Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dr. Michael Guerini, Equestrian

Welcome Dr. Mike!

Dr. Michael Guerini is a horseman, author and scientist from Gilroy, California, USA. From an early age he gained valuable experience working with his family to train horses. To this day he continues to work with his family to develop a whole horse relationship training and education program. On this journey, Dr. Mike continues to learn from top Equine Clinicians in the United States and in 2007 he began to study Dressage. Dr. Mike specializes in helping the rider and horse develop a lasting connection. Michael studies Dressage, performance horses and teaches routinely on the merits of good horsemanship and improving the relationship of the horse and rider.

Why write of horses?

My mom is a horsewoman and she has always had horses around for me since I was born.  I rode my first horse at five years of age and continue riding to this day.  The first horse I rode was named “Feather” and he was a big Appaloosa.  His favorite speed was “Whoa” and so we stood around much of the time but it was such a thrill to be able to “ride” a horse.  Since that time I have owned a number of horses.  A Thoroughbred I received as a gift in the 9th grade was the first horse I ever started under saddle (with the help of my mom).  I bred this mare and still own her baby – Moonie.  Moonie is now retired at the age of 24 but she is in the first stall in the barn and greets me each morning. Reba and Charm are my current riding horses.  In 2011, Reba and Charm both had babies and so my new foals are coming along.  Liz and Foxi, my yearlings, take up much of my time.

So to answer why horses --- they are so much a part of my life it is just natural.  Barn time is the best time of the day.

What books have you published?
I have published five books and co-authored another book. All of my works are electronic books at this time and released for multiple eReaders and in pdf format.   Three of my books are in the non-fiction Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship series.  In 2002 I set out on a journey to become a horse trainer/instructor/clinician.  I attended many horsemanship clinics and in 2006 I taught my first Horsemanship clinic in Nebraska.  I have published Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Ground Steps to Success, Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Responsive Riding and Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Riding Exercises.

In 2011, I wrote and published my first fictional Veterinary Mystery – Old Towne: Beginnings.  Growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian but changed my course of study and obtained a doctorate in veterinary molecular biology research.  In Old Towne: Beginnings I merged the worlds of veterinary medicine with research science and published a book that was really fun for me to write.  In some cases the book is a bit technical but I really like how it turned out.

Never one to shy away from following my heart, one night at the barn I sat with pen and paper and started composing poems about my life around horses.  I published a short collection of ten poems entitled Of Horses & Life in 2012 as a result of that wonderful evening at the barn.  Most of these poems are stories of horses I have met along the way of my horsemanship teaching career.

The co-author work is about setting up a book blog and I worked on this with Saul Tanpepper and Ken Howe, both of whom I know from my previous life as a full time research scientist.

Where do you like to write?

I like to write in the evening and in the early morning.  For my non-fiction Horsemanship series I like to write during breaks at clinics when I have learned something from a horse or rider I am teaching.  I also like to sit in the barn and write (although my computer does not like this so much).

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas for your books?

I write notes on scraps of paper, write outlines and keep a journal of ideas.  Since I teach Horsemanship clinics, I am always writing on 3 x 5 cards with ideas and so when I work on my non-fiction books, I pull out the cards and put together a plan.  For my veterinary mystery fictional work I use a good outline.

Any suggestions for novice writers?

Join different writer groups so that you can interact with others and learn about the process.  Always have an editor make sure you have decent grammar and spelling in your book.  Ask lots of questions of other writers and remember to write about something you enjoy. 

Who is your favorite author?

Zane Grey is my favorite author.  Rogue River Feud is one of my favorite stories.  Next to Zane Grey I really enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J. R. R. Tolkein.

I always enjoy reading works by Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrance, Jack Brainard, Charles Wilhelm, and Eitan Beth-Halachmy when I want to read about Horsemanship (non-fiction).

When I want some good horse related fiction I recently found the works of MaryAnn Myers, Lisa Wysocky and Natalie Keller Reinert…all three of whom I enjoy reading.

Follow Dr. Mike…
Twitter:  dunmovinranch 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lisa Wysocky, Equine Author

Lisa is the author of many stories, including 
The Power of Horses: 
True Stores from Country Music Stars

Welcome Lisa! 

Where are you in the world?

Nashville, Tennessee, but I also spend a lot of time where I grew up, in the Mound/Orono area of Lake Minnetonka, just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

When did you begin writing?

In ninth grade science class. I wasn’t doing well and my teacher said I could get extra credit if I wrote reports on the elements. I looked up every element in the encyclopedia (this was long before the Internet) and re-wrote the first two or three paragraphs of each element into lay terms. I turned in dozens of reports and when I got an A+ in the class I thought, hmmm, this writing thing might be useful.

What books have you written?

The Power of Horses: True Stories from Country Music Stars

Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had (with Brad Cohen)
I am so excited that this book was turned into a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie!

Success Within: How to Create the Greatest Moments of Your Life

My Horse, My Partner: Teamwork on the Ground
Includes a companion DVD

Horse Country: A Celebration of Country Music and the Love of Horses

Success Talks: 101 Positive Things to Say to Yourself

The Opium Equation; A Cat Enright Equestrian Mystery

Two Foot Fred: How My Life Has Come Full Circle (with Fred Gill)

Plus a number of books that I have ghostwritten, and even more that I have edited. 

Where do you like to write?

I have a beautiful, idealistic vision of writing in my barn, or in the pasture with the horses. But within two minutes of opening my laptop I always see something (other than writing) that needs to be done. So instead, I mostly write at home where it is quiet. I am easily distracted by music or human conversation, so my home office is a good place. But sometimes I write on the couch in the living room, at the dining room table, or even in my bed. That’s the great thing about laptops; I can write just about anywhere.

How do you maintain your thoughts and ideas?

Great question. I have a computer file where I write down the big ideas for books, but for each book I write the details of my thoughts and ideas in an old-fashioned spiral notebook.  Most of my thoughts, however, stay organized in my head. If I lose train of one, I just get up from the computer and go for a short walk, or put a load of clothes into the washer and bingo, my ideas are all organized in the front of my mind.

What are you currently writing?

I am currently working on four books. The first is the sequel to my award-winning mystery, The Opium Equation. It is titled The Magnum Equation and puts Cat Enright and her barn crew at an all-breed horse show on a university campus here in Tennessee. Between dead people and injured horses, Cat tries to keep her loved ones and herself safe.

The second book I am co-authoring with Shyima Hall for the young adult division of Simon & Schuster. Shyima was born in Egypt but her parents sold her into slavery when she was eight. Her captors later moved her to their home in Orange County, California and she was a child slave here in the United States before being rescued when she was a young teen. Shyima has an amazing story and I am thrilled that I get to help her tell it.

The third book is a book on selecting horses for therapy programs, and the fourth is a book I am writing with horseman Sam Powell on horse and barn safety.

I also just finished Walking on Eggshells with Lyssa Chapman. Baby Lyssa is the daughter of Dog the Bounty Hunter and her inspiring autobiography will be out from the Christian division of Simon & Schuster, Howard Books, in May 2013.

Any suggestions for beginning writers?

Yes! Write something every day. Go to as many book fairs and expos and writers conferences as you can. Take as many English, writing, or composition classes as possible and also learn the business of writing. A book called Publish Your Nonfiction Book by my literary agent, Sharlene Martin, is invaluable to new nonfiction writers and also to writers of fiction. Finally, build your platform. Even if you write fiction, a publisher will want to know that you have a gi-normous built-in audience who will buy your book. The more social networking you can do, and the more you can become a recognized and respected expert in whatever you write about, the better.

Any suggestions for beginning riders?

Definitely! Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable on your horse, know that your horse is just as uncomfortable as you are, and that’s never a good thing. Build your skills on the ground, in the round pen, and by learning to longe, long line, and ground drive. Learn as much as you can about the mind of the horse, how they experience the world differently from humans and why they behave the way they do. Watch horses in the pasture and try to determine which horse is the herd leader. When riding, the two-point is the most valuable balancing tool you can ever learn. If you can hold a two-point with your heels down you are in balance with your horse, and you are using the correct leg muscles to ride properly. Be sure your saddle fits your horse, as that is the number one cause of soreness and discomfort in horses. I’d better stop. I could go on forever here!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vicki Watson, Author

Welcome Vicki!
Congratulations on the release of your new book!

What is your genre and reading level?

Sonrise Stable is a series of fictional horse books for children. Each book has a Christian theme and plenty of factual horse information. Rosie and Carrie, the two main characters are 10-year-old homeschooled girls. The target audience is children 13 and under, primarily girls.

What has been the inspiration for your writing?

My love of horses began when a teenage neighbor offered me my first ride, on the back of her horse. From my 8-year-old perspective, it seemed like the biggest horse in the world. From that moment on, I was addicted. Horses were to become a very important part of my life, although I never could have imagined, at the time, how much God would teach me about Himself and my relationship to Him through these wonderful animals.

Through the Sonrise Stable series, I combine my love of God and my love of horses in stories that I hope will help children learn more about both.

Where do you like to write?

I've read a lot of books on how to write. Many of them say to write at the same time every day and write every day whether you feel like it or not. I can't imagine trying to make myself write every day. When I get an idea for a book, the thoughts bounce around in my mind and will not leave me alone until I write them down. Often I want to write, but work and other responsibilities keep me from it. When I do have the time to write, the thoughts sometimes come faster than they can travel through my pen to paper, and even I have a hard time deciphering my handwriting later. I'm not particular about where I write, but I can't write on the computer. I have to write my stories by hand. I am also very picky about the pens I use. They have to be very fine point, with black ink that flows freely and easily onto the page.

Do you have any suggestions for novice writers and those looking to land a publishing contract?

I would encourage aspiring writers to read great authors, those whose work has stood the test of time. Study their techniques and styles. Read books on writing or take courses, but don't allow your writing to become formulaic and mechanical. Share your writing with others who understand the craft, and listen to their suggestions. It's hard not to be defensive about your own writing, but it can be very beneficial to get the opinions of others who are willing to be honest with you.

My books are self-published. My audience is very targeted and somewhat limited, ideal for self publishing. Other than illustrations and editing, I was responsible for everything in the creation of the first two books. I laid out the covers and interior text, purchased ISBN numbers, and arranged to have the books printed by Morris Publishing. I am a web designer, so I created the books website, and will also create the book trailer videos. If you believe in your book and have identified a viable market, I think self-publishing is a great way to go.

Do you currently own a horse? Do you have a favorite horse story?

We currently have three equines. I have a Rocky Mountain mare named Nikki. My youngest daughter's horse, Kody, is one quarter draft and half Paint. What the other quarter is we're not sure. He came from an Amish farm. We also have a twenty-six year old pony that we bought when my oldest daughter was twelve. She's enjoying her retirement now. My older two daughters don't ride much any more, but my youngest and I still enjoy trail riding. Many of the experiences I had with my horses as a child or later with my own daughters are included in the books. One that always makes me smile is when a neighbor girl and I took her pony into our living room and surprised my mother!

Who is your favorite author?

I became a Christian at the age of twenty-seven. At that time I began to devour bible commentaries and other Christian non-fiction books. For fifteen years about all I read was non-fiction. I remember curling up with The Genesis Record, by Henry Morris, and being totally enthralled. It's a big, fat commentary on Genesis from a Creationist perspective.

Over the last five to ten years my appetite for non-fiction has declined, and I am beginning to enjoy fiction again. Hannah Hurnard was an early favorite, particularly Hinds Feet on High Places. I related strongly to her main character, Much Afraid, since I was very insecure and timid as a child. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton has to be the most beautifully written book I've ever read. There's something almost lyrical about the way he uses language.

I like to apply Philippians 4:8 to everything I read. If it's not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, I try not to waste my time on it. That doesn't mean everything I read has to be literary quality. I'm more concerned with a book's message than the quality of the writing. I'd prefer to read something that draws me closer to Christ or helps me to be a better person than something that is very well written, but has no redeeming value. If a book has both, that's even better.

Do you have a favorite quote that provides writing inspiration?

Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories.

But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil.

And eventually a bright red tulip will shoot up out of the compost.

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Goldberg is a Buddhist and much of her book did not appeal to me, but I loved the visual image of the experiences of our lives being composted into stories. I feel that describes quite accurately how my experiences with horses over the years eventually became the Sonrise Stable series.

What are your goals for your future writing endeavors?

I have a vision for ten initial books in the Sonrise Stable series. That will take the main characters through one year. I'm not allowing myself to think beyond that right now. I am working on a bible devotional product with memory verses that tie in closely with the themes of the books. Beyond that I'll see where God leads me.

Follow Vicki

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amber-Lee Dibble, Alaska Chic

Alaskan Wilderness Adventure featuring Amber-Lee Dibble...

'Tiny is an ebony Alaskan range horse. She is a working herd mare thriving in a fly-in area deep in the Chisana, Alaska interior, site of the last historic gold rush. Tiny is a mere 17 hands, towering her peers, humans and select tundra. A docile mare, most of the time....'

An introduction to Amber-Lee Dibble aka Alaska Chic! Amber-Lee and her beautiful mountain horses are the topic of my upcoming International Equine column….

Where are you in the world?
We are located inside the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, in the interior of Alaska. We live in a fly-in area deep inside the Wrangell Mountains in Chisana, the site of the last historic gold rush.

Tell me about your adventures….
Adventures! Everything is an Adventure here in Chisana! We specialize in Adventure. There is only one way to really see Alaska and that is by horseback. The next best way is on snow-machine (that is snowmobiles to you folks that aren't Alaskans!) We have made an art out of guiding people safely through the Alaskan wilderness to their dreams and goals. Our lives are our business. As we make our living, we make our lives...

Tell me about your business; what do you do?
We are an Outdoor Recreational company, more specifically, horse outfitters. Pioneer Outfitters offers Summer Horseback Adventures of all levels for all ages and experience, Fall Photo Safaris for those folks who wish to enjoy the Fall in Alaska and getting those pictures up-close and personal, Fall Alaska Big Game Hunting for the most magnificent of Alaska's critters, Winter and Spring Excursions for those who wish to experience Wintertime and all the wonders Alaska has for those who enjoy the cold. Pioneer Outfitters offers Winter Predator Hunts for those who wish to run an Alaskan trap line, Spring bird hunting and ice-fishing for those inclined in those pass-times, Spring Grizzly and Black Bear Hunts and the Pioneer Outfitter Survival & Guide Training.

What is the best adventure?
The best? WOW! I would have to say, it is the Horseback Adventure for 20 days. I like this one the best because we can go absolutely anywhere, do anything and enjoy every minute without ever feeling like "I could show you just one more place."

I'd love to know about your horses!
Our horses are one of my favorite things about my life! Our horses are range horses, which mean for seven and a half months a year, they are wild. They free range in the enormous National Park and are as tough as they come.

They live in the wild, fight off the timber wolves, are intimately knowledgeable of the terrain and are the most sure footed horses I have ever experienced riding. They carry our gear so we can offer our guests and clients comfortable camps and us, across rivers, through the bogs and tundra of Alaska, over mountains and over hundreds of miles of wilderness.

When we are looking for more stock to add to our horses, we are looking for what the Boss refers to as "Short and stocky, all ass and no body." We like to have "mountain horses" i.e.: big-footed, stocky horses, short-coupled, short backs, between 900-1,200 pounds, 14.5-15.5 hands, short necks, heavy boned with the average size shoes being 2-3.

Our horses are not "pets" (although some of them are not aware of that rule!) We like the horses that would rather not have anything to do with us, the barn and yards. Their average life span is 25-30 years old.

The horses are important to us, not only as an important part of the business and the history of the area, but because they are our "partners." They do amazing things for us, just because we ask.

How do you handle cold weather?
The cold weather in Alaska is a funny thing to this farm-girl from "up-state" New York, in the snow-belt. There is little to no humidity here in Chisana. (it makes a huge difference).

Bunny boots are a must. Layers are a must. Wool is our friend and cotton is the general enemy to Alaskans. Wind-shear is also really important to us because even though it may be -50* below zero or -60* below zero, we have work to be done.
Wintertime work is accomplished with snow-machines and snow-machines make wind. With temperatures that range from coldest to unspeakable, wind can be deadly.

When I go out in the wintertime this is what I have on: long underwear, silk sock liners, wool socks, a turtle neck and usually a sweatshirt, flannel lined jeans, a parka and snow-pants or extreme cold weather Carhart- coveralls, and my bunny boots! Now we add the neck gator, a good hat and warm gloves (although mittens work better for me). Sunglasses are a must to at least have with me because I tend to be snow-blinded with the glare.

When you are dressed properly, Alaska in the winter is a sight to behold and experience, to be sure.

How do I book an adventure and when is the best time to come?
Woo-Hoo! First, you have to decide what Adventure you would like to experience (we can help with that too!). Then you would either contact us through the website, http://pioneeroutfitters.com or by email or a phone call. We would schedule your time-frame and send you a "Welcome packet" with your contracts, insurance release forms, pictures, the most asked Q & A's and a planning guide that I have put together to make things a little easier on you for knowing what to bring, what we supply, how to get here, an itinerary of the Adventure you have chosen and anything else I can think of that you may enjoy.

Follow Amber-Lee
You Tube: Pioneer Outfitters 
Pinterest: Amber-Lee Dibble 
Twitter: Pioneer Outfitters, @AlaskaChickBlog

Milliron Monday: The Recordings 4

  Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:   June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010 Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - Ma...