THE GRULLA film script is an adaptation of my book, Lost Betrayal…..
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.
In 2014, my first book Lost Betrayal was released by Solstice Publishing. The tale of the lost horse, Houston was marketed as western romance – there is a good bit of romance between Sage and Garrett throughout the whole story – the truth is that this is a much bigger tale than a traditional romance. Considering the heart wrenching real life inspiration behind the story,that really doesn’t come as a big surprise.
I originally got the story idea for Lost Betrayal years ago when I was involved in shipping some vet supplies for large animals that were victims of hurricane Floyd in 1999 on the east coast. There was an aged stallion that had been rescued after a week in flood waters only to become blind from a reaction to a medication. That’s when I found out that large animals are often the last to be rescued, and the last to receive much needed veterinary supplies and food.
For years I worked on the story that at that time had no name. It haunted me and never would leave. Then in the spring of 2013, I was at the Fort Smith Barrel Futurity competing for the week when a large string of tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma just a few hours west.
At one point we were under a tornado warning there at the futurity grounds and were ushered into the main conference building while the storm raged just outside where our horses were stalled. Fortunately, we missed the bullet but let me tell you, for an east Tennessee gal that was scary!
We watched the news following the storm and saw the deadly destruction of homes and farms. The tornadoes had hit several large horse farms and there were massive piles of dead horses that had been killed by the storm.
We also heard reports of horses that were severely injured and missing, and horses that still needed rescuing. In fact, there was one horse that was missing that originally came from a family I knew very well in east Tennessee.
For some reason, the devastation felt closer, my heart ached for everyone that was impacted and it gave me the final push I needed to finish the story that had seeped into my bones a decade earlier.
Here’s the film synopsis for THE GRULLA…
THE GRULLA is the story of Sage Witherspoon who loses her best horse in a devastating tornado and the journeys they both take to eventually bring them back together. In the end Sage finds hope, and true love in the arms of Garrett Wade.
Already a reluctant and bitter widow in her mid- thirties, Sage is just getting her life back together when a tornado touches down destroying everything in its path including her family ranch in northern Georgia and the very horse that the ranch’s future hinges on. Refusing to believe her horse was killed in the storm and refusing to give up on the ranch, Sage begins the journey of rebuilding her life once again and searching for the horse that to her holds the past, and her future.
Houston is an odd name for a horse but he is named after Sage’s father who died not quite two years ago. The grulla colored horse garnered the name as Sage’s father said he’d never amount to anything even though the horse was the culmination of years of what he had tried to achieve in his breeding program. In that sense, the young stallion ironically represents her father’s dreams and one last chance to prove him wrong. With an uncanny athletic ability, the three-year-old stallion also represents Sage’s dreams of finally having a top contender barrel horse to put the ranch on the map.
Garrett Wade is a cowboy in his late thirties trying to forget the sordid past of his younger rodeo days. When he’s asked to help with the tornado rescue efforts, he meets Sage. Unfazed by her constant attempts to convince the world that she can do it all on her own, Garrett sees past all that to the real strength and vulnerability that lies beneath. The next thing he knows, he’s pulled along on a wild horse chase.
Eula Witherspoon, Sage’s mother, came to the ranch when she married Sage’s father and has lived on the Witherspoon Ranch her whole adult life. Although she was raised with horses, Eula wants nothing more than to live a glamorous life in the city. As the years passed, the ranch began to represent everything she couldn’t have in life. When the tornado destroys it all, Eula sees the opportunity to start over but only if she can convince Sage Houston has died and the ranch is done. Eula betrays her very own daughter to finally gain the life she dreams of.
The stage is set when Houston spooks and bolts from Sage into the storm. It’s then that Sage realizes that a tornado is coming their way. Sage runs to the house to warn her mother, and then returns to the barn to release the horses from their stalls before the tornado hits. Sage can’t save the last horse and must take cover in a freezer used for feed as the tornado levels the barn.
The tornado is the largest they have ever seen in that part of the country and the local folks immediately start a search and rescue effort with anyone willing to show up. That’s when Garrett gets a call from his friend, Herman Miller who asks him to come and help as they are overwhelmed the devastation.
The next day as the search efforts continue, Garrett finds Sage who is unconscious among the debris. With a little coaching, he wakes her up only to find his damsel in distress is somewhat rude and can’t remember a thing. It’s only after Sage accidently sees the mangled remains of the last horse she tried to save that she remembers what happened, and that’s when Garrett first sees the softer side of her that draws him in.
In the aftermath, Houston is still missing and injured and has wandered onto the property of a no-good horse trader, Arthur Gilliam. He can’t feed the animals he has and the last thing he needs is another mouth to feed, especially a stallion without papers. Arthur leaves the young horse to die in his pasture. Houston doesn’t die, and Arthur recognizes the brand on the horse’s hip as belonging to the Witherspoon ranch and calls Eula Witherspoon hoping for a reward. Instead she pays him to make the horse disappear.
Sage immediately starts the task of getting her ranch back in order, against her mother’s wishes. Eula tries to convince her daughter to give up, telling her, “You know, all your hopes for this place rested on that young horse and he’s gone now. It might be time to finally think about selling out.” Sage responds by reminding her mother of the last time she sold her out, and telling her she’s not going to sell.
While they’re in this heated discussion at what’s left of the ranch, Garrett shows up to check on Sage and help with clean up. It’s then that they get to know each other a little more, and Garrett offers to help with ongoing fence repairs.
Arthur’s greed gets the best of him as he realizes he can take Eula’s money and sell Houston to farrier and fellow trader, John Cobb. John has two sons, Benn and Jess. John finds out first hand Houston is dangerous. But just like Sage, he sees the young horse’s potential. He warns his two little boys, Ben and Jess, to stay away.
While Houston is getting settled in to his new home, Garrett shows up to work on Sage’s fence. Shortly after he arrives, Sage’s high school boyfriend and insurance agent, Nick stops in to bring bad news. There’s not enough money to completely rebuild, and Nick also attempts to get Sage to sell out but Sage stands her ground. Garrett also poses the question that maybe Nick is interested in more than just Sage’s insurance and wants to rekindle an old flame.
Back in Houston’s world, boys will be boys and they want to impress their father. Jess defies his father’s orders and gets too close to Houston who accidently kicks him in the head and kills him. In his grief, John grabs his gun and lines up Houston in his sights only to be stopped at the last minute by his youngest son Ben.
Garrett and Sage continue making progress on the ranch, and in true cowboy style Garrett surprises Sage with a picnic. It’s then that he asks her out on a date to the nearby horse sale where maybe she can find out if anyone has seen Houston.
Houston’s future drastically changes as John chunks him off at a horse sale and sells him to a pen hooker at the gate which happens to be a rodeo stock contractor, Travis Meyers. Travis wants the big horse for his bucking stock in the bid for the National Finals Rodeo.
Garrett and Sage finally go on their date and kiss for the first time. Both are somewhat taken aback by the fireworks between them, but Sage is over thinking the whole relationship and tells Garrett she wants more than just a fling. Garrett tells her to relax and stop overthinking. He’s not out for a one night stand.
While Garrett is trying to not act like a wayward stud, Travis has his ranch hands Sam and Pete geld Houston. Sam and Pete get Houston caught and hogtied, but in the middle of the removing the horse’s testicles, he kicks almost injuring both men.
Travis’ wife, Pam, also takes a liking to the big gray horse as a barrel prospect and she wants the horse just as bad as Travis. The problem is that Pam’s eyes are bigger than her horsemanship skills. She decides to ride the horse the very next day after gelding so he won’t buck as much but he still launches her into the dirt, head first. It’s then that Travis knows Houston is his ticket to the NFR finals.
Back at the Witherspoon Ranch, the house is almost finished. As Sage is checking out the progress of the house, she thinks she’s alone when suddenly Nick shows up. As he’s attempting to rekindle an old flame with Sage in his arms, Garrett shows up unexpectedly.
Garrett is full of rage and feels like a fool for even thinking he had a chance with Sage. He tries to leave but Sage begs him to stay and tells Nick to leave. The next thing you know, the two are passionately entwined in each other’s arms and almost to the point of no return. Against his nature, Garrett pulls back and tells Sage he doesn’t want to make love to her on a kitchen floor, he wants more than that.
Suddenly Garrett realizes part of the reason that he came to see her in the first place. He’s gotten a lead that Houston has wound up in the hands of Travis. Garrett used to work for Travis years ago. As Sage pushes for information, Garrett must reveal his sordid drug past to her and the fact that he had made a pass at Travis’s wife, which seriously jeopardizes their plans to get Houston back.
Sage and Garrett sneak their way into the rodeo to get a look at the horse they think is Houston. Sure enough, it is Houston but they’re caught by Travis who doesn’t want to give the horse up.
Travis knew someone would be looking for such a nice horse so he did his homework and is a little very happy to share what he’s learned. It’s then that Sage discovers Houston wandered on to Arthur’s property and the reason he was missing for so long was because Arthur had made a deal with her own mother to make him disappear so she’d give up the ranch.
Fortunately, Travis’ wife Pam sees dollar signs and a chance to make a buck. Against Travis’ protests she offers to sell the horse back to Sage for a decent sum of money. Sage doesn’t have the kind of money that Pam is asking but Garrett knows who he was dealing with and has brought the money. He pays the price so Sage can get her horse back.
Once Sage has her horse back home on the ranch, she only has one more hurdle to cross, confront her mother about her betrayal. Sage is too devastated and angry to face her mother and decides to stay with Garrett for a few hours to clear her head and get some rest.
When they arrive at Garrett’s quaint little cabin, the passion heats up and they finally consummate their relationship.
The next day it’s time to face reality again and Sage meets with her mother. When Sage finally confronts Eula, she sees her for who she really is and discovers Eula had arranged to sell to Nick from the very beginning. Sage offers to sell a few acres and release her to live her life.
The story ends with a happy little twist. No one knew that Houston had bred one of the mares that survived the storm. The surprise foal has just as much attitude as his sire.
The script is currently being submitted to film managers and agents. Inquiries can be sent to qheventer (at) yahoo.com . Also visit my page on IM Db Pro.
This time we chat with Equine Photographer Anna Kemp who lives in the UK. She’s a horse gal with a fantastic eye for capturing just the right moment in photographs. I think you’ll enjoy finding out more about this budding photographer and seeing her work.
- Tell us a little bit about what a day in your life is like.
Since we are still enjoying the summer holidays here, a day in the life at the moment typically involves horses, horses, and more horses! (And the occasional sleep in…) I spend as much time as I can with my own horse, Freddie, schooling and hacking out when the lovely English weather permits. When I’m not at the yard you can usually find me volunteering at my local RDA, or out on a shoot! I attend local equestrian events and travel to different yards around the area when people ask me to do a shoot. This will soon begin to change however as I embark on my final year of A-levels – scary stuff! There’s a lot of studying to come but I hope to still be able to fit this around my riding and photography!
- Are you a full time photographer? If you work at another job tell us about that as well.
I am unable to pursue photography as a full time profession as of yet since I am still a student, however, I do conduct shoots for people and their horses all over my area for a small fee – we all have to start somewhere, right? As mentioned previously, I also volunteer at my local RDA yard as often as I can which is an extremely rewarding experience when I get to share the joy on the rider’s faces when they get to trot for the first time, or go for a walkabout on their special pony outdoors! In the future I hope to be able to combine my passion for writing, photography and, of course, horses to be able to work for an equestrian publication.
- How did you get into photography?
For as long as I can remember, my dad has enjoyed photography as a hobby so my interest was probably sparked by him! I got my first little Kodak camera at the age of about six and it could only take up to twenty photos at a time – though I never let that stop me! From that moment on, wherever I went, the camera went. Just over a decade and several cameras later and I’m onto my first bridge camera which I got for my 16th birthday (Canon SX40 – DSLRs still terrify me a little bit!) From a young age I have also entered some of my work into an annual local agricultural show and always enjoy learning from other people’s expertise there!
- Out of all the pictures you’ve taken what is your favourite and why?
I think my all time favourite photo has to be one taken when I was still taking riding lessons and helping out at the yard, about two or three years ago. I had brought along my little pink Lumix to take some snaps of the horses and, on passing my all-time favourite ride, a 14.2 Welsh D named Topper; I decided this would be an ideal opportunity to practice the elusive macro mode! He stood there calmly as could be as I came right up close to his cheek to try and get a good shot of his eye – this was something I’d often seen in equine artistry and websites and the like, so I wanted to replicate the style as best I could! An Old English proverb states that the ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’ and I think this is part of the reason why I ended up loving this photo so much and why an edited, more cartoon version of the image is the hallmark of Hoofprints. Particularly since Topper still is one of the greatest horses I’ve ever had the fortune to meet, this photo will always hold a special place in my heart!
- What role do horses play in your life and in your photography? How do they inspire you?
Horses have played a huge role in my life for approaching ten years now and last year my sister and I decided to take the leap from taking lessons and helping out at our yard once a week, to loaning our own horse. We have now found Freddie, or ‘Fantasy Feeling,’ a handsome TB gelding who we have on part loan 3 days a week; though through these summer months it has tended to work out more often than that (we’re not complaining!). He enjoys dressage and together I hope that we can attend some local competitions next season!
The work of Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks is of particular interest to me and so I try to incorporate their techniques and advice wherever possible. A special friend gave me ‘Perfect Confidence’ for my 11th birthday and was even lucky enough to be able to include a postcard of Pie signed by Kelly! I think it was at that moment I knew that I wanted to be involved with Intelligent Horsemanship. Next summer I hope to attend one of the Intelligent Horsemanship courses to expand my knowledge of their amazing concepts further.
I also attend as many equine events as possible, including HOYS in 2012 and Blair Horse Trials last year – I’m delighted to say I am able to return to both for 2014! Events like these also provide a great opportunity to practice my photography and it was from this, as well as taking photos of my friends and their horses, that inspired me to set up Hoofprints. For me there is no greater joy than being able to capture the beauty of horses, whoever they are and wherever they come from, to enjoy at any time at all!
- How can people find out more about your work? List your website, blog, facebook, twitter, etc.
- Any parting words of wisdom for those that are interested in becoming a photographer?
Work hard – and don’t give up! I realise that probably couldn’t sound more cliché but it’s the best advice I can honestly give. Showcase your work wherever you can, gather critique and keep practicing! It doesn’t matter what kind of camera or software you have, providing you know how to use it. There are many free editing websites out there as well as video tutorials on how to get the best from your camera which can be extremely helpful. Don’t forget it is usually the smallest, most simple things that can make the biggest difference!
This week I talk with multi-talented cowboy romance author, Stephanie Hurt. She’s a writer with a big heart that loves horses and I think you’ll see that in the interview.
Tell me a little about yourself & your family.
Well, I’m a busy woman. I thrive on staying busy. I’m a wife, mother of a 15 yr. old son, Accountant, Children’s Minister and a romance Author. Not to mention I run a publishing service. I’ve been married to my wonderful hubby, Tommy, for 20 years. We live about 50 miles south of Atlanta on land that has been in my family for over 150 years. We live in the country and that makes me really happy. I’m a country girl to the bone.
What type of books do you write and what led you to write those types of stories?
As for my writing, I write mostly cowboy romance. Since I’m a country girl, I’ve been around cowboys, farms, horses and such all my life. When looking at heroes, I consider a cowboy a hero. I know some may not understand this, but it’s just the way I feel. All of my romances are clean, wholesome romance. I strive to bring out romance in every age. I have young fans, older fans and even male fans. I try to write something that everyone can enjoy.
How do horses play a role in your books and your life?
As long as I can remember I’ve loved horses. Since I’ve lived in the country all of my life, I’ve always been around horses. When I was around 13 my parents gave me horseback riding lessons. I remember I couldn’t sleep the nights before the lessons. It was the most fun I can remember having. I hung on my trainers every word. I had posters of horses on my walls, I drew horses on my folders and I just loved the smell of a horse and the leather of a saddle, crazy but true.
When you walk in my living room you automatically know I love horses. I have them on my walls in pictures, plaques and statues. My cousin once found an old horseshoe on our land, then he surprised me with a gift, it was the horseshoe welded on a stand and painted all black. I loved it. I even use my old riding hat as decoration.
So, when I write, you always see a horse somewhere. I also named my publishing service Horseshoe Publishing for obvious reasons.
What is your philosophy on writing and life?
Let’s see here, I guess my philosophy on life is to live life everyday as though it was your last. Make sure that you leave a legacy behind and I’m talking about a good legacy. Always treat everyone as you would want to be treated. If you do things the right way, then you don’t have anything to worry about and don’t worry over things you can’t change.
As for writing, my philosophy is to write what you know or love. If you have a passion for something, then put it into words. Don’t let the current fads lead your writing. If you write what you’re passionate about, it will show. I write romance to inspire. I think everyone needs a little romance in their lives.
Name your three favorite books that you’ve written.
Oh, this is hard. Ok, here goes:
Open The Heart – An Alpine Christmas Romance
Finding The Right Time – Release date 3/31/14
Moonbeam & Roses
What are your goals for this year?
My goals for this year are easy. Well, maybe not easy, but straight forward. I plan on finishing up my current works in progress and intensify my promotional activities. Also, I’m expanding my publishing service, but that’s for later this summer.
If you had to give one piece of advice what would it be?
My advice is to go after your dreams. We’re only given one run at this thing we call life, so go for that dream and make the most of it.
You can keep up with Stephanie on her blog at http://stephanie-hurt.com/
This week I’m talking with romance author and fellow barrel racer, Stephanie Berget. Nothing like talking with a gal that enjoys the need for speed and a little hot romance!
Tell me about your family.
I was born and raised a city kid with an overwhelming love of horses. I was lucky enough to marry my cowboy sweetheart and have a wonderful daughter and two terrific sons. My folks are still trying to figure out where the love of horses came from. I think it was a gift from my maternal grandfather. He was a sheriff in North Dakota and a horse gypo.
What type of stories do you write & how many books have you sold?
I write stories about cowboys, mostly rodeo cowboys, and the women who love them and also contemporary romance. My first book is titled Sugarwater Ranch and is set in the central Oregon ranching country. The hero, bullrider Sean O’Connell, isn’t a very nice guy at the beginning of the book. But as his life is falling apart, Catherine Silvera, a woman battling her own demons, helps him learn that riding bulls isn’t the only valuable thing in his life.
You can find Sugarwater Ranch here:
Amazon Sugarwater Ranch
Barnes & Noble http://buff.ly/1de9PRo
Evernight Publishing http://buff.ly/GNYivD
Tell me about how you got into riding horses and what accomplishments you’ve had with them.
When I was 15, after years and years of whining, my parents gave in and bought me a horse. They knew nothing about horses and neither did I, but I fell in love with barrel racing and rodeo in general. I was lucky enough to live near some of the best trainers in the country, Larry and Kay Davis, and they generously gave their time and expertise to help me learn. I’ve had many horses, but three were really special and helped me become a better trainer.
Ruff’s King Tut was a little sorrel gelding with a great big heart. Ruff was born on our place and I won rodeos sanctioned by the Idaho Cowboys Assn and the Northwest Rodeo Assn on him. If I turned him loose and opened the trailer door, he’d load himself. Guess he loved to rodeo as much as I did.
Arnold was a big, high-powered chestnut gelding that my husband bought to team rope on. He ran barrels and poles like a champ and went on to take a young girl to the National High School rodeo.
The horse that stole my heart was a brown mare named Suzy’s Last Flight, or as we called her, Olive. Olive’s sire was Dinner Flight. Many of his colts were born to barrel race and Olive was one of the best. She liked to pin her ears back and act like a bad-ass, but she didn’t have a mean bone in her body.
How do horses fit into your stories?
In Sugarwater Ranch, Sean works with a spooky blue roan colt that he calls Roany Blue Pony. The cowboy may have some problems in his life, but he is a natural horseman. The desire to understand the colt helps him to understand himself and the world around him better.
Where do you get the inspiration for the characters in your books?
Mostly I wake up during the night and have an idea for a character. In Radio Rose, I woke up thinking about what Betty White would be like if she chain-smoked and was a real grouch.
Then, as I write, they introduce themselves to me and tell me what they want to do in the book. As the book evolves, more characters show up and demand my attention.
Besides writing and riding, what are your other interests that most people may not know you have?
Wow, writing and riding take up most of my time, but I love playing with my grandkids and watching football. Go Broncos!
What are your two most important pieces of advice for a new writer?
#1-Finish the Book! You can’t sell it unless you finish it. #2-Write what you love.
You can visit Stephanie’s blog and keep up with her progress on her series!