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Friday, June 26, 2015

Groton House Horse Trials and BOOKS!

Groton House Farm, located in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, has been the site for a three day horse trial for over three decades. Disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and stadium jumping test horse and rider and give spectators a treat.

Okay, you say. Horses. Big deal. Why should you care?

...Because the essence of the location and all who ride at GHF is infused into my books. Stopping by here provides a window into the psyche of Jessica Wyeth, the protagonist with the sheer grit that makes my stories zing. I haven't met a fan yet who hasn't felt that walking the GHF grounds is like walking in Jessica's shoes. It makes for a really fun experience.

I'll be signing books ringside Friday - Sunday, June 26 - 28, so stop by and say hello.

And one more thing.

I'm featuring the photographs of F. Nicholas Corvinus. Nick's pictures of the wild Carmargue horses of France, are incredible. He captures the rough and gritty nature of these animals with images I love. I'll share some here, but if you want more information, message me or comment and I'll get back to you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Three: Allowing Gestation

When talking about my writing process to book groups, I often compare writing fiction to writing an article or legal brief. Inhaling information and exhaling a document are common disciplines in my writing.

For The Troubles, the second book in the series, I read several books by Gerry Adams, President of Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein party and the voice of Irish resistance to the United Kingdom's presence in the Irelands. I wanted to get a genuine feel for the psychology and emotion behind individuals who would put life and limb in jeopardy to fight against a world power. I'm not a historian or a scholar, but I wanted to get my facts straight. Most importantly, I wanted my characters to be motivated by very genuine concerns.

After reading Adams' books and Margaret Thatcher's autobiography, I found myself taking long walks and mulling over all that I learned and turning conflicting viewpoints over in my head, seeing which facets would fit into the world I was creating inside my story. I knew the shape of my story, but not all of the details and nuances that make a great tale. The political factors provided the hearts and minds of my characters, the horse disciplines the legs, and the tension between the main characters the arms. Allowing myself time to gestate was critical in allowing my story to fully develop.

I'm in the midst of gestating again. Each of my books features an aspect of equine sports. The first was thoroughbred racing, the second steeplechases. This time, the information I'm inhaling involves therapeutic riding. For the past couple of years, I've been a volunteer at a hippotherapy and adaptive riding stable, Windrush Farm. Seeing how the physical and emotional connections to horses can benefit individuals with a variety of challenges has been deeply rewarding. Both The Charity and The Troubles feature characters with special needs. The Charity introduced readers to a school that catered to them. Bringing the therapeutic riding discipline into light is a logical step.

Exactly how that will happen is my challenge. This week I observed a riding class with individuals who have acquired injuries, meaning folks who lost function due to a traumatic injury or serious illness rather than someone born with a disability. I'm in awe of what sitting astride a horse can do for people. When a wheelchair-bound person can experience independence and mobility, something is going very right. I glimpsed how riders regain esteem. I was dumbfounded as I saw horses intuitively understand their riders communicated differently than a able-bodied rider and adapt to them.

This will be a part of the story that gives my book a particular feel. I'm also continuing to research international money laundering schemes, hierarchical management in organized crime (whah!?), IRA cells in the US, and more.

A good book takes time.

Inhale. Gestate. Exhale.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway Ends June 30!

For two weeks only, you may enter a Goodreads giveaway to received a signed copy of The Troubles! Mark your calendars and be among the first to receive your copy! Make sure to add this book to your "To Read" list. Offer ends June 30.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Troubles by Connie Johnson Hambley

The Troubles

by Connie Johnson Hambley

Giveaway ends July 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win


Congratulations to Susan G. of Arvada, Colorado! Susan will receive a personalized signed copy of The Troubles and a little thank you note from me! Read and enjoy, Susan, and be sure to tell all of your friends!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Challenge of Yes

Want to learn about yourself? Say "Yes!" to every opportunity.

This might not sound like ground-breaking insight material, but if you try it for a while, I guarantee you'll end up doing something either you swore you'd never do, or you'll swear you'll never do it again.

I was trying to explain to someone why my career path is a bit <ahem> circuitous. I did not end up as a writer in a straight shot from cradle to now. I worked very hard at attaining certain degrees, accreditations, and certifications - none in any MFA program, and all in law, banking, or finance - only to shrug my shoulders when a different venture was presented.

Opportunities popped up by way of casual conversations with friends. When working for a Boston bank (which was after realizing that a career in law for someone who is conflict adverse was not a good choice), a close associate asked if I loved my current job (no) if I was interested in something different (yes) and would I join her and start a company - in children's furnishings. Yes, and I discovered that working in the venture capital and start-up worlds was fascinating. Hating numbers didn't stop me from saying yes to being a professor of finance, even though the thought now makes me laugh. Once, when I went actively looking for a career change, I reached out for advice from a longtime friend who was a biotech recruiter. I was intending to get some insights into effective job hunting strategies I could apply to opportunities in the investment or banking industries and to the core of my experience. She told me to not bother looking for a job and asked me to work with her placing research scientists in pharmaceutical firms. Huh? I said, "Yes" and ended up in Beijing and Shanghai where my clients were! Writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Nature came about from out-of-the-blue connections with casual associates. Even today, I help manage an indie rock band because they reached out to me and asked if I would. Sure! Why not give it a shot!

Some not-so-good forays were to say "Yes" to modeling. The glamour of exotic places and beautiful clothes was shaded by creepy guys with hooded eyes - ew! - but it paid for college and beyond. Another was to try my hand at being a windsurfing instructor during college. I'm of Irish decent. The sunburn was epic.

What did I learn? I learned that I'm highly adaptable, can absorb lots of complex information and synthesize it into readily digestible communications. I am fiercely determined, am highly attuned to how others hear my message, and I can sell. I am observant and a sponge for details. Oh, I also learned to either use sunblock or stay indoors.

Saying yes gave me many different experiences to draw from. Personalities, body types, quirks, perspectives, sights, and sounds have been squirreled away for future use.

Perfect for writing.