Guest Post: Deborah Rubin – Life is a Puzzle
Deborah & I boarded at the same barn years ago when the world was young. Since I am all for text that I don’t have to write, I asked her for a guest post. She talks about her life with horses and as a puzzle book writer. Welcome Deborah:
Hi, my name is DebandToby and I’ll be your guest blogger for the day. Actually, my name is Deborah Eve Rubin, which revelation will make sense a little further on. I have to confess I haven’t owned a horse in over 10 years, and it’s a little longer than that since I’ve actually been able to get on a horse. I am not grounded by choice. *sigh*
The first horse I owned was from the bowels of hell itself. I sent him to auction after a year, where he reared up and went over backwards, and sometimes manage to truly forget I ever owned him.
My next horse, Priney (short for Princess) was a welsh/TB cross. Your daily blogger wrote a wonderful piece on her in the May 2012 issue of Horse Illustrated. But the photo they used wasn’t my pony. I was rather annoyed at that, and wrote a letter to the editor but have received no reply. My last horse was an Arabian stallion, Chief Comanche. Well, he was gelded at age 14 after failing to get my mare pregnant three years in a row, but he was always a stallion in his own mind. We had our problems, but he was incredible. He really took care of me at the end when my spine/nerve problem had progressed to the point I was almost unable to climb the mounting block to get on him. I had long since given up trying to put a saddle on him, lifting it was just too hard; I felt more secure bareback anyway. When I had a severe muscle spasm, he could feel it coming on before I could and stood stock still, except to move under me if I started sliding off to one side or another. I was blessed with two once-in-a-lifetime horses, and I am still grateful. Priney went to the Bridge at age 23, and Chief at 26.
I have been given free rein (no pun intended) to pick my own topic. So, I’m going to talk about my puzzle books (and a couple of other books). All are out of print, but probably available on Amazon. They are If Wishes Were Horses – Quotations and Proverbs for Horsepeople (published by Mountain Press Publishing); the following published by the now defunct Half Halt Press: Horse Trivia a Hippofile’s Delight; Hidden Horses: 101 Puzzles, Games and Quizzes; Hidden Horses 2: 101 More Puzzles Games and Quizzes; and The Big Book of Hidden Horses. Which is not good. It was supposed to be two books, another trivia book and a third Hidden Horses book. What turned out was a mess; I’ll probably be using the trivia in that book and my first trivia book, at least in part, in the book I’m working on now. Which I know will never be published, but I persevere. Keeps me sane. Well, sort of sane. (I self-published Hidden Horses 3 the way it was supposed to be in a limited edition, of which I only have my one copy left.)
I also write puzzles – mostly word search – for magazines. It’s not as easy as one might think, especially when you’ve got restrictions on grid size and number of clues required. And to come up with literally hundreds of puzzles on the same topic, it can get hairy. But the benefit of writing for a specific audience, like horsepeople, is that you can assume some previous knowledge of the subject and therefore throw in cross-words, criss-crosses, quizzes, and other variations on a theme, as well as word search puzzles. For more general audiences word search puzzles are easiest, as the clues are right there. Easiest to solve, that it, not necessarily to write.
I’ve been writing word search puzzles for Linn’s Stamp News, a weekly newspaper for stamp collectors, since 1988, and the difficulty there isn’t picking topics, but picking topics which have appeared on enough postage stamps to make a decent puzzle.
For my first book, I actually used a manual typewriter and carbon paper, and had to retype an entire page (or more) if made a mistake. Then I moved to an electronic typewriter – still using carbon paper and re-typing pages; then I finally moved on to a computer. My first computer was little more than than a glorified word-processor, but compared to what I had been using, it was delightful! Then came the PC, in several incarnations, and now the laptop. I hope this is it for a while.
I worked on that first puzzle book at the same time as I was shopping around the manuscript. It took 10 years. Half-Halt Press wasn’t even in business when I started writing that first book. Now, I need to find a publisher to pick up the books I’ve already written, and get them back in print.They all sold out their original print runs so someone must have liked them. (Anyone happen to know or be a publisher?)
Thank you for reading my attempt at a blog, and thanks to my gracious hostess who invited me.
Hidden Horses 3: Puzzles, Word Games and Quizzes. Completely revised and expanded. Rockville, MD: self-published, 2011
The Big Book of Hidden Horses: Puzzles, quizzes, trivia & more. Boonsboro, MD: Half Halt Press, 2006 [book review]
If Wishes Were Horses: Quotations and Proverbs for Horsepeople. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press, 1995
Horse Trivia A Hippofile’s Delight. Boonsboro, MD: Half Halt Press, 1995
Hidden Horses 2: 101 More Puzzles, Games & Quizzes. Boonsboro, MD: Half Halt Press, 1994
Hidden Horses: 101 Puzzles, Games and Quizzes. Middletown, MD: Half-Halt Press, 1991
“Horses on the Internet: Equine On-Line Sites Part II” in Miniature Horse Voice, vol. 8 no. 7 (May 2001), pp. 32-34
“Horses on the Internet: Equine On-Line Sites Part I” in Miniature Horse Voice, vol. 8 no. 6 (April 2001), p. 17
“The Guppy” in Topical Time, vol. 50 no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1999), p.34-35
“Horse-Drawn Vehicles” in Topical Time, vol. 43 no. 4 (July-Aug. 1992), p. 25-28
“Philatelic Horses of Myth and Legend” in Topical Time, vol. 43 no. 3 (May-June 1992), p.26-27
“Inclusive or Exclusive? One Viewpoint” in Topical Time, vol. 42 no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1991), p.58-60
“Collies on Stamps” in DOSSU Journal, July-Sept. 1990, p.4-6
“Collies on Postage Stamps” in Topical Time, vol. 41 no. 4 (July-Aug. 1990), p.21-23
“Horseman’s Guide to Acronyms and Abbreviations” in 1989 Horseman’s Service Directory and Desk Reference, 1988, p.12-13
“Library Policy/Procedure Manual” for Information Systems and Networks, Corporate Headquarters, Bethesda, MD, 1989
“Library Policy/Procedure Manual” for the Research and Technical Services Division Library, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C., 1989
PUZZLES, WORD GAMES, QUIZZES (The detailed list runs to 20+ pages.)
My puzzles have appeared in the following publications:
AHPA News, 1993
American Miniaturist, 2005
The Bibliophile, 1987
The Chronicle of the Horse, 1985, 1988
The DOSSU Journal, 1991
Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, 1996, 2004
Friends of Doctor Who Newsletter, 1989, 1992 – 1994
The Gaited Horse, 1999
Horse Country, 1986
HorseWorld USA, 1989
ISN Library News, 1990
Linn’s Stamp News, regular contributor since 1988, Contributor Bios
Miniature Collector, 1997
Miniature Horse Voice, 1996
Miniature Quilts, 1999
Of Sea and Shore, 1991
Rural Heritage, 1998
Stable Kids, 1999
Topical Time, 1996 – 1998