I’m so excited to share the first reviews for Ambition with you!
When I read a review, I’m really finding out, at last, if I’ve accomplished what I wanted to with my story. Ambition, in particular, is a story that went through many, many incarnations as I tried to take it from a story that resonated with me, to a story that would resonate with many equestrians around the world. And that’s not always an easy thing to judge on your own, or even with the small sample size of a few beta readers.
But so far, it looks as though I may have accomplished my goal.
Here is a clip from Horse Junkies United:
Starting the novel on Thursday evening, I was finished it by Friday at noon- I couldn’t put it down! Her writing style is easy to read, and the pages flow effortlessly. Most of all though, I was thrilled with all of the horsey details that were not only abundant, but accurate! This is were you could tell that the author had experience in the sport that she was portraying, lending this to her storyline and characters, making them come realistically to life.
As I wrote Ambition, just as with my other equestrian novels, I wanted to be sure my readers understood I was writing for them. These aren’t books That Also Have Horses in Them. I’m not throwing in a few horses to placate the horsey folks in the crowd.
These are horse-books for horse-people.
Thanks so much for the reviews, and please keep them coming! You can find your own copy of Ambition at:
Today is the day! It’s the release of my new equestrian novel, Ambition.
I’ll update this page as new sites come online. For now, Ambition is available at Amazon in the Kindle store and at Barnes & Noble. You can read the first few chapters and get your copy!
*Update!* First review at Amazon:
This story, of a prickly woman named Jules who needs to make a name for herself in the eventing world, is a fun read for people who know, love, and understand horses and riding. What makes it a great read is the details riders will relate to. Every page is chock full of the nitty-gritty of horses: tacking up, horses with different personalities, mucking out, horses finding ways to hurt themselves, etc. Descriptions like ‘a horse that lifts his knees to high at the trot instead of swinging from his shoulder’, will have equine-minded readers nodding, and for folks that aren’t that ‘horsey’, this is still a tale about striving to succeed no matter what, and they will come away with a sense of what it is like to compete a horse at a high level. I am waiting to savor Ms. Reinert’s next work. I’ve read one novel about racing at Saratoga, and this one of eventing in Florida. I can’t wait to see what the next story is about.
iTunes and Kobo, as well as a paperback edition, are coming soon!
It’s been more than a year since my last equestrian novel — too long! But I’m happy to announce that on Tuesday, May 20th, I’ll be releasing my newest novel, Ambition, to readers everywhere.
Still set in the rolling hills of Florida’s horse country, Ocala, Ambition leaps over to the sport-horse world and the sport of eventing.
Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Twenty-two and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid — and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree?
Getting back into the eventing scene was a real pleasure for me as a writer. I spent my teenage years eventing in Florida and Maryland. I haven’t been over a cross-country course in more than ten years, but I still day-dream about it. Someday, someday…
As for the characters: I love Jules, but she’d never believe me if I told her that. Jules isn’t used to having friends. She’s used to being the low man on the totem pole, after what seems like forever as a working student in a show barn full of her own wealthy classmates. It’s just Jules and her horses, against the world — or so she thinks. But there are still some people on Jules’ team.
And since I like to think that the horses and the setting are just as important as the humans, you’ll find that several horses, including Thoroughbreds, and the heart of Florida horse country are well-represented. Just as Other People’s Horses and The Head and Not The Heart explored Ocala, Saratoga, and New York City in depth, I couldn’t help but celebrate Ocala once again, drawing upon years and years of memory and deep, deep affection for that chunk of the state called “North-Central Florida.”
So watch out for Ambition, available in ebook and paperback beginning Tuesday, May 20th. I think you’ll find it to be a very, very interesting ride… and check your stirrup length and girth. There may be a few bucks thrown in when you least expect them
This book review is posted over at Retired Racehorse, where I have been posting equestrian reads for years now. But for all my new readers, here is my latest review, for Maggie Dana’s outstanding Turning on a Dime:
I’m often struck by how much we share with the equestrians of the past. Our tack, our boots, the very way we sit our horses — whether we ride English or Western, we are very much in contact with our riding roots every day. Horsemanship is horsemanship, and, by the same token, the deep genetic need the truly horse-crazy feel to keep horses close to them probably hasn’t changed much in the past millennia or two, either.
But in Maggie Dana’s powerful new drama, Turning on a Dime, we’re asked to stop and consider what the modern horse-crazy life might look like in another time — one that isn’t quite so pretty and permissive as today.
Sam might be vying to become the first African-American member of the United States Equestrian Team, but really, race is the last thing on her mind. The horses don’t notice, and neither does she.
Caroline is too busy ducking away from crinolines and corsets to worry about her future role as a Southern Lady. And the war with the North is getting close to home, certainly, but as long as she can sneak out for a gallop on her mare, life is good enough.
They’re one hundred fifty years and a world of prejudice apart. But Sam and Caroline have a lot to learn about one another — and themselves — when one turn of a dime throws their lives together, and they learn how deeply their fates are entwined.
What happens when you throw a 21st-century teenager — who happens to be African-American — into an 1863 plantation house? Well, you’d think nothing good. Luckily, Caroline has a good heart, and a definite interest in Sam’s 21st-century toys. Every teenage girl wants an iPhone, even if they have no idea what it actually does. (That’s design for you.) And that iPhone will come in handy. Because Sam and Caroline are about to find out that there are more important problems than just getting Sam back to her own time, and sometimes video proof is all a person will believe.
In Turning on a Dime, one truth becomes clear: horsemanship has nothing to do with the date on the calendar, or the roles society has granted us. For those of us who proudly bear the title “horse-crazy,” horses are in our blood, and no silly laws or rules can change that. Our horses come first — everything else is just details.
Visit MaggieDana.com for more information, or pick up Turning on a Dime right here in paperback or ebook!
I’ve read my new book about six times in the past two weeks.
It’s not because I’m obsessed with my new book (maybe I am a little bit) but because I’m an obsessive editor, in general. So I’ve been reading and rereading, tweaking and changing and fixing word by word, line by line, trying to get the best possible execution of this story I’m trying to tell. And when I’m done reading it, my husband reads it, and does the same, and then I have to add in all of his changes — which means reading it one more time.
I have to admit, there are times when I am a little tired of my new book.
But reading it can be a fascinating experience for me, as well. Because throughout Ambition, just as throughout Other People’s Horses, The Head and Not The Heart, Claiming Christmas, and Horse-Famous, I’m reading new accounts of old experiences I’ve had.
My good friend Linda Benson, who writes lovely fiction for animal writers, was kind enough to tap me for this blog hop about writers and the writing process (which is why it’s named The Writing Process Blog Hop, and isn’t that just convenient! We are creative people, we writers.)
Be sure to go say hello to Linda Benson, who writes for animal lovers of all ages, with works ranging from dystopian fiction (The Girl Who Remembered Horses) to contemporary fiction (her Cat Tales series), and blogs at LindaBenson.blogspot.com.
This blog hop is timed very well, as things are getting very exciting around here! Here’s why… in the very first question!
Question 1: What am I working on? The final edits of my new novel! I am in the production phase, almost ready to release Ambition to the public.
I’ve been writing and rewriting Ambition, in some form or another, for several years. At one point it was actually in present tense. I have a great hint for any writers considering taking a present tense novel and making it past tense: don’t ever do it! What a nightmare that was. I’m still finding leftover typos from the changeover.
But Ambition is worth it to me. I had an idea in my head, of a girl who couldn’t afford to be an event rider and wasn’t going to let that stop her, who had an idea of what her horse could be and wasn’t going to let anyone take him away from her, and it wouldn’t let me go. So every time I read through a draft and shook my head and said “this isn’t it,” I just set it aside, wrote something else, and came back to it.
And this time I decided I wasn’t quitting until it was well and truly done.
So now it’s done — the cover is being designed, the final copy-edits are on its way — and it should be on sale in just a few weeks. It’s going to be incredible to finally have this book out there. I hope that it resonates with readers as well as Other People’s Horses did. Because I’m working on the next book in the Alex and Alexander series now!
Question 2: How does my work differ from others in its genre? My equestrian fiction stands apart because it isn’t genre fiction. Try finding adult fiction written about the horse world that isn’t a mystery or a romance — it’s very hard to do. And horses aren’t merely the backdrop to my books — they’re a huge piece of the narrative. I’m writing for horse-people, and for adult horse-people in particular. I love a good pony story as much as the next person, but someone forgot to write about what happens when horse-crazy kids grow up. Well, I am one of those kids. So I’m writing our stories.
Question 3: Why do I write what I do? I write the books I want to read. It goes back to the previous question: no one else was writing contemporary fiction for adults in the horse world. There is plenty of Young Adult, but very little for the rest of us.
The same goes for my three Historical Romance novels. I like romances, and I wanted to create a few with strong equestrian settings. Isn’t everything better with a good horse?
I’m also utterly in love with my settings, and that has a lot to do with how I write. I write about horses, but I also write about Florida rather obsessively, and some other favorite spots, like Saratoga, that really speak to my soul. I couldn’t write a sterile paragraph about a Florida afternoon — there’s too much to admire and love and fear all at once. So I’m not one to shy away from trying to paint an Ocala sunset with words or describe the way the air tastes just before a thunderstorm. Instead, trying to find words for those things is one key component of why I write. I love them too much to passively observe them. I want to own them.
I’m looking forward to adding New York City to the geography of my books, after spending so much time riding in the parks as member of the NYC Parks Department’s mounted unit. I have a very exciting idea in my head about a young woman riding in Brooklyn’s own Prospect Park — but that’s all I’m saying right now!
Question 4: How does my writing process work? Slowly. Well, not quite. I’m actually a very quick writer. If you’ve ever seen people doing those thousand-word hours during National Novel Writing Month? Yeah, I do that in about fifteen minutes when I have my blood up. And those tend to be my best pieces. If I’m not writing at about a mile a minute, I’m usually thinking too hard, and not getting what I want on the page.
And that means edits.
Many, many edits.
I’m an obsessive writer, always looking for the perfect turn of phrase. That means that my books can take a very, very long time to reach completion. I have started doing a very thorough outline, which helps: Other People’s Horses only took me about six months, thanks to my outline. Ambition, on the other hand, never had an outline — and it’s taken three years.
So while I’m capable of doing something like a magazine write-up in about twenty minutes, send it to the editor, and go on about my day without another thought, my novels are a long, drawn-out process, with plenty of sleepless nights, lots of self-doubt, and moments of sheer terror while I’m waiting for someone to finish reading a sentence and tell me what they think. Writing novels: it’s just so fun!
And that’s all from me this time! Next week you’ll see blog posts from authors Christine Meunier and AnnaLisa Grant. In the meantime, go check out their blogs and their books. I think you’ll find there’s a little something for just about everyone!
Christine Meunier writes about horses in many facets from a home base of Australia. You can visit FreeReinSeries.com to learn more about her children’s equestrian books, and equus-blog.com for everything equestrian, from book reviews to horse health!
AnnaLisa Grant has a successful Young Adult series in The Lake Trilogy, and she has recently released her first New Adult novel, Next to Me. She blogs about the writing life at annalisagrant.com.
In honor of the First Saturday in May and the Run for the Roses, I’m having a sale — on eBooks!
My Heroines on Horseback Historical Romance novels all feature unique characters — both male and female — who draw strength from their horsemanship. I’m immensely fond of these stories.
The historical romance field is very crowded, and they haven’t seen many reviews, but take a look at some of the nice things that have been said about the Heroines on Horseback:
The book was just as well written as one of the leading lights of the Traditional Regency Romance genre.
If you are looking for a regency with a Heroine with some spunk this is the one for you! Probably my favorite of the 200+ I’ve read this year. Funny and lively.
Not too shabby, right?
I have a thing for historical romances — I started reading them when I was in middle school, and for escapism, it doesn’t get much better. Gowns, chivalry, ancestral manor houses and crumbling castles… and of course, there are always horses.
I fell very hard for the Regency period, especially as I grew older and I discovered actual historical writers such as Jane Austen and William Thackeray. I love the rich language and the dry wit of the early nineteenth century, and in the two Regency-era titles, Miss Spencer Rides Astride and The Honorable Nobody, I worked very hard to create dialogue that was true to the period. Add in rich settings from the Irish countryside to the Dakota prairies, some fine horses, and a few complicated relationships, and you have yourself a story!
Miss Spencer Rides Astride, The Genuine Lady, and The Honorable Nobody are all available as eBooks at Barnes & Noble.com and Amazon.com. I do hope you enjoy them!
For a girl writing about racehorses, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Yesterday, Castleton Lyons, home of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, announced the eight semi-finalists for the 2013 competition. This unique award celebrates one common theme in full-length literary works: the racehorse.
Imagine my delightI was thrilled to see I FREAKED OUT AND NEARLY HAD A HEART ATTACK when I saw my own Other People’s Horses on the list, the lone novel amongst racing histories, memoirs, and biographies.
There are no words for my appreciation for not just the nomination, but all the readers who encouraged me, left me nice reviews at Amazon and GoodReads, sent me emails to let me know they liked the books, and have generally clamored for me to continue writing about horses and the people who love them. I never would have dared enter this competition without you and your support!
Thank you for telling me that Other People’s Horses means something to you!
I promise there is more to come.
If you haven’t read Other People’s Horses, I still love you. Go to my Facebook page for a coupon code for 20% off the paperback at the CreateSpace store, good now through March 31st.
And with that, here is the press release for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Awards semi-finalists. Have you read any of the other books? Tell us about them in the comments!
2013 Dr. Ryan semi-finalists exceptional group
The 2013 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award competition has drawn the strongest slate of semi-finalists in its eight year history to date, an impressive assortment of well-penned histories, fiction, biography, and autobiographies—both human and equine. In the end, the underdog theme ruled the day in this cycle of uniquely award-worthy entries.
Launched in 2006 by the late Dr. Ryan, the award, worth $10,000 to the winner, was the industry’s first to honor full-length literary work focusing on racing. Dr. Ryan loved good writing as much as he loved a good Thoroughbred, and thus placed few parameters on his concept other than skill with the written word.
Three 2013 finalists will be revealed via press release on March 17 (see: http://www.castletonlyons.com/). The winner will be announced during an invitation-only reception at the Ryan family’s historic Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington on April 9.
Book Award Semifinalists:
Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America’s Horse
Author: Dorothy Ours
A character-driven work based in the early decades of the 20th century. Battleship centers on enigmatic Marion DuPont of the famed chemical manufacturing family … her battles against the gender limitations of her time, her marriage to a Hollywood movie star, and most importantly, her undying love for horses—most specifically her faith in a pint-sized son of Man o’ War, who, in 1938, packed her colors to victory in the world’s most heart-testing race: England’s Grand National Steeplechase.
Casual Lies: A Triple Crown Adventure
Author: Shelley Lee Riley
The feel-good narrative of a woman trainer who sees potential in a small, nondescript bay colt and runs with it—literally—parlaying a meager $7,500 purchase price into $795,991 in career earnings. Under the name Casual Lies, the colt took Shelley Riley on the ride of a lifetime, winning in graded company and, more importantly, placing in both the 1992 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest Upset
Author: David Owen
Another with the Grand National as a backdrop, this one provides an account of the 1967 renewal, unimaginably upset by the 100-to-1 title character, Foinavon. Owen details how the winner and his companion, a white nanny goat named Susie, thereafter charmed the British masses as they traveled the country on a “victory tour,” while reminding one and all of the true meaning and glory of the Grand National itself.
Jack: From Grit to Glory
Author: Chris Kotulak
The story of a living American legend, told via anecdotal material, interviews of those who know him best, and through memories from the man himself. The down-to-earth Nebraskan is a Hall of Fame horseman and himself the son of a Hall of Fame trainer; and in the course of his nearly 60 years—and counting—on the track, Van Berg has remarkably developed both racehorses and other trainers of Hall of Fame caliber.
Other People’s Horses
Author: Natalie Keller Reinert
The only fiction entry among the finalists, this one brings back a pair of married trainers, Alex and Alexander, from 2012’s Head and Not the Heart. In this one, the husband is abroad on family business, leaving Alex at Saratoga running the stable, battling sexism, dealing with a naïve assistant, and falling hard for a crazy filly she thinks she can fix.
Ride the White Horse: A Checkered Jockey’s Story of Racing, Rage, and Redemption
Author: Eddie Donnally
Gut-wrenching autobiography of a jockey on a road straight to hell, replete with race-fixing schemes, batteries, and squandered dreams. Stalked by alcoholism, drug and sex-addiction, and mental illness, we follow Donnally’s life as it descends from nascent talent into hopelessness, homelessness, and total despair. Donnally’s gritty mea culpa of a life not well lived may be a tough read, but is ultimately, one of hope and redemption.
I’m so pleased to announce that my historical romance series, Heroines on Horseback, are now available in new editions and under my name. Previously published under the pen name Sydney Alexander, these three novels are particular favorites of mine, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with my readers. Each feature unique men and women who draw strength from their relationship with horses.
Book 1, Miss Spencer Rides Astride, is a fun Regency-period romance set in a hunting yard in Ireland. William Archer is on the run from an arranged marriage back in London. Grainne Spencer is trying to make sure her father doesn’t remember she’s a female who ought to be in dresses, not stomping around the yard in boots and breeches. Both of them seem prone to really, really short-sighted decisions. More a short novel than a full-length, Miss Spencer has received some excellent reviews and is just chock-full of horses.
Book 2, The Honorable Nobody, was originally Book 3. But it makes more sense to fit it in right after Miss Spencer. That’s because the Honorable Nobody in question is Peregrin Fawkes, William Archer’s closest friend — and raging racehorse enthusiast. All Peregrin wants is to succeed as a racehorse trainer. But when he scoops Miss Lydia Dean out of danger before London soiree, his goalposts start to move. And Lydia, who minutes before thought her heart broken forever, finds herself head over heels in love with her rescuer. Unfortunately, other, wealthier forces are also at play, and also set on marrying Lydia.
Book 3: The Genuine Lady, is a cowboy western. Yes, I wrote a cowboy western historical, and I love it. Cherry Beacham was an English lady… once. With her infant son, she has fled scandal and disgrace in England for a new life in the Dakota Territory. She finds a little town with a big heart ready to welcome her, despite her desire to keep to herself. And she finds a cowboy with a troubled past that she just can’t seem to shake. This book is funny, sweet, and sometimes, a little sad — I just adore these characters!
Each book is available in the Kindle store at Amazon as well as in Nook at Barnes & Noble.com. Look for paperbacks coming soon.
I hope you love these stories as much as I do! They have been a pleasure to write and I look forward to adding more to the series in the future!