New Release

Stuck on a Merry-Go-Round:  a book about Horses, High School, and Heartache

I am excited to announce a new series for teens. The Merry-Go-Round series features Anna, a New York City teen, who is transplanted by her mother to a small town in Minnesota. The e-book is on pre-order now. ASIN: B078PLDVYC Get it on Amazon/ click here

Anna’s mom would rather party than parent.

A street-savvy teen from New York City, Anna is exiled to live in a nowhere town with her uncle.

Feeling alone and rejected, Anna struggles to fit in with small-town kids. A new friend knows how to get things done, and together they tackle high-school head on.

Learning how to ride her neighbor’s horse changes everything for Anna, as she discovers a lifestyle that her mother once enjoyed. It also reveals the key to her mom’s sketchy past.

Dear Reader,

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Part of the book is a stroll down memory lane for me. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town in Minnesota where my family was able to have a few horses.

The inspiration for the book came from watching my father shoe horses. The book is really a tribute to him—his saddle is on the back cover. When I was in the seventh grade we moved from big-city, Minneapolis, to small-town Faribault. It was finally a move I could live with.

We had moved several times before and it was always traumatic for me. I wasn’t very good at making friends. But this time we would move to a hobby farm (my father was a farm boy) where we could have horses. I remember being filled with hope that this time I would be one of the cool kids.

I’m pretty sure I still wasn’t one of the cool kids—but it didn’t matter. I had a whole barnful of horses. (We boarded some for other people.) Dad, being frugal and used to doing things himself, paid for horseshoeing a few times, then he learned how to do it himself. The money-saving trick turned into a pretty steady business and he probably shoed most of the horses in Rice County and beyond for a while. He is definitely one of the cool dads.

Trail rides, veterinarians, even the old feed mill all are bits and pieces of my growing up years. Some of the characters in the book are real, and some are made up. Some of them are a blend of several different people (or horses), maybe even a bit of my self is blended in there.

Anna’s story isn’t mine. My mom is more like Isabella, staying home and baking cookies. The idea of a kid struggling with a parent’s addiction struggles comes from watching how kids are affected by this epidemic in our society. Not all of them react the way Anna did, but a friend of mine certainly shares many of her attributes. Sometimes I see this friend in Anna and sometimes I see her in CeCe.

If you see yourself in this book, maybe we met on a trail ride somewhere. I hope it brings back some of those pleasant memories for you as well.

The second book in this series is written but needs much editing. It should be out soon in early 2018. If you would like notification of its release please sign up on my webpage www.nancycupp.wordpress.com  or just drop me a note at nancy.aMuse@gmail.com .

Thanks for Reading,

Nancy Cupp

Ten Seconds in Time

Recently I was privileged to take part in an online writing course. One of the exercises was to write a description that lasts only ten seconds. The essay was to be 300-500 words long and should not include any interior thoughts of the characters involved.

I think describing only ten seconds of time in 300 words did a good job of making sure the description was very detailed. Try it for yourself, it’s a lot of fun. Here is what I came up with.

Under the Bluestem

Tall dry grass concealed a tiny grey speck of life. A field mouse rustling in the undergrowth for a ripe seed caught her attention and the tabby froze in mid-step. Every bit of the cat’s body was poised for the kill, even her hair lay in patterns designed to hide her.

The tiny rodent stopped short, even chewing stopped while he listened. Only mouse-sized heartbeat and respirations betrayed the dry grass tunnel beneath towering Bluestem and Aster.

Her delicate ears flattened slightly, as she sunk into a crouch. Her yellow eyes became almost entirely black as elongated pupils dilated to let in maximum light. Every muscle waited, taut with energy, to be released at the precise moment her prey dared to blink.

She sprang in a high-arching pounce. Nothing else existed for those moments in the air. Whiskers, ears, and tail were all held streamlined, so as not to slow or deviate her trajectory.

All of her weight, claws extended, bore down on a single spot, holding him tightly to the ground. Dagger teeth sunk into his back, snatching him off the ground. A whip of her head from side to side broke his neck.

She protectively tucked the prey under her chest, ears cocked to pick up the sound of any threat to her dinner. Her tail twitched and twisted, flattening the dry grass.

She rolled to her side, the mouse’s lifeless body limp in her front paws. Her hind feet curled around to kick it out of her grip, giving the opportunity to spring and catch it again.

Idea Finding

What’s holding you back from a writing career? Is it a lack of time? No skill? I doubt it. I think the thing that stops most folks from a writing career is that big white rectangle staring them in the face. A blank page. A blinking cursor.

Where do you start? Where do the ideas for a great story come from? It really doesn’t matter if you want to write a letter to your grandma or the next Great American Novel. The Idea comes from a single thought. From there you build and expand until the thought has a theme and a purpose.

But there is still that darn blank screen.

Okay, don’t despair. I have some ideas on how to get started. First of all, don’t sit in front of a blank screen. Yup, I mean it. Go for a walk, do the dishes, make a cup of coffee. The thing is, you rarely will come up with an idea if you command one to come to you. Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come when you are so busy that you can’t even take the time to write it down?

Ideas are elusive, sneaky, little things. They like to pop in when they aren’t likely to be noticed. Some even show up when you’re sleeping. That’s hardly a way to run a business, just waiting for inspiration to hit, is it? Stay with me here, this is how to get started.

So by now, you have your coffee, and the dishes are done. There are side benefits to this process, see? Get a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Okay, I know we’re back at the beginning now. All you need to do is write the first word that comes to mind in the middle of the page, not too big, you will need the space later.

Say the first word you thought of was red. That’s hardly a start of a great story, but draw a short line and attach things that red pertains to. Blood, ladybugs, your favorite shirt, the color of your neighbor’s car, and so on. All kinds of random words will all be attached to your first word with little lines.

Great, the page isn’t blank now. On each of the words you thought of, draw more lines and write as many things as you can that pertain to those words. Some of the words will trigger many more paths, others will fizzle out. That’s okay, you’re sorting things out. Continue to draw connecting lines and more words. Make a mess of things. Use arrows to connect things that belong together. No erasing, and no editing is allowed, just keep writing.

When your page is full, and you are forced to write smaller and smaller just to squeeze all the thoughts in, sit back and take a look at your map. You will be able to see paths and connections all over the place. Many of your words will have nothing at all to do with the word red.

Here is an example of only one path on my sheet of paper. Red, blood, hospital, nurse, needle, drugs, addict, crime, money, work, briefcase, executive. Executive is a long way from red, but that’s where it took me on that particular path. I’ll do the same with the other paths on the page. Red, ladybugs, spots, stripes, jail, criminal. Red, flowers, roses, thorns, blood.

Now I’m going to circle or highlight my favorite words on the page. Here’s the fun part, now you get to go for a walk or do something fun. It’s not necessary to think about your words, but if they pop into your head, don’t chase them away. You may have a Muse starting.

When you get back from your walk, take a look at what you’ve got. If you want to expand more, you can take your highlighted words and start a new page with each of them. I usually don’t need to do that. By now I’m starting to get a story idea.

An executive with a red sports car is evading criminal charges for importing flowers infested with ladybugs. Gosh, he could be responsible for shutting down the entire agricultural system. There could be economic collapse and famine!

Have fun with this exercise. Allow the ideas to percolate as long as you need to. Make more word maps when you get stuck. Try to draw connections between the different word paths. Take more walks and get the dishes done. If nothing else, you will be healthier and your kitchen will be clean.

Two Free Novellas

New Release!

Arnold and Blaize By Nancy Cupp are free e-books available on instafreebie.

https://www.instafreebie.com/free/a1NpW

https://www.instafreebie.com/free/EQAXZ

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 7.59.41 AM.pngcoverThese two novellas are an Introduction to Driving in Traffick. Find out how Arnold gets to be a nasty bad boy, then read Blaize for the flip side of the story. They both tell the story before the story from different points of view.

A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman has a winner with A Man Called Ove. This is a witty story about a gentleman who is recently widowed and forced to retire. You are pleasantly amused by his daily routine until it becomes evident what his intentions are.

Ove is a guy that everybody knows–somewhere in their life. He is old fashioned, he is stubborn, and he is unfailing in his devotion to his wife. When new neighbors move in Ove is forced to make a few adjustments in his planned agenda. Watch as he demands compliance to all the rules, while the neighborhood subtly conforms him.

You will not be disappointed by this one!