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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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 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…]

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…]