Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Friends with Beth Solheim

Beth Solheim’s cozy mystery, “At Witt’s End,” is now available in both electronic and hard copy from Echelon Press,, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores.

Beth, thanks so much for being here today!

1. I love an older—and eccentric—protagonist. Introduce us to Sadie Witt and Cabin 14.

Sixty-four-year-old Sadie Witt is the proprietor of the Witt’s End Resort in northern Minnesota. She’s also a death coach—not for the living, but for the recently departed. What a shock to learn anyone checking into Cabin 14 never leaves alive. Cabin 14 can be lively, or dangerous, depending on the motives of Sadie’s guests. And, each guest arrives with a deadly agenda.

Don’t let Sadie hear you say she’s fashion challenged. Mini skirts, halter tops, spiked hairdos and an asp tattoo are the norm for this spunky senior, who is a complete contrast to her prissy twin sister, Jane. And, much to Jane’s dismay, Sadie insists on purchasing a used hearse. With a little renovation it will make a dandy shuttle for the resort guests.

2. Your website says you researched funeral homes. Did you learn anything that surprised you?

To be honest, fear of the unknown was more an issue. Other than attending funerals, the technical aspect of death is a topic I know little about. The first time I visited a funeral home to research the industry, I wished I had chosen culinary arts or construction or anything other than funeral homes as one of the plot settings in my mystery.

What impressed me most was the professionalism displayed regarding social strictures, customs, dignity, legalities, family decisions, and the role funeral directors play as counselors.

3. You infuse the setting of northern Minnesota into “At Witt’s End.” Can you share tips on how to do this successfully?

I love northern Minnesota! It’s a natural setting for the Witt’s End Resort with the scents, sounds and summer events that dot the landscape. I live in a resort community and there’s a wonderful bustle when vacationers arrive. Their excitement is palpable. I tried to portray that passion and transport readers into Sadie Witt’s world by depicting the vistas, the waves lapping on the shore, the sound of wind skimming the pine tops, and the laughter and joy emanating from the resort guests.

4. What can you tell aspiring authors about Echelon Press? How are they to work with? How did you secure an invitation to submit?

Karen Syed of Echelon Press is wonderful. This has been a tremendous learning experience and she eased me through the process. Echelon is mostly an ebook publisher, but they release ten print books a year. I had just lost my agent due to illness and thought I’d submit to small presses who accepted unagented submissions. I waited three months and then two publishers expressed interested. Echelon Press made the first offer and it included a two-book contract for both ebook and print. I was very, very fortunate.

5. How are you creating your marketing plan for “At Witt’s End,”
especially now that it will be a series? (Book two, “Outwitted,” is written, I understand, and your third book’s title will be picked through a contest.)

I began my marketing strategy within a week after signing my contract. Echelon Press indicated what they required and that was an excellent starting point. Marketing for At Witt’s End included developing a website, my Mysteries and Chitchat blog, my Reading Minnesota blog, a brochure and bookmark to mail to libraries and bookstores across the country, a blog tour, setting up my book launch and selecting bookstores and book fairs to hold book signings. I’m also teaching writing workshops throughout the year and speaking at events. Promo is an ongoing process and it amazes me how new avenues open keep popping up.

Thank you for the opportunity to guest blog on Heroines with Heart. I am on the road today but will check in to answer questions or comments as best I can.


Like the main character in her Sadie Witt mystery series, Beth Solheim was born with a healthy dose of imagination and a hankering to solve a puzzle. She learned her reverence for reading from her mother, who was never without a book in her hand.

By day, Beth works in Human Resources. By night she morphs into a writer who frequents lake resorts and mortuaries and hosts a ghost or two in her humorous paranormal mysteries.

Raised and still living in Northern Minnesota, she resides in lake country with her husband and a menagerie of wildlife critters. She and her husband are blessed with two grown children and two grandsons


  1. Hi Beth,
    You are in Arizona, right? How are your teaching / promotional activities going? How do you set them up?

  2. Hey, Beth,

    Your story sounds very interesting. How did you come up with the idea?

  3. Ana, I contacted Bookstores and Libraries in the states I travel through. They were receptive to small workshops or presentations and that's what determined the schedule. I gave them choices of different types of presentations and they chose according to their clientele.

  4. Toni, I was channel surfing one day and heard a comment about crossing over to the other side. I thought what if when someone was crossing over they made a wrong turn or detour. To keep it light, I added humor and it took off from there. Each crosser had a reason they were held back-an issue to solve.