Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gift Basket Awarded -- There's Cheering in the Streets!

The Death By A Dark Horse gift basket has been awarded!


I assigned numbers to all who commented on yesterday's blog, then used a random number generator to choose the winner. 
So, without further ado.....the winner is......

Judy Cox

Congratulations, Judy! And thank you, all, for stopping by and creating such a fun experience!

The Bunnies are happy

The horse is happy

And all of that means, I'm happy!

Don't forget, there is still the Kindle give away coming up and you are ALL entered in that.


You'll want to stop by the Indie Book Collective tomorrow.  
Find out what's shaking in the Blog Tour de Force wrap-up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

As Dog Is My Witness...

Welcome to the 12th and FINAL stop on the Blog Tour de Force! Congratulations to all of you who have made it this far. You WILL be rewarded!

Without further ado....sit back, relax, and prepare to enjoy yourself and win more stuff!

As Dog is My Witness....

Animals in boxes are good, too.
I really like animals in books.

No, that's wrong. I love animals in books. I love the ordinariness of cats and dogs that act just exactly like cats and dogs. I also love it when I must suspend disbelief and accept behavior that simply would never happen in real life. Even made-up, fanciful animals are fun. In fact, it's not just in books where animals delight me. Movies, TV, plays, you name it. The animals can steel the show and seal the deal for me.

Eddie is the inspiration for "Blackie"
I write horses into my stories, and not just to give vent to my passion for the magnificent creatures. I use them to show the human characters' depth and illuminate them in ways that would otherwise be cumbersome and less entertaining. For example, my protagonist's close connection with her horse shows facets of her personality to the reader in a way that's understood on a gut level. And because all of us have loved at least one animal, we get it.

In Heartsblood, the book that kicked off this blog tour on January 17, Carolyn McCray includes an animal we have never seen before. She uses our very human reaction to an unknown animal (caution at the least, fear at the most) to masterfully play up the tension in the story. We see what this animal can do before we encounter it, and by the time we see it, we're terrified -- and have no trouble understanding why the protagonist is shaking in her shoes.

If I were giving a class on writing, and instructing my students on hooking the reader by their emotions I would recommend studying the way animals interact and their behavior patterns in order to understand the visceral way we humans interact. To make trust and love believable one has only to observe animals -- the ones who have been nurtured and the ones who have been damaged -- to find out what a reader will find believable in the characters we create. Melissa Ecker, would get an "A" in my class for her erotic romance Pull The Trigger the book that preceded mine in the blog tour. She uses very steamy scenes to lead the reader to understand her character's journey to trust and love.

Animals in stories. They're endearing, useful, illuminating.

Now, a short word from my sponsors ....

Pop over to Jessica Subject's blog site, "Mark Of The Stars," to read an interview Jessica did with me. She asked some great questions about my journey as an author and posted an excerpt from Death By A Dark Horse. I think you'll enjoy it!

"Conversations With Self" has a review of my book. Len Lambert hails from London, England and puts an international spin on things.

Don't forget to "Bring A Friend" to the blog tour. You still have time, and you'll get even more chances to win that Kindle and other great prizes! Go to the Blog Tour de Force home page if you don't know how to do this.

And Now......


Win: 20 free tickets for the Kindle drawing and...!
How: GO to Smashwords and download a free sample. THEN post a comment, HERE, on my blog with your favorite line from anywhere in Death By A Dark Horse. Every single one of you will win 20 free tickets for the Kindle drawing! 

But WAIT there's MORE! 

Be sure I have your email address, because 100 of you will receive a coupon for a FREE copy of Death By A Dark Horse!

Even More? Yes!

At the end of the tour ALL of you are entered to win a gift basket, full of goodies bought just for you in Snohomish PLUS a Death By A Dark Horse mug AND a trade paperback copy of Death By A Dark Horse

One final goodie -- if you go over to Conversations With Self , type in a comment and add somewhere, "The Black Queen's Bishop" you'll get 5 extra entries in the Kindle drawing!

Thanks to each and every one of you for participating in this amazing Tour de Force.

I hope you've all enjoyed what we 12 authors and 25 sponsors have had to offer. 

Don't forget to go to the IBC Home Page tomorrow for the final prize hunt. 

It will be well worth your effort!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Levels Of Deception -- the second Thea Campbell mystery

 Yay!! The second Thea Campbell mystery, Levels Of Deception, will be coming soon! Expect it to see it available in e-format and print toward the end of February! In this adventure Thea must step out of her familiar world of dressage and Snohomish, Washington, and into Paul's world of paleontology in the hills of Montana.

Here's the backcover blurb:

Thea isn't supposed to obsess about a murder in the basement of Seattle's Burke Museum, even though the victim was her absent boyfriend Paul's colleague -- even though her gut screams at her to pay attention. So when the police connect Paul to thefts at the museum and the murder, despite his being two states away on a dig, Thea secretly launches her own investigation to clear him. Paul's stubborn refusal to give her any information doesn't slow her down, but an attempt on her life does. Coerced into running to Paul's paleontology dig in Montana for safety, what she finds there is far from a refuge. The levels of deception are more personal and extend farther than she could have imagined. The price of her pursuit of truth will be blood.

And just a reminder -- Don't forget the Blog Tour de Force. And especially don't forget to drop by here on Saturday when it's my turn! Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sample Sunday and a reminder of PRIZES!

In this week's sample from Death By A Dark Horse, Thea meets Frederick Parsons, the murder victim's father -- a man rumored to have ties to organized crime. He has arrived on Thea's doorstep and requested a chat with her. How can she refuse?

Up close, Valerie's father was not as old as I first thought. He had classic, handsome features, and oozed elegance. But a steel-like formality about him made it clear he was not a man to cuddle up to. I tried to picture him bouncing his little blond girl on his knee. Nope, not this man.
"Won't you sit down?" I asked.
"I don't want to take much of your time," he said, disregarding my invitation. "I came to talk to you about my daughter."
He looked squarely at me. His gaze flicked to the bruises on my face, then back to my eyes.
"I understand it was your horse in the pasture at her house."
"Yes," I said, and swallowed. Blackie seemed to be everyone's favorite topic of conversation lately.
"I also understand I was mistaken in believing my daughter's death was an accident involving your horse." The muscles in his face were so tense his lips barely moved when he spoke.
"That's correct."
"How did your horse come to be in that pasture?"
"Someone took him from Copper Creek Saturday evening."
"Someone? Was it my daughter?"
His expression didn't change and neither did the tone of his voice, but I felt a rush of compassion for him. He was grieving and worried about the kind of person his daughter actually was.
"Mr. Parsons, no one knows who was driving Valerie's rig. No one saw the driver. It could have been her, but quite honestly, that doesn't make sense to me." In half a heartbeat I'd announced my abandonment of the "Valerie-is-a-crook" stance -- again. Who could blame me? Maybe I'd believe it myself on one of these go-rounds.
"Nor does it make sense to me, Miss Campbell." The floor creaked as he walked across the hardwood of my entryway and into my living room. He looked around as if browsing in a gift shop. The photographs on the bookcase caught his eye and he strolled over to have a closer look. One picture was of Juliet. The other was of me on Blackie with Uncle Henry. Mr. Parsons picked up the one of Blackie and studied it, then did the same with Juliet's picture. "Your sister?"
"Yes." My face went cold, and my scalp seemed to shrink. I wanted to grab the photograph out of his hands. But before I made a move he returned it to its place on the bookshelf.
"Should you have any knowledge to share with me I would like to encourage you to do so. It would be prudent."
I locked eyes with him and set my jaw. "I'm afraid I'm as baffled as you, Mr. Parsons. More, perhaps."
"I intend to find out who killed my daughter and set her up to look like a common thief."
He held my gaze long enough for me to understand he considered me part of the equation. I did a quick reevaluation of my sympathy for him and discarded it.

Don't forget! The Blog Tour de Force begins this week! Carolyn McCray is first up. Go to her blog and find out all the great prizes she's giving away. Her book Heartsblood is a great read -- paranormal, contemporary urban-fantasy, time-traveling, romance, betrayal, and a freaking scary creature with cunning and strength. You won't be able to put it down! And while you're over at the Blog Tour de Force home page, sign up for the newsletter to get daily reminders of where to go and prizes to be won. You also automatically get 5 additional entries to win the Kindle!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog Tour de Force

Okay friends, here's the first week's line up for the Blog Tour de Force. There are links to each blog, so go and visit, and ENTER to WIN that FREE KINDLE and tons of other prizes!! Go on now!! Do it!! I want you to win!! You're MY people!! GO TEAM!! Here's the links;

Go there anytime

January 17 - Carolyn McCray Heartsblood   Review by: Mark Of The Stars
January 18 - Kris Tualla A Matter Of Principle   Review by Mark Of The Stars
January 19 - Rebecca Tsaros Dickson I Could Tell You Stories   Review by Mark Of The Stars
January 20 - Marissa Farrar - The Dark Road   Review By Mark Of The Stars
Januray 21 - George H. Sirois - Excelsior   Review by Mark Of The Stars
January 22 - Ann Charles - Nearly Departed In Deadwood  Review by Mark Of The Stars

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sample Sunday - and More!

Before we launch into this week's sample, I've got two bits of news -- both fun & rewarding in their own ways!

News flash #1: The second book in the Thea Campbell Mystery Series, Levels Of Deception is being readied for publication! Expect to see the cover art soon, some tantalizing bits of story, and when in February (yes, next month!) you can expect to see it hit the virtual shelves!!

News flash #2: The Blog Tour de Force! Don't miss it!! It's fun, easy AND you could win stuff!! A FREE KINDLE with 12 FREE BOOKS! Gift baskets from the twelve participating authors (including me!)! Here's the link to the Blog Tour de Force - Get Loaded! The tour begins on January 17, so mark your calendar!

Now, on to our regular feature.

In today's sample from Death By A Dark Horse, Thea explains the latest bit of drama to her Aunt Vi and Uncle Henry, only to have the conversation take an unexpected turn!

Resting the ice pack against my jaw, I gave a brief sketch of Paul's rescue to an attentive audience. Aunt Vi tipped her head. Her eyes and mouth formed little "Os." Of course I left out the emotional stuff and the Paul-thing after Greg decamped, although I gave Paul credit for his suggestions. Neither did I mention my encounters with Randy. That couldn't be important. No point in adding needless worry.
"Have you called your parents yet?" my aunt asked.
"Please don't tell Mother and Dad. I swear I'll tell them after the police solve this. There's nothing they can do. They'll only worry. Please?"
"They're your parents, love, they have a right to know what's going on."
"I know, but since I'm not involved anymore wouldn't it be better if we tell them after the sheriff solves this? Then they won't worry over nothing. Please, Aunt Vi?" I turned an imploring gaze on Uncle Henry. "Please? It's not like you're not right here."
He ran a hand over his face then studied me for a long moment.
"All right." He flicked a quick glance at Aunt Vi, who shook her head and turned her attention to preparing the tea. "On the condition that, should anything change and you become involved again, they'll be called immediately."
He meant if I were arrested. Good thing I'd left out how close I was to that. I slouched in my chair.
"Thanks. I promise."
Aunt Vi only harrumphed and intently arranged the porcelain tea pot and cups on the table. It was the Spode set with the red rosebuds I bought for her when Jonathan and I flew to Victoria for a weekend last January. If it hadn't been for the shopping and sightseeing, the trip would have been a colossal waste of time.
"It was Blackie's doing, you know," Aunt Vi said pouring the first cup. She handed it to me.
"What was Blackie's doing?" I asked. Talk about a non sequitur.
"At the end of the day, you'll see. He knew." She fixed a cup of tea with milk and handed it to Uncle Henry.
"Blackie knew?" Uncle Henry asked.
"Yes." She passed him the sugar bowl and stirred her tea.
My uncle and I looked at each other. He shrugged minutely. We'd obviously switched subjects, but I wasn't sure what the new subject was. "What did he know?"
Aunt Vi took a deep breath and pursed her lips on the long, slow exhale. Oh. I knew where this was headed but went for the wide-eyed sincere look, anyway.
"He knew you were in trouble, of course. He tried to tell us."
I knew it. She was creating a psychic connection out of a coincidence. I shifted around in my chair.
"You know how close you two are," she said. "Why, he always knows when you're on your way. I've seen him out there in the field stop all at once and gaze into the distance." She did a little impression of Blackie -- freezing as if on point, looking intently in the direction of my house, jaw slack. I had to smile. "See? Just like that. Then he whinnies and goes back to eating. Not five minutes later here you come rolling up the drive. I'm telling you, he knew you needed help today, Thea."
"Don't be ridiculous," I said, taking a swallow of tea. "The next thing you'll be telling me is Blackie can read your Tarot cards."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog Tour de Force

This is going to be fun -- an potentially profitable for a few lucky people! Beginning January 17 and going through the 29th the Indie Book Collective is sponsoring a Blog Tour de Force. 12 authors will blog -- one each day, and gift will abound! There will be gift baskets, a scavenger hunt and **Ta Da!** A FREE KINDLE with 12 FREE Books!!

How cool is that? Mark your calendar and join the fun and maybe, just maybe you might be the one to win the Kindle!

Go have a look! Yeah, right now!

Writing Horses will be the last stop on the tour, and the book I'll be giving away will be Death By A Dark Horse, of course!

Just to let you know, I've read some of the other books and they're excellent! You will be one happy reader should you win!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sample Sunday

Someone out there had a really good idea a while back: each Sunday post an excerpt from a book, giving people a peak at something other than the standard couple of chapters. Of course, if you want to read the first couple of chapters they're available over at my website

This excerpt from Death By A Dark Horse is taken from the scene where protagonist Thea Campbell and friends Delores and Miguel have made a foray to a local biker bar to run down a lead. Thea is convinced the theft of her horse Blackie is connected to the murder of rising dressage star Valerie Parsons, although the police and several others don't seem to share her conviction.

The Broken Axle, a single-story, concrete-block building with few windows, was painted a shade of blue usually seen on playground equipment. Neon signs, lined up under the eaves, proclaimed the brands of beer supposedly available within. The name of the bar was hand lettered across several sheets of plywood, affixed to the roof by an intricate structure of two-by-fours. A single spotlight illuminated the sign. The mist that hung earlier in the cold night air had turned to drizzle, making the seats of the numerous motorcycles parked near the door so reflective they appeared bright blue. Two men, not quite lost in shadow halfway along one of the building's walls, stood in close conversation. A quick exchange was made, a hand to pocket, then a glance in our direction. I looked away. Drugs, probably. Maybe one of them was an undercover cop. Maybe.
I stuffed my hands into my pockets, shrank into the collar of my parka, and stepped closer to Miguel and Delores. If I'd been alone I would have turned back.
Inside the bar was as crowded with bodies as the parking lot was with motorcycles. The din of laughter and shouts that passed for conversation surged around us like the acrid smoke-thick air. A basketball game blaring from the tiny TV over the bar, and the crack of billiard balls provided the only form of music in the place. Miguel led the way, winding past pool tables and around big men who, despite their inclination to study us with unconcealed interest, were disinclined to move. Every nerve in my body vibrated in a state of red alert. I stopped looking around and kept my gaze pinned on Miguel's broad back, only a foot in front of me.
He found an empty table and rounded up three chairs I touched the table top as I sat. Ick. Sticky. An ash tray directly in front of me overflowed with reeking cigarette butts. The stench, mixed with the odor of men who made scant use of deodorant or soap, stung my eyes and coated the insides of my nostrils. I couldn't remember the last time my senses had been so assaulted.
We'd barely sat when a young woman with blonde and hot pink, spiky hair, multiple facial piercings and an empty tray on her hip, slid between two customers and stood at our table regarding us with a bored expression.
"Beer?" she asked.
I was fairly certain we'd heard the entire selection.
"Three," Miguel said.
The girl pushed her way between the customers and disappeared. Miguel scanned the crowd. "I do not see him," he said, obviously referring to our quarry. "I will take a look around. Do not go anywhere." He looked directly at me.
I didn't think he needed to worry. Delores scooted her chair closer to me and glared at the backside of a guy who bumped her. I was hemmed in by similar blue-jean and leather-clad body parts. I wasn't going anywhere -- even if I wanted to.
Several long minutes later Miguel returned and gave a slight shake of his head. The waitress following in his wake kept me from asking him any questions. She held the tray with our three beers balanced on one hand at shoulder height. I put a twenty on the table and she snagged it with the first glass she banged down.
I seized the opportunity. "I wonder if you could tell me whether a friend of ours has been in tonight?"
"Who're you lookin' for?"
"Middle-aged white guy, brown hair, overweight," Miguel said.
"No kidding? He shouldn't be too hard to single out. Only half the guys in here look like that. Take your pick." Little Miss Sarcastic snapped her chewing gum and pocketed the twenty.
"He was here last night, dropped a lot of cash buying his buddies drinks," I added.
She gave me a suspicious once over. "He do somethin' wrong? You a cop?"
"No to both," I said. "We might want to hire him. I hear he drives trucks and sometimes hauls horse trailers."
"I'll let him know you been lookin' for him -- should I happen to see him." She shouldered her way back through the crowd with her empty tray.
"Keep the change," I muttered. We wouldn't see her again. I should have realized anyone here would treat us with distrust. We had no idea what we were doing.
"I think we should leave," Delores said.
I couldn't have agreed more. What a waste of time. Miguel took a couple of swallows from his glass before he got up, but Delores and I left ours untouched.
The moment I stood a strong grip engulfed my upper arm. My heart tried to break out of my rib cage, and my lips turned to ice as the blood left my face. A Sumo wrestler of a man, wearing yards of studded black leather, held me in place with his enormous paw. A dark blue tattoo covered the back of his hand and his forearm. The subject of the artwork was indiscernible, but then again, I wasn't studying it too closely.