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Monday, October 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Turning for Home by Natalie Keller Reinert

If you're a horse lover without a horse or have a stable full of the four-legged beasts in your back yard, Turning for Home will have you sigh with love for the horses in this book as well as the humans who champion them.

Natalie Keller Reinert has crafted a story so real, I could feel the horse grit on my hands as I turned the pages.

Racehorses fill Alex's stable and heart. She loves each horse in her care as a trainer, and is passionate about the well-being of all horses at the track. As an outspoken activist for the ethical treatment of thoroughbred athletes, she becomes a lightning rod in a scandal for the very type of abuse she strives to stop. All she has to do is stay out of the public eye and away from the track until the controversy sorts itself out. But trouble isn't something Alex backs away from. 

Horses may fill Alex's life, but one horse fills her heart. Tiger Prince is a loser at the track, but something about Tiger tugs at her. He's keen witted and a gorgeous mover and Alex determines to create a new life for Tiger. Maybe he'll become a show jumper, maybe an eventer. All Alex knows for sure is that if Tiger can forge a new life, she can prove that thoroughbreds can have a long career even after their racing lives are over. 

Turning for Home is a must read for the horse loving reader. This book also received special honors as a finalist for the Dr. Tony Ryan award that recognizes books highlighting the Thoroughbred breed. 

About Natalie:

Growing up between Maryland and Florida, Natalie Keller Reinert has spent much of her life in the saddle. From galloping racehorses at Aqueduct, to grooming for international-level Event riders in Ocala, to riding on mounted patrol in New York City, if it involves horses, Reinert’s probably given it a try.

In 2011 she released THE HEAD AND NOT THE HEART, which became the first of four novels in the Alex and Alexander series. She’s also written novels set in eventing (AMBITION) and horse showing (SHOW BARN BLUES).

Join Natalie and me at the Equine Affaire where we'll tell how capturing the essence of the horse helps authors create better stories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

When a book is nominated to be on Amazon's new Prime reading program, you know you have to check it out.

Keeping Secrets is the first book in Maggie Dana's Timber Ridge Rider series geared to young adults. Filled with teen angst,Keeping Secrets sets the stage for those many life lessons that allow its main character, Kate McGregor, to come of age. She blames herself for the death of a prize show horse and has sworn never to ride again. Ever!

Enter the need for a summer job and a place to live and Kate finds herself right back where she doesn't want to be...on a horse farm populated by the quintessential mean girls. For any horse crazed reader, Dana books are sure to give a healthy dose of horse and life lessons.

Tightly constructed and well-written, the Timber Ridge Riders series should be on every young reader's list.

Maggie Dana’s first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn’t try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.

Join Maggie and me at Equine Affaire and hear us talk about your favorite fictional horses!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Remember Me by Laura Moore

Laura Moore's book, Remember Me, is a wonderful addition to the equine fiction genre and not in the way that you think.

The reader meets Margot Radcliffe at a crossroad in her life. Gorgeous and headstrong, she
wants a place by her father's side to run Rosewood, a first-class horse farm in Virginia. Her father and, more importantly, his new trophy wife, think marriage is a much better idea for Margot. Tempers flare, and Margot leaves her family to become a super-model. A tragedy forces Margo back to the farm and back to face the man she'd rather forget.

I know what you're thinking. Horse book? Syrupy romance? Erotica with hooves? If any of that were true (or offensive), I wouldn't tell you to READ THIS BOOK!

First, the "horse book" genre is populated with young adult and coming of age novels. This book is neither one of those. Yes, there is romance and yes, some steamy sections, but the similarity stops there!

Margot has to do what she can to keep her family's farm solvent. Along with stepping into her father's shoes as farm manager, she has to step up as parent to her half sister. The inner life Moore brings to her characters kept me turning the pages. Bad boy Travis is a treat. Oh, and the terrific descriptions of horse farms and the business of training helped too!

What I loved about this book is what readers don't see a lot of. Each of Moore's characters has a strong moral compass that keeps them on solid footing. Margot has to raise a teenager rattled by grief and determined to be, well, a teen. How Margot deals with her half sister is wonderful mix of love and muddling through the slop of life with only an inner compass to guide her.

Moore's writing is first rate and her story is tightly constructed and readable. Treat yourself and read book one of the Rosewood Trilogy, Remember Me.

Laura was born in and grew up there and in Western Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree and my M.A. in art history. Since graduate school, Laura has worked as a museum lecturer and has taught art, art history, and French. She now lives in Rhode Island, where, in addition to writing, she teaches English at the Rhode Island School of Design--a great place to share her love of art and fiction.

Join Laura and me at the Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts, as we discuss how using the essence of the horse helps us write better fiction.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Level Best Books: Author Profile

(This post first appeared on Level Best Book's Facebook page. In preparation for the release of their next anthology, Level Best is highlighting authors with a featured post. Mine is below.)

Today we have author Connie Johnson Hambley who describes how horses and volunteer work shaped her story Giving Voice.

I volunteer at a therapeutic riding center near my home and gained a reputation as not being rattled by any horse or human behavior. Horses are highly intuitive and can sense a person's fear or uncertainty even before the human becomes aware of his or her emotions. This finely honed equine ESP is a primitive survival mechanism that makes them unique partners in behavioral therapy. My role as a horse handler is to focus on the horse to keep the clients safe while enabling the client the greatest latitude to learn.

I was one of a handful of volunteers to receive additional training. Not for handling a horse, but for learning how to interact with new clients. The clients were survivors of human trafficking, and the training shattered my perception of the who, what, where and how of this horrific crime. The women came from small towns in the U.S., not some third world country. They were entrapped in lives we may have seen as they scrubbed offices late at night or cared for babies during the day. The less visible women tended needs and lived lives we don't want to imagine.

But, as a thriller author, my mind goes there. 

I was witness to women regaining a sense of personal power as they learned to interact with an animal ten times their size. I was instructed not to touch the women, as they had been touched far too many times without their consent. I watched as the horses accepted them for who they were in that moment without judgement. I witnessed women learning to accept themselves as beautiful and strong. And they began the long journey of forgiving themselves.

Giving Voice is inspired by each woman, but not based on any one story. It is dedicated to the women of Amirah and the humans and horses of Windrush Farm.

To learn more about Connie Johnson Hambley visit her website at

Thursday, October 13, 2016

BOOK LAUNCH: Folly Cove by Holly Robinson

One great aspect about a writing life is the wonderful people you meet along the way who then become friends. We cheer each other on and thrill in their successes as we strive for our own. It's one thing to read a great book and want to tell your friends. It's extra special when that book was written by your friend!

This is my experience in reading Folly Cove, Holly Robinson's newest book. 

The Bradford sisters, Laura, Elly, and Anne, love one another, as only sisters from an overbearing and complex mother can. Their mother, Sara, former jazz singer and wife of the owner of a historic inn located in a beautiful coastal New England town, has secrets and is willfully ignorant of her impact on her daughters. Laura placed her own life as a competitive equestrian on hold, the "good" daughter who sacrificed to "do the right thing." Elly and Anne returned to the family fold after living lives that resulted in dashed dreams. They come back to the inn and face each other as well as the results of their decisions. Prominent throughout the story is the Bradford family trait that keeps secrets close to hearts even as families threaten to break apart.

No one writes about the inner lives of women better than Holly Robinson. Describing the complex relationships between sisters and lovers, and unraveling the impact of mothers and aunts are fertile ground for Holly's skilled touch. Add to this, a mystery of a father who abandoned Sara and her daughters, in settings that will take a reader's breath away, and you have a story that will keep you turning pages until the small hours of the morning.

I received an ARC of this book prior to its release.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. I know Holly Robinson will become your new favorite author.

Holly's Bio:

Novelist, jourlalist and celebrity ghost writer Holly Robinson is the author of several books, including The Gerbil farmer's Daughter: A Memoir and the novels The Wishing HillBeach Plum Island, Haven Lake, and Chance Harbor. Her newest novel, Folly Cove, will be published by Berkley Publishing Group/Penguin Random House in October 2016. Holly's articles and essays appear frequently in publications such as CognoscentiThe Huffington Post, More, Parents, Redbook and dozens of other newspapers and magazines. She and her husband have five children and a stubborn Pekingese. They divide their time between Massachusetts and Prince Edward Island, and are crazy enough to be fixing up old houses one shingle at a time in both places. Connect with Holly on Facebook, at and on Twitter @hollyrob1.

If you're in the Springfield, Massachusetts area November 11, stop by the Equine Affaire and hear Holly on a panel discussion of using the essence of the horse to bring readers a better story.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sisters in Crime at the Boston Book Festival

October 15
Copley Place
Boston, Massachusetts

If you love meeting your favorite authors, hearing about best selling fiction and non-fiction books, then spending a Saturday at the annual Boston Book Festival is for you!

Sisters in Crime will be at the Boston Book Festival with a full roster of authors and plenty of books to sell! Stop by, have a chat, and then take in one of dozens of special programs sponsored by the BBF folks!

I'll be at the Sisters in Crime booth later in the afternoon, so stop by for a visit! Here is the line-up of authors:

C. Michele Dorsey
Coralie Hughes Jensen
Julie Hennrikus (a.k.a. Julianne Holmes)

Frances McNamara
Leslie Wheeler
Peggy Gaffney

Gayle Lynds
Judith Copek
Susan Oleksiw

Carolyn Wilkins
Lisa Lieberman

Arlene Kay
Edith Maxwell

Clea Simon
Marian Stanley


Connie Johnson Hambley

Independent Publishers of New England Annual Conference

Friday, October 21 to Saturday, October 22
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Sheraton Hotel
If you don't know about the Independent Publishers of New England, you should. 
Workshops & Panels
IPNE believes in the value of hands-on, practical knowledge transfer in a variety of formats targeting diverse learning styles. That's why they are designing a smorgasbord of pithy interactive and hands-on sessions for you to choose from. Check the Conference registration page for the latest! I'll be helping authors perfect their presentation and interviewing skills with a workshop on Friday.

IPNE's theme this year is, "Collaboration Is the New Competition." They are planning a special collaborator-matching program at the Conference, so let them know: How do youcollaborate to produce, publish, and market your books? What services or assistance would help you most? What talents and skills can you offer others? Sharing knowledge is power!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sisters in Crime Author Panel: Marstons Mills

I believe the best fiction hangs on the bones of fact. Join me and fellow Sister in Crime authors, Susan Oleksiw and Carolyn Wilkins, as we discuss how we craft real life and history into gripping thrillers and mysteries.

When: October 22 at 2 PM

Panel discussions generally run from an hour to an hour and a half, with 30 to 40 minutes of discussion by the panelists, followed by questions from the audience, and book signing and sales. The topic, “We Not Making This Up,” was originally developed for non-fiction true crime writers, but since the number of authors who write true crime has diminished, Sisters in Crime has expanded the topic to include fiction writers who mix fact and fiction in their books. That's perfect for me because my stories hang on the bones of fact.

Joining me for the “We’re Not Making This Up” panel will be:

Susan Oleksiw  ​
"I don't remember a time when I wasn't writing or making up stories."
Susan Oleksiw writes the Anita Ray series featuring an Indian-American photographer living in South India at her aunt's tourist hotel. In the first book in the series, Under the Eye of Kali (2010), a guest disappears and another falls unconscious. In The Wrath of Shiva (2012) and For the Love of Parvati(2014) Anita solves crimes among her extended family. When Krishna Calls (2016) finds Anita and Auntie Meena facing the loss of their hotel and everything they care about.
Carolyn Wilkins 

Carolyn Wilkins is a Professor of Ensembles at Berklee College of Music and the author of  Melody For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery.  She is also the author of They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her and Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success. Her nonfiction books are available from the University of Missouri Press. Carolyn's new mystery novel Mojo For Murder will be released by Pen-L Publishing in the Fall of 2016