Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Lessons Learned in Life

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Gracie sank down into the tiny pink bathtub, draped her feet up over the ledge, and laid her head back on the daisy foam pillow she’d snagged for a nickel at a garage sale—a steal deal for which she’d secretly congratulated herself for days, clucking contentedly to herself like a hen who’d laid two dozen eggs.

Steam from the scalding water writhed upwards, fogging up the mirror and one small window. A glass of chilled Pinot grigio sat on the bathtub ledge.

Gracie studied her mottled legs. “Cover up those dirty knees, Gracie Louise.” She could still hear her mother’s voice. “Why can’t you be more of a lady like Lenora?”

“Miss America, you never were, Kinkaid,” she said aloud, enjoying how sonorous her voice sounded in the tiny bathroom.  “And still aren’t.”

She counted the plum-colored bruises on her legs. “Five, six, seven.” She lifted her head to inspect a particularly large one, still an angry maroon. “That’s a doozy. How’d I get that one?” She moved to the other leg. “Eight, nine. I do remember this one. That really hurt. Stupid rock.”

She laid her head back on the daisy, wiggled her toes, and contemplated the chipped remnants of toenail polish.

Some women might consider fifteen men to one woman on a team a to-die-for ratio. But Gracie found that working in close proximity with so many Manly Men for so many hours, sometimes days at a time, often took its toll. She could take only so much crotch arranging, and fart and blonde jokes before she began to crave a bubble bath or, in this case, painting her toenails search-and-rescue orange.

She splayed her fingers in front of her face. Ragged nails. Torn cuticles. An Orion’s belt of scabs across the back of one hand. “Holy cow,” she whispered. “Maybe you should get a manicure. Right. With what money? You spent your last paycheck on a new ice axe. Remember?”

Her mother would be so proud. She’d been taking a lot of baths lately. But then, a hot bath was part of her post-search ritual and she’d been on a lot of searches lately.  In fact, it seemed like all she was doing was work and search, search and work.

“You need to get out more, Kinkaid. Ya know, socialize. You should call Ralphie.”

Ralph Hunter, Search and Rescue teammate, best friend, the man she’d been avoiding. “Because you have been. Avoiding him.”

After last month’s team after-meeting meeting at The Saddle Tramp saloon, Ralph had walked her out to her truck as he always did, then surprised her by kissing her good night. Once. On the lips. Very chaste. Very non-threatening. “No tongue even. And you’re acting like a 6th grader who’s just been felt up for the first time. Or are they doing that in 4th grade now?”

Ralph was her only real friend, the one person on whom she leaned, the one person she trusted to never let her down.

She knew Ralph loved her. And she loved him. But did the kiss mean he love loved her? “Cuz if that’s what it means, that’s huge. Huge!” Ever since the kiss, outside of searches, she had been avoiding him. “Maybe you should actually try to figure out why.”

Because she had also said ‘no’ to Rob Christian, big (big) British movie star, the man whose life she had saved on a search six months earlier, with whom, in the dark, cold confines of a snow cave, she had made the most exquisite love in her life, who made every nerve ending in her body come alive, the man whose presence brought the world into focus in all of its Orrefors-clear glory.

Ralph had kissed her, letting her know he was willing to take their friendship to the next level. What had she done? Avoided him. “Chicken shit.”

Rob had asked her to run away with him, a fairy tale invitation if there ever was one. What had she done? “You said ‘no!’ Stupid chicken shit.” She sank lower in the tub. “What the hell were you thinking?”

Beep! Beep! Beep! The piercing tones of Gracie’s Search and Rescue pager sounded from out the kitchen.

“Dammit!” Gracie heaved herself up from the tub, wrapped a frayed Sponge Bob beach towel around her and ran into the adjoining room where her pager lay on the counter. She grabbed it up, pressed the readout button, and squinted at the miniscule screen.

Search for missing juvenile.”

In the laundry room doubling as a closet, Gracie yanked bra, panties, and sock liners from the clothes line. From the dryer, she pulled her orange uniform shirt, socks and camouflage army surplus pants, the back pockets still wet.

“Here we go again,” she said and began pulling everything on.

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The second book of my Search and Rescue mystery series featuring Gracie Kinkaid, “Murder Off the Beaten Path, releases October 7, 2014.


As a member of a mountain search and rescue team, Gracie Kinkaid routinely volunteers to put her life on the line. But it’s at her new day job at a residential camp in the mountains of southern California where she finds her life is really in danger.…

Murder Off the Beaten Path: A Search and Rescue Mystery tells how Gracie responds to a Search and Rescue call-out for a car that’s gone over the side of a treacherous mountain highway. The crash, which Gracie quickly suspects is no accident, proves to be one in an escalating and deadly series of events that lead her right back to Camp Ponderosa, a church-owned camp where she works. As Gracie probes more deeply into the dark secrets at the camp, she unearths a hidden world of illegal activities, including murder, and finds herself going head-to-head with desperate perpetrators who will do anything to silence her forever.

Murder Off the Beaten Path contains all of the same ingredients that made the first book in this series, Zero-Degree Murder, such a smashing success—thrills, chills, break-neck pacing, and its quirky, fearless heroine, Gracie Kinkaid, on almost every page. Lots of new characters and some returning ones, an intriguing new setting—a residential camp high in the mountains, and an exciting new nightmare for Gracie.

Of “Zero-Degree Murder,” Library Journal wrote: “This exciting, seriously good adventure debut deserves a place in your book carts. With her spunky female leading the way, Rowland dishes out generous portions of adrenaline rush. …Her adventure writing style has real flair.”

“Murder Off the Beaten Path,” and the first in the series, Zero-Degree Murder” are available on my website, http://www.mlrowland.com, and at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.

And don’t forget your local brick and mortar bookstore. If they don’t carry it, they can order it for you!

Thanks, everyone!

Happy reading!

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“After all those years as a woman hearing ‘not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not this enough, not that enough,’ almost overnight I woke up one morning and thought “I’m enough.”

— Anna Quindlen

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“A woman is like a tea bag. You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

Gracie Kinkaid, the physically strong, yet emotionally vulnerable heroine in a new mystery series by M.L. Rowland, finds herself in hot water…a lot.

What’s in store for Gracie?

“Zero Degree Murder,” the first in the Search and Rescue Mystery series, is due out in bookstores in January 2014.

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Strong Female Characters

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