Thursday, August 17, 2017

5--no, 6--Things I Love About Launch Day the Third Time Around

By Lisa Alber

Path Into Darkness is out in the world now. My third novel, and I can't help but compare the book launch day experience for this novel against the same day for my debut novel, Kilmoon. There's nothing like a debut novel. I remember wiser novelists cautioning me to remember to enjoy the experience; it only comes around once.

So true! But, just to play Devil's Advocate with myself, in some ways, thank goodness the experience only comes around once! Here are the five ways that I enjoyed the book launch for Path Into Darkness.

1. It wasn't heady, loud, OMG everything is going to change BECAUSE I'LL BE PUBLISHED AUTHOR. So much stress and drama to go along with the thrill. Every year, the new batch of debut authors reveal themselves, and I so understand how big and new everything is, and I think, I was like that too; that was fun; but I'm glad I'm here now.

By contrast, what was launch day like this time around? Pleasant and relaxed because I had no expectations. I woke up and got my writing in for the day as usual before doing the online thing.

2. Not having a book launch party the week of book launch. The past two book releases I had the party at my local bookstore the week of. Ugh. I'm a stressed-out event planner anyhow, and I'm not exactly an extrovert who loves being the center of attention. I planned big parties in the local Irish pub and made a big production of them, especially for Kilmoon. I mean, you gotta for the first book, granted, but, man--too much stress!

So what am I doing this time around? My launch party is next week, a couple of weeks after book launch day. Best yet, it will be a joint event with two other author friends with books out now too. I'm so much more relaxed -- and I'm even looking forward to it! (That's mostly a joke, but not 100%.)

3. The little things that surprise me. Since I don't have huge expectations anymore, I found great pleasure in the little things that posted online. For example, I was the book of the day for Foreword Reviews. I enjoyed sharing that. Other mentions and reviews and hurrahs came through too. I appreciated every one of them.

4. I don't feel desperate. I have a way more relaxed attitude about the whole thing when it comes to readers. I remember for Kilmoon, I was so nervous. It was like my very existence hinged on whether people would like my book, and how many (sales!) of them there were. It's true that promotion is an important part of our jobs, but I now understand how little control I actually have. That's a relief. Honestly.

So what is it I'm really saying? I've returned to the love of process. I love writing. Just that. I'm writing the first draft of my next book now, and I'm having so much fun with it. Just gotta keep writing!

5. Holding the book in my hands. This is one of the few things that hasn't changed. I brought a copy to a few parties over the last month for show-and-tell, like I was showing off my newborn infant. I still take pride in my work. It's an awesome feat, to complete a novel all the way to the point of publication. I'm honored to be a member of the tribe, and I appreciate it so much.

On a related note, one of the things that was cool this time around was holding a book in which the flap copy says things like, "By the author of Whispers in the Mist, heralded by Library Journal as “a first-rate crime novel,” comes this haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland." It feels weighty in a nice way, like, yes, I have a track record now, and it's pretty darned good. I'm surprised by how good this feels.

And 6. This just came to me. There are people out there who have been looking forward to the next in my series. I didn't notice this so much for the second book, because it's a second--that's it own thing--but now? It's so--I don't know--heartwarming? It's like, Wow, I've written stories that people are telling me they're excited to read. That they CAN'T WAIT to read. I don't know what the word for this is, actually. Mind-boggling comes pretty close. :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cover Reveal: Turning the Tide

Edith Maxwell here, thoroughly enjoying the plentiful fresh produce of a New England August.


I'm so excited I can finally reveal the cover for the third Quaker Midwife Mystery, Turning the Tide! To celebrate, I'm going to give away a large-print edition of Called to Justice to one commenter here today.

Here's the blurb for Turning the Tide

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.
I wrote about some of my research for the book here last month, and finally I can share the cover. Are you ready? Drumroll please...



The women turn out in force to demonstrate across from the polls on election morning - see them behind Rose? The book will be out next April, and is available for preorder (which, you know, really helps authors - just saying...).

Readers: Do you have any family connections with woman suffrage activists? What other novels do you like that deal with the topic, whether in the nineteenth century or the twentieth?

Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning, Agatha-nominated short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she creates the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries.

Maxwell is President of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs here, with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, and with the Midnight Ink Writers. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site, edithmaxwell.com.

Monday, August 7, 2017

When Research Is Your Life


by Linda O. Johnston

Research is my life, and my life is research!

How?  Well, all the books I write these days feature dogs, and I'm always spending time with my dogs, learning to train them, letting them train me, listening to their demands, feeding them, trying different kinds of treats, and more.  I've got two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, a 9-year-old and a 9-month-old.  Their stages of training are quite different--and the younger one knows more than the older one!  At least regarding things people would like them to know.

I also love meeting, talking with, petting and playing with other peoples' dogs, including those owned by friends and neighbors, and others also being trained in our puppy's training class.

Do I feel like my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries protagonist, Carrie Kennersly?  Not really.  She's even more involved with dogs than I am.  First, she started out as a veterinary technician, which is where she created the scrumptious and healthy dog treats she now sells at her Barkery and Biscuits bakery--next door to her human bakery Icing on the Cake.  One thing you can guess about her theme is that she likes to bake and does it a lot.  Me?  I'm not much of a cook of any kind.  But I do like sampling treats and letting my dogs indulge as well.

Right now, I'm in between my Barkery books.  The last one, BAD TO THE BONE, was released in May 2017, and the next, to be titled PICK AND CHEWS, will come out in May 2018.


But I feel like I'm always plotting and petting dogs and learning more that can be incorporated in future books.  So... Hey, pups.  Come.  Sit.  Stay.  Down.  Give me hugs.  And inspire me to write some more!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pre-Meditated Murder: An Excerpt

By Tracy Weber

Hi all!  I'm heads down this month promoting my second audiobook and writing my sixth  mystery, so for this week's blog, I decided to share an excerpt from my upcoming Downward Dog Mystery. Pre-Meditated Murder  releases January 8, 2018. The excerpt has not gone through Midnight Ink's editing process yet, so please forgive any errors. 
 
I put Alice back into the carrier and followed Rene to the sidewalk. I would have kept chiding her all the way to the car, but when we were a few steps away from the street, Bella froze, halting my forward motion and practically dislocating my shoulder. “Bella, knock it—” I stopped mid-sentence.

Something was wrong.
Bella stared straight ahead, teeth exposed, ears pricked forward. The guard hairs along her spine stood on end like the quills of an angry porcupine. Low growls rumbled from deep in her chest.
“What is it, sweetie?” I kneeled next to her and followed her gaze. It was locked on a man who was standing—or rather skulking—in a dark, narrow alley across the street. He wore a camouflage baseball cap.
“It’s him,” I whispered.
Rene glanced left to right. “It’s who?”
The stranger looked up and we made eye contact. For the first time, I got a good look at his face. Dark hair. Tan, weathered skin. Light blue, almost icy, eyes. He turned and bolted down the alley.
As to what happened next, I can only plead temporary insanity.
“Rene, stay here.” I ordered. I thrust Bella’s leash into her hand and broke into a run, determined to catch the suspicious stranger.
“Where are you going?” Rene yelled to my back.
I ignored her and shoved past an elderly woman. “Excuse me.” I dodged to the right and twirled past a young mother pushing a stroller. “Sorry!” I leapt over a low bench and landed—hard—on the edge of my right foot. Pain jolted from my ankle to my knee. I recovered my balance and kept running, but the camo-capped man ran faster. He was getting away!
I didn’t think. More importantly, I didn’t look. I acted on pure instinct. I darted off the curb and into the busy street. The driver of a black pickup truck slammed on his brakes.
The next three seconds passed with petrifying clarity. The horrified expression on the driver’s face; the ear-piercing screech of locked tires against pavement; the chemical smell of burning rubber; the sour taste of adrenaline. I gaped down at my knees, or more accurately at the truck’s bumper, which had stopped an inch from my legs. The driver leaned out his window and yelled, “Jesus, lady! Watch where you’re going!”
“My fault!” I yelled. I started running again.
Across the street, down the alley, and out to the sidewalk on the other side. I skidded to a stop, lungs heaving, and whipped my head back and forth.
The suspicious stranger had vanished.

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, July 20, 2017

PATH INTO DARKNESS: Third Book Makes a Series + GIVEAWAY!

By Lisa Alber 

Three is a magic number in the land of novel publication. With three books, a series becomes a full-fledged series, and even if you never write another book in that series, you can call it a "trilogy." My third novel in the County Clare series comes out in less than three weeks (woohoo!). I'm proud of it, to be honest. I took a few risks in the storytelling and pushed my own boundaries with the subject matter and with the topic of mental illness.

To celebrate PATH INTO DARKNESS' launch, there's a Goodreads giveaway going on until July 26th. Please enter for the chance to win a signed advanced readers copy of this novel!



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Path Into Darkness by Lisa Alber

Path Into Darkness

by Lisa Alber

Giveaway ends July 26, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


Here's more information about the book:

By the author of Whispers in the Mist, heralded by Library Journal as “a first-rate crime novel,” comes this haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland

Lisfenora is known across the British Isles for its yearly matchmaking festival. But a local man’s murder and the grim discovery in his home have cast a somber mood over the town. Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern tries to make sense of the chaotic scene while struggling to set aside moral conflicts and grief for his comatose wife. Within days, he’s plunged into even darker terrain when the investigation leads him on a collision course with the Tate family: troubled Nathan, who conceals secrets within ghastly secrets, and beautiful Zoe, the daughter Nathan abandoned years ago.

In this “dark, compelling mystery” (Booklist), one man is propelled toward a tragic downfall while the other struggles to walk the narrow path between life and death.

Praise:
Starred Review "An atmospheric story of Ireland, filled with myth and darkness. . . Fans of Erin Hart's dark Irish crime novels should welcome this series."—Library Journal (starred review)

"A dark, compelling mystery with numerous plot twists and well-drawn characters interwoven with an involving portrait of life in a small insular Irish village."—Booklist
“A haunting tale rife with gruesome murders and secrets, Path into Darkness shines.”
Foreword Reviews 
“Lyrical, tense, and haunting . . . the story propels the reader to a conclusion that is heartbreaking, human, and hopeful.”—Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author of Garden of Lamentations

“Each strand in this terrific novel is absorbing enough to carry books on its own, yet Alber effortlessly weaves them into a breathtaking ensemble.”—Catriona McPherson, Agatha Award–winning author of Quiet Neighbors

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Looking up Words from the Past

Edith here, writing from north of Boston where it's finally really summer!

Last Saturday I finished writing the first draft of my fourth Quaker Midwife Mystery. No title and no cover, either, so far - it will be out in April, 2019. I'm delighted to be done, of course. Revisions and polishing lie ahead, but the basic story is complete. (See here for the first three!)

One thing I do a lot as I'm writing this series, which is set in the late 1880s, is look up words. I might type a word like "employee" and then think, "Wait, that sounds kind of modern. Did people say that then?"

Other than a good dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, my favorite source is the Online Etymology Dictionary. This invaluable source from Douglas Harper is right there at my fingertips as I'm writing. 

I type the word, click OK, and bingo, get results.



So, for your reading pleasure, I present some of the words I've been checking, and the year of their first occurrence. I categorize them into CAN use and CAN'T use. And yes, I keep a running list of every word I've looked up from book one forward.


CAN use:
  • last straw 1836
  • employee. "person employed," 1850, mainly in U.S.
  • chummy. 1874
  • damnation. As an imprecation (spoken curse) from 1600.
  • grown-up, 1813
  • daddy 1500
  • elastic. Figurative use by 1859. The noun meaning "piece of elastic material," originally a cord or string woven with rubber, is from 1847, American English.
  • cop. "policeman," 1859, abbreviation of earlier copper
  • hot water. 1530s in figurative sense of "trouble.
  • funny bone "elbow end of the humerus" (where the ulnar nerve passes relatively unprotected) is from 1826, so called for the tingling sensation when struck
  • lo and behold, attested by 1779
  • trainee, 1841
  • weekend 1878
  • stall, v. "to become stuck or be set fast," mid-15c
  • ad, abbreviation of advertisement, attested by 1841
  • intuit, v, Meaning "to perceive directly without reasoning, know by immediate perception" is from 1840
  • index finger 1768
  • splendid 1640s
  • vet for veterinarian 1862
  • neighborhood 1620s
  • creepy, in modern sense 1858
  • Thanks, 15 c.
  • Brochure - 1748
  • Pamphlet - late 1500s
CAN’T use:
  • second-guess 1941
  • run-in "quarrel, confrontation," 1905
  • deadline: “time limit," 1920, American English newspaper jargon
  • scan, v. sense of "look over quickly, skim" is first attested 1926
  • undercover.  Sense of "operating secretly" attested from 1920
  • hormone, 1905
  • logo 1937
  • trade-off, 1957
  • fitness, as in physically fit, 1937
  • stylized, 1894
  • spill the beans, 1919
  • pictogram 1910
  • activist "one who advocates a doctrine of direct action," 1915; activism 1920
Readers: which of these surprised you? Got a favorite word whose history you want me to check?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Half A Year Completed

by Linda O. Johnston

No matter what time of any year it is, I think frequently about how fast time is passing.  It definitely is this year.  Half of 2017 is gone already!

Not that I wasted any time, and I suspect that's true of most people reading this, whether you're a reader or writer or both.  One particularly fun thing about being a writer is that we can work on our stories even when we're doing other things.  Our subconscious minds are always plotting, no matter what other things we're up to.

Things like traveling.  I took a particularly fun trip recently--one that allowed me to visit the Midnight Ink offices in Woodbury, Minnesota.  I'd never been to Minnesota before, so that was enjoyable, as was the family party I'd gone there to attend.  But seeing the Llewellyn/Midnight Ink offices was definitely a highlight of the trip.  I got to see my wonderful editor, whom I'd already met at Malice Domestic conferences.  Plus, I met some of the helpful and delightful staff I'd worked with online who edit and promote my stories.  They also held a meet and greet where I was able to speak to others on the staff about what I write and why, and to answer their questions and sign some books.  And I got a tour of the offices, which definitely impressed me.  Would I go back there again?  Definitely, if I had the opportunity!  I know some of my fellow authors for Midnight Ink live closer and most likely visit there more often.

So now it's July.  My most recent MI mystery, BAD TO THE BONE, was a May release, and I've turned in the manuscript for the next one in the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series.  I'm writing additional stories containing dogs for another publisher--and I'm helping to train our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy Cari, including encouraging her to play gently with her companion Mystie, our older Cavalier.

I suspect the rest of this year will go similarly, even though I won't get to Minnesota again.  But it has been a good year so far for me--and I also hope your year is going well.


And if you're a writer, too--all the best to your subconscious mind!

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.