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.

 

Other People’s Horses Selected as Semi-Finalist in Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award

For a girl writing about racehorses, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Other People's Horses: Book 2 of Alex and AlexanderYesterday, Castleton Lyons, home of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, announced the eight semi-finalists for the 2013 competition. This unique award celebrates one common theme in full-length literary works: the racehorse.

Imagine my delight I was thrilled to see I FREAKED OUT AND NEARLY HAD A HEART ATTACK when I saw my own Other People’s Horses on the list, the lone novel amongst racing histories, memoirs, and biographies.

There are no words for my appreciation for not just the nomination, but all the readers who encouraged me, left me nice reviews at Amazon and GoodReads, sent me emails to let me know they liked the books, and have generally clamored for me to continue writing about horses and the people who love them. I never would have dared enter this competition without you and your support!

Thank you for telling me that Other People’s Horses means something to you!

I promise there is more to come.

If you haven’t read Other People’s Horses, I still love you. Go to my Facebook page for a coupon code for 20% off the paperback at the CreateSpace store, good now through March 31st.

And with that, here is the press release for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Awards semi-finalists. Have you read any of the other books? Tell us about them in the comments!

2013 Dr. Ryan semi-finalists exceptional group

The 2013 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award competition has drawn the strongest slate of semi-finalists in its eight year history to date, an impressive assortment of well-penned histories, fiction, biography, and autobiographies—both human and equine. In the end, the underdog theme ruled the day in this cycle of uniquely award-worthy entries.

Launched in 2006 by the late Dr. Ryan, the award, worth $10,000 to the winner, was the industry’s first to honor full-length literary work focusing on racing. Dr. Ryan loved good writing as much as he loved a good Thoroughbred, and thus placed few parameters on his concept other than skill with the written word.

Three 2013 finalists will be revealed via press release on March 17 (see: http://www.castletonlyons.com/). The winner will be announced during an invitation-only reception at the Ryan family’s historic Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington on April 9.

Book Award Semifinalists:

Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America’s Horse
Author: Dorothy Ours
A character-driven work based in the early decades of the 20th century. Battleship centers on enigmatic Marion DuPont of the famed chemical manufacturing family … her battles against the gender limitations of her time, her marriage to a Hollywood movie star, and most importantly, her undying love for horses—most specifically her faith in a pint-sized son of Man o’ War, who, in 1938, packed her colors to victory in the world’s most heart-testing race: England’s Grand National Steeplechase.

Casual Lies: A Triple Crown Adventure
Author: Shelley Lee Riley
The feel-good narrative of a woman trainer who sees potential in a small, nondescript bay colt and runs with it—literally—parlaying a meager $7,500 purchase price into $795,991 in career earnings. Under the name Casual Lies, the colt took Shelley Riley on the ride of a lifetime, winning in graded company and, more importantly, placing in both the 1992 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest Upset
Author: David Owen
Another with the Grand National as a backdrop, this one provides an account of the 1967 renewal, unimaginably upset by the 100-to-1 title character, Foinavon. Owen details how the winner and his companion, a white nanny goat named Susie, thereafter charmed the British masses as they traveled the country on a “victory tour,” while reminding one and all of the true meaning and glory of the Grand National itself.

Jack: From Grit to Glory  
Author: Chris Kotulak
The story of a living American legend, told via anecdotal material, interviews of those who know him best, and through memories from the man himself. The down-to-earth Nebraskan is a Hall of Fame horseman and himself the son of a Hall of Fame trainer; and in the course of his nearly 60 years—and counting—on the track, Van Berg has remarkably developed both racehorses and other trainers of Hall of Fame caliber.

Other People’s Horses
Author: Natalie Keller Reinert
The only fiction entry among the finalists, this one brings back a pair of married trainers, Alex and Alexander, from 2012’s Head and Not the Heart. In this one, the husband is abroad on family business, leaving Alex at Saratoga running the stable, battling sexism, dealing with a naïve assistant, and falling hard for a crazy filly she thinks she can fix.

Ride the White Horse: A Checkered Jockey’s Story of Racing, Rage, and Redemption
Author: Eddie Donnally
Gut-wrenching autobiography of a jockey on a road straight to hell, replete with race-fixing schemes, batteries, and squandered dreams. Stalked by alcoholism, drug and sex-addiction, and mental illness, we follow Donnally’s life as it descends from nascent talent into hopelessness, homelessness, and total despair. Donnally’s gritty mea culpa of a life not well lived may be a tough read, but is ultimately, one of hope and redemption.