"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

COZY WEDNESDAY - With Author Ella Barrick (Giveaway too!!)

Dancing With The Stars premiered Monday night, I was really impressed by Chynna Phillips. The results were announced last night but I am writing this in advance so I don't know who was sent packing, but I think it is awesome that Ella Barrick is her today talking about her brand new book Quickstep to Murder. It is the first book in the new Ballroom Dance Mystery Series.  Put on your dancing shoes and help me welcome Ella!!!

Hi Ella!!!

Hi Everyone!!!
I am happy to be here!

Series-ous Inspiration
By Ella Barrick
One of the questions I get asked most frequently at book events is “Where do you get your ideas?”  Frequently, I can’t pinpoint where a particular plot or character idea came from, but in the case of the Ballroom Dance mystery series, I can say with certainty that I got the idea from watching Dancing with the Stars.

For those of you who might not know the show, ABC airs it on Monday nights and it features famous (or infamous) non-dancers paired with professional ballroom dancers.  The pros and their partners perform a different ballroom dance—tango, waltz, salsa, etc.—each week and get scored by three judges and voted on by the American public.  The last pair left standing gets a cheesy mirror ball trophy at the end of the season.

Part of me hesitates to confess to liking a reality show, but the truth is my daughters and I enjoy the show, and my mom even comes over on Monday nights to watch with us.  My husband tolerates it. I don’t know if it’s the glitzy costumes and make-up, or the Cinderella-ish idea of transforming an actor or astronaut or athlete into an elegant, electric ballroom dancer, but the show sucked us in around Season Five or Six and we’ve watched ever since.

It might seem like a leap to go from liking DWTS to setting murder mysteries in a ballroom dance studio and having a professional ballroom dancer as the amateur sleuth who must find the killers, but I think there’s some logic to it.  There’s a lot of passion in ballroom dance; in fact, there’s a lot of emotion involved in any competitive endeavor.   Viewers can see the anger and frustration and jealousies playing out every Monday night between professional and “star” partners, between dancers and judges, and between the competitors themselves.  It didn’t take much imagination on my part to envision a murder happening in the world of ballroom dance.

My protagonist in Quickstep to Murder: A Ballroom Dance Mystery, Anastasia “Stacy” Graysin is a professional ballroom dancer who co-owns a studio, Graysin Motion, in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  Her success at sleuthing comes not from any knowledge of detective techniques or investigative practices, but from her intimacy with the ballroom community.  She’s not a cerebral Nero Wolfish or Sherlock Holmesian sort of detective; she’s impulsive, physical, intuitive.  Her thought processes, to some extent, reflect her dancing.  

When the co-owner of Stacy’s studio, Rafe Acosta (who happens to be her ex-fianc√©), turns up dead on the ballroom floor, the police immediately suspect Stacy.  He cheated on her, they quarreled over the studio, and he was shot with her gun.  An open and shut case, the detective thinks.  To keep the cops from waltzing her into the nearest jail cell, Stacy must find the real killer.  Throughout, she must continue teaching her dance classes, practice with students who pay for private lessons, compete in ballroom competitions, and find ways to keep Graysin Motion solvent.
Going from the idea of creating a mystery series in the world of ballroom dance to actually learning enough about the sport—it’s called dance sport, sometimes, in an effort to reflect the athleticism and discipline necessary to compete successfully—to make it come alive for readers took a lot of research and effort.  But that’s a whole ’nother blog post . . . 

If you’re a DWTS fan, or a fan of mysteries with humor and fun characters and a twisty plot, check out Quickstep to Murder.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll drag your spouse down to the local ballroom dance studio and sign up for foxtrot lessons before Stacy uncovers the murderer!


Thank you Ella, my daughters and I are big DWTS fans and every year we think we are not happy with the chosen stars but we keep watching and loving it.  Let's face it with Maks and his brother on this year how could we not watch!!

About This Author
Ella Barrick grew up in the South, but has since migrated West.  She spent some time working for Uncle Sam and taught English at the college level before turning her hand to writing mysteries. She also writes under another pseudonym too, or this is a pseudonym and she writes other stories under her real name.  One of the joys of being an author. 

Ella and her husband took exactly two ballroom dancing lessons on the quickstep before Ella’s bruised ankles and crushed feet forced them to retire.  (Her husband is a wonderful guy, but he doesn’t have a single ballroom dance gene in his whole body.)  Thus, Ella relies on the kindness of competitive ballroom dancers and friends who foxtrot fabulously for the dance details in her Ballroom Dance Mysteries. And, of course, as she said above, she watches Dancing with the Stars for costume and choreography ideas! 

Besides writing, Ella enjoys reading, gardening, home decorating, traveling, and long walks or hikes. 

My Thoughts on Quickstep to Murder
I rarely give a first book in the series 5 stars but this book embraced me from the first page. The setting was something I knew I would like as soon as I heard the title and the characters and the mystery plot did not disappoint. They were perfectly choreographed with all the right moves and set the perfect tempo, fast.  Once you start this book you will not be able to put it down. 

The staring character Stacy was very multifaceted dealing with the grief of her ex being murdered in the middle of her studio and strong when she had to be to keep the business going, dealing with wide range of problems with students and instructors.  But the true treasure was when he softer side just started to break through in the end when she could let her guard down a bit.

I can't wait until June for the next installment of this series, Dead Man Waltzing. It will be a true delight to take another twirl on the dance floor and have Ella lead us into her next mystery.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
   Quickstep to Murder (A Ballroom Dance Mystery #1)

Would YOU like to win a copy of this wonderful book?
Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin 
I have 2 copies to give away
U.S. & Canadian Residents Only
Followers will get 2 bonus entries!
Leave a comment for Ella and receive 5 bonus entries!
Contest Ends October 5 at 11:59 p.m. CST
Winners will be chosen by Random.org

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime, A Division of The Penguin Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 


Kate said...

Sounds like a great cozy! I'll have to pick it up even if I don't win because I'm a Virginian and my mom lives in Alexandria. ;) Thanks for the contest! I'm still unsure of who I'm rooting for on DWTS, I have it on my dvr just haven't had a chance to sit down and watch it yet.

Ricki said...

This book is going straight onto my wishlist. My husband and I have been talking lessons for almost 5 years now, and while Quickstep isn't our dance, we do love all ballroom!

Becky said...

This sounds like a fun read. Thanks.

Booklady said...

Sounds like a great series. I've added it to my to be read list.

Beverly aka Booklady

Chris said...

Sounds like a fun cozy :) I don't watch DWTS (I simply don't watch much tV at all) but I do enjoy dance!

kissyjensen at gmail dot com

Kuzlin said...

What a great idea - I have loved watching the ballroom dancing shows. Can't wait.

LuAnn said...

I'm definitely adding this book to my to read list!

Anonymous said...

Wht a great and different idea for a Cozy. It is in my TBR list.

Margaret said...

I love ballroom dancing and would love to read this mystery set around it. What a great idea! Oh I really want to read this! Thanks for the giveaway Ella!


holdenj said...

Welcome Ella! I think your book sounds like a fun read and Dolly's five star rating is a great recommendation as well. Love that Dancing with the Stars tie-in, maybe someday they'll let you promote the series on the show!

Liz V. said...

From time to time, have watched ballroom dancing competitions with the same envy with which I watch Olympians. Dancing, however, provides nice cozy touches--glamorous clothes and lovely (indoor) settings. Perfect.

Gigi Ann said...

Oh, this sounds like a fun book, and a mystery as well. I love watching DWTS each week. Sometimes I DVR it when I can't watch it. I look forward to reading this book.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

This book sounds like a fun read! The ballroom dance scene makes for a unique setting for a cozy. I love the ballroom competitions. The dancers are so elegant. I look forward to this new series! Thanks for offering the giveaway!

Carol N Wong said...

Will need to put on some ballroom music when reading this one!!!!

I took ballroom dancing but I always wanted to lead-which was trouble. So I do better solo. LOL


sweetstaker said...

This sounds like a really fun read. I wish I didn't have two left feet.

nayjf said...

I did ballroom dancing all through high school adn the first few years of college. This book sounds pretty neat-o.

orchid7 said...

Ella- I love that you got your idea for this cozy from DWTS! I can't wait to read it! :)


katsrus said...

Cute book cover. Sounds a really fun book to read. Thanks for the giveaway.
Sue B

Linda Kish said...

I look forward to reading your book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Tore said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I can't wait to read your book. Tore923@aol.com

Carol M said...

This sounds like a great series! I'm looking forward to reading it! :)

Mary said...

This sounds like a great story and I absolutely love books you can't put down. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway.

mary_reiss @ hotmail.com

Christine A. said...

Ella- Who is your favorite author to read? I look forward to reading this book. I wish I could dance but I have two left feet.

your1chef at aol dot com

Rachelle21 said...

I love DWTS. This book looks like I would like to read it. I love reading books by women!

Marie said...

Even though I don't watch, DWTS, this book looks like a fun read.

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

i became an avid fan over in the uk for their dancing show - then when i returned to na i found this version and loved it too. so i do know your feeling, Ella, of being swept up into it! really looking fwd to reading your writing! and 5/5 for a first is FaB!!

ann said...

I love cozy wednesday and this sounds like a book I would enjoy reading

amhengst at verizon dot net

Pamela Keener said...

I love reading how authors get their ideas. This book sounds like a great read.
Love & Hugs,

Darlene said...

I always enjoying the first book in a new series, and this one sounds like a fun cozy!

Thanks for the giveaway!

Na said...

I just watched DWTS tonight and it was entertaining as always and that's why this book caught my attention. It sounds like a fun read.

Vickie said...

Sounds like fun!

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

I love a great cozy. Do not watch DWTS or any other"reality" show, mainly cause I'm reading.

cyn209 said...

can't believe i almost missed this giveaway!!!! & a new cozy mystery series!!!

i can't wait to read this!! i'm a HUGE fan of Dancing w/the Stars!!!!

thank you for the giveaway!!!!!