Writer on a Horse
And a Dog

The world looks better from the back of a horse and the roads of life are easier with a good dog beside you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rain Rain go away

Well another damp and dreary weekend, sort of feelings like England or at least what I've read about England. Is it really damp and gloomy?
Five inches of rain is what they are saying. I'm starting the Weaver ark, if this year is anything like last year we'll need it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Got a small request

I'm doing a new book summer list for the local paper -- not reprints, has to be new release for age 9-12
If you could post suggestions or email me suggestions it would be great.
I have several on list now
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) by Rick Riordan (Hardcover - May 4, 2010)
Samirah's Ride: The Story of an Arabian Filly (The Breyer Horse Collection) by Annie Wedekind (Hardcover - June 22, 2010)
Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stevermer (Hardcover - June 10, 2010)
The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier (Hardcover - June 8, 2010)
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick (Hardcover - June 1, 2010)
Word After Word After Word by Patricia Maclachlan (Hardcover - May 18, 2010)
Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes (Hardcover - May 25, 2010)
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm (Hardcover - May 11, 2010)

This is my personally list but I'm open to suggestions

Don't you think the picture is cute. Love to hear them talk and my kids made me watch Shrek and I love doney.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I hate buying Tires

But if you're going to drive they are necessary to travel. Just think how many books I could have brought. The Granny Rig will be shod tomorrow. It has been stalled because of lameness or flatness whichever you want to pick. If you don't know what the Granny Rig is... it's my van.

Monday, April 26, 2010

being helpless is not a good feeling

One of the horses at the barn colic today. Ronnie went to feed tonight and Taraka was down. After an hour of pulling and whipping (I know sounds mean but he had to get her up ... he was alone and Taraka weights 2200 pounds) he got her up and to the barn. Because the other horses knew something wasn't right and it was feeding time they caused her to jerk away from Ronnie and ran to the back pasture. When he got to her she was down and her eyes had rolled back in her head. He couldn't get her up and she wasn't responding other than trying to roll and pawing the ground with her front feet. He ran to his phone and called me... bad decision I only panicked... but I did call the trainer and she got to the barn in less than five minutes. She gave her a shot of Thiazine directly in the vein and in less than a minute she was up and in less than an hour was eating. Whew, that was close. I know that we will lose a horse one day but thank you God it wasn't today.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New baby is cute but oh my a character

First thing the new colt did was kick at my husband. The mother is calm and gentle. After we released them in the pony pasture, the colt bucked and pranced and reared up and tried to jump over his mother. I think my son might have his hands full with this one. No name yet will let you know.
The picture is of a bay colt and ours is a sorrel... all the same color even the tail and mane... bay has a black tail and mane.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Isn't Mother Nature Awesome

My heart goes out to the people in Mississippi. All is well in Northwest Alabama
Now for the good news. We have a new baby. Ron bought a month old colt today. Pictures will come soon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Non Fiction Triangle

Several years ago, I attended a creative non-fiction writing workshop in Franklin, TN. I left the workshop with new stories swirling in my mind and my fingers aching to get to my keyboard. The workshop, hosted by “The Council of the Written Word” guild, was wonderful and if the information I gained by participating in these classes had been chocolate; I would now weigh over 200 pounds. The guest non-fiction authors, Lynne Bachleda, Lucas Boyd and Darnell Arnoult, interacted with the attending writers. They were friendly and willing to answer questions. Here are so of the questions asked.

1. Lynne Bachleda is a freelance researcher and writer, her question was; “If you could only read one type of book for the rest of your life what would it be, fiction or non-fiction?”

She then divided the class into groups of threes and gave each member of the groups a number 1, 2 or 3. Number 1 had to tell number 2 why she chose fiction or non-fiction and then it was 2 turn to tell 1; during this time number 3 had to listen to both. Then Ms. Bachleda asked the 3’s to tell the group what their 1 & 2 said. The results were amazing.

One lady stated just what the two had said but add editors of her feelings like “I think they explain or I feel that”, one man stated what he heard and both 1 & 2 said that was not what they said and finally my group 3 relayed what we had said and I felt compelled to add to her statement to justify what she was saying. We all were a little confused by this exercise, until Ms Bachleda pointed out her reason for this exercise.

A. Non-fiction has the author’s personality and comments, so does this still make it non-fiction. Yes, and in most cases it makes the non-fiction piece more interesting.
B. Non-fiction will always have controversy because not everyone will hear or perceive facts the same.
C. Non-fiction will be acknowledged differently by your readers and not everyone will get it.

2. How can I write a non-fiction manuscript and make it interesting?

This question was asked of Ms. Darnell Arnoult, an instructor of creative writing and a member of the Duke Writers Workshop faculty. Her answer was; “By using the tools of good fiction writing (well-developed characters, vivid setting, plot line, dialogue, strong story telling voice, and metaphor) you can create an honest and artful narrative of a true event that is a joy to read.”

Finally, I would like to share the Memoir Triangle that was presented at this workshop. Draw a triangle, at one of the points write How the event really happened, at the second point write How you remember the event and at the third point write How you will create the narrative of this event. In the center of the triangle write Meanings and truths. All the points touch the meanings and truths and your job as a writer is to write a good story using those meanings and truths. Listen to other family members and search your soul for the truths then write what you remember as you remember it. The most asked question was “How do I write my memoirs without hurting my family?” The answer was; “It is hard to do but if one of the characters of your memoir is not presented in a favorable light, change the physical look of that character so the family member will not recognize it as them. Say Aunt Sadie had long straight black hair, make her have short curly red hair. The event is still non-fiction and a memoir, the appearance of the character is the only thing changed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I now love Mysteries... life is strange

I’ve never been a big fan of mysteries, adult or children. When I started the research for this month’s questions, I dragged my feet (or would that be fingers) not wanting to spend time looking up information about a genre I really don’t like. I started reading about the plot lines, character sketches, and timing of clues. I concluded mysteries are puzzles to work out by the reader and the writer. I love puzzles! I’ve changed my mind about the genre of mystery writing. My hat is off to any writer that can plot and execute a great mystery. Maybe that was why I didn’t like mysteries. Maybe I hadn’t been reading well-written ones.

What are the categories of Mystery Novels?

In children writing there are three distinct subgroups
1. Puzzle
2. Detective/Crime
3. Suspense

Most of your novels middle reader mystery series would fall into one of these categories. Harry Potter-Suspense and maybe a little puzzle
Encyclopedia Brown-Detective
Nate the Great-Detective
Goose Bumps- Suspense
Nancy Drew-Puzzle
The Boxcar Children-Puzzle

I have two questions for the readers.
1. How did the Boxcar Children series get its name?
2. What year was the first book of this series published?

I’ll give you the answer at the end of the column.

Why are middle reader mysteries so popular?

Most of these series have average characters that achieve amazing feats. The reader become involved with the character’s problems and start trying to think of possible solutions. The young reader doesn’t even realize they are learning value skills that will help them in the future like problem solving, using your head in tense situations, difference between good and evil and critical thinking. The young reader only knows the characters of these series become friends and they want to know more about them.

I write Young Adult and at critiquing groups, I’ve heard the terms “cozy” and “hard-boiled” used to describe mystery novels. Can you explain what these terms mean?

The cozy mystery has an amateur sleuth and takes place among regular people. The main character solves the mystery with logic thinking not physical actions. Sex is not something people do in these novels; it’s the secret everyone is hiding.
The hard-boiled mystery has a professional detective/police officer as the main character. There is violence, sex and takes place on the mean streets of a city.

How do you check out facts and details to make your story seem true?
1. Ask an expert is the best way. If your mystery’s setting is a bank, go see a banker and ask questions. Think about the fields where most mysteries take place- insurance, law, medicine, law enforcement. You probably know people who work in these fields and could answer your questions. Hands on information, is always the best.
2. Look it up. Be careful of information you get off the internet. Check and crosscheck to make sure it is correct.
3. Put yourself in the situation. Go sit at a police station, a hospital emergency room, or law office. Take notes and pay attention.

A little research and accurate details will make your novel more believable. A word of caution too many facts and details can slow you novel to a point where the reader gets frustrated and will put the book down. Like any manuscript, blend the information into the plot and show the readers the information rather than just telling them.

If you need tips on how to write mystery novels,
1. Sue Grafton’s Writing Mysteries
2. What Happened When by Gorton Carruth
3. The Crime Writer’s Reference Guide by Martin Roth
4. Any of the Writer’s Digest mystery series: Amateur Detectives, Armed
and Dangerous, Deadly Doses, Missing Persons, Murder One, Private Eyes, just to
name a few titles

I would love to get questions from the Boost membership and subscribers to The Blue Review. Send you questions to dawgprint1@comcast.net

To answer a non-theme question submit this month.

Do you like gummy bears?

Yes I do. The like the red ones best. There is only one problem with eating gummy bears; they get stuck in your teeth.

Here are the answers to the questions I asked earlier. The first Boxcar Children book was
published in 1942. I’m putting the synopsis on the Sixtieth Anniversary publication.

(The 60th Anniversary Edition)
by Gertrude Chandler Warner
illustrated by L. Kate Deal and Linda Fennimore
Albert Whitman and Co

Ages 7-12
169 Pages

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden are orphans. Determined to stay together after the death of their parents, the children set off on their own. When they discover an old, abandoned railroad car, they take shelter inside and soon make it into a cozy place to live. But eventually the children are discovered by their wealthy grandfather, who takes the kids --- along with their old, red boxcar --- into his heart and his home. Together with Grandfather, the Boxcar Children lead an exciting life, traveling to new places, meeting interesting people, and getting caught up in any number of fascinating adventures. Ghosts, disappearances, and weird spooky happenings are all part of the fun in the Boxcar Children series. Of course, there's always a mystery afoot for the Boxcar Children to solve --- and just in the nick of time, too!

Gloom, despair and excessive agony

Several years ago, I attended a SCBWI conference in Birmingham, AL and one of the speakers was Marilyn Edwards, editor/owner of Hopscotch, Boys’ Quest, and Fun For Kidz. She talked about ‘The Fear Factor’ and how to overcome it. Mrs. Edwards told us not to think of rejections as rejection letters but as declining letters.

The word rejection deflates a writer’s ego and self-confidence. Thinking of ‘no thank-you’ letters as declining letters helps to keep our writer’s confidence high
and encourages us to send it somewhere else. We’ve all heard that they’re not rejection us but declining our manuscripts for one reason or another.

Mrs. Edwards said to remember the 5 P’s when submitting, Proper, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Performance.

I won’t submit because I’m afraid of being rejected. How do I overcome my fear?

1. You need to build confidence that you write material that is worthy of publication. You do this by networking with other writers and joining critiquing groups that not only find faults in your manuscript but also points out the good things. Other writers understand how you feel and are the best remedy for rejection letter fears.
2. Polish your manuscript and study the marketing books so you send it only to publishers that need and want material that your manuscript contains. Now take a deep breath, address that envelope, and submit it. The worst that can happen is they will say ‘no’, but don’t take it personal. file the declining letter away, burn it at midnight while chanting a curse, or simple throw it in the trash and the next day send that manuscript somewhere else.
3. Remember if you don’t submit you will never be published and that is the goal of every writer.

I’ve heard editors say, “Rejections are not personal, it is only business.” My stories are personal to me, how can I change my prospective on my writing?
1. Don’t! You personal prospective is what makes your writing unique. I know from my own experience, I prolong the end of a novel so I don’t have to say good-bye to my characters.
2. Once the book is finished, start another one. Change your focus from the book you’re submitting to the one you are writing. You will find that the rejections hurt just as bad when you’re emerged in a new novel, but you recover faster.
3. Decide if your manuscript is for you own enjoyment or if you really want it published. If it is for your own enjoyment, don’t listen to comments and suggestions on how to improve it. If your goal is publication, take notes and consider every suggestion.

Here are my personal thoughts about rejection letters:
Jolt your imagination
Examine theme and characters
Correct problems
Tackle rewrite
Improve your manuscript
Omit weak sentences
Nothing worthwhile is easy

Proclaim yourself an author! Published or not, if you have manuscripts you have poured blood, sweat and tears into, you are an author.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Critique This

Critiquing groups are like friendships, you get better returns if you put all you have into them. When you join a critiquing group, don’t expect seasoned writers to brag on your manuscript and tell you not to change a single punctuation mark. HA! You have family members to boost your ego with those comments. Be prepared to rework, rewrite, and resubmit you manuscript. In my critiquing group, I consider a general discussion about a minor character or scene as positive feedback. I’ve never submitted a manuscript to the group and everyone loved it. I remember how apprehensive I was the first meeting with my critiquing group. They only critiqued two pages of chapter one and comments bouncing around the table made me wonder if I need to be in a critiquing group. On the drive home, I decided I was a terrible writer and should pack all my stories away. The next day I looked at all the comments, picked the ones that fit what I wanted the story to say and rewrote the first chapter. In other words, I got over my hurt feels because this is what I want to do, WRITE. Now I can hardly wait to get everyone’s opinion on my story.

Question # 1
I’ve recently joined a writer’s critique group and I don’t really know what I expected but the negative feedback wasn’t it. They hammered me with comments like, you have a POV issues, you’re telling not showing, your characters are flat and you have no plot. I feel so discouraged. Am I being over-sensitive or are they being mean?

I would say it’s probably a little of both. You are new to the critiquing process and the negative remarks hurt. I’m sure your group is trying to help you correct problems with your manuscript but they are forgetting to give you positive impute too. Don’t give up on them just yet. At you next meeting, be prepared to ask direct questions on how you can fix your POV, ask if any of them could recommend a book on showing not telling, and ask if they will help you with a character sketch so you can round out your characters. New writer’s egos are like the hands of a music student playing the guitar for the first time or the hands of a gardener in the spring, they are soft and easily bruised. If you continue, you will get tough and like the calluses on the guitarist’s fingers and on the gardener’s hands, you’ll be able to get pass the hurt and fix the problems in your story.
I would like to add that when a new member joins your group, remember how you felt and be the first to give encouragement to soften the negative feedback.

Question #2
My group continues to tell me I’m telling not showing, I wish they would tell me how to show.

The members of your group can’t write your story. They can show examples of how they might show a certain scene or paragraph but it’s your story and you need to tell it in your voice. I’ve listed several books that should help you with the showing instead of telling problem.

1. Writing Fiction for Children by Judy K. Morris
2. Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen
3. Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
4. The ABC’s of Writing for Children by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
5. The Giblin Guild to Writing Children’s Books by James Cross Giblin
6. Creating Characters, How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain
7. The Everything Guide to Writing Children’s Books by Lesley Bolton
8. The complete series of Write Great Fiction
A. Description and Setting by Ron Roxelle
B. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
C. Dialogue by Gloria Kempton
D. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Question 3:
How much time should I expect a critiquing group to take out of my schedule each week? I work and I don’t want to take away from my writing.

I learn from every critique I do and every critique that other members in my group give, it does take time, but I consider the time well spent building a valuable information database and relationships with other writers. The decision to join a critiquing group shouldn’t be a spur of the moment thing. Do not waste your time or the other members of the group’s time by popping in for a couple of meeting then leave after you get your manuscript critiqued.

Monday, April 19, 2010

An article A Day

Something y'all might not know... For over three years I wrote a question and answer article for The Blue Review monthly newsletter. I've decided to post an article a day for the next week.

What should go in a cover letter?

A cover letter is not really a letter but a note that consists of three paragraphs; introductory, biographical and concluding. The introductory paragraph describes what you’re enclosing and why. The biographical paragraph explains a little about you. The concluding paragraph politely closes the letter.

The key word in composing a cover letter is brief. Your manuscript is the important item in your submission; the cover letter is the foreword, so to speak, to your story. The editor does not care how long you’ve working on the story or how much you mother, cousin or teacher loves the story or how you think it will be the next best seller. All the editor wants to know is what is enclosed, who wrote it, period. The last paragraph is really just to show your mother taught you manners and that you know how to say thank-you.

Should I include a resume with my cover letter?

I researched this question and found that editors don’t really count work and education background or awards and accomplishments as useful information. That is why you need to be brief. Your writing will speak for itself. Really the cover letter, in most cases, separates the beginners from the seasoned writer.

What manuscripts should have cover letters?

All manuscripts that you send the entire story, like short stories, essays, and humor pieces. A cover letter is not necessary when you query.

What is the acceptable length of a cover letter?

Never over one page, remember short and sweet are the adjectives used to descript a cover letter. In most of the how-to books I’ve read, it states a half to three quarter of a page is the ideal cover letter.

What is the correct format of a cover letter?

Rule number one, address the cover letter to the correct editor and make sure you spell their name correct. Most experts recommend a business letter format with the address of the sender and publishing company and the date at the top. The introductory paragraph with the necessary information, the biographical paragraph is your moment to shine in three or four sentences. The concluding paragraph is a polite thank you for you time and consideration. I personally think you should always close with a positive note by adding, ‘I look forward to hearing from you.’

Sincerely or respectfully are good closers, and always add a footnote;

The title of your manuscript

With the announcement of the SmartWriters.com contest and the guidelines stating a synopsis had to be included, I have been asked by several writers, what is a synopsis?
I don't think any of them would have been satisfy with my answer, “Something I hate to write!”

I found this simple but powerful definition of synopsis.

Simply put, the purpose of the synopsis, to the acquisition editor, is to determine whether or not you have a solid plot, and whether or not it's something they might want to take a look at. That’s it.
A synopsis covers four parts:
1. Where you story start?
2. Who are the main characters and what do they want, problems they are trying to solve.
3. What happens physically and emotionally to prevent them from achieving what they want.
4. What happens at the end?

These sounds simple but believe me they aren’t. You work to put all the ‘show don’t tell’ in you manuscript and it all changes in a synopsis. You’re back to telling in short, to the point sentences.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saddle up

There is nothing in the world like a group of friends and family getting together and riding. My whole family went to a team penning practice event. WOW what fun until about 9:00 pm and then it was cold and I was ready to come home but nobody else was ready to leave.
The grandkids worked the cows and other riders from the barn brought their horses and worked the cows. Poor cows! Thank goodness the cows were not long horns or I would have been a basket case with the grandbabies in the arena with them. They're bad to hook the rider and the horse.
Next weekend another trail ride, I hope I can ride something other than Taraka, the hummer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 15th do you know where your money is?

April 15th and all is well, in my life anyway. All clients are filed, folders are stacked waiting to be filed and today is the 14th.
Efiling makes taxes much easier and faster. A couple of suggestions for next year. Get envelopes and mark them January, February, etc put all receipts in January in the January envelope and so on... at the end of the month when you get the next month's envelope total everything in the last month. Total meals, total supplies, total whatever and then in January of next year you make a Excel spreadsheet with all the deductions titles and enter each month amount and presto... easy controllable amounts to put on the tax form.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Look at the picture and guess where I'm going in May

Yep, Graceland. I'm all shook up. I've lived in the South since I was four and I've never been to Graceland.

I have this little story that has been pulling my imagination strings and I'm going to be its Puppet on a String.

You ain't nothing but a hound dog if you don't like a pink Cadillac and Love me Tender and You saw me crying in the Chapel... good gosh, I'm fourteen again. Where's my cat eye glasses and my Elvis poster.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Harper Lee: Up Close... can't wait to read it!

I met Kerry Madden today and what a wonderful person, writer and speaker. Thanks Irene for providing the opportunity to get together with fellow writers.

Harper Lee: Up Close
Not believing in biographies of living writers, Harper Lee declined to be interviewed for one, but Madden draws on extensive research—including trips to Monroeville, Ala., and interviews with classmates, colleagues and town residents—to explore how Lee’s life and times inspired her masterpiece. To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 30 million copies in 40 languages and continues to sell 10,000 copies per year, and Lee is “one of the authors most read by American students.” A narrative both well paced and richly detailed—even reproducing two of Lee’s stories for her college literary magazine and excerpting a recent letter to O magazine, not included in Charles Shields’s excellent I Am Scout (2008)—this biography will appeal to fans of the novel and to newcomers. Readers will find a fascinating portrait of an independent young woman stubbornly going her own way to become the one thing she wanted to be: a writer. Extensive source notes and an excellent bibliography round out this superb biography, one of the best in the Up Close series.

—Kirkus Reviews

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aaaachoo, has anyone got a hankie

Don't you just love spring... no really do you just love the beautiful trees blooming and everything getting green and everyone talking like they're holding their nose and your car turning bright yellow and all those little wormy thingys from the trees on your porch and in your dog's coat.

Here are some funny facts about sneezing.

Sneezing is usually an annoying, gross thing people try to avoid. But here are some fun facts to tell your friends and family next time they're blowing their noses:

1. Things expelled during a sneeze have been clocked at up to a 100 miles an hour.

2. Many people mistakenly believe Gesundheit is "God bless you" in German, but it actually simply means "healthiness."

3. Some ways to stifle a sneeze are tickling the roof of your mouth with your tongue and saying the words "Lamp" or "Pineapple."

4. You cannot sneeze while you're sleeping.

5. Holding your nose and mouth during a sneeze probably won't give you an aneurysm, but it will open your eustachian tubes which could damage your eardrums.

6. It is not impossible to keep your eyes open during sneezing; just difficult. And the reason is a mystery, but it's not to keep your eyes from popping out of your head.

7. One in three people are "photic sneezers" which means they sneeze in sunlight.

8. There is actually a sneeze fetish community of people turned on by the sounds of people sneezing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mircles happen every day

Laura (the trainer at our barn) show horse had a foal yesterday. It's not at our barn so I've not seen it yet but I had to share this picture. I know, you're saying ... Ahhhhhh. Mother's name is Bonnie but filly has no name yet.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Idea's !! They're everywhere

I know my biggest writing problem.. I see ideas everywhere. I want to write a mystery and have one of the characters be Elvis's ghost, I want to write a historical fiction about the pony express and Vinnie Ream and fictional horse books for boys and a romance novel and another romance novel where the girl become the cute boy's boss and .... can someone give advise about stopping the high I get on when I start plotting a new idea... the pounding of my heart as I form words and this idea becomes a living word form... to stop cooing to the new baby and remember the other kids in my doc file.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm so embarrassed

I've never understood why people want to dress up dogs. I was a dog groomer for over 25 years and I wish I had a dollar for every time someone wanted me to dye their dog, green, pink, a white poodle black , a black poodle white, purple, red, Alabama colors, Auburn colors and everything else you can think of...
Dye is not good for dogs, they lick their coats, their PH balance is different than ours and it will hurt their hair those are the PETA reasons... my reason is "It's a dog -- not and egg or a paint my number kit."
I lost customers because I would not do kinky things like shaving entire head except the Mohawk down the center of their head. When I say shave entire head, I mean ears and all on a cocker spaniel.

This picture is cute and doesn't hurt the dog but look at it, does the dog look happy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Mystery...

Four eggs were out walking one fine spring day in Easterton USA when they discovered a brutal crime scene. Mr Eggar their principal was splattered all over the sidewalk. Who could have done such a deed?

Maybe the full name of the victim will help you solve this mystery... Humpty Dumpty Eggar.... and it was one of the King's men. hahahhahahaha

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Some Bunny loves you

Here comes Peter Cotton Tail... hopping down the bunny trail, he better be care in rural Alabama or he might be Easter dinner. Easter is the time of year a person should reflect on renewal. Revisit your faith, your heart, your goals and your dreams. May Easter sunrise bring light to the shadow parts of you soul and determination to your feet to get back on the path to happiness and joy.