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.

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!