Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing for Real

Most of my blog readers are probably aware by now that I also write novels. For those who have asked, and those who have just wondered, no, I don't put real people into my books. First, because fake people are more fun. And second, I bruise easily. 
I do, however, put real horses in. Some are an amalgamation of several horses I've known. Some are pretty much straight from the pasture to the page. 
Those of you who saw the last post have already met Roo. (Um, yeah, sorry about those pictures. Guess I should've had some kind of Hurk Alert.) One of these days, I'll share the story of how he came to be the only horse I actually, legally own. Tonight I'm too lazy. Suffice to say that Roo is really fast, really athletic, and really fragile between the ears. He suffers from performance anxiety, separation anxiety and a serious case of low self esteem. If Roo were human, he would be that geeky kid on the playground who is dying to hang with the cool crowd but has no idea how to interact with other human beings and compensates by trying to act cocky which gets him beat up a lot. 
Pretty much everything I've posted on this blog up until now has been true. Or a reasonable facsimile of actual events. The excerpt below is fiction, a scene from a novel in progress. It will probably help explain how Roo ended up looking like he does in those pictures. 

Excerpt - Heading for Trouble (working title)

Jillian untied Badger and led him down the arena to cool off. Roo whinnied in protest at their departure, high and shrill, pawing frantically. Before she could turn around, he threw himself to the end of the halter rope, struggled against it, leapt forward, and reared. For a heart-stopping moment he was vertical.
Then he flopped over onto his back.   
He stuck there like an upended beetle, feet flailing. Then he twisted to one side and jammed all four legs through the metal rails of the fence. He kicked, whacking his shin against the vertical crossbar, then went still, head suspended a foot off the ground by the halter rope.   
Jillian dropped Badger’s reins and took three running steps. Roo’s eyes rolled back toward her. He squirmed, banging his hock against unforgiving metal. Jillian stopped dead.
What the hell did she do now? If she tried to pull him loose he might spook and thrash around and snap off a leg. Or kick her in the head. If she didn’t do anything, he might start fighting to get loose and bust a leg anyway. She eased forward a step. If she could get the halter loose, it would help. Dammit. A pocketknife would come in handy.
The back door opened. Thank God. Clint. He started toward the fence, saw Jillian frozen in the middle of the arena, and frowned.
“What’s wrong?”
She pointed at Roo. Clint tilted his head to get a better view.
“Aw, shit. Not again.” He planted his hands on his hips and glared through the fence at the upended horse. “You dumb bastard.”
“All I did was move Badger,” Jillian said.
Clint sighed. “I should have warned you. He has separation issues.”
“No kidding.” She looked down the arena at the buckskin mare. “How come he didn’t do this when you took Hotrod?”
“She kicks the crap out of him if he even looks at her sideways.”
Clint didn’t seem particularly concerned about the situation. He also didn’t seem to be in any hurry to fix it. Roo squirmed and gave him a pitiful, help me look.
“Are you going to get him out?” Jillian asked.
Clint gave another sigh. “I guess I’ll have to. It’s the only way I can get my saddle off him.”
He stepped up to the fence, grabbed the loose end of the halter rope and gave it a hard yank. The slipknot came free. Roo’s head plopped in the dirt.  
“Grab your rope,” Clint said.
Jillian did. He waved her over.
“When I get his back leg loose, put your rope around his ankle.”
Roo’s eyes rolled toward Jillian as she approached, but he didn’t move or flinch. Clint got hold of the top rear leg and pushed it through the fence. Jillian hooked the loop around it, then stepped back, keeping the rope snug so Roo couldn’t stick the foot right back where it came from. Clint moved to the front and pushed both forelegs free. Then he went to the final rear leg.
“As soon as I get this one through, pull.”
Clint shoved the foot through the fence. Jillian reared back on the end of the rope with all her weight, trying to roll the horse away from the fence. Roo’s legs peddled in mid-air for an instant. Then he flopped over. He heaved to his feet with a grunt, staggered a few steps, gave a full body shake, whinnied and trotted over to where Badger stood.
Badger pinned his ears, showing teeth.
“Don’t be cranky,” Jillian said.
       “He’s probably afraid some of the stupid will rub off,” Clint said.
He caught Roo, wrestled a bridle onto him, and grabbed the reins and saddle horn to swing aboard. The horse took off running…backwards. Clint jogged alongside until Roo’s butt hit the fence, then vaulted into the saddle before the horse could decide which direction to go next.
Clint picked up his rope and squared his shoulders. “In case the ambulance driver asks…I’m allergic to penicillin, but I’ve got nothing against morphine.”


Katt said...

Still laughing! I've met this horse in many different incarnations... but not the cowboy. And you say he's ALL imagination. sigh. Okay, when's this book coming out?
Absolutely LOVE this last paragraph.
If your "people" are ever on holidays and you're looking for a beta reader ha ha, or critique partner, just yell - (I'm in the Lethal Ladies Critique group - within KOD the RWA Kiss of Death Chapter...

midnightblooms said...

Oh man, that was great! Please tell me this book is coming out soon.

"He's probably afraid some of the stupid will rub off . . . " and "I'm allergic to penicillin, but I've got nothing against morphine." HA! I love cowboys.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Cowboys and horses being funny without trying. Love it.

Ron Scheer said...

Nicely drawn situation. Characters (including horses) come across vividly with a few well chosen words. Thanks for posting.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Thanks everyone. This book has a long way to go before an editor sees it, but Roo's parts are some of the best.

Linda G. said...

Ha! Too funny! Can I start a Roo fan club?

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Linda: The fan club is already up and running. Janet Reid is the president. Her editorial notes on this book: "I love Clint. I want more Roo."

Anonymous said...

Roo is awesome.

Linda G. said...

LOL! Janet has good taste. :)