The newest Alex and Alexander novel is almost here!
Are you ready for the first chapter of the newest Alex and Alexander novel, Turning For Home? Well, I have it here for you!
Here’s the story:
Every racehorse must one day retire from the track, and for Tiger, that day has arrived.
Alex isn’t ready for Tiger’s racing days to end, but planning his next career is quickly becoming the least of her problems. An animal rights group is accusing her of involvement in a horse-abuse scandal, and with death threats arriving daily, Alexander fears for her safety. Suddenly Tiger’s not the only one heading back to the farm — Alex is stuck at home, too, with strict orders to stay away from the racetrack.
Both horse and rider would rather be racing than hacking around the farm. A Thoroughbred makeover event seems like the perfect distraction, but as the activists ramp up their protests, Alex realizes she’s competing for more than just a blue ribbon. She’s fighting for her own reputation. This horse show could make — or break — her future in horse racing.
Ready for more? Here’s chapter 1. And don’t forget, you can pre-order the Kindle edition of Turning For Home now through March 2nd and have it delivered automatically on March 3rd! It will also be available at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, and other retailers on March 3rd. Watch for a paperback in just about another week, if you prefer hard copies. Here we go! Continue reading →
The newest Alex and Alexander novel is almost here!
The long-awaited update to the Alex and Alexander horse-racing series is almost here!
You can now pre-order the Kindle edition of Turning For Home (Alex and Alexander Book 4) from Amazon, with the digital edition releasing wherever ebooks are sold on March 3rd, 2015. If you’ve been impatient to read what happens next with Alex, Alexander, and the Thoroughbreds of Cotswold Farm, your wait is almost over!
What happens when a racehorse retires? That’s the central question of Turning For Home, as Alex is forced to confront the myriad worries of retiring, retraining, and rehoming racehorses — specifically, her own beloved Tiger.
Alex isn’t ready for Tiger’s racing career to end. Tiger doesn’t seem to be ready, either. Then, she finds herself embroiled in a horse-dumping scandal that makes Tiger seem like the least of her concerns. Stuck on the farm, in exile from the races, Alex is bored and angry and in dire need of a distraction — just like Tiger.
That distraction comes in the form of a Thoroughbred Makeover event, designed for showcasing riding horses fresh off the racetrack. Alexander, busy with Personal Best, Luna Park, and the rest of the Cotswold racing string, urges Alex to give it a shot with Tiger.
In the midst of all this turmoil, the life cycle of the Thoroughbred farm continues on — breeding, foaling, training, racing. It’s a novel jam-packed with all the rich nuances of the equestrian life — another horse book, for horse-people.
Stay tuned here for updates on the release of Turning For Home (including an upcoming paperback edition) or get your pre-order in at Amazon.com today! It’s time to go back to Ocala and Cotswold Farm with Alex and Alexander.
It’s one thing to find inspiration in your daily life. Out fooling around with horses, hanging at the barn listening to gossip, leaning on a fence at a horse show or on the rail at the races — it’s easy to take home a hundred stories from one afternoon around horses and horse-people.
Barn life, after all, is made up of little moments that might not have anything to do with riding or training. Like stumbling upon a cat in the hay and trying to figure out a way to pull out a flake without disturbing his regal slumber — that one happened to me last week.
Adding some horse-time to my life is a tremendous boon after spending two years, while I was writing Ambitionand now Turning For Home, without any horses in my life.I was working off a whole lot of memories, and not much else.
That’s where online inspiration comes in.
Remembering the simple pleasure of grazing a horse until he’s dry.
When you’re searching for just the right turn of phrase to describe the way a horse’s expression lights up as he heads towards a fence.
When you’re trying to find a way to express the feel of your horse’s hot neck beneath your palm.
When you’re just plain thinking what would this horse/this rider do next in this situation I’ve put them in?
Thank goodness for the Internet, my friends.
I use Tumblr and Pinterest to gather together photos that I find inspirational. Sometimes, when I can’t eek out another useful description from the sea of black-and-white words, I need something a little more real and concrete. I go through photos, watching horses jump fences, horses jigging towards the starting gate, horses leaning over their stall webbing to get a glimpse of the hay-cart coming down the aisle. And that’s enough to bring back all the sights and sounds and smells and surfaces of the shed-row or the stable, and I can get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.
My Tumblr is similar, with a different variety of horses — the Tumblr is more about fine art photography most of the time, whereas the Pinterest might contain links to articles or just certain moments that I find evocative. The Tumblr is at ottb.tumblr.com.
Check them out to get a taste of the online inspiration I use every day in my writing! I’ll continue to add images and posts even after Turning For Home is released — it’s the kind of beauty you never want to give up.
Consider this your invitation. If you love equestrian writing and want to know more about the writers behind the books, Horse Crossings is a new blog just for you!
Player, a buddy of mine at Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds in Port St. John, FL
I’m so happy to have joined the inaugural team at Horse Crossings, along with founder Linda Benson (author of the beautiful novel The Girl Who Remembered Horses), Young Adult authors Alison Hart and L.R. Trovillion, writers Jane Badger and Milt Toby, and novelists Meghan Namaste and Toni Leland. All of write about horses. All of us are connected with horses in our daily lives. We want to share our process, our adventures, and our stories as horsemen and writers with you, our readers and fellow horsemen.
It’s really good timing for me, since I just moved back to Florida with my family, and am enjoying some much-needed horse time by volunteering at Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbred (HART) in the town where I first started riding my own retired racehorse out across the Florida wilderness, Port St. John. It’s an interesting mixture of nostalgia and ambition that’s motivating my writing these days, as I drive to my childhood neighborhood to do barn chores and work with off-track Thoroughbreds, then head back home to my desk and my work.
Since I haven’t really been able to spend any time with horses since I left the mounted patrol unit of the New York City Dept. of Parks and Recreation in 2013, the simple act of mucking a stall has been a real pleasure! Grooming a horse and taking him out to the round pen for a little work-out — bliss. I’m excited to write about the horses I meet and work with at HART, and I’m going to do a lot of that at Horse Crossings, as I explore how horses inspire my writing.
In this week’s first post at Horse Crossings, I wrote about my upcoming novel Turning For Home, and the decision to step back from the racetrack and talk instead about retiring racehorses. There are still racetrack moments in this latest installment of the Alex and Alexander series, but there are many more farm, round pen, and even dressage ring moments. As a horsewoman, Alex is doing what we all must do — travel full-circle to be her very best, and do the best for her horses.
Jane Badger of Jane Badger Books writes about getting her start in writing about horse literature. She’s the queen of pony books, and her posts will make you want to take up a new hobby, collecting these vintage British horse stories! So read with caution!
Lisa Trovillion, author of False Gods, talks about answering that impossible question, “What’s your book about?” It’s something that makes all of us authors stumble, until all of a sudden we’re working our way through a twenty-minute dissertation on our heroine’s deepest darkest fears. None of us are particularly gifted at elevator speeches.
And Linda Benson started off our week with a look at the inspiration behind The Girl Who Remembered Horses, which was recently re-released with a gorgeous new cover.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!