Friday, April 24, 2015

Malice

Next week I’m off to Washington DC for the Malice Domestic mystery conference. I’m on a panel about mixing crafts and mystery. I decided that while it is great to talk about crafts, it is even better to offer a visual aid. So I’m taking the Worry Doll on the road with me. The pattern for her is in the next Yarn Retreat book, WOUND UP IN MURDER, which definitely makes her relevant to the panel.

I thought I’d bring along a baby blanket I made for a friend’s grandchild. Since the whole idea for mixing mystery and crochet came out of my desire to learn how to make granny squares, the fact that it is really a big granny square makes it relevant as well.

I thought of bringing a work in progress that is part of the next crochet book I’m writing right now. I have been talking about how wonderfully one of my characters mixes yarn colors since practically the first book, but this is the first time I am going to be giving instructions on how to do it.

I am very excited about being on this panel because I really like mixing yarn with mystery. I enjoy coming up with the patterns. It is so amazing to me that at the beginning I didn’t know how to make a granny square and now I can think in crochet. I am getting to love knitting too. It is like magic watching how a ball of yarn can turn into a beautiful scarf or a shawl to keep you warm.


Usually I worry about what I’m going to say on a panel, but with this one I know I’ll do fine because I truly am wrapped up in yarn.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Meditation to Deal with Difficult People

We all have people who challenge us in some way, often those closest to us. The yoga teachings say that no matter how much we'd like to, we can never change  someone else.  All we can change is how we react to them.

Fortunately, that's usually enough.  I learned the wonderful meditation below when I took yoga therapist training many years ago.  Give it a try. You might be surprised at the results!

Pratipaska Bhavanam Meditation: Replacing with the Opposites,
  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling.  Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable and your spine is in “neutral." 
  2. Allow your eyes to close and your focus to go internal.
  3. Notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it.  Feel the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.  Allow your mind to focus on and pay attention to this feeling of the breath.  This will be your anchor and where you will invite your attention whenever your mind wanders.
  4. Bring to mind an interaction that was stressful or contentious in some way in a relationship that’s important to you.  Something that challenged you and in which you reacted with anger, fear, stress or frustration.
  5. Try to really feel and “re-live” that interaction.
    • What did you feel in your muscles?
    • How did your breath change?
    • What sensations did you feel in your jaw and face?
    • Were you hot or cold?
    • What sensations did you feel internally in your throat, your stomach, your chest?
    • Were your hands, toes, or teeth clenched?
    • What facial expression do you imagine you wore?
    • What was your “inner dialogue” like?  Did you attribute intentions or motives to the person with whom you were interacting?
    • What message did your energy send to that other person?
  6. Now, imagine what it would have felt like—been like—had you instead reacted to the other person with the energy of love, light, and understanding.  
    • What do you feel in your muscles?
    • What is the rhythm of your breath?
    • What sensations do you feel in your jaw and face?
    • Are your hands, toes, and jaw relaxed?
    • What sensations do you feel internally in your throat, your stomach, your chest?
    • What facial expression do you imagine you are wearing?
    • What is your “inner dialogue” like?  Do you attribute intentions or motives to the person you are interacting with?
    • What message does your energy send to the person with whom you are interacting?
  7. If your attention wanders (and it will!) just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose.  Then return to your peaceful place and begin again.
  8. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.
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 and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LA Times Festival of Books

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was last weekend--and was it ever fun!

This was the 20th year of the LATFOB, and the fifth year at the USC campus.  I've attended quite a few of the festivals over the past years, including when it was held at the UCLA campus.

This year, I attended both days, and my commute was easy since I live within easy driving distance of Universal Studios and the LA Metro stop that's there.  As a result, I took the subway and then transferred to the train to the USC campus. 

On Saturday, I signed books at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore booth which was part of the mystery complex at the festival.  I was delighted that copies of my newest mystery, BITE THE BISCUIT, were there even though its official publication date isn't until May 8.

Later that day I helped to staff the Mystery Writers of America booth, where I told people about the great organization MWA is.  I've been a member for a long time and really enjoy it. 

In between, I wandered around visiting lots of bookstore and other booths and grabbing lunch and listening briefly to people speaking at some of the outdoor stages.  I didn't get tickets for any of the indoor talks or panels this year, though.  And then I took the trains back home. 

On Sunday, I came early to make sure I arrived in advance of my 10 AM signing at the Sisters in Crime booth.  It's another great organization and I also talked it up while additionally signing books that were sold there by another wonderful independent bookstore, Mystery Ink.  And yes, I currently write for the publisher Midnight Ink so I have to be careful when I talk about one or the other to ensure I mention the right one! 

Later, I was a volunteer at another booth--the one representing two Romance Writers of America chapters, Los Angeles and Orange County.  There, I happily handed out cards allowing people to download an anthology of very short and very romantic stories published by the LA chapter--and I even bought a hard copy to read myself. 

That booth was near one of the outside stages, and I was delighted that one of the speakers while I was there was Candice Bergen!  I've enjoyed seeing her on TV in many shows for quite a while and had just seen her that week in a role in Battle Creek, so it was particularly fun seeing and hearing her. 

So will I attend the LATFOB next year?  I most certainly intend to!

Did you attend any reading or writing events last weekend?  Anything coming up?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stonehenge

If you don’t know
Whose signs these are
You can’t have traveled
Very far
Burma Shave

The US Highway Department wrote in a report in the 1950s that nothing more reliably slowed traffic than a set of Burma Shave signs along the road.

I’m going to embark on a serious and difficult mission: I’m going to try to knit a rooster.  I have this wonderful book, Knit Your Own Farm, and I’m using it and the other books in the series (Knit Your Own Dog, Knit Your Own Cat, Knit Your Own Zoo) in my book, now underway, Knit Your Own Murder.  The problem is, I’m not a very good knitter.  But there is a lady living in our building who is very good, and she has promised to help me.  I hope we are still friends when this project is finished.

I think I”m still coming down from my trip to England.  Stepping outside St. George’s Church Hall after a vestry meeting Monday evening, I was pushed by a sharp, driving wind and dampened by a light rain – just like the weather at Stonehenge a few weeks ago.  What a mysterious place Stonehenge is!  Huge, flat-faced stones, cut from a miles-distant quary and brought to the site, dressed and stood upright four thousand years ago, so far back that no amount of research can tell what these people were thinking when they built it.  Okay, it appears to be some kind of calendar, marking the winter and summer solstice – and there is even new evidence that it also tracked the moon and could predict eclipses.  Were the sun and moon gods to these people?  Impossible to know at this remove in time.