The First Horse I See

As an author, I try to heed the advice of other writers who recommend reading as much as possible.  Fortunately that advice led me to read The First Horse I See, by Sally Keehn.  As an adult, I enjoyed this book even more than I would have had I read it as a young adult, the intended audience.  The story was engaging; the characters believable; and the writing superb.  Keehn’s literary background shone through in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, from interwoven themes in the plot to the immersion of poetry and famous quotes as natural parts of the text.  It was a beautiful book that left one thinking about far more than horses.

In the story, the main character, Willo, is promised a horse before her mother dies, and Willo’s grandfather and dad follow through with the promise.  Against her grandfather’s wishes, Willo falls for the first horse she sees, an underweight, spirited, abused ex-racehorse.  Willo’s journey with the untrusting mare are reflective of many first horse ownership situations, but are magnified by the events occurring in the rest of the girl’s life.  An absentee alcoholic father;  a mother still greatly in her thoughts;  a neighbor boy of the right age; a grandfather learning to be a full-time parent; and the pressure to succeed with a difficult horse, all add great texture to this moving novel. [Read more…]

Judging a Book by Its Cover

The English idiom “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” has several meanings, one being you can’t make assumptions about the inside of something by only seeing the surface.    It wasn’t until after I saw my book cover that I realized how much this idiom had driven my thoughts on its appearance.  Now I have to give credit where it is due, as my publisher came up with the design while I only contributed some images and ideas.

Originally I wanted a photo of a horse running, thinking back to covers of the great horse novels such as The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and National Velvet.  My publisher instead suggested a close-up photo of a horse’s face.  Okay…he’s the boss.  Then he wanted to use a photo of a young girl, and on this one I didn’t in give as easily. [Read more…]

Local Politics

I live in Maryland, where the State legislature formed in 1632 – yes, before the United States became a country.  In the early days, many of the statesmen were farmers, and thus it made sense for the legislature to meet during the months least hospitable to working the land, January through early April.  This same schedule exists today, and many Marylanders are not aware that their elected State representatives conduct all their legislative business in a 90-day session, the vast majority of them holding other full-time jobs during the entire year.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, members of The Maryland Horse Council received a legislative tour of the State Capitol in Annapolis.   State Senator Edward R. Reilly, (R), District 33, Anne Arundel County, introduced himself as “Big Ed,” while shaking each of our hands and asking a little about us.  He brought us into his office, and spent over an hour explaining how a bill becomes a law in “The Free State.”  Using a horse bill passed this year, he stepped us through the process, injecting humor where appropriate, and allowed our youngest visitor, Grace (11), to sit in the Senator’s seat and act as Senator for the exercise.   Senator Reilly spoke about the power of each person’s voice, encouraged all to get to know their elected representatives and communicate with them, and then took us on a one-hour tour of the Capital.  [Read more…]

Veterans and the Eleventh Hour

I don’t know if it was just me, but this year the country seemed to be incredibly thankful on Veteran’s Day.  Social networking sites were flooded with posts, re-posts, and personal thanks.  Media coverage appeared higher than usual, and even The Washington Post included a front page article, Unbroken Spirit, about a brave young quadruple amputee veteran.  My words can’t do justice to this hero.  If you read the article, I think you’ll see what I mean.

I received numerous e-mails from friends and relatives yesterday, including the following:

“A Time to pause, a Time to grieve, a Time to remember, a Time to honor, a Time to be proud to be an American.  Thank you both for your service to us all.  Our best wishes for a thoughtful day for all who have served our country.” [Read more…]

Character Development

When I complained about challenges in life, my dad used to tell me: “It’s good for you; it builds character.”  He would say it as if in jest, but I knew he meant it.

People’s interest in some of the characters in Believing In Horses, has surprised me.  Readers have asked:

  • “Who was that supposed to be?”
  • “Are these real people?
  •  “Is your book an autobiography?”
  •  “Is that me?” [Read more…]

Competition

Being new to the ranks of “authors,” I’m learning all the time.  Sometimes this strikes me as funny, since one of the reasons I retired from the military was because I was tired of learning a new job every year or so.   But one of my recent lessons in writing has been the cooperation I’ve witnessed among writers versus the competition so prevalent among competitors in other professions and venues.

Writers truly seem to want to help each other.  My foray into writing came to fruition due to just such encouragement.   A stranger I met in Las Barrilles, Mexico, gave me the advice one of his writing mentors provided him:  “Just write.”  I was fortunate to have come across a website which provided many of the tools, and positive support, to get started – www.write4kids.com.  And I’ve since been lucky enough to join groups of other writers in forums such as www.jacketflap.com and to follow many writing blogs of interest.  Maybe the formula is simple in that writers like to write, so it reasons there would be much out there in the written word…but there’s probably more to it than that. [Read more…]