Horse Community Comes Together After Fire

If you love horses and follow horse and horse racing pages on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve heard about the fires in CA that struck San Luis Rey Downs recently. If you saw the video of the groom releasing horses while choking on smoke, urging scared horses to run for their lives, you can tell how much these backside workers love all horses, not only their horses. They live for the horses. All day, all night, their focus is always on the horses first. These are the people I write about, and I hope to capture some of their spirit in my books.

In the past few days, we’ve gone from horrific scenes to scenes of miles and miles of trucks and trailers carrying horses away from the fires, displaced backstretch workers (they lost their homes, too!) lining up for fresh fruits and vegetables, clothes, toiletries…and this…this video is a tear jerker, so bring the Kleenex. One assistant trainer finds one of the horses he had to set free on Thursday. He wasn’t sure he’d ever see him again, and I bet the horse wasn’t sure he’d ever see Mr. Alvarez again. You can see it in Worthy Turk’s body language, he was happy to see his trainer.

Nobody can convince me that these huge-hearted people don’t love their horses. These are not abused horses. They’re coddled and well cared for. They’re spoiled, they’re treated for every little booboo, checked repeatedly for anything wrong. At this point, most of the horses are at Del Mar being assessed and treated for burns and smoke inhalation. They are doing everything they can, and sympathize and feel awful for the hurt horses. Backstretch workers take very good care of their horses. They love horses and think of them first, always. Next comes family, and now that most of the horses (sadly, some are still missing…ugh) are reunited with owners, trainers, jockeys, and grooms, the family is coming together to help one another.

If you’d like to donate toward helping displaced backstretch workers and horses, please click here. Read about where our donations are going here.

If you’re in Santa Barbara and can help with displaced animals, click here.

For more updates, check Facebook and Twitter. Barbara Livingston has great updates. And great photos. 😉

What I see happening from my viewpoint is a family of like-minded individuals, all with a deep love for horses, working together for the good of the horses and for their family. Just the way it’s always been.

 

 

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Turn of the Tide’s cover reveal!

Thanks, Brett Lyerla, expert graphic designer that he is. He has outdone himself this time. Beautiful cover, and my favorite so far!

“Turn”‘s release date will be January 1, 2018. If I can figure out how to pre-release, I can do that, and you’ll get it the second it’s published. I’ll also be releasing the trilogy. More on that later. Book four, “How (not) to Grieve,” will be out, hopefully, by summer 2018. It all depends on my readers, Brett’s design, and how fast he can work.

It will be released first on Amazon. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Amazon, since they’ve been blocking authors and their fans from writing reviews. Amazon is shooting themselves in the foot because of this. They’re losing authors left and right. Unfortunately, as an author with a small fan base, I can’t afford not to go with Amazon just yet. I’ll have to publish with them, but I’ll also go to Smashwords. Smashwords sends it out to a bunch of ebook sites, like Barnes and Noble.

Keep an eye out for more posts from me about the release. Fingers crossed that it all goes well and I can publish on time, Jan 1, 2018!

(Click on the cover to see the full cover, front and back.)

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“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

You’ve been thinking about getting this one, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Here’s your chance for a great deal! \o/
This weekend, catch it while it’s hot. On sale from Friday, September 8, 12:00 am EST – only $.99
September 9, 12:00 pm EST – only $1.99
September 11, 12:00 am EST, it goes back to the already low price of $2.99
Also available on Kindle Unlimited (Please close the book from the last page once you’re finished.)

Amazon Listing
Goodreads

~*~*~ Candy’s best friend, Rachel, has vanished, kidnapped from Queens, NY. Dejected, Candy has nothing left for her in New York. She hitchhikes out of town in a desperate search for a better life. In her journey, repeatedly, she thinks she’s found the answer, only for things to turn horribly wrong. In Maryland, she meets Demetri, a man who wines and dines her, but then turns on her and threatens to kill her if she leaves. Will she ever find happiness? Or is she trapped in a miserable life forever? ~*~*~

–“I read it two times!”
–“Perfect mixture of horse racing and romance…”
–“I was hooked from page one!”

(Historical Fiction, set in 1969-70, parallel sequel to “Chivalry,” Rachel’s story, and is also available on Amazon.)

Order of the Backstretch Series:
Chivalry
Wounds into Wisdom
Turn of the Tide (due for release by Nov 2017)
How (not) to Grieve (2018)
Clear Blue Sky (2018-19)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725KFWQL
https://www.goodreads.com/…/show/35124017-wounds-into-wisdom

**Suggested for readers over 18 because of mild sexual content and adult topics such as mental and physical abuse**

 

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Turn of the Tide (excerpt)

Turn of the Tide should be released in October, hopefully, if all goes well…Hmm…we all know how that goes. hehe In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt. Will Demetri figure out where Candy is and come after her?

Setting: 1970, Baltimore, MD

Candy checked constantly for Demetri but thankfully did not see him. In case he came in, she formulated a plan to sneak into the kitchen and from there, call police or run for her life out the back door of the hotel.

“He’s not here, Candy. He wasn’t at the track, either.”

“Rachel, I’m telling you, he’s probably figured it out by now and knows we’re going to Preakness. He’ll show up. I know it. I can feel it.”

“Get some coffee or tea or something. Get a drink. Relax.”

“Cwoffee?” Erick joked, regarding her Long Island pronunciation of the word. “Does it have a W in it?”

She smacked his arm. “Country bumpkin. Yeehaw.”

“Want some bud-ah with that toast?” He couldn’t stop himself.

“Do you see how he treats me?” Rachel asked Candy.

Candy couldn’t help laughing at their exchange. She was glad for the distraction and tried her own joke. “Did you used to round up the little dogies on the farm down home?”

Rachel gasped and then high-fived Candy.

“Farm?” Erick was mortified. “It was a ranch. And I bet you don’t even know what a dogie is.”

Rachel and Candy froze as they thought about it. Not a hint of recognition flickered in either of them.

Erick roared, gaining the attention from a man at the bar. “I knew it!”

Rachel shook her head at him while Candy raised her hands in expectation. “Well?” she asked.

“It’s a calf. Baby cow, for you city folk. But without a mother.”

“Aww,” Rachel and Candy whined in unison.

Candy’s eyes drifted to the television at the bar. The news was on and they were talking about NASA’s last mission, Apollo 13, which had nearly ended in tragedy. Rachel and Erick watched as well.

“That was so scary,” Rachel said once the story was over. “Mission thirteen, it happened on April thirteenth, I mean how unlucky can you get? Why did they pick that date and why didn’t they skip that number for their missions? Kind of like skipping floors in a hotel. Nobody has a thirteenth floor. Why would they make an Apollo thirteen too?” Rachel’s hands bounced up and down and her voice rose as the ridiculousness of choosing the number thirteen washed over her.

“I thought you weren’t superstitious,” Candy replied, then sipped her water. She opted not to tell them that Demetri had not allowed her to watch the news about the mission because it wasn’t something a woman should be interested in.

“I’m not.”

Erick snorted.

“Well, I’m not.” Rachel tapped his arm, then turned to Candy. “Erick’s the anti-superstitious one. He laughs at all the jocks doing their rituals and prayers and stuff. He’s not into that.”

“Are you?” Erick asked Candy.

Candy shrugged and thought for a second. She’d never put much thought into it. “I guess not. But I tell ya, if I could put a garlic chain around my neck to keep Demetri away from me, I’d do it. Whatever worked.” Mentioning his name aloud made her so sick she nearly vomited on her salad. She put one hand on her stomach and one over her mouth.

Rachel tilted her head and dropped her shoulders as if to say, “Why’d you have to bring his name up? You ruined all the fun.”

Candy lowered her head and apologized. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”

Rachel touched Candy’s hand. “It’s okay, Candy. Don’t worry about it. I know how you feel. I probably thought about that jerk that kidnapped me too much for a while, too. It took a few months to catch him. I was worried about him getting to me again.”

“That must have been terrifying.” Must have been? Candy knew it was, for she was going through that right now.

Erick nodded as Rachel responded. “It was. So, I get it. I do.”

“At Preakness, all those cameras…I know he’ll see me. I’ll be on television like you guys and he’ll see me. It doesn’t even matter where he is. He’ll see me.”

“So what happens if he sees you?” Erick asked her. “He’ll know you’re at the track, maybe he’ll arrange a trip here, fly up, and then what? He can’t hit you in front of everyone.”

“He’ll wait until I’m alone, then hit me over the head, knock me out, which he has done before, by the way, and then carry me somewhere.”

“Then someone will see a man carrying an unconscious woman and call police. They’d never let him leave the backside like that.”

“He’d hide me until it got dark.”

“Where?”

“Erick…” Rachel put her hand on Erick’s arm.

Erick readjusted his arm to hold her hand instead. “No, wait. First, we’re not going to leave you alone, anyway. But if you are alone, let’s say he finds you, he can’t just take you like that. There’s so much security at the track, it’s ridiculous. I honestly think you’d be fine at the track. No sense in being bored in your room all week.” Erick stabbed his fork into his salad and picked up a piece of chicken.

Rachel lowered her gaze, knowing Erick was right, but then glanced at Candy, who glared at the table. Erick leaned into Candy’s line of sight and she raised her head again.

“You know we’ll never let him get to you. This is all if he’s even figured out where you are. He might not have. He might still be in Miami, busy with his stable.”

Candy shrugged and fought the urge to appear rude and shake her head in disagreement. She was sure Demetri had figured it out by now. It had only been a few days, but where else would she go but back home to New York? Maybe Demetri had even figured out that Rachel was alive. Candy wished she had thought of a better plan. Again, acting before thinking. This time, she did shake her head, only at herself. She mixed up her salad with her fork and spoke. “I guess.”

“I’m not trying to put you in danger, Candy. I’m trying to help you to overcome some of that fear. Don’t let him paralyze you.”

“He might literally paralyze me.” She shuddered at the thought and believed it to be true.

“He won’t. I promise.”

Rachel nodded in agreement with her husband.

“Okay, fine. I’ll go with you guys tomorrow.”

Erick nodded and Rachel cheered.

 

 

“Candy, can you find me a hoof pick for Chiv?” Willy asked. “I can’t find one.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Candy glanced at Rachel, who was talking with a reporter. She’d been talking with them all day and Candy wished she would take a break. She hadn’t even had time for lunch. Erick was seated on a bale of hay, talking with someone. Her stomach growled as she headed for the tack room.

Before walking inside, her heart skipped a beat. Alone. She was alone. Erick and Rachel promised her she wouldn’t be alone. Demetri could grab her right now and stuff her in that tack room. He could hold her hostage. He could hold a knife to her throat. What if he…

“I got it, Candy. Never mind. I found it,” Willy called.

Lightheaded and panicked now, Candy spun on her heels and headed back for Chivalry’s stall. She ducked under the rope and went inside, then wrapped her arms around Chivalry’s neck.

“Aw, miss Candy, what’s wrong?” Willy picked up Chivalry’s front left hoof.

“Nothing. Nervous, I guess.”

“Don’t you worry about that race none. He’s got this. He’ll win no problem.”

“Yeah.” Her mind was elsewhere, though. She was paralyzed with fear, like Erick had mentioned last night at dinner. Demetri had her trapped. But she could do nothing about it. His hold was too strong, even from Miami, if that’s where he actually was.

 

“Candy, can you find me a hoof pick for Chiv?” Willy asked. “I can’t find one.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Candy glanced at Rachel, who was talking to a reporter. She’d been talking to them all day and Candy wished she would take a break. She hadn’t even had time for lunch. Erick was seated on a bale of hay, talking with someone. Her stomach growled as she headed for the tack room.

Before walking inside, her heart skipped a beat. Alone. She was alone. Erick and Rachel promised her she wouldn’t be alone. Demetri could grab her right now and stuff her in that tack room. He could hold her hostage. He could hold a knife to her throat. What if he…

“I got it, Candy. Never mind. I found it,” Willy called.

Lightheaded and panicked now, Candy spun on her heels and headed back for Chivalry’s stall. She ducked under the rope and went inside, then wrapped her arms around Chivalry’s neck.

“Aw, miss Candy, what’s wrong?” Willy picked up Chivalry’s front left hoof.

“Nothing. Nervous, I guess.”

“Don’t you worry about that race none. He’s got this. He’ll win no problem.”

“Yeah.” Her mind was elsewhere, though. She was paralyzed with fear, like Erick had mentioned last night at dinner. Demetri had her trapped. But she could do nothing about it. His hold was too strong, even from Miami, if that’s where he actually was.

 

****

Below the airplane, clouds hid the ground from Demetri and he could not tell how far from Baltimore’s Friendship International Airport he was. Though, he had been in the air for a few hours now and he knew they had to be close. As Demetri sipped his rum and Coke in his first-class seat, he was glad he was not driving. Instead, he had arranged for a small crew to drive one of his horses up for a stakes race. The owner of the horse was excited that he would be running a race the same day as the Preakness. The owner had hoped the horse would win and get a mention on television, which would raise his value and subsequently, his stud fee.

Demetri had a room at a Holiday Inn near the airport and planned to take a taxi in to Pimlico the next morning. He had a car but it was still at Pimlico, if they hadn’t towed it by now. It had been a year since he was there last. This was the place where he met the love of his life, Candy. He hoped to see her again here. He hoped she would be coming with her Hanover Farms crew from New York. He was so excited that he could hardly sleep.

 

(end)

Contact me if you’d like to be a beta reader for me before it’s published. Thanks!

A sad goodbye

A Breeder’s Cup winner in 2004, a gelding who lived most of his life at Fair Hill Training Center in MD, Better Talk Now was euthanized two days ago and his loss was a big one in the horse racing industry, especially by those who cared for him all those years, including his trainer, Graham Motion.

What do those in the industry really feel when they have to say goodbye to one of their own?

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Maggie Kimmett

 

Arrogate, my horse-crush

I have to talk about Arrogate. He’s baaack! I can’t wait to see him run again. Have you heard of him? He’s the “Best Horse in the World!” Seriously!!!

I know you’ve heard of American Pharoah, and if you’re into horse racing at all, you’ve heard of Arrogate. However, he’s still not a household name, though he solidly deserves it.

His record is astounding. Let’s start with his purse winnings. WAY more than Chrome. Get this: $17,084,600. That’s 17 MILLION. Ok, Chrome won $14 million. But still. That $3 million is a lot of money! What I could do with…oh…ok…back to the races.

Out of ten starts, he has nine wins and one third. In one of those wins, the Dubai World Cup, he went last to first to beat California Chrome! He blew the start and it didn’t look like he’d win it, but he fought hard for every last step of that race and overcame his foe by a half-length or so. It was close, but he did it! This was his most recent, and I think most incredible, win.
Let’s work backwards. Before that, he won America’s richest race, the newly formed Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Amazing!
Before that, it was the Travers in Saratoga, the graveyard of champions. Not this one! In this race, he set a stakes AND track record. He ran a mile and a quarter in under two minutes. Very few horses can do this. Secretariat’s Derby win was just under two minutes, and his record still stands. I expect Arrogate’s record to stand for a long time, too.
Before these races he ran in allowance races and two maidens. In his first start, he came in third. We can toss that one. Even Secretariat lost his first race.

Back to present – Arrogate was on a short hiatus for a couple of months, but now he’s back in training. I cannot wait to see him run again. Bob Baffert, trainer of Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (my other horse-crush), has him set for possibly three upcoming races. – “Arrogate’s pre-Breeders’ Cup agenda could include any or all of a trio of races in California, including the San Diego Handicap (G2), the TVG Pacific Classic (G1), and the Awesome Again Stakes (G1). Baffert, who won his third World Cup in March with the slate-gray runner, hasn’t made any concrete plans—but mentioned that he will know in the next few weeks if the San Diego is an option.” – Arrogate Reenters Racing’s Spotlight, Bloodhorse Magazine

To catch up on this outstanding horse, check out this Bloodhorse video. You have to see this one.

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Arrogate after winning the Pegasus World Cup. Photo: Horse Racing Nation, The Dubai Cup is a Good Decision for Arrogate

http://www.facebook.com/kristiehigginsauthor – My Facebook page

http://www.twitter.com/KAHigginsauthor – Twitter

http://www.goodreads.com/kristies2 – Goodreads

 

Reading/Reviewing

Currently I’m reading a couple of books and will be submitting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. First one looks pretty good so far. The author’s name is Angel M.B. Chadwick. I’m only in the first chapter and there’s already a grisly murder. We’ll see how this turns out.

I’ll also be beta reading for another author and helping her out with that some.

Wounds into Wisdom is selling now and I’m looking forward to some good reviews. If you’ve read it, please be sure to submit a (good) review. 😉 I truly appreciate it. Reviews sell the book, of course. What do other people think about it? That’s what really counts. I can use all the help I can get! Thanks!