“They’re trying to take me. Help! Help me, please.”Daphne Mayfield sought a moment of quiet in a park—a break from city life, a tense relationship, and chronic overwork—but then an elderly woman makes a desperate plea. Daphne is reluctant to get involved when she’s not sure what’s happening, but she wants to help the stranger. Is the rambling old lady the victim of a crime or a victim of dementia?As her unease grows, Daphne can’t let go of the encounter. No matter what her boyfriend or her friends say. No matter what the retired homicide detective warns. Though she knows she’s meddling in other people’s lives, her instincts scream that the danger is real.With each increasingly bold intervention, Daphne involves herself in someone else’s crisis until she’s in too deep to turn back. She’s not just fighting for a stranger’s life…she’s fighting for her own.
Arizona to AlaskaBorn in Phoenix, Lisa lived in numerous Arizona towns as a child and later spent several years in California. By young adulthood, she was in Alaska and started mountain climbing. She climbed in South America on different expeditions, seeking summits in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. She also travelled solo through Europe and Asia.From Fire to Shield to EvergreenClimbing left her wanting strong first-aid skills. She signed-up for an Emergency Medical Technician course. The class included ride-alongs with the Fire Department’s Advanced Life Support ambulances, which exposed her to the rewards of helping people in crisis. She moved to Oregon for training and was soon back in Alaska, pulling 24-hour shifts as a paramedic.“Paramedicine is physical and autonomous and demanding and technical. I loved it.”After a number of years, she transferred to the Police Department. Her second career started with the position of street officer and she still claims it is the most demanding job in law enforcement. In time, she became a detective, working in the Vice unit and later in Crimes Against Children, with a special assignment as a Hostage Negotiator. She went back to the street as a sergeant, and eventually returned to investigations, supervising Internal Affairs.“All of those years in emergency services made the city a map of memories, many of them very sad. I wanted to move . . . a couple of thousand miles.”Riding, Writing and RunningLisa and her husband relocated to the Evergreen State and adopted two former racehorses from a rescue facility. She turned to writing, working on both mysteries and mainstream novels. She also began competing in the obscure sport of Ride and Tie, a back country trail race that combines running and riding, covering distances of 20-35 miles.“Writing is such a sedentary pursuit, it would be dreadful without the promise of hours on trails.”Miles alone on the million acres that is Washington’s Olympic Peninsula left Lisa wanting protective company. She found a German Shepherd at a pet rescue site and taught him tracking, as she had with her previous dogs.“My last shepherd earned the FH title twice. This was before the existence of the FHII and VST titles. He also earned the Schutzhund III with decent scores, but we never V-scored”. (The FH, or FährtenHund, is a German sport tracking degree. A V-score is a judge’s rating at or above 96%.)She resurrected the training log (the Canine Scent Work Log) she had created and used when teaching her previous trackers. Her rescue dog V-scored at his first trial and she offered the log book to a publisher. Contracts for more books on animal care and training followed. Her debut novel, Orchids and Stone, is scheduled for release in April of 2016.
R&T and camp photos courtesy ofSonny Kumukoa MoniozArea K Photos
Running and riding
Natural Healing for Cats, Dogs,Horses and Other AnimalsDiscover the red flags about alternative treatments and practitioners.Learn the history of alternative therapies and therapists.
FOR PROFESSIONALS, VOLUNTEERS ANDSPORT DOG TRAINERSWhether you train military or law enforcement patrol or detector dogs, search dogs working in avalanche, wilderness or disaster scenarios, or aim for Schutzhund or AKC tracking titles, the Canine Scent Work Log enables more focused training.
The art includes step-by-step instructions for more than a dozen different bitless bridles, halters and other hand-made tack, plus discussion on the art of training a horse to go bitless.The science covers the current controversy and medical findings regarding bitless bridles.
Bitless Bridles explains the art and science of making and riding in a
• The art includes step-by-step instructions for more than a dozen different bitless bridles, halters and other hand-made tack, plus discussion on the art of training a horse to go bitless.• The science covers the current controversy and medical findings regarding bitless bridles.Create a variety of reliable, custom fit bitless bridles in the colors you choose. With or without hardware, from simple to ornate, learn to make:• popular cross-jaws• classic bosals, bosalitos, bosaleas and hackaleas • neck loops, climbing aids and collars• secure Indian hackamores• simple chin-slips• basic halters• minimalist grooming halters• lunge cavessons with six rings• decorated show halters• reins, cross-ties and more Sizing tables fit all sizes of horses, from miniatures to draft breeds.
Natural Healing for Cats, Dogs, Horses and Other Animals150 Alternative Therapies for Owners and CaregiversDiscover the red flags about alternative treatments and practitioners.Learn the history of alternative therapies and therapists.●Who commissioned Benjamin Franklin to investigate an alternative treatment?●What do AMT, CEDS, DAP, ESWT, HMA, LEPT, OMM, PEMF, TCVM, TENS and VOM offer?●Where do beliefs of Chinese medicine, ayurveda and the ancient Greeks merge and diverge?●When were acupuncture meridians charted?●Why do cognitive biases impede assessment of a treatment?●How was chiropractic founded, how are homeopathic remedies made?…and much more.
Welcome to the website of
With a forward by Dr. Race L. Foster, DVM, co-owner of Doctors Foster & Smith Pet Supplies“...a great job of covering this material.” Professor Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVSMary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports MedicineCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University
“Daphne is both physically tough and emotionally vulnerable, a heroine readers will love and root for in this fast-paced, gripping read.”Laura Moriarty, NYT best selling author of THE CHAPERONE
“A mesmerizing debut that is part mystery, part modern love story, and thoroughly gripping. ORCHIDS AND STONE stars a bright, uniquely independent woman who is strong enough to define her own future and tender enough to rediscover both love and forgiveness. Lisa Preston's deftly layered narrative crescendos to a nail biting climax that surprises and satisfies.”Carol Cassella, author of GEMINI
“Gritty and powerful.”Jo-Anne Mapson, winner of the ALA RUSA award and author of SOLOMON’S OAK
“Daphne is a strong central character, complex and fundamentally stunted by tragedy in her life. With lyrical writing and nuanced characterization, ORCHIDS AND STONE will have you rooting for Daphne's redemption amidst pulse-pounding car chases. It's a book that has something for every reader!”Kate Moretti, NYT best selling author of THE VANISHING YEAR
What was the inspiration for the story? See the author Q&A.
Dear Friends, People ask me a lot of questions about writing in general, the writing life and business, my process, and me. Now and again, I’ll respond with a writing tip or truism about this kind of life, or a fact-let about me (And for those of you not-yet-published, perhaps calling yourselves aspiring writers, look: you write, you’re a writer. Welcome. Welcome to the fold.) Warmly, LisaTip 1 The Writer’s WebsiteQ: How do you get a great website? A. Sleep with your webmaster. (Remember, some advice is general, some is specific. Or personal. In this case, I’m letting you know what works for me.)
1. You’ve written several non-fiction books on animals, specifically on the care and training of horses and dogs. Why did you turn to novels?
2. Where do you write?
3. What is your writing process like?
4. What inspired the idea for Orchids and Stone?
5. The novel’s scenario of a little old lady claiming people are kidnapping and robbing her provokes urgency but could be explained away as the raving of a person with dementia. Do you think people have an obligation to help strangers?
6. Why did you choose such an unusual and physical job for the central female character?
7. What are you working on now?
I’ve always been a bookworm and loved good fiction. As a child, when I finished a wonderful novel, I would hold it and not move, just absorb for long minutes afterward. I felt gratitude and wonder and knew I wanted to someday return the favor of transporting readers to another person’s interesting world. I loved finding meaning and truths in stories, and I liked learning what the characters did, what happened next.
Mostly at home, with my feet on an old, scarred roll-top desk. I’m someone who never learned to type properly, but I can hunt and peck as fast as many people who did take the right class in high school. Everything I’ve written has been on one little laptop or another—I’ve never owned a desktop computer. When I’m rewriting, working on a hard copy, I can be anywhere. I might go into town with a manuscript and have coffee or a glass of wine or a slice of pizza while I slash and scribble.
My approach is pretty organic. Different ideas will capture my imagination and ask if they can be in a story. Sometimes they fit together and sometimes they don’t. One notion leads to another and I might write pages that will have to go away later, but I’m sketching, getting to know a character, how she or he speaks or lives, so I just let it flow. Things start to click. I don’t outline before starting, nor do I write one chapter at a time or even in chronological order. If I’m thinking about a scene, conversation, or event that will come later, I page down and write away.
One day when I was in high school, the entire student body was sent to a church to attend the funeral of a recent graduate. I didn’t know her or even know of her. I was standing in the back of a huge, packed church when a young woman was called to speak. She managed two words—my sister—before she crumpled up crying. Seeing this survivor so bereft rocked me, and the tragedy cut deeper when I learned that her sister had been murdered. I still tear up at the memory of her raw pain in front of that altar.Life took me to interesting places and interesting careers. I worked as a fire department paramedic and later became a police officer, routinely encountering situations like domestic violence, going undercover to buy crack cocaine, and chatting with children about their sex lives with their dads. People tried to kill me and I was prepared to use force. I made arrests, served search warrants, cooled down countless squabbles and handled a lot of traffic accidents. Every day presented scenarios of people not at their best. But sometimes people were at their best. Sometimes, someone stepped up and gave aid or information that was life-changing for a stranger.People and the choices they make captivate me. The novel is from my imagination, although different ideas sparked various parts of the story. A friend called one day because she found calypso orchids in her woods and I thought about what this rare, wild orchid could represent. I saw a woman roofer one day, slinging shingles along with the guys. My husband and I pulled the car over one day because a little girl was bawling horribly at the edge of a vehicle turnout. I asked the man and woman some distance away if everything was okay and they said they weren’t with her and they had no idea what her problem was. Getting that child home to her parents was the only choice for me.
On some level, we certainly ought to help others, but the reasonable extent of our intervention can fluctuate with the scenario and personal factors. There are regular news reports of bystander syndrome and some of these are shocking, but it can feel a bit too pointed if we Monday-morning quarterback an event and remark on what others could have done differently. If the story had begun with chapter two and readers put themselves in the park, many would not have intervened. Obviously, I wanted to write about someone who was driven to take one step and then another to render assistance, going as far as it took to solve the problem.
Not surprisingly, I can identify with a woman making it in a physical and male-dominated career while keeping her femininity. I like out-of-the-box thinking and choices. But Daphne needed a reason to intervene in the coming scenario so her career choice wasn’t random. It was rooted in her reaction to personal tragedies. No spoilers here but readers often comment on chapter one and its end.
My next novel. Really, I write, run, ride, rinse, and repeat.
Book club questions for ORCHIDS AND STONE1. Imagine that you are Daphne when Minerva Watts asks for help in the park. Would you dismiss the plea as crazy talk? When the other woman claimed to be Minerva’s daughter, was Daphne relieved of any civic duty to help Minerva even though Minerva kept asking for help and said she was not the other woman’s mother? 2. The loss of innocence had a profound effect on Daphne. How has her past affected her reaction to Minerva Watts? Is it natural for a person’s resolve to fluctuate? 3. Vic said that lightning has struck twice for Daphne. How do the Mayfield tragedies ten and twenty years past continue to impact the central and peripheral characters? 4. Family stability is a recurring motif in Orchids and Stone. How do Lisa Preston’s characters, particularly Daphne, attempt to compensate for the loss of a traditional family? Do the obstacles Vic and his children face differ in nature because of the reasons the two families are fractured? What about Daphne’s parents? 5. Minerva Watts shows Daphne rare wild orchids. What does the orchid represent? Does anything else replace this symbol? What symbols and themes recur in Orchids and Stone? 6. Daphne’s father felt his job was to keep his daughters safe. To what extent do traditional roles dictate life choices for many people? Do you know someone working in a field that is not traditionally occupied by people of that age, gender, or other stereotype? Can stepping beyond tradition be both empowering and limiting? 7. The suspension of Suzanne’s murder case is echoed in other characters’ lives and choices. In what ways do Daphne and her mother compensate, and are their methods successful? In what ways have other characters made, or not managed to make, healthy progress in their lives? 8. Daphne sometimes experiences tension because her best friend and her boyfriend do not get along well. How do relationships between friends impact other friends? What does the difference between Daphne and Suzanne’s experience in this area reveal about the characters involved? 9. Daphne wants to know more about her sister’s death. Vic tells her that there are some things we never get to know, and the retired homicide detective tells her that why is not a good question because there is no good reason for Suzanne’s murder. Can an unanswerable question be a motivating force? Have you been influenced by a desire that could not be satisfied? 10. What do you think happened to Suzanne? Do you agree with Daphne’s decision about the cold case investigators in the final chapter? How does the balance between letting things go and not letting things go impact our lives? 11. At the heart of Orchids and Stone is the question of how far one should go to help others. Discuss how different people in the story display varying levels of tenderness and aggression toward others, especially vulnerable characters. How often might we help or hinder strangers? Have you ever witnessed bystander syndrome? 12. How does the physical resolution scene at Daphne’s mother’s house in the second-to-last chapter comment on violence? Is it ever justifiable to threaten or assault someone? What if the person is helpless at the moment? What do responses to this idea reveal about disparate views on our humanity? What questions remain at the conclusion of Orchids and Stone?
February 25-28, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ Left Coast CrimeApril 3, 2016 on reddit.com Ask Me Anything 11 a.m. ESTSeptember 15-18, 2016 in New Orleans, LA Bouchercon
***Writing WorkshopsAmbulances, Badges and Courtrooms- Lisa details accuracy for scenes involving police, fire fighters and paramedics. Understand standards of arrest, searches and criminal trials. Find out how and why the police react, as well as the limits and capabilities of modern paramedicine. Learn the common mistakes writers make trying to capture emergency action. Students may bring works-in-progress for critique.The Query Class- Lisa provides resources for researching agents and editors. Students get beyond the basics with examples of successful, agent-snagging queries, and learn to avoid common querying errors.
***Past EventsOctober 5, 2013 - Lynden, Washington - Northwest Washington Horse Expo February 16, 2013 - Rick Lamb interviews Lisa about her book,Bitless Bridles, at the Washington State Horse Expo. January 28, 2012 - Jon Patch interviews Lisa on “Talkin’ Pets” about her book Natural Healing for Cats, Dogs, Horses and Other Animals, 150 Alternative Therapies for Owners and Caregivers.