Cassy's Corner: An interview with Author Kaye George
Please join me in welcoming Kaye George to Mysteries and Margaritas. Kaye is soon to have a release come out- CHOKE- and I am thrilled for her. She’s going to spend some time today telling us about her books and about her journey with self-publishing.
First, a little about Kaye. She is an Agatha nominated short story writer. CHOKE will come from Mainly Murder Press in May, 2011 as well as PATCHWORK OF STORIES, a collection of her previously published stories. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", and writes for several newsletters and blogs. She, her husband, and a cat named Agamemnon live together in Texas, near Austin.
Cassy: First, tell us about your writing career. We love to hear about how writers started and how they have picked their genres. We want to hear it all!
Kaye: I'm so excited to have a book coming out with this superb small press! (http://mainlymurderpress.com/store/) After ordering a couple of their books and seeing the quality of the printing and editing, I eagerly queried them and was delighted when they accepted my novel. I hadn't queried many agents on it yet, but it was the fourth novel I was seriously trying to get published and I was daunted by the long road ahead for agent querying. So I jumped the queue and went to a small press.
Here's my teaser for CHOKE:
Twenty-two-year-old Imogene Duckworthy has been waiting tables at Huey's Hash in tiny Saltlick, TX, itching to jump out of her rut and become a detective. When Uncle Huey is found murdered in his own diner, a half-frozen package of mesquite-smoked sausage stuffed down his throat, Immy, an unwed mother who has always longed to be a PI, gets her chance to solve a real crime.
Immy's mother, Hortense, who blames Huey for her own husband's death, is hauled in for the crime. Unclear of the exact duties of a PI, Immy starts a fire in the bathroom wastebasket to bust Mother out of jail. On the run from the law with her mother and her toddler daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, Immy wonders, now what? Time to consult her almost new copy of The Moron's Complete PI Guidebook. Her attempts to clear her mother's name, then her own, lead to foiling a bank heist, exposing a meth lab, and getting in deeper than is wise with Baxter Killroy, a handsome but shady cowboy who may have been involved in her father's death several years ago.
Cassy: You have written both long and short pieces. Can you tell us about how the process differs?
Kaye: I love writing short stories, but I've had to learn to write novels over the last ten years. I've written short stories ever since I can remember.
The story arc for a short story can be very simple, or it can approach that of a novel, since there are a wide variety of short story types and lengths. From flash to novelette. All you really, really need for a mystery short are a villain, a crime, a sleuth, at least one obstacle, and a solution. Add more characters and suspects, and you can add as much complication as your word limit permits.
The main difference between a novel and a short for me is that of visualization. I can hold a complete short story plot in my head, and sometimes they come to me fully formed and I just take dictation from the voice in my head. A novel, though, is too complex for my limited mental capacity. I see bits and pieces at a time, as the plot unfolds. Subplots are in a separate place in my brain, I think, with the various red herrings and dead ends.
Cassy: Self publishing! This is a hot topic. Share! We want to hear about your experiences- the good, the bad and anything else you are willing to spill. More questions on this follow below.
Kaye: Because of my success with short stories, I decided to gather them together in one place. Many were published in online magazines that no longer exist, and some in print magazines that no longer exist. This is a too-common scenario for short story venues. The people who start them do it for love and find that they're darn hard to keep going.
Mostly for myself, and for the experience should I later want to put a novel out as an ebook, I gathered together some stories and put them on Smashwords, then later on Kindle. I was encouraged by the experience and have sold more than I thought I would. So I took the next step and published, just last week, a paperback of my collection with Createspace.
Cassy: I wouldn’t know where or how to begin.
Kaye: The process certainly has a learning curve. I found most of what I needed in the Smashwords guide, but not quite all. Through asking questions, googling, and just poking around, I got it done eventually. The Kindle was the hardest, I'd say, and the one with the least helpful guidance. That's partly because they require an html file for upload whereas Smashwords takes a Word document. I'd highly recommend doing Smashwords first, even if you're not going to sell there.
I decided, near the end of this venture, to go ahead and self-publish a book on self-publishing. That should be finished soon. It will be more of a booklet, sharing my experiences and what I've learned.
Cassy: How have you structured your marketing and distribution plans for a self-publishing approach?
Kaye: I'm in the beginning stages of this. I do have a strategy planned for the novel that comes out in May, so I'm following in my own footsteps for the self-published story collection. I took a course from Marcia James (http://www.marciajames.net/index.html) through Savvy Authors (http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/workshoplist.php). My big take-away from the course was that I should do the promotion that best suits me, not try to do it all.
My promotion so far has consisted of making a lot of lists, getting myself booked at a couple of conferences for next year and, of course, volunteering to be on panels. I will be adding my book info to my signature line so my accomplishments are visible whenever I post on online lists. Volunteering to write articles for newsletters and doing guest blogs and interviews at least once a month are all on my current list. I’ll add more if I can manage it.
If I have enough sales to warrant it, I'll probably make bookmarks, but won't do as full-out a campaign as I will if I put a novel out as an ebook.
Cassy: Do you see yourself staying with self-publishing, or do you also have plans to be picked up by one of the other houses?
Kaye: As I mentioned, I'm planning a little booklet on self-publishing. I'd love to have a short story collection be picked up by a small (or large) press, but I'm not counting on that. After my novel comes out in trade paperback next year, I'll probably convert it to an ebook at some point.
Cassy: Could you walk us through some of the steps you went through?
Kaye: As I mentioned, I would start with Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/) since their guidebook is so clear. Print it out and use a bookmark if you must, but follow the instructions line by line and you'll be fine. My advice is to publish your book with them, proof it, proof it again, then one more time, THEN announce it (which is not what I did). You can keep uploading it until you get it the way you want it to look. It's a little complicated to view all the versions it produces. Some I can't, like the Apple version, since I'm not an Apple owner. But you can download free programs (links are provided) to preview most versions. The rtf and the plain text versions didn't ever look good to me, no matter how good the other versions looked, so the last time I published I left those out.
The cover was the hardest for me because there weren't instructions for it. It has to be a jpeg file, I finally figured out. The easiest way for me was to start with a jpeg file, add the title and cover words using Irfanview (http://www.irfanview.com/) a photo program that's free to download.
Since Kindle has to have an html file, it's not too hard to get there from your nice, clean Word doc you created for Smashwords. You have to sign on to their Digital Text Platform (DTP) (https://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin) to get started. I used Open Office to export it and it worked great. It's impossible to preview a Kindle publication if you've included pictures, which I did. You have to actually buy the dang thing to see what it looks like. This is a glitch that their staff told me they are working on. Also, once you buy it, you can't buy it again! So if you've made corrections and reloaded, you can't see them. Unless you use a different email address. If you're downloading the Kindle for PC app, you have to do that again for that email address, too. That is a real pain in the wrist! (Which is this writer mostly get pains.)
I found an obscure reference somewhere that told me I also had to upload my text and my pictures as a zip file, otherwise the pictures wouldn't go with the text, since the conversion to html separates them.
Cassy: I’m exhausted reading your list of how-to’s for the learning learning curve! There has been a lot of discussion with this group on plotting vs pantsering. Thoughts on that?
Kaye: Maybe that's why short stories are easy for me. I have to outline and plot a novel, but a short story usually leads me to the ending. I guess I'm both, depending on what I'm writing. But for a novel, I definitely like to know where I'm going and have some idea of how I'm going to get there.
Cassy: Okay, give us the URLs for your books.
Kaye: My short story collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, is available as an ebook at Smashwords (http://tinyurl.com/37f8dl2), Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/2dt8aat), and Barnes & Noble (http://tinyurl.com/3xut4fc). Don't worry if you don't have a Sony e-reader, a Kindle or a Nook. At Smashwords you can download a pdf to print out or read on your computer. The paperback is newly availabe at Createspace (https://www.createspace.com/3501502) and should be available through Amazon without two weeks.
All these links are on my homepage, KayeGeorge.com. The two places I blog most regularly are at
Travels With Kaye (http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/)
All Things Writing (http://allthingswriting.blogspot.com/)
Here less often: Dialog for Murder (http://dialogformurder.blogspot.com/)
Cassy: Kaye, thanks for joining us. Kaye will be in and out all day to answer questions and offer comments. She is on Texas time, so after her morning coffee might an hour or so later than those of us in the East. Stop on by and let us know what you think about the self-publishing route. Anyone else out there tried it? Ideas to share back with us?