Great New Review!

Happy surprise to see this review of my book on Mark S. Bacon’s blog. Thanks, Mark!

Fast-paced Mystery Scares, Intrigues

As an amateur detective, Britt Johansson, a Pulitzer-prize winning press photographer, is brash, aggressive, occasionally reckless and has the patience of a toddler with ADD. “Following the rules…didn’t always work for me,” she says.

When she stumbles on a gruesome murder in her small hometown of Spirit Lake, Minn., she’s off and running in an absorbing tale that has both unsettling and heart-breaking elements. The first murder scene—not the only one—is so vivid and shocking it puts you on edge. The story then segues into a mystery investigation that could lead to hate crimes or systematic terror. And possibly bad news for Johansson. “I…heard the unmistakable crack of a pump action shotgun behind me.” Author Townsdin provides murderous details sufficient to shock, without bloody, slasher-style prose. A good balance.

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Her characters include some typical Scandinavians (this is Minnesota, after all) a batch of scary zealots and a mixed batch of writers encamped in Spirit Lake for a seminar. Johansson’s brother’s restaurant becomes her investigation headquarters and later, her fortress. “Every customer who entered the restaurant looked like a psychopath killer to me,” Johansson says.

Following Johansson as she searches for the killer, moves you not just at a swift pace, but in unusual and unexpected directions with unexpected consequences. The local sheriff takes appropriate precautions, but Britt Johansson wants to kick the investigation into high gear, and then some. In addition to being impulsive, she’s suspicious, a good trait for an investigator. As a journalist, she explains, “I generally looked at people with distrust. Most of them were in the news for a reason—bad behavior.”

As the second in the Spirit Lake series, this book expands on Johansson’s relationship with her sometimes boyfriend Ben, her brother, the local sheriff and other media and law enforcement folk. Johansson is almost as unpredictable as the killer or killers she’s stalking and the ending deals satisfyingly with the crimes but leaves Johansson’s personal and professional life in disarray–ready for the next installment.

Check out Mark’s blog and his mystery, Death in Nostalgia City. I loved it!

#Read about Guest #Author Linda Townsdin

I’m so pleased to be featured on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog today!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Linda Townsdin01My name is Linda Townsdin. I used to call myself an introvert, but since publishing my first mystery last year, that might call for some rethinking. I spoke on several library panels and at book events and attended conferences where I stood alone in front several hundred people each time to talk about my book. I even participated in an author speed-dating event and dashed to nearly fifty tables of people in under two hours. Immersion therapy works!

So, for all introverts out there, self-publish and then spend part of a year promoting. If you live through it, it will change your life in lots of good ways. For one thing, when someone tells you to your face they loved your book, it’s like being showered with love. And who wouldn’t want to get more of that?

My grandmother used to say I had itchy feet and after publishing my…

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Minnesota Road Trip/Book Tour June 2015

“The eyes experience less stress when they can look upon a wider horizon.” –R.D. Chin (Feng Shui master)

After publishing my second book, I set out on a solo road trip from California to Minnesota without a plan other than that I wanted to spend time with family and friends and “do some freestyle promoting” in Northern Minnesota, the setting for Close Up on Murder.

I crossed California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota, arriving at my first destination in Minneapolis after driving for about ten hours a day for three days. During the evenings, after miles and miles of open spaces, I sat in my hotel room and made a few journal entries.

Wyoming

Rawlins, Casper, Buffalo, Gillette. Ever-changing landscape and Big Sky as far as my eyes could see. I felt myself expanding to be part of that open space and magical beauty. Lots of holy shits and wows and big grins.

Racing a long train snug against the mountain. Feeling alive, joyous, every cell awake, like a runner’s high, a pheromone bath. Blessed.

Crossing and re-crossing Crazy Woman Creek as she wound through the landscape, experiencing a sense of connection with her. My life has not been linear either. More trains, semis, hardly any traffic, Elk Crossing signs and antelope everywhere. My eyes drunk with the beauty all around me.

South Dakota

I pulled into a two-star hotel in Rapid City. Tourists visiting the monuments, Badlands, Black Hills. I waited to check in behind a small round man in his fifties, belly bursting from the waist of his jeans, polo with a popped collar, sun glasses pushed up on his bald head, leaning forward on the toes of his gym shoes as he negotiated with the desk clerk for extra days. When the clerk finally made the arrangements to his satisfaction, she pushed a basket of goodies toward him. He pulled a plastic bottle of water from the basket, looked at it and turned to show me the bottle. “It has my name on it! Did you get one?” I smiled and shook my head. The clerk hurried to explain that the baskets were only for their “Gold Star” guests. Basket in hand and beaming, he headed for his room.

Sailing along a section of I-90 at 85 mph. Twirling lights behind me, the only car on the road. I pulled over and waited for the Highway Patrolman to come to the side window. I said, “I thought the speed limit was 80!” He nodded. “You were going over that a bit.” I said, “I never speed.” Obviously not true. I’d just been caught. But what about the unwritten code that if you didn’t go more than five miles over the posted speed limit you wouldn’t get pulled over? The officer said they are strict about enforcing the 80. He asked where I was headed and I said I was going to visit family in Minnesota. “I’m doing the drive in three days.” His eyes widened and I mentally slapped myself in the head. I’d just admitted to more speeding. I mentioned the name of the lake my family lived on. He said he’d fished that lake and a wide grin spread across his face. He must have caught a good-sized bass. My California plates probably got me pulled over, but my Minnesota roots saved me from a speeding ticket.

Northern Minnesota

Fish flies, cattails along the back roads, loons calling across the lakes and at night the Northern Lights filling the sky. Not the vibrant colors this time, but a pulsing lightshow, the sky full of wiggling fingers and the stars winking through. Wow.

I drove through the small towns and donated my books at a couple of libraries.  Most bookstores were gone, the spaces now filled with tourist trinkets or fishing gear. The best part of the trip was spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends. The wonderful days of driving, disconnected from my laptop and cell as the world slipped behind me, was a welcome contrast to my daily routine where I’m always trying to catch up and missing some of the landscape in the process.

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Going Live and Going Home!

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In Close Up on Murder, L.A. Times photojournalist Britt Johansson is back in Spirit Lake recharging before her next overseas assignment when two murders and a string of threats against her brother set her in action. Are they hate crimes, a long-buried act of revenge or something else?

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Last February, I wrote a blog, Going Live, to announce my debut novel, Focused on Murder. And now I’m happy to announce the second in the series, Close Up on Murder is published and available on Amazon. For more about the book, please check out my updated website.

In last February’s post, in addition to thanking my supportive friends and family for all their help with my first efforts to publish a book, I said I’d share some of what I’d learned about the publishing process in my future blog posts. I’ve reposted the list below and commented on how it went.

Tricks I’ve used to tame the fear and keep everything in perspective

There was no perspective and no taming the fear. I spoke in front of 250-300 people at a couple of conferences and don’t remember what I said. In a whirlwind event at Bouchercon, I participated in something called Author Speed Dating to pitch my book. I was given 2 ½ minutes at each of 45 tables consisting of eight readers, reviewers and other authors. It turned out to be immersion therapy. I’m no longer an introvert! That’s not really true, but for the two hours I raced from table to table talking about my book, I was on fire. It felt great.

Tips on how to use CreateSpace

By the time I was ready to publish my second book, I’d forgotten everything I learned from the first time and had to stumble through the process. Yes, they make it easy, but it still felt like trying to put together a Rubik’s Cube.

Reminders to tackle everything at your own pace

I know now that’s a silly statement. Who else’s pace would you use? It turned out that I am not the multi-tasker I thought I was. Once I started working on Close Up, my blogging and promoting slowed almost to a standstill. I switched back to introvert mode.

How to know the difference between resistance and the importance of doing what feels comfortable to you

I have no clue. I read five newsletters a day filled with advice, but I don’t end up doing very much of it. One I read today scared me. It said, “Don’t Crash Your Book Launch” and offered 14 ways to keep that from happening, which takes me back to the top: How to tame the fear and keep everything in perspective.

What I am going to do is load up my car with books and a positive attitude and take a road trip to Minnesota, the setting for my mysteries. I hope to get some perspective during the long drive. I’ll visit family, friends and bookstores, and have some fun working on ideas for my next mystery.

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Now that Close Up on Murder is published, I hope you will read it and post your review on Amazon. My website has been updated with new information. Please visit me and say hello.

My Long-time Love Affair with Libraries

Our family moved often when I was a child.  As a young, single woman, I wanted to see and experience new horizons and my grandmother used to say I had wandering feet. Then I married a journalist and we moved several times during the first years of our marriage. We’ve stayed in California a long time now, although the desire to pick up and move every so often still comes over me.

One constant everywhere I’ve lived has been my connection to my neighborhood library. I can’t remember the first time a smiling librarian placed a library card in my hand, but wherever I’ve moved over the years, I don’t feel settled until I’ve visited the library and received my card.

I carried on the tradition with my children. We started visiting the library every week as soon as they were old enough to hold a book in their hands, and maybe even before. They attended story hours and special children’s events and were proud bearers of their own library cards.

Capitol Crimes, my local chapter of Sisters in Crime, holds its meetings in Sacramento library community rooms. And, since publishing my first book, I’ve participated in author events at several Sacramento libraries to talk about my books and discuss how I work. As an introvert, the fact that these events have been held in familiar and welcoming settings has made what could have been stressful, a pleasant experience every time.

On April 12, I’ll be among forty authors from the Sacramento area invited to participate in the Sacramento Public Library’s Local Author Book Festival. We’ll be gathering at the downtown galleria library from 1-3 p.m. to talk about our books and say hello to family, friends and visitors.

For me, libraries have been a place of wonder, refuge at times and always an important part of my life. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be, and I hope you’ll join us.

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