Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Blogger Cindy McDonald... Thoroughbreds...My Backdrop!


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.

Charlatan and Salty Silver Sally
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.

Fly Maggie - Fav racer
 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.

Granddaughter Kiersten and George

George is the inspiration for the children's book
that is will release this spring George the Boss--
I will be writing this children's series under the pen
--CS McDonald

Magnum will be appearing at the
All American Youth Show in Columbus,
OH in May--and at the World Champion
Palomino show in Missouri in July--
isn't he gorgeous!
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 Wests 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, but the book series has picked up where the TV show left off: 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—greatly 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!

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.

AGAINST the ROPES features 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.

And the latest installment, SHADY DEALS—the Unbridled readers finally get to see Holden’s and Kate’s relationship blossom into…into…what else? A hot romance that becomes shaded by lies and murder!
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?
Twiggams and her foal!

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