Name: Margaret Mizushima
Book Title: Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Margaret: Thanks so much for hosting me! I wanted to become a storyteller years before I started writing. Back then, I was busy working long hours as a speech pathologist, and I would stand in line at the grocery store, searching through the rack of paperbacks to find the perfect weekend escape. I realized I wanted to entertain others through stories, so when I retired I began to study the art and craft of fiction writing. After years of practice, I developed the idea for the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, found an agent and then a publisher.
Is this your first book?
Margaret: No, Burning Ridge is my fourth. My first book, Killing Trail—book one in the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series—was published in 2015. Crooked Lane Books also published book two, Stalking Ground, a year later and book three, Hunting Hour, one year after that.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Margaret: Burning Ridge is published by a traditional press. I decided to go the traditional or small press route because I’m afraid I don’t have the skillset to self-publish. My tech skills are sadly deficient.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Margaret: I attended writing classes at our local university, regional writing conferences that specialized in teaching commercial fiction, and local as well as online critique groups. I read, read, read bestselling authors in the mystery genre. (That was fun!) I researched my topics and found local consultants who would let me ask questions. I entered writing contests to get professional feedback. I had decided to pursue a traditional publisher, and after writing several different manuscripts without sparking anyone’s interest, I finally connected with both an agent and publisher with Killing Trail.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Margaret: Mine was a long journey from inspiration to published book. For me, it was most important to study fiction writing and participate in as many learning experiences as I could. I think getting input from other writers is critical to find areas that need revision, and then polish your work to the best of your ability before showing it to prospective agents or editors. In some cases, even working with a free-lance editor might be a good idea. Above all, persist. Most of us receive many no’s before we get that treasured yes.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Margaret: I would. Crooked Lane Books was a startup press back in 2014 when we initially connected. My first book was released during their second season, and it’s been exciting to be involved with this company from the word go.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Margaret: Find a good regional writing conference that specializes in education for the type of writing that you do. I was lucky, because here in Colorado we have two organizations that offer this type of conference annually, both focused on commercial fiction: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Pikes Peak Writers. By attending these conferences, I not only learned the How-to’s of writing commercial fiction but also connected with my agent and publisher.