Friday, May 19, 2017

Guest Post: Amanda Flower - The Final Vow

Join Amanda Flower as she shares a peek into the life of Laura Fellow, a character in Amanda's latest Living History Museum Mystery, The Final Vow. There's also a recipe included!



Most of the year, I'm a high school history teacher, but during the summer, I dress up in long skirts and shirtwaists as a historical interpreter at Barton Farm. In this getup, I pretend to be living in 1863 and spout off mostly accurate Ohio and America Civil War history. My best friend, Kelsey Cambridge, is the director of Barton Farm, and she always tells me not to share bad historical facts. My philosophy is different. If I can make a student or visitor think by feeding them questionable facts, that’s when really learning can occur. The ability to question something lead to true critical thinking. Unfortunately, Kelsey doesn’t see it that way and thinks the Farm will be sued some day for my misrepresentation of history. She worries too much.

Another aspect of my job at Barton Farm is to cook meals in a hearth, so that tourists can taste test the delicacies of years gone by. To be honest, it's hot and steamy work. There are no air conditioning in any of the historical buildings on Barton Farm where I cook. The recipes are usually labor intensive and need my constant attention, which means many long hours over the fire. However, when I see a child taste of my recipes and smile, it is all worth it because now that child has a taste for history. As a history teacher and historical interpreter, I can’t think of anything better.

However this year, a typically peaceful summer of stories and recipes at Barton Farm has been interrupted with the upcoming wedding of Eddie Cambridge and Krissie Pumpernickel. Yes, you read that last name right. It’s the same as Kelsey. She is hosting her ex-husband’s wedding at Barton Farm. She doesn’t have any choice in the matter. The Cherry Foundation, which sponsors the Farm, agreed to it. To make matters worse, Krissie got it into her head that she wants a Civil War-themed wedding.  I’m helping her anyway that I can, so she asked me to help her with the Civil War era menu since that’s my expertise at the Farm. I agreed it do it for Kelsey. I certainly have no interest in helping Eddie or Krissie. I even have gone so far as to share my rice pudding recipe. I sure hope Krissie appreciates it. Knowing that bridezilla she won’t.

But maybe you will. You will find the recipe below. Enjoy!

Recipe for Barton Farm Rice Pudding
Ingredients:
1/2 cup rice
1/3 cup of sugar
1 quart of milk
4 tbsp. butter, diced
dash of salt
1/2 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and allow it to sit for half hour, so that rice can soak up the milk. Bake mixture in baking dish at 275 degrees F for 2-3 hours. Stir twice during the first hour at 20 minute mark and 40 minute mark.

Serves four. Serve hot or cold.

***


Summer weddings at Barton Farm’s picturesque church were standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge—until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, ordered Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.


Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene. And when she finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.

Amanda Flower (Tallmadge, OH) is an academic librarian and the Agatha Award-nominated author of Maid of Murder, the Appleseed Creek Mysteries, and the India Hayes Mysteries. She also writes the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries under the name Isabella Alan. You can visit Amanda at www.AmandaFlower.com.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guest Post: Nadine Nettmann - Uncorking a Lie

Recent Agatha Award Finalist Nadine Nettmann shares 15 fun facts! 

Take a moment to learn more about Nadine 
and her latest title Uncorking a Lie, available now!



1. I’m addicted to Jeopardy and pub trivia.

2. It took five books, ten years, and 421 queries to get published. My advice is to never give up.

3. I decided to pursue my sommelier certification after I was pulled onto a wine panel at a food and wine festival.

4. I was in an excellent blind tasting group for a few years where we met weekly and tested each other on wines. However, the characters in my books are not based on the members of the tasting group.

5. In the photo of Decanting a Murder with the two glasses of wine, my mom poured both bottles at the same time while I took the photo. We did about four takes (and I mean, putting the wine back into the bottle and starting over) and had a lot of laughs.



6. The corks in the photo of Uncorking a Lie are all special corks I’ve saved over the years from anniversaries, special moments, or truly amazing bottles. I keep them in a vase on the shelf by my desk.



7. I can do a few magic tricks and sometimes carry a deck of cards in my purse.

8. I often eat dinner food for breakfast and breakfast food for dinner.

9. I drink massive amounts of tea (milk, no sugar) daily in an extra large mug I bought while I was in London.

10. I prefer baking to cooking and love making cakes and pastries.

11. I was once in a book club where I made a themed cake for each book. The photo is a carrot cake for the meeting where we discussed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.



12. My husband and I moved to Hawaii on a whim with only two suitcases each … and ended up staying there for five years.

13. I learned how to drive stick shift on the road to Hana, Maui.

14. My first passion is writing but my second is music and I’ve played the guitar since I was sixteen.

15. My favorite movie is Psycho because I saw it without knowing (spoiler alert!) that Norman Bates was his mother so I received the full effect Hitchcock was trying to achieve. It stunned me and sparked a love of twist endings.

***

It was the kind of invitation sommelier Katie Stillwell had only dreamed about: a dinner party at the Sonoma mansion of famed wine collector Paul Rafferty to celebrate a rare bottle. Everyone enjoys drinking the $19,000 wine, but Katie realizes it’s not the vintage listed on the label.


When she confides in Mr. Rafferty, he asks her to investigate, and she soon discovers the deception goes beyond money—it includes an accidental death that might just be murder. As Katie falls deeper into the world of counterfeit wine, she learns everything is at stake . . . even her life.

Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has visited wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany and every region in France. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband. You can visit Nadine at www.NadineNettmann.com.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Guest Post: Brian Klingborg - Kill Devil Falls

Midnight Ink would like to welcome debut author Brian Klingborg to our blog! 

Brian takes a moment to explain why he is extremely into writing those terrifying, scary, creepy, dark mysteries. His first thriller/horror/suspense novel Kill Devil Falls is available now.


I like my mysteries and thrillers the same way I like my coffee – pitch black.

I’ve always been drawn to flawed protagonists, sympathetic villains, gallows humor, frequent violence, and moral ambiguity.

Don’t get me wrong -- I coo over babies and puppies, offer up my subway seat to those in need and never fail to mist up when watching the “You had me at hello” scene in Jerry McGuire.  In other words, I’m a big softie.

But I’m attracted to dark-hearted tales like a sailor to a siren.  I’ve pondered the reasons why, and I think I finally have an answer.  It’s my parents fault.

Let me explain.

When I was about five, my mother decided it was time to provide me with some exposure to religion.  Not that she was particularly devout, but she was raised in a family that went to church most Sundays, and derived some sense of community from doing so, and anyway, why the hell not?
So off I went to a preschool church group.  I don’t remember what the program consisted of, but I assume it involved a few games, a couple of Bible stories, milk and cookies, and then the grand finale – an invitation to establish a personal relationship with Jesus.

What the church group didn’t know was that my father was a veterinarian.  One who was justifiably proud of his skills, and not above a bit of grand-standing.  Docking puppy tails in our garage, performing emergency suturing on our dining table, that sort of thing.  As a result, even at that tender age I was no stranger to actual blood and guts in all their technicolor glory.  So, when the unsuspecting church group leader asked if I was ready to “accept Jesus into your heart,” I took his meaning literally and freaked out. Big time.  He had to call my mother to come pick me up.  And I was not invited back.

During those formative years, my parents worked hard to make ends meet, and there wasn’t a lot of money for extras.  When they wanted to splurge, they went to the movies.  And because they couldn’t afford a babysitter, they took my older brother and me along.  That’s how I ended up as a toddler watching The Godfather on the big screen, complete with its severed horse’s head and toll-booth machine gun rub-out of Sonny Corleone.  (Side note:  The Godfather remains one of my favorite movies today.)  I also recall seeing MASH, The Poseidon Adventure, and a few other 70’s classics with rather high body counts.


I’m not saying my fondness for scary stories, noir and gore are entirely a result of this early introduction to gross anatomy and celluloid shocks – some folks naturally like kittens, while others prefer extraterrestrial creatures with acidic blood.  But certainly, in my own writing, I reach back to those childhood influences for inspiration.

For example, has there ever been a scene more fraught with the anticipation of impending violence than the one in The Godfather where Michael Corleone sits down for dinner with Virgil “the Turk” Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey?  Watch as the tension slowly, excruciatingly ratchets up to eleven, punctuated by Michael’s nervous eye-shifting and the jarring crescendo of an approaching subway train. Quentin Tarantino has based his entire film career on emulating that kind of cinematic brilliance.  As a writer, I’d love nothing more than to put my audience on the edge of their seats the way that scene does to me.


Likewise, having a front row seat at live births, operations and autopsies (animal, not human) has given me an eye for detail when it comes to things such as medical procedures and the odor of various kinds of bodily fluids.  What many people might find disgusting, or at least off-putting, was a common topic of conversation around our dinner table.

Fast forward many years and I have two children myself.  When my kids were young, I carefully curated what they read and viewed.  Nothing too violent or disturbing.  They are in their teens now, so I let them make their own choices, but I still issue a verbal warning if they are about to enter the room when I’m watching zombies or a bloody shoot-out on TV.   Thus far, neither of them have demonstrated the same love for the grotesque that I possess, but time will tell whether these preferences are a matter of nature or nurture.

In the meantime, my youthful experiences continue to inform my work.  As a parent, I probably wouldn’t have considered taking my kids to see The Godfather.  But as a storyteller, I appreciate having a deep well of visceral memories from which to draw.  Without it, I’d probably be writing about stuff like dragons and iron thrones.  And who needs more of that nonsense?  (Kidding – I love you George R. R. Martin!)


Anyway, what I guess what I’m really trying to say is -- thanks mom and dad!

***

When U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is tasked with collecting a fugitive bank robber from a remote town in the Sierra Nevadas, she braces for a rough trip. After all, with a name like Kill Devil Falls, her destination must be a real hellhole.

Turns out that it’s worse than she imagined. Much worse. After barely surviving a white-knuckle drive in what she suspects is a sabotaged car, she’s stuck in a virtual ghost town populated by a handful of oddballs and outcasts. But it’s not until her prisoner turns up dead that Helen realizes she’s in real trouble. There are secrets buried below the surface of Kill Devil Falls. Secrets worth killing for.


Brian Klingborg works in the educational publishing field. He’s written books on Kung Fu, and he wrote for the Winx Club television series. Kill Devil Falls is his first novel. He lives in New York City. You can follow Brian on Twitter: @OjiiKlingborg.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Guest Post: Steve Hockensmith - Give the Devil His Due


Give the Devil His Due, the third entry in the Tarot Mystery series by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco, came out this month, and to celebrate we asked Steve to stop by the blog and share some thoughts on the book. As you’ll see, he had a lot to share about not having a lot to share.


Point Blank

I have nothing to say. Which is really saying something. Aren’t writers supposed to write because they’re burning with a feverish desire to share their most passionate feelings and important ideas?

Nope. That’s internet trolls. Oh, and some writers, too. But not me.

I do have passionate feelings. “Love Actually” is terrible! “The Big Lebowski” is wonderful! Wheat beer is an abomination! Stout is the stuff of life! See? But did I make the world a better place by sharing all that? Did I change your mind about anything? Did I get you to buy my latest book? I doubt it.

I have ideas, too, but I don’t presume that they have any importance. A lot of them are about books and stories I (or someone) should write, and that ain’t gonna change the world. My ideas about life and people and politics are important, I suppose, but they’re not original. Other people are saying the same thing — and getting shouted at by people who have different ideas about life and people and politics.

I don’t like being shouted at. If I were the renegade cop in a ‘70s movie — the one called in to see the precinct captain, who barks something like “You’ve really screwed the pooch this time, McCloskey! That was the mayor’s son you just shot!” — I’d whimper and turn in my badge and gun immediately. (Even before the later scene where the captain tells me to turn in my badge and gun because I just threw the mayor off a bridge.)

Yet we can’t help but say something sometimes, even when we don’t think we’re opening up our big yaps. Cozy mysteries get knocked because they’re supposedly disposable escapist fluff. Well, allow me to actually say something: Hurrah for supposedly disposable escapist fluff! And supposedly disposable escapist fluff can make a statement — even when it doesn’t have a point per se beyond entertainment — because it’s a reflection of its creator.

Or creators in the case of the tarot mystery books I do with Lisa Falco. Lisa, a knowledgeable and sincere tarot expert, came up with the general idea for the series: a tarot reader uses her skills with the cards to help her clients. Then I, a cynical writer, added my own spin: Why not make the protagonist a reformed con artist so we can show how the tarot can be abused? A lot of the people peddling prognostication are charlatans. Shouldn’t the books reflect that?

And they do…while simultaneously offering readers a “How to –” guide for using the tarot. So what is it that says? Maybe “The tarot is a cool tool for finding personal insights, but don’t forget it can be used to manipulate you, too.”

The books don’t hit you over the head with that message, though. Because at the end of the day, here’s the main thing I’m trying to say to our readers — the real point of all the writing I do:

Enjoy!

***

Alanis McLachlan, reformed con artist turned tarot reader, gets paid for predicting the future—too bad she didn’t see all the trouble in hers. First a figure from her past tries to drag her back into the life of crime she thought she’d le behind. Then a new suitor tries to sweep Alanis off her feet, threatening her on-again, off-again romance with hunky teacher Victor Castellanos. And there’s the little matter of the ominous reading she gives to a new client, which could have deadly consequences. Danger is in the cards for Alanis, and she’ll need all her skills at reading both people and tarot if she’s going to survive.

Steve Hockensmith is the author of between fourteen and nineteen books (he’s lost count), including the first two entries in the Tarot Mystery series (The White Magic Five and Dime and Fool Me Once) and the Edgar finalists Holmes on the Range and Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle.

He can be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/steve.hockensmith.7

And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MrHockensmith

And his website is here: http://www.stevehockensmith.com


And this is a cat eating a banana:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Guest Post: Isabella Maldonado - Blood's Echo


We'd like to welcome debut author 
Isabella Maldonado! 


MY BIG FAT LATINO NOVEL
by Isabella Maldonado


The Latino equivalent of Windex is Vicks VapoRub, which is used to treat everything from a head cold to a sucking chest wound. Now you know.

When I retired from crime fighting and took up crime writing, I decided to create a story with a different vibe. After over two decades in law enforcement, a police procedural was a natural choice. I loved reading about grizzled homicide detectives working the mean streets of New York or L.A., but wanted to offer something different to readers.

Different…like Mexican-American characters and culture and a strong Latina heroine with a complex back story and a huge heart. I’d seen movies and novels featuring Latino villains, but I wanted to reflect cultural diversity on both sides of the law. I also chose to set my story in a major city that wasn’t New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., or Miami.

Not exactly what you see populating the shelves of most bookstores.

For a while, I hesitated, wondering if such a book would be published. Would crime fiction fans enjoy reading an edgy thriller with a large dollop of salsa picante on top? Then, as I watched my husband dab Vicks VapoRub on a cut one afternoon, I had an epiphany.


In 2002, Nia Vardalos’s romantic comedy, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, brought people to
theaters in droves.  Caught up in the fun, I recall discussing the movie with several friends of various ethnic backgrounds. Whether their families originated in Greece, Cuba, Ireland, Italy, or Scandinavia, they all claimed the film reminded them of their own relatives’ quirky behavior.

The movie didn’t succeed because people of Greek ancestry went to see it, but because it struck a chord with millions of families who make their way to our beautiful nation of immigrants. There was also the coming-of-age story of a young lady who is trying to break free from the smothering (if loving) influence of her relatives to discover who she is and make her place in the world. Many people, regardless of their own ethnic background, can relate. Stories, after all, are about the human condition. And good stories transcend specifics.

Energized, I wrote BLOOD’S ECHO, a police procedural set in Phoenix, featuring a Latina detective who pits herself against a Mexican drug cartel. Definitely not a romantic comedy, the story is fast-paced, brutal at times, with twists, long-buried secrets, and only a few humorous moments. Her relatives are both an asset and a liability for her, as is her police team and the arson investigator who stokes her fire.

Family is key, and this story features three types of families whose stories intertwine. Detective Veranda Cruz’s boisterous ethnic clan is undergirded with strength and resolve. Having immigrated to this country with nothing, they built a restaurant, created a new life, and now consider themselves Americans.

Meanwhile, the Villalobos cartel is run by another family, one in which ruthlessness and cunning are prized.  Hector Villalobos has set up a dynasty and his adult children vie for his seat at the helm of their vast criminal empire. Unfortunately, Veranda Cruz stands in their way.

The third group is law enforcement. I can tell you from personal experience that police departments are a kind of extended family that can be the tightest, or the most dysfunctional, of them all. When you depend on each other for survival, knowing there are people who would kill you if given the chance, a unique bond forms with your fellow officers. Detective Cruz is forced out of her position and into a different part of the department, where she must quickly determine who her allies and adversaries are.

Real families come in all sizes, configurations, and ethnicities. I’m hoping readers will enjoy a different culture and a fresh setting as they take a wild ride. After all, everyone has a family, and there’s more to bring us together than set us apart.


I am forever grateful to Terri Bischoff, who saw the book’s potential, and to Midnight Ink, which gave BLOOD’S ECHO the chance to find its audience.

***

Whenever the lust for drugs, money, and power lays claim to a city, brutality is never far behind. Phoenix detective Veranda Cruz is dead set on taking down the Villalobos Cartel, but the ruthlessness of her quarry demands a ruthless edge of her own.

Detective Veranda Cruz leads an elite task force on the Phoenix Police Drug Enforcement Bureau. Bartolo Villalobos is the heir apparent to the most powerful cartel in the world. No one in the department suspects the secret motive behind Veranda’s obsession with the cartel . . . until an operation goes horribly wrong.


Targeted by an increasingly unstable drug lord, Veranda must protect her family and stay clear of adversaries within the force while she sets a trap for Bartolo. As the desert action heats up, Veranda and her new Homicide team—along with an arson investigator who kindles a flame for her—are all drawn into a deadly gambit. Taking down Bartolo is the ultimate goal, but is Veranda ready to trade life for justice?


Isabella Maldonado retired from law enforcement as a Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. During her long career, she was recognized with a Meritorious Service Award and a Lifesaving Award, and she was selected to attend executive management training at the FBI’s National Academy. Isabella is the immediate past president of the Phoenix chapter of Sisters In Crime. She lives in Mesa, Arizona. You can visit her at www.IsabellaMaldonado.com.


Friday, March 10, 2017

New Releases - March 2017

Let's welcome Spring, or whatever this weather is, with Midnight Ink's March titles!


All available at Midnight Ink, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indiebound and your local bookstore. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Guest Post: Gwen Florio - Reservations

Gwen Florio's fourth mystery in the Lola Wicks series will be released this week, and we've invited her to share a few fun facts about herself. Enjoy!


1.     I grew up on a wildlife refuge in Delaware. Think thousands of acres of woods and marsh populated by deer, geese, ducks and muskrat.

2.     I have trapped, skinned, cooked and eaten muskrat. I don’t care if I never do any of those things again.

3.     My parents gave in to my begging for a pony when I was nine, but told me I had to learn to stay on bareback before I could have a saddle. I learned.

4.     I still have a bump on my head where said pony kicked me. My kids rub it for luck.

5.     My kids once wrote an illustrated story called “Gwen and the Three Bears” that ends with a drawing of a gravestone reading  “Here lies Gwen, killed by bears.”

6.     I love those kids.

7.     But I am deathly afraid of grizzlies.

8.     I have a grizzly tattooed on my ankle.

9.     A bear could easily catch me. I have come in near-last in a marathon and last in a half-marathon, and have a Last Best Finisher medal to prove it.

10. There’s a bear – more than one – in the WIP. I’m obsessed.


11. I take pictures of my books when I spot them in stores or libraries and send them to my mom, ostensibly so she’ll think I’m making money at this.

12. I will never get over the thrill of seeing my books there.

13. I’ll forever be grateful to my parents for banning TV but never a book, no matter how seemingly inappropriate.

14. As a journalist for nearly forty years, I fiercely believe in the right of reporters to pursue the truth, and the necessity of revealing it, no matter how uncomfortable.

15. As a novelist, I believe fiction is frequently the best way to get at truth. Looking forward to lots of great fiction in the next four years.

***

Journalist Lola Wicks would much rather pursue a story than spend time with people she barely knows. So when an eco-terrorist bombing escalates the controversy surrounding a new coal mine on Arizona’s Navajo Reservation, she’s almost relieved to have a distraction from meeting her in-laws.

But as the violence gets worse and Lola digs deeper, she can’t escape the feeling that her husband’s family is somehow involved—a suspicion that jeopardizes not only her marriage, but also her life.


Gwen Florio (Missoula, MT) has won several journalism awards and been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize. Her fiction has won the inaugural Pinckley Prize and the High Plains Book Award and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her Short Fiction. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Women Writing the West. Visit Gwen at www.GwenFlorio.net.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Guest Post: Adrian Magson - The Bid

Adrian Magson takes time to share his journey on finding Midnight Ink and the idea for the Cruxys Solutions Investigation series.


I blame my parents. Well, if you have to blame them for something, it’s better if it’s something positive – and in my case it was for setting me on a life of writing.
They encouraged me from an early age to read, and by the age of eight I was into Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour and Leslie (The Saint) Charteris, among many others. I stumbled a bit over Hank Janson and Mickey Spillane, but only because a lot of it went over my head. At first. But along the way it struck me that writing books must be a great way to make a living.
That was a tad naive, but you live and learn.
For many years while holding down a variety of day jobs, I wrote romantic fiction for women’s magazines. Lots of it. It paid, and was a great apprenticeship, but it was a long time before I sold my first crime/mystery novel. It was even longer before I could make the leap into full-time writing. But persistence paid off.
That first mystery novel, featuring a female reporter, Riley Gavin, was followed by 4 more in the series, followed by a spy series (feat. Harry Tate - also 5), then a French police series (feat. Insp Lucas Rocco – 4). It was after writing the first in a new spy series (feat. Marc Portman – 4 so far), that I went for a change of tack. I decided to go back to writing about a female lead character.
But what to write about?
While mulling over a number of possible storylines, I opened a gym locker one day and found a card inside with Adrian scribbled on it. It wasn’t for me, but it started a chain of thought: what if the card was addressed to a specific person… a woman… and …? That was it, I was off.
And this is where Midnight Ink came in.
The story, titled ‘The Locker’ - Jan 2016 – (and the word locker has more than one meaning in this story) starts out as a kidnap novel, when a little girl, Beth Hardman, goes missing from her London home along with her Polish nanny. But it soon turns into something far deeper and puzzling. Unusually, there’s no ransom demand; no predator horror facing her mother, Nancy; simply an instruction that Beth’s father, Michael, must be told, and to keep the police out of it.
Nancy remembers that her husband once told her that if anything bad were to happen, she was to call a special number. This leads to a private security company called Cruxys Solutions, which specialises in insuring people in dangerous occupations. She calls them and before long two investigators arrive: Ruth Gonzales, a former soldier and British cop, and Andy Vaslik, a former NY cop and Dept of Homeland Security agent. The first problem they face is that Nancy has no way of contacting Michael, an aid worker, and has no precise idea where he is other than somewhere in Africa or the Middle East. The second problem is that the investigators can find no trace of a Michael Hardman anywhere; no documentation, no footprint, nothing. Yet Nancy insists he exists, and is out there somewhere.
So who is this mystery man and why has his daughter been kidnapped?
To tell would be giving away too much. But it’s very clear that whoever or whatever Michael Hardman is, snatching his daughter has been carefully planned, and that if he does  come back, he’ll be walking into a trap.
‘The Bid’ (Jan 2017) – the second in the Gonzales & Vaslik series, involves another disappearance, this time of Richard Chadwick, an American drone expert. Also missing is a shipment of small drones high-jacked from the cargo hub at Memphis International Airport. But these drones are not weekend playthings; used by film studios and wildlife rangers among others, they are the latest in high-tech machines capable of carrying small loads… with terrifying possibilities.
Ruth and Andy follow a trail from London to New York, and across the central United States, slowly tracking the missing expert and the men who have kidnapped him, from vague clues left behind. All the while their progress is being monitored by the FBI and DHS, who suspect Chadwick, a former USAF intelligence officer, has become involved in a terror plot.
As they soon discover, time is not on their side.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Adrian has had 21 books published, including a beginners guide for writers, writes regular book reviews and a monthly column for beginners in Writing Magazine (UK). For more information about him, see his website at: http://www.adrianmagson.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Adrian lives in the Forest of Dean, in the west of England, with his wife, Ann.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guest Post: Tracy Weber - A Fatal Twist

Introducing Tracy Weber and her latest yoga-crime-solving mystery A Fatal Twist



Yoga can be Murder

I’m a lot like Kate, the yoga teacher/sleuth in my Downward Dog Mystery Series. I’m not a typical yoga teacher, even though I’ve owned my yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga, since 2001 and have personally trained almost 300 yoga teachers. I can’t put my foot behind my head or sit in full lotus pose. I recoil at anything even remotely woo woo. I’d much rather chug margaritas than sip mugs of chai. But I completely believe in yoga. The practice has transformed my life. Sharing it brings me great joy.

Most of my students just rolled their eyes when I decided to spend my spare time plotting murder. My husband simply muttered, “it figures.” Still, some people have been taken aback—even insulted—by my series. What kind of demented yoga teacher combines yoga—a practice designed to promote inner peace—with murder?

Lots of reasons.  But four of my favorites are below.

My light-hearted mysteries help me connect with a wonderful cadre of readers—most of whom have never done yoga.

Good fiction immerses readers in worlds they would never otherwise experience. I’ve been pleased—though not all that surprised—to learn that many of my biggest fans have never stepped foot inside a yoga studio. Most people think yoga is an exercise routine designed for Gumby-like women whose bodies look great squeezed inside see-through Spandex yoga pants. Not true!

Kate Davidson, my novel’s protagonist, is a yoga teacher. Kate and I aren’t the same person, but we share some of the same quirks. We’ll never grace the cover of Yoga Journal. We both suffer from laughably tight hamstrings, moderate body image issues, and we occasionally drink significantly more wine than we probably should.

Likewise, neither Kate nor I are likely to become the next Dalai Lama. I have a warped sense of humor and tease people more than they appreciate. I have to remind my students to laugh at my jokes. Kate has, shall we say, anger management issues, and she often lashes out impulsively, only to regret it later. Yet yoga has transformed both of our lives. If Kate and I can love yoga, anyone can love yoga—even mystery fans who have never considered trying it.

Who knows?  Maybe some of my readers will be inspired to give yoga a chance!

People are murdered in my work, but death isn’t the only theme.

Solving crime definitely takes center stage in my work, but my books ultimately explore life, love, and human imperfections. Real life isn’t always simple, and it’s rarely easy. Humans—even yoga teachers—make mistakes. We suffer traumas. If we’re lucky, we recover and grow. Yoga teacher Kate makes plenty of mistakes and she suffers from more than her fair share of neuroses, but she learns, she grows, and she tries to do better in the future. There has to be a valuable life lesson in there somewhere.

If my books were movies, they’d be rated PG-13—at most.

My books skirt the cozy mystery lines a little. I’ve been known to use the occasional non-F-bomb swear word. I write about serious issues, including homelessness, childhood abandonment, drug abuse, and alcoholism. In my first book, Kate gets, shall we say, friendly (off page, of course!) on a first date. Still, like most cozies, my work is light-hearted, often funny, and written to appeal to the faint of heart. My mother read all of the books in my series, and when she passed away last year, she still believed she’d raised a “nice girl.” 

Last but not least, I love it!

But if I’m honest, the real reason I write yoga mysteries is simple. I’m a huge mystery fan, my life-work is yoga, and I was absolutely, embarrassingly, head-over-heels crazy about German shepherd, Tasha, who inspired the series.  Her successor, Ana, has quickly dug her German shepherd puppy claws deep in my heart. I write about a yoga teacher who solves murders with a wacky German shepherd sidekick.

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

***

About Tracy’s newest, A Fatal Twist

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s life takes a chaotic turn once she agrees to not only be the doula for her pregnant best friend, but also play foster mother to two puppies. The chaos gets worse when Kate finds the dead body of a philandering fertility doctor and sees Rachel, one of her yoga students, fleeing the scene.

Kate is convinced her student is innocent, and she sets out to find the real killer before her testimony condemns Rachel to a life behind bars. But her hands are full with caring for three dogs, teaching yoga classes, and gaining an unexpected crime-solving partner. If she’s not careful, Kate’s next yoga pose may be a fatal one.

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series.  The first book in the series, Murder Strikes a Pose, won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel.
A certified yoga therapist, Tracy is the owner of Whole Life Yoga, a Seattle yoga studio, as well as the creator and director of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any way possible.
Tracy and her husband Marc live in Seattle with their crazy new German shepherd pup, Ana. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 
For more information on Tracy and the Downward Dog Mysteries, visit her author website: http://TracyWeberAuthor.com/