Little Viking Horse Blog

“Have you finished your book yet?”

Finally my children’s novel, Little Viking Horse, is done – nearly! Writing ‘The End’ when I finished my first draft (the one that didn’t have huge plot holes in it) felt like such a huge achievement, and of course it was. I had actually written a book! But it was still hard to answer the perpetual question from family and friends…

“Have you finished your book yet?”

Well, ‘finished’ can mean lots of things, right? ‘I’ve finished the first draft’ – so the story is down on paper. Or, ‘I’ve finished the first edit’ – improving the flow, correcting obvious mistakes, finding gaps and inconsistencies, deleting repetition. Or, ‘I’ve finished the structural edit’ – after editorial feedback (from Imogen Cooper at the Golden Egg Academy), and many other edits along the way. Until finally, it’s ready for submission to agents and publishers – the story arc works, the characters are rounded, the stakes are raised… So, off it goes, and then the rejections come.

I’m disappointed, but not downhearted. The feedback is good, just ‘a bit too niche’ for this publisher, not quite right for this agent. I prepare a few more submissions, while exploring the possibility of self-publishing. Then one publisher says, ‘This book has something!’ I try to contain my excitement while I wait for them to take it though their internal process…and the rejection follows.

“You are sending it to publishers, so it’s finished?”

Well, it is ‘finished’, but if a publisher decides to take it, they might want me to make changes. Actually, if I get an agent first, they might suggest changes too…so it’s finished, but probably not quite. And even if I get a publisher, it can take 12 to 18 months for the book to be published…so, it’s finished, but no, you can’t buy it yet.

Early 2020 and the London Book Fair looms. The Golden Egg Academy want to profile my book – maybe the right agent and the ideal publisher will see it there! I prepare the ‘blurb’, one line pitch, author bio…then, Covid lockdown begins and the Book Fair is cancelled. Publishing slows down, to a crawl. I carry on with a few agent submissions, but finally two thoughts crystallise for me.

Firstly, it’s more important for me to get my story out there than it is for me to be a traditionally published author. I want Little Viking Horse being read by the people that I wrote it for. It’s a special story for me, not just because it’s my first book, and I have a niggling worry that I will be pressed to change the story in ways I don’t want to, to make it more ‘commercial’. And even if I secure a publishing deal, with the impact of Covid, publication timescales are getting longer and longer. Do I want to wait? No.

Secondly, a significant reason for having a publisher is to help the author find a market – and I have one already, through the Little Viking Horse Facebook Page and in the Icelandic horse community, both in the UK and internationally…from which I can reach out to a wider market. I have had enough feedback on my book to keep my ‘imposter syndrome’ fears in-check, so I am satisfied that what I have written is good enough to publish. Followers of Little Viking Horse have been waiting a long time already. I make a firm decision to self-publish.

You are publishing it yourself? So it’s finished?

Well, nearly. I just have to get it copy edited, have a cover designed, internal design and layout, a couple of illustrations (not essential but I hanker after a classic Black Beauty feel), arrange printing, distribution and marketing…

Launching the book cover in front of the Icelandic Ambassador at the British Icelandic Horse Championships

Then an agent asks to see the full manuscript! I send it, along with details of my next project, because my plan to self-publish Little Viking Horse in the UK is set. The finish line is getting closer and I launch the book cover at the British Icelandic Horse Championships in June, in front of about fifty members of the Icelandic Horse Society of GB, and the Icelandic Ambassador to the UK!

Self-publishing is not an easy route – a publisher would be taking care of many of the processes that I am currently wrapping my head around. But people who have done it before me have been generous with their time and advice, and I am roping in friends and family to help me with the things that feel beyond my skill set. I’m very nearly ready to order my first printed copies for a final check, and I am in the process of setting up my website to be able to take pre-orders for signed copies, hopefully from September, with an official publication set for October.

So your book is finished?

It is…almost…and you can read about it here


Gyðja frá Króki

Gyðja means Goddess. She is registered in the studbook – no. IS1096286632. Gydja is brown with a white star, and has beautiful red highlights in her mane, and in her very long tail. She is 13 hands high. She is known as My Mare Gydja or Giddy, and Roger used to call her Bambi on account of her big, kind brown eyes.

Gydja was born in 1996 in Iceland, and was imported to the UK in 2002, when she was six years old, where she lived with a lovely family. She was very nervous when she first arrived, and her owner spent a lot of time introducing her to the very different English countryside and gaining her trust. A few years later she was joined by Fleygur. Sadly due to a change of circumstances Fleygur was put up for sale, and came to his new home with us in Shropshire, leaving Gydja behind. However, two years later, when Gydja too needed a new home, there was no question – her owner wanted to her be reunited with Fleygur, and of course we were never going to say no!

My Lovely Mare Gydja

As a ridden horse she was willing and bold (the early kind training really paid off!). I never knew her to spook at anything and she would go where ever I asked – including joining a parade down a High Street, followed by The Vikings of Middle England, and walking right past a marching band without batting an eyelid. She was really fast in gallop, but much more keen on trot than tölt.

Gydja Fra Kroki

Sadly, she had to be retired from riding at the age of 19 due to arthritis. Like the others she lives out 24/7, and lots of moving around is helping to keep her mobile and fit. Most of the time does doesn’t need any medication for her arthirits – though sometimes she overdoes the frolicking about, and can be a bit stiff for a few days. She has developed Cushings disease too, so her beautiful shiny coat is now more often greyed and brittle, but we have managed to avoid laminitis through carefully watching her weight, and with the help of medication.

She still has the same beautiful eyes and gentle nature though.


Svipur from Siamber Wen

Svipur, aka Blondie, was born on 26 August 2007 in the UK. He is a palomino, and has one white foot, a faint star and a snip on his nose. He also has a white spot on his rump which isn’t mentioned in his passport – because his didn’t have it until a certain Big Fat Cob bit him on the bum when he first arrived!