Today we welcome Valerie Ormond.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Valerie Ormond: I have a wonderful husband, and we have three horses and four dogs, so we’re obviously animal lovers. I own a small business, Veteran Writing Services, LLC, which keeps me very busy, mostly with technical writing. I’ve learned a lot about small business ownership and enjoy opportunities to assist others with their business endeavors.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Valerie Ormond: My first novel, Believing In Horses, tells the story of a young girl in a military family committed to saving unwanted horses. My second book, Believing In Horses, Too, finds the same girl facing new challenges in the show ring, with her therapeutic riding volunteer work, and dealing with her father’s deployment to Afghanistan. I chose to write the books because I had learned so many lessons in my life and wanted to share some of those lessons with others. I chose a horse theme because it was a subject I knew, and I felt I would reach a good target audience of horse-loving children and young adults. I also wanted to write about a military family, as this was something else I understood from my 25 years in the Navy. The message of both stories is for people to believe in themselves and their causes. The books are fiction, but many of the events are based on real-life situations.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Valerie Ormond: I do, but not a book right now. I write stories for my blog and publications, for example, right now I am working on two non-fiction stories. One is the story of how our horse, Lucky, became the link for a young lady to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the other is a World War I story.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Valerie Ormond: Believing In Horses, Too includes several scenes at a Veteran-focused equine therapeutic riding facility. These were very difficult for me to write because I know of the very real problems our injured Veterans endure. I wanted to ensure I described situations accurately and portrayed the Veterans with the respect they deserved.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Valerie Ormond: I begin with reading and speaking to people and follow-up with hands-on visits. Research for my books included visits to a horse auction, horse rescues, therapeutic riding stables, and equine assisted activity programs. I’ve found people to be very welcoming – well, except at the horse auction – and happy that someone wanted to write about what they do. I provided all the organizations I visited the opportunity to comment on my manuscript to make sure I correctly represented their organizations. They were a great help.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Valerie Ormond: I love Sara Gruen’s books, Water for Elephants, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes, to name a few. I’m a member of the Military Writer’s Society of America, and I always have a stack of my colleagues’ books on my “to-be-read” shelves. Some of the authors I’ve recently read and enjoyed are Kathleen M. Rodgers, Jeannette Vaughan, Don Helin, and Jack Woodville London. I can’t point to any one author who inspires me; all authors inspire me. Any person willing to put his or her thoughts and feelings in writing for the world to judge is an inspiration to me.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Valerie Ormond: I’ve been blessed with a loving and supportive family. When I came up with this crazy idea for a book in the middle of the night, my husband completely supported me. My mom, a writer and artist, could not have encouraged me more. And lucky for me, my brother helped me with his perspectives as a fourth and fifth grade teacher and even created a companion teacher’s guide, Teacher’s Tack for Believing In Horses. So at least three people encouraged me.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Valerie Ormond: I continue to learn and try to apply what I learn to my writing. Every book I read, every article I read on writing, every sentence I write, I learn.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Valerie Ormond: I write almost every day in one form or another whether it’s business communications or creative writing. I don’t use a strict routine with my creative writing unless I am under a tight deadline. I like to write when I’m in the mood to write. About the strictest routine I follow is to not edit while I am writing my first drafts.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Valerie Ormond: I see myself as still managing my professional writing business working for external clients while still leaving time for myself for creative writing endeavors.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Valerie Ormond: Well, Stephen King said it first, but “Just Write.” Thinking about writing and reading about writing moves writers in the right direction, but nothing makes a writer better than putting words on paper and recognizing areas for improvement.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Valerie Ormond: I love to hear readers tell me my books stirred their emotions.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Valerie Ormond: Facing Fears with the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program
Sadie stood at the fence with Captain Vinson watching the horse and rider team. The Army soldier side-walker in his uniform black cowboy shirt and jeans moved alongside without interfering. Sergeant Silva directed Ben where she wanted him to go. She used a combination of her hips and the single-handed rein holder Mary Jo showed Sadie on day one, so long ago. After the sergeant weaved in and out of a series of lined up poles, she brought Ben to a perfect square halt. Everyone cheered, and Sadie cheered the loudest, uninhibited.
Sadie had never met such brave people. They didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for them, and they didn’t want anyone to do things for them. She comprehended the theme: they weren’t disabled, just differently-abled. Their strength empowered Sadie and enlightened her about change and future possibilities. She wanted to move from the past into the present and to let go of worries doing nothing but polluting her mind. These brave souls she’d been so fearful of led her from the darkness to a new light.
At the end of the session, Captain Vinson walked Sadie to her family’s car, so her big brother could drive her home.
Sadie waited a moment, and found her courage. “Captain, before I go, I have a confession to make. I was scared to death to work with the veterans. With my dad still gone, and with everything else…I don’t know. I’m sorry, it scared me.
“I know, Sadie; it’s why I wanted you to do it. Thank you for facing your fears. I hope you feel better now.”
The gruff old teddy bear gave her a warm hug and patted her on the back. The people Sadie had feared most taught her lessons of a lifetime.
[Excerpted from Believing In Horses, Too]
Links to books on Amazon: bit.ly/ValerieOrmondAuthorAmazon
Television appearance: HorseGirlTV
Book Trailer for “Believing In Horses:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvA-HcQz7ak