Pride, the sequel to Ambition, is now available!

Pride (Book 2: The Eventing Series)

Now available on Kindle!

It’s a sequel years in the making: the second book in The Eventing Series, featuring Jules Thornton, a young trainer struggling to make her eventing dreams come true. Readers have been writing to me and asking for the next installment in Jules’ story ever since Ambition was first released. I’m happy to bring you all Pride, and I promise I have even more of this story to tell in the future!

Released this morning to coincide with the opening of Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event, Pride already has five-star reviews praising its behind-the-scenes-look at training and riding event horses. Here’s a look at a few of the nice things reviewers have been saying:

This is a book about strong women with a passion for horses!

The details about riding are spot on, particularly how to approach (and not approach) a cross-country or a show-jumping course. I love how Reinert describes riding different horses and the debates within the various disciplines about correct striding, pace, and trusting the horse versus carefully setting him up to succeed before a fence.

This book sucks you in right away and holds your attention all the way to the last page!

In Pride, which begins just weeks after the ending of Ambition, Jules has to come to grips with some of the financial and training headaches of modern eventing, a sport in a state of transition. While the old sport favored the bold, new eventing with its emphasis on trappy, show-jumping style combinations on the cross-country course, and the necessity for a perfect dressage score, has presented challenges to riders who are in the sport for the thrill of galloping and jumping. Jules, like a lot of event riders, sees the dressage as something she just has to get through. But dressage is the key to new eventing.

Her business is in trouble and her dreams haven’t gotten any smaller, so when a sponsor offers her potential financial backing, she can’t really afford to look away, even though their terms are less than thrilling. She can go to dressage boot camp with Orlando-based trainer Grace Carter, or she can keep looking for money to appear out of thin air.

Naturally, Jules would prefer to keep looking for money to appear out of thin air–she’s not exactly good at being told what to do. But something has changed since last year, and that’s Pete. Jules isn’t on her own anymore, but that means she can’t make decisions alone anymore. Her plans affect more than just her future.

If you haven’t read about Grace and her farm in Show Barn Bluesor even AmbitionI want to make it easy for you. Now through May 5th, you can download the Kindle editions of Show Barn Blues and Ambition for the special price of $1.99 each. Add in Pride, and you have three great equestrian novels for under $10.

(It’s not a bad way to deal with Rolex withdrawal next week.)

Updates: Book Reviews, Bestsellers, and Tacos

Well, it’s been almost ten days since my last post here — the one where I promised I’d write more, remember that? What happened in the meantime? Well, a little writing, and a whole lotta life…

The goal was to get up every morning and write write every morning before I did anything else. Tea and writing, instead of tea and Twitter, basically. I actually had a really good start! For a few days, I was hammering out a few thousand words on Pride instead of thinking “I should really be working on Pride.” 

Of course, during this time, I was going to work in the afternoons — sometime between noon and five PM. For me, any time I’m working in the evenings, I feel like I have limitless potential to achieve things in the mornings. Writing, reading, errands, you name it, I can accomplish it all and still have a nap before I head to work.

This past week, though, everything changed. I’m training for a new position and my life has turned into morning shifts. Suddenly, I went from a 3 AM bedtime to a 6 AM alarm. I was sleepwalking through the days. It’s probably for the best that I don’t have the strength of character to wake up an hour early to get some writing in. Who knows what nonsense would happen in my dream-state?  I’d probably have Jules riding a chestnut unicorn through the underworld to rescue Pete from a Transformer or something.

Show Barn Blues paperback

Real books, plastic horses.

So, the week has been a little light on word count. Things will shake out in the next week or two, though.

The other fun things happening around Natalie’s world…

-The paperback of Show Barn Blues arrived. It’s gorgeous and looks great with your other horse books! You can now order it through Amazon — I believe Barnes  & Noble and other bookstores will take a few more weeks to add it to their catalogs.

Number 1 Bestseller Equestrian Sports

That’s a ribbon I love seeing

Show Barn Blues has four 5-star reviews on Amazon. It’s made it as high as number 16 on the Amazon Sports Bestseller list, which I think is as high as any of my books have gotten on the Sports list — but much sooner than any of my other books have made it! Horses and Equestrian Sports are the sub-category of Sports where I list my books. The “pages read” reports on borrowed copies is also at record highs for my titles. If you have Amazon Prime, you have access to Kindle Unlimited – that means you can borrow my ebooks for free!

-I’m part of a new author’s co-op called Horseback Reads. Our website is at horsebackreads.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re a group of equestrian writers who hold ourselves and our writing to the highest quality standards, so you’ll always know you’re getting a thoughtfully-crafted, edited, and well-produced book from us. Our social media outlets will be a great way to keep up on new equestrian titles you’ll want to read.

tacos el tenampa

Every time I see them, I want them even more.

-And finally, I had tacos so good they revived my interest in food/travel blogging, so instead of crashing on the couch after dinner, I wrote a blog post about them. If you love tacos, you’re welcome to read my thoughts on them here: http://thatdisfamily.com/2015/09/tacos-el-tenampa-kissimmee/

This is a good thing because any sort of writing inspires more writing. Once you get back in the habit of typing away about your entire life and all your inner thoughts, it’s very addicting. I used to blog daily on multiple sites — in fact, if you’re new to NKR fiction, you might not realize that The Head and Not The Heart was born out of the massive daily readership of my first serious blog, Retired Racehorse.

Well, that’s the news from Celebration. I’m still on the lookout for new reviews for Show Barn Blues, so if you enjoyed the book, my name is Natalie Keller Reinert and I’m on Amazon and GoodReads, and if you didn’t enjoy the book, my name is a secret and you’ve never heard of me. Have a great week!

Show Barn Blues: New Equestrian Fiction

Show Barn Blues

Show Barn Blues

My newest equestrian novel, Show Barn Blues, is now available at Amazon! This ebook edition is part of Kindle Select, which means Amazon Prime members can can borrow it for free.

I’m so excited to bring Grace and her horses to you. Set in central Florida, Show Barn Blues explores barn politics, the business of horses, and what happens when a once-rural community changes around a thriving equestrian center. If you’ve ever spent any time in a boarding stable, you’ll feel right at home in Grace’s beautiful barn.

Show Barn Blues is also connected to the Eventing Series, which continues later this year with book 2, Pride.

Like my other equestrian fiction titles, Show Barn Blues features adult characters, not teenagers — but you’ll find it’s a suitable read for all ages.

From the back cover:

Grace has built her life on show horses. It’s been a good life, too — she mounts her wealthy students on European warmbloods, competes her horses on Florida’s rigorous A-circuit, and runs the nicest barn in the neighborhood. Then, suddenly, it’s the only barn in the neighborhood.

As Grace’s country town becomes a sun-drenched playground of pools and golf courses, she vows that no bulldozer will ever touch her farm. With her neighbors selling their farms and moving to more isolated corners of Florida, she finds herself fighting off land-hungry developers alone — until Kennedy comes along.

Kennedy is everything Grace doesn’t want around her bustling show barn — a pleasure rider who would rather wander in the woods than tackle a show-jumping course. Kennedy might make for an unlikely sidekick, but she’s just the inspiration Grace needs to fight back against the developers who want to bulldoze her corner of Floridian wilderness — and, eventually, against the wilderness itself.

If you’re waiting for the paperback of Show Barn Blues, good news! It should be available in the next two weeks.

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We’re Getting Closer to Show Barn Blues!

At last, a reason to blog!

It’s been a long, hot summer, readers — or has it? I’ve been working so much this summer, it went flying by like one of those particularly deranged dragonflies that goes right past your nose and scares you to death and you shriek and wave your hands in your face and everyone turns around and stares at you and you say “did you SEE that thing?” but nobody did…

Oh wait, that was me the other night at work.

I’m telling you, that thing was HUGE.

Anyway, it’s been busy. Working at Walt Disney World by day (well, really, by night) and working at my computer by night (usually by day). It’s a wonderful balance, when it works — working at Disney lets me get out from behind a screen and chatter with people from all around the world, and working at my computer lets my voice (and my brain) recover from eight hours of all that chattering.

It’s great, but summertime can be challenging at one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations… long hours, late nights, and a newly rediscovered penchant for sleeping until 11 AM can all take their toll on one’s writing goals.

However, I set myself a goal of finishing Show Barn Blues by the end of August, and I’m happy to announce that I’ve achieved that goal! Fully edited and ready to go, all we need now is the final cover design and internal formatting, and we will have ourselves a new novel!

One of my favorite characters is Ivor, a sassy gray stallion.  Photo: Serge Melki/flickr

One of my favorite characters is Ivor, a sassy gray stallion.
Photo: Serge Melki/flickr

I’m excited to bring you this story, which has some characters and horses I just love, including Grace Carter (her name might be different in previous blog posts, this has been a long process), who is a been-there-done-that barn owner; her sassy gray stallion, Ivor; a former dinner show/hunter princess named Kennedy; and a cast of grooms, working students, and boarders who keep life interesting.

One challenge that I’m having with Show Barn Blues — how to categorize it on Amazon. You might notice that on Amazon, the books in a series will show up on the same page. Look at Turning For Home’s page and you’ll see the other novels in the Alex and Alexander series right on the page, listed numerically. Nice, right?

Well, Show Barn Blues is technically part of the Eventing Series, which begins with Ambition. The Eventing Series was plotted out as a trilogy, and the next novel, Pride, will follow Ambition. So that’s logically Book 2.

However, we’re going to meet the characters from Show Barn Blues in Pride. They’re important to the story. They just don’t fit into the trilogy. They’re like a bonus novel. Does that make Show Barn Blues “a novel of the Eventing Series,” perhaps?

It’s a shame that Amazon doesn’t allow “1.5” as a volume number, because I would just use that — but I’ve already tried that particular scheme before and it doesn’t work.

Other than that conundrum, the writing life is good. I have all the tools I need for my final draft of Pride. Barring work insanity, I should have the next Jules novel to you by the end of the year. I’m rereading Ambition to make sure I have her snotty voice in my head, although Jules is softening… a little. She’s still prickly, but life with Pete is starting to sand down those rough edges… a little. 

Maybe it shouldn’t take me two years to bring out the sequel to a book as popular as Ambition, but it really does take me that long to write a book. I found notes the other day for Turning For Home, and they were dated 2013. I released TFH in 2015, so there you have it — that’s just the way I write!

So get ready for Show Barn Blues. I’ll have it out for you soon!

Introducing new equestrian fiction in “Show Barn Blues”

originally posted at Horse Crossings

Wow! I am really bad at editorial calendars!

You’re supposed to decide what you’re going to write, write it, edit it, and release it, right? Simple. For normal people.

Here’s what I decided to do instead.

Write a novel.

Shelve it.

Write another novel, using characters from the shelved novel.

Decide I still really liked the shelved novel.

Edit the shelved novel to publish first.

Plan on changing second novel to make room for changes based upon the shelved novel.

DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

Of course it doesn’t.

I’m a writer and I don’t have to make sense. 

I know, I know, excuses, excuses. But this way you get two novels out of it, so I’m not sure what grounds anyone has to complain…

So here’s the deal.

I based my new novel, "Show Barn Blues," on big boarding stables I've worked at over the years.

I based my new novel, “Show Barn Blues,” on big boarding stables I’ve worked at over the years.

I’m working on Pride, the sequel to Ambition, featuring characters and plot lines from Show Barn Blues, a stand-alone novel that I wrote last summer but didn’t publish. The thing was (as I wrote at my blog back in May), there were events and sequences in Show Barn Blues that I simply couldn’t replicate in Pride. The sub-plot of developing farm land into golf courses, and what drives a trainer to continue in the business long after the thrill has gone, were too big to wedge into Pride, which is really about giving up control. Those two things don’t blend at all.

I wanted to release Pride first because so many people have asked for it, and I respect that, but Show Barn Blues really has so much to offer. Grace Carter, a middle-aged hunter/jumper trainer, has given her life to the show business, trying to escape a childhood nightmare that never would have happened if she had stayed in the arena as she’d been told. At the same time, she is preserving her grandfather’s old farm, the scene of her happiest memories. She’s caught in the middle, trying to save the land that she wants nothing to do with. As developers circle her farm, Grace is trying to somehow salvage her future while accepting her past. Meanwhile, a new trail-riding boarder, Kennedy, is determined to change things for Grace and her arena-bound students.

This is a sample of Grace’s point of view:

***

The next day, Colleen cancelled her Sunday evening lesson to take Bailey on a trail ride with Kennedy. I was already furious when Missy Ormond showed up to ride in a pair of jeans, which was strongly discouraged — I liked my students to have a professional appearance at all times — and I nearly spit nails when, while wiping off her tack after her riding lesson, she suggested that we all have a group trail ride in a few weeks.

I had been mulling over a new cancellation fee for all riding lessons. “What’s that?” I snapped, but Missy was so excited, she didn’t notice my tone.

“With a barbecue,” she went on enthusiastically. “We could use that old fire-pit, and roast marshmallows. Or make s’mores.”

“What old fire-pit?” I knew exactly where my grandfather’s fire-pit had been dug and bricked, but nobody else knew about it. Rather, nobody else had known about it. Was Kennedy going to dig out all of my skeletons and parade them around in front of me? I put things deep into closets for a reason.

Missy didn’t notice my sudden tension. She hopped down from Donner and ran up her stirrups. “It’s out by the lake,” she explained. “We could all ride to the lake and maybe the grooms or anyone who doesn’t want to ride can take out supplies and wait for us with the Gator. It’s an easy ride. It’s practically a road. Did you know there’s a road out there?”

“It’s an old Indian trail,” I muttered, and everyone in the tack room started clamoring to see it, unable to believe I had denied them the opportunity to ride on a real live Indian trail. “That lake has gators in it,” I added. “And moccasins.”

“So does all the water in Florida,” Missy said, cocky after a good ride. She’d gotten Donner around a three foot nine course without any dirty stops at all — Donner was known for dropping his shoulder when he did not feel that his rider was paying sufficient attention, sending said rider tumbling into the fence while he went the other way. “I might not have lived here my whole life, but I know that. Have you been to Gatorland Zoo? I held a baby gator there. It had its mouth taped shut.”

I had, but when I was ten or eleven, not when I was forty-four years old and the mother of three. “The gators out at the pond will not have their jaws taped shut,” I reminded her. “And horses don’t like them.”

“Oh, they’ll swim away when we come,” Missy laughed. “Kennedy says they’re afraid of horses.” She turned and led Donner back to the barn, his hooves ringing on the concrete pathway, the one we’d constructed over a perfectly good pathway of sand so that the boarders could keep their boots clean. I’d gone to insane lengths to provide affluent equestrians with a picture-perfect equine utopia, and now they all wanted to do was mess around in the woods and look at alligators. One had to wonder what the point of anything was.

***

This latest equestrian fiction tale is uniquely Floridian, and uniquely equestrian (as I hope that all of my stories have been). Whether you’ve devoted your life to horses or you’ve been an enthusiast, you’ll recognize Grace, Kennedy, and the cast of boarders and students who make up the show barn at Seabreeze Stables. And if you’ve ever seen a “coming soon” sign go up in front of beloved woodlands, you’ll be ready to fight alongside Grace to save the farm and everything that it stands for.

And I promise you, once I’ve finished Show Barn Blues and you’re all distracted reading about Grace and friends, I’ll finish Pride. Grace meets Jules. Oh, the fireworks.

Writing Process: Novels Within Novels

Last summer I wrote about half, maybe more, of a novel I was calling Show Barn Blues. Then I stopped, because the emails and messages to write more about Jules and Alex were just overwhelming. I decided to take the character I created for Show Barn Blues and make her a central character in the new Jules novel.

Of course, this could have been an easy case of copying and pasting some of my favorite material from Show Barn Blues… If I hadn’t written it in first person. And if Ambition hadn’t been written in first person. Damn me and my lack of respect for omniscient narrator!

What I’m finding is that as I am pulling inspiration from Show Barn Blues, some of the actual writing is going to have to be given an outlet of its own at some point. I love the character, her voice, and her story too much to keep her secondary. Sally is a been-there, done-that dressage trainer running a large equestrian center far from the fields of Ocala. She has to take extraordinary measures to keep her farm running as the suburbs gobble up farm land left and right. Because no one, and I mean no one, is taking Sally’s farm to put a golf course on it.

With horses, there are always more stories to tell than I have time for...  Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With horses, there are always more stories to tell than I have time for…
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t know exactly how it’s going to pan out, because obviously my schedule this year includes finishing Pride, the sequel to Ambition, and then working on the next Alex novel for a release late this year. I do have nearly enough material for a novella, though. I just have to work out the timing, but I think it can be a complementary novel to the Eventing Series, sort of in the Jules universe.

Part of my writing process seems to be finding stories that I’ve written before, realizing that I love them, growing utterly confused that I abandoned them, and then reviving them into something completely new and different.

If you only knew how many drafts I went through of completely different stories before I finally stumbled upon the story line for Turning For Home. 

Let’s just say I have material for at least three more Alex books, if I follow my current pattern.

Meanwhile, when it comes to this new idea for a companion novella to Ambition and Pride, I’d love to know what you think. Here’s a little excerpt from the draft of Show Barn Blues:

But that night, flipping out the barn lights, the construction company’s sign invaded my thoughts again. I walked down the paved driveway towards my house, wishing I had a dog to keep me company. It was seven thirty and dark out, the long summer evenings already a thing of the past despite the lingering heat. It would be hot until mid-October, I knew, and then we might get a cold front or two, a cool night or two. It would be a rare thing, brought by wind and storm, and everyone would be just as bad-tempered about the cold as they were about the heat.

I took it all in stride. This was my home. Florida’s weather was unpredictable to some, but for me, the next day’s weather was always written in the clouds the night before. You just had to know what to look for.

Tonight the night sky was clear as spring water, but the stars were more dim than they had been in years past. Light pollution had invaded Chotokee. When I was a kid, begging to go ride at Grampa’s farm, the nearest street lights had been on the interstate, nearly fifteen miles away. That was before the interstate was joined by a toll road. That had been the enabler—the houses, and then the tourists, had come in a flood once the roads were improved.

It had happened so fast. One day I’d been riding with my grandfather, the next day I was installed at a show barn and perfecting my hunter rounds, and then suddenly I had been showing professionally for my entire adult life and students were asking me to start my own barn and settle down in one place.

By the time I’d come back from the show circuit, lean and tanned and twenty years older, the farms had already started to disappear. But the tack shop was still downtown in its dilapidated brick storefront, right next to the Wagon Wheel Restaurant (Family Cooking with a Smile!), and the feed store was still a collection of rotting wood outbuildings sprawled alongside the railroad tracks. Now the feed store had made way for a home design store and nursery, and the tack shop had been renovated and was a clothing boutique in a pretty downtown beloved by day-trippers. I didn’t bother going into town much anymore, though. Chotokee had been reborn, but I had kind of liked it the way it was. The cost for a revitalized downtown was very high, for the farmers who had frequented the old one.

Grampa hadn’t had to see it change. He was gone by then.

I crossed the grass under the live oaks and went up the sagging wooden steps of my little house. A 1920s bungalow, with a half-rotted front porch and flaking paint, it was my favorite place in the world. My grandfather’s house, left for me, the black sheep of the Carter family. The only one who loved horses, the only one who would never give it up.

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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