Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, June 5, 2015

dreams come true - Wonder Horse by Anita Daher

An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.


Published: May 8th, 2015

Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.

An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.

Love needs few words - on writing short stories

Hello! Nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by! And thank you to Mythical Books for having me. 

Some will tell you that the right way to go about building a writing career is to write and publish short stories first. And then, as your resume grows, move on to a first novel. I’ve always been a bit backwards. When I began writing with the intent to be published, I found the idea of writing short stories intimidating. So much to say in so few words! I’d made a few failed starts, was unhappy with the results, and so set that format aside. I was pretty sure I would prefer the luxury of space in a novel. 

But, as my children were young and we were surrounded by picture books, I decided that is what I would try. A few hundred rejected submissions later, a story came to me that I knew needed a longer format. My first juvenile novel wasn’t instantly accepted, but the editor liked what she saw, encouraged me to rewrite and resubmit. I did so, and a year or so later, Orca published Flight from Big Tangle. 

I loved the longer format story-telling, and carried on. That is not to say my “apprenticeship” in writing picture books was wasted effort. With everything we do and write we learn and grow and strengthen. Those early stories taught me about choosing perfect words and right moments, and making the best of a small space. But, as it turned out, I not only preferred writing novels, as I’d always suspected I would, I adored it. The beautiful expanse of time and space felt to me like the wide open tundra of my youth, and I was ready to run wildly into it, chasing ptarmigan, regardless of my too big rubber boots, not worried that I might trip and land face first in a shallow lake (a story for another day). Through novels, I’d found my writer’s voice. 

But what about all those picture books? I fretted. Wasn’t there at lease one story amongst them that was worth turning into a book? I asked a friend of mine who’d published novels for teens, middle grades, adults, as well as picture books, to have a look at one manuscript I’d written, “A Dragonfly Christmas.” He came back to me with a nudge and a smile and said, “This isn’t a picture book, but a novel with big chunks taken out.” I literally LOLed and ROTFLed. I got it. I was painting in all the detail with my words, including the bits best explored by the illustrator. Fact is, I liked painting word pictures. I settled well and good into writing novels. 

Have you ever noticed how life takes us in circles sometimes? It’s a great and beautiful tapestry. We follow one thread for a while, and one day notice the pattern has reconnected with someplace we may have already been, but now we see it in a new way. 

After winning the 2007 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer, I was invited to write a short story for an upcoming issue of Prairie Fire Magazine, and then read it at the spring fundraising gala. Of course I accepted. I’ve never let terror or uncertainty stop me from doing anything that in my heart I truly wanted to do. 

So now I had a story to write. Did I mention the terror? Those early incomplete efforts haunted me. What if I didn’t have it in me?

After procrastinating well past my usual period of resistance, I found myself two weeks before deadline in an airport café, finally putting words and ideas I’d thought about for several months, onto the page. Apparently those early lessons in brevity learned through picture book writing stood me well, as soon enough I had completed “Lost Boy,” a 3000 word story about a man taken hostage, seemingly by chance, and exacting his planned revenge. 

I did it! I’d written a short story deemed acceptable for the Prairie Fire audience, and had done so by deadline. I was elated. More than that, I was hooked.

Turned out the short format now felt like play, as words danced almost of their own accord with themes and moments in a way I found intoxicating. In later stories, “The Gift” and “Thinking Inside the Box,” I experimented with cadence and character voice. 

The writing life is funny. Life IS a story, and there is a right time, for write bits. You’ll find what you need, when you need it. This I believe. It’s all tapestry. 

About the author:

Anita Daher has been entrenched in the publishing industry since 1995, and is (thus far) author of fourteen books for children and teens. Aside from short stints as grave-plot seller, tour guide, and children’s party clown, she’s worked in aviation, publishing and broadcasting. When not word wrangling, she enjoys inhabiting characters on stage and screen.

Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Deanna Stevens said...

I love horses! Great post today, they are beautiful & I'd love to have a copy of this book :)
dkstevensneAT outlookD oTCoM

Anita Daher said...

Thanks, Deanna! Hope you win! xo Anita

Jan Lee said...

This is the link to Rebelight Publishing on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rebelightbooks/

The link in the Rafflecopter only goes to one of their boards, not to their entire Pinterest site.

Cass Raynaud said...

thanks for the giveaway :)