Book Signings


February 2010 – Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin predicted only 6 more weeks of winter. Guess we still had to have at least one more blizzard in Green Bay. It hit on 2/09 – the day before my Run at Destruction True Crime/Memoir Book talk to the Learning and Retirement Group (LIR). We are a hardy community and even with our advancing ages… it appeared that everyone was shoveled out. At the Neville Museum, I talked to a packed house of about 130.

Two days later my sights were set on another LIR talk – this time at UW-La Crosse where I’d been the commencement speaker back in 2007. It was appropriate that I’d told the graduates to “journal your life” and that’s what I had now done. 

Of course we all have memories of the school we graduated from – whether high school or college. One of mine was getting hot doughnuts at Mr. D’s with my boyfriend (now husband – Jim) after bar time.  Well… the original shop has closed but a new establishment on the same corner is still selling their doughnut recipe. Valentine’s Day was approaching. Nostalgic  Mr. D’s doughnuts would be the perfect gift for my sweetheart!

I made a sharp turn into the coffee shop’s parking lot, dashed in, purchased a dozen doughnuts, climbed back in my vehicle, while chewing on one, and put my key into the ignition. It wouldn’t turn… my steering wheel was locked! Ah, oh! I had fifteen minutes to my talk and nothing I was doing was working.

Lucky I’m still a runner. I grabbed my computer case, and with temperatures close to zero, jogged the six blocks to the Cartwright Center on the UW-L Campus. I got there in the nick of time, but when I opened my laptop, my heart sunk… my computer wouldn’t come up. (Guess it doesn’t like to jog!) Finally with a number of reboots, I got it working in Safe Mode. Whew… 

The group was great and very interactive… one told me that she had a sister in Green Bay. She called her during the break and discovered that she’d been at that LIR  just two days before. Both sisters ended up buying signed books!

Tomorrow I’m heading to Madison for a Booked for Murder Bookstore talk – more travels, talks and hopefully, not too many more tribulations!

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MomsinMotion

Wisconsin author and long-time runner, Lynda Drews, meets Moms-in-Motion Founder & CEO, Jamie Allison

Back in May, I did a Run at Destruction book talk to a women’s running club that I learned was part of a larger organization called Moms In Motion. In 1999 when Jaime Allison and a  group of other moms started to train together to complete a Santa Barbara, CA triathlon she came up with the idea. Jaime has since transformed this small group into Moms In Motion, a Global Network Connecting Moms through Fitness. (7232 members, in 49 states, in 7 countries.)

Soon after my talk I contacted Jaime. She said she loved to read, so I sent her a copy of my book. By chance my San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon entry had been selected in the random drawing. In October I was heading to California and decided to combine the race weekend with a mini book tour and also meet Jamie. 

I landed in San Francisco on Oct. 14th and for the next three days stayed with friends (both old Fun Run and highschool)  who accompanied me to talks and book signings. (One was to the Empire Running Club.) Then on Sunday I met Sandy and Per Johnsen for dinner, two of the characters in Run at Destruction that have since moved to Seattle.  

The next morning, I gathered with more than 20,000 women in the dark near Union Square. The uphills were very challenging. I even admit that I walked a bit, but I flew running down the other side!  At the finish line I completely forgot to check my time. Could it be that my eyes instead were glued to the buff fireman dressed in a tux who handed me my Tiffany finisher’s necklace?  Unbeknownst to me, I later realized that my Nike Half Marathon number had mistakenly been switched with a friend! Sure, sure… you don’t have to believe me, but I actually ran 30 minutes faster than my official race results! 

After a Bart ride, where I’d embarassingly had to beg money from a stranger, since I was short a dollar, I quickly showered at my friend’s, jumped into my rental car, and headed south to Pebble Beach. For two days I relaxed with another highschool friend before traveling to Santa Barbara. With my GPS I easily located The Boat House on Hendry’s Beach and on the outside eating deck a slim woman was standing with a copy of Run at Destruction in her hands.  I smiled and waved… it had to be Jaime!  The two of us chattered away for a couple of hours, discussing our common interests: running, reading, family, and knitting. And… of course we discussed my book.

I appreciate the comments that Jaime provided to her network of ‘Moms’ following our meeting. She said, “It was such a pleasure to meet and spend time with author, Lynda Drews, last month during her book tour in CA. I’ve never had the experience of reading a book and then having the luxury of discussing it one-on-one! Lucky me! Thank you Lynda. Her new true fatal love triangle book is called Run at Destruction and is soaring on Amazon.com charts. The running community that her story takes place within, is much like ours in that they became like extended family to one another. Unfortunately, when her best friend Pam is ‘murdered’ you can’t help but rally the detective spirit within and try to come to terms with the outcome. It is a story you won’t forget!”

For many Midwest runners, with a summer of training behind them, fall is the optimum time for races. My book Run at Destruction focuses on a close-knit running community where some terrible tragedies occurred. So… even though I’ve been training for an up-coming half-marathon, this weekend, I went to two races, but not as a runner.

Berkeley Running Company owner - David Meixelsperger with Lynda Drews at Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Expo

Berkeley Running Company owner - David Meixelsperger with Lynda Drews at Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Expo

Back in August I had done a book talk at Berkeley Running Company in Madison where  the owner graciously offered to provide me a spot within his expo booth for the October Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon.

Milwaukee Lakefront logo

With a bit of envy, last Friday night, I talked to the marathon participants as they picked up their race packets and frequently purchased my book. Some had already read it and relayed how much they’d enjoyed it!    

wrut logoThen, on Saturday morning, I made my way over to Rib Mountain in Wausau Wisconsin for the Rotary Club Wrut ‘N Run.  It was a team effort to put up my banner. I had the local radio personalities and race personnel wiping the rain drizzle off the Ski Chalet’s window so my tape would hold. We were successful and so were the race

Rib Mountain Chalet Building protected my books from the drizzle

Rib Mountain Chalet Building protected my books from the drizzle

 participants that tackled the grueling course.  I talked to a woman runner that had traveled from Keshena, WI. She told me that the teachers at her school had already selected Run at Destruction for their book club.

It’s always amazing to me that people I’ve never had any connection with are reading my book!

Lynda Drews and Beezie MacNeil at Munising, MI Bruce MacNeil Memorial Run

Lynda Drews and Beezie MacNeil at Munising, MI Bruce MacNeil Memorial Run

Before publishing my first book – Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle, my best friend Beezie (who’s a character in the book) said, “Lynda, you should include a Reading Group Guide.”

That, in itself, was not a novel idea, but it was, within my genre of True Crime and also Sports/Running!  So… I contacted my publisher, Tracy Ertl, from TitleTown and we agreed to take Beezie’s advice – fourteen questions were included.  

Since my book’s release on August 7, 2009, I’ve participated in five book club discussions and have twelve more scheduled. My book revolves around our close-knit Green Bay Running family and the tragic and mysterious death of my best friend Pam. Participating in each of these book clubs, I see the same kind of bond that I’ve experienced with my women running friends. Many of the book clubs have met for decades and have suffered their own tragic losses among their members. 

Yesterday’s talk was a good example. I met with the Belles, Books, and Candor Book Club in Oshkosh, WI. There were about fifteen members present, but others were missed who had passed away.

Subset of Belles, Books, and Candor Book Club

Subset of Belles, Books, and Candor Book Club

 What’s great about book clubs is that their members’ ages span many generations.

The first thing that Laurie, the moderator did, was to do a verdict poll, as if the Belles were on my book’s  jury panel. Very interesting… from the outset, the jury would’ve been hung! I’m told, that’s what makes my book so fascinating – the scenario leading to Pam’s death is still not crystal clear.  

Discussion continued, focusing on the complex crime as members reviewed the evidence, debating why Pam’s death was either a terrible accident, suicide, negligent homicide, or pre-meditated murder. Additional topics flowed: dependency issues, infidelity issues, media influence, and the judicial  system.  One member had even received therapy from Dr. Ralph Baker, the psychiatrist that had been the expert witness for the Defense back in 1984! 

At the meeting’s end, I signed each member’s book, while remarking how honored I’d felt to be included in their welcoming sisterhood. What a wonderful experience… meeting new women that, through my written word, had grown to know and care about me, and more importantly, Pam.  

The caring faces behind the sterile purchase statistics from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. are gradually being filled in…

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.”

Publisher Weekly logoFebruary 21, 2009 seems like a long…long…. time ago! On that day I got a note from my publisher Tracy Ertl from TitleTown Publishing that our distributor, Midpoint, had chosen Run at Destruction to present to Publishers Weekly (PW) for review!  

On Adelle Waldman’s blog, she says, “Publishers Weekly, or PW, is the biggie—it plays Coke to Kirkus’ Pepsi.” I knew PW’s review could have an immense impact for publishers (especially new ones like Tracy) and sales of my book. So, we scurried to get the right information for this March 24th meeting. Afterward, we heard NOTHING. 

Tracy and me at BEA before my book signings

Tracy and me at BEA before my book signings

Next came the month of May and Book Expo America in New York City… Tracy hoped that someone from PW would stop by – but when I headed back to Green Bay on Sunday morning, again NOTHING. But… on the Pennsylvania Turnpike my cell rang. Tracy was beside herself. PW had stopped by right before the end of the show. They wanted her to fly out in June to be interviewed about her publishing company and her new titles. It was an understatement that we were both ecstatic. My shout nearly caused Jim to swerve into a nearby vehicle. 

 June arrived and Tracy flew out for her interview. For a small publishing firm this expense was great, but Tracy is a risk taker! Even though her PW interview went well she still didn’t know what her odds were on getting a review.  But, if it were to come, it would happen before my book’s release date.

August 7th arrived – Run at Destruction’s release date and NOTHING.  At the release party for my book and Mike Dauplaise’s book Torture at the Back Forty, I couldn’t bring myself to mention my disappointment to Tracy. If I was let down, I could only imagine what she was feeling.

Then… on Friday August 14th, up at our place in Door County, I got “the call.” Tracy said to sit down and listen as these words poured out over the phone:

“Runner and longtime Green Bay, Wis. resident Drews revisits the mid-1980s death of her close friend and fellow runner, popular high school teacher Pam Bulik. She chronicles the small community’s response to Pam’s death, suspicions of suicide that rang false, and the subsequent naming of Pam’s husband, Bob Bulik, as the primary suspect. Events, including Bob’s alleged affair, drag readers through the gruesome and tawdry details, some difficult to read (especially in descriptions of the victim). Like Melanie Thernstrom’s The Dead Girl, about the life and tragic death of her best friend, this title also relies on the strong bond between author and victim for emotional weight; passages about their shared moments, and Drews’s feelings of emptiness in the decades since, are remarkable.” *

“Lynda,” Tracy said, her voice full of emotion, “this is your Publishers Weekly review… they used the word ‘remarkable’!”

This whole journey has been remarkable!

*Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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!