Ride a Pale Horse by Linnhe McCarron – Q&A

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Linnhe McCarron who is visiting with us to promote Book 4 in The Riverwood Series, Ride A Pale Horse. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a digital copy of the book.

What inspired you to start writing?

I found so many books disappointing and thought, “I can do at least well as THIS.

How long have you been writing?

I did some free-lance writing for The Chronicle of the Horse and Double Gun Journal in the mid 80s and started a novel then. Languished for years, unfinished, but when I started The Riverwood Series, I had those 32,000 words I hated to waste so I mentioned the character in Book 1, introduced her in Book 3 and built Book 3 with her as a main character. She continues to be a main character in Books 4-6.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

START! Don’t wait until you feel inspired or conditions are right. Just do it, and keep doing it. Find a writers group, either in person or online, and communicate with other writers. ASK QUESTIONS and get information about publishing and promoting. Find yourself a good critical reader. Invest in a program like Grammarly to identify and help you correct spacing-punctuation-grammar errors. Hire an editor. Hire a formatter. Hire a graphic artista because your cover is your opportunity to créate a good first impression.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

All the time. I don’t write in a linear fashion. I try to make each chapter about 3500 words and I shoot for 24 chapters so the manuscript will end up at about 80,000 words after revisions.

Describe your writing space.

I am so fortunate to have a pleasant, quiet room to myself with a window, a built’in desk and plenty of space for two printers, a scanner and a photocopier. The walls and ceiling are pine boards, there is an olive area rug, and two L-shaped daybeds with olive covers so it’s quite a cozy space.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I

can write for as little or long as I have time. Sometimes, it’s only 15 minutes or 150 words but it gives me something to build on the next time I sit down.

How do you do research for your books?

I use Google and Wikipedia for information, a thesaurus for synonyms, and Mapquest to determine routes, distances, and times.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I entered an ad in a competition sponsored by the National Association of Press Women and it came in third. I was so pleased! But then I called the organizer to ask how many entries there had been in my category and there was a loooong silence. She finally said, “Yours was the only one The judges withheld first and second place.” I had come in third in a class of three in the Dressage ring (dead last with a difficult off-the-track Thoroughbred who couldn’t or wouldn’t take a right lead)) so I was not unaccustomed to being third out of three but it was mortally embarrassing to come in third out of ONE! They had the audacity to ask if I planned to travel to Duluth (in February!) to accept my award.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser! I don’t work from an outline and don’t know where the plot is going until it develops.

Ebook or print? And why?

Both. Many readers, including myself, use a tablet which gives me the capability to increase the font size and to read in the dark. But some readers prefer holding a book in their hands. It’s easy enough to offer both formats.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

Yes. When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed at RAF Alconbury in England. During a trip to Scotland, I saw a directional sign for Loch Linnhe and thought, “OH! I like the look of that word.” I named my new Siamese cat Linnhe so that became my pen name when I needed one. I looked online for Scottish surnames for something to go with it.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

The standard advice is to write about what you know, so I did just that. I’m finishing a 6-book series where the main characters own Horse Country Real Estate (I worked as a realtor for a number of years), they have horses and they ride (I do), and they attract investors to underwrite the development of a planned equestrian community (I live in one).
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Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

England. I loved it when I lived there for a time, and have always felt an affinity for it.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Two. “Water seeks its own level” and “Leopards don’t change their spots.”

What is something that you absolutely can’t live without? (Other than family members)

I have not ever been without a Siamese cat for long. When I was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea, I bought a bluepoint Siamese kitten. My husband told me I could keep it until I left the country but then I’d have to “get rid of it.” He left three months before I did so I took him to the terminal to get on a transport back to the States and I drove out into the countryside (we had a Mercedes that hadn’t had a German part in 16 years; it changed hands every 11 months as Osan was a one-year tour and only the cars that were presently on base were grandfathered). I found a papa-san to make me a carrier out of wood and wire (a cat crate made by someone who had never actually seen one; it was quite a contraption). Then I cross-trained into Personnel so I could gain access to the computer that would allow me to code my own return to the States on a commercial flight from Seoul to Tokyo to Seattle instead of a transport back to Travis AFB in California; that way I could take the cat with me….which I did! The Riverwood Series is dedicated to Anhi, a little sealpoint who screamed her head off if I didn’t take her with me into my writing room.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

Oh, I tried that. My real estate partner said, “We should write a book; there’s SO much material!” I wrote Chapter 1 and gave it to her. She wrote chapter 2 and sent it back. That went on for 44 chapters and it was great fun because neither of us knew what twists the story would take. In the end, she said she didn’t have the stomach to try to get published so I stripped out her chapters, scoured the remaining material to ensure it was only my work that remained, wrote some transitions and submitted query letters to publishers. The Wild Rose Press requested the full manuscript and subsequently offered a contract. That became the first Book in The Riverwood Series, Fool Me Once. I wrote a sequel, A Bitter Wind Blows. And another, Signs of Life. And another, Ride A Pale Horse. The fifth book in the series, Far And Away, is due out in September and the sixth and final book, The Hand of Fate, is the current work in progress.

Favorite color?

Black which, technically, isn’t a color at all but the absence of color. I also wear a lot of khaki and olive. My mother once told me my clothes are so drab I could join the Israeli army and they wouldn’t even have to pay for uniforms. (ouch!)

Weather: Hot or cold?

Oh, cold…definitely. Lived in Maine for 15 years and Vermont for 10. I love wool and flannel and start getting very unhappy when the temp gets above 70.

When venture capitalist, Luc Deschaines’, daughter Stephanie is accepted by his Ivy League alma mater, the proud father arranges for her to spend her summer before college on the Round Top Ranch, one of his Texas investments. Where better for her to enjoy a few months of riding, swimming in the creek, and improving her Spanish language skills?

Luc has no qualms about leaving her in the care of the ranch’s manager and his large, close-knit family. Stephanie spends long days in the saddle on Elena Sauseda’s breathtaking blue roan mare. But then, as the days grow shorter and it’s time to leave for school, it all comes crashing down. Does Stephanie’s dream become her father’s nightmare? And what becomes of Silver Dollar, the beautiful pale horse? If she can’t be sold, can she be given away? If she can’t leave the ranch, does her new owner become a resident of the RTR?

About the Author:Linnhe McCarron is the pen name for Leslie Helm who lives in an equestrian community near Big South Fork National Park in Jamestown, Tennessee. Originally from Connecticut, she lived in Maine for 15 years and Vermont for 10 but she has had horses most of her life, wherever home might be. She rides gaited horses now, a black Tennessee Walker named Luc, and a buckskin McCurdy Plantation Horse called Jax.

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