Dreaming in the Pages

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tracy Weber's #Mystery in Seattle @TracyWeberTypes #AmWriting #WriteTip #AmReading

Cozy mysteries like Murder Strikes a Pose are generally set in small towns, but I couldn’t imagine setting my series any place other than Seattle. With its city-meets-nature ambience and diverse community vibe, Seattle is simultaneously laid back, yet socially active; granola-y, yet cosmopolitan. What other city would encourage hundreds of naked bicyclists to lead a major parade every solstice?

Over the course of the Downward Dog Mysteries, Kate and Bella will have adventures in many of my favorite Seattle locations. Below are five don’t-miss spots for Seattle tourists. Be sure to check them out the next time you visit!

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No visit to Seattle would be complete without a walk around the three-mile Greenlake loop. You’ll find dogs and their humans, a variety of wildlife, a few ice cream vendors, and more rollerbladers than you can shake a stick at. Greenlake is my dog Tasha’s favorite squirrel-hunting destination. It will be an important location in my third book, tentatively titled Karma Can Be Killer.

The Burke Gilman Trail:
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If you’ve read Murder Strikes a Pose, you might remember a duck-chasing scene in which Kate gets dragged head-first down a steep embankment toward a river. In real life, Tasha dragged me down that very embankment on the Burke Gilman Trail. The actual trail is a hiking and biking Mecca that extends over eighteen miles, but Tasha’s and my favorite spot is right behind this dinosaur in Fremont.

The Seattle Waterfront:
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Kate and Bella won’t visit the Seattle waterfront until the third book, when they follow a suspect onto a ferry. The waterfront has amazing restaurants, a peer that encourages you to feed French fries to seagulls, and a curiosity shop with an over 100-year-old mummy. While you’re there, visit Pike Place Market and ride The Great Wheel.

Seattle Center:
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Seattle Center is famous for the Space Needle, but that’s not why Tasha and I like it. The center has seventy-four acres of green space with amazing art including Chihuly glass sculptures, singing flowers, and an amazing water fountain timed to music. No trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting this city icon.

Whole Life Yoga:
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This final stop may not make the tourist maps, but it is arguably the most important location in the Downward Dog Mysteries. Serenity Yoga, Kate’s yoga studio, is loosely based on my own yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga. This one-room yoga studio rests in the heart of Greenwood, an eclectic neighborhood of shops, antique stores, bars, and restaurants. At first glance, the studio seems oddly located; a haven designed to promote inner peace—smack dab in the middle of a block with four bars and a medical marijuana dispensary. But that’s Greenwood—a study in contradictions.

Whether you read Murder Strikes a Pose or not, I truly hope you come visit this one-of-a-kind city. Seattle has been my home for over thirty years, and I can’t imagine a more special place.

What’s your favorite city and why? I’d love to hear from you.


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 German shepherd, Tasha. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, walking 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.

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When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

"Cozy fans will eagerly await the next installment." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Murder Strikes a Pose, by Tracy Weber, is a delightful debut novel featuring Kate Davidson, a caring but feist yoga teacher . . . Namaste to Weber and her fresh, new heroine!" PENNY WARNER,AUTHOR OFHOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE

"[T]his charming debut mystery . . . pieces together a skillful collage of mystery, yoga, and plenty of dog stories against the unique backdrop of Seattle characters and neighborhoods. The delightful start of a promising new series. I couldn't put it down!" WAVERLY FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA

"Three woofs for Tracy Weber's first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder STrikes a Pose. Great characters, keep-you-guessing plot, plenty of laughs, and dogswhat more could we want? Ah, yesthe next book!" SHEILA WEBSTER BONEHAM, AUTHOR OF DROP DEAD ON RECALL

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Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
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Self-Publishing: An Indie’s Perspective by S.M. McEachern @smmceachern #YA #SciFi #Dystopian

If you own an ereader, odds are you’ll know something about the self-publishing revolution. But what you may not know is why self-publishing is on the rise. I’d like to give my own perception on why so many authors are choosing to be independent.

I’ll be completely honest; I’ve never been with a traditional publisher. I only wrote one query letter to an agent before self-publishing. That might seem a little hasty, but a Google search revealed that an unknown author writes, on average, about 65 queries before landing an agent. And for anyone who hasn’t written a query letter, let me say that writing one was more stressful than writing an entire book. Literary agents are the gatekeepers of the publishing domain and they have strict instructions from publishers as to whom they are allowed to let in. Publishers determine what readers want and since agents are selling to the publishers, they need to satisfy the publishers’ wants. Literary agents receive hundreds of queries per day and in order to filter them, most agents blog about how to write a tailor-made query that just might get you noticed. When I wrote my query, I researched the agent, what they wanted in a query, wrote and rewrote the letter and proofread it a hundred times before I hit the send button. But there was one vital piece of information I didn’t research—what the publisher wanted. It was after I wrote the query that I came across an article in Publishers Weekly stating publishers don’t want anything with a “whiff of dystopia” about it and they’re done with trilogies (see Publishers Weekly article here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/59297-new-trends-in-ya-the-agents-perspective.html ) I pitched my young adult dystopian trilogy in the very first line of my query.  Doh.

After I self-published Sunset Rising, I joined a professional writers group. I didn’t know much about the industry and I was hoping to learn. At first, I was a little intimidated belonging to a group of writers who had the stamp of approval from an actual publisher. After all, there’s still a stigma attached to anyone who self-publishes. But then I heard the murmurings of unrest…the complaints about publishers demanding more social media marketing from their authors, and giving less in return. I discovered that for every $10 ebook sold, the author only made about $1 or less. I saw one writer with bloodshot eyes and high on caffeine struggling under enormous pressure to pare one hundred words out of her novel because she had gone passed the word count her publisher allowed. I witnessed authors banning together, comparing battle scars and low royalty paystubs, bolstering each other to leave their publishers and go indie. I attended a workshop put on by an author who had given up on her publisher, struck out on her own, and reported tripling her income while enjoying greater creative freedom. Suddenly I didn’t feel so out of place in this group. In fact, I wondered if I’d dodged a bullet.

The stigma attached to being an indie is eroding. With the ebook industry booming, professional services (cover artists, editors, proofreaders, beta readers, web-based advertising) once coveted by publishers are now available to independent authors.  Books produced by indies are just as appealing as books produced by the publishing houses. In fact, these days the only way to tell the different between a self-published book and a traditionally published one is price; indies set their prices lower and still make more money than if they were with a publisher. Lower book prices, fresh storylines, and novels that don’t follow a set formula are gaining in popularity among readers. And at the end of the day, it’s always been readers who determine the worth of a book.

So the real question becomes why would an author spend months or years writing queries, or sitting in a slush pile, or receive low royalty payments in return for writing a novel AND doing their own social media, when they can self-publish? I now have over 30,000 copies of Sunset Rising in circulation with a 4.6/5 star rating on Amazon and it’s been on their bestseller list in three different genres. I don’t regret self-publishing at all.

I’m not trying to give publishers a bad rap. Traditionally published authors still dominate the bestseller list and the stamp of approval from a publisher still gives an unknown author, like myself, greater credibility.  But in today’s market there are choices…and if it’s not working out with a publisher, you can always go indie.


February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are eventually permitted entry.  But the price of admission is high.

283 years later...  Sunny O'Donnell is a seventeen-year-old slave who has never seen the sun.  She was born in the Pit, a subterranean extension of the bio-dome. Though life had never been easy, the last couple of months had become a nightmare. Her mom was killed in the annual Cull, and her dad thought it was a good time to give up on life.  Reyes Crowe, her long-time boyfriend, was pressuring her to get married, even though it would mean abandoning her father.

She didn't think things could get any worse until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to be a servant-girl at a bachelor party.  That's when she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancĂ©, Jack Kenner.

Now Sunny is wanted for treason.  If they catch her, she'll be executed.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end.  But it was just the beginning.

"Sunset Rising" is Book One of a series.

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Genre - YA Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating – PG-16
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chapter 7 #Excerpt from Incitement by David Graham @davidangraham #Thriller #GoodReads

Chapter 7
Mesi waited in the meeting room for the others to arrive. She checked the five briefings she’d prepared again. No matter how she tried to occupy herself, she couldn’t help but think of the presentation she’d delivered two months earlier. Was this going to be more of the same? Would it be worse? Could it be worse? Despite her expectations before that presentation, nothing had changed for her or TAIT.
The four of them came in as a group. Marshall, joined by Will Samuels, the DEA’s chief of operations, along with Dan Schutterop of the FBI and Robert Allenby from the Plan Coca subcommittee. Marshall had told her he’d contacted Schutterop after the latest incident to schedule a meeting and within hours, Allenby, having gotten wind of it, had called him requesting to attend.
“Okay, we all know why we’re here. I’m going to let Diane quickly recap what happened in Chicago the night before last.”
Diane handed a folder to each of them, “If you’ll open these, there’s a photo on the second page.”
The photograph was of an open-plan office in disarray. Desks were overturned, tables and walls strewn with bullet holes. Amidst the chaos were the bodies of at least four men and one woman. The scene was disturbingly reminiscent of the speedboat where Salazaar and his brother had been killed. The corpses were covered in blood and lay at unnatural angles; the woman’s throat had clearly been slit.
“Tuesday night, the Guttierez family and associates. Originally they hailed from the Dominican Republic. This office is over a nightclub they owned in Chicago. The Guttierezes were renowned distributors and retailers for the Madrigal-Zaragosa Alliance. They dealt in everything: heroin, cocaine, synthetics. Our sources tell us there should have been a large store of each when this attack took place. There’s a full report in your folders.”
“Arthur mentioned that you believed it’s connected to the attacks you presented last time?” asked Schutterop.
“That’s right.”
She had decided she’d do her best to keep her answers to a minimum given the last experience. Marshall elaborated, “I should explain. There’s something we didn’t discuss last time, regarding the attack on the container ship in Miami. Dominguez, the Alliance’s distributor, mentioned that the captain of the ship thought the pirates may have been Eastern European. The Chicago police’s preliminary reports from the other night say a number of people heard what they said were Russian accents from a number of men loading a transit parked in an alley a couple of blocks from the nightclub. They may have mistaken some other language for Russian.”
Will Samuels cleared his throat, “Not sure I’d draw any conclusions. One witness thinks someone may have had an Eastern European accent, while others think they might have heard some Russians a few blocks away.” Samuels’ shaven, bullet-shaped head matched his direct, no-nonsense approach perfectly. He was one of the possible roadblocks Mesi had identified for TAIT securing its promised funding. He had been on record that the work identified for the taskforce should have come under his own remit.
“There’s more. Diane, can you explain,” Marshall said.
“During the last presentation, I said none of the investigations into the attacks had made significant progress. There was one line of enquiry that was being pursued, though. It pertains to the Mexican investigation into the attack on the heroin refinery and is based on physical evidence found at the scene.”
“Go on,” Schutterop prompted her impatiently.
“They pursued the possibility of Balkan, specifically Kosovar, involvement in the attack. Add that to the captain’s account and the nightclub, I don’t know, we might have something—”
“If there’s something to this, something concrete, then we should be concerned, but before we get carried away, what’s the basis for looking at the Kosovars? What’s this physical evidence which led the Mexicans to suspect them?” Samuels asked.
“Cigarette butts found at the scene. A brand sold primarily in the Balkan region. At the time Campas’s team, who’d suspected mercenary involvement from the outset, wondered if they were sourced from that part of the world.”
“Anything else?”
“Subsequent checking of flights found that a number of Albanians had entered the country shortly before the attack. Enquiries with Europol revealed three of them had links to the Fifteen Families.”
There was a pause before Samuels realized Mesi was finished.
“That’s it, that’s the entire basis for speculating ‘Kosovar involvement’?” he asked incredulously.
“Campas did have reservations. He pointed out that it wasn’t guaranteed that these men were involved and even if they were, they could have been contracted by any number of third parties.”
“Diane, I understand that it’s your job to look for these tenuous connections, but wouldn’t you agree this is very flimsy?” Samuels said.
“Can we afford to ignore it?” Schutterop piped up.
“But we’re not ignoring it; this meeting and the last are proof of that. We can’t chase down everything. Sometimes we have to use judgment in regard to what we let go. In my opinion, this is one of those cases,” Mesi said.
So far, it hadn’t gone too badly. Allenby hadn’t even said a word. No one had criticized her directly. But while she certainly didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Samuels, she found herself making an observation almost before she realized, “I hope you’re right, and this is a groundless fear, but whether or not we believe the Fifteen Families are targeting the Madrigal-Zaragosa Alliance isn’t the only consideration. If the Alliance themselves believe it, they’ll retaliate, and what happens then?”
Samuels pushed himself back from the table and stood up, “I don’t like this! What reason could the Kosovars possibly have for engaging the Alliance? They don’t have anything to gain.”
Mesi noticed that he hadn’t addressed her question and was sure that the others did too.
“That’s not strictly true,” Schutterop said.
“Excuse me?” snapped Samuels.
Schutterop shrugged, “It’s just that they do have something to gain. They’re in direct competition with the Alliance, same way as Chrysler and Toyota compete internationally.”
“Can we get back to the matter at hand and leave the business news for some other time?” Samuels turned back to Mesi, “Do you believe the Kosovars are gunning for the Latin Americans?”
“I’m not sure.”
“And what about the theory you put forward last time, saying the drugs in each of these attacks had disappeared. That doesn’t make sense if the Kosovars were involved: wouldn’t they have distributed them?”
“Maybe they did, and maybe they redirected them to Europe,” she replied, aware her answer sounded very weak.
“Right,” Samuels said.
“Or maybe they destroyed them.”
“What? Why would they do that? We’re talking about a combined total of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“Which is still small potatoes in relation to the long-term value of the U.S. market,” Schutterop pointed out.
Samuels and Schutterop both started trying to drown the other out before Marshall again called for order, “I agree there’s very little to go on, but one of the reasons for this meeting was to get different perspectives. Can we all calm down and see where the discussion goes? Diane, can you give us a quick background on the Fifteen Families.”
“Okay. When the struggle in the Balkans exploded and Milosevic turned Sarajevo into a killing field, the plight of the Kosovars became widely known. The West, principally the U.S. and NATO, rallied to support them, and as a result the KLA came to prominence. What wasn’t made widely known at the time was what the KLA had evolved from. Their roots are in an armed brigade that has been maintained down through the years by the Kosovar Albanian traffickers. Many of the leaders of the KLA were the same people who’d made a fortune smuggling heroin, weapons, and illegal immigrants.”
She paused to see if any of them wanted to ask any questions. Nothing.
“When the struggle escalated, the traffickers, sometimes collectively referred to as the Fifteen Families, boosted their activities. Some of you may remember a number of dramatic seizures by the European authorities during the mid-nineties. This was a direct consequence of the Kosovars scaling up their operations. Just as many ordinary expatriate Kosovars donated money to the rebels, the traffickers too chaneled their profits to help combat the Serbs. The difference here was in the amount; hundreds of millions of dollars worth of donations came from these crime lords.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but where’s all this going? It seems like we’re talking almost ancient history,” said Allenby, finally breaking his silence.
“I’m sorry, if you’ll just bear with me a little longer. During this escalation period, the willingness of the Kosovars to resort to violence to gain a foothold in many countries’ drug markets meant that no one challenged them for too long. Ultimately, they became number one throughout Europe. It’s estimated now that they handle at least eighty per cent of the heroin consumed there.”
“Which is unfortunate, but still a matter for Europol,” Allenby began.
“Robert, you called Arthur asking if you could attend what was originally supposed to be a DEA-FBI liaison meeting, can we just let Diane finish?” Schutterop said.
A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?
A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord - a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.
As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.
Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.
But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.
Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with David Graham on Facebook & Twitter