Friday, March 31, 2006

Off To the Hoosier Horse Fair

Today is Hoosier Horse Fair & Expo day. My friends Denise Hettig and Chari Gilbert are going to join me for a working vacation of sorts.

We have a meeting with Dr. Langhofer who is a featured clinician (he's a leading authority on equine dentistry). He's going to put me in touch with a representative from Purdue University, and the Indiana Equine Extension Specialist. I want to talk to him about the merits of using some of Trafalgar Square's books in Purdue's veterinary science undergrad program.

The books are really good, and the professor from Purdue is interested in them. I'm just the facilitator. I'm not a sales person, but that's not my job. I am, however, very good at talking about books. So I'll do my best to answer any questions he may have.

Yesterday was a good, solid, productive day. Tracked down some promising leads for marketing a couple different titles. Finished writing the next chapter of He Who Will Not Call's photo book and sent it off for initial approval. Solidified part of a marketing piece (in the form of a Quiz), to be used next week at Equine Affaire in Columbus. Wrote a graphic designer I met at the MEGA Marketing Seminar and asked for a price quote for designing and self-printing "Carol of the Horse." And washed and folded a load of laundry. All in all, a good day.

A highlight of the day was hearing the news that advance copies of Geoff's book have arrived at Trafalgar Square! Yay! This is my favorite part of publishing. I should have a copy in hand early next week. Can't wait to see it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


One of the wonderful things about attending conferences like the MEGA Marketing Seminar I went to earlier this month in L.A. is the chance to connect on a personal level with people who are tops in fields that are drastically different from your own.

Stephanie was one of the people I connected with a few weeks ago. She's based in Indiana, near Indianapolis (and we had to go all the way to the West Coast to cross paths!). She's a corporate coach and, among other things, a certified life coach -- something I have no experience with whatsoever. I'm not even 100 percent what a CLC does.

Anyway, Stephanie has a manuscript that she's ready to publish, which is in need of a hard critique and final edit before it's set in stone. She asked for a quote for my services, which I provided, and she decided to hire me.

Since making money is not my only reason for living (and since I know I'm expensive), I suggested that I would be open to a mutual exchange of services, if she wanted to go that route. And that is how I now have several sessions of a CLC at my disposal to help me map out a strategy for reaching my goals for the year.

I'm not entirely sure what that will do for me, but I do know this -- coaching of any kind is not cheap. It's quite possible that I can really benefit from Stephanie's services. I'm also 100 percent certain that if it were not for bartering our areas of expertise, I would not be able to afford a coach of any kind. Certainly not one of Stephanie's caliber.

The moral of the story is: reciprocity. When you're open to sharing yourself, and willing to swap with what others have to offer, you can reap rewards that go far beyond a larger bank balance.

The Photo Book

One of the missing chapters is now written. The other will be done by the end of this week, if I have anything to say about it. Then comes the edit. My goal is to have that done by mid-April. Right now things are looking promising. We'll see how realistic that is.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Self-Medication?

You never know who's going to be reading you, or what they'll want to know. Case in point, I received this e-mail earlier this week:

I am researching on cases of animals finding their own herbal remedies when sick. I remember reading about this years ago, a wild horse eating alot of sweet violets which seemed to cure a tumour.

Also my sister's terrier when sick with colitis, always went in the garden and ate lots of wild geranium. If you have any leads for me on this subject I would be most grateful.

I am NOT proposing to treat animals, this is a research project in instinctive self-medication.

Interesting, n'est ce pas?

While the concept of animals knowing just what herbal remedy they need to cure what ails them sounds fabulous, I'm afraid it borders on the "too-good-to-be-true." If animals instinctively knew what was good for them, dogs wouldn't drink antifreeze, mice wouldn't eat rat poison, cats wouldn't eat said mice, and horses wouldn't gorge themselves until they colicked and died.

That's my considered opinion. But I could be wrong. Does anyone have good credible or -- better yet -- documented evidence to the contrary? Let me know and I'll post it here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Guest Spot Finale

Today is my final day teaching for the poetry project mini-grant at Lakeshore High School. The kids have all done very good jobs -- especially the students who would rather crawl in a hole and die than speak in front of people.

We meet at the school at 9:15 this morning and then head to the elementary school for the Moment of Truth.

One girl has a poem about a fish tank, and she's made this beautiful, colorful aquarium out of construction paper. She creates the aquarium and moves things around in it as the poem plays out.

Another team of students did a poem about indoor recess that has several "hot button" words that encourage audience participation.

And of course, we can't forget the ninja zombies.

My friend, TG, may do a small write-up for the local paper, which would be cool, since I'm of the opinion that one never hears enough about high school kids doing anything really positive for elementary school kids.

All in all, it's been an enjoyable teaching experience, with my favorite audience. (It would have been better, however, if I'd avoided contracting the flu last week, but... c'est la vie.)

Additional News

With any luck, today I'll finish one of the two chapters for He Who Will Not Call's book, which has become my baby. (It's my ugly red-haired stepchild, but it's my baby, nonetheless.) I'd hoped to finish it by the end of last week, then my bout with the plague nixed that.

The chapter is going as well as can be expected of a chapter about which I know very little, but am trying to sound as if I know a great deal. My grand plan for the week includes finishing not only this chapter, but the other missing chapter as well, by Thursday. We'll see how full of folly that is.

Went to see "The Inside Man" tonight. Interesting. Different. It wasn't bad, but I was a little bummed that I figured out the crucial plot twist too early in the film.

Still -- a decent night's entertainment. Especially when it's "Two for $8" night at the Loma in Coloma -- and that includes free popcorn and pop. I love my hometown!

Monday, March 27, 2006

On Ninja Zombies, Bullies, and Recess

And Other Joys of 3rd Grade

Since April is National Poetry Month , Barb Lovellette, a friend of mine and an English teacher at Lakeshore High School, decided to do something special for her kids.

She and I came up with a proposal for a short-term project that would benefit her kids, would teach them something about poetry, and would also make what they learned in school relevant to "the real world" in some way. Barb applied for -- and received -- one of Berrien County's educational mini-grants for the project.

I came in and guest taught two sessions. The first was on knowing your audience. Poetry, as you know, is a fabluous genre because there are no rules, other than the ones you the poet dictate for each poem. That said, because the boundaries of poetry are fluid, and because many people find poetry extraneous (because so much of it is), the poet must work doubly hard to make sure that every word, every sound, every punctuation mark included in a poem is necessary. It is essential, then, that the poet know the poem's audience.

A poem may speak to someone outside of the intended audience (as when a poem written to an audience of one -- the poet herself -- resonates with many others who read it). But a poem without an audience will resonate with no one.

The students' audience: third graders.

Your target audience is 8 to 9 years old. They don't remember a world before 9/11. Many of them have their own cell phones, TV's and DVD players. They won't be driving until 2014 -- which is after you will have graduated college with your Masters degree.

What do they like? Macaroni and cheese, recess, running around, video games, birthdays, candy, pets.

What are they afraid of? Bullies, ghosts, getting lost, authority figures, divorce.

You get the idea. After a directed-writing exercise to help them get thinking about third grade things, the students got into two or three person teams and wrote a poem for presentation to an audience of third graders.

The second time I "guest taught," I spoke about presentation techniques. We discussed how to engage an audience, how to connect with audience members, how to "use" a stage to the best benefit, how to use your voice to direct (and keep) the audience's interest -- and more.

The students were to practice their presentations for critique before actually performing it in front of the third grade audience. Part of that happened last Wednesday. Then the plague struck and I ended up in bed for 4 days. The final critique is today. Third-grade Ground Zero happens Tuesday.

It's been interesting -- with the usual exceptions, the poems are surprisingly good. One of our favorites is one about "Ninja Zombies that want to eat your brain" (really!), read in a sort of lilting cadence while accompanied by a guitar.

Another notable poem had to do with bullies, with a sort of impromptu mime-acting that involves a "bully" badgering the reader.

There are poems about recess, cafeteria food, and art class -- things that make you remember being eight. And if they don't exactly make you want to be in third grade again, they certainly make you remember why you're glad you made it through elementary school.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Life With the Plague

I've been down with the flu since Wednesday. Got hit a bit with it Tuesday night (causing occasional spontaneous rhyming). Have been in bed -- literally -- since noon Wednesday. Poor Robert had it last week this time. It lasts a good 4 days, as far as we can tell, with residual ick-ness lasting much longer.

It's the kind of sick that doesn't even let you enjoy spending the day in bed. No DVD's or magazine reading. Nope. Just cranking up the electric blanket as high as it will go in the hopes that it will compensate for the defective internal temperature regulator. Bleah.

Here's hoping Monday will find things back to normal.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

E-Query Qualms

Or, The Invalid Electronic Asana

Yesterday, I received this notification of a periodical that was accepting open queries in one of my writer's newsletters:

(Name and address of yoga-themed periodical...)

This quarterly magazine encourages everyone at every level to learn
the benefits and techniques of yoga. Articles on the beginner and
intermediate levels are preferred. Articles include essays, how-to
pieces, photo features, technical articles, personal experience and
book reviews. Length is 1000-2000 words. Query via standard mail
or e-mail.

A website and e-mail address followed. Since Trafalgar Square has a yoga book and yoga DVD's that would be a perfect match for this audience, I sent an e-mail asking if they would be interested in a review of the book, "Yoga for Equestrians," and two companion DVD's "Yoga & Riding: Techniques for Equestrians?"

It wasn't long before I received a response to my query: The e-mail provided as a means of contact was invalid.

I went to their website, and the contact e-mail there was the same faulty one I originally wrote to. I wrote a note on their "Contact Us" page requesting current contact information, but have so far received no response. I have, however, discovered that others have encountered the same problem from the same periodical.

"I tried about a year ago and I never any luck getting them to respond," said one fellow writer. "I hope you heard from them."


I just find it interesting that a magazine representative would go to the trouble of contacting a writer's newsletter looking for submissions, without first checking that the stated contact information was correct.

This is the sort of snafu that results in editors or advertising managers saying, "We tried that once. It didn't work..." How often we don't realize that our success hinges not on other people, but on ourselves.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Back to the Blog

Since the blog has been on hiatus for the past 10 days, I've received some very interesting comments on it. (You never know who's reading you...)

My mother, of course, always has an opinion -- I come by the trait honestly. When I blogged every day, Mom's reaction was, "There's just SO MUCH to read! And I don't really want to know all that much about writing."

To which I said, "You're not really the target audience. If you're not interested, skim. Or skip."

Now that I've skipped a week and a half, Mom's comment is, "I don't know what's going on!"


I've found out who read the blog primarily on Wednesdays, for the horse-themed postings.

I've discovered who read regularly, and who resent missing their daily fix. (Hey, "Pibgorn" went from daily to three times a week. I know what it's like...)

And I've learned that I miss posting regularly. I thought of going to a weekly posting -- and still may do so. But I really enjoyed the daily log. So I'm going to try to shorten the posts, in order to limit the time I spend on "non-work" writing...

From the In-Box

I received this note over the weekend:

I just read your review of Eight Below, and come on - it wasn't a bad
movie - in my humble little opinion. Yes, the truth behind the "true
story" does differ greatly from the movie, but it was a great movie! I
just researched the facts behind the Japanese true story, and yeah, it
was very different from the movie, but I don't feel cheated. I think
the idea was definately based on a true story for sure.

Anyhow, I just watched it and have to admit that it brought a tear
drop to my good eye. Seriously, I just had to disagree with you on
this one. You write great stuff, but I just figure there are way more
ridiculous movies out there to poke fun at than a genuine "feel good"

Maybe I'm weird, I like dogs and man, that movie was great! In my opinion.

Anyhow, keep up the good work - just had to offer my two cents on that one.

To which I replied:

I'm always glad when people take the time to write to me. I won't quibble with you for liking a movie that I found only "OK." There are many, many films I love that others love to hate. (Remember -- I DID cry every time a dog died in "8 Below." So I didn't hate the film. I just won't buy it when it comes out on DVD...)

Thanks again for writing. Maybe there's a film out there that we can both agree on. Recent viewings include "V for Vendetta," "Failure to Launch" and "16 Blocks" in theaters, "40 Year Old Virgin," "Just Friends," "The Order" (with Heath Ledger and Shannyn Sossamon -- not the one with VanDamme), "Constantine," "Jarhead," and "The Brothers Grimm" on DVD. Care to weigh in with an opinion on any of them?

In Other News

Much going on here in the Hendrickson house. Lots of work done on the marketing work for the publisher.

Jumped in and got started writing the missing two chapters on HWWNC's book -- since he is now permanently AWOL from the project. Hope to have at least one, if not both of the chapters finished by the end of this next week. Crossing my fingers that work on this manuscript does not compromise the deadline of Dr. Warson's book.

Speaking of which... the preliminary draft of the first two chapters of Dr. Warson's book are written and have his approval. Rah!

Geoff's book needed some color correction to the photographs in the final printer proofs that resulted in the release date for the book being moved to mid-May. :(

Crossing our fingers for "Carol of the Horse" in the coming week. Possible sponsorship of the manuscript is emminent, which means that if all goes well, the book could be in print before the MEGA Book Marketing conference in July...

And once again, I've written far more than intended. Tune in tomorrow for another (SHORT) installment.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

California Dreaming

I attended the MEGA Marketing Seminar put on by Mark Victor Hansen in L.A. this past weekend. What a rush! I learned a lot -- more from the attendees than from the presenters, by the way. The attendees weren't into the hard sell -- something I can't say for the 2 hour infomercials that nearly every presentation turned into.

Still, the event was worthwhile in many, many ways. I was so impressed with so many things, and with what I got from attending, that I'll be going to the MEGA Book Marketing University in Orlando, FL in July.

Finally returned home about 2 a.m. this morning, due to flight cancellations, spending another night in L.A. getting a different flight that rerouted to Denver, then being stuck there for several hours, and finally getting into O'Hare, with a 12 hour [!!!!] layover -- so Karen drove down and got me and brought me home. Whew!).

Much to tell, but work beckons. Suffice to say, however, that there will be major changes in this blog in the coming weeks. I'm working up a plan for doing something BIG by the end of the year. Something that's never been done before. I'll tell you all about it on Thursday's post -- when I've had time to think more about how I'm going to make it happen...

My major takeaway from this weekend's seminar: Dare to dream big. The universe abhors a void, and will rush to fill the space your big dream creates.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Carpe Diem!

Which, as we all know, means "Seize the day!" and not "Dead fish!"

No commentary on the writing life today. Just a short comment on life in general:

I'm off to Los Angeles for a conference that runs through Sunday. Last time I visited, about a year ago, I swore that if I never returned, it would be too soon. Never say never -- you gotta go where life takes you.

Last year this time, my life (and the lives of my family members) was in an uproar. We had been home in Michigan from L.A. less than a month, after improperly prescribed and monitored medication sent my husband into uncontrollable seizures and a full-blown, hallucinogen-filled joy ride of a psychotic break. He'd been diagnosed with a recurrence of the brain tumor that he'd had removed in 1996. He had no short-term memory, no cause-and-effect reasoning skills to speak of, and had lost 15 pounds in a little over a month.

Since then, we've consulted with countless specialists and taken a cross-country trip from Michigan to San Francisco for brain surgery that at the eleventh hour was deemed unnecessary. We watched my husband's job, his career, and our insurance disappear.

But we've also weathered the storm, enjoyed another year together as a family, and seen many of his symptoms recede as the drug toxicity wore off.

When life doesn't go as planned, you can sit around and carp about it. Or you can seize the day and make the most of it.

One of my good friends recently found out that for her, 2006 is going to be much like 2005 was for us. She's in her mid-30's and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. She underwent a radical mastectomy on Valentine's Day, and -- now that the immediate scare is over -- has the long row of recovery to hoe.

I received this very up-beat note from her today:

First off, can you believe it's March already and so nice out? All of you that had to go to work, I wore shorts, t-shirt and flip flops to the doctor appointments today!! Hey, had to rub it in. Oh, and I sat out on the deck and read for a good hour this morning!!

Ok results from surgery.

No cancer at all on the left side -- yippee. The tumor was a bit bigger on the right side. I should know tomorrow when I have an appointment with the oncologist -- everyone has said she is the best! Umm... out of the 18 lymph nodes, 3 had cancer in them. Hopefully it hasn't spread anywhere else.

I will have a CAT or PET scan to check to see if the cancer has spread anywhere.

I may get some gentic testing done, since this doesn't run in my family, there is a risk of this possibly turning up in my ovaries -- yippee, one more thing to worry about. Jeez, they say God gives only what you can handle; what is He thinking lately!!!

Asking the doc what your chances are is such a rude awaking to life and how you live it. Let me just say, say hello to everyone you meet and love the people around you and be thankful for them.

Oh, another good thing is I probably won't have to have radiation -- another yippee of no sunburn on the armpit!! AND I finally get to shave and use deo!!! Oh, how sad the simple things in life can be so exciting!!! Enjoy all the simple things, they are wonderful!!!

I love the "yippee's." And I love her for being so positive and finding the things to celebrate in her situation. We've been there, done that -- and, chances are, we'll be there again at some point. I think some of the worst possible sins in this world are complacency, a sense of entitlement, and taking what you've been given for granted.

Life is not easy. No one escapes from life unscathed. But if you're lucky, you'll realize that your friends and family are pulling for you every step of the way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Understanding Stringhalt

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a friend who was surfing the net looking for horses. One of the animals she came upon was listed as having stringhalt in both hind legs. What is that? she wondered.

Horses with stringhalt are also referred to as "stringy." Stringhalt usually manifests most visibly at the walk. The horse will involuntarily flex his hind leg (or legs) and step exaggeratedly high. Muscle atrophy is commonly seen in horses with stringhalt, so in addition to an unnatural movement, the horse's soundness is also affected.

Stringhalt is a gait disorder. Sometimes eating the wrong plants can bring it on (this is called "acquired stringhalt"). We don't need to worry about our horses eating the plants repsponsible here in southwest Michigan. They're mostly found in the Pacific Northwestern and in Australia.

There is also "traumatic stringhalt." This results from the compression of a nerve, or other specific injury.

Information collected from "All Horse Systems Go", the incomparable new vet book by Dr. Nancy Loving, DVM, from Trafalgar Square.