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…]

Believing In Reading

Senator Reilly, Read Across America

Senator Ed Reilly donating Believing In Horses for each elementary school in his district in honor of Read Across America Day

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut)

Today marked the 14th anniversary of Read Across America Day, and this year, I got to be part of the celebration!

Maryland State Senator Edward R. Reilly (R-District 33, Anne Arundel County), selected my novel, Believing In Horses, as his book donation for each of the 24 elementary schools in his district.  Senator Reilly invited me to the State House in Annapolis to deliver the books with him during the Maryland State Education Association’s celebration of Read Across America.

The National Education Association’s (NEA’s) Read Across America Day, which falls on or around Dr. Seuss’s birthday annually, is the nation’s largest reading event.  Senator Reilly and I will each be visiting schools to read and discuss Believing In Horses in a continuing celebration of Read Across America throughout the year. [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…]

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…]

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…]