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What does AUTHORING CHANGE really mean? In the following interview, Terri Farley explains.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Debby: Today, I am honored to host Terri Farley, author of the PHANTOM STALLION series and SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA.
Thank you for being here today to talk about giving back. I know you speak and write of Authoring Change. As I understand it, you use this term to describe how you are creating change through your writing and actions. How did you come up with this term--and can you explain more about it?
Terri: A few years ago, one of my young readers -- Christy from Texas -- emailed me that national legislation had just slashed the protection of America's wild horses. I told her it was probably just an Internet rumor, but I was wrong. Mustang slaughter, hidden in an appropriations bill, was voted in. Within the hour it took me to discover Christy was right, I'd received an avalanche of emails from Phantom Stallion readers asking what I was going to do about it. Those readers had a lot more faith in my ability to "do something" than I in fact had, but, together, we launched a Hearts for Horses campaign, and I ended up taking over 1,000 heavily illustrated Valentine's Day letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
When writer Lori Conforti interviewed me about the campaign, she talked about "authoring change." I loved the succinct way her phrase described what was happening between me and my readers. I asked if I could please borrow it and she generously said "yes."
Debby: Your readers have faith in you because they know you care and not only that, but they know you will take action. You have worked so hard to save mustangs from slaughter. Can you tell us more about the plight of the wild mustang?
Phantom's New Haunts
A magnificent white stallion that shares his name and appearance with the star character in a book series for young readers has moved from Nevada to the north state.
Phantom now haunts the Wild Horse Sanctuary near Shingletown.
"He probably thinks he's in heaven," said Terri Farley, the
Reno-based author of the 24-volume Phantom Stallion series.
In SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA, many readers meet Pacific sea lions for the first time. Among
the largest and most intelligent predators in the sea, sea lions spend their days hunting,
playing, caring for their young -- and coping with human assault on their environment.
The cuddly-looking creature in my arms is Midori. I was researching sea lions at a marine mammal rescue center when Midori was found alone on the beach. A three-day-old orphan, she would starve if someone didn't get her to eat from a bottle.
But she was a wild thing, and smart. She fought fiercely against all human contact, but staff members were willing to let me take a turn.
Midori and I were together for two hours. I coaxed. She struggled, knowing full well that synthetic nipple was not her mother.
Finally, Midori sobbed sounds that were heartbreakingly like a baby crying itself to sleep. In that moment between wakefulness and sleep, she began suckling from the bottle. Then I was the one with tears in my eyes, because it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
How Terri Farley and Her Readers are Making a Difference
By Lori Conforti
Terri Farley, Nevada author of the successful Phantom Stallion series, became involved in protecting
wild horses, not through her writing, but through her readers. Terri often receives over 100 emails
a day from her readers. But a recent email from Christy in Texas stood out. Christy asked about a
provision placed in House Bill 4818 that would erase the protections afforded to wild horses since
the passage of the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. At the time, Terri had not heard
of the issue, but she promised to investigate.
Well, as Terri looked into the issue, more emails poured
in from concerned readers. Terri kept her readers informed by posting information on her Phantom
Stallion website. Most of the Phantom Stallion readers range in age from 8 to 14 years old. They
wanted to do something to change the law but felt intimidated by the process of contacting their
government representatives. So, her readers appealed to Ms. Farley to help them. Even Harper
Collins, the Phantom Stallion publisher, helped publicize the issue. They sent out over 200
press releases and were understanding as the issue began to take away some of Terri's writing
As a child, Terri participated in Wild Horse Annie's letter writing campaign that prompted
the 1971 law to protect wild horses. She knew the power children could have when they cared about
an issue. So, Ms. Farley arranged a meeting with Nevada Senator Harry Reid where she presented
over 1,000 letters and several petitions sent to her by readers from all over the world. Terri
witnessed a magical moment when Senator Reid randomly chose one letter to read from Crystal in
Australia. He marveled at Crystal's eloquence and asked if all the letters were like this. Terri
answered that they were -- her readers wrote from the heart. As Terri explained, "Kids who read
have a knack for writing and they know the power of words." Senator Reid took the letters back
to Washington and has planned to respond to these impassioned youth.
While Ms. Farley has felt
most comfortable writing at home with her cat curled in her lap, taking the step into lobbying
was important for her. Her readers were counting on her. As Terri put it, she knew the value of
"speak[ing] up, even if your voice shakes." She drew upon her experience as a teacher and a
writer to help deliver the messages from her readers. The hardest part in all this for Terri
has been that she cannot control the outcome of this issue. As a writer, she could write a great
ending. As a teacher, she could create a positive lesson plan. As a lobbyist, all she could do
was present the opinions of her readers and hope they will learn that they can be heard and they
can make a difference.
Lori Conforti is a freelance writer living in Sparks, Nevada.
The Wild and
Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act
In 1971, Congress passed a wild horse protection bill, largely due to the efforts of Wild
Horse Annie and a letter writing campaign. Thousands of children, including Terri Farley, wrote to
Congress expressing their concern for the protection of an American icon. At the time, estimates
placed the numbers of wild horses and burros at 60,000, down from 2 million at the turn of the
century. The actions of Wild Horse Annie and the children helped spur the passage of the federal
Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA). Today, the BLM estimates there are 37,000
wild horses and burros roaming Western public lands.
Yet, in December 2004, Senator Conrad Burns
(R-Mont.) added a rider to the omnibus spending bill that allows for the sale and slaughter of
wild horses older than 10 years or those horses not adopted after three times. The first sale of
horses under Section 142 of Public Law 108-447 (which became law in December 2004) occurred March
1, 2005. The Wild Horses Wyoming Company purchased 200 mares and stated they were committed to
finding them long-term homes. However, many of the companies that purchase wild horses kill them
for human consumption. The Animal Welfare Institute reports, In 2003, according to USDA records
50,564 horses were killed in the US alone for human consumption. In addition, many thousands of
live horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. While there is no market for
horsemeat in the US, many foreign countries have large markets, including France, Italy, Mexico
Currently, Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) have introduced
H.R. 297, a bill that restores all the protections in the Wild Horse Act. Senator Robert
Byrd (D-WV) has introduced a companion bill, S. 576, in the Senate.
Find Out More
Visit these websites for further discussion of this issue:
Find the exact language of the rider in the omnibus budget bill at
Read how the BLM is implementing the new wild horse authority at
To see how Terri Farley's readers have made a difference visit her website at
To learn more about Wild Horse Annie visit
This article was first published in the April 2005 issue of ZEPHYR,
the online newsletter of the Nevada SCBWI.
NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HELPING WILD HORSES?
AMERICAN HORSE DEFENSE FUND --
This group goes to court, Congress, etc., on behalf of the horses and always has up-to-date news on the fight to protect equines -- domesticated and free.
Last Chance Ranch -- Helping wild horses -- especially orphan foals -- in Burns, Oregon
The Cloud Foundation --
Documentary film maker Ginger Kathrens does all she can to protect Cloud and his herd
Wild Horse Spirit Ltd Home -- Terri has done hands-on work with these ladies and the wild horses they rescue
The Wild Horse Sanctuary -- this group not only rescues wild horses, they take rides out so that people can see them AND when you get older, you might be able to get one of their summer internships to work with wild horses!!!
Return to Freedom -- Home to The American Wild Horse Sanctuary, a non-profit animal sanctuary and educational retreat in Lompoc, California.