Tuesday, May 26, 2015

D.B. Jackson, Author, Rancher & Screenplay Writer

Welcome author, screenplay writer and California cattle rancher D.B. Jackson! I am super excited to share D.B.’s interview! He has written a handful of novels, as well as short stories, celebrating horses and cowboys. He is a multi-award winning author; has a couple of new releases in the works, a screenplay in production, and much more…

Do you have a favorite Western saga? How has it inspired your writing career?
I’m not sure I could pick just one movie, but three come to mind that I think are iconic and a good lesson for any storyteller:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because it is a great example of using historical facts as the basis for an excellent fictional story, Dances With Wolves because it shows how cinematography and good writing can captivate an audience and, finally, Lonesome Dove because it demonstrates how powerful and memorable a story can be if the characters are well-developed and compelling.

In terms of books, three top my list there as well. Homer’s, The Iliad, is almost poetic in its unique use of language and imagery. The Bible is written in such commanding language almost any writer would benefit from studying the word usage and direct subject/verb style that makes it so impactful. At the top of my list, however, is that classic and wandering masterpiece, Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy’s powerful use of language, his development of universal themes, strong visuals, and unrelenting hammering at the readers’ emotions is rendered in an archaic fashion that seems to defy all the rules. It’s simply a literary tour de force that overwhelms the reader.

As an author of many novels, how do you come up with story ideas, characters and plots?
Well, as an author yourself, you know that’s the part of the creative process that is magic when it works and sounds trite when you attempt to explain it but, for me, it’s looking at situations that occur in everyday life and asking, “What would happen if?” From there I take it into the embrace of one or more of the classic themes that are always present in what the academics consider good literature. In the course of any given day, the people I meet, the things I observe, and the successes and failures I witness are all material for the next story. I tend to skip the big and obvious and seem drawn to the common challenges people face—the ones in which they are easily able to see themselves.

For example, the conversations that come up riding out at daybreak to gather cattle produce more insights and ideas than a year’s worth of sitting in a writer’s workshop. It’s all there, right before our eyes—all we need to do is look up once in a while to see it.

The concept is generally first, but not always. Then come the characters. Ultimately, the characters are the most important element of most stories, so I make sure the relationships, their personalities, and their names fit them.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite?
This is the “If you had to cut off a finger, which one would you choose?” question. I like a 15-year old kid in a short story called, Last of the Cowboys. His name is Bobby Earl Lee but they called him Early (a contraction of Earl Lee). He is innocent enough to be endearing, wise enough to be respected, and tough enough to admire—but mostly he is just a good person who his 82-year old cowboy friend trusted with his last wish in life.

I like Early because success to him was getting to cowboy for a big outfit despite a gimpy leg that caused most people to write him off.

How does writing novels differ from writing screenplays? Which do you prefer?
There are similarities between the two disciplines in terms of painting a verbal picture, but the requirements of a screenplay quickly force you into a whole new world where pages are money, sparseness is a virtue, and imagery is everything.

In my opinion, a novel is more forgiving than a screenplay because the novel allows you all the room you need to tell your story since page count is not a restriction. The rambling blocks of dialogue we sometimes put into our novels are an actor’s and a director’s nightmare when they are put into a script. Novels also allow the author the freedom to go along for the ride as the characters wander from the beginning of the story through the middle, and finally to a conclusion that the author may never see coming.

A screenplay is far more structured than that. The first third sets up the story and the characters, the second third establishes the conflicts, dreams, setbacks, etc., and the final third wraps it all up, resolves the issues, and brings closure to the story in one way or another. The 120-page limit of the screenplay is a limiting factor that always hangs over the head of a screenwriter.

My preferences: The most fun is the screenplay adaptation of the novel. The next most fun is the original writing of the novel itself (a little less fun because of the uncertainties of where the story is going), and lastly is the original screenplay—it has all the hurdles to get over as the novel and the screen adaptation combined.

Describe your horse history and the horses you now stable...
The horses. Not to sound overly dramatic, but they are the soul of it all. They are what holds a cattle operation together, they are at the heart of every story I write, and they are the reason I believe I understand people better. Most horses are the reflection of the treatment they get from us. They are also completely honest with us—a trait most people find hard to understand.

We ride registered Quarter Horses because of the overall breed traits and the high-accuracy pedigrees that give us some insight into the temperament and physical attributes we will end up with. The Quarter Horse is generally solid-minded, tough, willing, and capable. When a horse gets too old to work on our place, he has earned the right to stand in the shade, eat hay, and live his life out with good care and no pressure…he’s earned it.

They say looks and color are immaterial as long as the horse is reliable and tractable. I know lots of people who say that, but it’s hard not to be influenced by a good-looking, soggy ol’ horse with great conformation, good color and eye-catching markings. We generally want it all, and I’m partial to the understated “cowboy” look of a stocky bay or sorrel…we currently have two bays like that, a nice sorrel, and a retired dark brown rope horse that has been there and done that...they are all geldings which seems to help keep everything on a more even keel that you don’t get when a mare is in the mix.

Do you show your horses?
Our horses are working cowhorses and, except for a roping or a team penning, they are solely ranch horses with jobs to do.

What is it like to be a California rancher, award-winning novelist, expert cowboy and the owner of great horses? 
In a word: It’s FUN. Cattle ranching in California is a dying proposition due to shrinking land availability, high costs, and a general population that has little appreciation for the contributions the industry makes to the economy and the food supply. But there isn’t much that’s any more rewarding than seeing new calves being born, spending long days in the saddle, being with good people who know how to work for a living, and being able to experience a way of life that will eventually disappear. What a privilege. Owning good horses is just a part of that.

Writing novels and having the opportunity to be involved with the television and movie industry on top of cowboying is the equivalent of winning the lottery and then coming home to see the Publisher’s Clearing House crew waiting on the porch holding a 3 foot by 6 foot check with your name on it.

All the awards are like a bow on the whole thing. It’s humbling and gratifying, and just makes you want to do better.

Why are there two irons on one calf (referencing the pic on your website)?
Certainly, one iron is the owner’s brand and the other could be added identification like a number for the birth year, or shared ownership. Typically, if you saw a horse with multiple brands, it was a red flag that the horse was not working out and traded hands a lot. Hard to know for sure the reason for it in this old picture, but it was unusual to put more than one on a calf.

What are your views on BLM's current stance on America's wild Mustangs and the horse slaughter debate?
Personally, I would love for there to be a solution that allows the feral horses to live and die free and unmolested. We have had first-hand experience with the issue, and I can tell you that holding these horses in facilities like Palomino Valley, and out-placing them through the Adopt-A-Horse program are not solutions. Conversely, pitting the horses against cowmen to compete for the same range isn’t working either.

The wild horses find themselves in the same fix we put the American Indian in—you can see how that turned out.

We have to find a protected sanctuary for the horses where they have adequate feed, water, and a chance for long-term survival. If that means the BLM has to set aside land to accommodate the program, so be it. At the same time, the government cannot go in and pull the economic rug out from under cow producers who have built a livelihood on those grazing allotments.

This program is still not a high enough priority for the government to put the necessary time and resources against it, and will probably go unresolved until that changes.

What are you currently writing?
My latest novel, Waiting On Rain [available later this year], is in editing. It was inspired by the short story, Last of the Cowboys. It takes place near the fictional border town of Bufort in West Texas in 1958. The editor, Pat LoBrutto, who also edited the award winning Unbroke Horses, has previously edited Stephen King, the Louis L’Amour estate, Dune Sci Fi novels, as well as lots of other notable works by various authors. Pat is one of the best in the industry and a pleasure to work with.

Hardin and Tripp: Murder on the Bear Paw is also in process. It’s a contemporary story of two Montana cowboys (Will Hardin and Justin Tripp) who graduate from college, sign up for duty in Iraq, and return home with enough money to put a down payment on a cattle ranch. Their dreams are derailed when a sniper’s bullet meant for one of them kills a friend and kicks off an investigation that uncovers a local survivalist operation bent on taking out both men.

Also, just finishing up on the television pilot for They Rode Good Horses.

What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m deep into film and TV trade journals as well as student work from a local high school creative writing class. So, reading for pleasure has been put on hold for a while.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Getting advice about writing is like getting advice about horses. There’s a lot of it out there, and most of it can get you off-track. Be selective about the advice you consider. Writer’s groups can be helpful to a point, but they can also be a real trap. Avoid getting so wrapped up in the group dialogue you lose sight of your real purpose in writing in the first place.

Learn the craft of writing. If you decide to break the rules, at least you will know which ones you are breaking.

There is a growing supply of poor quality writing on the market as a result of self-publishing, which bypasses the quality control step in the process. In order to break through the clutter you must produce a quality product. I strongly suggest employing the services of an editor with top credentials if you want to compete at the highest levels.

Learn to take constructive criticism, which is not likely to come from your parents or friends.

Writing is a solitary experience for the most part. Learn to deal with that.

Do not let arrogance guide you. I hear authors say things like, “I only write for me.” I guess that’s okay if you do not intend to sell or share your work. If you do not write for the reader you may be missing the point. On the other hand, there is some validity to the practice of writing as a means of coming to terms with personal issues, but that’s a different proposition than writing with a commercial goal in mind.

Recognize that writing is a business. If you do not understand marketing or are unwilling to do what it takes to promote your work, get used to the sound of crickets in the background.

Writing should be fun. It is a lot more fun when you are recognized for it. It’s not good enough to simply say “I’m doing the best I can,” and let it go at that. Sometimes you have to do better. Figure out what that is and do it.

They say more than 80% of the people in the USA feel they have a book in them and a desire to get it out. Less than .02% actually see it through, and only a small fraction of those experience any meaningful level of success. That’s not meant to be discouraging, but it does illustrate the extent to which you should be prepared to go to run at the head of the pack.

If you are writing just for the fun and experience of it, go for it and have the time of your life because it really is a magical experience, and totally do-able.

If you’re looking for literary success, get ready for the learning experience of a lifetime—it’s a huge education (and still fun).

Discover your voice and develop it.

Write a great opening sentence every time—do the same at the end.

Never forget that this is an individual experience and it’s rarely the same for any of us. Never take anyone’s advice 100%. Adapt. Learn what you need to know to be a quality writer. Write with integrity—always.

Tell us a few things that we may not know about you....
They Rode Good Horses, my debut novel is under contract with a Hollywood production company who is in discussion with one of the leading television original content companies for consideration as a possible upcoming television series. I have completed the 2-hour pilot summary as well as the three season episode breakdown, and a feature-length screenplay.

Unbroke Horses, my second novel is under contract for a feature film, and I have been retained as the screenwriter on that project as well.

I started writing late in life, I do not have a writing background, and did not major in English, literature, writing, or any related subject in school. But I did take the time to learn.

I do not believe that everybody can write a good book. I also do not believe everybody can paint a good picture, or carve a good sculpture. Some say the more you read and the more you write, the better you will become as a writer. That’s probably not very good advice for very many people. I see it in horsemanship all the time—the longer you do something wrong, the better you get at doing it wrong. There is no substitute for formal training and an honest appraisal of where your talents lay. I have never taken golf lessons, but I have played with and watched a lot of good golfers for a long time. I’m pretty sure I suck at golf, but I sure have a good time playing it.

One thing I do know about writing: You will never know how good you may be if you do not try.

Connect with D.B.…
Contact via email:  dalebjackson@dalebjackson.com

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Above the Rail May/June

What to eat for breakfast before the horse show? 

Read my new article 
10 Easy Breakfast Ideas (page 30) to get your metabolism roaring and your game on! 

See you at the show!

May/June Issue

Bonnie Thibodeau

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Life Without Stirrups by Dagny Mofid

Life Without Stirrups
A Witty Memoir About One Person’s Gallop Through Life

By Dagny Mofid

Thanks Dagny for connecting! I enjoyed reading your new book and look forward to your future releases! 

Dagny writes a heart-felt journey of horses. She reiterates, as thousands before her, that a horse lover will go to great lengths to be able to follow their passion – horses. In her well-written account of genuine horse-love, she lets you know that life is better with stirrups than without. Through hurricanes, midlife boredom, ice storms, and so much more, Dagny will keep you intrigued and motivated through each chapter. Recommended reading for everyone – not just horse lovers. Everyone will appreciate her journey, her passion and complete love for life. 

Congratulations, Dagny, on a wonderful recount of your life with horses. 

About the Author

Dagny Mofid is not internationally acclaimed - although having practiced acceptance speeches in front of a mirror for years, she can be ready at a moment’s notice. In her spare time, but only after doing the dishes and folding clothes, she writes. Known for lighthearted humor and sarcastic wit, her writing has appeared in newspapers and journals. She has also ghostwritten a riding instruction manual. After roaming around much of North America, she now lives with her childhood sweetheart in the warm desert of southern Utah. She is still wondering how she got there.

Connect with Dagny...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vickie Ball-Seiter, Journey with Horses Professional Life Coach

From Ohio, USA, Vickie Ball-Seiter has spent years living abroad. Global travel has inspired her to incorporate the most appealing (and healing) aspects of her cultural experiences to create a satisfying life and business as a professional life coach. Vickie is the proprietor of Journey with Horses, a coaching facility where Vickie leads her clients through a simple and transformational process alongside a 1000 lb. horse!   

Although Vickie may come across as a bundle of joy and gentleness she has a can-do attitude and philosophy that is unstoppable! In her own words she is a stand for people making creative, conscious choices for the expression of the authentic self.

Vickie’s primary focus is on providing coaching support for those Givers who Care. Individuals, teams and groups whose job it is to care for the health and well-being of others who are not able (or barely able) to care for themselves. She believes there can be balance without burn-out for our most self-sacrificing population.

Welcome Vickie!

What is Journey with Horses?
I am an equine assisted coach.  I have experienced a journey with horses and wish to share my empowering experience.  Coaching is co-creating a relationship.  As an added layer I can partner with horses to expand sacred space for people to explore their attitudes, passions, desired, emotions, etc.

What can I expect from a discovery session?
Discover strengths about yourself!!  Discover the world within you.

You are intriguing and I wonder about your Reiki methods. How do you impart/intertwine Reiki? 
Pronounced ray key…
Rei=”God’s wisdom or the Higher Power” and ki=life force energy.
Reiki is spiritually guided life force energy healing.  Everyone can be a healer; one only needs to learn to access it.  A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance flowing through and around you. 

What inspires you the most about horses?
They are huge, gentle sentient beings.  They are in the moment and don’t hold on to anything.  Every day is a new day.  My forte is non-verbal communication-a perfect match.

When was your first encounter with a horse?
Three and a half years ago.  A neighbor rode by on one of her horses and I stopped her and said, “I need horse time.” I had NO clue what that meant.  Several days later I met her at her barn.  She asked me which horse I would like to ride.  I didn’t know, and one of the horses started moving his head back and forth.  Bo picked me.  When I’m riding Bo he does more for me than his owner.  It is a match made in heaven.  We are both leaders and curious.

Do you have a horse anecdote to share?  
I was in the pasture with Bo, Rocky and Comet.  I brought brushes so the horses could choose to be groomed or not.  Bo LOVES to be groomed.  There was a huge snapping turtle about 15’ from us.  I suddenly noticed Bo had moved be to within 5’ of the turtle.  Bo and I both turned our attention to said turtle (standing side by side).  It had a huge clump of dirt on its shell so I was going use a big stick to attempt removal.  Well, when the turtle snapped at me, both Bo and I jumped backward at the same time.  We looked at each other and (I swear) laughed.  I moved Bo a little further away from the turtle and finished grooming him.

I was given a horse because he couldn’t be caught.  I did not know that, so when I went into his paddock he walked right up to me!  The owner said, “If you can work with him, you can have him.”  

I do many things with horses that horse people say, “You can’t do that with a horse.” What block do you impose upon yourself??  I do things with horses because no one told me I couldn’t.

What horses do you stable?  
We have a Paso Fino and two minis.  We are planning on a pasture track as soon as we move.  Please let me know if you want to hear more.  As soon as we sell our current home we are moving to Chesterhill, Ohio.  The house has a barn and pasture.  We need to put up a fence. We have done a lot of planning.

Do you have a favorite breed?  
I am not breed specific.  I love them ALL!!

What training methods do you prefer?  
If you get a chance read Mark Rashid’s book HorsesNever Lie, it is wonderful. Rashid shares about allowing horses to make choices.  I believe horses want to be safe and please.  Spend time with them and figure out their language.  Figure out how they react to you and your communication.  It is a relationship between two sentient beings.  Horses are amazing communicators!!

As a world traveler, where in the world do you like to land, ride and reverence life?  
I want to ride my friends horse Bo in a parade because we love to be together and show off.  I would also like to swim with him.  I love water and have seen others swimming with horses and dream about it.  I can see myself sharing horses with Europeans.  I am looking for any open-minded people who are curious about experiences with horses.

Connect with Vickie…

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

FVF Clay Creations

From USA, meet Nickole, the proprietor and creator of FVF Clay Creations! Creating cute sculptured ponies with a whimsical flair, Nickole molds each pony by hand. Using top-quality clay, she can create a pony just for you!

Welcome Nickole!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
My first encounter with a horse was an evil little pony my mother bought me. When I was a little girl I always wanted a horse. I learned to love that evil little pony and now I stable Arabian horses at Fern Valley Farm.

Stallion R Khasper of Fern Valley Farm (c)
When did you begin sculpting and creating?
I started creating and sculpting my ponies almost 1o years ago. I got the idea when I was playing with my son and his Play-Doh. He asked me to make a pony.  So, I purchased some good sculpting clay and that was when my ponies were born!

Tell us about your custom sculptors...   
I create a lot of custom ponies. They start from $25 for a basic, and go up depending on the details. All I need are pictures, information and what you would like. My father, the proprietor of JM Originals also makes little barns for my ponies that can be hung on the wall or as an accent piece in your home.

Do you have a favorite pony of your own creation?
Yes, I do have a favorite pony (see below)! I just love the colors I put into her and the way her mane flows. I feel she is the best I have created so far, but then again, I love all the ponies I create; a little part of me goes into each one!!

How long does it take your to create a pony?
It takes at least 2 hours to make a pony, but depending on the details, it can take half a day or even longer.

Do you travel the horse/equine circuit?
I will be at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin again next year (April 15-17, 2016).

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Horsemanship means bonding with your horse, learning to trust your horse and they learn to trust you. Nothing can be built without trust.

Connect with Nickole…

Friday, May 8, 2015

Paul Travers, Author

Born, raised and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, Paul Joseph Travers received a B.A. degree from the University of Maryland in English and an M.A. degree from Pepperdine University in Business Management. He served in the United States Marine Corps as an amphibious armor officer and later worked for the Maryland Park Service as a park ranger/historian.

Travers is the author of The Cowgirl and The Colts: A Story of the 1st Female NFL Mascot the captivating story of Carolyn Clark and her pony Dixie. The daughter of legendary jockey Willie Clark, Carolyn rode into the pages of football history as the first female mascot in professional football.

Travers hobbies include the 3 R's, (w)riting, running and rudimenting (drumming). In addition to writing, he also lectures on American history and conducts writing workshops for young writers. His current work-in-progress is a historical novel about a young missionary nun who travels to the deep South in the early 1940's to battle racial prejudice and religious bigotry.

Welcome Paul Travers!
Thank you for your military service.

You watched Carolyn Clark and Dixie during the football games.  What memory stands out the most?
Just watching Carolyn talk to Dixie and getting her ready to gallop around the cinder track at Memorial Stadium just as the Colts were ready to score.  Seconds before putting her foot in the stirrup, she would whisper in Dixie’s ear and then gently stroke the side of her neck.  Carolyn and Dixie were positioned near the corner of the end zone below the grandstand where I was sitting with the Police Boys’ Club.  Along with her parents, they were the closest people that I could see, so naturally my attention was usually focused on them.  It was infatuation with a young cowgirl just a few years older than me and a sense of envy in that she was on the field with my childhood heroes, the Baltimore Colts.  For more info regarding this question, please see the Baltimore Sun article (The cowgirl, the old Colts and a pony named Dixie).  

How old was Carolyn when she rode as the mascot?  How many years was she the mascot?
Carolyn started as the mascot in 1959 at the age of ten and continued until 1964 for a total of six years.  After that year, she resigned the position at age fifteen to focus on her promising equestrian career.  By the time of her death, she was an accomplished horsewoman who had been riding since the age of two.  A few years before her death, she started her jumping career with the hope of eventually becoming the first female jockey to ride in a Triple Crown race.

Did you know Carolyn and have the opportunity to interview her?
This is the sad footnote to the story.  In October 1965, Carolyn, her mother, and an apprentice jockey, were involved in a serious automobile accident while returning from a horse show in New Jersey.  The driver fell asleep and the vehicle hit a bridge abutment, instantly killing Carolyn, who had just turned sixteen, and the jockey.  Carolyn’s mom Dorothy survived the accident after sustaining serious head injuries.  The accident eventually led to the break-up of the marriage between Willie and Dorothy.  As Willie often told me, “After the accident, I hit the bottle, my marriage hit the skids, and I hit the road for Charles Town.”  Charles Town, West Virginia, was the place where Willie finished his career (at one time the oldest active jockey in the US) and resided for the rest of his life.  

Tell us about Dixie.  What breed of pony?
Dixie was a registered Welsh mare pony under the name of Crayfield Starlight.  In reality, the name Dixie was a stage or show name in keeping with the other ponies that preceded her.

Did you get to meet her father, jockey Willie Clark?  What was he like?
I first met Willie in December 2002 after I got the idea to write about Carolyn and Dixie.  I re-read the Sports Illustrated article about Willie in my file and was very doubtful about my chances of interviewing him.  According to the article, he couldn’t talk about Carolyn because her death was still a very raw emotional issue.  On a lark, I phoned the PR department at Charles Town Racetrack to see if he was still around.  Before I could finish introducing myself, I was connected to the track kitchen and in a matter of seconds, much to my surprise, was speaking to Willie.  He was hesitant at first as expected, but after I explained who I was and what I was doing, he agreed to meet with me at the track kitchen.  At our first meeting, Willie showed me some pictures of Carolyn and tears rolled down his face.  Seeing a rather distraught Willie, the other horse people in the kitchen immediately rushed over to see this obvious stranger, more like intruder dressed in a sport coat and turtleneck, who was upsetting Willie.  As everyone gathered around the table, Willie passed around the pictures and told them about Carolyn. 

To my amazement, no one knew even knew that Willie had a daughter, much less a daughter who was an accomplished horsewoman and once upon a beloved member of the Baltimore Colts.  In my heart, I always felt that first meeting was the spiritual and emotional “healing” moment for Willie that had eluded him after the death of Carolyn.  He had finally found some inner peace.  

After that initial meeting, I would drive up to Charles Town and meet with Willie about every three or four months.  And before sat down to talk about Carolyn, I would take him shopping or to doctor’s appointments.  It was the least I could do for a man who was sharing with me the most painful and tragic chapter in his life.  Slowly, I would get bits and pieces of Carolyn’s life that were the basis for the book.  This friendship lasted until Willie’s passing.  At the time of his death on November 25, 2006, we were finishing the last of his stories about Carolyn, some of which were never fully completed.  In January 2007, I called the retirement home where Willie lived to tell him the good news about finding a publisher.  Needless to say, I was shocked and saddened to learn that my friend Willie had died right after Thanksgiving.  I had two regrets.  One, I didn’t get all the details about some of Carolyn’s adventures.  Willie had promised to save some names and places until the very end.  The other, and perhaps the biggest disappointment, is that I never saw the day when I could show Willie the book jacket with the picture of Carolyn and Dixie on the front.  To see the look on Willie’s face would have been a magical moment. 

In the end, Willie was a unique, one-of-a kind character who “did it his way.”  Under that persona that was as tough as old saddle leather, there was a gentle and caring man with a heart of gold who never really came to grips with the death of his daughter until the very end of his life.  I am grateful for having been a part of that process.  I believe the Sports Illustrated article will explain more about life and times of Willie Clark

Who is your favorite author?
I am a voracious reader who devours non-fiction, especially memoirs and road trip books.  I usually tell people that what I am currently reading is by my favorite current author.  But to select a few, I have always enjoyed the works of travel writers such as Jonathan Raban and Ted Conover.  Recently, I have become acquainted with the books of Kent Nerburn who writes about Native American culture with a focus on spiritual themes and values.  What a delight!  I was hooked from the first page.  For a Christmas gift, I was given a copy of “If You Build It…” by Dwier Brown, the actor who played Ray Kinsella’s dad in the movie Field of Dreams, which is one of my all-time favorite flicks.  Not only is it a fascinating the behind-the scenes look at the making of the movie, but it’s a collection of narratives from everyday people that the author encountered when he was recognized in public as John Kinsella, the baseball ghost come to life.     

What are you currently writing?
I am currently writing a memoir of my Appalachian Trail hike in 2009 from the standpoint of a spiritual journey.  For me the hike was a profound physical, emotional, and spiritual experienced that greatly impacted my life.  In essence, it was a pilgrimage much like the El Camino de Santiago in Spain.  The hike was named “Herm’s Hike,” a fundraiser in honor of my father who was a late stage Alzheimer’s patient at that time.  One thing for sure, I found out it’s much easier to write about other people, places, and things than about your own most heartfelt thoughts and feelings.  It’s a slow, but very rewarding, process. I’m moving ahead one sentence at a time.   

Do you have any advice for novice writers?
Good readers make good writers.  If you have a favorite author, go back and re-read some their works with a critical eye to see how they make the words work for you.  As for becoming a better writer, it’s really no secret.  Just keep writing, writing and writing.  Don’t worry too much about content in the beginning.  What you really want to do is amass a tremendous collection of words.  Always capture your immediate thoughts down on paper whenever you’re inspired, whether it be on a napkin, sales receipt, or whatever you have at hand.  Most importantly, enjoy the agony and ecstasy of the creative experience.  It’s a wonderful drug that will your expand your horizons.

List 10 things your fans may not know…
As a literary compromise, I’ll give you five about me and five about Carolyn and Dixie. About me in no particular order:
#1 -I love to read lyrics as poetry, especially from the American Songbook and singer-songwriters from the mid-60s to early 70s.  For instance, the Beatles and bands from the British Invasion wrote some great lyrics with some fantastic poetic hooks.  Same goes with folksingers of the era with people like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, to name a few of my many favorites.  I hear and feel the intoxicating mountain music of southern Appalachia in their works.  Oh, it’s so sweet and pure.      

#2 - I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2009 as a grass roots fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, collecting over $7,000.

#3 – I work at a ballpark tour guide at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Come visit me at the ballpark.  Don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this walk in the park.  

#4 – I love to hike and bike.  Getting on my bike, always make me feel like I’m ten years old again. 

#5 - In college, I used to ride with the women’s horse club when I was fancying a filly of the two-legged variety.  I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn about four-legged and two-legged fillies.

Bonus Fact – I served in the United States Marine Corps.  Semper Fi, indeed!

About Carolyn and Dixie in no particular order:
#1 - Carolyn and Dixie were nominated (sadly, not selected) for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2008.  I will always be grateful to Grand Dames of the Old and New West who wrote liner notes for the book and lovingly embraced Carolyn as one of their own.  What a tremendous group of accomplished ladies and cowgirls.  A special shout-out goes to cowgirl Sherri Mell who welcomed Carolyn into this elite circle of horsewoman.  Also, a very special thank you to John Ziemann, president of the Baltimore Marching Ravens and one-time band member and president of the Baltimore Colts marching band who was instrumental in researching the life and times of Carolyn Clark.           

#2 - All the events in the book are based on actual events in Carolyn’s life.  The book was written as historical fiction because some of the essential details were forever lost with the death of Willie Clark.

#3 - Carolyn wanted to be the first female jockey to ride in a Triple Crown race.  She did lead horses onto the track at Pimilco Race Course for the Preakness Day Powder Puff Derby for five-year olds.  

#4 – After Carolyn’s death, Dixie lived out her remaining days at a neighboring farm owned by a U.S. Senator.

#5 - The Baltimore’s Colts cowgirl outfit, worn by Carolyn, was donated to the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore, where it awaits restoration.  The whereabouts of the silver belt buckle, which she was awarded after the Baltimore Colts won the 1959 NFL championship, remains unknown.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Egyptian Horses

Egyptian Horses
Guest Post by Joe Migalla

The sun rises behind the east bank mountains and slides sunshine all over ancient Egyptian temples to reveal one of its powerful secrets that made Egypt once one of the most paramount empires. Meet the legendary creatures that made a print all over history; The horse. 

Horses entered Egypt at the end of the Middle Kingdom, about 1780 BC. The arrival of the horse has been associated with groups entering the desert known to the ancient Egyptians as the Hyksos (the rulers of deserts). Soon Egyptians loved horses and began to acquire the best breeds of the Arabian Peninsula. The most beautiful gifts that came to the Pharaoh of Egypt include the horse.

The ancient Egyptians started using horses in war by chariot, which is a type of carriage using horses to provide rapid motive power. The Pharaohs used their excellence in the field of horses to fight wars and battles, as well as their attention in the royal stables to take good care of horses. They decorated saddles with gold and silver, just like the royal golden chariot of the young king Tutankhamen, as discovered in his tomb. Egyptian temples were covered with graffiti to show the importance of horses; loved by kings and nobles.

Luxor was one of the cities in Egypt that preserved the heritage of horses and chariots, but now only for picnics. You can see the ancient city through the people and their passion of horses, giving all the care horses need. It is one of the reasons that Egypt's horse breeds are one of the best all over the world - because its people made sure of it and that comes from their passion.