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!

Seven suspenseful page-turners will captivate you with breathtaking stories and intriguing characters you’ll find positively unputdownable! If you enjoy heart-stopping, engaging novels, then you must read UNFORGETTABLE POWER – Love and Intrigue.

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Recommend on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/unforgettable-power-love-and-intrigue-by-mimi-barbour-and-jacquie-biggar

If you haven’t already, be sure to enter our monthly giveaway. We’re giving away gift cards and books!


Help! Please Enter My Name That Character Contest!

So there I was, sitting in front of a blank screen, the stupid big fat clock staring at me from the wall across the room. I would have been unnerved by the ticking if the clock had a ticker, but you know everything is digital these days–never mind, I digress. There I was, with the blank screen and the clock AND the DEADLINE.

Let me digress pause here to address the non-writers in the room–and I hope there are billions many of you–to let you know that the picture of the blissful artist working away in their turret spinning fancy words into mesmerizing stories is a bad joke hoax. We working stiffs authors really work at the kitchen table, the desk, the lazyboy chair, the drivers seat of the car (although we try to stop driving first), the dentist office waiting room … You get the picture.

Why? It’s the clock. And the deadline. Even if we don’t have a publisher or editor setting our deadline, we still have a deadline. Life throws them at us in the form of mortgage bills, grocery bills and the occasional prompt from a loving impatient reader.

What does any of this have to do with a Name That Character Contest you ask? Well, I don’t technically know if you’re asking, but Myren, my chauffeur, is asking and he’s the ridiculous unofficial stand-in for an below average reader for the purposes of this stupendous informative blog. I’ll tell you.

So there I was, not sitting in my turret, staring at the blank page and STUCK. Why was I stuck you ask? (Let’s not go over again how I know you’re asking.)

I was stuck because I needed a name for the bad guy and I couldn’t think of one. He was about to lower the hatchet and I had no idea what to call him.  X. That’s what I typed. Not for the first time. I was on page 152 and I had a story filled with X after X where the character’s name ought to be.

I threw down my pen closed my lap top (although this action lacks the dramatic appeal of throwing down a pen) and decided I needed to get rid of all those Xs. But how, you ask? (You’re so full of questions!)

Now backed into a corner, chased there by dozens of Xs, there was only one thing to do. Yes. I had to hold a Name That Character Contest!

(This is a true story, I swear.)

And so now, in order to get unstuck, in order to go on and complete my current work-in-progress, Beachcomber Love, I am reaching out and asking for your help, dear readers!

Enter the Stephanie Queen Name That Character Contest Here!

(Yes, there’s a prize in it for you, but I KNOW you’re really entering it to rescue me from my sticky spot.)

Here’s some details about Beachcomber Love and the character X:

BEACHCOMBER LOVE is the next novella in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series. This bad guy, X, has come to town on Martha’s Vineyard from the mainland. He’s a he, a seedy low-life who mysteriously wants to extort money from the Lucky Parrot (local dive bar frequented by ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise and his partner/lover ex-Scotland Yard detective, Shana George, the hero and heroine)–and X thinks (incorrectly) that he can get away with it. Someone must have sent X to ruin Valentine’s Day. What’s his name?

Thank you so much for saving my life entering my contest to help me name X and get unstuck!

**Beachcomber Love will be released in the set A Valentine She’ll Remember, an anthology of 8 very special valentine romances, on February 1st. Look for it on Amazon for only $.99 or read the set for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thank you for entering the contest!

Never Vacuum Again!

(Or…I’d Rather be Reading a Great Book!)
by Kathryn Johnson
“There’s never enough time in the day!” How often have you said that? I say that all the time.

Every day is just as busy for me as it is for you. We may have different jobs or routines, different professional or personal obligations. But we all feel as if we could use help managing our time to enable us to do the things we enjoy.

A few months ago, our vacuum cleaner died. I went on a frantic search for a replacement. Only to discover how expensive any of the highly rated ones had become. Yes, I could buy a cheap one, but would it last more than a few months? We have the usual dirt tracked in on my gardening shoes, and then there’s the cat. Fur: the evil abomination of vacuum cleaners. And then it struck me…those ads I’d seen for cute little robot vacuums. One of those, if it was effective, would not only clean my floors—it would buy me more time for reading, or for writing my books. Hmmm….more research.
I found a few brands that were highly rated. The top 5 on one review site were:

iRobot Roomba 880
Neato iBotvac
Samsung POWERbot
bObsweep bObi
Miele Scout
Prices ranged from $319. to $800. Whoa! Pretty pricey. But the much touted Dysons were up in the stratosphere too. And they didn’t do the work for you.

DSC_0101

I ended up purchasing the Roomba 880 after reading still more reviews. Check out his photo as he’s cleaning my balcony. Isn’t he cute!

Not everyone loves these machines. Some people seem to have trouble with one thing or another, or report them breaking down after a few months. I can only say that I love my little bot. He scoots around and sings out to me when he’s finished cleaning the room. And…the best thing of all: I get to finish writing another chapter of my latest book!

When Kathryn isn’t cuddling her fur-producing cat, Tempest, she’s writing books like her Affairs of State romantic-suspense series—featuring the exciting Mercy O’Brien.DSC_0102

 

 

 

Book #1, just .99, Books #2 and #3 $2.99 each.
Mercy Killing (#1) http://amzn.com/B00LXIZBZC
Hot Mercy (#2) http://amzn.com/B00P0A42FO
No Mercy (#3) http://amzn.com/B0140L4K32