Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace: Pursuing relationship with God, horses, and one another is the answer to a prayer. All the lessons learned over decades as an equine professional got shelved when I retired from the horse world two years ago. God wastes nothing. Amazing Grays is a book about relationship. The principles of amazing relationships are the same, regardless of who – or what – we are in relationship with. I began to learn new lessons as I worked with two gray quarter horses each day, each of them bringing something new or challenging to the program. Those concepts became the building blocks of leadership and followership that make up much of the book.
Tell us something about yourself.
My passions have been leadership, success, relationships, business, and horses for nearly forty years. I started my business career in accounting, became a marketing and customer relations consultant, and then had the wonderful opportunity to be a motivational speaker. Up to this point the only horses in my life existed on the periphery and in my dreams.
In the late 1980’s I was a fed-up business owner, active in my community, and ran for public office in an attempt to change the direction things were going. Sound familiar, Cathy? I knew all my elected officials from Omaha to Washington DC, and was still annoyed. So, I threw my hat in the ring and spent most of two years learning and campaigning. I survived the primary, but lost in the general election even though I earned nearly 60,000 votes! I was up against the son of a billionaire, and not surprisingly, he won. What a blessing for me, and what a great education.
After the election I rewarded myself by buying my first horse. I learned that relating to horses came naturally, and the rest as they say, is history. I spent the next twenty years training, breeding, judging, and studying horses. We enjoyed some success, raising a number of world and national champions, and I was fortunate enough to have judged in both the USA and Europe.
What inspired you to write this book?
The last book I wrote was a business book in the late 80’s. I certainly did not consider myself a writer, just an expert on that particular topic. Amazing Grays was an assignment. I know this will sound strange to many folks, but I was given the title, the deadline, and most of the contents as I sat at my desk each morning. The book is about leadership and followership; I simply followed.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
Horses don’t look at us each day and ask where their hay will come from, and I wasn’t too worried about how Amazing Grays would get published. Horses trust us to provide, and I knew where the assignment came from so had no worries about publication.
I found Tate Publishing and contacted them for information. Truthfully, even though I looked at other options I always knew Tate would publish Amazing Grays. I sent a copy of the Introduction to Dr. Tate and received a contract by Fed-Ex.
What was most important to me was the ethics of the publisher, and my right to control of the product. The title was not up for discussion, nor the contents. Many publishers might want veto power on elements I would not agree to. The editor, layout and design folks at Tate helped create a far better product than I could myself. I guess you could say the quality of relationship offered is what led me to select Tate.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
It’s funny, Cathy, until Amazing Grays was completed I had forgotten that I had tried to write at various times throughout my life and, frankly, failed. It is only recently that I have come to believe I am a writer. My experience has been that pursuing writing for the sake of writing leads to failure, just like pursuing any business for the sole purpose of making money usually fails. Finding a message worth delivering led to success in my case. The passion for the message is what makes for great writing.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Concentration and ownership of the words. The issue of distraction is self-explanatory; what I mean by ownership of words is being open to eliminating many, many of the words we write in order to better communicate with our readers. Like trees, pruning our written work yields a healthier and more vibrant product. Writers need to be able to edit, edit, edit.
How do you do research for your books?
Most of Amazing Grays is the product of personal experience. Each chapter begins with a scripture and quotation that introduces the material in the chapter. The Internet is a great source in addition to material I have collected over the years.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
Oh, my, yes! The entire process was one of revelation. All the dots of my life were connected with each other as Amazing Grays developed. One of the questions most frequently asked is, “Why do bad things happen?” While I have been greatly blessed in life, I have had many challenges as well. Amazing Grays answered the question for me, and hopefully for those who read it.
I learned the most about showing horses when I became a judge. I became a better trainer when I started teaching others how to train their own horses. This book continues that experience. As I share with others my understanding expanded as well.
What are you reading now?
Every day begins with Oswald Chambers. I recently finished Betsy Kelleher’s book, Sometimes A Woman Needs a Horse. The books on my bedside table include the Complete Writing of Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare, as well as a Pilates book and Jim Gatewood’s, J. Frank Norris, Top O’ Hill Casino, Lew Jenkins and the Texas Oil Rich, a book about the colorful characters of Parker County, TX in the early 20th century.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I actually love a good courtroom mystery, but have little time for the really fun stuff. I still have horses to be trained in addition to the responsibilities of sharing the message of Amazing Grays and the ministry it inspired.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
There are three additional manuscripts on my hard drive at the moment. My guess is the next book to enter production will be He Came Looking For Me, a story that is teaching me new lessons each day. The horses in this case are two ten-year old Appaloosa geldings that we bred and sold as weanlings when we changed our program to Quarter Horses. We were convicted to find these two and bring them home. Why? There is another message to be shared. The manner in which they were found is another one of those “God things.” You can’t make this stuff up! The message will be one of encouragement, security and peace for every child of God.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Have a great message and be willing to work really hard to share it. Be sure your motivation isn’t purely financial or you will probably be disappointed. The main marketing arm that moves most new books today is the author. Learn what opportunities are available and produce a great product.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
We started offering “Free Samples” to folks that sent an email request when Amazing Grays went into production. These excerpts kept interest going until the book became available.
The Internet is our primary marketing mechanism, with professional websites, article-writing, blogs, and participation in a variety of places to gain exposure. We have a video trailer on You-Tube and will continue with a variety of videos as we go forward. We are currently in production of a new 60-second video about the most important element of great relationships.
The way we promote Amazing Grays is by offering something to others. The message is the purpose, and the messages contained in the book sell themselves. The truth resonates in people who are open and willing to receive. I believe in the message. It’s my job to share it, not simply to sell books.
And, of course we are scheduling book fairs, signings, radio, etc. One thing I do that most authors won’t is to actually demonstrate my message in real time. I conduct relationship clinics for horse owners who are trying to build better partnerships with their horses. There is no better way to sell your message than proving it works.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers can actually mouse-click through the pages of the book Amazon!
The website that contains book information, biography, and super links to my articles, blog, and other items of interest is www.AmazingGrays.us.