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…

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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.”

Top right - Pamela Metzger Bulik - twirler for Lincoln Highschool band

Top right - Pamela Metzger Bulik - twirler for Lincoln High School band

 Since my true crime and sports/running book Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle  was released on August 7th, I’ve been getting daily e-mails from those that have read it. Quite often they want to share their personal connection.  One of those was Margaret, a classmate of my best running friend Pamela Metzger Bulik. Margaret had purchased the book at her local Book World in Wisconsin Rapids and afterward mailed me these yearbook photos of Pam. Like othersPam Senior Picture, Margaret said she couldn’t put my book down, even though it was difficult to read, knowing how much pain Pam had experienced. Back in high-school she’d been so joyful, full of fun – a twirler in the band. Pam’s senior class picture’s flip hairstyle was certainly the craze!
Another photo certainly caught my eye! 
Classmates: Top left - Kathy Wachter Appel , Bottom right - Pam Metzger Bulik

Classmates: Top left - Kathy Wachter Appel , Bottom right - Pam Metzger Bulik

    
In 1984, William (Bill)  Appel defended Pam’s husband, Bob Bulik, in his first-degree murder trial. I knew Bill was from Wisconsin Rapids, but now discovered – so was his wife, pictured with Pam!  Kathy Appel also taught with Bob’s girlfriend – the third corner of the love triangle. 
As Runner Dude said: “Oh what a tangled web we weave.” 

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!

Yesterday I arrived at the Fox11 Station, nervously pressing the building buzzer. A young woman opened the door and quickly led me down a hall. WeDW-Event-Calendar-icon waited near a lit overlead sign that said the Good Day Wisconsin Show was in progess.  As the light went off, I entered the studio. Being my second television interview in less than one week, you’d think this would be a piece of cake, but not so… I was situated in a chair by a fake fireplace, waiting and watching. To my left was a mock-up kitchen for the Living with Amy Show and to my right were the news and weather personalities, Rachel Manek and Pete Petoniak. Viewers were being informed about a herd of galloping horses that had escaped onto a highway where one horse had even attempted  to jump over a moving car, smashing its windshield. 

Rachel Manek of Fox11 Good Day Wisconsin

Rachel Manek of Fox11 Good Day Wisconsin

At the break,  Rachel joined me and whispered that the station had found actual footage of Pam’s April 7, 1984 death and the subsequent February 1985 sentening hearing.  I gulped hearing that! The camera then focused our way… We were live… You can see I was a bit nervous… Oh well, I’m only human!   

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.