Tag Archives: dog mystery

Time off, Blog Tours, and the Uniqueness of Viniyoga

As many of you know, I’m on a five-week-long sabbatical from teaching yoga.  This isn’t a vacation—it’s a chance to devote myself to my writing. You see, writing a book (or books!) is only the first step.  Right now I’m in different parts of the publishing process for three. I’m deeply immersed in a one–month blog tour for my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, working with my publicists to plan for the launch of my second, A Killer Retreat, and finishing up the second draft of my third book, tentatively titled Karma can be Killer.  Whew!

Part of the fun of this sometimes-overwhelming flurry of activity is getting the chance to share the principles of yoga with people who might otherwise never even consider it.  I have fans (those three words alone give me a thrill!) who have taken their first yoga class after reading my first book.  Others have recommitted to a yoga practice they dropped years ago.  Still others are asking me for coaching and yoga advice.

I’m having a great time.

This week’s blog article invites you to share in the fun.  Check out the article I wrote for The Top Shelf about Viniyoga in “Kate Davidson’s Guide to Yoga (with a little Murder on the Side).”  As an added bonus, you can enter to win a free Kindle!  Here’s a quote from the article to whet your appetite….

“The beauty of Viniyoga lies in its accessibility, which is part of what makes it so perfect for a mystery series. You don’t have to be ultra flexible or super fit to partake, just willing to be more mindful in everyday life. For those of you curious, the following four characteristics differentiate Viniyoga from other yoga styles….”

You’ll have to click on the link to the article to read the rest.  😉

Thanks all!  I’ll see you in September.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Do You Practice Hatha Yoga?

I recently sat next to a very kind gentleman on an airplane for a six-hour flight back to Seattle from Malice Domestic (a mystery fan convention.). I don’t think he knew I was a yoga teacher, especially since he spent a good thirty minutes educating me about the benefits of yoga. Of course, I agreed with him. Yoga is good stuff. He then said something that made me both externally smile and internally cringe, at least a little. He mentioned that he doesn’t like the more strenuous yoga forms of yoga, and that he only practices “Hatha” yoga.

I didn’t disagree with them. After all, he’s right, in a way. He does practice Hatha yoga. Almost all of us who practice yoga in America do. “Hatha” is an umbrella term that means the physical practice of yoga.  But referring to all yoga as simply “Hatha” is a little misleading. Although there are definite similarities between yoga styles, there are even more differences.

One Hatha yoga class may be practiced at a hundred and five degrees. Another may focus on “proper” alignment. Yet another, on connecting movement and breath. Some Hatha practices flow from pose to pose, while others stay in each posture for a minute or more before moving on to the next. Teachers of some styles teach the exact same sequence of poses each time. Some classes, like most Viniyoga classes, are designed in the moment based on what the practitioners need that day.

When you sign up for your first yoga class—or next, for that matter—ask the instructor what style they teach and explore with them whether that style will fit your goals. If the teacher says they teach “Hatha,” dig deeper. What lineages has she been influenced by? Who did she train with? Does she believe form follows function or the reverse? Her answers will help you find the right practice for you.

Most importantly, if you don’t like the first yoga class you try, take another. There’s a yoga style, teacher, and philosophy that fits everyone.

This article from Yoga Journal is a great starting place to explore the options available.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Living and Writing your Passion

Welcome to Sparkle Abbey, two of my favorite people and a couple of mighty fine authors, to boot! I’ve seen them at several mystery conferences over the past year, and needless to say, I was thrilled to learn that they both also practice yoga.  We even practiced a little in the back of the room at Left Coast Crime.  To find them online, check out www.sparkleabbey.com  Take it away, ladies!

Thanks so much for allowing us to be guests today, Tracy!

First off, here’s a little bit about us. Sparkle Abbey is actually a pen name because there are two of us. We are Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter and we co-write the Pampered Pets mystery series for Bell Bridge Books. Because we co-write the books, our publisher asked us to use a single pen name and we chose to use Sparkle Abbey on this series because we liked the idea of combining the names of their two rescue pets – Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog).

Our series focuses on the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pooches, and secrets in posh Laguna Beach, California. The main characters and amateur sleuths are Texas cousins, Carolina Lamont, a pet therapist, and Melinda Langston, a pet boutique owner. The two would join forces and work together if they were speaking, but well…they’re not. Midwest Book Review calls the series “A sassy and fun mystery!” We were excited about that description because that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve.

We met Tracy at the Malice Domestic mystery conference a year or so ago and we love her Downward Dog yoga-themed mystery series. And the books involve a wonderful German Shepherd dog, so even better! For Tracy, yoga is much more than a hobby. It’s a vocation and a calling. She is passionate about it and it shows!

Here’s our experience with yoga… Writers spend a lot of time at the computer. A lot. We sit at the keyboard to create our stories, we’re there to edit and polish, and then we’re also often online meeting readers and networking with other authors. That’s a lot of desk time!

So the two of us decided we needed some enforced activity and we signed up for a yoga class through our local Community Education program. It seemed like an easy way to get moving and de-stress, plus it was held at the local elementary in our neighborhood so was close by.

The first class was great and we loved the relaxation time at the end of class. (One of us even fell asleep during one class, but Tracy tells us that happens all the time.) However, after a knee injury for ML and foot surgery for Anita, we were struggling with many of the yoga postures. Soon we stopped going. However, we continued to talk about how much we liked it and how we’d like to get involved again.

At Left Coast Crime, we talked with Tracy about some of the problems we’d had and she was quick to ask questions and offer some advice. Advice which has made all the difference. (She even stopped in the middle of the welcome reception and demonstrated for us what we needed to do. We should have taken pictures.)

You see when you’re passionate about something, it becomes a part of who you are. We feel that way about animals and especially rescues. We try to partner with rescue organizations whenever we can on benefit events and educational efforts. We try to share our love of animals through our books and through the things we’re able to be involved in as authors.

Whether it’s cooking or quilting or antiques or stained glass, we think you’ll find many mystery authors (especially cozy authors) combine something they’re passionate about with their love of storytelling.

So what about you? What things are you passionate about?

Check out Sparkle Abbey’s newest book Fifty Shades of Greyhound!

A Yoga Teacher by Any Other Name….

Long before the first book in my Downward Dog Mystery series arrived at your local bookstore, my mother received a personal laser-printed copy of Murder Strikes a Pose. Of course she told me she liked it.  What self-respecting mother wouldn’t? One of her comments caught me off guard, however.

“I’m not very far into the book yet. I just reached the part where you found the body.”

“Mom,” I replied, a little concerned about her sudden decline in mental health. “You do know this is fiction, right?”

Let me assure you, I have never found a body near Whole Life Yoga—or anywhere else for that matter. And although a part of me exists in every character, my books aren’t autobiographical. Still, people often tell me that they see me in my yoga teacher sleuth, Kate Davidson. So, for the record, here are some ways Kate and I are similar—and different.

Similarities

1.      We both own yoga studios in Seattle.

Kate and I both teach yoga in the Viniyoga tradition, and we both prefer it to other, more strenuous, types of yoga. Although we both own small neighborhood yoga studios, mine (Whole Life Yoga) is dedicated to the Viniyoga lineage. Kate’s (Serenity Yoga) offers a mixture of yoga classes and styles.

2.      Kate and I both have body image issues.

Kate and I are both short, and we both have “normal” body types (whatever that means). But when we look in the mirror, we see the “before” image in a Jenny Craig commercial. We’re working on that.

3.      Kate and I both live with a horse-sized German shepherd.

Kate fosters Bella, the German shepherd in the series; I am owned by a German shepherd named Tasha. Both of our dogs have Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, will weigh over 100 pounds when full grown, and have, shall we say, “quirky” personalities. But in spite of their issues, Kate and I would be lost without them.

4.      Neither Kate nor I are perfect yogis, but we keep trying.

Occasionally a reader tells me that Kate isn’t believable as a yoga teacher. She’s not thin enough, emotionally well-balanced enough, or flexible enough. I’m not a typical yoga teacher, either. Kate can’t do advanced yoga poses; neither can I. Kate wants to live according to yoga philosophy but often fails. So do I. If Kate’s not a realistic yoga teacher, then I’m not either. Hopefully my yoga students won’t figure that out any time soon.

Here’s Where We’re Different:

1.      I’m not afraid of commitment.

Kate has what she terms “relationship ADD,” meaning she can’t stick with a relationship for more than a date or two.  I, on the other hand, seek commitment. Just ask my husband. I pestered and goaded and hounded him for three years before he finally gave in and asked me to marry him. (Frankly, I think he proposed just so I’d shut up about it.)

2.      Kate and I had different childhoods.

Kate was raised as the only child of a single-parent Seattle cop. I grew up with both of my parents on a dairy farm in Billings, Montana. Kate’s a city girl through and through. I’m a farm girl who has taken root in the city.

3.      My neuroses are different than Kate’s.

I’m as neurotic is the next yoga teacher, but I’m neutral to facial hair. Kate has a very real phobia called pogonophobia. Being near a man with a beard makes her feel anxious, itchy, and subtly nauseated, which really sucks for her since she has a crush on Michael, the bearded owner of Pete’s Pets, the pet store near her studio.

4.      I adore dogs to a fault.

Kate likes animals, but she never wanted one of her own. I, on the other hand, yearned and planned and plotted for over ten years before my husband gave in and agreed to adopt our German shepherd. And unlike Kate, I knew that cute little fur ball would be the love of my life the moment I laid eyes on her.

To be honest, personality-wise, I’m think I’m closer to Rene, Kate’s best friend: a plotter, a jokester, a prankster, a conniver. Unlike Kate, I don’t throw coffee mugs at the heads of little old ladies, and it’s pretty rare for me to yell at anyone.

I’m too busy plotting murder.

Tracy Weber

A Killer RetreatCome visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere!

Announcing A KILLER RETREAT!

Hi all!  I’m absolutely delighted  to announce the cover and publication date of my second Downward Dog Mystery, A KILLER RETREAT.  The book is in the final stages of editing now, and my publisher has finalized the cover.

What do you think? 

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Leave a comment about the cover in the next week for a chance to win a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug!

The book will be out January 8, 2015, but I’ll likely have copies again in late December.  Why wait?  Pre-order your personalized, autographed copy from Whole Life Yoga now, and I’ll mail you a signed bookmark as soon as they are available!

ABOUT A KILLER RETREAT

Six months after solving her friend’s murder, commitment-challenged Kate Davidson has recovered from her injuries and settled into a relatively calm life with rambunctious German shepherd Bella. Now, if only her relationship with boyfriend, Michael, would slow down to match her laid-back yogic lifestyle…

When Kate gets an offer to trade teaching yoga for a weeklong stay at a newly reopened vegan retreat center, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers. Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she’s forced to join forces with Michael, best friend Rene, and sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they’ll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.

REVIEWS

“An engaging mystery full of fun and fascinating characters and unexpected twists.  An intriguing read that includes yoga lessons and feisty dogs.”

Linda O. Johnston Author of the Pet Rescue Mysteries

“Fans   of Tracy Weber’s charming Murder Strikes a Pose have eagerly awaited   the return of yoga instructor Kate Davidson and her challenging yet   lovable German shepherd, Bella.  Happily, Weber’s second yoga mystery, A Killer Retreat, is as delightful as her first. Readers will love the   setting, the complex mystery, and the romance of Kate’s second   adventure. Especially noteworthy in this popular series is the appealing   combination of strength and vulnerability that Kate and Bella share.   Enjoy!”

Susan Conant     Author of the Dog Lover’s Mysteries

“Whether yoga instructor, Kate Davidson, is wrestling her hundred-pound dog, her new love life or trying to solve a murder, A Killer Retreat is simply a killer read! Witty, fun and unpredictable, this is one cozy mystery worth barking about!”

Shannon Esposito   Author of the Pet Psychic Mysteries

Thanks!

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. The first book in the series,  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere!

Does Meditation Inhibit Creativity?

A student sent me an interesting article from the New York Times recently about the benefits—and costs—of meditation. The article discussed several meditation studies.  In the first, Amishi Jha, the director of the University of Miami’s Contemplative Neuroscience, Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, taught United States Marines twelve-minute meditation practices that they performed daily.

Marines who meditated twelve minutes or more each day improved working memory and increased their ability to pay attention. Those same skills degraded in Marines that didn’t meditate or meditated less than twelve minutes each day.

A different study (by Michael Posner of the University of Oregon and Yi-Yuan Tang of Texas Tech University) showed that meditation enhances integrity and efficiency in the part of the brain that controls problem solving and rational decision making.

Still other studies have demonstrated that meditation can help improve GRE test scores. Simply put, meditation helps people learn and stay focused, in spite of distraction.

New research, however, indicates there may be a cost to all of that focused attention: creativity.

Jonathan Schooler, who runs a lab investigating mindfulness and creativity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that the most insightful ideas of both physicists and writers came when they were engaged in mindless activities—simple activities that allowed them to “space out.”

This creates an interesting conundrum for me as a yoga teacher/writer. Should I give up my mindfulness practices in order to deepen my craft?  Will my novels be more vibrant and engaging if I don’t try to control the random activities of my mind?

I suspect that the key, as in most of life, lies in balance.  For someone like me—who has suffered from chronic depression and anxiety most of her life—meditation is a powerful, life-changing tool. It trains my monkey mind to focus less on the bad things that might happen in the future, and more on whatever actually is happening in the moment. Meditation helps me stay present and truly take in the delicious world around me—a world that often ends up on the page.

My funniest lines pop into my head when I’m walking my dog—in that sweet, unstructured, daydreamy time that Tasha and I spend together in nature. Time I can only appreciate because of my meditation practices.

Without yoga and meditation, my mind would fill those walks with visions of tragedy and imagined despair. With it, I see more clearly.  Meditation has given me the ability to focus when I need to focus and let my mind wander to the vivid worlds of my characters when I don’t.

So to me, there’s no tradeoff between focus and creativity. Meditation gives me the ability to both.

What do you think?

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Airports, Conventions, and Karma: a Horror Story.

“Above all, be kind.  You have the power to bring someone hope, if only for a moment.”—David Wagner

As some of you know, I recently had a Stephen King-like horror experience traveling to a mystery convention in California. It started with a series of airline errors that left me stranded at the Los Angeles airport and ended with my ticket back home to Seattle accidentally being deleted by the same airline. In between, my luggage was lost, I was unable to sleep due to recurring travel-related nightmares, and I had a still-confusing incident with a fellow writer who I can only describe as the adult version of the “mean girls” I dealt with in high school.

But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about karma. I don’t claim to understand all of the yoga teachings, but I do have a concept of karma. Karma indicates that actions have consequences, not just to others, but to ourselves. Simply put, the law of karma promises that the actions we take in this life will have repercussions in the next.

Who knows if it’s true? As much as I’d love to have a future-life “do-over” to correct my mistakes, I can only say one thing for certain: the kindness of several people stood out this past weekend, and I appreciate them: a baggage claim clerk who went out of his way to explain what had happened to me in LA; a young person who helped an elderly gentleman place his luggage into the overhead compartment on the plane back to Seattle; a TSA employee who treated a Middle Eastern man with kindness and respect when his ID didn’t match his travel documents.

None of this seems major, but it was all yogic, and it was huge to the people it helped. Being kind doesn’t take much.  A smile, a “please sit down and join us,” a “I don’t know what happened, but I’ll try to help.”  The kindness you show others may have repercussions that are more powerful than you will ever realize.

Five authors made my awful weekend a little brighter, simply by making me feel welcome when others did not. There are a gazillion talented writers out there.  Great human beings are harder to come by. I’m already a fan of these authors, and you can bet I’ll be buying more of their books. Please join me.

Has someone made your day a little brighter?  If so, please share the story in a comment!

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and bookstores everywhere!

Persevering Practice: It Isn’t Just Yoga

This week I had the honor of being a guest writer on Jungle Red Writers. I chose to write about yoga and writing.  Whenever I combine those two words, two more come to mind: persevering practice.

But persevering practice doesn’t just apply to yoga. It applies to any activity done mindfully, over time, without interruption, with enthusiasm, and without attachment to results. When I wrote the article, I asked my yoga teacher training graduates to share some of their favorite non-yoga persevering practices. Here are four answers, along with the photos my students sent to illustrate them.

I’m sorry that the photos didn’t make Jungle Red (they primarily used their own stock photos), but I hope you will read the article. Please know how much I appreciate the support of each of my students, including these lovely four ladies.

Mary Bue, whose persevering practice is singing and songwriting. Mary is truly a talent, and I plan to post a guest post from her soon!

Marcie Leek, who uses knitting, both as a mindfulness practice and to connect with others.

Sharon Gillette, who hand raises chickens at her home in Issaquah. Attending to their needs takes daily effort and mindful dedication to their well-being.

chicks

Cheryle Rivers, whose love of gardening not only provides persevering practice, but also nurtures others.

Thank you, ladies, for providing these photos.

To each of you reading this article, whatever your own personal practice may be, persevere.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Is Happiness a Choice?

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama XIV

I had a tough week last week. Not terrible, certainly not tragic.  It was simply a week filled with snippets of bad news, a small but steady trickle of minor disappointments, and a mind filled with fears of a future that hopefully won’t materialize.

On one particularly challenging day, I found myself crying more often than not.  Breath practices, meditations, even walking my dog—nothing really helped.  My mind simply needed the catharsis of tears.

When my husband came home from work, we decided to go out for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant.  I always look forward to eating there, not just for the food, but because of the staff, particularly one always-bubbly waitress.

Shortly after we sat down, she bounced up to our table with her usual sparkle, seeming–as always–happy to see us.  She leaned down to fill our water glasses and asked, “How are you two doing tonight?”

Afraid I might burst into tears if I lied, I answered with the truth.

The resulting conversation surprised me.  When I told her that I’d had a rotten week and was feeling blue, she replied that her week had been awful too, and that such feelings are common for her.

I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that I told her I was surprised because she always seemed so happy.  She replied with a single sentence.

“I believe happiness is a choice.”

Immediately, I knew she was right. I would only make one revision: “Happiness is a choice, just not an easy one.”

The yoga teachings never promised that life would be easy. Our hopes won’t always be realized. People may treat us unkindly. Frankly, sometimes life seems unfair as hell. We can’t control that.

But we can choose to be happy anyway.

We can look for the small things that give us joy.  We can greet relative strangers as if seeing them were the highlight of our day. We can cry for a day—or a week—if we need to, then wake up again, determined to find and create joy.

It’s not always easy. Frankly, smiling through the rest of that dinner took a lot more effort than dissolving into tears.  But I realized that my attitude had impact: on my world as well as on me personally.

Here is my learning for the week: I can wear my heartache like a lead-lined raincoat, or I can hang it in the closet, go back out into the world, and search for all of the positive, wonderful, amazing things that give me joy. Today, I choose to be happy.

What will you choose?

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Blog Tour Report: Final Week and a Great Big Thank You

blogTourWeek3Today marks the final stop on the Murder Strikes a Pose book launch blog tour, and the last three stops were special.  Check them out, and please visit and support the people who have supported me!

Saturday, January 11: Rantin’ Ravin’ and Reading

This blog article answers the question many of you have been thinking: What kind of demented yoga teacher writes about murder?  Learn the main reasons I write the series and what I hope to accomplish through its pages.  Besides having fun, of course!

Wednesday, January 15: Killer Characters

Michael—the love interest in Murder Strikes a Pose—finally gets to tell his side of the story! Visit with Michael and learn why he thinks his new girlfriend might be crazy.

Monday, January 20: Inkspot

Inkspot is the blog created by the writers under my publisher, Midnight Ink.  Although Inkspot wasn’t an “official” stop on my tour, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge eleven of the many mystery writers that have supported me on this journey.  Take a look, check out their work, and support them by buying their books.

That’s it for this week.  Next week I’ll be back to blogging about yoga with a book stop every month or so.  Coming up in the next three months are articles on Jungle Red Writers, Coffee with a Canine, The Page 69 Test, Dog Reads and Kings River Life Magazine.

And you’ll find me every Monday here at the Whole Life Yoga Blog.  Thursdays, I blog at Killer Hobbies.

Guess I’d better get typing!

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and wherever books are sold.