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Local writer publishes third book
by Mary Atkinson · October 09, 2013


As a three time self-published writer in West Liberty, she doesn't wait for inspiration to write. Instead, she forces herself to write something everyday.

"A writer friend of mine says 'You can edit a page of crap but you can't edit a blank page,'" says Karen Nortman. "Waiting for inspiration doesn't work, at least not for me. When you force yourself to write even if you don't have any good ideas, eventually something will come out of it."

Nortman, a retired West Liberty teacher, just released her third book, 'Peete and Repeat', as part of her Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery series.

She and her husband Butch are avid campers. Her books are loosely based on the places they have camped and experiences they have had.

The first book takes place in a campground similar to the Maquoketa Caves. The second one is based on Legends, near Madrid, Iowa, while the setting of her latest book occurs in an area similar to the Root River Valley and Bike Trails in Southeast Minnesota.

The main character of the series is housewife Frannie Shoemaker, who  finds herself involved in mysterious events while she and her family are camping.

"I do feel very close to my characters and settings," she said. "I write cozy mysteries which are light mysteries with amateur sleuths and lots of interesting characters."

"Sometimes I almost expect to see my characters in a campground," she added.

Writing since the fourth grade, Nortman was first published by a magazine in the 1970s.

When she began her Frannie Shoemaker series she said she sought publication the usual way, which meant finding an agent, who in turn finds a publisher.

"I decided I was too old to go the traditional route," she said. "The more I read about self-publishing the more intrigued I was."

Nortman said that with digital printing self-publication has changed dramatically over the past few years.

"It is faster, royalties are better, and the writer keeps control of everything," she said.

However, she added that self-publishers must put out a well edited and polished product worth the money people will spend.

"There are hundreds of books being self-published that are poorly done - giving ‘indies’ a bad name," Nortman said. "But there are a number of indies that have made the New York Time's bestseller's list, and organizations are taking the responsibility of screening and rating self-published books."

Nortman encourages anyone who wants to get published to try this method, but make sure the final product is a good one.

The first book of her series, "Bats and Bones," was published in 2012. It was chosen as a BRAG Medallion honoree (Book Readers' Appreciation Group) on the IndieBrag website for self-publishers or indies. The BRAG medallion is like the 'Good Housekeeping' seal of approval, according to Nortman.

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