Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Auction Time...Support Kids Need To Read!

ROCCO here!

It's that time of year again, when the Human and I hold our auction to raise funds for a very worthwhile charity:  KIDS NEED TO READ.

Kids Need to Read was co-founded by Denise Gary, PJ Haarsma and Nathan Fillion as a way of getting books into kids in underfunded areas who might not otherwise have a chance to get books to read.  The program promotes literacy, and since the Human is an author, this is a cause she's 100% behind!

You can find out more about the charity HERE:

This year, we are auctioning off an item donated by KNTR's Director, Denise Gary: a recipe book that was used to publicize the 2007 movie Waitress. The box and two air fresheners inside have been personally autographed by Nathan Fillion!

You can find the auction HERE


We hope you will all come out and support this great charity!


ROCCO
INCREDIBLE BLOGGING CAT

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Welcome author Kathleen Ernst!

 Lighthouse photo courtesy of: Kay Klubertanz


 
Meow! I interview author Kathleen Ernst!


Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst’s thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. 



R:  Welcome, Kathleen!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

 My parents raised their daughters to understand that in terms of basic needs, books rank right up there with food and shelter.  We often visited historic sites and places, and before the trips, my mom (who was a librarian) always looked for historical fiction about the relevant place or time.  By the time we arrived, the setting was already alive in my imagination.  I started writing my own stories when I was nine or ten, and everything I write is either historical fiction or historical in nature.

 After college, I went to work at a huge outdoor museum called Old World Wisconsin.  It includes ten working farms that interpret the period 1845 – 1915.  The years I spent there provided great practical training for a writer! 


R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?

 I must start with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I adored her books as a child, and I’ve enjoyed rereading them as an adult too.  I look for books with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place. 

 My list of favorite authors in the adult mystery world include Dana Stabenow, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and G.M. Malliet.  Some of my favorite children’s books include Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Gary D. Schmidt), Hattie Big Sky (by Kirby Larson), and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (Karen Cushman).


R: Tell us about your books – you write for both children and adults. Which is your favorite and why?

I love writing for both audiences, which I why I juggle both! 

 I’m working on the 6th book in the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.  Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin (where I used to be a curator), and the series lets me explore compelling historic places and themes.  The second main character, Roelke McKenna, is a policeman.  In each book, Chloe’s knowledge of the past is needed to help solve the mystery.  This series comes straight from my heart.

 I’ve written for a number of children’s publishers, but most of my books for young readers have been published by American Girl.  I created Caroline Abbot, the latest Historical Character, and my books about her include two mysteries.  Caroline lives in the middle of the action during the War of 1812, so I had no trouble finding plenty of material!


R: Tell us about your latest releases!

 Tradition of Deceit will be published in November, 2014.  Chloe solves a murder after traveling to Minneapolis to help a friend develop a proposal for a museum at an abandoned flour mill complex—which in real life is now the fabulous Mill City Museum.  Meanwhile, Roelke investigates a friend’s death in one of Milwaukee’s most fascinating neighborhoods, the Old South Side.  Polish heritage and culture link the two plotlines, and Chloe and Roelke face new challenges both personal and professional.  I’m very excited about launching this one.

My latest American Girl book is Catch The Wind:  My Journey With Caroline.  It’s a choose-your-own-adventure book, a new structure for me.  Writing it turned out to be great fun, and I think young readers will enjoy exploring all the options.  It also involves time travel, too.  And I have a new Caroline mystery, The Smuggler’s Secrets, coming in 2015.


R: Which of (your character)  adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?

In the adult series, I like writing Chloe herself.  She’s a lot like me—but braver.  The third book, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, takes place at an old lighthouse on an island in Lake Michigan; for six years, my husband and I have had the privilege of serving as live-in docents there for a week at a time, which has been an amazing experience.

 I also enjoy creating fictional women for the historical plotline in many of the Chloe mysteries.  I like to think that in my own small way, I’m giving voice to some of the anonymous women in history who met enormous challenges.

 While writing the Caroline stories I got to go sailing on a reproduction 1812 sloop – great fun!  In that series, I’m quite proud of creating three generations of strong females.  Grandmother survived the American Revolution and shows Caroline that women can face whatever they must.  Mama capably takes over the family business when Caroline’s father is captured by the British.  Caroline sometimes makes mistakes, but she has a good heart and is quite courageous when she needs to be.


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

 After lots of rejections, my book career started with a small press.  Getting the green light was wonderful, but the best moment was when that first box of books arrived.  I’ve worked my way up from there, step-by-step.  I’m currently paired with my fourth agent—the first three left the business—and she’s wonderful.  The first, decades ago, took me out to lunch.  I was in my 20s, and his kindness made me feel like a real writer.


R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

 I take several week-long writing retreats each year—just me, my cat, and my laptop. (Kathleen's cat, Sophie, pictured above)  Having a week to completely focus is marvelous; and since I write multiple books a year, it also helps me meet deadlines.  A cafĂ© mocha every day helps too.


R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

Must I really pick just one?  I’ve written about many time periods and places, and whenever I’m immersed in a particular story, I so wish I could get a peek back in time. 


R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
That I wrote novels for 20 years before selling one.

 R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

I hope readers will come to care about my characters.  I hope readers close a book and think, I’d like to learn more about that topic! Or, I want to visit that historic site!  I often hear from readers who have done just that, and it’s wonderful.

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

I’m mid-way through the next Chloe Ellefson mystery.  I’m also working on a nonfiction book for the Wisconsin Historical Society, A Settler’s Year:  Pioneer Life Through The Seasons.  Both will be published in 2015.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser, although I use the term wader.  I start with an idea and wade right in.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website, www.kathleenernst.com

My husband and business partner, Scott Meeker, designed and maintains the site.  We’ve worked hard to provide lots of goodies, resources, and background information for each book.

Readers can also join me on Facebook.  In addition to general news, I do lots of giveaways there.

www.facebook.com/kathleenernst.author

And, I write a blog called “Sites and Stories,” which provides lots of behind-the-scenes glimpses of each book’s background.

www.sitesandstories.wordpress.com/ 

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

 Take the time to develop your craft before worrying about selling.  When you find an author you love, take the time to analyze why you love her books.  What can you learn from them?  Write what you feel passionate about and enjoy the process.  The writing business can be grueling, so it’s essential that we take joy from the writing itself.


 Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Night.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat!  (ROCCO: YAY!)

Beach or Pool?   Beach.

Steak or salad?  After 40 years as a vegetarian?  Salad.

Favorite Drink?  Arnold Palmers (iced tea/lemonade)

Favorite Book?  Too Many To Count

Favorite TV Series?  The Big Bang Theory, Longmire

Favorite Movie?  Sweet Land, Glory, Last of the Mohicans, The Immigrants, Rob Roy…

Favorite Actor:

Favorite Actress:

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska?  Alaska

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be one of my female ancestors, who came to North America from Amsterdam in 1625 as one of the founding families of New York.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be – Nope, I’m happy living my own life!


Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of Kathleen's Chloe Ellefson mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Heritage of Darkness, or Tradition of Deceit (out in November, 2014).  For extra entries you can:


Tweet about this blog/interview

Post on FB about this blog/interview

Follow Rocco on Twitter @RoccoBlogger

Friend the Human, Toni Lotempio on FB

Winner chosen by random.org. Contest ends Sept. 20 at midnight. Good luck!


                                                     

Monday, September 8, 2014

In the Hotseat...I interview Jay, from CATWALK!

Our good friend Sheila Webster Boneham writes the "Animals in Focus" mysteries, which star Janet, an animal photographer, and her Aussie, Jay.  Jay graciously consented to do an interview for us to spotlight Sheila's latest, CATWALK, which is available in stores TODAY!

 
Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, successfully crossing the lterary-popular “divide.” Drop Dead on Recall (Midnight Ink, 2012) won the 2013 Maxwell Award for Best Fiction Book from the Dog Writers Association of American and was named a Top Ten Dog Book of 2012 by NBC Petside. The sequel, The Money Bird, was released in August 2013, and Catwalk is available now or pre-order. Sheila is working on the next book in the Animals in Focus series.

Six of Sheila’s non-fiction books have been named best in their categories in the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the Cat Writers Association (CWA) annual competitions, and two of her other books and a short story have been finalists in the annual competitions. Her book Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals (Alpine, 2009) has been called a "must read" for anyone involved with animal rescue. Her essay on corvids (crows, magpies, etc.) won the 2014 Prime Number Magazine Award for Creative Nonfiction.
Sheila’s books are available in paperback, ebook, Audible, and large print editions from all the usual sources. Autographed copies can be ordered here: http://www.sheilaboneham.blogspot.com/p/autographed-books.html. You can keep up with news about Sheila’st books, current promotions, and more at Sheila’s blogs/websites: www.writersandotheranimals.blogspot.com and www.sheilaboneham.com. You can also connect with Sheila on Facebook at her personal_page and her  Writers&OtherAnimals_Group.
 
About Catwalk: Catwalk is the third entry in Sheila Webster Boneham’s popular “Animals in Focus” series. This time out, animal photographer Janet MacPhail is training for her cat Leo’s first feline agility trial when she gets a frantic call about a “kidnapping.” When Janet and her Australian Shepherd Jay set out to track down the missing party, they find themselves enmeshed instead in the world of politics of feral cat colonies and endangered wetlands. Janet’s got her hands pretty full, what with her mom’s nursing home romance, her own relationship with Tom, and her pet’s upcoming agility trials. But when a body is discovered on the canine competition course, it sets Janet on the trail of a killer.


"Animal photographer Janet MacPhail's latest adventure will delight dog lovers, cat lovers, and mystery lovers. Janet is excellent company, and although Leo the cat plays a starring role, I'm happy to report that Leo does not eclipse Jay the Aussie, who has become one of my favorite fictional dogs. Indeed, if Jay ever needs to move out of the pages of Sheila Boneham's mysteries and into a nonfiction house, he'll be more than welcome in mine. Five stars for CATWALK!" ~ Susan Conant, Author of BRUTE STRENGTH and other novels in the Holly Winter series of Dog Lover's Mysteries


and now....JAY!
Photo Jay courtesy of: Cheryl Ertelt

R: Hello, Jay and welcome. Describe a typical day in your life.

Jay: Wow! Thanks ROCCO! I know you don’t usually interview dogs, so I’m happy to be here! Every day is different, you know? Mornings are so exciting because A NEW DAY! Yeah! New things to smell, new things to eat! As the protagdog of the Animals in Focus mysteries, and Janet MacPhail’s best buddy/guardian/playmate/footwarmer/crumb-picker-upper, I’m a very busy dog, and my days are just never the same. Especially when Janet does what our friend Goldie calls “sticking her nose in” things (which is ridiculous when you think about it, since people noses don’t seem to be very good—sorry, but it’s true). Busy busy! Woof!

R: How did you and Janet get together?

Jay:You mean we haven’t always been together? Oh, sure, I’ve heard the stories…my breeder sold me to some dopeydoodle who neglected my education and let me get fat and then gave me back to my breeder when I was all grown up, and she was going to keep me and then Janet saw me and I saw her and we fell head-over-tails in love and I came to live with Janet. But I don’t remember any of that. I think it’s hooey. Yeah, I’ve always been with my Janet.

R: Tell us about all the cats in your life – what interesting ones you’ve met recently!

Jay:Oh cats! I love cats! I have a cat! My cat is Leo and he’s lots of fun and very brave. (Except puleese tell him to stop sticking his sharpclaws in my cheeks and licking my lips after I eat because it hurttickles!) I see lots of cats when I take Janet for her walks. Cats here, cats there. I don’t know their people names but there’s Scourge of Chipmonks down at the corner, and Leave Me Alone with her hissyface over on Smells Like Rabbits Street. I smell a lot more cats than I see, and I see cats I can’t smell because they’re looking out their window. But I love cats! Hey—you’re a cat! I love you! Woof!

R:  Tell us about your latest adventure, CATWALK – how does it feel to star in a book with a “cat” in the title?

Jay: (See previous answer!) But seriously, it’s fine with me. I think that title is a sneaky play on the dogwalk obstacle in agility. I love agility! Oh, yeah, so the book. People seem to think books and people have to be all dog or all cat but that’s just silly. Diversity! That’s what I say. My cat Leo was an important part of my other investigations, and I do help save some kitties—awwww!—in Catwalk. And I’ve been training and competing with Janet for a long time so it’s only fair that Leo gets to go to a show. Shhhh—don’t tell him because I’ll never hear the end of it, but I’m kind of proud of the little booger. Woof!

R:  How do you cope with Janet’s penchant for getting involved with murder?

Jay: Janet? She never murdered nobody. She would NEVER do that except maybe somebody that hurt me or Leo or Drake or Tom or Goldie or puppies or kitties. Then I think she’d bite their butts! Oh, wait—you mean those investigation things. Sometimes I help! I can track things (since Janet’s nose is sort of dysfunctional) and sometimes I warn her about badpeople (her hearing’s not so hot, either), and sometimes I have to stop a badpeople or save somebody. I can cope with anything if Janet is there.

R:  What do you love most about Janet?  Dislike most?

Jay: Janet’s perfect! I love Janet! She gives me yummy doggydinner and yummy doggybreakfast and yummy carrotsnacks and yummy goodies when I do good. I don’t dislike anything about Janet except maybe that sometimes she doesn’t take me with her when she goes somewhere and that bites. But she comes home! And I get to be with her! I love Janet!

R: So tell me how you feel about this woman, Sheila Boneham Webster? Does she portray your adventures accurately?

Jay: I a little embarrassed, but my reading skills are pretty minimal. I mean, once in a while I sneak in some practice, but I have to sniff out the words very slowly, so I haven’t read the books. I did get to listen in the car to somebody reading Drop Dead on Recall and The Money Bird, and the parts about me were pretty good. But I don’t dwell too much on the past, ‘cause, you know, I’m a dog! Woof!

 R:If you could change one thing about Janet,  what would it be?

Jay: Can I change two things? She would feed me as much as I want to eat, and she would take me everywhere she goes. Woof!

R:  Any chance of your getting a “sidekick” in these stories- like maybe a handsome tuxedo cat – anytime soon?

Jay: Cats wear tuxedos? I did not know that! I’d say Leo is my sidekick, but I think he’d side kick me for sure since we’re really more equal partners with different skill sets. Ha! I love that—skill sets. I heard that on TV. But back to those tuxedos—do you wear a tuxedo? I wear a collar, but I think my blue merle fur is prettier than peopleclothes. Wow—cats in tuxedos! Woof woof woof!


Thanks, Jay, for an interesting interview!
Leave a comment and your name will be in the basket for a free autographed copy of Drop Dead on Recall, The Money Bird, or Catwalk! One winner will be drawn at random on September 10.  Be sure to add your email address so we can get in touch with you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ROCCO interviews...AMANDA FLOWER!


Meow, my guest today is author Amanda Flower!



Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as Isabella Alan.



R:  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

 I’ve always been a story teller even as a very small child, but when I was in sixth grade I decided to be an author after reading a funny story I wrote to my class and the class laughed. I knew I want to write stories to make people laugh.


R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?

 Nevada Barr, Earlene Fowler, and Janet Evanovich. My writing voice isn’t like these ladies, but I enjoy how distinctive their writing voices are. I hope mine is too.


R: Tell us about your Latest Release?

 My newest book is called Murder, Simply Stitched. It’s the second in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series, which I write as Isabella Alan.


When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone....


Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.


R: What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m writing my third middle grade mystery in the Andi Boggs Series for Zonderkidz/HarperCollins. The first novel, Andi Unexpected, was nominated for an Agatha award.


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

I got my agent through a referral from a friend who was already a client of the same agency. Before she signed me, I met with her in person, and we hit it off right away. Signing with her was the best decision I’ve ever made as a writer.


The day I sold my first book was one of the best of life. There was lots of jumping up and down and squealing. I hope I never forget what that felt like.


R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

 My laptop and caffeine… lots of it. I like unsweetened ice tea best.


R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

 Wow, that’s pretty tough because I love history, but since I just sold a new series to Midnight Ink about a Civil War reenactment, I think I would pick the Civil War. What an interesting time, but I think it was a sad time to be alive too.


R:  If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?

I think A Plain Death would make a good movie. I would want Emma Stone to play my lead character computer whiz, Chloe Humphrey, and Ryan Gosling should play former Amish carpenter Timothy Troyer. Yep, Ryan Gosling would make an excellent Timothy.


R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been one for over fifteen years. However, since I write a few Amish mystery series, almost all of my characters eat meat.


R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 

 traveled to Israel and Jordan alone. It was amazing but had some scary moments too.


R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

Entertainment and a few hours of enjoyment.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Panster, much to my dismay.

R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

I like to swim, hang out with my family and friends, and travel. I love going to new places.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?



I tweet too @aflowerwriter

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Don’t give up. Keep beating your head against the door to publishing. It will eventually give.

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Night

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I love both, but cat. I have two cats.

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Iced tea

Favorite Book?  Charlotte’s Web

Favorite TV Series?  Gilmore Girls

Favorite Movie?  Double Jeopardy

Favorite Actor: Gregory Peck

Favorite Actress: Ashley Judd

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Beatrix Potter

If I had just one wish, it would be to have more time with my friends and family.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I’m happy with my life.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Author Kaye George in the hotseat!


Don't forget our shelf giveaway!




Kaye George, Agatha-nominated mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat debuting in September (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.



R:  Hello Kaye!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
 I’ve always been a story teller. Before I could write words, I described my drawings with elaborate stories. My mother inspired me to write fiction, though. She told me she had always wanted to, and would get ideas, but never developed them or wrote them down. I write because she wanted to, and because I was born making up stories.
R: Tell us about your FAT CAT series! The first one is to be released in September – can you share details with us?
 The star of the series is Quincy, a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. Here’s the back cover copy for FAT CAT AT LARGE:
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.
R: Is “Quincy” modeled after any cat in particular?
 As soon as I started writing about Quincy, I began channeling Agamemnon, the last rescued feral that we had. He was, I think, the smartest cat in the world. If he had possessed thumbs, he could have conquered the world, opened doorknobs, and maybe written fiction. He loved to play Elf Bowling on the computer. If I asked him if he wanted to play, he jumped into my lap. I would help him press the space bar and he would patiently wait until Santa Claus popped up at the end of the game. Then he would bat at him.
R: As Kaye George, you write other mysteries. Can you tell us about those?
 Of course! I am juggling three other series. I started the Imogene Duckworthy humorous series when I lived in Texas. Saltlick is modeled after the town we lived in outside Wichita Falls (called Wymee Falls in the books). Immy wants to be a private eye detective, but she goes about it all wrong. Somehow, her bungled actions lead to discoveries of crimes that are so far not even known to the police. She also manages to uncover murderers. Immy was called, by one reviewer, a combination of Lucille Ball and Inspector Clouseau.
 Two others have only one entry so far, but more are planned and partially plotted and written.
The Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries feature a young woman who is a composer, working on her master’s thesis in classical music, in the first book, EINE KLEINE MURDER, with a goal of conducting. She retreats to her grandmother’s idyllic rural Illinois lake cabin to write, but discovers her beloved Gram’s body instead.
The last series is the People of the Wind. These are a small band of Neanderthals and the setting is 40,000 years ago. Enga Dancing Flower and her sister, Ung Strong Arm, were adopted into a tribe as infants. When the leader is slain, in DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, suspicion falls on Enga and the tribe begins to argue. A new Ice Age is approaching and game is getting scarce. They must have a new leader and Enga must find the killer for her, and her tribe, to survive.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I’ll leave out the hundreds of rejections to my queries over a ten year period. That’s what led to eventually submitting the above novels to small presses. This also led to publication, which was terrific. But I still kept trying to get an agent.
 I narrowed my focus and set my sights on an agency with a great success rate, one that placed a lot of cozies that were prominently displayed in bookstores. I learned that the procedure was to submit a proposal to the agency. This consists of three polished chapters and a detailed synopsis, complete with ending, plus ideas for two more books in the series. In other words, the novel is plotted out and begun before you submit. I sent several of these to BookEnds Literary and all were rejected. I got to know some writers connected with them and learned of upcoming projects. (Some series are initiated by and accepted from the writer, some are the ideas of the publisher.) I submitted for them, too. I even became a BookEnds candidate for a Berkley Prime Crime project, but the editors at BPC picked someone else.
Finally, another project came along that I thought I could do, but I was so weary of plotting and beginning projects that were dead on the floor of my computer. CHOKE had been nominated for an Agatha award by then and was well-received, so a friend suggested I submit that instead of a proposal. I thought, well, the worst I can get is another rejection. On the strength of my writing in that novel, I acquired Kimberly Lionetti for an agent.
As for first call, the most vivid is for the first short story I sold. I believe I got $7 for it. But the fact that someone liked my writing well enough to publish it sent me screaming all over the house. I read the email and literally jumped up and screamed. For days afterward, it would occur to me that I was finally going to be a published author and I would start screaming again. Luckily, no neighbors called the police.
  
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
 I just need time and quiet. I would like a LOT more time in each day. There are files full of too many ideas for me to write in this lifetime, so there’s no problem there.
 I use a spreadsheet, for novels, that I’ve developed over the course of the several I’ve written. I rely on it completely. I have a tab for characters and columns for age, description, role, vehicle, etc. I have a timeline tab to keep track of what events fall on which day. That sheet has columns for the main characters so I can keep track of where they are and their movements, and notice that, if they haven’t appeared for too many chapters, I need to add them in.
Short stories tend to pop up fully formed, or nearly. A few times I felt I was taking dictation from the character. Those were mostly unchanged from the first draft and are some of my favorites.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
 Since I got so interested in Neanderthals, and since I made up so many things about them, I’d like to go back and check my theories. Many conflicting theories exist about these people, which means that I’m able to pick which ones suit my story. But it would be fun to see exactly what they were like.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I was extremely shy as a child. In high school I had a few close friends, but was afraid to speak to anyone else for fear they wouldn’t speak back. That was exacerbated by the fact that I was the smartest one in many of my classes (which made me disliked, I always felt) and I played in the orchestra (not the cool band).
As a freshman in college, I was lonely and miserable. After considering and rejecting suicide (because it would disappoint my Aunt Kathryn too much), I observed others, especially outgoing people, and studied them. Finally, it became apparent that I could say hello to people and they would actually say hello back. I started engaging people in conversation. Today I think most people would consider me outgoing and I still like to talk to strangers and learn about them.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
 Break into the high school. The Tri-City Youth Symphony was on Saturday mornings. It was Saturday morning and I had left my violin at school. It was my week to drive the carpool and one of us decided “we” could get my violin. We found a window opened a crack and they boosted me up to get into the instrument room. I snatched my violin, piled up some tympani or tuba cases (or something big) and climbed back out.
Monday, at school, they told us there had been a break in and money was taken from the office! We never told what we did. Maybe the thief got in the window we left open, who knows?
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I want to entertain people. To take them away from the real world. There is a lot of misery and unhappiness and the news isn’t often very uplifting. I love to make people laugh. That’s good medicine.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m finishing up the second Fat Cat book, FAT CAT SPREADS OUT. A county fair is involved, and a lot of butter. There will be a third in this series. I may be able to finish up a nearly-done sequel in the Carraway series before I start number three.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot in the beginning. I have to have a framework to hang my words on. Inevitably, the characters and the plot take off and veer from my original plan, but the main parts are there for stability.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
 Read. A lot. Find other writers. Get critiques from people who aren’t fond of you. Or at least who aren’t related to you. For me, the other writers I rely on are the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. This was important to me when we moved from Dallas to the boonies and I left my book group and my critique group.
The most important trait of a published writer, besides some talent and hard work (and all that reading), is persistence. It is not at all easy to get published, if you want someone else to publish you.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  I’m a night person.  I can’t do anything coherent before noon.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I can’t answer this. I love them both! I mourn every single one we’ve ever had. They don’t live long enough.
Beach or Pool?   If you had said Mountain, I would choose that. I’m not much of a swimmer and don’t get along with a lot of sun.
Steak or salad?  Can I have both? With a baked potato and sour cream? Sounds like my ideal meal.
Favorite Drink?  I’m torn between Dr. Pepper and Cutty Sark.
Favorite Book?  Can’t do it. Waaay too many.
Favorite TV Series?  I like the old funny sitcoms. Nowadays I hate to miss Jeopardy!
Favorite Movie?  I don’t think I can answer this either. Whichever one I saw last that made me laugh and cry.
Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp.
Favorite Actress: Maybe Sandra Bullock.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Scotch and water, please.
Hawaii or Alaska? I yearn to take the Alaska cruise.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be __one (or both) of my grandfathers, whom I never knew.
If I had just one wish, it would be__the usual, world peace. Since that’s probably not possible, a modest lotto winning, say 4 or 5 million.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __There have been people in the past that I wanted to trade places with, but I always eventually realized that person had as many problems as me. I like being me.
Thanks Kaye!
Folks you can find Kaye at:
My two webpages:
My three blogs:
Kaye George
http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/
http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/
Janet Cantrell
http://janetcantrell.blogspot.com/
My Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/kaye.george

My Facebook author page
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kaye-George/114058705318095
Twitter
https://twitter.com/KGeorgeMystery/
Pinterest
http://pinterest.com/kayegeorge/
My Amazon page
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004CFRJ76

Send an email to kayegeorge@gmail.com and I’ll add you to my newsletter!
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