On Book Reviews

On Book Reviews

As an author, why should I review other writers’ work?  Because it makes me a better writer.

About a year ago, I read an article on Writing.com that suggested the same conclusion, so I thought I’d check it out.  After all, reviewing includes reading and analysis, something I’d spent a lifetime doing as an intelligence officer.  So how hard could it be?  Turns out, not so easy.  And how to synthesize several hundred pages into a paragraph, and cram those days of personal reactions into just a few statements?  I’ll offer some suggestions that work for me. [Read more…]

Thoughts on Book Awards from a New Recruit

Believing In Horses Wins First Place in Children's Category, Stars and Flags Book Awards

One of my mentors used to tell young Navy recruits the following: “You may think you are new and don’t know much, but as soon as you’ve spent a day in the Navy, you know more than those who have just arrived. You are a mentor, and it’s up to you to share your knowledge with those coming in behind you.”

I decided to apply this to my new writing career. I still consider myself that “young recruit” who doesn’t know much, so am surprised when people ask me advice. But then again, I look at how much I’ve learned in the past few years through reading, courses, conferences, associations, and most importantly, doing. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a topic on which I don’t see too much written – book awards. [Read more…]

Horse Book Club

Today I met the newly-formed and already-fantastic Horse Book Club at Nantucket Elementary School in Crofton, Md.  Nantucket’s school librarian, Ms. Miller, brought together this group of enthusiastic horse-crazy students to read and discuss my book, Believing In Horses, over the next several months.  Like so many of our educators out there, Ms. Miller, and her assistant Ms. Clark, have gone beyond their required jobs to create a special learning environment for these readers.  Ms. Miller asked if I’d come sign and present the books and talk to the Club on its inaugural day, which of course I happily did.

To make this an ongoing interactive experience, the Club will use a relatively new educational social media platform, Edmodo.  According to its creators, “Edmodo promotes anytime, anyplace learning. Functionally, it allows teachers to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share content and materials, and network and exchange ideas with their peers – but in reality, it is so much more.”  The librarian established a Believing In Horses group in Edmodo allowing us all to discuss and share ideas virtually.  Ms.Miller’s first post:   “I hope you will enjoy our book club. Our first task is to find a neat name for our book club. Think about ‘horse’ words and share them with the group.”

Educational Social Media Tool [Read more…]

Hitting it Big at Borders

Book signing for Believing In Horses by Valerie Ormond on July 16, 2011

Book signing for Believing In Horses at Borders, Annapolis, Md. on July 16th, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

July 16th, will mark a new “first” in the Believing In Horses experience – a book signing at a major bookstore, Borders, in Annapolis, Md. To some, this may not seem to be such a big deal. After all, Believing In Horses is a BOOK, and Borders is a BOOK store, so why should people stop what they are doing to read this post? Let me explain.
Remember the story The Little Engine That Could, about the small engine that pulls a train over the mountain while repeating its motto: “I-think-I-can”? Or maybe for horse lovers, remember Seabiscuit, the scrawny colt no one believed in who overcame all odds to become a world-famous racehorse? Well, getting a book from a small press like J.B. Max Publishing into a large bookstore like Borders represents a similar feat.
You see, large bookstores like to deal with big publishers and major distributors; it’s much easier than working with the less known. However, I’ve found once again, decent people exist who provide chances for the little guys like me. I asked, and the Sales Manager at Borders, Annapolis, welcomed me, as a local author, with enthusiasm and professionalism. Maybe he felt me telegraphing, “I-think-I-can” in my request. [Read more…]

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…]

Fun First Events

Since the official release of Believing In Horses on March 21st, I discovered that book events are fun.  My clever and talented brother developed a talk show format for presentations in schools, “Books Alive with Reed Moore,” which gets kids participating and interested in the subject.  Reed Moore (also known as the Believing In Horses EdUCator) made the kids laugh, think, and unable to wait to ask questions.  Even those who appeared disinterested at first couldn’t help but be motivated by Reed Moore’s energy!  Tremendous audiences at Harmony Hills Elementary School, Silver Spring, MD, and Tracey’s Elementary School, Tracy’s Landing, MD, read aloud, played along with the activities, and asked thoughtful questions.  Parents and teachers groaned at some of the campy jokes, but something in common happened across the rooms no matter the age:  sparks.

Eddy Ormond and Valerie Ormond at Books Alive with Reed Moore

Eddy Ormond (left) and Valerie Ormond speak to students at Tracey’s Elementary School as part of the “Books Alive with Reed Moore” Tour.

Author Kathi Appelt, mentioned in my last blog, recommends writing like your fingers are “on fire.”  Author Valerie Sherwood encourages writing about what genuinely interests you so words “catch fire” with readers.  I’m sure if I searched, I’d find many other fiery writing quotes, but I think you get the point.  However, I discovered it is one thing to hear and read others’ advice, and quite another to see that sparkle in people’s eyes in person when a book comes alive.  [Read more…]