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Book Review: The Mare

Feb 01, 2019 | Category: Literature

When 11 year old Velveteen “Velvet” Vargas joins the Fresh Air Fund, all she expects is a few weeks away from her Brooklyn home in the upstate New York countryside. What she doesn’t expect is the beginning of a new life and a new passion. Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare explores the lives of young Velvet, her Fresh Air Fund hostess “mom,” Ginger, and an abused mare called Fugly Girl.

Ginger is past child-bearing years when she and husband, Paul, marry, but they have always toyed with the idea of adoption. Before they fully commit, however, they decide to do a trial run and become a host family for a Fresh Air Fund kid. As soon as Velvet enters her life, however, Ginger decides against adoption to instead become a permanent fixture in the child’s life. Instead of just two weeks per summer, Ginger and Velvet work out an arrangement where the girl can visit almost every weekend.

Ginger’s home is right next door to a farm, and Velvet immediately falls in love with their horses. Soon she finds herself mucking stalls and grooming horses in exchange for riding lessons. She’s also drawn to the new horse, a feisty mare with a broken past. Velvet, also from a broken home with an abusive mother, instantly bonds with the mare. With her odd conformation and angry personality, the boarders at the barn call the mare Fugly Girl, but Velvet sees through the hurt and pain and admires the horse’s spirit. She quickly renames her Fiery Girl.

The instant bond between Velvet and Fiery Girl is unmistakable, and as Velvet’s riding improves, she begins working solely with her mare.

“I led her to the fence like it was a mounting block. I climbed up on it. She shied away at first, but I talked her back. She saw what I was doing; she let me. I sat on her and swung my hair behind me. The sky was huge and bright, but it was touching me now, it was friendly, and the huge brightness of the grass stretched before me. I started her at a walk. This was my place. No one would ever be in this place but me and my horse. No man, not even children; they would never come here with me. This place was only for me and my mare.”

As the novel progresses, Velvet becomes increasingly torn between her life with Ginger and Fiery Girl, and her familial obligations to her younger brother and very difficult mother, Silvia. But through the stress and torment she faces from her mother and her peers, she keeps coming back to Fiery Girl, again and again.

Through Velvet, Gaitskill expertly connects these two vastly different worlds: the often-dangerous inner city and the quiet, slower life of the countryside. But, as Velvet quickly learns, everyone is fighting his/her own battle, regardless of where they live, and she soon realizes that her only true home is with her horse.


Novel Number Two

Jan 15, 2019 | Category: Literature

It’s here! I finally finished and published my second novel, Kicking On! Here is the synopsis!

“Kicking On, a semi-sequel to Where the Bluegrass Grows, is Macy Holland’s story.

Macy Holland has it all – a wonderful family, amazing friends, and an exciting career as an equine veterinarian in Lexington, Kentucky. However, all that changes in an instant when tragedy strikes, and Macy is forced to return home to Maryland for good. Even with the love and support of her best friends, Macy is left trying to salvage the bits and pieces of her former life. Then new neighbor and racehorse trainer, Adam Cleary, enters her world and complicates life even further.

Even though Macy’s heart is broken and life seems to be spinning out of control, she knows that she must keep kicking on.”

So what’s a semi-sequel? What it means, (to me at least), is that you can absolutely read this one without having read Where the Bluegrass Grows first. However, many of the characters are the same and it does go in chronological order. Where the Bluegrass Grows ends in December and Kicking On picks up in August of the following year at Molly and Beau’s beautiful wedding.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, paperbacks are $9.99 and ebooks are $2.99. Everything can be found on Amazon!

Thank you all for being on this journey with me! It means the world! Your kind words, reviews, praise, etc. hasn’t gone unnoticed – thank you SO much!

Happy reading!!



Kicking On

Oct 09, 2018 | Category: Literature

As many of you know, I published my first novel, Where the Bluegrass Grows, back in March of 2016. Since then, I have been working on my semi-sequel, and I’m happy to announce that it is almost complete!

The first draft itself is done as is review/edit #1. I need to go through and review the entire manuscript a few more times, and then I’m going to hit publish! I’m calling it a semi-sequel because you don’t have to read Where the Bluegrass Grows in order to follow along easily with this one. This is Macy’s story, but Molly, the main character of the first, does make many appearances!

I titled this book Kicking On and can’t wait to share it with all of you. I don’t have a cover image just yet, but I’ll be doing lots of research on that this week. I have an idea of what I’m looking for, so I believe I’ll know it when I see it.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read Where the Bluegrass Grows, head to Amazon! It’s only $2.99 on Kindle.

Thank you all for your support – and stay tuned for the release of Kicking On!!


Remember Me?

Sep 24, 2018 | Category: Personal

Hi everyone! Remember me? Laurie? Maryland Equestrian? Lol – didn’t think so!

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I last blogged. For those of you who visited last summer, you may remember my page taking forever and a day to load. I was having all kinds of technical issues I couldn’t figure out. I ended up having to shut everything down and call in some experts! Looks like we’re good to go again, but I’m so sorry for my absence.


I am going to try and blog regularly, (or as much as I possibly can). 2018 has been full of so many changes which has made life even busier than before! Here’s a quick rundown…

– I left my corporate 9-5 job back in January to join my husband in growing our travel company, Be All Inclusive. He started the business about 6 years ago and things have just grown to the point where he needed additional full-time help. I was looking to step away from corporate America, so the timing was absolutely right. We’ve been plugging away together for 9 months now and haven’t divorced or foreclosed, so we’re calling it a win – ha!

– I’m still writing articles and selling ads for Horse & Style Magazine! My work with them has taken me to Lexington, Kentucky, (this summer), and to Saratoga Springs, NY, (two weeks ago). I’ve loved every minute of it!

– In addition to H&S, I am now also a regular contributor for Sidelines Magazine! They are a monthly publication, so I will have 1 to 2 articles in each issue. I have also grown my freelance writing and editing business by contributing articles to Equestrian Living and Covertside. I have also copy-edited multiple full-length novels including Carly Kade’s Cowboy Away and Hollie Ann Marsh’s Sweetbriars: Leaving the City. Contact me if you need some editing work!

– My house. Omg I don’t know where to start. We tackled our kitchen renovation in the late winter, which actually went pretty well. Since then, we had major roof damage from a wind storm, (got a new roof thanks to our insurance), had a water line break, (had to cart water from the house to the horses – not fun), had MAJOR septic and drainage issues, (slow process but everything is finally fixed), and had a plethora of other smaller, yet still costly, issues arise. All this is to be expected with an older house, but the fact that it’s ALL hit in one year has been tough. Especially since this is the year I transitioned from corporate employee to small business owner. Yikes!

My beloved Martin – Grand Champion!

– Animals! I lost my beloved pony, Takoma Star, in December of 2017 due to complications with Cushings. She was 36 years old. I miss her so much. Every day. Misty and Bailey are doing well, but I know Misty still misses her BFF. We have not added any other animals to the herd, but Julep, Gemma, Penelope (indoor cat), and Garfield and Mr. Snickers (the most amazing barn cats ever) are great!

– Riding! I’ve been riding and taking lessons regularly on my trainer’s horses. Specifically, I ride an Oldenburg-cross named Martin, and he is my love. We’ve shown a handful of times this year and have come home with 2 reserve champions and 1 grand champion. I’m SO happy to be back in the show ring again. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it.


So – that’s been my life in a nutshell. Not very exciting, I’ll give you that. I really want to get this blog going again, especially now that all the tech issues have been solved. Check back regularly for more of the best of the equestrian lifestyle!


The Red Prince Mare

Sep 29, 2017 | Category: Decor

I feel like I’m always apologizing for my absences on here – sorry friends! It’s been a busy summer, and it has continued into the fall. All is well here, but with work, the farm, and my animals, I haven’t had a lot of time to blog. Also – I’ve been riding more (woo!), so that’s been taking time (but in a good way, of course)!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will remember that James and I gave our bedroom a mini-update a few months ago. We didn’t do anything drastic (like we’ve done to the rest of the house), but we painted the walls/closet doors, got a new main door, bought new curtains, and just spruced the place up. I need to take some updated photos to share, but I wanted to show you my favorite piece that now hangs in the room.

One of my favorite Sir Alfred J. Munnings paintings is “The Red Prince Mare.” I love everything about it – the horse, the people in the background, the overall scene, the people’s attire, etc. I found this print online at Horse & Hound, bought it, and then had it professionally framed at Michael’s. I almost went with a white matting around the outside, but changed my mind at the last minute to this sage-y green.

Didn’t it turn out perfectly!? It really anchors the room, and I used it as color inspiration as well, (walls are grey, curtains are navy blue, etc.).

Now that it’s getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, there will be less outside chores taking up my time. I hope to really get back into the swing of things and blog regularly!!

Enjoy your weekend!


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