It’s Okay to Run Away

Two days after publishing my debut mystery, I did the unthinkable. Instead of following all the advice in workshops, blogs, newsletters and books about how crucial the first few weeks are to get your book noticed by undertaking a huge promotion blitz, I flew 2,458 miles to visit my daughter.

I didn’t take my laptop and hardly looked at emails.

Every time I started to panic about what I should be doing to get the word out about my book, I looked at my daughter and knew this was exactly where I needed to be. I’d just finished with a lot of activities that were out of my comfort zone and a big learning curve for me, and I needed to allow time to feel good about the big step I’d just taken—especially since it was a long time coming. Being with my daughter reminded me of what is as important in my life as achieving goals—spending time with family and friends and allowing myself to enjoy each step of my own journey.

How do you maintain your equanimity when taking big steps in your life?

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Coming Soon!

The past few months have been a blur of working with my critique group, getting feedback and editing my mystery—Focused on Murder.
There are still a number of steps until I’m published, so I can’t post a date yet, but I hope you’ll check it out when the time comes.
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Next Big Thing Blog Tag

Happily, my dear friend, the talented writer and artist, Julie Williams, tagged me in the Next Big Thing interview series. It’s been called an international tag game among writers. One writer tags another writer to answer interview questions about an upcoming book or other literature project. Here are my answers:

What is your working title of your book?

Focused on Murder –A Spirit Lake Mystery

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to write about Northern Minnesota, where I spent much of my childhood. So far, I have three Spirit Lake Mysteries in different stages of development. Focused on Murder is completed, Close up on Murder is being revised, and I’m nearly finished with a second draft of Exposed.

What genre does your book fall under?

Traditional mystery/thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I read, I prefer to visualize the characters in books without too much detail from the author, but Claire Danes’ character from Homeland comes to mind for Britt, only taller and physically very fit. Adam Beach would be great as forest ranger, Ben Winters.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When photojournalist Britt Johansson stumbles across the frozen body of a co-ed in the wilds near the US/Canadian border, it sets her off on a hunt for the killer, putting her into the crosshairs of an international crime ring investigation.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m ready to make this happen, and I’m open to all possibilities.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about a year. The second draft has taken another year because I stopped to write a first draft of Exposed during NaNoWriMo.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I like Steve Hamilton, John Sandford, William Kent Krueger, Louise Penny, Denise Hamilton, Kate Atkinson and Jim Lynch. Jim Lynch isn’t in my genre, but his characters and settings are wonderful.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love Northern Minnesota and wanted to pay homage to the Native American culture of that area, the weather, lakes, small towns and people. It’s my way of keeping in touch with my roots.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Photojournalist Britt Johansson will push the limits to keep the bullies of this world from winning. Ben is a forest ranger dedicated to protecting the national forests and all the creatures in it. Too often, that means keeping the two-legged creatures from using the forests for their dirty deeds.

My books are also about family and community—not always pretty. I’ve chosen a small-town setting because it’s a microcosm, but shameful secrets and selfless actions happen among humans everywhere, city, suburb, or slum. Even though my mysteries are about the horrible things people can do to each other, they’re also about the everyday heroes who tip the balance and enhance our lives—the people who pay attention to us, see our flaws and love us anyway.

I hope you’ll check out the excellent authors I’ve tagged, members of Sisters in Crime and my mystery critique group.

http://junegillam.com/blog/

http://www.micheledrier.com/

High Concept vs. Heart

It’s the first day of spring and almost Easter, flowers are blooming and leaves are sprouting on bushes. Lots of resurrection going on.

And yet I’m acutely aware that we experience a pretty big chunk of loss in a lifetime and it can happen in any season. The older you get, the more loss you experience. Loved ones die, and there are the other losses; the loss of a job, an opportunity, or maybe even a dream.

In my case, an adored child moved far away. My sadness is tempered with pride and joy as she embarks on an exciting new venture.

Time to Regroup

I set out to find relief and that’s always been through writing. However, at the moment I’ve been concentrating on getting what I’ve written published. I’ve sent my manuscript to agents, but learned that the way to attract an agent is to write a high-concept novel that starts with a bang. My goal was never about tricking an agent into looking at my novel.

I wanted to engage a reader’s heart.

I finally made up my mind the best way to do that was to cut out the middleman and go directly to the source. Now I’m working with a cover artist and will soon self-publish.

Ah, resurrection.

Oh, and I’ve already booked a flight to visit my daughter.

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The Universe is Speaking

I’ve learned to pay attention when the universe knocks on my door. Admittedly, in the past, I have let multiple hints slip right by me until something drastic comes along to jolt me out of my fog.

This time the messages started with a notebook from the bins inside Target’s front entrance. I picked up one with Yoda on the front.  A conversation bubble above his head said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

I put it in my cart.

Yesterday I attended a cold wax workshop by Sara Post, a wonderful encaustic artist from Davis, CA. In addition to a demonstration on technique, she offered this advice: “If you’re going to do it, do it very.” Artists are always concerned about pushing too far and ruining a piece. I loved this advice.

This morning at my women’s Kaia workout, the message on the board said, “Committing to 99% is brutal; 100% is easier.”  If you think 99% is a good enough goal for workout, nutrition, intentions, etc., then you’ve opened the door to eroding away your resolve. That makes it harder.  I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. Today his advice was that showing up isn’t enough.  To paraphrase: “Your job is to surprise and delight and change the agenda, escalate, and reset expectations.”

How do all these signs relate to my writing?

My mystery novel is finished. It’s been revised, reviewed and polished. Of course, I could work on it forever, but that doesn’t get it out the door. I’ve been researching agents and sending out queries, but I’m still on the fence about whether self-publishing is a better way to go.

I think the universe is saying:  Do it very. Give 100% and you will surprise and delight yourself.

Do you listen when the universe speaks to you?

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