By SUSAN BLOWER
MONROVIA, Ind. — Just as she has invented a unique career for herself, agribusiness consultant and coach Sarah Beth Aubrey may have invented a new genre in fiction with her latest book, the novel Championship Drive.
“The concept is about the ups and downs in showing livestock and a series of romances,” Aubrey told Farm World. “Amazon labeled it ‘cowboy fiction.’ A friend called it a ‘showmance,’ and I just love that.”
As the title suggests, the heroine, Savannah Morgan, is trying to attain a national title with her Hereford cattle. The term “championship drive” refers to the final round in which the best in each class compete for the grand champion title. At the same time, 25-year-old Savannah is trying to manage a small cattle farm in Indiana she just inherited.
“’Championship drive’ also refers to the conflicts in showing, breeding and selling livestock, the showmanship and sportsmanship. I love the competitive spirit, the fellowship, responsible breeding, the efforts to help others. As livestock people, we understand and value that,” Aubrey said.
She knows something about her subject. She and her husband, Cary, live on a small farm in Monrovia and exhibit purebred beef cattle throughout the United States. Aubrey is also owner of A.C.T., Aubrey Coaching and Training, specializing in leadership development and training.
“Winning is the goal, but some may never win titles. People may overcome difficulties, change and better themselves, be mentored, breed better stock, help someone. There are a lot of ways to win. When I was growing up, we didn’t have expensive stock, but I didn’t stop loving the opportunity to show, even with some bad days,” Aubrey said.
Savannah is not a perfect character. Her author said she sometimes makes unwise choices, can act bratty and spoiled as she “comes of age,” and yet is someone with whom the reader can empathize – not unlike her favorite character, Scarlett O’Hara, in Gone with the Wind. “It is completely fiction, but it is based on things I’ve been through or seen a friend go through. It comes from a place of what I know and themes relevant to the industry. I’ve had readers say they thought I was writing about them,” Aubrey said.
A former Farm World correspondent, she has also authored three nonfiction books: Starting and Running a Small Farm Business, The Profitable Hobby Farm and Find Grant Funding Now, which have paralleled her own career in the ag sector.
Having sold her grant funding business in 2015, Aubrey found herself with more time to devote to the novel she had been writing for years. “A lot of late nights I typed away on it. You can play with it so long and never finish. That’s the temptation. Novels are more personal; you’re putting yourself out there. My friends have read this one, while most of those who bought my business books are people I don’t know,” Aubrey said.
Another difference is that she chose to self-publish her novel, while the nonfiction books were produced by publishing houses (Storey Publishing and Wiley). The novel, released last spring, is 244 pages.
“It is my first time self-publishing. It is liberating because you have complete control over the project. Self-publishers don’t do a lot for you; you select the services you want and you pay for them. I outsourced the editing and design,” Aubrey explained.
Self-publishing is gain-ing in credibility, she added, and the method gives writers greater ease and speed, creativity and control, as well as a larger percentage of the profits.
Aubrey said many male readers have enjoyed her “showmance” and asked for audio copies. Her next project will involve creating the audio book, and beyond that, a second book in a series that could include 3-5 works. “There’s enough interest. There’s a lot more to be told about the livestock seasons, what’s in our blood and the fun in the industry,” she said.
Aubrey said she is happy to be following her dreams, just as she writes about her characters’ pursuits of their own. “I am blessed to be involved in the ag sector and still in farming. It’s everything I could ask for.”
Characteristically, she will be teaching about what she’s learned as a published novelist in an upcoming class. For more details, readers can email Aubrey at email@example.com To order a paperback or e-book, readers can search for her online at Amazon.com or visit her website at www.sarahbethaubrey.com