Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Confessions of a Closet Novelist

Gryphon on a wintry morning at Woodbine.
It's been almost a year since my last post, must be time for an update on the late, "great" novel, right? Guess what? I lied. I'm editing again. More like, hacking it to bits and rewriting, thanks to the inspiration of a self-published novelist who has actually boldly gone where I've never gone before, haha. Every other week I sit back and think, why am I bothering? Why not just scrap this, keep it as what it is - my own story indulgence, to satisfy the kid in me who was never satisfied with what she read? Half the time I hate what I'm writing, I'm not sure I recognize my characters anymore - or like them, for that matter - and it all seems kind of pointless. It's hard to stay motivated, so I admit I'm struggling big-time. But part of me is still that kid who is never satisfied with any horse book she's read, and wants to write that book.

Anyway...I'm plugging along in my closet questioning this novel's existence. The best part is, when I have serious writing avoidance, I paint, so I've been getting more painting done! Maybe one avoidance will feed the other.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When Art Meets A Good Story...

The Queen's Plate is approaching, and for the second year, Woodbine is holding a contest for the "Official Queen's Plate Artist."  Seeing as one of my "real" jobs is painting horses, with a preference for racehorses...entering the contest was a natural thing.  I made it to the top five, and now it's up to a popular vote to determine the winner of the contest.  I've written about my painting, and the great story behind the filly in it, on my art blog.  Take a peek! 

Cinderella, Cinderella... the story behind the painting.

To vote, visit the Queen's Plate website!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

*Poke*Poke* Is It Dead?

Well, two years and change, is that all it's been? I admit I abandoned the idea of finding a traditional publisher for the LGN (that's "Late, Great, Novel" if you're new here).  I've been following people doing the indy publishing thing, and reading a lot of self-published e-books in the last while.  My novel isn't going to be the worst one out there, and another horse racing novel is not going to kill anyone.  Maybe some people will even like it.  I don't have illusions about getting rich - I don't even expect to make any money.  I just want to say, after all these decades, I did it. So, why not?
Potential Cover?

I just finished what had better be the last edit, and even knocked down the word count a little bit, to 123,698. At the very least, these days, it's easy enough to publish electronically - whether or not I try and do a print version remains to be seen.  Next I need to come up with a cover image - it seems stupid not to use one of my own paintings.  Now hopefully I can find one that actually exists that will do the job, or my plan will be further delayed! I guess I also need to write a blurb, which I've been finding difficult.  I've read a number of them that I don't feel do the book justice, so I'm trying not to end up in that same situation!

On the side I've also been working on making the sequel better, so I'll have a follow-up ready to go. I've even surprised myself by pondering a third book - I just can't seem to let go of these characters.

Next steps are the scarier ones - actually working through getting it published. And the real work?  Self-promotion!  Thanks to many years as a professional artist, I know that full well!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Track Life: Images and Words" A Review, and, A Tiny Bit of My Fiction Sees the Light of Day

Unless you're new here, you know that I look forward to a few days in Saratoga Springs, NY, each summer with some of my artist friends.  This year that plan was foiled thanks to my committed barn help backing out on me without enough time to find an appropriate replacement, so I had to miss out.  Hopefully next year I'll get things back on track, so to speak!

Three years ago, one of the members of our little group, fine art photographer Juliet Harrison, published her first book of photos from the Saratoga experience.  2013 saw a bigger project come to fruition, as she brought together contributions from artists, writers and industry stakeholders to create a combination of her photos, poetry, and prose relating to a variety of experiences involving Thoroughbreds and the track.  I was among the contributors, and a short excerpt from Fifty Sovereigns is part of this publication.  Maybe it's just a small thing, but I find it exciting anyway!

Rather than repeat myself here, I'll share my review from GoodReads.  You can find the book on  Amazon as well as Juliet's website, which I've linked to above.  The book would be a wonderful gift for someone else, or just for yourself. 

Track Life: Images and WordsTrack Life: Images and Words by Juliet R. Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer:  I might be somewhat biased as a reviewer, being not only a contributor, but also a friend of Juliet’s – perhaps even a friend who is at least partly responsible for her foray into the world of Thoroughbred racing. That said, I believe this book is a fascinating combination of picures and words that will appeal to a broad range of people.  It offers a glimpse into the world of those of us for whom racing is a passion, perhaps one we question with its long hours of thankless work. It also shares words from those on the other side of the fence – the fans who are in awe of the beauty of these animals, and those who are driven by picking a winner in a sport with a rarely predictable outcome. Saratoga features prominently in many of the stories shared – also being where the photos were shot – and one thing is common among them. The town, the track, is a magical, must-see destination. Will you be joining us next summer?  ☺

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Back away from the keyboard....

It's not a newsflash that I could go on editing the LGN forever.  This latest edit hacked out a few more words, but really, I know I need to stop.  I know I'm obsessive.  I started to laugh at myself when I was doing the whole add and take away the comma thing.

I think now I just need to come up with a gameplan.  As 126K is still a significant length, I've been pondering if I could divide it into two or three smaller parts.  I mean, George R.R. Martin kind of has a running tale, right?  Ha!  Yes I know there's no comparison.

The self-publishing/e-book route is getting the most consideration in my brain these days.  I am not looking for fame and fortune.  At this point, I really just want to say I've done it. Just like I want to say I've evented.  You know, before I'm 50.  Which means I need to get on it!  That goes for both publishing and eventing.  :-D

Yes I should be painting, which is actually something from which I make money.  Hmm, I need a book cover....

An interesting note....much of what has been hacked is included in this blog, in the very early posts.  So if, down the road, you decide to read the book, and like it, you can always find more bits and pieces here!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Really, Woodbine, What Were You Thinking?

The RCMP at Last Year's Plate

It's Plate Day, and despite plans to be there, I am spending my afternoon watching my horses, painting, and keeping tabs on Horseplayer Interactive.  I'm not a happy camper with WEG at the moment.  Thanks to changes in the media department, I didn't snag a media pass as I have in past years.  The individual who was so kind as to make sure I had a pass in the past, so that I could take photos for paintings, was among the layoffs this year (thank you, Ontario Liberal Government).  The individual I had to deal with instead, has never been the least bit helpful to me at all.  I mean, let's face it, doesn't everyone at least deserve the respect of an answer to an email or phone call?  I really don't care if you've decided I'm a nobody.  If I ran my business that way, well, I'd be working at Tim Horton's or Starbucks because I would have no customers.  Anyway....I could whine and feel sorry for myself for quite a while about this, so I've been trying to distract myself by working on a painting of 2011 Plate winner Inglorious - from my *own* reference photos.  My thanks to that considerate individual, I hope he's got a better job and is doing well.

Anyway....this year, I guess the marketing Powers That Be decided they needed a signature drink for the Plate.  I mean, the Derby has always had the Mint Julep, right?  Trust WEG to be decades behind.   So what do they call this drink?  The Blue Diamond.  Um....what?  Okay.  It is pretty.  What exactly that has to do with the Plate, I have no idea.  Shouldn't it be called the Gold Sovereign?  I think they should have just hired me.  ;-) 

All right....enough griping!  Time to turn on the TV and watch the big race alone in the comfort of my studio.  There haven't been very many Plates I have missed attending in the last 35 years, and if things had come together with my friends, I still would have gone, but I didn't really relish battling the crowd solo when I know I can't get any decent race photos.  I must be getting old!

(Go Nipissing!  I hear it's pouring rain at the moment...at least that no longer affects the track surface...and it will cool things off for the horses!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Writing for Today's Attention Span

I was pondering this as I was mucking stalls this AM (yes, I do a long of pondering as I do stalls!).  I received the expected response to the query I mentioned the other day - 30K too long.  I have no problem accepting that, and on the one hand I know if I want to pursue writing fiction for publication, my best bet would be to work on another idea, and get it polished for submission.  On the other, I know that to develop the world, characters and story the way I want....well, it's not going to happen in 60,000 words.

After spending the better part of the last year reading George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones, if you've been living under a rock), I have picked up a couple of quick reads.  Both are by the same author, and labeled "romance/suspense."  Not really my thing, but well, in case you haven't guessed it, the draw was horses, and they're even set at the racetrack.  They have been reasonably entertaining (despite my propensity to pick at the horse details...I've been trying to work on that!)....but I admit I find them superficial, especially after living in the complex world of Game of Thrones. 

Now, I know that's the genre, but it seems when one spends time on blogs and forums reading about aspiring authors vying for agents, all anyone really wants to consider is these light quick reads.  Personally, that's not the kind of book I really enjoy.  Am I in the minority?  I grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkein, Leon Uris, John Irving, James Clavell, Scott Turow - books that required considerable time investment.  I might have read a Dick Francis for fun every now and then, but I relished these epics.  In this world of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media....is epic fiction too hard to sell?

Epic horse fiction....yeah, I know.  Happy reading!