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5 Questions with Equestrian Author Laurie Berglie

Laurie Berglie's Equestrian Romance Series

I’ve known Laurie Berglie a long time. This equestrian author and I go back to my old days of blogging about off-track Thoroughbreds for my breakout blog Retired Racehorse, and when she published her first novel a few years ago, I was absolutely delighted. Where the Bluegrass Grows is a pleasure to read, a romance with plenty of equine co-stars and a lot of heart.

When she sent me a copy of her latest novel in her Equestrian Romance series, I dropped everything to read it. Taking Off is the story of Erin, who attentive readers will have met in Berglie’s second book, Kicking OnErin is faced with a life change and when she takes it, you’re going to be cheering  her onward… and maybe thinking about your own possibilities. I put it down utterly in love with Erin and ready to read more about her adventures, and I know I’m not alone!

Laurie Berglie equestrian romance series
Laurie Berglie’s Equestrian Romance Series

When Laurie isn’t writing fiction she’s living her best life with several lovely horses and a resident fox — which she helpfully documents for us with her impeccably curated Instagram, Maryland Equestrian. As a girl who grew up with a childhood split between Maryland and Florida, Laurie’s decidedly English equestrian lifestyle calls to the Marylander inside me! She’s also a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so, like, we just get each other. And if her doormat ever disappears, she’s going to know exactly who took it.

So I asked Laurie Berglie to join in for a round of 5 Questions, because she truly is an author you want to know more about!

Laurie, when you first wrote for Retired Racehorse Blog (years ago!) I had no idea you were going to get into fiction. What made you decide to start writing equestrian romances?

Crazy, right? Me neither! I had always loved to write, and dabbled with fiction here and there, but nothing ever stuck. Then I started writing what eventually turned into Where the Bluegrass Grows, and it stuck. It probably took me 5+ years to finish the first draft, but I just kept coming back to it. I ended up really liking my characters and wanting to see what happened to them, where their story led, etc., so I just kept at it.

Your characters are intertwined just enough to keep the stories connected – did you always plan a series filled with friends and family?

I actually didn’t. When I wrote Where the Bluegrass Grows, I ended up really liking the character of Macy. She seemed to have this fun story all her own, so when I finished Bluegrass, I decided to focus on Macy and tell her story a bit, so to speak, and that became Kicking On. In that novel, Erin’s character ended up having a larger role than I initially thought she would, so I wanted to give her her own story as well. I think when I originally started out, I was going to write a few books about Molly, always having her be my main focus, but the other characters came to life in a way that I wanted them to have their books too and not to always be supporting characters. It’s interesting how things unintentionally take shape!

A quarter-life crisis seems to be a major theme for your main characters. They realize they’re on the wrong track or something else spurs them into making a massive life change. Any… uh… personal experience with this?

Hahaha good question! No quarter-life crisis here per se, but my characters do explore the paths in life I didn’t take, but possibly wanted to. Molly is living my dream life – to be a full-time writer of fiction. Macy, as an equine vet, is living a life that I didn’t pursue but thought seriously about for many years. I spent most of my mid-twenties debating about whether or not to go back to school to be a vet. I think had I gone to vet school immediately after undergrad, I would have done it, but ultimately, I decided that I wasn’t in the position to take out thousands of dollars in student loans to pursue that career. So I had Macy do it!

Of all my characters, I think I am most similar to Erin. She’s an attorney and I also considered law school for quite some time. With Erin, I also explore the whole not having kids thing – which is a decision I made years ago. While my husband is on board with the no kids lifestyle and I, thankfully, have not experienced a divorce the way Erin has, I went down the ‘what if’ path with her. What if my husband had wanted kids and I didn’t? Then – what if I truly hated my job and wanted to leave to follow my passion? And since Erin is rather bold, I knew she could answer those questions for me, and that turned into Taking Off.  

I absolutely use characters to explore the paths I haven’t taken, so I am on your wavelength here! So, what have you learned as you wrote and launched your third book that you wished debut author Laurie had known?

I wish I wouldn’t have been so scared about – well, all of it. When I published my first book, I told almost no one. I think I wrote a blog post about it, shared a handful of times on social media, but that was it. I gave it life and then just let it die. With my second novel (and there were three years in between) – I had a plan for how to market it. I really leveraged my Instagram platform and sent lots of copies to influencers. (I don’t think “influencers” were really a thing when I published my first). And, unlike the first, I wasn’t afraid to reach out and ask for help with promotion… blogs, magazines, podcasts, etc. I realized that I couldn’t just wait for people to come to me. I had to reach out, introduce myself, and pitch my PR ideas. Some have worked out and some haven’t, but at least I put myself out there and made some great connections.

Your Instagram presence is amazing! Is Instagram your main brand presence, and was this on purpose or just how your audience developed?

Thank you! Yes Instagram is my main brand presence – I don’t really keep up my blog or Facebook page anymore. Everything just got too time-consuming and sometimes something has to give. My Instagram all happened by accident. I started it in 2014 as my personal account. I kept it public (also by accident), but then I noticed random people starting to follow me. I figured, oh I guess there are some people out there who like seeing horse pictures, so I kept it public and started playing with it… sometimes I posted personal things, sometimes I shared nice curated content, and it went from there. This was back in Instagram’s glory days before the horrible algorithm, so I think it was easier to build an account. Now it’s SO hard to gain new followers and growth has definitely slowed. But – I really like the little community I’ve built! Everyone loves horses and books – lots of common ground – so it’s fun to chat with my “friends.” 🙂

Hey – no quotation marks necessary! You never know when your Insta friends are going to bump into you – like when we were hanging out at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes a few years ago! Thanks for being on the blog, Laurie!

Now it’s your turn, readers. You can find Laurie Berglie’s equestrian romance novels in Kindle and paperback formats at Amazon (and look at these covers! Gorgeous!). Click the covers to read more and get your copy!

Add Laurie Berglie’s books to your Goodreads!

Follow Laurie on Instagram at Maryland Equestrian!

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On My List: Horse Books to Read in 2020

Horse books to read in 2020

I am already a few books deep into 2020 and have started reading my first horse book of the year! It feels so good to dip into an equestrian story… and I super love that it’s set in Maryland Horse Country, since I spent some time as a teenager eventing in Maryland. I love Ocala, Lex is divine, Saratoga is heaven itself, but maybe Hunt Valley deserves a little more literary love, huh?

I love setting up my TBR list for the year with some must-reads (I leave plenty of room for sudden finds at the library and the bookstore, believe me) so I’m sticking some horse books I absolutely don’t want to miss in 2020.

Most of these books have already come out and I’m just catching up with them. So I have no doubt this post will get longer as equestrian authors start releasing 2020 titles. The more the merrier!

*This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, but buy your books wherever it makes you happy! I’ve included publisher direct links when available.*

TBR: Horse Books I’m Reading in 2020

Taking Off, by Laurie Berglie

This is the third book in Laurie Berglie’s Equestrian Romance series and I’m so excited for it. Berglie writes with such a light hand and a clear eye, effortlessly sucking us into the lives, loves, and worries of her characters. Ever since her first lovely novel, Where the Bluegrass Grows, came out (way back in 2016!) I’ve been rooting for Berglie to continue writing her stories about contemporary horsewomen who find themselves before they settle for the wrong life.

Diane Crump: A Horse-Racing Pioneer’s Life in the Saddle, by Mark Shrager

Every year a lot of great horse racing biographies come out, about both horses and riders. Every year I mean to read some and don’t. What can I say, I’m a fiction girl! But I’m definitely intrigued by Diane Crump, who somehow manages not to be a famous figure in today’s female-first equestrian world despite her big, bold decision in the late 1960s to become a jockey. And not just any jockey, but a successful winning rider who went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby just a year after her debut at Gulfstream Park. This book releases in May 2020, so add it to your alerts or pre-order your copy!

Down the Centre Line, by Hazel Beecroft

I’ve been meaning to read Hazel Beecroft’s eventing books forever. Her covers are lovely, her titles are clever, and I just know when I finally dig in, I’m going to treat myself to a story by someone who really knows her topic. Plus, she’s British and I love English prose — not to mention how fun their eventing scene looks! So I’m promising myself Down the Centre Line, which has a very straight-into-the-action beginning with the inner thoughts of Andrew, who wins every event and sleeps with every girl on the circuit and still isn’t satisfied. Andrew, you naughty thing. Tell me more.

Many Brave Fools, by Susan E. Conley

I confess, this book has been everywhere for the past year and I just haven’t had any interest in it. Then I listened to Conley’s interview with Carly Kade on The Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast and wow, interest piqued! I just really enjoyed Conley’s speaking and the way she framed her thoughts. I’m not much on the “horses healing humans” genre for myself, but Conley seems to approach the therapeutic side of horses from a purely scientific and experiential background, which fascinates me. Plus, she started riding for the first time in her life in her 40s. In Ireland. I have to know all about that experience. It’s on the list!

Distant Skies: An American Journey on Horseback, by Melissa A. Priblo Chapman

One read of the blurb for this upcoming release from equestrian publisher Trafalgar Square Books, and I was hooked.

“Melissa Chapman was 23 years old and part of a happy, healthy, loving family. She had a decent job, a boyfriend she cared about, and friends she enjoyed. Yet on the first of May in 1982, she said good-bye to all of it. Carrying a puppy named Gypsy, she climbed aboard a horse and rode away from everything, heading west.”

MELISSA, tell me everything! I absolutely adore middle/rural America travelogues. Truly, one of the best books I read last year was The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, which features a modern-day trip across what’s left and accessible of The Oregon Trail. And I go back to Bad Land and Old Glory: A Journey Down the Mississippi by Jonathan Raban quite frequently. I love it when writers go wandering the countryside. So this is absolutely in my wheelhouse. Can’t wait for this April 2020 release!

Just a Groom, by Laurie Twizel

Everyone’s been telling me to read Laurie Twizel’s eventing novels for the past two years, and for some reason I just haven’t yet. I’m fixing that this year. And maybe it was a good thing I waited, because now there are three books in the Hearts & Horse Trials Series! When I look over the Amazon reviews, I see five stars from some of my regular readers, so I know there’s something good happening inside these pages. Romance and eventing: the perfect combination.

That’s just the start of my equestrian TBR list for 2020! I’ll keep updating this post throughout the year. Got recommendations? Put them in the comments!

Horse books to read in 2020

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Winter Reading Recommendations for Equestrians

You love to see it! Stable Style’s seasonal book list recommendations are always spot-on. So it was a real pleasure to see both of my 2019 book releases on their 2020 winter reading list.

And look at the company!

Check out the entire list here.

You can pick up Forward and The Hidden Horses of New York from Amazon in paperback, Kindle, or read them for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Not an Amazon user? No problem! Both books can be specially ordered from your favorite bookstore or you can purchase them from Taborton Equine Books, a specialty equestrian bookstore!

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We Love What We Love (The Starless Sea Book Review)

I’ve been idly flipping through Goodreads reviews for THE STARLESS SEA because I loved it so much and I was curious about how others felt. Loved it or hated it, there is no in between!

If you’re not familiar with the title, THE STARLESS SEA is the new release by Erin Morgenstern, author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS. If you’ve read that one, you know that her writing is incomparably lyrical, her descriptions whimsical and overflowing like a fountain, her pacing… of her own choice.

Book Cover: The Starless Sea
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Naturally writing like that has its detractors (many) but THE NIGHT CIRCUS got a pass from so many because it’s also an absolutely gorgeous, haunting love story, and the desire to see the guy get the girl propels many a page-turn when someone might have tossed the book aside otherwise. How else to explain some of the exceedingly bad romance novels out there (mine might be included, depending on how you feel about them)?

THE STARLESS SEA has a love story, but it’s not the only story… and it doesn’t show up until deep within the book. This is a story about stories, and it is all the more charming and delicious for readers who find the references and love notes to the stories which have come before, both within and without its pages. This is a librarian romance.

And it’s an absolutely polarizing read, apparently!

Here are some of my favorite lines from GoodReads:

-THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR!

The writing is so abstract that I couldn’t take it anymore!

-This is a masterpiece. This is flawless. This is the kind of book that comes along once in a decade. This cracks the foundations.

-dnf around 30%

Ugh what a chore

-It’s difficult to sum up a novel that has made a home in your heart and mind and will reside there for a lifetime.

And then this is the one which actually sums up the way I’m feeling right now:

“It’s a profoundly strange thing—to feel as though you are wading through mildly entertaining novels that pass through you like falling smoke, always searching for the one that reaches into the back alleys of your soul and settles to the bottom of you like fallen leaves.

And then there it is, like a faint spark bobbing on a dark sea, calling you, beckoning.”

(Here is the full review at GoodReads.)

I’ve been reading tons of good work all year, really good work, but I’ve also been reading what feels like a lot of fluff compared to the sheer magnitude of imagination and world-building and realized dreams that is THE STARLESS SEA. Finding this book, for me, was like finally reaching Cair Paravel. It felt like reaching a golden city on a hill after decades of reading works leading up to this point. It felt like this what stories were reaching for, striving for, during all of these years of modern fantasy. An ode to what makes imagination great.

And a lot of people hated it!

Which tells you absolutely everything you need to know about books, writing, novels, reviews, and art in general.

Books are subjective. Books are like people. You love some of them, you don’t get some of them but you’d sure like to figure them out, you absolutely hate some of them, you turn away from some of them and never think about them again. Every single emotion you can have about a human relationship, you can have about a book.

Not every book you read will be a soulmate, some will be good chums and some will be enemies, but for someone else… that book will be a soulmate.

So hey… go love what you love, and shout about it! Worry a little less about the relationships that don’t work out. We all want to know what made you happy, not what made you crazy.

And if THE STARLESS SEA changes your life in profound ways… hey, I get it. Wow, do I ever get it.

Here it is at Amazon.

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First Reviews for The Hidden Horses of New York

I’m excited to share some of the first reviews coming in for my latest equestrian novel, The Hidden Horses of New York.

The Hidden Horses of New York book coverIn a lot of ways, this title was a departure for me. Readers who have been following my different series for the past decade or so will definitely have certain expectations of what a Natalie Keller Reinert novel will look like. So while this isn’t written with the same horse-only focus as The Eventing Series or Show Barn Blues, I still put my heart and soul into the descriptions, settings, and especially people and horses who populate this story.

So naturally, I’ve been curious to see what readers would think of it! Here’s what we have going on at Amazon:

“Natalie Keller Reinert books never disappoint. Not only does the author’s extensive knowledge of horses and racing give the book an authentic, realistic feel, she has an unerring feel for dialogue and plot. Highly recommend this book.”

“I couldn’t put it down! I reluctantly took a pause to go to work and do my own horse chores, but then picked it right back up!”

“Natalie Keller Reinert’s newest is a highly topical return to racetrack literature–and a soaring love letter to New York racing in particular. While the novel’s major plots entwine journalism start-ups and public perception with slaughter auctions and whistleblowing, the emotional core remains a girl and her horse. Jenny’s journey from the training tracks and prep races of central and southern Florida through each of New York’s racetracks mirrors that of her colt, Mr. November, en route to the Breeders’ Cup, as well as her relationships with her co-journalists and her industry. The author interrogates racing’s contemporary and perennial concerns while balancing family and romance plots admirably, with plenty of pulled-from-life training and backside details layered in (a Breeders’ Cup at Belmont is the cherry on top for New York racing fans). From flashy, doofy Mr. November to the police mounts of Central Park and a cowboy outfit on Long Island, this book has a horse for every reader.”

“This is my favorite book by this author. Her story telling and writing style are spot on. I was sucked in and could not put it down !”

“Loved this new novel by my favorite equestrian author! I felt like I was in the story with Jenny, all the locations were so vibrant. This was a fun and interesting read, one I really enjoyed!”

“I loved this author’s other books, but I’m not going to finish this one. No horses, characters I didn’t care about – not a quality read like her other books.”

I felt like including that last one because hey, everyone reads the same book differently. I’m actually a little concerned this reader didn’t get the correct product from Amazon, since it literally starts the first two or three chapters introducing a variety of horses. Reviewer, if you’re reading this, reach out to me and let’s make sure you received the correct download.

But nonetheless, the overall theme of the reviews is that yes, this book is working for long-time readers. Awesome news!

I’m also seeing lots of five-star ratings over at GoodReads! This is great news as I’ve always found the GR community a little tough to impress.

You can add it to your bookshelf by clicking here:

The Hidden Horses of New York

What did you think of The Hidden Horses of New YorkHave you left a review at Amazon or GoodReads yet? Your reviews keep books visible and help authors out, so thanks for the time you take to leave a few words of recommendation on the books you love!
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Out Now: The Hidden Horses of New York

The Hidden Horses of New York on Kindle

It’s a book birthday! The Hidden Horses of New York is now available from your favorite bookstore!

The Hidden Horses of New York on Kindle
Insta your new Kindle edition and caption it with #hiddenhorses to show it off!

If you haven’t read the first thousand words of The Hidden Horses of New York,  you can do that here, or just hit preview at Amazon. The book explores the equine communities of New York City, including carriage horses, mounted patrol horses, urban cowboys and horse racing, through the eyes of a young woman named Jenny. You can read more about the story behind this book at this post.

Jessica Burkhart, author of Canterwood Crest and Wild Hearts, said: “A horse lover’s delight! Full of heart and NYC grit. I loved exploring the hidden horses of NY with Jenny! Absolutely a new hit from Natalie Keller Reinert.”

The Hidden Horses of New York is available for Kindle, to read for free with Kindle Unlimited, or as a paperback. The gorgeous cover makes it a great addition to any bookshelf!

Email me directly at natalie @ nataliekreinert.com to order a signed copy.

Please don’t forget to leave a review for The Hidden Horses of New York, and tell your friends if you enjoyed it! Thank you for being awesome readers and supporting equestrian fiction!

 

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Thank You, Patrons!

Thank you Patrons

Today is #ThankYouPatrons Day!

Thank you Patrons

When you become a Patron, whether it’s for a writer like me, a podcaster, a visual artist, or any other creator, you’re supporting art for art’s sake and changing the way the internet works. When you support an artist directly, commercial gains can take a backseat to free expression. More relatable, more recognizable, more soul-stirring, more inspirational!

When I think of all the stories and writing I’ve been able to share with you this year, I am simply in awe. People call me prolific. They looked at my double set of tables at Equine Affaire this year and said: “Natalie, how do you write so much?”

Two tables of books at Equine Affaire this year!

Well, I get the support I need to write as much as I can. And I have a lot of stories to tell!

So on #ThankYouPatrons Day, this is just a reminder that you mean the world to me. That I listen to every suggestion you make and read every comment you post with keen interest, and I am writing for you.

Visit my Patreon to learn how you can become a Patron and receive special access to unpublished work, preview stories as I write them, and contribute comments and suggestions to my work!

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5 Questions with Equestrian Author Dawn LeFevre

Backstretch Girls by Dawn LeFevre

It’s time for another five questions! I’m so excited to welcome Dawn LeFevre to my site. Dawn has just published a new equestrian fiction novel, Backstretch Girls. And with her racing creds, I think everyone should know about it! Let’s dig in.

Backstretch Girls by Dawn LeFevre

Dawn, thanks so much for joining me at my blog! You’ve just published a new horse racing novel, and we want to hear all about it. But first, tell us a little bit about your background. You’ve got some first-hand racing experience, right?

I worked at Atlantic City Racecourse every summer from the age of 16 until I graduated from Cook College.  After graduation, I became an assistant trainer for Walter Medio, aka, the King of AC and spent 13 years owning and training racehorses at AC, Garden State Park, Monmouth, Meadowlands, Delaware and Philly Park (now Parx). 

Dawn LeFevre win photo
LeFevre’s racing credentials are rock-solid!

That’s a great resume! Tell us a little about your new book and the inspiration for Backstretch Girls.

Backstretch Girls is about the friendship between a hardheaded ponygirl, Teagan, and Anne, a naïve jockey wannabe and is set in the late 1980’s at Atlantic City Racecourse. Teagan is the black sheep in her Olympic equestrian family; Anne grew up in a trailer park and had to play stable slave to ride, yet they bond over their love of horses.

Dawn LeFevre racehorse Haunting Melody
Haunting Melody, a real-life inspiration for LeFevre’s Backstretch Girls

 

My inspiration for Backstretch Girls is all those wonderful Thoroughbreds I knew and loved. All the racehorse names in my book are cobbled together from real racehorses. Lucky All Over is a tribute to two wonderful fillies – Plain All Over (a stakes winner voted champion New Jersey bred two year old filly in 1989) and Luckey Lipco (a game claimer known for her win streaks at AC).

Haunting Melody is the only actual name I kept, although the real horse was a dark bay filly I owned back in 1999.

I love those names. Getting names right is such an important part of writing equestrian fiction! What’s your writing process like? Did the idea for Backstretch Girls come slowly to you over the years, or all at once?

My writing “process” is just me scribbling incoherently in a notebook then trying to read my handwriting while I edit and type it up. First, I create my main characters and their backgrounds then figure out how I’m going to “ruin their lives”.

While Backstretch Girls is my first published novel, I’ve actually written two others prior to it, one of which was also set on the track. My goal with Backstretch Girls was to provide an unflinching look at the racing industry – the sexism, the unethical veterinary practices, and the owners who put profit ahead of their horse’s welfare. On the flip side, you have those unsung workers who will sacrifice everything for their horses, the grooms, hotwalkers, trainers, ponypeople, etc.

It’s definitely a wild and wooly place, with good and bad people. (And horses honestly!) What’s coming next for you? Are there more racing stories on the horizon?

I’m currently working on my next novel which will also be set in the racing world but is a more personal story – the main character trying to cope with the loss of her mother while training a ragtag stable of claimers.

My mother was the reason I fell in love with horse racing; we’d watch all the major races on TV together as well as the New York racing show every Saturday when I was growing up. For my high school graduation gift, she took me to Kentucky where we visited Claiborne and Spendthrift farm and I had the pleasure of meeting Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. My mother passed away suddenly in 2018 and it devastated me. I stopped writing for over a year. Finally, I decided that this book would be a tribute to her and Garden State Park.

That’s a lovely tribute. Now, I love to know what everyone’s reading, so tell us about some of your favorite reads of 2019. What do we need to get on our reading lists ASAP?

The last horse racing book I read was Casual Lies – A Triple Crown Adventure by Shelley Riley. I always wondered what had happened to her after the 1992 Triple Crown; she’d done an amazing job with this horse and yet, was never given another big horse to train. The book is a double love story – between Shelley and her husband, Jim and then between Shelley and Stanley, aka, Casual Lies. It’s a funny, sad, entertaining read and a must for any woman thinking about becoming a trainer. It saddens and angers me that still no woman trainer or jockey has won the Kentucky Derby and few even are even given the chance to compete.

I just finished reading When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer. I was originally drawn to it because of the ongoing debate of whether animals should be kept in zoos and circuses. Right now a lot of those same animal rights questions tackled by this book are being thrown at the horse racing industry. Activists are quick to cry “Ban it!” without realizing the repercussions, such as what are you going to do with all these animals after you shut down the circus or racetrack? I was also pleasantly surprised by how well the subplot regarding the main character’s struggle with mental illness was handled.

That does sound really interesting. It’s so important to look at both sides of an issue… I wish more people would do that before they just start shouting “animal rights!”

***

Backstretch Girls by Dawn LeFevreWell, many thanks to Dawn LeFevre for jumping in and telling us about the inspiration and backstory for Backstretch Girls. 

You can find the Kindle edition of Backstretch Girls at Amazon here. 

Paperbacks are available from BookBaby here.

Add Backstretch Girls at GoodReads!

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Preview 2: The Hidden Horses of New York

Racehorse in the paddock before a race

Did you read the first thousand words? Ready for another sneak peak? Here is the second thousand words from my new novel The Hidden Horses of New York, available in pre-sale from Amazon! Order it now to receive an automatic download on November 26, and add it on GoodReads here.

Read the first thousand words here if you haven’t already!

Racehorse in the paddock before a race
Image by Artcats from Pixabay

In her pocket, Jenny’s phone buzzed three times—then stopped again. They were learning, she thought, tugging Mister in a circle for the jockey.

Mister was not the sort of horse who stood still for mounting, despite Jenny’s best efforts to teach him good manners. She’d come home last summer and ridden him each morning, teaching him to be a racehorse on the white-fenced oval back home in Ocala. It hadn’t been enough. Jenny’s mother had snorted that a body could hardly expect some rude New Yorker to teach manners to a two-year-old colt, and Jenny had protested even while inside she felt a glow of pride at being called a New Yorker. There was something about belonging in the city that was beginning to call to her by then, a realization that the alien streets and endless traffic and soaring towers were somehow as richly intoxicating as the green hills and ancient oaks and molasses-scented feed rooms of Ocala, and she had already begun to wonder if she was going to stay on after school was over.

Now, she was just waiting for the chance.

Her phone was still and silent, but she felt it rumbling against her hip, a phantom vibration with every step. Her whole life was waiting to begin, and she’d find out what came next in minutes… if she could just get Mister out to the race course without bloodshed.

She kept walking the colt, slowing his stride infinitesimally (infinitesimally was all Mister would tolerate) as her mother held out her palms alongside the colt, waiting to help Manny spring into the saddle. Mister, watching him with a sideways ear, tensed his muscles, his steps shifting into a hopping-skipping jig, his hindquarters weaving sideways as he hit Jenny’s unforgiving hands on the leather and chain binding them together and he ran out of room for all of the energy flowing through him. He held back for a moment, and Manny put his hands on the saddle, his knee into Andrea’s hands, and jumped onto the colt’s back.

“Watch him in the gate,” Jenny’s mother spat out, falling back from Mister’s swinging haunches before he let a hind hoof fly, heedless of what might be in his way. “Don’t let him twist and carry on or he’ll miss the break.” It had been Mister’s undoing in all but his last start this year. It was the reason he was still in Florida in May, when everyone had expected him to go to Kentucky. He just hadn’t had the brain to go with his speed yet.

Jenny thought his brain had finally caught up.

“I got this, Miss Andrea,” Manny said, his voice confident. Jenny glanced up at him and he grinned back at her.

“I’m glad you’re riding him,” Jenny told him.

“Yeah, me too.” Manny laughed and adjusted his stirrups. Mister was still trotting in slow motion, but the jockey wasn’t bothered. The only thing that would have gotten his attention was if the horse reared or bucked. Spine flat? All systems go. “I like this boy. He got a lot of spirit, but he not stupid.”

They gave up their circle, and started toward the gap in the track fencing. The outriders were waiting on their track ponies, the retired racehorses and bored quarter horses watching the younger horses’ antics without interest. Track ponies had seen everything before, twice over. Jenny slid the chain free of Mister’s halter, and began to unbuckle the strap behind his ears, preparing to turn the colt over to the outriders. Manny wouldn’t be asked to control Mister alone until the bell rang and the gates sprang open.

A darkly tanned woman with a long bleached ponytail flowing from the back of her helmet leaned down from her rangy horse’s back, and, just as Jenny slipped his halter free, the outrider slid a slim leather strap through the ring of Mister’s bit.

She timed it perfectly; Mister was never free for a moment.

“Let’s go, old man,” the outrider told her mount, and the horse broke into a shuffling jog while Mister hopped alongside like a big gray bunny, shaking his head furiously against the outrider’s taut hold on his bridle. As he sprang away, a gob of white foam slopped from his bit and onto Jenny’s shoulder. She brushed the saliva away without looking at the damage done to her blouse, wiping her hands on her race-day khakis, which had seen much worse. For one long, frozen moment she just watched Mister cavorting at the end of the leather thong. He flipped his head, propped his shoulders, blew loudly through his nostrils. No one paid him any mind. The outrider was ignoring him, the pony horse was ignoring him, even Manny, perched above his withers, was ignoring him. Refusing to acknowledge his foolishness was the only way to deal with Mister’s mischief-loving heart; the moment you got on his case about something, the colt escalated things to a scale that quickly got dangerous for everyone.

Jenny thought about how much she loved him, and how much she had missed him while she’d been in New York, and how much more she would miss him if she went back for good.

Then her phone buzzed again, breaking the spell, and she pulled it out of her pocket just as her mother came hustling up. “Let’s go, girl. You’re standing in the track like a crazy person,” Andrea commanded. “They’re trying to put a race on, if you haven’t noticed.”

She hit the green button on her phone’s screen, her heart between her boots, suddenly afraid of whatever news was waiting. Yay or nay, go or no go, it was all going to be a disaster for half of her.

“JENNY!” the people in her phone shrieked in a chorus, and her heart rebounded like a balloon freed of its string, soaring up into the endless blue of the Florida sky.

“GUYS!” she yelled back. “HOW DID IT GO?”

***

Stay tuned for another preview next week… or order your copy now!

Amazon Kindle and paperback release date: November 26

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Perfect Horse-Lover’s Gifts: Autographed Books with Free Shipping!

It’s mid-November, time to start thinking about holiday gifts! If you’re shopping for a horse-lover this holiday season, a horse book is the perfect gift. Riding instructors, barn managers, grooms, your barn BFF, that hard-working student who eats, breathes, and sleeps horses: I’ve got the perfect book for all of them.

This Week in Walt Disney World Weather — June 9, 2019

For the rest of November, I have a limited number of paperbacks available for just $12 each, shipping included! Choose from some of my best-loved titles, including Ambition and Turning for Home, by November 30th, and get a signed copy for your favorite horse-lover… or yourself!

Available Titles

  • Ambition
  • Pride
  • Courage
  • Show Barn Blues
  • The Head and Not The Heart
  • Other People’s Horses
  • Turning for Home

All books can be inscribed to a special someone along with my signature and a short message!

Books will be shipped using Media Mail to the continental U.S. between December 2-4, 2019.

There is an extremely limited number of books available for this sale. If you have your heart set on a certain title, get in touch as soon as possible.

To order: send your request to me at my email address: natalie @ nataliekreinert.com (remove the spaces). Payment via Venmo, PayPal or Cash is accepted. Payments must be processed before shipping.

Not sure which book to send? Check out my equestrian fiction here to learn more.