Just In Time for the Kentucky Derby 2014

Churchill DownsAround this time last year I had the pleasure of traveling to Louisville, Kentucky with my husband for a conference. We spent several days doing the “conference thing” but before we left we visited Churchill Downs. It was a cloudy, but warm, Sunday in mid-April and the place was virtually empty. On television during the Derby, Churchill Downs looks just like an any other big-named racetrack. In person, though, it is much, much more. Although there were no horses there at the time due to Derby repairs and preparations, it was still magnificent.

I’ve always been a fan of horses. In fact, my favorite animal is the horse. When I was younger I used to ride horses (or rather, ponies). I rode a particularly spunky pony named Chelsea. She was stubborn and thick-headed. In order to make her move at all I had to carry a riding crop. I didn’t have to use the crop, only show it to her. When she saw that I meant business, she would listen to my commands. Sadly, when I began swimming for my school in the 6th grade, I had to make a choice: swimming or riding. Since my school didn’t have an equestrian program, I chose swimming. I still miss riding, though, and I have never lost my love for all things horses.

As I gazed at the twin spires towering over Churchill Downs that cloudy Sunday, and looked around the empty grounds, I was inspired to write a short story. Upon our return from Louisville, I began to formulate that story in my mind and feverishly type away. I attempted to get the piece completed by the 2013 Kentucky Derby but due to work (yes, I do have a full-time day job) and other distractions, I was unable to accomplish that goal.

Twin Spires

The Twin Spires are a hallmark feature of Churchill Downs. Although it was a cloudy day, I managed to capture a decent photograph of the spires towering above me.

Now, as the 2014 Kentucky Derby fast approaches, I am elated to be able to share The Woman In The Zebra Hat with you. It is absolutely FREE! I’ve included a small blurb about the story along with the FREE download below. If you enjoy the story, feel free to pass it along to others and share a little bit of happy with the world. Read and enjoy!

zebrahatcoverimagesampleSue has always dreamed of being the woman in the zebra hat. From her very first Derby, she fell in love with the sights, sounds, and fashions of women in the grandstand. Year after year, she dreams of her perfect zebra hat, black dress, and lace gloves. Her childhood goal of becoming a racehorse owner comes true when she buys Old Earl, a pace horse with no racing experience. Join Sue and Old Earl as they follow their dreams and find out where they truly belong. The Woman in the Zebra Hat is an inspirational short story about family, dreams, love, and self-discovery. It’s the perfect lunchtime read, short and sweet, and will have you laughing, crying, and feeling uplifted.



The Woman In The Zebra Hat

Portable Document Format


(Click the PDF icon to open/download)




The Dog Days: The Back To School Blues

Annie McNease

It’s still hot outside, giving the illusion of summer days, but summer has come and gone and school has begun. My wonderful husband, Kyle, teaches at Florida State University which means he, too, must return to school. As with any first day of school, we tried to make sure he got started out right. We ate a hearty meal of grilled chicken and angel hair pasta with spaghetti sauce and went to bed at a reasonable hour. We did all of these things with good intentions…

“Amount of time it takes for a dog to ‘do its business’ is directly proportional to outside temperature + suitability of owner’s outerwear.” – Betsy Cañas Garmon

Last night, we took Annie out for an evening walk. There were children playing in the large, open field that sits in the center of our complex. Many of them wanted to see Annie and pet her. She was a good dog to them and for that we were thankful. She has always been good with kids, so we didn’t worry. Kyle took her out first while I gathered our keys and the batteries we needed to return to the grocery store. I locked the door and made my way over to where Annie was sniffing around, attempting to “do her business”. Unaware that the new neighbor (who never puts his small-ish black schnauzer-mix dog on a leash) and his dog were behind me, I saw all of the children and warned Kyle to hold Annie tight. At my advice, he wrapped our broken, used-to-be retractable leash around the plastic handle until it was taught enough to pull on Annie’s prong collar a bit.

“Did you say that because of the other dog?” Kyle asked as I finally reached him standing in the field.

“What?” I inquired, confused.

At that, I turned around to see a hyper black dog running at full speed towards us and his owner (the new neighbor) running awkwardly behind holding a Frisbee. Oh no! I thought to myself. Given the current state of Annie’s leash, I panicked. She began to bark excitedly as the neighbor approached her (still running, I might add) without saying a word to either of us.

“Hi Annie!” said the neighbor in a high-pitched tone. “I remember you! You remember me, don’t you?”

He squatted down to her level and put his hands out to pet her. That’s when I noticed her collar. It was broken and only hanging on because it had gotten tangled in the not-so-retractable leash string.

“Kyle,” I said nervously, “her collar.”

He looked and saw the problem and tried to pull Annie back. By this point, the neighbor (whose name I have yet to find out) had gotten her extremely excited. She started jumping and barking a shrill, desperate bark. She wanted to go play with the man and his unleashed dog who were running around throwing and catching the red Frisbee. The children only made matters worse because they immediately swarmed around the new dog on the block, ignoring Annie completely. Annie doesn’t take being ignored very well. Her crazed, desperate barking continued and I overheard one of the children remark, “That dog barks a lot,” to which another responded, “Yeah, that dog is bad.” Infuriated, both Kyle and I tried to contain Annie to no avail. She wouldn’t hold still long enough for Kyle to fix her collar and return it to her neck. After about 5 minutes of struggling with her in the field and becoming a spectacle for the children who had gathered to point and laugh, we dragged our loud-mouthed puppy back to the apartment.

“Rambunctious, rumbustious, delinquent dogs become angelic when sitting.” – Dr. Ian Dunbar

It was embarrassing, needless to say, and she still had not “done her business” yet. After fixing the prong collar, we put her pathetic excuse for a leash back on and took her out once more. I wanted to show the kids that she wasn’t a “bad dog” so I walked her to the field and made her sit several times. Things seemed to be going well until the unleashed pooch approached us. Trying to avoid another mess, I turned her away and quickly walked her out to the grassy knoll that is designated as a “dog area”. She managed to finally “do her business” properly and we promptly left to go to the grocery store.

Hours later, after dinner was cooked and enjoyed, and we had been asleep for some time, I was awakened by a terrible sound. It was something you would expect to hear on a horror movie when a ghost or evil spirit is doing whatever ghosts and evil spirits do. It sounded horrible and I turned to find out the source of the devilish sound. What I saw was Annie, heaving like she was possessed (further confirming that the sound was straight out of a horror film). Kyle had fallen asleep on the couch trying to prepare his lesson plans and was at the door to the room in a split second.

“Baby?” he asked, sounding terrified. “Is that you?”

“What?” I said, still half asleep. Once I figured out what he was saying and had awakened enough to process what was happening around me I said, “Oh, no. It’s Annie.”

I rolled out of the bed as she began to vomit all over the floor in front of me. Kyle grabbed her heaving body and quickly guided her to the bathroom where she proceeded to vomit again. I held her as she continued to dry heave and Kyle went to wipe up the disgusting mess. Once her heaving had subsided, she wagged her tail and begged for food. Kyle and I, on the other hand, were trying to investigate the cause of this sudden upheaval (pun intended). We inspected the vomit that Kyle had cleaned up and found hard pieces of something we couldn’t quite figure out. Then we saw a brown looking piece that, upon closer inspection, was determined to be an almond.

Nuts! I thought. It was an almond, which she must have found on the floor after one of us had eaten a handful of them. Fabulous! It was 3:00am and both of us needed to get some rest. After the evening we had with Annie and the embarrassment, this was simply the icing on the cake.

Annie seemed to be unaffected by the event and curled back up on her bed and fell fast asleep. Once we had managed to clean everything up and calm down, we, too, attempted to rest our wearied eyes.

Annie Sleeping

News and Other Noteworthy Information:

I’ve submitted what I hope to be the last revision to CreateSpace for The Last Navigator and will be ordering another proof as soon as possible. As soon as it is just right, I will get it out there so everyone can buy a physical copy. Yay! Get excited!

Also, The Woman in the Zebra Hat is now available on Kobo and has shipped to Barnes and Noble and Apple. Once it is available in other stores, I will post links. The Last Navigator is being released for purchase in multiple formats on September 2nd, 2013 (Labor Day) so don’t miss out on that. You can pre-order your copy now and it will automatically download on Labor Day.

I have joined the Independent Author Network and my profile is now live so you can go take a peek. It has links to all of my social networking profiles, my website, and links to purchase/download my books. Below is the link to my IAN profile:


I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

Interview on “Meet The Author”

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the “Meet The Author” blog by K.M. Francoeur. The interview is posted on the blog but I wanted to give you a preview here. Below are the first few questions of the interview. If you would like to read more, click HERE.

J. G. McNease Interview Preview from “Meet The Author”

J. G. McNease

Question:  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was just a little girl, but started writing novel-length fiction about a year ago.

Question:  What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?

The name of my first book is “The Last Navigator”. I published it in May of 2013.

Question:  Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?

I chose to go the self-publishing route with “The Last Navigator” using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.

Question:  Tell our readers about this very first book.  (For example:  What was the inspiration for writing it, and what was it about)?

My inspiration to write “The Last Navigator” came from experiences I had while participating in a graduate school course in Hawai’i several years ago. While visiting the School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, we learned of the Navigators, and of Nainoa Thompson, one of the few remaining true navigators. The Navigators are a group of people who use natural elements, such as the stars, the planets, the movement of the waves and clouds, to find their way in the ocean. The title, “The Last Navigator”, was inspired by the Polynesian Navigators and, although it is not about them, the Navigators in my book do use the stars to find their way. I pulled from elements of the Polynesian Navigator traditions to write “The Last Navigator” and develop my characters. The storyline and many of the characters were also shaped by my background as a social worker and my desire to learn about and understand the human condition.

In writing “The Last Navigator”, I wanted to create a story that pulled from my experiences in Hawai’i as well as from current societal and personal life themes. Themes such as the empowerment of women and the hardships of single parent households are evident in the book. The main character in “The Last Navigator”, Lani, is a young female whale who dreams of being more than average. She wants to make a difference—and she does. In developing her character, I wanted to empower young women to follow their dreams and not simply conform to the norms of this world. Lani is shaped by her life experiences and her relationships with other characters, such as, Mother, and Kilo, and even the zany character of Manny, the sea turtle. She learns through trials and overcoming obstacles that she can indeed reach for the stars and achieve great things. My hope is that in reading “The Last Navigator”, some part of Lani’s character will resonate with each reader. Whether that resonance is found in her search for life’s meaning, or her desire to go against the grain, I hope she will touch the hearts of readers young and old.

The Dog Days: Episode Two

Annie In The Car“In a dog’s life, some plaster would fall, some cushions would open, some rugs would shred. Like any relationship, this one had its costs. They were costs we came to accept and balance against the joy and amusement and protection and companionship he gave us.” ― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

After our first insanely stressful 24 hours with Annie, our Great Weimar (that’s a Great Dane/ Weimaraner) puppy, we thought that life would settle down a bit. We enjoyed our second “first night” with Annie as she slept soundly on her new bed. With a sigh of relief, we closed our eyes and thanked the Good Lord for our happy little family…

Day Two: Worrying About Worms

Our second day with Annie began as usual: wake up, walk pup, feed pup, feed self, go to work. Things seemed to be going just swimmingly, or so I thought. Around 10:30am I heard my phone buzz indicating that I had received a message. It was from Kyle. As I read the words on the screen, my heart sank. Just when we thought things were on the up-swing, we got knocked down once again. The message read something like this:

“Dude I just took her out for a walk and she had to poop. I looked down at it and there were white-ish colored worms or parasites or something moving in it! I picked up the poop and am probably going to take it to the vet if I can get them on the phone.”

Back to the vet he went with the dog and the bag of what he called “poop-worm delight” so that we could find out what the worms were and how to get rid of them. Like a fancy sports car, my stress level went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. What could be wrong with our poor puppy now? I sat at my desk, completely distracted and worried, just waiting for news on the state of Annie affairs. An hour or so later, I received another text message from Kyle. The vet had determined that the worms were tapeworms that Annie had gotten from ingesting infected fleas. Go figure. We had taken care of the flea problem, only to find out that the flea problem had turned into a tapeworm problem. The vet informed us that there was good and bad news to this situation. The good news is that tapeworms are common in dogs that have had fleas. The bad news is that the pills to get rid of the tapeworms cost $60.00. Annie didn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort from the worms. The only thing that was hurting at the end of the day was our bank account.

What in the world had we gotten ourselves into?

Continue reading

Featured Interview on Pubsmart Author

My author interview is featured today on Pubsmart Author! I’ve included a small snippet of the interview below for your enjoyment. Visit the Pubsmart Author website to find out more!

J. G. McNease

J. G. McNease Author Interview (A Snippet)

 Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected? (What was it?)

I did learn something from writing my book that was unexpected. I learned that I am capable of writing a book from cover to cover. I never thought that I could do something of that magnitude before but as the chapters continued to flow through my typing, I realized that I actually had it in me to write an entire book.

Where do you want to go with your writing career? Where do you see your writing career in five years?

I don’t know where I want to go with my writing career. I have hopes and dreams for my writing but you never know where life will take you. Just a year ago, I had no idea I would be a published author. I didn’t know I could write a book either. Now I have written a book and it has been published. In five years, I hope to have a couple of books published and I would love to see my name on a bestsellers list.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

I have a few works in progress at the moment. One of those works is the companion novel to The Last Navigator called Through Ryan’s Eyes. It is the story of The Last Navigator from the perspective of the human character, Ryan. It gives a bit of background into his life and what leads up to the last part of The Last Navigator. Another work I have in progress is a fictional book about real life events that happened in my life. For now, I’m calling it Adoptee Anonymous and it is telling a story of a character named Lynn and her journey to find out more about herself. My hope is that it will be an encouragement to any adoptee who struggles with similar issues in life. My last work that I have in progress is my collection of short stories. I have two short stories written already and I’m working on the third right now. The third short story is called “Waltzing With Raindrops” and it is about a woman and her relationship with her aging father who is in the hospital after having a stroke. It is a story for all of the “Daddy’s Girls” out there.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

When I’m not writing I spend my time working. I have a full-time day job as an administrative assistant so writing isn’t my primary activity. I also spend time with my husband watching TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video…

 To read the rest of the interview, click HERE.

More news…

  • The Last Navigator will be the featured book on Pubsmart Author tomorrow, July 10, 2013.
  • I have three (3) reviews for The Last Navigator on Amazon. If you enjoyed the book, feel free to write a brief review telling others about it! I appreciate the support!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease