I’m adding a second book to my serial works-in-progress at Patreon!
Sunset at Catoctin Creek is the first novel in my Catoctin Creek series. I’d been playing with the idea for a small-town romantic novel for a little while. On one of my barn days – I have a lot of time for thinking on barn days! – I came up with not just one, but three novels set in a fictional small Maryland town called Catoctin Creek.
The name and setting both have a lot of significance for me. My Keller family came to western Maryland in the early 1800s and settled there, along with many other German immigrants. Catoctin Creek is a stream that runs along the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains called the Catoctins. There’s an old Keller graveyard near Catoctin Creek, and not far away, my great-grandfather’s old farm.
So I came up with this idea, and promptly fell in love with my imaginary town of Catoctin Creek, and then set it to one side because work, and deadlines, and etc.
Now, though, I could use a little escape. I’m on Day 12 of Quarantine Life, and my long affinity for the fuss-free, smaller-footprint advantages of apartment life? Well, it’s being tested a little. Let’s just say I could really go for a front porch with a set of rockers, a babbling brook within earshot, and an old barn where my horses whinny for their suppers.
So I’m running away (in my mind) to Catoctin Creek, and I’m inviting you along with me. I’m posting the first chapters of this novel at my Patreon, free for everyone to read. Come meet Rosemary, who has lived at Notch Gap Farm her entire life, and seems largely content with her spinsterhood and her rescue horses. Come meet Stephen, who has come to Catoctin Creek to settle his father’s estate, make a little money, and head back home to Manhattan before he forgets how to order in dinner from Seamless. And meet Nikki, Rosemary’s best friend and no-nonsense proprietress of the Blue Plate Diner, and the Kelbaughs, Rosemary’s elderly neighbors and touchstones on lonely nights.
Like I said, the first few chapters are free – no paywall. Eventually I’ll have to move them to subscriber-only, for copyright reasons, but I’d like to give everyone a shot to decide if they want to read it first.
And just as a reminder, subscriptions to read all of my work on Patreon are just $3 per month. I really want to keep it reasonable, while still getting a little income for the writing which takes up much of my day. I’m also posting new chapters of Runaway Alex for subscribers at this time, so you’re getting two books at a time. (Here’s the first chapter, no payment required.)
I hope that everyone who needs a little escape can find it in Catoctin Creek. And I hope that soon, we can all get back to our happy places, for real.
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 Growsis 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 Offis the story of Erin, who attentive readers will have met in Berglie’s second book, Kicking On. Erin 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!
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.
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!