Story and Horse

Mysteries & Mashups with Kirsten Weiss

July 09, 2022 Season 1 Episode 37
Story and Horse
Mysteries & Mashups with Kirsten Weiss
Show Notes Transcript

Mysteries & Mashups with Kirsten Weiss

Bigfoot and gnomes? A town with huge, oversized objects? Kirsten shares her writing inspirations including accidental encounters and unusual challenges. With over 50 books to her name, she's a master of the cozy mystery genre, and writes across several of the subgenera. You'll find her characters in tea shops, a paranormal museum and, in her first book of her new series, Big Shot: Part 1 of The Big Murder Mysteries, her heroine Alice lives among everyday objects that are the completely wrong size. Join us for a delightful creative conversation!

Kirsten Weiss' Bio:
Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop.
Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page…

Connect with Kirsten Weiss:
Website: https://kirstenweiss.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenweiss/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirsten.weiss/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kirsten-Weiss/e/B007EG2ZD8
Big Shot on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B096HXVM3X

Host Hilary Adams is an award-winning theatre director, coach, equine-partnered facilitator, and founder of Story and Horse. She is all about supporting creative expression and sharing stories with the world.

Connect with Story and Horse
www.storyandhorse.com
Facebook: @storyandhorse
Instagram: @storyandhorse

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Intro:

Welcome to Story and Horse, a podcast where we hear stories from creative lives. Meet new people, hear about their challenges and triumphs, and get inspired to move forward with your creativity. Now, here's your host, Hilary Adams.

Hilary Adams:

Hello, thanks for joining me here on the Story and Horse Podcast. Glad to have you listening. I'm your host, Hilary Adams. I'm a coach, theater director and founder of Story and Horse, where I coach people to help them remember, activate and expand their creativity out into the world. I also offer opportunities to work with horses as co- coaches both virtually and in person. Here on the podcast we meet people living creative lives, hear their stories and gather inspiration for our own creativeness. Today we're joined by Kirsten Weiss kissin is a writer and author of over 50 books. And she writes funny action packed mysteries with complicated heroines. Kirsten, thanks so much for joining me here today.

Kirsten Weiss:

Thank you for having me.

Hilary Adams:

Yeah,um, can you start us off by sharing who you are and what you're up to?

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, um, short story is I'm a mystery writer. The longer story is I've always wanted ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a mystery writer. But I didn't go into it right away. I ended up getting an MBA in international management working overseas for about 20 years, mostly in developing effect almost entirely in developing countries doing this weird thing called microfinance where you make tiny little loans to people who have little businesses, maybe a stole the bizarre. And it gave me a lot of relief and interesting experiences. But when I got back to the United States feeling like I worked in Afghanistan, I could work anywhere. The American job market said, No. We don't know what to do with you. So I knocked around for a couple of years bouncing from one job to the other trying to figure things out. And finally, at my darkest moment, that dark night of the soul, I thought, You know what, I've got nothing better to do. I've got no other options. I'm going to try to do my childhood dream and write a book. And so I did write a book. And it was really terrible. But I learned from that. And I kept writing because I couldn't find a long term career. And actually, and I loved it. I really it was, my childhood self was right, I needed to be a writer. And so I kept trying and failing and trying and failing. And eventually I started getting good enough. Or I got I finally got smart. And I got an editor who taught me a college, college years worth of material and creative writing. And now I'm writing full time, and I actually am earning enough money to live on with this job.

Hilary Adams:

Wow. Congratulations. Thank you. Awesome. So tell us about your books.

Kirsten Weiss:

Oh, well, I write. Alright, mystery novels. I write what they call a cozy genre. So with cozy mysteries. They're not usually of an amateur detective. They're really kind of bloodless. I mean, somebody's killed because it's a murder mystery, but you don't see it happening. And it's not you know, super gory. So it's a cozy murder. It's a nice warm and fuzzy fluffy murder. It typically they happen in small towns and there's heavy all sorts of quirky characters. There's frequently an animal like the the amateur detective might have some, you know, irritating cat or some, you know, silly dog, or something's happening with the animal. And so it's really, a lot of it's about community and connections and an escape into this weird little small town world with all the funky little funky people doing their thing. So there's a lot of comedy available in that. And then, within the cozy genre, it's gotten so big, even though nobody even people who read cozies don't know they're called cozy mysteries. But the genre has gotten so big that it's really being subdivided now into further niches. So you've got, like paranormal, cozies, a witch cozies, and all sorts of different kinds. So I do write, like, comedic cozies. And I also write witch cozies. And the witch cozies were a lot more popular than I thought they would be. But I do enjoy writing them. So that's all good.

Hilary Adams:

Can you tell us the title?

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, I've got several different series like am I straight cozy mysteries. There's At Wit's End or the Wits Ends books. I'm just starting a new cozy series called The Big Murder Mystery series, the first book, big shots coming out May 31. And then I've got my Pie Town series and then in the more pair I then I have what I call light paranormal. So the Paranormal Museum series that in a paranormal museum in central California, which is very, it's kind of in between, there's not like obviously paranormal things happening but there's weird stuff happening in the museum and the reader gets to decide if it's actually a ghost or sort of natural phenomenon. And then I've got my full on Witch Series my Doyle Witch Series and my Riga Hayward series, which is a little that's a little bit darker. It's almost like an urban fantasy mystery, but it's still not. It's still not as true to do official detective or private investigator and it's not super bloody, so it's, um, it's kind of cozy, and that's my problem is I kind of tend to cross I tend to blur and cross the lines between the niches and the genres, for better or worse, which makes it kind of hard to sell sometimes, but a lot of people like it again, it's, it's doing okay for me. So it goes against a lot of the marketing guides, let's just say.

Hilary Adams:

Is it hard to keep all your different characters and locations and plotline?

Unknown:

Characters no locations, yes. I've got a Tea and Tarot series set in the imaginary San Bormero and then I have a parent the paranormal museum series is set in the imaginary San Benedetto and I'm constantly flipping this to my editors. Like I think this is the wrong town. Oh, yeah. I really should have been smarter about names but California it's all sand this and sand that and Sam for a man who is the patron saint of heartburn, so I thought you'd be good for my tea and taro series just set in a tea room. So -

Hilary Adams:

that's fantastic.

Unknown:

There's the cozy mystery is really awesome. You've got a puzzle to solve. So it works your brain. It's not. It's not super violent. So you're not doing anything bad to your brain. I mean, for me, like, I can't watch slasher movies because my subconscious doesn't know the difference between what's happening on the screen and reality. So like, I gotta keep that away. So you got a puzzle to solve. You got a nice little escape.

Hilary Adams:

All right, any of yours and audio. Yeah,

Kirsten Weiss:

my wit's end series, which is set in a UFO themed b&b, is on audiobooks. And my I think the first four books to the paranormal museum series are an audio and my Python books are on audio as well. Yeah. And also, if I can make a shameless plug here, please. witsand books, if you go to Audible, you can get I have a three books set. So you just need one credit to get all three books if you buy the set. So look for that. If you're looking for a bargain, and most of us are these days, get the set.

Hilary Adams:

That's wonderful. Yay. Um, I have a question. I wanted to ask like authors about the audiobooks Do you get any choice on the narrator?

Unknown:

It depends on how it's done. So like my pie town and paragraph museum series, the publisher decided everything. And they sold the rights to an audiobook producer, and the audiobook producer then hired somebody. Now my Wit's End books, I published those independently, so I was able to hire the narrator, and she's fantastic.

Hilary Adams:

And it changes the especially for first person, it changes the character quite a bit.

Unknown:

Yeah, the woman, Amy, I'm gonna mispronounce her last name. So sorry, Amy. Amy Deuchler, I think is how it said, she does an amazing job and the witsand series of all the different characters, Shiva, Shiva is available. This is quite well, do you can you know who's talking? She's amazing. So I have, I mean, I could barely talk for myself. I'm a writer. I'm not the speaker. I'm so impressed that people who can do that.

Hilary Adams:

So you said that when you were a child, you wanted to be a mystery writer?

Kirsten Weiss:

Yes. Tell us about that. Well, I was a precocious reader. I started reading when I was three. My sister. She keeps reminding me she started reading when she was two. So she beat me out. But one of the first books I was reading were Nancy, Drew's and of course, yeah, when I was that was, I think about five. So I wanted to be a girl detective. And I figured out pretty quickly, that probably wasn't going to happen. So the next best thing would be then to write about girl detectives. And then I started writing those stories, but you know, you get older and these get pushed into the background and they seem silly or stupid, but that one just, it never went away. I mean, every five or 10 years or so I tried to write something and try write a little mystery. And again, they were all awful, but that's how you learn. You just have to sit down and write. Yeah, you make mistakes. And yeah, they're totally cringy when you look at them afterwards, but that's the best way to learn it.

Hilary Adams:

When you were little and you did you you said you did some writing yourself. Oh, when you were a little,

Unknown:

just yeah, my big lesson. So I won. I was nominated for a writing prize when I was, I think it was like second or third grade. For the story I'd read. And my mother told me, you have to edit it for it goes to the judges. And so yeah, so I didn't edit it. And I didn't win first prize, I got honorable mention. So that was my first lesson that you really do need to edit. Editing is a key part of writing.

Hilary Adams:

And then you learn that lesson. Again, when you started writing. Again, you have to go find an editor.

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, the editor is key. A good editor, especially not all editors are good. Unfortunately, you have to shop around. But yeah, good editor is gold. With us, I learned so much every time I put my hands in the book of a professional editor.

Hilary Adams:

When you're writing do outline or free, right, or somewhere in the middle, I do

Kirsten Weiss:

outline for me, especially with a mystery novel, because you have to plant all these clues and red herrings. And I have to know who did it in advance. Although I will admit, there was a book a couple of years ago, I wrote where I changed, who was the murderer about halfway through, but I realized it just made a lot more sense to go back. But yeah, I do need to outline I don't do a really strict or complicated outline. It's just like, a couple sentences for each chapter about what's happening and who's there and what the beats are. And that way I have flexibility to play a bit.

Hilary Adams:

Do your character surprise you? Sometimes?

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, sometimes they do. I'll be writing a character. And I don't want to get metaphysical about it. Because obviously, it's my brain doing it, but you're really into the character and who the in my head. I'm imagining it all happening. And when I'm really into that character, suddenly what I had planned for that character to do just doesn't make any sense. And she's naturally kind of in my head doing something else. And I'm typing it out. So yeah, I mean, I think they're good surprises, though, either. They're natural surprises, I think like by. So that's when I consciously write things down in my outline. That's no right and left. And it's kind of been discredited. But that's kind of more of a right brain task. And my right brain isn't always correct. So sometimes you just have to be in the flow.

Hilary Adams:

I've heard that from quite a few writers that their characters surprise them in various ways, or do you think they're not expected? Do you hear their voices in your head?

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. When I'm really in the flow I do. I think it's kind of all unraveling in my head, like a little movie that I'm typing out. Yeah, so you're, it's a blurry movie, but it's a movie.

Hilary Adams:

You're visually seeing it?

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that goes back to the location challenge the to the name, I know where they are, I just switched names.

Hilary Adams:

How many books have you written?

Kirsten Weiss:

I think I'm coming up on 50 at this point.

Hilary Adams:

Oh, that's amazing.

Unknown:

I have a pretty - . I know people who write a lot faster than I do ever writing for 10 years now. Or publishing for 10 years now, I should say. And I'm doing about five books a year. So

Hilary Adams:

are you primarily first third or mixed?

Unknown:

First person primarily lately. I've been reading more in first person I do have my Riga Hayward series is third. cozy mysteries tend to lend themselves more of a first person, it seems. It's Yes, one perspective. And it's also it makes sense because it's a mystery. So there was a suspense novel, the reader frequently will know who did it and we see the bad guy coming and the Hero, hero or heroine won't know and that causes the suspense readers like Oh, there's the bad guy. I know the bad guy is doing this stuff. But with a mystery. You don't know who the bad guy is. And the limitations of vision for the amateur detective is part of the fun so you're seeing what the amateur detective is seeing and that's it and you get to try to puzzle along with the detective who done it. And everything that that this suspense comes from the surprises to the detective as well. So different, a different way of building tension. So first person I think works quite well with cozy mysteries. But I wouldn't be averse if the situation was right the story was right to going back to like a close third person I can't ever see do for the mystery omniscient just doesn't make as much sense to me because again, omniscient knows what happened. So where's the fun?

Hilary Adams:

Right and I listened to read a couple that did this really strange combo of first and third, which really bothered me.

Kirsten Weiss:

I see that a lot with romance novels. So like the one character will be first person and then another character will be third person to kind of differ handshape between who's thinking or talking or doing the point of view? I have. I did that. I had a crossover book, I had my Riga Hayworth detective met Doyle witches. And so I had the story told for both their points of view. And I had written Rita Hayworth originally in a very close third person. So I kept whenever it was one of her scenes or one of her chapters, it was heard in third person and as well, which is I'd always written in first person, so I had the witch, first person, and that was kind of, again, clarity. So the reader immediately knew oh, we're in third person now. So this is Regus point of view or first person is Jason's point of view. So I think it works. But yeah, that was that was a big writing challenge for me to switch like that. This time. She needs to push yourself.

Hilary Adams:

I got that was alright, I didn't mean to interrupt you there. Yeah, no, that's okay. Um, when you're when you were the where does the spark of an idea I know you're in series, so maybe once it snowballs you kind of have that going, but how does that how does that spark come?

Unknown:

Well, like was my my Big Shot. The book that's coming out in the end of May? I was traveling down i 70. And I Are you familiar with Atlas Obscura? Yeah. Okay. So Atlas Obscura had the site Casey, Illinois, which has the America's biggest collection of the world's largest things. It might be the world's biggest collection? I don't know. So it's like, well, yeah, we're driving past Let's get off the road and take a look at it. And it's this weird little small town. Main Street is filled with just these giant objects. It's got giant pencil giant, you go into the knitting store, and they have the world's largest city needle and the world's largest crochet hook. The golf course has the world's largest golf tee, there's the world's biggest rocking chair, wind chimes, seesaw post mailbox. I mean, just weird stuff. And most of its on mainstream. So we were in the NIT store. And I was talking to the owner, and she says something along the lines of hey, I never thought I would live in a town like this. But I really love it. And it's just a really quirky place to live. And quirky is kind of one of the buzz words for a cozy mystery. And I was like, Ah, I have to set the mystery in a town with really big things. And I was like, okay, so you got big things, small things. So I need to have my heroine needs to be named Alice, like Alice in Wonderland, where you've got big things in the small things. So Alice, and a ton of big things like I didn't really want to put it in Illinois. I don't know Illinois, but I do know that Sierra Nevada is pretty well, so that will put it in Nevada. And we'll call it nowhere to Abadox doesn't really exist. And then I said well, I kind of been wanting to when I lived overseas, I knew a lot of people in personal protection, aka bodyguards. So I had wanted to do a bodyguard I'd written a bodyguard book. years ago, the early in my days, I wanted to have another female bodyguard so it's kind of you don't see a lot of women in that profession. say well, how do I get a woman into nowhere Nevada, because it's really not the kind of town that's going to need a bodyguard. So she has to be from there but she hasn't been there recently so she doesn't know about all weird things that's happened so it has to be a surprise for her so she's feeling kind of disconnected by the whole thing and then he just kind of a what if What would get her there and then the and then you build the story from that? Or that's how I did it at least I stuck

Hilary Adams:

on what it would be like to live in a town where all these people are it sounds so strange to be surrounded by these odd these large objects all the time. It just do you stop seeing them like probably

Kirsten Weiss:

I it Casey, Illinois. It's a really interesting story, as it was told to me, the town was dying. And you can see there's still a lot of empty storefronts, because it's just another small town that's people are leaving. And so a businessman and a local artists got together to do this to try and bring in tourists. And it worked. They had tour buses coming in and out when I was there and starting to fill in the shops again on Main Street. So it was really a wonderful, weird American comeback story. Which which I stole from my book. But I did get some credit in the back through Israel town case Illinois. If you're driving down I 70 and Illinois. Get off the road. It's not too far off the freeway. It's well worth the look.

Hilary Adams:

I bet do they have a bookstore there? We could we could have you come in writers

Kirsten Weiss:

you know I don't know. They should have a bookstore. They're the

Hilary Adams:

world's biggest book are the world's smallest, smallest book. But that's really small. I bet somebody's done a miniature

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, they have to.

Hilary Adams:

So for your writing process since you are since you're writing full time and making a living at this what is your sort of system for because creativity is obviously creativity works very well with Instructure. As we know, it helps to have boundaries and all of that. And there's a difference between being creative for, you know, for fun without deadline. You know, you're being creative and generating income. And it's based on you. Right, sitting down to writing, sitting down and doing it. So what's sort of your system? Do you have a system for that, and,

Kirsten Weiss:

yeah, I have this, I call it the pipeline method, which I got from my microfinance days, actually, where so every morning, I write a chapter, and it's usually done before nine o'clock. And then, before lunchtime, I'll take whatever time I have in between there to do some marketing work on the book. And then in the afternoon, after lunch, I'll edit another book. So I usually have three books in my pipeline, I have the book I'm working on, I have a book I'm editing. And I have a book that I finished, but I just kind of set aside for six weeks before editing, just kind of get my brain away from it. So I can look at it with fresh eyes when the editing time rolls around. And it works well for me, I'm not, I'm not necessarily recommending it for other people. But it is kind of the container system where like, I have my phone off, nobody bothers me before nine o'clock, because I'm trying to pound out that chapter. I don't always get it done by nine, sometimes I go beyond that. But the point is to get it done. And the chapter could be, the first graph could be 1200 words, it could be 2500 words, I don't care, as long as it's a complete chapter, as long as it's done. And then you know, again, the editing will happen later, I'll worry about filling it in with more detail or polishing the dialogue later, but just get this stuff down on paper, get it out, don't think too hard about it, write this write the darn story.

Hilary Adams:

Think write the darn stories is a great sort of tagline for wanting to do it. Thank you. That's helpful. I think that sometimes a lot of times people aren't, you know, our first writing around the fringes. Other work, and I've had, I had one guest say, you know, grabbing five minutes here, and there is a way to, you know, is a way to get it done, if that's what you can do you like the pipeline method? That's really interesting. Do you have software that you use for that to track that or a spreadsheet or something?

Kirsten Weiss:

No, I mean, I have a I have my calendar. Like, I have a little one page strategic plan, which it's like a strategic and an annual plan all on one page. So I know what I'm writing, I give myself roughly six weeks to write the first draft of the book, six weeks to set that book aside, and then another six weeks to edit it before it goes off to my editors at stereo press or wherever. And usually, I mean, every now and again, life throws you a curveball and doesn't doesn't work out for whatever reason, then you get off schedule, but the schedule is still there kind of holding me to it. I've got that tension of ah, I'm a week behind that yet. It can't screw around today, this chapter out. So yeah, whatever works with and again, I'm working, I'm writing full time. So yeah, I'm not writing around the fringes anymore. But I think, yeah, if you, I think it is helpful, at least for the writing, if you can, if you know, every morning at 5am, you're going to spend good, you get up early, sneak off to your table for the kids are up, and just you know, right for 30 or 40 minutes, and you have that little container around you where no one's gonna bother you, which again, isn't if you've got kids, it's not always possible, obviously. But the more you can do to make that happen, I think the easier it is to just get in the flow. Curious about the six week waiting time? Well, the six weeks that number is just because it takes me usually about six weeks to write the first draft and about six weeks to edit. So it's just kind of keeping everything even. So as like, well 666 And so that way everything's happening. I when I finished one book, then I can you know start the next book and I was you know, writing it with editing. But I mean, you can certainly I've I've like when I've written shorter pieces that only take me a month or a couple of weeks since like, well, it's then I'll let it sit for a month or two weeks. So however long it took me to write it is usually what I put it aside for editing. There's, there's no magic to it. But for me. When I write something, I know what I mean. So even if it's complete nonsense, I know what I mean because I wrote it. But then if I set it aside for a bit, I pick it up like Oh, that makes absolutely no sense. It made complete sense to me when I wrote it. And if I started editing it right after I'd written it, it would still make complete sense to me. So I need that distance. So, what? What is going on here? What is this rewrite it? Again, and that's me. Other people may be able to look at something they've written it immediately. No, it doesn't make any sense. I'm just not one of those people.

Hilary Adams:

Do you? Print? Are you writing on your computer? Your ID your typing? I'm guessing you're not writing by hand?

Kirsten Weiss:

No, I'm writing on my computer. Yeah. So usually. So my edits, I also have several different I don't just edit at once. But I have a very good friend who just edits at once and off it goes to the publisher. Yeah. God bless her. I don't know how she does it. But that's not me i. So I have multiple edits. So I'll first just edit it on my computer just kind of looking for is this making sense and picking up what I can. And I've had a little checklist of things to look for, as well as I'm editing on my computer. And then I'll print it out. And I'll do a different type of edit where I go through with highlighter pens, looking for into I have enough descript like, like description I highlight in green, so that there should be description at the beginning of each scene to set the scene, do I have enough green? Do I have enough green going through it. So it's not a bunch of talking heads during dialogue. So it's just a visual way to say, Okay, there's something missing on this page. There's too much dialogue or not enough internal monologue going on. So I'll do that to kind of get get the balance and make sure that's all smoothed out. And then I'll go through it again with another printout and waste a lot of paper. Again, with Highlighter Pens looking for I do kind of, there's Joss Whedon came out with this acronym called faster FAS t er, funny action, suspense, tension, erotic romance. And those are the six elements to create good pacing in the scene. So I try to go through again with the highlighter pens, and try to make sure that there's at least three elements in every scene. And the more the better to, to increase the pasting. And then I'll just also look at it on the Kindle. Because sometimes you catch things when it's in a different format that you wouldn't catch. Again, this is me, not telling you that you have to do this just me. But when I look at it on Kindle and read it through, I catch things that I didn't catch before. Why I don't know is a different font, is it just different glowing screen, no idea. And then eventually, it goes to the editors and they find more stuff that's wrong with it, which I will fix.

Hilary Adams:

The visual representation of the colors is fascinating. And so you can literally flip through the paper and see the see when things are lacking, or there's too much or too little of an element.

Kirsten Weiss:

Exactly, exactly. So these aren't things I've invented there. They've better smarter people than me, I've come up with this stuff, and I've run with it. But it's it works for me.

Hilary Adams:

That's a very intensive editing process, like different layers.

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, I've been told by publishers that I deliver a very clean manuscript, but they still find a lot wrong with it, which makes me wonder what other firms are getting. It's like, how can you look at this with all these problems at it and say it's clean? I don't know.

Hilary Adams:

Maybe they step up to knowing how much you maybe put into it?

Unknown:

Yeah, with all that I still get people saying there's a typo on page 232. Yes, sure. For like bedbugs. You cannot get rid of typos. They're there.

Hilary Adams:

They're everywhere. What about the artwork with your books?

Kirsten Weiss:

Um, well, if it's the publisher, the publisher, of course has their own artists. When I'm doing it myself, I have a an excellent cover designer who's she used to work for publishers as a cover designer, so she knows what she's doing. And that's, it's tough trying to verbalize what you want a cover to look like. For. I mean, that's kind of the magic of writing, I write things down. And then people bring their own understanding to it when they're visualizing what's happening on the page. So it's very much a co creative process, which is beautiful. In a book, it's more frustrating when you're trying to get the cover design, right? No, it's not what I bet but square she How would she know I could be the best writer ever. And she was still not completely get what I have in my head would not go direct to her head. But she's fantastic. And she puts up with me, so thank you. I'm very grateful.

Hilary Adams:

It's difficult with a series covers. I feel like because I know that the cozy mystery series I've seen. They have themes just like the titles have themes. And sometimes I look at the covers and I think that's not it seemed like they they sacrificed some clarity, some story clarity or story connection for the sake of the series, if that makes sense.

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, it's The covers are tough because you can't, you can't really convey what's in the book, you don't want to convey completely what's in the book, I think what the goal is, is to convey the genre so people can easily say, Okay, this is a thriller, this is a cozy mystery. This is, you know, a memoir, whatever, and also convey the tone. And that's because people when people are picking up a cozy mystery, they're reading for an emotional experience. And different kinds of people don't really want different things, obviously. But you want to know what emotional experience? Are you going to be scared? Are you going to be having a good time and this imaginary world what's going on? And it's not always easy to get that I actually had to change the cover for big shot at the very last minute. That my cover designer, she gave me exactly what she what I asked her to give her she so this is not on her at all. This is 100% on me. She gave me this really cute, kind of cartoony cover, which a lot of because you ministers have QC cartoony covers. And it was a giant mushroom and a dead body lying beside it. And then please tape around the giant mushroom. Like this is awesome. Well, I was getting early reviews, and I kept getting they were their positive reviews, but they kind of kept expressing surprise at the dark tone of the book, which surprised me like it's, there's a lot of humor in this book. Again, nobody's you're not seeing anybody being violently dismembered or that which says nobody gets violently dismembered in the back, just to be clear. So it's all Yes. Quirky, small town. What is this dark tone? And finally, somebody said, when the reviewers said the cover doesn't really match what I got from the book. So this was like April 28, the books coming out May 31. And I had a too big promotion set to go starting on May 1, there was no way I could get my cover designer to redo the one day

Hilary Adams:

24 hours.

Kirsten Weiss:

Like, oh my god, it's like, okay, so I'm just gonna try and create my own cover, which I never do, because I'm not a professional cover designer. And I know my limitations that well, I'll try something. And I'll get opinions on it. And if it's garbage, I'm just gonna have to go with the cover that I've got, let the chips fall where they make because I'm not going to put a garbage cover up. Well, I don't know how good this sounds like I'm blowing my own horn and I really don't need to do so anyways, I came up with something and I started showing the people. They said, Wow, I can't believe you got your cover designer to come up with something so fast. I was like, okay, so this doesn't look like amateur are good. And they agreed that it better. It was still kind of whimsical, but it wasn't quite so cutesy cartoony. So I think it fits. And I managed to get it out before the two big promotions went out. Although, of course, I had this book tour going all months, which was the wrong cover. But But yeah, so it's, it's tough. I mean, I'm glad I got the early reviews, because you know better to find out before the book launches at the end of the month, then have all sorts of people angry and disappointed and give me bad reviews afterward. But now I think I got some gray hairs from that experience. So it was really stressful.

Hilary Adams:

Ah, good for you for designing your emergency cover replacement.

Unknown:

Yeah, a professional cover designer probably would have done okay, better. I'm sure that would have done better than me. But again, if nobody could tell, it's like, Hey, we're good.

Hilary Adams:

It's amazing what we can do in this kind of Yeah,

Unknown:

yeah. You're asked about creativity. Desperation is the key to creativity, desperation of boredom.

Hilary Adams:

I'm completely pivoting to something entirely different. Do you still get your books? When you have a book come to us they still get delivered, like in a box that you get to unpack when you get a new book.

Unknown:

Yeah, most of my books our I'm doing my indie. So I have a I'm in an author's cooperative called Mysterio press. And the way an author's cooperative works is a half dozen other cozy mystery writers in it. And we all edit each other's books, and we all help promote each other's books, and some most people but the rest is pretty much on our own. I mean, there's like this one writer who doesn't know how to make an ebook. So I'll do that for her because she needs the help and it's easy for me to do it. But for the most part, we turn our once it goes through the editing process and these other authors. I turned it into a book myself I uploaded onto the different retailers, Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo, Google Play the works apple and then once I have my paperback made, I'll send myself a proof coffee to make sure that there's it looks the way it's supposed to look. So instead of getting like the big like I used to when I had a or traditional publisher Yeah, they sent me a box of 20 bucks, yes, but day and open it up and see what it looks like. Let it take the picture. Now it's just like, there's a book from Amazon. Let's see. Yeah, that looks pretty good. Or is it? Yeah, this is my new cover that I designed. So this is what came from Amazon. Yeah, so it's a giant Flamingo wearing a cowboy hat and a old fashioned camera around his neck, striding over some green Sierra mountains. That Canva you can do so much on camera these days.

Hilary Adams:

So you are you are self publishing,

Unknown:

I'm hybrid. So I've got a certified traditional published books out there. And then I'm self publishing as well through my authors cooperative,

Hilary Adams:

if people are looking to figure out where to go to get that done.

Kirsten Weiss:

Alright. So a couple of things. First of all, there are companies that will do that. And most of them are total rip offs. They'll charge $10,000 for something which takes realistically about 20 minutes to do. And you can even do it on a free program. So there's a program called I don't I always I've been calling it collibra But I think it's actually calibre. Why Frenchified it? Like, I can't get collibra out of my head. So free to create an ebook. It's free. See a libre. It's a great little program doesn't take long board. There's also a program, which I'm using now called Atticus, which I think is around 100 bucks, like 125. I remember exactly. And you can produce really nice, but actually made this one through Atticus. And so for example, you can put little pictures. So I have my little gunshots on each chapter page for the start each chapter. So you can do fun stuff with Atticus with with images and stuff. So I like Atticus quite a bit. It's still kind of a beta. So there's still a few bugs are working out. But they've got a very responsive help team if you run into any problems, so making the oh that I say by Atticus is not only can you make an ebook from it, but you can also make a paperback with it. So Atticus is sort of it. Again, I'm not here to promote other things, but I do like that it was quite a bit. And I like again, if you're just doing ebooks collibra is more caliber. Sorry, sorry, everybody. This I think people who read a lot tend to mispronounce a lot of things because they don't hear them pronounced. I was browsing diva diver for the longest time until somebody looked down their nose and said it's diva.

Hilary Adams:

It's not it. That's not how it's how it says in my head. That's not the way it's

Unknown:

yeah, I still want to say diver, whatever. Don't be let's not be divas about it. Call it what we want to

Hilary Adams:

thank you for those suggestions. I know you're it's just one of many but it

Unknown:

Oh, no. I guess my thing is don't pay somebody $10,000 to do it. Because it is 99.99 times out of 10 You're just being taken for a ride. They say they're gonna market it, they don't. It's just don't do it. It's better to just do it yourself. And then there are there are very reputable companies, which usually small businesses, which will help you market the book. So I would say make the book yourself. And if you need help find a book marketing company to help you do that. And they will usually have like price schedules and you can see exactly how they're going to promote you on with Facebook ads or whatever. So shop around, don't, don't get taken by one of these vanity publishers. Because that's that's what they are really, they're just, it's a rip off makes me mad.

Hilary Adams:

If everyone listening her paperback looks fantastic. So thank you. It's very professional and the bullet hole she was talking about our representations of bullet holes at the top of each chapter to add that visual interest and the marker that is the chapter switch is happening. So it's a very well presented professional book that she's holding up that she created herself with so exciting. I'm excited you have one coming out very soon, too.

Kirsten Weiss:

Yeah, me too. I put a lot into I put a lot more marketing effort into this book. So I feel like there's more riding on it. And so I'm, I'm a lot more nervous about this book than I have been about other books that have come out recently. Also, it's a start of a new series. It's like when people gonna like it, or they're gonna think it's funny. It's a little different kind of humor than my other books, which are a little bit sillier but this is more of like a weird oddball humor than some of my other stuff. So we'll see.

Hilary Adams:

So for people listening Do you have A suggestion or thought about inspiring creativity or getting unstuck with creativity, that kind of thing.

Kirsten Weiss:

I think creative mashups. So I mean, for example, I have to give an example to explain this. So is working I had to write, I'd plan to write a book in my witsand series at Christmas time. And I had been telling everybody that big this is again, my UFO BNB book. And I'd been telling people that Bigfoot was going to be involved, because, but I had, I had no idea how that was going to happen. So I have a big for Christmas, like, okay, I can make this work. And then I discovered I had to add garden gnomes to it. And I thought, There's no way I can't have Bigfoot and garden gnomes and Christmas add to you if it's just too much like, but I couldn't. If I got rid of the garden gnomes, I'd have to change the title. If I got rid of Bigfoot, I'd be going back on what I told all my readers a Bigfoot was going to be at it. And it had to be at Christmas time too. So I couldn't go back on that. And it's like, how am I going to so it was just like, I can't get rid of it. How am I going to make this work? And when I finally figured out how to make it work, it just was beautiful. I mean, it's a comedy. So it was beautiful, beautiful. But yeah, it was hilarious. And it all made sense. And it wrote so easily. But having to force myself like Bigfoot garden gnomes Christmas. Yeah, three things. They are totally ridiculous. Christmas is ridiculous. But the Bigfoot in the garden hose is pretty ridiculous. Like, how do you get all that together at Christmas time? And once I figured it out, what's he's like, it's like unlocking this puzzle. And then everything flowed. And it's whether you're writing business, the same thing like I was when I was in Afghanistan, my boss at the time. So okay, we've got, we've got to do a marketing campaign for microcredit. And it has to be in every region of Afghanistan, almost like, Oh, this is crazy to like, radio or TV, because at that time, probably still about, well, at that time, 96% of women in Afghanistan were illiterate, and our clients were women. So it's like, well, it's gonna have to be radio or TV because they can't read anything. She sells me. And we've got $1,000 to do it no slow. Well, you can't can't produce any ad for the radio for $1,000, even in Afghanistan back then, like, well, so it has to be print. It has to be a poster of some sorts is only thing we could afford to do for all the provinces. And it has to be for people who can't read prints. Like, how is this going to work. And so what we ended up doing was a cartoon, like four panels showing this woman, you know, starting out before the one, and then she gets a loan, and she's like working with a lender then after law. And then we had space at the bottom so that the institutions could write their phone number, so we would call the phone number and ask about the loan. It was hugely successful, I think, I don't think it would have been as successful if I'd done a radio ad or even a TV ad. It was so successful that people were who were doing different kinds of loans targeting a man were upset that we didn't do it for them. And so we had to do it again, with a man in the cartoon. That's like, okay, so sometimes if you force yourself into these boxes, it forces creativity. I mean, you have to wrangle it a bit. But, so creating, creating restrictions for yourself, can lead to creativity, mashing up ideas to create activity, it's always because mashing up ideas is kind of a restriction to like, how do you get big fit, and garden those together? So that's, that's my big creativity tip.

Hilary Adams:

I appreciate that. And now we're all going to be stuck thinking about garden gnomes. And you know,

Kirsten Weiss:

Bigfoot and yes, and how does that fit together?

Hilary Adams:

How do those fit together? Yeah, that's divergent thinking, which is one of the things we're now measuring with fMRI as, as a way to look at brain activity in different brain areas. When we're doing creative tasks. They're, they're using divergent thinking, like, here's a bunch of paper clips, how many ways can use paperclip, it's not as a paperclip in X amount of time. And what you're talking about was another form of that kind of divergent thinking. So if anybody's listening and they want to challenge themselves, you can pick random objects and see if you can do something with them that they're not supposed to do or in theater, we have a game that's a lot like your garden gnome game, which maybe I'll rename it the garden gnome game, where you take different you're given you know, different things that you then have to incorporate into a small scene or that kind of thing. Yeah, it forces it. Now we all want to know what happened. I'm not gonna ask you to

Unknown:

Well, the book the book is called no Malone. You want to find out what happens. novella have to

Hilary Adams:

ask why mystery. I know that when you're a kid, you read the Nancy J Series and that inspires I heard you, but what is it about mysteries?

Kirsten Weiss:

I think, for me, and for a lot of people, the mystery is resolved at the end. And the criminal is brought to justice. And so there's this beautiful sense of closure and all is right with the world at the end, which, unfortunately, isn't our reality. Murders go unsolved, bad things happen to good people, and there's no resolution to it. But in the book, you can, and especially as the reader, as you're reading along and trying to figure it out, I think subconsciously, you're kind of part of putting it all right, like making making the universe flow again the way it should be. So I think that's what what the big appeal is.

Hilary Adams:

So for people who want to reach you, what are ways that they can connect and find your books,

Unknown:

the best way is through my website at kirstenweiss.com There's a there's a contact form there. And that goes straight to my email. And the reality is I I'm just not, I promote things on social media, but I'm not on social media that much, because I'd rather be writing and editing my books and spending a lot of time on social. But I do check my email every day. And I have a compulsion to answer emails. So if you can go to my website, fill out the contact form, I will, I will answer you.

Hilary Adams:

And people can purchase your books through your website, the links are there.

Kirsten Weiss:

The links are all on my website. I'm also Amazon. I've got an author page there and you can find all my books there. I'm on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play Apple books. And you can find my Python series in Barnes and Noble bookstores.

Hilary Adams:

So I think it's a magical moment when authors get to see their hardcopy you know, their their actual physical books in a bookstore. I know. Passion now, but I still think it's a magical thing.

Kirsten Weiss:

No, I love it too. I love having my books and bookstores because not everybody buys stuff online. And so people like I do love the enjoy the experience of going into a bookstore and just the smell the books and the browsing the aisles. What is this book? What is this book flipping through the pages? It's, it's a tactile delight.

Hilary Adams:

Sure, anything else you'd like to share with us?

Kirsten Weiss:

I can't think of a darn thing. But thank you so much for having me on the show. This has been really fun. Oh, sorry. I also I really love the genre, which is why I write because he mysteries because if I didn't, I can't. There's this advice to write to market which is like, oh, vampire novels are popular write a vampire novel. Well, I don't want to write a vampire novel. Not today. Maybe someday I will. But I want to write about witches solving mysteries. And you know, people who run pie shops solving mysteries, and you know, wacky little, small towns and that's what I like to read.

Hilary Adams:

Do you do recipes at all your pie people.

Unknown:

Some of the books, I recipes, my Pie Town books, I have recipes. By Tea and Tarot books. I have a lot of stone recipes and tea recipes. And they're basically here's the secret. I have a basic scone recipe. And then I just kind of add different like flavors and stuff in it. So they're all slightly different, but they're really the same recipe over and over and over again. So that way I feel like I'm I want to create a new fresh recipe for people instead of taking a recipe online and just kind of rewriting it. It doesn't feel it's very common. And I'm not saying I'm not judging, but it just doesn't feel as creative to me.

Hilary Adams:

Thank you. Kiresten It's been a real joy talking with you. Oh, thank you. Yeah. And if you want to reach me, you can reach me at story and horse.com and a Facebook and Instagram at Story and Horse and Kiersten congratulations again, on your upcoming release and tell us the name of that book again.

Kirsten Weiss:

Big Shot.

Hilary Adams:

Big Shot.

Kirsten Weiss:

So buy my book.

Hilary Adams:

So buy her book, everyone. Thanks, Kirsten so much. Thank you.

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