Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Inspiration vs. Implementation

Happy Halloween!

I spent some time on Monday working on a topical list of online marketing ideas for a non-profit organization. The organization in question has a national platform, an impeccable board, and a respectable cash flow. It's got a lovely website. It even knows to hire a respectable PR firm to promote its Really Big Events.

This does not mean that it can rest on its laurels. At least one of its members knows that there is always more that can be done. So they asked if I had any ideas.

I took a look at the website and did a quick analysis of it. In my opinion, it was lacking a few things that would make it attractive to most search engines. I made a short "grocery list" of suggested improvements, and explained their importance.

For instance, if you know the organization's name, and do a search for it in either Google or Yahoo!, their home website is #1. But other sites quickly fill in most of the Top 10 search results.

If, however, you don't know the organization's name, and look instead for keywords relevant to what they do, they don't show up anywhere. Their lovely website is completely under the internet radar.

A quick glance at the home page source code shows a lack of META tags, keywords, site description, and robot and googlebot instructions. While it's true that META tags are becoming less and less important to Google for search engine optimization, I would argue that you're doing any website a disservice by not including everything you can for a website's SEO.

I also took some time to make some general, topical suggestions for improving the organization's overall online presence.

One of the things I suggested they look at was their "Links." Their official site has links to several other websites. But none of those sites have reciprocating links.

It's no secret that links are one key to a large web footprint. In terms of establishing yourself online, the more people who link to you, the merrier.

I made suggestions about 8 or 10 topical marketing possibilities. I know most of them probably sounded obvious. But it's amazing how often the simple things tend to slip through the marketing cracks.

After my evaluation and after making my suggestions, I ended with this final observation: Ideas are a dime a dozen -- it's the implementation that counts.

Too often, clients are eager for inspiration. They want to hear what "great ideas" are out there for marketing on various levels. Yet, when the time comes for them to act on the inspiration, very little implementation actually occurs.

It's true that implementing any idea -- no matter how simple -- takes a bit of time initally. It's also true that most of my suggestions (making the most of e-mail signatures, utilizing free articles, maintaining blogs, establishing a presence in relevant forums...) are hardly "hard sell" techniques. Perhaps their very simplicity makes people suspect their usefulness...

My point is: I can't guarantee that something will work. But I can guarantee that nothing will happen to your website if you don't make the most of your online visibility.

Re: TG2BT...

I received this e-mail regarding yesterday's post (Too Good To Be True):

Read it! Loved it! Will share it at the next executive committee meeting.

I appear to have hit a nerve with at least one reader. One wonders if the X-Com members will recognize anyone they know...

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Too Good To Be True

This weekend, my husband and I volunteered to help out a new friend of ours who is the Executive Director for a non-profit community service agency in the area.

The organization does good work. They run an extremely affordable Thrift Shop full of newer, clean clothes, toys, bedding, kitchen items, furniture, sports equipment, books, and more. They have an emergency food bank and offer a "talent stable" of skilled help available to those who need it but can't afford it. Among other things, they also teach health & wellness classes, provide seminars for first-time home buyers, and give free massages to senior citizens and babies. In other words, they're providing a useful service to the community.

This organization had a website. Because funds for such agencies are often tight, the site was built and maintained by a volunteer. This was fine until the volunteer moved. The site is now locked in limbo-land. To make matters more interesting, the server hosting the site crashed. The domain is still valid, but for all intents and purposes, it is unaccessible.

The volunteer who built the website is a full-time student, and hasn't taken the time to take the existing website data and provide it to the organization.
So, they were stuck with a website they couldn't use. And the afore-mentioned tight funds made getting a new website up and online a daunting task.

Robert volunteered his web expertise, and we suggested a way for them to get online. It involved taking advantage of a special promotion from a web hosting service that’s extremely affordable, and which we’ve used with great success. In essence, if they acted during the special promotion, they could get online for about $30 for six months.

With great excitement, the Executive Director went before the Board and told them the Good News.

Their reaction? That was FAR less than they’d paid in the past. Surely, someone, somewhere had gotten the facts wrong. It simply sounded Too Good To Be True. Therefore, it had to be Suspect. Therefore, they wouldn’t look into it any further.

Now, I am a born skeptic. I know what it’s like to think something is TG2BT. Generally, my skepticism is rewarded.

But I am also a big believer in trusting the experts. If I’m doing something that’s draining my resources, and an expert in the field tells me a simple way to stop spinning my wheels, you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m going to give a certain amount of credence to the advice.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is to retain that healthy skepticism. But don’t use it to incapacitate yourself. If something seems TG2BT, rather than dismiss it out of hand, research it, instead. You never know – maybe you’ve been being taken for a ride. Because, in the eyes of most companies, the unquestioning customer who never comparison shops, never double-checks, and never consults with an expert, is the one who is Too Good To Be True!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Too Successful?

As you might imagine, we're still recuperating from the Event whirlwind.

For over 24 hours, beginning on October 25, Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation was THE #1 best-selling Horse Book on Amazon.com.

It was ranked the #4 bestselling Individual Sports book, and we cracked the Top 25 Sports books (#21 was our best).

In one way, the Event was a little too successful: we also sold Amazon out of stock. People who ordered their books later in the day were informed that they had a 6 to 12 day shipping wait ahead of them.

(As an interesting side note, the paperback of the book was ranked 200,000 or so when we began. On October 25th, it climbed to 64,000, and stayed between 60- and 80-thousand all day.)

When the Event began, the hardcover was ranked 102,545. (Meaning, 102,544 titles were doing better than ours. Most disconcerting) We got as high as 1,267. All day we were between 1,267 and 2,800. That carried over into Thursday, when the book was still ranked in the top 10,000 for most of the day.

(Of course, there is no real thing as too successful. I wanted #1 overall -- but that's evidently something I'll have to wait for until the next Bonus Event.)

We received several unsolicited notes from participants telling us how happy they were to get the book, thanking whatever organization let them know about the Event, and looking forward to their Bonuses.

As I looked over the results after the dust had settled, I was happy to see several names I recognized who had taken advantage of the Bonus Event. You know who you are. Thanks to all who made it the success it was.

But enough kudos and laurel-resting -- it's time to move on. Much still remains on October's List of Things To Do. Because, in reality, there's no such thing as "Too Successful..."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- In Praise of the Horse Leaders

The Great Geoff Teall Book Bonus Event is officially under way!

We've worked hard to make it happen. We're grateful to the newsletter editors, riding club leaders, riding instructors, and 4-H leaders who let their members and students in on the news.

As I've been in contact with horse-leaders across the country, I'm continually impressed with the amount of time, energy, care, and attention people are pleased to donate to work with horses -- especially horses and kids. These are often thankless positions that involve staying current in a rapidly changing industry, educating parents, instructing children, and playing the inevitable political games that arise whenever children, egos, animals, and money are mixed together.

Yet, the same names continue to show up as leaders and instructors.

* These are the people who have explained the difference between a "diagonal" and a "lead" a hundred times to patently disinterested parents.

* They routinely stand for hours in wind, rain, sun, and snow in the hopes that their students will master keeping their heels down.

* They can pace off 3 feet more accurately than a yardstick. They can accurately gauge the height of an obstacle to within a millimeter simply by seeing it or standing near it. (That fence is too high. It's above the freckle on my left thigh -- take it down to 2' 6".)

* They can get a dozen pre-teen girls up at the crack of dawn AND have the girls and their horses ready to enter the ring for the first class of the day.

* They can memorize new tests, new rules, new regulations, new courses, and new patterns at the drop of a hat, while remembering with laser-like clarity the finer points of the "old" requirements.

My riding instructor was one of my favorite people while I was growing up. I practically lived at her farm (and would have, if given half the chance). I can't tell you how gratifying it is to know that other kids out there are having some of the same experiences I did -- learning from professionals in the equine industry who realize that the future of any endeavor is in the hands of its students.

Special Apologies to China

We encountered a little glitch in the middle of the day on Tuesday -- hours before the Event's 12:01 a.m. EST starting time. We had included an automatic countdown / timer on the page that was, evidently, TOO effective. When someone in China learned of the Event, she tried to take advantage of it. Here, it was too early. But there the webpage's automatic timer determined that she was, in fact, too late!

When we learned of the situation, we quickly disconnected the page timers. (Nothing like telling people something is over before it has begun!) I sent the newsletter list manager a note explaining that the Event would begin on October 25 (today) at 12:01 a.m. EST. It will officially end at 12:01 a.m. PST on October 26, so those on the West Coast don't feel slighted.

That, we felt, would allow plenty of time for everyone across the country to get in on the Event. We thought we'd covered the time-zone issue fairly well. We're sorry, China!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Getting the Word Out

It's been a sleety sort of Monday. The kind of day that makes you glad you have a good excuse to sit indoors.

All day long, I worked on the finer points of Geoff Teall's Special Bonus Event that begins at 12:01 a.m., EST, Wednesday. I worked to alert e-newsletter editors and relevant equine forums about the event. I also fielded e-mail queries about the particulars.

The great thing about putting together a package that is so full of good, solid, interesting material, from so many experts in their fields, is that people rarely give you the brush-off. Instead, I found myself in the enviable position of people asking for my approval to let them do an e-mail blast to alert their entire membership lists to the event.

Of course I gave my blessing.

The hardest part of doing a successful "Thing," be it product launch, clearance sale, or Special Bonus Event is letting people know about it. If the product is any good, it's not difficult to put together a fantastic campaign that centers around it. But you can pull out all the stops, write killer copy, have great bonuses, bring in celebrities and dancing dogs -- and it won't do a bit of good if no one knows.

If they don't know, they can't show.

This may be self-evident, but it doesn't make the point any less valid. If you spend the time putting together something that clearly has value to the intended audience -- such as the value the bonuses for Wednesday's Special Event have for people who enjoy riding hunters -- then you owe it to that audience to let them know what's available.

Which is why as the sleet hit the windows throughout the day, I was perfectly content to sit by the fire and get the word out. The clock is ticking, and time is running out...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just for Riders: Announcing the Great "Geoff Teall Book Bonus Event"

If you or someone on your holiday shopping list loves horses, then you owe it to yourself to mark this Wednesday, October 25 on your calendar.

On that day, a one-of-a-kind, 24-hour only, Special Event will take place that every horse enthusiast should be aware of. It all begins with the book “Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation,” that regular readers of this blog already know well.

I am proud of my role in making this book a reality. I believe it holds tremendous value for every rider who is serious about improving his or her skills in the saddle.

My friend Geoff Teall -- one of the best known and most respected personalities in the world of hunt seat riding – has created this definitive guide for anyone who ever wanted to shine in the show ring, or fly over fences with grace and style.

You may know that the book is brand new this year and it’s already a hit! It was a featured selection in the Equestrian’s Edge book club. On September 26 & 27, it was the #1 Bestselling Horse Book on Amazon.com. When Geoff is able to fit a booksigning into his schedule, the books routinely sell out before the event is over.

This is a most important announcement, because when you buy this book on Wednesday, October 25, Geoff has arranged for you to receive a ton of valuable bonus gifts from names you know – like R. Scot Evans, Clinton Anderson, Shelby French, and the American National Riding Commission – that will help you to be a more successful rider and trainer. Many of the bonus items aren’t available anywhere else!

With this book, you will possess the information you need to be WAY AHEAD of the others. All you need to do is read and follow Geoff’s excellent, easy-to-understand advice.

Every chapter is powerful...

In Chapter 6, you'll discover how to determine the difference between physical and mental fear – and how to banish fear from affecting your riding.

Chapter 10 outlines the four factors of every successful jump, and explains how to master each one. It also teaches you a simple exercise you can do at home to determine your horse’s optimum pace for any course.

Geoff’s book -- and the bonus gifts that you'll receive – is described on a special web page:


Bookmark the page. Print it out as a reminder. Then, on Wednesday, October 25, go to the website and take advantage of the Special Bonus Offer. On that day, when you purchase at least one hardcover copy of “Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation,” you’ll receive clinic tickets, a horse-lover’s screensaver, exclusive access to the opening exercises in the ANRC’s “American System of Forward Riding” workbooks, a one-of-a-kind audio seminar with Geoff Teall – and more!

The hard work you put into riding will only pay off if you have the knowledge you need to ride well...and this book is one the best ways to get that knowledge.

To your show ring success!

PS – Geoff’s book and his teaching methods have the blessing of top riders and judges. His horses and riders have won championships at some of the most prestigious shows and Medals classes in the country, including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. But what he has to say won’t help you progress in your riding if you don't buy and use this book.

Get the book during the Bonus Event on Wednesday, October 25, and you'll create your own success story!

Thoughts on Announcing a Big Event

I recently received an invitation to a friend's wedding. I have to admit to doing a double-take, however, as I scanned over the announcement. She was married once before but is now clearly, unequivocably -- and not entirely amicably -- divorced. Yet the announcement called her by her married name.

It took me a bit before I understood her logic: Her children still retain their father's name. And her friends who met her as an adult may only know her by her former name.

Still, seeing her first husband's last name there on her wedding invitation just struck me as odd and made me go "Hmmm?"

Announcing any Big Event -- be it wedding, graduation, new family addition, product launch, or new business venture -- is difficult. Oh, sure, it seems simple in concept. (Come to my wedding!) But it can be vastly complicated in execution. (Is it "Ms.," "Mrs.," or "Miss?" Do I use my maiden name, my former married name, or a combination of the two? Did we even tell Great Aunt Gladys about the divorce...?)

Lately, I've been spending my days thinking about what goes into announcing a Big Event (B.E.). The Special Bonus Event for Geoff Teall's book is only 4 days away. Much has gone into not only getting things prepared, but also announcing their existence. Every bonus needed announcement text. The book needed its own copy. In addition to all the specifics, the Event in general needed words tailored just for it.

In any announcement, every word counts. Though it's unreasonable to expect people to read everything that is written, you must be ready to stand behind what the text says about you and the B.E. Typos are anathema. Grammatical mistakes are only slightly less verboten. But there comes a time in writing the text for nearly every Event when the inevitable Maiden / Married Name dilemma arises.

My favorite general rule of thumb for writing Big Event marketing announcements is:

Draw In, Don't Bump Out

Anything that pulls readers into the text, gets them excited about participating in the Event, and makes them happy to tell their friends about it is good.

That's why phrases like "discover the secret," "don't miss out," and "guaranteed results" are so common. They work. They're especially effective when they're true.

It's also why you see things like "Here's why God Himself loves this product..." It applies the concept of Social Proof to the B.E. In essence, endorsements say that it's OK to join the crowd and take part in the B.E.

Pull the reader in, make promises you can keep, and let people know that they are not alone. That's a recipe for a great announcement.

But don't go so far as to make unsubstantiated, faulty, or empty claims. And don't threaten the reader. That just bumps the reader out of the nice, comfy chute of acquiesence your announcement is working so hard to create.

A very well known author, marketer, and educator actually used the following headline in a major promotion:


A few sentences later, he followed up with:

"...so, instead of making mistake after mistake until you die, buy my product, and you'll be set for life."

Maybe it works for him, but for me it's a total bump out!

It all comes down to this: when announcing a Big Marketing Event, choose your words carefully. They will set the stage and, with any luck, will connect with your audience. Give your readers a reason to keep reading, rather than an excuse to go "huh?" and wonder how much Great Aunt Gladys knows.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Will It Blog?"

I received an e-mail from Dr. Warson that ended with the question "Will it blog?"

So, to him, and to the others who have reminded me that there have been no new posts for a week, the answer is, "Oh, alright."

It's so nice to be missed.

I have to admit, I had no real intentions of taking a hiatus for the last week. I had every intention of buckling down and finishing up some major projects. Which I did.

* The "Rider's Back Book" manuscript received a final once-over and then got sent on its merry way and arrived safely at the Trafalgar Square offices. (1 day)

* My barn got cleaned within an inch of its life. Everything portable got dragged outside. The loft above one stall came down. So did a season's worth of cobwebs in the rafters. The hay storage area received a complete (much needed) makeover. Much unnecessary junk found its way into the trash. (2 days)

* It SNOWED! Several inches! Which, of course, necessitated an immediate trip into town to obtain winter boots and coats for my daughter (who had the audacity to grow out of last year's warm things). (1 day)

* I'm in the middle of planning a big Special Bonus Event for Geoff Teall's book. This involves much text writing, e-mailing, researching, and late-night-oil-burning. Nothing ever proceeds as smoothly or goes as quickly as I think it should. (3 days. So far.)

* Did several hours of marketing research and made my weekly recommendations. Sometimes it seems that the information just isn't there. Other times, there appears to be a wealth of riches. This last excursion resulted in what could be a gold mine of opportunities for my client. I love when that happens, but writing up the recommendations when there is so much information to cover can take quite a bit of time. (1 day)

* Several house projects just couldn't wait any longer. Among them: patching a section of concrete in our basement and getting the on / off switch to the furnace repaired (see the earlier comment re: several inches of snow) (1 day)

As you can see, more than a week's worth of things have happened in the past week. The blog just wasn't one of them.

But all that has changed. Rest assured, it will blog again.

(In case you were wondering, Dr. Warson assured me that the Kona earthquake earlier this week did only minimal damage to his home. Ah, the dangers of living in Paradise...)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Living In Great Hopes

I've had a producer ask to see one of my scripts. This is enough to put a smile on my face, even though I know it's a long hike from "send me your script" to "let me put money in your bank account for it." I'm not unaware of the realities of the business. But, like many writers, I live in great hopes.

Today will be a day of acting to make those hopes a reality. I hope to make a long-delayed trip to the post office and send out the complete manuscript package (photos and all) of "The Rider's Back Book" to Trafalgar Square. I hope to send out a script that the producer will fall in love with. I hope to cross a few things off my "To Do" list and be able to get started with some other big projects.

The unexpected nature of life, and the inevitability of a certain amount of rejection fill the writer's world with roadblocks. But we keep pushing forward. It doesn't matter whether we're pragmatists, fatalists, or realists. At heart, we're all dreamers, filled with a boundless supply of hope.

Hope drives us. It is the writer's power pack. Without it, we could never challenge the realities of the business that present us with seemingly impossible, insurmountable odds.

When hope runs out, the writing stops. Here's hoping that never happens...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Falling Short on Follow Through

For the past few days, my parents have been here lending their helping hands to get a few things done before the snow flies. It's been wonderful. Very little of my regular work has occured, but we have accomplished so much in a week.

The studio is here... a new riding arena and turn-out paddock are nearly finished... the porch roof has been sealed and strengthened... downed and dead trees are cut into firewood... Like I said -- much has happened.

One of my Christmas presents from my father last year was two weeks' worth of help around the house and the farm. (I call it "fatherly assistance." He calls it "indentured servitude.") Before the holiday, I'd remarked that all I wanted for Christmas was a couple weeks of his time helping out with a few projects. We all laughed, but he knew I was completely serious.

When my dad presented me with a little "coupon" for the work time, I was thrilled. I knew I could count on him to follow through with what he said he would do.

Unfortunately, not everyone is like my father. Lately, I've had reason to think about the importance of following through on promises. Several instances come to mind.

It's frustrating, because in each instance, a portion of my life or a segment of a larger project goes on hold while I wait for someone else to fulfill his or her end of an agreement. This, then, requires explanations, rationalization, justification, rescheduling, and other draining activities. Progress grinds to a halt. Stress levels rise. Deadline jitters commence.

I understand as well as anyone that life is not something that is easily blocked out and scheduled in advance. Extenuating circumstances lurk around every corner -- and I try to be flexible and open minded when they rear their ugly heads. But when they loom, and it becomes obvious that you are going to fall short on an earlier promise, I believe you owe it to yourself, your friends, and your colleagues, to follow through and let them know of the kink in the plans.

It's only fair. Other people have lives, too. And though my life may have been preoccupied with sawing wood and setting fence posts for a few days, that doesn't mean that I chose to put the afore-mentioned projects on hold. I'd have much rather been able to finish them and put them in the "done" pile.

Enough grumping for now. I hear the fence calling me...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Moving Day!

No real "writing work" went on yesterday. I spoke with Charles and we talked a bit about two outstanding photos for Dr. Warson's "Rider's Back Book," but that project is really ready to send to the publisher, as soon as all the photos are finished.

The day began with me replacing two support posts and repairing the round pen. All the rain we've had lately made that job easy in some ways (clay is easily shoveled out) and difficult in others (clay is not easily shoveled back in or firmly packed).

My dad cut up the four big, dead trees that we'd dragged to the end of the driveway on Wednesday, before our work got rained out.

Then, we went to work on the riding arena. It was too wet to set the remaining posts, but we decided to nail up the boards on the posts we'd already set. We got a good start on things, too, until the Great Studio Move took precedence over everything else.

Yes, the studio is finally here! Not that it moved without incident, mind you. But at least it's in its final resting place.

The guy who moved it underestimated how astoundingly heavy the thing is. I discovered that this is no pre-fabricated, bantam weight building. No -- this thing was built from the ground up by hand. Our best guess is that it weighs over 3 1/2 tons!

And we moved it. We jacked that puppy up, put additional support beams underneath it, and winched it onto the trailer. The support beams (treated 4 x 6's that ran 20 feet -- the entire length of the building) started to disintegrate under the stress of using them to haul the building forward. We had to stop and reposition things three times. (A simple sentence to write, and a short one to read. But it was fraught with danger and encompassed hours in real time.)

Then we crept toward its new home. We cleared the power and phone lines over our driveway with literally inches to spare. We cleared the side of our house with even less room. And we had to stop twice to saw off tree limbs that were in the way.

But we did it. The soggy ground held up under the truck and trailer. Tom of T & W is a masterful backer, and he slotted the building between two trees just exactly as I hoped he would.

Now, I can't wait to finish the inside and move my work space there. Life just moves from one anticipation to the next.

So, while no real "writing work" got done yesterday, I can't help thinking that my business has taken a huge leap forward. Can't wait to get to work on it... but today is earmarked for the riding arena, too, so though the studio has moved here, my moving in will have to wait...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blame It On The Rain

Yesterday, though my parents are here to offer a week's worth of free help around the farm, and we had great plans for finishing the new riding ring, very little actually got accomplished at the Hendrickson house. This is because, for what seems like the 20th straight day, it rained. It didn't pour. There was no soothing, relaxing pitter-patter on the roof. No -- it just rained... then stopped... then rained... then stopped. Bleah.

The pasture is under water. The stalls are flooding. The fence posts still waiting to be set into place are practically floating in their water-logged holes.

I'd promised to take the day off work. In the morning, while the clouds still retained some of their moisture, my dad and I dragged downed trees near the burn pile. Then the ick started up again, so we did the obvious thing, and went shopping.

The mosquitoes are horrific. The horses are completely covered in mud. I've already mentioned the sorry state of the barn and pasture. And to top it all off, my studio is still not here, because the delivery truck would probably sink out of sight in my super-saturated yard.

The good news is that the audio files for two teleseminars I recently recorded are done. Now, there's just a little bit of work required on the workbooks that accompany them, and they'll be ready for the masses.

* One is titled "Before You Begin." It suggests 10 easy-to-follow things for writers to do before starting a big writing project to help streamline the entire process, keep yourself focused, and remain on track.

* The other tells authors how to be "Champion For a Day." It suggests "Tried and True Things You Can Do Right Now to Promote Your Non-Fiction Book."

Both will be available through Muse Ink later this year. As I said, there is still some work and some polishing to be done. But it's exciting to have the audio part crossed off my "To Do" list. Some things the rain can't interfere with...

Today, we've set our sights upon the riding arena fence again. It remains to be seen whether or not the Weather Gods will smile upon us.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- On Guard!

After 14 years working with horses, it finally happened... the e-mail from my friend CG began. It continued with a detailed description of how she got -- rather badly -- hurt.

She'd been lunging a Haflinger mare that she knew well. Now that it's officially Fall in Michigan, the horses have been feeling their oats and kicking up their heels a bit more than usual.

She saw it coming. But she didn't move fast enough. The end result was that the Haflinger firmly planted both feet on my friend's chest. CG threw up her hands in an unthinking, instinctive move to guard herself, they got kicked, too -- and she has a fractured knuckle to prove it!

She's just started a specialized training program and has a two-year old little boy, in addition to the various animals in her menagerie. Taking care of her dependents with a cast on while the fracture heals isn't going to be a cakewalk.

When you work around horses all the time, it's so easy to get sloppy or to let your guard down. It happens to the best of us. But it only takes a split second for the horse's instinct to triumph over years of domesticity... and for someone to get hurt.

This past spring, a woman in our county was feeding her friend's Belgians while the friend was gone. When the woman was late coming home, her husband went to check on her. He found her in the pasture where she'd been kicked in the head and trampled to death.

Earlier this year, my friend PF was feeding her 20-something year old mare when the horse turned on her. This mare had been used as a therapy horse for handicapped students for over 15 years. She was the quietest, calmest thing on the planet. PF still doesn't know what set the horse off. But the mare attacked her, got her backed into a corner -- and probably would have killed her, if a neighbor hadn't heard the commotion and come over to help.

A few short months ago, my farrier hyperextended his knee when a young horse he was trimming moved suddenly and lashed out at him, catching him off guard and off balance.

And just last month, my friend, the wonderful equine photographer Charles Hilton, moved closer to the horse during a photo shoot so he could show the rider the latest shots through his digital camera. The horse cow kicked and blew Charles' knee.

Now that the snap of cool weather is in the air, it can invigorate even the most blase of old geldings. No horse is so quiet that a sudden movement won't startle it. No horse is so calm that it can't move quickly and step on your foot.

Just a word to the wise as winter approaches -- be aware, and be prepared for anything.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Anticipation runs high in the Hendrickson house today. Grandma and Grandpa are on their way from Pennsylvania, and my three year old daughter is beside herself with excitement.

I know how she feels. The weather interfered with the delivery of my studio yesterday. Now we're shooting for Thursday, and hoping the rain stops long enough to dry out the chosen site for the trucks to come in. I'm like a kid at Christmas waiting for the building to arrive, so I can finish the inside, and move all my work things into it. It's bigger than any room in our house. And once I get all my books and work-related items into it, I have a feeling that every room in our house will feel larger!

Anticipation... It's also evident in the Rider's Back Book. There are a few photos left to agree upon and place in the book. While it's true that the manuscript isn't yet at the publishers (something I'm not thrilled about), we all agreed that it would be best to send an entire, complete package, rather than have the words and pictures arrive in pieces. Besides, the publisher and our managing editor are at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week. It's not like they're desperately waiting for the manuscript to arrive.

No -- the only person who's desperately anticipating doing the Happy Dance upon completion of this project is ME!

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Will Write for Food...

I received this job posting from a friend of mine. It appears that some people really do believe that Superman exists and is looking for work...

Personally, though part of the position looks intriguing, the whole thing appears to be more a job description for an entire communications department than for a single person.

You decide...

XYZ Corp. is looking for an in-house Writer/Club Coordinator to fulfill the growing needs of our company.

This position will report to the Vice President, works hand-in-hand directly with the President and CEO and involves the following:

-Full time position in our corporate offices

-The applicant should have a degree in journalism, English or marketing and [specialized field] experience.

-Photography abilities and education background a plus.

-Relocation is required.

-Will be responsible for developing all content for our monthly subscription club and for writing articles, manuals and other printed materials.

-Responsible for spearheading content of our quarterly magazine and coordinating with in-house design staff to see issues meet quality, timeliness and innovation standards.

-Brainstorming new PR opportunities, membership benefits and written projects.

-Overseeing postings on member-only web site and coordinating chat sessions.

-Will work with in house designers to select photos and supporting graphics for projects.

-Follow up interviews with client base.

-The candidate we are looking for has a great writing style that is easy to follow, works well in a team, but can take a project and run with it. We are seeking an aggressive go-getter that is excited to be involved with XYZ Corp. on a day-to-day basis and can communicate that enthusiasm to our customers and help them better reach their goals.

- WOW us with what you can do! Why are you the best person on the planet for this job? What projects have you spearheaded in the past, are you a high producer that works well in a collaborative environment and likes a fast pace? Then we are interested in hearing from you!

-Salary commensurate with experience.

-401K with generous employer match

-Casual office environment - must like dogs

If they fill that position for less than $150,000 a year, they're coming out on top, I say.

Meanwhile, back in mid-America, the big News of the Day is that my writing studio is a reality. It's bought, paid for, and should be happily nestled in its new home on my property by the end of today. To say I can't wait is an understatement of epic proportions!