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It all started with a storm, a real gully washer, the type that comes racing across the plains with driving rain, howling winds, and hail as big as your fist. If it hadn't been for the stranger in buckskins, the Jakes family would have been in serious trouble. Little did they know, the storm was just the beginning of their struggles. They'd come to Colorado to raise a new breed of horse. Along the trail they would follow were new friends, old enemies, and the land. At times it was hard to tell which ones were the most dangerous. It would take all of their fortitude and the help of kind-hearted strangers to keep the dream alive.
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October, 1901. Lawyer and private enquiries agent Karl Werthen accepts an assignment to protect the famous Irish writer Bram Stoker while on a speaking tour of Vienna. Meanwhile, his colleague, renowned criminologist Dr Hanns Gross has been called away to advise on a bizarre series of murders near his hometown of Graz, in the Austrian province of Styria. Three women have been killed with strange mutilations and scarring patterns left on their bodies. The third, most recent victim has had her unborn baby cut out of her womb. Clues have been left at each scene; clues that have been clearly mentioned in Gross' handbook for magistrates, Criminal Investigation. A coincidence? Dr Gross thinks not. Meanwhile, back in Vienna, Werthen's wife Berthe is investigating what seems to be a fraudulent breeding scheme involving the prized Lipizzaner horses. Could the two investigations possibly be connected? Matters become complicated with Werthen and Stoker's arrival in Graz. For, having read wild newspaper accounts of vampire killings, the Dracula author insists they investigate.
The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a comedy about two thirty-something men (Jim Lucas and Ron Treland) in the 80's who come together periodically to deepen their long-term friendship through the playing of a basketball game called "HORSE". They have developed their own peculiar way of playing the game, where the object of the game is superseded by the creativity of their playing styles and shot selections. It is more of a creative ritual than a competitive game. The game is continuously "interrupted" (sometimes in real time, mostly not) by Ron's parents, Jim and Ron's high school basketball coach, Jim's college basketball coach, and Jim and Ron's wives. The "interruptions" constitute the evolution of the relationships between Ron, his parents, and his wife, and between Jim, his old coaches and his wife. Ron is caught in his father's business and under the command of his father's crusty personality, whereas Jim is caught in his past high school glories and college failures. Jim's wife, Lynne, is relatively economically and emotionally stable, and this stability is both a source of strength and resentment for Jim, who is less stable in those areas. Ron's wife, Jeannette, is tired of the whole thing and wants Ron to deal with his blustery and obnoxious father and live his own life, but she is unwilling to separate from Ron as he works on his relationship with his father. Jim's high school coach serves as Jim's much valued connection to his glory days in high school and Jim's college coach serves as his hurtful reminder of his failure to sustain a college basketball career. All of these characters impinge upon the personal development of Jim and Ron in both positive and negative ways. Jim and Ron are fearful of doing what they really want to do in life. The basketball game, played out in its own peculiar way, serves not only as means of deepening the friendship between the two men but as a forum for their emotional growth and development. The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a fast-moving, scene-shifting, dialogue-overlapping story of how two young men come to terms with their past connections to glory in sport and their current relationships with their wives and family. Though this play transcends realism through its shifting, integrated scenes, it 'plays' realistically. Shifts in time and place are integrated into a whole that 'seems' quite natural.
In clear, easy-to-grasp language, the author covers many of the topics that you will need to know in order to launch and run a successful business venture.