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 and

Monday, December 15, 2014

Highlights from 2014

This week, Midnight Ink intern Jessica Nelson recaps six books in-depth from our 2014 catalog:

Trusting Viktor by Lee Mims (February)
Betting her life savings on a risky offshore natural gas enterprise, brilliant geologist Cleo Cooper has high hopes for a big payday. But a violent attack onboard the drillship darkens Cleo’s optimism.
Days later, a man washes up on the coast near the drill sight, but is it the man who assaulted Cleo? When Viktor, a promising young Russian geologist is hired as the dead man’s replacement, Cleo isn't sure if he’s friend or foe. The truth seems to be lurking beneath the surface, and as she gets closer to it, Cleo begins to wonder if she's standing between a murderer and a treasure worth killing for.
". . . a breezily entertaining whodunit."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] fun read."—Mystery Scene

Montecito Heights by Colin Campbell (April)

Saving a senator’s daughter from LA’s porn industry is one gig that needs serious discretion . . . but discretion is not Jim Grant’s specialty. Before long, Grant finds himself busting a robbery on live television, spreading his arms wide to show he’s unarmed—the same pose that earned him the nickname Resurrection Man in Boston.
The spotlight may be good for Grant’s ego, but it’s bad for his health. The Dominguez drug cartel is looking for him, and his work for the senator has uncovered a ring of dirty cops who want him out of the way. Helped by an ex-cop working on CSI: NY and hindered by a film crew that wants to make him a reality television star, Grant must tread carefully. In the city of angels, corruption runs deep, loyalty is fragile, and justice is hard to find.
". . .wry maverick Grant never fails to entertain." —Kirkus Reviews
"This gritty thriller . . . maintains a breakneck pace . . . [and] its smart structure and unrelenting suspense will please Lee Child fans."—Library Journal

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (May)
That was the day I met Gus, the day I grew a family as if from magic beans, the day she died. That's the point, see? It was the very same day…
Jessie Constable has learned the hard way to always keep herself safe. But meeting Gus King changes everything. Before she knows it, Jessie is sleeping at Gus's house, babysitting his kids, becoming a part of his family. And yet, she can't ignore the unsettling questions. Who does she keep seeing from the corner of her eye? Why are strange men threatening her? Most importantly, what really happened to Gus's wife?
Creating a brilliant, foreboding mystery where nothing is as it seems, master storyteller Catriona McPherson weaves an ominous tale that will keep you guessing until the very end.

"McPherson's second stand-alone is a tour de force, a creepy psychological thriller that will leave you breathless."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Keep the lights on and batten down the hatches, for McPherson’s psychologically terrifying stand-alone demands to be read all night."—Library Journal

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco (July)
Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.
With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.
"Cozy readers with a taste for humor will welcome this hilarious series debut . . . [and] will eagerly await the next installment."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Hockensmith...and coauthor Falco deliver a charming comic mystery, which one hopes is the beginning of a series."—Booklist
"[A] clever and compelling tale filled with colorful and engaging characters and a whodunit plot."—ForeWord Reviews
"From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all . . . A+ across the board!"—Suspense Magazine
"Fun and light."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine 

The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman (October)
Samuel Hoenig answers questions for a living. And as a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, his unique personality helps him ferret out almost any answer there is. But his latest question is a rather odd one—who stole a preserved head from the Garden State Cryonics Institute?
Arriving at the scene of the crime accompanied by his new colleague, Ms. Washburn, Samuel finds that what started out as a theft has escalated to murder. With suspects and motives emerging at a rapid rate, one final question remains—can Samuel’s powers of deduction uncover a killer in the face of overwhelming odds?
 "[A] delightful and clever mystery."—Publishers Weekly 
"In this well-crafted story, the Asperger's element . . . provides a unique point of view on crime-solving, as well as offering a sensitive look at a too-often-misunderstood condition."—Booklist
"Copperman/Cohen succeeds in providing a glimpse not only of the challenges experienced by those with Asperger's, but also of their unique gifts."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Cleverly written and humorous."—CrimeSpree Magazine

Tradition of Deceit by Kathleen Ernst (November)

Book 5 in the award-winning historical Chloe Ellefson Mystery series
Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe's attention turns from milling to murder.
Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.
"Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series."—Library Journal
"Everybody has secrets in this action-filled cozy."—Publishers Weekly

Monday, December 8, 2014

Midnight Ink's Year-End Round-Up

The 35 Books Published by Midnight Ink in 2014

Winter Is Coming

by Shannon Baker
Here it comes again.
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.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q&A with Sue Ann Jaffarian

This week, we sat down with Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the popular Odelia Grey Mystery series. Her latest, Hell on Wheels, was released last month.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Sue Ann Jaffarian: Steadily for about 18 years.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
SAJ: I learn so much from reading other authors’ works—both good and bad, but the most significant influence came from the first book I read by the late Anne George. It really turned me on to writing murder and mayhem with a good dose of humor.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
SAJ: I am a corporate paralegal for a well-known national health care law firm.

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working?
SAJ: Spending time with friends and going to the theatre, exhibits, restaurants, and travelling.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
SAJ: Hard to pick just one. I have to say that Easy Rawlins and Harry Bosch top the list. I love how each are so well written with so many complicated layers and contradictions.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
SAJ: I do and it’s from one of my books, Corpse On The Cob. In that book Odelia Grey stumbles across her long-lost mother while dear old Mom is hunched over a dead body. It’s a favorite because it added another dimension to Odelia’s character and opened the way for later books.

MI: What was your inspiration for the Odelia Grey mysteries?
SAJ: The old “what if?” question inspired that series. What if an ordinary but quirky woman finds herself constantly stumbling across dead people. Many other inspirations come from my life as a middle-aged, plus size paralegal, who, thankfully, does NOT find dead bodies.

MI: Tell us about Odelia Grey!
SAJ: As mentioned above, she’s middle-aged, plus size and works as a paralegal in a law firm. She doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, but rather through Groucho Marx glasses, which makes her quirky, quick-witted, and quick-tongued. She’s smart, but doesn’t always behave as such. She’s also married to Greg Stevens, a successful business owner who is also a paraplegic.
B and Raffi

MI: How does this series compare to your other works?
SAJ: It’s written in first person, for one thing. It’s also closer to the main character because of it. Readers are treated to what’s going on in Odelia’s head all the time. Also, it’s less of a “cozy” than my Ghost of Granny Apples novels in that Odelia is often faced with more violence and adult themes in her adventures, but without being hard-boiled.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
SAJ: I have two senior citizen cats, B and Raffi. Raffi is the boss of the house, a male with a definite point of view and demands. B is a fat and fluffy Norwegian Forest Cat with a very sweet disposition.

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
SAJ: Pasta with a basil marinara sauce.

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
SAJ: Not really. I recently started leaning toward a vegan diet and have been cooking up a storm, but nothing that really stands out.
MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
SAJ: Receiving royalty checks.

Hell on Wheels is available online and in bookstores now!