Monday, May 16, 2016

Don’t Rush the Publish Date

In the age of electronic publishing, it can be too tempting to rush the publishing process.  I have read many kindle copies of books that were poorly edited with shocking grammar and spelling issues.  This is distracting and will greatly affect a rating I provide to a book.

Does it bother you?

As an author, it can be tempting to go ahead and make a book live for purchase because we feel it is finished.  Consider asking yourself first:

  • Have I had it edited?
  • Have I read it through in the format it is available for sale?
  • Have I tested how the pages / images view in the available format?
  • Can I have another set of eyes read it prior to making it public?
Have you designed a book cover, written a blurb?

A poorly prepared novel can fail with sales, in spite of being a great story.  Don’t let impatience trick you into releasing a book before it’s had the final finishing touches applied.  Practice patience!

If you find that you have announced a release date and the book isn’t ready for this date, don’t publish it anyway.  Make the necessary apologies to eager readers / fans and work to make the book available as soon as possible, in a finished state.

As you're creating a story, are you considering all that you will need to do to provide it in a finished state?
  •  a completed story
  • book cover design
  • ASIN or ISBN generation
  • a blurb
  • copyright page
  • author page
  • foreword
There are many things that need to be included with a novel, don't overlook them! :)

Friday, May 13, 2016

7 Years

I had an anniversary recently. I've owned my mare Sofie aka Sofa for 7 years now. When my mom and dad bought her for me, I was told "This horse is your college," and indeed, I owe a lot of my success to her. In those 7 years I became stronger, more fearless, more self sufficient. I enjoyed many solitary trail rides and became motivated to learn to drive and get my license, something I put off due to fear for a long time. I now have a good paying job, and while I have put a lot of money into my horse, I have no debt, no student loans to pay off. She did her job well.

Like most relationships, we had our problems. We had the same mind, the same personality traits. Stubborn and anxious, unable to know when to quit, but hardworking and kind. We both have an attitude. She put up with my limitations, and I put up with hers. She had many, many soundness problems and I helped her through the inevitable ups and downs. She fused both hocks, and then developed ringbone. Then a muscle pull and subsequent atrophy laid her up for six months. We did whatever we could do under saddle during these flare-ups, and then I'd hand walk her when she could not longer bare weight. Then we'd pick up again where we left off.

Last summer was our best ever. Dressage lessons with a good, classically minded trainer were therapeutic for her and got her using her back end again. We were fortunate enough to find some riding buddies, and we hauled out to many trails and events. She was strong and fit, the best she'd ever been. We took lessons, trail rode, chased cows and went to a dressage show. I will always be thankful for that summer.

In mid-November, I went out to ride and found her almost three-legged lame. A veterinary exam was inconclusive. I suspect a possible pelvic injury, but without expensive diagnostics I won't ever know as it is difficult to get radiographs of that area. I gave her NSAIDs when necessary and hand-walked her all winter, massaging her hindquarter with liniment. The winter was hard on her and she is still not 100 percent now that spring is here, although she is doing better. She can bear weight and go for trail rides, but she still cannot sustain a trot under saddle. I had hoped her soundness problems would stay in the past, as we have already conquered so much, but I realize that she may have too many old injuries and arthritic issues to stay sound as she ages. She is a willing, hard worker with a great mind, and she is the safest trail horse I have ever been on. She is not going anywhere and will be a pet or a light duty trail horse if need be, as long as she can be kept comfortable. So far I'm cautiously optimistic, albeit troubled that I don't know the exact cause of her lameness. Time will tell, and I will have to listen to and watch her to see what she is comfortable with.

Our time together was never going to be trouble-free, and we knew it going in. I knew I was buying a horse who would probably be unsound, and I did it anyway, because we needed each other. A lot has changed in 7 years, and I have many things taking up my time, but I still need her in my life, and I will watch over her and take care of her to the best of my ability for as long as she lives. She is my soul mate.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

There'd Be Days Like This, My Momma Said...

Happy Mother's Day to mothers of children, both the two- and four-footed kind. On Mother's Day I'm reminded of the kind of things mothers always said. Such wisdom for the ages as: "Wear clean underwear, what if you're in an accident?"  "Why? Because I told you so!" And one of my favorites, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Well, that's all well and good for polite company, but it doesn't do much good for book reviews...which brings me to the point of all this. Recently I received the dreaded horrible review. Yes, all authors know it is coming some day, but when you actually sit down and read the venemous words another human being is saying about your creation, your story, it stings. A lot. Every book is not every reader's cup of tea. I think we all realize this, but when you sit down to write a review, even an unfavorable one, say something helpful. Like when your mother criticized your clothes, your hair, your eating habits, she did it out of love and in an effort to IMPROVE you, not tear you down. That's my beef. This review did not say anything I could act on to improve my story and writing. The reviewer told me she cheered at the end of the novel not because of the events that unfolded but because she would not have to engage with my main character any longer. Ouch. But she did not say why she disliked the main character. Was she two-dimensional? Did she fail to grow with the story? Was she boring? That type of criticism doesn't help a bit. She also wrote that my writing was difficult to read. Huh? Okay, enough licking old wounds, you get the point. When I write a review, I first take into account the experience of the author. Is the author a big name with all the support a large publisher can bring to the table, such as a first rate developmental editing staff, copy editor, and glitzy graphic designers? Or is the author putting out a debut novel, maybe even self-published? I adjust my expectations accordingly. Also, if I have something unfavorable to say, I back it up with why I feel that way and often gives examples from the writing. Writers need reviews for marketing and for improving their craft. We don't need trolls sitting out there in cyber land waiting to take pot shots at us. If the bad reviewer scares us into a hole where we become afraid to publish our work, they've won. They've become akin to literary terrorists. So, dear writer friends, stay brave and put your stories out there. Make your mothers proud!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reading, Writing, and Resting

I just came off of a seven-week run on the road, seven weeks of horse fairs and expos, clinics and book signings. I met people everywhere from Montgomery, Alabama to Fargo, North Dakota, and it seems like most of the 62,000 people who attended the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin. Whew!

Of course I came home with pneumonia, first in the right lung, and several weeks later in the left. That will teach me to do too much. :-) Between bouts of pneumonia, I was able to take part in a really fun video for Colby’s Army, a nonprofit that provides therapeutic riding and other equine assisted activities and therapies in Ashland City, Tennessee. I hope you’ll take time to watch the video, as it was a ton of fun to make.

With strict instructions from my doctor to rest, I have been planning the fourth book in the Cat Enright equestrian mystery series. Her voice is becoming more insistent in my head as I think of possibilities. All I can say at this point is that it will involve a racetrack, and that a number of Cat’s relationships will evolve to new levels. We are looking at a Fall 2017 pub date, so Cat and I need to get writing! After six awards and a film/tv option, the pressure is definitely on to deliver an amazing story. I have no doubt that Cat will come through with flying colors.

I’m off to another nap. Read and ride well. Until next month.


––Lisa Wysocky is an award-winning author and clinician who teaches people about the horse. Find her online at

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy 35th Birthday, Top Cat!

E B Top Cat, TC for short, enjoying a beautiful Upstate NY day.
April in Upstate New York is a crapshoot, weather-wise. You never know if you’ll be sliding into snow pants or tossing that tuke in favor of a beloved ball cap until you roll out of bed and take a step or two outside. The beginning days of April looked promising – I was cleaning stalls in a long sleeve shirt, my beat up ball cap emblazoned with just the number 13, and lightweight rubber boots. I was hopeful. I’d planned a 35th birthday party for E B Top Cat on Saturday April 9th, invited friends and family alike, and spent a week obsessively cleaning my 55 year old barn.

Mother Nature has been fickle this year to say the least. Usually, I don’t mind. I was thankful for the light snowfall we experienced this winter. I feel like dancing every spring day that I don’t need a jacket. The bottom line is that the last three seasons have been mostly stress free for my older residents and for that I’m always thankful. So, when I awoke on April 9th and it was predicted that the day wouldn’t heat up past 30 degrees, I took a deep breath while sliding into my snow pants and was thankful for the people (my cousin, Sandy, my best friend, Jen and my little brother, Brian) who were willing to slide into their snow pants as well and throw a birthday party for a horse.

TC and his life mate, Breeze.

 The closer we got to party time, the more regrets poured in on Facebook. In the end, we had about 35 people that braved the cold and embraced the silly magic of wishing a graying, elderly gelding a happy birthday. Some guests brought cards filled with wishes of many happy years to come. Others brought presents. My dear neighbor, Cindy brought Top Cat a new fly mask, a very thoughtful gift for a serious pasture weight! My friend, Joanne, brought Top Cat a can of Budweiser, as the old man loves his grain soaked in a can of beer. My caring trainer, Ginny, brought a feed store gift certificate, knowing that older horses have greater nutrition needs than their younger counterparts. She told me that he looked amazing and that she was very proud of my management of him. Every time I think of her saying that, I smile and my heart swells. It’s the best compliment I’ve received in a long time. Other guests brought carrots and bananas, handing them out as they leisurely floated from one stall to the next, each horse sticking a nose over their gate to investigate and be social. The wind was brutal that day, but the sunshine prevailed and our guest’s laughter and good will helped to make the day as bright as it could be.

Party guests at TC's 35th birthday!
There were beautiful blue cupcakes for the humans, and a birthday cake specifically for the horses – Sandy whipped a delightful combination of carrots, apples, no sugar apple sauce, flax seed, rolled oats and a hint of molasses into something that resembled a large protein bar. She cut it into 10 pieces and each horse enjoyed a piece. Top Cat couldn’t have been happier. He was surrounded by people petting him and feeding him treats. I’d rigorously brushed him that morning but decided against shaving him in a show horse fashion, instead choosing to leave him “in the rough”. Even with whiskers and a slightly grown out bridle path, he’s still stunning. Sure, he has a sway back that’s cartoonish in nature. Of course he’s going gray – his cheeks are almost white now and it’s travelling down his neck into his legs like diluted bleach. But there is a sparkle in his eyes that grows each year instead of diminishing. His coat shines bright and glossy in the summer sun. His feet are so hard they’ll break a farrier’s knife. And lately, he’s been cantering in the pasture when I call him.

Love rocks :) 
I know the day will come when I will be the last thing he sees before cantering into the lush, green pastures of Heaven. It will be years before I stop expecting to see his happy face when I walk into the barn or hear his raspy nicker, but that’s a small price to pay for what he’s taught me. Not only have I had to learn about geriatric horse nutrition to keep him healthy and spry, but he’s taught me that no matter what comes your way, a positive, never-say-die attitude is your vehicle to survive it. And when you find it difficult to stay positive through the pain, be sure to surround yourself with friends that see the positive in you when you can’t. How do you find friends like this? See the positive in them. Hold a mirror up to them periodically, show them the magic within. Then, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed with a group of amazing people who will pull on snow pants to help you prepare for a birthday party where the guest of honor is an aged equine.