Guest Author Interview – Valerie Ormond

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Bellieving In Horses, Too Cover

Title: Believing in Horses, Too

Genre: Horses

Synopsis: In this highly anticipated sequel to Believing in Horses, strong-willed protagonist Sadie Navarro faces new challenges with both horses and people. Filled with action, intrigue, and heart, this young adult novel delivers an unforgettable story about the power of finding strength through experience and reflection.

Every day, thirteen-year-old Sadie lives in fear about her father serving in Afghanistan. She turns to her love of horses to help her cope, and commits to showing at the largest local horse shows and volunteering for therapeutic riding programs.

It seems like the perfect plan, until one of the therapy programs provides unexpected challenges. Then, her inexperienced horse and an unwelcome show ring rival threaten her chances at her first horse show.

Sadie wants to make her father proud. She wants to help others. But will she find the courage to overcome her fears?

Sensitive, thoughtful, relevant, and moving, Believing In Horses, Too is award-winning-author Valerie Ormond’s second insightful book exploring military family life and challenges faced by many of today’s youth.

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Valerie Ormond, Author

CH: Welcome Valerie Ormond to my blog. Valerie is a military writer and I have a great deal of respect for military writers. As you may know, I was also a military writer. Welcome Valerie.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

VO: A young girl turns to her love of horses to chase away fears about her father serving in Afghanistan.

CH: What inspired you to write the Believing in Horses series?

VO: When I retired from the Navy after 25 years, I thought I had learned a few things along the way I wanted to share with others. Since I loved horses, the horse book setting seemed a good way to tell some stories.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

VO: My main character, Sadie. She’s the kind of the kid I would have liked to have been. And I like that she is not perfect.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

VO: I think Captain Vinson, who becomes somewhat of a sage to Sadie. He is modeled (and named) for one of my long-time mentors. I wanted to capture his true personality, which was very challenging, because he seems like a tough old guy on the outside, but he really is such a thoughtful, and caring person on the inside. That was harder to do than I thought it would be.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

VO: I start with an outline, but then give myself the freedom to deviate from it if the juices are flowing. I also conduct research for my stories, and sometimes the stories reveal themselves during that research phase.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life?

VO: My stories are a combination of real life and fiction. In my first book, I wanted to highlight the issue of unwanted horses, an issue I felt strongly about and wanted to provide help in creating awareness for those who may not be familiar with the problem. In my second book, I originally started with only a focus on therapeutic riding and equine assisted activities, but the writing took me in another direction by including the show competition angle. The horse world is rich with content and characters, so it’s not hard to create and recreate interesting situations.

CH: What made you decide to mix two of your favorite things—the military and horses—in one novel? 

VO: Well, I started with the old adage: “Write what you know.” And it wasn’t until after I finished my first book that I realized how few middle grade and young adult books were written about military families. That is part of what inspired me to write a second book about the same military family. I grew up in a military family, was in the military myself, and am married to a military man, so it’s something I’ve always known. I enjoy hearing from readers who tell me they never really thought about some of the issues I introduce in my stories like repeated moves, starting over in new schools, and worrying about loved ones deployed in dangerous areas.

As for the horses, again, it was what I knew. I wanted to write stories to help people believe in themselves and their causes, and the horses in the stories helped me do that in many different ways.

CH: How long does it take you to write one of your books?

VO: My first book took me five months to write, and then it was in editing between the editor, publisher, and me for another year. My second book, which one would think would be easier, took me much longer. I spent over two and a half years writing and rewriting, and then another six months in the editing phase. I basically wrote the second book once, didn’t like it, and pretty much started all over. But in the end, I’m glad I did the rewrite. Sometimes, we all have to trust our gut instincts.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your type of writing?

VO: I try to tell stories that introduce readers to a world they may not know much about, and I try to do it by showing the emotions of the characters and how they react in challenging situations.

CH: How long have you been writing? How did you start writing?

VO: I wrote my first poem for my grandparents when I was seven and always enjoyed writing. It didn’t hurt that both my parents were English majors. I was an English and Mass Communication major in college, and in the Navy I worked in public affairs before becoming an intelligence officer. Being an intelligence officer required a lot of writing, so I really never stopped. But it wasn’t until I retired that I started writing books or taking paid writing jobs, which eventually led to me forming my own business, Veteran Writing Services, LLC.

CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?

VO: No, but the publisher had suggested it. I had wanted to include therapeutic riding in the first book, but I was constrained by page count. Young adult books can only be so many words, and I was already there. So, I did leave the story a bit open-ended in case the story would be continued later. I was fortunate to have such good feedback on the first book and people asking for more, so it made sense to continue the story.

CH: You received the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for Young Adult Books for Believing in Horses and Believing in Horses, Too. As far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest achievement in writing?

VO: Awards are wonderful, no doubt about it, and I’m very honored by awards. And I so much appreciate when people take their precious time and leave reviews from their heart—that really speaks to me. I think the greatest achievement in my writing has been hearing from readers who have taken action based on my books. For instance, people have held fundraisers to help rescue horses, donated money to organizations mentioned in my books, and have become volunteers because they wanted to help. How great is that?

CH: Wow, Thar’s really wonderful. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

VO: Yes, if you believe in yourself and your causes, anything is possible.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for young adults?

VO: I have spent a lot of time at barns in the past few years, and I have seen girls get to a certain age, and in many cases, they seem to lose confidence in themselves. I wanted to write for them.

CH: Do you have plans for a new book in this series?

VO: Not right now, but I’m not saying never.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

VO: My website is www.BelievingInHorses.com, which has information on both books and has links to free Discussion Guides, TV and radio interviews, articles, and a link to my blog, which covers everything from writing tips to time management to horse events.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

VO: Books are available via my website www.BelievinginHorses.com, and I can personalize them if ordered from my site. They are also available at the retail locations listed on this page: http://believinginhorses.com/buy_books, and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1kc7z5y

CH: Any closing remarks?

VO: Thank you so much for having me, Cheryl, and for introducing me to your readers. If any of your audience has any questions, please feel free to contact me at valerie@believinginhorses.com. I am happy to visit clubs, schools, and events to talk about writing, horses, the Navy, and other topics. And finally, thank you to all the readers out there who make our jobs worthwhile.

CH: Thank you Valerie Ormond, it has been a real pleasure discussing your book and your writing journey with my audience.  

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