Who’s That Indie Author? Valerie Ormond

Valerie Ormond

Name: Valerie Ormond

Books: Believing In Horses; Believing In Horses, Too; and Believing In Horses Out West

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Background: I am a writer living in Maryland. I retired after a 25-year career as a naval intelligence officer and founded my current business, Veteran Writing Services, LLC where I provide companies and organizations professional writing, editing, and consulting services.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer? After I retired from the Navy, I realized writing a book had been on my list of things to do.

Do you write full-time? I own a small business, Veteran Writing Services, LLC, which provides professional writing and consulting services. My creative writing endeavors are a small part of that business, although the part I enjoy the most.

Where do you get your ideas for characters and plots? Usually my characters and plots are based on situations I’ve encountered, and sometimes they simply come to me. I’ve also fictionalized stories from the news or from history.

Have you ever written yourself into a story? I’ve never written myself into my stories with me as a character, but my characters have taken on my personality traits. My main character in my books does things a younger version of me would have done—good and bad.

Tell me about your nonfiction projects. What subjects motivate you? My nonfiction projects are stories I feel should be told, such as my grandfather’s WWI service and my adventures as one of the first women onboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. My news articles are on subjects I care about including how the connection with one of our horses ended up with a young woman entering the U.S. Air Force Academy and one about the future of the once-famous Bowie Race Track.

What kind of research and preparation do you do before you write? Too much! Even for fiction, if I am depicting scenes I have not experienced, I go on site to a similar scene to ensure authenticity. If that’s not possible, I research and speak to knowledgeable people. I’m an outliner, so that’s part of my preparation.

What is your editing process? Do you hire an outside editor? I self-edit first and recently started using Auto-Crit to point out problem areas. I’ve used beta readers, developmental editors, and copy editors. For books, I believe a copy editor is essential.

How do you decide on your book covers? Do you outsource? My first two books were published through a small press, and I was fortunate to have had some say on the covers. I did not want to have an image of the main character on the cover, leaving that up to the reader. I self-published my last book and outsourced the cover working closely with the designer.

How did you come up with the title of your latest book? My first book, Believing In Horses, was supposed to be one book, not a series. So when I wrote Believing In Horses, Too, I had a title theme. The latest title became Believing In Horses Out West since it is an adventure to a dude ranch in Montana.

What route did you take to get published? Describe your experience. I looked for publishers who published the same kind of work as mine starting with The Writer’s Market, then looked on the internet, and stumbled into my publisher. I wrote asking for advice, and they offered to look at my manuscript and liked it. I got lucky, and the things I learned gave me the confidence to self-publish later.

Have you ever tried to get an agent? If so, what steps did you take? In The Writer’s Market, I found an agent I thought might like my first book. I emailed the query letter, and she was polite enough to respond it wasn’t for her. I learned I didn’t have the patience for that process.

What kinds of things do you do to promote your book? Blogs, book awards contests, news releases, discussions at writing workshops, social media, occasional ads in horse magazines, and talking to people about them.

Have you ever had a book-signing event? Tell us about your experience. I’ve had lots, and my most fun was at a year-end horse competition banquet for my target age, selling out in less than one hour.

Have you taken writing courses? Yes, many, learning from each. I was also an English major, so that helped.

Do you belong to a writer’s group? If so, is it in-person or online? Tell us about your experience. The two I attend most have been both in-person and online. I recommend everyone join a writer’s group to help stay motivated, on-track, and get honest feedback.

Are you in a book club? No

Do you ask friends/family to read your WIP? Yes, when done.

Name three unread books on your bookshelf. Opening Up by Writing It Down by James W. Pennybaker, Burn You Twice by Mary Burton, and The Horse Who Changed My Life: My Serendipitous Journey through Equus by Nancy Lee Gerson.

What is the last book you read? The Maid’s Diary: A Novel by Loreth Anne White.

How many pages do you think a book of fiction/nonfiction should be? 80,000 words/30,000 words.

What is the riskiest or wildest thing you’ve ever done? My husband and I went on a self-guided horse travel trip to Ireland in 2008 where we rented horses, and they gave us a map to get to our B&B locations for the next four days. Without the luxuries of GPS on our phones, it was quite the experience where we galloped on beaches, entered a live shooting range, and ended up in desolate places. But we have memories that will last forever.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Losing both of my parents.

What advice can you give to new writers entering the writing and publishing arena? Everyone has advice, but only you have your voice. Listen, learn, but be true to yourself in the end.

Website and social media links:
Believing In Horses Website: BelievingInHorses.com
Amazon Author Page: valerieormond
Blog: valerieormond.com
Facebook: BelievingInHorses
Twitter: @BelieveInHorses
YouTube: @ValerieOrmond

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Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner

robert the rose horse

Robert the Rose Horse
Joan Heilbroner
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman


Here’s another book I remember from long ago and this one’s also about a horse, a farm and a city. Robert the horse is allergic to roses and his gigantic sneezes blast everyone and everything high in the sky. To get away from all the roses on their farm, his parents send him to the city to work.

Robert gets a job pulling a milk cart all around the city. But he discovers that there are roses in the city too, and that’s a big problem! His “KERCHOOS” cost him this job, and the next one too. Robert is in a bad spot.

Robert had to look for work again.
He looked and looked.
Fathers had work.
Mothers had work.
Every one had some kind of work.
But there were not many jobs for a horse.

Finally he sees a job he can do – he can be a police horse! He’s good at his job and he’s happy. He knows he has to act quickly when he sees some bad guys enter a bank, but how can he stop the robbers?

And then…
Robert saw a rose!
It was not a big rose.
But it was a rose!
Robert began to think.
He began to think fast.

I’m sure you can guess what happens next!

I enjoyed remembering this fun story from my childhood and I also read it to my kids when they were little. You might not like the scene with the robbers, because they carry guns and the guns go off during the biggest KERCHOO ever. You definitely wouldn’t see that in a children’s book today!

It’s interesting to think about how different children’s books are now. And that extends to how we raise our kids. Do we always protect them from the rough stuff or do we tell it like it is? I had forgotten all about the guns in this book until I read it to my kids. It bothered me a little, but it did not bother them. The story is not violent.  It’s gentle, in fact.  And it sends a nice message. Robert’s quick thinking saves the day and no one gets hurt. The secondary message about working for a living is nice, too.

In a Publishers Weekly interview cited below, Heilbroner makes an interesting comment about how she came up with the idea to write Robert the Rose Horse.

“I got the idea for Robert the Rose Horse because Fidel Castro was in town,” she recalls, “and there were police horses all over the city. That has nothing to do with my story, but the horses were the trigger.”

What’s your opinion about children’s stories? Should they include the realities of the times, but incorporate a positive message? Or should they just be happy stories? I’m not sure…

Joan Heilbroner
Joan Heilbroner

Joan Heilbroner is an author of children’s books. Robert the Rose Horse was published in 1962. Here is a list of her other books.

Meet George Washington (Landmark Books) (1964)

The Happy Birthday Present (1962)

This Is The House Where Jack Lives (1962)

Tom the TV Cat (1984)

A Pet Named Sneaker (2013)

Heilbroner is still writing! Here’s a link to a recent interview, describing her recent book, A Pet Named Sneaker:

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