Monday, January 26, 2015

Liftoff Success!

I had a fabulous launch month, in a large part due to the many people who supported me. In today’s blog, I’d like to acknowledge my fabulous street team, Team Tracy. I’ve actually never met most of these people in person, yet they encourage me, help keep me motivated, and share news about my series. In other words, they help me, almost every day.

I always thought that writing would be a lonely, solitary activity, but man was I ever mistaken. Writing the Downward Dog Mystery Series has introduced me to a world of new friends that I would never have otherwise known. I don’t have space to share all of their photographs in this article, but trust me: My street team is filled with gorgeous, fun, kind people.

Let me introduce you to a few of them.

Who says cat's don't appreciate dog-related mysteries?
 Betty Davenport and Kato

Fellow author Sheri Levy, with Mulligan and Slater

Fellow mystery author Amber Polo chatting up a  gorgeous greyhound


James Haviland chilaxin with his dog Misty

Kim Tutt painting the town red with her beautiful smile

Margie Smith


Missi Svoboda borrowed a neighbor's dog, Bridget, to re-enact the cover. 
Note that the dog brought his own tennis ball to the occasion.

Nancy Perkins.  The brightest spot in the parade.

Shelley Giusti, book blogger extraordinaire!


Tracy MacDonald and German Shepherd Fiona.


This is only a small subset of the wonderful people I've met through writing this series.  I wish I could showcase them all. To each of you on my street team, and everyone else that has supported my work in some way, thank you.  I appreciate you more than you can ever know.

Namaste (The light in me honors the light in you.)

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

About Tracy:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries. I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.  My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

For more information, visit me online at http://tracyweberauthor.com/ and http://wholelifeyoga.com/

Monday, January 19, 2015

Writer's Guilt



By: Maegan Beaumont



Well, it's that time of year again. Time to start another novel.

I start getting the itch around November. Ideas start to niggle. Characters start to whisper. By December they are no longer niggling and whispering. They are pulling and yelling. I have to shove them aside while I'm basting the Thanksgiving turkey. I have to mentally shout back, I can't play with you right now--my kids are opening Christmas presents.

January, I promise them. I'll start in January.

January is the right month to start, right? In with the new and all that... right? The people in my life will get it. That this is not only my passion but also my job. That it's important to me. That I have to do this on about a hundred different levels.

They love me and want me to be happy. They get that if I don't write I'll end up like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and that's never a good look on anyone.  





They'll be understanding and supportive... right? 

I've come to realize that it just doesn't matter. No matter when I decide to start my novel, I still run into trouble. Kids still want dinner (EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!!). Husbands still want clean socks (my kingdom for a maid... honestly, I'd settle for a chimpanzee I can train to fold towels and match socks). Friends still get weird when you don't pay attention to them. 

I try to juggle it all but I'll never make it in the circus. I suck at juggling. Something's gotta give--historically, it's my novel... which explains why I haven't made a deadline since I started this whole crazy business. It's not that the people in my life don't want to understand. It's that they can't understand. 

They just can't. Not unless they understand what it's like to have an entire universe full of people shoved into their brain, talking all at once. They don't what dinner. They don't want clean socks or attention. They want to exist. They are literally fighting for their imaginary lives. A space, out here in the world, where people can see and hear them.

And sometimes, that's pretty hard to ignore. So, yeah. Something's gotta give.

I guess what I'm saying is that I still-- 4. books. later.--haven't figured out how to balance it all. I struggle. I forget to start dinner. I stumble. Socks get recycled and my husband pretends not to notice the dead fish smell emanating from his shoes. I drop balls. Friends feel ignored and I feel like crap... and my novel still suffers. I give in to guilt and start to put writing off. 

I'll write tomorrow becomes my mantra.

But every January, without fail, I make myself a promise: This year, I will put writing first. Well... maybe not first but definitely in the top 3. Top 5? Ahead of the laundry, for sure.

As I'm writing this, I realize that this isn't about putting my novel first--it's about putting myself first. Something I've never been able to do. Something I'm not even sure I know how to do and yet something I've encouraged others to do time and time again.

Put yourself first. It's okay. You deserve it. If they love you, they'll understand.

This year is different. This year, I'm bound and determined to take my own advice. Kids, husbands, friends--I hope you understand, but there's something I've got to do...

Maegan Beaumont is the author of  the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series. A native Phoenician, Maegan’s stories are meant to make you wonder what the guy standing in front of you in the Starbucks line has locked in his basement, and feel a strong desire to sleep with the light on. When she isn’t busy fulfilling her duties as Domestic Goddess for her high school sweetheart turned husband, Joe, and their four children, she is locked in her office with her computer, her coffee pot and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, and one true love, Jade.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Celebrate Good Times


by Shannon Baker



It’s January. The whew of the holidays. I love the whole holiday season with the planning and partying, over-eating and drinking. I spend almost a month of putting off real work while I make time for fun. Then comes January with a sense of relief and bursting energy to get back to the productive life.

My January began with a gasp at 3 A.M. I have a book launching in two months! How did it swing around so quickly when it seemed like it would never get here? I scurried to my computer and pulled up the very organized marketing plan I wrote out in October. I only have a plan because I’d just returned from a conference and a friend shamed me into getting that done.

I’m on track, more or less. I didn’t attend to the December tasks as I should have but I’m not too far behind. Here’s my confession (not that you’ve asked but it’s good for my soul): I did practically nothing for last year’s book launch. Chances are I was at a low ebb in my real life (lower than I’d admitted to myself) but I allowed the negativity to rule.

What that means is that I listened too intently to those who said, “Blog tours are a waste of time.” “You don’t sell enough books at a signing to make it worth your while.” “Don’t send postcards or bookmarks to bookstores; they only throw them away.” Basically, the message I internalized was that nothing works, so don’t bother.

While all of that might be true, there is more to consider. I felt defeated before the book even slid off the presses. The Why Bother germ infested my attitude. I probably sent a vibe out to the Universe that said, “You really shouldn’t read this book. There are so many others out there that are better. You won’t like this.”

I didn’t celebrate that book and whether it made any difference in sales, it made gigantic impact on me. I felt like the Eeyore of authors.


I’m not going to let that happen this time. It doesn’t matter if my efforts don’t show up in sales. I’m going to blog bounce and set up book signings. Hit up a few book clubs, send out scores of press releases. I’m going to stick to my plan. Because I believe.

I believe that putting positive energy into this venture will yield results. I’m already feeling good about the launch, proud about the new book and ready to show it to the world. It’s a good story and I liked it when I told it to myself so why shouldn’t other people like it, too?  

The real reason I’m putting an effort into the launch is for myself. I want to celebrate the accomplishment. Somewhere along the last year, my perspective changed. I’m not marketing as a Sisyphusian chore that I’m supposed to do, toiling in the gray gloom of uselessness. I’m having a party and I get to tell people about something I find interesting.




So guys, guess what? I’ve got a book coming out in two months! It’s going to be great!

What are you celebrating?

Friday, January 9, 2015

January Releases!


By: Maegan Beaumont


It's a new year and Midnight Ink is kicking it off with some FANTASTIC new releases!


A Killer Retreat
By: Tracy Weber 

A Downward Dog Mystery #2 

Cozy readers will enjoy the twist-filled plot.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Dying for the Past
By: TJ O'Connor 
A Gumshoe Ghost Mystery #2


"The twisty plot is well delivered . . . Anyone who loves a strong ghost yarn will savor this tale."—LIBRARY JOURNAL












The Accidental Alchemist
By: Gigi Pandian 
An Accidental Alchemist Mystery #1


“This reviewer is eagerly anticipating more from this series, and a return of a cast more fun than an episode of Portlandia.”—RT BOOK REVIEWS 1/2













Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dying For the Past – The Roots of This Sequel – Part II

By Tj O’Connor, author of Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell 

It’s here. Hold the presses. Ready the fireworks. Make ready the launch … Dying for the Past hits the shelves tomorrow! Detective Oliver Tuck” Tucker is back in Book II of his Gumshoe Ghost series, and he’s ready to solve another case. This one, as explained in Part I of this two-part blog “Dying for the Past—The Roots of this Sequel” centers around the murder of a wealthy and mysterious philanthropist with connections to a 1930s mobster’s journal containing the secrets of Washington D.C.’s powerbrokers, gangsters, and spies.    

Everyone wants the book. And they’ll do anything—especially kill—to get it.
In Part I of this blog, I explained that Tuck is up against Vincent Calaprese, the spirit of a 1930’s gangster, the Russian Mob, and several conniving suspects. Someone killed Stephanos Grecco—a wealthy philanthropist—in front of a hundred charity gala guests dancing the night away. The story surrounds the search for Vincent’s journal—the book—in which he kept tabs on spy rings, mob bosses, and corrupt Washington D.C. elite. Vincent used his journal to persuade the FBI from shutting down his operations and keep his mob competition at arm’s length. Over the years, the book became a shield against the growing Russian mob and corrupt government officials. To mess with Vincent’s family meant risking the book telling its stories.
This subplot is based on true events.  
During the run-up to WWII, some mob leaders helped our government thwart, and in some cases, directly combat our enemies. Known mob kingpins are believed to have kept track of Axis spies operating in the country and reporting activities to the authorities, in particular, with ports and rail yards where sabotage was a threat. During those years (and perhaps still today), the mob had special access to ports, rail, and coastal cities —they had their own networks controlling the docks and cargo throughout the country; they also had enormous power over the labor unions working those areas. I suppose that while they were mobsters and racketeers, they were still Americans and, in a world war where nationalism was the battle cry, even the bad guys waved the flag.
One story has it that Meyer Lansky, along with a key mob boss and pal, Salvatore C. Luciano, a.k.a. Lucky Luciano, played key roles in keeping union dockworkers from striking during the war and aiding in the successful invasion of Sicily by American forces. Further, Lansky helped our government recruit fellow mobsters, Bugsey Siegel and Lepke Buchalter. The three gangsters were reportedly merciless at intimidating potential German-American Nazi sympathizers to keep them from gaining any foothold in the country. These men also played other roles while working for the government. Lucky Luciano also reportedly played a vital role in aiding the U.S. invasion of Sicily. Luciano was a notorious Italian boss with power in both the U.S. and in Sicily. According to historical accounts, Luciano traded his freedom from prison for his assistance in helping secure intelligence and cooperation from Sicilian mob assets.
There’s a long list of other mob aficionados who aided our government in fighting the Axis powers here and abroad. Few of them our government owned up to after the war. One story even suggests Luciano parachuted into Sicily behind enemy lines to make contact with mobsters—a significant power in Sicily—and organize them to aid the Allied invasion.
With history like this, how could I resist? So, while creating Vincent Calaprese and his delectable girlfriend, Sassy, I penned Vincent as a hot-cold, good-mobster, bad-mobster kinda guy. His connection to pre-WWII espionage and corruption is the backstory of Dying for the Past—and what better vehicle to connect the past with the present than a dangerous journal that named names and could blaze a trail to modern day espionage and corruption in 2015? And of course, the book and its stories were worth killing for.
The next ingredient in my story is Tuck’s family background and what secrets his unknown past might reveal. For those of you who have read Dying to Know, you know that Tuck was an orphan raised in foster care. He never knew anyone or anything about his family. In Dying to Know, we learn that Doc, his cantankerous spirit guide, is family. In Dying for the Past, we’ll begin to learn that being a ghost is hereditary and Tuck’s roots may well include mobsters, spies, cops and robbers, and a host of wayward spirits—pun intended. Ultimately, as Tuck’s stories continue, all the books will be connected through Tuck’s family past. There is a method to my madness and an intricate web of spirited lineage that will tie the cases—and the characters—all together. It suffices to say that Tuck’s murder was not an accident—and neither was Doc’s or the rest of Tuck’s family. In fact, they were all dying to get together. Wow, is that another book title?
Why am I so connected to the past myself? I have no choice—my own family tree has some interesting stories, too.
As a young boy, my grandfather, Oscar, told a few tales of his life in the 30s and 40s. As a very young man, he took to life as a hobo and rode the rails around the east coast looking for adventure—and work—during the Great Depression. In WWII, he was one of the oldest draftees and his exploits included working for a Military Intelligence Officer in the Pacific Theatre. My great uncle, John, was a drummer for the likes of the Dorsey Brothers, Gene Kruppa, and Glenn Miller. While I don’t think anyone ever heard of him, my grandparents were his biggest fans and instilled a love of Big Band and Swing music in me. In Dying for the Past, that music plays a unique role in Vincent Calaprese’s chapters and help me keep his era alive throughout the story. And last, but perhaps most significant is my mentor for the past 24 years, Wally, who is one of the last remaining OSS operatives (Office of Strategic Service—the forerunner to the CIA) still alive today. After the war, Wally joined the CIA and became one of its senior executives through the cold war and into the 80s. He fought the Germans in Northern Africa and Europe, fought the communists in Greece, the Russians throughout the world, and all enemies in between (and I dare say a bunch of Washington bureaucrats, too) until his retirement. His exploits and his life story are a constant source of material for my books. It is no secret that Wally is thinly disguised as Doc—Tuck’s omnipotent, brassy spirit mentor—in all of Tuck’s stories.
As you can see, history is a big part of my life and is a constant theme throughout my books. In my upcoming Dying to Tell, Book III in Tuck’s series, the OSS and a WWII operation in the Middle East play a significant role in a series of murders. Dying to Tell releases in January 2016.
For you history and mystery aficionados, I hope you’ll give Dying for the Past and Dying to Know a read. When you do, drop me a line at tj@tjoconnor.com and let me know what you think.
For the New Year, stay safe and well!



TJ O’CONNOR IS THE AUTHOR OF DYING FOR THE PAST and DYING TO KNOW, available in books stores and e-books from Midnight Ink. His third paranormal mystery, DYING TO TELL, will be released January 2016. 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 for the Past and Dying To Know are the first of eight novels to be published.  Learn more about Tj’s world at www.tjoconnor.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TjOConnor.Author

 

 

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Facing a New Year

--by Linda O. Johnston

The year 2015 has begun!  In fact, we're five days into it.  Did you make any resolutions?  I didn't, but being more superstitious than I used to be, thanks to writing my Superstition Mysteries being published by Midnight Ink, I looked around and wondered whether things that were happening were an indication of how my new year would go.

So far things haven't been great and inspiring, but neither have they been horrible.  My poor husband had unexpected tooth surgery, though, and was in pain but fortunately that has improved.  The toaster at my nearby Panera where I breakfast often on weekends remains broken. I have a February 1 writing deadline for one of my shapeshifter stories for Harlequin Nocturne, but at the moment I don't think I'll have trouble meeting it--although if you hear a noise right now that's because I'm knocking on wood.  I also have to revise an existing proposal for another Harlequin story but I already finished part of it so it, too, should be okay.

Next deadline?  My second Barkery and Biscuits story for MI.  The first one, BITE THE BISCUIT, will be published in May, and I'm delighted about it, too, although some of the editorial process is still before me. 

Yes, I'm writing four different series at the same time.  Am I nuts?  Maybe, especially since I have lots of family stuff coming up, including some long-anticipated visits this week.  I just ordered a T-shirt that says "I am a writer.  That means I live in a crazy fantasy world with unrealistic expectations.  Thank you for understanding."  It's the kind of shirt I'm not likely to wear when I'm out doing errands or anything else, but I'll definitely wear it around my house!

Whatever you do, whatever inspires you, I hope it all works beautifully in 2015.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yoga Mysteries, Imperfect Sleuths, and Book Launches!

Reader and yoga teacher Rene de los Santos patiently waiting for A Killer Retreat

I never wanted to be a writer, but then again I never wanted to be a yoga teacher. I always thought yoga was for woo woo Gumby wannabes who got their jollies contorting themselves into pretzel-like positions. The whole idea of it flummoxed me.

Then I got into a car accident.

Seven years later, I was still in significant chronic pain every day, and I couldn’t turn my head more than an inch or two. None of my doctors gave much hope for my recovery. At one point, I told my friends that if I thought it would help, I’d travel to Africa and dance naked around a witch doctor’s fire.  I’d have done anything to escape the pain. Even yoga.

I stumbled into my first yoga class out of desperation. I hate to admit it, but I left feeling significantly worse than when I arrived. I told my husband when I got home that the word yoga obviously meant “much pain.”

But I kept going, for months. You see, the balm I’d hoped to find for my body was actually easing my soul. I was calmer, happier, more balanced. When that yoga teacher left town for a month, I tried several other classes and stumbled upon a style that would soon become my yoga home—Viniyoga. For the first time ever, I left class with a body that felt as great as my mind.

Viniyoga is breath centered, adaptive, and therapeutic. It worked like magic on my neck and upper back. Within a few months, I was off the prescription pain meds and I could turn my head again. Shortly thereafter, I decided to quit my corporate job and make my living sharing these ancient teachings with others.

My yoga teacher-protagonist Kate teaches this same style of yoga. Kate’s wounds are more psychological than physical, and she’s far from the perfect yogi, but the practice serves her nonetheless. Yoga’s philosophy gives her compass that guides her life. True, she’s often a few degrees off north, but she’s learning. Someday she might even find the healing and peace that she offers to others.
Rutledge won't come out until his human reads him A Killer Retreat
Whether or not you ever decide to try yoga, I hope you’ll give my series a shot. The Downward Dog Mysteries, like most cozies, are lighthearted, often funny, gore is off-screen, and sex is behind closed doors.

Even if the only pose you’ll ever practice is Corpse Pose—and that after one too many margaritas—the series has something to offer. Love, growth, mystery, and hope, not to mention some laugh-out-loud moments, especially those with Kate’s German shepherd, Bella.  The first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, is available now.  The second, A Killer Retreat, launches January 8. Rumor has it you can pre-order A Killer Retreat for your electronic devices and have it on New Year’s Day.  The perfect way to start 2015.

Yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

About Tracy:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries. I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.  My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

For more information, visit me online at http://tracyweberauthor.com/ and http://wholelifeyoga.com/

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Is Coming


by Shannon Baker
Here it comes again.
Winter.
It’s my last one here in Nebraska. I say this with my fingers crossed. I haven’t often said “never” in my life, but when I have, it’s come back to bite me. For instance, I remember my first drive through the Nebraska Sandhills. I said, “This is awful country. I’d never live here.”
Less than three years later I moved to the Sandhills and lived there for twenty years. It might not have been the awful country I’d imagined, but it was a challenge to love.
When I escaped from there, I moved to Boulder, Colorado. An amazingly beautiful place. From there I bounced down to Flagstaff, AZ. That’s the gateway to the Grand Canyon and in the middle of mountains and a lodegpole pine forest. I said, “I’m never going to live anywhere not beautiful again.”
A little over a year ago, I ended up in southwest Nebraska. There is probably plenty to love around here but this is a temporary gig for me and I don’t feel like setting out to find the silver lining. Bad attitude, I know, but I’ve been through menopause and older women tell me you lose your capacity to accept BS with the collagen and everything else that disappears. I’m good with that.
There are lovely homes in this town, even a luxury neighborhood on a golf course. We don’t live there. We live in the ghetto, if a town of 6,000 can have a ghetto. Our house is nearly 100 years old and has as much insulation as a canvas wall tent. (Just how the hell did Indians make it through prairie winters in a teepee, anyway?) All I have to do is survive one more winter here and we’re heading south, all the way to Tucson, where silver linings abound.



I have heat. An ancient furnace that kicks on about the time I can see my breath, blasts me into the Death Valley zone, then pops off, leaving the air to hiss against the frigid walls. It’s like a family-sized hot flash and everyone can share in the fun. I peel off layers at the height of the heat wave before I can start sweating, then quickly add them back when the temperature plummets again.  
Last winter, I trudged to the library five days a week. This worked for me on multiple levels. It got me out of the house and among living people, made me stretch my legs and breath fresh air, imposed a work environment where I couldn’t leave until I completed my quota, and, the most important, the temperature remained steady. Chilly, but constant.
Back at home, my writing outfit consisted of long underwear, jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt, fingerless gloves, down booties, and on the coldest days, my husband’s fleece pullover on top of it all. Most days I added a fleece cap, because, 80% of heat escapes through your head. (Did anyone else’s mother tell them that?)
I did a lot of cooking and baking, especially recipes on low heat that I could simmer all day. I even found a DIY heating system online that called for terra cotta flower pots and tea lights. I nearly burned the house down and have been banned from playing with matches ever since.

I’m bracing for it, clenching my teeth and pulling out the long underwear and wool socks. Here we go again. One last time. Winter is coming, and as with any George R. R. Martin work, there’s always a large and surprising death toll.

Our Midnight Inkers are scattered all over the map. The Minnesotans (Jessie Chandler and Jess Lourey) will call me a wimp. The Floridians (Deb Sharp) and Californians (Sue Ann Jaffarian) and Arizonans (Maegan Beaumont) have no clue what I’m talking about. The Coloradans (Linda Hull and Mark Stevens) will mock me since they spend winter with crisp white snow and bright sunshine. So what about the rest of you, tell us what you love and hate about winter.