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.

Tips

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.

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?

IMG_7163

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.
Focused_500x750

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.

photo