The Race Goes Not Always to the Swift, But to Those Who Keep Running*

Running PhotoBut what does running have to do with writing, or horses, or the military, or any of the other things I normally blog about? Well, running is a part of who I am. I started running in college to try and unsuccessfully chase away the freshman pounds, but I didn’t become a dedicated runner until my first year in the Navy. I found that besides the health benefits, running gave me time to think, a peace of mind, and that there really was something to that whole endorphin-high rumor. I made many running friends, entered numerous fun events, explored new trails and sights, AND fit into my clothes better. I loved the solitude of a long run and found that answers to questions came to me while running that I otherwise could not figure out. I owe a lot in life to my running habit.  [Read more…]

Writer’s Muscles

Now that I’m offically a “writer,” people frequently ask me: “How do I become a better writer?”

My responses may vary some, but the key advice doesn’t change: “Write more and read more.”

I especially like to encourage people to expand beyond what they noramlly write to flex those brain muscles. Reaching beyond normal boundaries also provides writers a good break from their normal routines, and may just unearth hidden talents writers may not know lie beneath.

I took my own advice a few months back and participated in Writing.com’s 15 for 15 contest. Contestants respond to a writing prompt title and image, and write a story, prose, or  poetry in 15 minutes or less for 15 days in a row. I truly enjoyed the people I met virtually through the contest and found it to be an excellent exercise in ensuring I wrote — even just for 15 minutes a day — for over two weeks. I even placed a few days, and below was what the judges named the winning entry one day. I considered it a win that I hit all 15 days, and learned something in the process.

Writing Prompt

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Measuring Success

How do you measure success as a writer?

Novel Publicity posed this as one of its author Facebook page questions last week.  I’ve considered this question regularly, and need to come back to it when I get off track.  I SHOULD develop a writing mantra along the lines of “Success equals creating something meaningful.”  Okay, need to work on the mantra, but I think you get my point.

Forces must have realized I needed to think about it, as I came across Charlotte Carter’s blog entry, Win Vs. Compete.  Her final question:  “Where do you fit on the competitiveness scale?” I’m very proud of my military background and heritage.  However, spending 25-years in competitive organizations among extremely competitive people drove a competitive edge into me that I don’t think was there by nature.  And now, as a writer, it’s time to focus on what I want as part of the process and in the end, not what someone else has defined for me as success. [Read more…]

Just Add Magic

Just Add Magic

Abracadabra–it’s official:  I AM a writer. I learned this, among other things, while attending my first all-day writing conference, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia Region Spring Conference. Over 190 attendees included beginner and experienced writers, illustrators, editors, agents, and more.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to make some new acquaintances, including Cindy Callaghan, author of Just Add Magic, which seemed an appropriate image for this blog, for reasons you’ll understand if you read to the end (not fair, I know!).

Since I don’t think anyone wants to hear my play-by-play description of the conference, I’m going to report a short takeaway from each speaker I saw.  (Due to breakout sessions, I could not see/hear all speakers). My highlights may not be the same as someone else’s, but that’s part of the beauty of conferences – the ability to listen for the messages applicable to you. [Read more…]

The Art of Photography

Lucky Southern Maryland Horse Association Show 2010

I appreciate the art of photography, which is one of the reasons I chose this form of “illustration” for  my novel, Believing In Horses. Besides the fact that the story is modern and photographic images are intertwined in the plot, I truly value what it takes to capture a good photograph. I studied photography in high school, college, and at the Defense Information School and understand the supposed qualities of good pictures. I also know that I can’t take a good picture to save my life, which may help explain why I appreciate the art form so much.I love the picture here, whether it follows all the conventions of the “rule of thirds,” contrast, or not.

This picture, to me, tells a story. The position of the horse’s head, the slightly tattered barn door, the garment bag peeking out from behind the last ribbons — they all tell us something about that exact moment in time. I happen to know the story, which makes it easier, but I would hope that even the casual observer could view this photo and feel like it meant something. [Read more…]

Hold Fast to Dreams

Chance of a Lifetime – MRS Photography, LLC

Dreams”  (Langston Hughes)

“Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die,

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is like a barren field

Frozen with snow.”

My grandmother transcribed this poem for me when I was very young, with the following words of encouragement: “I saw this and thought you might like it. Of course, I like your poems better.” She left out the author’s name, and had no idea Langston Hughes had penned the poem. Even if she had, it would not have changed her sentiment. When I was a child, I loved to write, and I loved horses, and my grandmother did whatever she could to make me believe I was good at both. She believed in me, and wanted me to live my dreams.       [Read more…]