Sequim’s Lisa Preston’s latest mystery hits shelves, online with ‘Dead Blow’

As she explores the trails across the Olympic Peninsula on her horse, Sequim author Lisa Preston continues to shape a new path for her writing.

This year sees the release of “Forging Fire,” the third in “A Horseshoer Mystery” series from Arcade CrimeWise. It follows last November’s drop of her second book, “Dead Blow.”

Preston, 55, a retired Alaskan paramedic and police officer, said she hasn’t signed on a fourth and fifth book yet due to book judging commitments and consistent deadlines, but an agreement could come by the fall to extend her series.

“It’ll be likely I do,” she said.

“I’ve been doing the deadline thing for five years now, and in my experience it makes your pants tight,” Preston said.

That goes for her horses Savannah Wind and Juno, too, as deadlines approached, everyone got out into the wild less.

“The trails are my happy place,” Preston said.

But even when she goes there to escape deadlines, epiphanies come to her.

“Sometimes I don’t realize I’m working on something when I’m riding,” she said, “but I knew I had a character problem or plot issue, and then (it comes to me), ‘Obviously, he should have that key made or something.’”

“Dead Blow” is book two in “A Horseshoer Mystery” by Sequim’s Lisa Preston. It released in Nov. 2019. Submitted photo

“Dead Blow” is book two in “A Horseshoer Mystery” by Sequim’s Lisa Preston. It released in Nov. 2019. Submitted photo

No peak

Preston’s first success with fiction came with her thriller “Orchids and Stone” in 2016, which got up to the No. 3 best book sellers list on Amazon, she said.

The fear was there about reaching an early peak, Preston said, but her books remain well-reviewed and read.

“I’ve hung in there,” she said.

She next released “The Measure of the Moon” in 2017 followed by the start of her Rainy Dale mystery series in Nov. 2018 with “The Clincher.”

Her first two books were first released internationally, she said, which helped Preston begin a worldwide audience.

“I love getting emails from total strangers who enjoyed this or that, or telling me about something that surprised them,” she said.

Preston’s range of writing from book club standalones to nonfiction animal care books to her recent series expands her reach for those interested in strong female protagonists, mysteries, horses, or all of the above.

Serious for series

“A Horseshoe Mystery” follows a three book deal for Preston but she said each is written as complete.

“I deliver the full story as if this was the last book,” she said.

Easter eggs are spread through her books with new layers though.

“I plant a lot but don’t feel like I’m leaving much out,” she said.

Her latest book “Dead Blow” follows horseshoer Rainy Dale in rural Oregon after she developed a love interest and began to face some family and personal issues. Dale has a new client but learns the woman’s husband died in an odd accident and it begins to look more like a homicide.

“She starts to realize he was a player, and all of these things happened before she moved here, so she’s digging up a lot of things,” Preston said.

This year’s book “Forging Fire” puts Dale back on the road and at the spot where she found her Australian shepherd. In mystery novel-fashion, more issues unfold from there.

Work is underway for Preston’s fourth book “Tap and Die,” too.

In the works

While the deadlines may be consistent, Preston has more books in the works.

This year, she’ll release “Alternative Treatments for Animals,” a complete rewrite of her book from 2011 with new articles and photos.

Another possible book deal could focus on a character that Preston describes as similar to “Indiana Jones if he were an Alaskan single mom bush pilot.”

She’s on submission for another standalone book that she’s waiting to hear back on as well.

Along with writing and riding horses, Preston remains neck deep in reading countless books as a judge for various writing contests. After years of entering contests, she felt she was due to help judge.

In the coming months she anticipates reading about 100 books for the Mystery Writers of America’s Young Adult division.

In recent years, Preston made appearances locally and nationwide — including the Tucson Festival of Books, set this year for March 14-15 — as she moderates and speaks on various panels.

Find Preston’s various books at Port Angeles book stores, through the North Olympic Library System’s branches, and online booksellers.

For more information about Preston, visit www.lisapreston.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

Key writing tips from Sequim author Lisa Preston

• Rewrite

“The big thing that most people don’t do is rewrite enough. They want to move onto the next story, but that’s infatuation. You need to make the marriage work. You’re 10 percent of the way there. You have to revise it to get to that other 90 percent. You have to revise it sentence by sentence. Scene by scene. You have to go backwards to go forward.”

• Reread

Rereading is important and hearing it in different voices helps too. Preston recommends using a computer program to read back your writing in a slow and monotonous voice.

• Print

Preston recommends printing out your story in different fonts. “You’ll see things differently,” she said.

• Cast a play

Following her first publisher’s lead, Preston creates a list of her characters similar to casting a play so that she knows who is who and who does what.

“The Clincher” is Book 1 in Lisa Preston’s Horseshoe Mystery series. It released in 2018. Book 2, “Dead Blow,” released in Nov. 2019. Submitted photos

“The Clincher” is Book 1 in Lisa Preston’s Horseshoe Mystery series. It released in 2018. Book 2, “Dead Blow,” released in Nov. 2019. Submitted photos

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