It’s a Cover Reveal Giveaway! (With an Awesome Grand Prize)


I love the cover of the second novel in my county clare mystery series. So, I’ve decided to host a cover reveal giveaway this week. Yay!

Cut to the Chase, What IS the Awesome Grand Prize?

A $50 Amazon gift certificate!

How Does the Giveaway Work?

Starting today, Monday, I’ll be giving away a prize each day for people who enter in various ways. On Friday I’ll reveal the cover for my second County Clare mystery, WHISPERS IN THE MIST.

The Game: Who Is the Grey Man?

Here’s a snippet from the cover. See this figure? Who is it? There are many possibilities, including female (even though I’m calling it “Grey Man”). Monday through Thursday, I’ll provide excerpts from WHISPERS IN THE MIST spotlighting a character from the novel who could be the figure.


How to Enter — The Daily Prizes (Monday through Friday)

1. Easy! Show up on my Facebook author page and say “hi” to me in the comments of that day’s post (visible by noon, EST). You don’t have to “Like” my author page, but it would be mighty fun if you did. An extra point if you share!

— and, for an extra entry opportunity:

2. Go to the WHISPERS IN THE MIST Goodreads page and click “Want to Read.” This also automatically enters you in the grand prize giveaway — a two-fer!

The daily prizes are:

  • Monday: An autographed copy of KILMOON, the Rosebud-Award-nominated series debut, and a Celtic-inspired bookmark. If you’ve already read the book, remember: books make great gifts!
  • Tuesday: Adorable shamrock socks and portable purse hanger
  • Wednesday: Shamrock business card holder and Connemara marble worry stone
  • Thursday: A Celtic knot coffee mug filled with autumnal sweet treats.
  • Friday: An Irish luck penny and cute little shamrock flask on a chain.

How to Enter — The Grand Prize! (To be drawn on Sunday, October 4th)

  1. You are already automatically entered if you previously clicked “Want to Read” on the Goodreads page for WHISPERS IN THE MIST.
  2. You are also already automatically entered if you have left comments on any of the Facebook author page posts throughout the week.

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. ;-)

The Goats of Lahinch: A Lesson in Novel Research

GoatsLahinch1(Before I forget: Next week I’m going to have a cover reveal giveaway contest! With prizes. Look for the contest details on Monday, a week from today!)

I love writing crime fiction, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I falter before writing police procedural scenes. Part of the fun of reading mysteries, of course, is to delve into the “whodunnit” aspect of the story. Interestingly, in reading and in writing, I’ve found that I don’t care about the who as much as I care about the “whydunnit” (and maybe the “howdunnit”), which is more about the psychological underpinnings of the crime.

I adore psychology. Just sayin’. So I tend toward, perhaps — someone else would have to tell me for sure — psychological suspense. I think. I just call it “mystery.”

Anyhow, so yeah, last week I found myself in the pause between scenes in my first draft. My detective needed to talk to Character X, who apparently had a beef with the murder victim. OK. Simple enough.

<yawn> Anoooother scene in which Danny must talk to a witness or a suspect or a “person of interest.”

Sometimes the secret to writing these types of plot-oriented scenes is to make them more interesting for me to write. Often this means dreaming up a new-to-me setting, a place I wouldn’t normally think of, a place where the characters can interact in a new way and perhaps be physically active.

So I asked myself: What interesting job could Character X have? I Googled job openings in County Clare, the location of my story:


Lots of food industry and hotel industry jobs. But, meh. I wasn’t grabbed. But what about a golf club? I know zippo about golf, so that could make it interesting. And an outdoor space is always good for a change of pace. So I Googled “jobs at golf clubs.” I was thinking about groundskeepers, but I landed on “golf course superintendant,” which is an uber-important job and way more cool.

So then I had to look up golf course maintenance. How do you maintain a golf course? I had no clue what was involved, and what I discovered amazed me. There’s a science to it all. I was trying to picture what task Character X could be engaged in when Danny appears. I settled on fixing an erosion problem in a sand pit.

OK, great. Then I Googled golf courses in County Clare. Lo and behold, there’s a world-class, exclusive course in Lahinch. I was starting to get excited about writing the scene now. See how that works? From <yawn, another detective-asks-questions procedural scene> to <woohoo, and there’s even a sand pit known as the “devil’s pit” and what could be better than that?>

Well, there was something better than that — I “heart” research, seriously — goats!! The Goats of Lahinch. They wander around as they please and are known as weather predictors because they congregate near the club house before rotten weather.

So, in the end I got my scene, and it’s way more fun because of the location. Character X, a minor character, is more interesting. The scene is more interesting all the way around.

So I was happy. Goats! I thought about having one of the goats nibble on Danny’s notepad, but I refrained. But there’s a feisty one named “Molly.” :-)

Goat lovers out there — I’m open to renaming the goat in my scene. Any suggestions? I picture her looking like this one:



Letter from Camp: Award Nomination, Writing Retreat, and Cover Reveal Giveaway

Colonyhouse4Dear gentle readers and anyone who’s landed here randomly,

I’m having the best time at camp! Today we swam in the lake and I got to hold a baby bird!

It occurred to me today that I wanted to write you a note as if I was writing from camp. Kind of goofy and enthusiastic and over the top, like kids get sometimes. I’m going to embrace my inner kid … here it goes:

Dear everyone in the whole wide world who’s reading this blog post!

I just found out that KILMOON is a finalist for the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award for Best First Novel (Cozy, Traditional, Historical category). Awesome-sauce!

You just gotta vote–you’d better! :-) :-) You only have to go right here:

But beeeeware: If you’re on your cell phone, first click “Switch to desktop site” on the bottom of the page.

I’m sorry I didn’t write last week, but I was on writers retreat on the Oregon coast! See?

Colonyhouse3I wrote like 7500 words on the first draft for novel #3. That’s a lot for me! The story is called “Touch of Death” <shiver, shiver> and it will be a really great mystery by the time I’m done. The title will probably change, but I don’t care! It’s totally cool for now.

What else? Oh yeah! I’ve seen the cover for the second novel that’s coming out in August, 2016, from Midnight Ink Books. Wooowoooow, I’m so in love with it I could kiss it, but I won’t because, well, that would be weird, right? Kissing my computer screen? Gag.

Anyhoo, yeah, so I’ll be doing a cover reveal giveaway! I’ll let you know all about it soon! But I can tell you the title: WHISPERS IN THE MIST.

Awesome-sauce x 2!

This morning I had oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. I can’t wait for dinner: smoked salmon from the Oregon coast!

OK well I gotta go do more novel work now. I’ll write again soon, I promise!

Sincerely, Lisa “the best writer in the world” Alber

:-) :-) (Just kidding–not!) :-) :-)

All the World’s a Coffee Shop

cafetheatreIf all the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare wrote for “As You Like It,” then isn’t one of the best impromptu stages a good old-fashioned coffee shop?

If you’re a cafe lover like I am, then you know that all kinds of characters in all kinds of life costumes walk on and off the cafe stage. You’ve got the yoga moms with their nonfat lattes and the ragged old codgers nursing their black coffees. You’ve got stressed-looking students and business types glued to their devices. Single dads on their weekends with the kids. Lovey-dovey couples after a night of rambunctious bed-romping. You might encounter the odd high person muttering to herself in a corner or a street person coming in out of the cold.

And, of course, you’ll find lots of folks like me hunched over their laptops and intermittently staring into space.

all-the-world-is-a-stageCoffee shop regulars are often odd ducks, those lovably strange people who live on the fringes of polite society — like the disheveled gardener who always seemed to have a toothache — or who hail from some old school lifestyle — like the aging rocker dude with black hair that looked like it had been dyed with shoe polish — or who strain after a Quixotic quest — like the garrulous professor who’d been writing his theory of everything for the past twenty years.

After awhile, these oddballs cease to be characters that I observe from behind my laptop, and the coffee shop ceases to be a stage. It becomes its own world, and its inhabitants transform into people nursing hopes and fears just like I do. I get to know their names — Marshall and Ward and Steve — and we become coffee house friends.

coffeehouseAll this is to say that I’m ecstatic that I discovered my neighborhood coffee house! I’ve been living in my new home for three months now. Yesterday I happened to mention to a neighbor my longing for an indie coffee shop within walking distance. Well, lo and behold, we have such a shop! And it’s super cute too. I stopped in this morning to check it out. I splurged on a Mexican mocha, just cuz, and eyed a cool red modernist metal wall hanging for my bathroom.

To start the process of becoming a regular, I introduced myself to the owner. I mentioned that I was a writer. She didn’t quite roll her eyes, and I didn’t mind her I-hear-that-a-lot reaction. I’d probably react the same way! Hah! At some point maybe I’ll bring in a few copies of KILMOON so that she can sell them along with the crafts from other local creative types.

Most of all, I’ll just add myself to the cast of regular characters. After awhile, people will know my name.

How important is it for you to have a regular hang-out place outside your home? What do you think it says about a person that she or he seeks these social milieus?

Sunday at Home with a Procrastinating Novelist

So much has changed since I last wrote — what a whirlwind! I last wrote three months ago while in the midst of home-buying and manuscript-finishing craziness. Stress, thy name was Lisa Alber.

Here’s an image of my view at this moment  … hold on a second, I’m taking the picture now …

With Fawn "The Ears" Alber, my mascot. Don't mind her bad manners, it's just the outside table.

With Fawn “The Ears” Alber, my mascot. Don’t mind her bad manners, it’s just the outside table. She’ll fall asleep soon.

This is where I’ve been hanging out as much as possible: in my very own backyard! Yes, I’m moved and settled and writing the first draft of a new novel — novel #3 actually, due in about a year. Seems like a long time, but it’s not. It’s really not, not the way I write. For a quick update on the result of finishing novel #2 by the May 1st deadline, check out this page on my website. More information to come!

I’ve decided to get back into updating my blog — quick posts like this one because I’m over-busy and can barely remember the basics sometimes. Almost forgot a friend’s birthday last week!

I love being home so much now that sometimes I just want to be in it, that’s it. Puttering around, drinking coffee slowly, lingering in the bath manicuring my grungy toenails (another thing I haven’t had time for this summer). In fact, now it’s about 1:00 p.m., Sunday afternoon, and I have to get to the writing. Of course, writing this post is yet more procrastination …

And to my left, Trio, who has taken over the old Adirondack chair that came with the house.

And to my left, Trio, who has taken over the old Adirondack chair that came with the house.

Funny thing about lingering — or maybe malingering — is that sometimes it opens up the necessary space in the subconscious for ideas to burble up. Two writing thoughts occurred to me while de-gunking my toenails. Nothing momentous. Sometimes I just need a way into the writing for the day.

I’m about halfway through writing the body scene, cue official start the murder investigation. It’s fine — first drafty fine — but … blah. Just blah. Thankfully, about the time I tackled my first pinkie toe, I realized how the scene affects my detective, Danny Ahern. Not just professionally — that’s the easy part. The hard part is the personal. A character’s internal arc. So a thought burbled up … aah … and now I have my way in for the day.

Luckily, I also had a thought about the next scene. So hopefully I can write on through without noodling around any more than I have today.

So off I go now. The writing awaits.

What Is Success Anyhow?

success-secretsWas it only last week that I wrote a blog post about being a terrified first-time home buyer? Seems like a lifetime ago. After I wrote the post my offer on a house was accepted! Since then, I’ve done my best to remain objective because there ARE other houses that would be just as good for me — it just doesn’t feel like it. Despite some of this house’s careworn and funky 1970s features, it’s kind of perfect for me in all the ways that matter most to me.

But we’ll see. Objectivity, Lisa!

Last week was stressful. An aspect of my finances fell through after the offer was approved (yikes!) so I scrambled to figure it all out and incurred the wrath of the mortgage guy at my bank when I found a really good mortgage broker and started from scratch with a new pre-approval. And then there was lining up the inspections … And getting freaked out because of dry rot.

But we’ll see. Objectivity, Lisa!

This week is about getting estimates from a contractor for dry rot and some other things, and the negotiations, signing a zillion papers I barely understand with my broker (financial disclosure papers), and worrying endlessly about the whole negotiation process.

All I want to do is think about paint colors. Hah!

And through all this, my day job is crazy and I’ve still got a May 1st deadline with the novel. I’m proud to say I wrote my tookus off over the weekend and finally completed the revision! Yay! This was a major revision — I rewrote the end of the book. I’m so relieved. Now I can dig in and really analyze it for story and the subplots, see what’s what.

So, my month of hunkering down continues. Here’s a sheepish blog post I wrote yesterday for Shadowspinners. I’m not keeping up on everything perfectly right now, but I’m doing pretty OK. That’s success right there.

What Is Success Anyhow?

I’m late again! I’ve got to be the flakiest Shadowspinners blogger here. Or, the most likely to get overwhelmed and lose track of things. Either way, I am hanging my head in sheepish mode as I write this post. The funny thing is … PLEASE CONTINUE

Tale of a Terrified First-Time Home Buyer

imagesEaster is a time of resurrection. Flowers and trees and the animal world come alive after a winter dormancy. I feel that way in my life right now. I’m entering a new phase, and I’m excited and terrified: home ownership!

I know, I know, millions of people do it. But I’ve been avoiding it. Commitment issues, I guess. I’ve lived my life with one foot out the metaphorical door. And it’s nuts because I’m super stable, a total nester. But still, I need to feel like I have personal freedom. Personal freedom is one of my core values, so I’m most comfortable when I delude myself that I can take off or downsize my life at any time.

Home ownership has always been a symbol of yoke-dom. Mortgage! Yikes!

However, despite my resistance, I can’t not buy anymore. Here in Portland, the vacancy rate is so low that rents are skyrocketing. This is a huge wake up call: Doh, time to buy!

So here I am, going for it despite my terror. My stomach is in knots even though I’m excited too. This internal conflict fascinates me. We are such complicated creatures, aren’t we?

Here are couple of other ways that I’m complicated right now:

Complication #1: Personal Freedom

There are many kinds of personal freedom. My fear of home ownership stems from a fear of financial yoke-dom. But, I keep thinking about the personal freedom I’ll feel living in an environment that’s all mine.

I’m the conscientious type, so I’ve spent years keeping my music low and rarely inviting people over because of the noise factor. There’s also the privacy factor (and I’m a very private person despite this blogging thing I do). I’ve never been able to stomach people knowing what I’m up to through the walls.

I’m sick of being quiet. I want my own place so I can turn up my cheesy 80s dance music and flit around without worrying about sounding like an elephant to my downstairs neighbor. I want to invite friends over to scary movies nights, turn up the volume, and scream at the top of my lungs when something jumps out of the closet.

In other words, it’s gotten to the point that personal home environment freedom outweighs my fear of financial inflexibility.

Complication #2: Female Equality

Obviously, I know that women are different from men AND equal to men. It’s no big deal for women to buy their own homes.

Yet, somehow it is a big deal. It feels harder in some ways than if I were a man. I’ve avoided home ownership in part because I don’t feel equal to men in certain areas that would be very, VERY beneficial as a home owner. Fixing things, being handy, negotiating Home Depot.

I know my feeling of not being equal is BS because I have guy friends who aren’t handy and hire out everything, and I have female friends who are quite the DIYers. It’s just this funny little traditional side of me that would like a man by my side about now. I’d be more comfortable for sure, but life isn’t always comfortable, is it?

Sidenote: From a societal perspective it seems like it’s still kind of a big deal when a single woman buys her own home with only her own money. I’ve received interesting comments including that I should be “proud” of myself for taking this step.

Wish me luck! Do you have any secrets and advice for doing the home ownership well?