Back to Basics Works

I recently conducted a writing workshop that led me back to basics. You see, my group ranged in ages four to fourteen, and I had thirty minutes to teach them how to write a story. At the same time, I happened to be reading Stephen King’s
On Writing, the best advice I’ve seen on the craft. When I looked back, my simple “lesson plan” contained striking similarities to the master storyteller’s guidance, so I thought I’d share what I learned. [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.

[Read more…]

Kings of Colorado – Book Review

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

Not long ago, I received an e-mail that went something like this:

“Dear Valerie,
David E. Hilton’s debut novel KINGS OF COLORADO—now available in paperback (Simon & Schuster; January 3, 2012; $14.00)—is a powerful coming-of-age story set on a juvenile delinquent ranch in the Rockies….I would love to send you a copy of KINGS OF COLORADO to review, giveaway, or feature on Believing in Horses….” 

Since Simon & Schuster cared about my thoughts, I thought I would share them here as well.

In Kings of Colorado (Simon and Schuster, 2011) by David E. Hilton, Will Sheppard stabs, but does not kill, his father, and pays the price for the rest of his life. Sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in Colorado across the country from his Chicago home, thirteen-year-old Will learns lessons one would hope a child protecting his mother from his abusive father would never have to learn. Two years at the brutal boys’ ranch toughens Will, but does not leave him devoid of emotions. His saving graces include friendships, a special horse he trains, and a kind nurse. Will endures one violent and tragic hardship after another, leaving the reader wondering if he can possibly survive.

[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…]

Written in the Margins

I break all the rules of what is considered “good” blogging. I don’t stick to one theme; my subjects are all over the place. I don’t incessantly “market” (polite word for “promote”) my own work. I don’t ask for opinions just to get people to interact with me, as suggested by marketers, (although I appreciate comments). So, in my continued rule-breaking, I’m going to post a review on a recent book I enjoyed, and it’s not even about horses.

Alma Margaret Permar’s Written in the Margins, Poems Touching the Essence of Life, (Wheatmark 2011) shares life experiences and emotions in a beautiful, well-displayed collection. In Permar’s own words, “There are the margins: the places where we’ve written notes to ourselves that reveal the essence of our journey.” Her poems range from just a few words to two pages in length in this 185-page volume, with most pages including one poem. Like much of reality, the writings cover happiness, grief, wonder, and hope. Permar’s choice of words and ability to capture the deepest of thoughts in soothing prose make for a wonderful read. [Read more…]