Read my Interview for the FEI

Well, I always knew I’d be featured on the FEI’s website.

I just assumed it would be to celebrate my gold medal in the Olympics. I think “equestrian author” has a nice ring to it, though!

One of the best things that could have possibly happened to me in January, when I’d just found out my job was ending and I was trying to sort out What Happens Next, was receiving an email asking if I could schedule an interview for the FEI website.  Getting a feature story at the governing body of all equestrian sport? I felt much better after that, thanks! Timing can truly be everything.

The interview itself was a really lovely phone chat, in which we discussed everything from my childhood notebooks filled with pony stories to the current state of racing. I’m quite happy with the way it turned out (although I could live without some of those pink-cheeked selfies that were lifted from my Facebook page).

There are some tips for equestrian authors in the piece, but if you’re looking for more meaty stuff, do stick around here as I’m going to be continuing to write about the business of equestrian fiction at nataliekreinert.com!

So take a look at the interview, and please share it on your social media networks to help get the word out to readers who haven’t found out about equestrian fiction yet!

Link – FEI: Reading and Writing

Don’t Hate the Side-Hustle

The side-hustle is getting a lot of grief these days.

Having a side-gig is getting blamed for everything from millennial burn-out to the accusation that we’re turning our hobbies into jobs because of online/offline peer pressure (and thus hating our hobbies for being our jobs).

And while it’s true the entrepreneurial mood right now is focused on eradicating the toxic “always be hustling” culture we were taught to adore in the first fifteen years of this awful new century, the fact is, gigs and hustles and multiple hats are part of our culture and our economy now. Let’s be real: we live in a very disappointing simulation most of the time. Ah, 2019: wage stagnation, financial inequality, and an expectation that if we need anything in an emergency, or even the very basics of healthcare, a for-profit corporation will handle it… providing your job still fits into their latest business plan. We should be so lucky as to have a passion we can monetize, if that’s our society’s status quo.

So don’t hate the gig economy, hate the game — then learn to play it well. Start off by knowing thy enemy: it’s not the work.

Cross-stitch pattern "don't quit your day dream"

Photo: Brianna Santellan/Unsplash

The root cause of both burn-out and of hating your passion-turned-job is a lack of balance, not simply the monetization of hobbies.

Here’s the thing: there is nothing more important than work-life balance. While it’s really common to get burn-out just from working your nine-to-five, it’s also true that side-hustles, even the ones you are passionate about, can easily upend whatever tenuous grasp you might have had on work-life balance–especially when they’re added to a nine-to-five day.

When I was working a full-time job and writing fiction and freelancing and trying to ride just a couple of days per week, my life was a series of precariously balanced appointments, with meticulously monitored commute times to make it all possible.

I had to give up freelancing, but even that wasn’t enough. I barely had the energy to write anything after work, I didn’t have time to work out so I could feel healthy and good about myself, and getting to the barn was an exercise in resilience and not going crazy in traffic jams.

One person calling “Hey Natalie, quick question?” from the office next to mine at 4:03 PM was enough to mean that, fifteen minutes later, I was sadly slogging out to my car to drive home, knowing I wasn’t going to get to ride that night. It was absolutely important that I stick to my timetable, from leaving my apartment at 7:20 AM to beat morning traffic, to getting out at by 4:10 to almost beat evening traffic. A few minutes’ diversion either way meant an extra 20 minutes or more of time stuck in the car, while daylight waned. (Orlando notoriously has some of the worst traffic in the country, so that was part of it.)

I don’t know if keeping to that strict timetable was work-life balance or a slowly soul-numbing descent into hell, but either way, once my full-time job was over, I realized I didn’t have to clock-watch in order to get to the things I loved. So I turned back to my passions and sorted out what parts of them I could monetize (or in some cases, hyper-monetize) and found actual control over my day. It is my day, after all.

It’s all about balance. Photo: Thomas Peham/Unsplash

Of course, there’s work to be done at balancing all of my side-hustles, turning my work day into one big succession of hustles.

At first I asked: can I write for a certain website I enjoy writing for and produce a novel in 90 days and pick up a freelance social media campaign and plan travel and teach riding lessons and have a family life? It turns out that no, I can’t. I’ve been back in the hustle life for less than two months and I’ve already had to make some adjustments to my expectations of myself. I had to do some calculations, figure out the ROI on the work I was doing, and choose to prioritize the work paying the highest ROI and eliminate the work paying the lowest.

As a result, I’ve now completed the first draft of a novel in record time (six weeks, thank you for asking!), booked some very cool vacations for some very cool people, started teaching riding lessons so we can rock a new generation of horsey kids, started working out (I can run three miles now without stopping, thank you for asking!), and spend what is probably too much time with my family, no seriously, I think they are tired of me.

And what I love most? This can change. I can change this up tomorrow. I could add a freelance gig, pick up a part-time job so that I can remember how to interact with other humans, jump on a contract and work in an office for a few months making something cool happen, write another book, write a series of short stories, start a podcast (okay that probably won’t make any money) — but the point is, my life is mix-and-match right now, and I’m running around the candy shop, picking my favorite flavors.

Let your hobby earn you some breathing room. Let your passions run your life. Let your side-hustles give you new meaning.

Just keep it balanced. You can do this.

The Internet gives us the opportunity to market ourselves with almost no effort. Want to sell your dressage-themed cross-stitch pillows, but don’t have time to market them? Start an Instagram and a Facebook, and spend an hour on Saturday evening scheduling posts for the week while you’re ignoring Netflix. (You’re on your phone anyway.) Tag some horsey influencers and ask if you can mail them a couple. There, you did some marketing for the week. No craft shows, no tack shop cold calls, no fuss. Now you can get back to ignoring Netflix in peace.

The gig economy is here and we can let it empower us, or we can let it burn us out. What we can’t do is deny it exists, and that it’s taking over our lives. How are you going to hustle it?

PS: if you’re marketing dressage cross-stitch pillows, I want to see them. And if you’re making something awesome – contact me! I’m going to start a monthly feature on equestrians with side-hustles!

New Equestrian Fiction Coming in 2019

Having closed out 2018 with two new equestrian fiction novels — Horses in Wonderland and Luck, I’m really excited to say there will be plenty of new fiction in 2019! This is going to be a very big year of goals, deadlines, and lots of frantic typing… in other words, it’s a dream year for a writer.

new equestrian fiction in 2019

It’s a big year for new equestrian fiction!

If you’re looking for more of my equestrian fiction coming in 2019, the first place to start will be Patreon. If it goes live on Amazon, it will start its life at Patreon. And this year, Patreon will also be home to exclusive fiction.

Exclusive New Equestrian Fiction at Patreon

I’ve started the year with A Thousand Tiny Bites, a novella featuring split narratives from Jules (The Eventing Series) and Alex (The Alex and Alexander Series). Jules and Alex are together on the horse-shopping trip from hell! Every other week, Patreon supporters who subscribe from $1 per month get a new chapter of this unique novella — one week it’s from Jules’s point of view, and the next week it’s from Alex’s. This novella will remain exclusive to Patreon users after its conclusion, so if you want to read it, Patreon is the only place to find it.

Plus, as a special bonus, when I reach $200 per month in subscriptions, I’ll create a special ebook edition of A Thousand Tiny Bites, just for Patreon supporters!

The new Eventing Series novel is coming to Patreon

new equestrian fiction in 2019 - book 5 of the eventing series

The next update on Mickey and Jules is coming in 2019!

First draft fans who loved reading Horses in Wonderland as I wrote it are in for another insider look as I begin work on the fifth installment in The Eventing Series. Featuring the latest drama/adventures of Jules and Pete, a trainer couple with big dreams and little bank balances, this novel is going to be a wild tale with some new challenges for the team and their beloved horses, including Dynamo, Mickey, Regina and more.

Patreon supporters with a $5 per month subscription will get to read the new Eventing Series novel in its first draft form as I write it, plus receive a download of the finished book upon ebook publication. Plus, the first draft chapters of Horses in Wonderland are still in the archives, and I’m not planning on taking them down–enjoy!

More to come

This is just the start of 2019’s writing agenda, so if you’re looking for new equestrian fiction in 2019, stay tuned! There are a lot of new words and stories coming from this writer.

Be sure to explore the tiers at Patreon — I’ve added a lot of variety so that there is plenty of content and value for everyone. It’s the best way to get first access to my writing, plus help support the creation of new stories. Without my Patreon supporters, I would not have been able to publish Horses in Wonderland last year. It’s just an incredible way to connect and gain the financial support I need to put aside commercial work and focus on fiction.

Visit my Patreon Page for details.

Read It First at Patreon

Do you want to be the first to read new and unpublished writing? Guess what, kids — that’s a thing now. Because if you didn’t know it, I’m sharing the new goods at Patreon now.

Patreon is a subscription-based service which connects creators and their supporters. Artists, musicians, podcasters — anyone who makes things for other people to enjoy — are all using Patreon to support their work.

Patreon means even more reading for you. Photo: James Tarbotton/unsplash

Patreon means even more reading for you. Photo: James Tarbotton/unsplash

It’s especially useful for a novelist like myself. Because I usually put out one novel a year (maybe two, in a very good year), income isn’t exactly on a biweekly schedule like a full-time paycheck would be. Like most writers, I’ve always supplemented with freelance work. In my case, that has meant a lot of social media work, ghost writing, blogging and other creative work.

Freelancing is great, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve been fortunate to grow into a successful social media marketer and content writer in a very competitive field. But it takes away the one thing I need in order to put out my next novel for you to read: time to write.

That was the first thing that made me eye Patreon. But still, I wasn’t sure it would work for me. I kept putting the idea on the back-burner.

BUT, while I was busy realizing that freelancing was killing the novels it was supposed to be supporting, I also noticed that social media, specifically Facebook, is becoming more and more unpleasant. Everyone’s always picking a fight. I’m not sure what the reason is — maybe people can’t help themselves. But expressing an opinion as simple as liking a video of a cute kid on a horse, or as complicated as disappointment in a top-level eventer’s bitting choices, can set a person up for a lot of ugly argument and name-calling. I was frustrated by this, because I want to have conversations about the business of horses with my readers — after all, that’s what my books are all about.

(Actual footage of a Facebook fight)

Back in January, I made the decision to start a Patreon program that tackles both of these problems. One, with subscribers who support my fiction writing, I can stop thinking about ghost writing another blog post about equine nutrition and get back to working on my next novel — letting subscribers read the work they’re subsidizing along the way.

Two, when there’s a discussion worth having about the business of horses, we can have it in a safe space, free of Facebook’s inevitable bad mojo and fighting.

July marks the six-month b-day of my Patreon program, and I am excited to say… this experiment is working! When I decided to launch a subscription service at Patreon, I was working against all of my instincts, and I knew it. Share my new novels chapter-by-chapter as I write them? Are you kidding? I don’t publish before at least two massive revisions and usually one rewrite.

(Actual footage of a first draft being written)

But it’s such a pleasure to share stories as they’re written (and working just a bit harder on getting the first draft right will surely save me time on the second one, right?).

Plus, I love having a conversation about the story’s direction, how readers are connecting with the settings and situations, and what we should do next. I’m also going back through my old notebooks, sharing unpublished sketches, stories and scenes — even visiting the early, abandoned versions of The Head and Not The Heart and Ambition. 

All of this is a long blog post to say, I’d love to have you take a look at my Patreon and see if I’m offering something you’re looking for. Starting at a dollar a month, you can read unpublished work I share at least once a month. There are more tiers as well, which include rewards like reading a new chapter of my novels in progress once a month (with an ebook of the finished product coming your way at publication, so you don’t have to buy it!) and critiques of your own writing projects so we can get you to publication yourself.

If you’re looking for more horse stories to read, and great horse people to talk to, come join us!

Just visit patreon.com/nataliekreinert — see you there!

Vacation makes me more ambitious

March, where did you go?

March is usually on my favorite month short-list, because it’s my birthday month, and because the clocks spring forward and we can actually ride again, instead of putting in some sad twenty-minute nonsense before the sun goes down and we have to trudge home with all our goals unmet, just so the sun can come up early. What good does an early sunrise do anybody? (Unless you get up to gallop racehorses at five a.m. Don’t answer that.)

I spent a good half of March away from home. It might be the longest I’ve ever been away, and I was very sorry to leave behind my amazing mattress and pillow with the prospect of many different hotel and Airbnb beds in my future. From London to Manchester to Belfast to all-over-Ireland and back again, it was a combo business/pleasure trip, and you know how hard those are to pack for. I schlepped my favorite black skirt all over hill and dale, and never even wore it.

Sheep and sky near Molls Gap, on the Ring of Kerry.

I saw some incredible places in Ireland (Killarney National Park blew my mind, as did the lonely southern end of the Cliffs of Moher, which we trekked up to via a muddy farm lane, rather than heading for the more well-traveled north end and its visitor’s center). Eventually, I’ll even get my pictures off the camera and then I’ll share some. In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking of going to Ireland… do it.

Jogging with Maggie through Killarney National Park, on our way to Ross Castle.

The great thing about vacation is once I’ve had a few days of no work, I get incredibly pumped up to get back to work and do all the things. Not just work — working out, eating right, getting enough sleep, everything. I’d be sitting in a pub drinking Guinness and eating a pile of local mussels and a loaf of brown bread and thinking, when I get home I’m going to drink less beer, eat less bread, work out, write my novel… basically everything the opposite of a vacation!

Ben showing off his summer coat… he was totally transformed from shaggy pony to sleek small horse while I was away!

So I’ve been back in Florida since Sunday (today’s Friday) and I’ve ridden Ben three times for an hour–very long for us–plus pulled his ridiculously shaggy pony mane, I’ve downloaded a couch-to-5K app and actually gone running, I’ve eaten all kinds of fruits and vegetables (I did have ice cream once this week though), I’ve gotten up early to write before heading off to Office Job, and finally today I prepared Chapters 2 and 3 of Horses in Wonderland for Patreon and uploaded them.

Which, by the way, I really hope you’ll give a read and leave a comment. I’m reading the second half of Pride to see where I actually left Grace, Kennedy and Company. But a lot of you have read Show Barn Blues and Pride far more recently than I have, so if you notice any inconsistencies, or if you know of any plot lines you’d like for me to pick up again, please drop a note in for me. That’s one advantage of uploading first drafts to Patreon rather than writing in my usual cozy vacuum.

The Patreon model is really helpful because basically, Patrons contribute a few bucks to me and it covers the time I would usually spend working on freelance work, allowing me to work on novels instead. In return, I share the first draft as its written and also send Patrons a digital copy (and paperback, depending on the contribution level) of the novel once its complete. I actually gave up my last freelance client so I could concentrate on my novels because the demand from readers is so great, but I do have to make up that income.

Plus, I think it’s an exciting way to share the writing process. And it takes me way out of my comfort zone, sharing and asking for feedback on the first draft. Like guys, I just don’t do that. You have no idea how private I am with my writing.

So anyway, Chapter 1 of Horses in Wonderland, the sequel to Show Barn Blues (and I guess, in a way, to Pride), is free to read, and you can decide from there if you’d like to read more. Click here to give it a look!

Also, my other work in progress, You Must Be This Tall, is on Patreon. This is a novel about the crazy world of theme park fandom, with a collection of brand new characters you’ve never met before… unless you happen to be a theme park fan, and then you’ve definitely met them! Give it a go here.

Before I sign off, I just want to say thank you to the readers who have given Luck 40 great reviews on Amazon. Whether you loved it more than any of the others, or you had some constructive criticism – noted!! – your reviews keep Luck visible, and that’s how it finds new readers. If you haven’t reviewed Luck, it just takes a few moments, so won’t you pop over and say what you think?

Thanks everyone for keeping equestrian fiction going! What’s everyone reading right now? Drop a comment with your recommendations!

OH, one more thing. This song I’m sharing below is getting serious repeat play in my earbuds right now. It’s a very dreamy synthpop ballad, so if you’re not sure if our musical tastes match up, I promise it isn’t going to assault your ears! Look for it on a writing playlist after Horses in Wonderland. I might be writing about another Ocala couple you like next. Plus, if you’re interested in my previous writing playlists, click here for the Spotify playlist I made while writing Courage

Join Me at Equine Affaire 2016

I can’t believe Equine Affaire is only a couple of weeks away! Mid-November still sounds like months in the future, maybe because we’ve only just had our first cool spell here in central Florida – it’s about sixty degrees this morning, guys! But it’s true: Equine Affaire’s Massachusetts expo, November 10th through 13th 2016, is in less than three weeks.

(And I only own sleeveless dresses, so please pray to the weather gods it’s unseasonably warm. Last time I went to Equine Affaire, it SNOWED.)

Join me at Equine Affaire 2016 - presentations, book-signings, or just a good chat about horses and books!

Join me at Equine Affaire 2016 – presentations, book-signings, or just a good chat about horses and books! Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 AM.

This year I’ll be on an author panel discussion about the importance of horses in fiction. If you’re here reading this, you know that horse books are the best books! What makes it that way, though? Is it just a mirror to the lives we love? Or is there something about horses that just makes any book better?

I’ll be in conversation with authors Laura Moore (who has a beautiful romance, Remember Me, set on a Thoroughbred farm in Virginia) and Holly Robinson (whose new novel, Folly Cove, features horses in a coastal northeastern town. Maybe she has some winter clothing advice for me). Our moderator is the talented Connie Johnson Hambley, whose novelsThe Troubles and The Charity are set in the horse world. It’s going to be a (slightly nerdy) amazing time.

Add our panel to your schedule: “Capturing the Essence of Horse in Fiction: How authors use horses to tell you a better story” on Friday, November 11th at 10:00 AM

And Hambley will be presenting with some of my favorite writers in another panel, as well! Mara Dabrishus, author of the remarkable and amazing (can you tell I love them) horse racing novels Staying the Distance and All Heart (among others) will be alongside also remarkable and amazing Maggie Dana, author of Timber Ridge Riders, and (also remarkable and talented) equestrian thriller writer, Patti Brooks.

Add their panel to your schedule: “Favorite Fictional Horses: From the Black Stallion to My Little Pony – What our favorites say about us” on Thursday, November 10th at 11:00 AM. 

Natalie Keller Reinert at Tampa Bay Downs.

Here’s a helpful photo of me looking intense and writerly so that I’m easy for you to spot and avoid – I mean spot and chat with – at Equine Affaire

Along with these panels, there will be plenty of chat-time at the best booth in all of Equine Affaire, Taborton Equine BooksI’ll be at the book-signing table, daring you to come talk to me, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

There will be paperbacks of my novels for sale, or bring your own!

If you’re on the fence about attending Equine Affaire, go visit the website and see all the other incredible presentations available. Then come see me. Because I can’t wait to meet you!

 

 

 

Join Natalie Keller Reinert at Equine Affaire 2016:

At the Seminar Stage

Friday, November 11, 2016: 10 AM

At Taborton Equine Books

Thursday, November 10, 2016: 3 PM – 5 PM

Friday, Nov. 11: 1 PM – 4 PM

Saturday, Nov. 12: 10 AM – 12 PM

Making Writing a Habit: So You Want to Write a Horse Book, Part 4

So now you’re blogging, right? You’ve read the first three parts of my series, and you’re following all of my advice, not in a crazy follow-the-guru kind of way, but in a she’s-been-down-this-road kind of way. You’re thinking about the way you want to write, if you’re going to write as true-to-life as you can, or if you’re going to create a new universe for your characters to inhabit. You’re ready to start making this thing happen.

(This is the 4th in my series on writing your horse book. Click for the first, second, and third in the series.)

Whether or not you plot your book is another blog post. For now, I want to talk about writing habits.

Horses like routines. It turns out, horse books do too.

Horses like routines. It turns out, horse books do too.

There are always people to tell you that award-winning best-selling author Junie Efficiency Jones gets up every morning at 5:30 AM to write a chapter before she goes off to feed her heirloom chickens and then heads to her Fortune 500 executive position. That’s great for her and I’m excited for her productivity level. But I’ve always fought against those arguing that habit is the only way to write a book.

For one thing, I would argue, my schedule is too up-and-down to have a daily time set aside. I might have to work at 8 AM one day and 2:30 PM the next day — was I really supposed to write at 6 AM regardless? Not possible. Since a lot of writers are supporting themselves in the service industry, this is a common problem.

By the same token, if you’re in the horse business, you might have an early show one day, a farrier appointment that takes three hours longer than you expected and pushes dinner back to nine o’clock the next night, and quite frankly not have the energy to even look at your computer on the third day.

So no problem, I’ve always said. Write when you can. Carve out time. Write when you feel creative.

This method works, and it’s the kindest on your body, for sure. But I want you all to stop and consider for a moment how long it takes me to write a book. (Those of you who read my books are nodding slowly.) And how long I have to fend off requests for sequels. (Those of you who asked for a sequel to Ambition for two years are nodding emphatically.)

Now I’m going to tell you that I’m finally a convert to the writing routine.

My last (fairly) routine job was with the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation. Here I am on Monte in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. (My son came to visit.)

My last (fairly) routine job was with the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation. Here I am on Monte in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. (My son came to visit.)

In mid-June I started working a Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:30 kind of job. It’s the first time I’ve had a job like this in several years (the last time was when I taking care of horses and riding with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, during which period I wrote Other People’s Horses and Ambition), and I was faced with the very real possibility that I was not going to come home from work and feel like staring at yet another computer for an hour in the evening.

(I also wanted to work out. Call me crazy, but when you take a lifetime of riding and caring for horses professionally and cram it into an office chair, bad things happen. The work-out was pretty imperative to my well-being.)

I decided to write a thousand words every morning, before work. The only thing I was really giving up was my morning Twitter time. And since I work in social media, I was already spending plenty of time on Twitter. I really didn’t need the extra.

It was a struggle at first, I admit. But I stuck with it because it was the only time I was going to write. There was no way I was going to get home from work at six o’clock, work out for half an hour, take a shower, and still find the time (and energy) to work.

Here’s the thing: after a couple of weeks, writing that thousand words became hard-wired into my brain. I woke up thinking about my story. I started writing fifteen hundred words. I started writing two thousand words. Useful, good words — not filler. In fact, I was moving so fast on the plot, I realized I’d have to add in atmosphere and environments in the editing phase — the opposite of my usual writing style.

In short, I’d never written so much, so quickly, wish such ease.

It’s so frustrating!

I held off on the “get up in the morning and write” doctrine for so long, convinced it wasn’t for me, and all this time, I could have been pouring on the creativity.

An added boost: stopping to go to work no matter where I am in my thoughts. Have you ever heard of closing your story mid-sentence, to boost your creativity when you return to the document? It’s the same thing. It works. There’s less wandering around, and more action.

I’m also more aware of where I am in the story, which leads to fewer loose threads to tie up in edits. If you’ve ever read through a draft only to discover you introduced a plot point in chapter three but completely forgot about it by chapter six, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a problem. 

By the time I finished the first draft of Courage last month, I was writing two thousand words in about forty-five minutes each morning. Standing at my kitchen counter, drinking my coffee, I’d written a novel at least twice as fast as I’d ever written anything of comparable length… 85,000 words, with plenty of room to grow in edits.

Now I’m editing in small bites each morning (still standing at my kitchen counter–it turns out that I think much better on my feet than in a chair, which should come as no surprise to any horseman) and I’m about halfway through. The book is growing in beautiful ways. I still wake up and open my laptop without even thinking about it… writing as soon as I get up is completely habit now.

So this is it… possibly my number one piece of advice to you. Get a habit. Force yourself into the habit. And the habit will reward you richly.

Just for giggles, I looked up “famous writer’s habits.” This was the first hit: The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers. Here are a few quotes:

E.B. White: A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.

Haruki Marakami: The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

Barbara Kingsolver: My morning begins with trying not to get up before the sun rises. But when I do, it’s because my head is too full of words, and I just need to get to my desk and start dumping them into a file.

I really love that last one, because this is the state you can work yourself into through a habit of morning writing! This is the place I’m at when I’m writing a draft now, and it’s just so delightful.

Even with the lack of sleep.

What’s your writing routine? Have you tried and failed one, or do you have a routine that’s working for you? If not, what’s getting in your way? Maybe we can find a solution together.