Saturday, February 28, 2015

Colonel Charles Dahnmon Whitt, Author


Colonel Charles Dahnmon Whitt grew up in Tazewell County, Virginia, USA, and like most southwest Virginians has not forgotten his ancestral or geographical heritage. As a young boy, he attended elementary school at Raven and later graduated from Richlands High School. When he graduated from high school, Colonel Whitt joined the navy and left Tazewell County to explore the world. After time served in the navy, he became a sheet metal worker and eventually settled in Flatwoods, Kentucky  where he and his wife, Sharon, still live.

In his younger days Whitt fished, played games with friends, and was a Boy Scout for several years. He was raised in a Christian home and has tried to be the man his dog thinks he is. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1964 to 1968. He learned the craft of Sheet Metal Work and earned a living until December 2003. Dahnmon has always wanted to know his place and where he came from so in 1999 he purchased his first computer. Doing genealogy he made so many discovers including his connections in Kentucky. And back to Ireland, Scotland, and to the American Indians as he is the GGGG Grandson of Chief Cornstalk the Shawnee War Chief.

Even as he worked and lived in other places, the Colonel never forgot the formative years of his life in Raven and Richlands. After retirement, Colonel Whitt developed his long-time interest in genealogy, research and history. This led to the publication of his first book The Patriot which was soon followed by nine other books. All of his books are historic fiction based on actual events that have been well researched. The author, Col Whitt, weaves a story in and around these facts.

His latest book, Recollections of Raven and Richlands, is somewhat different from other books he has written. This book takes the reader on a trip back to a time when life was simple and uncomplicated. The author tells his story about growing up in a small coal mining town in Tazewell County, Virginia. The book offers insight into the Appalachian mountain culture and the importance of family unity centered on a Christian up-bringing. Colonel Whitt shares actual memories and pictures from Raven and Richlands intermingled with stories from his childhood, as he moves toward becoming an adult.

Colonel Whitt is now a well-recognized author, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans and a Kentucky Colonel. At book signings, he wears the uniform of a Confederate Colonel to honor all the men and women who struggled during the War of Northern Aggression. Colonel Whitt has been recognized by the Kentucky Senate on two occasions for his achievements in historic research and writing ability.

To date, the Colonel has now written 15 books worth checking out; view all of them on his website.


Connect with Colonel Whitt
http://dahnmonwhittfamily.com/




Friday, February 27, 2015

Amber Moore, Author


 

Author Amber Moore grew up in Athens County, Ohio, USA, and has lived most of her adult life there. Moore met her husband in high school and they have been together for 14 years. The couple has two beautiful children, ages four and six, both of whom are autistic. Moore has a wide and varied educational background, including animal science, Horsemanship, survival and backpacking, accounting, and business. She has always been fascinated with folklore, legends, and myths. In addition, Moore has found herself drawn to animal behavior, particularly human behavior and psychology. Moore's first novel Bartender Tales was released in 2014.


What is the premise for ‘Bartender Tales’?
My husband, Chad, encouraged me to write Bartender Tales for him.  The book was based originally on a dream and then took on a life of its own. Bartender Tales is a suspense/thriller novel. The main character, Wesley Lake, applies for a bartender position at ‘The Last Stop’. The owner of the bar not only hires him but pretty much gives him the bar itself. Despite the owner's strange behavior, Wesley takes the job. Anything he needs begins to fall effortlessly into his lap. However, soon the mysterious deaths associated with the bar become unavoidable. Wesley soon discovers that for some who enter the bar, it truly is their last stop. His failed attempts to put a stop to the deaths only lead him closer to the inconceivable truth, and the impossible decision that he is forced to make that will impact the rest of his life.

Who is your favorite character? 
That is a very difficult question.  I suppose each character has different personality traits that I admire on some level. If forced to choose I would go with either Bishop or Raven as my favorite. I like Bishop because I value his intelligence, adaptability, and fierce loyalty. I feel the German Shepherd breed itself is a beautiful, courageous breed worthy of admiration. I like Raven, because although she is guarded and secretive, she has survived her brutal past to become strong and observant, with a deep awareness about the world around her. Raven was also part of the original dream that inspired the book.

Is your storyline based upon your own experience?
The storyline for Bartender Tales was based upon a dream.  The rest was furnished by my twisted overactive imagination. However, I suppose it is partly based on my own experience. Anyone who is spent any amount of time at a bar observing people will recognize and relate to each of the characters. Most of the stories and events that occur in ‘The Last Stop’ are similar to what you would expect from a visit to your own local bar.

Who is the beautiful Shepherd on your book cover?
The German Shepherd on the cover of the book is Bishop. Bishop is a stray that comes out of nowhere to protect Wesley from a belligerent drunk. He soon becomes Wesley's best friend, companion, and Guardian.

This was your debut novel.  What about the publication process surprised you the most?
Going into the publication process, I was aware that it is a business like any other. So I was somewhat prepared for that aspect. I believe what surprised me the most was the amount of research and knowledge needed to understand the ins and outs.  Such as the language and terms used in the publication process as well as format requirements, cover photo design, etc.
Describe your writing process… (aesthetics/environment, as well as other aspects).

Typically when I began writing I pretty much have an entire book stuck in my head from beginning to end, and I am eager to unleash it with a pen and paper. Prefer it to be quiet when I write as I’m sure most writers do. I like to be left to my own devices. Unlike most writers, I handwrite in a notebook. I find it easier more portable and convenient for my lifestyle. I typically write when my children are in school. My favorite place to write is in our camper or beneath a tree. Like the main character in the book, I find comfort and inspiration in nature. After I have finished a chapter I then transcribed it onto my computer in a novel format for my editor. I tend to be a pretty logical thinker, so if I don't fully understand the details of something I'm writing I do a lot of research to ensure accuracy. I'm sure from an outside point of view some of the topics that I research would seem quite odd or sadistic, but I like my details to be as factual as possible.

What are you currently writing?   
I recently finished writing Why Monsters are Afraid of Teddy Bears for my children. My son like most children his age is afraid of the dark. The book is based on a bedtime story I tell my son.  The photo illustrations were done by my husband. The book is currently with my editor. I am hoping to know the release date sometime in February or March of this year. I am currently back to work on the sequel to Bartender Tales. I have had so many of my fans request a sequel that I felt obligated to oblige. The book is titled Bartender Tales: The Rise of a Reaper and I'm currently working on chapter 5.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the Harry Potter series with my son. We encourage daily reading with both of our children.  I feel reading regularly is important, especially for those who write.

Who is your favorite author?  
My favorite author is Stephen King. As a child by family had a hard time getting me to read anything. That all changed with the introduction of Stephen King. Although they thought his work was too advanced for me at the time, they were just so happy to see me reading that they let me run with it. I like him because he has an in-depth understanding of human behavior something that fascinates me.  I also find it very frustrating if I am able to figure out a story before the end. Stephen King always has a surprising twist that keeps you guessing, and I find it much more thought-provoking.

Do you have advice for novice writers?                                         
Write for yourself. Write because it is your passion. Write because you have a story to tell. Regardless of what your dreams are in life, there are always those who will say you can't or shouldn't for whatever reasons. Follow your dreams. You always fail if you never try, just as the answer is always 'no' if you never ask.  So there's no downside to trying.

I know you are a horsewoman as well.  Tell me about your horse history…
I am a lover of animals. I enjoy being around anything with four legs, and fur. Horses are no exception. In my youth, I was enrolled in Backcountry Horse at Hocking College, and I loved every minute of it. I also worked for a while at The Last Chance Corral, which was another wonderful experience. Being in the barn among the horses is the only time I've ever been up at five o’clock in the morning and been happy about it.

What was the most important thing that you experienced while enrolled in Hocking College’s Wilderness Horsemanship program?
I learned so much while enrolled under the Horsemanship program. Most importantly I learned to trust my horse and myself. I feel it is very important to be in tune and to be friends with my horse. Your horse may sense danger or know something that you may not be aware of. Being in tune and trusting your horse can keep you safe. At Hocking College, Lady was my best friend. She was a very interesting horse with a lot of depth to her. She didn't care for men and could be quite bullheaded. One day while leading a trail ride Lady suddenly refused to continue down the trail. I didn't force her. I knew that something was wrong. My instructor took the lead and continued down the trail. It turned out there was a snake on the path, it spooked my instructor’s horse, and she was thrown breaking her collarbone in the process. I was grateful to have such a close relationship of Lady, especially that day. I learned to follow my instincts, use common sense, and always keep my wits about me. When I first started at Hocking College, we had the horses hobbled in a grazing field. A crotchety old donkey decided to stir up some trouble and started a stampede. The whole herd was running straight towards another girl and me. I remember the fear upon her face when she looked toward me asking what to do. Out of instinct told her to run for the tree line, and sure enough when the horses reached the trees they slowed and dispersed. I also learned what pride and sense of accomplishment you feel after a hard day’s work in the barn.

Can you share a favorite horse-related anecdote?
Each horse has its own unique personality. I remember being stepped on once by horse named Roadie, and when I yelled I could tell by the look on his face that it hurt him more than it hurt me. With my foot throbbing, I still felt sorry for him.  I suppose my favorite memory will always be of Chief out at The Last Chance Corral. I called him Chief because of the brand on his hindquarters. He had quite the personality, and I loved him dearly. When I would be working in the field, he would sneak behind me quietly.  When I would turn to look at him, he would stop and look away like he wasn't doing anything. Then when my back was turned, he would continue to follow me. We played this game nearly every day. I was pregnant when I worked there and while in the field one day, one of the other horses charged me. Chief came out of nowhere to push the other horse off course and away from me. When I left The Last Chance Corral, I was heartbroken.  I wanted to take Chief home with me so badly, but I didn't have a suitable home to bring him home to. I still miss him and think about him often. I hope that he found a good home and received all the love that he deserved.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
To me, horsemanship means a sense of pride and accomplishment.  It is being among kindred spirits. It is chance to be near the most beautiful gentle and loving creatures you could ever meet. For me, riding a horse is pure freedom and nothing short of complete peace.

Connect with Amber…
Author Website… www.authorambermoore.com


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Darrell Fleming, Author

          
Author Darrell Fleming grew up in Clintwood, Dickenson County, Virginia, USA. He graduated from Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky with majors in English, History and Political Science; The University of Virginia with a Masters of Education in Secondary School Administration. Fleming served in the US Army, stationed in Germany. After his military service, he was employed by the Fairfax County School District, Virginia, retiring in 1988.

His first book, Family, Friends and War Heroes: Reflections from World War II, was released in 2005. Fleming’s book is based upon his Dad’s diary written aboard a destroyer escort while serving in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Welcome!

Thank you for your military service.
What is the premise for 'Family, Friends and War Heroes..' ?
World War II, 1938-1945, was truly a world at war! Devastation spread from the serene green pastures of England and Ireland, to the industrial cities of Europe, to the majestic mountains of Austria and northern Italy, to the deserts of Africa, to the crowded cities of central and eastern Asia, to the beautiful, peaceful islands of the Pacific including “down under” Australia and New Zealand, to the entire western hemisphere with its vast resources and energy. All countries felt the impact and, if they were spared from the actual war machinery which killed an estimated sixty million people worldwide, they were most definitely affected indirectly through economic and social conditions beyond their control.

It seemed, even to the distant observer, that the world was either under fire, on fire or about to be set afire. Such were the dark, dim and dreary days of late 1943 when the Axis powers had marched, cruised and flown around the entire globe to wreak havoc unmercifully on the innocent as well as their targeted populations when this account begins to tell a story of how the war dramatically impacted our family’s life for at least two generations.

Please share your favorite passage from your Dad's diary...
Tuesday, June 6. We arrived in N. Y. at 11 today. Starboard had liberty.
A special note was inserted in the Diary at this point. It apparently was a note Dad had mailed to Mother and he entered it in the Diary as a reminder of their upcoming anniversary on Jun 23. It reads:

June 7, ‘44
Dear,
This is to remind you of fourteen years back.
I am leaving tomorrow morning. So make the best out of life you can.
                                                          Loving yours,
                                                          Truman


What motivates you as a writer?
To preserve history in its truest form and to the best of my ability.

The aesthetics of Virginia certainly inspires your creativity. Describe your daily routine...
When I write, I establish a set schedule usually no more than four hours at a time, i. g., 8:00 am - noon and 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm. When inspired, as ideas are flowing, I continue writing until my inspirations wane. I write on my computer because of spell check, ease of corrections, and inclusion of ideas and deletions. I try to eliminate all distractions, such as not opening emails prior to beginning, no phone calls, no radio, no TV, and no door bells. I must have privacy in my office. My wife knows my schedule, and accepts it, and often quips that she feels like a widow when I’m hard at work finishing an idea, a paragraph, a chapter, or an ending. Therefore, when I take a break I make a real effort to treat her to lunch, dinner, and even a day or two off.

Also, I do not write every day. Sometimes I must get away from writing a day or two and come back refreshed. Then I read what I have written previously and often I have a new idea, word, phrase or even realize it’s too wordy and must be abbreviated to make it more effective.  We have no children at home or pets or they would have to be excluded from my office. I think all genres of writing require focus and consecration and, therefore, distractions must be eliminated as much as possible.

What author/writer has impacted your writing style/genre?
Of course, I’d like to claim David McCullough, Stephen E. Ambrose, or even James Bradley. I cannot. Instead, I believe writing is a very personal art form and people will come to know me by my writing. One of the highest compliments I’ve received from my books and short stories is, “Darrell, as I read your books I can envision you as a person.” This is to say I cannot write like someone else. I must write from my experiences, knowledge base, and my information. That’s what identifies me and my writings. However, I certainly read lots of writers in my genre because it provides me with ideas, styles, and forms to assist me confirming what and how I write.

What are you currently reading?
Carte Blanche 007 by Jeffery Deaver and just finished Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
As a novice, connect with a local writing group that is presenting “How To” sessions on a regular basis. Seek advice from published authors and network with published authors. Attend writing seminars. Read, read, read in your genre and then start writing and don’t quite. Don’t expect to be perfect as you write and don’t attempt to put your final editing to every word, sentence, paragraph, or chapter as you write. Just get your ideas and thoughts down. Your editing should be limited to obvious misspelled words, word agreement, and sentence structure as you go. This happens as you read and reread your written work. Do your diligence to fact checking, make sure what you said in previous chapters agree with what you are saying in later chapters when referencing same ideas, situations, events, etc.  You should hire a qualified editor to put the final editing touches to your work. Be prepared to market your book. Carefully select an interesting title and present an attractive cover. Know your targeted audience because, in the end, there are only two things that sell your book: THE BOOK, as it catches the interests of readers, and YOU, as the seller/marketer.

Do you have advice for those seeking to enlist in the military?
Be absolutely committed to the enlistment and to the OATH you must take upon entering.

Enlist for the right reasons: loyalty to oath, to love ones at home, to fellow military personnel, and to country. In my opinion, it is the best education one can obtain and I have a post graduate degree from a major American university.

Enjoy the experience, even the “things” that are difficult and in which you might not excel.

Always be proud to serve and to have served your country and fellow citizens.

What are your thoughts on current world events?
I am a Christian and believe in Biblical prophecy. The U. S. is only the second nation in the history of nations to have been dedicated to God as a God fearing nation. The world has depended on U. S. leadership and strength for several decades. The U. S. is now a weakened nation morally, ethically, economically and militarily. There are enemies within and other ideologies and nations are rising in wrongful power. This bodes ill for the future of all peoples and nations.

Connect with Darrell…
www.appheritagewritersym.wordpress.com


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby


Anna Rose "Rosie" Napravnik is an American Thoroughbred
horse racing jockey and two-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks.
Rosie is wearing 'Williamstown' Chapeau, created by Milliner Sally Faith Steinmann.

  The 2015 Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 2!

"Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby" is well underway, the annual online Derby hat auction created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to support the retired racehorses of Old Friends. This unique hat auction features a new Derby hat design each month created by Milliner Sally Faith Steinmann to honor one of the Thoroughbreds at Old Friends. All of the proceeds from this running auction benefit Old Friends Equine and you can read all about it at http://www.maggiemae.com/OldFriendsAuction.htm  

The theme continues with "Rosie and Friends" with the fifth hat (see photo) up on the auction block which is the "Williamstown" Chapeau created to honor Kentucky-bred multiple stakes-winning stallion and son of the great Seattle Slew, Williamstown, who ran one of the fastest miles in history in the 1993 Withers Stakes (G2). The hat with full description and photos can be seen at The Williamstown Hat webpage.

Rosie Napravnik with her husband trainer Joe Sharp modeling this handcrafted, one-of-a-kind Derby hat in a special photo shoot at Old Friends. Check out this fabulous behind-the-scenes video by EquiSport Photos of the photo shoot at https://vimeo.com/117009595

The “Williamstown” chapeau sold to the highest bidder for $500 in February! View updates to bid on the next gorgeous hat! -  http://www.ebay.com/itm/281585281272

For the Old Friends Press Release - http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs184/1102520673781/archive/1119970743680.html

To date over $23,000 has been raised by "Hats Off to the Horses" for the retired racehorses of Old Friends. To view some of the hats created in the past five years of this auction series, simply click on the following link -- http://www.maggiemae.com/OldFriendsHatAuctionPortfolio.htm.


Sally Faith Steinmann
Owner/Designer, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
Web Address - http://www.maggiemae.com
Derby hats – http://www.maggiemae.com/derby.htm
Email - sally@maggiemae.com
Blog Address - http://hatsandhorses.wordpress.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/maggiemaedesignsmillinery
Facebook for “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser - http://www.facebook.com/MaggieMaeDesigns.HatsOfftotheHorses
Twitter - https://twitter.com/MMaeDesigns
Pinterest - http://pinterest.com/sallysteinmann/
Tumblr - http://hatshorsesandmore.tumblr.com/ 
  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Riding the San Juan Mountains




A Riding Adventure
by Dorothy K. Morris

In the early 1970s my husband and I went to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado for a horseback camping trip for seven days above 10,000 feet. Horses and all camping gear were furnished by the trip leaders and we only had to bring our personal saddles. After a flight from Virginia and a drive in a rented car, we were the first party to arrive at the meeting place at the base of a mountain. We found a tent already set up for our use and a string or horses attended by a couple of young wranglers. They were very friendly and suggested that we choose the horses we would like to ride.

We carried our English Saddles in saddle carriers and when the young men saw the small bags, they began to snicker…obviously. One of them quickly suggested that we saddle up and go for a ride. My husband and I went into our tent, changed from traveling clothes to our English Riding Breeches and boots and came out. The young men were both laughing by now. 

Not knowing how to saddle up with our tack, they allowed us to do it. And then we all mounted our horses and my husband and I followed the wranglers out of the campsite and onto a path that led to very steep and rugged terrain. As soon as we came to the base they turned and galloped up, holding on to their saddle horns as their horses dug into the mountainside, assuming that we would not be able to follow. Finding a place to halt, they stopped and turned. We were right there with them, having galloped up the mountain right behind them…with no saddle horns to hold on to.

The shock on their faces was delightful to see. And so I informed them that we fox hunt in the Blue Ridge Mountains in these saddles. Certainly the Blue Ridge are not as tall and rugged as the San Juans, but a hill is a hill…up and down.

For the remainder of the seven days, riding through some of the most rugged and magnificent country in the US, the wranglers were astounded at how we could ride in those “little postage stamps—up hill and down—cross creeks and trot ahead of them”, without falling off. But we did earn their respect.


On the last day out they had become so friendly with us that they asked if they could try out our saddles. We agreed wholeheartedly. It was sad to see that neither of them could ride in them, losing their balance often and almost slipping off. They concluded that the Easterners were not such tenderfeet after all.

From Arizona, USA, Dorothy K. Morris is an avid equestrian and author. Connect with Dorothy to enjoy more of her intriguing writing and stories. I had the great opportunity to connect with Dorothy and interview her for Riding & Writing.

Connect with Dorothy…


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Debra Butler, Author & Poet

From Pennsylvania, USA, Author Debra Butler writes to inspire and encourage. Raised in a Armenian/Italian home, Debra began writing poetry at a young age. She has devoted her writing and life to the Lord.

Welcome Debra!

What is the premise for your book 'What Matters: the promise’ ?  
I have always been very close to the Lord feeling Jesus was my invisible friend growing up; I spoke to Him all the time and continue to do so. He allowed me to rhyme words all day long and I kept getting better and better at it as I grew up. When I was an adult and recognized it as a gift from God I turned my attention toward Him and incredible poems came out of that connection. 

The premise of my book is the Word of God. Biblical material in modern poetic form one can relate to in their everyday lives. 

Who is your target audience? 
My target audience is church groups, nursing home residents, patients undergoing treatments, anyone longing for hope. I get my material from my strong religious upbringing and undying faith in Jesus. 

Can you share one of your favorite poems? 
One of my favorite poems is the book's namesake and it centers around the relationship between Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. It's named What Matters and I hope you enjoy it:

How could she just sit there with everything going on?
By the time I take care of everything He will be gone.
I have to prepare a meal and serve the guests in my home,
And there she sits leaving me to do everything alone.

I have so many things to worry about and she doesn’t care.
She’s anointing His feet and wiping them with her hair.
And He says, “Martha, why do you worry about meaningless things?
Your sister has chosen to do what matters for the joy that it brings.”

And when He came back after my brother Lazarus had died
I told Him He could have come back sooner and saved him if He tried.
And he said, “Your brother shall rise; I will bring him forth today,
I am the life and resurrection and whoever believes will be saved.”

Jesus went to the tomb and asked that they clear away the stone,
And He spoke to His Father to show He didn’t do this alone.
And He thanked God for hearing Him and called Lazarus’ name.
And from the tomb, though dead for days, my brother lived again.

There was no question but that He was the Christ sent from above,
To show us there is no need to worry if we trust in God’s love.
And I learned it didn’t matter how the rest of the world sees us;
All that matters is the time you spend at the feet of Jesus. 

© Debra Butler
 



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Victoria A. Fletcher, Author & Poet

From Damascus, Virginia, USA, Victoria A. Fletcher is an award-winning author. A graduate of Virginia Intermont College and Tusculum College, she holds a Masters Degree in Education and is a retired school teacher. Currently, she is the church secretary for First Baptist Church in Damascus. Victoria began writing when she was 13 years old and has been active with children’s ministry for many years.

Welcome Victoria!

When did you pen your first story? 
My first book came out in 2011.  I began working on it when I retired from teaching in 2008.  I was looking at the options for publishing my work and found Xulon Press, a Christian author publishing company.  I contracted with them for 2 books (both The Bible Tells Me So books). I began writing poetry when I was about 12.

What motivates your creativity?
I have worked with children for over 40 years.  They are my inspiration.  I think the Bible story books were a natural fit for me.

Being a church secretary, I am sure you have a lot of anecdotes.  Can you share one?
I shared several in my book Daily Dose of Encouragement.  My favorite verse to share is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This became my life verse when I was 12. My favorite saying about writing is Fill your writings with the breathings of your heart by William Wordsworth.

Do you include storylines and characters from your own personal experience?
Yes.  I think all authors do this to a point.  My memoir certainly used characters and events from my childhood.

Of all your books, which one is your favorite?
I love the Bible stories but I think that Blessings in Bible Times is actually my favorite.  It is Bible stories but with time travel involved.  I love the watch that the Lord helped me create.

Can you share an excerpt? 
“The three kids climbed down from the loft.  They went looking around the barn.  In the back corner of the barn they saw a small mound of dirt.  They decided to take a closer look.  They grabbed some sticks and started digging.  It wasn’t long until they saw something shiny. Excitedly, they continued digging.  Suddenly, they stopped, looked at each other, and looked back at the ground.” 

What is the premise for Fletcher's Fables?
I decided to do stories with animal characters that learned lessons much like the Aesop Fables of old. I love writing stories for children.  Children love animals so it was just a good fit.  I tried to make the lessons things that were relevant today like bullying, smoking, peer pressure, etc.

As a poet, what style of poetry is your favorite?
I like to read many types of poetry but when I write poems, they are in rhyming stanza or rhyming couplets.  I tried to do free verse once and it was so funny because I still rhymed.

Who is your favorite author?
I think I must mention 3 that have had an impact on my reading and writing.  They are C.S. Lewis (whose Chronicles of Narnia series I have read many, many times), E.B. White (Charlotte's Web remains my favorite children's story), and Avi (I read many of his books when I taught 4th grade.  I read them to the students but began to read all his work.  He writes in many genres and many topics.  He is one of those writers that grab you in the first page and you can't put his book down).

What are you currently reading?
I read my Bible daily using a chronological version.  I enjoy Karen Kingsbury and her Christian novels.  I also enjoy David Platt.  I am getting ready to ready his new book Counter Culture. I also love to read other indie authors.  I have found some of them to be excellent authors.

What are you currently writing? 
I normally have two, three, or four books going on at the same time. When ideas come, I work on the one the ideas are for.  I am working on a devotional about grace, a children's book about my Basset Hound Cocoa, a book about my experiences in teaching, and hopefully even a sequel to Fletcher's Fables.  I already have the characters names for that one but am still trying to see what lessons must be learned for this book.

Your books are awesome! You have won an award and have poems in several anthologies. Details, please…
Xulon Press Winner of Children's Bible Story Books in 2011 for The Bible Tells Me So: Old Testament Stories for Children.  I have had three of my poems placed in anthologies: The Rewarding Search, Don't Pass It By, and Man vs Nature. I have just actually begun to submit stories and poems to local literary magazines and contests but haven't won any awards yet.  I look forward to improving my short story writing and win some of these in the future.

Living in Appalachia, horses seem to be everywhere. Do you have a horse anecdote to share?
My horse anecdote would have to be one that I used when I taught 4th grade.  It was our Number 1 rule in class: If you can't neigh nuttin' nice, don't neigh nuttin' at all. (This was a take-off on Thumper's famous saying in Bambi). 

List 10 things your fans may not know about you... 
I am a computer guru. 

I play piano and flute. 

My favorite color is orange.  

My favorite food is raspberries. 

My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz but the book is even better. 

My favorite song is Somewhere over the Rainbow

I LOVE baseball.  My teams are the Cardinals and Orioles.  I coached, yes, coached Senior League, Little League, and Minor League for our local Little League program when I was in college and first began teaching. 

I love puzzle books.  I like them a little hard to challenge me.  That's how I relax.

I am an only child.  

I like to feed backyard birds and the ducks that live at the mill dam in Damascus. 

Connect with Victoria…

Victoria’s Books…
2011 The Bible Tells Me So: Old Testament Stories for Children, published by Xulon Press. This book won the children's Bible story Xulon Press award in 2011. 

2012 Victoria published two books through Create Space which were Pastor's Pocket PAL and Daily Dose of Encouragement as well as the sequel to my Bible stories, The Bible Tells Me So: New Testament Stories for Children published by Xulon.

2013 Victoria published three books with Create Space which were My Life and Times in Rhyme, Mischief & Mayhem, and.  She also published Fletcher's Fables with Jan-Carol Publishing of Johnson City, Tennessee.


2014 Victoria published three books with Create Space which were Getting Back on Track, Blessings in Bible Times: Back in Time, and The Life of Rylie.  


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nuno Oliveira: A Lesson in Dressage



Nuno Oliveira: A Lesson in Dressage
by Dorothy K. Morris

This is a brief anecdote about the most important dressage lesson I ever had. It only lasted thirty minutes and it was one of the most painful experiences of my equestrian life…and the most enlightening.

Foxie (aka Mr. Foxtrot) had spent a year as my field hunter and was a magnificent mount. I could not want or ask for a horse more suited to running and jumping and then standing quietly for as long as I asked.  When Desiree, my daughter, needed dressage for her Pony Club work, I decided to take Foxie and myself to Potomac Horse Center for lessons.  Much to my surprise, Foxie was “off the wall”. He had never been in an enclosed menage and he was, of course, wondering where the hounds were and when do we go!  I had my hands full of horse that I could barely handle.  We endured two of these sessions and the next time we came I was asked by my teacher if I would like to have a half hour lesson with Nuno Oliveira, who had come for his annual visit to Potomac Horse Center.

I had no idea who Nuno Oliveira was and had no idea what I would be getting into, so I pleaded not to do it. I had had only those two intro classes into dressage and had not developed a dressage “seat” and feared that I would not know a single thing that I might be asked to do. However, she persuaded me to give it a try. He was trying to fill his class card and I would benefit no matter what.  So I agreed.

Maestro Nuno occupied one small corner of the large indoor. I approached and stood Foxie waiting for instructions. Maestro Nuno folded his arms across his chest and said quietly, “Drop your reins and trot a circle.”

Anxious to please I maneuvered out onto the circle and relaxed my reins a bit. Foxie was anxious and ready to chase that fox. I dared not actually drop my reins…he could not mean that exactly!  But that is exactly what he meant. He ordered me again to drop my reins and trot a circle. I dropped my reins but held the buckle.  Maestro again said with no room for misinterpretation that I was to DROP THE REINS AND TROT A CIRCLE!

So I did. And Foxie ran hither and thither and yon with me attempting to haul him back to the circle with my hunt seat, which is all I knew.  What a miserable half hour as finally, toward the final ten minutes Maestro suggested that I might pick up the rein and hold it loosely. I don’t remember now if he said pick up the outside or the inside rein, but any rein would have been a blessing.

By this time I was indeed in tears. Humiliated, brought right down to earth to acknowledge my extreme lack of training; nevertheless, I went home determined to do as he had demanded. I read, studied, practiced, until I could drop my reins and trot that danged circle and it became the very first lesson I taught my horses thereafter. Including Foxie.

I am certain that Maestro Nuno thought I was an abomination upon a horse and that he never expected me to do anything with that lesson. I do hope he can look down now and know that the half hour was not a total waste.

From Arizona, USA, Dorothy K. Morris is an avid equestrian and author. Connect with Dorothy to enjoy more of her intriguing writing and stories. I had the great opportunity to connect with Dorothy and interview her for Riding & Writing.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Charles B. Shanks, Author

Author Charles B. Shanks grew up under the culture and influence of the strong-willed people living in the mountains of East Tennessee. He appreciates family values and has a deep sense of patriotism. Charles is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a BSN in Nursing and Health Sciences. Now retired, Charles enjoys writing and is active in The Gideons International as well as other civic organizations in his community.

Welcome Charles!

Thank you for your service in the United States Military. What is your military experience?
I served in the United States Air Force (1961-1965) as a heavy ground radar repair and electronic technician; served in the U.S. Navy Communication Services (1965-1967) repairing communications equipment and shipboard weapons control systems.

What are your views of World current events?
I am concerned about all the terrorists’ activities that pose threats to our Nation and our cherished way of life. I am convinced that the American people need to stand up for their rights and to support all defenders of freedom and liberties which we cherish dearly. I do not support or condone persecution of anyone in our nation. I believe the rights of our citizens need to be a priority.

Your books are based upon your own heritage and stories from your relatives/family members. What was it like growing up in Tennessee and how has it impacted your writing career?
I grew up without a lot of materialistic desires. I was poor but did not know it. I was not needy and did know it. Growing up under the influence exerted by agriculture, I was taught the values of honesty and integrity where a handshake was considered a contract, and a man’s word could be depended upon. This environment also taught me a work ethic and a sense of responsibility.

I wanted to relate some of the hardships encountered by my ancestors who lived off the land and made their own way using their own ingenuity and inventiveness. I wanted to show how hard they labored at being self-sufficient and independent. I also wanted to show their willingness to support friends and neighbors in times of need as well as their deep-seated religious convictions.

Please share an excerpt from one of your books…
This is the first paragraph from The Light, published November 2012.

“Moon glow on the face of the dead is ghastly. Jubal had not beheld such apparent anguish in the face of the living, let alone a dead man. He would never have seen this poor wretch had he not tripped in the shadows cast from the lone big white oak that stood sentry to the past few hours of fighting. What had happened was lost in the mist of fade-in and fade-out for Jubal. His right forehead stung smartly, and the blood stained his palm each time he swiped across his face.”

Who is your favorite character from your novels?
Jubal. One of the reasons is because some of myself is reflected in him. Some of my father is reflected in him. Jubal demonstrates a lot of the outdoorsmanship taught to me by my uncles. His character reflects many of the values instilled in me from my mother.

What is your spiritual disposition and how is it reflected in your manuscripts?
I am a Christian and I hold firmly to my beliefs. I will not compromise my belief for anyone. And yes, my beliefs are reflected in my writing, conveying the message of The Light being one of the main purposes for my writing.

Do global concerns impact your geographic and your writing?
No, not in my present work. But I do plan a future novel that would reflect on global geographic. That work is currently in the idea stage.

Where do you like to write?
I have a workstation/desk that I built for myself and that is where I do a major portion of my writing. This workstation is set up in our den.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
When I get an idea, I usually jot down a short note on loose-leaf paper or make a reference to a particular Scripture. I sometimes record a few words on my pocket recorder and play that back at a later time.

What are you currently reading?
I read Scripture daily. I’m currently reading The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner. Also I’m reading Despite Doubt by Michael E. Whittmer.

What author has influenced your writing style?
Jesse Stuart had some influence on my writing because of his use of local vernacular and his description of characteristic lifestyle of my family heritage. Otherwise, my writing has been influenced by two teachers in particular. One was an elementary school teacher. The other was a college professor who taught American literature, emphasizing expository writing.

When can we expect your next book release?
I hope to have my next book out by mid-to-late summer this year. The title will be: These Mountains Are My Home. It will be historical fiction. This book will cover the generation of my parents, particularly a maternal uncle, who saw action during World War II in the Pacific.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Do it. Set your mind to it and put your thoughts on paper.

Connect with Charles