Thursday, September 20, 2007
Anyway! Everyone give a big JeriSmithReady.com welcome to award-winning fantasy author Maria V. Snyder. Names of all the commenters from here and my MySpace blog will go into a virtual hat, and a week from now I'll draw a winner of an autographed copy of Poison Study.
Don't let those MySpacers show you up. Ask Maria anything, or share your own experiences with research and/or scary animals.
Hello! First off I want to thank Jeri for allowing me to be a guest blogger – Thanks Jeri!
One of my favorite aspects of writing is doing research. In Poison Study, I studied how to taste foods for certain flavors and textures. With Magic Study, I needed to learn how to ride a horse. Having grown up in Philadelphia, I had zero knowledge about horses. My friend Susan offered to teach this city girl how to ride her horse, Kiki.
Kiki, an American Saddlebred, is 16.1 hands tall. While I can’t tell you exactly how high that is, sitting on her for the very first time, I felt I was about ten feet from the hard, hard ground below. I was wearing a helmet, but it seemed inadequate for protection – full body armor would have been more preferable to me. And it didn’t help my nerves when Kiki’s head went straight up, her left ear cocked back, and she gave me the eye without turning around. With almost 360 degree vision, she only needed to move her head a little to keep me in sight. And I knew she was plotting how to dump this stranger on her back into the nearest mud puddle.
Kiki though was a perfect horse for a terrified beginner. At 22 years of age, she had seen it all, and we spent many hours slowly walking around the training ring. It was July, she was hot and I probably could have gotten off and pushed her faster. The pace was soothing for me and soon I was feeling my….well…oats, and wanted more excitement than doing figure 8’s at 1 mph.
Once I felt comfortable, Susan started teaching me how to guide Kiki into a trot. Although Susan insisted that Kiki is a Cadillac of horses, the bone-jarring gait threatened to dump me onto the ground. Susan has an English saddle—the one without the horn, and, in my mind, the one without anything to hold onto—so posting was required. When it comes to posting letters, I’m a pro, but the equestrian posting—where you raise your body with your legs to the movement of the horse so your butt’s not slammed into the saddle with every step—was beyond my abilities.
Eventually Kiki and I graduated from the training yard to the trail, and I was getting rather cocky. We were having fun without Susan reminding me to keep my heels down and straighten my back. Trotting and walking with trees and wildlife all around. Peaceful, idyllic, singing with the birds until Kiki startled and did a 180 on me. She went right, but I went left.
Remember how I said there was no horn on the saddle to hold? Well Susan’s been telling me for weeks to grab Kiki’s mane if I was going to fall (she won’t feel pain – I checked) and she did a great job of training me. I automatically grabbed her mane, and Kiki, a very smart horse, stopped dead while I pulled myself back up from the brink. All my cockiness was gone in a flash. Although, I still think Kiki didn’t really get spooked, she just wanted to stop my singing ;>
It was a scary, fun and interesting time. I learned about horses and I learned about myself. Mainly, that I like to be in complete control. Even though I held the reins, I knew Kiki was in charge.
To see a picture of Kiki go to Maria’s Website and scroll about ½ way down the page.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Poison Study and/or Magic Study, click here: Books
A Lesson in Loyalty - A Master Class in Intrigue.
Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges--and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life...or be her downfall.
Buy it here: Amazon.com