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Monday, October 1, 2012

Kate George Guest Post: Crazy Little Thing Called Dead

One of the best parts of being an author is that (if you're lucky) you end up with a lot of author friends. I first "met" Kate George when we were both part of a great online group started by Lani Diane Rich (another fabulous author)--The Betties. Raise your hand if you're a Betty! [My nickname was Witchy Betty, for obvious reasons.]

Later on, Kate and I got to be roommates at the New England Chapter RWA Conference in Salem, where I discovered that not only was she a terrific writer, but an all-around cool chick. Since then, I've gotten to read some of her work in progress, and of course, her first two published books. The third in the series is out now, and I asked her if she'd like to come share a little bit about it with all the cool people who hang around here :-) Isn't that a great cover? (And I love the title...)

Crazy Little Thing Called Dead: The Song and Dance

When Deb asked me if I wanted to guest blog I asked: “What would you like, a blog post, an interview, song and dance?” 

Deb wrote back “I’d like the song and dance…” [Deb's note: really, she should know better]

Luckily the song and dance is what I’m best at.

The publisher of my first two paperbacks, Moonlighting in Vermont and California Schemin’, didn’t do much editing. I wrote the book the best I knew how and if she liked them she published them. She had a copy editor go through them, but there were no major revisions.

I decided to do things a little differently this time. I’m going Indie – releasing both the paperback and the e-book myself. That being the case I hired an editor to do a read through for content, plot line, character, stuff that’s really important for a good book.

And because I hired a good editor, who is tough and wants me to improve my game, I found myself in revision hell for the first time in my life. I’d never had to seriously alter a book after it was finished before. At one point in the process I seriously doubted I’d be able to make it work. But I carried on, slogging through, cutting scenes left and right. Crossing my fingers that I wasn’t totally destroying the story. I probably re-wrote half the book.

I took two days off from the day job when it was clear I wasn’t going to finish in time if I didn’t.
And I did it. I revised that sucker to within an inch of its life. I think it’s a stronger story. I know the characters’ motivations are stronger, clearer and they have a reason for everything they do, and it’s not just because it makes the story work.

The problem is with all that revision I might have missed something. Some odd plotline may not have gotten resolved. Some name change that might have got missed. I have a copy editor; I’m not worried about that. But what if, in all the cuts and moves and do overs I left something that should have been cut, or cut something that should have been left. It’s a little intimidating.

There’s one other thing. I did something in this book that could make readers hate me. That scares me a lot. It had to happen, in order for Bree to get mad enough to take revenge it had to happen. But some readers are not going to like it. I may lose readers over it. That’s kind of scary for me.

I know Donald Maass says to take your characters and put them in the worst possible scenarios. Make them survive horrific things. I did that, and now I’m scared. Readers might decide I’m not reliable. But the story is strong. The motivations are strong; the writing is clear and to the point.

This is where the song and dance comes in. If I tap dance loud enough, sing well enough maybe I can distract my readers just enough that they forget I committed a heinous act and put my characters through hell.

From Deb: So, what do you think? Is it okay for an author to do terrible things to her characters? 

If you want more info about Kate, you can check her out here:

Here's her author page on Amazon Kate George Author Page 
And here's where you can find the new book! Crazy Little Thing Called Dead


  1. Now I'm nervous about what heinous act occurs in the book!

    As long as the character torture is organic to the book and necessary to amp up the tension and cause other things to happen, and as long as the character isn't broken, we can put up with a lot. I did stop reading one author because of a heinous act she committed in a book in a series I read. She felt it was necessary. I didn't and I felt betrayed. I just don't read her anymore. But she's still very popular. So I wouldn't worry if I were you, Kate. You could lose one or two readers but gain a couple of dozen for your powerful plots and no-holds-barred approach, who knows.

    Congrats on the book, btw!

  2. I haven't read the book since it was revised. It's on my kindle and will be my next read.
    There's heinous acts and then there's Diana Gabaldon. Tell me you didn't do a Gabaldon. I swear she asks someone - hey who was anally raped in the last book - was it Jamie or Claire? Then she anally rapes the other one in the current book.
    Somehow I don't think you did that and I think I can follow Bree a lot of places.

  3. Nope. Rape is one place I will not go. It's just too far from the tone of my books, and personally not something I care to write about.

    There is just one really dark scene, well okay, two really dark scenes. The first is necessary for the second, and the second is necessary for Bree to complete her character arc.

    I hope you all enjoy the book!

  4. Got the book for my Kindle a few days ago--it's my treat once I finish these editing gigs.

    I agree with Maass--you can build character arc with awful situations and seeing your characters through them in a reasonable and believable way. I'm not worried about Bree, Kate--you've got her back!

  5. It is rare that I haven't forgiven a writer for a dark scene. To be honest, if the writer is good, I can accept it, even if I don't like it. If a writer is not good, I probably don't get far enough in the book to read that part. The older I get, the less patient I have become with books that aren't working for me. Diana Gabaldon is a great example of this. She had a torture scene in the first book that I found pretty hard. I'm a huge baby when it comes to torture, but I loved that book. I haven't read much of her since. But I still recommend her constantaly to readers looking for a great romance. I'm sure your readers will be right there with you. Skye is right, you may lose a few but that is about personal taste and stress thresholds. You can't do much about that.

  6. You know what they say..."You have to hurt your darlings..."

  7. It's good to put a character through the mill - necessary, even. When I'm reading I can put up with most things as long as they are necessary to the plot and/or character development. The only thing I won't put up with is gratuitous violence to animals just for the shock value - I've given up on a writer or two who did that.

  8. Fun interview...ah, song and dance routine. : ) Congrats! on the release. I ordered it to my Kindle but can't read it yet as I'm deep into another that I need to review, plus I'm wrestling edits.

    I got my cover artwork on the first book in the romantic suspense series late last night. It has similarities to your cover, Kate. Except for one rather gory dead arm just chillin on the desert floor. Ah covers, you gotta love 'em. ; )