Friday, 27 March 2020

Lions Raw is 24 today!


Lions Raw is 24 today, March 27, 2020.
This picture of her and me, taken by William Bell, appears on the back of my most recent cozy: "Pointed Attacks", book 3 in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series.
(NB My e-book promotion ends on March 31! Vicky's e-books)

This video shows Lions Raw as a foal, followed by her first race!
Lions Raw foal and first race

Lions Raw was an excellent thoroughbred racehorse and a wonderful broodmare. All but one of her foals were winners at Woodbine. One ran in the Queen's Plate! Lions Bay came 6th despite a serious problem with a shoe. We were proud to be part of that incredible experience.

Her granddaughter, I'm a Kittyhawk, won three stakes races!
I'm a Kittyhawk had her first foal two years ago. He's called I'm Dashing and we hope he will race later this year or next. He's doing some light training at a farm right now.

We feel so fortunate to have Lions Raw as part of our family. She and her daughter, I'm a Cheetah, are enjoying a pleasant retirement on our farm.
Here's a poor quality video of Lions Raw beating 'the boys' on August 19, 2000. She's the one with the white flash on her face, number 7.
Lions Raw beats the boys

We wish Lions Raw many happy returns of the day!!

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Second Annual Spring E-book Promotion!



If you like cozy mysteries, you'll love the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series!
They are set in the crazy world of horse-racing and of country life. Lots of fun to read! 

I'm offering the e-book versions of all three at a special discount as a Spring Promotion, during the month of March 2020 only. 
The reductions I've requested the e-book retailers to put into effect are about 50% for What Happened to Frank?; 33% for Over Frank's Dead Body; and 25% for Pointed Attacks.

Here is where you can find quick links to my books: Vicky's Books
Click on each book covers to get the link to your favourite e-book retailer.

Or, you can click on these links:

Soft-cover versions are available at Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge, Ontario blueheronbooks.com

If  you can't get to Blue Heron, please email me at contact@vickyearle.com

Boxed sets of the three books in the Meg Sheppard Series are available upon request, while supplies last. Please email me. 

And don't forget to leave a review with your e-book retailer, or at Goodreads, or email me. 
Thank you!!!!

Here are excerpts from a recent review by Jennifer Morrison, Four-time Sovereign Award Winner, Freelance Horse-racing Writer, Handicapper, Ajax Downs Commentator:

On What Happened to Frank?
"...This book will take you on exciting twists that will keep you guessing!"
On Over Frank's Dead Body
"If you thought book#1 in the Meg Sheppard series had you scratching your head at the goings on surrounding her husband Frank, then "Over Frank's Dead Body" will keep you in suspense all over again...Finding out what is behind all of this takes the reader on another mind bender in Book 2 from Vicky Earle."

Happy Reading!

PS I'm currently writing the fourth book in the series.

PPS You can follow me on my blog and/or twitter and/or instagram


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Book Reviews and Valentine's Day!


Yes, the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series are cozies, but that's not all they are!

One of my readers, William Bell, says it best:

"Over Frank's Body is much more than a mystery ... it's also a treatise on love. While I found myself trying to sift through the clues along with my new favourite, albeit somewhat reluctant sleuth Meg, to connect the dots and solve the crime, I also realized that I was witnessing the disturbingly wide scope of love's power. Ms. Earle skillfully reveals Meg Sheppard to us in ways that makes the reader share in the main character's emotional journey - sad, angry, and tortured at one moment, and then hopeful, grateful and even blissful the next. Love is perhaps life's greatest mystery and this book is a reminder as to why."

Another reader, Jennifer Morrison (Four-time Sovereign Award Winner, Freelance Horse-racing Writer, Handicapper and Ajax Downs Commentator) alludes to one aspect of the underlying love story (there is more in the book!) in her recent review of What Happened to Frank?:

"From Canadian writer Vicky Earle comes the first book of the Meg Sheppard Mystery series, where we meet the strong yet vulnerable Meg Sheppard on the one-year anniversary of her husband Frank's sudden and perplexing death in a car accident. She has been left her beloved farm, horses and of course her dog but now, a year later, has summoned up the courage to find out what let to Frank's untimely death.
Intertwining family history from England with plenty of friends and acquaintances from home, Meg begins with Frank's work in racing, in particular, his pledge to rid the horse racing industry of a new anti-inflammatory drug. In her pursuit of truth Meg finds many more questions than answers at first, did Frank really love her? Did he stage his own death? If he didn't, who killed him?
The book will take you on exciting twists that will keep you guessing!"

And in Pointed Attacks, the third in the series, you won't be disappointed! Without giving the story away, Meg learns a secret that has a profound affect on her personal life. This secret, as well as her relationship with her partner, are intertwined with the mystery Meg sets out to solve: the death of racehorse trainer Grayson. 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 put a stop to both people and animals being hurt.

Link to my e-books: Meg Sheppard Mystery Series
Please leave a review! Thank you!

Soft-cover books available at blueheronbooks.com
Please send me your review: contact@vickyearle.com Thank you!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!





Saturday, 25 January 2020

Writing Stories

I am an author of cozy mysteries: the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series, which can be found on Amazon at amazon.com/author/vickyearle but I also enjoy writing short stories. As a member of the Uxbridge Writers' Circle, I get the chance to participate in the "Word Challenge": we each select a word and then we write a short story using all of these words. We also write a very short story "on the spot", limited to ten minutes, using various prompts, such as photographs.
This is one of the Word Challenge stories I wrote. The words I had to use are in italics.
I hope you enjoy it!

Nuptial Bliss

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay



Newly-weds are supposed to continue in nuptial bliss at least until they return home from the honeymoon.
           
The wedding was held in a fantasy world created by Don, and Sybil had been enraptured from beginning to end. Her cheeks hurt from holding a smile for so many hours. Don had said that he was determined to make her smile, to show off the perfect, whitened teeth she hid so well most of the time. He said she took life too seriously, she needed to lighten up.
            The ceremony took place in a simulated ancient Greek temple, with its ionic columns wrapped in green vines and white cone-shaped flowers. The marble floor was covered in perfumed pink rose petals, and a harpist plucked her strings, surrounding the wedding party with heavenly music. Sybil half-expected to see angels float down from the bright blue ceiling.
            Yes, it was perfect. Sybil was certain that she’d done the right thing in agreeing to marry Don, having quashed the doubts stirred up by her father and brother. Both of them thought it was the wrong thing to do – for her to marry a subordinate. At the very least, Don should leave her father’s company. It just wouldn’t work. And her father was adamant that there was no room for Don at the top.
            Sybil stood, breathing in the soft scent of the petals, convinced that she and Don would live happily ever after, just like the romance novels (which she loved) promised with their happy endings.
            Don and Sybil had agreed to delay their honeymoon until after the company’s year-end, but each started planning the special vacation a couple of days after the wedding.
            Sybil wanted a simple honeymoon, to hike along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, perhaps, staying at various bed and breakfast places. Being outdoors, walking in nature, listening to birds, discovering silvery spider webs, acted like a tonic for Sybil. She had her most creative ideas while hiking in the woods - often solving problems, sometimes bringing issues into a more balanced perspective, and always feeling re-energized, ready to get back to work.
She knew Don loved the outdoors too, so she was certain it would be easy to plan this get-away, together.
But Don had jumped the gun, and had booked a week at a ranch in Wyoming. When he told her this news, his smile was broader than Sybil’s had been on their wedding day, if that was possible. Don knew she loved the outdoors. They would be helping in the round-up – gathering hundreds of cattle scattered across the summer range, which covered thousands of mountainous and forested acres.
When Sybil said she hadn’t ridden a horse since she was a little girl, Don’s eyes sparkled as he told her that they offered riding lessons, and taught riders the basic techniques used in cattle work. He said that the clincher was that the food was fantastic, and there would be lots of it.
Sybil’s stomach fluttered. Her cheeks flushed and burned. She wasn’t used to decisions being made for her. She was accustomed to her position of authority, of having her opinion respected, and of having the final say on just about everything that affected her life and work.
Don brought up the website on his laptop and, as he became more animated, gesturing, pointing and peering, Sybil retreated, sitting back, keeping quiet, fiddling with her wedding ring.
“Oh, aren’t you interested?” Don asked, as he turned to look at her.
“It’s not my idea of a honeymoon.”
“You don’t want to go to one of those shitty resorts, do you? Or one of those floating prisons?”
“No.”
“Well, then, this is the thing.” He turns back to the laptop, quiet now, rapt in the pictures and lengthy description.
Sybil stood up as a sigh escaped from between her dry lips.
“Okay, then,” Don said.
Sybil turned, anticipating that he would cancel the booking.
“I’ll take Pete with me. You don’t have to go.”
That’s the moment when Sybil decided to cancel the marriage.
And Don didn’t return to work after his vacation on the ranch.
Their nuptial bliss didn’t even make it to the honeymoon.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019


           

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Another Free Story by Vicky Earle: "Too Close For Comfort"


This story was written using prompts provided by Uxbridge Writers' Circle members - these words are shown in italics.


The woman’s gaudy skirt swirled around her as she swept up some of the books and magazines in her arms, to make a space for me to sit. Millions of dust particles were disturbed and caught in the sun’s rays that had forced their way through the dirty window pane.
            Her bare toes brandished long nails that had the remnants of colour at their tips. I didn’t get a good look. I didn’t want to stare at her grubby, flaky feet.
            This wasn’t an ideal time to meet, she’d told me. The mornings offered her the best creative hours, when the words flowed and the verses gathered on the paper. She always wrote with pen on paper, she’d let me know.
            A terra-cotta sculpture caught my eye and she noticed my interest. She explained that she’d been a sculptor once, before it happened. The fact that she made reference to the tragedy, albeit fleeting, gave me an opening.
            “As you know, Serena, I’m here as a representative of the private investigator hired by your ex-husband’s father.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “We’ve re-opened the case.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “This must be difficult for you, but please tell me all you know about what happened. I’ll be recording this for my use, to help me with my notes.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “I realize you’ve told the police, probably several times, but please would you tell me again.”
            I watched as she sat on a wooden chair behind a dark table that was covered in papers. I wondered what she was thinking. Her reminiscence about the events surrounding the death of her son would be clouded by time and distorted by grief.
            A giggle. I was certain I heard a giggle. She stood up and threw her hands into the air.
            “I won’t tell you what I said before.”
            I kept silent and watched as she twirled on the spot, her skirt ballooning out, the papers curling up in the breeze.
            “I won’t tell you the lies.”
            “I’m here to get the truth,” I said, somewhat bewildered by her behaviour, wondering if the unbearable grief of losing her son had sent her stark raving mad.
            “I’m not mad. I’m just sad. See, the poet can’t help it.”
            “Okay, tell me.”
            She sat down on the chair again, rested her elbows on some papers and stared at me.
            “The only problem is that you won’t believe it.”
            “Try me.”
            “Bert, …”
            “Your husband, or rather your ex-husband.”
            “Bert told Len he must be home by midnight. Len drove Bert’s Mercedes home at three in the morning and it had a dent in the roof and was covered in mud. You know all that.”
            “I do, from your statement. The Mercedes was found in the driveway.”
            “Now the truth part. Bert was angry. He was really mad. I screamed at him to leave Len alone, but he wouldn’t. He lost it. You know he beat me up just about every evening, right?”
            “I didn’t know.”
            “Violent man. Angry man. Hateful.”
            “What happened?’
            “Bert punched Len so hard that he fell and hit his head on the hall tiles. I screamed some more. I was half-way down the stairs. Bert threw the small sculpture at me, that I’d put on the hall table. It smashed on my shoulder and I fell down the stairs. I couldn’t move for a couple of minutes. I don’t know why. Fear, pain, not sure.”
            She smiled.
            “It feels so good to tell someone. Now that fiend of an ex is sick, I can tell you the truth.”
            “Please go on.”
            “La, la, la,” she sang. Her behaviour shook me and confirmed my suspicions.
            “I’m not making this up,” she said, looking straight at me through a web of wispy hairs hanging over her face. “Bert dragged Len into the living room. I made myself crawl on my stomach to the doorway. I don’t think I was screaming anymore We had large, puffy cushions on the sofas and chairs in there. Bert took one of them, the soft stripy one, and put it over Len’s face. I thought Bert would do the same to me. I had to get out of there. I crawled backwards down the basement stairs.”
            “You were found outside in the pool hut.”
            “I don’t remember that part.”
            “And Len was found in the garage.”
            “Yeah, yeah. Where Bert hung him up to look like suicide.”
            “The reason you feel free to tell me this now…”
            “Is because Bert’s sick and can’t hurt me any more. La, la, la.”
            “What’s wrong with him?”
            “He’s an alcoholic. You know, liver stuff, brain function. It’s caught up with him.”
            “I didn’t know that. What he said doesn’t match with what you just told me.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “Nothing in any of the statements or evidence pointed to him. He wasn’t under suspicion.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “Was there evidence of his physical abuse of you? Did you ever go to the police or a hospital or your doctor?”
            “No.”
            “So, your injuries didn’t require medical attention?”
            “No.”
            “Did you get checked out after you were found in the pool hut that night?”
            “No.”
            “But you must have appeared to be injured. You said you were hit by a sculpture and you fell down the stairs and could only crawl on your stomach.”
            “Yeah, yeah.”
            “But Bert had bruises on his head and neck that he couldn’t explain.”
            “Yeah, yeah. Time for you to go.”
            “Why?”
            “Because you don’t understand.” She stood and turned to face the window.  “Bert and Len ridiculed me day and night, night and day, demeaned me, made me feel worthless. That’s why. I wasn’t going to take the abuse any more. They were both so blind drunk that night that they had no clue what happened. I couldn’t get Bert to die. He was too strong and I was too tired, after Len.”
            “That explains Bert’s injuries.”
            “Bert told the police that he couldn’t remember anything, but I wasn’t sure. Now he’s so sick he can’t remember anything, for certain. I’m free. La, la, la.” She whips round, her skirt catching on the chair and it crashes onto the floor. “Except you’re here.” Her steel-grey eyes stared at me with unwavering intensity. Her chest heaved and I could smell her sour breath.
            I’d set my personal alarm off in time. My trusty ex-cop turned private investigator colleague, Clive, appeared in my peripheral vision just as Serena lunged towards me, hands extended as if she planned to grab my neck. I felt the warmth of her body and saw her jagged finger nails.
            It was a close call.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019
           
            


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!)