Tuesday, July 17, 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Baby Deanie
Tell me about your love of horses. When did it begin for you?

My parents owned a riding school called
Sweetbrier.  They moved there when I was a 
baby so as long as I can remember, I wanted to ride well and compete in horse shows. I started riding at about four years old before I could walk very well.

I was born prematurely. At first, doctors said I would be slow at meeting certain milestones. I talked in complete sentences at one-year-old, but when I wasn’t walking at nearly four, my dad took me to a specialist. The doctor said I’d never walk. As you can imagine, my dad was not pleased. He was a determined person who never accepted something he thought he could change. 

Therefore, my dad picked me up and stormed out of the office. My dad told me not to worry about what the doctor said because it was wrong.  Daddy said he’d teach me to ride and I’d be fine. It was the decision that changed my life because I learned to walk and began working toward my dream of becoming an equestrian champion. Incidentally, I always referred to my dad, as “Daddy” because nothing else fit. We had a special bond.

What is your handicap? What specific struggles did you have early on that made it difficult to fulfill your dream?

I was born with cerebral palsy. It means part of my brain was damaged when I was born. In my case, it only affects my legs, not my arms or speech. At first, it was a struggle to take one step without falling. I don’t believe most parents would have considered riding horses when walking was a considerable challenge in the beginning. When I started learning to walk, I could only walk a step without falling, but gradually, my balance improved.

I loved being with the horses so I used to navigate the stairs by sitting down. Then I crawled to the barn, which was probably 500 feet away. 

Sweetbrier House
When I started to ride, I fell off many times because the muscles in my legs got tired and I’d slide off. But over time, things improved.

How did others support you (or not) in your dream? Besides your family, did you have friends who encouraged you to continue?

I was bullied at school often. Only one girl in my class even spoke to me. She is the little girl Mary, I mention early in the book, My Life at Sweetbrier. When I was a teenager, I taught horseback riding at Sweetbrier. Many of our students encouraged me and cheered for me whenever I competed in shows.

Peach and Deanie at Mrs. Foster's farm
Photo by Bob Moseder
Was there ever a moment when you thought, "I just can't do it anymore"? And if so, what or who encouraged you to continue?

There were times when I felt discouraged and frustrated. But the family motto was “The Humphrys don’t give up” so surrendering my dream was never an option. My parents always said certain things would take longer, but I could do anything if I persevered. I had faith that someday I’d reach my goal if I kept working on it.

My Life at Sweetbrier is written in a conversational style so although it’s my story, the objective is to show other children may also beat the odds through perseverance.

Thank you so much for interviewing me today, Kathryn.

You're welcome. Where can readers find your book?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

LightShade is coming!

Book 1 in the Aaden Prescott Space Adventure series is coming in September of 2018

Beginning of the End

You'll probably hate me, but I don't care. Most people on Earth hate me already, and if you're reading this book, you are one of the few who escaped. Wait, that can't be right.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It all started with the newscast. I don't usually listen to the news, but there it was that day like fire. My mom was making dinner and I was playing with Legos. If you remember how Legos used to be, you'll be surprised that I heard anything, but that day, that day I'll never forget, we were told the horrifying truth.
Mercury was on its way to Earth. Not to visit, if you get my drift, but to crash land. At first, I laughed it off, but then I remembered it wasn't April Fool's Day. It was August 1. It was hotter outside than the heater running, or fire lighting up a swimming pool.  If I told you I wasn't scared, I'd be lying.
Mom hadn't heard it. But I blinked at the projected flat screen in shock. Sure enough, the words repeated themselves. "Prepare yourselves," the man said. He had fake hair on the top of his head to look real and a frown on his face that was so wide, I knew that if he could be tipped upside down, the smile I'd get would be as big as anyone would give if they’d received what they wanted for Christmas.
Except – this wasn't Christmas. It felt like the stuff I'd learned in Sunday school about the Earth ending and the apocalypse. Except, it wasn't that, or was it?
I dropped the Lego I was holding. It was green. I still remember the color because of what happened afterward. If you don't believe in little green men, you should. And you should believe in UFOs, patches in the grass in the shape of circles, and the movie ET.
But I'm forgetting already.
My Mom looked at me in shock. "What?" she asked, even though I’d told her the truth as calmly as possible. My hands were shaking, but I hid them in my jean pockets so she wouldn't know the complete truth.
Some things are better for a mom not to know.
So, I told her again.
She laughed.
I got mad.
She laughed harder. And then she looked into my eyes. Really looked, you know the way moms do when they think their boy has messed up or told a lie to their brother. I don't have a brother, but I know these things.
She said, "Really, Aaden.”
I'd been told about my 'imagination' since the time I knew what people were saying. And I knew something else – something so terrible, that, up until that night and the newscast, I thought it was the most horrifying thing I would ever hear.
"Aaden… really. What fire are you going to start now?"
I'd been told about the meaning of my name for years. Now that I was ten, I was beyond tired of hearing it. I suppose you want to know what my name means as if you really care, but maybe it will be of some interest to you after you hear what the newscaster told us next. For, after I got Mom to leave the kitchen and come into the living room – which took some effort I can tell you – she stood with her mouth open, as if I'd told her I was going to leave home or something.
But then again, we were all going to have to leave home – and soon – or we'd be scorched.
So, here it is. Two years ago, when I was bored and really had to know the truth for myself, I went to Mom's computer, and put in the spoken password I wasn't supposed to know.
I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. "Someone like fire,” the computer said.
I looked into my mom's eyes now, and the television was still blaring the news of Mercury. We had only two weeks to find safety.