HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?
I’ve been writing all my life, or for as long as I can remember.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN WRITING?
I grew up with lots of books, and I have always loved stories and reading. It just seemed natural to me to write some of my own stories in my head and then tell them to my friends or to transfer them to paper. When listeners or readers wanted to hear more, I was hooked on writing.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
I have always loved the Old West, horses, and Native American culture and history. The young Otoe Indian woman in my book, and the Plains Indian chiefs who traveled with her, once lived not far from where I now live--but they lived more than a hundred years before I was born. They made history and then were almost forgotten. I was intrigued by their story, their journey, and their lives, and wanted to try to recreate it all in my mind and on paper, so that others would know and remember what they did--and what an amazing young woman she was.
IS THIS YOUR FIRST BOOK? No, I have written and published several other books, as well as some magazine and newspaper articles. I write the "Nebraska Trivia Quiz" for Nebraska Life Magazine. I sometimes mentor and/or edit other authors and their books, and some of those have won book awards.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
My books include the following:
•The Nebraska Adventure (Gibbs Smith Co., 2005), a 4th grade Nebraska studies textbook (national, state, and humanities award-winning book)
•Lucky Ears: The True Story of Ben Kuroki, World War II Hero (Noteworthy Americans series, Field Mouse Productions, 2010) (2-time national/international award-winning book)
•Sky Rider: The Story of Evelyn Sharp, World War II WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) (Noteworthy Americans series, Field Mouse Productions, 2011)
•Wolves in Blue: Stories of the North Brothers and Their Pawnee Scouts (Noteworthy Americans series, Field Mouse Productions, 2011) (2-time national/international award-winning book)
•Doorstep Orphan: Eugene Field and a Trilogy of His Best Loved Poems (Field Mouse Productions, 2012) (2-time national/international award-winning book)
•Do You Know a Hero? (Field Mouse Productions, 2012)
•My Favorite Dog and Cat Story (Field Mouse Productions, 2013)
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I am currently working on another biography of one of the Native Americans who traveled with Eagle of Delight. He was a Pawnee chief who also had an amazing impact on history--and he lived not more than 15 miles from my home (as the crow flies) but more than a hundred years before I was born. I started his book about 40 years ago and am just getting back to it. I hope to have it out and available from Field Mouse Productions in 2014.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I was a school librarian and teacher for 30 years before retiring a few years ago so that I could continue to write my own books. I have a doctorate in education, and my children’s books have educational value. My historical nonfiction books, my small press, and I have now won 10 national/international book awards and numerous other honors.
TELL US SOMETHING FUN THAT OUR READERS MIGHT FIND FASCINATING ABOUT YOU:
*I have six horses, including 3 black Arabians; one is a grand-daughter and one is a great-grandson of Cass Ole, the primary black stallion featured in two of the Walter Farley Black Stallion movies.
*I spent a lot of my early years reading tombstones in the huge old cemetery where my beloved grandfather worked. Those epitaphs, names, and dates intrigued me and made me wonder and daydream about the lives and deaths of the people beneath the stones. That was part of my great fascination with history and words.
WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY DOING IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
When I have time, I really enjoy reading, writing, or trailriding my horses across country, also visiting historical sites and cemeteries.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
I still love westerns (in addition to many other kinds of shows/movies). My favorite movies are Jeremiah Johnson and The Magnificent Seven.
HAS YOUR BOOK RECEIVED ANY OTHER AWARDS?
Yes, my book has also received a 2013 MOONBEAM Young Adult Multicultural Nonfiction Gold Medal.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AS AN AUTHOR?
In this digital age, there are so many different publishing avenues open that almost anyone can get published (quickly and relatively inexpensively), but there are so many books out that it is very hard to get your book noticed and purchased. Authors also need to spend a significant amount of time marketing their own books, and that takes up a lot of writing time.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Yes, write, write, write, let it get cold, read it aloud, and then write and edit some more. Repeat those steps until the book is the best it can be. The more you write, the more you perfect your craft. Also read (and sometimes research), a lot, in between writing!
CAN YOU OFFER ANY TIPS ON GETTING PUBLISHED?
Yes, join writing groups that can help you achieve your goals, but don’t allow people or organizations to drain away your writing time or your desire to be a writer. Look for mentors who are willing to help you learn; listen to them, but also decide your own way to go. Give back by paying it forward, to help younger or less experienced writers whenever you can.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?I have a certificate in publishing from Denver University Publishing Institute. It was a great and most worthwhile course that has helped me immensely with my own writing, editing, and publishing. During that course, I worked closely with New York publishers and university publishers. I still do some edit work for various small presses closer to my home, but seldom make any money at it. Most of my time is spent writing my own books
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