Vail Valley author’s books land on Amazon’s Top 100 list
About the books
NLB Horton’s first two novels are “When Camels Fly and “The Brothers’ Keepers”
They’re published by RidgeRoute Press (ISBN: 9780991401734)
They’re available at The Bookworm in the Edwards Riverwalk
Local author NLB Horton has so much positive energy that she makes The Little Engine That Could seem like a total drudge.
The valley local is a world-class fly-fisherman, competing all around the world. She was one of 12 to qualify for the world championships. She’s also an archaeologist, theologian, mom and has owned and ran marketing firms, and in all her spare time she has now written two thriller novels that are selling at a break-neck pace — right up there in the same rarefied air as David Baldacci and James Patterson.
“I lead a wild life. I love it,” Horton said. “As we age, we have choices and we need to push out our boundaries. We need to keep living until we die.
“Get out there and try,” she added.
The 57-year-old says her “overnight” success — “Breakout author for the boomer generation” — comes from working at it, God’s grace and her Good Ol’ Girl network.
“I have this tribe of very talented and very professional women. It really does take a village,” she said.
Horton is a great writer and gifted storyteller who’s getting better. But the best thing about Horton is that she makes you believe you can do it too, whatever “it” is.
“I’m a boomer success story. If you’re considering a second career, step out and do it,” she said. “I try to live with vigor and joy, and to take calculated risks. My writing reflects that mindset, filtered through my faith.”
One day she was in Israel on an archaeological dig when she heard heavy arms fire in the distance. Hardly anyone else flinched when she shouted, “WHAT WAS THAT?!?”
It turned out to be a metaphorical starting gun.
Everything clicked into place and — whoosh, a phone booth please — she launched into another career as a novelist.
“Write what you know. I’ve been to all these places,” Horton said.
That includes traveling down the Amazon in a skiff with a tarantula (it was the stowaway tarantula’s idea) and machine gun fire in Lebanon.
After an award-winning career in journalism and marketing — she cut her teeth writing the bridal page, obits and everything else at the Dallas Times-Herald — and a graduate degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, count “novelist” as Horton’s second career — or third, or fourth.
“The story just happened. It rolls through my head like a movie, and I couldn’t type it fast enough,” Horton said.
She writes five or six hours a day and a book takes about five months. Like most great adventures, she has a pretty good idea where she wants to go before she starts.
“I’ve been writing forever,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a blast.”
Just so you know, NLB is Norma. She started using the moniker when she was punching through glass ceilings in the marketing world.
Horton moved to the valley area in 2010, the year we were hammered with more than 500 inches of snow, and wrote the first manuscript while watching the snow fall.
The protagonist is a strong-minded female archaeologist whose adventures are both personal and professional. Grace Madison is smart, funny, sarcastic and so is her relatively normal family. And, like Horton, if you mess with Grace’s family, then you’d better pack a lunch because you’re in for an all-day ass-whuppin’.
She accosted an acquisitions editor until one day Simon and Schuster asked, “Who’s your agent?”
“I decided right then that I’d better get one,” Horton said.
Mary Keeley was the friend of a friend, so Horton picked up the phone and started talking like she knew what she was talking about.
Her first novel, “When Camels Fly,” made it to Simon and Schuster’s final round — their editorial board. But Horton was not selected as the one author per year that Simon and Schuster adds into its stable. She’s good-natured about it.
“It was an honor to even get that far, especially with a first novel,” she said.
Success begets success
However, success begets success and she was on her way.
Horton’s books “When Camels Fly” and “The Brothers’ Keepers” hit the Top 100 across all genres in Amazon and paid Kindle purchases, unheard of for self-published fiction. “When Camels Fly” flew into the Top 100 list first and pulled “The Brothers’ Keepers” in a week later.
Three months later, both books are still in the Top 50 in suspense sub-genres.
It puts her in the same league as thriller authors like Baldacci and Vince Flynn.
Then “The Brothers’ Keepers” won second place in the Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award, one of the top honors in the independent publishing industry. It’s designed to “find and promote the best in independent fiction,” according to Bookstores Without Borders. Judges consider cover design and professionalism, the plot/story, the writing and the characters.
“This has been an amazing year, and this award, one of the top in the independent-publishing industry, is such an honor,” Horton said.
In mid-April, Book Bub is making her books available on Amazon for 99 cents.
Her third book is scheduled for release in January. Everything Grace Madison holds dear is at risk in the upcoming book.
“It’s a little voyeuristic. It’s like watching a breakout author make it big, and it’s me,” Horton said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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