And while you’re there, give it a bookmark or subscribe for updates. I’m switching away from the how-to Disney blog and moving into travel narratives. Get a taste of the new style with my Fort Wilderness walk, posted last week. I’m toying with the idea of a collection of Walt Disney World stories at the end of 2015!
In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from my full review, posted to GoodReads. Are we friends on GoodReads? Click through below and be sure to add me!
Disneylanders takes on a big topic–when are we too old for Disneyland? Is it crazy and childish to be in love with a theme park? Are we foolishly surrounded by fake bricks and fiberglass facades, or does our love for this place of dreams still have a valid role in our adult lives? And in the midst of a budding first romance and the need to get away from our parents and strike out for freedom, don’t we still all belong together, as a family, while we’re at Disneyland?
Casey is on vacation with her parents–the same Disneyland vacation they have taken year after year, but this year, things feel different. She feels pressure to grow up–possibly into a person she doesn’t really like, as her (former) best friend has done. Her parents seem more annoying and overbearing than ever before, and when she meets a teenage guy named Bert (a delightfully dorky reference to Mary Poppins that they both get), Casey finds herself embarking on her first act of teenage rebellion. There are worse places than Disneyland to do that sort of thing, I suppose.
As you, the reader, follow her characters through a tumultuous two days in Disneyland, you feel every emotion, see every land, even smell the churros and popcorn. No opportunity to examine the way that Disneyland makes us feel is ever wasted.
I’m happy to announce a new short story has been published! Beginning today with the Holiday 2014 issue of Equestrian Culture Magazine, you’ll find an exclusive short story written especially for ECM’s readers.
This issue’s story is Two Runaways, a story set at a horse rescue and adoption agency. I had such a wonderful time crafting the main character’s voice, trying to find the right language to express Beth’s background and personality. She was a very real character to me from the minute the idea for the story came into my head. I could even hear her voice, accent and all, in my head, and it was my challenge to write the story in her words, not mine.
Anyone who knows me even slightly knows that Disney and horses are pretty much equal in my affections. And so when I had a few days at Walt Disney World without any plans to visit the theme parks, naturally I went straight to where the Disney horses live: Tri-Circle-D Ranch.
Anyone in the Orlando area can swing by and meet Disney’s famous horses, from the little Welsh ponies that pull Cinderella’s coach, to the massive Percherons and Clydesdales who pull carriages and trolleys at the parks and resorts. They live at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort & Campground, in a guest area called The Settlement.
Just getting to the Settlement is fun — I walked on a nature trail from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (another hotel) but you can also take a ferry boat from the Magic Kingdom’s main entrance. There’s an internal bus system from a central parking lot if you really just want to drive, but where’s the fun in that?
Once you’re there — Disney horses galore! I wrote about it over at ThatDisFamily.com, where I blog about Disney and family life. Take a look, and make sure you head over to Ft. Wilderness for some horse time on your next visit to Central Florida.
Society awards a certain level of sophistication to the act of typing. Writing longhand is so eighteenth century. You’re writing in a notebook? Why not just pull out a feather quill and some foolscap? (Note: I don’t actually know what foolscap is. I’ve just read it for years and years and assumed it’s a kind of paper.)
Of course there are layers and layers within this typer’s sophistication. There’s the cafe full of people furiously typing away at MacBooks, surreptitiously checking their Facebook when they don’t think anyone is looking, securing their spot and their computer with eye contact and a nod with the neighboring typer when nature calls (all those lattes have to go somewhere).
I’ve been part of that scene, and for a long time I thought it was the most sure way to identify myself as a writer. You feel like a writer, when you’ve shrugged off your sweater and you’re sipping lukewarm coffee and your fingers are flying across your MacBook’s keys. It’s like going to the office. It’s more official than when you sit on your couch in your pajamas.
(NOTE: I am currently sitting on my couch, in my pajamas.)
Some people take the typing obsession a bit further and get a typewriter. Typewriters require a certain amount of confidence — you’re clipping along at a good pace, just like on a computer, but without the safety net of a delete button. Of course, they’re not socially acceptable in cafes. (Although I could see a typewriter cafe being extremely popular in Brooklyn, and now that I think of it, I’m kind of shocked that this is not a thing. Can you imagine the noise level? They could issue earplugs at the door, I suppose.)
But what both typewriters and computers get wrong is speed. Too much speed. Typing fast is a modern accomplishment. And it’s great for certain kinds of work, like taking notes or hammering out a bunch of emails that don’t require a lot of wordsmithing.
I type too fast. The WPM averages that I took such pride in during my 7th grade Business Applications class are not good for my novels. When I’m in a typing groove, fingers flying, delete button hardly in play, I can get down thousands of words in an hour. The problem is that I’m writing with a total lack of caution.
Which sounds great, until two hours later when I sit back, crack my knuckles, and realize that I’ve gone so far off the rails that I either have to rewrite my entire book to accommodate the detour my plot has taken, or do a substantial amount of deleting.
The crazy thing is, this just keeps happening. I keep on giving in to the seductive Cult of Typing, slipping into a booth at my local cafe and joining the typing legions. I write for an hour or two, smile, do it again the next day, smile, and a few days later I look at the work and try to figure out how it’s heading towards the ultimate conclusion and realize… I’ve done it again.
I have a stack of documents on my hard drive now that are painful to think about, most of them relating to Turning For Home, the upcoming (supposedly, if I could nail it down) novel in the Alex and Alexander series. They’re well-written (some of them are downright fantastic) and I can’t just dismiss them. But some of them, eventually, won’t fit into the narrative. That’s brutal to think about. (I love my words!)
All of this, of course, could be avoided if I would just learn my lesson and stick to longhand for first drafts. Longhand isn’t necessarily sophisticated. It doesn’t give me that Look I’m a Professional Writer look. It makes my right hand ache and I’ll probably end up with arthritis.
But longhand is slow enough, even when I’m scribbling, that I have more time to think about my words. And so unlike typing, which allows me to throw words onto the screen with abandon, emphasizing quantity over quality, longhand creates measured, thoughtful sentences from the very first draft. Scenes that open and close in perfect rhythm. Characters who stop and think instead of just chattering their way through a dialogue.
And I can still write in longhand while sitting on my couch, wearing pajamas.
Every time I write a book, I come back to my notebooks and my pens and my aching hand as I slowly write it all down in longhand. I don’t know why I keep trying to do it all on the computer. I suppose I’m trying to save time. But if there’s one thing that should never, ever be hurried, it’s a work of fiction. I’m posting this here to remind me of that.
Thanks to a shipping delay, I have a lovely box full of paperbacks of Ambition sitting in my office. They weren’t in time for Equine Affaire, but at least they’re just in time for Christmas, right?
If you’d like a signed copy of Ambition, here is your opportunity. Just email me at email@example.com to reserve your copy and arrange shipping.
Ambition retails for $16.95 and shipping will be $5.00 for the first book, with any additional copies shipping for $3.00 each.
Since I don’t run my own online store (as of yet) this is a rare opportunity to order signed copies of Ambition without coming to a book event. So send me an email and get your copies now! There’s a very limited number and once they’re gone, it will be a few months before I have anymore in stock.
Ambition would make an ideal gift for any equestrian who appreciates the daily struggle to become a better horseman. With a strong female lead who isn’t about to let the world smack her down, Ambition is all about finding out what matters most to us, charting a course towards a goal everyone thinks is impossible — then swinging into the saddle, grabbing mane, and kicking on.
This is the weekend! I’ll be at Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday and Sunday, signing books and meeting equestrians from all over the country!
If you’re coming to Equine Affaire, be sure to look for Taborton Equine Books. That’s where you’ll find a wonderful selection of equestrian titles… plus signings from other great authors like Maggie Dana, who writes the Timber Ridge Riders series.
Here’s our schedule for the weekend. I can’t wait to meet you!
Horse lovers, rejoice! If you love reading about horses, come visit the Horse Lovers Blog Tour and get to know your new favorite authors.
Put together through the hard work of Young Adult author Tudor Robins, who has written several books for horse lovers, the Horse Lovers Blogs Tour brings together Equestrian Writers who have combined their passion for horses with their passion for story-telling. We’re all committed to one common cause–to write horse books for horse lovers of all ages.
At the blog tour, you’ll find:
-Karen McGoldrick, author of The Dressage Chronicles series (she’ll also be hosting a giveaway).
-Barbara Morgenstern, author of many books for all ages, including the excellent Bittersweet Farm novels.
-Natalie Keller Reinert, that’s me!
-Tudor Robins, author of Appaloosa Summer and Objects in Mirror
-Karen Myers, author of fantasy series The Affinities of Magic and The Hounds of Annwn
-Maggie Dana, author of fiction for all ages, including the Timber Ridge Riders series
-Kim Ablon Whitney, author of Blue Ribbons and The Perfect Distance
Ready to win some great equestrian goodies, including a three-pack of my paperback novels The Head and Not The Heart, Other People’s Horses, and Ambition? Head to your local Barnes & Noble and pick up the newest edition of Equestrian Culture Magazine, then join the Big Giveaway! You’ll find prizes from Dubarry, Goode Rider, the Washington International Horse Show, Ariat, Dark Horse Chocolates, and other great equestrian companies.
It’s hard to believe that Labor Day has come and gone, September is here, and school is about to start for Calvin. (For one thing, it’s 90 degrees outside.) But the locusts are singing in the linden trees and another Saratoga season is in the books, so this is it, folks. This is fall.
(And I’ll brook no arguments about fall beginning on September 22nd or whatever. September 1st is the beginning of meteorological fall, and I’m all about meteorology.)
We caught a train to Saratoga Springs for a few days before the season ended, thank goodness. Add in our Del Mar trip back in July and we are feeling pretty accomplished about hitting the Del Mar/Saratoga exacta. Two of the most beautiful racecourses in America, and yet nearly opposite in setting and composition — it made for a wonderful contrast.
I have a few blog posts about Saratoga floating around in the Internets, so I won’t write another here. You can visit Equestrian Ink: Writers of Equestrian Fiction for “Images from Saratoga,” a photo post with some of my favorite scenes from around Saratoga, both at the races and in town. And over at my Disney/travel/family blog, That Dis Family, I’ve written a short primer to visiting Saratoga, whether you’re horsey or not.
Saratoga is where Cory and I sat down and brainstormed the story that would become Other People’s Horses. As a muse for an equestrian writer, you don’t get many places as perfect as Saratoga. We even talked to Talk of the Track about writing, equestrian fiction, and retired racehorses, and you can watch the video at my Facebook page. I myself haven’t watched it, but I do recall that I did not cry or run away, so I guess for my on-camera debut I’m doing pretty well.
Did we come up with any new stories during this year’s sojourn in Saratoga? A few new ideas — the daily inspiration that comes from sitting at a picnic table along the backstretch, from playing with a pony, from listening to the thrum of hoofbeats on a racetrack. It was really two days after our return, watching the Travers Stakes and talking to a few people on Twitter about the tremendous finish, when I realized that I had a wonderful new story idea.
Want to win a copy of one of this summer’s hottest equestrian reads? Visit Goodreads and enter to win a paperback edition of Ambition. I’ll be sending out four signed copies to winners in August.
If you’re already a Goodreads member, you can click below to enter to win. If not, join up and add me as a friend! You can check out what I’m reading, send me recommendations, and just generally talk about good books.
And thanks to everyone who has already read and loved the ebook edition of Ambition. I’ve been getting wonderful reviews while the book has been consistently one of the top-selling Equestrian and Horse category titles at Amazon. I’ve also gotten three 5-star reviews at BN.com, a site where I see less traffic, so that’s really exciting!
And for all those of you who are asking for a sequel, with more Jules, more Peter, more Dynamo, and more Mickey… you almost have me convinced…
I’m thisclose! Come over to my Facebook page and post about why you want more from the characters of Ambition and maybe… just maybe… you’ll push me over the edge!