Keeping Captain is my first novel and the first book in what I am calling the Carsten Castle Series. Carsten Castle is an imaginary castle that sits at the edge of Riley, an imaginary town that is located on the bluffs overlooking the very real Missouri River, somewhere in Northeast Nebraska, not far from Highway 12 and the Outlaw Trail.
In this novel, my main character Carly learns her parents are moving to Lincoln to care for her elderly grandparents. Her parents don’t believe they can afford to board a horse in the city, so they make arrangements to sell Captain, her horse. The book becomes a race against time as Carly works to change her parents’ mind and figure out a way to take Captain with her, when they move to the Lincoln.
In the story, Carly is a champion barrel racer. I have had lots of questions from kids about the sport of barrel racing. Cloverleaf barrel racing (as it is officially called) is a rodeo sport where 3 barrels are set up in a triangular pattern, and the rider is timed as she races around those barrels. She circles the first barrel (to her right) going clockwise. She then races to the second barrel (on her left) and circles it going counter-clockwise. Then she heads for the third and final barrel. After racing around it counter-clockswise, she runs for home. There is usually a penalty of 5 or 10 seconds for tipping over a barrel, or sometimes, the horse and rider are completely disqualified when a barrel tips over and falls.
Readers also want to know if I was ever a barrel racer. Although I did barrel race as a girl, I was never very good at it. My sisters , though, to whom this book is dedicated, were both champions in this sport. And since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought you might like to see a picture of them participating in this sport!