Monday, June 27, 2016

It's a Cover Reveal Contest!

I'm practically jumping up and down about the cover of my fourth Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist.  Last year's cover reveal contest was so fun, I've decided to do it again!  Here’s how it works:

Each day for the next seven days, I’ll post an element of the cover on my Facebook author page  Before midnight that day, leave a comment naming the object pictured and you’ll be entered into that day’s contest.  “Liking" my author page or “Friending” me on Facebook while you’re there is good Karma, but not required.

While you’re there, be sure to make a note of the object for the grand prize round.

Then, any time between when I post the final object on Sunday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 6 at midnight, send me an e-mail at with all seven objects, and you’ll be entered to win the Malice Prize Pack: a copy of  Malice Domestic Murder Most Conventional, the Malice 28 book bag and program, the coolest author swag I scooped up at the event AND an autographed, advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it is available in August.

Here are the prizes! 
  • Monday: An autographed copy of my Agatha Nominated first book, Murder Strikes a Pose. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Tuesday: A Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug.
  • Wednesday: An autographed copy of the second book in the series, A Killer Retreat. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Thursday:  An oh-so-cute German shepherd coloring book and colored pencil set.
  • Friday:  An autographed copy of the third book in the series, Karma’s a Killer. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Saturday: A $15 Amazon gift certificate.
  • Sunday: An advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it’s available sometime in August.
  • Grand Prize:  Malice prize pack AND an advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it’s available.

The first element is pictured below. Visit today's post on my  Facebook Author Page and make your entry!


element 1

NOTE:  By entering, you acknowledge that Facebook is not liable for any part of the contest.  The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  ;-)
Namaste and good luck!

Tracy Weber

books available

Check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  KARMA'S A KILLER, A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Lifelike characters. Every author strives to write them, and every reader longs to read them. So we give them flaws. Maybe their ego is so big, they trip over it. Maybe their low self-esteem keeps them from believing they can be the one to solve the murder. But what happens when your detective or amateur sleuth is blind? Or deaf? Or both? 

I'm currently in the process of reading the five books in Ellery Adam's Hope Street Church cozy mystery series. (Exciting announcement about this coming soon!) In the Hope Street books, the main character, Cooper, and her friends from her bible study group band together to solve murders. The leader of the bible study group is blind. 

While this blind character isn't the main character, she shows up on a lot of pages. So how does an author write a character who is blind? How does she help solve cases if she can't see evidence? 

The answer is to make her just like any other character. She has strengths, like her compassion and understanding nature, her intuition, her ability to see the truth behind words and motivations. She keeps her friends on track and grounded. She's an integral part of the team in her own way, just like all the others. She's also a great artist! 

And that's the key to writing a solid, diverse, realistic character. It's not about her blindness, it's about her as a person. She overcomes obstacles, just like everyone else, and pitches in to save the day. 

Do you know of any great mysteries with blind or deaf characters? Leave us a recommendation in the comments!

Until next time....

Thursday, June 16, 2016

10 Signs That Writing Stress Is Getting to Me

By Lisa Alber

Writing novels is a job like any other. There are deadlines, and to make those deadlines we often have to work when we're feeling cruddy or low or uninspired or crabby. And in the midst of hustling to make a major deadline called Hand Off Manuscript to Editor (and pray she likes it!), there are all kinds of other writerly tasks that come into play.

I'm on a yearly deadline. This means that while I'm writing the novel for next year (2017), I'm also gearing up for the release of this year's novel, Whispers in the Mist.

August is my month. Whispers arrives at bookstores near you AND I hand off the next book to my editor. Whew! That's a lot. I have a huge list of things to do in the next few months. In other words, just like with any other job, we may get totally stressed out and overwhelmed. I can tell I've reached that point because:

1. The only thing that sounds good for dinner is pasta.

2. I go outside for some fresh air, and suddenly it's an hour later and I've dug up three bushes.

3. I don't see the pet hair on the rug, or the dust on the nightstands, or the spiders taking up residence in random places. House cleaning--what's that?

4. I forget appointments, like the crown-placement dentist appointment I almost missed this morning. In fact, I've forgotten so many dentist appointments that last year she instituted a missed appointment penalty fee. Yes, I can take credit for that.

5. My social life goes down the tubes--and I already have a, shall we say, "curtailed" social life as it is. I'm more likely to be watching a movie on Friday night with the dog and the cat snoozing nearby than socializing.

6. My idea of a good time is going to bed early.

7. I don't care about ice cream -- I mean, it's okay, whatever -- but I find myself buying a pint of the local Alpenrose brand strawberry cheesecake ice cream that I promise myself I won't eat all at once because that would be gross.

8. The nice folks at my local bistro know me by name because I come in so often to drink red wine write. Budget, be damned.

9. I get up in the morning already yearning for an afternoon nap.

10. Last but not least, the novel I'm writing? Yeah, it's the worst dreck in the world, everyone will hate it, and why am I doing this to myself?

Stress is like anything else--it comes, it goes, and then when it goes we forget about it like it never happened. Or, we look back on it and think, Wow, I was totally nuts; so glad to be back to normal now.

The habit that works in a pinch to ease stress? Breathing. Really. Unclenching your core and feeling your lungs move in and out as you breath.

How does stress and busy-ness and feeling overwhelmed affect you? Do you have a go-to food or habit?

Lisa Alber is the author of the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, has been called "utterly poetic" and "a stirring debut." Her second in the County Clare mysteries, WHISPERS IN THE MIST will be available in August 2016 from Midnight Ink Books. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Facebook | Twitter

Monday, June 13, 2016

BOOK LAUNCH MONDAY | Summer Reading from Midnight Ink Books

Web mistress Lisa here. For this month's Book Launch Monday I thought I'd give you the latest scoop about summer titles coming out from Midnight Ink. Summer's a great time for reading, don't you think? Sit outside with your beverage of choice--I imagine a cool, crisp gin and tonic. Maybe you've got an Adirondack chair under a shady willow or a pool-side lounge chair or a patio draped in wisteria. Happy summer reading! ~Lisa


The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco

Mercury retrograde wreaks havoc on astrologer Julia Bonatti retrograde wreaks havoc on astrologer Julia Bonatti.

"This smartly written debut from di Marco sets the stage for a promising series."—Kirkus Reviews

Destiny's Pawn by D.A. Keeley

Peyton’s fate depends on an unlikely pawn in a quarter-century-old crime.

"[A] solid third Peyton Cote novel."—Publishers Weekly

Child Not Found by Ray Daniel

Aloysius Tucker persists in looking for his missing nine-year-old cousin even as his relentless efforts draw him into a deadly crossfire between every power-hungry crook in Boston.

"Daniel is more than generous with the violence, guilt, tweets, craft brews, and compassion."—Kirkus Reviews


The English Boys by Julia Thomas

Dark and twisted secrets emerge in the wake of a deadly wedding.

"[An] eminently readable debut."—Kirkus Reviews

Roots of Murder by R. Jean Reid

Small-town secrets refuse to stay buried.

"Reid's exciting debut, filled with action and philosophical musings about the enduring weight of the past, will make you both sad and mad."—Kirkus Reviews

Murder Under the Covered Bridge by Elizabeth Perona

The skinny-dipping grandmas bare all when their pinup calendar shoot goes terribly wrong.

"Cozy fans will enjoy spending time with Francine and friends."—Publishers Weekly


Blood of Saints by Maegan Beaumont

When twenty-year-old forensic evidence connects Sabrina Vaughn to a string of recent murders, she must leave her new life behind and return to the place she was brutally raped and tortured in order to search for a killer who is as cunning as any she has ever encountered.

"Beaumont's ability to keep the twists coming, even when the answers seem obvious is quite potent." —Library Journal

Whispers in the Mist by Lisa Alber

When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern's arms, Danny finds himself pursuing a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth.

"A worthy successor to Kilmoon in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs."—Kirkus Reviews

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cover Reveal!

Now that Delivering the Truth is launched and happily in the hands of readers (who report being very happy with the story, too - see lots of glowing reviews here), I'm looking ahead to books two and three.

Called to Justice is finished and in production. It's even up for preorder on Amazon! And isn't this a gorgeous cover?

Here's the blurb: Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?

I'm so excited about this book! It'll be out in April, 2017. And this week I've started writing book three. It doesn't have a title or much of a plot yet, but it will by the end of summer. Stay tuned. 

Readers, what do you think of the cover? Does a cover catch your eye in a bookstore or online, or do you go more for what the blurb says? What leads you to buy a book?

Monday, June 6, 2016

My Latest Release

by Linda O. Johnston

Since my last post here on InkSpot, which occurs on the first Monday of each month, I've had another mystery released by Midnight Ink: TO CATCH A TREAT, the second of my Barkery & Biscuits Mystery.

As always, it's been fun.  I seem to learn more with each release about how to let people know about them in as many ways as possible.  Some ways are done by Midnight Ink and my wonderful publicist there.  Some I do myself, or with the help of friends.  And I'm always looking for more.  Sort of.

I'm not very techy, so my social media efforts are somewhat limited.  I admire those authors who do it all, and some of them write for Midnight Ink.  But although I have Twitter and Goodreads accounts, I know I don't use them as much as I should.

I do a lot of blogging, though.  I did a Great Escapes Blog Tour, which is always enjoyable.  I provided some blog posts and interview responses and watched with great excitement when reviews were posted by the blog hosts as well as those that featured me for the day.  I've also done other blogs, including those I write for on a regular basis, and others hosted by friends who invite me to write posts.

I did personal appearances, too.  One I considered the launch of TO CATCH A TREAT, at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, California.  Its Birthday Bash coincided with the release of my book, and they scheduled a bunch of different authors to speak on panels that day, including me.  Unfortunately, despite my leaving home in Los Angeles very early in the morning, there was an accident on a freeway in front of me so I was a little late, but I think it still went well.

Then there was another bookstore visit, to Book Carnival in Orange, California, about forty miles from my home.  The store has been there for a long time, and I've been publishing for a long time, but although I'd heard of it I didn't realize it was all about mysteries and romantic suspense.  Fortunately, a friend who's also a publicist arranged for my appearance there along with another author--and it was great!  Plus, the owner is interested in having me come back in October for her Halloween event, which is also the release time for my third Superstition Mystery--a good fit for Halloween, don't you think?  I do!

And I always visit other bookstores such as Barnes & Nobles in my area, where I can sign copies of my books in stock there.

But now, after nearly a month, my promotion events have slowed a bit.  Even so, I'm always watching for more.  Being online certainly helps, and so does going to conferences.

And here, when I started out, I thought writers just wrote.  Hah!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dying for theThrills

Voilá. Poof. Presto Chango … I’m not a mystery writer—I’m a thriller writer. Well, I’m both really. The difference is a combination of nuance and delivery—at least to me it is—and after three edits and rewrites, I hope I delivered the right set of genre pieces-parts—now, if only my beta-readers agree my thriller is truly a thriller and not a twisted mystery, I’m half-way there. The second half will be my agent. And let me tell you, she’s the real judge … jury and executioner, too.

When I typed “The End” on my new novel, it was the nineth time. Of my nine novels, only four of them have been thrillers—and none of these have been published yet. Of the remaining five, all are mysteries and four are published (the fifth, New Sins for Old Scores, will be out in early 2017 from Black Opal Books). So, the last time I wrote a thriller was nearly seven years ago and the thought of rekindling this genre under my fingers was intimidating.

My decision to write this thriller after publishing four mysteries was not simple. Four years ago, when Dying to Know was first contracted with Midnight Ink for a series, I had penned two other novels I loved. One was a tradional, hardboiled mystery and the other a thriller. After completing three more mysteries after Dying to Know, I decided it was time for a change. About eighteen months ago, I sat at my favorite Greek taverna in McLean, Virginia—oddly enough called, The Greek Taverna, with my mentor, Wally F., and debated the path forward—the hardboiled mystery or my thriller. Both would require wholesale rewrites and essentially new plotlines because they were rooted in current events at that time. The battle raged between Wally and me for three weeks. That’s six lunches, three dinners, and countless telephone skirmishes. In that time, we’d agreed on a course, changed tact, argued, and re-agreed on which novel to write. Actually, we did that two or three times. His favorite was the thriller. Mine was the mystery—afterall, I’d just written four in a row and felt more comfortable with the genre. To write the thriller would require adjusting my mindset and recalibrating my brain. If I could. Yikes.

The stalemate continued. During the next six months, I worked on both at the same time. One week was the thriller, the next was the mystery. I felt bipolar and dyslexic all at the same time. Enough. It was time for a command decision. I would write what I wanted! There … take that …

And then the unthinkable. I lost Wally to age and a bad heart at 92. During an all-nighter in the hospital—he knew he wouldn’t last another day—and with high spirits, he confided many things in me. Most of which will never be repeated. He also left me with a last request—write the damn thriller!

Yes, sir. Just what I was thinking…

And so it began. The hardest part of writing this novel was un-writing the original draft. I loved the storyline and characters. But it was outdated and I’d learned so much about writing in the several years since I’d finished draft one. So I sat down and in about four months had totally rewritten the book. Then I read it. A very large problem jumped out at me. I had taken a pretty good thriller and turned it into a mediocre murder mystery.


Seems that after writing four mysteries, my thought process and plot development cells were focused on just that—crafting another whodunit. Except I needed a whatsabouttohappen.

Right about now, you’re probably saying, “Huh?” Just like I did when I reached the ending—unless you’re a writer yourself. The difference between a thriller and a mystery is often a moving target, a shimmering line between genres that you cross carefully and leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way home.

You see, in essence, a mystery is cerebral … it’s an event—a murder in my case—in the beginning and a mind game of events on the reader’s chase to the suspect. You must use wit and reason to solve the crime. You already know the “what happened.” The story plays out for the reader to find out who and why, and bag the killer. It’s clues and characters and subliminal hits and red herrings. In the end, it’s “Gotcha.” A thriller is more suspense, action, and outcome. The reader often knows what the big-bang is at the end—or the possibilities of the big event—and often knows the good guys and the bad guys, too. Or most of them. In a thriller, it’s about the journey to that event—ups, downs, twists, turns, thrills, and spills until WHAM! The big finale … Oh sure, many thrillers are about murders or at least have murders involved. But its not in the whodunit, but more in the whydunit and whatsabouttohappen or not happen. (Can I copywrite those phrases?)

So in draft one of my “thriller,” I clearly abandoned my original plot and returned to whodunit. It was slow and methodical. There were clues and evidence and crime scenes and all manner of facts to fluster the reader. But there was no thriller. No suspense. Oh, a few shoot-em-ups and spills, but it lacked the thrust of the genre—whatsabouttohappen.

Hence, draft two and then three. Finally… more pizazz, less whodunits, and more whatsabouttohappen. The outcome—the pass/fail—will be decided this coming Sunday when my beta-reader group comes together over a fancy meal and lots of wine. They’ve all read my mysteries. Now—gulp—I’m waiting on their score. It’ll be a no-holds-barred critique of my novel where the only thing I’m guaranteed is the dinner tab.

So far, I’ve received a couple snippets from two of my betas. One said, “Do you know you write like Dashiell Hammett? And another said, “This is your best mystery …er… novel. I love who did it!” Based on these preambles, I may be doing draft four this summer.

So charge. Onto the rewrites. Bring on the critique. Let the dissection begin.

And yes, Wally F. I wrote the damn thriller. I promised … and yes, you’re in it—again.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and Dying to Tell—and New Sins for Old Scores, a new paranormal mystery coming in 2017! He is currently working on a new thriller. 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: