Are You a Gambler? #Inspiration #amwriting #mgtab

Once a Gambler…

I have a confession to make- I love gambling on the horse races. I blame it on my grandma’s cousins, Betty and Mike. They introduced me to the thrill of racing as a young girl and I’ve been hooked ever since!

There’s just something about those beautiful, high-spirited animals prancing onto the track and lining up at the gate that makes my heart go pitty-pat 🙂

Nowadays, I get my enjoyment from watching the races on TV- with the Triple Crown as the best.

From Wikipedia

In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the Triple Crown, is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky DerbyPreakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races were inaugurated in different years, the last being the Kentucky Derby in 1875. These races are now run annually in May and early June of each year. The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950 but awarded to all previous winners as well as those after 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Crown_of_Thoroughbred_Racing_(United_States)

Last year, in 2018, I was lucky enough to watch Justify take the crown!

Justify is only the second horse to win the American Triple Crown with an undefeated record, following Seattle Slew. Justify is descended from Seattle SlewSecretariatCount FleetWar AdmiralOmaha, and Gallant Fox, all of whom also won the American Triple Crown. He is also a descendant of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky. Of the 13 American Triple Crown winners, Justify is the first who did not race as a two-year-old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justify_(horse)

Is it any wonder I love the sport?

I decided to write a mystery set around the Kentucky Derby and added a twist by setting it in the 50’s.

Here’s a short excerpt from The Lady Said No

Gus followed the stiff-necked manservant to the door of the den, though his emotions were tugging him back to Rebecca like a starved man to a banquet.

He couldn’t believe how beautiful she’d become. She’d always been pretty, but now there was an added maturity to her features that suited her face. The tomboy figure he fondly remembered had become hills and valleys he ached to explore. They’d been best friends, then lovers, then enemies. It’d been his fault, that was the worst of it. He’d let his drive for a career ruin the only good thing in his life. He could tell himself he’d done his part. After getting his degree and returning to Bourbonville he had tried to find her. But she was right, he hadn’t tried hard enough.

Their relationship had already been floundering; it had seemed easier to let it die a natural death. He regretted that now. One glimpse of her had brought back all the old feelings. Memories of happier times.

Ernest reached for the door knob and was stopped by the officer on guard.

“Sorry, only trained personnel are allowed.”

Ernest glared at him. “I’ve worked in this household for years; I believe I am trained.”

The sergeant exchanged a helpless glance with Gus. “I’m sorry, sir. Those are the rules.”

Gus stepped between the two men before a full-scale war broke out. “It’s okay, sergeant.” He flipped open his badge. “I’m Detective Grant. The…” He waved a hand toward the butler.

Ernest lowered his brows. “Manservant.”

Gus nodded. “Manservant, was just showing me the way to the crime scene.”

The officer checked his badge, then reached back to open the door. The stench of death was immediate, a toxic mix of human waste impossible to forget. Gus turned his head to draw one last clean breath and met Rebecca’s anxious gaze.

That look gave him pause.

Why was she worried? Just how well did Rebecca know the owner of Balmoral?

“Coming, Detective?” The sergeant’s voice interrupted his musings. Gus shrugged off his misgivings and followed the man into the room, sliding past the grim-faced Ernest.

Nancy knelt by the victim, her hands covered with white gloves and booties on her feet. She glanced up when he walked in and pointed at his shoes. Gus dug through his coat pockets until he found his booties, put them on, nodded to the sergeant, and made his way over to her side.

“It’s a bad one,” she said, turning attention to her preliminary findings. “Single shot to the temple, through and through. Near as I can tell, time of death was sometime between midnight and three a.m., no sign of defensive wounds.” She stopped and gazed at him with world-weary eyes. “Who would do this, Augustus?”

Gus observed the brain matter splattered on the leather tufted chair and rich, red Aubusson carpet and his stomach churned. His first thought was crime of passion. There had been some effort made to set the scene up as a suicide. The gun rested in the victim’s open hand, finger wrapped around the trigger. A cut crystal tumbler lay on its side nearby, a stain wetting the carpet. Gus touched the wet spot and sniffed, rubbing the tips of his fingers—bourbon. The good kind. Not something a man bent on ending his own life would let go to waste.

“I’m not sure, Nancy, but I do know the brass will be all over this one, so take your time, okay? We don’t want to miss anything.”

She huffed out an indignant breath. “You telling me how to do my job, now?”

He held up a hand to halt her blistering tongue. “The Jorgensons are big news, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t they have a horse in the Derby this year?”

The sergeant, who had remained by the door, and watched their exchange with interest, piped up. “Forever Humble. Lots of money riding on that colt.” His face became animated. “You ever see him race, Detective? He’s some kind of fast. Likes to run the outside track. Gives me a heart attack every time.”

Gus smiled. “You a betting man…?”

“Fish, sir. Everyone calls me Fish.”

Nancy chuckled and the young man’s neck turned brick red.

“I’m not a gambler, no sir, but I admit I like to spend a Saturday now and then down at the track. It’s some exciting. You ever been, Mr. Grant?”

Gus shook his head. “No, can’t say as I have. Not that fond of horses, though I guess that’s the wrong thing to say in this house.” He admired the landscape watercolor on the wall, rolling hills with a herd of wild horses barreling straight at him, eyes crazy and manes flying as though they were about to burst the confines of paint and canvas.

“Augustus, there’s something you need to see.” Nancy’s voice was muffled as she stretched, shapely butt in the air, to reach something under the leather chair. She grunted and tugged until a bronze sculpture came into view. When she stood it on the carpet, he saw it was about twelve inches in height, a warrior on a horse, raised arm carrying a spear.

“There’s blood and hair fragments,” she said, turning it carefully to inspect the evidence. “I can’t be sure until I get it to the lab, but this looks like a match to our vic.”

Well, that explained why there were no defensive wounds. The poor sop probably didn’t know what hit him. Gus looked around until he found the suspiciously empty spot on the desk. He gave a wide berth to the corpse, conscious of Nancy’s critical gaze. The desk was one of those massive claw-foot affairs, mahogany maybe, rich and elegant instead of simply functional. He pulled a linen handkerchief out of his pocket and checked the drawers. An assortment of papers greeted him, some on household expenses, most on Jorgenson’s passion—thoroughbreds. Nothing that looked like a cause for murder.

Gus was about to replace the documents when a slip of yellowed paper lodged in the back of the drawer caught his eye. He reached in, using the hankie, and retrieved the handwritten note.

Do what I told you to do, or the truth will destroy you

The threat inherent on the scrap of paper chilled his blood. There was trouble brewing in the Jorgenson household, and Gus was afraid Rebecca was somehow involved.

This story is part of the upcoming boxset, Unforgettable Power- Love and Intrigue, releasing May 5th!

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A Gypsy’s Curse — @PRosemoor #mgtab

I’ve been a carnival junkie since I was a kid. There were a lot of them back then, and my mom was into them as much as I was, so she always took me to every school carnival in the area. I loved the rides and the games and the weird stuff.

 

Gypsy fortune tellers were nothing but fancily dressed manikins in a glass box. You put in your money and a card came out with your fortune. So to my disappointment, they weren’t real.

 

 

Mom also took me to Riverview Amusement Park, Chicago’s version of Coney Island (which I also loved when visiting relatives in New York). It was nearly a two hour haul to get to Riverview. The train downtown, the rapid transit, then a bus.

But it was as exciting as it got because they had high excitement rides like roller coasters, six of them!

(The wooden rollercoaster here is the Coney Island Cyclone)

I almost fell out of Riverview’s Silver Flash that didn’t have proper restraints for little kids. Mom caught me when I was nearly halfway off the ride. That did not squelch my enthusiasm for rollercoasters.

Riverview had a midway complete with games and barkers and kewpie dolls…and really weird stuff.  A human freak show—the four-legged girl, the armless wonder, the mule-faced woman. The one that freaked my young self out was a woman who had the bottom end of a baby coming from her stomach. I didn’t know about conjoined twins at that age. I doubt many people did.

 

What Riverview didn’t have was a live fortune teller, at least not when I was there. I had to satisfy myself with another colorfully dressed manikin in a glass box.

 

When Rebecca York and Ann Voss Peterson and I decided to write our Gypsy Magic serial novel set in the Louisiana bayou country, we wanted to start with a carnival gypsy. A real gypsy.

 

 

 

It was all over now. Her only son, her beloved son, was condemned to death. For a crime she knew he could not have committed.

She gathered her strength for what she must do. From the pocket of her long skirt the old Gypsy pulled the bandanna with the objects. The pen. The crumpled paper cup. The metal tack. None was of great value. But they held the power she needed. For each had belonged to one of the people she was going to curse tonight.

Her hand clenched the pen. “Justice is blind,” she whispered, then joined the curse with the name of Wyatt Boudreaux. “Love is death,” she intoned as she crumpled the paper cup in her hand and said the name of Garner Rousseau. Finally she picked up the tack and said, “The law is impotent,” linking those words with the name of Andrei Sobatka.

Pushing herself erect, she stood and shuffled to the edge of the bayou, smug in her satisfaction that she had evened the score.

We had a great time with the carnival background and three cursed heroes. Would they ever be able to end the curse and find happiness with the women they love?

Each of these compelling stories ends with an HEA for the hero and heroine.  But only the full set will finally get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Be sure to read them all!

Get links for major e-retailers through Pronoun.
https://books.pronoun.com/wyatt/
https://books.pronoun.com/garner/
https://books.pronoun.com/andrei/

Marshall Field’s Christmas Memories

When I was a kid living on the far south side, and later in a south suburb, the thing I looked forward to most was the occasional visit to downtown Chicago. Mom used to take me on that forty-five minute electric train ride two or three times a year, but the one  I most looked forward to was the day we would see the Marshall Field’s Christmas windows and have lunch in the Walnut Room. The Walnut Room is still there, but Marshall Field’s is long gone—bought by Macy’s.

In 1874, Macy’s in New York created one of the first major holiday window displays with a collection of porcelain dolls from around the world. Other department stores around the country followed. In 1897, Field’s got into window design, and Christmas meant displays of toys, windows that continued through World War II. Then a new idea made Marshall Field’s as unforgettable as Santa Claus himself. Theme windows spanned the length of State Street. From one end to the other, the windows told a story like The Night Before Christmas or The Nutcracker.

CrimsonHoliday1000.1500

I used Marshall Field’s as the model for Westbrook, the main setting for Crimson Holiday. In thinking about a holiday romantic mystery, I knew I wanted to use a department store like the one I loved as a child. I wanted to involve the Christmas windows. And I wanted the murder victim to be Santa Claus. No, wait! Not the real Santa. The department store one. Rather the one dressed as Santa for the annual Christmas party. Okay, so I have a bizarre sense of humor.

SOMEONE KILLED SANTA CLAUS!
Passed out after the Westbrook Department Store Christmas party, window designer Shelby Corbin wakens only to trip over Santa, the store’s co-owner and Shelby’s boss. Terrified that she will be blamed for the murder, she panics. CEO Rand McNabb sees a dark-haired woman wearing a crimson party dress fleeing the scene and thinks he knows her identity. His romantic attentions both thrill her and frighten Shelby. Is the sexy CEO really helping her search for the truth about that fatal night, or does Rand have a deadlier motive for courting her?

Part of me is in my heroine Shelby. The Yay! It’s Christmas! part. I used to have an annual Christmas tree-trimming party. I made dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies and gave most of them away I collected a new special Christmas ornament every year, just as Shelby does, so I could experience my holiday history every time I looked at the tree.

Because I always loved Christmas, I enjoyed creating this intricately plotted romantic mystery. A fun task, and a fun story, one I hope will make readers smile.