Category Archives: Downward Dog Mysteries

Will the Real Yoga Teacher Please Stand Up?

As a novelist, I’ve been blessed to meet many generous writers who have mentored me on the bumpy path to publication. Pretty much every seasoned writer I’ve met so far has given me one sage piece of advice: never read reviews.

I have to admit, I read them anyway.

Maybe it’s curiosity; maybe it’s excitement; maybe it’s simply my need to look for that ever-elusive stamp of approval, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I dig and I search and I devour every new review I can find. Most of the time, they make me smile. Occasionally, I learn something from a reader’s comments that will make me a better writer. Sometimes, however, a review leaves me shaking my head.

Some time ago, I came across one such review. I don’t even remember now if the reader liked my book. Something tells me it wasn’t her favorite. But one criticism stuck in my memory. She said that my protagonist wasn’t a realistic yoga teacher. If Kate were a real yoga teacher, the reader asserted, she’d be much thinner, more flexible, and less likely to lose her temper.

My protagonist is 5’3” tall and weighs 130 pounds, which is normal by most standards. Like many women, Kate has body image issues and hates her “chunky” thighs. All in all, she’s not a heck of a lot different than me, and she can do significantly more challenging yoga poses than I can. I’ve made my living teaching yoga for over seventeen years.

Yoga teachers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lithe and can do amazing things with their bodies. Some are overweight. Some suffer from chronic illnesses and perpetually tight hamstrings. Some even start their yoga teaching career after retirement. The best yoga teachers know how to teach the students in front of them, in spite of their own personal limitations—or lack thereof. In fact, many of the best yoga teachers have imperfect bodies. If you can’t do a pose, learning how to observe your students and describe that pose becomes even more important.

Why do I care about this enough to write a blog article about it? The comment in the review highlights the very misperception of yoga that I’m trying to destroy: that yoga is only for the fit, the flexible, and the young. I have certified over three hundred teachers in the past fifteen years through Whole Life Yoga’s yoga teacher training, and I have met privately to discuss teacher training with at least three times that many. My heart always breaks a little when an otherwise wonderful candidate decides not to pursue teaching yoga because they can’t do all of the poses, they don’t have a size-four body, or they think they are too old. The world loses a lot of great yoga teachers that way.

Is the protagonist in my book likely to grace the cover of Yoga Journal? Probably not. But perhaps it’s time we let go of the yoga stereotypes. If yoga teachers are more diverse, our students will be as well.

What to you think?

Tracy Weber

PS: If you’re interested in Whole Life Yoga’s Teacher Training Program, you can check it out at this link.

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Visiting the Scene of the Crime

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  As promised last week, below are some photos of Marc, Ana’s and my recent trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon.  The trip was doubly special because we both got to see the full eclipse and spend some time at the location of my upcoming mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder!

We got into town early enough to settle in to our tiny beach house and do an early romp on the beach.

Ana inaugurated the beach with her first paw print.

Then we rested up to leave at six the next morning to drive to the path of totality.  Ana practiced wearing her eclipse glasses.

But seemed relatively unimpressed.  (Do you see the mini-eclipses in her fur?)

Still, totality was pretty amazing, at least for us humans.

We made it up to Ana by taking her to the beach and letting her run.

Day…

And night.

She was a very happy girl.

The humans saw starfish.

And got a little exercise themselves.

We even visited our favorite sailor statue.

Man how Ana has grown!  (This photo was taken ten months ago.)

Alas, it was finally time to say goodbye.

But we had a fabulous surprise shortly after we returned home!

We’re already planning our next trip to this very special place.  In the meantime, I’ll share it with you this January in Pre-Meditated Murder!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer filled with love, laughter, and vacation adventures.

Tracy

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

I Think She was Murdered

Note from Tracy:

I’ve spent the last eight days soaking up the sun and vacationing at the site of my next Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder. Next month, I’ll share some photos of my visit.  This month, I’ll tempt you with an excerpt.  Enjoy!

Pre-Meditated Murder  releases January 8, 2018.

We followed the shoreline back toward Cannon Beach. I swung Bella’s leash in my right hand while she herded waves on my left. By the time we reached the rock wall at Arcadia State Park, the tide had gone out enough that we could walk around it without getting wet. Now that it was almost noon, small groups of matchstick-sized people wandered the beach. Some of them were walking toward us.

I reached for Bella’s collar, but stopped. A few hundred feet ahead, a colony of seagulls—dozens of them—dotted the shore. Bella’s eyes begged me.

Please? Just one more run?

Why not? One of us should be having fun. “Okay girl. Go get ‘em!”

Bella galloped after those birds like a cheetah after a gazelle. It was ridiculous, really. All of us—human, canine, and seabird included—knew that Bella would never catch them. But that didn’t diminish anyone’s fun. When Bella was about fifteen feet away, the birds took off in unison, flew a hundred feet down the beach, and landed, still in formation. Bella skidded to a stop, let out a single, loud bark, and tore after them again.

May as well give up, hunter dog.

I reached out my arms and yelled, “Bella, come!”

As trained, Bella turned a one-eighty and ran back to me at full steam.

Three hundred feet … two hundred … one hundred … “Bella, slow down!” I yelled. I repeated the command three more times in a rapid-fire panic. “Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!”

Bella didn’t hear, didn’t understand, or—more likely—chose not to listen. She launched through the air, collided with my chest like a hundred-pound bowling ball, and knocked me flat on my sitting bones for the second time in thirty minutes. A quick German shepherd chin nibble later, she ran a quick circle around me and chose a new destination: a Jenga-like stack of driftwood piled up against the cliff.

I spit out a million tiny particles of sand. “Bella, come!” I commanded.

No response.

I stood, brushed the wet sand off my bottom, and trudged toward my dog. “Bella, knock it off and get over here! Leave it!”

Bella pretended to be deaf.

What on earth was she so interested in? Half-eaten hotdogs? Urine from a particularly studly Golden Retriever? A seagull corpse?

Bella stopped sniffing and commenced digging.

I groaned. It had to be a dead creature of some kind. Bella couldn’t digest real food unless it was incubated in expensive prescription enzymes. I imagined scooping up undigested seagull parts and groaned louder.

“Bella, I said come!”

Not even an ear twitch. This level of disobedience was unusual, even for her.

I broke into a jog. When Bella wanted something this badly, it was a sure bet that I didn’t want her to have it. I skidded to a stop next to my recalcitrant canine and clipped the leash to her collar. “That’s enough girl. Leave it.”

She ignored me.

I tightened the leash and made my voice especially stern. “I mean it.”

Bella refused to move.

Whatever she’d found, it was infinitely more interesting than a five-foot-three-inch yoga teacher.

Bella channeled her inner Ricky, grabbed onto something and pulled, exposing a woman’s tennis shoe.

“Seriously, Bella?” I grumped. “This much drama over a shoe?”

Then I looked closer and gagged.

The shoe was attached to a foot. A foot that was attached to a caramel-skinned ankle. A caramel-skinned ankle wearing a starfish ankle bracelet.

Oh God, no.

Bella had unearthed a body—a woman. She was buried, facedown, in an obviously man-made mountain of driftwood, seaweed, and sand.

I wish I could say I was horrified. I wish I could say I screamed like a scared little schoolgirl. I wish I could say I vomited like I did the night I found my friend George’s body.

But I didn’t. I simply stood there, thinking the same words over and over: not again.

I clawed through the rocks, unearthed the broken body’s left wrist, and forced myself to feel for a pulse. Her fourth finger was bare, except for a band of lighter skin where her wedding ring used to be. I suppressed the urge to run off to warn Michael, pulled out my cell phone, and dialed 911.

“Hi. My name’s Kate Davidson. I found a woman’s body. I think she was murdered.”

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Pre-Meditated Murder: An Excerpt

Hi all!  I’m heads down this month promoting my second audiobook and writing my sixth mystery, so for this week’s blog, I decided to share an excerpt from my upcoming Downward Dog Mystery. Pre-Meditated Murder  releases January 8, 2018. The excerpt has not gone through Midnight Ink’s editing process yet, so please forgive any errors. 

I put Alice back into the carrier and followed Rene to the sidewalk. I would have kept chiding her all the way to the car, but when we were a few steps away from the street, Bella froze, halting my forward motion and practically dislocating my shoulder. “Bella, knock it—” I stopped mid-sentence.

Something was wrong.

Bella stared straight ahead, teeth exposed, ears pricked forward. The guard hairs along her spine stood on end like the quills of an angry porcupine. Low growls rumbled from deep in her chest.

“What is it, sweetie?” I kneeled next to her and followed her gaze. It was locked on a man who was standing—or rather skulking—in a dark, narrow alley across the street. He wore a camouflage baseball cap.

“It’s him,” I whispered.

Rene glanced left to right. “It’s who?”

The stranger looked up and we made eye contact. For the first time, I got a good look at his face. Dark hair. Tan, weathered skin. Light blue, almost icy, eyes. He turned and bolted down the alley.

As to what happened next, I can only plead temporary insanity.

“Rene, stay here.” I ordered. I thrust Bella’s leash into her hand and broke into a run, determined to catch the suspicious stranger.

“Where are you going?” Rene yelled to my back.

I ignored her and shoved past an elderly woman. “Excuse me.” I dodged to the right and twirled past a young mother pushing a stroller. “Sorry!” I leapt over a low bench and landed—hard—on the edge of my right foot. Pain jolted from my ankle to my knee. I recovered my balance and kept running, but the camo-capped man ran faster. He was getting away!

I didn’t think. More importantly, I didn’t look. I acted on pure instinct. I darted off the curb and into the busy street. The driver of a black pickup truck slammed on his brakes.

The next three seconds passed with petrifying clarity. The horrified expression on the driver’s face; the ear-piercing screech of locked tires against pavement; the chemical smell of burning rubber; the sour taste of adrenaline. I gaped down at my knees, or more accurately at the truck’s bumper, which had stopped an inch from my legs. The driver leaned out his window and yelled, “Jesus, lady! Watch where you’re going!”

“My fault!” I yelled. I started running again.

Across the street, down the alley, and out to the sidewalk on the other side. I skidded to a stop, lungs heaving, and whipped my head back and forth.

The suspicious stranger had vanished.

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A KILLER RETREAT Audiobook Launch Party!

July marks the official launch of my second audiobook, A Killer Retreat!  Although the official launch is in July, it’s available for purchase on Audible now.   Join me at the Facebook launch party on July 13 at this link!

I hope you give the book (audio or written) a try, and love it!  For a short excerpt, check out my article today on Inkspot, the blog for writers of Midnight Ink.

Tracy Weber

All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Announcing A KILLER RETREAT on Audiobook!

Hi all!  Today’s post will be short but sweet, as I’m limiting my computer time while I recover from a recent whiplash injury.  But I wanted to tell you that my newest audiobook, A Killer Retreat, is now available!  Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/Killer-Retreat-Downward-Dog-Mystery/dp/B071JG4SJ9/

Even better, if you already own or purchase the Kindle version of the book, you can get the audiobook for only $3.47!

An official launch party and blog tour will be held in July.  In the meantime, I hope you give it a try and love it!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Cover Revealed!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my birthday-week cover reveal contest for PRE-MEDITATED MURDER last week.  The full cover is below!

My publisher opted to go with a different cover artist this time, so the book has a different look and feel than the first four.  I’ll miss bright-and-happy Kate and Bella, but on the plus side, the new image is less likely to be confused with a children’s book.

More about the book:

Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she’s disappointed when a special dinner doesn’t end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his green card-seeking wife is blackmailing him.    

When his wife’s body is found—by Kate and her dog, no less—Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . .  with Michael trapped in the middle.

So what do you think?  New cover yes?  New cover no?  Tell me why in the comments.  And if you’re interested in pre-ordering the book, you can do so at this link.

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

It’s Tracy’s Birthday (aka Margarita Day!) How About a Cover Reveal Contest?

Two fun pieces of news today!  First, it’s my birthday!  Whoo hoo!  Margaritas for everyone!

Second, my fifth Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available for pre-order!  Kate has really gotten herself into trouble this time.  To see how, take a look at the book’s description at https://www.amazon.com/Pre-Meditated-Murder-Downward-Dog-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0711WY9ST/.

Which brings us to the contest.

My publisher decided to go with a new cover look this time, and I’m excited to hear what you think of it.  Since my past cover reveal contests have been so fun, I’ve decided to reveal it through a similar contest this year!  Here’s how it works:

Each day for the next five days, I’ll post an element of the cover on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/TracyWeberAuthor.  Before midnight that day, leave a comment naming the object pictured and you’ll be entered into that day’s contest.  Sharing the contest, liking my author page or friending me on Facebook are all good karma, but not required.

While you’re there, be sure to make a note of the object for the grand prize round.

Then, any time between when I post the final object on Friday, June 9 and Sunday, June 11 at midnight, send me an e-mail at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com with all five objects.  Once I receive your e-mail, you’ll be entered to win the grand prize.  The full cover will be revealed on this blog and on Facebook on Monday, June 12.

Here are the prizes! 

  • Monday: Your choice of the audiobook or an autographed paper copy of my Agatha Nominated first book, Murder Strikes a Pose. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Tuesday: A Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug.
  • Wednesday: An autographed copy of the fourth book in the series, A Fatal Twist. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Thursday:  A $15 Amazon gift certificate.
  • Friday:  An advanced copy of Pre-Meditated Murder when it’s available sometime in August.
  • Grand Prize:  A Dog and Crossbones book bag, a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug,  and an advanced copy of Pre-Meditated Murder when it’s available.

The first cover element is pictured below.  Visit today’s post on my  Facebook Author Page and make your first entry!

NOTE:  By entering, you acknowledge that Facebook is not liable for any part of the contest.  The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  😉

Namaste and good luck!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

What’s in a Name?

 

Unending joy through the eyes of a puppy.

Today’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’m discussing the power of names, both in fictional characters and our loved ones.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2017/05/whats-in-name.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Today’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I discuss book covers, why they’re so important, and some of the challenges I’ve had with mine.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2017/04/judging-book-by-its-cover.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!