Jun 272018

By Patty Wilber

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CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11


Callie didn’t know how long she lay there with visions of herself lying low over Cloud’s neck as they pounded after the shiny black shadow that danced ahead of them. The two of them were about to capture the elusive stallion for the first time in history. Callie could see Jeff and Luis standing near the corral trap with their mouths drooping in the dust, and she could hear the amazed comments of the other ranchers. “A girl,” they were saying, “That learned to ride just this summer, and she caught him all alone!”

Callie hugged her pillow tightly until she could feel the goose down feather shafts poking her cheek. “If only I could GO!” she said to the pillow, punching it once. She mashed her eyelids together, wishing she would fall asleep, so everything would fade away. Then when she awoke, perhaps she would find that it had all been a bad dream.

“Or not,” she muttered.

There was a tap on the door, and Callie tried to ignore it, but it came again, louder. “It’s me, Jeff,” said a low voice. “Can I come in?”

Callie rolled over and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Yeah,” she said, with out much enthusiasm.

The door eased open and Jeff stepped in. His blue eyes were sparkling, and a grin hovered around the edges of his mouth, but his voice was solemn. “Dad wants you downstairs.”

“What for?”

Jeff shrugged and looked at the floor. The shadow of a grin threatened to break into reality.

Callie didn’t notice. Her thoughts were whirling like a dust devil, throwing ideas against the inside of her skull. “Do I get to go??? Don’t be stupid… But what does he want???”

Her thoughts tumbled over each other all the way to the kitchen door. She paused there and ordered her brain to be quiet. When she walked in, she wanted to at least appear calm.

Aunt Martha, sounding quite pleased with herself, said, “Have a seat.”

Nervousness made her legs feel like overcooked noodles and they could barely hold her up. Callie got to the nearest chair and sank onto its hard surface. Jeff stood in the doorway.

Nobody said a word for a full minute, and Callie nearly died right there, waiting. Finally, Uncle Bob spoke, and Callie heard his voice as if from a distance. “I know you really want to go on the round-up, Callie.” Callie swallowed and blinked hard, determined not to cry. “So I’ve talked it over with Jeff and Martha, and changed my mind. You can go.”

Callie looked back at Jeff. His smile was so wide that he looked like the Cheshire Cat. Then Callie looked at Aunt Martha, still unable to believe her ears. When Aunt Martha nodded ever so slightly, Callie sprang from the straight-backed chair, and hugged her uncle with the grip of a grizzly bear. “Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!” she cried.

“Whoa, young lady,” said Uncle Bob, peeling her arms from around him. “There’s still a catch.”

Callie barely heard his words. She was floating on happiness.

“I meant what I said about lack of experience, Callie,” Uncle Bob continued, and the serious note in his voice made Callie come down to earth and listen. “You have to be ground crew, which means feeding and watering the horses, and maybe even helping the cook a little. You’ll ride there and back, but that is all.”

“That’s it?” said Callie, beginning to float again. So she didn’t get to actually round-up. She’d be there, part of the dust, the sweat, and the excitement. “Fine. Great. SUPERB!” she said, engulfing Uncle Bob in another tremendous squeeze.

Then she turned to her aunt and said, “Thank-you.” Their eyes met for a moment, and Aunt Martha reached across the table to touch Callie’s arm. Aunt Martha squeezed gently.

Inside Callie an ember of warmth she’d left untended ever since her last day in Chicago, rekindled itself.

Callie jumped up and looked for Jeff and his grin. He was leaning against the doorway smiling at the tips of his boots, and Callie started toward him.

“One more thing, Callie.” Uncle Bob’s voice halted her, and she turned to face him. “You won’t be able to take Cloud.”

Callie looked back at him, frozen in place. “He did make it to the ridge and back,” she said.

“We may need a spare horse, and Cloud just doesn’t have the speed of younger animal.”

Callie had to agree with Uncle Bob, remembering how quickly Jeff and Punkin had caught Cloud the day they raced from the pond, so, she gathered her disappointment into a knot, and held it in her clenched fist. She willed her voice to be even, and asked, “Which horse will I ride, then?” There were only two to choose from.

Aunt Martha said, “I am going to stay home this year and write. In peace and quiet, for once.”

Callie looked open-mouthed at her aunt who said, “Well, I would have been here if you’d stayed, anyway. So, you can ride Flower.”

“I thought she was spooky!” Callie blurted and her voice held a trembling note.  She kicked herself mentally. “But, I think I can manage,” she said quickly.

“Well, O.K., then!” said Uncle Bob. ”Now why don’t you two go down and check on your tired horses.”

“And drop off the lettuce scraps with the rabbits, O.K.?”, added Aunt Martha.

Chapter 13

May 312018

By Patty Wilber

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapters 5 and 6


In a few weeks, Callie had become proficient at saddling and bridling. Her horsemanship improved tremendously, too, but her relationship with Jeff had not made much progress. They spent many hours together doing ranch chores, and a few times they had spent the afternoon with their only neighbors, Luis and Jose Romero.

“I want you two to go down to Green Springs Run,” said Uncle Bob over breakfast, “Check the water troughs and salt licks. It should be a nice ride for the two of you.”

Callie nodded. Uncle Bob and Callie had driven the pickup down there once before in the golden light just before dusk, and he’d showed her a bald eagle’s nest. It sat way up in a dead and gnarled cottonwood snag that stood above a small stream lined with tall green grass. The eagles weren’t there, but the green grass stood out in Callie’s mind like emeralds. New Mexico had an achingly blue sky, with muted greens and tawny brown land like the coat of a cougar, and it smelled dry in a sharp way that got into the back of her nose. The only places that were bright green were the few places where there was water.

“You two be back by lunch, so we can make a run into town,” said Aunt Martha, bringing Callie back to her half-finished Cheerios.  “I have to drop off a few things we don’t need any more at the Goodwill.”  She checked a list she’d written on the back of an envelope.  “I also need to get another flash drive, some food from the Farmer’s Market, and I thought you two could go to the library for a while.  So,” she finished.  “Don’t be home late!”

“No problem,” said Jeff, glancing at Callie so that she knew he was thinking she would be the slow poke.  She wolfed down the rest of her cereal, and got up from the table. “Meet you at the barn, Jeff.”

He nodded slightly, and took another leisurely bite of toast. HE didn’t need to hurry.

Continue reading »

May 102018

Callie’s Star

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 1

Chapter 2


They rode by the front of the house. Aunt Martha was on the porch, typing on her laptop computer.  She said, “Don’t forget to come back for lunch sometime before dinner!”

Jeff rolled his eyes.  “Corny, Mom!” he said.

Callie forced a smile, but in her mind she heard her mother’s voice saying, “Be careful, dear. Please be careful.” Her legs gripped Cloud tightly, but she remembered not to do that from her five riding lessons.  She felt a little awkward on Cloud, but also really excited!

They turned the horses and began down the graveled drive, followed by a lonesome howl. “Jake!” said Jeff. He turned Punkin on his haunches and trotted to the dog run. He shot a sideways glance over his shoulder at Callie as he leaned off the side of Punkin to fumbled with the latch. “C’mon boy. You’re going with us,” he said, more to Callie than to the dog.

Callie looked away and concentrated on the rocky hills in the distance as Jeff and Jake trotted past her. They went through an open wire gate onto a trail leading along an irrigated meadow toward the hills. Callie took a deep breath and followed, silently jouncing along behind Jeff, not yet finding the rhythm of the trot. She did remember to hold her elbows near her sides, to keep them from flapping like the wings of a bird. Jake ran back forth between them, smiling, but Callie, never having had a dog, did not recognize this expression, and thought he looked rather like a toothy wolf that hadn’t eaten in several days. His tongue was dripping.

All at once, Cloud stepped a little to the right just as Callie was jouncing left, and she had to grab the saddle horn to regain her balance. Jake was watching her carefully. Then Cloud took a funny step. And another.

Continue reading »

May 052018

Callie’s Star

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 1–In case one needs to catch up.


The first thing Callie saw when her eyes struggled open was a picture on the wall. It was her picture. Her very favorite picture. A bright bay mare had her muzzle buried in deep green grass, and her mini-me bay foal lay sleeping nearby in a patch of bright yellow and pink flowers. Callie rubbed her eyes and blinked.

A dog barked, and the unfamiliar tang of dry air and juniper filled her nose from the open window.  She remembered where she was. She untangled herself from the sheet, and went to her suitcase.  Tucked between two sweatshirts was her picture.  A perfect match to the one on the wall.  She stood hers on the dresser and hugged her arms around herself. Her stomach responded and let out a tremendous rumble.

Continue reading »

Feb 102015

by Doranna

c.alpha.rising.72Oh right.  It’s an author blog.  And occasionally books become available!  I should maybe mention that?

This month, the book is Alpha Rising Very cool cover.  Love the UK version even more!

(Except I’ve got to say…the back cover copy is NOT MY FAULT.  And it doesn’t reflect the book’s nature, or the hero’s nature.  I am so full of headdesk that I’ve actually had to clear surfaces.) Continue reading »

Nov 122014

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to submit a story to editor Becky Kyle for the anthology Tails from the Front Lines.  Hard to resist, when the proceeds are slated for donation to TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior).

Right.  Service dogs for our wounded, whether physically or emotionally or both.  So I was very happy when I got the word that Just Hanah would be part of the anthology.  And naturally I was curious as to how it all came about, so…I asked!  And discovered that I’m not the only one out there who’s still a hippy-era kid at heart…


I was a hippie-era kid. At twelve, I wanted to go to Woodstock. I protested Viet Nam. Every few months, we got word another soldier was gone. As I got into high school, my male classmates worried about what they’d do after graduation and if their number would be called.

Around that time, we stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I still stood, still held my hand over my heart, but I couldn’t speak a word of it. Most everyone had a friend, a family member, even a brother who’d done to war and didn’t come back.

Already, I felt like I was stuck in a dystopia.  I was sixteen and there had never been a time my country wasn’t at war.

The one thing I never did was blame the troops. None of them approved the Declaration of War or signed it. They just went to war when our country called them to.

Years later, when I was in Library School, I got involved with the Operation Paperback collections. From there, I started sending care packages to the troops as an extra Christmas present. In 2003, when a friend’s husband went to Iraq with only one pair of underwear and socks, we took up a collection to get him and his men the supplies they needed. It’s nothing heroic—it’s just saying thanks for an often thankless job.

A year ago, my phone rang. My husband answered it, covered the mouthpiece, and said:

“It’s Cindy, you should answer this.”

My heart fluttered. Cindy is an ER nurse in Indiana. She’s funny, good-hearted, and one of the most unflappable people I know.  When I got on the phone, Cindy was sobbing. It took a bit for her to calm down enough to be coherent.

The son of one of one of her fellow nurses, twenty-two years old and just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan two weeks before, had shot himself. What was worse was that his Dad’s firefighter company had been to the ones to transport him to the ER.

Every emergency worker who tended this young man as he died knew him. They watched him grow up. They cheered when he did well and they were all grateful when he came home safe and seemingly unharmed.

The only good that came of this tragedy was that the young man had signed an organ donation card. Doctors and nurses who knew him performed the last surgeries on him and sent the organs to new homes where they’d save lives.

By the time Cindy was done, I was sobbing.

Being a research nerd, I started looking into veteran suicides. What I didn’t know was that twenty-two soldiers killed themselves every day.

This was more than books and underwear. I had to do something.

I’d been reading about therapy dogs and how much they assisted soldiers with PTSD. An animal can get a soldier outside and into the world again without feeling alone. The presence of a dog can literally reduce their prescribed medicines by half.  I found TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior) online and was highly impressed that they got many of their dogs from shelters or used the warrior’s own pet to train.

It was sheer luck that I mentioned wanting to do something to the right person, Carol Hightshoe, publisher/editor at Wolfsinger Press. Carol was onboard quicker than I could have imagined. While I have served as part of the editorial staff for several venues, I never expected to have only my name on the masthead. Carol was wonderful to provide support and helpful hints whenever I needed them.

Tails from the Front Lines became available on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014. The anthology is comprised of twelve short stories written by well-known veteran authors to two first-time publications.  They cover everything from fantasy realms to the future. Best of all, proceeds will go to TADSAW to help provide soldiers with companions who will help them re-enter society and lessen their chances of falling into despair.

Tailsfromthefrontlinescover.144So yeah. Becky didn’t do it, but I’m going to.  The anthology is freshly available at Amazon (including a trade paperback version) and Nook.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the happies.  It’s cool to have the opportunity to help!

Sep 192014

By Patty Wilber

I spent three days at the New Mexico State Fair last week and never left the horse barn.

The Orange Cone Area is for loading and unloading only.  ( nailed a few cones when I drove in.  I didn't see them! I swear!

The Orange Cone Area is for loading and unloading only. (Nailed a few cones when I drove the trailer in. I didn’t see them! I swear!)

In my defense, by the time the horse stuff was done I was tired and the midway and main street and crowds just didn’t appeal!

Continue reading »

Aug 202014

So, hey! You may have seen signs of Donna Fasano across the Internets; she’s generous with time and knowledge to reader and writer alike. This interview came my way, and it’s a pleasure to share this peek into her brain!

(I’m not sure that came out just right. But here it is anyway!  Have fun!  And no peeking into MY brain.  Far too scary…) Continue reading »

May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

Apr 142014

by Doranna

Doranna & DuncanEvery once in a while I do guest and/or interview blogs elsewhere.  On the theory that not everyone here is there (and the other way around), I tend to post such things at Wordplay, too.  Hope it gives you grins!

(This particular interview first posted at Writers & Other Animals.)

Tell us a little about your background…

Oh, it’s complicated.  Start with one animal lover, determined to become a vet.  Life happens.  End up in Environmental Education, and then in a stunningly remote area of the Appalachian mountains.  Hand-built log cabin, a hundred acres…dogs, wood stove, and endless tromps in the woods together.  Enough people to generate lost and dumped dogs, not enough to have a shelter, so UPS would drop dogs off at our place for rescue.  And with the vet hours away, I found myself dealing with mange, broken bones, snakebite, varmint damage…even gunshot. Continue reading »