It’s that glorious day in an author’s life when a new book has its birthday and is released to readers and fans! In this case, it’s my new book MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT and I’m excited to share it with my GLIAS family! The past six weeks have been very exciting for fans of the Chandler County series. Seven books have been released and I’m honored to be the anchor in this wonderful, multi-author series. MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT is the eighth book in the fall release cycle and I couldn’t be more excited.
MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT is a story that found me. My daughter, an equine veterinarian, introduced me to the “backside life” of our local Minnesota thoroughbred race track when she spent almost four years practicing as a racetrack vet. She used to tell us “working with racing people is like working with carnies.” That gave me the first lines of this book:
“PEOPLE WHO OWNED racehorses could be quirky as circus folk. Nobody knew that better than Tori Sterling, who worked with more horse owners than she could count.”
My daughter also taught me a lot about some of the scandals and shady goings-on that can occur at racetracks. One story she told gave me the idea for this book, and I’ve wanted to write it ever since.
LIZ: Welcome Tori and Winn. You both work at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville. Can you each tell us a little about your job there?
TORI: Sure. Hi everyone. I’m an equine veterinarian, and I work part time at the track for about six different trainers. I’ve been in practice for five years, so I’m considered a bit of a newbie by some of the older vets. It’s tough to make my way sometimes, but I hold my own. And I love the work—most of the time.
WINN: Hey thank you for having us here. I have ten horses in training at Churchill Downs. I grew up on the east side of Chicago and dreamed every day of getting out of that city and into a quiet, green place. But I was kind of a tough, angry, mouthy kid. The only thing that made me happy was being around horses. I managed to get a job as a groom at Arlington Park outside of Chicago and finally got a chance to ride from a man who overlooked my smart mouth and my temper. He taught me the basics of training. Over time I trained several of his horses myself and did okay. He managed to find me the opportunity of a lifetime working for the great Bob Baffert for two years. After that, I found clients of my own and a long, ten-year slog later here I am, at my dream job.
LIZ: Tori, what would you say is Winn’s “kryptonite”? In other words, what will always bring him to his knees?
TORI: Easy—any kid with a rough past who wants to better his or her life. Winn had some tough times in his teen years but someone gave him a chance. Now he wants to do the same for any kid who needs help. His entire staff is made up of young people who have records. He’s a soft-hearted sucker for an underdog! I love that about him, too.
LIZ: Winn, what about Tori’s weakness?
Winn: As big a sucker as I might be for kids, Tori is for animals. Do you know she has over thirty rescued animals on her farm? She has a cat who’s befriended an orphan fawn, and she has seven piglets – named Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta & Gretl after the vonTrapp family children? I tell her she’s incorrigible, but she does really great work and I’m proud of her.
LIZ: Winn, I know you love working as a trainer, but is there anything about your job that you really don’t like?
Winn: Of course. Horseracing is a controversial sport and I hate it when people don’t understand all the ways most of us in the industry work to make it better and safer. There will always be trainers and veterinarians who try to get away with pushing or even breaking the rules. But vets like Tori who refuse to go against their principles are making things better. And one of my biggest goals is to keep breeding stronger horses and training them safely. Then I can help educate the public about what a great sport this is.
LIZ: Tori, what makes an absolute perfect day?
TORI: For me, spending it with Winn. But icing on that delicious cake is having time to go riding around our property and playing with the dogs. If you can throw in one of Winn’s great, homemade dinners it’s best of all!
LIZ: Winn, what will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
WINN: Watching a thoroughbred run. The incredible power they possess, the love they have for speed, and the perfect fluid motion they achieve never ever fails to astound and mesmerize me.
LIZ: Winn, was it love at first sight for you and Tori? Who else has become important to you since coming to Churchill Downs?
WINN: Tori and I got off to a very temporary rocky start, but she took time to listen and believe in me and the kids who work for me. Without her on my side I might not still be here. I also have a great relationship with her father, Hugh Sterling. He’s a smart, savvy lawyer who knows the racing industry well. He’s not a bad guy to have on my side.
LIZ: Tori, what’s Winn’s quirkiest habit?
TORI: It’s so simple, but it’s adorable. He wears a newsboy cap on race days and when he goes out away from the track. Some people think it’s dorky, but I think it’s just the sexiest thing.
LIZ: Last question, Tori. Why was this story so important to tell?
TORI: Winn touched on it earlier—horseracing is kind of misunderstood. Animal rights people hate it and others don’t understand it. It’s bad when scandals happen—like the doping issue we dealt with and the sabotage to horses and equipment. But we helped solve the problem and we keep watch for other issues we can fight. It isn’t cruel to train two-year-old horses to run—it can be a very good thing for their strength. Most trainers don’t mistreat their animals. Most horses love to run, and if they don’t, new homes are found for them. I think this was a great story to tell because I want people to love this sport and support the good and safe things about it!
Thanks so much, you two, for stopping by. I hope readers will enjoy what we made of this story. I think it’s full of love and interesting facts and a little mystery. It’s not a crime thriller, but it’s a good ‘whodunit’!
Readers: Here’s the book blurb for MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT:
Dr. Victoria Sterling knows her way around race horse injuries better than vets with twice her experience, and she’s used to defending her scrupulously honest reputation in a world where rule-bending beats honesty. Tori has also learned the hard way that her demanding, animal-focused life is too hard for any man to understand much less share—so she wastes no energy looking for love.
Trainer Winton Crosby has finally made it to his dream destination: the venerable Churchill Downs. With a gift for getting the best from his horses, his goal is a big stakes race. Getting there is no easy task, however, since every member of his staff is young and has a record. When a Derby-bound colt is targeted by a saboteur, Winn and his stable of misfits are prime suspects.
From the moment they met, Winn wanted Tori Sterling on his side. Straight-talking, funny and brilliant, she makes his ever-restless spirit feel as if it’s found home. Winn teams with Tori to save his own reputation and their partnership blossoms into unexpected passion, but they’re soon racing against time. Someone is desperate to eliminate them and their investigating, and the two have to find out who it is before they lose their careers, their lives or, worse, their chance at love.
The e-book is here now, just in time for Christmas—check it out at these online retailers. The paperback will be available before New Year’s Day!
MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT is part of the Chandler County series. I’d love to give one commenter a chance to try several of the eight new CC releases, now that there are eight to choose from. I asked Winn what could always make him smile even on a bad day—what is the thing that can always make YOU smile? I have a $10 Amazon gift card for one commenter.
Thanks so much for visiting today. Hope you enjoy MISSING BY A HEARTBEAT! Get more information at my WEBSITE