If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tracy Weber Interview




Tracy Weber doesn’t lack for subject matter when she plots a novel. Her background as a chemical engineer, an MBA recipient, a Microsoft manager, and a yoga instructor will ensure plenty of fodder for murder mayhem. In her first published novel, a Downward Dog Mystery, Murder Strikes A Pose, the main character, Kate’s career parallels Tracy’s career path to yoga instructor. Please welcome Tracy to WWK.                                                                                     E. B. Davis

Give our readers a short summary of the plot, if you would.

Murder Strikes a Pose is a happily-ever-after, murder mystery, human-animal love story! At least that’s how I think of it. ;-)

The main story is about Kate Davidson, a yoga teacher with chunky thighs, tight hamstrings, and a fiery temper, who befriends a homeless man named George and his horse-sized German shepherd, Bella. When George is killed in the parking lot of Kate’s yoga studio, Kate struggles to come to terms with (and solve) his murder while trying to find a permanent home for Bella.

Ultimately, though, it’s the story of how Kate learns to love—and make sacrifices for—a creature that is far from perfect, even though not doing so would make her life significantly easier. Throw in a new boyfriend, a trouble-causing, matchmaking best friend and lots of yoga, and it’s a story that I hope will entice you, make you laugh, and stay with you long after you finish.

One theme of your novel is relationships. What is the tie that binds?

Love. Sounds simplistic, but in Kate’s world—and in mine—the relationships that endure in spite of hardship are glued together by love. Love compels Kate and George to make sacrifices for Bella. Love connects Kate and Rene, even when they drive each other crazy. Even George’s fractured family was reunited—however briefly—because of love. Money, lust, fear, power… all of those binds dissolve in the end. Love endures.

Bella is a special needs dog, a category I never encountered before. Would you define special needs in Bella’s case? Are there other types of special needs dogs?

A special needs dog requires extra care beyond the ordinary. The most obvious needs are physical, but they can be emotional as well. Dogs with diabetes, paraplegia, and separation anxiety might all be considered special needs dogs.

Bella has two issues that fall into the special needs category. The first is an autoimmune disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). This disease has destroyed her pancreas, and Bella will need expensive medication and special meal preparation for the rest of her life. Bella also has a challenging temperament. Some people would call Bella aggressive, but trainers often prefer the term reactive. Bella doesn’t want to hurt anyone; she is fearful and reacts (by barking and lunging) at things she finds frightening. The goal of an aggressive animal is to cause harm. The goal of a reactive one is to make the scary thing go away. Still, reactive dogs require significant training and management, especially if they’re 100-pound German shepherds.

Bella isn’t the only one with issues. Main character Kate oscillates between analysis and impulse. Is that normal?

What is normal? I’d say all of us occasionally react impulsively, only to later regret it. Kate is more impulsive than most. However, she is aware of that flaw and is actively working to become more stable. The yoga teachings give Kate a framework for better self-control, but like many of us, she’s still a work in progress.

It never occurred to me until you asked this question, but Kate—like Bella—is reactive. At her core, Kate has a good heart. She would never consciously hurt anyone. Even though she often loses her temper, Kate is a kind, compassionate woman. Ultimately, the only person she’s ever harmed is herself.

Kate trusts Bella’s loyalties. Are animals trustworthy?

Animals, like humans, vary in personality, character, and impulse control. Most dogs have the intellect of a three-year-old child. Is a child trustworthy? Yes—within limits and with boundaries.

Bella is trustworthy in some ways, not in others. Kate can trust that Bella will never harm her. She can believe that Bella will protect her. In fact, Bella would probably die for Kate. But could Bella be trusted alone with another dog? Probably not.

One of your characters uses yoga to help her get through chemo. Have you instructed chemo patients using yoga?

Yes. As a yoga therapist, I’ve been trained to use yoga tools to help people with a variety of conditions, from back pain, to asthma, to chronic anxiety. Several clients have taken yoga classes with me while they were undergoing cancer treatment. I do ask that they have doctor approval, especially for group classes, as their immunity is often compromised.

Early on in my yoga career, I taught for a wonderful organization called Team Survivor Northwest . They offer classes to women and their supporters in all stages of cancer treatment and recovery. In general, yoga during cancer treatment focuses on promoting mental balance, building energy, and helping minimize treatment side effects.

Do you think that the universe is ordered or random?

A little of both, maybe? There are so many aspects of life that we can’t control, yet I do believe each of us has a purpose on this earth. The yoga teachings say that we can’t control what happens in the world around us. That would imply that the world is random. Yet the teachings also say that we can decide how we will react to the events of our lives. Therefore we can impose order, at least in ourselves.

Let’s take George, for instance. George couldn’t control the economic events that destroyed his business, but he chose how to react when it failed. If he had gone into rehab, his life might have ended up very differently. Likewise, Kate couldn’t prevent the death of her father, but she could (and did) eventually decide to move on after his passing.

What authors do you read?

I LOVE cozy mysteries, especially those that involve dogs. Susan Conant, Laurien Berenson, Linda O. Johnston, Waverly Curtis, and Sheila Boneham are some of my favorites!

Your German Shepard, Tasha, has very long ears! Is there something about German Shepard dogs that that attracts you? When she stands on two legs, is she taller than you?

You should see her feet! Actually, everything about Tasha is big. The average female German shepherd weighs 65 – 75 pounds. Tasha’s ideal weight is 100 pounds.

I’ve loved German shepherds since I was about three years old. They are intelligent, affectionate, loyal, loving, and protective. Tasha has hip dysplasia, so she hasn’t stood on her back legs since she was a puppy. But she can easily take up my whole side of the bed and she weighs almost as much as I do, so I suspect the answer is yes.

What’s next for Kate?

Kate will be back in my next mystery, A MURDEROUS RETREAT. She and her crew of friends are off for a working vacation at an upscale vegan retreat center on Orcas Island, a small island in Washington State. She’s planning to relax, kick back, and teach a few yoga classes. She might even splurge for a massage. She’s certainly not going to stumble across any more bodies, is she? ;-)

Are you a beach or a mountain person?

Beach, all the way. Warmth, sun, and sand. It doesn’t get any better than that!


15 comments:

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for writing for WWK. It sounds like you have life experience enough for a long series of books.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, Warren. It is an exciting start. I enjoyed reading the book, and I loved the inclusion of the dog in the plot.

Carla Damron said...

This was a very fun interview. Your book sounds wonderful. And I LOVE Tasha--great photo!

Sarah Henning said...

Sounds great, Tracy! Thanks for stopping by. I love the idea of mixing yoga, a big ol' dog and mystery!

Gloria Alden said...

Sounds like a good book, Tracy. I've had two German Shepherd dogs; one that we inherited with the house we bought because he was an older dog and the owners hated to move him. The next one after he died of old age, was a puppy my son wanted. Of course, because my kids were always busy, the dog became mine.

But mostly I've always had collies. Like you I fell in love with this breed when I was a kid and read all the Albert Payson Terhune books. Each of my collies have had different personalities. Maggie, my current tricolor collie will bark at what she perceives as a threat, but will run from them - like my two declawed tabby cats if either of them decide to jump at her from around a corner or behind a couch. It's funny, though, because the stray male cat with sharp claws that took up residence in my barn, has become a good friend of hers even though it will take swipes at me when I try to pet him. I had him neutered and all his shots and he's quite affectionate, but I don't trust him.

Kara Cerise said...

Your book sounds terrific, Tracy. And Tasha is gorgeous!

My sister-in-law has a special needs dachshund named Oscar with paralyzed hind legs. She straps him into a cart and Oscar pushes himself around just fine with his front legs. He loves to play fetch and run around the backyard with his pal, Felix.

KM Rockwood said...

What a great combination of themes and characters! I love dogs (I've had German shepherds, including two from Seeing Eye that could no longer be used as guide dogs. I prefer rescues to puppies) Right now we have Hamish, a rescue Labradoodle named after Hamish MacBeth, a character in M.C. Beaton's Scottish mystery series, and Vinnie, a who-knows-what "cell dog" from a prison program that rescues dogs from a shelter and assigns them to a prison inmate to train and socialize.

I have a sister with cancer, and she has found yoga to be a big help and comfort at certain stages.

Gloria--I've found that while the kids go off to seek their fortunes, the dogs stay home.

Kaye George said...

Tracy and E.B., this was a fun read! Thanks for the excellent interview.

Tracy, I have a question from my childhood. Up the block, a neighbor had two enormous dogs, the size of small ponies, that they called German Police Dogs. They looked like super-sized German Shepherds. I've never seen dogs like those again and wonder if that's a breed that has a different actual name, or if these were just two unusually large regular Shepherds. Do you know anything about a dog like that? The owners were probably Belgian. Most people in my town were either Swedish or Belgian and they weren't Swedish.

Shari Randall said...

Really enjoyable interview - thank you Tracy and EB!
I noticed the Space Needle on the cover of your book - I love that part of the country and it's additional enticement to read your series.
I'll second Kaye - I've known some super size German Shepherds that were called Police Dogs. Your lovely Tasha reminds me of a beautiful German shepherd my sister had, who was appropriately named Titan!

Tracy Weber said...

First of all, E.B., Thank you for hosting me in such a unique and fun interview. I am delighted to be here today.

Warren, Carla, and Sarah--Thank you so much for reading the interview. I hope the three of you check out the book and LOVE it! And yes, in my mind Tasha is a supermodel hero. She is the light of my life!

Gloria-- it's amazing how dedicated to a particular breed many people become. My family owned a collie when I was a child, but I barely remember it. The German Shepherd was the dog who glued herself to my soul. I too have an evil cat. Her name is Maggie. I'm pretty sure that in the zombie apocalypse, the zombies will run from her.

Kara-- yes, Tasha is supermodel. I hope you check out the book and love it. Bless your sister-in-law for taking care of Oscar. I've never owned a wheelchair dog, but I understand they do amazingly well.

KM-- you've been connected to some interesting dogs. I've heard about the cell dog programs, but I've never known anyone who owned one. Here's hoping your sister kicks cancer's butt. Tons of positive energy coming her way.

Kaye-- I don't know about a specific breed like that. I do know that some European countries have a breed called Alsatian, which some people say are German Shepherd dogs. Other people say they are different, so maybe it was that breed. There is also a breed called King Shepherd that is a mixture of breeds but looks like a German Shepherd. It is known for being quite large, but I believe that breed is new.

Everybody-- thanks for the warm welcome. If you do decide to read my book, please be sure to let me know what you think of it. I love getting connected to readers. If any of you are interested, you can sign up for my mailing list at this link. http://tracyweberauthor.com/newsletter.html. I send out a newsletter once a month with yoga tips, cozy mystery recommendations, and news about writing.

Excuse any type-os. I'm a terrible typist.

Tracy Weber said...

Shari--Some breeders breed for large size in shepherds, so perhaps that's part of it. I LOVE Seattle, and couldn't imagine setting my series anywhere else. Titan is a wonderful name for a big GSD. Tasha was named after Tasha Yar--the head of security in Star Trek, The Next Generation

I hope you check out my series. If you do, please let me know what you think!

Gigi Pandian said...

Great interview! And now I know we have even more to talk about at Left Coast Crime :)

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Tracy,

I love your cover and since I won a mug a while back, I’ve had it out for company and people always comment favorably upon it, so I figured I’d pass on the good news (which hopefully has resulted in a few sales.)

~ Jim

Tracy Weber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Weber said...

James--Thanks for spreading the word! The cup has been really popular. I'm looking into ordering coffee that has a Downward Dog Mysteries label from a Seattle coffee roaster to go with them. Wouldn't that be fun?

Gigi--I have a feeling we'll have no trouble making conversation... ;-)