Launching the 4th Book: Turning For Home

Turning For Home promo square
My favorite promotion piece for Turning For Home – this Instagram friendly square.

Launching Turning For Home was my most challenging book launch to date. The fourth book in a series — how do you share that with readers who are new to the series? Compared to Ambition, I barely did any promotional work at all. I just plain didn’t know what to do.

After all, I couldn’t exactly send it to equestrian websites and blogs if they hadn’t covered the first few books. A few websites who had declined reading The Head and Not The Heart and Other People’s Horses (because they were racing novels) had been my most enthusiastic reviewers for Ambition — and here I was going back to racing for my newest novel.

And not just racing, but responsible racehorse retirement. Other People’s Horses was about horse racing, and while there were a few bad apples, it was largely positive. Racing people liked it; so much so that it was a semi-finalist for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award in 2014. Turning For Home deals with retirement, animal rights activists, and the fact that some people just are not doing right by their racehorses. Would it hit a chord with racing publications, or just piss everyone off?

Well, at least I had my core readers, right? RIGHT? But what if I couldn’t get the word out to all the readers that had been clamoring for a new Alex novel for the past two years?

All of a sudden the year’s worth of work I’d thrown at Turning For Home was looking pretty crazy. Maybe, I thought, I should have spent all that time working on the sequel to Ambition, a book that was fresher in people’s memories — and which had a lot of support from traditional equestrian websites and magazines.

Turning For Home FB cover
A Facebook/Twitter banner letting people know Turning For Home was coming.

In the end, I settled for awareness. I designed a few graphics to stick on my various social media pages. I used Amazon’s new pre-order feature for the Kindle edition, so that it could start climbing the rankings in the horse racing category where the other Alex novels already do well. (Happily, Amazon helped out by featuring it in their “Hot New Releases” section for a few weeks.) I tweeted (a little) and Facebooked (a little) and threw out a few notices on Pinterest and Instagram. Just enough to let folks know that the book was happening, and if they wanted to, they could read it!

How’s that working out for me?

Well, so far so good. Turning For Home made its debut in March on Amazon’s top ten horse racing titles, and it’s been up there consistently ever since. It’s also been sitting in the top five on Teen/Young Adult Sports & Outdoors, which is a new category for me, but I’m in good company there with several other equestrian authors, so I’ll take it! (FYI, I added the teen age group to my books based on the enthusiastic teen response to Ambition, but I still write these books in a mature tone as I always have.)

The reviews have been solid, too — all five-star so far, which is definitely too good to last, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts! Things people are saying at Amazon:

“I could not recommend this book more highly for horse lovers!”

“If you love horses, horse racing, showing, or just plan love Thoroughbreds… read Natalie.”

“You can’t go wrong with one of Natalie’s equestrian books.”

You GUYS! Stop it. I’m blushing.

So, all in all, the confusing promotion of a fourth book has turned out okay. I would love to know how much of it was my blog and social media, and how much of it was people clicking on Amazon’s suggested purchase or new release ads, that actually let people know Turning For Home was available. Either way, it’s good to know that I can concentrate on writing, and spend less time worrying about getting the word out about new books.

But if you really want to know… look for my next book, Pride, very soon. Yes, it’s the next book in my Eventing Series, which began with Ambition. Yes, Jules has a lot more growing up to do. It should be a fun ride.

Now Available: Turning For Home Continues “Horse Books for Grown-Ups”

I’m happy to announce that Turning For Home (Alex and Alexander Book 4) is now available for download at a variety of online retailers, with a paperback to follow soon!

Turning For Home promo square
Get a grown-up horse book!

This new installment of these “Horse Books for Grown-ups,” which began back in 2011 with the publication of The Head and Not The Heart, then continued with the 2014 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award semi-finalist, Other People’s Horses and the holiday short Claiming Christmas, returns to the dark bay beauty that Alex fell so hard for at Aqueduct Racetrack, The Tiger Prince.

The charismatic Tiger has run his last race, and it wasn’t pretty. Alex is faced with an agonizing decision: how can she retire a hot-tempered gelding who has no place on a breeding farm, but is such a pet that he can’t be sold or adopted out?

Then, as if life wasn’t complicated enough, another scandal is breaking over the racing industry. Racehorses are found abandoned and starving in the Everglades — and a radical animal rights group pins the blame on Alex. Hate mail and death threats, plus a mysterious new neighbor who is making life downright dangerous, throw Alex’s training career into a tailspin.

Stuck on the farm, exiled from the racetrack, angry and shell-shocked,  Alex and Tiger have more in common than ever. When a Thoroughbred Makeover event is announced for late spring, Alexander and Kerri both encourage Alex to seize the opportunity and show everyone that she’s fully capable of responsible racehorse retirement. It’s a move that could make — or break — her training career.

Turning For Home returns to some of my favorite places: the rolling hills of Ocala, the small-town feel of Tampa Bay Downs.  And it takes on one of my favorite subjects, racehorse retirement. That’s actually what got me started in this whole writing game, you know — writing Retired Racehorse Blog back when I had a little Florida farm, some broodmares and foals, and one wonderful gelding that I’d gotten off the track and was training to be an event horse.

I actually trained that horse, in part, to prove to myself that I still could do it. I guess in that way, I’m a lot like Alex in this story. Is retraining a racehorse like riding a bike? At some point, muscle memory kicks in, right?

It seemed that way for me, when I was out riding Final Call. I used the memory of those rides to write about Alex as she rides Tiger. I hope that helps the story ring true for equestrians — that’s always my number one goal as a writer!

Enjoy Turning For Home, and be sure to let me know what you think! You can read the first chapter right here on the website, or see the previews at the links below:

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Kobohttps://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/turning-for-home-5

Scribdhttps://www.scribd.com/book/257419235/Turning-For-Home-Alex-and-Alexander-4

Page Foundryhttp://www.inktera.com/store/title/78ae43dd-3664-4760-9ca1-27babc83c7b0

First Read: Chapter 1 of Turning For Home

Turning for Home (Alex and Alexander Book 4)
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 “First Read: Chapter 1 of Turning For Home”

New Release! Turning For Home – Alex and Alexander Book 4

Turning for Home (Alex and Alexander Book 4)
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.

Pre-order your copy here:

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Online Inspiration

Barn Cat
Barn life is made up of tiny moments like this.

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 Ambition and 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.

grazing a horse
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 Pinterest board for Turning For Home includes cross-country jumping, racetrack mornings, Ocala views, and just plain equine silliness.
Follow Natalie’s board Turning For Home – Alex & Alexander # 3 on Pinterest.//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

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.

 

Ride with Equestrian Writers at Horse Crossings

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!

Natalie Reinert with Player
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 Homeand 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.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses - Linda BensonAnd 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.

So come and join us at Horse Crossings! Visit the blog and be sure to subscribe to keep up with all of us.

And if you’ve been waiting for the new Alex and Alexander horse-racing novel, you’re in luck — Turning For Home is almost here!