Monday, June 18, 2012


Quote for the week:  Happiness often sneaks in a door you didn't know you left open. John Barrymore

I'm excited to interview my dear friend, Author Wanda Snow Porter. (From her site) I grew up on a small farm roaming the hills and riding horses along the California Coast, attended school in a nearby town, then married and stayed in this friendly community to raise a family.

I have two horses, Luis and Mick, and a cat named Smoocher. My love of animals, my experience as a horse trainer, and my passion for art and history led me to write stories for young people.

When I'm not writing, it's fun to photograph birds in my yard or help roundup cattle, watch cowboys rope and brand calves, and then have a barbecue.

Welcome, Wanda. Thanks for answering my questions.


I had to share this photo of Wanda and her cat that looks so much like my Tiger.

Bev: According to your biography, you lead a very interesting life. Besides training horses and writing books, you also are a docent at the Dana Adobe. Tell us what the Dana Adobe is and about your work there.

Wanda: Dana Adobe was the home of Captain William G. Dana and his wife Maria Josefa Carrillo de Dana. The old adobe was built on Rancho Nipomo, a thirty-eight- thousand acre rancho granted to Captain Dana by Mexico in 1837. Dana docents do lots of things, but mainly we give house tours, and help school children experience what life was like on the rancho over 150 years ago. Besides learning about the people who lived there, the kids who visit the adobe make tortillas and adobe bricks, dance Mexican dances, learn about roping and branding cattle, and many other interesting things.

Bev: You asked me about my favorite horse, so do you have a favorite horse?

Wanda: I’ve ridden and trained horses most of my life. Some were fancy show horses, others ranch horses. Each had a unique personality and some quality I really loved. The two horses I ride now are completely different. My retired dressage horse, Luis, is dependable, but somewhat lazy. My younger horse, Mick, has a more flighty nature, but is a good cow horse. I love them both. We’ve gone on many adventures together.

Bev: What’s the story behind your historical children’s book Spurs for Jose?

Wanda: As a Dana docent, I enjoy talking about the vaqueros who lived and worked on the rancho. Captain Dana was lucky to have the help of Native Americans who made adobe bricks, candles and soap, wove blankets, herded the sheep, and roped and branded the cattle. Without them, Dana couldn’t have built a house or managed his rancho, nor would there have been a hide and tallow trade in California. In most of the books I’ve read, these hard working people are nameless, and usually referred to as Indians or vaqueros. This inspired me to write a poem and give the vaqueros names. When I began to write the poem, the name José Rodriquez entered my mind. I felt like he was telling me his story, and instead of a poem, I wrote a historical novel, Spurs for José.

Bev: Describe your writing day. When did you start writing? What was your motivation? Morning or evening person? Do you outline or let the story flow?

Wanda: When writing a story, I don’t outline. My stories develop in layers. I start with an idea, knowing where I want to go with the plot, write the first draft, getting to know the characters better, and then go back and fill in details. I love doing a job that requires me to read. However, I never planned to be a writer. When teaching horseback riding, I started to write a list of safety rules for my young students, but instead, decided a story would be more fun and make it more likely they’d remember to be cautious around horses. That short story ended up in an anthology titled, Along the Way: Our Unique Relationship With Horses. Published for the benefit of young dressage riders, my payment was one copy of the book. When it arrived in the mail, I opened the package, and my story was included with one written by the famous author, Jane Smiley, and the dressage expert, Charles De Kunffy. What a thrill. I was hooked on writing.

Bev: Where did you get the idea for your forthcoming book Remedy? (Great cover by the way.)

Wanda: I fell in love with donkeys when writing and illustrating three picture books about the burros who lived at Dana Adobe. They were such humble, loveable animals, and smart, too. Remedy started out as a short story with a different title, written for one of my riding students who owned a donkey, about a desert burro captured by the Bureau of Land Management and put up for adoption. Then sometime later, Tim McGrew’s character sprung into my mind, and that short story grew into a novel about a boy and a wild burro who have difficulty adjusting to their new home. I’m not sure when Whimsical Publications will be releasing Remedy, but it will be sometime this year.

Bev: Anything you’d like to add for your readers?

Wanda: I hope they enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

Bev: Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Wanda: At Whimsical Publications:

My Website:

Dana Adobe:

About the Books:

Book Blurb for Spurs for José: José Rodriquez’s papa says he must help tame Rancho Grande’s wild colts. He knew this day would come, for on the Alta California rancho, being a vaquero and training horses was his family’s tradition. Vaqueros’ horsemanship and roping skills were legendary and their lives full of danger. Many vaqueros had been killed or crippled while riding the mustangs. Did he have enough courage to ride the wild ones and measure up to his papa’s expectations?

Book Blurb for Remedy: Everything in thirteen-year-old Tim McGrew’s life stinks. It was bad enough his dad left, but even worse, he must move to his grandparent’s remote ranch on Nowhere Mountain, leave his friends and school behind, and give up playing baseball. He loves his whacky grandma and enjoyed summer visits at the ranch backpacking and horseback riding with his grandpa. But now Grandpa is dead. And Tim and his dog, Tiny, are the only males in a house full of women. To top off his problems, Grandma adopts a wild burro from the Bureau of Land Management and expects him to train it. Tim hopes it’s true that Grandpa’s ghostly vibes still linger around the ranch, because he needs help taming the long-eared donkey with a noisy bray, and even more important, needs advice on how to get his parents back together.

Thanks again for visiting with us today, Wanda.

I highly recommend Spurs for Jose (which I reviewed awhile back) and look forward to reading Remedy when it comes out.

Happy reading.


  1. Thanks, Bev. I enjoyed doing the interview, and now I know we have cats in common too.

  2. Yes, it's amazazing how much our cats look alike. Tiger is the little stray that adopted us last summer. He's been sick a lot, but he's finally healthy enough to play like a cat.

  3. It's nice to meet you both. What a nice interview, Bev and Wanda. I love your cat; he looks like my grandkitty. I live in an old great lakes ship captain's house. It always sounds so interesting to say. Your books look exciting!

  4. Hi Lisa. Another cat lover. Great. Thank you. Wanda's life is fascinating to me. Sounds like you have a story about your home too.

    Appreciate your stopping by. Have a nice evening.

  5. Hi,Lisa. Your house does sound interesting.Dana Adobe is a ship captain's house too.

  6. I just love how a list of rules became a story so the kids would remember better. That's such a good idea, and it's great to think it's published now.

    I really enjoyed the interview and wish you much success! :-)

  7. Wanda--such a nice intereview. I admire you for writing for the age group who read Spurs for Jose--quite a feat, and I applaud you. I've toyed with the idea of writing for this age group, but that's all I've done--toyed.
    I've read about the Dana Adobe house--I love to see how others lived, so I know I'd love this one.
    There's always much history with such a place, just brimming with story ideas!
    Best of luck to you.

  8. Thanks, Lexa and Celia. Writing a story instead of making a list was much more fun for me too. The old adobe has many stories to tell, and we're still learning about the people who lived there. When I do house tours, I talk about the Dana family, but since I'm a horsewoman that is married to a cattle rancher, my favorite stories are about the vaqueros.

  9. I love the way the dog is looking at the donkey on the cover of Remedy. That's precious!

  10. These books sounds wonderful. I was really captured by Remedy's cover. Very sweet.

  11. I agree, Kelly. The dog is a cutie. Makes me want to learn more about him and the rest of the characters.

  12. I'm looking forward to reading Remedy, Lee. Love stories with animals in them.

  13. I love the cover too. Whimsical Publication's cover artist, Traci Markou, is great. Besides creating book covers, she's a publisher, writer, and operates a small farm that provides products for a restaurant that she and her husband own.

  14. Thank you for following Swoon Worthy Books and helping me get to 200. New follower of your blog. :)

  15. Hi Golden. Glad to help. Thanks for following me.

  16. I love your cat. We had one just like him for 17 years. Now we have an orange one. I'm a follower now.

  17. The cat is precious isn't he, Penny? Reminds me of my Tiger.

    Thanks for following my blog.

  18. Penny, we love our cat too, and he rules the house. I'd never had an indoor cat before, and had no idea how smart cats were until we adopted him.