Last week the floodgates opened. No... bad choice of words. What I'm trying to say is that after long gaps between posts, I'm ready to start blogging again on a semi-regular basis. Being a virgin empty nester has its perks if you set aside the "missing your kids" part.
I've been working on a murder mystery for a while, and I'm ready to dive back into it. If you're a member of Book Country, you might have seen a pretty big chunk of Mallet as it was being developed.
I'm a Certified Pantster, so whatever you read today might not be the same tomorrow. I decided to post a sample of the book, just to whet appetites - yours and mine.
Now, where to start? The Beginning, according to all agent rules? Or a little piece in the middle, just to keep everyone guessing? I'll let you guess, since I'm still guessing anyway.
Saturday dawned hot and hazy. I blew the dust bunnies off my navy blue pumps, cinched myself into a steeply discounted designer sundress, and headed for the polo grounds on the Montgomery farm in Gormley. A few signs with red arrows pointed the way to the venue, and I scanned for the entrance.A long line of cedar fencing bordered the farm to my left, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rail had snapped in two, leaving a gap. Someone should fix that, I thought.I returned my attention to the winding road. In the same moment, a huge reddish-brown object filled my view in front of my car."Shit!" I slammed on my brakes and struggled to keep the Toyota from spinning out of control. Gravel spit in every direction. I managed to bring the car to a halt on the soft shoulder, facing the way I had come.I gulped and gasped, gripping the steering wheel. When my heart and the dust settled, I searched the roadside, wondering if I'd hit the deer.It wasn't a deer. It was a horse.It shuffled back and forth in the ditch on the west side of the road, doing a little pirouette on its hind feet before trotting in the opposite direction.With a deep breath, I undid my seatbelt and opened the door. I stood on the gravel shoulder for a moment, wondering about my next move.The horse stopped for a moment and pricked its ears before flattening them and resuming its dance in the ditch. There was no sign of a limp, and a quick glance at my bumper reassured me I hadn't made contact. Thank God.I had no idea how I was going to catch it. I looked around for help, but for the moment the lane was empty. No freaked-out farmhand came running from any nearby property, so it looked like I was on my own."Come on… girl?" Or was it a male? I didn't have time to peek at its undercarriage. I just kept my eyes fixed on a pair of flared nostrils while I slithered into the dry ditch.The horse gave me a look that said, "Oh, no you're not," and flattened its ears again.It wore a leather halter, but I knew from experience it wasn't a good idea to try to lead a nervous horse without a rope of some kind. One toss of the head and I could end up under its hooves. I crept closer, speaking softly while unbuckling my navy blue cotton belt. I slid it from the loops on my dress and held it to my side.The horse snorted and nosed the sky, eyes rolling, but briefly stood still.I stepped forward, and it stepped backward. I tried again, and it retreated.I remembered a move I'd learned back in college when I took care of the school horses. I turned my shoulder and walked along the ditch, ahead the horse. I extended my closed fist as if I were holding a lead.The trick worked. It followed me and I slowed my pace until it strode alongside. I looped my belt around its halter and hoped it wouldn't rear up, as I didn't have quite enough slack to keep the horse from hauling me into the air.We scrambled out of the ditch, my genuine imitation patent vinyl pumps slipping on the flattened grass, and my arm almost yanked out of its socket as the horse unceremoniously assisted me to higher ground.A car approached and slowed, its tires crunching the gravel. I raised my free hand and the driver rolled to a stop."Need any help?" The guy asked from his open window."No – I got it." I struggled to keep the bay still as it danced about, trying to jerk the belt out of my grip.The driver set his hazard lights and got out of his car, halting the increasing lineup of vehicles that had built up behind him. He waited until we passed through the gates of the nearest driveway, and then returned to his car with a friendly wave.By now the horse had finally decided to cooperate, and clopped calmly beside me. I hoped this was the right farm. This property was either on the polo grounds or adjacent, since the line of cars had turned into the next driveway.A voice drifted through the trees from a loudspeaker, calling out the itinerary for the day's festivities. The first game was due to start just after lunch. I pictured Dionne sitting with the chairpersons and polo players' wives, sipping mimosas and making excuses for my absence.At this end of the grounds, silence surrounded me except for the occasional sleepy tweet from birds high in the pines that lined the driveway. A whinny drifted from a gargantuan century barn, and as I got closer, I heard angry male voices.