Relaxed & Forward: My Secret Wish

2016-01-16 12.20.20 (2)I’ll say it again. The hardest part of this writing and publishing process for me is always the description of the book–that paragraph beside the cover image on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble page. Those few words are supposed to perfectly define the book and simultaneously demand it be purchased. Out of millions of books languishing in the mists.

Before Stable Relation came out, I spent a laborious week scrutinizing each word of that one measly paragraph, but when the first reviews came in, I realized that they described the book better than I had. My words failed my own words.

So a manuscript of  eighty thousand words–think about what a huge number of words that is to wrangle into a meaningful order in the first place–lost forever if that tiny preview blurb doesn’t sell hot and fast.  No pressure.

In defense of writers, sometimes there’s a gap between what we think we wrote and what the readers finds. We can never control, or even guess, how the book will be received. I did a good deal of tongue-biting when I was writing Stable Relation. I wanted to tell the story in a way that was meaningful and interesting. I thought about pace, I edited entire chapters out, and I wanted to make sense in a non-chronological way. Most of all, I didn’t want to talk down to readers; I wanted them to have their way with the book. Then those eighty thousand words got squeezed to a blurb, quickly becoming my least favorite word ever. Blurb sounds too much like burp.

Same drama for the second book Relaxed and Forward: Relationship Advice from Your Horse. Only this time it isn’t a story but rather a collection of essays. Publishers will tell you that format is even harder to sell than memoirs, if that could be possible. With that dismal vote of confidence, I spent the two weeks tweezering words and fussing with clauses until I finally sputtered to a halt at this particular blurb. I didn’t finish it so much as surrender to it, letting my finger finally collapse on the finish button. Then I waited.

Sure enough. Within a few days, one of my favorite readers referred to Relaxed & Forward as a Daily Devotional. What she said! Exactly.

Devoted is defined as love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for an individual, activity, or cause. The first three verbs define a rider and the last three nouns are synonyms for ways to commit to a horse.
One of my strongest beliefs about training, teaching, or about anything else in life, is that attitude outweighs subject matter. Horses read our intention much more than judge our technique. Riders are constantly challenged to stay fresh and new, and be, well, inspired. I wanted this book to be the middle of that conversation, not a cover-to-cover read so much as a small spark of idea to ponder an essay at a time.
NEWS THIS WEEK: **I’ve been invited to do a project that I’m really excited about. Horses and riders will benefit and it will be available to a huge audience. It’s in the planning stages right now, but expect to hear all about it. ** Plans are proceeding for the Midwest Horse Fair the weekend of April 15th in Madison, WI. We’re booth 2304 in the main hall of EXPO building. If you plan on going, I’d love to meet you. ** I’m negotiating possibly being at the Horse Expo in Denver next month with my books. ** It’s been really fun sending signed books out (link at top of page) and talking with readers. Let me know if you’d like a personally inscribed copy of either of my books.
And the usual heartfelt request to please take a moment and post a review–Stable Relation if you haven’t already, or Relaxed & Forward, when you’ve finished it–to Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Indie books only stay afloat by word of mouth, and that is up to you. Whether you leave a review or not, know that I appreciate each of you taking the risk on my books. Reading time is a precious commodity and sharing that with me means so much.
So here is my secret fantasy: Some writers aspire to win a Pulitzer, some want their masterpiece to be an elegant coffee table book. My dream for Relaxed & Forward is to be…dare I say it…a bathroom book. In barns across the country. Just 800 words of inspiration before you ride… and most riders always make that one stop first.

This blog is free, and it always will be. Free to read, but also free of ads because I turn away sponsorships and pay to keep ads off my site. I like to read a clean page and think you do too. If you appreciate the work I do, or if your horse does, consider making a donation.

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Anna Blake

0 thoughts on “Relaxed & Forward: My Secret Wish”

  1. I bought Relaxed and Forward as an e-book but enjoyed it so much that I just had to have a hard copy. My highlighter pen has been working overtime as there are so many beautiful comments in the book. “… and breathe” is something I have taken as a personal mantra and it really works. Thank you Anna for sharing your own experience in such an honest, beautiful way.

    • A double-dipper, thanks Yvonne. One review on Goodreads said that the book was a bit repetitive. I know the exact word she means, I searched it before I published. The word has to be BREATHE. And no apologies from me, it’s the best, most under-used cue we have! Thank you, Yvonne.

  2. I love this book. I loved it after the first page and was taking about it after page 9. It has made be laugh and cry. It is so true, no matter what you do with your horse this book is for you if you want more understanding and a better relationship with your horse. My horses are family and more importantly I am their herd leader. It’s a big job and I don’t take it lightly, you can never learn enough about horses and I love a book like this that puts it in perspective.
    Thank you for writing it Anna.

    • I’m so glad that you are liking the book. When you’ve finished, I love a review on Amazon–a gift for any indie book. But most of all, MOST of all, I’m so glad that it’s been part of the relationship in your herd. You are so right; it is a big job. Thank you so much, Laurie.

  3. I wonder if you would like to read my memoir ‘Elvis and Me: How a World-Weary Musician and a broken racehorse rescued each other, Finch Publisher.
    It was published in August 2015 in Australia
    and this January in Canada, UK, NZ and USA.
    Where can I purchase yours. Or would like to do a swap. All good wishes, Gillian

    • Hi Gillian and congrats on your book. I’m available on your Amazon, and I see yours is here… with shipping we might do better to just buy each other’s locally. Or we could email ebooks if you like. I’d love a swap.

      • Okay well I’ll buy an eBook Elvis and Me and then send to you and you could do the same with yours? Is that what you mean? Or I could send you a hard copy?


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