Equestrian

Talking With Robert Brady

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This time on Talking In The Barn, I chat with fellow east Tennessee author and horseman, Robert Brady. Robert writes Fantasy books and rescues horses.

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What is a typical day for you like? 
I get up around 7a, feed the horses, the dogs and the cat. Make breakfast, then start programming. I’m a work from home software developer. I’ll go until around 4pm, then take a break for an hour, feed the horses, the dogs and the cat, then write for a few hours.

Do you write full time? 
I don’t write full time, but that’s my goal. Right now, a lot of my creative juices are absorbed by programming. Creating a program is a lot like creating a story.

How did you get involved with horses? 
I was raised around them. When my daughter turned 12, she started noticing boys, so I got her involved in riding, and then boys were on their own for about three more years. She’s a saddle fitter now, and she’s married to a guy who was raised around horses.

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How did you get started as a writer? 
In college, I missed my friends, so I would write stories where I used them as the main characters. Even before that, I used to love to write and won a few awards, including the New England Gold Key.

How do horses impact your writing? 
In The Fovean Chronicles, it’s really the story of a man and his horse, and even when he’s not with his horse, his horse is on his mind. Horses add balance to my life and I tried to put that into my stories as well.

What are your biggest struggles as a writer and as a horse person? Any words of wisdom there? 
Finding time, just like everyone else.
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What one piece of advice that you would give to a new horse person? 
Unless you compete, don’t try to replace a great horse with another of the same breed. You’re setting the new horse up to fail. If you’re lucky enough to have a great horse in your life, when his or her time comes, try something completely different for your next one.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
Schedule time to write. Put it on your calendar – this day, I will write for 1 hour. Otherwise you’re always going to find something else to do.

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What is one thing that most people don’t know about you? 
I’m actually a really romantic person. Just never found the right person to share it with.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your newest book. 
The Fovean Chronicles is eight books long. It took me more than a decade to get right. My latest book, Semper Indomitus, ends the series. It was time to go on to the next project.

Any parting words to readers out there?
Don’t listen to your teachers when they tell you how to write – most of them have a really hard time getting published. Get into a good group, either locally or online, and then take their criticism constructively. The best advice you’ll ever get will sound mean and horrible at the time. I was told at one point that I was terrible and would never be published. It inspired me to really look at what I was creating and then change it. Also, read, read, read!

You can find Robert on Amazon.

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Film Festival Win & New Book Release

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This fall has been busy with another new children’s book and a film festival win….

Beauford The Patriotic Donkey was released in November. Beauford is the brainchild of my other half, retired race trainer and former pro bull rider T. A. Bouk. “Tab” likes to say he waited until he was almost 60 to write his first book! We collaborated on the project along with local artist, Atlantis Corn that graduated from Sweetwater, Tennessee high school this year. A big thanks to art teacher Matthew Mikos for holding the contest among his students for the opportunity to illustrate the book.

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Beauford chases the thickens and thinks he’s too good for goats, but he soon learns everybody has to work together when you live on a farm. The book endears itself to the American Public by teaching the timeless lessons of farm work ethic, the importance of the flag, and honoring military service.

The book quickly climbed to the top, making Amazon Best Seller lists for Children’s New Release Animal, and Farm Life categories, and hit the all time top seller list for Children’s Farm Life books. Beauford The Patriotic Donkey enjoyed a local book tour with book signings at Rural King, Blount County Heritage Museum, Sweetwater Antiques, B&B Wholesale and Auction, and Pallet Jack Snack Shack.

FIRST FILM FESTIVAL WIN….

Earlier this year, I finished the film script for my book Lost Betrayal. Shortly after finishing, I entered the script in the Equus Film Festival

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LOGLINE FOR THE GRULLA –

A determined cowgirl enlists the help of a former bull fighter and drug addict in the search for her horse that is still mysteriously missing after a tornado destroys her ranch.

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The script, since entitled “The Grulla” won the Winnie Award for Best Equine Screenplay for the Equus Film Festival. I would like to extend a hearty “Congratulations” to my fellow Winnie recipients in the other categories.

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The script is actively being submitted to agents, managers, producers and directors. You can also check out my profile on IMDb Pro.

READ THE FULL SYNOPSIS –

https://fjthomasblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/the-grulla-film-script/

Talking With Connie Johnson Hambley

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If you love horses and you love a good suspenseful tale, you need to check out Connie Johnson Hambley. Not only did she grow up with horses and is an equine therapy volunteer, Horse Nation has hailed her as one of the most exciting writers of our time. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know this fascinating horse author.

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What was it like growing up on a dairy farm in New York? What were some of the horses you rode and what did you do with them? 

In a word? Idyllic because I had the best of both worlds. My small hometown is located within an easy drive to New York City. My family enjoyed outings to The Big Apple to go to museums and plays, but we all heaved a communal sigh of relief to return home. I confess that I was not chore-bound on the farm, so any story of me waking up at the crack of dawn to milk cows is <ahem> fiction.

But, riding and caring for my horses was a different matter. I don’t recall the first time I was on a horse, but I do remember my first fall off one! I was about four when our Tennessee Walker, a bay mare named Abigail, shied and dumped me, knocking me breathless and scaring the heck out of me! Maybe that’s why the horses I chose as I became a better rider were chestnut geldings. Bojangles, a Quarter Horse with a sadly low IQ, was the sweetest guy ever and the best schooling horse for perfecting my English Hunter Seat equitation. Foxfire, the horse I’m pictured with when I was sixteen, was a 16.2 Anglo-Arab with a mind of his own and wings.

The best part of learning to ride when living on a dairy farm was after the lessons were over. I would gallop across the fields as fast as the horses could carry me and jump over streams, walls, trees – anything where the horse and I could be one for the intoxicating moments when we were suspended in air. Bo and Foxy loved the freedom. The emotions I felt during those rides are something I try to bring to life in my books.

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How do you feel growing up on a farm influenced your writing?

I have vivid memories of how certain days felt. I had all of the other angst kids have growing up – friends, cranky teachers, clueless older brother – but I also had wide-open spaces I could retreat to and figure things out. A hellish day in middle school was made better with a good ride – even in the rain. Any animal owner will tell you that critters don’t know your worries. They just care if you treat them well. Throwing my arms around the neck of my horse, inhaling his sweet scent and letting him soak up my sorrows helped me sort through all of the normal stuff of growing up.

Farm life allowed me the luxury of thinking, and horses were my oasis. I value my memories as I know how unique my experience was. It gave me a strong moral centerpoint where I ground all my characters. My main character, Jessica Wyeth, is a world-class equestrian. Even though the outer world she inhabits is foreign to most of my readers, her inner world is familiar and welcoming. She’s likeable and relatable.

Windrush Volunteering Kathy
Volunteering At Windrush Kathy

You volunteer at an equine therapy facility – tell us about that. What is your favorite thing about volunteering there and why?

Since I’m currently a horse-lover without a horse, I get my equine fix through volunteering. The focus of being a horse handler is on safety. The clients I work with have a variety of physical and/or emotional challenges that may make a quick response to a horse’s sudden movement difficult. I’m there to let the riders expand their skills as much as possible, but I’m watching the horse at all times to protect against the unexpected.

I can’t state enough how transformative working with certain clients has been for me. Relationships develop. I feel like I receive more than I give. One client has written her first short stories ever – and she’s 50 years old! I’ve also worked alongside survivors of human trafficking and have been honored to watch these women regain a sense of personal power and control through their interactions with horses.

The inspiration for my short story, Giving Voice, published in WINDWARD: Best New England Crime Stories, (Level Best Books, 2016) came from working with these remarkable women.

Kathy windrush winner
Kathy windrush winner

How long have you been writing, and how did you first get started writing?

I’ve always gravitated to communicating via writing, but I learned how to write in law school. Crafting a persuasive legal brief requires many of the same skills to write a good thriller. Knowing the structure of your story and knowing who your audience is are essential to delivering a tightly woven story to your readers or a judge!

I used my skills when writing articles for Bloomberg BusinessWeek or other periodicals. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, the beginning process is very similar. There is inhaling research and processing information to find out exactly what you want to say. The first time I allowed myself to exhale fiction instead of a brief or journalism piece, I became an addict. My life changed.

What is your favorite book that you’ve written? Why is it your favorite?

Not fair! You can’t ask a mom who her favorite child is, can you? Well, you can ask, but the clever (book) mom will answer, “I love each in their own special way.”

Okay, that said, it’s time for a true confession. As I write, I am constantly learning. Sometimes I’m just learning more about my characters or my story, but most times I’m learning something about the craft of writing I feel makes me a better author.

I’ve written each book of The Jessica Trilogy to stand on its own merits without the reader needing to read a prior book to understand the current book. I’ve been known to nudge people to read The Troubles first, especially if they like family sagas with dark secrets, but if your readers want to jump into a book with a strong story about therapeutic horsemanship, then The Wake is the place to start. The Wake is also timely because it takes place during the Olympics! (Well, the summer Olympics, but still!)

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Where did you get the idea behind the books?

The Charity started as a love story, but the worlds surrounding my characters complicated their relationship . . . and that’s an understatement. I live in Boston, where generations of wealth impact politics and society in seen and unseen ways. Money and power drive good people to do bad things and I wanted to create a story where you questioned what characters are good guys?

I didn’t start out thinking I was going to write a trilogy, but each book had one little fuse that, when lit, exploded into another story. The Jessica Trilogy unfolds the story of a woman who uncovers the money behind a Boston-based cell of the Irish Republican Army. Each book encapsulates one distinct stage of her discovery. The Charity shows what happened, The Troubles explores why it happened, and The Wake answers how the characters move forward in a world turned upside down.

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Why do you feel horse people enjoy your books so much?

In a nutshell, I write smart, gripping thrillers with an equine touch that both mainstream readers and horse lovers enjoy. The “horse book” genre can be a mixed bag of young adult, romance, coming of age, or mystery with predictable story lines and simplistic writing. That’s great for many readers, but leaves readers who want a meaty read empty handed. A reviewer in Horse Nation magazine said my trilogy reawakened her to the joy reading a great novel can evoke. (horsenation.com/2017/11/30/book-review-the-wake-final-book-in-the-jessica-trilogy/) I respect my readers’ intelligence and weave layered stories populated with complex characters that culminate in dizzying climaxes. Think of a wild steeplechase on paper and that’s how I write my books.

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What is your current work in progress?

I’m busy writing short stories, some of which appear in Best New England Crime Stories anthologies published by Level Best Books. I’m digging into a novel with a whole new cast of characters. Find Cally is set in the decaying factory towns of New Hampshire. Dak Turner, a hardscrabble dad, searches for his teen daughter in the labyrinth of human trafficking aided by Sienna, a trafficking survivor who uses the knowledge gained through working with rescued girls at her therapeutic riding center to dismantle trafficking networks. You know, a little light reading.

What words of wisdom to you have for the writers out there?

Just sit down and write. Do it. Don’t give up. Finish one paragraph, then add more. Finish the story. Edit. You have a wonderful and unique story in you. You can do it! Also, find your tribe. Get support. Writing can be isolating.

What are your goals for 2018?

Finish Find Cally and continue reaching readers through a combination of social media outreach and speaking engagements. I am the Vice President of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime, a national organization of mystery and crime writers. SinC provides wonderful support for aspiring and published authors and I’m thrilled to be a part of them. I have opportunities to speak at literary festivals, writers workshops, libraries, book stores and more because of the reach and reputation of SinC.

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Any parting words?

I love connecting with readers, so find me and connect! I do video-chat book groups and love to connect with readers! Time zones aren’t a problem.

WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED….

SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE: www.conniejohnsonhambley.com

FACEBOOK: http://bit.ly/facebookcjhambley

BLOG: http://bit.ly/outofthefog

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ConnieHambley

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/cjhambley/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/conniejhambley/

 

BUY LINKS:

THE CHARITY: http://www.amazon.com/Charity-Connie-Johnson-Hambley-ebook/dp/B009E7TUYM/
THE TROUBLES: http://www.amazon.com/The-Troubles-Jessica-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00VYV8X08/

THE WAKE: https://www.amazon.com/Wake-Jessica-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B073NQ1HK5/

 

Life & The New Author…

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In a couple of weeks we’ll be chatting with Pendleton Petticoats series Shanna Hatfield. From Nov. 7-Dec. 24, she’ll be donating 10% of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which is a fund to help injured cowboys. It’s a great cause and you’ll definitely enjoy learning about Shanna.

In the meantime, I thought I would update what’s been going on in my life as a horse show judge, competitor, and writer after the 40 hour work week in the office. As always, there never seems to be enough hours in the day and always a horse I want to ride or a story I want to write. I have to say though, my first year as a published author has been fun and a terrific learning experience for what works, what doesn’t and a lesson on how to fit it all in. Let’s just say most mornings I’m up at 3am, 4am if I’m sleeping late!

One new update that is really cool is that Everybody Needs A Little Romance invited me to be part of their blog. If you love romance, you really need to check it out because the site has several terrific romance writers that post blogs and write book reviews. It’s a mecca for anything romance!

Valley Farmers Co-op has been very gracious in inviting me to do a book signing at their stores in east Tennessee at Athens and Harriman. This year I attended three of their events and had a blast! Not only did I get to see old horse friends, I also got to chat with fans and meet new readers as well. One thing for sure, I’m more at home at a feed store than I am anywhere else besides the barn or the arena!

Book signing at Valley Farmers Co-op in Athens

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Book signing at the Valley Farmers Co-op in Harriman

HARRIMAN BOOK SIGNING

Pam Brown also invited me out this summer to sign books at the NBHA Tennessee State finals in Harriman, Tennessee. Fireman has had feet issues this year and I haven’t gotten to run a set of cans since the spring but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to a barrel race! So I got the best of both worlds and got to sign books, see the barrel race and get some time in talking about horses. Needless to say, I was a little tired at the end of the day!

NBHA BOOK SIGNING

My next book signing event is at Foxleaf Bookstore in Cookeville, Tennessee on Halloween night! If you’re down that way, stop by because we’ll have plenty of hot cider and candy!

I’m also an OHSA Carded horse show judge and have the wonderful opportunity to judge some of the shows in the region. Smoky Mountain Horse Show Series is one my favorite places to show and to judge. Last weekend they held their first show series at Tri-State in Cleveland, Tennessee. I managed to capture a quick shot of their beautiful jump course before we got started.

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I love to do everything from show hunter to run barrels and sort cows on a horse. I think different disciplines have a lot to offer and just make for a well-rounded horse. Read my horse blog, Musings From The Leadrope, and you’ll pick up on that pretty quick! A couple of weeks ago I managed to get one of our green horses out to her first show at the Smoky Mountain Horse Show. She went in the In Hand Trail Class and the walk/jog classes as well as a walk/jog Horsemanship class. Granted she wasn’t as finished as the others, but she did a fabulous job and I couldn’t be prouder.

Keith Mooney managed to get several shots of us at the show. Here’s the link to our Horsemanship class  – http://www.keithmooneyphoto.com/HorseShows/SMHSS-October-5-2014/68-W-J-Horsemanship/i-tRn8smF

Then here’s a pic of her In Hand Trail Class.

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So what’s new for the rest of the year? With winter coming, I’ll have a little more down time and I’m hoping to get back to work on The Searching Place, an untitled horse focused paranormal, and a thriller short story. My goal is to have a new book out after the first of the year. Sometimes life gets in the way so we’ll see but that’s the plan at the moment for this new author!  Oh yeah, one more thing…

Lucky kitty sez don’t forget to buy a copy of Lost Betrayal!   #catspeddlebooks

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