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.