2015 A Year to Remember

This blog post isn’t about what happened in our world this past year; many others have written about that and I don’t need to revisit it here. This post is my own effort to remember small moments of joy and warmth and connection in this precious life I’ve been given. Enjoying family, friends and pets and looking forward to each new day for what it will bring are a testament to hope and faith in humanity and life itself.

If 2014 was about publishing my first book and rushing headlong into a world of book conferences, new experiences, learning and doing and pushing through the fear of taking a big risk and making bold choices and the surprise of how much fun it was…

Then 2015 was focused on publishing my second book, a gratifying and less frantic experience. Instead of the headlong rush into writing conferences and lots of promotional events, I spent most of the time working on book three in my series.

That said, here are a few of my favorite moments when my eyes weren’t glued to my laptop and I was enjoying the real world. The big takeaway for me when looking at the past year was how many new friends I’ve made and how much closer to old friends I’ve become, and that if you take the human connection out of any of these events, a good part of the joy is removed as well.

There were a few firsts. My books, previously available only online, could now be found in libraries and bookstores.

The Avid Reader in Davis, CA 


Book World in Bemidji, MN







Local authors’ event at the Sacramento Public Library


Sacramento Book Fest


Friends who made special efforts to help me promote my books


Julie Williams promoted my book at her own book event in Minnesota. That’s a friend!



Meeting Nancy Pickard, an author whose work inspired me.

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Happy New Year and I hope you all have many wonderful memories from 2015.







If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

photo (15)My daughter owns a women’s fitness gym in Oahu, and these words are printed on the wall: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Recently, I was one of four mystery authors on a panel at a local library. As a debut author, and an introvert with a past history of freezing when all eyes are on me, I was nervous. In fact, my stomach was upset the day before, and I hoped I had the flu so I could cancel.

I used to feel shame about this physical and psychological reaction, but having read Susan Cain’s New York Times bestseller, Quiet, about introverts, blogged about her TED talk (see my March 6, 2012 post) and listened to many others who’ve experienced similar fears, I’ve realized it’s a common occurrence. And I wanted to change.

I’d memorized a short intro about my mystery in case I panicked and forgot what the book I’d been working on for two years was about. The moderator asked me to speak first. Approximately thirty people turned expectant gazes on me.

I spoke through a dry mouth, rushed my intro, mentioned that I was an introvert hoping the audience wouldn’t judge me too harshly, and handed the mic to the moderator as if it were on fire. The group turned their faces to the next speaker.

After those first few moments, I relaxed and eagerly answered the moderator’s questions. After all, the subject of writing and publishing mysteries is what I live day in and day out. I’m passionate about it.

Then the moderator asked me to talk about my biggest challenge in writing and publishing my book—a great question and not so easy to answer because there were many, but the life-changing challenge for me was when I finally let go and published it. Because that meant I was committed to speaking on panels and at conferences, talking to book clubs and saying yes to social events. I didn’t want to be limited anymore because of an old fear of being in the spotlight.

When we were finished, the audience asked lots of questions and stayed to buy our books and chat. I met interesting and engaging people, who were also passionate about books. It was a library after all. The highlight was when one gentleman came up to me and said, “You’re no introvert.”

Maybe not anymore, or at least not all the time. IMG_20140906_152633126 (2)

Milestones and Reader Support

Last week I was pleased to announce another milestone reached—Focused on Murder is now available on iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, as well as Amazon!

Moving past those milestones in the publishing process is rewarding, but reader reviews and support are what really thrill me. It’s easy to bury myself in writing the second book in the Spirit Lake Mystery series, especially because readers have been asking for it, but your positive comments have helped me leave my “introvert cocoon” and put myself out there to let more people know about Focused.

Here are a few examples of reader comments I’ve found so gratifying because they’re about Britt, who’s been so much fun to create:

“…The character of Britt is not your usual mystery heroine. A prize-winning photo journalist living in a small town In Minnesota, she is tough, flawed, and loving. The story brought me places I rarely enter – in books or life.” –KM

“…Britt is a wonderfully complex character and so well written you feel like you are inside her mind thinking as her: working through problems, finding solutions, and living her life. –AC

“…Following the curious, risk-taking, experienced photographer Britt into such a series of forbiddens kept me saying “One more page, one more…” The descriptives colored each scene so vividly that each adventure was amazingly brought to life.” –CZ

“…A main character I want to get to know more deeply, secondary characters that help create a place that I want to keep coming back to, and a setting so beautifully developed I want to hang out there.” –JW

As an author, there’s no higher praise than knowing people are enjoying my work. Thank you! I appreciate your reviews!

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The Slow Movement in Social Media, or How to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

I’ve invited Corinne Litchfield to be my guest blogger today to share some of her tips on navigating the constantly changing landscape of social media. Corinne has helped me create a Facebook author page and my blog book page. She’s organized and linked my social media platforms, and is a valuable part of the community of people I rely on to help me communicate with all of you. – LT

The flow of creativity seems to move very fast sometimes. As a writer, I have moments when the ideas for stories, poems and essays rush through my head, each demanding to be written down. When I switch gears into social media management, however, I realize it’s important to slow down: I need to ensure my copy is clear, concise and timely, and that I’m choosing the right methods to share that content. You could say I’ve become a proponent of a slow movement for social media.

It may sound crazy for a social media manager to say “slow down,” considering how rapidly news cycles are updated and how timeliness in tweeting or posting on Facebook can make or break a book’s popularity among readers. But more and more I’m seeing clients who want to jump into everything all at once: website, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, you name it. That’s the point when I tell them that it’s okay to move slowly and carefully, to deliberate on each element of their overall strategy before moving to the next item on their list. Otherwise they walk away with bits and pieces of information, not understanding how each piece of their platform works together to build their brand identity.

So if you’re supposed to move slowly with social media, what should you do first? How do you prioritize everything? I recently spoke at Napa Valley Writers Club about website development and social media, and established what will become my new mantra with my clients:

Start with two.

That means select two social media accounts you want to start with – whether it’s Facebook and Goodreads, or Twitter and Google+, or some other combination. Get really comfortable using the two accounts you select: learn how to post content, from text only to text+image to text+video; learn how to share content from other sources, such as a news site or blog; and build up your following and/or fans. Once you’ve mastered those two accounts, consider setting up another social media account to promote your writing. But don’t push yourself. Keep in mind that in between all those blog posts, tweets and Facebook Page updates, you need to write your next book, short story collection or poetry chapbook.

How much is too much?

In terms of time, about 15-20 minutes a day perusing social media for business purposes – meaning you’re reading (and sharing) content that’s relevant to your genre or niche – should be sufficient. If you find you’re dawdling over whether or not to share content, save the link and read it again later.

As for how frequently to post on social media, it depends. Tweets have a shelf life of approximately 18 minutes. Facebook posts last nearly twice as long, clocking in at 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean you should post or tweet more often, however – it means that you should use tools provided by Facebook and Twitter to see how your more popular posts/tweets perform, and use those as a guide for when – and what – to post. (Click on the images to view a larger version.)

Twitter, tweets, performance, social media, social media management, analysis

In the Email notifications section on your Twitter account, check the box next to “Updates about the performance of my Tweets” to get regular emails on how your tweets are doing.

Facebook, social media, social media management, reach, engagement, posts, Facebook posts

On your Facebook Author Page, click View Insights and scroll down to see the reach and engagement of your posts.

Using these tools, plus taking advantage of a dashboard service such as Buffer or HootSuite, can help you slow down and make the most of social media without feeling overwhelmed by it all.


Find out more about Corinne and her work in social media at her website

It’s Still a Writer’s Journey

My first blog post was January 31, 2012. The blog was titled, A Writer’s Journey. It was about why I started a blog, and this is part of what I said:

“Over the years I’ve attended writer’s conferences, workshops and countless author readings. I’ve read a library of books and many blogs on the art and craft of writing. Some of the most insightful and helpful ideas about writing have come to me through the generosity of others who shared what they picked up along the way.

I started this blog to continue that tradition and to cast my net in hopes that writers attracted to this site would find something useful that might help with their own journeys.”

I’ve recently published my first book—a good time to take stock of what I now want the blog to be about. It’s still about my journey, and I’m writing book two in the series, but my focus has grown to include the business of self-publishing and promotion. Except the word “business” stopped me in my tracks and made my journey more like an obstacle course of frustration and anxiety.

Yes, it’s a business, I’ve always understood that, but to me, it has to be about the joy of connecting with readers the same way writing is about the joy of writing. And one thing that brings me joy is writing about subjects that help others, either in writing, publishing or promoting.


In an earlier post, I promised tips on publishing and promoting as I navigated through the process:

My best tip is to attend writers’ conferences whenever possible. I just returned from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, and basked in the spirit of generosity that permeated every interaction with organizers, authors and readers. That trumped everything.

Jane Friedman’s blog, The E-book Market + Big Five Survival, about what’s happening in the publishing world is a must read. The blog doesn’t have answers; it’s all about the questions.

I hope you’ll stop by again. As before, this blog will also include my short poetic pieces from my writing group and other works in progress.