Continuing with my horse theme. Here’s another photo taken by my daughter. The last photo was hers, too. And here’s a link to something really special. Wild horses! My good friend, Suzanne Morgan Williams (author of the deeply moving and inspirational Bull Rider) has posted photos of these beautiful wild horses taken at her home. http://tinyurl.com/ljyevdt Check it out! D.L.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love horses. When I was eight years old, I had the chance to ride a real horse for the first time. I was working on a television series called “The New Land” about an immigrant family settling on a farm in America. My character fell in love with a plow horse the family couldn’t get to pull the plow but would follow me anywhere. One day, Kurt Russell (who portrayed my uncle) sat me up on the horse’s back and led us down the dirt path. That was the first time I rode a real horse, and even though it was a long time ago, I can still remember how happy it made me. After that, I worked on other films with horses, and the wranglers always let me ride in between scenes and on my lunch breaks. Movie horses are really special because they are trained to behave on sets. It was a real blessing to have the chance to ride like that. At home, my dad continued my riding training by taking me on trail rides in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. We rode all the time. My favorite horse was a Palomino named Melody, and I can still remember laughing and talking with my dad as we cantered through valleys and looked at wildlife. Some of my happiest moments growing up were spent on horseback. Recently, my dad and I returned to Palm Springs and took my daughters for a trail ride. Life came full circle for me on that ride. It is a memory I will cherish. I hope one day to have a Palomino of my own or a Dappled Gray Warmblood or perhaps a Mustang. Until then, I will have to settle for writing about them. If you have a horse story of your own, please share it! I’d love to hear from you. D.L.
Hi there, it’s me, Deborah. Back from my journey into a new manuscript. I truly become lost in my books, becoming part of the world of my characters. So when I finish, the feeling is bittersweet. I am thrilled to have a new work for others to read, but also sad that I have to say goodbye. The manuscript is now in the hands of my agent, and I am really excited about the next steps. My new book is an emotional journey, so those of you who liked Jane in Bloom will really love it. At the heart of it is a romance–and I think it will have all of you falling in love. I can’t wait for you to read it! I will let you know more news about it soon… Now I am off to work on something new. Using my imagination to create new characters and stories. I think having a rich imagination is a gift so I challenge all of you to use your imagination today. Write a story, or a poem, or even let yourself daydream about a fantastic journey you would like to take. Imagine swimming with dolphins or flying in a hot air balloon over Paris. Imagine traveling back in time to meet your grandparents when they were your age. Or being able to talk to animals. Where is your imagination taking you today? D.L.
Today, I had a very special day visiting a group of 7th grade students at Westmark School. The girls are reading “Jane in Bloom” and we talked about the book, writing and being true to yourself. I was truly inspired by the girls. So I want to send a very special thank you to Westmark School and my new friends. I loved meeting all of you!!!
It’s me, Kate. Deborah is working on a new book–so I am still stepping in for her. But she did want me to thank all of you readers for the lovely letters and emails about Jane in Bloom. She is so grateful to all of you.
I have been telling you about my adventures in fairy tales. Specifically, my adventure as Gretel. Yes, that Gretel.
I was just at the part where I heard the stepmother telling the father she was going to take the children into the woods and lose them forever. Why would a father allow his wife to do such a thing to his own children, you might ask. I asked the same question of Hansel that night. I had fallen asleep. I woke in the blackness of night. Hansel was sleeping next to me in the tiny bed. I could hear him softly snoring. It was comforting, that sound. Like the purr of a cat. It almost lulled me back to sleep. But then I heard arguing. It was coming from downstairs. The voice of the stepmother was raised. “There isn’t enough food for all of us,” she argued. “We have to get rid of them.”
“I love them,” the father said. “I know we can figure something out.”
“We’ve already tried that,” the stepmother argued. “And we are out of time. They must go. You will do as I say,” she finished in a dark tone.
After that, the house was quiet. I shook Hansel gently, whispering. “Hansel, wake up. We have to get out of here. Hurry.”
By the time Hansel opened his eyes, I was already out of bed. “We are in danger here. We cannot stay another moment.”
I told him what I had heard. And I finished by asking why his father would do such a thing to his own children.
Hansel answered me. Though not in the way I expected. “He has changed, Gretel. Ever since mother died. He is different. I can see it in his eyes. It’s like he’s under a spell. And he doesn’t remember. Anything from before.”
Well, whatever the reason, I knew one thing for sure. We needed to escape. Now.
The only problem was how….
“Hansel, Gretel!” the man in the doorway called out.
He opened his arms wide and wrapped Hansel in a giant hug. I hung back, not sure what would happen to me when the man realized I was not his daughter Gretel, but someone else entirely.
“Come, Gretel,” he said as he looked over Hansel’s shoulder and waved to me. I looked into his twinkling blue eyes, and I saw nothing there to fear. So I stepped forward slowly, waiting for it. Waiting for the look in his eyes to change. For the question mark to replace the welcome. But it didn’t appear. One step turned into two, and three turned into four. Before I knew it, I was wrapped in the same warm hug. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Why didn’t he see that I wasn’t Gretel? I could only rationalize it one way–this was a dream. As much as it felt real, it couldn’t be. So with that resolution, I followed Hansel’s father into the cabin. A warm fire flickered gently in the brick fireplace in the corner. A small table was laid with a white tablecloth. I could see few furnishings. Certainly nothing like our living room at home. There was no television, no computer and no telephone. In the corner was a small bed made up with a faded red blanket.
“I thought we had lost you forever,” Hansel’s father was saying to us. “I searched and searched, where were you?” I noticed that his eyes were filled with tears of joy at our return. I was about to tell him what had happened, but just then, a rush of cold air struck my face, stinging me like a slap.
There she was. The stepmother. The reason Hansel and his sister had been left in the forest.
“Hansel, Gretel–you have returned,” she said with a happy lilt to her voice. I wondered if anyone else could see the narrowing of her emerald eyes, the clenching of her jaw. “We thought you were gone,” she finished.
“You hoped we were gone,” I muttered under my breath. It was so quiet, no one could have heard it. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, she did. She turned her venomous smile on me.
“Well, then, you must be too tired to eat, Gretel. Off to bed with you then.” And just like that, I was sent up the ladder to the second floor to sleep. I climbed the ladder, reaching the top rung and looking around to get my bearings. A small alcove, filled by a mattress on the floor and nothing else. It was cold and dark. And I was hungry. It was definitely time to wake up from this nightmare.
I sat down on the mattress. It looked clean enough. I closed my eyes. And hoped that when I opened them again, I would be home.
Kate here, back to tell you more about my adventures in fairytales. There I was, walking in a dark forest with an odd boy named Hansel. The glow of the moon helped to illuminate the tiny white pebbles Hansel had dropped along the path. To lead him home. It was a really long walk. And I could hear strange eerie sounds in the forest. Sounds that caused shivers to run down my neck. My heart was beating a strange quickened rhythm that left me gasping for breath. I kept reminding myself that this was only some kind of dream and that it wasn’t real. But the cool breeze that ruffled the flowered dress that wasn’t mine, and the very real ache in my feet from walking in ill-fitting buckle shoes didn’t feel like a dream. The wolves howled near us, and I thought they were coming closer. I wanted to run, but I didn’t know how far we had left to go. At the same time, my brain was searching its memory for the rest of the Hansel and Gretel story. My grandfather read fairy tales to me when I was little. I could remember the house made of candy, and that there was a witch. But I couldn’t remember why the kids were alone in the forest. Something was dancing in the shadows of my mind. I just couldn’t bring it into the light. So I kept moving forward, not knowing what the future would hold. Or when I would wake up from this very strange dream.
“There it is!” Hansel exclaimed, pointing to a swirl of pale smoke in the sapphire sky. “We’re home!” As we drew closer, I could see the smoke was trickling out of a small chimney set atop a quaint little cabin made of wood and brick. Hansel began to run, but I held back. The door opened and I could see a man standing in the doorway. Suddenly, I was gripped with fear. In the light, surely I would be recognized as an imposter. What would happen to me then?
Hi – it’s me, Kate, stepping in for Deborah to tell you about my adventures in fairy tales. There I was, standing in a forest in the middle of nowhere. With a boy calling me “Gretel.” He was taller than me by a half a head, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Oh, and interesting factoid–he was dressed like a gnome. You know, the ones that stand around in gardens with the pointy blue or red caps? Well, this boy was a dead ringer for a garden gnome. Only he could speak. And he was calling me “Gretel.”
“Listen,” I told him. “I don’t know who Gretel is, but I do know I’m not her.” I was trying to set him straight. But he wasn’t hearing me. He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “Gretel, I’m your brother, Hansel. We’re lost here in this forest. Don’t you remember?”
The boy was trying to explain things to me. He thought Gretel was confused. I’m not sure about Gretel, but I sure was confused. I remembered reading the first words of Hansel and Gretel but I couldn’t remember anything else. I could only remember arriving here, to find this odd boy in the woods.
“Gretel, listen to me,” the boy was pleading. “When our stepmother led us out here, I had a feeling she was going to do something terrible. So I left a trail of tiny pebbles behind us. If we can find the pebbles, we can follow them home. Then we will be safe.”
I remembered a little bit about the story of Hansel and Gretel. Enough to know that he and his sister were far from safe. The strange part was–I didn’t see the real Gretel anywhere. I didn’t understand how Hansel could think I was his sister. Even in the moonlight, he had to see my brown hair and green eyes. Nothing like his own. And my clothes were so different. I glanced down at my sweatshirt and jeans, only to find that I was no longer dressed like myself. Instead, I was wearing a faded dress with tiny red and yellow flowers. And in place of my sneakers–red buckle shoes!
Before I could begin to make sense of my strange new attire, I heard a sound. An eerie howling. It was returned by a chorus of other howls. I didn’t have to ask what that meant. I was in a fairy tale. It had to be wolves.
I wasn’t going to wait to meet Little Red Riding Hood.
“Okay, Hansel,” I whispered. “Let’s find that path of pebbles.”
Hi – it’s me, Kate. I’m back again to tell you more about my adventures in fairy tales. I bought a book of fairy tales from a mysterious woman who told me the book would take me on a magical journey, but only if I truly believed.
When I got home, I opened the dusty old book. I began reading the first story. Hansel and Gretel. As I began reading the words to myself, I wondered if something magical would happen to me. I didn’t really believe in magic, but something about the book with its tattered pages and the old woman with the purple eyes had made me curious.
I read the first few sentences.
Absolutely nothing happened. Nothing at all. It was just an ordinary book, I thought, with a bit of disappointment.
Then I recalled that the magic would only work if I truly believed. I took a deep breath. And told myself to believe. To believe in the impossible. I closed my eyes. Imagined a world of magic. A world where animals could speak, and I could fly.
I opened my eyes and began reading the words once again. “Once upon a time, in a land far, far away. Lived a boy named Hansel and his sister, Gretel.” Suddenly, I was plunged into darkness.
I could hear someone speaking. The words echoing as though in a cave. “We are lost, Gretel. Hopelessly lost.” I felt like I was floating between worlds. Adrift in the pages of a book. Fluttering through space and time.
And then my feet touched ground. The moon broke through the clouds, and I could see a boy in front of me. He was tall and blonde. And he spoke with a strange accent I didn’t recognize. But the strangest thing of all–he was calling me “Gretel.”