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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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New Book Release: The Hidden Horses of New York

The Hidden Horses of New York book cover

Friends, I’m so excited about today’s news!

I’ve officially given The Hidden Horses of New York its publication date of November 26, 2019, and I just can’t wait to share it with you. This book means the world to me.

The Hidden Horses of New York, publishing November 26, 2019

Last year, I was brooding about my “millennial horse racing story” that I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to tell the story of a band of friends who were young, idealistic, and wanted to change horse racing for the better. They were going to do it through social media and the internet. And that’s… that’s all I knew.

It took more than a year to pull together the concept that became The Hidden Horses of New York. It took more than three beginnings (all of them beautiful, in my opinion) in three different voices and multiple points of view. It went from being a multi-POV to a single narrator, but one thing that didn’t change: the main character, Jenny.

Jenny is young, idealistic, shy, ambitious. A horsewoman who ran away from her horsey home to see what else she could be. Who fell in love with New York and the friends she made there. Who found a way, against all odds, to remain an equestrian in the greatest city in the world.

Who was hopelessly in love with her best friend.

I adore Jenny, and walking in her shoes to write this story has been such an emotional ride. I’ve cried, I’ve felt the wind against my cheeks, I’ve nestled down under a soft blanket in her chilly apartment. I have felt at one with Jenny more than any other character I’ve ever written. I know everything about her, I know the pictures hanging on the walls of her childhood bedroom, I know the books on her coffee table, I know the cereal boxes in her kitchen cabinet.

Those who know me will read this book and know I’ve shared some of my most remarkable life experiences with Jenny, and that’s not a gift I share lightly. I’ve jealously guarded some of these storylines, waiting for the right moment to give them up to the world. I believe I’ve found that moment.

And the cover! Oh, the agonies over this cover, friends. I wanted Jenny’s story to stand apart. I am proud of my book covers, but I needed something different for this one. I worked for days until I had a concept, then I realized I didn’t have the technical know-how to bring it to life.

Enter How Bowers, a wonderful friend who offered his time to turn my dream into a reality. And look at the beauty he has created! I’m so, so thankful for his expertise and dedication to my concept.

The Hidden Horses of New York book cover

This is the story idea, in a few words, for the book:

Jenny’s a horsewoman, born and bred. Aidan’s a photographer, with a passion for sleek thoroughbreds. Lana has business brains and start-up cash. Together, they’re going to bring horse racing’s best stories to life. Best friends working on a passion project together: it could be the perfect post-grad life in New York City… if only Jenny weren’t hopelessly in love with Aidan.

Unrequited love aside, Jenny might be in over her head. It’s not an easy task to get old-fashioned trainers to open up to her, but Jenny’s determined to get her story. Then, as she digs deep in search of a missing horse, Jenny tumbles into a dark underworld she’d thought was just a fairy tale.

In the pursuit of horse racing’s happy endings, to say nothing of her own, Jenny will find herself tested again and again. A colt’s bid for a Breeders’ Cup championship, a racehorse with no name, a charming police mount on Amsterdam Avenue, a carriage horse clattering through Central Park: the horses of New York are clamoring to have their stories told. Jenny just has to find the words, and the courage, to give them a voice.

There’s a lot more to this story than what I could wedge in >200 words, but here we are.

And here we go.

I’m so thrilled to share The Hidden Horses of New York with you. I only hope you love it as much as I do.

Pre-order here, and share this link with your horsey friends: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZS5P1JJ/

 

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Taking Chances: Equestrian Writers Who Collaborate Instead of Competing

The first Timber Ridge Riders novel had me hooked.
The first Timber Ridge Riders novel had me hooked.

This post originally appeared at Retired Racehorse Blog in 2013.

I’m a huge proponent of independent publishing, not least because it has allowed horse books to enter a whole new level. Gone are the days when I could choose between a $5.99 paperback from the Thoroughbred series or a $35.95 hardcover tome on dressage principles if I wanted to have a little horsey reading time. Equestrian writers can write for equestrians of all ages.

(And on a side-note, whoever decided that horse training books should be published on expensive glossy paperstock and with beautiful slipcovers was probably some accountant reading a report about the 35-55 married female with disposable income demo that represents the majority of Dressage Today’s subscribers, not a horse-person who knows a training book is best perused in the rather dirty and disheveled confines of the tack room immediately before or after a training session.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Indie publishing lets horse-people publish horse-books that I actually want to read.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve reviewed Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana books quite often at Retired Racehorse. That’s because they’re not just excellent writers, they’re horsewomen, and they write horse books that make sense. No one is going straight to the Olympics after they went to a summer riding camp, taught an unbroken Mustang to jump logs in the woods by moonlight, and subsequently won the Grand Prix at the National Horse Show. (Any old Grand Prix will do.)

Instead, Maggie writes about tweens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up and working really, really hard to improve their riding because they know nothing else really matters in life.

Bittersweet Farm's 1st novel, Mounted
As did the first Bittersweet Farm novel, Mounted.

Meanwhile, Barbara writes about teens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up (in a much more edgy manner, because teens) and working really, really hard to improve their riding even though they’re not entirely convinced that it’s the best way to spend their time (because teens).

The books lend to one another beautifully: As Barbara said, “Maggie’s books are a gateway to mine.”

And, I’d like to think, Barbara’s books lead to mine, which are written about adults in the horse business.

No more skipping from Thoroughbred to Mary Wanless in one not-so-easy step. Horse books have a progression now.

And indie publishing isn’t just wonderful because it allows us to read books we might never get to enjoy otherwise. Indie publishing also provides for a spirit of collaboration and friendship between authors who realize that by working together, they can provide the best possible reading experience for fans. Recently, they sent me this wonderful article:

How Two Rivals Came Together to Make a Team

How Two Rivals Came Together to Make a Team: YA & Tween horse book authors Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana

The 3rd Bittersweet Farm book from Barbara Morgenroth, Wingspread
The 3rd Bittersweet Farm book from Barbara Morgenroth, Wingspread

In the world of traditional book publishing, Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana would be rival authors, both vying for the same limited space on bookstore shelves devoted to children’s and YA fiction. Very likely they’d be monitoring one another’s sales ranks and rejoicing if the other author dropped a few points.

“Hooray! Let’s break out the whips and spurs!”

But when it comes to indie publishing, all that has gone out the window. Independent authors are totally open about sharing resources and information and helping one another. Some have edited and/or proofed another’s books for free; other indies have provided their fellow authors with professionally designed covers, formatting, and typesetting (again, for free) because they believed in someone else’s book and wanted to help.

Six months ago, Barbara and Maggie only knew each other from their Amazon listings, but thanks to a chance encounter on a well-respected indie publishing industry blog, they connected in real time.

And they are loving it.

After getting to know one another via phone and email, they swapped information: Maggie has taught Barbara how to format her books for ePub and Kindle, and Barbara (whose multiple talents include writing for daytime television) has helped Maggie broaden her writing horizons. They’ve also swapped characters.

The latest Timber Ridge Riders release, Taking Chances, by Maggie Dana
The latest Timber Ridge Riders release, Taking Chances, by Maggie Dana

Lockie Malone, Barbara’s enigmatic horse trainer who stars in her Bittersweet Farm series, makes a guest appearance in Taking Chances, the seventh book in Maggie’s Timber Ridge Riders series for mid-grade/tween readers.

At some point, one of Maggie’s Timber Ridge characters will show up in Barbara’s Bittersweet Farm YA books.

And who knows where this will lead? All bets are off as these two writers set aside any hint of competition and work together to make their genres the best they can be… and they’re having a boatload of fun while doing it.

About these two horse-crazy authors …

Maggie Dana, tween horse book author, shows us how it's done.
Maggie and Smoky show us how it’s done. Photo: Maggie Dana

Maggie Dana

Maggie Dana’s first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn’t try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.

Her new riding stable was slap bang in the middle of Pinewood Studios, home of England’s movie industry. So while learning to groom horses, clean tack, and muck stalls, Maggie also got to see the stars in action. Some even spoke to her.

Born and raised near London, Maggie now makes her home on the Connecticut shoreline where she divides her time between hanging out with the family’s horses and writing her next book in the Timber Ridge Riders series. She also writes women’s fiction and her latest novel, Painting Naked, was published in 2012 by Macmillan/Momentum.

Visit: maggiedana.com

Barbara Morgenroth, every bit as intense as her characters in the saddle. Morgenroth writes edgy YA fiction for horse-lovers.
Barbara Morgenroth, every bit as intense as her characters in the saddle

Barbara Morgenroth

Barbara was born in New York City and but now lives somewhere else. She got her first horse when she was eleven and rode nearly every day for many years, eventually teaching equitation, then getting involved in eventing.

Starting her career by writing tween and YA books, she wound up in daytime television for some years. Barbara then wrote a couple of cookbooks and a nonfiction book on knitting. She returned to fiction and wrote romantic comedies.

When digital publishing became a possibility, Barbara leaped at the opportunity and has never looked back. In addition to the fifteen traditionally published books she wrote, in digital format Barbara has something to appeal to almost every reader—from mature YAs like the Bad Apple series and the Flash series, to contemporary romances like Love in the Air published by Amazon/Montlake, along with Unspeakably Desirable, Nothing Serious, and Almost Breathing.

Visit: barbaramorgenroth.com

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