Learning Something New Every Day

Being Secretary of the Maryland Horse Council is not always that secretarial. Take for instance, this past weekend’s Maryland Horse Council Annual Barbeque, when I had the opportunity to play polo on the Maryland Horse Council Executive Committee’s team.

Valerie Ormond (left), Grace Fulton (center), and Jaime Navarro (right). Photo by Sue O'Donnell.

Valerie Ormond (left), Grace Fulton (center), and Jaime Navarro (right). Photos and videos by Sue O’Donnell.

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Inspirational Young Horse Saver

I reconnected with a childhood friend recently whose daughter, Nicole, volunteers with Freedom Hill Horse Rescue. My friend mentioned Nicole was preparing her end-of-year book report and diorama on my book, “Believing In Horses.” When I saw her diorama and read her report, I found it so touching that I wanted to share them with others. In times when children are often criticized for being self-centered and lazy, I’m happy to highlight one who is not.

So, from my youngest contributor to this blog, I bring you 10-year-old Nicole Cavanaugh, an inspirational young horse saver.

Nicole Cavanaugh's diorama for Believing In Horses

In this scene from “Believing in Horses” Sadie is going to Freedom Hill Horse Rescue for the first time. Sadie is visiting Freedom Hill to sign up as a volunteer and to show them her presentation about the horses that need to be saved. She is hoping they will help her save the horses that are going to be auctioned. This is an important moment for Sadie because this is the first time she asks for help to achieve her goal. (Nicole Cavanaugh)


The Navarros are moving to Bowie, Maryland, because Sadie’s Dad is in the military and is being reassigned for a few years. One of those years he will be in Afghanistan, which makes Sadie sad. Her reward for being so good about the situation is a horse. Sadie’s grandmother sends Sadie a horse. His name is Color Me Lucky but they call him Lucky. One day Sadie learned about 10 horses that needed to be saved because they were going to auction. Many horses that go to auction are killed for meat. Sadie decided she [Read more…]

Christmas Heroes

Christmas brings back my last happy memories with my father. Growing up as “Daddy’s little girl,” it was no family secret that we shared a special bond. Dad served in the Navy in my early years, and I enjoyed hearing sea stories and exotic tales of places he visited. One time he brought home from a Navy cruise a three-foot-tall wooden table shaped like a monkey, which my brother and I named “Baboo.” My mother hated it. Mom’s detest for this furniture-creature among our early Colonial style décor made Baboo that much funnier to me, at six-years-old, and my way more mature older brother at seven. Dad’s sense of humor never stopped, and to this day when I think of him, I see twinkling blue eyes, shiny round cheeks, and a grin that made his entire face smile — just like that last Christmas.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Whether consciously or not, I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined the Navy.  Fiercely proud, my dad visited me at every duty station he could. And when I came home, Dad always wanted me to stop by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter Home, Omaha Beach Chapter Number 7, in Bowie, MD, to show me off to his friends and colleagues in the local veterans’ organizations. Every Christmas, the DAV held a holiday party for the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Each year, one of the big highlights of the event for the Charlotte Hall residents was the belly dancer. [Read more…]

Setting and Reaching Goals

I saw this quote today which confirmed to me I should go ahead and write the blog post I’d been thinking about.

Cumberland, Md., beginning of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Cumberland, Md., beginning of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Zig Ziglar.

I recently biked the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal towpath – 184.5 miles – over a few days.  I had set a goal for myself years ago that this was something I wanted to do in life.  Last May, while my husband and I were on vacation in Shepherdstown, WV, we biked a portion of the canal on our way to Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland and decided it was time to reach for that C&O Canal goal. [Read more…]

A Real Good Story









I last posted about “Keeping It Real” in writing and mentioned how some people responded to my book, Believing In Horses, turning fiction into reality. Last week, some local children made a significant donation to local rescues in their “Kids Can Do BIG Things, Too!” campaign. Please welcome my guest blogger, Kristy Alvarez, founder of Desire Ministries and the leader of this campaign, who tells the story in her words. 

As many of you know, or may not know, through Desire Ministries, we have been running an after-school Horse Club program since 2006.  We meet with the students of Cornerstone Christian Academy on a weekly basis so that the students who participate can learn the basics of horseback riding and horsemanship at Loftmar Stables in Bowie, Md.

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Critiquing Guidelines via Edie Hemingway

I blogged recently about the value of receiving critiques as a writer. I then fortunately received the following guidelines from co-Regional Advisor of the Maryland-Delaware-West Virginia Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Edie Hemingway, on giving critiques. Edie graciously agreed to let me share these tips in my blog as a follow-up to my last post.

In Edie’s words, “I put these together when I started teaching my own workshops, based on my experiences ‘workshopping’ during my MFA program at Spalding University. I’ll also be using them for the online course I’m teaching this summer for McDaniel College’s graduate certificate program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.”

Edie Hemingway is the author of Road to Tater Hill
(Delacorte Press and Yearling paperback), winner of a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and besides writing, teaches several writing workshops. If you’d like to find out more about her and her programs, she can be reached at

This is a great list for those who belong to a critique group or plan on joining one. As Edie suggests, these are also useful during the revision process.

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