Okay, it’s been a while. I agree with you there. I’ll have some updates on just what I’ve been up to for four months as I’ve let this blog go quiet. But, first things first: making up for lost time with a giveaway! Sydney Scrogham is hosting a giant giveaway on her blog: Big. Bonus. Giveaway. I’m not kidding. If you enter to win, you’ll get signed print copies of Stay the Distance and Finding Daylight. You’ll also get books by Brittney Joy, Carly Kade, Laura Wolfe, and more! There’s also swag and more swag from all of us authors who want to shower you with presents.
Deck the Stalls hits Amazon on November 10th, but it’s already available for pre-order. So run over and get your copy. Every cent of our royalties goes to benefit Old Friends, a retirement facility for Thoroughbred racehorses. They’re home to Silver Charm and War Emblem, just to name two, although they take care of many more horses–some famous and some not so famous. They do great work, and they always need help, so consider buying a copy of Deck the Stalls as part of your charitable contribution for the year!
Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas-themed set of short stories from some of your favorite equestrian writers! Some of the top authors in the genre have banded together to share Christmas stories from the heart. Look for best-selling authors Maggie Dana, Mary Pagones, Mara Dabrishus, Brittney Joy, Kim Ablon Whitney, Kate Lattey, and Natalie Keller Reinert — plus an all-new Canterwood Crest holiday short story from Jessica Burkhart! And in the true spirit of the holidays, all proceeds will go to benefit Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement home providing life-long homes for former racehorses.
Inside, you’ll find stories from some favorite characters and new ones:
– Jessica Burkhart returns to Canterwood Crest with an all-new holiday story.
– Mara Dabrishus takes us back to Saratoga with July from “Stay the Distance.”
– Natalie Keller Reinert visits her best-selling Eventing Series with a peek into Jules’ early days as a working student.
– Brittney Joy offers a warm-hearted holiday tale with characters from her Red Rock Ranch series.
– Mary Pagones contributes the prequel to “The Horse is Never Wrong” and “Fortune’s Fool.”
– Kate Lattey revisits Pip from “Flying Changes,” along with a new friend.
– Maggie Dana, author of Timber Ridge Riders, writes an all-new holiday story, “The Ticket.”
– Kim Ablon Whitney, author of hunter/jumper series The Circuit, shares a Christmas story in “The Barn Party.”
With prequels, new stories of old friends, and brand new characters to fall in love with, “Deck the Stalls” is a Christmas gift from your favorite authors that you’ll want to read again and again.
This year has gone by so quickly, you guys. In January I released my second novel and yesterday I got all of my Equine Affaire paperwork–VIP parking pass, little hang tag for my rental car, a ticket stamped to a piece of paper promising a fun name badge–and realized November is almost here.
November! Where does the time go?
Okay, I have written three books since January. One of which I published. I know exactly where that time went. I even went to the Ohio Equine Affaire, braving snow and nearly sliding my car into the median somewhere between Cleveland and Columbus. Here’s hoping I won’t bring the snow with me next month at Equine Affaire–Massachusetts edition!
So, what is this Equine Affaire, you ask? Equine Affaire will be held November 10-13th in W. Springfield at the Eastern States Expo. If you’ve never been to Equine Affaire, think horses. Think wall-to-wall horses. All horses, all the time. Sound magical? (Of course it does!) You can get your tickets and learn all about it right here.
This year, I’ll be in a panel discussion about fictional horses and what they say about us–a topic I was born to talk about. At length. Maggie Dana, the tremendous author of Timber Ridge Riders, and thriller author Patti Brooks will be joining me. Connie Johnson Hambley, author of The Troubles, will be moderating. You can find us Thursday, Nov. 10th at 11am on the Seminar Stage.
Additionally, you won’t want to miss the panel discussion on the horse in fiction with the amazingly talented Natalie Keller Reinert, romance author Laura Moore, and Holly Robinson (author of Folly Cove). They’ll be Friday, Nov. 11th at 10am on the Seminar Stage.
But wait! That’s not all. I’ll be at the Taborton Equine Books booth in case you want to chat and/or get your book signed. You can get a copy of any of my books right there, or bring your own copy for a signature.
I’m incredibly excited to announce Deck the Stalls, an anthology of holiday horse stories by equestrian authors I know we all love reading. My contribution, you may ask? Oh, just a little prequel story to Stay the Distance and All Heart.
Check it out:
DECK THE STALLS
edited by Jessica Burkhart and Natalie Keller Reinert
Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas themed set of short stories from some of your fave equestrian writers! Featuring Mara Dabrishus, Maggie Dana, Brittney Joy and more! Also, includes a NEW Canterwood Crest holiday short story from best-seller Jessica Burkhart.
Coming soon from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo and iTunes. ALL proceeds benefit Old Friends–a Kentucky charity that cares for retired racehorses.
More information will be forthcoming. Be on the look out!
I know, I know, I’ve been talking about this book all year and I’ve given out absolutely no details about it other than Lighter’s on the cover. And he is! Just look at him!
Then things went dark over here for two months as I fell into the editing/writing hole. Things happened in that period of time, though. I wrote another 100k book because I couldn’t help myself. I edited All Heart and then edited it again. I survived the tremendously ridiculous heat wave while formatting the book and battling Scrivener’s insane need to make everything bold and in italics. (Why, Scrivener? Why do you hate me?)
But here we are. Finally on the other side. Today, All Heart is available for pre-order on Amazon. I’m also going to give you the summary because you guys have waited long enough.
It’s been a summer of changes for July Carter, who has left the high stakes racing season at Saratoga with not only a young filly to call her own, but also an unexpected boyfriend. Change, it appears, is good.
But as the Thoroughbreds return to Belmont Park for fall races, July is caught up in all of those summer changes. With Kali struggling at her new barn, college applications to write, and her relationship with Beck frustratingly undefined, July doesn’t know what to tackle first. On top of it all, her mother is back in New York to ride Lighter, the barn’s most promising–if completely crazy–colt, stirring up trouble in the shedrow, which now sits mostly empty.
When Lighter goes lame during a workout, July simmers over. And when Beck decides that she might be too much for him, July finds herself staring down another change. This time, it’s unwelcome. This time, her heart is on the line.
Are we excited yet? (I mean, I am.) The official release date is September 30, 2016.
Sometimes readers are just so awesome that you need to showcase them once and a while! Today it’s Courtney from Courtney’s Reads, cracking open Stay the Distance from the back of her obviously good-natured horse, Lily!
This May, I wrote a novel in a month. A NaNoWriMo, if you will, only this particular novel wasn’t 50,000 words. It was 107,000.
Okay, wait, let’s back up.
In April, I was obsessing over first drafts. I had just finished the first draft of All Heart, my horse book sequel to Stay the Distance, and had squirreled it away to let it marinate before attempting to figure out its flaws, because that’s the way of things. I never want to be too close to a first draft when I start on the second draft. There has to be some time apart. It’s for the best, really. Otherwise I’ll lose all sense of self and fall into a pit of impossible rewrites.
So, separation. But what to do in the meantime?
I had already told my editor that I was going to work on what I was calling the Arkansas Novel (Uninspired WIP title? Yes.) this year. My editor and I are both Arkansans. Not born and bred there, but definitely grew up there for years and years. We’re drives on dirt roads, dunks in swimming holes, hope-you-don’t-get-snakebit Arkansans. Naturally, her response was write it now. The thing is I had already tried writing this book. I’d tried five years ago and failed miserably, not sure where it was going and not sure I could even write what I wanted to write. So I let it sit on my hard drive, languishing in a state of unfinished disrepair.
It couldn’t go on that way. But it couldn’t stay the way I’d previously envisioned, either. So I pulled up Blacksnake, the Arkansas Novel’s prequel (available in How to Trick the Devil) and glared at it for a while. Then I opened up a new Word document and proceeded to go nuts.
Okay, not nuts exactly. But I did get really into it. I took my main characters and I started to stretch back their history–something my editor calls writing the fictitious reality. My main characters’ stories, their parents’ stories, their parents’ parents’ stories…I went back to the 1600s. (Like I said, really, really into it.)
Most of the time when you plot a book, you look into its future. You’re plotting out where a book is going, not so much looking into its depths and trying to see its past. That said, by looking into that murky background, I found the story I wanted to write. I found characters I didn’t know I was going to even write about, who would be major players in the story I wanted to push out. Once I got them on the page, their history written down and how they connected to the rest of the world I’d just created, I stopped and turned my attention forward, opening up a new Word document to lay out the backbone for three books–just plot points stringing to plot points from beginning to end across the trilogy. From there, it was fleshing out those plot points into chapters until everything was in place and I could start writing.
So–to the figures. 107,000 words, 31 days. I started the draft on April 11, and I finished it on May 12. I kept a log of how much I wrote every day. I set daily goals in Scrivener, which showed me how fast I was writing with its little gradient-hued progress bar. I was diligent. And I wrote. 1,400 words on May 5th constituted a slow day. 8,000 words on May 9th was…a little frightening. What happened on that day? Did I consist only of story and a flurry of keyboard strokes? How did I even accomplish this?
And the answer, I think, is I enjoyed what I was doing. I sat down and I didn’t spend half my time agonizing over every detail, every bit of dialogue. I got out of the story’s way. There was only the story in my head that said sit down and write me. Shockingly enough, I decided to obey it instead of fight it tooth and nail to the end. There was no forcing it to do anything. The story went down on the page, and where it deviated from the outline, I re-outlined. I added chapters. I just held on as it rushed onto the page–for thirty-one days. When I wrote the ending on that last day I just sat there and stared at the behemoth that seemed to magically have appeared on my computer’s hard drive as my editor yelled at me over Google Chat, “Did you finish it? DID YOU?”
I told her I did–in all caps because EXCITED–and I sent it her way. Then I sat there, thinking about everything else that needed to be done, because there’s always that second draft to get through. And maybe a third, fourth, fifth–the work never really seems done. It’s the most anticlimactic of feelings, finishing a first draft. But still, I was excited. I am excited. I want to rip into this draft, make it better, get this sucker so polished it is shiny with editing, and then write the second book, and the third. I am swept away, and maybe that’s been the secret all along.