The Red Filly is a novel about a high school aged girl named, Bethany Resmon. She struggles with fitting in socially and makes many mistakes along the way during the story, even to the point of possibly losing her best friend. The main story arc involves her falling in love with a beautiful half-Arabian filly named, Fyrestorm, that she first lays eyes on as she arrives at Orion Racing Stables to take on her new job as an exercise rider of the racehorses that are raised and trained there. Bethany dreams of riding Fyrestorm one day and even becoming her owner, even though she knows her mom can’t afford the flashy filly.
The cost for a Channillo membership is 4.99/month and the first month is a free trial period, so if you don’t like it you can cancel. With a membership you have full access to the works of hundreds of writers. All proceeds from my series The Red Filly as well as my series, Timmy Tales, will be donated to Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue.
I finished reading the My Friend Flicka trilogy, which includes; My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead and Green Grass of Wyoming. I had read them years ago when I was in high school, but didn’t realize at the time how “Steinbeckian” they were. I guess I skipped over the literary bits and went straight to the horse bits. I also didn’t realize how harsh some of the training methods were with the horses because I didn’t know much about proper horse training at the time. Plus, it was the late seventies/early eighties and back then “cowboy training” was the norm.
I inherited the first two books from my Granny and they were 1940s era editions, so I splurged and bought a first edition copy of Green Grass of Wyoming from Amazon.
These are well written books and I highly recommend them. Like I said, I didn’t remember how literary they were. I plan on writing individual reviews for each one soon, I just have a lot on my plate right now, as many of us do in these uncertain times.
Stay well everyone and get Covid vaccinated if you can!
“Oh, Timmy, I’m never going to see you again,” said Gina as she hugged the golden pony’s neck tighter. “They’ll make me go live with my aunt in Oklahoma, I just now it.”
Gina hadn’t heard Antonia ride up behind her on her black stallion, Spirit, as she sobbed into Timmy’s neck.
“You’ll come live with me,” said Antonia.
Gina spun around to face her mentor. “Antonia, I want to stay here more than anything, but my aunt called as soon as she heard my mother died. I’m not eighteen yet, so I won’t have a choice. It’s the law. I think that I have to go with my closest relative.”
Gina turned back to Timmy who hadn’t moved an inch, wrapping her arms back around his neck and sobbing uncontrollably once more.
“Gina, we don’t follow the laws of man,” said Antonia.
Gina continued to sob into the pony’s neck, but Timmy gently shook himself free of the distraught girl and then swung his head, whinnied sharply and as Gina looked on, his eyes flashed red for just a moment.
Gina gasped, “Antonia, there’s something wrong with Timmy’s eyes.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Timmy’s eyes, girl. It’s time for you to open your eyes,” said Antonia.
“Open my eyes?” asked Gina.
“Yes Gina, you’ve mentioned before how it seems that Timmy reads my mind. Well, he does…in a way. We’ve been connected since my early training in Brazil, He’s my familiar, for lack of a better word.”
“Familiar? Like a witch’s familiar?” Gina stepped back from both of them as she asked this.
“Gina, why do you step back? You’re afraid of us now that you know what we truly are? I’m disappointed. I expected more from you,” said Antonia.
Gina stared up at Antonia. It was a lot to process. Her mother’s sudden death, Antonia a witch. Even Timmy, sweet, little Timmy; a monster with red eyes, but no, not a monster. He had always shown her love and so had Antonia. It was her mother who was the monster, always telling her that everyone else was more important than her, and that she was nothing.
Gina remembered when she told her mother about Chet and Cassie putting her on the ‘Ugly List’. It was the list of all the ugliest girls at Dale City High and an annual tradition it seemed for the jocks and cheerleaders to make said list. She told her mother how Chet had whispered loudly enough for Gina to hear as she sat in study hall pretending to read one of her textbooks, that Gina Targoff should be at the top that list since she was the ugliest of all. Tears had been streaming down Gina’s face when she had told her mother what he said.
Her mother responded, “Well they’re better than you, Gina. You’re a very plain, uninteresting girl.”
Gina’s mind returned to the present. Timmy nudged her from behind with his muzzle and Gina looked up at Antonia, sitting astride Spirit, whose black coat glistened in the bright sunlight of late Spring. His tail was held high, pluming out behind him in the Saturday afternoon breeze. His small, curvy, Arabian ears were pricked toward Gina as if he too, were awaiting her answer. The white star on his forehead was catching the light and his nostrils flared in anticipation. He and Antonia were striking against the background of the clear blue, big Texas sky. Antonia had her beautiful black hair pulled back and braided and the aroma of some expensive French perfume, left over from her heydays in the fashion industry wafted down and flitted about Gina’s nostrils. As Gina looked up at her, Antonia smiled and then Gina smiled too.
“So, will you use magic to keep me here?” asked Gina.
“No, Ama has a law firm remember? We’ll do things the old fashioned, legal way.”
“I thought you don’t follow the laws of man?” Gina asked.
Antonia laughed, “Well, okay, we manipulate the laws of man when we need to. Legal ease with a touch of magic. You’re very sharp, Gina. You’ll do well in your new lessons.”
“We’re going to teach you in the ancient ways,” answered Antonia.
“We? You’re not the only witch?”
“Of course I’m not the only one, but my people prefer the term, shaman,” answered Antonia smiling.
“What’s the difference?” asked Gina.
“Well, it’s a matter of semantics, I guess. A little variation in rituals and abilities.”
“Is Ama a witch?” asked Gina.
“Well, not exactly.”
“Not exactly? What does that mean?”
“You have much to learn, child. Give sweet Timmy a hug and then head up to the house. I’ll turn Spirit out and then meet you there,” instructed Antonia.
“But, I have so many questions…”
“And I will attempt to answer all of them,” said Antonia as she wheeled Spirit around and trotted back toward the stallion barn.
Gina turned back toward Timmy. She stood looking at him, uncertain as to whether she should follow Antonia’s directions and hug him again.
He made the decision for her. He stepped up to her and then placed his head and neck gently over her right shoulder. Gina stood completely still for a moment and then slipped her arms around his silky-smooth neck and his flaxen mane fell about her arms and face. She stood like this for what seemed like a very long time, inhaling his sweet, horsey scent. For the first time since she had been hugging the golden pony, she opened her mind and she sensed that he was telling her that he would always protect her. She hugged him tighter, then let go, stepped back and looked into his red eyes and saw the wisdom there for the first time.
She smiled at Timmy, then turned and sprinted toward the house with Timmy trotting at her side, tossing his head as if to say, Gina was truly one of their own now.
Bethany stood at the end of the cafeteria line looking for her friend, Octavia. Her only friend.
“Move!” said the freshman who had finished paying for her lunch just after her.
Bethany scooted out of the way and continued to look for Octavia. Even though Bethany was a senior, the petite, blonde freshman girl, had no respect for her or the pecking order when it came to Bethany. Bethany was the resident ‘weirdo’, so the normal high school pecking order didn’t apply to her.
“Bethany, over here,” Octavia called out from a corner table.
Bethany smiled an unseen smile from behind her light blue, cloth mask, when she saw her friend. She walked the short distance and set her tray down across from her friend and removed her mask, so she could eat.
When the pandemic started last spring, school had been shut down almost immediately. They had to finish out the rest of the year using Chromebooks for virtual learning. It had been especially hard on Bethany, because she wouldn’t see Octavia again until summer, when her mother finally stopped freaking out as much about the coronavirus. So, for Bethany, having to wear a mask was not a big deal, as long as she could get out of the house and intermingle with the rest of the humans. But not all the humans were…
“Well, looks who it is, the n— and the retard,” said Chet Dickson as he passed the table where Octavia and Bethany sat. He said it low, so no one else could hear.
“Shut up Chet!” shouted Bethany. “I hate you!”
Every eye in the cafeteria turned toward them as Chet walked on snickering under his breath.
Octavia reached out and touched Bethany’s arm, even though they weren’t allowed to touch at school. “Bethany be quiet. Everyone is staring at us.”
Tears started flowing down Bethany’s face.
Octavia knew that if Bethany lost control, she would have a meltdown right here in the cafeteria. “Bethany, it’s okay. Just calm down, please,” said Octavia, still touching her arm.
“Octavia, how can you be okay with what he called us?” said Bethany between sobs.
“I’m not,” said Octavia between clenched teeth. “Don’t for a second, think that I’m not angry too, but no one else heard what he said. It’s our word against his. And we’re at the bottom of the pecking order at this school and this town, for that matter. He’s a jock and belongs to an important family in this town. Our families are not so important…”
“But your brother Lucas, is a deputy,” Bethany reasoned.
“Yeah, he’s their token black deputy, because ‘Black Lives Matter’ you know,” she answered snidely.
“But Octavia…” Bethany whined.
“Please Bethany, just do what I ask. Now is not the time to take a stand. We have to be smart about this,” said Octavia.
“No touching allowed,” said Mr. Green, the assistant principal as he passed the two girls.
Octavia removed her hand, but continued to plead with Bethany with her eyes.
Bethany still had tears streaming down her face, but she got herself under control and wasn’t sobbing anymore. “Octavia, I hate being different, a weirdo.”
“You’re not a weirdo. And different is not a bad thing. Do most people really achieve anything special? Think about it. It’s the weirdos and people who dare to be different who go on to greatness. They don’t accept the status quo.”
“I guess,” said Bethany through her sniffles.
“I don’t understand why you won’t trust me Bethany. I’m your friend, I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“I know. I just hate being different.”
“And I’m not considered different?” asked Octavia, eyes wide with sarcasm and frustration.
“It’s not the same thing. When you leave this racist little town, it will be okay for you. I’ll be a weirdo no matter where I go,” said Bethany as she started crying again, quietly this time.
“Really?! You think racism is only in Dale City?! Do you even watch the news?!”
“No,” answered Bethany.
Octavia looked at her for a moment, both of them silent and then Octavia laughed, “Oh Bethany, I love you, but you need to open your eyes to the ways of the world. You’re not the only one who is persecuted. And you really need to learn to embrace your differences or you’ll spend your whole life wallowing in self-pity and end up a bitter old lady.”
Bethany stepped off the bus in front of the little peach colored, manufactured home she lived in with her mom. Her little grade horse, Starbuck, trotted up to the fence to the left of the house and nickered, when he saw her. She set her backpack on the porch and then went over to greet him. He nuzzled her with his reddish-brown nose, and she rubbed the big star on this forehead.
Helene pulled up in the driveway and after cutting off the engine to the massive, old, truck, it chugged a couple of times before completely giving up. Helene sighed, buying a new vehicle was simply not in the budget right now, or would it ever be… Before stepping out, she looked over at Bethany who was now inside the fence, hugging Starbuck. Helene could see Bethany’s body shaking with sobs even from the driveway on the other side of the house. Helene sat there a moment watching her daughter, sighed again and then stepped out of the truck. She walked around to the other side, opened the passenger side door, grabbed all the grocery bags and her purse and after hoisting them from the truck, shut the door with her foot and headed toward the house. She called out to Bethany, “Hey baby, I’ve got groceries, could you come help me put them up?”
Bethany didn’t hear her or acted as if she hadn’t. Helene was frustrated. She had been on her feet all day and was exhausted. A van from a retirement community had come in that day to purvey Amir’s shop and they insisted on asking endless questions about every piece in the shop. Amir was happy to oblige. And Helene enjoyed helping the ladies too, but she was on her feet for hours and packing up endless bits of antiquity, so now she just wanted to make an easy dinner and then sit down with her nightly glass of wine or two. She had a fresh box amongst her groceries and was eager to pop it open. But when Bethany came home like this, she knew it would be hours before she could relax.
Helene carried the groceries into the house and after setting them down on the little, round, wooden, kitchen table, she started putting them up. Their grey tabby cat, Trixie, jumped up to help her and was purring as she did so. Helene was agitated and wanted to snap at the cat, but Trixie looked at her with such unconditional love in her eyes, that Helene’s heart melted. She rubbed the aging cat’s head and said, “I love you Trixie, but I have things to do right now.”
Helene started to boil the water for the hot dogs, and opened the can of chili for the chili dogs she was making for dinner. It was one of Bethany’s favorite meals, so hopefully she would cheer up. Helene eyed the big box of wine she had set on the counter. It was only 4:30, but she wanted, no, needed a glass. Besides, like her granny used to say, ‘It’s five o’ clock somewhere.’
She was watching the hot dogs boil, with glass of wine in hand when she heard Bethany come in through the front door and go straight to her room and slam the door and start sobbing as soon as it was closed. Helene sighed for a third time. She loved her daughter with all her heart, but when Bethany was like this, she was unreasonable. Her sobs were so loud, it was obvious that Helene would be dealing with a full-scale meltdown tonight. Meltdowns were exhausting for both of them. Helene downed the rest of the wine in the glass, set it down on the counter, turned off the fire under the hotdogs and headed for Bethany’s room.
Helen knocked on her daughter’s door, “Bethany, what’s wrong? Please let me in.”
“Go away, Mom!”
“Bethany, please open the door. I love you. I just want to help you. Do you need a hug?”
Silence. Then the door slowly opened. Helene stepped into the room and held her arms open. Bethany sunk into her mother’s body and began sobbing even louder. Helene just held her daughter and didn’t say anything. It had taken Helene awhile to learn to do that, because when she was upset, she wanted to talk everything out. That technique did not work with Bethany. Her daughter had to sob the emotion out first and then they could talk…carefully.
Helene surveyed Bethany’s lair while her daughter sobbed. ‘Filthy,’ she thought to herself. There were books, comic books and clothes piled on top of the dresser; some of which had fallen off and others about to give up their precarious positions as well. Her nightstand was in the same state, bed unmade, empty diet coke bottles littered the floor. A floor which god knows when had last been introduced to a vacuum cleaner. Helene closed her eyes. That battle would have to be fought another day, now was not the time.
Bethany’s sobs were slowing so Helene took a chance and asked, “What happened? Why are you so upset?”
“Chet Dickson…” Bethany began and started sobbing again.
Helene tensed up, she didn’t make it a practice to hate people, but she hated that boy and his crew. She wanted to smash their heads together for hurting her baby. Helene was not a violent person, except when it came to protecting her daughter. But of course, smashing Chet’s head was not an option in civilized society.
“What happened?” Helene prodded.
“He called me retarded and Octavia the n-word,” said Bethany, now just crying lightly.
Helene clenched her fists and then relaxed them. She knew she had to remain calm if she had any hope of calming Bethany. “I’m so sorry Bethany. How is Octavia?”
“Octavia is fine.”
“Are you sure? Dealing with that racist, hateful asshole can’t be any easier for her than it is for you.”
“Well, she didn’t start crying,” answered Bethany.
“That doesn’t prove anything. Some people hold their emotions inside,” said Helene.
“Well, she seemed okay. She said that I needed to calm down because no one would believe us that he said it.”
“She’s probably right about that unfortunately, which convinces me that she’s not okay.”
“Octavia said, I need to embrace my differences and that I’m not the only one that’s persecuted,” said Bethany, no longer crying.
“See, that right there…she’s just as upset as you, but holding it in. And she’s right,” said Helene, shaking with anger over the pain Chet caused the two girls. Helene was especially fond of Octavia, because not only had the girl befriended her friendless daughter, but she had helped Bethany get the job at Orion Racing. Octavia would forever be dear to Helene because of what she had done for Bethany.
“Mom! Why are you taking her side?! You should be on my side!” shouted Bethany.
“I’m not taking Octavia’s side. You girls are on the same side. Just because I agree with something she says, doesn’t mean I’m against you, nor does it mean she’s against you. Why can’t you see that I’m always on your side? And so is Octavia!”
“No! You’re both disagreeing with me! That means you’re against me! Leave me alone!” Bethany shouted while rapidly flapping her hands.
“Bethany, please listen to reason. We love you,” said Helene.
“No, leave me alone!” shouted Bethany as she pushed Helene out of her room and then slammed and locked the door behind her.
Helene stood outside the door. She was shaking with anger. Anger at Chet, anger at Bethany for being completely unreasonable and anger at Bethany’s dad for abandoning them. But most of all, she was angry with herself for being angry and resentful. This routine had happened so many times, but it was exhausting for Helene every time. She knew Bethany would see reason once she calmed down and the meltdown had completely subsided, but these occurrences always sent Helene into a depression, because she worried so much about what would happen to her beloved daughter if she was not there to protect her.
I’m currently reading the 1943 edition of Thunderhead, by Mary O’Hara, which originally belonged to my Granny, Frances Grimes, who passed away in 2014. What’s weird though, is even though she knew how much I love horses, she never mentioned her love for them. She also owned, My Friend Flicka, the first book in this three horse book series. I just finished reading that one and will soon post a review. It had been so long since I had read these books that I forgot the herd stallion, Banner, was half Arabian. And even the wild stallion that they call the Albino is said to have some Arabian blood. It’s amazing to me how Arabians seem to show up everywhere in the horse world, in one way or another!
I titled this entry, Fortitude, because of a passage in this book where, Rob McLaughlin, is talking to his son, Ken, about the boy needing to learn how to handle disappointment in life and he references a quote from a book called, Fortitude: “It’s not life that matters-it’s the courage you bring to it.”.
Even though I’m not a big fan of the character, Rob McLaughlin, because he’s often stubborn and overbearing, I was struck by that passage. It is very difficult to react well when things are going wrong.
I’m currently quarantined because I was in close contact with someone who is now struck down by Covid-19. I’m on the fourth day of said quarantine, and the first three days were not handled well by me at all. The first day was the worst, because I allowed my anxiety to take control of me the whole day, and that night I couldn’t sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I’ve wasted three days of prime writing time just waiting to get sick. I kind of snapped out of it a little yesterday; did a few household chores and worked out, but no writing…
Well now I’m writing this, so I guess that’s something, even though I’m reaching the end of the fourth day. To quote Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”
This post is a little late obviously, since we’re well past Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and barreling toward Christmas, whether or not we’re ready for it (I’m not by the way). I was super busy with NaNoWriMo in November working on The Red Filly, so I let everything else slide as one does, when trying to write a novel in one month:
So you’re supposed to write 50,000 words, but I only got a little past 15,000 because Covid has finally struck my workplace. We have two people out right now with the virus. At least neither of them has had to be hospitalized and the rest of us are well so far, so if it continues on like that I consider myself and my crew blessed. We’re just working ourselves to exhaustion, due to being short handed…but at least we’ve managed to stay healthy so far.
I’m a retail pharmacist, so it’s not unexpected that we would be affected by Covid, but like everyone else, we do our best to avoid it. So when you’re dropping off prescriptions at your local pharmacy, please be understanding if the wait time is longer than usual since a lot of pharmacies are dealing with quarantined staff, whether they have the illness or have been exposed.
But like I said, I feel blessed because I am healthy and I managed to get half of the rough draft done for, The Red Filly, which is the farthest I’ve ever gotten on any of my novels!
Everybody hang in there and stay well! These are tough times, just keep writing, reading and mask up!
I recently added the second chapter of The Red Filly, on Channillo.com. Remember all proceeds from subscriptions to the series benefit Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue.
I’m having a lot of fun writing this story, which is inspired by a favorite book from my childhood, The Black Stallion. Although, my goal is not only to write about a girl and her horse, but address social issues as well. I hope to entertain with my writing as well as have a positive impact on society. I am very open to constructive criticism, as I continue to grow and learn as a writer. Thank you guys!
This post is just for fun because I received these awesome pictures today from Renee Boeshans, the owner of Spirit’s sire, Affirmativ. Here’s a pic of Affirmativ:
Affirmativ’s sire, Andreanov:
Affirmativ’s dam, Cedaridge Folaura:
As followers of this blog may remember, Spirit is the sire of my two Arabian loves: Flame aka NH Fyrecracker and Honey aka Spirits Fyrestorm.
Here’s their mom, Fyrelite:
More Spirit baby pictures:
Spirit’s dam, Raylee Asasi, was owned by Janice Johnson. Affirmativ spent several summers with the lovely mares owned by Mrs. Johnson, who was an ardent admirer of his. Renee spent three weeks with them on the first visit, riding horses and showing them how to hand breed the stallion.
One of the black fillies sired by Affirmativ at the Johnson farm, who was sold to Germany:
AV Midnight Lyric, a full sister to Fantasia, is still owned by Mrs. Johnson and is currently leased out to Belesemo Arabians:
I’m going to wrap this post up with some pictures of Spirit all grown up:
Okay, I lied; here are two more pictures of Affirmativ (Who ever gets tired of looking at pictures of horses, really?):
A quote from Gina Targoff’s best friend Strider Castillo (He is openly gay while Gina struggles to admit her true sexual orientation because of her overbearing, religious mother.):
“Now you listen Gina. I know you’ve been raised in this holy roller religious bullshit, but this is what I think. God made me this way, and God doesn’t make mistakes.” This is a quote from “Timmy and the Red Stallion”.
I hope to explore humanity and the pain and suffering people from different walks of life endure and hopefully overcome through my stories. I don’t live in a white, straight, world and my stories reflect that.
Here’s my Channillo bio:
I am a pharmacist and thus an essential worker during this time of Covid. My staff and I were nervous like everyone else when it all started, but because pharmacies had to stay open, we had no choice but to continue working during lockdown. We’re less anxious now as we work behind sheets of plastic and faceshields and it seems that we’ve even become accustomed to this new way of life. Writing stories has always been a dream of mine. A dream I first fully realized in seventh grade when my home room teacher asked me what I’d like to be when I grow up. I answered, writer, without hesitation. Even though in my area in north Texas, restaurants and such are open again, I don’t feel comfortable going out yet. At first that led to depression, but then I realized I could use the opportunity to write.
Timmy Tales is the first of many series I plan for Channillo. I came late to owning horses too. When I was growing up in an apartment in California, with no horses in sight, I read The Black Stallion series and any other horse books I could get my hands on and dreamed of one day living on a farm and owning my own horses.
I now live in north Texas in the suburbs. I didn’t make it to farm life, but I did finally realize my dream of horse ownership. My horses live 45 minutes away from me on a 200+ acre ranch. I love all animals, so I have many.
I board 4 horses at the ranch affectionately known as The Franch (Frances’s ranch). Two of them are rescues (one of which is Timmy) and the other two are Arabians. I live in the burbs with my daughter, four cats and 3 dogs, all of which are rescues. Well, except for my daughter. 🙂
I placed my Timmy Tales series on Channillo and plan to add The Red Filly once it’s accepted. All proceeds from both series will benefit Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue. Here’s the link to the series:
Not too long ago a fellow horse loving friend loaned me the DVD, “The Legacy of Sheila Varian”. He said, “You’ll love this because it’s all about Arabians,” or something along those lines. I didn’t watch it right away because I figured it was a boring documentary about some rich lady and her horse farm. I finally popped it in a week or two later and found myself drawn in by this woman, who was the quintessential dreamer of dreams!
Sheila Varian did not come from a rich family. She fell in love with Arabians the same way I did, through reading the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Her parents weren’t horse people but supported her dreams and at the age of eight she started riding her first horse, a Morgan/Percheron mix and because money was tight, learned to ride bareback. She didn’t acquire her first saddle until the age of twelve.
Horses were in Sheila’s blood, heart and soul from the start and while working as a high school physical education teacher, she worked toward her dream. Farlotta was her first Arabian and most beloved of all. When Farlotta passed on to the rainbow bridge at the young age of seven due to health problems, Sheila was holding her cherished mare’s head in her arms.
Sheila later acquired the mare Ronteza, who would set Sheila on her way toward creating her legacy. In 1961 Sheila and Ronteza won the Open Reined Cow Horse Championship at The Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. She was the first amateur, the first woman and had the first Arabian to take the title.
Through acquiring mares from Poland and careful breeding over the years, Sheila Varian created the dynasty that is now known as Varian Arabians. Her is a link for the video that tells the story of this great lady and her legacy:
At one point in the documentary Sheila talked about following your dreams. I can’t remember the exact quote, but what she said really made an impression on me. This woman was not rich, or beautiful (in the traditional sense), but she was driven. I’m sure she encountered pain and roadblocks along the way, but she didn’t let that stop her. She lived the life she wanted and that is inspiring!