Mystery Rider, book three of Horses and Friends
In the third installment in the Horses and Friends series, thirteen-year-old Kate Ferris already has one problem. Snooty, well-to-do Melissa is boarding her horse at Kate’s family stable. When Melissa suddenly turns nice, Kate is shocked ... and suspicious.
The last thing she needs is more trouble. So when a hooded rider appears—and then disappears—on a stunning black horse outside her home, Kate isn’t sure if Melissa is playing a trick or something more dangerous is going on. Either way, Kate and her friends will need an extra measure of faith and courage to solve this mystery.
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mystery-rider-miralee-ferrell/1121003860?ean=9781434707376
Let's enjoy an excerpt from MYSTERY RIDER:
Odell, Oregon—Upper Hood River Valley
Summer, Present Day
Kate Ferris sprawled on the grass next to the newly painted paddock fence on her parents’ farm. “Thanks for your help, guys. It sure goes faster with more than one person working.” She shot a sideways glance at Melissa Tolbert, still barely able to believe the girl who had always been so unfriendly at school had shown up and offered to help. “You’re not bad at slapping on paint.”
Melissa leaned back on her elbows and grinned. “Even if Colt didn’t keep his word to not splatter me with it.”
Red-headed, freckled Colt Turner removed a long piece of straw from between his lips. “Hey, you said not to make you look like the rest of us, but I didn’t make any promises.”
Tori Velasquez, Kate’s best friend, rolled her eyes. “We should get the brushes cleaned and the rest of the paint closed up and put away before you two start fighting again.”
“Not fighting.” Melissa arched one golden brow. “Just discussing.”
“Whatever.” Tori smiled. “I was kinda wondering …” She eyed Melissa.
“Well, I never got to see those spurs you won while showing Capri. I don’t suppose you’ve got them in your back pocket or anything.”
Kate snorted a laugh. “Now that would be funny—no, not funny, painful. Melissa wouldn’t dare sit if she did. Could you bring them over sometime so we can all see them?” Pivoting toward Melissa, Kate was surprised at the girl’s suddenly serious expression. “Of course, you don’t have to. It’s not a big deal.” The last thing Kate wanted was the recent truce between Melissa, herself, and her two best friends to be ruined.
Melissa turned away for a minute, then back. “I’ll do better than that. They really should be yours—or at least belong to the barn, since it was your horse I rode, Kate. How about I bring them over and give them to you?” she asked, her face earnest.
Kate shook her head, her long brown braids swinging. “No way! Mom and Dad would never agree, and I don’t, either. You won those spurs fair and square. You gave me the blue ribbon to put on Capri’s stall door, and that’s good enough. If you hadn’t been such a good rider, Capri wouldn’t have won the championship. There’s no way I’d have made her jump that well.”
Spots of pink appeared in Melissa’s cheeks, and she ducked. “Okay. Thanks.” She lifted her eyes and stared at each of them in turn. “So, are you guys entering the Fort Dalles parade this summer?”
“Huh?” Kate lifted one brow. “I only moved here in March. I’m not sure I know what or where that is.”
Tori poked Kate in the side with her elbow. “Up the river at The Dalles, silly. The rodeo and parade are for Fort Dalles Days, ’cause that’s what the town was called a hundred years ago. It’s pretty cool. They have a carnival, rodeo, parade, and other stuff, and it lasts four days or so.” She turned to Melissa. “But why would any of us want to enter the parade?”
Colt sat up straight, and his blue eyes brightened. “The barn. Right, Melissa? You’re thinking Kate and her parents should do something in the parade to advertise the boarding facility here?”
Melissa shrugged. “Yeah, why not?”
Kate wrapped one of her braids around her finger. “It’s way too hard and expensive to build a float.”
Melissa nodded. “Right. But how about riding your horses and making banners to put over their hindquarters, behind the saddle? You could even dress them or yourselves up if you wanted to. Cowgirls—” She shot Colt a look. “Or cowboys … or just wear your English riding gear, and Colt can be the cowboy. It doesn’t matter so much what you wear, but I think it’s a good idea to be in the parade. It’s a cheap way to let people know you’re open for business.”
“I like it!” Kate gazed at each of her friends. “So, are you guys in? Do you want to ride your horses in the parade and help us advertise the barn?”
Tori’s dark brown eyes widened, and she pulled back. “I don’t know, Kate. What if my horse gets scared at all the noise, and I can’t handle him? It’s not like I’m an expert rider like Melissa, or even as good as you or Colt.”
Melissa waved her fingers. “Hey, I wasn’t trying to push in. I only suggested it for you guys. You don’t need to include me.”
Kate tipped her head. “You aren’t getting out of it that easy, Melissa Tolbert. This was your idea, so you’re stuck with us, since you seem to know so much about what we’re supposed to do.”
A shrill tone sounded in Melissa’s pocket, and she took out a cell phone. “Sorry, guys. My mom. I’ll be right back.” She pushed to her feet and walked a few yards away, keeping her back to the group. Her voice dropped, but a light breeze pushed her words toward Kate and her friends. “Yeah. Just hanging out with those kids from the barn. No big deal. I can leave if you don’t want me here.”
Colt leaned forward and whispered to Kate and Tori, “Her mom was pretty pushy about her winning the horse show. I wonder if she’ll want Melissa helping us. We’re not exactly rich or anything.” He contorted his face into one of his trademark comical expressions.
Kate laughed. “I wondered that, too.” She sobered. “And, to be honest, whether this ‘new Melissa’ will last. From what she said to her mom it didn’t sound like being here is a big deal to her. I want to trust her, but after the way she treated us at school and then bossed us around when she came to the barn, I’m not sure I can.”
“I think we need to be nice to her,” petite, dark-haired Tori replied. “She didn’t have to help with the fence or give us suggestions about the parade. How about inviting her to our overnight party tonight? We could start planning what we want to do for the parade.”
“I think that’s pushing things too fast,” Kate said. “I agree with Colt. We’re not in Melissa’s circle of friends, and I doubt she’d even want to come. How about we ask if she wants to be part of our parade group and nothing more for now?”
Someone cleared their throat behind the group and they all turned. Melissa stood, frowning, several feet away. “Are you talking about me?”
“Sorry, Melissa, we were talking about the parade and wondering if you’d want to help.” Tori paused. “We were thinking Colt could be in charge, since he’s the only guy.”
Colt raised his hands and laughed. “No way. I’m no organizer, but I’m guessing Melissa would be good at that kind of thing. I vote for Melissa.”
Tori clapped. “I second it!”
Kate nodded. “It’s decided. Melissa’s the head of our parade committee, if she agrees.” She exchanged glances with Tori. She knew what her kind-hearted friend was thinking. They needed to invite Melissa to come tonight. It was the right thing to do. But Kate bet they’d end up being sorry.
“Seriously? You guys want me to help?” Melissa, seemingly rooted to the ground, gazed around the small semi-circle.
“Yep.” Kate smiled. “But don’t take it as too big of a compliment. You might end up being sorry you ever agreed. If you’ll do it, and our parents agree, then you’re it.”
The uncertainty in Melissa’s green eyes turned to acceptance, and a hint of joy seemed to shine through. “Right. So when do you want to start planning?”
Kate and Tori looked at each other. They’d planned a sleepover tonight. Colt was to come for popcorn and a movie, then go home while the two girls stayed up in Kate’s room talking and giggling. Did she really want to include Melissa, who’d been such a pain in the past, dissing them and being so condescending, in their private party? Tori gave a tiny nod. Kate sneaked a glance at Colt, who gave a bare shrug of one shoulder.
Melissa searched Kate’s face. “What’s up? Am I missing something?”
“Nope. You’re not going to miss a thing. In fact, if you’re free tonight, we’ll start planning after we eat a big bowl of popcorn. You wanna come to my house tonight?”
Melissa stared, as if stunned, at Kate. “With all of you?”
“Yeah. Me, Tori, and Colt. We were going to have a sleepover, but I don’t know if you’d want to do that.”
Colt nearly choked on his straw and blew it out of his mouth. “Hey, now. You’re going to ruin my reputation. I am not staying for the sleepover. Just the food and a movie—unless we change it to food and talking about the parade. Got it?”
Kate giggled. “Like my parents would allow a guy to stay the night, or like we’d want you.” She wrinkled her nose. “No offense, Colt, but your socks stink when you take your shoes off, and no matter how nice you are, we don’t want any guys crashing our girl time.”
“Good!” Colt heaved a huge sigh. “You had me scared for a minute there. But I’m in for popcorn and planning, if everyone else wants to do that.”
Melissa nodded slowly. “Okay. I’ll come for the popcorn and to talk about the parade, but I don’t think I can stay long—not for the sleepover, anyway. I’ve got something else I need to do tonight . . . and, honestly, I’m not sure you guys would want me that long.”
Kate jumped in. “We didn’t say that, Melissa. I just wasn’t sure you’d feel comfortable hanging out with us for a longer time—you know, after all that’s happened in the past. But you can if you’d like. Really.”
“Thanks . . .” Melissa hesitated. “But not this time. I really am busy later tonight.”
A small smile flickered across her lips, like she had a secret she wasn’t telling. Kate winced inwardly. She’d seen that same expression before when Melissa was scheming something that wouldn’t be fun for the rest of them. She and Tori had been on the receiving end of the wealthy girl’s meanness too many times. As for Colt, he seemed to ride above all the ruckus, not letting any of it bother him.
Did I make the wrong decision inviting her? Kate now wished she hadn’t. Sure, Melissa had come over and helped paint the fence, and she seemed genuinely sorry for the snobby way she’d treated them before. Being nice for a day or two is one thing, Kate thought. But sometimes people don’t change, even if you think they have.
The last thing Kate wanted was to bring more trouble into her own life, much less Tori’s or Colt’s. They had enough to do with getting the Ferris family’s horse barn up and running with paying customers.
Milalee, when did you first discover that you were a writer?
It was literally a word from God given by a guest speaker at an evening church service. He prayed with me about something else, then stopped and told me he had a deep sense the Lord was saying I needed to be writing. He didn’t know what, but I needed to be obedient, write, and seek publication. I prayed and sought counsel then moved forward. I’d never considered being a writer before this, but doors began to open and my first book was published within a little over two years of being given that word.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising two great kids, a daughter and a son, who have excellent marriages and are both serving the Lord. I’m so proud of them and their spouses, and the choices they’ve made. I’m indeed blessed!
Of all the current technological marvels, which is your favorite and why?
Definitely the computer! My husband asked if I’d be willing to write a book if I had to do it longhand and I said no. I suppose if the Lord isn’t done with me yet and I HAD to, but believe me, it wouldn’t be my choice. Not even writing a book on a typewriter has any appeal. I can’t easily delete, cut, paste, move, make easy margin notes—you get the drift.
What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: ipod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)
Probably my large collection of Zane Grey hardback books. They inspired me to write western romance. I’ve read all of them, and I own every western title of his, all in hardcover, and many with dustjackets or first editions.
What three things about you would surprise readers?
That’s a hard one, as I’ve had a number of interviews where I’ve been asked to tell unusual facts about myself, but I’ll give this a shot.
My husband and I had the opportunity while living in Alaska to take our two kids on a flightseeing trip to the top of the Kenai Glaciers and land on one of the huge glacier fields. That was amazing!
I’m not only a published author, but I also publish other author’s books. I own and run Mountain Brook Ink, and we have 19 books under contract releasing over the next two years, all fiction.
We owned two cougars for a number of years until we moved to another state and had to relocate them. A male and female, not taken out of captivity, but rescued from not-so-great homes. They were my husband’s special project and not something I would ever advise the average person tackle, although they were a unique and wonderful experience.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
It totally depends on the book I’m writing. Sometimes it’s the middle, sometimes it’s just figuring out what happens in the next scene. I know my overall plot painted in a very broad picture, but the details of moving that plot along often elude me. I good brainstorming session with another writer friend will generally break that logjam and get me back on track.
What can you tell us about your next project?
It’s book four in the Horses and Friends series titled Blue Ribbon Trail Ride and it releases next year on January 1, but it will probably start shipping from online retailers right before Christmas. It’s another mystery, as is book two, Mystery Rider, and I believe it will also challenge and help kids grow in their faith and strengthen good family values.
Miralee, will be giving away a copy of MYSTERY RIDERS at the end of the week. To qualify you must answer Miralee's question in a comment.
If you are a horse lover, have you ever owned or ridden one, or is it mostly a dream?
US addresses only for print books. Miralee is offering a print book, winner's choice of 1,2, or 3 in the series.
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Miralee Ferrell started her writing journey in 2005 and her first book, The Other Daughter, was published in 2007. Since then she’s become is an award-winning, multi-published, best-selling author with 11 books in both women’s contemporary and historical romance, along with four middle grade girls’ horse novels. She lives with her husband in the Columbia River Gorge, loves country life and enjoys taking research trips for her historical settings. She’s taught workshops at library and writer conferences, spoken at churches, historical societies and multiple women’s groups, and looks on her writing as a ministry. Miralee is a past president of Portland ACFW for 5 years, and a licensed lay-counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors.