Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Grand Book Sale and Extract from Joseph Barnaby

 My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, has a grand Halloween Book Sale between 30th and 1st October. So many books now reduced to 99p or 99c.

My books, "Joseph Barnaby" and "Forest Dancer" are both reduced, and you might enjoy them. 

Here's an extract from "Joseph Barnaby": 

The first chapter:

The noise level in The Rose and Crown pub grew in proportion to the amount the clientele drank, but Joe Barnaby’s father managed to make himself heard as he shouted, “My son is the best farrier in the business.”
Joseph Barnaby laughed and raised his glass. “And what my dad doesn’t know about horse farming isn’t worth knowing.”
There was a cheer, then a brief lull as glasses chinked and someone threw a bag of nacho chips in the air, which was a signal for the noise to start up again.
“He sure is,” one of the farmers cried, joining Joe and his father at their table. “And make sure you’re at my stables tomorrow at nine, young Joe! You need to renew the hoof dressings you put on the bay the other day.”
“It’s in my diary,” Joe confirmed. “And the chestnut’s hooves are due for trimming too.” He picked up his pint of beer and downed it. He had the best job in the world, he decided: great friends and clients, and the opportunity to work all day in the beautiful countryside with his favourite animal.
 A stud-farmer Joe had worked with came over and spoke to him. “My grandson wants to be a farrier. Could he come out with you one day?”
“Sure. But tell him he’ll have to deal with everything, from sombre, heavy-footed brewery horses to skittish, highly valuable racehorses who could explode into a nervous rage at any moment.”
The man nodded his understanding. “They can hurt themselves when they spook, can’t they?”
“And me. I’m talking from experience, here, mind. I’ve had enough kicks up the backside to last me a lifetime. Sometimes a nervous horse can turn you as vulnerable as a crash-dummy. Tell your grandson that, and then see if he still wants to come.”
Joe was chatting to a farmer who’d been one of his customers for years about the merits of one vet over another when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to face a man he thought he should know, but couldn’t put a name to. The man’s squashed-in face was familiar. He was a little shorter than Joe, but blonder, and he had a red goatee. He smiled, showing long yellow teeth that would look better on a horse. What was his name?
“Bobby Shaw.” The man stuck his calloused hand out.
Joe hoped his eyes weren’t popping in surprise. The Bobby Shaw. Not from Joe’s area, certainly, but famous in the farrier world – not only because he part-owned one of the biggest thoroughbred race-horse training stables in the area, but also because he was trainer to Starlight, the champion thoroughbred steeplechaser, who’d recently romped home a good thirty yards ahead of his rivals to win the Champions Cup for the third time in a row.
“Can we talk outside?” Shaw gestured with his head at the door. “Quieter.”
“Sure.” Joe followed him out, saying, “It’s good to meet you.”
Outside, lit by the glow from the pub, Shaw licked his lips. The guy’s permanent grin was weird, Joe thought.
“Mutual,” Shaw said, finally responding to Joe’s greeting. He studied Joe’s features as if committing them to memory, and the grin made it look as if he found them amusing. “Looks like you’ve built up a good network here,” Shaw remarked.
“Can’t complain.”
“When I walked into the pub tonight I only came in for a quiet drink. Didn’t know I’d get to meet a farrier. I’d never heard of you before, but I’ve spoken to a couple of guys here tonight who say you’re a quiet character who likes to get on with the job. Someone who doesn’t meddle, if you get my meaning.”
Joe wasn’t sure he did get his meaning, so he kept quiet.
“Someone who can be trusted. Also hear you mainly work with farm horses but you do have some dealings with thoroughbreds.”
“Yes,” Joe admitted. “I do. Not many, but I can handle them if needs be.” He was curious. Surely this man from the country’s most famous thoroughbred racehorse training farm wasn’t going to ask him to check Starlight’s hooves?
“Thing is,” Shaw said, looking around him as if he wanted to make sure no-one could hear him. “We have a little problem.”
Joe made a sound he hoped conveyed sympathy and wondered, again, what this had to do with him.
“Grand National is coming up, and I need a farrier.”
Joe considered saying that was very careless of him, but decided against it. “I’m sorry about that. What happened to your regular one?”
Shaw shrugged. “They come and go.”
Could have been an illegal worker who took off, Joe thought. These things happened, although he’d have expected more from this stables.
“You interested in giving a hand with three horses? They’re the ones the other farrier was working with, and they’re running in the hurdles at Kempton Park next week.”
Interested? Who’d say they weren’t interested in working for the Norchester yard?
“You won’t be working with Starlight. I cater for all his needs, and these three you will be working on are rank outsiders in their next races. So nothing fancy expected of them. But,” Shaw waggled his head, “if you do a good job, keep your head down, mind your own business, you might find it worth your while.”
How could he refuse?
After they’d fixed for Joe to be at the stables in a couple of days’ time, Shaw headed for the exit, leaving Joe to ponder on the fact that if this job led to regular appointments (or, please God, a contract), then Joe’s career would rise like Starlight leaping the The Chair at Aintree racecourse.
When Joe returned on his own to the pub, the stud-farmer who’d talked about his grandson spending the day with him, came up to him. His face was grim as he said, “Saw you talking to Shaw. Just watch your back. OK?”

(The rest of the novel is set in beautiful Madeira Island - on this place (a fajã))

"Forest Dancer" is also reduced. Instead of Madeira Island, this book is set in the wooded hills just outside Lisbon, Portugal - in Sintra. 

Here's the blurb:

Work to impress, dance to express.

It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.

Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death. 

Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start.

Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

The books can be found here:  mybook.to/ForestDancer1

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