Scenes From the First Draft of Ambition

A few weeks ago I uncovered the first chapter of the first draft of what would become Ambition. I was struck by a few things: one, that Jules was so self-centered it literally slowed the narrative down while Jules breathlessly described herself and her experience as a trainer. And two, that same breathless look, I can do this trainer thing! remained the core value of early Jules in the Eventing Series.

Photo: pixabay/markusspiske

Now, as I poke around the edges of a fifth book in the Eventing Series, it’s interesting to look back at the way Jules was desperate to hide her lack of actual experience beneath a veil of completely unwarranted confidence. Things have changed for Jules–if you’ve read the four books currently out there in the world, you can see she’s been growing as a human as well as a trainer. And yet what lurks in the background of a trainer not yet twenty-five, especially now when she’s faced with so many clients and owners who have every right to question her every move with their horses and their children?

So yes, I was pretty delighted to find what I think is the complete first draft. It’s called Such a Clever Trainer. The last edit was April 26, 2011. This is as close to a time capsule as anything I own. It’s only 66 pages, about 38,000 words, and a lot of it is longish scenes with asterisks dividing them. This was my attempt to write pivotal scenes first. I didn’t love the process.

I’m not sure how much of this actually made it into the finished version of Ambition. Quite a lot, I think, and yet I think in very different context.  In this version, Jules meets Pete at the first hunter pace she takes Mickey to, at Lochloosa–yes, halfway through the book!

I brought Pete back to the introduction of Ambition after doing some reading on romance construction and realizing that you simply couldn’t have a romantic interest show up 150 pages into a book. I am not big on “the craft of writing” as a form of study, preferring to tell a story the way it feels right to me, but this seemed like a pretty sensible rule. Pete becomes a goal and an antagonist to goad Jules along throughout the book–and of course, there’s the hurricane scene, which is still probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

Amazingly, that scene is in this version, missing a few key players–like Marcus, Jules’ beagle, who doesn’t exist at all yet.

Read more about this draft and its inspiration, plus the Lochloosa Hunter Pace chapter, at my Patreon page. Please comment with your thoughts and let me know what you’d like to read next! 

Early Reviews for New Eventing Novel Pride

Yesterday saw the release of my newest novel, PrideIf you haven’t picked up my Eventing Series yet, this weekend is a perfect opportunity to get in on the action. This follow-up to Ambition doesn’t require you to read the other books, but if you want to meet the characters in their debuts, for a limited time, you can download the Kindle editions of Ambition and Show Barn Blues for $1.99 each.

Pride Promo Banner

 

Meanwhile, the buzz for Pride is growing with great reviews already posted at Amazon.

Here’s what readers are saying:

“One of the reasons people who love, ride, and work with horses are so appreciative of Natalie Keller Reinert’s fiction is the fact that her characters seem so true to life. Pride is no exception… The details about riding are spot on, particularly how to approach (and not approach) a cross-country or a show-jumping course…. Despite her many faults (I would almost consider Jules more of an anti-heroine than a heroine) I still appreciated the fact that Jules was so determined to succeed. I liked the fact that she wanted to be better than her eventing boyfriend Pete, versus wanting to stifle herself to flatter his ego (a common trope in many romance novels). This is a book about strong women with a passion for horses!”

-Mary Pagones, author of The Horse is Never Wrong and Fortune’s Fool

“Although Jules is not the easiest girl to get along with, she is very human in her actions and her failings, and pulls us into the story right alongside the horses! Reinert has quite a talent, bringing us the realities of being in the horse business and making us feel we are there with her!”

-Kathleen Edwards

“You get the best of both worlds with this one – you’ll read about the eventers of Ocala and the fancy show-jumpers of Orlando – and you as the reader have a front row seat as the two worlds collide! This sequel addresses the tough decisions that you sometimes need to make in order to get to the top – and Jules isn’t one to back down from a fight.”

-Laurie B.

“As a horse person I especially loved the description of Jules’ difficulties with mares! As any horseperson knows, you have to “ask a mare” but that’s not always compatible with Jules’ domineering personality.”

-Michelle Harper

I’m also really happy to share that Pride is currently the number one horse book on Kindle and the number three equestrian sports book on Kindle!

Prefer your book in paperback? Good news — I’ll have the paperback edition ready in the next two weeks, and I’ll update you here as well as at my Facebook page.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot more Rolex to watch — research for the next book? We’ll see…

Visit Amazon here to read a preview of Pride and get your copy.

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.)

A Jules Quote in a Surprising Place

I was looking for book quotes the other day for some project or another, when I saw my name pop up. Now, I was a good five pages into the Google search at this point, digging a lot deeper than most people will ever bother, so I’m not entirely surprised that I never saw this quote before.

I am a little surprised no one ever told me about it (maybe the person who lifted the quote from my book?) but I confess I don’t know the protocol in these situations.

Anyway, I click this link and it’s a full PDF of the October 2014 issue of America’s Horse. 

Now, I’m sweating a little. America’s Horse is the publication of the American Quarter Horse Association. My first horse was a quarter horse, but I’ve been writing about Thoroughbreds and their basic superiority to all over creatures on earth for a while now, and I’m trying to think if I’ve said anything too pretentious about quarter horses in any of my books. I think Jules might have gotten cute about them at some point.

I am hoping she did not get too cute.

So I flick through the pages of this magazine and find a section devoted to equestrian quotes. There’s a very pretty line from Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. There’s a sage paragraph from D. Wayne Lukas, who started out in quarter horse racing before he moved onto completely reshape the face of American Thoroughbred racing. And then there’s some of the opening lines from Ambition.

Right in the middle, sandwiched between old Tolstoy, a Western Dressage person, and Mr. Lukas.

What an odd place to find not just a few lines from your book, but a few cute, introductory sentences…. nothing deep about the emotional state of a horsewoman in crisis, nothing introspective about the inexplicable bond between horse and human as they gallop together through an uncaring world… just a little moment as Jules regards the horse she loves.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.51.06 AM

I like those lines. I like the way they reflect how precious Dynamo is to Jules — so precious she keeps him in her sight as much as possible, not even allowing the darkness to invade his paddock at night. I like to think about his prickly whiskers scratching at her neck, and the goosebumps that would raise along her upper arms in response. I like to think about all the times I’ve sat in front of a horse’s stall, leaned my head back against the wall, and just dreamed.

I like that someone at America’s Horse thought the same way.

 

Story Outlines: A Writer’s Training Calendar

This post was originally published at Equestrian Ink.

Setting up a training calendar is easy, right? You pick a horse show date and you move backwards, working out a nice hypothesis of where you’ll be in training each week running up to the show. Nothing to it, because predicting how quickly and how competently your horse will pick up your training (to say nothing of staying sound and keeping on his shoes) is just easy-peasy. Right?

Of course we know that’s nonsense. Horses look at calendars and laugh. They observe our ambitious plans and then they go out and look for a nice, innocent stick that they can use to injure themselves in astonishing and previously unbelievable ways.

Getting to a horse show takes planning. Getting to the end of a book is much the same!  Photo: flickr/dj-dwayne

Getting to a horse show takes planning. Getting to the end of a book is much the same!
Photo: flickr/dj-dwayne

In the game of planning for horse shows, the beginning is easy to see, and the end is fun to predict. It’s the middle part that’s hard.

Writing a book can be an awful lot like setting up that oh-so-charming training calendar. I like to outline, because I know my book’s beginning, and I know my book’s intended ending, but the middle part always bogs me down. You know, all that stuff that makes up the story? Moves the plot along? Gets the horse from green-broke to jumping courses? Yeah. That can be challenging.

Every book I’ve written since Other People’s Horses has had an outline, and every subsequent time I write a story outline, I find myself a little more dependent on it. That’s because my desire to wander from the set course never, ever wanes. Like a horse bound and determined to lose his shoe before the schooling show on Saturday, I am absolutely hell-bent on diverting from my intended story with wandering trail rides, unplanned-for barn drama, and completely unpredictable bucking incidents.

And while this sort of convoluted wandering story process seems to work for some writers (George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame comes to mind), I really don’t want to write 500 page door-stops that are meant to be set during one fateful summer in Saratoga, or wherever. That’s why I have to force myself back to the outline. Because every wandering trail ride has to expose a new question in the plot, every unplanned-for barn drama has to be resolved, and every unpredictable bucking incident has to involve sorting out what set off the horse, and how to fix the horse’s problem.

That’s a lot of extra writing for me, and a lot of meandering “what happened to the plot?” for you, the readers.

So funny story, haha, you guys are going to love this, I wrote a masterful outline for Pride, which is the sequel to Ambition.

Sidebar: Originally Ambition was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but I’ve gotten so many requests for a series that I had to cave to pressure. Readers have power! When you like something, say something! 

Anyway, I wrote this wonderful outline for a book which can stand up as the second novel in a trilogy about Jules, Pete, Lacey, Becky, and of course Dynamo and Mickey, plus a host of new riders and horses. It was here to make my life easier, this outline. To keep me on track and stop me from taking three years and half-a-dozen drafts to write, the way that Ambition did.

And I got midway through Pride, to about 45,000 words, which when you consider Ambition is about 111,000 words, you can see is that all-troublesome Middle Part that confounds both trainers and writers when we are making our plots and plans… and I started to wander. I quickly realized I was inventing some barn drama which was good, but which would need to be resolved or things were going to get way off track. I decided it was time to consult my written outline, since at this point I’d just been writing off memory of what I’d planned.

This was when I realized that I had lost the outline.

Oh jeez.

Well, I stumbled about for a little bit, figuring I could find my way through without the outline, but the thing just started keeping me awake at night. What if I had lost my way? How was I going to fix this? What was the best use of my time? I’m on a tight deadline to get Pride finished and my work schedule outside of house is about to ramp up considerably. If I let this plot wander too much, I was going to be months behind.

Something had to be done.

I knew the ending still (that horse show date that I had selected months before, right?) and although my middle part had changed a little bit, that’s just what horses do. It was time to be agile. I sat down, opened my writing program, and started creating chapters.

In Scrivener, which is the program I use, each folder becomes a chapter. And there’s a little box where you can type out a synopsis. I’d never used it before, but there’s a first time for everything. I typed a synopsis for each chapter I had yet to write, creating a little guide-map to every single folder, so that no matter when I opened up the manuscript to write, there would be no excuse — the next step in the story was right there, ready to be fleshed out.

I created fourteen chapters in all, assuming that each one would balance out at about 2,000 words, and then on the edit/rewrite I would elaborate on them until they had more substance. Then, I started work on the first one.

That chapter stretched out to 5,000 words.

Outlines. The more detailed they are, it would seem, the easier my job gets.

It reminds me again of that training calendar — on a good day, I can look at the calendar, assess where my horse is vs where I thought my horse could be, and then reassess. Once that’s done, I can see what I want to do for the day, then get out there and make it happen… much more successfully than if I’d just mounted up without a plan, wandered out to the arena, and started trotting around waiting to see what would happen next.

That’s good news for me as a writer. It’s good news for everyone waiting for the sequel to Ambition, too. Hold on kids, Jules and Company are coming back for more!

Order Your Signed Copy of Ambition – Limited Time!

Ambition - available May 20, 2014Thanks to a shipping delay, I have a lovely box full of paperbacks of Ambition sitting in my office. They weren’t in time for Equine Affaire, but at least they’re just in time for Christmas, right?

If you’d like a signed copy of Ambition, here is your opportunity. Just email me at natalie@nataliekreinert.com to reserve your copy and arrange shipping.

Ambition retails for $16.95 and shipping will be $5.00 for the first book, with any additional copies shipping for $3.00 each.

Since I don’t run my own online store (as of yet) this is a rare opportunity to order signed copies of Ambition without coming to a book event. So send me an email and get your copies now! There’s a very limited number and once they’re gone, it will be a few months before I have anymore in stock.

Ambition would make an ideal gift for any equestrian who appreciates the daily struggle to become a better horseman. With a strong female lead who isn’t about to let the world smack her down, Ambition is all about finding out what matters most to us, charting a course towards a goal everyone thinks is impossible — then swinging into the saddle, grabbing mane, and kicking on.

For your signed copy of Ambition, email me at natalie@nataliekreinert.com.

 

Win a Paperback Edition of “Ambition”

Thanks to Klout and Moo.com for my gorgeous new business cards!

Thanks to Klout and Moo.com for my gorgeous new business cards!

Want to win a copy of one of this summer’s hottest equestrian reads? Visit Goodreads and enter to win a paperback edition of Ambition. I’ll be sending out four signed copies to winners in August.

If you’re already a Goodreads member, you can click below to enter to win. If not, join up and add me as a friend! You can check out what I’m reading, send me recommendations, and just generally talk about good books.

And thanks to everyone who has already read and loved the ebook edition of Ambition. I’ve been getting wonderful reviews while the book has been consistently one of the top-selling Equestrian and Horse category titles at Amazon. I’ve also gotten three 5-star reviews at BN.com, a site where I see less traffic, so that’s really exciting!

And for all those of you who are asking for a sequel, with more Jules, more Peter, more Dynamo, and more Mickey… you almost have me convinced…

I’m thisclose! Come over to my Facebook page and post about why you want more from the characters of Ambition and maybe… just maybe… you’ll push me over the edge!

So don’t forget: enter to win a signed paperback of Ambition at Goodreads.

You can also find the paperback of Ambition at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. (Note: Since people ask, CreateSpace is the best choice for supporting authors).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert

Ambition

by Natalie Keller Reinert

Giveaway ends August 11, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/100252