Kate M. George – California Schemin’

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is California Schemin’, the second in the Bree MacGowan series. Bree, an independent, sassy Vermonter is in California with her latest man. While Beau creates fabulous masonry, Bree is filling her free time with photography, and if the truth be told, she’s ready to go home. While taking pictures at the river one day a woman literally falls out of the sky and lands in the river.

Okay, the woman falls off the Foresthill Bridge, but as it’s one of the tallest bridges in the country it’s like she fell out of the sky. Madcap mayhem ensues.

Tell us something about yourself.

This is a really unfair question. I’m old. If I really tell you about myself it will take pages. And then everyone will know I’m old. And it will be obvious that I ramble.

What do you mean they’re going to know that anyway?

Joking aside, I’m a native Californian but I live in Vermont now. I like Vermont, it’s quiet. Quiet leaves a lot to the imagination, which is good for me. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I took about a twenty year break from fiction before Moonlighting in Vermont was published. I have a husband, four kids, three dogs and a cat. I’m busy! We share our 200 year old farm house with all kinds of uninvited critters.

What inspired you to write this book?

When I finished Moonlighting in Vermont I knew Bree’s story wasn’t over. She’s got at least a couple of more books in her. Dead bodies keep finding her, and then there’s the question of her love life. Beau Maverick is a great guy, but can he handle the heat? This is something I need to find out. So California Schemin’ had to happen. Bree wasn’t going to let me stop.

How did you choose the title?

California Schemin’ is a take off on California Dreamin’ – which I think is by the Mommas and the Poppas. I could be wrong. I like titles that take something familiar and twist it. And I figure if it sounds catchy to me, maybe my readers will find it interesting too.

The first book Moonlighting in Vermont was named from the Willy Nelson song Moonlight in Vermont. Actually, I don’t think he wrote it. Just sang it. But it’s perfect because Bree has to work two jobs to make ends meet. That’s not unusual here in Vermont. Not many big cities around.

The working title of the third Bree novel is How Much is that Dead Guy in the Window. I ran out good song titles with state names in them.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

Moonlighting in Vermont hadn’t sold well enough for my publisher to take on California Schemin’. That was pretty disappointing. So I cried. I wrote my woes to my online friends and acquaintances. Being the wonderful people they are, they bought up enough copies of Moonlighting that my publisher agreed to publish California Schemin’. Getting published has never been easy. I was very lucky with Moonlighting in Vermont, it only took me a year to sell it. Persistence is the key.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I was always a huge reader. I wandered around the library wondering what it would me like to have my name on the spine of one of those books. I’ve always expressed myself on paper, I wrote out my woes and heartbreaks when I was a teen. I think it’s only natural that I became a novelist. But before I became a novelist I took a twenty year hiatus from fiction.

I probably wouldn’t have started again except that one day my friends and I were discussing a best selling author. I had the audacity to say that I could write a book like that. My friends, being who they are, dared me to do it. I had to start writing again or eat my words. I don’t like eating words so I wrote the book.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I don’t have any rituals but I have a writing rule. If I have a free moment I write. Seven minutes is long enough to write a short scene. As busy as my life is I can’t pass up blocks of time, even if they are small, otherwise the books will never get written.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Oh Lord. It’s torture. Every time I’ve inserted a name as a place holder I’ve ended up stuck with it. It’s hard to think of names that aren’t overused. Original, but understandable. Pronounceable!

I want a name that people can relate to, immediately know if it’s a guy or a girl, but is original. It’s a tall order. I sometimes get help from friends who are especially good at the name game.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have taken the twenty year hiatus. I would have kept writing through college, when the kids were little, all the time. I would be further now, and my writing would be better.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I love to read books that make me laugh. Like a lot of people, I already have plenty of stress in my life. Reading sad, violent, or overly serious books doesn’t give me what I need from my limited leisure time. My favorite authors are Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie. Ms. Evanovich because she can make me laugh even in the blackest moments of my life, and that is truly a gift. Jennifer Crusie writes the most interesting characters and compelling stories. She is the queen of snark, which also makes me laugh and I get pulled so far into her stories that I forget that I’m not the leading lady of which ever book I’m reading. She’s the writer I’d most like to emulate.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m working on two books right now; the sequel to California Schemin’, tentatively called How Much is That Dead Guy in the Window, and Glimmer Girls, a paranormal romance about a woman who is born with fish scales on parts of her body.

In Dead Guy, Bree and her hairdresser, Denise, find a body in the hair salon. Strangely enough there are diapers duct taped over his wounds. Peril and hilarity ensue. Richard Hambecker from California Schemin’ will be back as a foil for Bree, as will Moose Moore. This should be another fun romp through Vermont.

Glimmer Girls is about coming of age and taking control of your own life. Clara Delamare breaks away from her exploitive mother to build her life away from the TV coverage of her childhood, but it’s hard to develop true relationships when you are keeping a huge secret.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I subscribe to the ABC method of writing. Apply butt to Chair. You can’t be a writer unless you write. That means making time everyday to get words on paper – or screen. Personally I live with a daily word count. It’s my goal for each day. The number of words I chose for my goal runs from 500 to 2500 a day. Occasionally I’ll jump it up to 5000, but that can be very hard to achieve. I try to keep my goals reasonable or I’ll get discouraged.

My current daily word count is 500 words. It’s small, but doable in even the most stressful or busy periods of my life. While I’m promoting my next release, working a second job full time, and taking my kids to their after school activities 500 words is about all I can expect of myself. When I’m done promoting California Schemin’ I’ll go up to 1500 or 2500 words a day.

It doesn’t really matter how many words you decide on. What’s important is that you make the commitment to write everyday, whether it’s 100 words or 5000.

I have two favorite sayings:

Life Rewards Action

Don’t Postpone Joy

They pretty much sum it up for me.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

People who like fast paced, fun mysteries that are character driven and don’t have a hard edge. There is usually some sex so age-wise it would be eighteen and up. My readers are predominately female who enjoy reading and laughing, but there are a few guys that like the combination of sex and hi-jinks.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

My website is www.kategeorge.com. There are book trailers, blurbs and sneak peaks – and usually a free book or story give away. My blog is there too.

Award winning writer, Kate George, is the author of Moonlighting in Vermont and California Schemin’ (due out March 1, 2011). She lives in Vermont with Dogs, kids, and currently, snow. You can reach her at www.kategeorge.com. Her books are available at www.mainlymurderpress.com, Amazon.com or can be ordered from any bookstore.