On Starting a Freelance Writing Career, Grit & Loving Arabian Horses with Hope Ellis-Ashburn (Equestrian Author Spotlight Episode 10)
Episode 10: 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 Freelance Writer, Author and Equestrian Blogger Hope Ellis-Ashburn. You'll learn ...
Watch Hope Ellis-Ashburn's Interview on YouTube
Or Listen to the Audio Only Version
About Hope Ellis-Ashburn
Hope Ellis-Ashburn holds a master of science degree in agricultural education from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a bachelor of science degree in horse science from Middle Tennessee State University. Hope possesses a teaching credential in agricultural education. While attending MTSU she was a member of the horse judging and equestrian teams. She is also a former award-winning extension agent with UTK.
Hope began her freelance writing career in 2015. She has produced work for EQUUS, The American Quarter Horse Journal, Arabian Horse Life, Sidelines, US Equestrian, and Hoof Beats magazines and TheHorse.com blog. She is the author of two books, The Story of Kimbrook Arabians, and her newest release, Always Hope: How dairy cows and Arabian horses inspired grit in a young girl’s life, which spent several days at the top of Amazon’s hot new releases chart in equestrian sports.
She has been a horse owner for over thirty years and has ridden and competed in a variety of disciplines including Western, English, halter, dressage, hunter, and jumper. She currently owns a half-Arabian mare, Sally, and a donkey, Harmony.
She and her husband, daughter, and an assortment of pets live on her husband’s family farm where they raise black Angus cattle. Their farm has been in continuous operation by the same family for nearly two hundred years. They make their home in a remodeled 1927 farmhouse that once belonged to her husband’s grandparents.
Hope Ellis-Ashburn Interview Excerpt
Carly: A lot of authors I've met actually do freelance writing on the side. How did you start your freelance writing career in the horse world?
Hope: At a horse show, my horse, Sally, decided in the last class that she was done and wanted to go home. She was being a little diva there in the show ring. We survived and everything turned out okay, but when I got home I thought this would make a great story for EQUUS magazine because I always enjoyed reading their true tales stories and the back page stories, so I wrote up a little article about my experience at the horse show and sent it in. A few weeks later, I was stunned when I got an email from the editor. She liked the story and offered me some money. Wow! People actually get paid for this.
Carly: So, it's sort of a happy accident that you got into freelance writing?
Hope: Yes. My freelance writing career just snowballed from there.
Carly: Tell us more about Sally since she's the naughty pony that started all of your freelance writing success.
Hope: One of the things that I love most about Arabians, Sally in particular, is that no matter what I ask her to do, she is game. We can go out to bring the cows up or we go jump some fences or we trail ride. Whatever I want to do, she goes out and she does it with a happy attitude. She's my partner. It's amazing.
Hope: Sally has a pet donkey named Harmony. Harmony had never been on a trailer when we went to see her. She is a little love and I decided this donkey is coming home with us. I had no idea how we were going to get this donkey in the trailer though, but when my husband opened the door, she hopped right on the trailer. There's a story coming out in a future issue of EQUUS about the two of them. It's going to be a back page story about the two of them and their relationship.
Carly: How has being a member of American Horse Publications (AHP) helped you with your freelancing work?
Hope: I first discovered the organization because some of the publications that I write for had been AHP award winners. I started poking around and found out that they also had an Individual Member category. I attended my first conference in 2017. It was there that I first started writing for some other publications outside of EQUUS because I was able to meet, in one central location. all those editors. I have certainly pitched to publications and got writing assignments just by email, but I've never met the editor in person. The vast majority of my assignments have come from connections that I have made at AHP. It's been an amazing experience for me from that aspect. I've certainly gained several clients just from talking about ideas over dinner at the conference or attending some conference sessions with one of the editors, or through the speed networking that is offered there with the publications.
The professional development is amazing, too. I enjoy all the learning that goes on. I always come back with things that I can implement. I think most important piece is the friendships that I've made through the organization. I feel like I can pick up the phone or shoot an email or a text and get some advice right away from those friends.
Carly: I wanted to talk about your newest book Always Hope. Our second year at the AHP conference together, we were at a networking dinner and I remember when this book was just an idea you were shooting out there. It's been so fun watching your journey as this book came to fruition. Talk to us a little bit about the journey since that conversation at the American Horse Publications Conference in Maryland.
Hope: It started out without a formal destination in mind. I had jotted down stories and thoughts from growing up on a farm for many years and then at the conference that year I shared some of those stories with friends. The feedback was that my stories would make a great book, so I came home and wrote it!
Carly: As you're telling these stories, it's like the universe kept opening up opportunities for you. I believe if you're following your path and you're living your dreams and you're looking and you're paying attention that the universe provides you with what you need. It seems like that's been exactly what's been going on for you. The subtitle of Always Hope is intriguing to me ... "how dairy cows and Arabian horses inspired grit in a young were young girl's life." I totally love the word grit. Can you talk to us a little bit about your definition of grit and and how your childhood inspired you to have that grit.
Hope: Grit is loyal, courageous. When I was a kid, we had 125 dairy cows that we milked twice a day and we had 332 acres. We worked our crops. We raised our own feed for the cattle. It was a lot and obviously we didn't have money to hire help until later on and that help came from my brother and me at a very early age. It's so much responsibility keeping a family farm functioning. That created the grit I have now. Anything I set my mind to I can accomplish.
Carly: In Always Hope, you write about a very small community, so you had to be sensitive about how you wrote things to not to offend others, right?
Hope: Yes, absolutely. It's something to consider for people writing memoirs. You're writing about people in a certain place and your truths. I could have made it more of a fiction piece or change names or you know that type of thing. It took a lot of digging and soul-searching to come up with just the right way to handle those situations.
Carly: It probably took grit! Did you have to get people's permission to write about them in this book? How did that work?
Hope: I actually avoided names and kept it more situational rather than naming names. A lot of the people in the story are family members who have passed on. I just was really careful about how I handled it if the story was shared that it wasn't pointing straight at someone.
Carly: Do you have a routine? How do you make sure that there's time for you, but then also time to get your projects done in addition all these other things you're doing?
Hope: It's a lot, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it. I start the mornings very early. My day starts at about 5:00 am. Part of my me time is getting up taking care of Sally and Harmony, exercising and spending time sipping my coffee. Next, I get ready for work and then I work all day. When I get home, that's writing time and a short ride. It's all about scheduling and juggling, but also being aware.
Connect with Hope Ellis-Ashburn
Facebook: Red Horse on a Red Hill
Instagram: red_horse_on_a_red_hill (Hope Ellis-Ashburn)
What a spur jingling interview!
I learn so much from other equine authors and appreciate how unique each of our writing journeys are. I love that all the authors featured in this series are linked through our creativity, passion for writing, and love of horses. I think it is so important to support each other. I appreciate the support of a fellow author. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time, Hope! #authorsunite
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I LOVE HORSE BOOKS! If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted let me know. I’d be happy to include you, too. Sharing about fellow horse book authors makes my spurs jingle! Visit my contact page at https://www.carlykadecreative.com/contact.html to fill out a request.
About Podcast Host 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!