January 05, 2012

A Perfect Read for Horse Lovers: A Horse Called Trouble by CK Volnek

A confession: I'm a sucker for horses and horse books, so when author CK Volnek mentioned her new book (eBook and print), A HORSE CALLED TROUBLE, well, she had me at the title!

It's a great story of love, redemption, hope, and renewal that'll connect with any horse lover, young or old. Be sure to check out the inspiring trailer at the end of this post -- and comment for a chance to win a FREE copy of A HORSE CALLED TROUBLE. Don't forget to read the excerpt and interview below.

About the Book:

Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Tara Cummings has been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At 13, she’s skeptic and suspicious, with no family, and no friends.

Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect, and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only broke her heart, perseverance meant more failures, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid.

Then Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. Tara is frightened of the enraged horse, until she realizes Trouble is as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. Pushing aside her fear, the two form a special bond, with Tara also finding hope, acceptance, and the will to love and trust again.

But a bigger challenge lies ahead as Tara tries to save Trouble from the mean, manipulative Alissa - her nemesis and Trouble's owner. Will Tara be able to save the horse who saved her, or will Alissa destroy them both?

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Interview with CK Volnek:

Greetings, Chris. Thanks for allowing me to visit your blog today. It is such a treat to be able to visit. I’m so excited to be here and announce my newest tween novel, A HORSE CALLED TROUBLE! I would also love to offer a FREE copy of my eBook to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment! (I hope you love free stuff as much as I do.)

Where did the concept for the book come from?

I have always loved horses. Such marvelous creatures they are. Proud, elegant, powerful yet gentle, compassionate. And I was fortunate enough to be able to call several of them my friend and confidant as I grew up.

I knew I wanted to immortalize some of my treasured equine friends but I never expected to write the story of Trouble in such a fashion as I did. It was after visiting a horse farm that also entertained a horse therapy program for troubled youth that the story sky-rocketed. Tara came to life and shared her entire sad story with me and I couldn’t help but oblige and put it down on paper. And Trouble? He’s a mix of several of the horses I knew. Full of spunk, spirit, trust and devotion. It’s a horse story, full of conflict, with antagonists you’ll love seeing get what they deserve.

Why did you choose to write for tweens?

I think I was most at my element in reading when I was in middle school. I loved reading and escaping into the adventures with my characters. I still love reading books for this age. They are so interested in the world and what it takes to make it a better place.

I also write for this age because I know it can be a struggle to get them to read. My middle son hated to read. So I grabbed the challenge to come up with stories that could grab his attention and pull him into the adventure while teaching a subtle lesson along the way. So far, he’s one of my fans.

Do you have any new projects that you're working on?

I am excited to have two other books to chat about. The first, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND is a tween ghost story and is already available in both print and e-book. It’s a ghost story with a twist of Native American folklore and based on the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.

In April, THE SECRET OF THE STONES debuts. It is the first of a series called "The Lost Diaries of Northumberland." It is a lighter story, a Harry Potter meets Merlin the Magician kind of story. A Merlin-loving tween is thrust into magic mayhem when the gift he’s been entrusted to protect turns out to be the enchanted object detailed in a mysterious prophecy.


The massive barn towered up, into the Midwest sky, a prison of whitewashed boards, sunlight glinting off it. Might as well be barbed wire. Tara Cummings blinked, momentarily blinded.

So this was her punishment—horse therapy?

She shook her head, letting her mousy brown hair fall over her face. Another time she would have been thrilled to be here, to see a real horse, to actually touch one, not watch it on TV or the internet.

Her fingers tightened into a fist. This time was different. This was a sentence of shame—for something she hadn’t even done. She didn’t steal Alissa’s purse!

Tara struggled to swallow the lump in her throat, the dryness in her mouth refusing to release the knot. Alissa had set her up—she was sure of it. She’d planted the purse in her locker. Why? What had she ever done? Because she wasn’t cool…or popular…or wear designer clothes? Because she was a foster kid?

Resentment and desire burned as one in her chest. She’d never have money or popularity. She’d been born a have-not and the world was making sure she would always stay a have-not.

A cool morning breeze blew across the farmyard, cold fingers reminding the world that despite the sun and the absence of snow, it was only early spring and summer was still a long way off. Tara shivered and withdrew into her shabby sweatshirt, wrapping her skinny arms up in its scratchy fabric. She should have tried harder to prove her innocence to Principal Jackman. Should’ve made him listen.

A long breath whistled through her teeth. It wouldn’t have made any difference. He wanted to be rid of her, like everyone else in her life. Teachers, foster parents, her own mother. All too happy to wash their hands and dump her onto someone else. No one cared. Why would Jackman be any different? He couldn’t wait to ship her off to Marvel’s, the east side’s alternative to regular school. Marvel was, after all, the best place to dump all the 8th grade scum no one wanted.

Tara gazed from the barn to the crisp, white fences and luscious green pastures surrounding them. Marvel was known for its unusual methods in dealing with problem students. But she had totally not expected this. It had to be some kind of mistake. The other kids had moaned and groaned, certain they were headed for a work-camp, cleaning up horse crap, hauling hay, painting, and all that stuff. Listening to them, Tara had envisioned smelly, peeling barns, and broken-down fences. This was quite the opposite. The farm was actually quite tidy. Nice. Peaceful. Not the kind of place she’d expected juvies to be sent to at all.

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

About the Author:

CK Volnek was born in Colorado but calls Nebraska home. She grew up loving the wide-open spaces and living in a spot where, as her daughter-in-law told her, "you can see five states from here."

Not surprisingly, CK got hooked on horses and writing after reading the classic, BLACK BEAUTY. She wrote short stories and articles while raising her family, but began getting serious about novel writing seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. See what else she's up to by visiting her blog.

Check out the book trailer!

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