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*Some of this was posted on the PonyTails Book Reviews Blog*

First let me apologize for the radio silence.  The past few months have been more than a little trying.  Shortly after my last post, my work had me working an insane amount of hours as we prepared for the holiday season.  Then I got sick.

Of course with me, it is never as simple as getting a cold or flu.  I thought I got the crud that everyone else had at work, but within 36 hours I was in the emergency room with a massive kidney infection.  Since November 16th, I have been in and out of the hospital 6 (or 7) times.  The first two times were for treating the kidney infection.  After the second stay, I went home with a long term iv catheter (called a PICC line).  6 days later, I was back at the hospital because my arm was swollen and hurt to move.  I ended up with blood clots in the arm because of the PICC line.  Because of the dangers and pain associated with the clots, I have been in and out of the hospital since.  My most recent stay was last week.

In the next week or so, I’m hoping to start doing my Tantalizing Thursday and Friday 56 posts again.  In January, I did start writing with the Daily Picspiration blog again.  My posts go live every other Thursday.  I hope you will go over and read all of the wonderful entries by some very talented authors.

Thank you for your support and patience.

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Banned Books Week 2012

Happy Banned Book Week 2012!!! This week is a week to celebrate books that have been banned for some reason or another. Reasons cover everything from sexuality, witchcraft/magic, drugs, being too scary, political topics, violence, and foul language (or language which was correct at the time but is now considered offensive).

Click on the title of any of the books listed and it will take you to either Amazon or Project Gutenberg where you can download the ebooks.

It is believed that over 300 books were banned by schools, libraries, and other outlets during 2011. Some of those books include the following:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was challenged and banned because it was anti-family, insensitive, contains offensive language and occult/satanic ideas, and violence. I think I missed all of that when I read it.

My Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy (Concept Book) by Dori Hillestad Butler is a children’s book written to help children understand what it means when mom is expecting. It was banned because someone deemed the topic to be unsuitable for the age group. *eye roll*

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer was banned in many locations because of religious reasons and being sexually explicit. I find this baffling because this book does not discuss religion, and there is definitely nothing sexual about it. It’s an angsty teen novel.

There are many classics who have been on banned lists for 50 years or more. Everyday a classic is challenged or banned. Most of the reasons these books are banned now is because of language that was common at the time the book was written is now considered offensive. Some of the books that fit in this category include:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was first published in 1884 and first banned in 1885. Over 120 years later, the book still being banned however the reasons have changed. Originally it was banned because people thought it was a poorly written book. Now it is being banned because of the frequent use of the word “nigger”, along with being considered racist.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell proves that being a Pulitzer-prize winning novel does not keep it safe from censorship. It has been banned because of its realistic views of slavery and the use of the words “nigger” and “darkies”.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe has been banned for all of the same reasons as the previous two.

The following books were banned for various reasons, including violence and sexual content.

The Call Of The Wild by Jack London was banned because of it is considered too dark and violent. This book was burned in Nazi bonfires in the 1920’s and 1930’s because it was considered “too radical”. Personally, I loved this book as a pre-teen. I never considered it overly violent. It takes place in the lawless Alaskan wilderness, so the violence always made sense to me.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has been banned for promoting drug use (The Caterpillar and his pipe), and references to masturbation and sexual fantasies. Maybe I was too young when I read this book, but I don’t remember the masturbation and sexual fantasies. Might need to re-read this one….

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is another award winning book that has been banned. This time not for language, violence, or sexual content. It was banned in a Kansas school district because the parents decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural. They also felt that the spider’s death was not age appropriate. A school in England banned the book because it could potentially offend Muslim families because it featured a pig.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien has a long list of why it has been banned. Just a few reasons include: lack of religion, pipe smoking, being satanic, and promoting witchcraft. J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and in many interviews stated that Middle Earth was a reflection of Christian values and morals. Who knows, I never got the Christianity message from this book. I loved it for being an epic fantasy.

Fiction books are not the only things to be banned. Here are some religious texts and non-fiction books that have been banned.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary have been banned because they have definitions for oral sex, sex, penis, vagina, and other dirty words. Oh, no! We can’t have these books in schools because they might encourage a child to have sex!

The Holy Qur’an and The Holy Bible both have been banned for various reasons. The Soviet Union banned many religious texts as being “socially deviant”. These books have been banned for violence, sexual content, and for endangering a community’s religious status quo.

All of the books mentioned in the post, challenged and banned because one person was offended by the book and managed to convince others to be as well. Banning books is a violation of our First Amendment Right to freedom of speech and freedom of press. There are no exceptions to that law. While parents have the right to guide their own children’s reading, it does not extend to other people’s children. Nor should one adult’s touchy sensibilities dictate what other adults should read.

Remember, being offended is a choice. It is not a natural state of being. We are brainwashed from a young age about what things we should be offended by. It is time to break from that brainwashing, and expand our horizons by reading banned books.

“He unfolded the stock, making the thing look even nastier.”

About the Friday 56

  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
  • Post a link along with your post back to this blog. (And just for me, please post in comments a link to your Friday 56 post.)
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I Own The Dawn is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

I was tagged in a Writer’s Meme a few days ago by the current moderator of #5MinuteFiction, Nicole Wolverton. So, let’s give this a wurl.

The rules:

  1. Answer the ten TNBT questions listed below about your current WIP.
  2. Tag five other writers and link to their blogs so we can hop over and read their answers

My Challenge Answers:

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

I actually have more than one WIP going. But my primary one is THE PRODIGAL COWBOY. My other ones don’t have titles yet.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

This plot bunny has been dancing around in my brain for years. But I finally decided to start writing the story for a NaNoWriMo Challenge. I also worked on it for Fictionista’s Writer’s Collective. But it’s still not finished.

3. What genre would your book fall under?

Contemporary Western Romance. Bring on the wrangler butts!

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm…. Let’s see… How about this one first?

Okay! I’m kidding!! Actually I don’t have a clue on who I would want for my main characters. But for a couple of my secondary characters I would love to have a young Keifer Sutherland, Tom Selleck, and Sam Elliot.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ten years on the rodeo circuit made Quinn Morgan a National Champion, but it didn’t erase the sting of Tori Richards rejecting his marriage proposal. Now he’s back in town, ready to rope the talented horse trainer in hopes of a second chance.

6. Is your book published or represented?

No. I need to finish it first.

7. How long did it take you to write?

It’s a work-in-progress. A long progress. I started it in November of 2010. I’m sitting at around 62,000 words and would like it to get to 80,000. I just need to work on it rather than the shiny new ones dancing in my head.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to?

Let’s see…. THAT SAME OLD FEELING by Judith Duncan, COWBOY FEVER by Joanne Kennedy, and ones by Beth Williamson/Emma Lang, Lorelei James, Linda Lael Miller, just to name a few Contemporary Western Romance writers.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

The initial inspiration came from reading Judith Duncan’s THAT SAME OLD FEELING. But the authors who have inspired me are the ones who have been my cheering squad, Seleste de Laney, Joanne Kennedy, and others. Without them and their words of encouragement and wisdom, my WIP would not be where it is now.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book.

It has cowboys, sex, and rodeo. What else could you want in a book?? 😀

These are the five writers I‘m tagging, whom I interact with online:

In honor of the Military Romance novels I’ve been reading this week (and the wonderful men who protect our country), here are some sexy military guys for you!

Can’t have a Military Edition without Iceman!

I loved this book! Look for my review on PonyTails Book Reviews in the next week.

“He closed the distance between them and stopped outside the tiled rim of the shower stall, willing her to look at him.”

About the Friday 56

  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
  • Post a link along with your post back to this blog. (And just for me, please post in comments a link to your Friday 56 post.)
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Originally Posted: August 2, 2011

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Bronwyn’s Choice: Picture 2

New Beginnings, Part 2

After leaving the house, Aimee walked across the barnyard to the hidden wooden stairs that lead to the road where she parked her car. The stairs meandered up the side of the hill, through the dense forest that surrounded her grandfather’s farm. As she walked, her thoughts kept returning to Adam. He wasn’t like the other cowboys she knew. He was quiet and caring, especially to a complete stranger.

Adam was taller than Travis. With Adam, she had to look up at him, while Travis was her height. Adam’s dark blond hair brushed his shoulders and his hands were calloused for hours of hard labor. Travis would never be caught with long hair or rough hands, he was a metro-sexual to the core. Aimee shook her head. Until Travis, she had never gone for the clean cut city boy, having always preferred guys like her daddy, ones who didn’t mind getting dirty or spending time outside. Guys who loved animals and camping.

But Travis swept her off her feet the first time she met him at a singles bar in Los Angeles. He was so charming and sweet. She hadn’t dated in a few years when they met and was easily taken in by his Casanova personality. After two years of dating, he finally proposed. Instead of the tears she always imagined she would shed, Aimee had just stared at him in shock. It was at that moment that she realized that she really didn’t love him. They had a comfortable life together, sharing a cute little downtown flat, but she didn’t want that kind of life forever. She was a country girl at heart.

Aimee stopped on the stairs and looked down the hill toward her grandfather’s farm. She shook her head; it was Adam’s now. She wanted to go back down that hill to see what would happen between them, but she also knew that it wouldn’t be fair to Adam or Travis if she did. After a long look down the hill, she turned and continued to her car.

Once in her car, she grabbed her cell from the glove box. She had needed time alone, and Travis had been calling her non-stop since she left the restaurant, telling him she needed to think about his proposal. She pushed the on button and while she waited for the phone to boot up, she looked out the window at the wooded area, remembering the time she spent there as a child.

Aimee and her parents had lived with her grandparents. Her dad helped grandpa run the ranch while mom and grandma ran the house. Mom would also make quilts that were sold at a local gift shop. Life was wonderful and full of love. Until the night Aimee’s mom died.

Aimee’s parents went for their weekly horse back ride and picnic. Grandpa had asked them that morning not to go because he had a bad feeling. Usually her parents would listen to grandpa’s worries, but not that day. They couldn’t wait to be alone for a few hours. The day was like any other; Aimee helped her grandma around the house and then went to the barn to take care of her pony that her grandpa had given her. As the sun started to set, Aimee watched grandpa pace the barn yard waiting for her parents to come home. She was awakened by the commotion in the barn yard when they got back. Her dad carried her mom to their car. Aimee could remember the blood on her mom’s face and grandpa yelling her dad. Then her dad sped in to the night, taking her mom to the hospital. Aimee never saw her mom again, and shortly after the funeral, her dad and grandpa had a fight. That was when they left the farm.

For a few years after that, Aimee would go the farm to visit her grandparents during the summer for a few weeks, but it was never the same. Then after her grandma died, she never went to the farm again — until today. It had been fifteen years since she last saw the farm.

The buzzing of her phone pulled her out of her thoughts. She looked at the screen to see ten missed calls and just as many messages. Scrolling through the list, she discovered that not all of the calls were from Travis — a couple were from her best friend, Penny. Aimee hit play on Penny’s first message, avoiding the calls from Travis. Penny’s voice filled the cabin of the car.

“Hey, sweetie. Travis just called me looking for you. I told him that I talked to you but didn’t know where you were. He is really worried about you. Where are you, and why didn’t you tell me that he proposed? Call me as soon as you get this message.” Aimee had called Penny to let her know that she would be out of touch for a few days, but never told her friend why. Aimee deleted the message and played the next one from Penny.

“It’s been over twelve hours since I left my last message. You better be dead in a ditch for making me worry about you and deal with Travis. Call me!” Laughing at Penny’s message, Aimee hit delete and dialed Penny’s number.

“About damn time you called me!” Penny’s anxious voice answered on the first ring. “Where are you?”

“I’m safe and near my grandparents old farm,” Aimee told her.

“You drove to Northern Colorado by yourself?” Penny asked. “Are you crazy? That is a sixteen hour drive from here.” Aimee knew very well how long the drive from Southern California to Colorado was.

“I needed time to think, and I didn’t really know where I was driving to until I got here. I’m going to head into town and get a room at the bed and breakfast. I’ll head home tomorrow or the day after,” Aimee told Penny, feeling bad that she had worried her friend.

“Do you need me to come and be with you?”

“No, Penny, I’m fine. I just need to get my priorities straight. I’ll call you tomorrow once I know what I’m going to do.”

“You better. If you don’t, I’m coming out there,” Penny told her fervently. “You are like my sister, Aimee. I don’t want you doing anything stupid.”

“I promise I won’t, Penny. I’ll talk to you in a couple of days.” After a brief goodbye, Aimee hung up her phone and stared at the display. Deciding to call Travis after she checked in to the bed and breakfast, she placed the phone the passenger seat. Aimee started up her car, did a u-turn, and followed the road into town.

Like many of the Colorado mountain towns, Rockton Falls was small with a one main road through the center of town — at one end was the grocery store and the other was the feed store. Sprinkled through the middle were the town bar, a small restaurant, an old Victorian style house that was now a bed and breakfast, and a few small gift shops for visiting tourists. Aimee parked her car in front of the house and sat for a few moments before grabbing her purse and heading inside.

Twenty minutes later, she sat on her bed drying her hair, watching her phone as it rang. It was Travis again. She still wasn’t ready to listen to his messages or talk to him. She turned off the phone and set it on the night stand. Deciding that she needed to buy some new clothes and food, she put on the clothes she had been wearing and headed to the small clothing store next door.

Originally Posted: July 26, 2011

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Bronwyn’s Choice: Picture 1

New Beginnings

She is the most beautiful creature, Adam thought as he watched her through his camera lens. He was working in the barn when she walked through his property to the lake. Not believing that a beauty like her had actually existed, Adam grabbed his camera before following her. Now he watched as she stood next to the lake in her red satin dress.

“I know you’re back there,” she said in her slightly husky voice, as she lifted a foot toward the water. Startled, Adam nearly dropped his camera. “You can come out of hiding.”

Adam stood slowly, came around the tree, and stood at the head of the dock to watch her. “Why are you out here?” he asked softly.

“I needed to think.” She turned toward him and gave him a sad smile. “When my grandparents used to own this property, I would come out here when something bothered me.” Adam was surprised to learn that old Mr. Johnson had family. When the whole time Adam worked for Mr. Johnson, no family ever came to visit.

“I didn’t know that Mr. Johnson had family.”

“Grandpa blamed dad for mom’s death, so we were never allowed to come for visits.” She walked toward him and suddenly held out her hand. “I’m Aimee.”

“I’m Adam.” He carefully enfolded her small hand in his, marveling at the softness of her skin. “Would you like to come up to the house? It’s a little warmer than out here and I can put on a pot of coffee.”

“I’d like that” She shifted her hand in his to wrap her finger around his palm. He looked down at their joined hands, surprised at her trust in him. Adam gently squeezed her hand before leading her toward the house.

When they arrived at the old house, he lead her to the back door. After releasing her hand, he opened the door and held it for her. He followed her in, pausing long enough to remove his dirty boots. The back door opened in to the kitchen. He walked over the sink to wash his hands before starting the coffee. Aimee sat down at the small table that was covered with a red and white checker table cloth.

“I remember when my grandmother bought this table cloth. Grandpa hated it,” Aimee said. Adam turned to look at her. She had that small sad smile on her face again as she fingered the cloth. “How did you know my grandparents?”

“I didn’t know your grandmother. She was already gone when I started working here.” Adam turned back to the coffee pot. Once he finished filling it with water, he leaned against the counter watching her. “I needed a job after I graduated from college and Mr. Johnson was looking for a capable young man to help run his ranch.” Adam shrugged.

“How long have you been out here?”

“Almost six years.” Adam turned and grabbed two mugs from the dishwasher before pouring the coffee. “When Mr. Johnson got sick, he told me that he decided to transfer the deed of the property to me. When I asked about family, he said that he didn’t have any.” He set a mug in front of her before grabbing the milk and sugar.

“Grandpa must have liked you. He gave you his ranch.” She reached over the sugar and carefully added two tablespoons to her coffee. “I didn’t see any cattle when I got here. Did you get rid of them?” Adam sat across from her.

“Cattle has never been my interest. So with your grandfather’s blessing, we sold off the cattle and started buying Quarter Horses. I breed and train foundation stock now.” He took a drink of his un-doctored coffee. The warmth moving through his system. His eyes moved over her, taking in her small elfin face with it’s upturned nose and full lips. Her dark auburn hair tumbled over her shoulders, under her Debbie Gibson type hat. Up close she was even more beautiful than when she stood on the dock. “What did you need to come out here to think about?”

He could have kicked himself when the question left his lips. Only you would be so rude and blunt, Adam, he scolded himself. “I’m sorry, that was a very rude and personal question,” he said quietly, looking down at the checkered table cloth. Her hand came in to view as it grasped his. He turned his hand over and wrapped his fingers around her hand before looking up at her.

“I understand. I’m trespassing on your property.” Aimee gently squeezed his hand before pulling her hand back. “I’m trying to decide what to do with myself. Last night the guy I’ve been seeing for a while asked me to marry him.” She took a drink of her coffee. “Instead of telling him yes, I told him that I needed time. Then I left him at the restaurant and drove through the night. Next thing I knew, I was here.”

“Don’t you love him?” Adam asked, standing to refill his coffee.

“I thought I did, but when he asked me to marry him, I wasn’t so sure. So, I left.” She started tracing her finger over the table cloth. “We’re compatible and we have been together for almost two years.” Adam sat down again, watching her.

“But there is no passion,” he said before taking another drink of his coffee. She looked up at him startled.

“There is no passion.” She sighed. “I want someone who can’t wait to see me. Someone who calls me during the day because he misses me. But I guess that isn’t meant for me.”

“You are young. You still have plenty of time to find that,” Adam said, trying to comfort her.

“I’m not that young, Adam,” she said, as tears wheeled up in her eyes. “What if I can’t find that kind of love? What if I tell Travis no and never find another man who wants to marry me?” Adam stood and went to her side of the table and pulled her in to his arms. He tucked her head under his chin and held her. He laid his cheek against the top of her head, taking in the apple scent of her shampoo. After a while, she pulled back. He looked down at her tear streaked face.

“There is plenty of men who would want to be with you, Aimee,” he whispered as he cupped her face in his hands. He ran his thumbs over her cheeks, gently wiping away her tears. He slowly bent down, giving her a chance to pull away before he took her lips in a soft kiss.

Adam nibbled at her lips, convinced they were softer than her delicate hands. Wanting to taste more of her, he stroked his tongue along the seam of her lips. On a soft sigh, she parted them, inviting him in. His tongue swept over hers, absorbing the taste of coffee and woman. With a groan he pulled her against his body as he deepened the kiss. Her hands clutched his shoulders. A few intense moments later, he pulled back and leaned his forehead against hers, trying to catch his breath.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that,” Adam whispered. Aimee’s hands moved from his shoulders, down his arms to encircle his wrists. The caress made him shiver and hard with need.

“No apology necessary, Adam.” She reached up and placed a kiss on his lips. “But I do need to head home.” With a sigh, Adam took a step back and look down at her. Her swollen lips made her even more beautiful.

“Will I get to see you again?” Adam asked. Aimee pulled away and went to the counter where she grabbed the note pad by the phone and wrote down her phone number and email address.

“I sure hope so,” she said as she handed him the paper. She gave him a kiss on the cheek before walking out the back door.

Adam looked at the note with her information on it for a few moments. Oh, he will be seeing more of her. He would guarantee it.

Originally Posted: July 19, 2011

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Bronwyn’s Choice: Picture 2

Conversation With A Blue Bird

“Mr. Blue Bird, why are you on the cold ground so early in the spring?”

“I’m looking for dried bits of grass and branches to take to my Lady Blue Bird to build our nest.”

“Why dried grass? Aren’t you worried about it going limp during the last season snows?”

“With the grass I can weave a dense nest that will protect our eggs. The branches help add structure. But I wish I could take my Lady some animal hair to add warmth to the nest.”

“Would my hair work?”

“I need a lot of it to make the nest nice and warm.”

“I’ll cut off a couple inches for you and leave it here on the porch for you.”

“That is mighty kind of you. My Lady Blue Bird will be very happy with the contribution. I will look for it tomorrow. I must go check on my Lady.”

“Goodbye Mr Blue Bird and good luck on raising your family.”

Originally Posted: July 05, 2011

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Bronwyn’s Choice: both

Dreams Are Forever

Since I was eight, I’ve held the same dream close to my heart. Most people would think that a young girl would only dream about their perfect wedding. Plenty of my classmates would hold “weddings” on the playground, but that has never been my biggest dream. What could trump a little girl’s tendency to fantasize about their future wedding? For me it is horses.

When I was eight, I started working for a horse trainer. I knew then, I wanted to have my own horse training center. But it wasn’t going to be any old training center. It would be on land that bordered places where the wild mustangs lived. I wanted to be able to ride my horse to the edge of my property and watch the mustangs. Or even better, the mustangs would come on to the property and wander near the house.

Twenty-five years later, I still hold on to that dream with a death grip. The years between eight and twenty, it is so easy to believe that you will fulfill that dream you always had. Everyone is encouraging and keep saying “You can do it!”. What they never tell you is how to achieve that dream. No one ever gives you a road map. No one puts you on a yellow brick road to that dream. I discovered when I was twenty that I had no idea, and no income to make my dream a reality once I graduated from college with my degree in Equine Science.

I graduated from college with my shiny Bachelor’s of Science degree and no horse job. Over the past eight years, I have been floundering around. For a short time, I gave up on my dream, until I met an amazing man named Pat Parelli. He reminded me why I wanted to work with horses. But even after that meeting, I’ve been treading water, not really attempting to fulfill my dream. I keep giving myself excuses.

At least until today. Today, I was gifted with a big surprise. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, but for some reason my mom waited until now to tell me that grandma set up an account in my name that she put money in regularly. Grandma told my mom that it was money to help me achieve my dream. But do I use it for that or do I use the money to pay off my school loans and other bills. After getting the call from my mom, I called my friend, Melissa, to see if she wanted to meet for lunch.

We decided to meet at a local Chinese restaurant. As always, we had a wonderful chat. Then I told her about the money from my grandma.

“You’re opening your training center.” Melissa stated. We have been best friends since eighth grade. She was the only person I ever showed my drawings of my dream barn. Even more than my husband, she knew how much my dream meant to me.

“I don’t know. I think I should use the money for my bills.” I saw her roll her eyes. “You know, be a responsible adult.”

“But that is not what the money was set aside for.” Melissa reached across the table and laid her hand on mine. “This is your chance to make Outlaw Farm a reality.” She pulled back her hand and tossed a fortune cookie at me. “Now open that and let’s see if Confucius agrees with me.”

I shook my head and opened the plastic wrap around the cookie. I was suddenly overwhelmed with trepidation. What if the cookie didn’t offer any advice.

Get a grip, Amanda. I told myself. It’s just a stupid cookie.

I gently broke the cookie in half and pulled out the slip of paper. I didn’t look at it, but held it up for Melissa to read. “What does it say?” I asked her.

“Oh my.” She said after reading the paper. “If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what one looks like.”

“What does it say?”

“It says ‘Don’t be pushed by your problems. But led by your dreams’.”

Melissa smiled. “In bed.”

I rolled my eyes at her addition to the fortune. It’s a game we’d been playing since we first met. “Amanda, it says that you should use that money from your grandma to open Outlaw Farm.”

Not entirely convinced, I shoved the piece of paper in to my pocket. I still needed to talk to my husband about the news and we would decide together what to do. After lunch, Melissa and I went our separate ways. Melissa had to head back to work. On my way back home, I drove by the large property where I always wanted to put Outlaw Farm. I stopped on the side of the road and just looked at the property.

It had a large barn, a cute ranch style house, an outdoor arena, and plenty of large oak trees to provide shade. It had been abandoned for a few years and needed some work, but it would be great for a small training center. As I sat there, I could imagine the horses in the paddocks and people riding in the arena. Just as I got ready to pull away, I saw a gray mare and her foal crest the small hill behind the house. As I watched, the two walked over to the house and started eating the grass under one of the big oak trees.

At that moment, I knew what to do. I would use the money from my grandmother to buy that property and open Outlaw Farm. Now, I just needed to tell my husband.