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Welcome to the Flock.

Lisa Brunette_AuthorThis is the web site for Lisa Brunette, the #1 Amazon best-selling author of the Dreamslippers mystery series. 

Stay up to date: Sign up for Lisa's newsletter for the latest news, plus fun giveaways.

Looking to get in touch? Email her here

 ~~~

What People Are Saying

"Clearly author Lisa Brunette has a genuine flair for deftly crafting a superbly entertaining mystery/suspense thriller." - Midwest Book Review

"The launch of an intriguing female detective series." - Kirkus Reviews

“Lisa Brunette’s Framed and Burning is a brilliant, suspenseful whodunit…” - Qui Xiaolong, Author of Shanghai Redemption, named one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Books of 2015


Vote for a Cover, Win a Free Book!

Six-Images-Layers

Which one of these covers fits the next novel in the Dreamslippers series best? With such awesome choices, we're having a hard time deciding. We hope you can help us out.

Here's the book description:

In Bound to the Truth, the multigenerational PIs with the ability to 'slip' into dreams are hired to investigate the murder of an up-and-coming Seattle architect. Did Nina Howell really fall under the spell of a domineering, conservative talk show host--as her wife claims? Find out as the dreamslippers chase down a killer while at the same time navigating the murky waters of the Seattle dating scene.

The challenge, as I put it to my brilliant cover designer, Monika Younger: While the novel includes elements of Seattle's kink culture, it's a mystery, not erotica, so we want to differentiate from those types of covers. There also needs to be continuity between the cover for this third book in the series and the first two:

CatintheFlock_thumb Framed-and-Burning_Thumb

But the continuity doesn't have to be perfect. Each book is different, so it's okay if there's a bit of a departure.

Here's the 'win' part: If the cover you voted for is chosen, you get a free ebook copy of Bound to the Truth when it releases this fall. One entry out of those winners also receives a signed print copy of the book.

So, are you ready to vote? If you need a sneak preview of the book first, here's the prologue from the current working draft.

Alrighty then! On to the choices.

#1:

  BOUND TO THE TRUTH1

#2:

BOUND TO THE TRUTH2

#3:

  BOUND TO THE TRUTH3

#4:

BOUND TO THE TRUTH4

#5:

BOUND TO THE TRUTH5

#6:

BOUND TO THE TRUTH6

Vote for your choice in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and feel free to argue your case! BUT - to make sure we have a way to contact you if you win, send us an email with your vote at this handy link.

By the way, reader votes synched up with our choices for the first two covers, so we obviously listen to what y'all have to say. We're looking forward to hearing what you think of these.

Thanks for playing!

 


Sneak Preview! Bound to the Truth, Dreamslippers Series Book Three

Six-Images-Layers

Which cover fits the feel of this novel best? Vote here.

Bound to the Truth: Prologue

Robin Howell sat on the floor of her living room watching Jin Mae play. The girl stacked yellow block upon blue block, alternating the two colors until she had a tower. Jin Mae seemed to sense when the height would become unstable and stopped. She turned to Robin and said, “Look, I made a building. Just like Mommy Nina does.”

The girl’s words bloomed like flowers in Robin’s chest. She got down on all fours to admire her daughter’s architectural feat. The two played together for a long time, until Robin noticed the slanted sunlight stretching out across the floor, suggesting it was late. She felt for her cell phone in her pocket to check the time. It showed an indisputable 7:36 pm, and a text message from Nina that she hadn’t noticed while absorbed in play: Taking a client to dinner. Go ahead without me.

Robin hoisted herself up off the floor, pulling the rough-hewn Guatemalan wrap around her for comfort as much as against the chill. “Come, Jin Mae,” she said, beckoning for her daughter’s hand. “We need to make dinner.”

>>>

Robin woke, her book still in her hand and her reading glasses perched on her nose. She heard running water and saw a slit of light beneath the bathroom door. Nina was home. Robin’s heart lilted at the thought of her wife climbing into bed with her fresh from a shower. But Robin craved more than that. She did not want to wait. She got up and walked to the door. 

The bathroom knob wouldn’t turn. It was locked.

“Nina,” she said. “Can I come in?”

Silence. A pause. And then, “Oh, Robin. I’m so exhausted. I just want to sleep.”

“Okay.”

Robin returned to bed, picked up her book and glasses, and set them on the nightstand. Nina finally came out after a few more minutes, and she was wearing a full set of pajamas. 

“You used to sleep in the nude,” Robin said. 

Nina did not respond. Her face was scrubbed of makeup, the ends of her chin-length hair wet. Robin made room for her under the covers, put her arm around her once she settled.

“How was your client?”

“Intense. But somehow still boring, in the sense that he was utterly predictable.”

Robin smirked. “What does he want you to build?”

Nina sighed. “What else? A mixed-use building with apartments above and retail below. It should have all the semblance of sustainability and green living without his having to invest in anything that would really make a difference.”

“So no go on the solar.”

“Nope.”

“Sorry.”

Nina turned toward Robin, touching her face. “How’s Jin Mae? I looked in on her when I came in. She’s fast asleep, with Lambykins in her arms.”

Robin felt Nina’s touch smoothing the jagged edges of her worry. “She’s fine. Building apartment towers with her blocks. Wants to be like you.”

Nina smiled. “It would be better if she wanted to be like you.”

“Why do you say that? You’re a fantastic role model for her.”

“Oh, I’m just being self-critical. It’s been a long day.” Nina dropped her caress and turned  to one side, away from her.

Robin snuggled into Nina’s back, spooning her. “I miss you.” She whispered it into her wife’s ear.

“I’m right here,” Nina said, grasping Robin’s hand.

But as they drifted off to sleep, Robin wasn’t so sure.

>>>

Robin’s knitting needles clicked as the women talked, giving their conversation a subtle staccato rhythm. The Wyld Womyn had come together as a group without fail for the past nine years. Staunch feminists to a woman, they supported a cornucopia of acronymed organizations that represented the fight against hegemonic patriarchy: NARAL, NOW, EMILY’S List, the FMF. More than half their number were lesbians or had dated women at some point in their lives. The ones who were currently partnered with men had chosen SNAGs, or Sensitive New Age Guys, as their mates. These were men who shared in the household chores and child-raising, took their turns in conversation rather than interrupting, and understood that their wives would retain separate bank accounts to preserve their economic independence. 

Today’s topic: pornography and strip clubs. Marjorie Jackson, an organizer for Feminists Fighting Porn, had been invited to speak about their various initiatives. 

Marjorie had chosen not to color her grey, which framed her face in dramatic streaks. Robin found the look both stunning and a little intimidating. 

“We know that pornography is like a gateway drug for perpetrators of rape and child rape,” Marjorie argued. “Notice that I did not use the word ‘molestation’ in place of ‘child rape.’ I don’t want to minimize the act when it’s done to a child. Rape is rape.”

Robin felt a surge of emotion at this that made her drop a stitch. She thought of Nina’s father. It had taken Nina fifteen years of therapy to undo the damage that man did to her. Robin wondered if pornography had anything to do with his criminal acts against Nina. 

“Now it’s everywhere, thanks to the Internet,” Marjorie continued. “We’re long past the days of banning porn from bookstores and convenience marts. Type ‘cock’ into a search engine, and it’s in your face.”

Robin fought a snicker at the woman’s unintended literalism.

Danielle Everton, a fortysomething financial planner, piped up. “I caught my son watching a YouTube video the other day about how to give a better blow job. The girl in the video demonstrated with a carrot, and she was alone and fully clothed, so I guess the parental filters didn’t recognize it as porn.”

“I don’t know why men like that so much,” said a woman named Sharon Koal. She pushed her turquoise frames back up to the bridge of her nose. “I’ve always found it disgusting.”

Robin thought of Sharon’s husband, who wore his hair in a ponytail and always smelled of the mushrooms he grew in their backyard. 

“Oh, I don’t know,” said one of the younger members of the group. She’d only recently joined. “They can be just as good for the woman as for the man.”

“Really?” Several women spit out the question at once.

The newbie looked caught off guard, and as if she wished she’d kept her mouth shut. “Um, yeah. I mean, why not? It’s the variety of sexual expression, right?”

One of the heteros sort of leapt to her defense. “If a woman truly enjoys it and isn’t just doing it to please her partner, that would be all right.”

Robin remembered furtive, awkward attempts at going down on her high school boyfriend, back when she was trying really hard not to think about her attractions to the girls who were just her friends. She hadn’t quite known what to do with that thing. It tasted like the terrible brie hors d’oeuvres her mother served to guests. So she closed her eyes and hoped for the best but ended up cutting him with her teeth. She had to admit, there was something satisfying about causing him pain there. And he never insisted she do it again after that.

“I think we’re getting off-topic,” said Helen Dubus, the host. “And there’s been an awful lot of cross-talk.” She cast looks at both Danielle and Sharon, who had effectively derailed their guest’s speech.

“Sorry,” both women murmured.

There was a pause, and then Marjorie spoke again. “So, anyway, there is not a lot we can do to put a stop to pornography. But what we can do is try to prevent strip clubs from obtaining licenses. They prey on young women who are already victims in society and create centers for drugs and crime.”

She distributed a flyer advertising a rally to protest a new strip club opening in a Seattle suburb. “We need as many people to show up to this as possible,” she said.

Robin wondered if she could get Nina to go. This protest would be something they’d do together. A question occurred to her.

“Would it be appropriate to bring children to the protest?”

Marjorie considered it. “I think that would be all right. There won’t be anything that children can’t see at this, not in our signs, and the club itself will be closed at the time. It’s during the day.”

Sharon spoke to Robin, but she meant her words for the group. “It would be a good experience for Jin Mae. Anyone else willing to bring their daughters?”

“—And sons,” corrected Marjorie. “They have just as much to learn as girls do. Maybe even more.”

>>>

The day of the protest dawned warm and drizzly. Robin made them all pancakes, a smiley face on Jin Mae’s, a banana mouth and strawberries for eyes. Nina brewed coffee, Robin’s favorite free-trade brand from the shop near their house. She poured in enough coconut milk to turn the coffee tan, just the way Robin liked it.

They told Jin Mae they were taking her to a protest, an important one for women. “Wo-men,” the girl said before sticking a strawberry into her mouth.

Robin always let Nina drive. The few times Robin drove, Nina spent the whole trip telling Robin where to go or pressing an imaginary brake on her side of the car. It wasn’t that Robin wasn’t a good driver. It was that Nina liked to be in control.

When they got to the building that would soon open as a strip club, Robin was dismayed to see only Marjorie, the woman from Feminists Fighting Porn, along with a handful of women who were also part of the organization. She, Nina, and Jin Mae were the only ones from the group of Wyld Womyn, and Jin Mae was the only child in attendance.

Still, they held their signs high for the news cameras. A few passersby joined them, including an elderly couple who lived a few blocks away and didn’t like the idea of a strip club opening in their neighborhood. 

The building was brick painted black, with a garish pink stripe across the top. A glittery sign spelled out its name: TOP LET’S. The windows had all been blacked out, and there was an enormous satellite dish on the roof. It was on a busy intersection, and the sound of tires swooshing through the rainy streets gave the proceedings a constant white noise, punctuated by an occasional honk, which the protesters took as gestures of support.

Through the constant wash of cars and steadily building commotion as more people joined the protest, Robin sought connection with Nina, who seemed distracted. Robin reached for her wife’s gloved hand. Nina clasped hers in return. But her gaze went elsewhere, to the gaggle of media people milling in front of vans, their crew swarming around them like flies.

One man, holding a tiny microphone, stared right at them.

Or at Nina, rather. He cast a quick, mildly curious glance at Robin, but his stare was directed at Nina.

As if he knew her.

As if there was something between them. 

Nina’s hand in Robin’s felt weak. Robin felt her wanting to break the hold.

But then the man turned away. He fell into conversation with his crew member. 

Robin thought she heard the slightest noise come from Nina, just a tiny note, as if she were trying not to react to a sudden pain.

He turned back around, his eyes scanning the scene but avoiding Nina and Robin. He clipped the microphone to his tie. Robin strained to pick out his voice above the din. 

“I’m at the scene of a protest here in North Seattle…”

Robin felt Nina pulling her away from where the man stood, but Robin held her ground.

“Regular listeners of my radio program know I’ve been covering the Rizzio family saga for the past three years…”

Robin had heard his voice before, when flipping the channels in her Subaru. As soon as his distinct baritone came out of the speakers, in fact, she knew to keep flipping. He was a conservative radio talk show host, and she never agreed with a word he said.

She nudged Nina, who was already staring at him. “Isn’t that…”

“—Sam Waters,” Nina supplied. “Yes.”

“Right,” Robin said in a whisper. “What an asshole.”

“That’s for sure,” Nina said, but the look on her face seemed to betray something else.

Sam Waters filled his microphone with his own rapid-fire, loud, inflammatory speech. “…The police have so far failed to provide any solid evidence against the Rizzio family in what amounts to a politically motivated witch hunt. Meanwhile, the radical feminists have descended, all eleven of them…” 

Robin held one of Jin Mae’s hands, and Nina held the other. “You’re hurting my hand, Mommy,” Jin Mae said to Nina, shaking the hand Nina held. 

Nina, appearing startled, glanced down and let go of Jin Mae. “Oh, sorry, honey.” 

“He just lied about the protest,” Robin said. “I count twenty-one of us.”

“Like it matters,” said Nina, coughing out a laugh.

Someone behind them began to chant. “No More Porn! No More Porn!”

Robin picked up the chant, and so did Nina. Even little Jin Mae joined in, though coming out of her three-year-old mouth, it sounded like, “No Morn Corn!”

>>>

Working late, said Nina’s text. Nothing more. 

But Robin had received that message at 6:13 pm. It was now morning, and Nina was not there. 

Robin could hear Jin Mae making wake-up noises in her room down the hall. Nina’s side of the bed was cold, the sheets still tucked under the mattress. 

A panic attack surged through Robin, turning her palms wet. She felt as if she were being choked.

She leapt from the bed. “Nina?” she called through the house, though she knew her wife wasn’t there, could feel Nina’s absense in her bones. She had felt it for some time. She’d known this was coming.

She thought of the man at the protest. Sam Waters. Nina had dated men before, but no one like him. How could she fall for someone like him?

Robin did not know how to stop it. She couldn’t imagine life without Nina, her love, her everything. How would they raise Jin Mae if they weren’t together? 

Robin wondered for a flicker how the money would work out, if she would have to go back to work or if Nina would continue to support her. 

“You’re dependent on me financially,” Nina said to her once. “Does that bother you?”

“Does it bother you?” Robin had asked her. 

“Of course not,” Nina’d said, rolling Robin onto her back and gazing down into her face. “Your work keeping up the home and caring for Jin Mae has value to me.”

Nina kissed her then, passionately. “I love you,” she’d said.

It had been a long time since they’d been intimate like that, Robin thought with alarm. And now it seemed like it was too late to get back there.

She shook the notion from her head. There was still time. She could save this. She had to.

>>>

Robin kept checking her cell phone for messages but found none. She expected to hear from Nina by noon, but lunchtime came, with Jin Mae getting parmesan all over the dining room. No matter how many times Robin swept the sponge across the table, she’d find flecks of cheese she’d missed. 

Then the front doorbell rang. Robin expected someone selling siding for the house, or cable services. But it was two police officers, a man and a woman. She let them in. They seemed so out of place in her living room in their starched uniforms, shiny shoes. Instinctually, Robin picked up her knitting needles. It seemed important suddenly to finish Nina’s sweater. It was taking her forever, and soon it would be too warm for it anyway.

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this,” said the man. To Robin, it sounded as if he were more sorry about his role as messenger than he was about the message itself.

He cleared his throat, hesitating.

“Yes?” Robin prompted him. She didn’t look up, though. She didn’t want to drop a stitch.

“Your wife was found dead this morning,” he said.

Too late, too late. The words Robin had been worrying over all morning rang in her ears.   She dropped the unfinished sweater and looked up, but not at him. Her eyes met the woman cop’s, seeking comfort.

But there Robin saw only pity. 

 


One Hot Little Reading

Lisa_and_julia

On Sunday I hoofed it down to Gladstone, OR, to take part in The Other Side Reading Series, hosted by Nancy Slavin, a past guest poet on the blog. I had the pleasure of sharing the mic with Julia Laxer, whose poems have appeared in So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art, Small Po[r]tions and The Nervous Breakdown. The theme was "heat," and Julia and I sizzled... literally. We were outside, the sun blazed down, and the mercury rose to around 90 degrees.

Reading

To further prove my in-synch-ness with the theme, I had my pick of tie-ins, from the opening fire scene in Framed and Burning, to the blaze of anger Mick Travers exhibits in that book, to the heat of passion in a couple of love poems tucked into Broom of Anger.

Julia

The talented Julia Laxer read about the seedy, lusty world of strip clubs, as well as traipsing through San Francisco in hot pursuit of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. She has a gift for the telling detail, and I can't wait to see what she does next. Her first book is sure to be a scorcher.

Shoes

Organizer Nancy Slavin lusted after my hot shoes.

All thanks to Nancy Slavin for putting the heat on, Happy Rock Coffee for hosting, and to the Clackamas Review for this great event write-up. Gladstone's just a stone's throw from Portland, so if you're in the area for the next reading in the series on September 11, stop on by. You'll be glad. 

Happyrocksign

Photos by Nancy Slavin, Julia Laxer, and me.

 


Something Mysterious: August Game Roundup

  Deduction and intrigue

Every so often, I'll bring you a roundup of games in the deduction and intrigue category. Here are four games on my to-play list this summer, and I hope to bring you some of these developers as guests on the blog in the coming months, too.

But first, a quick PSA. Reviews are a developer's life blood - and they're an easy gift to give. Just pick a star rating and write one or two sentences to provide other players a quick impression, or feel free to write more if you like. I've provided links below so you can follow these folks and review their games.

This month I've got two digital games and two tabletop. Let's start with the digitals.

Contradiction by Tim Follin

Header

Contradiction is an interactive crime drama game that uses live-action video for the entirety of the game play. It’s a brand new take on the concept of an interactive movie and brings the genre to a whole new level of playability.

Contradiction plays as smoothly as a 3D graphic game. You can wander freely around the game environment, collecting evidence and witnessing constantly changing events. 

However, the centrepiece of the game is interviewing the characters you meet, who can be questioned about all the evidence you’ve collected and things you’ve seen. The name of the game is then spotting contradictions in their answers, catching them out and moving the game along.

Review on Steam and the App Store.

Follow on Twitter

Psy High by Rebecca Slitt, for Choice of Games

Psyhigh

When the kids at your high school start developing psychic powers, you and your friends must team up to stop the principal from taking over the world! 

Psy High is an interactive teen supernatural mystery novel by Rebecca Slitt, where your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination. 

Play as male or female; gay, straight, or bi. Will you be a jock or a brain? Popular or ignored? Use your psychic powers to help others, or to take what you want. Win a coveted scholarship, star in the Drama Club play - or lose it all and spend your senior year in juvenile detention. How much are you willing to sacrifice to get ahead in the world? 

Can you solve the case? Can you save the school? And most importantly, can you find a date to the prom? You can play the first three chapters of the game for free.

Review on Steam and the App Store.

Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Now for the tabletop games, which are both cooperatives encouraging players to work together toward a common goal, in this first case catching Jack the Ripper. 

Letters from Whitechapel by Fantasy Flight Games

  Whitechapel

Get ready to enter the poor and dreary Whitechapel district in London 1888 – the scene of the mysterious Jack the Ripper murders – with its crowded and smelly alleys, hawkers, shouting merchants, dirty children covered in rags who run through the crowd and beg for money, and prostitutes – called "the wretched" – on every street corner.

The board game Letters from Whitechapel, which plays in 90-150 minutes, takes the players right there. One player plays Jack the Ripper, and his goal is to take five victims before being caught. The other players are police detectives who must cooperate to catch Jack the Ripper before the end of the game. The game board represents the Whitechapel area at the time of Jack the Ripper and is marked with 199 numbered circles linked together by dotted lines. During play, Jack the Ripper, the Policemen, and the Wretched are moved along the dotted lines that represent Whitechapel's streets. Jack the Ripper moves stealthily between numbered circles, while policemen move on their patrols between crossings, and the Wretched wander alone between the numbered circles.

Review on Amazon and BoardGameGeek.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Mysterium by Asmodee

Mysterium

In the 1920s, Mr. MacDowell, a gifted astrologist, immediately detected a supernatural being upon entering his new house in Scotland. He gathered eminent mediums of his time for an extraordinary séance, and they have seven hours to contact the ghost and investigate any clues that it can provide to unlock an old mystery.

Unable to talk, the amnesic ghost communicates with the mediums through visions, which are represented in the game by illustrated cards. The mediums must decipher the images to help the ghost remember how he was murdered: Who did the crime? Where did it take place? Which weapon caused the death? The more the mediums cooperate and guess well, the easier it is to catch the right culprit.

Review on Amazon and BoardGameGeek.

Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

 


For the Love of the Game (Story)

HOPA2

Since transitioning out of my narrative design role at Big Fish in February, I've been looking for exciting new opportunities in the games industry. One of my discoveries is a juicy online magazine put out by the Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games--yes, they call it 'Spag Mag.' Issue 64 went live yesterday, with my article "Evolving Storytelling in Hidden-Object Games" included. Working with the astute, responsive Katherine Morayati, Spag's editor, was a fantastic experience, and I'm honored to be on the roster. Writing the piece gave me the chance to reflect on five years at the narrative design helm, working with some of the most talented developers and producers in the casual industry and enjoying the rare opportunity to steer the storylines on Big Fish's flagship titles.

I continue to look for great games to play and work on in addition to writing books and articles. Unfortunately, a lot of the popular games today don't have much story, and in my opinion, that makes them boring. Pokémon Go lost me pretty quickly because it lacked a story hook. I'm just not motivated enough to simply collect and fight with creatures, and I get better quality exercise and social interaction around my dance classes.

It seems a lot of developers don't pay attention to what a powerful and yet cost-effective driver story can be in a game. Since a lot of what counts as story is delivered as text on-screen, it doesn't add hugely to the budget. There's of course a whole design method for adding visual story elements as part of the world-building and game-play integration, which I discuss in the Spag piece. One narrative designer/writer could make a measurable difference in player retention. Bewilderingly, developers tend to consider story last, if at all. But in nearly a decade in the industry, I can tell you that focusing on story from the get-go is key.

There are wonderful examples of story-in-games out there, I know it. As I've mentioned previously, one of these found me--the chance to write text for an iOS game called Smash Squad. I've got a few on my to-play list as well, such as Contradiction and any of the choose-your-own-adventure style put out by Choice of Games (I just finished Alexandria). But I'd like to throw this out to others for recommendations. I'm looking for non-combat games of any type. I prefer mystery and playing on a laptop but am open to other themes and platforms (I have an old Wii, an Xbox, and a DS). Tell me what's out there that excites you!

 Image via Big Fish, from Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst.


Amazing Grace, the Seventy-Something Power Yogi: Could You Keep Up?

  Gap-Ad1

One of the main characters in my Dreamslippers mystery series is Amazing Grace, AKA "Granny Grace," a lifelong yoga devotee. At 77 in Cat in the Flock, Grace begins an apprenticeship with her granddaughter Cat not with a lesson on dreamslipping or even sleuthing but with yoga. Grace wants to train Cat in a holistic manner, not teach her "dreamslipping parlor tricks." The evening Cat arrives in Seattle, she and her grandmother practice together in the "Yoga Yolk," a room Grace designated specifically for this focus, a bit like this awesome meditation room I pinned to this board showing the entire novel as told through Pinterest photos.

Yoga-Meditation-Interior-Design-Photo-4
via CarolineBakker.com

Here's a roundup of Grace's poses. How many can you do? This first one is from that beginning scene in the Yoga YolkNote how in yoga, experience often trumps youth: "Granny Grace moved into crow pose, crouching forward till her knees touched her upper arms and then lifting her legs so her whole body was balanced on her arms. Cat couldn’t do that pose yet, so she sat in a wide-legged squat, watching her grandmother with admiration." 

via GIPHY

Cat struggles with meditation, especially taught by one 'Guru Dave' at a studio over a record store--you try holding Downward dog while listening to the umpa umpa sound of polka music. But Cat persists in her training: "They practiced yoga twice daily—an energetic round in the morning at a studio near the house and a slower style called yin that Granny Grace led in the Yoga Yolk each evening to wind down." Here's a yin variation on swan pose. Can you hold this for five full minutes? 

IMG_0585_2--_Swan

photo by Christy Collins, via Wikimedia Commons

Grace is adept at full lotus (spoiler alert: until book three), and she often turns to seated meditation when she finds herself stuck on a case. How's your lotus these days? If it's not exactly waterfall-rock-perch worthy, don't worry. There's an alt pose below.  

Tanumânasî_en_Meditacion_Loto_Padmasana

I've been practicing for twenty years and still can't get into full lotus. Neither can Cat. But all of us can handle Cobbler's pose, so why don't you try that instead. Yay for Baddha kohnasana! 

  Olderwomancroslegged

via Elephant Journal/Christine Festa

Probably my favorite yoga moment in the series is when Grace convinces Cat to try "Midnight Moonlight Yoga" in Framed and Burning. This powerful experience gives Grace metaphysical insight into the case, foreshadowing the darkness to come:

The energy was dark and red, vibrating to some frequency that wasn’t positive. She thought she heard the sound of large wings beating. Her eyes flew open. Breathing hard, losing her ujaiyi breath, she carefully extracted herself from the pose and took a resting pose on her knees, her hands in her lap. The place where her heart chakra should be ached.

The instructor is a composite inspired by the many memorable yogis who've taught me over the years, not the least of whom is Greg Bowles from Embody, who might recognize something here:

Their teacher, Spiritfire, was a master yogi who had traveled through the earth’s chakras, from points in India to South America and beyond. It had never occurred to Grace that one could travel through the earth’s energy centers. She made a mental note to do so before she died.

I dare you to practice yoga under the moon tonight. Just think of your sun salutation as moon salutation instead.

Beachyoga 

via Pixabay

If you're reading this thinking that someone like Amazing Grace (yes, it's her legal name) can only exist in fiction, here's some evidence to the contrary. First, she was in part inspired by my husband's mother, the late A. Grace. Second, I offer you these beautiful photos of the oldest living yoga teacher in the world, a woman who at 93 has more than a decade on Granny Grace.

Namaste.

Gap ad (kudos to them for the age diversity) via In My Own Style


Something Mysterious: August Reading Roundup

4 books image

Here are a few of the books on my to-read list this summer, and I hope to bring you some of these writers as guests on the blog in the coming months, too. 

But first, a quick PSA. Reviews are a writer's life blood - and they're an easy gift to give. Just pick a star rating and write one or two sentences to provide other readers a quick impression, or feel free to write more if you like. I've provided links below so you can follow these folks and review their books.

In the Clearing by Robert Dugoni

In the Clearing

Detective Tracy Crosswhite has a skill, and a soft spot, for tackling unsolved crimes. Having lost her own sister to murder at a young age, Tracy has dedicated her career to bringing justice and closure to the families and friends of victims of crime.

So when Jenny, a former police academy classmate and protégé, asks Tracy to help solve a cold case that involves the suspicious suicide of a Native American high school girl forty years earlier, Tracy agrees. Following up on evidence Jenny’s detective father collected when he was the investigating deputy, Tracy probes one small town’s memory and finds dark, well-concealed secrets hidden within the community’s fabric. Can Tracy uphold the promise she’s made to the dead girl’s family and deliver the truth of what happened to their daughter? Or will she become the next victim?

Review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Follow Robert Dugoni on Facebook and Twitter.  

Damascus House by Corrina Wycoff

Damascus House

Amy Rotolo's announcement to her family that she is a lesbian sets off a series of events that threaten to unravel the tight-knit members of Pastor Lou Bianchi's fundamentalist Christian church in Riverview, New Jersey. The resulting drama escalates to irrevocably affect Amy's parents, her "perfect" childhood friend Rachel, Rachel's husband Alan, Rachel's high school boyfriend Paul, and his wife, Lee.

Damascus House is a psychological novel written from the perspective of six different characters. Wycoff told the Puyallup Post, "It's not an indictment against the religious community. It asks how we make sense of faith and circumstance. What does it mean to figure out what to believe when you’ve been told what to believe all of your life?"

I reviewed Wycoff's short story collection O Street on the blog previously. She is a friend and former colleague of mine from Pierce College.

Review on Amazon and buy directly from the small press publisher.

Check out Corrina Wycoff's Wikipedia page.

Poems of Inspector Chen by Qiu Xiaolong 

Inspector Chen poems

Fans of Inspector Chen--the poet in inspector's clothing--will love this compilation of his poetry.

The poems in the present collection are compiled chronologically. Some of them have appeared—either entirely or partially—in the Chen novels, but with his writing in a hurry under the stress of the job, he usually takes time later to revise them, so the poems here may show difference, sometimes substantial, from the original versions. And some of them, either written in his pre-inspector days, or conceived in fragments only in his mind, now appear for the first time in the collection here. 

I reviewed Xiaolong's novels Shanghai Redemption and A Case of Two Cities on the blog previously. He is a friend and former colleague of mine from St. Louis Community College.

Review on Amazon and Goodreads. Visit Qui Xiaolong's web site for more information.

 In the Dark by Chris Patchell

IntheDark

Marissa Rooney stands in her daughter’s empty dorm room, a half-used vial of insulin clutched in her trembling hand. Brooke has been missing for days. Her roommate hasn’t seen her since that night in the bar. And if Marissa has Brooke’s insulin, it means that Brooke does not.

But Marissa isn’t alone in her terror. A phantom from her past is lurking in the shadows, waiting in the night, and holding her family captive…

In the dark.

Review on Amazon and Goodreads

Follow Chris Patchell on Facebook and Twitter.

More from MWA

As I wrote this roundup, an email from the Mystery Writers of America hit my inbox, so here's a whole other list to peruse, all the new books by members for August. You're welcome.