Girls Horse Club Blog

INTERACTIVE VIEW: Angela Dorsey (and Prizes!)

Published by • Aug 8th, 2011 • Category: Interactive View

UPDATE AUGUST 11th, 2011: The Interactive View is closed. We’re so grateful to Angela Dorsey for hanging out at our virtual barn and answering questions. Please read the comments for insight into Angela and her stories along with great advice for aspiring writers. You can always visit Anglea at her website, AngelaDorsey.com »

Click here to congratulate the prize winners!

Welcome to the INTERACTIVE VIEW, an interview where *YOU* ask the questions. We’re honored to host Canadian author and lifelong horse girl Angela Dorsey.

To get started, read below for an intro to Angela, instructions for asking questions, and details about how to qualify for a prize…

Angela DorseyINTRO: Angela Dorsey doesn’t know which she loved first, horses or books, because she’s loved both for as long as she can remember. In fact, she rode her first horse when she was three years old — she climbed through a fence and onto the back of a horse sleeping in a field. Was she ever surprised when the horse stood up and started carrying her away!

Almost as much as reading and riding and hanging out with horses, she loved to daydream — so it was the most natural thing in the world for her to grow up and become a writer of horse books. So far, she’s written twenty five novels, and horses have been at the center of twenty four of them! Three of her books are individual novels, and the rest are in three series — Freedom, Horse Guardian, and Whinnies on the Wind. Her novels have been translated into nine different languages and sold in many countries around the world. Oddly enough though, until this year, most of her books weren’t available in her own country, Canada. They are now though, thanks to Enchanted Pony Books, a new publisher that specializes in only horse and pony books.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Please be aware of our Ground Rules, then simply scroll down and enter your question in the box that says BE HEARD IN THE HERD.
  2. Girls Horse Club will moderate questions and post the best for Angela. We’ll look for thoughtful questions that help others get to know our special guest.
  3. Keep in mind this is not a live interview, it’s more like an ongoing party with people coming in and out each day. Angela will check in periodically and respond to your questions through Thursday August 11th.

THE PRIZES:

Angela Dorsey BooksAngela was kind enough to donate prizes for two (2) lucky interviewers! Winners will be selected from among the questions submitted. One winner will receive the first three books of Angela’s Horse Guardian series (Dark Fire, Desert Song, and Condor Mountain) and a second winner will receive Freedom, the first book in the Freedom trilogy.

To receive prizes, winners who are under 13 must get permission from a parent to provide a mailing address. Addresses are only be used to send the prizes, after which they are deleted.

UPDATE AUGUST 11th, 2011: The Interactive View is closed. We’re so grateful to Angela Dorsey for hanging out at our virtual barn and answering questions. Please read the comments for insight into Angela and her stories along with great advice for aspiring writers. You can always visit Anglea at her website, AngelaDorsey.com »

Click here to congratulate the prize winners!

41 Nickers »

  1. Hi to all my fellow horse lovers! I’m very happy to be here and am looking forward to our chat. Many thanks to Lead Mare for setting this up! I am looking forward to meeting you all!

  2. G’day Ms Dorsey,
    I love your site and your books look like they’ll be brilliant to read (its one of the few horse series I havn’t read yet). =)
    One of my questions was how did you get a company interested in your writing to be published; did you have to go through a plethora of rejection letters?

    cant wait to read!
    HF

  3. Do you have any horses right now. If so what r their names?

  4. Hi HorseFeathers! Yes, I had to go through a massive amount of rejection letters first. My first book was Freedom, and I received about 85 rejection letters for it before it found a home. Many of those happened during the first few years that I was writing, and honestly, I didn’t know enough about writing at that time – the publishers were right to reject it. And it turned out to be better for me that they did too, because I learned to be a better writer by rewriting Freedom over and over. It turned out to be a much better book than if it had been accepted for publication right away. So, though I didn’t think it at the time, it was a good thing it was rejected at the beginning!

  5. Hi XDDXDD!

    Sadly, for the first time since I was eight years old, I am now horseless… We moved closer to the city two years ago, and its a little too expensive for us to keep a horse here right now. My last two horses were named Orion and Wiley Coyote, and they were great. Orion is a black quarter horse/morgan cross and Wiley was an anglo-arab. They’ve both gone on to lovely homes too, where they’re loved, and their new people send me updates now and then, which is very much appreciated. That’s how I heard about Orion’s phobia for chickens. She freaked when she saw her first chicken at her new house! Thank goodness she got used to them within a couple of weeks.

    Though I don’t have a horse right now, I can’t wait until I can get another one. I keep thinking about what breed of horse I’ll get. Maybe an Andalusian? Or a Saddlebred? An Arab? Or a pinto? So hard to decide! Do you have a horse?

  6. Hi, as an aspiring young writer,I was wondering if you had any recommendations for a successful writing process?
    Thank you, Catscowgirl

  7. Hi Catscowgirl,

    I’m not sure if you mean daily or if you mean for an entire book project, so I’ll answer for both.

    With writing an entire novel, I usually do the following (though not always exactly):

    1. Write a very loose, one page outline. The benefit of doing this is that if I ever get stuck on what to write next, I can look at the outline. Also, I sign book contracts from my outlines; I usually don’t write the book until after I have a contract, so the outline is kind of important. :)

    2. I write the first draft from beginning to end.

    3. I start the rewrites. I usually do two or more full rewrites, from beginning to end, then…

    4. I send it to my editor, Ev Bishop.

    5. When I get it back from Ev, I usually make every change she suggests (she’s a super good editor).

    6. I rewrite at least two more times from beginning to end.

    7. I send it to my agent and the editor at the publishing house. My agent usually doesn’t have much to say, but the publisher’s editor will come back to me with any changes she wants.

    8. I make those changes or tell her why I don’t want to change certain things. Working with the editor from the publishing house can take weeks of back and forth.

    9. The book is approved and I get to look over the illustrations (if it’s an illustrated book) to see if all the drawings match with the story.

    10. And last of all, though I don’t do anything at this stage, the book goes to the translators (if it’s going to be in a language other than English) and then to be printed!

    With my daily work, I try to get in 1000 words a day on my stories. It’s a simple goal that has worked for me for years. My work day isn’t over until my 1000 words are written! Sometimes, if it’s a particularly hard day to write (when the sun is shining, the outdoors is calling!), I put myself on a timer. I say I’m going to write for 15 minutes, non-stop – and usually by the end of 15 minutes, I’m happily into my story and going strong.

    However, with both daily and an entire novel, every writer’s process is different. Every writer pretty much has to find what works for them and what doesn’t. If you’re interested in hearing some suggestions, I’d be happy to tell you some that work for other writers I know. Just let me know what you have trouble with, if anything, and I’ll try to help.

    And if I totally misunderstood your question, I apologize! LOL!

  8. Thanks Ms. Dorsey; that’s encoureging because Ive had more rejects than publications for poems and short stories so far. I’m going to major in equine therapy for college and minor in English. I was wondering if you went to college to get a degree in creative writing or literature; in your opinion is writing more of a side hobby than a career?
    HF

  9. Hi, ms Dorsey! like HorseFeathers, I love your site! And although I have not read your books, I’m trying hard to get my hands on one. Here is my question: Has there ever been a time in your life when you weren’t sure about your love of horses?

  10. Hi Ms Dorsey :) I haven’t read any of your books yet – to be honest, I’d never heard of them before, although I’ll have to check them out now, if I can find them through Enchanted Pony books. It’s also cool to see a Canadian writer ;)
    My question is, what do you like to see in books? What kinds of characters? What themes? A favourite genre?

  11. Hello Ms Dorsey! I’ve never read your books, but I am planning on trying to find them soon! I love horses and love to read, so it’s not tricky to figure out why I want to read your books.

    One of the problems I have when I try to write is coming up with good characters. They often end up being too cliche or boring. What do you do to make and develop a good character?

    Thanks for being here!

  12. Hi HorseFeathers!

    Even with more than 25 books being published, I still have more rejections than acceptances for my short stories and poems, so please don’t get discouraged! A lot of it is just finding the right publication for your short story or poem. If you believe in a story you’ve written, keep sending it out (also, look at it once in a while to see if you can make it better, because as you grow as a writer you’ll find ways to make it better). I had a postcard story published last fall that I’d sent out to at least a dozen magazines over years but I believed in the story and sent it out – until it found a home in a very prestigious literary magazine. And the same can be said for Freedom, my first book. It took years to find a publisher and now there are more than a quarter million copies in print around the world.

    I didn’t go to college to learn writing. I studied Sociology instead. However, I took courses from a number of independent writing schools and I read a ton of writing books. I even hired a mentor for a year to help me with my poetry. However, just as helpful as all the study were two additional things: a good critique group and just spending lots of time writing. Nothing teaches as well as just doing it!

    I think many writers would love to write full time – but unfortunately, it’s very hard to make a living at it. It can be done though! I’ve been a full time writer for almost ten years now and I definitely think of it as a career.

  13. Hi Icehorse,

    Thanks! I’m glad you guys like my site. Be sure to enter the Name the Horse contest under Readers!

    Sadly, yes there was a short time when I wasn’t sure of my love of horses. I became afraid of them right after my daughter got in a horseback riding accident and was badly injured. The horse she was riding reared up so high that it fell over backward, right on top of her, breaking some of the bones in her hips and back. It took her about a year to heal, both in her body and her love of horses. It took me a little longer, about two years, until my love of horses healed up, but today we are both over our fear and even owned and trained a horse together for a while, an Anglo-Arab named Wiley Coyote!

  14. Good morning, Masquerade!

    A lot of readers in the USA and Canada haven’t heard of my books. Until now, they’ve only been available through bookclub, which means each book was available to the book club members for about three weeks, and then they were out of print. That’s why it’s so exciting for me to finally have my books available to more readers.

    I like to put a lot of heart in the books I write, but it needs more than feelings, it needs tension too, or I tend to get a bit bored with writing it. lol!

    The characters in my books are normal girls who end up in abnormal or frightening situations, and find they have resources and strengths that they hardly knew they possessed.

    Themes is an interesting question – I do have themes in my books but I didn’t realize how consistent they were until recently. It was a big realization for me when I saw that many of my books focus around rescuing others, sometimes horses or other animals, sometimes adults, sometimes a friend of the main character.

    I don’t have a favourite genre to write or to read. I enjoy most well written books. What about you?

  15. Hi Toppyrocks!

    Good question! And it makes me wonder, are your characters really boring? Or are they just not put in a situation where they need to find their inner strength. Most books you’ll read are about ordinary people who are put in extreme situations. Could it be that maybe you’re not giving your characters enough to overcome?

    I attended a workshop once that had an exercise that was really good. Think of your character and then figure out what is the worst thing that could happen to her (or him). Got it? Okay, now make the situation worse. Done that? Okay, make the situation worse. And again. And again.The only thing we couldn’t do was make them die because then there’s no coming back (unless they come back as a ghost). And then when things are as bad as you can make them, start to have them figure their way out of their bad situation.

    If you don’t think this is your problem, maybe you just haven’t found the quirky stuff that makes a character stand out. For this, you just need to do lots of daydreaming. What do they like/dislike, what do they hope for, what are they’re afraid of, how they move, talk, etc. I’ve heard of writer’s who even carry on conversations with their characters to find out more about them, with the writer saying the characters part out loud. Make sure no one is around if you do that though!

  16. Hello!!! I wanted to ask you a question about my ultimate enemy… Writers block! Do u ever get writers block?

  17. Welcome to GHC Ms. Dorsey!
    I’d like to know, how long does it usually take for you to complete writing one book? Also, is it ever difficult for you to find enough things to add to your story so you won’t resolve the conflict too soon? For example, when I write, I find myself wanting to resolve the main character’s conflicts as soon as they arise, (which wouldn’t make a very good story!) and I sometimes find it difficult to find different scenarios to draw out the conflict and make the story long enough!

  18. Hi Peanut!

    Ouch! Writer’s block is painful. And there can be so many reasons behind it. It can be like solving a mystery to find out why we have writer’s block. Most of the time when I get it, it’s because something is I’ve taken a wrong turn in the plot. Writer’s block is my brain’s way of saying, “stop, go back, fix it.” However, it can happen for many other reasons too, for as many reasons as there are writers! Here are some exercises to try. I hope one (or more) of them will work for you.

    1. Set a 15 minute timer and write for all that time. If you can’t think of what to write, then write anything, like “blah, blah, blah,” or “this is the stupidest exercise I’ve ever done.” By the end of the 15 minutes, you may have worked through the reluctance to start.

    2. Think about why you’re writing. Is it for the story? Or is it for some other reason? For example, some people write so they can say they’re writers, some people write to be famous, some write to convince other people of things, etc. Even if you write mainly for the story, these other things can still sneak in there, sit like little editors on your shoulder, and whisper in your ear, “A reader will think that’s stupid. Your mom’s not going to like reading that…” etc. Try to ignore those voices, and when you sit down to write your story, make sure it’s just you and your story there in your mind. And then dive into it! Enjoy it!

    3. Always keep in mind that your book is not going to look the way you envision it until the end. No one, not even JK Rowling, gets it right the first time! That’s why we edit, edit, edit. Just get it down, then fix the smaller stuff later.

    4. Do intriguing writing exercises! There are lots in books and on the internet.

    5. And last of all, like with me, your writer’s block might be a clue that the story has taken a wrong turn in the plot or you’ve missed something important in your character’s development. Stories are like people in a way. They take on a life of their own once they’re started. It’s like they want to go a certain way all by themselves. And they communicate through writer’s block. If you get that feeling halfway through a book, go back and read what you’ve already written (it’s usually something that you wrote right before the block happened), find the problem, be open to new ways the plot can go or character can develop, and make changes.

    I hope this helps! If you want to tell me more specifically how you feel blocked, I may be able to give some more suggestions! Happy writing!

  19. Hi Gypsy Vanner!

    Because my books are usually 30,000 to 35,000 words long, I can complete a novel in four months. I squeeze other projects in there too. For example, I just wrote a novella with my oldest daughter. It’s called Suncatcher and was very fun, and very fast, to write. Only six weeks.

    Yes, I do have trouble with finding enough conflict sometimes, and with the timing of the resolutions. That’s where my outline comes in handy. I make sure I have all the main conflicts and the timing worked out before I start the novel. There are two types of writers: plotters (those who do outlines) and pantsers (they just jump into a story without knowing where it’ll go; those who fly by the seat of their pants – I know, it’s a weird name! ) I’m sort of in between the two and maybe you are too. I like the freedom of being a pantser, but the security of being a plotter. Therefore, I make a short one page outline for each book that contains the major plot and character points, then when I start the book, I put the outline at the end of the manuscript. As I write the manuscript, I delete the outline bit by bit. It works like a charm for me, because I can forget the outline is even there, unless I feel lost. Then I go down to it, read the next plot point, and continue writing. Do you think this might work for you too?

  20. Hi!! I haven’t read any of your books yet, but I am anxious to do so soon!! My question is: When you are writing a fiction book, and you create your own fictional town, can you use real places in the book that are outside of your pretend town? It is something I’ve been wondering because I have been working on writing and I want to know as much as possible before I start writing my book. Thanks!!:)

  21. Hi HealingHorses!

    Yes, you can use real places in your books, even if you have your character living in a fictional town. I’ve done that before, a number of times, actually.

    I hope your writing is going well!

  22. Hi Angela.
    witch book that you wrote is your favorite and why.
    I love your books!
    Megan

  23. Hey Ms Dorsey, Thanks for answering all my questions! =) Couple more: do you ever think of real people in your life when describing your characters in your books or do you go all out and create personalities you’ve never known? I guess I’ll find out when I read them but do you believe in a ‘happy ending’ all type story? Just wondering because I love stories with that satisfactory ending that isn’t really what the reader might have expected for a ‘happily ever after” aka the riding barn is saved from a dire mortgage, the girl finds her lost horse, ect. I like those that give a little “hey that’s not really what I wanted to happen”. It makes me feel like the story isn’t a steryotype.

    Just wondering your opinion.
    HF

  24. Thanks Ms. Dorsey, your advice was so helpful. :) Oh and sorry I was so vague. Lol. Any ways the problem I have is my stories seem so rushed because I have trouble creating dialog with the characters and just dragging it out a little more. I guess that just take practices though so a story doesn’t seem rushed or is dragging.
    Thanks, catscowgirl

  25. Have you written any books that take place in the Swiss alps? I love books in Swiss.

  26. Thanks, Megan!

    Of all my books, “Freedom” will always be special to me because it was my first book in every way – first written, first published, and hopefully, the first to be made into a movie. However, I must say that my favorite book is usually the one that I’m working on at the moment. So right now, my favorite book is Autumn of the Angel Mare, the 8th Whinnies on the Wind book. It’s turning out to be a very fun book to write, plus a lot of the mysteries in the earlier Whinnies books are revealed in Autumn of the Angel Mare. And best of all, there are gorgeous, kind hearted, and even sassy horses to write about!

  27. Hi HorseFeathers! I’m glad to answer as many questions as you send my way!

    No, I don’t really think of real people in my life when I write. For some reason, the main characters in the books just seem to come to me along with the plot and they’re purely from my imagination. However, I do use the names of people I know. Most of my family members’ names are in my books, some friends, and even some of my fans’ names – with their permission, of course!

    I wouldn’t call my stories happily ever after stories (the loss at the end of Swift Current still makes me cry every time I read it). In every one, there is a great test of the main character, usually something lost, and always something gained – gained because the main character stepped forward when all she wanted to do was run away. I find stories that have someone overcoming great difficulties to be the most satisfying to both read and write.

  28. Hi Catscowgirl,

    Hmmm. You’re going to need some dialogue if you have people in it, but you may not need as much as you think. Also, it’s not a good idea to just add more dialogue to make the story longer. Only the important dialogue should be included. What if you tried adding more of what is called “telling detail” or “significant detail”? What that means is to add detail that tells the reader about your character or some other important aspect of the story. Basically, showing instead of telling.

    Here is an example of what I mean. The first passage:

    “Twilight hated the bit and no matter how I tried, she always refused it. I was getting so frustrated and upset.”

    And here it is again, using the telling or significant detail:

    “Twilight’s teeth were clamped together like two sides of an iron vise. Still, I raised the snaffle bit toward her mouth.
    “Please, pretty please… Pretty please with sugar on it?”
    My gorgeous buckskin filly stretched her neck and lifted her head an inch further from my reach, something I’d thought was impossible. The edges of her eye glimmered white as she strained to peer down at me through her long forelock, messy from tossing her head as she’d avoided the bit.
    I lowered the bridle, defeated. There was no way I was going to get that snaffle into her mouth, not now, and probably not ever.”

    Do you see what I mean? You’re describing the scene and letting the reader visualize how much Twilight hates the bit. Not once did the passage say that Twilight hated the bit or that the girl was getting frustrated. Instead, it was shown, plus a lot more was shown too. And it made the passage longer, which is what you’re looking for!

  29. No, I don’t have a horse but I plan on getting a white Andulusian.

  30. Megan – No books set in the Swiss Alps – yet! However, I too think it’s gorgeous there. It would make a great setting for a book!

    XDDXDD – Andalusians are amazing, aren’t they? I’ve never ridden one, but I’ve heard they are not only beautiful and talented, but very willing and gentle too. They sound lovely!

  31. Where did you get the idea for Angelica from???

  32. Good morning, Megan!

    The spark of the idea for the character Angelica came from the editors at PONY. They thought they might like to publish a series of books about a magical being who goes around helping horses in trouble. They contacted me, and I thought the idea was a great one too. I did some brainstorming on the details of the character, her personality, how magical she should be, what her limitations were, all that kind of stuff. After I had her figured out, I contacted the editors. They agreed with my vision of Angelica, asked me to come up with some book ideas too, and Angelica was created!

  33. Hello Ms.Dorsey
    I red so many of youre books and I really love Angelica and her stories.
    But I´am from Czech Republic so here´s not so many of youre books in my language.
    These stories are inspirating me in my riding!
    She is so full of love and want of help.I think that she and you(because you created Angelica and other characters)are togeather something exciting(i don´t know how to say it)
    Thanks that you still write.I love horses and books-I´am 12 and I red more books than everyone who i know.In my country are not youre books-I have only….7 of youre books from pony club.Now I´am not in pony club-it was too much money for us and I wanted only that books.Youre books are not everywhere else.Thats so sad,but that what I have I love!!!
    You is super writer and Angelica is live for me when I read the books. ….Thank you…

  34. Hi Sara!

    You are so kind to say these things, and I am so glad you like my books! That’s awesome that they’re inspiring you in your riding too! Angelica is a great character because she reminds us to always be kind and understanding to horses (and other animals), even when we don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

    A publisher from the Czech Republic is looking at the Horse Guardian books right now and thinking about publishing them. Let’s wish together that they decide to publish them, and then you’ll be able to read the five you haven’t read yet!

  35. What do you like most about your editor Ev Bishop?

  36. What do I like about Ev Bishop? So many things! Where do I start?

    She’s smart and savvy; she’s an awesome writer and an awesome editor; she understands kids and what they like to read; she’s fun and kind and witty and seriously one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met (and I mean thoughtful in both ways – thoughtful as in thinking of others and thoughtful as in full of deep thoughts).

    I consider myself lucky to be not only her client, but also her friend!

  37. Ms. Dorsey, I have 2 ore questions. 1.) How can you get potential publishers to take you seriously? What I mean is, are there any ways to help your manuscript avoid the ‘slush pile’? and 2.) What tips do you have for aspiring writers?

  38. Hi again ms.Dorsey
    I wanted to ask on one other question if I can please…

    Where are you get the inspiration to write?
    I´am writing too and I hope that maybe one time will be my book published :) it´s called The White Pony Stables. I ask because I care about youre inspiration with Angelica and the other characters and books.
    Thank you very mutch for answer……….

  39. Hi Icehorse,

    There are two ways to get a publisher to take you seriously. First, get an agent. However, this is much easier said than done. Some writers say it is harder to get a reputable agent than it is to get a publisher, though that wasn’t my experience. There are lots of predator agents out there too – so be careful. Read about agents first, so you can pick out a good one. Second, write an amazing book and if it is rejected, send it out again. Eventually, someone will pay attention. However, this way too is not foolproof. Sometimes awesome books are ignored just because the publishers are prejudiced against them. For example, in the 90’s, most publishers refused to take on children’s fantasy novels, saying they couldn’t make any money from them. Then along came Harry Potter, and proved them all wrong.

    My top five tips for aspiring writers:

    1. Always believe in yourself and your work. If you don’t, no one else will.
    2. Even though rejections might get you down, never give up. Focus on your story, on your characters, on creating something of value, not on the rejections you get.
    3. Never stop working at becoming a better writer. Always improve your writing skills, no matter how many books you have published.
    4. Write, write, write. Lots!!! Even if the writing is terrible, it doesn’t matter. That’s what editing is for.
    5. Find a good critique group of fellow writers. Then you’ll have someone to critique your stuff, celebrate your books sales with, and give you a hug when you need encouragement. Make sure everyone in your group understand good critiquing rules though. You can find info about that on the internet.

    I hope this helps!

  40. Hi Sara!

    In general, I write because I know in my heart it’s what I should be doing, and my inspiration and drive comes from that belief. In fact, if I didn’t have the inner knowledge that I should write stories, I doubt I would have any books published today.

    I didn’t listen to that feeling for a while though, instead thinking there’s no way I could ever be an author, I’m just going to fail. But then, one day, I realized something important: failing is okay but not trying to begin with is not. So I started to write stories and send them out, and many years later, I’d actually learned enough of the craft of writing to start my career as a writer!

    With specific book series, I pretty much write what I would like to read and what I think would be fun or interesting or exciting. With your White Pony Stables, do you love your own stories? If you weren’t the writer, would you enjoy reading them? If so, then you’re on the right track!

  41. Many thanks to all of you for your thoughtful questions. You have made this a very fun week for me. I have no doubt that a few years from now, I’ll be reading some of your books! Be sure to let me know when that happens!!!

    I’m very happy to invite you all to hang out and comment on my blog (http://www.angeladorsey.com/blog/), and feel free to always send more questions my way. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about being an author is talking to your readers!

    Also, try your hand at my Name That Horse contest or send in an answer to my Question of the Month – and remind me to update the Question of the Month once in a while. LOL!

    And if you have any Angelica Moments, those magical times when you’ve felt connected to a special horse, feel free to send in your inspiring story.

    Again, it’s been wonderful fun! Have a great weekend everyone! Happy riding and writing!!!