Tag Archives: animals

Detour Trail, on Lisa Burton Radio

Coming at you with 1.21 jigawatts of power, all across the known universe and dimensions you’ve never even heard of, this is Lisa Burton Radio. The only show out there that interviews the characters you love to read about.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we’re broadcasting remotely today from the field just outside my studio. This is because, my special guest today can’t fit inside the little Airstream that houses the studio. “Welcome to the show, Jake.”

“Lisa, Hi! Nice field, by the way.”

“Thanks. Now for our listeners out there, you’re actually a mule. Can you tell me a little about your parents?”

“The first thing I remember is my mother–she was a beautiful red mare–red roan they called her. She was so beautiful and gentle. She taught me manners–and to be careful around humans. My father? I only saw my father once; he was a big black jack–blacker than me, but I’m even bigger than he was.”

“So how did such a noble creature as yourself, wind up on a wagon train during the westward expansion?”

“I have to tell you about Tommy first. I belonged to Tommy; he raised me and trained me and taught me tricks. ‘Course I trained him too, and he talked to me, even when the other kids made fun of him. We went to school and to the store and everywhere together.

“But then Tommy’s father heard that a woman was in town buying livestock and supplies for her wagons. I knew Tommy’s folks needed money, and Tommy’s mother wanted to go back home–that was way back east. Tommy explained it all to me and showed me pictures of houses back east–not like the tiny dark cabins out here–and no trees. His mother looked happier in those pictures. I could see that–maybe more than Tommy. He loved it here. We’re settling the frontier, he said. But they needed money, and his mother made him understand that a mule wouldn’t be happy because there’d be no room for him there. Not enough grass either, I think.

“So Tommy led me to town; it took longer that way, and I nudged him a few times to tell him he should ride, but he shook his head and kept patting my neck as we walked along together. At first the woman told us that she didn’t need any more animals; I could see the other animals and chickens, and it didn’t look like she needed us. Me. Tommy turned away and wiped his eyes; we both thought she’d be better than a mule skinner or farmer. But Lorrie’s friend Star talked to her, and Tommy told them how smart and well-trained I was. Then he said that they needed me more than he did. The two ladies looked at each other; I could see that Lorrie was still undecided so I lipped her jacket and snuffled Star’s hair. I could tell they liked their horses and were good to their livestock. (Well, Sunny told me so.)

“They discussed my price after that; I didn’t understand the numbers, but Tommy seemed pleased until he turned and looked at me. He took me aside and explained what was going on, though I knew that already. Then he said good-by, and we all watched him walk away, but soon he began running, and I could hear him sobbing as he headed for the woods. I knew he wasn’t going home yet.

“Star knew more than Lorrie about loading me so she kept adding packs until I told them that was enough. You can say a lot by stamping your feet and shaking your head. Tommy could read me real well, and I knew I could teach them. When I remember Tommy, I remember how he took care of me and taught me things that I still use…”

“Lorrie sounds nice, but it almost sounds like she has her own problems getting out west.”

“Yes. I learned more about her from the horses, Sunny and Shadow. She was traveling with her uncle on a big wagon train, but he was killed by a thief who was after his money belt. Well, after that, the wagon master told her she couldn’t go with them, of course, because she was all alone. She needed to go back east and find a husband to take care of her. That made her mad, they told me. She even stamped her feet later, but she was polite to him. Naturally Lorrie didn’t agree, so she waited for another train. It was getting late for taking the Oregon Trail, but while she was waiting, she learned about a black couple–runaway slaves maybe–other humans guessed. And then she rescued a brother and sister from bullies. Together they joined another train–with her niece and nephew and her people, she always explained. And she had her uncle’s money belt and bought a couple more wagons–they did break down–and livestock. That included me, you understand. And she added a human family later on.”

“It sounds like the makings of a pretty good story. Two characters with tragic backgrounds come together to accomplish something great. I’ve read your bio, and there is much more to you than pulling a wagon. You’re almost a watchdog for the group. What can you tell me about that?”

“Lorrie did need me–as Tommy told her–and sometimes when there was danger, she didn’t load me up at all. She talked to me the way Tommy did and explained her–our–plan, and I ran loose or skulked alongside the trail and listened. And when we visited that old hotel far off the trail, I could smell the blood and death, and I pushed her out of the barn and stamped on the wooden floor. It was covered with dirt and straw, but I could smell the blood and bodies beneath it. She looked down and walked away and put me in a stall that she made sure was unlocked.

“The danger didn’t always come from men. Blizzards could trap us too. She took chances when running low on supplies for her people, and she and the oxen were buried once. They kept her warm, but the tent was buried under the snow, and I dug her out. I wrecked the tent, but when we made it to the nearest ranch, the people there looked at the tent and me and nodded. I think they gave us both the credit…

“The men along the trail warned us about the chances of a blizzard because winter was a lot closer now, but you never could tell, they said, how the weather would behave. Safest not to take chances, but Lorrie had to keep her people safe and supplied. And the livestock needed hay too, so she took a chance with the possibility of a blizzard and the cold. When she was trapped under the tent, I could hear her coughing, and I knew I had to dig her out, but carefully, so I tugged on the tent and dug when I could feel my way. She hugged my neck as I backed away and pulled her out.”

“What else is there to watch out for? Are we talking Indians here?”

“Oh yeah… That’s when we met Grey Cloud. His companion, Brock, was ambushed by Indians–a different tribe from our own Indians. Grey Cloud was a big gray wolf, and when he came to our cabin, naturally I lit out after him. I chased him around our cabin a few times until he vanished into the woods and up the mountain. He came back with a bloody rag; I let him show it to Lorrie while I watched; and I stood guard at the cabin later after Gray Cloud led us to Brock; he was badly wounded, but Many Stars took out the arrows and nursed him. Life became even more interesting after that.

“Later, because Lorrie’s companions did worry about her, she sometimes took a human with her. Like when she heard about the people disappearing at an old hotel far back in the woods off the busy trails. She just had to find out what was happening and laid a trap for them. I was outside in the barn, waiting and listening too. A man came out and went after the horses with a knife, so I went after him…”

“It sounds to me like everything is dangerous. There’s the weather, the environment, the Natives. I’ll bet there isn’t a decent shoe store for weeks in either direction.”

“Funny you should mention that. There isn’t a store of any kind, and supplies are hard to come by…. Lorrie traveled back and forth along the trail; sometimes she’d hire a mule train. I went along as a guard, of course. And we got supplies further west from a fort and ranches.”

“Jake, it sounds to me like Lorrie, Sunny, and the others really need you. It’s so important to be doing meaningful work.”

“Thank you, Lisa. I knew you would understand. Speaking of that… now I have to go home; they need me. It was great talking to you, Lisa. It’s harder with humans, as you may know.”

“I understand, Jake, and thank you for taking time to tell your story to our listeners today. Any last thoughts for your fans?”

“Be kind and be careful–and don’t overload anyone’s pack!”

“Jake appears in Detour Trail, by Joy V. Smith. I’ll include all the deets on the website. Do Joy and Jake a solid, and use those sharing buttons today.

“I’m always looking for guests, so if you know of a character that would like to appear on a future Lisa Burton Radio, drop me a line. Stay awesome.”

***

Westward bound on the Oregon Trail, Lorena Emerson is alone after her uncle is killed by a thief trying to steal his money belt. Ignoring the wagon master’s advice to go home, she rounds up others needing help, and they join a later wagon train and are soon slogging through dust and mud and steep mountain passes. It’s a long way to Oregon, and because another woman needs her help, Lorrie again goes her own way, leaving the wagon train and the Oregon Trail to travel onward—off the beaten path—with her small group of wagons. She’s helped by members of her wagon train, people she meets along the way, and the mule, Jake, an integral part of the story. You’ll meet them as they join in her travels and encounters with enemies and as she searches for a new home and supplies as winter reaches out its icy hands…. Settling the frontier isn’t easy!

 

Detour Trail, is available from Melange Books, the publisher, and elsewhere online : http://www.melange-books.com/authors/joyvsmith/detourtrail.html

http://www.amazon.com/Detour-Trail-Joy-V-Smith/dp/1612355706/

 

Joy V. Smith has been writing since she was a little kid; she loved to read, and she wanted to create her own books, so she did, complete with covers. Now she writes fiction–her favorite genre is science fiction–and non-fiction. (She loves settling planets and the frontier, which is why she wrote Detour Trail.) Her short stories have been published in print magazines, webzines, anthologies, and two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Her books include Detour Trail, Strike Three, and Sugar Time (revised print edition) She lives in Florida with Blizzard the Snow Princess and Pemberley the tortoiseshell kitten.

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African Me & Satellite TV, on Lisa Burton Radio

Today on Lisa Burton Radio, we’re on the phone with Princess Sithole, all the way from Zimbabwe. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. “Welcome Princess.”

“Thank you Madam Lisa! Mangwanani – although that is good morning in Shona. Is it morning with you?”

“Yes, but I think you’re a day ahead of me. My bio says you’re a cook. That has to be a fun job, creating new things and feeding your family. Tell us a little about that.”

“Yes. I cook. It is not always a fun job. In Zimbabwe some years back, and even now again, there is very little food to be bought. One time it got so bad that all I had to cook with was carrots from the garden and Marmite. Still, I am very, very good at cooking, so nobody complained. I suppose you could call it a job – what I do, but I think of it more as caring for my family, Suzette and Herman, and before Felix the cat and Cher the dog too. Hau. Shame. I get sad even now, thinking of them. All my family. Blood and two legs is not everything, you know.”

“It takes a lot of gumption to create something and share it with the world, even if it’s a garlic martini. Your life isn’t all fun and games though. You’ve had to deal with instances of animal cruelty and even murder in your village. How did that effect you?”

“Aah. That garlic martini. It was the one thing that did not bring much praise. Although, as I say, the tasting of it led to the falling off of a chair, so it wasn’t all bad. Laughter is food too sometimes, so I don’t see it as a complete failure. I’m sure that if I drank alcohol I would have enjoyed it. Garlic is wonderful. Before the animals were killed, so cruelly, Cher used to enjoy stealing wine if it was on a low enough table. That old dog suffered a little with arthritis, and being a colonial Labrador, I was not very surprised that she took Chablis for the pain. Very common painkiller with colonials. Mr Mandela, my parrot, too likes a little to drink. But then, when you see how those killers treated him you would understand. That is why he is called Mr Mandela – because he was hurt for so long and has still not bitten anyone. Yes, my little friend. We are on the radio with Madam Lisa. I hope you are not offended by being called Madam. It is my way. The way we do things here in Africa, even now. It is wrong maybe, but it is expected by many. Even though I personally only use it for those I respect and no other, it’s a habit so deep now after so many generations, it’s hard to break. I think that too much value is attached to appearances, be it the hue of your skin or any other thing. Cruelty is very much in the eye of the beholder. Some people honestly think that we are lesser than they. Not to even talk about how much less animals are. Poor things. I have seen people shocked at the chickens of Africans, scratching away in the dirt. They would never eat such a cruelly treated, in their perception, chicken. I personally would rather eat such a chicken than one which has been unable to move very much at all for all its life in a small cage. Life is just as cruel as we allow it to be. I wish it was not so. I bet you are surprised to see an African cook as a chicken activist. I am very fond of chickens. Live ones, that is.”

“You and me both. In my own story, I had to deal with lots of prejudice. You’d be amazed how many people aren’t willing to accept an electronic human. You seem very attached to your employers. What can you tell us about them?”

“You are indeed as human as human can be. You have love in your heart and that is what makes you human. That is what makes Mr Mandela human too. My employers? Yes, I suppose that they are that. They are more my family. They have been that for me more than employers, and I love them both very much. They are not racists at all. Not like those other two, read and you will see, and they are not afraid to say so. Any more. It was not always so. Suzette has been fragile for a long time. Just like Christopher was – he who was murdered. She is crazy, a little bit, but beautiful, inside and out, and Herman. Well. Herman is a lion and I would do anything for him, even though he insulted my martini.”

“They sound like very nice people. If only everyone were that way.”

“Indeed they are. The good thing is that most people are good people. Sometimes the bad people are so bad that they seem to grow in stature in our minds, even though in reality the truly bad are almost always cowards. They feel that making others smaller makes them bigger somehow. Suzette understands the problems we face in Africa today. People think that there is no more racism because there is no more apartheid. Ha! Here if you are poor and you want to eat, you will have to learn to be as inferior as is required. I suppose it is that way all over the world in one way or another.

“With Suzette and Herman, it is not about the colour of your skin, but the colour of your heart. It is simple really, when you love truly. We were all family. Christopher too before he was taken, even though he pretended to be so very stupid for so very long. The whole world should look at the colours of hearts when they seek to hate and kill. Not the colour of skins or any other apparent difference. We are all the same inside our heads and our hearts.

“Another thing. If we don’t share what is in our hearts, nobody will see our true colours. If Christopher hadn’t written so many words for his whole life, after he died, nobody would ever have known the true colour of him. In the end we saw that his colour was gold, and still today I cry with joy for having known him as well as sadness for having lost him. Our writing is important when we are gone. Even if it is just how we enjoyed our breakfast. Writing shows our colours to those who loved us when we are gone as well as when we are here. Writing keeps us alive forever.

“Yes Mr Mandela. Your colour is gold too. As were the colours of Felix and Cher. All animals have souls of gold. People could learn a lot from animals.

“You know Lisa. We think that our lives will never end, and that there will always be time to make things right. But that is not true. The only time to be right and do right is right now. We should live our lives considering love first. Who we love, what we love and believe, and know that of all things in life, love is the most important. We must find it where we can, and nurture it when we do.”

“I love animals. I have a pet rabbit named Bunny that I rescued from a butcher. I can send you a picture after the show.”

“Eish! Rabbit stew is also very much enjoyed in Zimbabwe. They are not so easy to catch. Myself, I have never tried it. I am not your usual Shona woman though – I much prefer cheese to meat. Mr Mandela will enjoy meeting your Bunny. He likes to snuggle. Does your Bunny sleep with you also? Mr Mandela sleeps on my pillow. Now I know that parrots snore too. I make sure to take many pictures of him and to write about his special occasions. Like I always say, we must leave our footprints behind for others to see. To learn, to laugh, or just to know. Even parrot footprints.”

“Oh, you’d like my boss. He writes all kinds of things, and understands those things could be around for a long time.”

“That sekuru is a very handsome man, your boss. That beard – eish! It is truly legendary. Does he throw the bones also? In Africa he would be very well known. I must read his writings soon, to see his colour, and to see what footprints he will leave.”

“He doesn’t throw the bones, but now that you mention it I’m sure he’d love to learn. Our sponsor today has been AFRICAN ME AND SATELLITE TV, by Jo Robinson. Any final thoughts, Princess?”

“Thank you so very much Lisa. It has been a great honour to be here even though I never thought I could ever be on a radio show. I believe that I will be famous in my small part of Africa today! I will send you a copy of my cookbook, Africolonial Cuisine, when Jo gets around to publishing it for me. Eish! That one! Of course she is my family too – my mother I should say, but she is a little crazy too and runs around like a mongoose with a snake that won’t die sometimes. Still, I love her, and will love her even more when I see my new book on Amazon! I made a cover for it myself – would you like to see it? I wish you very well in your future Lisa. You must come and visit us. Suzette and Herman will be pleased to have you stay, although some of the local ladies might be jealous of your impressive bosom. Eish! It is indeed a very Shona bosom! What sort of martinis do you like?”

“I don’t need to eat or drink, but I’d still like to visit eventually. Thank you for being my guest today.”

***

For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.

After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.

On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.

Here is the purchase link again, in case you missed it.

 

You can find Jo at the following locations:

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Goodreads

Google Plus

Blog

Jo doesn’t know I’m posting this, but she is a great advocate for indie authors. I find her blog informative and extremely helpful. She also provides author services, like cover design, proofreading, and formatting. The links for those services are in her blog.

Testimonial time here: I hired Jo to format THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK OF C. S. BOYACK II, and found her to be fast, efficient, and affordable. She is extremely easy to work with.

She made these beautiful covers herself.

Princess’ cookbook is coming soon, I am told.

 

 

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