Forward! But not just yet.

photo (9)

I don’t spend much time looking back. I’m too busy working through each item on my “to do” list, adding a new task as each one is completed. But this past week I’ve been circling, not quite ready to move forward.

I’d thought that after the whirlwind of October and November book panels, a book fest, speaking at the giant Bouchercon conference in Long Beach, and sending my second mystery to my beta readers, I would tackle all the marketing projects I’d put on hold. But that wasn’t working.

What I really needed to do was fill the well, and celebrate my achievements over the past two years. When Focused on Murder came out, I hardly had time to enjoy the moment because I was moving full speed ahead to promote it, and starting the second book in the series.

This week, I’m feeling grateful for the people who continue to support me, and I’m reflecting on all the times I moved through fear to do one more thing that was new and uncomfortable. It was worth it.

To those of you who might have forgotten to congratulate yourselves on your progress great and small this year, I hope you, too, will take a moment to be pleased about what you’ve accomplished.

New Book Cover!

CloseUp_110214 (2)

In Close Up on Murder, Britt’s back in Spirit Lake recharging before her next assignment in South Sudan, when two murders and a string of threats against her brother set her in action. Are they hate crimes or a long-buried act of revenge?

Coming March 2015!

I’d love to hear what you think of this draft cover for the second book in my Spirit Lake Mystery Series.

 

I’m Ready

For me, this song is about letting go. It’s time to send my second mystery to my beta readers—a huge place of resistance for me. I could easily work on it forever, and almost did that with my first book, just to avoid this step.

For inspiration this morning, I read a chapter about the Inner Censor in Dani Shapiro’s wonderful book, Still Writing, The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. Her words didn’t derail me, but their effect was probably the opposite of what she intended.

Shapiro said that when her inner censor wants to shut down her creativity, she says things like: “Maybe you should try writing something more commercial. You know, thrillers are hot. Why not write a thriller? Or at least a mystery? ……Why not write a book with a strong female protagonist, for a change? You know, a superheroine.”

Her statement assumes that the reason those of us who write thrillers or mysteries do it because they are commercial, and that those works are somehow less worthy.

I can’t speak for other mystery writers, but I didn’t do it expecting to sell lots of books. These days, especially starting out, it’s a rare writer who does.

I did it because my main character Britt spoke to me. How would a female photojournalist with a strong sense of justice and responsibility reconcile her personal desire to be home and surrounded by her loved ones, with her professional calling—to document the suffering of the vulnerable of the world, usually women and children?

And how would that conflict come into play as she navigates a deadly encounter with an avenging killer stalking her and her brother over a decades-old crime—the core of the mystery. The character-driven puzzle drove me.

In writing a series with a “strong female, almost a superheroine,” I have been challenged and my protagonist has changed me. She’s made me a stronger person, and a better writer as I struggle to find the right combinations of words, setting, characters and situations to understand her and show who she is and how she affects and is affected by her world. She’s drawn things from me I didn’t know were there.

When you place characters in life-changing or life-threatening situations, you learn what they’re made of.

Life is a mystery. We’re all navigating it the best we can, and sometimes our inner (and outer) censors can be motivating.

What songs, mantras or books inspire you to move forward with your creative projects? What steps block you and how do you overcome them?

Meet Britt Johansson!

Luccia Gray, a wonderful blogger and author has invited me to participate in a Meet the Main Character blog hop. Check out her blog, Rereading Jane Eyre, and novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall.

Thank you, Luccia! I’m thrilled to be part of this blog hop, and I love any opportunity to talk about my main character. Here are the answers to questions about my protagonist in my debut novel, Focused on Murder—A Spirit Lake Mystery.

 Focused_500x750_071713

1.  What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical?

My main character is Britt Johansson. She’s a fictional 34-year-old former Pulitzer prize-winning LA Times photographer.

2. When and where is the story set?

My Spirit Lake mystery series is set in Northern Minnesota. I’m drawn to stories that take place in northern climates, with unpredictable weather and people. I wanted to pay homage to the Native American culture, lakes and small towns. It’s my way of keeping in touch with my roots.

3. What should we know about her?

Britt has a big heart, bad attitude and wicked sense of humor. In Focused on Murder, Britt’s reckless behavior has nearly ended her career. She’s been fired from the LA Times and returns to the small town where she grew up to put her life and career back together. She gets a chance to redeem herself when she’s hired at the Northern Bureau of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Britt stumbles upon a co-ed’s frozen body, sets off to follow the killer and ends up in the crosshairs of an international crime ring, where she becomes the prey.

4. What makes her interesting?

Britt has been away for a long time photographing environmental and war disasters around the globe, but friends and family provide the stability and balance she needs. Her brother and his partner run a café in Spirit Lake, and she’s in love with forest ranger, who often thinks she’s too much trouble. She’s usually at odds with the people who love her, and yet they continue to care about her. She doesn’t believe in mystic powers, but an Ojibwe elder guides her in the right direction in spite of herself.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Britt’s personal goals—to stay in Spirit Lake surrounded by her loved ones—conflict with her professional goals, or calling—to document the suffering of the vulnerable of the world, usually women and children, and that means traveling to places like Iraq, South Sudan or Ukraine and putting herself in life-threatening situations.

However, even her hometown of Spirit Lake turns out to be a perfect location for all kinds of dirty deeds: easy entry points along the vast wilderness of the US/Canadian border, an Indian reservation that’s off limits to most law enforcement, and a dangerously mistaken perception that nothing happens in small towns.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

See answer below.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

Focused on Murder—A Spirit Lake Mystery is now available for purchase at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ITunes and Kobo.

Close Up on Murder—A Spirit Lake Mystery, second in the series is due in 2015. After that, I’ll publish a Prequel that reveals the story of what initially brought Britt back to Spirit Lake—a murder, of course, but whose?

8. Tap several more authors to highlight their books.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the following bloggers and writers:

Julie Williams author of Drama Queens in the House

June Gillam author of House of Cuts and House of Dads

 Kevin Cooper author of The Wizard, the Girl and the Unicorn’s Horn

 I’m looking forward to reading about their main characters!

Going Live!

mystery, novel, fiction, self-published, self-publishing, Linda TownsdinI’m pleased to announce that Focused on Murder—A Spirit Lake Mystery is now available on Amazon. For more info about the book, check out my Books page.

“Britt Johansson, a kickass photojournalist with a big heart and bad social skills follows a coed’s murder to the wilds of the US/Canadian border and lands in the crosshairs of an international crime ring…
Only this time she’s in way over her head.”

It Takes a Community

As in most new ventures in life, each step in the self-publishing process that seemed so daunting in the beginning has turned out to be not nearly as difficult as I imagined. That’s probably thanks to my supportive friends, who have offered advice and even sat next to me at my laptop encouraging me to push that button and go live. I am grateful for their help.

Now that my debut novel is out there, I hope you will read it and if you like it, post your review on Amazon.

In my next posts, I intend to share some of what I’ve learned about how the self-publishing process is working for me, such as:
• Tricks I’ve used to tame the fear and keep everything in perspective
• Tips on how to use the CreateSpace site
• Reminders to tackle everything at your own pace
• How to know the difference between resistance and the importance of doing what feels comfortable to you

Thank you!