Artfully Edmonds: Author dishes on dog mystery series; upcoming ECA events

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What better pasUnknown-1times in the still of winter than books, plays and musical performances? These elements are particularly true with the overlay of endearing relationships, man’s best friend, a little Southern warmth, and laughter!

Artfully Edmonds takes a look at all of these elements – in depth – as we explore what our Edmonds entertainment venues have in store for us this week:
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Author Interview
Tracy Weber

It’s not easy these days to grab the attention of readers and maintain their loyalty these days.

We wanted to see just how author Tracy Weber, who will be signing her new book on Thursday, Jan. 15 at Edmonds Bookshop (111 5th Ave.) does it!

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Her second book in the series, “A Killer Retreat” is out today, Jan. 7.

Join us as Tracy (TW) takes time from her whirlwind book launch to answer a few questions for Artfully Edmonds (AE):

AE: Tracy, I expect that fans as well as excited new readers will surround you, during your book signing at the Edmonds Bookshop, so thank you for agreeing to this exclusive pre-signing interview with Artfully Edmonds.

TW: And, thank you so much for having me! I’m delighted to be here.
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AE: Prolific and popular author, Richard Russo advises authors to always add an animal into the life of their main character – readers love it! How did Bella manifest herself into Kate’s life “on the drawing board”?

TW: I can’t even imagine writing this series without Bella as a central character. The first book in the series, Murder Strikes a Pose, revolves around the murder of Bella’s first owner and Kate’s attempts to find a new home—any home—for her. Bella is a transformative force for Kate. She teaches Kate to love, trust, and forgive herself. Without Bella, Kate would be lost.

AE: Does Bella get fan mail?

TW: No, but she’s had a few interviews and she’s been profiled in several articles. Readers and reviewers universally love Bella, even more than they do Kate. I have to agree with them. Dogs are more lovable than humans almost every time.

AE: How much is Bella like your family’s Tasha?

TW: Quite a bit, actually. Both are 100-pound German shepherds who suffer from an autoimmune disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, and both are reactive—meaning that they bark, lunge and generally act scary without intending to do harm. Both animals are loving, smart, loyal—and flawed. And both live with humans who love them.

But they also have significant differences. Bella had an abusive beginning and multiple owners. Tasha has lived with me since she was eight weeks old, and she is never known violence. Although Bella has EPI, she is relatively healthy. Tasha has a second autoimmune disorder and significant joint and back issues. Tasha is also old enough to be Bella’s great grandmother, but she doesn’t like to admit that.

AE: I see that you are a member of a number of writers groups, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Dog Writers Association of America – how active are you in these organizations; and what part do they play in your development as a writer?

TW: I’m most active in the national chapter of Sisters in Crime. I run Agent Quest (a discussion group for writers looking for agents) and I participate in online conversations. Sisters in Crime has been incredibly welcoming to me and has given me great advice on marketing, finding an agent, and staying motivated.

I’ve taken a few classes with Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and I attend their summer conference every year. In fact, I found my agent through that conference.

The Dog Writers Association of America is fun, because they nominated Murder Strikes a Pose for a Maxwell award for fiction this year!

AE: You came of age as a writer in a particularly difficult time – i.e. during the recession – to what do you attribute your success besides, of course spectacularly witty writing?

TW: Lots of things, actually. I was already relatively well known in the Seattle yoga community because I’ve owned and operated a yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga, since 2001. So I had a small fan base to start with, and my yoga students have been super supportive. I’ve also had lot of fun connecting with readers on Facebook, by email and at conferences. I’m beginning to think of many of them as friends.

For me, yoga was always about building community, and my writing is an extension of that. I go out of my way to be real and accessible to readers. I improve my “discoverability” by writing articles, building relationships, supporting other authors, attending signings, etc. But honestly, there’s also a certain amount of luck involved. And when good luck comes my way, I pounce on it.

AE: Midnight Ink, your publisher, is described as “a fresh new voice in mystery fiction. Aiming to satisfy readers of all tastes . . . committed to publishing suspenseful tales of all types: hard-boiled thrillers, cozies, historical mysteries, amateur sleuth novels, and more.” Which category are you, and how did you connect with Midnight Ink?

TW: I’m a cozy girl all the way. Lighthearted PG-rated mysteries that are quirky, funny, yet also highlight issues of social importance. I write the kind of books I wouldn’t be embarrassed to lend to my mother. My agent, Margaret Bail of Inklings Literary Agency pitched my book to Midnight Ink and they made an offer. I signed with them almost immediately.

AE: How did you pair up with your book cover designer?

TW: Isn’t she wonderful! The artist is Nicole Alesi.

My husband (who is also my web developer) accepted the assignment of designing the banner for my website. I asked him for bright colors, happy energy, and the Downward Dog theme. He scoured the web looking for an artist and found Nicole. The banner she designed incorporated everything that I wanted: yoga, humor, mischief, a Seattle subtext, and clear affection between Kate and Bella. My publisher, Midnight Ink, liked her work also so they hired her to create the covers for the series. I couldn’t be happier.

AE: Is Kate your alter-ego? What trait does she possess that will be her undoing if she is not careful? We don’t want her ending up behind bars, after all!

TW: Kate and I are similar physically and we share the same interests, but I have different neuroses than she does. (If you want to learn my neuroses, you’ll have to buy me a margarita!) Kate has a terrible temper, and she often lashes out impulsively, only to regret it later. Her temper may well land her in a jail cell if she’s not careful. Maybe even in “A Killer Retreat”….

Kate can come across as brittle, but most of that is an act. In reality, she cares a lot, especially for those who are vulnerable, and she feels tremendous guilt when she doesn’t live up to her own ethics. She’ll have to come to terms with that guilt, or it may cause her some problems. But that’s a story for my third Book, tentatively titled “Karma Can Be Killer.”

AE: Well Tracy, you most certainly don’t come across as brittle! Thank you for a warm and engaging interview.

I’ll look forward to chatting with you more at Edmonds Bookstore on Thursday, Jan. 15. I’m sure our readers will want to check out your first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, the Kate and Bella murder mystery/love story. And again, thank you so much for making time for us today.

In the meantime I want to remind our Artfully Edmonds readers that they can keep up with your book launch news at TracyWeberAuthor.com
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Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA)
410 4th Ave. N.

Two very different music styles will be offered ECA ticket holders in the upcoming two weeks – I have tickets to both as the ECA begins the New Year quite generously.

If you purchase two or more tickets to see the Ahn Trio and/or Martha Redbone you will receive a 25% discounton your ticket purchase. Simply use discount code “eca25gift” whether you’re buying online or by calling the box office number, 425-275-9595.

Ahn Trio
Ahn Trio

Friday, Jan. 9
7:30 p.m.

Ahn Trio

Chamber music has never been this breathtakingly energetic and spectacular! The Ahn sisters are featured in more depth in last week’s Artfully Edmonds column.

Tickets for what promises to be an electrifying performance are available here. I’ll see you in the lobby at intermission!
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Martha Redbone
Martha Redbone

Thursday, Jan. 15

7:30 p.m.
Martha Redbone
Roots Project

This is the show that I’ve been waiting for!

Martha Redbone is an Independent Music Award-winning musician of Cherokee, Choctaw, Shawnee and African-American descent. Since bursting onto the scene at the 2002 Native American Music Awards she has established a solid history of performing, educating and mentoring across Native North America and in some cases abroad.

The musical highlights of Redbone’s storied life can be found at this Artfully Edmonds link.

See you at the ECA on Jan. 15.
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Driftwood Players
Wade James Theatre
950 Main St.
Limited engagement!
Opens Thursday, Jan. 15
8 p.m.

Lark Eden
By Natalie Symons

“Lark Eden” is a correspondent’s journey into the heart of friendship. Three Southern women, Thelma, played by Carissa Meisner Smit, Mary (Patty Bonnell), and Lily Kister as Emily begin a childhood friendship that stretches into adulthood through decades of letters exchanged. From their teenage tribulations to their middle-aged reminiscences, their correspondence is both darkly comic and deeply moving as they discover the fingerprints they have left on each other’s lives.

The Driftwood Player’s first production of the year is directed by Eric Staley,

The Facebook production link for Lark Eden is here.

All tickets are $15. You can buy tickets online below or call 425-774-9600, option 3.
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Alia Thomaier (left) and Mariah Lotz as sisters Violet and Daisy Hilton, respectively. (Photo by Amelia Burnett)

Opens Friday, Jan. 16
Side Show
Edmonds Heights K-12
23200 100th Ave. W.

Side Show is based on the true story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Born 1908 in England the sisters were exhibited throughout Europe as children. According to Parade Magazine the sisters became headliners and the best paid performers in the 1930s vaudeville circuit.

Side Show opened on Broadway in 1997 and re-opened for a short run on Broadway this past November.

The poignant musical touches on the universal need for acceptance and the strength of the human spirit.

The original book and lyrics are by Bill Russell with music by Henry Krieger. The local production of Side Show is directed by Shileah Corey, and choreographed by Emma Ruhl and Tyler Good. Michael Corey conducts the orchestra.

Performances are Jan. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 7 p.m., with matinee performances Jan. 18 and 25 at 2 pm.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Information at www.EHshows.com

Edmonds Heights is actively involved in the 5th Avenue Theatre High School Musical Theatre Awards program. The Company has been nominated four times for Outstanding Musical, winning the award last June for their production of Pippin.
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Class Cut-ups
Benefit Edmonds Schools
Friday/Saturday, Jan. 30/31
7:30 p.m.
Edmonds Comedy Night
Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 4th Ave. N.

Edmonds Comedy Night is back for it’s 8th year and the “for adult audiences” line-up is as spectacular as always! This annual fundraiser for Terrace Park PTA and other schools in the Edmonds School District has one of the most loyal followings and we’re mentioning this upcoming show early because tickets are in high demand.

As last year, Kermet Apio will emcee the event. I totally love this guy – you’ll understand why if you give this YouTube video a few minutes of your time: http://youtu.be/fHn2NKZrTVc Now you see the potential of Edmonds Comedy Night forming, don’t you?

This year’s line-up of acts includes the winner of the 2014 Seattle International Comedy Competition, Nathan Brannon. Brannon has opened for national headliners such as Dave Chappelle, Damon Wayans, Maria Bamford, and has photo-shopped himself into photos of many more luminaries. The back of this clever comedians head was seen in NBC’s new series, Grimm – you remember seeing him there, right?

I know you’re going to enjoy seeing Susan Rice on stage. Rice is a comedy favorite throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has appeared on HBO and Showtime and has performed at national fundraisers supporting such causes as the American Cancer Society and The Race for the Cure.

Also included in this evening of class cut-ups is Cory Michelis, “teacher by day and comic by night”. If you enjoy a better class of comedy you will remember Michelis’ appearance on the ECA stage during the Seattle International Comedy Competition in November. They just don’t make teachers like they used to – he’s funny!

Tickets for this much-anticipated event can be purchased through www.edmondscomedynight.com, www.ec4arts.org or through the box office 425-775-9595. Reserve seating.

Additional information is available at www.edmondscomedynight.com. Specific questions can be directed to Megan edmondscomedynight@gmail.com

Emily ~ 2015 Bio jPeg for News
Emily Hill is the author of two novels and a short story collection. She also writes the “Lynnwood Lifestyle” column for Lynnwood Today. Emily is retired from a career in public information and news media relations. If you would like your event listed, or featured, in Artfully Edmonds, Emily invites you to contact her at arts@myedmondsnews.com.

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