Monday, June 26, 2017

Presenting the audiobook version of A KILLER RETREAT!


July marks the official launch of my second audiobook, A Killer Retreat!  Although the official launch is in July, it's available for purchase on Audible now.   Join me at the Facebook launch party on July 13 at this link

If you're interested in receiving a free Audible copy of the work in exchange for an honest review, please e-mail me at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.  In the meantime, Enjoy the excerpt below. In this installment, protagonist and yoga teacher Kate Davidson finds herself on the wrong side of the one-way mirror in the suspect interview room. 

#
 
Sergeant Bill took copious notes, nodding and smiling encouragingly. After fifteen rambling minutes, I completed my spiel.

“Well,” he said, closing his notebook and laying down his pen. “I think we’re about done here.”

“You mean I can go?” It couldn’t possibly be this easy. I never got away with anything.

He shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

Relief washed over me like water in a warm shower. For once, luck and the universe were on my side. I stood up, eased to the door, and rested my hand on the doorknob. Only two more steps and I’d be free. My mind chattered, nervously narrating each action in a silent monologue.

OK, Kate, you’re almost there. Stay calm and don’t blow it. I took a deep breath. Turn the knob to the right. The latch clicked and released. Open the door. The hinges squeaked open; a cool breeze caressed my cheeks. As I glanced through the doorway, the empty hall beckoned me—coaxed me toward freedom.

Step one foot forward, and—

“You know, there’s only one thing I don’t get about your story.”

The melodic lilt in Sergeant Bill’s voice had completely evaporated.

Tension spread from my toes to my scalp. I tried to suppress—or at least camouflage—a mounting sense of panic. I took a deep breath and turned to face him. Sergeant Bill leaned forward, elbows on the desk, fingers laced together. He didn’t look at all friendly.

I forced my lips into a smile and tried to look innocent.

“What’s that?”

“Why is it that six different witnesses say you threatened to strangle the victim this morning?”

Sergeant Bill wasn’t smiling anymore. Then again, neither was I. We stared at each other in silence.

 “Why don’t you close that door and sit on back down.”
 
#

I hope you give the book (audio or written) a try, and love it!
 
Tracy Weber


All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!




Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she current­ly lives with her husband, Marc, and precocious German shepherd puppy, Ana. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana Tasha, and sip­ping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. Tracy loves connecting with fans.  Find her on her author web page or on Facebook.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

5 Ways I Improved PATH INTO DARKNESS at the Last Minute

By Lisa Alber


I just finished the final, FINAL nit-piks for PATH INTO DARKNESS, coming out in August. Talk about under the wire! The book is at the printer as I write this post. Yay! I'm so grateful for the chance to provide a detailed final proofread, and then quickly proofread my proofread for a sanity check on my final changes. (And, yes, I found four more wee, itty, bitty, teeny, tiny typos ... It could never end, seriously.)

It's amazing how you can always improve a story. I didn't change big things, and some would argue that small changes like the ones I performed couldn't matter that much to the overall reader experience ...

That might be true, because the book has been out in the world as an advanced reader copy for awhile now -- advanced readers seem to be enjoying the story. But still. I'm a proponent of subtle changes for overall improvement in my storytelling. No one else may care. But I do. (But then, you gotta stop. JUST. STOP. after awhile. Let the beast go. Be free, fledgling novel!) 

So, yeah, I put on my nit-pik hat, and this is what I came up with besides leftover typos and awkward word choices and grammatical bloopers:

1. Murkiness factor. Mysteries work because they are purposefully murky until the end of the story. I deleted and adjusted dialog that was too spot-on, i.e. dialogue in which one character was talking with too much clarity. I thought, Wow, that's certainly shining too much of a light on such-and-such character or event or bit of information. In my own writer self-talk, I call this toning it the hell down. :-)

2. Subtle consistency errors. The consistency errors I fixed had to do with proper setup for events that come toward the end of the novel. True, most readers probably won't catch these things, but there is an overall effect as one scene builds on another and on another, and you get to know the characters. Readers are left with feelings about the characters without knowing why all the time. The point for me is not to come out of left field all of sudden at the end of the novel.

3. Lingo adjustments. My novels are set in Ireland, so I try to be conscience of using the correct vernacular. I'm sure I don't catch everything, but, for example, in my final proofread, I changed "steal" to "pinch," "rent" to "let," and "mom" to "mum."

4. Improve the last chapter. I have my wonderful editor, Nicole, to thank for this one. She had made some edits to the final chapter with a passing comment that made me realize that I'd floated off course with one of my subplots. Just a little, but it was enough to bug me. The last chapter didn't hang right. This was with Danny, my detective, having a heartfelt moment with his kids. The final moment, the final decision he's making in this story. And it's a big decision. So, yeah, I adjusted that chapter, and went back and employed number two above.

5. Simplified backstory aspects from the previous novels. One of my eternal questions as a writer of a series is how much of the previous novels' backstories to include in the current novel. I want my novels to standalone as much as possible. For me, this means NOT dumping all the details in from previous novels. I don't like info dumps. That's just me. I prefer to simply not mention past events or background character details that aren't germaine to the current story. For example, the fact that Danny has a dead daughter from years back didn't need to be mentioned -- mentioning this daughter added more question marks than it clarified Danny's character.

So now, having gone through this process, I can finally say that I've done all that I can possibly do to create the best book I'm capable of at this moment in time. Whew!

How forgiving of typos are you when you read novels? (Me, I'm very forgiving now; before writing novels I used to be a hard ass.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Studying 1888 Politics

Edith Maxwell here. Now that Called to Justice is launched to rave reviews ("A grand slam!" "A riveting historical mystery," "A mystery that surprises," and "A real page turner," I'm starting to write the fourth book in the Quaker Midwife Mysteries series. Wait, you say. What about Book Three?

Turning the Tide is already in production, and you can pre-order it (please do!) but the cover isn't up yet.

I loved writing this book. The story takes place during presidential election week of 1888. Here's the cover blurb:

Excitement runs high during Presidential election week in 1888. The Woman Suffrage Association plans a demonstration and movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton comes to town to rally the troops. When Quaker midwife Rose Carroll finds the body of the group's local organizer the next morning, she can't help but wonder who could have committed the murder.
Rose quickly discovers several people who have motives. The victim had planned to leave her controlling husband, and a recent promotion had cost a male colleague his job. She had also recently spurned a fellow suffragist's affections. After Rose's own life is threatened, identifying the killer takes on a personal sense of urgency.
What do you think? Sound like a fun read? The research was even more fun. I learned about election cakes. Women used to make these huge fruitcakes and the political party would give out pieces to men entering the polling place in an attempt to woo their vote.
I learned that the parties had different color ballots, and that the party regulars wore different color top hats while campaigning.
 I also studied up on women's suffrage. At the time they wore sunflower yellow sashes to protests and carried placards with slogans like, “Women Bring All Voters Into The World. Let Women Vote,” “Ballots for Both,” “Equal Suffrage,” and “Votes for Women.” Many of the suffrage leaders were Quakers like my midwife, so it wasn't a stretch to make Rose's mother an activist, too. John Greenleaf Whittier goes into vote in the election morning scene, and then comes to stand in solidarity with the women across the street from the polling place.
It was great fun studying Elizabeth Cady Stanton and bringing her  to Amesbury to support the women. She appears in several scenes in the book, even though I don't know if she actually ever visited my town where the series takes place. She was moving on to essays on personal responsibility, and I extracted bits of one for a talk she gave to a women's salon I portray in the book. 
Incumbent Grover Cleveland didn't win the election, as it turns out, even though Rose was on his side. And her investigation of the activist's murder turns dangerous, too. You'll have to read the book to find out if Rose is defeated or not.
What's your favorite election story, or factoid about either elections or women's suffrage in the past? 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Publishing and Promoting

by Linda O. Johnston

            Last month was a busy one for me.  I spent a lot of it doing what novel writers gotta do: write and promote. 

 

            I once thought that writers just wrote, but thanks to the publication of a nice number of books I learned that part of the requirement--and fun--is to promote.

 

            And so, I did a lot last month to let the world know about the launch of my third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, Bad to the Bone, published by Midnight Ink

 

            I talked about it on my usual blogs, and also went on a Great Escapes blog tour.  I visited libraries.  I visited book stores.  I encouraged reviews.  But none of this sounds new to those of you reading this who also happen to be writers.

 

            I also had a June 1 deadline for turning in the manuscript for Barkery book #4.  Its title isn't established yet, but I did meet the deadline despite some health issues, so I'm glad about that.  And those of you reading this who also happen to be writers also know a lot about deadlines.

 

            One would think that, as with any career, learning what to do to could get stale with time.  But that's one fun thing about being a novelist.  Things may be the same, but they're also different.  We meet lots of people, in person and online.  We're always plotting, so our minds are never inactive. 

 

            And then, when the latest book comes out, we celebrate, in lots of ways--which of course includes those elements of promotion.

 

            So Happy June to all of you.  And may it be productive in your own plotting, promoting, reading, and everything else you do!

Monday, May 22, 2017

What’s In a Name?


by Tracy Weber

Like many authors, I sometimes struggle when choosing names for my characters.  Some (usually the recurring cast members) are kind enough to introduce themselves. Kate, Bella, Michael, and Rene are all perfect examples. Others are more elusive, forcing me to resort to a variety of name generators. Dale Evans, the goat lawyer in A Killer Retreat and Karma’s a Killer, was created that way, in spite of his famous namesake.
Names have great power. When I was young, someone told me that Tracy meant “courageous one.”  I’ve drawn strength from that during life’s most difficult challenges.  I recently learned that the actual meaning of Tracy is “fighter” or “more powerful one.”  I can live with that, too. After all, names color who we are and how we relate to our world.  I’m happy to go down as a powerful fighter.
I should have remembered that when I adopted my canine companions.
My first German shepherd, Tasha, was the inspiration for Bella, the German shepherd in my Downward Dog Mystery Series.  Tasha was named after Tasha Yar, the head of security in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She took her role very seriously. She chased yoga students away from my business, thus ending forever her career as yoga studio greeter dog.  Only the members of her most trusted inner circle were allowed to cross our front doorway, and strangers were viewed through a dark lens of watchdog suspicion. She fully embodied my car’s bumper sticker:  Back Seat Barker.

Tracy and Tasha, the Back Seat Barker

When Tasha passed, I honored her by adopting a new love.  I named my new pup Ana, short for Ananda, which is the Sanskrit term for “unending joy.”
I completely failed to consider what unending joy might look through the eyes of a puppy.
Ana Pup Conquering the World

Ana was a crazy, exuberant, razor-toothed terror.  She was fearless, intelligent, and able to escape all confines to get what she wanted.  By her four-month birthday, I’d vowed to name my next dog Coma.  As she’s entered adolescence, she’s calmed down significantly (barring, of course, an evil squirrel sighting.) She greets every stranger with a full body wiggle, sloppy wet kisses, and an invitation to follow her home.

Tracy and Ana, Calming Down but Still Happy

People often exclaim upon meeting her, “She’s so happy!”
And she is. 
I’m pretty sure if a burglar breaks down our door, Ana will flop on her back and beg for a belly rub.  I can live with that.  I wanted a dog filled with joy, and I got a dog filled with joy.  I adore her.
I won’t, however, be adopting Ana’s bulldog friend any time soon.
Seriously? ChewBarka? What on earth were his owners thinking?

Pet lovers and fellow authors, how do your characters and loved ones live up to their names?  Please leave your stories in the comments below.

Tracy Weber


All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!





Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she current­ly lives with her husband, Marc, and precocious German shepherd puppy, Ana. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana Tasha, and sip­ping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. Tracy loves connecting with fans.  Find her on her author web page or on Facebook.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's Your Creative Type? (Take the Quiz!)

By Lisa Alber

Last week on the Jungle Red Writers blog, author Meta Wagner introduced her book WHAT'S YOUR CREATIVE TYPE?: Harness the Power of Your Artistic Personality. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, so I took the online quiz, which you can find here: http://snapp.to/2lHVOEY.

I wasn't surprised to find out that I'm a sensitive soul, which is defined as, "Brimming with emotion, you’ll use your art to explore your personal history and as a catharsis."

 The other possibilities are:
  • Artisan: "You’re here to create, you enjoy the process itself."
  • A-Lister: "You want to have an emotional impact on the audience, you live for the applause." 
  • Activist: "Through art, you want to change the world. Wherever you go, you see wrongs ready to be righted."
The most interesting thing about the Jungle Reds blog post were the comments it inspired. People tended toward being sensitive souls and artisans, which you might expect from a bunch of writers and book lovers and aspiring writers. But then, the topic came up that doing any kind of quiz like this is limiting, because we may feel tied between two options.

OK, then, I and many of the commenters went through the quiz again, choosing our second choices. At this point, many people got "a-lister." I found this intriguing because we so often don't want to admit to wanting fame and glory for our creative endeavors. God forbid! However, it strikes me that writers who are artisans or sensitive souls with a-lister tendencies might be highly motivated to "make it" and do all the work required to "make it."

(The question becomes what is your definition of making it? I'm using the notion that many of us creatives have, which is to earn a nice income, which is closest to "a-lister.")

In any case, it's a sliding scale. None of us are only one thing. That said, I was oddly bummed when I took the quiz a second time and came up with "artisan."

WHERE'S MY A-LISTER!??! I'd love to be a little more a-lister, but apparently, I'm not. I'm all about self-expression and the process, and all that airy-fairy stuff. I even tried to be an a-lister, but my second choices didn't lead to that outcome.

I even did it a third time -- and I still got artisan!

Sigh ... Does this mean I'm never going to "make it"?

Of course not, but it did make me think about this: If I'm not an a-lister type, going for the glory, how do I reconcile that with the external pressure to be more of an a-lister? Do I care if I see my fellows who are a-listers get the glory, while I remain a relatively unknown, midlist author? (Of course, I care; we all like to succeed -- I guess the question becomes how I deal with my feelings around this.)

In any case, I had to laugh that even when I try, I'm not a going-for-the-glory kind of person. So figures. But, on the other hand, I don't think that matters in the long run. The work itself matters. That's all. Whether any of us "make it" or not isn't under our control. And not making it doesn't lessen the creative endeavor or the value of our work.

All creative expression is good -- and **necessary** in this weird world we're living in these days.

P.S. I'm going to buy the book ... Just to see, you know, what the author has to say about all of this. :-)

What's your take on all of this?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Much to Celebrate, More to Learn

Edith here. It's hard to believe Called to Justice launched just a month ago, so much has happened. To celebrate, I'm giving away an ARC of my contemporary mystery, Mulch Ado About Murder, to a commenter here today!


I had a flurry of launch activites, online and in person. My alter ego Maddie Day and I interviewed each other during a fun party at Jabberwocky Books, a fabulous indy bookstore near me, since Maddie's (my) When the Grits Hit the Fan came out ten days before Called to Justice released.

Me with an Indiana Cap for Grits and a Quaker bonnet for Called!
Then Amesbury's Cultural Council sponsored me as one of its Poetry Month events, with the title Poetry and Literature. I talked about Called at the Noshery, and read a couple of poems referenced in the book.


Others read related poems, and Carla Panciera, a local published poet, even read her own original work titled "Midwife in the Barn" that she wrote for me. See a full report of the event.

Alas, Delivering the Truth did not garner the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery at Malice Domestic, but it was a huge honor to be nominated and to stand with my fellow awesome nominees.

From left panel moderator Harriette Sackler, Nominees Catriona McPherson, Jessica Estevao, me, Meg Mims, Victoria Thompson, and Sharon Pisacreta. Photo by Robin Templeton.
But I have one more new book to celebrate this spring: Mulch Ado About Murder, my fifth Local Foods mystery releases at the end of May and is already getting some pretty nice reviews. "Wonderfully delightful mystery any cozy reader will enjoy." -The Cozy Review. There's a Goodreads giveaway open until midnight tonight to win a ARC of the book, too!


Remember, you can also win an ARC of this book by commenting here today!

Two new short stories featuring my 1888 Quaker midwife Rose Carroll have appeared in print! "The Tragic Death of Miss Edna Fogg" came out in Mystery Most Historical, released at Malice a couple of weeks ago. It's a great collection of historical mysteries from many eras. My story features the unfortunate death of a woman suffrage activist, and Rose's pursuit of the killer.



And my short "Murder in the Summer Kitchen" just released in Murder Among Friends, an anthology of stories all inspired by John Greenleaf Whittier. In my story, a man is shot in Whittier's summer kitchen, an apparent case of mistaken identity. Rose is brave enough to track down the murderer in his second attempt to knock off the famous poet and abolitionist.



To celebrate the release, the editor and some of the authors gathered at the Whittier birthplace in Haverhill, MA.
From left, contributors Susan Olkesiw, me, editor Dave Goudsward (kneeling), Tim Coco, Gregory Norris, and Judi Calhoun.

We read from our stories, met fans, and toured the house. Whittier's boots were on display, as was his quilt and his sister's clothing.





I was entranced by the small scullery, and even got to see the room where Whittier was born in 1807.



Ideas are already percolating on how to incorporate some of these details in Quaker Midwife Mystery #4, soon to be started.

Readers, what fun historical bit have you learned lately? Do you like touring home museums or other places where real times from past times are displayed?

Remember, you can also win an ARC of Mulch Ado About Murder, my fifth Local Foods mystery, by commenting here today!





Thursday, May 4, 2017

New Sins for Old Scores ... Launch!

by Tj O'Connor
May 27, 2017—Launch …. New Sins for Old Scores!

At last, my fourth published novel. This one coming to you from Black Opal Books and my strange, wild imagination. It’s a murder mystery with a paranormal twist! (Go figure, right?) And yes, this is a cheap self-promotion blog.
 
Summary:

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And when it does, it's the worst kind of murder.
 
Detective Richard Jax was never good at history. After years as a cop, he was about to get the lesson of his life.
 
As Jax lay dying after being gunned down at an old inn while on surveillance, he's saved by Captain Patrick "Trick" McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent—who has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon, Jax is a suspect in a string of murders—murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II “Operation Paperclip,” an OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy year-old plot that began with Trick's murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?
 
Together, they hunt for the link between their pasts, confronted by some of Washington's elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick's memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again.
 
Who framed Jax and who wants Trick's secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn't?
 
End cheap, self-promotion (for now). Look for New Sins for Old Scores!
 
We’ll talk again next month.
 
Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS
BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, coming in May 2017 from Black Opal Books, and Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell. He recently finished his new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect and his amazing agent, Kimberley Cameron is finding it a new home. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of the Reader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014, and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.
 
Learn about Tj’s world at:
 
Web Site:  www.tjoconnor.com