Linda Benson's Blog, page 11

April 27, 2012

I am very excited to show you the cover for my newest novel, Six Degrees of Lost, which releases as an eBook on June 1, 2012. Egads, that's coming up fast!

One of the nice things about working with Musa Publishing is that authors actually have some input on cover design. (Often, when working with a publisher, this is not the case.)

Because the plot features two teens struggling to make sense of their lives and find their place in the world, we wanted teens on the cover. My preference was to have no faces, because as an avid reader myself, I really like to form my own impressions of what the characters look like.

The plot line also features lost dogs, abandoned puppies, rescue cats, a raft trip down a river, and two ancient horses.
The setting is the Pacific Northwest, with tall trees and hay fields.
There are wonderful secondary characters in the story, too, including a hay grower, an animal rescuer, boys that make bad choices, and more.
Could we get all that on one cover?

We tried to fit some of the above, but in the end, it was much too busy.

So we chose simple. The simple story of Six Degrees of Lost is about two kids, Olive and David. Here's what we came up with.


Sometimes you have to take a journey to find out where you really belong.
Coming June 1st. You can read the synopsis on Goodreads, right here.
So tell me - would this cover make you want to read the book?
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Published on April 27, 2012 10:34 • 24 views

April 18, 2012

What have I been working on? Top Secret - Shh! Not really. When I finished The Girl Who Remembered Horses, I never intended to write about Sahara's future world again. Truth be told, creating that world was difficult for me. I don't consider myself a fantasy writer, and most of my novels have been set in the contemporary world that I'm quite familiar with. It was a bit of a struggle to create a believable society in a post-apocalyptic world that readers could still relate to.

But according to this recent review from the UK, I pulled it off okay: http://booksandmud.blogspot.com/2012/04/review-linda-benson.html Still, it was a surprise when readers, upon finishing the book, immediately clamored for more. "What comes next?" they asked. "We can't wait to find out!"

While this is, of course, a great compliment to a writer, it also feels like a huge responsibility. Can I revisit Sahara's world convincingly and give my readers another great plot? Can I satisfy all the horse lovers, dog lovers, and post-apocalyptic fans that each took something of their own from the story?

Then of course, there are the practical considerations. Where do you start a sequel? Immediately after the end of the last book? One year later? Five years in the future? Maybe a writer should even choose another character from the book, and tell their story, instead of our original heroine, Sahara.

Well, enough teases and conjectures. I am working on a sequel. It is (at the moment) told in Sahara's point of view. And although I have a vague plot rolling around in my head, I am very much a Pantser (which is a writer who writes by the seat of their pants.) So I cannot tell you much more than that.

I did tease one family member recently, who chided me with "what's going to happen?" "I believe I'll make it a Choose Your Own Ending story," I joked. "If you think Sahara and Evan become romantically involved, turn to page 33. If you think a band of marauding raiders come down out of the mountains and steal the horse, go to page 47. If you think all of the dogs die from distemper, or a huge epidemic wipes out most of the food supply, please see page 55."

But I jest. The truth is that I am working on it. I am also working on edits for a brand new book coming out June 1, 2012 (counting the days) called Six Degrees of Lost. You can read about it on Goodreads right here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13539721-six-degrees-of-lost

But my work-in-progress right now is a sequel to The Girl Who Remembered Horses, and I find that I am quite enjoying myself - becoming immersed in Sahara's world again. She is a great character, don't you think?

For those of you who have written sequels - do you have any tips you could share?

Readers - what do you enjoy, or not enjoy, about reading sequels?
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Published on April 18, 2012 10:52 • 21 views

April 9, 2012

I think every author has a secret fantasy that his or her book will be made into a movie. Especially if it's a big exciting book with lots of action scenes. Like my most recent book - THE GIRL WHO REMEMBERED HORSES.


"The horses came streaming off the hill. Panicking, screaming notes of alarm, the moon glowed on their silken coats. Sahara could barely breathe. She had never been so close to the creatures. Huge muscles gleaming and feet pounding through the air, manes and tails floating awry, and the sweet smell of sweat foaming on their necks."


Or the scene where Sahara bonds with the foal:


"Sahara stroked the soft coat. I am running my hands across a real, live baby horse. This is not a dream. This is really happening. It seemed like a miracle, and Sahara knew at that moment she would protect this special baby with her life, if she had to."

In the novel, Sahara is a bit older than the girl in this bronze statue, but I think it captures the feelings perfectly.

Have you read The Girl Who Remembered Horses yet? Don't you think it would be a great movie?

Since the movie War Horse showed his affinity for horses, I might even chose Mr. Spielberg to direct. Call me, Steven. Let's talk . . .
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Published on April 09, 2012 11:13 • 47 views

April 2, 2012

Spring takes forever to arrive in the Northwest. After a string of gray rainy days in what was one of the wettest months of March on record, the sun appeared this morning and I set off for a walk with my eager dogs. Behind our house are hundreds of acres of forest, but the ground is saturated, and many trails practically impassible without a rowboat. Cedars grow thick with moss, and the fir trees drip-drip on my head as I traipse beneath their canopy.

Still, in a sunny meadow at the bottom of the big hill, we found skunk cabbage finally opening its bright yellow blooms.


My neighbor tells me that bears eat this as they awaken from hibernation, but I saw no bears.

I did see wrens scolding us as we approached too closely, and heard many trilling their lovely song. I can't help but think of the lyrics from that old Kenny Loggins tune called A Love Song: "There's a wren in a willow wood . . ." Anne Murray sang this, too, and I hear her voice every time I walk through the woods where a springtime wren sings.

Every little rivulet of water is rushing off the hillside, towards the creek, and then the river, and finally the Pacific Ocean.


On our way home, at the top of the hill, the salmonberry is finally blooming.

Such a pretty color, don't you think? Later, they'll produce yummy berries the color of salmon, but for now I just enjoy the pink of their bloom.

Sometimes I complain about living so far from town, but on days like today, I can't imagine life in a city.

Just wanted to share some of our springtime beauty. We're expecting another big storm tomorrow, and we have to enjoy these brief respites in the weather while we can.

Hope you are enjoying Spring, also!
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Published on April 02, 2012 15:28 • 8 views
Spring takes forever to arrive in the Northwest. After a string of gray rainy days in what was one of the wettest months of March on record, the sun appeared this morning and I set off for a walk with my eager dogs. Behind our house are hundreds of acres of forest, but the ground is saturated, and many trails practically impassible without a rowboat. Cedars grow thick with moss, and the fir trees drip-drip on my head as I traipse beneath their canopy.

Still, in a sunny meadow at the bottom of the big hill, we found skunk cabbage finally opening its bright yellow blooms.


My neighbor tells me that bears eat this as they awaken from hibernation, but I saw no bears.

I did see wrens scolding us as we approached too closely, and heard many trilling their lovely song. I can't help but think of the lyrics from that old Kenny Loggins tune called A Love Song: "There's a wren in a willow wood . . ." Anne Murray sang this, too, and I hear her voice every time I walk through the woods where a springtime wren sings.

Every little rivulet of water is rushing off the hillside, towards the creek, and then the river, and finally the Pacific Ocean.


On our way home, at the top of the hill, the salmonberry is finally blooming.

Such a pretty color, don't you think? Later, they'll produce yummy berries the color of salmon, but for now I just enjoy the pink of their bloom.

Sometimes I complain about living so far from town, but on days like today, I can't imagine life in a city.

Just wanted to share some of our springtime beauty. We're expecting another big storm tomorrow, and we have to enjoy these brief respites in the weather while we can.

Hope you are enjoying Spring, also!
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Published on April 02, 2012 15:28 • 7 views

March 26, 2012

I was really going to write a post about how well our young dog Penny was doing. She is a border collie cross, and not an easy dog to live with, and in fact got on my every last nerve from the time she was six months old until just recently.

Hoping to become a better dog mother, I read everything I could about border collies. They are the smartest of breeds, they need a job, they bond with their owners, and they need lots of exercise. Exercise, exercise, exercise is what all the books said.

So I laced up my walking shoes, and took her and the old dog out on forest trails and logging roads every single day. I'd load them up in the car and take them to a nearby paved subdivision with a good hill to climb. I played ball, frisbee, bought her bones to chew on, and squeak toys, and even a non-destructible rubber ball with biscuits hidden inside.

And still Penny dug up the yard, pulled prize azaleas from the soil, destroyed rhododendrons, ripped fern fronds off one by one, and pulled the stuffing our of every single dog bed we bought her.

We made a joke out of her name, that she was the Bad Penny and we couldn't get rid of her if we tried.

My husband was fed up, and truthfully, as winter wore on, I was getting tired of defending her with the refrain "She's just a pup. She'll grow out of this stage."

At one point, several weeks ago, I even decided maybe we should find her another home. But I loved this dog, and didn't want to pass her down to someone who might treat her badly. I answered a couple of ads that I found on Craigs List with people looking for such a dog, but it wasn't the right match. I sent a long e-mail to a border collie rescue agency that specializes in placing such dogs. I never heard back. Finally, in desperation on a stormy winter night, when this jumpy, wet dog, who never seemed to calm down, was wreaking havoc on our normally peaceful marriage, I picked up the phone to place an ad in our local newspaper.

No dial tone. The phone was completely dead, and the telephone service was out.

It was a sign, I decided. No wavering. We are keeping the darn dog, making the best of the situation, and sooner or later she will turn the corner. I called a local dog trainer and signed Penny up for a dog class, thinking maybe a little socialization would help.

At the first lesson, we almost got kicked out, after Penny drug me across the arena toward a shepherd mix who growled and lunged at her. "You want a piece of me?" she said. "Come and get it!" Geez, talk about embarrassing.

Luckily for both of us, the instructor decided to put that errant shepherd in a "special" class, and Penny got lots of one-on-one attention at her second class. She did beautifully! She heeled, and sat, and every time she came unglued a bit, her teacher said she was only insecure. I can live with that.

Finally, we are making progress. Penny is 15 months old now, and I convinced my husband she is well on her way to finally becoming a good dog. She doesn't jump on people so much, her digging is less often, and surely her need to chew and destroy things must be over. A local feed store had pet beds on sale, and bless his heart, when my husband went to town, he not only bought two of them (one for each dog) but he made Penny her own little wooden box for the bed to go in.




 I breathed a giant sigh of relief, both for Penny and for our marriage. Things were turning out peachy-keen.

Until this morning. I fed the dogs, came in the house to check my e-mail, and inside of ten minutes, this has happened:



That was two hours ago. I scolded her (quite) strongly, locked her up in the dog pen for almost an hour, and came in to face my husband's wrath.

Penny is now in the dog pen again. She just destroyed the second bed (her own.)

I have no words, although it does help to have a sense of humor about these things. Maybe we can get on a television show called - Is there hope for this dog? or Is there hope for this marriage? Peace - out.
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Published on March 26, 2012 12:23 • 14 views

March 20, 2012

Fellow writer Sharon Ledwith tagged me in The Lucky Seven Meme

which sounded kind of fun. Here are the rules:

1. Go thou to page 77 of your current MS
2. Get thee hence to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating!
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let each and every one of them know

So, without further ado, here are 7 lines, starting with line 7, from page 77 of my new book, which will be released on June 1, 2012, called Six Degrees of Lost . (Ha! Got you on that one, huh? It wasn't a seven!)

"Paddle! Paddle!" yells James.
They each grab an oar, and I lean over the side of the raft and use my hands to pull hard downstream towards the highway bridge. My heart is beating so fast I can barely breathe. I steal one glance backward, and I see a column of black smoke drift up into the afternoon rain clouds, as orange flames lap hungrily against the sides of the barn.
"Holy crap," says James.
"What?" asks Sherman.
"I left the BB gun up there," he says. "In the barn."
So, there you have it. Excited yet? I'll share the cover soon, but be assured that Six Degrees of Lost has dogs, cats, horses, a raft trip, a girl, a boy, pancakes, and a first kiss. What more do you need? Okay fine - a mother in jail, brothers in the military, an unplanned journey, and oh, you'll just have to wait until June to find out. Or, you can click on the title and follow the link to Goodreads to read the whole blurb. And add it to your to-read list!

And for the next seven writers to partake in this fun tag game, I choose:

1. Amaleen Ison
2. Cornell DeVille
3. Arley Cole
4. Devin Hodgins
5. L.K. Mitchell
6. Mindy Hardwick
7. Jennifer Walker

Don't worry, if you don't have a page 77 in a finished or unfinished manuscript, you can always use page 7. The Lucky 7! Ready, Set, Go!! Have Fun!!
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Published on March 20, 2012 11:39 • 23 views

March 13, 2012

We have a long-haired black cat wandering around our place and occasionally peeking in the windows. When I open the door, she is gone like a flash. Is she wild, or did someone dump her? She looks sort of like this one:


I'm assuming it's a "she" because she looks a bit feminine, and lately she looks a bit pregnant. She is probably eating in the barn, because I leave food there for our spayed barn cat, Lucy. But if this black cat is pregnant, I don't want more wild barn cats running around. Not only do we have a big coyote problem (and sad to say, they eat cats) but I think cats should be spayed or neutered, so they don't contribute even more to the population of hungry, homeless cats.

So I borrowed a live trap, to try and catch "Blackie" and see if she is tame, or wild, or pregnant, and then figure out what to do at that point. (Raise and tame the kittens, get her spayed, something.)

Here is the trap:


You basically put food inside it, set the trap with the end wide open (it's in the closed position right now) and when the cat steps on the trigger, it closes and catches them. I've even used a blanket on the floor and a drape over the top so it appears more inviting.

But even though I've seen the black cat several times lately, do you think I can catch her? No.

All I keep catching in the trap is:

Lucy - our 8 1/2 year old barn cat - who is already spayed. And fat and sassy.

But we bring Lucy in for snuggles and loves each time, anyway.

Bet you didn't know I was such a Cat Lady, did you? Wish me luck, I am setting the trap again tonight. This time I'm adding a sign: "Black Cats Only."
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Published on March 13, 2012 16:31 • 30 views

March 7, 2012

Hi Everyone! Just popping in to say that this is "Read an eBook Week." And Smashwords, one of the online booksellers that carries The Girl Who Remembered Horses, is having a sale!

Through March 10, 2012 you can buy this book for 25% off. Just use coupon code REW25 and the price is only $3.74. Here is the direct link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/102685


Unlike Amazon (where this book is rated #5 in Best Reviewed Children's Kindle Horse Books) which only sells the Kindle format, or Barnes and Noble, which only sells the ePub version for a Nook, Smashwords carries all formats, including PDF, which you can read on your personal computer, for those of you that don't own an eReader yet.

So if you've been waiting to read this great book - Go. Now. It's a great time to buy.

That is all. Tune in next time to hear about my adventures in trapping (or not) a pregnant wild kitty. Assuming I survive. *grin*
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Published on March 07, 2012 15:10 • 22 views

March 3, 2012

It's no secret that I love all things Chocolate, in fact I publicly state it in my profile.

I even have a donkey named Mr. Chocolate!

And although I'm not a big drinker, I do enjoy a good glass of wine. Until recently, that has usually been white wine, and my preference Chardonnay.

But last fall, for the first time ever, someone brought me a bottle of Chocolate Wine. O. M. G!



I swooned. And now I seem to see Chocolate Wine popping up everywhere. So, since I have now tried three different brands and two different types, I will share with you what I know.

There seems to be two distinct types:
One looks like regular Red Wine, only it's labeled Chocolate Wine.
One, also labeled Chocolate Wine, looks like a bottle of wine filled with Chocolate Milk.

For me, I prefer the wine-colored type. It tastes like rich red wine, with heavy flavors of chocolate. It's a great after-dinner drink, served with, or in place of dessert. It also goes well with cheese, nuts, and apples.

I've also tasted the chocolate milk looking stuff. That's exactly what it tastes like. Chocolate milk with a slight wine taste. Even though I'm a huge chocolate lover, for me, this one isn't quite as good. (I'll finish and enjoy the bottle I have on hand, but probably won't buy another.)

The two brands that I have tasted and recommend are: Chocolate Shop


and Confectioner's Chocolate Wine

If you love chocolate, you've got to find a bottle and try it. (Oh, assuming you're old enough, of course.)

But wait, you wanted to know the skinny on these wines, didn't you? Actually, I googled "calories in chocolate wine" but could not bear to look. Sorry.

Have you tried Chocolate Wine yet??? What did you think??
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Published on March 03, 2012 12:59 • 17 views