End the Strike Now! And a Poetry Book Coming.

I’m not sad to see 2017 go. It was a mean year, all in all. Too much name calling and schoolyard taunting. The year seemed to revel in not caring who got hurt. 2017 shared less, got more stingy as time passed. It made people feel bad about themselves. 2017 was humorless.

It was like our collective intellect dropped to the level of a sixth-grade boy. Sorry. We were worse than that. Now I have to apologize to sixth-grade boys.

Sure, there were moments of inspiration and good works done. Unselfish acts of kindness. Love that struggled to light. People who stood up for those in trouble. We did our best. There were still kittens on Facebook. But it always felt like the final cumulative count was a 49-51 vote. Kindness and our better selves just failing by two votes.

I blame reality tv shows. They encourage us to celebrate our worst selves, conniving and deceiving in the name of winning. Voted off islands and booted off the dance floor. Songs halted, costumes laughed at. Judgment left to audiences. Gladiators in the Coliseum were in our living rooms every night.

It’s divinely human to feel a thrill at the failure of others but we should keep it to ourselves.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually know about reality show content from personal knowledge since I’ve never watched a reality show. On principle.

Do you remember, back in the day, why these shows hit and became popular? It was to avert a writer’s strike. There was no one to write the dramas that balanced justice with integrity. No charming romantic comedies with heart, or coming of age stories. No quick-witted repartee; Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon would’ve been unemployed. No allusions to Shakespeare. No uplifting moral at the end, cue the credits.

Reality shows are cheaper to produce and have no scripted dialog. No need to pay a writer to create an interesting environment and voice a moral dilemma. Or a creative plotline. Or a character with depth. Just a producer looking edgier antics for higher ratings.

That’s right. Reality shows are scabs. I didn’t consider myself a writer at the time, I was a lover of writers, though. I did not cross the imaginary picket line and watch the new genre.

THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog to have a place to talk about books and writing, while continuing to write the horse stuff at annablakeblog.com.  Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer. 

News: I have a book talk with Peg Gould (Hound Dog Blues), 11-3, January 20th at 12 East Bijou, Hooked on Books, an indie bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs. Yay for Indies. Please stop by if you’re local.

Poetry boot camp is wild. I’m at the final edit of my collection of poems, Horse Prayers. (My love affair with poems doesn’t threaten my long-term relationship with writing non-fiction. It’s more an inky ménage à trois.) This book will be more fun/challenging to design and publish since it isn’t a paperback. My friend suggests it be a junior coffee table book. I’m pondering that.

Finally, at the end of January, I’ll be crossing the equator for the first time, headed to New Zealand and Australia for a series of clinics. If you want to come along, follow me on annablakeblog.com  I’ll be writing about the travel, the horses and riders I meet, and whatever else crosses my path. In the rest of 2018, I’ll go from Alaska to Arizona, and over to Scotland. Come see me if I’m in your area. I go where I’m invited, and some clinics have writing workshops attached. I expect adventure ahead!

My point about reality shows? It’s true I may have watched more than my share of Law & Order and West Wing episodes over the years. So, it isn’t that I have a love for stuffy highbrow drama, but can we please call it enough with reality mud-wrestling? Can we please be kind and smart again? Can we affirm our better selves again?

If you’ve felt the same disappointment, this is your call to arms. Err. I mean keyboards. Or microphones. Or art supplies. Or street corners. Anything, adopt one of those Facebook kittens, but speak out. Let your creativity and intelligence shine. It’s bigger than politics. It’s about compassion and art. It’s about lifting the quality of our conversations.

Are you on a self-imposed strike over a creative dispute? Would you like more pay-back for your work? Looking around right now, although we may not always feel our input is appreciated, we certainly notice when it isn’t there.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Currently planning summer clinics in Scotland and the UK.
2018 is filling quickly; please contact me here if you would like to host a clinic or attend one. Check out our entire clinic schedule here. 


Getting In Cars with Strangers

My mother told me not to, but I do. I get in cars with strangers. More often than you’d think. But first, I board a plane headed someplace I probably haven’t been before.

I’ll add some background. When I was younger, travel was my addiction. I picked cities I wanted to visit and submitted my artwork to galleries there. I vacationed internationally. I made sure to take at least six trips a year. Some trips were quite long. I acted cool but it was a ruse.

Honestly, I would have rather stayed home with a horse. Then one day, when I had most of the money saved for a trip to Belize, I spent it all on a wild six-month-old colt. Finally, I was able to stop wandering around aimlessly, in my own apartment or in foreign cities, and get on with my life.

I don’t mean to imply that travel is for people who have desperate and hollow horse-free lives. At first, I didn’t even notice I wasn’t traveling. When I did notice, I got a horse trailer and problem solved.

One midlife crisis later, I moved to my farm and that’s when travel truly died to me. By the time the ungrateful goats came, it was hard to get me past the mailbox. My little farm was the first place that ever felt like home and I put down roots. I didn’t believe travel could be better than my everyday life.

Years passed. The thankless goats got old and died. A new un-appreciative goat took their place. Along with a toothless barn cat who preferred the house. Rescue dogs that made it impossible to bring dates home. Llamas that line-danced around the house.

I’ve lost count of the numbers of horses who have passed through my barn; some boarded with us and some visited for training. Add the rescue horses who needed a soft landing and evaluation to way to a forever home. Of course, the herd-members-I-hadn’t-met-yet that came and never left. Horses are royalty. It was just so exactly where I wanted to be that grocery shopping felt like trekking to Siberia.

So, like I said, after a long dry spell, I find myself at the airport. Imagine my surprise. Suitcases have wheels on them now. The airport bar has decent beer. I’m told. And after landing, I make my way to the passenger pick-up area where I get into cars with strangers. I do it a couple of times a month. Then the strangers try to kill me with kindness.

THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog three years ago to have a place to talk about writing and publishing. I thought it would be simple; I’d write the horse stuff at annablakeblog.com and the author thoughts here.  Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer. 

Although I had given up travel, I notice I’ve traveled to eight states and Canada this year, seventeen barns total. I’ve been invited because of my writing. This blog changed everything. No plans to stop. I have a book talk January 20th at Hooked on Books, an indie bookstore in Colorado Springs. Yay for Indies. Please stop by if you’re local.

I’m thrilled to say my next book is progressing well. Going with the tendency of doing the last thing I’d expect, it’s a book of poems from my prairie that I’m calling Horse Prayers. (I’m having a love affair with poems, but it doesn’t threaten my long-term relationship with writing non-fiction. It’s turning into an inky ménage à trois.)

Consider my job as an equine trainer/clinician as a sort of couples therapist for horses and riders. I try to find a positive way to tell riders the problems are all their fault could be helped by better communication skills. I teach that riding is more of a dance than an arm wrestle. It’s what I was doing before I started blogging but the internet allowed my voice to carry kind of like yodeling in the mountains.  Who knew yodeling was still popular? For all that I teach, I’m on an even larger learning curve. It’s irresistible.

It follows that I’ve had to learn to write on the run, in airport bars and hotel rooms and guest houses with other people’s cats. That’s Harvey, part-time literary assistant, in the photo above.

So, add 63 years of passion and commitment to horses, never missing a blog deadline for eight years, publishing three books, and season-after-season spent standing in hot or freezing riding arenas doing couples therapy until my feet ache… and poof: I’m an overnight sensation (to a mostly obscure scattered group of horse people.)

Sometimes they invite me to visit. Next year I’ll travel to some new states here at home, along with New Zealand, Australia, and Scotland, where to my gray mare delight, we’re adding writing workshops. Could it get any better?

Yes. Being an advocate for horses has had a strange side effect. It’s brought me full circle and reintroduced me to a better version of my own species. I might have needed that most.

I’m profoundly grateful for my wild luck. Boisterously grateful to my longtime readers who must be as surprised as I am. And to my new readers, a yapping thank you for joining us and keeping the energy rolling. It’s been the most extraordinary experience. I’m wishing you all a kind winter and an adventurous New Year. I’d love to say hello if I land in your area.

That’s it then, I’ve become a born-again traveler. Sure, it’s challenging to get past my mailbox. I’ve become my herding dogs’ worst nightmare and I always worry for the elders in the barn. But I have luggage with wheels. Life is change.

Besides, I did write myself into this story.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Currently planning summer clinics in Scotland and the UK. 2018 is filling quickly; please contact me here if you would like to host a clinic or attend one. Check out our entire clinic schedule here. 

Poetry for People Who Think They Don’t Like Poetry


I had a boyfriend my junior year of high school. That, in itself, is shocking if you knew me. He was a year older and after graduating, he attended a liberal arts college in our town. It was 1972 and dinosaur computers roamed the earth.

The boyfriend did a  freshman project that involved teaching a computer to write poetry. It was all very creative and revolutionary at the time. We added lists of nouns and verbs and adjectives and whatnot. Then the Compudactyl coughed out simple sentence structure with random words filling the blanks. The poetry was pretty nonsensical but it was an era when that almost worked.

The boyfriend wrote his own poems as well; they read like math problems to me. He’d struggle for days, sweating out cleverness in unusual words arranged in shapes on the page. Art was hard work. I was a teenage girl, drowning in angst, self-loathing, and problems at home, so I wrote poetry, too. I’d scribble something on a napkin, show it to him, and well… Not quite supportive. He thought I didn’t suffer enough in the writing process for the words to add up to any value. He was right. The words were easy. It was life that was complicated.

I continued writing poems through my twenties, dismissing them as post-teen-angst drivel, and never showing them to anyone again. I was a young feminist and survivor of doing stupid things; these were not pink poems about hearts and flowers. I wrote them in my own blood and still didn’t take them seriously.

Misogynasaurus. It’s a testament to the depth of gender bias is in our culture that smart women are often our own worst enemies. Traditionally, we don’t hire us, we don’t vote for us, and we don’t listen to us. I didn’t listen to me… but sometimes it takes us awhile to grow into ourselves.

A few decades later I mentioned to a male friend that I was thinking of posting some poetry. He said something sarcastic, so I turned on my heel and marched away to hide my quivering lip. Truth: He likes my writing. That isn’t what he was sarcastic about. He doesn’t like poetry. He might even be afraid of it.

For crying out loud, I’m afraid of poetry.

Sometimes poetry can seem almost unintelligible. There are big words with obscure meanings and maybe there is a thesis out there written by a graduate student that can explain it to me. But I don’t want to read a thesis to understand a poem. It makes me feel like the one in the room who doesn’t get the joke. I don’t enjoy feeling stupid.

And then some poetry might be so insanely flat and simple that it has no hook for me and then I feel too intelligent, which ends up not being that enjoyable either.

Some poetry is so floral; so pale-apricot and ruffles, so adjective-laden, so very perfectly poetic, that I want to scream with a red pen all over it. Oops. Forgive me. I’m the one who quit Brownies because they were sissies.

Maybe it isn’t about poetry. Or accordion music. Or horror movies. Or Opera. More likely it’s about what appeals to each unique individual. And whether we have an open mind. And how pretentious we are about art in general.

So I did it. I gave up worrying what people thought. Or worse, what I thought. I’ve posted poems once a week, with a photo, for the last year. It’s an act of courage: I write them on Monday mornings and post them fast. I don’t let myself over-think it.

Recently, the same friend talked to me about poetry again. After complimenting a few poems, he said, “I thought I didn’t like poetry but maybe I was wrong.” That puts my poetry in the same category as my other gift to him –Brussel sprouts.

UPDATE: I’m traveling a lot this fall, giving clinics, and loving every minute. In a way, clinics are like book talks with horses included. Hard to beat that. There are several new US locations, as well as Canada. In February, I’ll be working in New Zealand and Australia. I’m planning writing days while I’m away and very excited about everything I’ll learn on this trip. (Contact me if you’d like to know where the clinics are located Down Under.) And this other bit of news: The next book will be poems. I’d like to use a different (more complicated) publishing process with better photo reproduction and shiny paper. Is that too uppity? For all the reasons poetry confounds people? So it goes, “they” told me a memoir was a bad idea, too. 

And thanks to those of you still posting reviews on Amazon. It makes a bigger difference than you imagine, keeping the books alive in the search engines.  I appreciate it.

I’ve thought long and hard about how to get my head around writing poems without feeling a need to apologize. Without the feeling like I’m a pretender to literary élite. I’ve always believed that fighting pretentiousness was my superpower.

But I’m not the first woman on a farm with a pen and there are some personal feelings that want out. I want to praise this beautiful fragile earth. I want to write tiny stories in clean words. And love poems to horses. And most of all, I want to write poetry for people who think they don’t like poetry.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Now What? (and Other News)


Now is the winter of my discontent

Okay, maybe I’m being Shakespeare-dramatic. Monochromatic seasons can bring that out in me. Here on the prairie, the only visual break from tan grass stretching to the horizon is when it turns white for a while. I’m grumbling, but the truth is that I can use a break from my hectic pace, every ten months or so, to cozy-in at my farm.

But this winter, I mourned some excruciating good-byes. If you are a woman of a certain age who thinks too much, the changes can add up. Not that it’s good or bad; just that I noticed and needed time to acclimate. I think there’s some rule of diminishing returns that says that with each day I grow older, the world becomes more precious. The beauty in ordinary things has become nearly debilitating. But then, I think too much. No apologies.

I’ve been prodded into action after reading that there is legislative action to make it legal to shoot hibernating bears, along with their cubs. It seems to follow that the dogs and I could be mistaken; we’ve been doing a decent bear impression. Besides, the weather is having mood swings and I’m counting days till the time change. Hurry spring.

BOOK NEWS: My books are now available on two new online sites. Check out the Equine Network Store for a great collection of equine literature, and for international readers, Lavender and White publishers, based in the UK, now carry all three books.

COMING EVENTS: I’ll be at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo March 10-12 in the Author Corner. (Discount tickets here.) I’ll be signing books and meeting new friends. *** I’ll be at my favorite indie bookstore, Covered Treasures, in Monument, CO, on March 18th, 3-5 pm, signing books. Please come by. *** Who’s going to the World Cup in Omaha? Look for my books in the Equine Network Booth and I’ll be there, too. Let me know if you want to meet-up.

I’ll be presenting at the Region 10 PATH conference May 7th. This isn’t open to the public but it’s a reminder that I am available for public speaking engagements, on topics on horse advocacy and training, women’s experience, and writing. Please contact me if you’re interested in having me speak to your group or clinic at your barn. Join with groups in Washington, California, Virginia, and Illinois-Indiana.

NOW WHAT? Well, I have a stack of ideas; I’m investigating doing something on the topic of responsibility and care of therapy horses. *** One of my readers encourages me to consider a children’s book, with Arthur, the goat, as the main character. She found a great illustrator, too. *** Others are encouraging me to compile a book of quotes from my blogs. *** Still others are asking about a book of photos and poems. *** And I have a few book outlines including a sequel to Stable Relation and another book about Love, Men, and Dogs. What do you think?

THEN THIS: I always thought I’d write something, but it wasn’t easy. At first, it was nothing but masochistic. I’d read a fresh paragraph aloud and I’d tried so hard to be clever that I was nearly unintelligible. Adverbs were lost in verbiage. There were runaway pronouns. But I stuck to my keyboard, hoping an intention in my mind would somehow intersect with the right group of words. Then I edited liked a mad dog with a chainsaw.

babybird-3Do you feel the pull to write? If there’s interest, I’m thinking about starting an online group to encourage those of us who are certain there’s a book (or blog or story) in us but we’re having a time squeezing it out. Like an egg. That will hatch into something real. Like a fat-lipped baby bird.

Want to write with us? (Email me at anna@annablake.com)

Again, for those of you who have left reviews for Barn Dance, or the other books, thank you so much. It breathes life into search engines and that is gold for indies like me. I appreciate every single review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.



Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

BARN DANCE *Book Launch*


Excuse me. Um. Barn Dance is now avail…


Speak up. Enunciate. 


He’s right behind me, isn’t he?


What you want to do is take a deep breath, relax your ears, and then PROJECT!


He is a donkey-publicist of strong opinion and this isn’t the first time he’s corrected me in public.


Get to the point, old girl.





available AT AMAZON now,


or SIGNED books available on HERE!


Bray it out! That’s me on the cover.


Paperback and ebooks at Amazon now and Barnes and Noble.   Signed copies on my website. (Slower than Amazon but comes with a bookmark, too!)


Buy Barn Dance now. Thank you. The goat says thanks, too.


And please consider writing a review of Barn Dance or Stable Relation or Relaxed & Forward. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads.) Your words will kick-start the search engines in our direction. Self-published books gratefully rely on word-of-mouth support. Thank you.


YOU should bray it out, too. Help her. She’s only human. 


Well. Isn’t that the truth?

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

A Word from My Publicist (Cover Reveal)


My name is Edgar Rice Burro. I’m the publicist for Prairie Moon Press. I got the job because I have the loudest voice, and I’m not afraid to use it. Also, I’m not afraid to tell humans what to do. I’m helpful that way. 


I am the human and I used to think I had a thin veneer of control on this farm. I might have been exaggerating.


My human finally took my advice and put my handsome face on a book cover. She’s slow on the uptake, but she gives a good ear rub, so I’m patient with her. This book will sell like cold carrots on a hot day.


I do the hard jobs for Prairie Moon Press. I wrote the book, for instance. I paid for everything. He just came in at the end and brayed about it. Like it was all his idea. Okay, maybe it was.


This book has stories about all of us in the barn. And the barkers and mouse-killers that live across the paddock in the human-barn.  Even goats, and if she let goats in, she has very low standards, but like I said–my human gives good ear rubs.


We’re a farm that also fosters and re-trains rescue horses, as well as rescue dogs. The book also includes memories of those who didn’t stay with us forever but are still part of the extended herd. The thing that they don’t tell you about rescue is that it’s an inside job–I think I’ll probably always need it.


And when my human wants to rant–and she does love a rant–about being an awkward age, whatever that means, she calls herself an old gray mare. Something I respect, by the way.


Final proofs are being finished now but publishing is slow this time of year. In order to expedite the process, I’m not letting the goat help. Stay tuned; I’m publishing as fast as I can.


Look into my eyes. Now it’s my job to say, “Buy this book!” But how can you resist? There are words and stuff, but the cover is the real deal–photos don’t lie! Intelligence, sincerity, and donkey scruples. I’m irresistible. 

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro

Word Geek Needs Prom Date

“She’s insufferable with this stupid human game. What’s wrong with tossing a ball. What an embarrassment. We try to sleep through it.”
“She’s insufferable with this stupid human game. What’s wrong with tossing a ball? We try to sleep through it. This woman is an embarrassment.”

I was once on the very brink of practically passing as sophisticated. It isn’t the same as actually being sophisticated, but I swear, this blog is like a trashy “True Confessions of a Dork” tell-all. Bad boundaries? I was routinely accused of that, but I’ve moved beyond that to shameless.

I’m winding up to brag about my vocabulary. That’s what all this honesty has come to. Someone, please, stop me before I drag out comments from my grade school teachers!

First, just because I’ve never played a computer game in my life, doesn’t mean I don’t understand the theory. I want to announce I have just taken up something remotely like a computer game, only obscure and arcane and, well, it has the stench of a long over-ripe Honor Society membership.

Okay, here goes.

I call it writing but that’s a poor description. I spend a few minutes gathering words around an idea I have, and then hours editing them. I move them around like furniture, I replace words with better words. I struggle with punctuation and adverbs and pronouns. Then I check for words that I repeat too often or not enough. Writing is the very tiny part of the job.

Sometimes I use software programs like Word, but more often, I like the software here on WordPress. Their spell check is powered by an elderly English teacher with a very sharp ruler. For longer work, I like Scriveners, a writing software for arranging a book that is no less than co-author worthy in its ability to hold it all together before it actually exists. Even if their spell check is a bit more like a Junior High English teacher who also coaches soccer.

I’m getting to the part where it’s all as exciting as playing Call of Duty. (I had to google a game title. Is this a good one?)

Some word geeks play scrabble and call it good, but the game I dream of is software that can tell that I should have used to instead of on. You can’t imagine how invisible those little words become during editing. Oh, of course you can. You see those mistakes in my writing all the time. I’m the blind one.

Obviously, I troll around on word software sites because I get their solicitations… that’s how I stumbled upon Grammarly. I downloaded the free version and then had a picky judgment fest about it. I’m that kind of crazy on a Saturday night. There is a page switch aspect that I don’t like, but it wrangles commas pretty well. In my dorky opinion.

It all changed when I got an email summary from Grammarly that used the word “Mastery” in relating that in the last 39,620 words I’d written, (more words that 99% of users did in the same time period,) I had used 1424 unique words (a larger vocabulary than 97% of users).

Okay, I like this game. I think you can see why. I would never be the kind of person who liked statistics. That’s math and I would rather fanatically over-tip a server than do math.

It was WordPress who taught me to love statistics. I check them all the time, it’s a compulsion. Because they flatter me. Something math has never even tried to do. “Readers in 161 countries.” Wow. Humbled and flattered. It’s getting remotely close to 1,000,000 hits. (It would have been easier to type a million hits, but I wanted to gloat over all those zeros.) This is how it came to pass that I bored the dogs into a coma.

Like all good embarrassments, I was standing there at the corner of No One Cares! and Do You Know Who I Am? And smiling like a fifth-grader in cat-eye glasses and a buttoned-up sweater because Grammarly is my new best friend.

“Pathetic,” the dogs mutter in unison.

gold-shiny-hrReal Life Update: This Friday, I fly off to the Miami Book Fair International to receive my award for Stable Relation. This is an awkward invitation to be my prom date. Please. There’s a Saturday night formal event and as usual, the dogs weren’t invited and I think no one else will ask me to dance. So will you come? If you can’t show up, will you talk me through it on Facebook? I’ll be posting about it on my author page here. 

“Like” the Facebook page and follow me there, so you can share my angst of not wearing barn clothes and sleeping dogless. But know it won’t be as much fun as editing, just so you can prepare. 

Barn Dance, the next book, is still on track for January release. I think we have the cover photo nailed down, just looking for that perfect, witty tagline. Oh, and some more obsessive-compulsive editing. I know there are some stray commas and semi-colons roaming aimlessly through the text, but at some point, you just have to hold your nose and jump.

Okay, in an attempt for fairness, it wasn’t all hearts and flowers with Grammarly. I confess that Grammarly also noted that I missed commas in a compound sentence 274 times. I made 94 mistakes with missing articles. Perhaps most tragic, there were 168 mistakes in comma splices. I didn’t even know that happened to commas. Let’s just state the painful truth. I have comma drama.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro



The Devil Is In the Details


wm-lateral-lilith-fauxcoverHow to create a homemade project that looks professional and inviting and even artistic–that’s the dilemma.

I would love to weave a romantic tale about my dilettante author life; that my groom delivers my horse while I pose on the mounting block in my baby-seal-skin riding boots. That I write at dusk by a sapphire pool while owls perch on my shoulder. That my personal masseuse/bodyguard/Corgi wrangler travels along in my Lear jet, as I flit to book talks in Paris, Rio, and Commerce City.

Can I just say there is nothing romantic about writing? It’s more like a bad habit. I start at 3:30 in the morning because I actually have a real job. If you can call horse training a real job. I’m not great company by dinner time, either. But if there is something less romantic than writing, it might be publishing. A friend suggested I write about this part; she thought it would be interesting. I’m dubious.

I’ve spent hours this week laying on the ground in pens here on the farm. I’m trying to take a photo for the next book cover and there are new power lines from a huge wind farm that cross-hatch all my backgrounds, not to mention miss-matched fence panels and a flotilla of wheelbarrows. So I was trying to get an angle where there is little background (like the llama in this photo) and just sky behind. Of course, when I lay on the ground in a pen I get dirt in unforeseen places. Then I wait, while the animals all tilt their heads at odd angles. Eventually, they saunter over to begin the C.S.I. work. In this photo, Lilith thinks I might be a bit unbalanced, but she doesn’t want me to die before lunch. The activity behind the camera makes her look absolutely sane.

If the devil is in the details, then so is the art.

I’ve done the same thing with a few different animals, at odd times of the day for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure who be on the next cover. There are a few hundred photos. The photos have to have the right kind of spacing so the title works. Remember the cover for Stable Relation? Hundreds of shots there, too. Nubè was catatonic by the time I gave up.

It wasn’t my intention to use my photography at the beginning. I have friends who are professionals and I respect their work. Besides, I’m not very sophisticated. I use my phone and if I need a tripod, I use a donkey. My books are as homemade as canned beans.

I do work with a book designer in the UK; she started with the first book, Stable Relation. I gave her some random ideas–like I liked the original cover for Wild with the hiking boot. I told her the covers I liked in her portfolio, and sent a couple of “kinda like this” photos. She did six mock-up covers, five of them with commercial photos and one of my photos. I shared them around to friends for their opinions. I loved one of her ideas especially… but eventually decided on the black and white idea because the “feeling” was right. I also learned that I could disappoint people (friends) before the book even came out.

When it was time for a cover for Relaxed & Forward, I was all set to skip the group-vote folly and just use that spare cover from the first book. My designer sent me six mock-ups again, different colors and fonts on that first image, along with similar images from online photo stock. Then she pulled one of the interior chapter photos out, did a mock-up, and, well, she was right. It was perfect.

UPDATE: I’m a little over half-finished editing the final draft of Barn Dance. Then I’ll read it one more time, trying to pretend I’ve never read it before. I’ve set up the ISBN numbers for the new print and ebook, I’m wrangling interior photos, and chanting bad would-be tag lines. I have to write one small perfect paragraph describing the book, making it sound so indispensable that strangers will buy it instantly, form a cult, and send me all their goats. And then there’s the matter of the cover… I’d like Edgar Rice Burro, but he shuns the spotlight. Clearly, some of these tasks are more challenging than others. I’m hoping for a publish date in January for Barn Dance

I’ll be collecting an award at the Miami Book Fair International in mid-November. Anyone else going? There’s book shopping!

And one more time, I want to thank everyone who posted a review online, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. It means the world. Literally, people around the world read them. Now that you have a view inside of my fabulous publishing dynasty, it’s probably obvious that readers are my publicity budget. Thank you for poking the search engine into a grinding, squeaking rattle with the question, “Anna who?” Thank you! The reviews that slowly trickle in now are from people whose names I don’t recognize. It worked!

Now I’m down to details on the new book. Idiosyncratic editing. Numbers, dimensions, and abbreviated descriptions. I’ll head out in early light in the morning and hit the dirt again. No baby-seal-skin boots. No Lear jet warming up. And if I had an owl on my shoulder, she’d be checking my hair for mice and grubs. Romanic, isn’t it?

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro

Going Where You’re Invited

Lately I’ve been haunted by this drumming thought: Now would be a good time to do something smart.

It doesn’t come naturally to me. To be honest, I have a tendency to do things the hard way. I spent a fair amount of time beating down doors, back in the day. If easier methods existed, they never occurred to me. For instance, I liked the idea of winning the lottery but I don’t actually believe in a free lunch, so I never bought the ticket. See what I’m working with here?

Lousy financial decisions have been a constant. Like hiring that financial planner/ex-IRS agent who helped me lose all the profit I made selling a house… to the IRS. And you wouldn’t want to take me along to buy a used truck. And oh yeah, there’s that barn full of un-rideable horses next to my house.

Maybe I got lost on the way to take the road less travelled and that has made all the difference. (Apologies, Mr. Frost.)

All of this is to say that writing a book fit perfectly into my long-term plan. First, I warmed my fingers up by blogging regularly for the last seven years. Readers came one at a time. I was a tortoise-like sensation. Then it took two years to write the first book, Stable Relation. Not a get-rich-quick scheme by any stretch of judgment.

Research told me that ninety percent of self-published books sold less than a hundred copies, but still I took the advice of two publishers and a book publicist and decided to self-publish. Hello, Prairie Moon Press.

Being the publisher meant writing press releases and blurbs. Promoting a reluctant author and entering book contests. And the biggest challenge of all: Talking good about the author in public. It’s enough anxiety to turn your tongue into a Dorito. How did someone who mucked barns and wrote every spare moment get this PR job?

It’s been fourteen months since Stable Relation came out. I’ve been making the whole thing up as I go and it’s been surreal. But is it time to let it rest? I love this book but is it over? Am I turning–even more than usual–into that balding guy rocking out in the cliché-red Corvette?

I figure just around this time my guardian angel got out of rehab.

And then Stable Relation was awarded a gold medal from the Readers’ Favorite book awards, in the Non-Fiction, Animals category.

The publisher (me) is happy because now the author (me) has the title of  Award Winning Author. I’m flattered but still more likely to come to “Hey, you!”

They hold a ceremony/mini-conference during the huge and wonderful Miami Book Fair, November 18-20th. They invited the winners to come, hobnob a bit, and perhaps snag the ear of an industry pro. And going to a book fair sounds like about as much fun as you can have without goats or donkeys. On Saturday night, there’s a formal event to present the awards. Think rhinestones on my Crocs.

Like I said, I’d really like to do something smart, if I could tell what that was. I try to keep an open mind. Life is like working with donkeys; you end up someplace else but had little control about how you got there.

So, obviously my category wasn’t the biggest, and I won’t know a soul there, and I don’t sleep well in dog-less hotel beds. But I’m going to try something out of character. If you have a history like mine and don’t know what to do next–it’s crazy notion–but maybe you try going where you’re invited.

…Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro
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When I Met You.

20160313_140155-1Welcome to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Let me start by saying it was never my fantasy to spend a few days standing on the cement floor of a convention hall, under fluorescent lights with no windows. It came with the extra tease that people walked by all day long, on the way to the barn where the horses are stalled, while I stood behind my book table.

The other authors did a great job of hawking their books, confidently asking people passing to stop and look, and I just couldn’t start the conversation with buy mine!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not retired and I don’t have a trust fund. I need book sales just as much as anyone. At the same time, I can only do this selling thing the way I can do it. If I start to feel like the guy at the state fair selling the Chop-o-matic… well, it won’t work for me. It’s awkward; I’m the one who hates it when people try to sell me things. Clearly, I have issues. So I was cross-dressing as an author, wishing I was in the barn where I belong, and trying to find the words that wouldn’t betray my books or me.

That was when I met you.

You were the Mom who knew nothing about horses, but came along with your daughter who was transforming herself in this horse world you don’t understand. All you could see was how beautiful and competent she’s becoming.

You were the husband of the woman who stopped to tell me she loved my blog; you were quiet until we compared dirt bikes to horses, and found we had a sense of humor in common.

You were the lonely horse owner who came back a few times to tell me again about how your rescue horse chose you, and follows you, and shares your heart in a way that has never happened before in the history of mankind.

You were the elderly woman who no longer rides, but still belonged there with us.

And maybe my favorite: the teen girl whose friends competed, while she stayed loyal to the leased,  lame, and un-rideable horse who was her best friend. What a horsewoman she’ll make!

Thanks for the reminder that authors, even a memoirist like me, need to tell the personal story that is a shared experience. Sometimes we get so wound up in our own subplot, that we can’t see the bigger story. (Replay the famous Rick-Ilsa Hill of Beans speech from Casablanca one more time!) I could have written a chapter for each of the people I met. Is this where the term Dear Reader comes from? It’s a term I’ll use will full heartfelt affection from now on. I loved meeting you.

In the meanwhile, it’s springtime on the high prairie! It isn’t green yet, but the birds are back and the hibernation is over. We’re all a little itchy to get on with Our Upcoming Events!

  • Midwest Horse Fair, April 15-17, in Madison, WI. I will be in the Horse’n Around Magazine booth, #2304. Drop by and tell me about your horse!
  • Mountain of Authors, April 23, 11-5, Pikes Peak Library District, at Library 21c, located at 1175 Chapel Hills Dr, CS, 80920. This is an informative day with speakers and a wealth of local talent.
  • WEBINAR Calming Signals: Are you Listening?, May 10, 7pm ET, 5pm,MT. Windrush Farm in Massachusetts invited me to create a webinar. It’s available for anyone to watch live, or taped at a later time, with proceeds to benefit their therapeutic riding program. Who knew making this presentation would be so much fun?
  • Horse Symposium, Oslo, Norway. October 29-30. International speakers on horse welfare. I’ll present on Leadership that Builds Confidence and Ulcers and Stress. I’m very excited about meeting the people at this event.

This week I’m off to Madison, WI, for the Midwest Horse Fair. Please stop by and distract me from myself!

For as solitary as writing is, it’s also the thing that brings so many intriguing people into my experience. I am so profoundly grateful to you, DEAR READER, for the stories you share with me, as we exchange notes on this horse/life. It’s the thing I never expect but appreciate the most–the reminder that we are all more alike than different. Thank you.