Linda Benson's Blog

March 5, 2015

For those of you who write, or for those of you who wonder about writers, I'll bet you believe that the favorite part of it all is either a) finishing the first draft, b) finishing the final edits, or c) seeing the final, completed product either in paper or digital format for the first time.

And you are close! For an author, these are all great milestones, to be celebrated with a glass of wine, a hot bubble bath or perhaps flowers (if you're very lucky.)

But my very favorite part of being an author? Believe it or not, it's picking out the cover.

I've been published by two different publishers, with varying degrees of choice in the cover design of my books. One of these publishers just went out of business, releasing me from my contract on two back-list titles. Which was okay with me, because after re-releasing The Girl Who Remembered Horses under my own imprint, as well as the Cat Tales stories, I was more than ready to bring these two titles out into the world once more.

In fact, I absolutely relished the idea of finding new covers for both Walking the Dog and Six Degrees of Lost.

I work with a fabulous cover designer, who has taught me so much. She works, at the moment, solely for a donation to an equine rescue site, which makes us both feel good.

We discussed several pictures for the brand new cover of Walking the Dog. Besides the fact that we wanted a girl and a dog in the picture (which both had to have the right look) the picture also had to convey emotion, and portray the poignant feel of the story. The image had to fit on a vertical cover too, with room for both the title and author's name.

After the picture is chosen, then we must decide on the font choice, color of font, placement, etc. Lots of things go into making the right cover. But because I am a visual person, I love these choices. It suits another part of my creative side.

After much back and forth, here is the brand new cover for the upcoming re-release of my book Walking the Dog.

What do you all think? *insert loud clapping here for my cover designer, who pulled it all together so beautifully*

P.S. A print edition of this book (with the original cover) is available on Amazon right now. And this new digital edition will be out very soon! I will let you know when - stay tuned!
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Published on March 05, 2015 11:56

February 19, 2015

So I have five nice hens. Their names are Sally, Elizabeth, Dory, Fluffy, and Henrietta. And they all lay eggs quite nicely (you don't need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs.) But I figured they might need a husband.

And since Elizabeth tends to go broody at the drop of hat, it was the only easy way to get fertilized eggs that she would actually hatch. (Last year she raised two bunches of adopted chicks that I stuck under her, after setting on eggs that would never hatch.)

Young Rusty
Anyway, last summer I bought a young colorful Welsummer rooster, about four months old, for $3.00 There are many roosters one can get for free, but this one was a special breed, which produces hens who lay very dark brown eggs. And they are quite pretty, also. I thought I got a good deal on him, and we named him Rusty.

He was young and shy around my hens at first. But soon he was following them all over the yard, and it wasn't long until he decided he was all grown up. He became their husband and their protector.

Rusty was an excellent mate. He escorted his ladies out of the pen each morning, watched them as they went about scratching, eating, laying eggs, taking dust baths, and the made sure they all got back safely into the hen house each night.

 Rusty, all grown up As he got a little older, he became big and beautiful and more proud of himself. Flying up on fence posts, porch railings and crowing to the world (and all the neighbors) how wonderful he was. And Rusty was the epitome of machismo, also. When Henrietta or Elizabeth would cackle from the hen house, announcing that they'd laid their egg for the day, Rusty would rush across the yard and loudly accompany them back to the rest of the flock. Not to anthropomorphize (okay, of course I'm anthropomorphizing) but you could almost hear him say "Get your butt back over here, woman. Now.")

Still, the hens seemed happy (I guess) and everything was going fine until we went away for a few days. And our housesitter (who is quite animal savvy) called to report that the rooster had attacked her.

"What?" I said. "Rusty is the sweetest rooster. Couldn't be."

But when she called a few days later to report that Rusty had flown over an eight-foot fence, rushing all the way across the property to come after her (by this time she was carrying a rake for protection) I began to take her word for it. Dang rooster, anyway.

So when we got home, everything quieted down for awhile. Rusty was calmer now that we were home. He seemed to know who belonged here and who didn't. Oh, he did attack my pant legs ONE time, but I was so surprised that I instinctively kicked him, and he stopped immediately. Still, I always wondered about him after that.

Fast forward a couple of months later. Rusty decides to attack (in full force, flying furiously at him, over and over) our neighbor, who is a big tall man.

"That's it," I said. "I won't have a mean rooster. Rusty, you are outta here!" And because I'm too soft-hearted to put him in the stew pot, I advertised him, instead. Within three hours, Rusty had a nice new home in the country on many acres, with over twenty new hens to meet and greet. Hopefully that will keep him happy for awhile.

I was pleased. I got rid of our problem, and sold him for $5.00. "I made money on him," I exclaimed to my husband.

He raised his eyebrows. "Hmmpff," he said. "Right."

 New Rooster, who needs a name But of course, then I thought my hens were lonely again. So we found a new rooster. This one is the same color, but he is part Banty and much smaller. And, fingers crossed, sweeter in nature.

And it was an even trade. He was $5.00, also. See what a good chicken farmer I am?

Now, what shall we name this one?? Short stuff? Pee Wee? (Suggestions welcome.)

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Published on February 19, 2015 10:47 • 1 view

February 12, 2015

Just a note to announce that The Girl Who Remembered Horses is now available at B&, iBooks, Kobo, and Scribd.

And on Amazon, both digital and print copies are available, so you can read it either way.

The print copies have the old cover, but it's the same book inside!

Have you read this one yet?
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Published on February 12, 2015 12:26 • 1 view

January 29, 2015

Recently I took my two bad boys to a shot clinic to get their vaccinations.

My two former shelter kitties, Bugs and Fred Although I've given lots of shots to animals myself, these two characters are of the scratchy, clawing variety when it comes to holding still for shots. (I mean, most of the time they are very sweet.)

But since they needed rabies this time, I grabbed their records and headed down with them in a large pet carrier.

And the veterinarian remarked not only on how beautiful these cats were (of course he says that to everyone) but what an excellent job I did of keeping records. *grin*

So I thought I'd share my very simple method, which works much better than jotting it on a calendar, daily planner, or a note that is easily lost.

This one was set up for horses. Simply take an unlined sheet of paper and mark out some columns, like I did in the picture.

At the top, put the animal's name, date of birth (or approximate) and perhaps the date you brought the animal home (from the animal shelter, in my case. )

Then, I mark the columns (for dogs and cats):
Flea Treatments
 but you could put anything you want in those columns.

Keep in a folder marked Pet Records in your file cabinet, or some other safe place, and you'll always have it.

If you are lucky and have your sweet pets for a long time, those columns will fill up over time, with all of the wonderful things you did for your friend and companion.

That's all! Easy Peasy!

So tell me, how do you keep records for your pets or your livestock?

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Published on January 29, 2015 12:01 • 4 views

January 21, 2015

I'm pleased to announce that my newest in the series Cat Tales was just released, and it's called The Newlywed Cat.

Alison and Matt have been married for only nineteen days and they're already having their first fight. When an awesome grey cat comes into their lives, they both adore it and things go more smoothly. But when money gets tight and things look bleakest, will this free-spirited cat drive a wedge between them?  Priced at just $0.99, I hope you'll like this newest short read. Of course it features a cat, but also some very real human characters with their own share of problems.  Here's the link on Amazon (in the United States) and it's also available on other Amazon sites all over the world.
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Published on January 21, 2015 15:06 • 4 views

December 31, 2014

As we wind down the year 2014, I thought this would be an appropriate topic - finishing.

When I was a fairly new writer, I made a mistake that I see many writers make (and yes, I'm still guilty of it from time to time myself.) And that is editing, again and again, the beginning of a manuscript, until it's almost perfect - but never actually finishing the darn thing!

Especially for those of us with time constraints - jobs, children, animals, housework, yardwork, exercise, or whatever else takes up your time - it's common to set aside a WIP (work-in-progress) for awhile. But here's what often happens when you jump back in to it: you re-read the entire thing from the very beginning, fixing things along the way. Over and over! Yes, edit, edit, edit: it's a writer's job, right?

Wrong. A writer's first job is to finish! And the best way to do this (I've learned over the years) is to not begin from the beginning. Instead, when you open that manuscript to work on it once again, look over the last few paragraphs where you left off. Just enough to give you the feel of where you were, and where you intended to go (if you can remember.)

Just jog your memory and Keep Going! Keep going towards the end. Resist the urge to edit that thing to perfection every time you open it on your computer.

I've known many writer friends over the years who have fantastic, partially finished manuscripts they've been working on forever, but who never, ever, get to the ending. Don't let this be you!

There are no better words that an author likes to write than "The End."

After that, set it aside for a little while, and then (with fresh eyes) you can start your edits, your polishing, your re-working those words to make them sing.

But first and foremost, you have to finish the thing . So resist the urge to correct every mistake. Resist the urge to polish, polish, polish. Just press on, and keep going  until you actually reach The End.

Well, this is the end of 2014. Soon we will say Hello to 2015.

As for me, I am working on a brand new Cat Tale, which will be called The Newlywed Cat.

Watch for it in early 2015. Happy New Year, Everyone!
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Published on December 31, 2014 10:50 • 7 views

December 4, 2014

Just dropping by to announce a sale - but the price is a moving target, so hurry over and check out what it is right now! At the moment (and for the next day and a few hours)
CAT TALES (Books 1-4) is on sale at Amazon, on a Kindle Count Down for only $0.99.
That means you can read all four - The Winter Kitten, The Springtime Cat, The Summer Cat, and The Autumn Kitten - for the price of one.

Then the price goes up a tad, and then back to regular price at midnight, Pacific Time, Dec 7, 2014.

Hope you can take advantage of this great sale, and read the ones you've missed!

Thanks, and Merry Christmas Everyone!
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Published on December 04, 2014 09:01 • 7 views

November 23, 2014

As a writer, I've been asked many times "where did you get the idea for that story?"

I normally come up with some common response, like "oh, it just came to me" or "I just sat down to write and this is what happened."

But while writing The Girl Who Remembered Horses, I was quite conscious of a number of questions during the several years it took me to finish, revise, edit, etc. One was my constant wonder about why some girls (not all) become so passionate about horses. Why do some become "Horse Crazy?" This actually led me to build a college research project around this question.

Are horse crazy girls influenced in early life by cultural factors, or television, books, or movies? Or are they (as many of my research subjects attested to) "born with it." And if certain women and girls are actually "born" with a crazy desire for all things horse-related, did they actually inherit this tendency, or was it perhaps passed down from another relative they had contact with? Which leads us to another question - is there a case to be made for "genetic memory?"

Lots of questions, and as my rational mind sought answers, my creative side was dreaming of a future world where horses had largely been forgotten, as well as books, computers, cell phones, automobiles, electricity, and many other things that we take for granted in today's modern society.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses was just re-released with a gorgeous new cover and a new lower price of only $2.99 for the ebook. And it's available on Amazon.

I hope you'll give it a try, and maybe discover some answers for yourself!

Oh, and do you like the new cover??

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Published on November 23, 2014 15:28 • 7 views

November 4, 2014

Hi Everyone - I am pleased to announce that all four of my Cat Tales are now available in one edition. And priced at only $2.99.
Available on Amazon, here is the link:

These heart-warming stories, celebrating the bond we have with our pets, are suitable for the entire family and can be read in any order. Now enjoy the first four of the series in one volume - guaranteed to warm your heart in any season.

THE WINTER KITTEN - Brianna doesn't know how she'll make it through her first winter in Portland. When she finds a kitten trapped in the garage, nothing goes as planned.

THE SPRINGTIME CAT - When Dee finds an injured tabby, she has no idea of the surprises ahead. Can one cat heal an entire family?

THE SUMMER CAT - Spuds is missing, and Hannah's whole world comes crashing down. Did the horseshoer have a hand in the cat's disappearance?

THE AUTUMN KITTEN - Life becomes complicated when Grace falls for a pair of blue eyes she spots online. Will she let a kitten decide who she should date?

I would love to know which one of these is your favorite. Please share!

And very soon, I hope to have some more great news about one of my most popular books.
So stay tuned!

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Published on November 04, 2014 11:39 • 8 views

October 14, 2014

Wilderness that is, which is good for the soul.

Here are a few pics from a recent camping trip, which refreshed both mind and spirit.

Chetco River in Oregon, where otters and osprey entertained us nightly.  Trail through the northernmost habitat of California Redwoods, near Brookings, Oregon.  Ancient Oregon Myrtle tree (big as an oak) growing along the Chetco River. This plant is called California Bay Laurel in CA, and is mostly a large shrub in that state. One of my favorite plants, these are the largest I've ever seen.  Along the Redwood Trail  Twin Redwoods Here's wishing that you all find a little spot of wilderness to keep you sane .
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Published on October 14, 2014 13:29 • 5 views