Sunday, 8 December 2019

'Paris': A Story


This story was written in ten minutes, no editing allowed, during a meeting of the Uxbridge Writers' Circle. The prompt I used was a picture of a bowl of fruit, similar to the one above.

Frank sat in front of the easel, disappointed. This is not what he'd worked so hard for, saved his money for - another still-life painting class. He was sick and tired of sketching the shapes of pears, apples, oranges, cherries. It was always fruit. Why couldn't they be more imaginative?
     He had dreamed of this day, when he would study art in Paris. His friends he left back at the Ontario College of Art had opened a few bottles of fizzy wine (couldn't afford the real stuff) to celebrate. Frank had been overjoyed that he'd been accepted into the prestigious Paris school, but he had to pay most of the cost himself. He didn't have a rich father or a wealthy aunt to fund his dream. He worked two part-time jobs and lived a careful, thrifty life in a bed-sit in Toronto until it was time to fly across the Atlantic.
     But then to be greeted by what appeared to be the same bowl of fruit he'd drawn and painted two semesters ago, was a real downer.
     The art master, Marcel, dressed in a suave silk purple shirt, descended on him with what seemed like a sudden whoosh. Marcel stood back, moved forward, looked sideways and sniffed. A few words in French, a few brush strokes and a few colour-mixes later, Frank gazed with astonishment. The bowl of fruit, although not completed, lept off the canvas. The fruit looked good enough to eat, freshly picked off the tree, catching the sun's rays. Marcel  had captured the patina of the skins, the textures.
     Frank now knew he was going to learn a lot.

Vicky Earle copyright 2019


Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Meg Sheppard Mystery Series Available As E-books!


Nominated for Indie Diamond Book Award!




Here are the descriptions of these three cozy mysteries and the links to your favourite e-book retailer:

Book 1: "What Happened to Frank?"
On the dreaded anniversary of Frank's untimely death, Meg's conviction that it was no accident turns into a keen determination to find out who killed her husband.
Along the rocky journey to uncover the truth, she faces demons from her youth spent in England as well as unsettling memories of her unusual marriage to Frank in Canada.
As she follows the bends in the road, she discovers who her true two-legged and four-legged friends are, but also unearths facts that she finds tough to face. 

Book 2: "Over Frank's Dead Body." (Nominated for Indie Diamond Book Award)
Meg's mother shows up in Meg's life, just as her daughter's relationship with Chuck begins to crumble. But when Chuck is accused of murder, he needs Meg's help.
Is Frank's murder, the death of a jockey at the racetrack and the theft of some horses linked?
Meg's search to unearth the truth brings some much-needed light into her life.

Book 3: "Pointed Attacks." (Canada Book Award WINNER)
Racehorse trainer Grayson is found dead in his office trailer and Meg's trainer, Neal, asks her to investigate. The members of a syndicate, who owned five horses trained by Grayson, are all under suspicion. But the list of suspects grows as Meg learns more about the horses' unexpected poor health and disappointing performances. Meg is under pressure to uncover the elusive truth, to put a stop to both people and animals being hurt.
And a secret is revealed that has a profound effect on Meg's personal life. 
"Pointed Attacks" e-book link

Happy reading - and don't forget to leave a review!!
Thank you!
(Kelly thanks you too!)

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Author Interview in 'Crime Scene'!


I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter, and was fortunate to be interviewed by Arlene McCarthy for 'Crime Scene', the on-line magazine of this great organization. 
Thank you to Sisters in Crime for giving me permission to reprint the interview. 

Criminal Intent 

Featuring Vicky Earle 

Interviewed by Arlene McCarthy

Born in England, Vicky Earle now lives on a small farm near Goodwood, Ontario, and tells us that the horses come first, dog and cats a distant second, and humans are there to look after them all. Vicky and her husband, Martin, raised two active sons who miraculously survived the adventures of country life. 
Writing is a life-long passion for Vicky. Her Meg Sheppard Mystery Series is centred around horses, horse-racing and country-living. Her interesting blog includes some of the short stories she has written for the Uxbridge Writers Circle based on their monthly prompts.
Her two Meg Sheppard novels, What Happened to Frank? (2015) and Over Frank’s Dead Body (2018), will soon be followed by Pointed Attacks, which Vicky launches November 17, 2019, with a book signing at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge. 



Q: How do you think the rural and small-town setting contribute to the suspense in your novels? 

A: Few people live on a horse farm, as Meg does, and that gives me the potential to create unexpected situations. Moreover, it is the setting that I’m most familiar with.  Meg believes she’s happy living alone with her animals, but she faces challenges to this belief through incidents in each book. In the first book, her determination to find out what happened to her husband, Frank, makes her vulnerable to vengeful attacks. And the fact that she lives in relative isolation makes it easier for the perpetrator to get away with his actions. 
When her truck is tampered with, she and Kelly find themselves under threat at the side of a country road. 
In Over Frank’s Dead Body, Meg hires a security guard but even that step doesn’t prevent people from entering the barn and a shot being fired.  

Q: Why did you choose to use horses and horse-racing as the hook for many of the events in this series?

A: Horses have been a part of my life for about 25 years. We have been involved in horse-racing since 1988, first as owners but later we became involved in breeding (in a small way). Horse-racing provides tremendous material for a mystery writer like me.
The characters involved in the industry range from hotwalkers to some extremely wealthy racehorse owners, with everything in between. There is corruption, doping and other offences, despite increased regulations and testing. 
This is discouraging and frustrating for those of us who are honest racehorse owners, but it all provides great material for a mystery author! Frank, Meg’s husband, had been successful in his pursuit of an anti-drug regulation which banned StartSmart. In What Happened to Frank?, Meg finds out that their racehorse trainer is not only opposed to the new regulation, but is vocal, even aggressive, about his opposition.
In Over Frank’s Dead Body, Meg is asked to look into the sudden death of a jockey that appears to be linked to race-fixing and illegal gambling. 

Q: Why did you place Meg as an immigrant to Canada from Britain?

A: I emigrated to Canada from England with my husband many years ago. Meg has been in Canada for about 20 years. It gives me a reason to use some of my knowledge of England and of English people to enhance the story, and I found that it helped me to add some intrigue, including in my third book, Pointed Attacks.

Q: You created a big stable of secondary characters who live in these two novels, both human and animal, yet they seem very real. How did you manage that?

A: I enjoy creating characters. I particularly like the process of writing and developing the characters at the same time. While I might have a loose outline to start and perhaps some notes about each character, I like to have no constraints as I write. I imagine myself as each individual character, and attempt to come up with how they might react or feel about what’s happening. 
If a character needs to change – either the kind of person he or she is, or how he or she behaves, and so on, I will make those changes. And sometimes this means going back and rewriting substantial parts of the book. 
Kelly, Meg’s beloved border collie, plays a role in both books in helping her, but Kelly is herself a victim of criminal activity in each novel. Meg “rescued” her from the Vannersville Humane Society where she worked as the Executive Director until she was abruptly dismissed. Kelly is smart and intuitive, loyal and trustworthy. She has the mentality of a rescue dog, with her eternal gratitude for being adopted, and with her unwavering, unconditional love for Meg. 
Meg loves Kelly deeply and, in the first book, this fact is used by an antagonist as a way to threaten her. 
Animals are less complex than humans, but each has a unique personality. I’ve lived with animals all my life and enjoy their company – including when I write about them. They are fun to include in the story. 

Q: Readers often turn to mysteries for a little escape from real life. Tell us how you used such serious issues as sexual abuse, a failed mother-daughter relationship, political corruption, fraud, alcoholism, puppy mills, and gambling to further your plots and develop suspense without “putting your readers off.”

A: These are difficult issues, but I do not include any graphic, intensive description in my books. Also, the characters are not violent, evil or cruel enough to be offensive. But there are some characters who have flaws, who are unethical, who can be dangerous and who are malicious. 
For example, in What Happened to Frank? a group of business people want to stop Meg from investigating Frank’s death. They use a variety of intimidation tactics, including threats, that Brad Buckthorn plays a key role in carrying out. But Meg is not easily discouraged. In Over Frank’s Dead Body, gun shots are fired on Meg’s farm by a man who appears to be deranged. Meg is alarmed by his behaviour, but it doesn’t make sense to her. She finds out more as she talks to both him and his wife, Joanna. And Meg encounters a shady character, Dominic Marcel, who’s involved in the seedy side of the horse-racing industry and a suspect in the jockey’s murder. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that he’s the “bad guy,” responsible for all the crimes Meg uncovers.

Q: What qualities enable Meg to search for truth and justice in spite of the lack of those qualities in her relationships with others?

A: Meg wants to search for truth and justice partly for that reason – because she finds these qualities lacking in many of the people she interacts with. She was raised in an environment full of lies and deceit, and her emigration to Canada was, in part, an attempt to escape that. 
And, although she would not describe herself as a compassionate person, she is. She ran the Vannersville Humane Society and is an animal lover, but she also cares about people and what happens to them. 
However, Meg believes that she’s unable to develop and maintain intimate relationships. She has trouble with physical touch. In What Happened to Frank? she reflects on how she’s got used to living alone, used to the privacy, solitude and freedom. And she’s afraid of being hurt. The abuse she suffered from her stepfather back in England means she believes she is“damaged goods.” But these beliefs are challenged, to some extent, as she interacts with Tom, Chuck and William. 
Despite her faltering self-esteem and sometimes wavering confidence (which can cause her to appear to be a reluctant sleuth), Meg does want to unearth the truth and to help ensure that justice is served.  She draws on her resilience as she continues on a path of self-discovery and growth. 

Q: How can we expect to see Meg develop in Pointed Attacks, the third book of your series?

A: In Pointed Attacks she is even more frustrated with her search for the truth as she investigates murder, and at the same time uncovers a life-changing family secret. The layers of lies and half-truths, as well as the unkindness she comes across, are a severe challenge for Meg.
There is a new relationship in her life that Meg wonders if she’s ready for, and as her home fills up with people, conflicts arise, resulting in comings and goings that add to the pressure Meg is under as she investigates. 
She must hone her interpersonal skills, but she encounters glitches along the way. Her relationship with William is not solid and must overcome some hurdles. However, Meg continues her slow journey of healing and self-discovery, and becomes more certain of what is important to her in her life as the novel progresses. 

Q: What part of writing these novels was a joy for you and why?

A: I love each and every aspect of writing a novel. From the very first thought, to the last word, I love it. And I even enjoy editing!
The greatest joy comes, though, when a reader tells me that they loved my books, and asks when the next one is coming out.  

Q: What authors have influenced your mystery writing?

A: I read an eclectic mix of authors.
Many of them are not mystery writers. I read non-fiction such as memoirs, as well as a few historical books. And I read classic literature as well as modern writing. All of these books have influenced me in a variety of ways. I learn from each book I read. My bookshelves are crammed with great books! (Editor’s note: Vicky lists some of her recent reads on her blog.)
The book I have just finished is, coincidentally, Footprints to Murder, a Hannah Ives mystery by Marcia Talley. I bought the book at a Sisters in Crime meeting where Marcia was a speaker. Her talk was excellent and gave me the boost I needed to keep writing. The story unfolds during the Sasquatch Sesquicentennial conference. Marcia brings the setting and characters to life, and the plot is cleverly based on the controversy surrounding Bigfoot’s existence. 
I enjoyed the quotes from books and excerpts from newspapers that Marcia includes at the beginning of each chapter. And I appreciated the research that Marcia had obviously undertaken on the Bigfoot phenomenon. The book was a fun and pleasant read.

Q: What advice would you give yourself if you could look back in time at yourself as a newbie author? 

A: It would have been helpful if I had known more about marketing. I am still learning how to promote my books and attract new readers. Familiarity with social media would have been an asset. I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning how to use these tools, including selecting which ones are worth the time to maintain. I still have a long way to go. 
I should have been more prepared to invest in my writing, financially. Investment is essential. 
As newbie authors, we need to be kind to ourselves. Part of this is giving ourselves time to build a solid and loyal readership. It takes patience and quite a bit of effort. And we should do our best to overcome the waves of self-doubt that roll in from time to time. I need frequent boosts to my confidence from feedback from readers as well as from interactions with other writers. 

Q: Can you give us a few “teasers” to encourage us to read Pointed Attacks?

A: Okay, here is the book blurb description: 
“Grayson, a racehorse trainer, is found dead in his office trailer and Meg’s trainer, Neal, asks her to investigate. 
The members of a syndicate, who owned five horses trained by Grayson, are under suspicion. But the list of suspects grows as Meg learns more about the horses’ unexpected poor health and disappointing performances. Meg is under pressure to uncover the elusive truth, to put a stop to both people and animals being hurt. 
And a secret is revealed that has a profound effect on Meg’s personal life.”

Q: Please complete this sentence:
“Because I write mysteries I . . .”

A: Because I write mysteries I have so much fun! I’m challenged too, which is a good thing!

Q: How has being a member of Sisters in Crime affected you?

A: Being a member of Sisters in Crime has given me both encouragement and valuable guidance. I enjoy the meetings in Toronto, although I can’t get to all of them.
The sisters are welcoming, supportive and understanding. The speakers are informative and encouraging.  
Also, the webinars from the “mothership” are great. I have participated in a few so far, and plan to register for more in the future. Thank you, Sisters in Crime!

You can find out more about Vicky Earle on Vicky Earle's Blogtwitter and Instagram
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Crime Scene, the magazine of the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime, is published five times a year. We encourage reprints, but only with credit to the article’s writer(s) and the Toronto chapter, and after notifying the Editorial Director at newsletter@torontosistersincrime.ca
© 2019 Sisters in Crime – Toronto Chapter.  All rights reserved. 





                 







Wednesday, 20 November 2019

My First Book Award!


'Pointed Attacks' is a Canada Book Awards Winner!
Check out the program at canadabookaward.com
The front cover of my book is shown towards the end of the list of winners.

This program "recognizes and promotes Canadian author outstanding accomplishment". It is an ongoing assessment program and is not a contest.



'Pointed Attacks' was recently launched at blueheronbooks.com. All three books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series are available at Blue Heron. The first two "What Happened to Frank?" and "Over Frank's Dead Body" are also available at your favourite e-book retailer. "Pointed Attacks" will be joining them soon!
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Great Book Launch!


The launch of 'Pointed Attacks', the third book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series, on November  17 at blueheronbooks.com was a great success!
A big "thank you" to Blue Heron, family, friends and neighbours who gave their support.
I enjoyed meeting readers, reading excerpts and signing books.

All three books are available at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge.
The first two books are both available at the usual e-book retailers (see links on my blog), and 'Pointed Attacks' will be there soon.

Please contact me if your have trouble obtaining a copy: contact@vickyearle.com

Happy reading!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Sneak Peek: 'Pointed Attacks'



This excerpt is close to the beginning of the book. I will be reading a couple more sections during the launch of 'Pointed Attacks' at Blue Heron Books blueheronbooks.com on Sunday November 17 between 1 and 3pm.

The landline phone rings as I reach for the kettle. Neal Carvey, the racehorse trainer for Rose and Speed, is on the other end.
“You won’t believe this,” he says.
“Are Rose and Speed okay?”
“Great. I should have said that first. This is something different. But it’s a bit of god-awful déjà vu.” His voice is sombre and raspy.
“What is it Neal?”
“There’s this trainer, he’s a friend of mine. I should say “was”, because he’s dead and I’ve just heard that it’s being treated as a suicide.”
“Oh no.” I gasp. “I’m so sorry Neal.” There’s more to this.
“He didn’t kill himself. I know he didn’t.”
“You’re saying someone killed him?” A weight lands on my shoulders as my stomach knots. I’ve barely had time to recover from my investigations into who killed my husband, Frank, and who killed the jockey, Juan. Neither death was considered to be suspicious at first, and it was assumed that Frank had committed suicide. Talk about déjà vu.
“He wouldn’t have killed himself. I’m sure of it. Can you and William look into it? You got the guy who killed Juan. Sorry, my voice is cracking up.”
“I’m just about to leave for England.”
“Oh.” I can hear dejection in his lowered, quieter voice. “I don’t know anyone else who could help.”
“Right. Well, my flight isn’t until the day after tomorrow, so I could talk to a couple of people in the meantime, and then follow up when I get back. That’s the best I can do.”
“How long will you be away?”
“I haven’t booked my return flight because I don’t know. But I can’t leave Kelly and the horses for long. I haven’t even found someone to look after Kelly yet. It’s all happened rather quickly.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
“I’ll be at the track as early as possible.”



  Copyright 2019 Vicky Earle


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Cover Reveal for 'Pointed Attacks'


This is the cover of my latest book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery series.

You're invited to the launch which will be at Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge blueheronbooks.com on Sunday, November 17, 1-3pm. I will be reading excerpts and signing books.

A limited number of boxed sets (of all three books in the series) will be available.
The purchasers of each of the first four boxed sets will receive a free gift.
All three of the soft-covered books will be on offer for a special reduced price during the launch.

Watch for the release of 'Pointed Attacks' as an e-book. It will be available soon at all your favourite e-book retailers.

This is the description of the book:

Racehorse trainer, Grayson, is found dead in his office trailer and Meg’s trainer, Neal, asks her to investigate.
The members of a syndicate, who owned five horses trained by Grayson, are under suspicion. But the list of suspects grows as Meg learns more about the horses’ unexpected poor health and disappointing performances. Meg is under pressure to uncover the elusive truth, to put a stop to both people and animals being hurt.
And a secret is revealed that has a profound effect on Meg’s personal life.

Happy reading!