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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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…]

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…]

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…]