IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ!

Thank you for being a loyal follower of Rocking Horse Writing. This blog is no longer active, as I have split Rocking Horse Writing into two separate blogsone for writing/publishing and one for horses/riding.

To continue following my adventures in writing, reading, and publishing, please follow

To continue following my equestrian pursuits, mishaps, and blunders, please follow

I will only occasionally publish the same post on both blogs (e.g. A post about a writing book dealing with horses.)

I hope you will continue to follow one or both of the new blogs. I apologize for any inconvenience!

One Blog becomes Two

It has come to my attention that this blog attempts to cover too many subjects. For that reason, Ive decided to separate Rocking Horse Writing into two blogs.

If youd like to join me in my adventures in writing, reading, and publishing.

If you follow Rocking Horse Writing solely to laugh and cry at my equestrian adventures and mishaps.

Of course, if youd still like to follow BOTH of my blogs that would be the best option of all! This will be my last post on Rocking Horse Writing, as my two new blogs will require all my extra time and energy. Thanks for your input, loyalty, and sticking around through the blog changes!

Eleven Ways to Support A Friends Book Release

In the week since my YA mystery, Trail of Secrets, was published, Ive engaged in a whirlwind of tweets, Facebook posts, blog appearances, and in-person visits to bookstores, libraries, tack shops, horse barns, etc. Im starting to realize I probably should have majored in marketing instead of English! Ive been overwhelmed with support from many friends, relatives, fellow writersparticularly a few close friends scattered across the country who have been hand-delivering my bookmarks to local riding stables and sharing my Facebook posts with their social networks. Im so grateful!

Still, people continue to ask me, What can I do to help? Well, the obvious answer is Buy the book! But going beyond that, Id like to re-share a portion of a post I read and posted a couple of years ago on WriterUnboxed.com by Chuck Sambuchino (editor of Writers Digest) on how to support an authors book release. Ive been using many of these strategies (especially number 6!) to help support the book releases of my fellow writers. The suggestions are so simple, yet effective, that I must share them. Hopefully, the good karma Ive been putting out there will come back to visit me in these next days and weeks!

To view the complete post from writerunboxed.com, click HERE.   I am sharing my favorite portion of his post below:

Anyone can support an authors book release by doing different things to help the book sell and get noticed. So, in no particular order, here are 11 things — some big, some small — that you can do to support a writer friend when their book comes out:

1. Buy their book. An obvious point, sure, but important nonetheless. Naturally, we must buy new copies of books, not used copies, for the sale to count and the author to get a royalty. So buy new. Heck, consider pre-ordering the book. Publishers pay attention to pre-orders to help get a sense of what titles are getting buzz and attention. Impressive pre-orders help the author.

2. Buy their book for others as a gift. Think of which friends and relatives would enjoy the book/novel. Buy it for them as either a birthday gift or holiday gift. You get to support your author friend and give cool gifts at the same time! Get copies signed if possible to make gifts special. Even people who dont read many novels will still take note if a gifted book is personalized and autographed.

3. Face the book out at bookstores. Simply rearrange a bookstore shelf so that your friends book faces out to make it much more noticeable. (The theme begins: Its all about getting noticed.)

4. When you actually read the book, read it where people can see it. Read it in public. Read it on the subway. Read it in the aisle seat of a plane. Read it on the deck of a cruise ship. After all, dont you find yourself looking at what others are reading when you pass by? I do! And if I see 3 different people in 3 different places reading the same book, will I start to investigate it out of curiosity? Yes. Its all about building public knowledge of something to the point where people are curious and discuss it.

5. Ask a bookstore employee where the book is located. When entering a bookstore, do not look for the book, even if you know exactly where it is. Go to the bookstore customer service clerk and ask them about the book. They will find it in their system and lead you to the book. My hope is that if several people do this at the same bookstore, then the employee(s) will begin to take notice of the title, wondering what all the buzz is about. If youre lucky enough that an employee finally picks it up and reads it, then they might put it in the Employee Picks section or refer it to people who come in and ask Whats something good I probably dont know about? or What book makes a good gift? Let bookstore employees help sell copies!

6. Leave a review on Amazon or BN.com or Goodreads or all. Reviews are still very important. Think about it. If you come by a new book and see it has 2.0 stars on Amazon, would you buy it? On some level, that silly rating does affect me and my decision — and my guess is that it affects you, too. So its crucial that, when you read a book and enjoy it, you leave a review on Amazon or BN.com or Goodreads or all. Those first 10-20 reviews really matter and can set a book on the right path. (Note: You can leave the same review on all sites to save time.)

7. Like the book on Amazon, or Like the authors Facebook Fan page, or both. I heard from a literary agent once that the more Likes a book had on its Amazon page, the more frequent it turned up in Amazons comparable titles elsewhere. Getting your personal friends to Like another friends page is an easy favor to ask, as it requires no money. (Heck, go do some good right now: Open this separate page and Like Brians Facebook page if you have a second.)

8. Reserve a copy at the library. An employee here at Writers Digest Books once told me that if all copies of a book are reserved from our county library before the title came out, the system has a way of noticing this popularity and marking the book as one for more orders. (Also: Use the bookstore method above and ask librarians about the book — simply to draw attention to it and get the title on the mind of staff.)

9. Attend the book release party (if there is one) and bring a warm body or two. This task isnt so much to help the author as it is to help the authors self-esteem. Its lonely to have a book release party or local signing with low attendance. If you already bought a copy, bring that book to be signed.

10. Spread news of the book through your social media channels. When the author mentions it on Facebook, share the news with your social circles and include a small note about what the book is and why they should buy it. In other words, spreading the word by saying My friend got published! is nice — but its better to say, This new book by my hilarious friend is a great gift for dads who are raising daughters. Laugh-out-loud-funny stuff for all fathers to enjoy! See how the second one targets people in a simple-yet-specific way? Do this kind of targeting when you spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or blogs.

11. If you have media contacts or know people of influence, arrange a connection. This is one of the best things you can do and probably the biggest way you can truly influence the life of the book and the success of the author. If youre married to the cousin of a local news personality, its exactly that kind of connection that serves as a great introduction between author and TV host. If you know a book reviewer at a newspaper in Boston, say so. If your old college buddy now runs the biggest reading club in all of Central California, try and help your author friends book be a future choice in that club. Utilize your network! Chuck Sambuchino

So select a few items off this list and help your writer-friends to succeed!  When your book gets published,  youll be glad you did.

Its Release Day for TRAIL OF SECRETS!

The big day has finally arrivedthe publication of my debut YA novel, Trail of Secrets! Do you love horses, or mysteries, or ghost stories, or books about people who view the world in a slightly different way? If you answered yes to any of the above, then I hope youll check out my book.

The digital version of Trail of Secrets is available on AMAZON or SMASHWORDS for $4.99. The print version can be purchased on LULU for $11.95.

Dont forget to enter my giveaway for one of three signed copies of Trail of Secrets on GOODREADS! (Giveaway ends September 15, 2015.)

Happy trails to you!

TIME FOR A #GIVEAWAY!

The release date of my YA mystery, Trail of Secrets, is scheduled for August 27, 2015. Thats less than two weeks away! To celebrate, Im giving away three signed copies of my book on Goodreads.

CLICK HERE to enter!

Do you know anyone who loves horses, or enjoys YA mysteries? Feel free to share the giveaway with this link

The winner will be announced September 15, 2015. Good luck!

Horsin Around ThursdaysEdmund Pickle Chin: A Donkey Rescue Story

Today Im taking a break from young adult novels to introduce a very special picture bookEdmund Pickle Chin:  A Donkey Rescue Story, co-authored by Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan April Elwood. Im deviating slightly from my Thursday horse theme, too, as this picture book is about a donkey, not a horse. But Ive never met a horse-lover who doesnt also love donkeys! Not to mention, Im a sucker for animal rescue stories. Clara Bowman-Jahn is a talented author and former online critique group member of mine. Im so happy to help spread the word about her sweet and heartwarming book, which has been tested and approved by my very own children.

Summary:  Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story is based on a true story. Edmund is an abused donkey who is the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm, a small rescue in central Georgia, home. Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story, not only gives the shy donkey the time and patience he needs but gives him a new name every day of the week. The title takes on one of those nicknames she so lovingly calls him. As Susan starts to take in new critters, Edmund finds himself changing. As his name grows, so does his trust and acceptance. Edmund soon learns that he is not only needed but wanted. This confused, frightened donkey’s life changes as he becomes a hero, a babysitter, and a companion to the other residents at Evermay Farm.

Age Level:  5-12

Publisher:  eTreasures Publishing, LLC (December 12, 2014)

About the Author:  CLARA BOWMAN-JAHN worked as a registered nurse for thirty-two years, finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in the anthology of the “Campaigner’s Challenges Book.” When Clara is not writing, she does volunteer work for a local elementary school and her church. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her humorous husband, a senior dog and two cats. And she is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and one delightful grandson.

Connect with Clara on her Facebook Page and her website

Happy reading!

TRAIL OF SECRETS Cover Reveal!

At last, the cover for Trail of Secrets has arrived! I instantly fell in love with the cover when I first saw it a few weeks ago. I wanted to share it with the world immediately, but Ive been sworn to secrecy until today. Im so thankful to Caroline Andrus for designing such a mysterious equestrian-themed cover. It truly captures the essence of my novel. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Trail of Secrets, by Laura Wolfe

Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. To make things worse, someone discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

Publisher:  Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (coming August/September 2015)
Age level: 13-18

Still not sure if you want to read it? Watch the trailer:

 

I hope to see you next week, when Ill recount every detail of my recent visit to the Kentucky Horse Park!

Horsin Around Thursdays: The A Circuit

Welcome back to Horsin Around Thursdays! Before I get to todays book, I have exciting news related to the upcoming release of my young adult equestrian thriller, Trail of Secrets. Ive been working my way through the final edits and, a few days ago, I even got a sneak peek at the cover. I absolutely love it! Unfortunately, it may be several more weeks before I can reveal the cover to the outside world. Because patience is not one of my virtues, Im keeping myself happily entertained by reading other peoples horse-themed books.

This week its all about horse showing at the highest levelThe A Circuit. In case youve never heard of The A Circuit four book Series, co-written by Catherine Hapka and professional equestrian, Georgina Bloomberg, prepare to indulge in a guilty pleasure.

Summary (from Amazon.com):  The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse showing. Its a world with its own rules and super-privileged lifestyles. Teens employ private tutors so they can travel the circuit all year showing horses that cost as much as some peoples homes.Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student-every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. Shes used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barns resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then theres Zara. Shes the wild child of a famous rock star, but shes ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of series of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against a backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 24, 2011)

Recommended Reading Age: 12-17

If you crave a book filled with drama, horses, and a glimpse into how the other half lives, then pack your beach bag with The A Circuit for a fun, summer read!

My next post will be in two weeks because Ill be off on a road trip with my family for a while. One of our destinations will be the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Cant wait to report back on the experience!

Horse of Inspiration

Today is Derby Day and, not surprisingly, I am going to talk about horses.  Do you remember my previous post about that horse of lightning speed that dragged me around the ring during my first time riding her? The one that left me with bloody hands, tears in my eyes, and muscles so sore I could not make myself a sandwich because it hurt too much to lift the bread? Well, Her name is Edoras and I am leasing her now. As my riding instructor always says, You never learn anything from the good lessons! And boy have I learned a few things. Over the past several weeks, I continued to ride her and learn.  Dont get me wrong, there is still A LOT of room for improvement. But for the next couple months she will basically be my horse 3 days a week. If things go well, we will even get to compete in a show at the end of June.
I am ecstatic about this turn of events for so many reasons. As most of you know by now, so many of my story ideas come from my experiences with horses. I can only imagine all of the inspiration Ill draw from my time spent with Edoras. (Good thing I have my white board to write down all these ideas!) For example, I just found out that Edoras is the Great Great Granddaughter of the famous racehorse and Triple Crown winner Secretariat! Doesnt she look like him? And this helps to explain her need for speed. She also seems to know that she is descended from royalty. Its almost as if she is speaking when she looks at me as if to say, I am a princess and you are here to serve me. Oh, how I love horses and their unique personalities!

Well, I am off to the barn to gather some more inspiration:) Happy Derby Day and may the horse who is treated the best by his or her trainer/owner/jockey win!

Things to do while WAITING for Publication

As Tom Petty always said, the waiting is the hardest part. Being the incredibly impatient person that I am, I couldnt agree more. I am thrilled to have a picture book and a novel under contract with two different publishers. But in our culture of instant gratification, Its the snail-like pace toward actual publication that Im finding harder to digest. My picture book, Henriettas Hoof Polish, has been sitting with the publisher for close to two years now and Im still not sure of an exact release date. A recent inquiry to the editor informed me that Im eighteen books down on the list. Im guessing its still going to be a while! My YA equestrian novel, Trail of Secrets, was accepted for publication by Fire and Ice YA in early January and is scheduled for release in August/September this year. That seems like a relatively quick turnaround, but its still five or six months away. Im sure before long Ill have a cover to reveal and plenty of edits to make, but what am I to do in the meantime? I came up with a few (productive) ways to pass the time while awaiting my books elusive release dates:

1.  First, in an effort to continue to build my author platform, Ive ventured from blog-land into website-land and launched my very own author website. Id love it if youd take a minute to check it out and let me know what you think! I used wix.com to build my site and found it user-friendly and much less expensive than some other options that Id previously researched.

2.  Over the last several months, Ive been writing my next novela thriller set in the sometimes-shady world of Chicago real estate. Im currently on my third revision with no end in sight. Its true what they say, nothing gets a writers mind off her last book like delving into the next one.

3.  Ive been learning about ways to promote my books, both as they approach their release dates and once they are released, by utilizing social media, cover reveals, giveaways, reviews, and blog tours, to name a few. To this end, Ive been working to build connections with fellow writers, bloggers, and readers via Twitter, Facebook, and (of course) this blog! Its never too early to start spreading the word, and to help promote fellow authors at the same time.

4.  I cleaned and organized my home office. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is amazing what a difference having an uncluttered workspace makes in productivity. I was going to expand this idea to cleaning my entire house, but that one hasnt happened yet.

5. Last but not least, ten days ago my family and I adopted a puppy from a no-kill shelter near our house. Okay, this step might not be productive in the traditional sense. In fact, for the first several days after bringing the puppy home I got very little sleep and absolutely nothing accomplished. But look at how cute he is . . . .  And my kids are so happy.We all felt an emptiness in our home after losing our beloved dog, Chewy, in early January. Our new puppy, Milo, is full of life. He has brought the laughter back to our house, and thats worth every bit of sleeplessness and lost writing time!

So, thats how Ive been keeping busy and staying (relatively) productive while awaiting the publication of my books. How about you?