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Friday, February 23, 2018


Mara and I met at a mutual book signing at Equine Affaire, the largest horse-centric conference in the U.S. I quickly fell in love with her voice and her young adult stories, and invited her to be one of my panelists to dish on what makes a good horse book. Her books have captured hearts and received praise. Read on!

Why I Wrote This Book:

When I set out to write Stay the Distance, it was originally a stand-alone novel. Obviously it ballooned into a bit of a series! I'm on the third book of five planned novels about July Carter and her thoroughbreds, and with Derby Horse I finally have her in college, investigating what life outside the track is like and getting the college experience she's been wondering about for the past two books. I also get to write about dressage in some detail, which has been a fun change!

As always, Derby Horse and the rest of the Stay the Distance novels are about a girl's coming of age within the horse world and finding her place within it. What will she choose to do and how does she get there? What mistakes does she make? Who does she want to be, even? July is a complex character, and I really enjoy watching her navigate her options as she starts to settle into a decided path and I hope my readers do too.

College. July is going, and she can’t quite believe it yet. What’s more, she’s bringing Kali, who is on the verge of figuring out this dressage horse thing. With so many of her dreams coming true all at once, July is determined to have it all--juggling school, Kali, and the racehorses she loves. She’s even planning on having a life outside of the track, including plenty of invitations to Beck Delaney’s dorm room in Manhattan.

But as the road to the Kentucky Derby heats up, and Kali’s transition to school life gets off to a rocky start, July’s juggling act quickly becomes a circus. When Lighter upends all their careful planning, July isn’t sure she can add one more thing to her busy schedule.

July is running out of time, for Lighter, Kali, and herself.


Mara Dabrishus primarily writes young adult fiction about her first love–horses–although she's also been known to write speculative and paranormal fiction. Her stand-alone novel Finding Daylight was a semi-finalist for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award and her short stories have been recognized by Writer’s Digest and starred in Kirkus Reviews, as well as having won the Thoroughbred Times Fiction Contest.

When she's not writing, she's a librarian at a small college outside of Cleveland, Ohio. She lives with a husband, two ridiculous cats, and a tiny infant daughter.


Mara Dabrishus

Young Adult Author

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Friday, February 16, 2018


I met Heather in New York City while attending the EQUUS Film Festival. We clicked over our shared loves of horses, books, and writing. I found Heather bright and engaging with a fresh perspective on many issues that vex horse lovers. I think you'll find her take interesting as well.

1.) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes of course! If someone says otherwise they would be lying. For me I find that time is always working against me. There is always something else demanding my attention. I own two businesses, and am a full time mother and wife. Balancing my writing, photography, animal massage clients, and of course riding my horse does not leave much free time during the day. Once my children are home it’s full throttle ahead for activities and being “mommy”.
I’m lucky to be hyper organized and have a flexible schedule so I try to write at least a few hours a day. It’s a good thing I’ve learned to tune others out because there isn’t a lot of quiet in my house.
That being said, I would love to have a Time Turner because the days go by faster than I would like. I just never seem to get as much done as I want to! I’m pretty sure most working parents feel the same way.

2.) What do your fans mean to you?
I’m still a new author having published only one book, and working on my second. Fans and readers are everything to an author, and especially to me. I spent my life writing stories but being too afraid to share them for fear they wouldn’t be good enough. Fear of rejection can be a powerful thing. My first blog post I was nauseated and only comforted by the thought that perhaps no one would read it. But of course I feared that as well. The same goes for my books.
To have someone buy my book is amazing. But to have them go out of their way to write an Amazon review or to tell me how much it made them laugh or relate? That’s priceless. We live in a world where everyone is accessible. Social media and the internet can have a way of bringing people together and making the world seem small. To focus on the positive and tell an author their writing means something? There is no greater compliment. All writers know that words matter. So for all you fans out there- thank you.

3.) Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I honestly couldn’t tell you about the first story I ever read. But it must have been amazing because I’m a lifelong reader and have been since my earliest memories. To this day I love getting lost into the world contained in books.  To read the words on the page is one thing. But to become part of the story? Visualizing it in your own head. Writing is a symbiotic partnership between author and reader. One cannot exist without the other. And each reader may learn something new or create something different in their minds from another reader of the same text. That, is the truest form of magic.

4.) What motivated you to become an indie author?
Confession: I am a bit of a control freak. While I love the idea of working with a publisher, I have a clear picture of how I want my books to look and feel. Self publishing really called to me because while there is a learning curve, I have complete creative control. Yes, there are limitations such as access to professionals with experience in design and marketing, but the mistakes are mine and mine alone as are the successes.
Now that is not to say I would never consider working with a publishing company. I’d like to experience that first hand as well. But knowing that I’ve created something from start to finish gives me a sense of immense satisfaction.

5.) How did you come up with the idea for your book?
First hand experience! As a horse crazy girl I would find it crazy when other equestrians would cancel their lessons last minute. After all, I was always looking for more time in the saddle. I decided to write a blog post for Bridle & Bone about all the crazy excuses we tell ourselves and our trainers for why we can’t ride. I asked my fellow equestrians on social media for some excuses they had used and the responses absolutely poured in. Each was funnier than the last. So I decided to turn it into a short and sassy book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses. To my surprise and excitement it became a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival!
I’m working on my next book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, to be published later this year. It’s based on the most popular series of my blog which serves as a personal diary of sorts. You see, I’m a returning adult equestrian with a lot of self-deprecation and fear of injuring myself in front of my children. I’m extremely hard on myself and think way too much. But my passion for horses is greater than my fear and I keep pushing myself. Make sure to stay tuned for it’s publication. It’s for every woman who was afraid to do something but didn’t let that stop her.

6.) Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
Often I find story ideas come to me while I’m doing something like driving the car, or riding my horse. Then I can’t think of anything else until I get it down in writing! Last night I woke up with a great opening line for a freelance article I’m working on. It’s like a little voice in my head that won’t stop talking until I start writing. Is that normal? Probably not, but I’d like to think it’s inspiration rather than something more alarming.

7.) Where is your favorite place to write?
I absolutely cannot write at my desk. I try and it’s just so uncomfortable. So often I will find myself writing on my sofa, with my two rescue dogs trying to use me for a pillow. It’s so much more comfortable even if sometimes I have to move a furry head off my laptop keyboard.

8.) Tell us about your horse(s) and how horses influence your writing.
This is such a loaded question! It’s taken me 40 years to have my own horse. Much of my writing the last year has been about my burning desire to have my own horse and the connection that I dreamed of having. As of January this year I now have Ferrous in my life. He’s an 11 year old Welsh pony cross and he’s basically that much sought after unicorn. At 14.2hh not only can I ride him but so can all three of my daughters. He’s quiet and forgiving enough to walk/trot with 6 year olds and athletic enough to go into a frame and jump with me. He’s not hard to look at either, being a red roan and full of personality.
Going forward with my writing I expect my passion will remain. But now rather than taking care of horses that are not mine, I have first-hand knowledge of horse ownership myself. I’m sure this will give me a lot more experience and perspective that I can use in my writing. More, I hope that having my own horse will help inspire more confidence in the saddle.


Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT),  Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. An overachiever by nature, Heather is always seeking to learn more to help animals of all kinds. As the writer and photographer for her blog, Bridle & Bone, Heather is working diligently to reveal to the world the benefits natural therapies for animals.  Heather has written for a number of publications including Sidelines Magazine, Holistic Horse Magazine, Good Dog Magazine, and Equine Info Exchange. Her first book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses was a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival and she is busy working on her second book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, due to be published in 2018. 

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BIO: Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT),  Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist. An overachiever by nature, Heather is always seeking to learn more to help animals of all kinds. As the writer and photographer for her blog, Bridle & Bone Heather is working diligently to reveal to the world the benefits natural therapies for animals.  Heather has written for a number of publications including Holistic Horse Magazine, Good Dog Magazine, and Equine Info Exchange. Her first book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses was a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival and she is busy working on her second book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, due to be published in 2018. You can follow her on social media @bridleandbone or at

Friday, February 9, 2018


I "met" Keenan because we share the pages of SNOWBOUND: Best New England Crime Stories anthology published by Level Best. Her story, the Banshee of North Adams, struck a chord in my heart. Banshee is an Irish ghost, so I knew we shared an Irish connection. (Banshee was also the name of my first pony, but that's a story for another day.)

Level Best has expanded to publishing full length mysteries and I'm so thrilled that Keenan is among their first releases. It's a sign of success for both author and publisher to have quality on both sides of the publishing equation!

I know you'll love meeting Keenan and getting to know her stories.

Debut: Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell

Thanks for inviting me to Out of the Fog, Connie! I’m excited about the release of my debut, DEADLY SOLUTION, by Level Best on January 23, 2018 and the warm reception it is receiving.  

DEADLYSOLUTION a contemporary legal thriller set in Anchorage Alaska. The protagonist, Maeve Malloy, has recently opened a private criminal defense practice and is asked to take over a case of a homeless man accused of murder when the prior attorney commits suicide.

The book is the first in a series introducing Maeve and her investigator, Tom Sinclair. I was moved to write it when I trip across a little-known law, to wit: the medical examiner has the authority to declare the cause of death without doing an autopsy and to dispose of (cremate) the remains within seventy-two hours. So, who’s to say he’s right?

We often hear: “Write what you know.”  I, in fact, was a young female criminal defense attorney in private practice aided by one curmudgeon investigator who floated in and out of the office at will.  I write about what it’s like to be a female trial attorney in a man’s world, what it’s like to be in sole practice not knowing how you’re going to make next month’s rent, and what it’s like to believe desperately in your client’s case yet face the very strong possibility that justice will miscarry.

Less than a year after drinking sidelined her career as a public defender in Anchorage, Alaska, Maeve Malloy is asked to defend an Aleut Indian accused of beating another homeless man to death. With no witnesses to the crime and a client who claims to have no knowledge of the night of the murder due to a blackout, the case is stacked against them.

As Maeve works to maintain her sobriety, she and her investigator Tom Sinclair search for answers in homeless camps, roadside bars, and biker gang hangouts. When they uncover more than a few people with motives all their own for wanting the victim dead, they are determined to prove their client's innocence before he is sentenced to a life behind bars for a crime he swears he didn't commit.

When Maeve and Tom discover there may be a link to an unusually high number of deaths among the homeless community, the search is on for a killer hunting among the most vulnerable members of society.   

Find the book on Amazon 

About the author

Keenan Powell was born in Roswell, New Mexico, several years after certain out-of-towners visited. Her first artistic endeavor was drawing, which led to illustrating the original Dungeons and Dragons when still in high school.

A past winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, her publications include Criminal Law 101 in the June 2015 issue of The Writer magazine and several short stories. She writes the legal column, Ipso Facto, for the Guppies’ newsletter, First Draft, and blogs with the Mysteristas. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies.

She lives, and practices law, in Anchorage, Alaska. When not writing or lawyering, she can be found riding her bike, hanging out with her Irish Wolfhound, studying the concert harp, or dinking around with oil paints.

Visit Keenan at:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Russian House Guests

Twenty-five years ago I hosted two bankers from Russia to live in my home during an exchange program supported by the Boston bank I worked for. Oleg was a suave and savvy twenty-something from Moscow. Boris was a gray-haired fireplug of a man from Vladivostok. They were honored to be selected to come here to learn about the American banking system.
Their day life was filled with meetings and tours of banking back room operations of check clearing and reconciliation. Free time was dedicated to seeing Boston's historical sights. They joined my husband and me for dinner most nights. Great night life for Boris was glass of fine wine, thick steak, and a leisurely conversation with my husband--and yes, I felt the proverbial pat on my pert feminine head when I expressed an opinion to Boris or tried to enter said leisurely conversation. Hosting manners let his chauvinistic sleights roll off my back. Sure, my husband and I exchanged glances with a gentle reminder to Boris that American women are treated differently, but no one felt the need to wrestle anyone into submission if a point of view didn't change. Great night life for Oleg would have been spent at D.B.'s Golden Banana, a strip joint north of Boston, but, well, my hosting manners could only stretch so far.
With the recent news swirling around Russia, I find myself reflecting on our conversations and wondering if our shared experience provides any insight into current events. 
For Boris dismissing my involvement with the bank as anything more than a cute little tour guide (I was a Vice President), I chalked up his chauvinism to a generational and cultural divide. I got a kick out of his shock when, toward the end of his stay, he learned I hold a doctorate in law. Even with his limited English, his old world manners expressed respect for my accomplishments even as he viewed me as a anomaly. He witnessed my professional life as an accomplished investment and cash manager at my bank, and he saw my personal life as a working mom, engaged in my community, and in a marriage of mutual support. I could see him take in what being an American woman meant. I don't know what the lives of Vladivostok women look like, but I had the sense their lives were not as multi-faceted as the lives of American women.
My most vivid memory of Boris came when he wanted to buy a gift for his wife. I took him to the jewelers building in downtown Boston. He sized the diamond ring for his wife by placing the ring on his sausage-shaped thumb. I can only imagine the heft of a woman attached to hands that such a ring would fit. My stature with that jeweler was forever sealed when Boris pealed off a wad of hundreds to pay the ring and matching bracelet. 
But it was my interactions with Oleg that I think about the most these days. I remember him reading articles in the Wall Street Journal and asking questions about credit card fraud that populated the news then. I had the feeling my answers were logged away as more "how to" than "how to avoid."  He insisted on coming with me on errands to a grocery store and marveled at the lack of lines and the stocked shelves, so much so we had to stop at another to satisfy himself that my grocery store was not a fluke or a government-sponsored set up. He was impressed that a whole store was devoted to health and personal care, and we spent several hours one day at a local CVS while he and the pharmacist walked the aisles in search of pills and tonics for Oleg's extended family. At Boston's Filene's Basement, he bought multiple pairs of new underwear and immediately threw out his old.
I had a lot of fun with Oleg. We sailed on a friend's boat out of Gloucester Harbor. After scoring a pair of roller blades at a local flea market, he and I bladed around quiet neighborhood streets. I saw sailing, knick-knacks, and suburbs. He saw harbor patrols, police surveillance at the flea market, neighborhood watch signs and town police cruisers. He wondered why Americans felt so free when we were being watched so carefully.
So, what do these memories lead me to in light of recent events? American life has long been the envy of the world. I had the feeling that all those many years ago, my Russian guests had their noses pressed against the glass, peering inside our lives to see what life could hold. They loved their country and were fierce defenders of its government...but still...
What I come away with is that envy is a scary thing. If what I felt from my two guests could fairly be an insight into the mindset of a country, then a green-eyed monster is not to be ignored.

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on partisan attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice:
“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.
“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”