The Orange Slipknot
Starting the Colt
By Jan Young
Fiction: Middle grade to adult
I was born as Janice Neufeld and grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento, California, with one older sister. My parents made sure my life was filled with books and music, but they didn't like animals. I managed to talk them into small pets like a chipmunk, a tiny turtle, and a parakeet. Then I talked them into a cat and eventually a couple of dogs, which didn't work out too well. Although I dreamed of having a horse, I settled for rental horses and riding lessons.
I was a good student but extremely shy. I always had my nose in a book. My other interests and activities centered around church and music. I took piano lessons from age nine through the end of college and began teaching piano when I was 15.
I graduated from El Camino High School in 1969, and in 1973 from Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, California with a major in Behavioral Science and minors in Bible and Music. I later took a course in writing for children through the Institute of Children's Literature. Over the years, I have often served as a pianist and teacher at church.
My husband and I raised our two boys near Winnemucca, Nevada (Paradise Valley and Orovada). Northern Nevada--full of cattle ranches and hay growers--is known as "cow country." We never had our own ranch, but my husband day-worked on many local ranches. Living an hour from town, I was a stay-at-home mom. I always had a few piano students, and when the boys started school, I worked part-time at school as an aide, substitute teacher, or tutor for homebound students. We even home-schooled two years. I began seriously writing in the late '80s (my mid-thirties). After selling fiction and nonfiction articles and stories to magazines for children and adults, I starting writing books. I continued to play and teach in church, and taught ladies' Bible study.
When the boys graduated and left home, I had time to help my husband with the horse business more, becoming involved with giving lessons and clinics. Besides my piano students, I had other part-time jobs--working at a store/deli, and running the rural mail route once a week. Eventually we moved to Winnemucca, where I've subbed and worked as a Remediation Tutor, and continue to teach piano and play at church. At work, literacy training and reading with students of various grade levels have imcreased my awareness of the elements of good books. My involvement with teaching, horses, and ranch culture have all contributed to my writing, particularly to The Orange Slipknot and Starting the Colt.
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