Since so many of us are stuck at home ‘sheltering in place’ I decided to put the first three books of my Riding Out series into a boxed set and only charge 99 cents. I figured most people would feel that’s a good price for 474 pages of (hopefully) uplifting Christian fiction!
I let my subscribers know about it and was amazed at their positive response. The book sold a ton of copies straight away. Thank you all so much!
A dear author friend, Autumn Macarthur, let her huge fan base know about it the next day. They bought loads of copies, too and I am so appreciative!
The timing was perfect: as Autumn said, ‘it was a God thing.’ 🙂 As a result, The Jack Harper Trilogy is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon and I’m going to enjoy its exalted status however briefly it lasts. 😉 Thank you, Lord!
I want to give a shout-out to Autumn for being such a staunch supporter of my books andcontinually boosting my career. She is a kind and generous fellow Christian and I owe her a huge debt.
As a Christian author, I thank God for each gift of success.
“Dinny’s Challenge” became a #1 Best Seller for a glorious while and I knew took screen shots of its exalted status immediately!
Creating the book was an interesting exercise in humility, as you can see from my post, “Dinny’s Challenge:” A Fresh Start. It taught me not to take criticism personally, but to see it as a helpful aid to improvement.
My critiquing circle’s good judgment made the book successful, and I am eternally grateful to them.
Readers tell me my books bring back happy horse memories from their childhood, and one was even encouraged to get on a horse again, after reading about the equine adventures of my heroes and heroines!
Such feedback is enormously rewarding and encourages me to continue writing.
I’m now working on “Friday’s Folly,” Book 3 in The Sinclair Island Romance series.
P.S. If you would like to join my Launch Team and receive Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of my new books, please comment below. I’d love to welcome you aboard!
Hi there! Here is where I’ll be sharing what prompts me to create the individuals in my books and the stories that unfold in their lives.
There will also be interviews with the characters. If you want to know more about anyone in particular or have questions you’d like me to ask them, please get in touch by filling out the short form on the About//Contact page.
I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy these posts!
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy revisiting the residents of Brotherton and experiencing the dramatic events that unfold in that usually quiet part of the West Country.
VillagersDodo and BobOlding
Two characters in the book, Dodo and Bob, are very dear to me and based on a real couple who used to live down the lane from our house in Gloucestershire. Like us, they owned horses, and the woods running behind our two properties belonged to them.
My husband and I would ride through the forest and up the hill to their house, where the real Dodo and Bob would urge us to put our steeds in their stables while we had a ‘little something to drink’ together.
We loved sitting outside in their quintessentially English garden, looking over the fields and watching the geese and chickens wander in and out of the kitchen, chased by a lively Shi Tzu.
Then my husband and I would get back on our horses and ride home, glowing with bonhomie, before it got too dark to see where we were going.
Bob and Dodo introduced us to the Queen’s cousin and his wife, who lived one door down in a large house with an active ghost. They invited us to cocktails and subsequently to dinner, where my American husband kissed the Princess on the cheek. There was no way I was going to kiss the Prince: he would have been horrified!
Dodo was even more colorful than I have portrayed her in the book. She used to make the most outrageous comments. She and Bob could never agree on the details of any story, and you’d better have eaten before you went to their house, as she usually burnt the food.
But she was a generous and loving soul, and when she passed away from a heart attack, sitting in her chair in the garden, Bob was grief-stricken. He held it together for four years before taking his own life on the anniversary of her death.
As a Catholic, I had no peace because he’d committed suicide, a mortal sin. I worried about Bob’s soul and confided in my parish priest. He told me that God would have understood the condition of my friend’s mind and for me not to be anxious, but to pray for him.This I still do.
I miss them both. Bob got to read Brittle Diamonds before he died, and thoroughly enjoyed my portrayal of him and Dodo. I am so very glad of it.
Why I Wrote the Book
After more than twenty years away from the Catholic Church, I finally returned to the fold.
There are many reasons why, but the catalyst was the birth of my son, although it still took me several years after that to commit fully to my faith.
When our little family moved to the States from England, I was thrilled to discover that Catholics weren’t in the minority as they are in the United Kingdom. I suddenly belonged to a huge community!
My local parish priest was a very charismatic man, whose sermons were both entertaining and educational. We all loved him.
Then came that fatal day when he told us he was under investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians, allegedly perpetrated some thirty years before.
We were all horrified that anyone could make such an accusation against our wonderful pastor, and were confident he would be swiftly exonerated and back in the pulpit.
Sadly, this was not to be the case.
My sorrow at discovering my Catholic leader was not above reproach led me to write this book.
The novel handles several other difficult issues in addition to the priest scandal, which was raging then and sadly still is. It will be a long time before the Catholic Church recovers, but recover she will.
The sermon in Chapter 17 is poached from a real sermon preached at the time of our priest’s disgrace.
Running into her former fiancé forces Dinny to face her cowardice towards him decades earlier.
Dinny gave Grant back his ring and married the man who was accusing him of fraud.
Now widowed, she attends a wedding on Sinclair Island and unexpectedly runs into her ex-fiancé – three decades after he moved away.
Dinny’s beloved mare is about to go blind and Grant meets with her to suggest an unorthodox solution for saving the horse’s sight. But his girlfriend becomes determined to keep the once engaged couple apart and extracts a promise from Dinny not to interfere in her relationship with him.
Dinny realizes she’s falling in love with Grant again. Problem is, he’s a crook and her deceased husband’s arch-enemy. And she’s given her word to stay away from him.
Grant never stopped loving her, and a nearly fatal incident with a horse gives him the unexpected opportunity to clear his name.
When Dinny discovers the real criminal’s identity, she is faced with the sordid truth that her marriage was based on a lie.
Can Grant forgive her for believing the wrong man? Can she forgive herself – or her late husband?
Under pressure from Grant, she admits her true feelings, she then tells him that she mustn’t give into them. Angry and disappointed, he walks out on her.
Soon afterwards, he risks his life to save his girlfriend and Dinny knows she’s truly lost him.
Her life will be unbearable without him and she has to get him back.
It’s been interesting to discover that an author friend of mine, who is way more successful than me, is having the same trouble with her current novel as I am.We both suffer from a difficulty to move on from the hero in our previous book to the next one.
Grant didn’t own a horse in the first version. He’s quite a bit older than Fulton in ‘Saving Prophecy’ and his only sport was golf. I hadn’t realized how boring he was until I decided to make him the owner of a beautiful grey gelding. After all, the horses make the book, don’t they?
That immediately gave him a snazzier car, an interesting extra hobby, and he is also a member of the volunteer emergency services on the island. I shan’t say which one, but no, he’s not a fireman.
Which brought me to Dinny, who needed spicing up, too. She was under her husband’s thumb for many years, but broke out of her shell after his death. I wasn’t conveying that, apart from having her fulfill her lifelong dream of buying a horse. Now she’s up to all sorts of things, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with her!
Wish me luck as I follow the tricky romance between the two of them.
My beta readers are currently running their eagle eyes over the novel and giving me valuable input. After that I shall be sending out ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) to my wonderful Launch Team for their feedback.
All being well, the book will be ready to launch by the end of November.
What’s the book about?
Twenty-nine years ago, Dinny was swept off her feet by the man accusing her fiancé of financial fraud.
When Grant loses the woman of his dreams to his boss, he moves away for good.
Now a widow, Dinny attends a wedding on Sinclair Island, where a chance meeting with Grant rekindles powerful emotions.
He’s never found a woman to replace Dinny in his heart. Butwhenhe hints that he was framed by her husband, she feels disloyal for spending time with him.
Yet if Grant is telling the truth, her whole marriage was a sham and she can’t handle that.
When Grant has a riding accident, Dinny realizes she’s still in love with him. But giving into her feelings means facing the sordid facts about her deceased husband. Is she ready for that?
Grant finally convinces her of what really happened and she prepares to move onto the island to be with him.
But then he confesses a secret that sends her reeling. Sensing her love for him is not strong enough to accept the truth yet again, he walks out.
Life for Dinny will be unbearable without Grant. She has to get him back!
But how?Is it too late to salvage their relationship?
When I have the final launch date I shall let you know.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy writing a romance novel inspired by a recent trip to Daufuskie Island with a friend who was giving a riding clinic at Haig Point Stables.
Two things struck me during my visit.
One was the peaceful atmosphere: the only permissible vehicles on the plantation are golf carts.
The other was that two ladies at the barn had met their Mr. Right on the small island. What were the odds? I wondered.
My writer’s brain shot into overdrive and on my return to the mainland – read Hilton Head Island 😉 – I began scribbling down a story woven around events on fictitious Sinclair Island.
My little isle has cars on it – I couldn’t quite wrap my head around a romance conducted in golf carts! Maybe in a later book.
The result is ‘Saving Prophecy,’ and the novel is going through its final edits before I announce a publishing date. I thought it was going to be a standalone book, but the plots for a second and third one wouldn’t leave me alone so I’ve already outlined them both.
‘Saving Prophecy’ will now be the first of the Sinclair Island Romance Series.
The first draft of Laura Harper’s first trilogy book is complete, and I shall resume edits as soon as I am certain of where the next two novels in the series are headed. Writing romance has been a fun interlude which is helping to keep things fresh when I go back to the Harper family.
Today I am revealing the cover, and as the launch date draws closer, I shall disclose a few details about the plot!
During the first two weeks of May, my German friend and erstwhile riding instructor came for a visit to Hilton Head Island from her native Frankfurt.
It was her first time here, so we did a lot of sightseeing. But she was very interested in helping with my riding and I was thrilled to receive the much-needed training!
Cruz and I are like a long-time married couple: we’ve adapted to each other without realizing it. As a result, I’ve got used to his crookedness and he’s learned to cope with mine.
When your horse doesn’t give to the left, the temptation is to bend him even farther left. But that just puts him off balance and makes him move yet more crookedly.
Ingrid had me let go of my stranglehold on the left rein and concentrate on driving Cruz forwards in a straight line. In any case, I should only see his inner eyelash when he’s bent to the left, not his entire neck!
Here’s a link to the video of us cantering between markers to the left – our worse side. You can see his haunches swing out to the right until I improve my leg position.
CLICK ‘WATCH ON FACEBOOK’ IN THE BLACK BOX TO VIEW.
In this video I’m cantering to the right. This used to be my ‘bad’ side, but somehow we’ve switched over!
AGAIN, CLICK ON ‘WATCH ON FACEBOOK’ IN THE BLACK BOX TO SEE THE VIDEO.
In addition to creating forward impulsion, I was to make sure I could always see the top muscle in his arched neck, to denote that he was using himself correctly and enable him to carry me better.
He didn’t have to be ‘reeled in’ to achieve this: I could do it on a longer rein, too, allowing him to stretch into my contact. As a result, she assured me, he would not be so tired nor ache so much from using the wrong muscles.
So I’ve taken a photo of his neck and will get another shot of it in two months’ time. Hopefully the before and after pictures will show a significant increase in his upper neck muscle and a huge decrease in his lower neck muscle. (I’m too embarrassed to let you see the before photo right now!)
If all goes according to plan, I’ll post them both!
Next week my great friend Maggie McGuire, of https://maggiemcguiredressage.com/ is coming to give a clinic next and I hope to post some great photos and videos from that.
Twelve years ago, when the horse barn on our Maryland property was ready and our three horses had moved in, a grey tabby and white cat showed up.
He was friendly and vocal and visited frequently. I began feeding him and that was that. My barn = his barn.
At the time I was reading a book series by Alexander McCall Smith whose heroine’s name is Precious, so that’s what I called him because he was so pretty and I thought he was a girl.
Until I discovered his previous owner. The local cattle farmer, she told me his name was Junior and he was one of a litter of five, but was now fighting with his siblings. He had wandered off to get away from them.
I told her she was welcome to check if I really did have her cat and she agreed to come over.
Praying she wouldn’t want him back, I brought her into the barn. Junior took one look at her and ran off. “Yeah, that’s him. You can keep him.”
I didn’t like the name Junior, and never did improve on Precious, which in all fairness I couldn’t still call him. So he became ‘Barn Cat.’
He was extremely affectionate and extremely feisty. He’d come up to the house every morning and accompany me back to the barn to give him his breakfast, but I never moved fast enough in his opinion. He was always striking out at my legs and catching his claws in my pants.
As soon as he’d eaten, if I made the mistake of sitting down anywhere, he was in my lap like a shot, purring and kneading holes in whatever I was wearing. Many of my riding breeches suffered this treatment.
He trotted behind my horse down to the arena every time I rode, so he could watch us, or run across the sand chasing leaves, or dig a hole in front of me to do his business in. That cat was determined to be a part of everything! My instructor called him her assistant, because he’d curl around her legs while she gave lessons. He also leaped onto the laps of anyone who sat down to observe her teach.
In the winter he slept in our basement, which he could access via a dog flap. I’d feed him at the top of the stairs, then he’d rush to the front door to escort me down to the barn, where he’d demand a second breakfast.
He made me laugh whenever it snowed: I’d watch him hop out of one of my deep boot prints into the other on his way down to the horses.
Barn Cat was a brilliant mouser and many a morning I was greeted by the sight of rodents’ entrails in the aisle. Our dogs knew to keep away from him, for he had no fear and let them know it, and our house cat soon learned to give the semi-feral feline a wide berth if he was in the back yard.
He was about a year old when we first met, and quickly became an integral part of life at the barn. So he was thirteen when we found a buyer for our farm, who agreed to take care of him.
But I noticed he was slowing down and his belly had suddenly grown larger. The vet said he had a tumor.
Had Barn Cat decided he didn’t want new owners? I don’t know. But it was with a heavy heart that I took him back to the vet two days later.
That tumor was growing fast and it was time to do the decent thing. It was hard, for this truly remarkable cat had weaseled his way deep into my heart!
I said my goodbyes while he slowly fell asleep on my lap and have brought his ashes with me to South Carolina, to be with the family he chose.