Wednesday, March 7, 2012

News! (and a Free Book Offer)

by Laura Crum

My 12th book has been published—in 2012, how appropriate. The cover is by the very talented Peter Thorpe, who has done most of my covers. I think he did a wonderful job on this one. My son actually came up with the concept of a barn being “struck by lightning” as a play on the title, and Pete did a fabulous job of painting this image and doing the lettering.

“Barnstorming” takes my protagonist, equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy, into some new territory, both as she solves the mystery and in her personal life. Those who have read the series know that Gail starts out in “Cutter” as an eager 31 year old vet who is one year into her career, with a new boyfriend and a new horse. In the first ten installments in the series she ages one year in each book and goes through some important life changes. By “Chasing Cans”, the 10th book, she is 41 and the mother of a young child. (and still has to solve a dramatic mystery on the ranch next door—the woes of an amateur sleuth).

In my last two books Gail ages five years per book, as I wanted to bring her closer to my own age (I’m 54) and write about some themes that interest me now. “Barnstorming” has a lot to do with solitary trail riding and the challenges that come up. And since it is a mystery, Gail faces the challenge that I think all of us secretly wonder about. What if we met a truly nasty person out on the trail? What if that person had a gun?

All my books are very much based on things I’ve seen and done, and all the horses in my stories (and the other critters) are as true to life as I can make them. They behave like real horses (most of them are modeled on my own horses—and those who read this blog will recognize them); they don’t talk, or solve crimes, or defend their master from the bad guys (all of which I have seen and winced at in various novels). Sunny, my little palomino trail horse, has a starring role in “Barnstorming”, as he did in “Going, Gone”.

I will admit that I have been fortunate enough never to have met anyone truly nasty on my many solo trail rides, but I have met some odd/tough looking sorts and certainly had my moments of wondering “what if”, which gave me the seed of an idea for this story. I’m hoping you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And, if the book sounds interesting to you, you may have a copy for FREE. My publisher has agreed to send a free copy of “Barnstorming” to anyone in the continental US who will review the book on her/his blog or on Amazon. No fancy or lengthy reviews are necessary. Just mention you’ve read the book and say what you think of it. If you would rather not do a book review on your blog, or you don’t have a blog, you can post a short review on Amazon. So those of you who would like a FREE review copy of “Barnstorming” please email Susan Daniel at with your agreement to review and your snail mail address, and she will mail you a copy of my latest book.

I’m currently in the process of getting my older titles available on Kindle, which is taking me awhile, because I don’t have electronic copies of the first ones (written twenty years ago). So by April that job should be done. In the meantime, here’s a list of my published mysteries, with a short synopsis of each book. The first eight books (all out of print) will be available on Kindle for 99 cents each. The first three are up there now (Cutter, Hoofprints, and Roughstock) and I have every intention of getting the next five up there shortly.

I’m very excited at the thought that these books may become readily available again. I put so much of my life into writing them (twenty years), and the stories are not only good mysteries (or I think so, anyway), but also reflect a lot of my thoughts about life…and horses. I hope some of you will give them a try.

Here’s the list (I can hardly believe I’ve actually written this many books):

CUTTER: Veterinarian Gail McCarthy thought cutting horse trainer Casey Brooks was being paranoid with his stories of poisoned horses and sabotage, but when his blue roan mare returns riderless and Casey is found dead, she isn’t so sure.

HOOFPRINTS: Gail McCarthy is a horse vet with a hectic schedule, not to mention a horse, a new boyfriend, and a house payment, and her life is more than a little disrupted when she finds two dead bodies in the course of a routine call to a well known reined cowhorse barn.

ROUGHSTOCK: While attending the annual Winter Equine Seminar at Lake Tahoe, Gail finds one of her fellow horse vets dead, and another accused of his murder. The trail leads back to Gail’s hometown, and through the twists and turns of the team roping world, plunging Gail into a confrontation with an unlikely killer.

ROPED: A stalker haunting the ranch of an old friend creates a harrowing personal drama for Gail as she struggles to sort out a mystery involving animal rights and a bitter feud—and win a team roping event at the same time.

SLICKROCK: Gail embarks on a solitary pack trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with just her two horses and her dog for company. All too soon she stumbles upon a soon-to-be-dead man, and is drawn into the whirlwind of nefarious events that precipitated the tragedy.

BREAKAWAY: Faced with a depression and some big life changes, Gail struggles to find the right path as she is confronted with the strangest mystery she has ever heard of.

HAYBURNER: Gail is called out to treat injured horses when the biggest boarding stable in the county catches fire. When a second barn fire occurs nearby, Gail finds herself in the middle of the search to catch the arsonist—before any more horses or people die.

FORGED: Gail’s horseshoer is shot in her barnyard, while shoeing her horse, embroiling Gail in a dangerous attempt to capture an elusive killer.

MOONBLIND: Gail’s cousin Jenny, who runs a Thoroughbred layup farm, complains of mysterious villains who are out to destroy her business—and harm her horses. While trying to support Jenny, Gail discovers this threat is all too real.

CHASING CANS: Legendary barrel racing trainer Lindee Stone is killed when a horse flips over backwards with her. The cops are calling it an accident, but Gail witnessed the wreck and thinks there is something fishy about it.

GOING, GONE: While on a vacation in the Sierra foothills, Gail finds that her old boyfriend, Lonny Peterson, is accused of murdering a local auctioneer. In an attempt to save Lonny, Gail ends up in a harrowing horseback race with a ruthless killer.

And just released-- BARNSTORMING: In which Gail, on a solitary trail ride, discovers a fellow equestrian shot through the heart, and embarks on an intense hunt to discover why violence is haunting her local trails.

Readers sometimes ask me which books are my favorites, or which I think are the best. In a way, this is like asking a mom which child is her favorite—it’s a hard question to answer. I can tell you that Slickrock (5th book) is the overall reader favorite, and that readers either love Breakaway (6th book) or they hate it—its my “darkest” book. I really like both of these books. I can also say-- after working on my early books to get them up on Kindle-- that I get steadily better book by book through the first four novels. I am very partial to my last four books because they reflect on my current life of being a mom, but I have noticed that those who are not mothers themselves often don’t like these books as well as the early books. So those are my insights, for what they are worth.

Anyway, it is my intention that Barnstorming will be the last in the series. I always planned to write a dozen books in this series, and now that goal has been achieved. The novels took me twenty years to write, and cover twenty years in the life of one particular horsewoman (30-50), chronicling her many adventures. If you like mysteries and horses, I think you’ll like these books. And I would be very happy to get your feedback on them, and thrilled if you’d review them.

By the way, if any of you who like my books want to do me a real favor, post a positive review on Amazon. This may have quite a bit of influence on how many books I sell. I realize it’s a fussy sort of chore, and I never post reviews on Amazon myself, so I’ve got no expectations. If you happen to do it, I’ll be very appreciative.

And…I have a Facebook page now, believe it or not. I always said I wouldn’t do Facebook—guess I have to eat my words. We can be “friends”.

One more time (can you tell I’m excited about this?)-- Cutter, Hoofprints, and Roughstock—the first three books in the series -- are now available on Kindle for 99 cents. Click on the titles to go to the Kindle page for each book. This is one of my favorite covers—again by the very talented Peter Thorpe.


Martha Seaman McKee said...

Congratulations on your new title. I've read all your books and loved every one. Am a little nervous to read this one, as it's a subject that sometimes has given me the willies. I rode alone a lot and met some folks (read: men) who gave off bad vibes. I never ignored those feelings and never bothered to be polite. Just turned around and rode in the opposite direction. I'd be interested to hear what other riders did in simular situations.

Laura Crum said...

I do the same as you, Martha. My feeling is that if I swing the horse's butt at them and move off briskly, there is very little chance for them to dominate the situation. I'm always prepared to holler loudly, "Watch out, he kicks!" as I do this--if the guy should move toward me--and to kick my horse up hard and get out of there fast if I perceive any obvious threat. But so far I've never needed to do this--knock on wood.

I'm so glad you've enjoyed my books. Thanks for the comment.

Mrs. Mom said...

You know I'm in Laura! I love your books, and would be more than happy to do a review!

As to the "what if" situation.. well..... you know my background and can probably deduce my course of action pretty easily ;) I've been diagnosed with being the "SHEEPDOG" and take the steps to behave as such. (Sheepdog from the paper by a LEO, "Of Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs." I'll have to dig up the link for you if you like.)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'd love to review - but I'm not up to that one yet - must order Roughstock right now on the Kindle!

Laura Crum said...

Mrs Mom--and all--in order to get your free book, you have to send an email requesting it to Susan Daniel at Because she will be sending them out, not me. Just ask for a book, say you'll review it and give your snail mail address. Everyone who requests a book will get one--in the continental US.

So MM--I'm guessing you'd be carrying and whoever threatened you would be sorry. There's just one slight problem with that course of action. How would Phat Boy feel about a pistol being fired from his back? Unless he's trained for that, I think it, uh, might create a bigger problem than the potential assailant would be.

I'm really glad you enjoy my books--and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this latest one--I think you will like the ending (!)

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Kate. I hope you enjoy it. I really do get better through the early books--though everyone tells me I shouldn't say that (!)

Linda said...

Congratulations! I have some catching up to do, too! Have these ever been pitched for a television series?? They seem to be perfect for one.

Laura Crum said...

Linda--People have talked to me about television and movies--yes. But nothing ever came of it--which is mostly how it goes, I think. It would be great if it ever happened.

Mrs. Mom said...

I sent an email to Ms Susan right after leaving the comment ;)

I've typed out about 4 different responses to your question Laura, and each one gets longer and longer. This would make an excellent blog post topic rather than taking up a huge amount of room here.

In short? I'm an NRA certified Refuse To Be A Victim instructor. (As well as certified Pistol instructor.) My outlook on things is much different than your average bear I think-- and it gives me an advantage too. Rather than drawing my (seemingly surgically attached) firearm and firing, I'd take control of the situation by doing ONE thing:

Women are EXPECTED to cower and be compliant. Women are historically easy targets.

I refuse to be an easy target.

Bad Guy decides he is going to mess with me and he better be bending over to kiss his butt goodbye because he'll have unleashed the Furies of Hell on himself.

I've always said and will always say, my firearm is Plan B. My main weapon is my mind and the ability to USE it.

And that goes for everyone!

Laura Crum said...

That's a great point, MM. I kind of think the same way myself. My biggest plan is simply to project non-victim energy, whether I'm walking, riding..whatever. I actually feel like I'm pretty good at this...I bet you are, too. My first response to someone who gives me a bad vibe is to lift my chin, get a hard stare, and look right through them, in the vicinity of their chest. I don't look away (that's victim), but I don't look em in the eyes either--that's asking for conflict. My message is "I'm not scared of you, and if you're smart you'll leave me alone," and you know what, I've never had any problems of that sort (knock on wood). However, I have considered what would be the smartest thing to do if I met someone who seemed ill-intentioned when I was out riding alone, and I do believe my afore mentioned plan is the smartest approach. Also, folks ask if I carry a gun, and I don't, mostly because I don't think I could fire it off Sunny. He may be steady, but without practicing that skill (which I haven't), I don't think I can rely on him to stand still and not freak out. So that's why I mentioned it.

Laura Crum said...

After thinking about it, I guess I ought to explain WHY I think turning away and moving off is the best defense against a potential nasty met on the trail. First off, this is not what I would do on foot--I would not turn my back. But the situation on a horse is very different. Most people, bad guys or not, don't know much about horses and are a little afraid of them. It is very easy to intimidate them if you are horseback. But realistically, if I meet a bad guy who is a horseman (unlikely, I know), the danger lies in him grabbing the bridle reins. So I would swing the horse's butt to him to avoid that possibility--not to mention that's the kicking end and bad guy would have a hard time grabbing my leg from behind, and I'd holler 'Watch out, he kicks!" to heighten the threat, and then I'd get the hell out of there--a horse can go faster than a human, and it is much harder to hit a moving target with a gun. So that's why I advocate that particular plan of action.

AareneX said...

Hey Laura,
I'm halfway through re-reading book #3, and still enjoying them! Can't wait to read the rest of the series--I'll try to get reviews on my blog by the end of the week.

I'm noticing some themes in the books that I didn't see the first time I read them, perhaps because I read them as they were released, rather than in a gigantic gulp.

Veddddddy Inderesding stuff!

And again: congrats on the 12th book. That's a heck of an accomplishment.

AareneX said...

Afterthought, regarding weirdos in the woods, I'm very much in MM's camp: Refuse to be a Victim! Here's my blogpost on the subject:

Laura Crum said...

Thank you so much, Aarene. I'm glad you're enjoying them. And you know, I did/do put some "deeper" stuff woven in and out of these fairly light stories. I'm glad you noticed.

Laura Crum said...

And yes, I agree with MM, and I certainly refuse to be a victim, too--I was just explaining my particular plan of action to prevent victim-hood. I find it helps to be very clear on what your basic plan is--thought out ahead of time when you are not under pressure, and then be willing to modify on the spur of the moment.

Funder said...

On a different note - I really like that cover. It looks professional. Unlike a lot of major-market published books these days - to me they look like the covers were mocked up by a teenager using PS Elements in 10 minutes! Ugh.

What are you going to write next, if you're through with Gail? I'll have to remember to pop up some Amazon reviews of the books as I read them :)

Laura Crum said...

Funder--Pete Thorpe is hugely professional--he did Tony Hillerman's covers, among others.

Laura Crum said...

And, I dunno what I'm going to write next--other than blog posts. At the moment I'm hugely busy getting the first eight books up on Kindle. I'm also teaching a class on writing and publishing mysteries at the local community college. Then, I'm homeschooling my son and trying to keep up with the horses and the garden. Oh, and we're doing a small re-model on the house this spring. I'm not really stressing about not having enough projects (!)

horsegenes said...

Looking forward to reading the new book. The only problem with your books is that they are to few and far between. :) But I guess you should get to have a life too. Darn it.

Laura Crum said...

kel--You always make me smile. Thanks for the sweet comment.

Alison said...

So exciting, Laura!
(Almost as exciting as old china.) :)

doublekarabians said...

will your books be available on NOOK anytime soon????

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Alison!

doublek--Yes. We definitely plan to make the books available on NOOK. Right now I'm working really hard to get the first eight up on Kindle. As soon as that goal is accomplished, we will look into NOOK and jump through whatever hoops are needed to get the books there as well---and in any other ebook format.

doublekarabians said...

awesome! I will wait albiet imopatiently then :-)

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm so excited to read your new book. I hope you give some good advice on what to do to the bad guy. It could come in handy someday. I think Slickrock is my favorite book just because I've never gone out trailriding like that before. I can "live" through your books. Isn't that what reading is all about?

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm so excited to read your new book. I hope you give some good advice on what to do to the bad guy. It could come in handy someday. I think Slickrock is my favorite book just because I've never gone out trailriding like that before. I can "live" through your books. Isn't that what reading is all about?

Laura Crum said...

Thanks Voyager. Slickrock is the overall favorite, I've found.