Episode 16: On Pony Rescue, Turning Bad Reviews Good & Publisher Liquidation with Michelle Holland (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 16: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Children's Horse Book Author Michelle Holland. You'll learn ...
Watch Michelle Holland's Interview on YouTube
Or Listen to the Audio Only Version
About Author Michelle Holland
Michelle Holland lives in Brighton. Brighton is located on the south coast of England, positioned 47 miles south of London.
She became passionate about pony rescue after taking on a neglected New Forest pony 24 years ago called Bella - after some hard work and understanding Bella turned into a healthy & trusting pony. In 1995 Michelle opened her own sanctuary for New Forest Ponies and saved and rehomed over 57 from slaughter over a 5 year period.
Also, Michelle is a fully qualified Canine Behaviourist Practitioner. She loves helping dogs and their owners who are trying to deal with behavioural problems.
She has published a book called The Adventures of Bella & Emily and has chosen to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. She knows the hard work, heart ache and commitment that goes on behind the scenes and that without the help they cannot continue to do the amazing work they do.
Michelle Holland Interview Excerpt
Carly: You opened your own sanctuary for New Forest Ponies. Tell us what led you to the breed and about opening the sanctuary.
Michelle: I became passionate about pony rescue after taking on a neglected New Forest Pony 24 years ago who I called Bella. What really touched my heart and was priceless was the transformation over a one year period - after some hard work and understanding Bella turned into a healthy & trusting pony.
In 1995, I opened my own sanctuary for New Forest Ponies and saved and rehomed over 57 from slaughter over a 5 year period. This was so rewarding and totally voluntary. I had to raise over £80,000 a year to keep it going. I took on Chelsea who was 6 months old, she was riddled with lice and worms and would attack any man who came near her, after plenty of patience and tender loving care we formed a truly awesome and special relationship, and I decided I would keep her myself!
Michelle: I had a lot of difficult ponies, young foals that I rescued who had been taken away from their homes too early. Wild mares, and many sick foals who needed calm and understanding and ongoing veterinary care.
Body language played a very important part and I had over 30 volunteers helping on a rota, this is how I met my best friend Hannah. Chelsea is on permanent loan with friends near Yarmouth and she actually got to compete at Burghley. I received an award from the Mayor of Eastbourne for my hard work within the community.
Carly: You also work with dogs and are a fully qualified Canine Behaviorist Practitioner. Tell us a bit about this work.
Michelle: I am a fully qualified Canine Behaviourist Practitioner after completing my Canine Psychology & Behaviour course with The International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour. I just love helping dogs and their owners who are trying to deal with behavioural problems.
In August 2012, I took on Jasper, a 6 month old rescue dog, who had been shut in a kitchen, abused and had half of his tail chopped off. Jasper had severe fear aggression.
In November 2012, we met Karen Lippitt at a healing session who founded Helping Paws and we all clicked instantly and since then we have continuously raised funds to help animals in need all over the world. We help fund neutering and spaying schemes and also support sanctuaries in Portugal, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain and wherever we can.
Via Helping Paws, we have funded and bought over many dogs from Portugal & Spain who needed a safe life in FOREVER homes here in the UK. This is also when I realised I needed to studyINSIDE A DOG'S MIND so that I could help as many dogs as possible as they do not have a voice, WE ARE THEIR VOICE.
Carly: Tell us about your horse book series that begins with The Adventures of Bella & Emily .
Michelle: It's a delightful story told in Emily's own words. Emily Pope is Thirteen years old and lives near the South Downs. Ever since she can remember she has dreamt of owning her own pony. The pony will be her best friend and they will share many adventures together. Emily's parents think she is too young for the responsibility of owning a pony and needs to gain more experience before they will consider it. So the adventure begins.
Emily starts work at the nearby riding stables, works hard and learns everything she can. Will her parents relent when they see how single minded she is? Will Emily find her dream pony? This story will touch the heart of any child who loves ponies and take them on a delightful journey. There will be tears, laughter and joy along the way.
50% of any profit from the sale of The Adventures of Bella & Emily will be donated to animal rescue charities and animal rescue organisations.
Carly: Is there a message in your books that you hope readers will grasp?
Michelle: This is from one of my readers who loved the first book so much she basically BEGGED me into writing the rest!
"Your books have helped me to see that if you face a problem it will all work out okay. Also, in your recent book when Emily is working with Specks, it has helped guide me with training work that I am doing with a friend’s horse that has come off the moors and is very nervous around people. She’s learning slowly. I love how your books are so unique and don’t "copy" other horse books where something goes missing or someone is stolen. I truly love each and every book you have written and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into every word. I love your work and how you also donate some of the money made from your books to charities." - Steph Lewis aged 16.
Carly: You donate a percentage of your profit from the sales of your books to charitable organizations. Tell us about your decision to do that.
Michelle: I know the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in rescue, the laughter and the tears and felt I needed to help in any way I could.
Initially, I emailed a large amount of rescue organisations and explained my idea of what I would like to do. The first 5 to respond were then named as my chosen 5 for this book ...
Also, I keep tight records on all sales whether Amazon Royalties or book signings.
Carly: Which do you prefer independent or traditional publishing?
Michelle: I tried traditional publishing for my first book Shelly Finds her Dream Pony Chelsea, but sadly the publishing company went into liquidation and I lost my money ☹
Note from Carly: Michelle goes into much more detail about her traditional publisher going out of business and what has happened since in the interview. Highly recommend listening in!
Carly: How do you reach your readers?
Michelle: Facebook, Twitter and book signings
Carly: What is the hardest part about being an author?
Michelle: Marketing and finding the time for it.
Carly: What is the best part about being an author?
Michelle: Receiving wonderful messages and testimonials from my readers.
Are you an author of a story that could be on screen?
During our interview, Michelle mentioned a wonderful new platform for authors to help take books to the screen called BooksOffice.
From the BooksOffice Website:
As an Indie or self published author you’ll be aware how tough it can be to get your book to the top of the pile and reach the audience it deserves – well BooksOffice may just be what you need to make you stand out from the crowd.
With the development of streaming media services and a greater thirst for brilliant stories on screen, there’s more of an opportunity for the best stories to be adapted for viewing – but how do you get your book noticed?
BooksOffice is a new way to do just that. In our world, it’s the people who decide which books they want to adapt for screen – you don’t need an agent or a sales history, you just need a great story that people want to see!
Connect with Michelle Holland
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If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted please let me know. Visit my contact page to fill out a request. I'd be happy to have you on the show, too.
Thank you for tuning in to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. See you next time! I'm your host Carly Kade. Creative writing makes my spurs jingle!
About your Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!