Friday, September 28, 2007

Kathleen's New Book and Lifelong Love

RIDE A PAINTED PONY comes out this week for the first time in paperback. It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. It's the best because I've always been embarrassed about the price of my hardcovers, so I love it when the "affordable" version goes on sale. Readers tell me not to sweat it. Many of them want the hardcover, and I'm grateful for that. But, personally, I'm cheap. I buy a lot of books, and I have to wait for some paperbacks.

This book was named one of the "Top 5 Romances of 2006" by Library Journal, which means a lot to me. Librarians know their stuff. It was a RITA finalist, which means my peers (Romance Writers of America) found it worthy. But rank and file readers are the ultimate test. So this is the "worst of times" because a writer's career goes on the line every time a book hits the stands. I have no more fingernails, folks.

This is a story about a loner--a "wounded warrior"--and a woman in jeopardy. I love the maverick hero. We all know the appeal. He knows not what he needs. We do. The woman in jeopardy knows exactly what she needs: safe haven. Someone she can trust. She's trying to figure out what to do, where to go, how to fight back, and her situation is so desperate that she doesn't always think straight. Women know this situation intuitively, even if they've never actually had to flee a would-be killer. They know vulnerability. Men? They deny it. They have to, because when the wolf knocks on the door, men are expected to answer.

So here's the deal with this book.

In RIDE A PAINTED PONY readers get a contemporary Western, an Indian cowboy, a woman in jeopardy, a romantic suspense, and a heroic journey. That’s one heck of a ride!

When loner Nick Red Shield rescues a woman left for dead on an isolated road, it’s a case of scarred survivor meets scared one. What will Nick sacrifice to keep his mysterious rider safe from her powerful enemies?

But where's the pony? Well, Nick raises horses. And the mysterious woman rides them.

And so do I . Raise them and ride them. Okay, husband Clyde (my original Indian cowboy) does the raising, and I'm not as good at riding them as my heroine is. Far from it. I've ridden since I was in college, when my instructor told me that she had never had a less coordinated or more determined student. She predicted that I would own a horse someday. I bought the first one from my future husband for $55.00.

Horses are mystical. They're big and powerful, but they're flight rather than fight animals. The majority of horse owners are women. We understand each other, I think.

No wonder horses often play a role in my stories. Take the horse in this picture, taken last weekend in ND the day after a very difficult funeral. The Eagle family got together for breakfast at Clyde's sister's house, and one of our nephews brought over this sweet Paint. It was the perfect way to celebrate the life of our family. Everyone took turns getting pictures taken, doing some sort of "pose." (That's me, doing the royal wave.) Everyone. Elders, children, people who hadn't been on a horse in ages--one even left her wheelchair for a lift onto the saddle. And here's the mystical part: this horse had been gone for 5 weeks. Disappeared from the pasture. Nephew thought he'd been stolen or worse, but he showed up the day before the funeral. And he took part in this activity like an angel. I just shipped a stack of pictures back to our family, and I know they'll be cherished.

The sequel to RIDE A PAINTED PONY is due out in late February--appropriately titled MYSTIC HORSEMAN. But it's the horse who's mystical.

Animals can be incredibly sensitive to human emotions, can't they? Any animal lovers among us who have stories of animals offering aid and comfort?


lois greiman said...

Congratulations on your paperback release, Kathy. As you know, horses are a huge part of my life. They make everything worthwhile for me. My daughter used to reprimand me for talking to them. "Are you talking to that horse again? Are you talking to him about me?" I usually was, just to drive her crazy. But he's a good listener, especially if I have enough apples on hand.

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, I love you post! And I hope "Painted Pony" sells a million.

More importantly, I really enjoyed the story of the prodigal horse who came back just in time to comfort and love all the people coping with loss. Now that's a "mystic" horse!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, you talked about compassion this week, and some of us worried that we weren't good about showing how we feel in sad times. I do think some animals--those who have people, I guess--have a sense about our feelings.

I could swear that my dear Aussie knew not only when we had our own pain but that we felt bad when he was sick. He had a compassionate look for those time, a gentle way and a kind of selfless physical attitude. No whining, that guy. No acting pitiful. You could almost hear him saying, "Don't worry about me." Such a hero, my Aussie.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- We had Irish Wolfhounds for years and they are so connected to their owners that you have to be very careful with some of them when an owner dies. If Wayne or I would live on a trip, we had one Wolfhound who would station herself in the entrance hall and wait. Sometimes for days. Staring at the door.

We have the shepherd mix now and she will not leave my side if she thinks I'm upset. Well, she rarely leaves my side anyway, but if she thinks I'm upset, she's physically touching me.

Meljprincess said...

Hi Kathleen,
My Siamese of 20 something years has given me comfort and aid all his life. Usually when you're sick animals don't like to be around you. But my kitty always comes to me and wants to be with me when I'm sick. He went through breast cancer with me in '98 sleeping by my side the entire time. Now he is dying of heart disease so I'm providing him with all the comfort, aid, and love I can give. He still gets in my arms at night to comfort me even though he can't get into the bed by himself. Watching him die is absolutely horrible. I'm doing a lot of reading so I look forward to RIDE A PAINTED PONY.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, good luck with you paperback release. It's a great story, so I'm sure it'll do very well!!

Dogs are reincarnated old souls. All you have to do is look into their eyes to see it.

Cats ... hmm, young souls? Souls that are here to teach us all lessons? Hard to say. LOL!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Princess, my editor had an old cat who helped her get through her breast cancer treatment and died when she knew her person was okay. Within days a kitten showed up to take the old cat's place. It was pretty amazing.

Kaitlin said...

We have a Lhasa Apso female named Chloe. Chloe is all of about 10 pounds, but she is one of the smartest, sweetest dogs I've ever met.

She's extremely intuitive and knows things before most of us do. In fact, she was the first one to figure out my SIL was pregnant with my nephew.

Any time any of us have been sick or rundown, Chloe seems to realize it. She curls up next to us and keeps us warm. Something about that warm little body brings a lot of comfort.

Candace said...

Ah...dogs. I agree with Helen. They're old souls come to provide companionship and guidance (if we will only pay attention) on our journey through life. They know what's really important in life -- love, food, and a daily walk.

My old girl Xena (the worrier princess)has pretty severe arthritis but she still insists on her daily walk -- even though, these days, she can't make it more than a half a block before she's ready to turn around and head home.

The day she stops insisting on that walk will be the day I know she's getting ready to leave me. Hurts my heart to think about it.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Horses have the kind of sensitivity we're talking about, too. Even though they scare easily (flight, not fight) they have a calming influence. Unlike dogs, horses would rather be part of a herd of their own kind than join a human pack, but they respond to a sensitive human. Time spent with a horse is amazingly therapeutic.