Episode 94: On Reimagining a Previously Published Book & Preserving History with Hope Ellis-Ashburn (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 94: 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 award-winning author, high school teacher, freelance writer, equestrian, and farmer Hope Ellis-Asburn. You'll learn ...
Watch Hope Ellis-Ashburn's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio version.
About Hope Ellis-Ashburn
Hope Ellis-Ashburn, an award-winning author, is a high school teacher by day and a part-time writer, equestrian, and farmer during all other waking hours.
Hope’s writing has been featured in EQUUS, Horse Illustrated, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Arabian Horse Life, Sidelines, US Equestrian, Hoof Beats, the Sound Advocate, Experience Arabian Horses, and Hobby Farms magazines. She has also been a featured writer on TheHorse.com blog and has written a memoir, Always Hope: How Dairy Cows and Arabian Horses Inspired Grit in a Young Girl’s Life.
Hope lives with her husband and daughter in a remodeled farmhouse that dates back to 1927 and originally belonged to her husband’s grandparents. The house is situated on a farm that has been in continuous operation by the same family for nearly 200 years. It is currently an Angus cow-calf beef operation where Hope also keeps Sally, her half-Arabian mare; Harmony, a donkey; Gus and Daisy, two Border Collies; and Rose, a house cat.
Hope Ellis-Ashburn Interview Excerpt
Carly: You have been a horse owner for nearly forty years and have a strong background in all things horse. Tell us how horses have touched your life.
Hope: While every horse that I have ever owned has been special and influenced me in some way, one horse in particular Faax (pronounced Fox) El Din helped shaped who I am as a person and as a horse owner.
Carly: You recently re-released your book Kimbrook Arabians: How an Unlikely Midwestern Couple Influenced an Ancient Breed. Give us a summary of what this book is about.
Hope: Nothing about Bill and Joanne Gutknecht’s history indicated that they would one day breed an Arabian National Champion. He was ex-military and, among several careers, owned and operated a pet boarding and cemetery business. She worked in a clipper factory. Neither came from a rural background. Instead, both initially bred, trained, and showed German Shepherd dogs.
In this book, I reveal how this couple from the Midwest established a small horse-breeding program, Kimbrook Arabians, that went on to produce a surprising number of champions. Unlike many Arabian breeding farms established in the 1960s, Kimbrook’s influence continued for over fifty years, and horses carrying Kimbrook bloodlines were sold to new owners across the United States. Kimbrook Arabians shares the story of Bill and Joanne Gutknecht’s unexpected influence on this ancient breed.
Carly: Is there a message in this book that you hope readers will grasp?
Hope: The deep love, respect, and admiration that I had for the Kimbrook Arabians breeding program, its horses, and its people.
Carly: I understand you reworked this book quite a bit. Tell us about the process and why you decided to launch the book again. How did you get started? Where did you start?
Hope: After the first release of the book, I had started to collect little bits and pieces of information here and there with no clear idea of what I really planned to do with them.
Then, last year, just before the start of the pandemic Brennan Rowe, then a complete stranger, reached out to me via Facebook Messenger on my Red Horse on a Red Hill Facebook page. He lives in Milwaukee, WI and was attempting to research the history of his business, Pet Lawn-Pet Loss Services, which was about to reach an anniversary milestone.
This happened to be the former business of Bill and Joanne Gutknecht. When he Google searched their names, he found me and reached out. We had an immediate connection. I really think what happened is that we both provided just enough of the missing puzzle pieces for the other with a back-and-forth flow of information that a great unraveling started. That unraveling led to the creation of this book.
This book is so completely different from the first one that I went with a new title, new ISBN, new everything!
Carly: Did you run into any roadblocks along the way? How did you overcome them?
Hope: First, Bill and Joanne were very private people even among their family and friends. So, there just wasn’t a lot of information out there that was readily available. I really had to dig for it.
Secondly, there were at least two, likely three fires, connected with the program that destroyed a lot of the paper records and photographs connected with the program. As an anthropologist who also happens to be a copyeditor, Tobi Lopez Taylor who edited my book for me was phenomenal in helping me to connect the dots that I may otherwise have never found.
Carly: Talk to us about the cover redesign.
Hope: Tobi connected me with Barb Feighner who she had worked with on a number of projects in the past. I could not be more pleased with her work. She did an incredible job of taking the ideas that I had in my head and getting them out into options for the cover.
Carly: How does it feel to think about the older version of the book still being in circulation?
Hope: Well, I’m a perfectionist. So, to be honest, it bothers me a little bit because this second book is so much better. It’s what the first book should have been if I knew then what I know how.
Carly: You have another book called "Always Hope: How dairy cows and Arabian horses inspired grit in a young girl's life,” which we discussed in depth during your last interview.
Hope: When reading Always Hope, in the chapters that talk about “Fox”, you get a really personal view of my relationship with a Kimbrook horse. But, reading my new book will give you the sense of exactly what went in to the making of a horse like him.
Carly: What advice would you offer someone interested in writing a book or writing freelance?
Hope: Don’t go it alone! Get yourself a good editor and cover designer.
Carly: You and your family live on a Tennessee Century Farm where you raise hay and Black Angus cattle in a cow/calf beef operation. In addition, you are a freelance writer, author, horse owner, mother, and a classroom teacher. How do you juggle it all?
Hope: Not always well, lol. For me, it’s about being able to segment myself and be totally involved in one facet of my life at a time. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always been the ultimate multi-tasker. But I would be the first to say, all of this multi-tasking is not for everyone.
Carly: Do you have any writing rituals or routines that make it easier for you to get projects done or find “me time”?
Hope: Mostly just carving out quiet, undisturbed time in my office to work.
Carly: What are you curious about? What’s next?
Hope: While I love the freelance work that I have been getting from my regular, equestrian based publications, I have tremendously enjoyed the content I am creating for Hobby Farms magazine. I’m really curious to see what the future holds for the direction of my freelance writing career in terms on content.
Connect with Hope Ellis-Ashburn
Facebook: Red Horse on a Red Hill
Facebook: Kimbrook Arabians Appreciation Page
Instagram: red_horse_on_a_red_hill (Hope Ellis-Ashburn)
Other resources mentioned in Hope's interview:
American Horse Publications
Tell them Carly Kade and Hope Ellis-Ashburn sent you!
AHP website: https://www.americanhorsepubs.org/
Listen to Hope's Interview in Episode 10
On Starting a Freelance Writing Career, Grit & Loving Arabian Horses with Hope Ellis-Ashburn
Listen to More Equine Author Interviews!
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About Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning 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 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.
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!
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