Local author debuts first book
BLACKSBURG – The first fiction book from author and magazine editor Joanne M. Anderson is titled “A Noble Spirit” ~ Noble being the Thoroughbred that gives confidence to a teen girl who is made fun of at school. He is ostracized from the herd for weakness – he is blind on the right – and the 14-year-old feels shunned by some of the popular girls because she is very tall. They bond, and characters around them enter the story: a single mom with agoraphobia, an Afghanistan war vet with injuries sustained on the battlefield, an ER doctor with a family secret, the horse farm owner with a mysterious past and others.
Noble is owned by Anderson, and because she understands firsthand how a horse can build confidence and strength in a person, she donates a share of book sale profits to a Virginia horse rescue or therapy organization twice a year.
It all started in October of 2010 when she and Noble were given an unexpected blue ribbon at the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (www.actha.us) Competitive Trail Challenge on the Virginia Horse Center grounds in Lexington. The judges were impressed with their cooperative spirit, discovering during the competition that Noble is half blind and Anderson is a senior, novice rider who never had a horse before age 58. It was Anderson’s first horse competition (at age 61) and the first spontaneous award of its kind. Subsequently, Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center, the organization which sponsors and benefits from the competition trail ride, named it the Noble Spirit Award. The judges and director choose someone on the day of each spring and fall competition whom they learn has overcome large, life obstacles to ride, compete and glory in a love of horses and horsemanship.
The recipient of the Noble Spirit Award in October 2012 was Anna [Simmons] Gritton, 17, of Disputanta. She rode a 16-year-old dun American Quarter Horse named Summer. Having survived a house fire tragedy when she was less than two years old and a move to live with an aunt and uncle at age 10, who are now her legal guardians, Anna has A Noble Spirit and bold courage that few can claim. She is a junior at Prince George High School.
“My husband, Larry, and I felt that getting Anna into riding would help build her self-esteem. We encouraged her to compete with peers who had no knowledge of her disabilities,” explains her aunt, Sandi Gritton.
Anna has been riding seven years and can tack, mount, ride, perform over and through obstacles and hop on bareback by herself. This did not come quickly or easily, as Anna’s hands were damaged in the fire, and she functions with minimal finger and thumb development. “She has shown that if you put your mind to something, you can do anything,” says her very proud aunt. “Winning the Noble Spirit Award and Scout Division were icing on her cake. I wish more people could know what she has accomplished and overcome.”
Anderson donated $100 to Hoofbeats, though not from profits. “There are no book profits four months after a book is released, before it is available on the national stage,” she explains. “And Hoofbeats deserves so much more than I could contribute at that time.”
With national book distribution now in place, anyone, anywhere, can order A Noble Spirit, in print or e-book format. These books do not sit in warehouses. Gift shops and booksellers place one in a book rack, and the cover alone attracts attention. For more information, go to www.anoblespirit.com, and booksellers contact Baker & Taylor. ~
Anderson and Noble are available for interviews via phone or at her Noble Spirit Farm outside Blacksburg, Va. Photos on request.
– Submitted by Joanne Anderson