The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon – a review

Engrossed in promoting my equestrian thriller, escaping to read about another horse world was strange and yet satisfying. This is my review:

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The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon

by Linda Ballou (Goodreads Author)

Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, are about to capture the World Cup when a nasty fall dashes their chances. While she is mending, her arch rival seizes this opportunity to catch a ride on Marshal, and to seduce her young husband. Confused and dazed by her new circumstances, Gemcie heads for the high Sierras hoping the majestic spires that captured the heart of the father she never met will provide the answers she seeks. She finds strength and solace riding solo on the John Muir Trail, but a bear attack ends her time of introspection and places her in the care of a solitary cowboy manning a fire lookout. Brady, who seems to love animals more than people, shows her love and gives her the courage to get back in the saddle. Haunted by images of Marshal being abused by his owners, Gemcie returns to rescue him and fly high with him once more. Ballou’s prose gallops ahead at breakneck speed as she takes you along on this wild ride.

Review 5*

From the opening hook, Linda Ballou’s The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon paints a rich picture of not just the show jumping world that Gemcie had earned her place in through hard work and dedication. The accident that dashes the ambitions of Gemcie and her Irish Hunter, Marshal, leads to other events that unravel her life, create new sub plots and take Gemcie into another world dominated by the high Sierras and a different style of riding – western.

The language continues to evoke images and sensations, whether in the actions or the descriptions. We meet new characters, including horses, and, in the mountains, we meet Brady. His portrayal triggers questions for Gemcie and, for this reader, but the challenge is a crucial peak in the novel, handled well. She might baulk at the challenges in the high Sierras, at first, but she is drawn on as the reader is by the plotlines.

However, although I liked how the story unfolded and the descriptive richness, two elements threw me from my ride-read. In Ballou’s defence, these are style issues, I suspect. First, I had problems with the transitions in scenes that changed from one paragraph to another – I am used to a scene break. The other area was Point of View – POVs. At first, I thought the story was head-hopping too much from one character to another then back. But I began to sense that this was ‘limited omniscient POV’ which I am less familiar with, but I accepted it and read on absorbed by the story.

Through the author’s extensive expertise, the novel resonates with accuracy, from descriptions of the wilderness to the various riding elements. Ballou works even vaulting into Gemcie’s recovery, as well as trekking and jumping, and in the ‘author’s note,’ we discover why this feels so right.

Ballou also neatly weaves the various characters and themes into the satisfying ending. Most of the characters feed into the climax as does the power of love and nature. The natural world is described with words that unleash all the senses, and this reader kept nodding at the importance of respecting nature as Brady does – a respect that Gemcie learns, marking her growth.

A satisfying and enjoyable read that I recommend. I await the sequel hinted at in the author’s final comments.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

Style – four ½ stars

 

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Followers to Flyers: discovering what works

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This is my contribution to the first ever Online Marketing Symposium!

One month into my debut novel release and the word success is not on my lips, yet. But I remain optimistic because there are still promotions in the pipeline. ‘Spiral of Hooves’ was released on December 9th with an online party on Facebook, which was well attended. However, there was a slight delay, of a few hours, with the book appearing on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Since then it has been promoted to my followers and friends in a low key way on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and here. But I have not spammed cyber-space. Apologies if I have been in your faces for the last few weeks. I still need to learn the secret of keeping my followers happy. Treats?

The most useful marketing tools, so far, have been the two five star reviews that have appeared on Amazon. One has even been re-used, by the reviewer, to garner additional coverage on Facebook and an online equestrian site. There are some other reviews in the wings as the novel went out to some of my journalist friends, contacts from when I covered equestrian sports. As the novel is a thriller set against the sport of eventing, the forthcoming coverage in the sports main UK magazine, Eventing, could be key to the spring campaign. Use your contacts but don’t lose their friendship.

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

I have also sent the novel to some rider friends, including an Olympic rider, in order to get some useful quotes, and to spread the good news about the book being out. As one journalist friend said, ‘getting the word out in the lorry park will boost sales”. With that end I intend to produce some A5 flyers quoting the reviews and the name riders, and linking to my website and where to purchase a copy. Unable to hand these out at shows myself, being wheelchair-bound, I have some good friends that will get them in the right places. Despite being stumped from pressing the flesh in person, flyers might help spread the word at the grassroots. I have no previous experience of using flyers to promote books, so I will be interested to see the results for ‘Spiral of Hooves’. Later today I will check out the other blogs and see how others have fared with similar marketing techniques.

However, when I was in the film industry we used flyers quite often, although these were usually A4 glossy hand-outs that we used at film and TV conventions, including Cannes. We attracted interest, but not as much as we needed to fund a movie. Some were used for selling short films but it is hard to say how successful the leaflets were. All the sales were via a Distributor so our production company was last in line, having paid everybody else. Flyers do work for some producers and, from my observations, it was the hook plus pitch, the cover and elements like cast that were key selling points. But the flyers mustn’t have too much information. And that has to apply with book flyers as well. What are your thoughts on flyers? No better than random advertising? Destined for the recycle bin? Another useful tool in spreading the word?

For links to other participating Blogs and information on the first ever Online Marketing Symposium! please visit here.

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