Category: On animals

Ask a new author

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce that during the first six months of 2013, three Ashland Creek Press debut authors — Mindy Mejia, Olivia Chadha, and Jean Ryan — will be participating in the Book Divas‘ Ask a New Author column.




This means that for the next six months, Mindy, Olivia, and Jean will be answering questions from readers, writers, and other inquiring minds about their experiences of getting their first books out into the world. Send in your own questions by emailing them to

Here’s a little about these three debut authors…

Mindy Mejia “is simply a beautiful writer,” writes Mary Ann Grossmann of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Mindy’s novel, The Dragon Keeper, tells the story of the zookeeper of a Komodo dragon and a discovery that changes the scientific world forever, highlighting the perils of captivity and the astonishing ways in which animals evolve.

Olivia Chadha is the author of Balance of Fragile Things, an “absorbing” (Publishers Weekly) environmental novel about a multicultural American family that comes together just as the world around them begins to fall apart.

Jean Ryan‘s debut story collection, Survival Skills: Stories, is forthcoming in April. Jean writes of beauty and aging, and of love won and lost, with characters enveloped in the mysteries of the natural world and the animal kingdom. “This book will bring you closer to the things that are important in life” (Lori Ostlund, author of The Bigness of the World).

Visit Ask a New Author for past columns and conversations with such authors as Ellen Meeropol, Scott Sparling, and Nichole Bernier (not to mention book reviews, book giveaways, Industry Tips from authors, and more).

And don’t forget to send in your questions!

The (equine) faces of Equamore Sanctuary

By Midge Raymond,

The more time I spend among the horses at Equamore Sanctuary, the more I adore them. And the more I appreciate all that the Equamore Foundation does to take care of these animals, most of whom had no place else to go when they were taken in by Equamore.

Here’s one of Equamore’s newest arrivals — Wishes, who is almost completely blind but is also among the most curious horses I’ve met, always popping her head out of her stall to see what’s going on. She is so sweet and affectionate, and she loves attention. (My photos are always a little blurry, thanks to these horses being so animated!)

Shane is another new arrival, rescued along with Wishes from a situation that is not uncommon: good intentions that, unfortunately, led to neglect. While Wishes had been trying to navigate a pasture being unable to see, Shane was in a pasture and unable to eat; he is missing a lot of teeth, and he wasn’t receiving the nutrients he needed because he couldn’t process his food. Here’s a photo of Shane now, so happy to be at the sanctuary (where he receives special food that he can digest) and so happy about having dinner that he can’t stop eating to look up at the camera. He is still very, very thin — but the way he’s been eating, he’ll be at a normal, healthy weight in no time.

Hazel is another new arrival — she, too, was rescued from owners who didn’t know enough about horse care. This beautiful Appaloosa mare was left alone to graze in a vineyard fenced with barbed wire, where the resident dog chased her and pulled her tail. When her rescuers noticed that she growing thinner and virtually tailless, they called the Rogue Valley Humane Society, who came out to the property and found Hazel cowering in a chicken coop. She’ll now receive lifetime care at Equamore — and as you can see in this photo, she’ll be the first to tell you how happy she is about that.

If you want to help, visit the Equamore website, where you can learn more and make a donation to support these lovely creatures. And, if you’ve fallen in love with any particular horse, you can visit his or her individual web page and make a donation that directly supports his or her care.

Watching the Raptors Watch Us

By John Yunker,

Based in San Diego Country, the Wildlife Research Institute is an amazing organization that works to protect wildlife and its habitat.

Every year they invite the public to the grasslands of Ramona (north of San Diego) for a Hawk Watch. WRI played a key role in keeping these grasslands free from development and, in doing so, has protected an area rich in wildlife — and a popular wintering ground for hawks and eagles.

We attended a hawk watch several years ago and it was a relatively small affair. We attended again last weekend and were impressed at how many people were there, including lots of families. In a region where it seems people care only about expanding highways, it’s nice to see that in fact that there are plenty of folks who want to see nature preserved.

WRI works with another organization, Project Wildlife, to rehabilitate injured animals. The staff brought along a few of their rescued birds for show and tell. These birds are unable to survive out on their own.

Here we have a Peregrine Falcon — the fastest bird on the planet.

Peregrine Falcon

And here’s a screech owl — this little guy is mostly blind and has bad hearing.

Screech Owl

And below is a red-shouldered hawk.

red-shouldered hawk

We also saw a ferruginous hawk and a red-tailed hawk … not to mention a golden eagle out in the grasslands.

We also saw a curious coyote in the distance, possibly wondering what all the commotion was about.

Coyote in Ramona

If you’re in the San Diego area, check out the Hawk Watch. These events happen every Saturday in January and February.

  Category: On animals, On nature
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The Animals Among Us

By John Yunker,


red fox on san juan island

When we announced last month that Ashland Creek Press was planning to publish an anthology devoted to short stories about how the lives of animals and humans intersect, we had no idea what kind of response we would get.

I’m happy to say that the response has been amazing. The quality and quantity of stories has not only kept us quite busy — it has inspired us.

To know that so many other writers out there are devoting their talents to these complex, powerful, and important issues is heartening.

We’re now more than a third of our way toward a completed anthology, titled Among AnimalsWe expect to be setting a final submission deadline and a target date for publication early in the new year. Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on deadlines.

If you’re a writer with a story to submit (previously published stories are okay), here’s how to submit.

How to spot animal abuse — and how to help

By Midge Raymond,

The Ashland Daily Tidings published a feature today with some important information on how to know whether an animal is in need of help, and how to get that help. Animal cruelty is illegal in every state, and it’s a felony in forty-six. And it’s well documented, of course, that people who abuse animals also (or eventually) harm humans as well.

While this article is specific to the Ashland area, wherever you are, if you see abuse or neglect, immediately call the local police or 911. Document what is happening (with notes or a camera phone), and always follow up to make sure someone has investigated and the animal is safe. Visit the Humane Society website for more information on how to recognize abuse and what to do.

This Tidings feature offers all this information as well as inspiring words from those in the community who love and protect animals. Check out this video, where you’ll meet some of the beautiful horses at the Equamore horse sanctuary, including Sara, pictured below, and the wonderful people who care for her and forty-five other rescued and retired horses.

In the video you’ll also hear from artist Dana Feagin, who supports local sanctuaries and rescue groups as a devoted volunteer and also by donating a portion of the proceeds of her art sales to these organizations (and her pet paintings, many of which are of shelter animals, are amazing!). She did a portrait of our General Manager, Theo, and she captured his snarky likeness just perfectly. Even Theo seems to agree.

In the article you’ll find links to local shelters and sanctuaries that you can support — by donating, volunteering, and/or adopting a pet. And if you’re from outside Ashland, check out your own local animal shelter and see what you can do. From pet food to old blankets to time to money, every bit helps — and all of these places rely on the support of the community to continue the important work they do.