Excitement was surrounding us. I studied Medical Coding with the hope of securing a job using my new skills. I worked tirelessly preparing for the daunting final exam and scored well. I even got a letter of recommendation from the school for scoring in the top ten percent. But actually being hired was far more difficult than I imagined. It seems that people were hesitant to hire a Medical Coding person who had no experience. Naturally, this adventure didn’t end the way I hoped it would. What path should I take now?
One morning in 2009 I was startled by a strong intuition prompting me to write a story about my childhood at Sweetbrier Farm, the riding school my parents owned. Should I dismiss this feeling? The intuition was relentless. I felt a new excitement because it might be an opportunity to inspire children. Years earlier I enrolled at the Institute of Children’s Literature, but I never had the confidence to plunge into the uncertain world of becoming an author. While I was still sorting through my feelings I remembered my dad’s advice. He always said, “When you’re afraid to try something, think of the worst that can happen.” Following his recommendation, I decided the most traumatic thing possible would be no one would publish the story, so I would improve it. It’s most unlikely that I’d pass away from not having a story accepted, so I embarked on the new journey to create my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier.
One important lesson I learned about creating an engaging story is that you need an opening that captivates your reader, particularly when you write for children. If the opening is boring, your book will be nothing but a dust collector from that moment on.
Here is my opening paragraph for Tails of Sweetbrier:
“Have you ever really wanted to do something but you came across a road block of some kind? Maybe you are afraid of new things, or maybe you have a physical challenge. Are you going to follow your dream or are you going to push it aside without really trying? You have to make a difficult choice. I made that choice once and it changed my whole life, by giving me experiences I would never have had if I took the easy street and had not tried.”
Tails of Sweetbrier is an autobiography of a little girl who wanted to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. What happened when doctors told my parents I would never walk? My dad refused to accept this diagnosis. I still remember him carrying me out of the office that day.
He said, “Just because the doctor said that, it doesn’t mean he’s right. I’m going to teach you to ride and you will be fine.”
My dad and I faced many challenges together. We proved that the doctors were unquestionably wrong. There were days when I’d fall off my horse multiple times, but he taught me I that giving up was not an option. If you have a passion, you must pursue it. I do believe that anything is possible if you persevere and Tails of Sweetbrier is proof that anything can happen if you refuse to give up on your dreams. You can imagine how excited we all were when my first story was accepted by the publisher after only a few days of nail biting and sitting on pins and needles! When I wrote this story I wanted to diminish what I had accomplished and emphasize you can also realize your dreams so I wrote it as if I was talking to the reader. Here is the closing statement:
“Suppose your friends say you can’t do something. If my parents had listened to the doctor who said I would never walk, think of what I would have missed. I wouldn’t have learned to ride or jump. I wouldn’t have known Peach. We wouldn’t have become champions together. You have the power to make your dreams come true so reach for them and don’t accept anything less!”
No matter what journey you’re experiencing, remember you can do much more than you ever imagined if you persevere.
By Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
Author of Tails of Sweetbrier
All Deanie’s books are available at: