Her fingers tightened into a fist. This time was different. This was a sentence of shame—for something she hadn’t even done. She didn’t steal Alissa’s purse!
Tara struggled to swallow the lump in her throat, the dryness in her mouth refusing to release the knot. Alissa had set her up—she was sure of it. She’d planted the purse in her locker. Why? What had she ever done? Because she wasn’t cool…or popular…or wear designer clothes? Because she was a foster kid?
Resentment and desire burned as one in her chest. She’d never have money or popularity. She’d been born a have-not and the world was making sure she would always stay a have-not.
A cool morning breeze blew across the farmyard, cold fingers reminding the world that despite the sun and the absence of snow, it was only early spring and summer was still a long way off. Tara shivered and withdrew into her shabby sweatshirt, wrapping her skinny arms up in its scratchy fabric. She should have tried harder to prove her innocence to Principal Jackman. Should’ve made him listen.
A long breath whistled through her teeth. It wouldn’t have made any difference. He wanted to be rid of her, like everyone else in her life. Teachers, foster parents, her own mother. All too happy to wash their hands and dump her onto someone else. No one cared. Why would Jackman be any different? He couldn’t wait to ship her off to Marvel’s, the east side’s alternative to regular school. Marvel was, after all, the best place to dump all the 8th grade scum no one wanted.
Tara gazed from the barn to the crisp, white fences and luscious green pastures surrounding them. Marvel was known for its unusual methods in dealing with problem students. But she had totally not expected this. It had to be some kind of mistake. The other kids had moaned and groaned, certain they were headed for a work-camp, cleaning up horse crap, hauling hay, painting, and all that stuff. Listening to them, Tara had envisioned smelly, peeling barns, and broken-down fences. This was quite the opposite. The farm was actually quite tidy. Nice. Peaceful. Not the kind of place she’d expected juvies to be sent to at all.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
A leaf rustled on the path in front of her, its dry brown contrasting against the spring-green grass. It twirled and danced on the gust of wind making its way from the barn toward Tara…along with the horrible stink. She pressed a ragged sleeve to her nose. Eww! It was everywhere. Like a subway toilet that hadn’t been flushed in weeks.
Who had she been kidding? This wasn’t some nursery rhyme Old McDonald’s Farm. This was a place to be disciplined and chastised. She pressed her sleeve hard against her nose. Her classmates were right—they just wanted to make them clean up the stinky horse crap.
A horse screamed. A flock of sparrows took flight from the tree next to the barn, swirling into the air, a dark cloud of feathers chattering their irritation. Tara searched for the animal and jumped as it screamed again.
“Whoa,” a man’s voice bellowed from inside the gaping doorway. “Blast it, I said, whoa!”
A short, thick-necked man stumbled out, heels digging into the hard dirt as he fought to hold onto the red horse dancing in circles around him. He clung to the thick reins with one hand and pulled a leather whip from his rear pocket with the other, snapping it at the horse with a loud crack.
The horse laid his ears flat, flashed a mouthful of large teeth and dove at his captor, hatred sparking in his eyes. Stumbling backward, the man let loose of the reins, surprise and fear flooding his face.
Tara gasped, a small, barely audible squeak coming from her mouth.
The horse spun around to face her, ears swiveling, black hooves stamping and pawing at the ground. Rage flared his black nostrils.
Tara froze, a scream stuck in her throat, staring wide-eyed at the red horse.
“Get back, Miss,” a voice ordered from behind her. Rough hands shoved her to the side of the path and a dark-haired man rushed forward, grabbing at the horse’s reins. The horse reared, lashing out, black mane rippling like a nest of angry snakes. The dark-haired man held on.
The horse blared again, his eyes wild, white rings surrounding the black.
Tara backed away as quick as she could, unable to take her eyes off the crazed horse. Her heart pounded in her ears. She wanted to get away. She needed to get away from this wild animal. Staring into the horse’s eyes, she couldn’t move. There was something…something in his eyes. She understood his look of pain.
“Are you crazy, Richard?” the black-haired man yelled, glancing back at Tara before turning his sole attention to the horse. “You know we aren’t supposed to have him on this side of the barns today. Beth’s therapy class is here.” He glared at the fancy leather saddle on the horse’s back. “And, what’s this dressage crap doing on him again?”
Richard stepped back toward the barn door, his face a mix of stubborn anger and impatience.
“I had my orders, Sam,” Richard grunted. “Miss Jordan called and told me to saddle him up. She wants to ride him.”
Tara blinked. Jordan? Alissa Jordan? Here? The hair on the back of her neck prickled. Her stomach rolled, the acidic taste of bile rising to her throat. She forced it back down. It had to be a different Jordan.
Sam pulled the horse down the path away from Tara, moving to avoid the dangerous hooves. “No way is anyone riding him, especially not in this get-up. He’s not ready. And this stunt is going to set him back even further.”
Richard snorted. “Don’t know why you’re wasting your time on this stupid animal anyway.” He extracted a dirty handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his glistening brow. “That horse ought to be shot. The only thing he’s good for is dog food.”
Sam stopped and stared back at Richard, anger darkening his eyes, his face turning almost as red as the horse. “I think you better mind your chores, Richard, before I do something I might regret—like tell Mr. McDonald you’ve been slacking on those stalls.” With a loud grunt, he directed the rearing horse toward a small corral between the two barns. “Let me take care of this horse,” he yelled over his shoulder.
Richard stuffed his handkerchief back in his rear pocket, the end sticking out like a grimy plaid tail. “You wait ‘til Miss Jordan gets here,” he scowled. “Then we’ll see who ‘takes care’ of that horse.”
Turning, Richard spotted Tara. He narrowed his eyes and growled to himself. “Slackers. Beth’s asking for trouble bringing these punk kids here.”
Tara shoulders tightened, anger biting at her tongue. Slacker? She wanted to scream, tell him, and everyone there, that wasn’t her. She blinked hard and retreated under her hair, letting her shoulders slump. What good would it do? Everyone assumed she was trouble because of who she was—because of who her mother was. And even though she may not be trouble, trouble always seemed to find her.
Richard pushed the open barn door closed, revealing a large wheelbarrow filled to overflowing with filthy dirty straw. A black cloud of flies hummed around it like bees to honey.
Tara gagged and covered her nose and mouth again with her sleeve.
With a loud grunt, Richard boosted the wheelbarrow’s handles and drove the smelly refuse down a winding path, disappearing behind a large shed at the bottom of the hill.
Finally, with Richard and the wheelbarrow gone, she dared to take a breath, coughing at the leftover stink, wishing she was somewhere else…anywhere but here. She didn’t belong here.
Rejection bit at her.
She didn’t belong anywhere.