Episode 51: On Establishing Yourself as an Expert, the Triple Crown & Deadlines with Jennifer S. Kelly (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 51: 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 Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown author Jennifer S. Kelly. You'll learn ...
Watch Jennifer S. Kelly's Interview on YouTube!
or listen to the audio only version.
About Jennifer S. Kelly
As a horse racing fan since childhood, Jennifer S. Kelly wanted to add a book about the first Triple Crown winner to her library – and found that no such book existed! Her book Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown brings Sir Barton’s story to fans like herself, people who are endlessly fascinated by racing’s past and its influence on the present.
After falling in love with Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series as a child, Jennifer watched her first Kentucky Derby in 1988 and has been hooked ever since, spending her spring months looking forward to the classics and horses like American Pharoah and Justify capturing the hearts of so many people.
When she discovered that Sir Barton’s life had not yet been explored in print, she endeavored to tell his story in full, using her background as both a technical writer and a college writing instructor to research and chronicle the life and times of America’s first Triple Crown winner. As both a racing fan and historian, she is excited to bring you Sir Barton’s story, from his purple pedigree to his lasting influence on the sport we all love.
Jennifer lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband Jamie and their two sons. In addition to racing, she loves playing tennis, dominating at trivia games, and making lists of future projects to continue her work capturing horse racing’s storied history.
Jennifer S. Kelly Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: You wrote Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown which tells the story of Sir Barton, the extraordinary horse that pioneered the crowning achievement in horse racing. Talk to us about the inspiration for your book.
Jennifer: Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown was conceived because i felt like he had a story that really hadn't been told. I spent so much time reading about the Triple Crown and feeling like the story that I got in each book on the Triple Crown was a chapter on each winner. I felt really incomplete, so the book itself is a long form biography.
It's about Sir Barton, his origins through his life, his career, and then ultimately his post-racing career. At the end, I was able to write an epilogue about the impact that he had on the sport going forward looking at it from 100 years later. I really wanted to capture the entirety of his story in one book, so that when people do go back later, they can use it as a reliable place to get the full story about how the Triple Crown happened.
Carly: There's something very special about the particular copy of the book you're holding there. Would you share about that with listeners?
Jennifer: When you're an author and you sign a contract, the publisher usually sends you a certain number of free copies of the book. When I got mine, I was trying to think of a nice little piece of memorabilia to have from the experience of having the book come out, and then promoting it. I was stooped as to what that could be since i was going to be flying and I knew i was going to be limited in the number of items i could carry with me.
It occurred to me one day that just my book itself could be my piece of memorabilia, so every time i've done an event I've tried to have the book signed by someone I meet at the event or someone that has something to do with the book itself. I was absolutely floored to have trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith sign the book!
Carly: You accompanied the writing of the book with The Sir Barton Project which is and it still remains a blog where readers can find out even more about the era in the Sport of Kings. It's a really unique approach to have a blog accompany the writing of a book. Tell us about the blog.
Jennifer: When I started writing the book I didn't know anything about the process of actually publishing a book. I just assumed I had to write the whole thing, and then find a publisher, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
in the midst of writing, I discovered that I needed to start with a book proposal, and in doing the book proposal, the publisher advised me that I needed to establish a platform to establish myself as an expert on my topic. Why not just start a blog? That way I could put information online for people to read and generate excitement about what I was doing, but also write about topics that I couldn't fit into the book.
A lot of times you're limited to a word count and when i finally finished the book it was about a hundred and ten thousand words. My publishers said that it needed to be under a hundred, so I had to start cutting content out of the book. The blog became a way to share topics that I was working on that I couldn't actually put in the book, but I could put on the blog to get people excited about the book itself, but also add to the experience of writing.
Carly: How long did it take you to write Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown?
Jennifer: I started writing hardcore in 2015 like full-time writing and finished it in 2017, but the finishing part was a different experience than the beginning part. I actually had a contract by then, and a deadline. I had to do it in a very specific amount of time.
I had to start setting deadlines for myself and scheduling out how I was going to do things like I have two weeks to do this chapter, I have two weeks to do this chapter and that way I had programmed in enough time to give myself about six months to edit it, so I actually finished it in October of 2017.
Psst ... Jennifer expands on how setting deadlines helps writers get their writing done in her full podcast interview. Tune in for all the details!
Carly: Going back to the Triple Crown, only 13 horses have ever won all three races. That seems like an incredibly small number. What do you think it takes for a horse to win all three after having done so much in-depth research on Sir Barton?
Jennifer: The Triple Crown is one of those things that the sport really needed. The U.S. needed that focal point to have an entrance for non-fans to really access the sport. It all starts in the early spring of a horse's three-year-old year, and to have a horse that's mature enough to carry their speed and to endure over that long of a distance in that short of a time takes an extraordinary horse.
It's all about timing and also just sheer luck more than anything else because if you have a horse you know exactly how prone horses are to doing dumb things and having crazy things happen to them, so we have 13 Triple Crown winners because we've had 13 horses that have had everything fall into place for them — the breeding, the conditioning that allows them to run these long distance races early in their three-year-old year, and do it in a short span of time.
That's why we value the Triple Crown because it's the ultimate standard of what a horse can do, and it's something romantic for people who are not horse people to experience. It's like winning the Super Bowl or the World Series. The reason why we only have 13 is because for whatever reason these 13 horses have had everything go right and at the right time.
Carly: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Jennifer: Before you start the actual writing make sure you understand the practical side of what you're doing because the writing is actually the easiest part. I think as writers we're so accustomed to doing the creative part because that's what we really enjoy and that's what we want our job to be. There is the services you perform and then there's the other concerns that you have to have which is the practical side.
If you're a creative person, the practical side is not always the most fit for you like money, taxes, or any of those other concerns that come on the back end. By all means write the book, spend the time, but at the same time treat yourself like something you need to market because you really need to focus on the practical business side of being an author.
Read Jennifer's blog post series on writing nonfiction:
So You Think You Want to Write a Nonfiction Book… PART ONE
So You Think You Want to Write a Nonfiction Book... PART TWO
So You Think You Want to Write a Nonfiction Book... PART THREE
Also, Jennifer mentions fellow author Milton C. Toby during her interview. Tune in here:
Episode 25: On Writing Horse Racing History & Legal Considerations for Writers with Milton C. Toby
Connect with Jennifer S. Kelly
Sir Barton Blog: https://thesirbartonproject.com/
Gallant Fox Blog: https://foxesofbelair.com/
Sir Barton Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheSirBarton
Gallant Fox Twitter: https://twitter.com/foxesofbelair
Buy the Book: https://amzn.to/2RPKlEP
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About Your Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
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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!