Mrs. God


This weekend the first Virginia Children’s Book Festival was held at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. A great time, enjoyed by everyone who came out on a rainy weekend! Major kudos to festival founders, Juanita Giles and Katie Snyder on bringing a phenomenal program to kids and families in rural Virginia.

On Saturday, I joined these smart and funny women: Liz Magill, Meg Medina, and Deb Stone for a panel discussion about empowering girls through children’s literature. We had a blast and could have kept discussing and sharing with our fantastic audience for the rest of the day, for real. Continue reading

Guest Author: Christine Meunier

Free Rein by Christine Meunier

Free Rein by Christine Meunier

Author Christine Meunier has just released Free Reign, Book 3 of her Free Rein Series, a Christian-based, horse series for kids. She lives in Australia, and is also the author of Horse Country, a day-to-day look inside the Thoroughbred industry. Nature and animals bring me closer to God, too, so I invited Christine to share some thoughts on her passion for horses and her faith. Continue reading

♥♥ Smart Apps for Kids Likes Chancey App ♥♥

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Thanks Smart Apps for Kids for a great review of the Chancey app!
“Bottom line: Friendship, sparkling hooves, a Viking helmet and gobs of information about popular horse breeds will make any little reading filly (or colt) happy while playing this app.”
Read the full review:

Continue reading

1867: A Nod to Horses


Brotherhood by A. B. Westrick

by A.B. Westrick
Middle grade fiction, Ages 10 and up
Viking, 2013

It’s been my pleasure to know A.B. Westrick for several years. We’ve worked together in school-based and community settings on many projects related to reading and writing. She is a stickler for details and likes to get things right.

Her middle-grade debut novel, Brotherhood, is a precise and compelling story about a community undergoing rapid-fire change. Set in Richmond, Virginia, just two years after the end of the Civil War, Brotherhood authentically depicts a boy’s struggle to change his heart and his ways.

It’s a dangerous venture to lead a double life, as the main character, Shad Weaver quickly finds out.  He runs with the KKK at night and secretly takes reading lessons from a young black teacher by day. Shad sees and participates in things that he shouldn’t. A burden of shame and secrecy binds Shad up with fear and confusion.  Yet, Shad does realize all that is at stake. People’s lives are in danger and only Shad can help, but he will have to speak the truth. Continue reading

See Ya on the Trail!

Macadoo of the Maury River

Macadoo of the Maury River

This week, I’m hitting the trail to share with readers my love of horses and a new horse story, Macadoo of the Maury River, the second in the Horses of the Maury River series from Candlewick Press, set in my beautiful home state of Virginia. Continue reading

Pony Power

(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Stephen Leslie of Hartland uses horses to weed an onion field. (Photo link: Valley News – Jennifer Hauck)

Rarely, when reading about sustainable farming, does the discussion explore the use of horses on the 21st Century farm. This week, Nicola Smith, staff writer for the Valley News in New Hampshire featured author-farmer Stephen Leslie, who uses draft ponies instead of tractors on his farm. In her article, Horse Power Returns, Smith describes how Leslie and his team of two Norwegian Fjord ponies live and work together on a 60-acre organic farm. His team of two 950 pound draft ponies (Cassima and Tristan) equals about a 20-horse power tractor. Leslie’s not alone in his preference for horse power over the roar of an engine. In fact, the article estimates that 400,000 U.S. farmers today are using horses.

According to Leslie, the author of The New Horse-Powered Farm: Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale, Sustainable Market Grower (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 346 pages, $39.95), some of the benefits working the farm with horses include: less soil compaction, no fuel, and the joys of working with “a living, breathing, intelligent animal.”

The New Horse-Powered Farm by Stephen Leslie

I learned a lot from Smith’s article and definitely want to check out this book. When I first wrote about CSAs and the sustainable food movement, back in 1998, I was just learning to ride horses. What I found so interesting in this article is how much Leslie values his relationship with his two ponies. Even though the setting in this article is a working farm, I think the point is similar to what folks in therapeutic riding and animal therapy know to be true and what every pet owner knows: Human beings benefit physically, cognitively, and emotionally from animal companionship. Earlier this year Reuters published an equally fascinating article about how South Koreans are using horse therapy to help teens unplug from the Internet.

Coming Soon…Chancey of the Maury River App

I wrote Chancey of the Maury River (Candlewick Press) because I love horses. The friendship between our late horse, Albert, and my daughter inspired the first story.  Albert himself inspired so many folks, not only me. The second in the series, Macadoo of the Maury River, comes out this August. And, I’m having a total blast writing the third book, Dante of the Maury River, right now.

Riding, shoot even just brushing, a horse makes me happy.

And, honestly, I’m crazy for all the assorted riding outfits and accoutrements. I am! Can’t help it, I’ve always liked playing dress up. Even something as mundane as getting Albert a new halter or fly mask would bring out my inner equestrian-fashionista.While I don’t show, I’ve LOVED helping my daughter select show clothes and get all nice and turned out over the years.

For the longest time, I’ve imagined how fun it would be to create a barn dress up game based on Chancey. Last year, my husband and I founded Dogtown Pursuits because we’re both fascinated by the limitless creative opportunities with digital apps. In partnership with Three Hats Media (who also made this awesome app trailer), we’re just about ready to release a Chancey of the Maury River mobile app complete with an awesome barn dress up game, new story material in the form of Claire’s diary, and some fun facts about the different breeds in the Horses of the Maury River series.

This fall, the fabulous Michael Portis (Three Hats) and I will deliver a 2-hour workshop at the 2013 James River Writers Annual Conference in Richmond, VA.  Check back for more details on the program:

DIY BOOK APPS with Michael Portis and Gigi Amateau

Creating a book is simultaneously an artistic and entrepreneurial act. Beyond self-publishing and e-books, the 21st Century author can act as content creator and digital entrepreneur. In this dawning era of book apps, this session will examine our role and a process for creating book apps.