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/

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Guest Post: Gigi Pandian - The Elusive Elixir

It's time for some fun facts from Gigi Pandian!

  1. I once played the role of Wonder Woman in a play
  2. I got married wearing Converse sneakers.
  3. As a kid, I didn't have cats or dogs, but rabbits.
  4. I have an organic vegetable garden in my backyard, but my husband is the one with the green thumb. I only manage to write fiction about successful gardeners; If I look at a plant, it dies.
  5. I think The Goonies might be the greatest movie ever made. Or at the very least it's what inspired me to write my first screenplay.
  6. When I was in high school I wrote, starred in (along with my best friend), and directed the epic home movie The Goonies Go to Europe.
  7. I love the locked-room mystery genre that was most popular during the Golden Age of detective fiction, and all of my short stories are impossible crime stories. 
  8. Like Zoe Faust (the heroine of the Accidental Alchemist mysteries) I adore my Vitamix and use it at least twice a day.
  9. Like Dorian (the comic relief in the books) I'm an accidental vegan cook, and cook most of my meals from scratch.
  10. Unlike Zoe and Dorian, I'm not a 300-year-old alchemist, nor am I a living gargoyle who was once stone. Sorry to disappoint.
  11. I prefer rainy days to sunny ones.
  12. I was gobsmacked when the fabulous Terri Bischoff at Midnight Ink wanted to publish the Accidental Alchemist mysteries. I love writing about a mischievous gargoyle chef, but I had no idea others would want to read about him as well. I'm still pinching myself that so many people do.
  13. In addition to the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, I write the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries. I think this means as a life choice I've chosen fun and coffee over sleep.
  14. My dad is from India. I've traveled there many times and I set one of my books there. The opening scene of Pirate Vishnu is based on a true story that happened to my father.
  15. I used to run a blog called Gargoyle Girl, posting gargoyle photographs I've taken on my travels. I gave it up in favor of writing novels, but the archives are still there: www.gargoylegirl.com


About the new book, The Elusive Elixir
Dorian Robert-Houdin, the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle chef who fancies himself a modern-day Poirot, is slowly turning into stone, and it’s up to Zoe Faust to unravel the alchemical secrets that can save him. When they discover that a long-lost stone gargoyle with a connection to Dorian has reappeared in Europe, the stakes are even higher.
From Portland to Paris, Zoe searches for the hidden knowledge she needs, but a cold case that harkens back to 1942 throws her off course. With an ailing friend desperately trying to discover his own elixir of life and a new romantic interest offering the first chance at love she’s had in nearly a century, Zoe is torn between a dangerous form of alchemy and her desire for a safer life.
 Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment. Gigi spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the backyard garden. Gigi’s fiction has been awarded the Malice Domestic Grant and Lefty Awards, been nominated for Macavity and Agatha Awards, and her most recent novel Michelangelo’s Ghost was recently named a “Best of 2016” cozy mystery by Suspense Magazine.

Visit her at gigipandian.com, connect with her on Facebook (facebook.com/GigiPandian) and Twitter (@GigiPandian) and sign up for her email newsletter (http://gigipandian.com/newsletter/).