Mama Diaries

Monday, January 29, 2018

Special Guest: Author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne


Today I have a very special guest at my pad, children's author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. I've known Deanie for many years. She's a sweet, thoughtful person. I love her books because they are uplifting and give encouragement. The world needs more of that! Please welcome Deanie! 


Hi, Deanie!  So glad you could join us!

All of your books offer inspiration and life lessons. Your latest book, My Life at Sweetbriar, is about overcoming obstacles and persevering. Could you share some tips for how to remain positive in the face of adversity? How to keep going when things seem stacked against you?

First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me today, Sherry.  I love spending time with you.
When I get discouraged, things seem to be a bigger challenge than they actually are so I would say your problem could be the size of an anthill but when you’re thinking about it, the image you get is Pike’s Peak. Basically, try examining the issue from all sides. For example, when I was learning to jump horses, I’d often fall off two or three times a day. Some days it felt like I’d never stay on.  How could the problem be solved? I figured if I worked harder than other people, eventually I’d prevail. The other alternative was to quit and that wasn’t an option because then I’d surely fail and not reach my goal. 
Try to focus on the positive. We’ll use the jumping story again. If I normally fell off twice and progressed to only once a day, that was a positive step. My dad was a creative person so he’d find little ways to help. For instance, to help me keep my balance and also prevent pulling back on the reins, which made the horse uncomfortable, he put a strap around the horse’s neck so I could grab that while we were getting ready for the jump. It kept my hands in the right position and helped my balance a bit. We’d try to analyze why I fell off so we could remedy it. Most to the time I fell because my heels went back and I pitched forward. That was something I constantly tried to correct.
You could also divide the project into little parts. What if you were afraid of public speaking? Practice in front of your family or friends because you know they’ll encourage you. When the day comes to make your speech, look at one person in the audience that you know and pretend that’s the only one there.
Remember things are always changing. If you have a bad day, tomorrow is a new start. You have a chance to fix the mistakes you made yesterday.
Finally, imagine yourself having the result you want. The night before a horse show, I’d imagine taking the jumps perfectly. It helped keep me focused on my goals.

Those are great tips! I think it's important to learn from our mistakes and keep going. Keeping a positive outlook certainly helps.

What was one of the biggest challenges you've had to face, and how did you overcome it?
Perhaps the biggest thing was learning to walk after my surgery that re-positioned my femur bone. Metal and screws held the bone in place so I didn’t need to wear a cast for a year. After the surgery, everything felt different and I had to learn to use muscles that had never worked before. Walking felt different. I’m extremely fortunate my parents encouraged me to keep working until I felt more comfortable with walking.  As with other things, it took lots of practice. 😊

I can't even imagine having to go through that. Kudos to you for persevering!

Two of the horses in your story, Little Man and Peach, were very dear to you. Can you share any funny stories about either of them that weren't mentioned in your book?
Little Man was a naughty little pony. He was fuzzy and plump. He looked completely innocent. I thought he understood everything I said to him. In the book, My Life at Sweetbrier, I said I gave him sugar cubes hoping to improve his behavior. He loved getting into trouble. He snuck out gate of the riding ring once while I was on him before I even noticed what he had in mind. Probably the funny thing was I thought he understood everything I said to him.
Peach had another friend besides my sister Holly’s pony, Dark N Fancy. His name was Almost, but we called him Mosty for short. His owner’s name was Betty. If Betty and Mosty were ahead of Peach and me while we were on a trail ride, Peach would gallop until she could see him again. She seemed to miss him right away.  After that, she’d be calm. The two of them liked to look for escape routes to the apple orchard across the street from our farm.
Whenever we prepared Peach for a big show, we did the usual things like bathing her, and braiding her mane and tail. But Holly wanted her to have something unique to make Peach stand out. Holly used a comb to make checkered patterns on Peach’s rump.  
Here’s a funny story not related to Peach or Little Man that I could have put in the book. My mom took me for physical therapy three times a week. When I was about 5 years old, we were on our way to the therapy clinic. We passed an elegant stone church and Mom said, “That’s where Mommy and Daddy got married. I started crying. Of course, my mom asked what was wrong and I said, “Mommy, I’ll never forgive you. You didn’t invite us.” She laughed so hard she almost ran off the road and hit a tree.

It's funny how animals understand what we're talking about. My dog, Schultz is like that. He pretends he clueless, but that's only because he's trying to get away with something!

That's hilarious that you got mad at your mom for not inviting you to her wedding. I'm glad she didn't hit the tree!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Even though I liked writing since childhood, I never had the confidence to try it until 2009. At the time, I had an intuition to try writing about growing up at Sweetbrier. The feeling didn’t lessen, so I finally decided to give it a try. My dad always said when you’re afraid to do something, consider the worst thing that could happen. I figured if I wrote a book that wasn’t published, I’d only need to improve it and try submitting it again.

I'm glad you followed your feeling. Sometimes those feelings are guides to what we should be doing. Now we have some great books from you!

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I think it’s important to follow your passion and use your natural skills. If you’d like to become an author, read as much as you can in your genre. Research publishing and decide it you’d like to self-publish or not. If you decide to become an author, let people know your book is coming out through social media. Finally, be sure to edit and revise your work until you feel it reflects your best effort. Don’t be discouraged by those who have negative comments. If becoming an author is your goal, go for it.

Revision is very important! Most of us don't write a perfect book on the first try. I think patience and persistence are key. 

Silly question:  If you could be one animal, what would it be and why?
Maybe I’d like to be a mixed-breed Pitbull who talks. I’d explain not to be afraid of my big head, because I have a good heart. We had a mixed breed Pitbull, Elliott, for 13.5 years. We rescued him and he was the best ever. Our sons chose him because they thought “He had character.” Elliott was at the pound for six months before we chose him. The people there said no one would even consider him once they saw the big head. We made him happy by putting him in some of my books. Someday I might write a picture book about Elliott.

Elliot is a cool character. I remember reading about him in one of your other books. I think it would be great to have a book about him. Maybe the theme could be not to judge someone by their appearance.

Thanks for joining us, Deanie. It's always great to chat with you!



My review of My Life at Sweetbriar:  5 Star  My Life at Sweetbrier, is author, Deanie Dunne's recounting of life at her childhood home–a horse farm in Connecticut. Deanie was born with cerebral palsy. For most people, that would be enough to deter them from ever riding a horse. But not for Deanie. Thanks to her father's "can do" philosophy, Deanie became a skilled rider, winning many riding competitions. It wasn't without challenges, though. Deanie shares the adversities she had to overcome and offers encouragement for others to do the same.

Written in a conversational style, readers can feel that Deanie is talking directly to them. Sprinkled throughout the book are photographs of Deanie as a young child and as a teenager with her horses. Young readers, ages 8-12, especially those who love horses, will enjoy this book. The message of perseverance even in the face of obstacles is an important one for everyone to learn. An inspiring book, highly recommended.

You can find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.






              photo by Bob Moseder
Bio for Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is an award-winning children’s book author with six books published at this time: My Life at Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog and Tails of Sweetbrier.  All of her books offer positive messages for children. Her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates all of her fictional books and designs the covers. All books are available on Kindle and paperback.
 My Life at Sweetbrier is an inspirational award-winning autobiography about a little girl whose one desire was to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. This book is a revised, expanded version of her first book, Tails of Sweetbrier.
Deanie is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature.  Her books have won a number of awards and recognition including her latest awards for My Life at Sweetbrier; The gold medal in the New Apple Book Awards, and the gold medal in the Mom’s Choice awards. Other awards are listed on Deanie’s website: www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com/

47 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for featuring me and my book, Sherry. I appreciate it and you always do a great job presenting posts on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! Always great to have you as a guest!

      Delete
  2. She has a great attitude!
    Re-learning to walk must've been challenging.
    Congratulations on the book, Deanie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Alex. I give most of the credit to my parents for guiding me the way they did.

      Delete
    2. She definitely has a great attitude!

      Delete
  3. Hooray for uplifting books, not many of those in recent years

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree. We need more books like Deanie's.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Desmond and Sherry. The goal is to inspire children with my books. I so appreciate your compliments.

      Delete
  4. This sounds like the kind of book I would have LOVED as a young girl. Inspirational? Horses? Oh yeah, I definitely would've loved it. So will my granddaughters. I'll check it out. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Susan. I grew up at a magical place. It was all horses-all the time. :) I'd love to know your thoughts on it.

      Delete
    2. Yes, horse lovers will love this book!

      Delete
  5. Her books always sound wonderfully inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you C. Lee. If you happen to read it, I'd love to know your thoughts, especially because this is my signature one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Sherry for a wonderful post and good luck to Deanie on her book. Wonderful to read.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Yvonne. Sherry did a great job presenting it and thinking of the questions.

      Delete
  8. Re-learning to walk sure is a big challenge indeed. Perseverance sure can push us through. New authors sure can't let any negative nelly's stop them indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congrats to Deannie. I admire her learning to ride. That was not for me as a kid. Learning to rewalk must have been hard but she has such a positive attitude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Natalie. As I mentioned earlier, I give the credit to my parents. My dad never accepted anything as fact if he thought he could change it.

      Delete
  10. Congratulations on the new book, Deanie. It sounds very inspiring and I love your outlook. I also love how horses have played a part in your life, they are such wonderful creatures. Wishing you much success.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mason. I think attitude plays a big part in the results you get. Horses were so important to me, but it was my dad's decision that changed everything.

      Delete
    2. She's lucky to have had the opportunity to work with horses like that!

      Delete
  11. Thanks for a great interview and the book sounds interesting and helpful for your people. Congratulations, Deanie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sage. I hope the story inspires children and their families to reach for their dreams,even against the odds.

      Delete
  12. After I had spine surgery with rods and fusion, everything felt different, and I had to relearn to walk, too. It was strange. I had to build up to walking further and further.

    Great interview. Congrats, Deanie!

    And hi, Sherry! :D

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you, Chys. So sorry you needed spinal surgery. It must have been a difficult recovery for you, but I hope you're fine now. So happy you enjoyed the interview.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A great interview and a great attitude! Really enjoyed this interview! All the best to you Deanie!!! Big Hugs!
    Hi Sherry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Magic Love Crow. So pleased you enjoyed the interview. Best wishes.

      Delete
    2. Hi Stacy! Deanie has an awesome attitude!

      Delete
  15. Thank you for featuring Deanie. Congratulations. Cool post, Sherry.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What an amazing story. Incorrigible horses ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow! What a story. Sounds amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks, Romance Reaader. So excited you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Congratulations to Deanie! And I liked your review- I needed one uplifting book today.

    Thank you for the great interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Sherry always does wonderful reviews. So honored to have hers for My Life at Sweetbrier.

      Delete
  20. So wonderful to meet Deanie. It was great to learn more about her. I am also a lover of horses. They each have their own distinct personality.

    I can't imagine having to learn to walk again. Definitely takes a lot of perseverance!

    Wishing Deanie the best of luck!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jess. Horses help so many people reach their goals. I'm blessed to be one of them. The best part is beating the odds. As I said earlier, my dad deserves the credit for making the decision that changed everything.

      Delete
    2. Horses are magnificent animals!

      Delete