Thursday, September 26, 2013

Karen Magill, Author

Welcome from Vancouver, British Columbia, award-winning paranormal novelist Karen Magill!

What does paranormal mean to you?  

Paranormal, to me, just means things that people don’t always accept as normal. I write on things like out of body experiences, (see The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story), ESP and visions, events that are just a little beyond what most of society accepts as normal. I don’t write on vampires or werewolves or such. At least not yet.

What paranormal activities have you witnessed?   

I can’t say I have witnessed paranormal activities. I have heard of them and believe in them.

Of all the genres, why write paranormal?  

I like to say that I am on a mission to make the paranormal, normal. I believe that psychic visions and ESP are possible for everyone if we could just open our minds.

Have you encountered or written any paranormal activity that includes/involves horses?  

I don’t think I have had a paranormal experience with horses. In August of 1984, I was horseback riding and the horse had a heart attack and fell on me, cracking my skull in the process. If I had any psychic events or out of body experiences at that time, I don’t remember.

Where do you like to write?

I have a desktop computer and I like to put in a CD, put on the headphones then sit here, in my living room, and just write. Once that music is on, I can get more accomplished and the time just flies by.

Do you write as you are investigating?

I don’t investigate paranormal activity. I read about it and the rest is from my imagination.

When combining historical facts with fiction, do you have to have permissions from the historical person/families?  

Usually I don’t use the names of the families involved in history though in Missing Flowers, I did use the name of a madam here in Vancouver in the late 1800s because she had the same name as my great-grandmother.

In my upcoming paranormal mystery, A Little Poison, I do mention a woman who was murdered in Stanley Park in the seventies. I didn’t get permission but I did quote where I got the information on her murder from.

What books have you written?

The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story
Let Us Play, A Rock ‘n Roll Love Story, known as Mystique Rising in Kindle
Missing Flowers
A Little Poison, to be released soon I hope.

What are you currently writing?

I am working on something different. I am writing a non fiction, motivational book about my journey with MS. I hope to self publish it next spring and its title is On The Right Side; My Story of Survival and Success.

List 10 things that people may not know about you....

This is difficult. Give me a moment to think.

I like classical music. Everyone knows me as a rocker chic but sometimes I just like to mellow out to some Bach.

I can get quite obsessive, especially with things I like. I have been told that I have stalker like tendencies though my psychiatrist told me that I am just eccentric.

I prefer to be alone then with other people. I joke that I don’t play well with others.

I have a short attention span.

I am not patient. Actually, that one will be no surprise to anyone who knows me!

I can be self-centered.

I can be too focused, to the exclusion of everything else around me.

I like to live in a dream world of my own making. Reality is highly overrated.

I like to make people laugh.

I get discouraged and down sometimes. But most people don’t know that because it doesn’t last long.

Connect with Karen…

Read MasterKoda's Best Book 2012 Indie Published - The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story in eBook or paperback

Over 10,000 copies of Missing Flowers, was downloaded in 4 days! Get your copy now. Now available in print.

Have you got your copy of the Amazon Kindle Bestseller, Mystique Rising (formerly Let Us Play, A Rock 'n Roll Love Story)

In paperback it is known as Let Us Play, A Rock 'n Roll Love Story

Monday, September 23, 2013

Press Release

AHP Newsgroup: Gina McKnight's Current Interviews for Equestrians from Around the World Series

Gina McKnight, Author & Freelance Writer
Member: Ohio Arts Council & Outdoor Writers of Ohio

Equestrians from Around the World
Author, freelance writer and equestrian, Gina McKnight, shares her current interview series of Equestrians from Around the World! Enjoy informative anecdotes, training suggestions, world-class riders, and much more…

A heart for horses, Frank Lovato Jr, is an extraordinary equestrian. From an early age Frank was obsessed with becoming a jockey. At the age of 13, Frank left his family to follow his dream. Frank lived in horse barns, sleeping on tack room floors, taking on inferior stable jobs, just to find his place on the race track. After 3 years, he began his apprentice jockey career. In 1980, Frank received the coveted Eclipse Award - Jockey Apprentice USA. Through his many horse-related programs, Frank shines in the world of horses.

From Taipei, Taiwan, welcome Vivian Chang, world-class equestrian. Vivian competes with her gorgeous horses on the international circuit. She is a dressage rider based in the UK where she has been competing various horses since 2007. Her aim is to compete at CDI3* (Concours de Dressage International) venues and 2014 Korea Asian Games.

A revisit to a prior interview with novelist Jonathan Hopkins. From the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, Jonathan is an accomplished historical author, and his novel, "The Walls of Jericho" is fabulous! Recommended reading! A new book currently in release; Jonathan's characters jump off the page! I felt every horse stride and galloped with every character.

From Georgetown, Kentucky, Milt Toby is an awarding-winning author, photographer, attorney, and world traveler. Milt has written professionally for some 35 years: on the editorial staff of The Blood-Horse magazine; a six-year stint as a freelance photojournalist living in China, Costa Rica, and Colombia; and more recently as a frequent contributor of articles to The Horse magazine. He also is the author of five books about Thoroughbred racing and equine law, plus award-winning short fiction…and so much more….

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Milt Toby, Equine Author

Welcome Milt!… an awarding-winning author, photographer, attorney, and world traveler. Milt has written professionally for some 35 years: on the editorial staff of The Blood-Horse magazine (where he covered Thoroughbred racing in the United States, England, Panama, and Japan); a six-year stint as a freelance photojournalist living in China, Costa Rica, and Colombia (where his clients included Soldier of Fortune); and more recently as a frequent contributor of articles to The Horse magazine. He also is the author of five books about Thoroughbred racing and equine law, plus award-winning short fiction…and so much more….

Where are you in the world?

I live in Georgetown, Kentucky—spitting distance from the Kentucky Horse Park—with my wife, equine veterinarian Roberta Dwyer, and a complement of animals four-strong: Burdock, a headstrong Dalmatian that hates other dogs and was expelled from dog school because of it; Echo, an adolescent Doberman who is the only dog Burdock can abide; Plumpkin, an orange and white rescue cat who looks like his name sounds; and Sherlock, another rescue known to the vet only as “New Cat.”

Tell me about your horses…

We don’t have any horses now, but I’ve been involved with them in some capacity or another for as long as I can remember. I grew up showing American Saddlebreds, but I’ve also competed with hunters and in combined training and dressage.  I was a steward with the American Horse Shows Association before the organization morphed into the USEF and I’ve served on the Board of the Kentucky Horse Council and as Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine law Section.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing professionally since 1972, when undeterred by a total lack of experience I talked my way into a job as sports editor for a small newspaper in Aiken, South Carolina. Aiken was—and still is—an important winter training center for Thoroughbreds. My first day on the job, I was assigned an interview with Greentree Stable trainer Jack Gaver, about his horse running in the Belmont Stakes a few days later.   Problem was, Gaver was in New York, I was in South Carolina, and I had absolutely no idea how to interview someone—or, for that matter, how to type.  (Still don’t know where the keys are!)  I tracked him down, made my deadline, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It was a wonderful introduction to journalism, and I haven’t missed a deadline yet.

I left Aiken after a year to work for The Blood-Horse magazine in Lexington, Kentucky.  I was on the editorial staff until 1984, covering races all across the US and in Japan and England as a writer and photographer.  I left The Blood-Horse for six years doing freelance news photography in China, Costa Rica, and Colombia, and then returned to the States for law school.  I kept working as a freelancer all the while. I’ve been to the races on every continent, and I’ve thrown away a lot more losing tickets than ones I’ve cashed.

More recently, I’ve been sending more and more time writing.  I’ve done seven books, along with two years of monthly equine law columns for The Paint Horse Journal and three years as a weekly blogger on assorted equine law topics for The Horse.  I also interview authors as a Contributing Editor for the online newsletter of International Thriller Writers, and I contributed an essay about Lionel Davidson’s The Rose of Tibet for ITW’s Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, which was nominated for an Edgar Award.

What books have you written?

I write non-fiction, mainly because that’s what I like to write, but also because I haven’t found an editor or agent with the foresight to take on my two unpublished novels.  My latest book is Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky, which was released by The History Press in early September.  I call Noor the best horse no one remembers because he beat Citation four times in 1950, and set three world records in the process, but then dropped off the map for years. It wasn’t until a commercial development project threatened his gravesite in Northern California that Noor returned to racing’s collective consciousness.  Charlotte Farmer, an avid racing enthusiast, took up Noor’s cause and launched a one-woman campaign to locate his unmarked grave, exhume the remains, and move them to Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Central Kentucky.

My previous book, Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, also was published by The History Press.  It won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for the best book about Thoroughbred racing published in 2011 and an American Horse Publications Editorial Award as the best equine book of the year.

Earlier books included the Complete Equine Legal & Business Handbook and a biography of the ill-fated filly Ruffian.
Where do you like to write?

When I’m working on a project, I think about writing just about everywhere. For me, this preliminary mental organizing is the heavy lifting.  The writing itself goes fairly quickly as long as I know where I’m going.  I’m not a big fan of outlining, although I know some writers live and die by their outlines.  I use a similar technique called “mind mapping” when I have something complicated that I need to help a reader understand.  It’s a visual flow chart that helps organizes information.  For Dancer’s Image I had to condense two weeks of complicated and technical racing commission hearing testimony about the chemistry of drug testing into one chapter that made sense and the “mind map” helped me sort things out.

I get some of my best ideas when I’m walking the dogs, and some of the worst when I wake up in the middle of the night with what sounds like the best turn of phrase in the world.  For me, the latter hardly ever pan out when the sun comes up and I try and decipher the writing in the notebook on the bedside table.

I have an office at home when I finally get around to actually writing.  I also travel with a laptop, and on occasion I’ve managed to get some substantive work done on the road.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

Because of the subject matter, most of what I write is very research-intensive, and keeping track of information can be a real challenge.  It’s also an absolute necessity, though, because readers are knowledgeable and will call you out when you make a mistake.  For me, research often is the best part of a writing project.  Conventional wisdom is that you should “write what you know.”  I think you should write about something you want to learn more about.  For me, that involves a significant amount of digging.  It’s a great feeling to come upon a fact or a connection that you weren’t expecting to find.

There’s nothing more frustrating than remembering some interesting tidbit of information that I want to use, but not being able to locate the source.  I’ve got four large white boards scattered around the house and I feel like a stockholder in the Post-It Note company.  I try to carry a small notebook around with me, but I usually forget that, and I’ve had some luck with using a small digital recorder or the memo function of my smart phone for notes.  One of the neatest gadgets I’ve come across is a small, battery operated scanner that I can carry around in my briefcase.  I scan books, magazine or newspaper articles, and photographs, download the files to my computer, and organize them for future reference.  It’s faster and more accurate than taking notes.  I’m experimenting with Evernote and One Note for organizing information, but I’m not sold on either one yet.  So far, what works best is a big stack of file folders crammed with notes.

What are you currently writing?

I’m researching topics for a book proposal and for a few magazine articles.  I’ve always been intrigued by the kidnapping of Shergar in Ireland during the early 1980s.  He raced for the Aga Khan and was one of the best Thoroughbreds of the 20th Century.  He was taken from his stall one night by an armed gang (probably from the Irish Republican Army, although they never claimed responsibility) and held for ransom.  The money never was paid and the horse never was recovered.  The affair has turned into racing’s most famous cold case.

I’d also like to write about the history of performance-altering drugs in equestrian sports and about how a dozen or so landmark legal cases have shaped the way sports are conducted these days.

Do you have suggestions for beginning writers?

I’ve got a few suggestions for people who want to write:

First, start from the ground up.  Learn the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, how to structure sentences, paragraphs, chapters.  Getting the fundamentals right doesn’t guarantee you’ll be published; getting them wrong almost guarantees you won’t be.

Next to my computer are the two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the Chicago Manual of Style, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words.  Within arm’s reach are a shelf of other reference books about writing, copyright and publishing law (I’m Chair of the American Society of Journalists and Authors Contracts and Conflicts Committee and I speak to writers groups about copyright and contracts), and whatever topic I’m researching at the moment.  Good writers break the rules all the time, but always for a reason.  It’s not a good idea to break the rules because you don’t know any better, or just because you can.  Break them only when the end result is better.

Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite authors for fiction, writes dialogue without quotation marks.  That’s technically wrong, but he knows what he’s doing and he uses the technique to great effect, and to win a Pulitzer Prize.  It’s okay to break the rules if you know what the rules are, and why you’re breaking them.  Walk before you run.

Second, write.  I attend several writers conferences every year, often as a presenter, and the mantra these days seems to be market, market, market.  That’s fine as far as it goes, but when you come away from a conference with a list of things to do—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, web sites, the list goes on—writing often is near the bottom.  Writing is a skill that needs practice.  It isn’t something you learn through osmosis. 

Third, read—a lot.  You need to read enough good writing so you can recognize it in your own work.  A few of my favorite authors are Mark Bowden (who wrote Blackhawk Down), historian David McCollough, and David Halberstam for non-fiction; Cormac McCarthy, Jeffrey Deaver, and John Sandford for fiction.

Finally, find a mentor.  You want someone who can read your work objectively, tell you what’s good and bad without the inherent bias of a spouse, or family member, or friend.  Then don’t be afraid to toss your mentor’s suggestions in the trash.   

Do you have any suggestions for beginning riders?

I haven’t been on a horse in years, but riding—like writing—is a skill.  Learn the fundamentals from a good instructor and practice.

Follow Milt…

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vivian Chang, World Equestrian

Vivian Chang competes with her gorgeous horses on the international circuit. She is a dressage rider based in the UK where she has been competing various horses since 2007. Her aim is to compete at CDI3* (Concours de Dressage International) venues and 2014 Korea Asian Games.

Best wishes Vivian as you continue to wow the world with your amazing talent and beautiful horses…

Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. I came to England to study PhD in chemistry in Oxford since 2007.

How old were you when you began riding?
I did very little childhood riding and only restarted to learn properly when I was in college at age 22.

Do you remember your first horse?
My first horse was a 6 year old, talented but spooky show jumper George. He and I did lots of competitions together up to 1.20m classes and he was particularly good at jump-offs.

Describe your daily routine…
My horses are worked 5 days a week. They go out hacking once or twice a week and have a rest day. I try to build up within the five rides in a week. For example, I focus on stretching and suppling on the first ride and keep it simple and a relaxing session for the horses. From the second and third ride I would emphasis more on the strength building and self carriage. They would be expected to use themselves better. Sometimes a fun easy session such as pole work or outdoor hacking would be mixed between intense schooling sessions just to keep their mind and body refreshed and happy. As for myself, I try to do weight training 2-3 times a week and some cardio exercise such as running or swimming. I also make sure I do enough and good quality stretching after exercises.

Where is your favorite arena?
I always enjoy competing at Addington in the UK.

What has been your greatest equestrian experience?
In 2011, Savio and I got into Intermediare I freestyle final at Biarritz CDI3*, France and we got 65% in horrid heavy rain. It was definitely the most unforgettable competition experience and ultimate challenge for horse/rider partnership.

Tell me about Savio H, Nora and Solstice….
Savio H is a 14 year old gelding by Welt Hit II bred in Holland. I've had him for over 3 years now. Together we began from Medium level and he stared his international career at PSG/Inter1 level since 2011.

Nora is an ex-showjumper mare by Nimmerdor line and started her career at age 10 in 2012. She's now competing at PSG level and did her first international this August. I can't wait to go GrandPrix with her.

Solstice is a 4 year old Trakhner gelding with the sweetest temperament. He's just been broken and progressed slowly over the summer. Hopefully we will get to do some young horse class in 2014.

Are you excited about the 2014 Korea Asian Games?
Oh yes definitely! It's every athlete's dream to represent their country in an important event. I feel Taiwan will form a strong team this time and hopefully we can bring home a medal!

How can we follow you and cheer you on?
I always enjoy reading other riders/horse lovers' stories as they can be such fun and inspirational! I look forward to meeting more friends online and share our lovely horsey moments!

Follow Vivian…

Vivian and Saaf enjoying summer holidays.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peter Hindley, Author

Curious of the title, Blueprint for the Perfect Crime, released in May 2013, and by the intriguing answers in this interview, I know I will add this novel to my reading list.

From Carcassonne, France, welcome author Peter Hindley

Peter says, I read a piece on facebook about the titles people are given or use, it amused me because now I am retired and have a new life in France; when I moved here I had planned to close the gates (they are seldom closed) and spend most of my time writing, it was to be a quiet and tranquil life but the gods had other plans for me. Now I have gained many new friends in various parts of this country and beyond, and they occupy much of my time. It was never my intention to get involved with the world of Ballroom and Latin American dancing but by an accident of fate I now coach a couple for competitions and demonstrations and occasionally act as a competition judge. So, here, amongst the various titles I may be given, I am known as a dance teacher, an international dance judge, retired interior designer (I was also qualified and worked in the field of interiors) even as I was hailed when passing through the village last week ‘the Englishman.’ Personally I prefer to be thought of as Peter; that is enough for me; those other titles mean nothing. My niece and co-author, Susan, lives in England and is an English teacher in the Medway towns and spends much of her time working on this and new writings.

What is the premise for The Perfect Crime?

I started accurately recording events surrounding the death of my brother, Alan, in 2002 realizing that things were not as they should have been, even then I had a very strong feeling that what was happening was an important story: I had no idea what was to follow or where it would take us. Here I use ‘us’ as Susan, daughter of Alan, was to join me on that journey and help with the writing of the book. Our book is available worldwide and tells how easily anybody can abuse the legal system and be aided by those in a position of authority. We feel it is an important story for all adults as they could fall prey to similar.

Is your book based upon your own personal experiences?

Certainly this is personal experience, but we have discovered that what happened to us is not an isolated case, it is happening to people in the UK daily: But although our story is based in England readers should be aware that similar things happens worldwide, various people have given us their stories from different parts of the globe. Everything within the pages is true and accurate; every effort was made to keep to the facts, no matter how bizarre they may have been. The story is told as if it is fiction and many people have subsequently asked us whether it is true or just a fantasy, hence the full title of the book came about: ‘The Perfect Crime: a story of truth or fantasy’, but I am sure that the readers will realize at some point which category this books belongs to.

Who would enjoy reading The Perfect Crime?

Everybody can gain something; we have had reactions from readers in all walks of life in many countries. The story is complex and the feedback, we have received, has highlighted to us aspects within the pages that we never anticipated, and we anticipated many. Certainly the subjects are serious but we deliberately include humor to make the reader’s journey more interesting; we also invite the reader to come to their own conclusions as they become involved.

Describe the main character….

The main character may be Wendy, the widow of my late brother, as she may have been the person who was the prime mover, but we tend to let the actions, or inactions, of all those involved speak for themselves, therefore expose their character, we tend not to color or judge them. This story may highlight an extreme case of avarice, injustice and mal administration but it is not unique. We just expose facets of human nature and some flaws in the western world culture today.

Where does the story take place?

The story starts in Paignton, Devon; a pleasant seaside town in the south west of England. Tourism is probably the main industry; it has an adequate supply of hotels and other accommodation for people wanting a holiday by the sea and within easy distance from gently rolling countryside and the moors. A picture of Alain’s house where much of the action takes place would not be out of place on the front of a box of chocolates, or be presented as a jigsaw puzzle, as it had a beamed mock Tudor fa├žade and stood within its own grounds with a small stream cutting through the front lawn. As I mentioned earlier this is a journey and we record what happened in the surrounding area and elsewhere, including central London and the halls of Government.

How did you collect data and research for your manuscript?

Collecting data for the manuscript took many years and there was no one technique involved: Yes, we have letters, hundreds of them, both personal and formal. We also used the internet in our research, but we also found that some people supplied unsolicited important information and we thank them for that, especially those who we were unable to thank as they did it anonymously.

What are you currently writing?

There are two projects at the moment: One is a sequel which takes this and other stories further and the other is a work of fiction involving a retired spy.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

My reading, where time permits, is very eclectic so I do not have a favorite fictional character or author.

Describe the perfect crime....

The Perfect Crime for me is one where the instigator does not get caught and certainly is not penalized by the legal system. I used to be naive enough to think that this was impossible but sadly that is not the case.

As far as this story is concerned I have no feelings of malice in any form towards those directly involved or those who have knowingly helped them, locally or in the seats of the establishment, but if any did pay the price, no matter how, for their actions then I would feel no pity for them either.

Follow Peter….

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dianne (Di) Bates, Author

Meet Australian Author Dianne (Di) Bates, BA Dip Teaching has published 120+ books for the education and trade markets. Some of Di’s books have won national and state literary awards; others have sold overseas. Di has received Grants and Fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council and has toured for the National Book Council.

Di has undertaken commissioned writing for a large number of organizations and has worked on the editorial team of the NSW Department of Education School Magazine. She was co-editor of a national children’s magazine, Puffinalia (Penguin Books) and editor of another national magazine, Little Ears.

In 2008, Di was awarded The Lady Cutler Prize for distinguished services to children’s Literature.

Currently Di works as a freelance writer and manuscript assessor. She lives in Woonona, north of Wollongong, NSW, Australia, with her prize-winning YA author husband, Bill Condon.  

Welcome Di!

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

I wrote my first book over 30 years ago when I was living in a very isolated place (The Diggings, Dr George Mountain, Tanja via Bega, NSW, Australia) and was looking for activities to fill in my time. I was amazed that the manuscript was published (by Penguin Books Australia) and thus my writing career was started. I’ve since been published by many houses such as HarperCollins, Random House, Allen & Unwin and so on.

What books have you written?

I have published 120+ books, mostly for young readers. The most recent are Nobody’s Boy (Celapene Press) which was a 2013 Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book and Highly Commended in the Australian Family Therapy Awards, and The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia) which has just been picked up by Gersh Agency in Los Angeles which is representing it as a 6 to 8 episodes TV series, and as a US title.

Can you share a joke from your children's book Giggle and Grin

What do you call two thieves? (A pair of knickers)

What are you currently writing?

I so loved writing The Girl in the Basement (a cross-over novel) that I decided to have a try at writing an adult crime novel. I’m now 55,000 words into The Freshest of Flesh about a woman serial killer hunting down paedophiles: it is told from the points of view of the woman and of a convicted paedophile. I am having such fun writing it!

Describe your daily routine...

I don’t have a routine as such, but when I’m writing a book, I write everyday. I’m an insomniac so sometimes I’m up half the night (today from 3 am to 8 am); in any case I probably clock about 40 writing (and researching) hours a week. (This includes writing-related business.)

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

The thoughts and ideas bombard me all the time. I become obsessed with what I’m currently writing and can’t wait to get to the keyboard.

Where do you like to write?

I prefer to write in my office without any distractions. My husband, Bill Condon, who is also a prize-winning Australian YA author brings me cups of tea during the day (otherwise I forget to drink I’m so absorbed in what I’m doing.)

Who is your favorite author?

I’d have to say my husband, Bill Condon who won the inaugural (2010) Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for YA fiction with his novel Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God; he was short-listed again in 2012 with A Straight Line to My Heart.

Bill writes memorable characters that you grow to love so much that getting to The End is almost a heart-break. His writing is soaked through with honesty and integrity; he writes humor ever so well and his dialogue is 100% convincing. Finally, I know just how much effort he sinks into his writing – the agony and angst of getting ever word right and in the right place!

Name your top 5 favorite books....

Quirky, memorable characters are what appeals to me most when I’m reading children’s books, and I love the use of strong, image-provoking language and well-constructed plots; thus my favorite books are Where the Lilies Bloom (Bill and Vera Cleaver), The Naming of Tashkin Silk (Glenda Millard), Daredevils (Bill Condon), The Dead I Know (Scott Gardner), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)...

I know you said five, but I’m going to cheat...
There’s also Dicey’s Song (Cynthia Voigt), Ruby Holler (Sharon Creech), A Pure Swift Cry (Siobhan Dowd), A Gathering Light (Jennifer Donnelly), Dead Time (Anne Cassidy) and The Year the Gypsies Came (Linzi Glass). I also love humorous books by authors such as Beverley Cleary, Jacqueline Wilson and Andy Stanton. Finally (I keep thinking of other favorite titles!) I hugely enjoy the poetry of Elizabeth Honey, Bill Condon, Jack Prelutsky, Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Colin McNaughton.

And here are my top adult reads:  
Running with Scissors (Augustus Burroughs), Where the Heart is (Billie Letts) , The Treatment  (Peter Kocan), Mr Vertigo (Paul Auster), The Comforts of Madness (Paul Sayer), Just Another Kid (Torey L. Hayden), Darkness Visible (William Styron), The Road (Cormack McCarthy), The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold), The Room (Emma Donaghey), True Stories (Helen Garner), Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen).

Any advice for newbie writers?

Know the market! By that I mean if you are open to all genres of writing keep up to date with which publisher is publishing what. Try to predict writing trends and find niches – and this way you will be two jumps ahead of others. The bottom line, though, is to be “hungry” for opportunity and above all -- persist. At one time I had 47 consecutive rejections of my work but I still believed in my talent. Persistence, that’s what it’s all about really and to always give 100% of your best. Workshop frequently with writers whose opinions you respect. I also think it pays to find a good mentor, but to give as much back as you take. I have helped so many new writers over the years, never to hear from them again.

Connect with Di….

Di & Bill

Monday's Muse

Pet Profile - Meet Gina's cat Bake...

At the barn with Bake,
my Monday Muse


Born:  Ohio, USA
Date of Birth:  November 19, 2012
Scientific Name: Felis Catus
Breed: Mitten-Paw American Barncat
Eyes: Emerald Green
Height: To the middle of my shin
Weight: About 15 lbs
Sex: Neutered Male
Disposition: Captivating
Occupation:  Barn Mouser, Loyal Friend
Coiffure: Brown Mackerel Tabby
Sustenance: Love,Mice, Moles, Rabbits, Cat Chow
Favorite Designers: Luxe, Marc Jacobs
Favorite Place: Chaise Lounge in my office
Favorite Pastime: Naps
Favorite Event: Dinnertime
Daily Task: Kill (all) Mice
Hobbies: Watching my neighbors, Catching birds
Nemesis': Fleas, Dogs, Mean birds, Hairballs
Friends:  Cherokee
Best Friend: me

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Frank Lovato, Jr., Jockey World

A heart for horses, Frank Lovato Jr, is an extraordinary equestrian. From an early age Frank was obsessed with becoming a jockey. At the age 0f 13, Frank left his family to follow his dream. Frank lived in horse barns, sleeping on tack room floors, taking on inferior stable jobs, just to find his place on the race track. After 3 years, he began his apprentice jockey career. In 1980, Frank received the coveted Eclipse Award - Jockey Apprentice USA.

Now retired as a jockey, Frank continues to be an advocate to educate a horse racing nation. Besides being an equestrian, he is an author, innovator, entrepreneur, radio host, musician, and much more. Through his many horse-related programs, Frank shines in the world of horses….

Welcome Frankie!

Q: When was your first encounter with a horse? 
A: I was way too young to remember, I think I was 2 years old the first time I kind of remember; was at a farm where a trainer that my dad (who was also a jockey) was riding for was having a small party. I remember them bringing a horse out and letting me sit on it in the yard. I actually can kind of remember feeling exhilarated. Other then that, I remember going to the track during the morning training hours with my dad and once training hours were over, there were some trainers that would let me ride their stable pony (life size guide horse for the Thoroughbreds) around the barn's shedrow.

Q: You grew up around horses and the race track. What was it like?
A: Yeah, was not the farm life, unfortunately which instead of having a horse, I had a bicycle which I use to pretend I was riding races on. My dad was a professional jockey. We lived in suburb areas close to race tracks. I kind of had a normal childhood except I was so obsessed with becoming a jockey that I left home in New Jersey where my dad was riding at the early age of 14 to go live and work on a Thoroughbred farm in Ocala Florida to begin my training to become a jockey. In those days, it was quite acceptable to start racing professional at 16 years old, and that was my goal. My parents did try and slow me down, but like I said, I was obsessed with this jockey stuff since a very early age.

Q: Was your mother a rider, too?
A: My mom was not really a horse person at all. Was great at shopping though! My mom was always a great ear though as she had to hear me say, "I want to be a jockey" 9 zillion times before I was 10 years old. She tried her best to talk me out of it but was not possible.

Q: What is it like to ride a racehorse? 
A: Since all I ever knew was riding Thoroughbreds, once I retired from racing, I have been able to spend lots more time around other breeds. Really not so different and since Thoroughbred’s is all I know, I think I prefer Thoroughbreds! I do think that Thoroughbreds can get a bit of a reputation, but they are just horses and depends, like any horse, how they were brought up and worked with. I think some of them make amazing partners if someone would give them a chance!
Arlington Park. This was my last winner before I retired from racing.  

Q: Where is your favorite track?
A: I rode mostly the New York circuit for most of my career; Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga. Beautiful and historical facilities, but I fell in love with Arlington Park which was the track I rode over the last few years of my career during their summer meet. I loved it for the track itself, and the atmosphere. It seemed very festive and inviting from both my side and fans. Management does a great job there for everyone!

Q: What happened in the race when you had a spill and broke your leg?
A: It actually was in the post parade warming up for the race. The filly I was on could really run, I had just won on her the previous race, but she was very difficult to ride and get to the gates. Racing wise she was easy to ride, but the post parade, she threw a fit and flipped over on top of me. It happened in a split second, I could not avoid her.

Q: Of all the horses that you've ridden, do you have a favorite?
A: That is a very tough question, there are so many horses I loved and meant lots to my career. There was this one horse that I won the West Virginia Derby on back in 1980 or 81, his name was Johnny Dance. Anyway, he was so lazy to ride in the mornings, like an old cow horse, but at the races, he gave his all. Was the coolest horse ever.

Q: What is the Equicizer?
A: The Equicizer is a tool I developed to help me rehabilitate from my racing accident where I sustained a badly broken leg. It helped me regain the strength and flexibility I needed to make it just back to riding period and then it did more then that. It made me a better rider then ever before. It's a non-motorized spring loaded mechanical horse. I still manufacture them and now for all riders under the sun. It's a way to train, exercise and rehab safely and works for any rider, even for non-riders it offers a great safe exercise, great for the core and even people with disabilities can use very effectively!

Q: What is Stampede of Dreams?
A: Stampede of Dreams is our therapeutic riding program that my wife Sandy and I founded. Because of the Equicizer, we have met some amazing people over the years that inspired us to start our own program. Stampede of Dreams (also known as SOD) is in our 5th year, a 501c3 non-profit that is a certified PATH-International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) program. My wife Sandy is the program director and also a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. We are located in Norwalk Ohio. We have an amazing staff, board of directors, volunteers, and of course student riders!

Q: Describe your daily routine....
A: Well, now that I am retired as a jockey, I primarily focus on the Equicizer business. I still manufacture them by hand and build them for riders all over the world. Along with that, I also founded my own organization called Jockey World, which is non-profit educational organization I mostly created to help our young racing fans who wish to work in the racing industry; learn properly about the business. I create some career building tools such as Jockey Camp, media such as YouTube videos, the Jockey World (internet) Radio Show, Jockey Camp is an annual event I host that is open to anyone. All these areas I provide my experiences and knowledge that helps offer a better foundation of knowledge and path they can follow to get them started. Jockey World also offers any fan of horse racing to learn really what horse racing is all about for the better enjoyment of the sport. So with these two businesses, I stay very busy, usually 7 days a week building and maintaining Equicizers and horse racing education!

Currently, I am working on a huge project called 365 Days of Racing Terminology. A video series that me and my star Jockey World student Kayla Jarvinen have created and committed doing a video for everyday of the year for 2013. Each video covers a racing term. These terms are from my Racing Terminology Booklet I created a few years ago. This project is an unprecedented effort to educate racing fans and bring more attention to my mission with Jockey World. So my days are pretty full!

Q: In a nutshell, what does it take to be a jockey?
A: Definitely a different breed, of course you have to be small, but that is just a tiny piece, you have to be fearless, hard working, resilient, patient, tolerant, willing to work 7 days a week for nothing for a chance to someday win, athletic, and most of all, lucky!

Connect with Frankie…

“There are those meant to lead, others meant to follow, 
then the rest of us that are just meant to ride.” 
Frankie Lovato
Elusive Road after an allowance race win. 

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