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14 May 2013

Deadly.com by Cindy McDonald -VBT Guest Post and *G*i*v*e*a*w*a*y

Deadly.com | Hot Coco | Dangerous Deception

I'm delighted to welcome Cindy McDonald to my blog today.  Being an avid horsewoman myself, I was keen to know all about Traci's experience in the world of horse racing.  Here is what she has to say about her life with horses.

Over the past twenty years or so, my life has been marinated in horses. I live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a forty-five acre Thoroughbred farm. My daughters and I spend many years showing horses on the Quarter Horse circuit, traveling all summer long from one horse show to the next, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress that is held each year in the fall in Columbus, Ohio.

My husband feeds his hobby by racing our Thoroughbreds at Mountaineer Racetrack and Presque Isle Downs. Ahhh, the backside of a racetrack—now that’s where you will find a collection of characters that is an author’s dream! It is a lifestyle that few witness and even fewer understand.

The backside (the stable area) is a community. Believe me, everyone knows everyone’s business and if you’re a newbie, it won’t be long until they know everything about you—they make it their business. The people of the backside are always waiting for that one special horse that will send them over the top to some fantasy of fortunes that is always one length, or one race beyond their reach. Likewise, there are those who have the means and the horses that keep them head and shoulders above the rest, putting them on a higher social ladder than those who do not. However, the two groups meet on a nightly basis at the starting gate, and that is where it becomes Unbridled.

My husband and I don’t make our living with the horses. They are a hobby, a habit, an addiction—whatever you’d like to call it. That said I’ve spent a lot of time on the backside with the exercise riders, jockeys, and fellow trainers. I’ve watched them diligently for years. The deals, the lies, the scandals, and yes the drugs. My husband calls those who use the drugs “cheaters” and rightly so. Some of the cheaters are more cunning than others.

In 2005 I sat down at my computer and began writing a TV drama call Unbridled. I wanted to bring this lifestyle to the forefront because there was nothing on television quite like it. But I knew that horses and horse racing was a mystery to most of the public. People may not be interested in watching something that they know nothing about. So what is it that television viewers know all about? You got it--murder, suspense, and relationships.

So with the racetrack and a beautiful sprawling Thoroughbred farm called Westwood as my backdrop, the Unbridled scripts took form.
I created a family known as the Wests who were the proprietors of Westwood. The West are wealthy, but they are fair and decent people. I was tired of the shows where there were no redeeming qualities in the characters. No, this ain’t Little House on the Prairie folks, and my characters are far from perfect, but at the end of each show there was a message.
Hokay, it was a bust. While I had many lookers, including Warner Brothers, the show simply didn’t sell. One of my Hollywood script readers said to me, “Cindy don’t be stupid, make this into a book series.” and so I did.
Each of the Unbridled books feature graceful Thoroughbreds—they are not always the main part of the story, but they are always ever present. And yes, some of the situations that the characters get into are actual events that we have experienced at the racetrack—great exaggerated upon of course. For example, I’ve never been murdered.
The first book of the Unbridled Series, DEADLY.COM introduces the West family, and the farm, and the fact that online romances can be a real killer!

The second book, HOT COCO, is a romantic comedy. Coco Beardmore brings her crazy out-of-control horses to Westwood. The woman is a total train wreck—a fun read.

The third book, DANGEROUS DECEPTION, is about betrayal. An aged jockey is asked to take an easier position at Westwood. He becomes enraged and entangled in a kidnapping scheme that turns deadly. This book features a secondary storyline with a Quarter Horse rather than a Thoroughbred.

On June 1st the forth book will release. AGAINST the ROPES will feature the West’s good-hearted farm manager, Punch. When Punch helps a down-on-his-luck fighter, he begins to question his good intentions, especially when the fighter puts the people that Punch loves against the ropes, and at the very edge of disaster.

So there you have it, a book series filled with murder, suspense, relationships, and graceful Thoroughbreds as they dash hell-bent-for-leather across the finish line—hey, what else could you ask for?

by Cindy McDonald

Genre: Murder/Suspense
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: September 2, 2012

Book Description:

Make a note: never agitate a madman. Successful Thoroughbred trainer Mike West just made that mistake-and he’s gonna pay-more than he ever realized. But it’s all in the family; his sister, Kate, has been the object of the madman’s desire on the social network “My Town”. Her constant rejections have infuriated him! People who seem to be in the way start turning up dead, and he’s got Mike and Kate next on his list! In the first book of The Unbridled Series, Cindy McDonald introduces you to the world of Thoroughbred racing, while taking her cast of characters on a wild ride through a maniacs mind.

"Very well  done." -A Book Vacation

"Deadly.com" is a collection of thriller short stories compiled into one gripping narrative. -Midwest Book Reviews
For the past twenty years Cindy has helped her husband raise, train, and race Thoroughbreds at their forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables near Pittsburgh.

During those years Cindy has paid close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the track.  She found the situations and life style most intriguing. In 2005 she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life that few understand.

Cindy has recently retired from making her living as a professional choreographer. She owned and operated Cindy McDonald’s School of Dance since 1985.  She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon University to name a few.  She has choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.

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The heat of a summer night wrapped its arms around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm. The farm’s vast one hundred acres nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania outside the small town of Grantville. Westwood was a lucrative, bustling horse farm. In the mornings exercise riders would put the horses through their daily workouts. The stable hands would scuttle about the barn chattering in Spanish while cleaning stalls and filling water buckets. In the afternoon, the farm manager, Punch McMinn would deliver the horses to the racetrack where they would dash hell-bent–for-leather toward the finish line.

Not tonight. Not for Kate West anyway. Kate was only looking for peace and quiet tonight. The glimmer of candlelight and the comforting scent of sweet lilac filled the room. She took a long, gratifying sip of her Sleepy Time tea with a drizzle of honey, a tiny indulgence to help her unwind. She ran her fingers through her blonde, silky hair. Dressed in a soft cami and a pair of pajama pants, she was feeling cozy and glad to have the evening off. She often worked late into the evening as a veterinary assistant at the racetrack. Tonight was going to be a hot one.

She stretched out on the sofa in her father’s study. The sweat dribbled down her neck to between her breasts. Her cami clung to her like a contestant in a wet t-shirt competition. She propped her feet on the coffee table. Her lips curled devilishly as she thought how her father would disapprove.
Twenty-five-year-old Kate was much too old for scolding, but Eric West could be somewhat over-bearing. He loved the grandeur of the old Victorian-style farmhouse. He claimed that installing a modern convenience such as central air would compromise the home’s integrity. But he wasn’t home. She wiggled her toes, lifted her laptop from the couch, and logged onto a local networking website. The Wi-Fi delivered the site speedily to announce “MY TOWN” across the screen in bold letters.

The blueness from the laptop’s screen illuminated Kate’s face. She arched a brow and she bit her lip softly when the picture of Giorgio appeared on the screen.
He’s logged on! Oh yes! There he is a delicacy of pure eye candy.
Giorgio had smooth olive skin. His long, dark hair swept across his broad shoulders. His eyes were a cool, inviting green. His jaw was square and strong. It was as if he wasn’t real, as if he was one of those erotic-looking characters on the cover of a romance novel.
Kate chuckled to herself. She could easily picture this half-naked Adonis, embracing a buxom beauty with her brunette hair cascading over her shimmering bare shoulders with a title like Desire at Dawn scrawled over their heads.
She had been cautiously chatting with Giorgio for several weeks after he had requested her friendship on the site. His picture was so stimulating, how could she resist? A congregation of attractive woman worshipped him with suggestive messages and invitations on his page. And why wouldn’t they adore him? His half unbuttoned shirt clarifies one thing. He’s ripped.

Among the women who paid daily homage to Giorgio was Ava West, Kate’s ex-sister-in-law. Kate had a healthy disdain for her. She was unfaithful to Mike, Kate’s older brother. Ava blatantly flaunted her beauty in men’s faces to get what she desired. Tall and leggy, beautiful Ava allowed her auburn hair to dangle so she could brush it back with a coquettish smile when in seduction mode. Like Giorgio, she too had green eyes, but they weren’t soft. They were definitely piercing.

Every man’s wet dream featured Ava, and she knew it. She could be quite the smooth manipulator. Her messages to Giorgio weren’t so much suggestive as straight to the point. Ava liked men in multiples. One man, no matter how handsome, was just never enough for very long.
In general, Kate thought little of women who participated in cyber-sex; she considered it a pathetic, desperate activity. But merely flirting with a gorgeous man in cyber-space couldn’t hurt, right? She laid her fingers thoughtfully on the laptop’s keys just as a message popped onto her screen.
“Want some company?”

Her fingers jerked from the keyboard. Giorgio! Has he been waiting for me to log on? Hmmm. Maybe he prefers sultry blondes over auburn, green-eyed manipulative monsters.
The cat and mouse game she’d been playing with him for several weeks had been a lot of fun. He had suggested hooking up several times, but she wasn’t prepared for a face to face meeting. Not yet anyway.
She licked her lips in delight as her fingers found their way back into position. I have to hold him off a little longer... make him want me... make him really want to be with me. She typed, “Soon... maybe.”
In a crummy trailer park across the street from the racetrack, he waited for her answer in dark, rumpled bedroom. The old ceiling fan made a clacking sound while whirling the stench of sweat and body odor throughout the room.

In a pair of boxers and a dingy white wife-beater T-shirt, he stared at his laptop. A blop of brown meat sauce dribbled down the shirt. The wrapper from a half-eaten taco rested next to the laptop amongst five empty crumpled taco wrappers. His shoulders were damp with perspiration. He rubbed his thigh and then his groin.
Her reply popped-up on the screen. He was almost a relieved. He had created Giorgio as an alter ego to talk to her...flirt with her. Yes, possibly even be with her.

Kate was the beautiful daughter of Eric West, the imposing patriarch of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm. She‘s a woman I can only dream about. Maybe I could touch her through Giorgio. He wasn’t exactly sure how, but he would find a way. Soon...very soon.

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