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Fences Are Good People

Apr
21

I’ve been pondering and planning on fences a lot lately. In the good news department, the goats and dogs are in and have been in for five days straight. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I think we’ve got this field whipped!
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Maia’s not happy about it.
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The new goats are warming up to me, by the way. And catching on. Now they run for the gate when they see me coming. They know I bring good stuff.
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When I first moved here, I had to put a lot of attention to repairing and refencing current pastures. Quite a bit of fencing repairs have had to be done this spring, also. This is par for the course. Winter storms mean a lot of trees down on fences, and when it’s time to get the animals back to the fields, it’s time to fix them. But I’ve also been thinking about new fencing. Such as this little triangle area across the road, which connects to the field across the road.
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There were existing fence posts, but no wire on the posts. Up to now, it’s an area I’ve had mowed. The total mowing time for this property for areas outside fencing (including time spent weedeating) is 20 hours. Let me say that again–20 HOURS. By the time the mowing is finished, it’s time to start again.
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There’s no good reason to be mowing this area. (As you can see, I’ve been using it as a car lot, but that will change.)
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I’ve got Robbie and Rodney, my hired men, putting wire on those fence posts. Soon as I get a gate on the field, I’ll open it up to the other field and let the cows do the mowing from now on. Since it’s a small connecting field and right next to the road, it will also make a good place to set up a chute for loading animals when needed. But wait, there’s more! There’s also a large area between the two access roads on the farm that has to be mowed.
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You guessed it, this area is next on the list to be fenced.
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Then the cows will mow that, too. (Yes, I have to leave access open to the access roads. That will be taken care of.) And then there’s the actual yard areas around the house and studio. Which are TOO MUCH.
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I will also be fencing out part of the yard so I can let the goats mow it. All together, I hope to cut the mowing time on this property in half. Since I’m getting ready to take over as much of the mowing and weedeating here myself this year as I can–with my new weedeater and new self-propelled key-start mower–I’m all about reducing the mowing and providing more grass for the animals.
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Fences–and hired men–are good people.

P.S. Always remember, and never forget, the best kind of man is a hired man.

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Maia Saves the Day!

Apr
3

maiabook
Available now!

MURDER AT THE BARN DANCE
A “Maia Saves the Day!” Mystery

Intrepid farm girl Zoey Granger is just trying to carve out an independent life as a writer and photographer, but murder seems to follow her just as closely as her little pet goat, Maia. Not to mention a handful of ex-boyfriends. And when one of them starts receiving death threats, Zoey can’t help but get involved. Someone’s out to get cattleman J.T. Martin, but it will take Zoey—-and the tutu-wearing goat who always finds the clue—-to uncover the secret truth and bring order back to Sugarberry, West Virginia.

Here’s a little Q & A I had with myself to help answer any questions.

Q: Suzanne, WHAT IS THAT?
A: It’s a sexy cozy mystery novella. As Wikipedia explains, cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as “cozies,” are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. (An example would be the Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie.) “Murder at the Barn Dance” is the first of what I intend to be a series.

Q: What is a novella?
A: A “novella” means that it is shorter than a full-size book, but much longer than a short story. A novella is the perfect length for passing the time while, say, sitting through a series of volleyball games when your daughter is on the bench because she broke her foot.

Q: You call it “sexy”–are there love scenes? Who is this novella intended for as a reader?
A: The love scenes are not detailed. You can let your grandmother read it. Or your 16-year-old daughter if she’s a mature reader. But it’s definitely not a children’s book. It’s intended for adults or mature teens. There is no graphic sex, violence, or foul language. This novella is intended for anyone who enjoys stories including animals, farm and small town settings, humor, suspense, romantic adventure, and fun–like a comedy, mystery, and romance all rolled up in one.

Q: Why did you choose to self-publish it?
A: Because I’m a control freak! Okay, that’s only part of the answer. I’m a long-time traditional publishing writer. I’ve had over two dozen romance novels, plus recently a memoir, published via traditional publishers. The world of self-publishing has really come into its own in the past few years, so I decided to dip my toes in the waters as an adventure. I’m writing these novellas for pure fun and I wanted to make them available directly to readers at a budget price.

Q: I’m interested in self-publishing. How did you do it?
A: I’m using Smashwords as my main distributor, making “Murder at the Barn Dance” available through Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, almost everywhere digital books are sold. I’m also distributing myself directly through Amazon. The novella is available via digital download only, for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. If you don’t have a Kindle or other reader, by the way, you can download and read on your computer, phone, and so on. (Personally, I use a free Kindle app on my phone to read. I know that’s not for everyone, but I love it.) The cover art was created using one of my own photographs, with a graphic effect added. This is the photograph, which I took of Maia several months ago.
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The rest of the cover was created by my friend Jerry Waters using the barn board background from photographs he had taken of my barn.

Q: The protagonist in the series, Zoey Granger, sounds a lot like you! Is this series based on your life? Is it a true story?
A: No. This is pure fiction. I do, however, believe in the principle of writing what you know. Every fiction book I’ve ever written includes pieces and parts of me and people that I know as well as settings and other elements that I connect with through my own life and experiences. Writing fiction is sometimes a bit of a role-playing game. Zoey Granger is more interesting, adventurous, bold, and exciting than I am. She has been a lot of fun to work with!

Q: What about Maia? Isn’t she a real character?
A: Maia, of course, is Maia, and is the most accurately portrayed character in the book. Since she’s a goat, I don’t have to worry about her feelings and I can write about her just as she is. In the story, Maia plays the caprine sidekick to the heroine, who goes with her everywhere and somehow always manages to uncover the clue and save the day.

maiabookQ: Zoey has a lot of boyfriends and ex-boyfriends. Are these men based on real people?
A: Maybe. If I occasionally feel the urge to maim, shoot, imprison, or otherwise harm a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend, fiction is the way to go, don’t you think? Of course, not all of the sexy men surrounding Zoey are bad guys. There are a few good ones, too. Zoey enjoys the company of men, and even the bad ones have their redeeming qualities. Like me, Zoey finds men horribly enticing.

Q: Where can I buy it?
A: Almost everywhere!


Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple


For Sony, Kobo, etc, I do not have those links, but if you use those retailers, just put “Murder at the Barn Dance” and Suzanne McMinn in your search bar at the site and you will find it. You can also buy it directly from Smashwords here.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and look for more Maia Saves the Day mystery novellas in the future! I’ll announce when more are available.

And please share this post with your friends!
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And tell them Maia says hi.

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  1. IMG_1584

    March 12, 2014 - Maia’s Upcoming Appearances

    Maia makes appearances! She does! She has a schedule!

    Most days, her schedule is pretty light. Hangin’ on the farm, browsing for any new blade of grass that might make a mistake and sprout up on a warm day when it’s going to snow the next. Knocking on the back door. Eating the broom. Coming inside for a look-see in case there’s … Continued…

  1. IMG_1577

    March 10, 2014 - 70 Degrees and Ready to Gambol

    This time last week, I was shivering inside my own house, even with a fire roaring in my wood stove, because my furnace was out and we were in the midst of the latest in this winter’s series of snow storms. Today, it’s supposed to get up to 70 degrees here. (And my furnace is working. Not that I’ll need it by this afternoon.) It’s supposed to snow again later this … Continued…

  1. IMG_1556

    March 3, 2014 - Aloha

    It’s March. Supposedly!

    Chores must be done ANYWAY.

    Step 1. Put on 10,285 layers of clothing.

    Step 2. Use lighter to thaw gate latch to enter barn yard without climbing over the gate.

    Step 3. Toss hay.

    Step 4. Carry buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets of water for the animals from the house because everything in the barn yard is frozen.

    Step 5. Move to … Continued…

  1. IMG_1490

    February 27, 2014 - How to Make A Homemade Backbone

    I’m having a hard winter. I know I’m not the only one. This is the first truly bitterly cold and snowy winter since I moved to Sassafras Farm. I was spoiled by two mild winters, as if, perhaps, the universe was taking it easy on me while I settled in to my independent single life here.

    Accustomed to power outages being my primary winter challenge, … Continued…

  1. IMG_1485

    February 26, 2014 - A Tiny Triumph!

    I bought a weedeater! It’s a Black & Decker 18 volt cordless trimmer. It’s a girl weedeater.

    I’ve been thinking about tackling my own mowing and trimming since I moved here, but there was so much to tackle all at once. I’ve had the neighbor teenage girls helping me out, with Weston’s help when he’s home in the summers, but I’m determined to take over … Continued…

  1. IMG_1259

    February 11, 2014 - The Food in Martinsburg

    I was having a conversation with a friend about people who are picky eaters the other day, and this isn’t a post about picky eating, but it is about influences from childhood, which includes food–and it made me think of Martinsburg. Many of the core values and behaviors we carry through our lives are developed in childhood. Sometimes we try to give our children some kind of “experience” that they will carry with … Continued…

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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