Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baby Update!

I can't believe she's almost two months old and I haven't seen her yet.  I'm spending an entire week with her around thanksgiving.  So excited!
 She's looks like an angel...



Sleeping beauty



I'm ready for the cold weather, sort of.  Grandma needs to bring the rest of my outfit.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fire Horse Reviewed









Fire Horse was reviewed on GGR-Review.com by Steve with the rating of interesting and well written on 10/11/2013. 


Here's another chance to win Fire Horse and the sequel Ride-Off  by clicking on the Goodreads link.  The contest runs for a month and the winner will receive 2 signed paperbacks. 



 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 



   

        Ride-Off by Mickie B. Ashling
   


   

     


          Ride-Off
     


     


          by Mickie B. Ashling
     



     

         
            Giveaway ends November 23, 2013.
         

         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

     

   

   


      Enter to win

Giveaway!

                                                    

I've just listed Ride-Off on Goodreads as a giveaway.  The winner will receive a signed paperback  (along with a signed copy of Fire Horse) .  The contest runs for a month and is open to residents of the US, Canada, Australia, and UK.  Two copies of Ride-Off have been listed, but in actuality, I'm giving away 4 books.  The giveaway goes live in 24 hours.  Click on the link for more details.
  
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/69775-ride-off

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this review from Amos Lassen yesterday.  Here's what he has to say about Ride-Off.

http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com/?p=25180#comment-32033 

And here's another honest review from the scarf princess, Jody.  In my Polo universe, anything goes, and trust me, there's a lot happening in the Fawkes-Schnell clan.  Throw in Ned Temple and his young lover, Bandi, plus a charming new addition to the cast in the form of cross-dressing, make-up artist, Jeremy Starr, and a soap opera is born.  

http://wowfromthescarfprincess.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-spotlight-for-ride-off-by-mickie-b.html

Friday, October 18, 2013

Give Away Winners!







Here are the winners of my contest.  Spike 7451 and Whitestar.  Those of you who'd like another chance at a give away, hop on over to Sid Love's blog and comment.  Here's the link: http://sidlove.wordpress.com/

Will the winners please email me at mickie.ashling at gmail dot com or comment on this post.  I need your email address and the format of choice.  I did promise a signed paperback if either of you are interested.

If I don't hear back in 48 hours I'll have to choose another winner.  Thanks to everyone for stopping by. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ride-Off Excerpt and Contest

To celebrate the release of my latest novel, Ride-Off,  I'm offering a signed paperback (or e-book if  you'd prefer) to the 14th person who comments, since this is my 14th published novel.  All you have to do is leave your name and tell me you want the book.  For anyone else who'd like to participate, leave a comment, and I'll draw another random winner.  The only catch is you have to respond within 48 hours since the book releases on Friday, October 18.  

So far, this is your third chance to win.  First is over at Chris' blog, Stumbling Over Chaos (see my previous post and easy click to link), the next is on Facebook or LJ, and lastly, here.  So three chances all in all to win a freebie.

Ride-Off is a sequel to Fire Horse which released last April.  Readers were drawn to this epic romance spanning 35 years.  Two years have passed since our lovers were reunited and now the hard part begins.  Trying to blend families is always a challenge, especially when the players are no longer children.

Preston and Konrad find themselves caught in one contentious argument after another as their strong-willed progeny vie for their places in this new family dynamic.  We've met or heard about most of these characters in Fire Horse but now we get a chance to peel off layers and find out what makes them do what they do.  There are a couple of new characters that insinuate themselves into this family saga.  Some are most welcome, and others, not so much.  Here's an except that hasn't been posted anywhere else.  Read, enjoy, and don't forget to comment to enter the contest.  For those of you who would rather bet on a sure thing, the buy link will take you directly to the Dreamspinner site where you can pre-order the book. 

Here's the excerpt.....



“My God,” Preston exclaimed when he opened the door of his suite and set eyes on his errant daughter for the first time in years. “You’re lovely.”
“Nice to see you too,” Sasha said, inserting himself between the pair. He was hardly able to keep the sneer out of his voice. Clearly, sharing the spotlight with anyone, even his half sister, bothered him more than he cared to admit.
Preston tore his eyes away from Paloma and rewarded his son with a kiss and a hearty slap on the back. “How are you holding up, kiddo?”
“I’m fine, Dad.”
Satisfied, Preston turned back to the young woman who’d been watching the exchange intently. “This is unexpected, Paloma.”
“Are you upset?”
“Not unless your mother has called Interpol.”
“I’ll get in touch with her once I’m settled,” Paloma assured him.
“She must be out of her mind wondering where you are. You should call her right now.”
“I don’t want to.”
He picked up the phone and handed it to her.
“But I haven’t met anyone,” she whined. “Won’t you introduce me to your companions?”
Preston frowned and took a deep breath, then reached for Paloma’s hand, and led her toward a door which opened after one knock. “Kon, this is Paloma.”
“What a nice surprise,” Konrad said, shaking her hand and then drawing her forward for a kiss. “I’d hoped to meet you someday, and here you are.” He was staring at her with a look of wonder written all over his face. “You’re Preston’s spitting image.”
“May I call you Uncle?” she asked.
“I’d be mighty pleased if you would, young lady.”
“Come on,” Pres said impatiently, pulling her toward another door on the opposite side of the large seating area.
Sasha couldn’t help but notice the suite was twice the size of his apartment and probably cost more per night than his monthly rent. He wondered what it would be like to live as a prince instead of a starving young pauper. He tracked his sister’s progress and watched when Bandi opened his bedroom door and studied Paloma with interest. His cousin was in a red polo shirt, with the RL logo on the pocket, and a pair of faded jeans that hugged his slim hips, drawing attention to his bulging package. Paloma scanned him from top to bottom and settled on one spot just below the sterling silver buckle. She looked a little dazed when Bandi reached out to shake her hand, drawing her eyes away from his groin.
Mu...mucho gusto," she stammered, reverting to Spanish. She was blushing and looked ill at ease while Bandi appeared unaffected by the stir he was causing.
Ned peeked over Bandi’s shoulder to see what was going on. When he saw Paloma, his face lit up and he greeted her with enthusiasm, studying her as if she were some rare archeological find. “My goodness,” he exclaimed, “there’s no denying your sire, is there?”
“Ned,” Pres rebuked. “She’s not a prized bull.”
“No, but she’s definitely a thoroughbred. Who knew you could make such lovely children, Preston?”
Sasha noticed that his father appeared entirely too smug for someone who’d barely had a hand in Paloma’s upbringing. Being a baby daddy hardly counted as parenting in Sasha’s book.
“Something good did come out of my wild youth,” Pres responded. “Speaking of parents,” he said, turning Paloma toward the sitting room and the phone, “let’s go call your mother.”
“I wish we could wait until I’m settled,” Paloma protested.
“Trust me,” he said confidently. “This will go down much better if we keep her informed every step of the way.”
Paloma rolled her eyes but sat down on the chair closest to the phone while the hotel operator connected them. Within minutes, she was defending her impetuous decision to come to America in faltering Spanish. She spoke slowly, so Sasha could understand every other word, and it appeared the conversation was not going the way she’d planned. Apparently Preston caught the gist as well and hit the button, putting the other party on speakerphone.
“Lorena,” he boomed, “Preston here. Paloma is safe so get off your high horse for a minute and let the girl talk.”
Everyone listened while the voice on the other end screeched her reply in guttural Spanish. “I know she was wrong to run off,” Preston interrupted, hoping to reassure the harried female on the other line, “but she’s with family so you can stop worrying.”
It wasn’t working, because there were more invectives, and she shifted her anger to Preston as if all of this was his fault.
Paloma looked mortified as the conversation went from bad to worse. She began chewing on a lock of her hair in a nervous gesture. Every time she tried to explain, her mother cut her off with a sharp reply. For the first time since her arrival, Sasha felt sympathetic. Hell, he would have run away as well if his mother treated him like a child, which was obviously the case. Preston put an end to the bitter diatribe by pressing the disconnect button.
“Well, that went well,” he remarked.
Paloma let out an explosive breath and began to cry. He gathered her in his arms and patted her on the back as if she were, indeed, ten years old, instead of a grown woman. “Don’t you worry about a thing, honey.”
“Will you send me back?” she blubbered.
“No.”
“Thank you,” she replied. The relief on her face was pitiful. “She’s so controlling,” Paloma added in case anyone was too dumb to figure it out.
“She had to let you go at some point,” Preston mused. “We’ll get you set up with school and a place to live before we call her back, okay?”
She nodded, looking at her father like he was her savior.
“Is anyone in the mood for a drink?” Sasha asked. “I could use a frozen margarita myself.”
“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all night,” Preston replied. “Do you need a minute to fix your face?” he asked Paloma.
She gave him a grateful look and escaped into one of the bedrooms.
“That poor girl,” Ned commented.
“Now maybe you can understand why the marriage didn’t work out,” Preston said humorlessly.
“Bullocks,” Ned rebuked. “It didn’t work out because Lorena didn’t have a penis.”
Everyone erupted into laughter, easing the tension brought on by the melodramatic phone call.
When Paloma reappeared, she looked much more serene. She’d brushed her hair and it fell softly on her shoulders in shiny waves. Her lips glowed with a fresh application of plum-colored lip gloss, and the mischievous sparkle was back in her eyes. Preston smiled at her appreciatively and the girl visibly preened under his scrutiny.
It was a joint decision to have dinner at The Champagne Bar in the hotel rather than trying to find available seating for six at another five-star restaurant in town on a Friday night. As guests, they’d be guaranteed a table without a long wait. Preston ordered a round of drinks for everyone, and they opted to wait in their suite until the table was ready downstairs.
Sasha’s phone chimed and he saw that Jeremy had sent him a text telling him he’d procured the tickets for tomorrow night’s show. Did he want them delivered in person or left at the “Will Call” window?
“Dad, would you mind if Jeremy joined us?” Sasha asked, breaking into the usual discussion on polo. Paloma was listening intently while sipping her glass of white wine.
“Who’s Jeremy?” Preston asked.
“Dad,” Sasha said, sighing impatiently. “You’ve met him once before.”
“Is he the one with the eyeliner?” Preston asked.
Sasha nodded. “He’s got the tickets for tomorrow’s performance.”
“Sure. I’ll have them add another chair for dinner.”
Sasha texted : bring tickets but ditch Barbra. u’ve been invited to dinner. Jeremy would be thrilled. He’d met Preston briefly and was eager to meet everyone else in the family. He’d heard the tales and ogled the photos of polo players but tonight would be his first face-to-face appearance with the lot. Sasha hoped he’d make a good impression. He wasn’t sure how they’d handle Jem’s sequined alter ego, so he thought it best to leave her behind.
He should have known better. When Jeremy showed up, he wasn’t in drag, but he may as well have been. His eyes were lined, his lashes were darkened with navy blue mascara, and he’d glossed his lips to make them exceedingly kissable. Black leather pants showed off his long legs, and the platform boots made him appear taller than the tallest man in the room. Mouths gaped as he sauntered in, unwinding the hot pink scarf from around his neck. “Ta-dah,” he declared, pirouetting gracefully. Sasha avoided rolling his eyes  but couldn’t help the grin that curved his lips. He noticed that Uncle Ned was smiling as well, and he was the first to step forward and introduce himself.
“Ned Temple,” he said, extending his hand.
“My pleasure, sir; I’ve heard wonderful things about you.”
“I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage,” Ned replied. “I know nothing about you.” Turning to Sasha, Ned asked, “Why have you never mentioned Jeremy before?”
Jeremy countered immediately. “I’m sure it was an oversight.”
Catching his tone, Sasha could tell his best friend was a little hurt he’d never mentioned his name in passing. “Jeremy’s the company makeup artist,” Sasha said, “and the only person in the world who understands theater people. I rely on his advice as well as his company,” he added, hoping that praise would make a difference.
“Oh, brother,” Jeremy replied, masking his emotions with a nonchalant air. “Sash exaggerates. You know how these actors are, don’t you, Ned? May I call you Ned?”
“By all means,” Uncle Ned said, visibly amused.
Continuing, Jeremy declaimed, “Actors are worse than children, vying for my attention constantly. I’ve learned to grunt and nod at proper intervals while they talk incessantly about themselves. All of a sudden I’m the best friend and the best listener,” Jeremy added, slinging his own arrow.
“Whatever,” Sasha countered. “Isn’t it time to go downstairs?” The rest of the group had been listening to the exchange between Ned and Jeremy with the rapt attention of moviegoers watching a 3D horror show. They couldn’t seem to take their eyes off the flamboyant young man. “Hello!” Sasha called out again. “Is anyone listening?”
Preston started when he heard Sasha’s voice and picked up the house phone to check on their table. After a second, he put it down. “They’re ready for us,” he said, giving Kon a look that spoke volumes. Anyone who wasn't a polo player or somehow involved in the sport was treated like an alien, and that included artists and other intriguing theater personalities. Ned, on the other hand, was his usual gracious self and offered Jeremy an arm while Bandi trailed behind.
Seizing her chance, Paloma sidled up to Bandi and held his hand tentatively. “Shall we go?”
“What?” Bandi said, taking his eyes off Jeremy for a second. He glanced down at their clasped hands and gently pulled away. “After you.”
Sasha nudged Paloma aside and let the rest of the group step into the waiting elevator. When the doors closed with a whisper he rounded on Paloma. “Are you crazy? Bandi is gay, and furthermore, he’s your cousin. Keep your distance!”
Paloma looked at him in surprise and raised one eyebrow in a classic Preston move. “He’s not my cousin.”
“Of course he is.”
She shook her head. “He’s yours, not mine; we have different fathers."
“Oh.”
Eres un tonto," she said as an aside.
“I’m not stupid.”
“Oh, so you do understand Spanish.”
“Bits and pieces. I know when I’m being insulted, so you can stuff your remarks.”
“I will if you stop meddling in my life.”


  Buy or pre-order here:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4264

   




Friday, October 11, 2013

Contest!


There's a twofer going on over at Stumbling Over Chaos.  Click on the link and throw your name in the hat for a chance to win Ride-Off and Fire Horse (if you haven't read it yet).  Also, anyone who comments on this post will be eligible for another drawing.  Winner will be announced on Friday, October 18 when Ride-Off releases. 


http://www.stumblingoverchaos.com/archives/25066


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blog Tour!


I've scheduled a blog tour to celebrate the upcoming release of my novel, Ride-Off.   Feel free to stop by any of the posted blogs to read an excerpt and throw your name in the hat for a freebie.  Ride-Off is a sequel to Fire Horse and opens two years after the first book ends.  The novel will release on Friday, October 18 and is now available for pre-order on the Dreamspinner Coming Soon page.

Here are the links:

First up -Chris' very interesting and informative blog.  Stumbling Over Chaos.  

Contest goes live at 2 am CDT on October 10: http://www.stumblingoverchaos.com/archives/25066


Raine Delight- October 10thhttp://authorrainedelight.wordpress.com/
 
Words of Wisdom- October 12thhttp://wowfromthescarfprincess.blogspot.com/
 
Sid Love-October 15th-   http://sidlove.wordpress.com/
 
Eden Winters- October 16thhttp://www.edenwinters.com/
 
Dawn's Reading Nook- October 19th- http://dawnsreadingnook.blogspot.com/

Uk Tour...final

On day 16 we crossed by ferry from Rosslare across St. George's Channel to Pembroke and drove through South Wales to Cardiff.  Roomie and I were enthralled when we saw the castle, so we threw our bags in the hotel room, and ran out to catch the last private tour of the day.  Our tour guide was Welsh and looked a little like an older Richard Burton (who's from there it turns out).  He was charming and knowledgeable and had a wicked sense of humor.  We wanted to bring him home:) I guess I should mention that a lot of cool people are Welsh; Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Jones, Christian Bale, Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood), Russel T. Davies (Queer as Folk, Torchwood writer) Shirley Bassey and a ton more.  There was something about this castle that hit a nerve.  Maybe I lived there in a past life.  It reminded me a lot of Scotland which isn't surprising since their neighbors.  Same ambiance...wild and sort of mysterious in a barbaric kind of way.  I loved it!  

Cardiff Castle

I climbed all those damn stairs to get some photos.  It was worth the effort.

This is one of the shots from up in the tower.  I guess they used it for killing the enemy.
Entrance to the Castle. 
More shots of the bell tower.
Georgian Bath
The next day we were off to Bath where we saw the hot springs, and toured the city.  It's a beautiful town and reminded me of Florence Italy.  In fact, they have a bridge that's similar to the Ponte Vecchio with quaint shops along the top.  I tried my first Cornish pie in Bath and became a fan.  It's cheap and filling and was apparently invented for the coal miners.  It's the English version of a Calzone or a Mexican empanada.  Yummy...
This is the bridge like the one in Florence.

Another view of that bridge

This is a park in the middle of the city.  It's quite large and I would have liked to explore it further but we ran out of time.  There's only so much you can see in two hours.









We stopped at Stonehenge on our way to Plymouth and walked among the stones.  Outlander fans will be disappointed to hear nothing happened to me.  I didn't disappear into another century, much as I wanted to.  Writers are really weird, you know?  We think about the craziest things when we're strolling around. 

Plymouth-I had the best dinner of fish and chips at one of the restaurants shown above.  Great historical city with lots to do.  We were there for two days and really enjoyed the break from the hectic schedule.

Back to London for the end of the tour.  21 days is a long time to be in a bus.  The pace is very hectic.  I'm so glad I went on an exercise program for an entire year to prepare.  It's definitely not the kind of trip you want to take if you can't walk long distances or climb a bunch of stairs.  Lifting suitcases on and off the bus is sometimes required if the porters are delayed.  The trip gave me a wonderful overview and now I know what places I'd like to see in-depth when I have another opportunity to go back.  I would like to see more of Scotland and Wales.  Ireland is gorgeous as well.  I have so many more photos and stories but I think this will hold us for now....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UK Adventure...Part 3...


This is a stock shot because it was foggy that day and my photos suck


Day 10 found us crossing the border into North Wales,and driving through the incomparable landscapes of Snowdonia National Park on our way to Holyhead for the ferry crossing to Dublin, Ireland. The ferry ride is fuss-free and very relaxing.  The entire bus is driven onto the ferry, and once parked, passengers are allowed to go up to the higher decks to have a snack and chill.  I took the opportunity to hide and write.  You can do a lot good writing in 3 hours.  My fellow travelers dreaded the ferry ride but I looked forward to the free time.  


Oscar Wilde
When we arrived in Dublin, the first thing I saw was this great sculpture of Oscar Wilde.  We then toured Trinity College and I had a chance to see the 1,200 year-old book of Kells and the great old library.  Some of our fellow traveler went to the Guinness Storehouse that evening but roomie and I opted out.  The next morning we traveled across the Curragh to the Irish National Stud at Kildare.  Since I'm immersed in a series about horses, I really enjoyed this tour and came away with a plot bunny for book 3 in the Polo Series.  When I die and come back an animal, I'd like to be one of the stallions at this place.  They are spoiled rotten and do nothing all day but eat, sleep, and yeah....that....repeatedly.  There were 3 stallions and each one had its own meadow.  God forbid, they should share.  No way, no how.  The little darlings have the most beautiful stalls, fully enclosed, with skylights and about 2 feet of hay so they don't hurt their bums when they lie down at night.  Yeah, when I die, I want to be an Irish stallion....

The stables

One of the mares ...

Outside the individual stalls...notice the flowers.  They even have skylights!  
These little guys are Falabellas.  The Falabella is a rare Argentinian breed of miniature horse with only a few thousand existing worldwide.  They are adorable.  



Day 13-Cliffs of Moher.  Breathtaking,  despite the mist...

 Next stop, Rathbaun Farm. We made scones from scratch and while they were cooking, learned about sheep farming and watched the border collie being trained to heard the flock.  I had no idea these dogs were so tiny but they are super fast!  They move those babies like a regular drill Sargent. 
The black faced sheep above is a Scottish breed.  It turns out that wool is a dying business and hardly commands any money.  Woolen sweaters are no longer popular because acrylics are easier to care for.  It's sad but most of the sheep are slaughtered for food.  The biggest market is France.   

The last Irish stop was the city of Waterford.  We stayed at the lovely Granville Hotel where they served porridge with a healthy amount of Irish whiskey.  For breakfast!  A lot of us were nicely buzzed when we got on the bus to catch the ferry back to England. 

The Granville is tiny but very comfortable.  Breakfast is a must! 


Some samples of Waterford crystal.  The special orders were kept at the factory that we toured.  Regular items are made elsewhere.  Did you know a glass blower has an 8 year training period before they let him loose on the floor.  It's a really difficult craft and I wonder how many of these men are left in the world.  We were given the opportunity to watch a few of them blowing and cutting the crystal. 

To be continued...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Part 2-Scotland tour






Why do I love Scotland?  Let me count the ways...


Edinburgh Castle

View from the Castle
Our tour started with a visit to Edinburgh Castle.  This is a stock shot you're looking at because it was raining that morning.  It added the necessary atmosphere to really appreciate the magnificence of that stone structure.  Climbing up the hill was a bitch, and the million and one stairs in the castle were brutal BUT  so worth it.  Our guide was named Richard Campbell and he was wearing a kilt, natch, and spoke with that lovely accent that made me want to throw myself at him.  My roomie kept telling me to close my mouth 'cause I was drooling:) I should have asked for a photo but I was too embarrassed.   Dumb me...

After the castle, we went to visit Holyrood Palace.  The Queen resides there one week during the year.  It's an actual working palace where she entertains dignitaries and handles local business issues.  Balmoral Castle is her summer or whenever getaway place.  Apparently, she loves it and goes as often as possible.  We weren't able to see it up close because she was there.  


 
Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace
St. Andrews

Our next stop was   St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club gave us the rules of the game.  I was surprised that it was a public course and anyone could play, so long as they got a tee time.  The wait list is a mile long. I'm not a golfer but I was impressed by the history and beautiful course.  My sons would have knelt down and kissed the greens so I bought them some souvenirs.

Highlands

We drove through Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games, on our way up to Inverness.  The mountains were stark and broodingly magnificent.  Outlander fans will be happy to know the view is just as beautiful as described in the books.  I was quite content basking in the shadow of those craggy outcroppings.  Our driver did a great job of keeping the bus on the road.  Some places were so narrow I was sure we'd topple over.   



We got to Inverness late in the day, and again, it was cloudy and drizzling.  Par for the course, from what I understand.  I'm posting a few stock shots for a better view.

Ruins of Inverness Castle

Shops and homes beside Loch Ness
The next morning we were off to see Culloden field where the highlanders were crushed by the Hanovarians. The visitor center recounted both sides of the story in a photographic and talking tour.  It was very touching and I have to give kudos to Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series for opening out eyes to this site and what it meant to so many.  I know I had never heard of it until I picked up her novels.  Amazing what one person can do, right?  Her books were for sale in the gift shop so I guess they appreciate her as well. 


Culloden Battle Monument

Finally, we made our way down to the lowlands, enjoying more of the view.  I wish we had more time in Scotland.  I could have used another week but it's impossible to do see it all in one tour.  I will go back someday.  Got to save up first:) 

I got my first glimpse of the hairy highland cows (pronounced helan koos).  They are sooo cute and fluffy.  We got to pet a few. 
Highland Cows

Rainbow over Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond was the last stop for the day and then we were off to Glasgow.  To be continued...

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