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Archive for May 2011

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Best Romance Novels With Flawed/Scarred Heroes

Please Note: "The House on Black Lake" has been adapted to screenplay. To view provocative trailer go to Home Page.

Ramey Sandeley, the Hero of "The House on Black Lake" is physically perfect, which means he has a price to pay. He is internally scarred due to the suicide of his mother, a tricked marriage, and the loss of something so dear his fate is in peril. Perfection gives him the right to anything he desires, yet he is incapable of having his deepest needs met. The man is tortured, conflicted, and lost, yet on the surface he appears to have it all.

There are other suffering heroes in novels of romance that share this curse, and others who face physical disfigurement  Each is charged with the same challenge - to find love with a woman who will overlook flaws and accept without judgment. Alexandra, the heroine of "The House on Black Lake", says of Ramey, "If beauty is nothing without a dark river running through it, then Ramey Sandeley has more than God gave him, he now claims the greatest of God's gifts."

Alexandra is possibly more evolved than other women, as she has experienced life as "a freak". The right side of her face was paralyzed after the birth of her first child. A vow at St. Joseph's shrine, "Truth for Beauty" cured her malady but left her with a price to pay. She must seek out her rightful destiny in return for her unmarked face.

The Phantom of the Opera is the quintessential story of a scarred hero, both inside and out.  I love the film with Gerard Butler. The following are the top romance novels with flawed/scarred heroes. Information is culled from discussions with fans and Amazon Romance forum.

1 Exposure by Susan Anderson

2. The Prize by Julie Garwood

3. Envy by Sandra Brown

4. Home Fires by Luanne Rice

5. Simply Love by Mary Balogh

6. Ravished by Amanda Quick

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

9. Feral Warriors Series by Patricia Palmer

10. The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

11. Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz

12. The Lover by Robin Shone

13. The Lord of the Desert by Diane Palmer

14. Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth

16. The Gentle Pirate by Stephanie James

17. Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell

18. Music Box Danseur by Marlene K. Slade - the story is about two men, but many  women seem to love this book about mismatched lovers

19. Midnight Breed Series by Lara Adrian

20. Dark Hunters Series by Sherilyn Kenyon

21. Defeat the Darkness (Paladin Series) by A. Morgon

22. The Indian Rose by Emma Daniels

23. Troubleshooter Series by Suzanne Brockman

24. Beneath the Surface by Marie Rochelle

25. Comanche Heart by Catherine Anderson

26. To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

27. Bengal's Heart by Lora Leigh

28. When Seducing a Duke by Katherine Smyth

29. Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon

30. The Darkest Kiss by Gena Showalter.

31. Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey.

 
32. Exposure by Susan Anderson.

33. Warriors of Poseidon, Alyssa Day

34. Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath

35. Tapestry by Karen Ranney

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"The House on Black Lake" Music Video Villain Exposed

In soon to be released music video "Dangerous Games", actor/trapeze artist, Keith Hoover plays both the terrifying  head posse of the clan of black robes sent to sacrifice heroine Alexandra, and also her trapeze flying savior. 

 Tanya Henkle Hoover is stunt double/trapeze artist featured with him below, performing new flying tapeze trick "Heroine's Journey".

Photographs courtesy of Dave Miller Photography. Filmed at Sky Ranch in Sonoma, home of Trapeze Pro trapeze and circus arts instruciton.

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Best Forbidden Love Romance Novels

 ATTENTION READERS: New Romantic Fantasy, The Chamber of Curiosities is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. The e-book will be delivered to your Kindle on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Be the first to read, review, and start discussions on forums. In the epic love story, set in a carnival in an ancient land, forbidden love is a central theme, and taboos are broken by both hero and heroine, and a host of supporting characters.

In The House on Black Lake Alexandra Brighton meets Ramey Sandeley months after they each have wed another. They both fall in love at first sight, but it is too late. Ramey's wife is pregnant with their first child, and Alexandra is impregnated that night by her husband. Years later, a world weary, Alexandra journeys to Black Lake to find resolution to the obsession that has kept her captive for years.  She is now single, but he is still married and the father of five children. In addition to the lure of infidelity, the taboo of incest, racial and age differences, and marital bisexuality are also explored.

Below are listed thirty favorite forbidden love romances. Thanks to Amazon romance community for their input.

1. Forbidden by Tabith Suzanna - Soon to be released. The novel deals with brother/sister incest in a sensitive manner that is both illuminating and heart breaking

2. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullogh - a young priest's faith is tested when he falls in love with a and beautiful woman

3. The Scarlet Letter   by Nathaniel Hawthorne - A Puritan woman has an affair and illegitamate child with priest that leads to her being tagged with the scarlet letter

4. The Object of Love by Sharon Cullars -  a woman's son dies and when his friend returns (now a handsome young man) she finds herself falling for him.

5. By possession by Madeline Hunter - a master and his serf

6. Indigo Love Spectrum by different authors - publisher specializes in romance stories with African American women with white men.

7. Through a Dark Mistby Marsha Canham -Medieval tale - a young woman is set to be wed in an arranged marriage but falls in love with an outlaw en route

8. Surrender by Pamela Clare (Mackinnon Rangers Series) - Western -  Religious difference - protestant/catholic. Everyone warns them to stay away from each other, but to no avail

9. Untamed (Mackinnon Rangers Series) by Pamela Clare - H is a prisoner of war

10. Sweet Release by Pamela Clare - H is a criminal and h purchases him, trusts and believes in him

11. Stranger by Elizabeth Lane - h a widowed mother and H a drifter. She isn't aware that he was with the group of men who killed her husband and tortured her years before

12. Lakota Love Song - and others, by Madeline Baker. Her novels focus on Native American men and white women

13. Fever by Katherine Sutcliffe - h is a young heiress of a plantation and H   poor overseer.

14. Star series by Patricia Potter - entire series features forbidden love

15. The Bounty by Beth Williamson -  H is hired to capture h, then falls in love

16. Diablo by Georgina Gentry - Western - h is a lady and H is a drifter/ gun for hire. H kidnaps h for revenge on her fiance, then  falls in love with her

17. Relentless by Patricia Potter - she's his captive, the daughter of the man he desires to revenge

18. The Heat by Heather Killough Walden - h falls for her best friend's brother despite friend's insistence she keep away

19. Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr -  H loves h but won't persue her because she's married

20. Star Bright by Catherine Anderson  h is married to an abusive man and H isn't sure if it's reasonable to act on his feelings

21. Heartless by Diane Palmer - h and H are step-siblings

22. Perfect by Judith McNaught - H is a criminal on the run from jail, wanted for murder and h falls for him

23. No Chance by Christy Reece- h is very wealthy and H is very poor. Her father forbids them to marry, then when they do he destroys marriage. Eight years later they have a second chance at love.

24. Second Chance by Christy Reece - H is responsible for her husband's death and knows he should tell her, but gets involved nonetheless

25. Run to me by Christy Reece - h has amnesia and H knows he should walk away because they have a terrible past, but his love for her is too power to resist

26. Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare - H escapes from prison and is wanted by the law and h helps him

27. Stealing Midnight by Tracy MacNish - h is a strange, abused, and sheltered young woman who has an insane father. h saves H from her father. His feelings for her are marred by fact that she is so strange his family will likely never accept her

28. Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas - H is hired to bring h home to her fiance but instead marries her himself

29. The Last Highwayman by Katherine O'Neal - H is an outlaw bandit and h is a duchess. Their love is fierce, although circumstances conspire to keep them apart

30. Stealing Heavenby Jaclyn Reding - h's family will not allow her to be with H and attempt to marry her off to someone else

31. Wife by Contract, Mistress by Demand by Carole Mortimer - H is much older than the h and she's loved him since she was in her teens

32.Texas Destiny - h falls for brother of her fiance

33.Passion (Fallen) by Lauren Kate - paranormal - YA - star crossed lovers over the centuries

34.Heart of the West series by Maggie Brendan - h falls for husband's brother

35. November of the Heart by LaVryle Spencer - H is rich, H poor

36.The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh - Regency - H is married, after night of paid love he asks h to work in home

37. One Summer by Karen Robarbs - teacher and student - five years age difference - H paroled prison for murder of girlfriend, h believes him innocent

38. Grave Sight - paranormal that gradually unveils step sibling romance
Forbidden Love is so Sweet:

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Dramatic New Flying Trapeze Trick Unveiled

Note: Photographs of the seductive new trapeze trick, "The Heroine's Journey"  can be viewed at end of article. Cinematic trailer of novel may be viewed on Home Page. Photograph courtesy of David Miller Photography.

     A dramatic new flying trapeze trick, "The Heroine's Journey", choreographed by Tanya Henkle-Hoover, and performed by Tanya, Keith Hoover, and Marek Kaszuba, of Trapeze Pro, at author Sam Keen's Sky Ranch in Sonoma, has been created for a new music video. The sensuous trick is a representation of the heroine's experience at the climax of "The House on Black Lake". It is a stunning trick, and the physical beauty of the performers adds much impact. Rehearsal pictures of the unusual act have been leaked, but the video itself , filmed by award winning cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw is in post production, and will likely be released mid-summer.

     The trick has been likened to "The Piggyback", but it is decidedly different, not only in execution but also intent. "The Piggyback" flying trapeze trick looks pretty much like a piggyback looks on the ground. A flier takes the bar, while a second flier mounts him from the back, with legs crossed around his waist and arms around the neck. The first flier swings out and the piggyback flier is caught by the catcher. It is a dramatic trick, rarely done, and usually involves two men.

     "The Heroine's Journey" is more physically complex and has emotional components. It can only be performed with a woman on the back of a man - as it is the heroine's journey. Directions for performing the trick:

     Heroine is drawn by flier onto his back, her legs wrap around his hips and feet come together beneath his crotch, with toes pointed. One arm wraps beneath his pectoral, the other around his shoulder, and her hands meet at his heart.  Flier takes off from board and Heroine releases her arms and flips under him, holding on with her legs until the last second, then straightens her legs as she is caught by catcher. The trick can end here, or for the more experienced a second part of the choreography is even more complex. They go into swing doubles, where Heroine moves into an angle, the flier goes into an uprise, and they touch hands. Heroine and catcher do a pike, wrap,  and climb to a swinging drop, as the flier falls to net. 

     The trick can end here, or enter into an even more sophistacted act, combining the skills of flying and static trapeze performance. Heroine and catcher begin a  sensuous static doubles routine representing the "Dangerous Game" (song title) of love. Details of the choreography for the doubles performance are not yet available. However, there are photographs taken as the static trapeze act was being filmed.

     "The Heroine's Journey" is a ground breaking piece for a number of reasons. Not only is it a stylish, sexy, and unique new trick for trapeze artists, but it is the first documented trapeze act created to represent a scene from a novel in an original music video. The stunning pictures attest to the drama and beauty of the "Heroine's Journey".
     All photographs are protected by copyright and courtesy of Dave Miller Photography.
 
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American Idol Finale 2011 - A Pagan Ritual

Last night American Idol producers displayed a spectacle worthy of its own Disney ride. It was a morality tale spun together with two innocents and their jaded elders, unabashed self promotion, and consumerism. A fairy tale of epic scope. In fact, the finale of the nearly year long event was more like a symbolic pagan ritual. The virginal teenage couple (garbed in white) were paraded through a gilded Hades of shaking booty, cries of infidely, mortality, unrequited love, suicidal eros, spider men, octogenarians dancing with young maidens, debauched rock gods, young women stripped of their clothing, law breaking "Judas Priests" and aging crooners poured into ill fitted duds. The only thing missing was an evil step mother, wicked witch - or a handsome prince to save the day. In fact, these were the the striking elements missing, as mature women were apparently banned from the stage, as were studdly hunks. The producers must have found these elements to be counter productive to the sacrifice at hand.

The sacrifice being the loss of innocence and youth. The sweet young couple were utterly trapped. A crazed audience lay before them, bizarre stage designs encrouched, and an enormous screen revealed their home town friends had become crazed maniacs and their fellow contestants oozed with venomous envy. The couple's family members sat dazed and paralyzed in their seats, ununable to intercede in the unfolding drama.  Unlike Dorothy in Oz, there would be no going home for these two. Their favorite teachers were paraded before them (the ones who helped them get here) and given the American Dream - a new Ford. But weren't we taught it unprofessional for teachers to receive gifts?  The adorable young twosome, Scotty and Lauren, won't have to spend their teen years working to buy a used vehicle. They also received new Fords, along with the worship of the entire world. At least for now, in this alternate universe.  

One hundred twenty-five million gave their votes, many more million watched. Millions of dollars spent, millions of dollars made. If this were not the case there would no competition. American Idol is not an altruistic venture. It is a highly profitable business. The first and foremost purpose of the show is to sell products and make money for the producers. The big name stars are there to promote their shows and sell their CDs.  The children probably don't quite realize it yet, but their lives were sacrificed at the alter of consumerism, and there is no turning back. All the exciting rites of childhood passage, the proms, baseball games, graduations, and plans for college have been altered and twisted for the entertainment of the masses. Their rite of passage, cruel, wicked, and sublimely American. They now have money and fame, and some would say it was the price they had to pay to enter the magic ring.

So was it a fairy tale, a pagan ritual, or the fulfillment of the American dream? 

You be the judge. And remember, every vote counts!

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Top Ten +1 Best Paranormal Romance Novel Series

Please note: "The House on Black Lake trailer", filmed by Spirit/Sundance/Gotham/Venice award winning cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw, may be viewed on Home Page.

In The House on Black Lake there are dark forces at work. HOBL is the first of a trilogy that segues into the paranormal, although there is paranormal activity described throughout the first book. Alexandra Brighton has been educated by modern social systems and therefore is unwilling to acknowledge her own special gifts or to take seriously the wisdom of the mystics and gypsies who are her tutors in the underground. However, her host, Ramey Sandeley, is determined to expose her to certain "truths". Her journey of transformation on Black Lake is the beginning of her initiation into a world of dangerous beauty and terrible dark secrets.

Listed below are the top ten + 1 paranormal romance novels (listed most often by fans of the genre).

l. Vampires in America (Series) by D.B. Reynolds

2. Psy/Changling (series) - Nalini Singh

3. Immortals After Dark (series) - Kresley Cole

4. Dragon Bound (elder races series) by Thea Harrison

5. Ghost Walkers (series) - Christine Freehan

6. The Fever (series) by Karen Marie Moning

7. Shifter (series) - Rachel Vincent

8. Chicagoland Vampires (series) - urban fantasy by Chloe Neill

9. Broken Heart Oklahoma (series)- for those who prefer their paranormal splashed with humor

10. Magic Series  - Ilona Andrew's - by Kate Daniels

+ 1 Shelley Laurentson's shape shifting series including Big Bad Beast, Beat Behaving Badly,Go FetchThe Mane Attraction, and The Mane Squeeze are funny, filled with eccentric characters, and also very popular with paranormal romance fans.

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The Sexiest Beds in San Francisco

Note: "The House on Black Lake" trailer, filmed by acclaimed cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw in  San Francisco may be viewed on Home Page.

When I was scouting locations for the cinematic trailer for my novel I scoured the city's Victorians seeking the perfect spot to shoot a number of scenes set in Montreal. It was imperative that the beds be as sexy as those described in the novel. Magnificently carved four posters with silk drapings were imperative. I found all that was required for my scenes at the Chateau Tivoli Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco. The historic Victorian has gorgeous bedrooms and is a wonderful, romantic, sexy place to stay in San Francisco. Also, the management is extremely helpful and gracious. 

Following are pictures of a few of these lovely beds (a bit roughed up after filming):

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Top 25 Sexiest Romantic Alpha Male Film Actors

Please Note: "The House on Black Lake" trailer, filmed by award winning cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw, may be viewed on home page.

A producer recently asked me for my shortlist of actors to play the alpha male characters in my novel. As I pondered this "difficult" task I began to look over the males in film that made an impact with their masculinity and were also able to be vulnerable in expressing romance and passion. I came up with a very short list, then wrote down my choices of the top contemporary and classic actors that have filled this daunting task.

Ramey Sandeley is the hero of The House on Black Lake. He enters the book/film smelling of burnt flesh, fresh from branding animals with his own custom tools. He can ride a horse like a native, has been taught to hunt wild game in the Serengetti, is the heir to a fortune in land and real estate in Montreal, is highly educated, and a successful entrepreneur in his own right. To add to this cache are extraordinary good looks,  a strong, athletic frame, straight white teeth, and lustrous gold flecked dark hair. He is married to stunning red head, Ruth Sandeley, and the father of five children. I did not entirely make up this man, he does exist, although I did combine a few men I've met to make him just right. Ramey is in his forties, and like Dorian Gray has not yet begun to show his age.

I believe the right actor to play Ramey has likely not yet been discovered, but if I had to choose then these men could likely fill his custom shoes:

1.  Clive Owen

2. Eric Bana

3. Dylan McDermott

Rock god Georgie La Pointe is Ramey's cousin and has also inherited wealth, power, and influence. However, he is a a supreme narcissist who never dates a woman more than once, and grooms his hair by peering into the eyes of his admirers. Most notably he makes love to recordings of his own bellowing baritone. My first choice of actors are:

1. Johnny Depp

2. Chris Hemsworth

3. Daniel Craig

4. Tom Hardy

Many alpha male roles are filled by males who are only playing a part. They are poseurs, pretty boys, muscle bound oafs, or Peter Pan types. A true alpha spirit cannot be recreated, the drive lies in the soul of the actor. The top 25 sexiest, most romantic (true) alpha male film actors (in random order):

Contemporary Film:

1. Mel Gibson - If you look back at his body of work (especially early in his career) he is a master of sexy maculinity mixed with aching vulnerability

2. Laim Neeson  - same with Mel, but bigger than life

3.  Russell Crowe - hit or miss, but he does deliver when required, i.e. "Gladiator"

4. Heath Ledger - his best was yet to come

5. Clive Owen - "Camelot" brought it all together

6.  Gerard Butler - "The Phantom of the Opera" and "300" were enough for a lifetime

7. Eric Bana - "Troy" was the beginning, but his potential has only been touched

8. Daniel Craig - A dark and brooding blonde is beautiful to behold. He can nail a seductive look like no other

9. Richard Gere - Sexiest kisser of all time

10. Ian McShane - Now nearly into his seventies and still killer sexy and romantic in a cruel sort of way

11. Tatum Channing - the most alpha/romantic of younger actors

12. Robert Redford - "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "Three Days of the Condor", and "The Way We Were" make him an icon of the sexy alpha romantic and he still delivers, now into his 70's.

13. Dominic West - "The Wire" established him as the quntissential "bad boy", "300" placed him on throne of sexiest villain in film.

14. Brad Pitt - More pretty boy than true alpha, but he is cast in the role more than any other actor

15. Denzel Washington - The perfect combination of vulnerability and tough male sex appeal.

Top Ten Classic Film Actors:

1. Cary Grant - Smooth, sexy, romantic, but still strong and alpha in a classy way

2. Steve Mcqueen - Daniel Craig takes on the  legacy of this golden man

3. Clint Eastwood - Gorgeous in his younger days and that steel gling melted to raw passion with the right woman

4. John Wayne - "The Duke" is an iconic legend of powerful masculinity mixed with integrity

5. Gary Cooper - Both laconic and boldly masculine

6. Robert Mitchum - They don't make men like him anymore

7. Clark Gable - He was the original "man's man and ladie's man"

8. Spencer Tracy - Both romantic and domineering

9. Gregory Peck - He owned his masculity completely, with no need to give more than he desired or was required

10. Marlon Brando - a beautiful specimen, boldy sexual and animalistic with a dark river of vulnerability and a sadness about him that made him riveting as an actor

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The Phantom of the Opera - The Sexiest Romance Hero Of All Time

Passion trumps deformity or any other afflication. Beauty is an empty shell without it. The obsessive, possessive, desperate love The Phantom feels would not exist without the weight of his tremendous burden.  Erik in "The Phantom of the Opera"  by Gaston Leroux is the Beauty and the Beast contained in one gorgeous human being. His longing is both extruciatingly painful and glorious. He has never been kissed even by his own mother, so his longing is true physical torture. To taste his rugged kiss and be carried off into the gothic mist would be a dream come true for most women, although few would seek out such a scarred soul.

In The House on Black Lake,  it is said that Hero Ramey Sandeley has been cursed with perfection and so he has a price to pay. As his ultimate price becomes more eminent a dark river of cruel conflict begins to run through his veins and to show beneath his visage. And, as heroine Alexandra Brighton notes, "if beauty is nothing without a dark river running through it, now Ramey Sandeley claims more than God gave him, he now claims the greatest gift of all."

Alexandra also shares a common trait with The Phantom. Nine months to the day after her first meeting with Ramey she gives birth to a son and suffers Bells' Palsy. Her face is fully paralyzed on one side and there is little hope for her recovery. She visits St. Joseph's Shrine where the faithful are said to be healed and makes a deal at the alter: Truth for Beauty - a vow to seek her rightful destiny in return for an unmarked face. As she steps outside the oratory she sees her reflection in the stained glass. Her face has begun to thaw, and now she has a price to pay. Her vow leads to the dismantling of her "ideal life" and eventually to her uniting with Ramey at Black Lake, where her journey to self discovery truly begins. Her young French artist lover, Andre Labat, urges her to accept "the beautiful freak" - the soul, in all its dark glory, that seeks freedom at any cost. But coming face to face with her passionate soul is a terrifying prospect for Alexandra, as the social institutions that have instructed her development as a woman do not allow such freedom. And then there is dear Seth, the Butler to Ramey's uncle Roger. Nearly seven feet tall and raised in an orphanage he has never felt the touch of a woman - until Alexandra touches his arm and awakens his lonely soul. Most of us have felt the raging battle of the ugly and the beautiful at war within us, and often it only takes a tender caress to calm the dark waters and give a measure of peace. But it is also sometimes therapeutic to stoke the water to the boiling point.

A video composite from the movie of The Phantom of the Operafeatures Gerard Butler. He is dark, dangerous, utterly sexy and glorious. Both horribly ugly and breathtakingly beautiful. Passion is what gives beauty and meaning to life.  Take a look and decide for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsTkh0Q4b3g&feature=related

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Anastasia Blackwell Attends "Horsewhisper" Buck Brannaman's Clinic

Note: "The House on Black Lake" has been adapted to screenplay. To view provocative cinematic trailer filmed by Sundance winning cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw, go to Home Page.

I recently attended a horsemanship clinic led by Buck Brannaman. Buck is well known as the figure the novel  The Horsewhisper was based on. He also worked as stunt double for Robert Redford  in the movie of the same name. In addition he is the star of indie movie audience favorite "Buck", a documentary about his extraordinary life.

When I attended the Sundance Film Festival this year I met a woman on a shuttle bus who informed me that scenes in "Buck" had been filmed on her ranch. She advised me I must see the film, then take one of his clinics. Years ago, after a dangerous ride nearly took me over a cliff I developed panic attacks whenever I rode. I considered myself a fairly expert rider but the attacks led me away from riding, although it had always been a passion of mine. So, I took her advice and viewed the film (which I loved), then signed up for a clinic when I returned home. I believed that if there was anyone who could cure my affliction it was Buck.

The clinic was help on gorgeous Stonybrook Ranch, in Stonybrook, North of Sacramento, California. The owners and other partipants were wonderful, and I found Buck to be very kind, charismatic, strong, focused, and clearly a master of horsemanship. I felt completely confident and competent under his tutelege, and look forward to riding some wild horses. And if I should fall off, then I'll just get back on a wilder one!

The following are pictures with me in clinic with Buck. To learn more about Buck Brannaman, or to schedule a clinic, go to his website at http://www.brannaman.com/.

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