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It has been five years since my first book, RUN AT DESTRUCTION, was released. It was a very personal story about my best friend’s death and the subsequent trial of her husband. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to write another book once I finished it. Where would I come up with the creativity to develop something from scratch? Initially I thought about writing another True Crime Story. I began to research a case up in Land of Lakes, Wisconsin, but my heart wasn’t into it. So… I decided to tackle fiction. The outcome is CIRCLE OF INNOCENCE (Amazon link B&N link). Like my first book, the setting is very familiar to me. It takes place in Door County, Wisconsin where my husband and I spend nearly every weekend. Of course it had to be a mystery.

To place it on the shelves of our local B&N, I knew I’d have to find a standard publisher rather than self-publish. About a year ago Whiskey Creek Press offered me a contract, and I was on my way! Next came the editing, the cover art, and the endorsements.

For my first book, I was able to secure one from Ann Rule, the bestselling True Crime author. Another bestselling author, Brian Freeman, wrote a book called BONE HOUSE. Its setting is also Door County. I located his email and decided to write him. About a month later I was thrilled to get this response:

“Hi Lynda, Congratulations on your new book… Door County is one of my very favorite destinations. You can certainly send me an advance copy of Circle of Innocence.  I can’t offer any guarantees, of course, but I’ll take a look. ”  Well, another month passed and I was getting nervous. I was close to my deadline and had yet to hear back from Brian. I was actually sitting at my desk in Door County  and looking out at the wintery woods when the email came in: “Hi Lynda,” Brian wrote, “Thanks for sending me Circle of Innocence.  It’s always a pleasure to find twisted mysteries in Door County!  🙂 Feel free to use the following blurb…”

“Every shocking twist in CIRCLE OF INNOCENCE lands on the reader like waves on a Door County beach, as Drews explores the dark heart of a beautiful place.” — Brian Freeman, Bestselling Author of THE BONE HOUSE

Let’s see if you agree!
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Jim and Lynda Drews at 1971 La Crosse X-Country Meet

Jim and Lynda Drews at 1971 La Crosse X-Country Meet

Ever since 1974, my husband, Jim, and I have returned to La Crosse Wisconsin – God’s Country – to celebrate his X-Country Alumni Labor Day weekend. From my book Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle, you may know that the two of us met in kindergarten in Waukesha, but we fell in love in La Crosse. Back in 1970, Jim was a new freshman and Coach Phil Esten joined the team as the new coach. From that point on a winning tradition began and continues today under Coach Don Fritsch.

Part of that tradition has been to honor the alumni by sponsoring this annual weekend. There’s a Friday dinner at Piggy’s, beer at Howies, the Saturday morning race (if you want to call it that for some of the “elderly alumni”), a picnic with a barrel of

1970 X-Country Team - Jim is 2nd from left, Coach Esten is far right

1970 X-Country Team - Jim is 2nd from left, Coach Esten is far right

 beer at Myrick Park, free beer afterward at Eagles Nest, pizza/beer at Big Al’s, and lastly a stop at Dell’s and John’s for you guessed it – more beer. You can see there’s a common thread. When Jim and I came to La Crosse in the early 70’s, the drinking age for beer bars was 18 – so we got an early indoctrination! 

This year in addition to the traditional festivities Coach Don Fritsch e-mailed the Alumni about my book, mentioning that it had been reviewed in Silent Sports and by Runner Dude. They could either bring the ones they’d purchased in advance on Amazon or at B&N for me to sign or, “I’m sure, Lynda, will gladly sell/sign a copy  for those interested.”

On Friday morning, on our way into La Crosse, Jim first dropped me off

2009 La Crosse Alumni Picnic

2009 La Crosse Alumni Picnic

 at the local B&N. For three hours I signed every copy they had in stock. Then at Saturday’s picnic, I went through another half-case of books.   

Both the “old guys” and the “new guys” supported me. Of course they were egged on by “My Love”, La Crosse’s first Cross-Country All-American,  to purchase my “Labor of Love.”

Authors - Mike Dauplasie and Lynda Drews at TitleTown Book Release Party

Authors - Mike Dauplasie and Lynda Drews at TitleTown Book Release Party

I was ready! A press-release was in place, my Fox11 television interview was completed and invitations had been sent.  August 7th had arrived! Tracy Ertl, my True Crime publisher from TitleTown Publishing was officially releasing  two of her new titles – my book Run at Destruction and Mike Dauplaise’s book Torture at the Back Forty!  And… what more could you ask for,  then to have our release party at TitleTown Brewing Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin – the city that was the setting for both of our books that took place in the mid-80’s.

Hundreds of people showed up as the line stretched a block long.

Sgt. Jim Taylor, me and Judy Taylor at Release Party

Sgt. Jim Taylor, me and Judy Taylor at Release Party

 Everyone patiently waited to purchase their first-edition signed copies. Among them were key principals that had played major roles in our books – now-retired Coroner Genie Williams and now-retired Sergeant James Taylor with his wife Judy.

Sgt. Taylor in Bulik home on the day of Pam's Death - April 7, 1984

Sgt. Taylor in Bulik home on the day of Pam's Death - April 7, 1984

Taylor was the lead detective on the investigation into my best running friend, Pamela Bulik’s suspcious bathtub drowning death – the subject that my book revolves around.   

Two hours later, having sold about 250 books between us, Mike and I finally rested our pens to join family and friends. 

But… by Monday I picked mine up once again. Beezie MacNeil (a character in my book) and I met for coffee inside the Green Bay B&N store. Of course I checked where my books were positioned. Previously they’d been prominently displayed at the information desk beside my poster. I was dismayed to find no books on the counter. I was told they’d sold the last one they had on Saturday and were anxiously awaiting a replenishment shipment.

I met with Shirley, their Community Relations Manager. She informed me that my book had been the #1 seller in the store last week! Pretty amazing! Temporaily, she gladly agreed to take two cases of Run at Destruction that I had stored in my van… to tide her over. Then… the two of us sat in the Cafe – chatting away as I signed my books while she adhered a green “autographed by author” sticker. 

The past several days had certainly been a great team effort!

Last Friday… up at 4a.m… Nostalgic drive from Green Bay to Milwaukee (didn’t I retire from IBM so I wouldn’t need to keep this schedule?) At least now I had a GPS that informed me where to make the proper U-turn on Capital Drive, to arrive at my destination- mbvideoplayerTODAY’S WTMJ-NBC AFFILIATE . I walked in the door for my first ever TV appearance about my book Run at Destruction on the Morning Blend. After the executive producer told me she’d been reading it and couldn’t put it down, I was ushered into the wings of the set where I watched Alison de Castro, surrounded by an on-stage garden of summer plants, do an interview with a woman from Stein’s Garden and Gifts. (All the while – I worried that my pollen allergies might kick-in!) During the commercial break, I took my seat on a couch facing the cameras. (With tissue now tucked under my leg- just in case.) Alison and a friendly substitute hostess  for Molly Fay put me immediately at ease before the live action began… 

For the next 60 days you can watch me discuss my book complete with my eye rolls!

Next on the agenda were stops at three B&N in the Milwaukee area to sign books, then I was off to West Bend to drop off some at Fireside Books & Gifts(doing a signing there on 9/19) and finally I arrived in my hometown of Waukesha.

My mom, Dana, who is still lively at eighty continues to reside there. She gave me a

1970 South Campus Grads - Merry, Anne, Sandy, Kathy, and me

1970 South Campus Grads - Merry, Anne, Sandy, Kathy, and me

 tour of the rejuvenated downtown that has certainly changed since my husband, Jim Drews, and I graduated from Waukesha South in 1970! With my Run at Destruction banner flapping in the breeze outside Martha Merrell’s Bookstore– I positioned myself at a table with cases of books and pen in hand, ready to sign for two consecutive nights during the Freeman Friday Night Live event and the Saturday Night Art Crawl. It was definitely a reunion of sorts as I met old friends of my parents, parents of my friends, fellow Waukesha inhabitants that liked a home-town girl (whomever she was), runners from Badgerland Striders, and of course my old high-school classmates. (I guess some of the latter did remember the former Lynda Esselstyn according to the Spring City Chronicle!)  In addition to this classmate – four other girlfriends I hadn’t seen for 10 years, showed up and I was able to capture the moment!  Sixty books later, with a backache, and sore right hand, I met the four in a new downtown drinking establishment…  sending me back to nostolgia again – just where I started.

B&N front windowI got an email last week. My book – Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle had shipped early. Could I come into the Green Bay Barnes & Noble to sign copies. This was it! My book was now being sold in an actual brick and mortar store. 

I parked out front of the Oneida Street location, in close proximity to the Bay Park Square Mall. Approaching the entrance, I was drawn toward the front window display. There were my books! Unbelievable! 

Inside the store ,  in addition to this prime location, they were stacked on the information desk adjacent to the sign to pre-order Dan Brown’s new novel. What an honor. I next located some in the True Crime section – after all Ann Rule did endorse it saying it was “Wonderfully written. A must for true crime readers.” I also discovered books on one of the front tables and in the Wisconsin Local Section focused on history and sports. (My book revolves around a terrible tragedy that occured within Green Bay’s close-knit running community in the 80’s. A correspondent for Track & Field News endorsed it saying, “This is the 2009 runner’s read.”)  

I’m sure appreciative that Shirley VerBruggen, the B&N Community Relations Manager had given me such good placement!

One of the employees provided me a pen, and offerred to buy me a Starbucks

Author Lynda Drews

Author Lynda Drews

from their Cafe, while I proceeded to autograph each book that she carried from the various locations mentioned. As she did, we talked about the story and my lost friend, Pamela Bulik. Both of us blinked back tears. During her dinner break that night, she said she was starting my book.  

The two of us had sealed a connection.