May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

May 182014

by Doranna

Dun Lady's JessSo I’ve been published since ’94…and have over 40 titles’ worth of author copies sitting on garage storage shelves, snug and safe…and taking up a LOT of room. I’m going to run a bunch of giveaways, but I’m also offering these books first come, first serve, for the cost of postage. If you prefer hardcopy and now can’t get it, this is your chance! Not sure how long I’ll run this…depends on how well it works out on my end, basically…

I made a completely nifty form–it’s behind the cut–integrated with PayPal and including credit card payments through PayPal (so there’s no need to have a PP account). Get there first, grab what you want, and spread the word! (There’s a little social sharing dingie down at the bottom of the post.) Continue reading »

Dec 192014

By Patty Wilber

As you drive out Hwy 550 from Bernalillo, NM, to the west, there is a sign that says  “Ojito Wilderness”. It is in a bad-land-ish area and has always piqued my interest.

So, last Friday, we went.

Mary Ann and Tulip

Mary Ann and Tulip–Ok so the world is tipping a little.

We had no real clue (being mapless and all) where the good spot was, so while we thought there was an equestrian parking area in about six miles, it turns out that was a different entrance.  We drove until we reached a washout (nine miles in) we felt we could not comfortably cross (a road grader fixed it while we were riding) and we parked on the side of the road.

Continue reading »

Dec 052014

 By Patty Wilber

Last weekend we had a Thanksgiving family reunion with everyone in the immediate family and the Significant Others, too!

In case you forgot from last week what that looked like: 

The family in California!!

Erika (Mark’s SO), Mom, Dad, Rick (Maegan’s fiance), Maegan (Progeny #1), Me, Laurel (niece, Kathy’s Progeny #1) in front, Mark (progeny #2), Jim (Spousal Unit), Kathy (Little Sis), Chris (Kathy’s SU), Maryanne (K’s Progeny #2) in front, Tina (Mike’s SU) and Mike (Little Bro).  Mark’s roommate for all four years from Georgetown was there too, and took this picture!

In just under a month we are all (except Mike and Tina) heading to Hawaii for Rick and Maegan’s wedding!

Continue reading »

Dec 032014

by Doranna

_DSC3932-(ZF-4919-11231-2-001).SM“The emperor has no clothes” has never been a popular (or easy phrase) to utter.  Not even in agility.

So we’re talking about continuing education (training) in this blog event, but first…let’s talk about those courses.  I promise this leads straight to training!

Anyway, you know the courses I mean.  During walk-through half the handlers are grimly unhappy and the other half are quite blithely and vocally certain that those who are unhappy would in fact be happy if they had only trained properly (or completely, or with the right system, or…). Continue reading »

Dec 012014

by Doranna

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Yep, we had our big once-a-year local Variable Surface Tracking test on Sunday.  Beautiful weather, for sure–the best I’ve ever had for a test.  The best photos do not include me, because I wore a hat all day so no thanks, but the Beagle boyz are the important ones anyway!

Connery was track five of six and Dart was track six, so we watched the first tracks and then waited for Connery’s turn in the quiet of a parking lot distant from the test “home base.” The tracks are laid all over a large campus.

After the tracks are run, the handlers and the club and the tracklayers meet up at the “home base” parking for a tailgate lunch.  We all talk about what went wrong and right and say nice things about each other’s dogs, talk about other tracks we’ve run and what we plan in the future.  Fun, right? Continue reading »

Nov 282014

By Patty Wilber

It is a good bet that a lot of us ate turkey (and stuffing and pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and some other kind of pie and bread and maybe yams or cranberries and yet another other flavor of pie and brussel sprouts) yesterday. Today we may be recovering.


It is probably the case that almost no one ate horse meat.


Well, I thought I saw an article somewhere that there was an increased demand for horse meat for Thanksgiving in Mexico.

Ok, Ok, there is a lot wrong with that statement, so maybe I dreamt it?

Continue reading »

Nov 212014

By Patty Wilber

I have a soft spot for Tennessee Walkers because I leased several from a lady who rescued them when I was in high school. I ended up getting to ride a gob of them.

At Rainbow Ranch. 

Mardigras, a  Tennessee Walker, me and my cousin Amy, in 1977 or so

Mardigras, a Tennessee Walker, me and my cousin, Amy, in 1977 or so.

So, when I got the chance to work with Dusty, it was like old (37 years ago old) times!

Dusty came here at two to get started and he’s back at five for a tune-up.  One thing he needed was a little face-time with cows.

Continue reading »

Nov 172014

by Doranna

cb.dart.visiting.848My lesson for the month: Plans mutate.

(Probably my lesson for life, but let’s just stick with the month.)

I’d intended to blog about the treadmill thing again today, especially in the wake of my aggravated feet.

Then again, this fall I’d also intended to adopt a socialization-resistant kitten as a barn cat (yes, this cat sleeping here on my office chair), get caught up on my paperwork, get a book started/finished before the end of the year, target completion of Connery’s PACH title, and figure out how to relax when it was time to relax.

And in the really big picture, I once thought to keep beating my head against traditional publishing until I finally found where I fit.

One thing at a time, I guess.

In any event, I’m not writing about the treadmill thing today.  Because things change, and yesterday I went tracking, and as it happens the tracking was all about things changing.

(The meta here is just killing me.)

Continue reading »

Nov 142014

By Patty Wilber

A lot went on last weekend: Judged a 4-H show (what a great group of kids and parents!); helped a friend help a woman ride into the Sandias to find the site of her grandfather’s house on an old homestead (found it!)

The corner of the old homestead!
The corner of the old homestead!

and rode with Troy Rogers to continue to improve LT’s skills as a reined cow horse.

Thursday morning the thermometer read 17F at 7 am and I had two lessons scheduled.  At 8:30 am we were up to 18F and the lessons went on. I have some impressively tough clients! Good grief. I think I would have stayed inside.  By 11:30 it was 30F– heat wave…

Continue reading »

Nov 122014

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to submit a story to editor Becky Kyle for the anthology Tails from the Front Lines.  Hard to resist, when the proceeds are slated for donation to TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior).

Right.  Service dogs for our wounded, whether physically or emotionally or both.  So I was very happy when I got the word that Just Hanah would be part of the anthology.  And naturally I was curious as to how it all came about, so…I asked!  And discovered that I’m not the only one out there who’s still a hippy-era kid at heart…


I was a hippie-era kid. At twelve, I wanted to go to Woodstock. I protested Viet Nam. Every few months, we got word another soldier was gone. As I got into high school, my male classmates worried about what they’d do after graduation and if their number would be called.

Around that time, we stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I still stood, still held my hand over my heart, but I couldn’t speak a word of it. Most everyone had a friend, a family member, even a brother who’d done to war and didn’t come back.

Already, I felt like I was stuck in a dystopia.  I was sixteen and there had never been a time my country wasn’t at war.

The one thing I never did was blame the troops. None of them approved the Declaration of War or signed it. They just went to war when our country called them to.

Years later, when I was in Library School, I got involved with the Operation Paperback collections. From there, I started sending care packages to the troops as an extra Christmas present. In 2003, when a friend’s husband went to Iraq with only one pair of underwear and socks, we took up a collection to get him and his men the supplies they needed. It’s nothing heroic—it’s just saying thanks for an often thankless job.

A year ago, my phone rang. My husband answered it, covered the mouthpiece, and said:

“It’s Cindy, you should answer this.”

My heart fluttered. Cindy is an ER nurse in Indiana. She’s funny, good-hearted, and one of the most unflappable people I know.  When I got on the phone, Cindy was sobbing. It took a bit for her to calm down enough to be coherent.

The son of one of one of her fellow nurses, twenty-two years old and just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan two weeks before, had shot himself. What was worse was that his Dad’s firefighter company had been to the ones to transport him to the ER.

Every emergency worker who tended this young man as he died knew him. They watched him grow up. They cheered when he did well and they were all grateful when he came home safe and seemingly unharmed.

The only good that came of this tragedy was that the young man had signed an organ donation card. Doctors and nurses who knew him performed the last surgeries on him and sent the organs to new homes where they’d save lives.

By the time Cindy was done, I was sobbing.

Being a research nerd, I started looking into veteran suicides. What I didn’t know was that twenty-two soldiers killed themselves every day.

This was more than books and underwear. I had to do something.

I’d been reading about therapy dogs and how much they assisted soldiers with PTSD. An animal can get a soldier outside and into the world again without feeling alone. The presence of a dog can literally reduce their prescribed medicines by half.  I found TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior) online and was highly impressed that they got many of their dogs from shelters or used the warrior’s own pet to train.

It was sheer luck that I mentioned wanting to do something to the right person, Carol Hightshoe, publisher/editor at Wolfsinger Press. Carol was onboard quicker than I could have imagined. While I have served as part of the editorial staff for several venues, I never expected to have only my name on the masthead. Carol was wonderful to provide support and helpful hints whenever I needed them.

Tails from the Front Lines became available on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014. The anthology is comprised of twelve short stories written by well-known veteran authors to two first-time publications.  They cover everything from fantasy realms to the future. Best of all, proceeds will go to TADSAW to help provide soldiers with companions who will help them re-enter society and lessen their chances of falling into despair.

Tailsfromthefrontlinescover.144So yeah. Becky didn’t do it, but I’m going to.  The anthology is freshly available at Amazon (including a trade paperback version) and Nook.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the happies.  It’s cool to have the opportunity to help!