Edith/Maddie here, loving spring plantings – the pollen, not so much. But sneezing and itchy eyes don’t prevent me from welcoming good friend of the Wickeds, Kathy Lynn Emerson, aka Kaitlyn Dunnett, back to the blog with a new collection of her essays spanning a decade. Congratulations, Kathy Lynn. You are just amazing! And I can’t wait to read this collection.
Here’s the description: In this unique compilation of 115 essays written between 2011 and 2021, Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of over sixty traditionally-published books in a variety of genres and under several names, writes about everything from how to conquer the sagging middle of a work-in-progress to the adoption of her current cat-in-residence. Other topics highlight eccentricities—her own, a few from her family tree, and those to be found in the rural Western Maine mountains where she lives. Best known for her cozy mysteries, written as Kaitlyn Dunnett, and for historical mysteries written under her own name, Kathy Lynn Emerson has also been published in non-fiction, including the award-winning How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries. I Kill People for a Living is available in e-book and trade paperback formats.
Never Let Anything Go To Waste
Whether I’m writing under my own name (Kathy Lynn Emerson) or a pseudonym (Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kate Emerson), I’ve always been a great one for recycling. Plot ideas and bits of text that didn’t work in one project, have often been just the right fit in others. Sometimes I’m the only one who would ever recognize the connection. In other cases, successfully making use of the material was just a question of approaching it from a different angle . . . or maybe a different historical period. Because I launched my professional writing career over forty years ago, and have not (by a long shot) sold every book I’ve ever written, I’ve managed to turn lots of leftovers into new creations, but it never occurred to me until very recently that I’d mentally consigned one sort of writing to the trash when it should have gone into the recycle bin.
I’m talking about blogs. I have no idea how many of them I’ve written in all. For at least the last dozen years, I’ve done multiple guest posts every time I had a new book come out. That’s a minimum of twenty-five novels and a collection of short stories from four different publishers. I’ve also blogged at least twice a week at Maine Crime Writers since it was launched in 2011. Although I rarely thought about any of those posts once they were published, I am one of those paranoid people who backs everything up six ways to Sunday. I still had digital copies of every one of them.
It was late January when I realized that the next blog I wrote for Maine Crime Writers would be my two hundred and fiftieth at that site. That sounded like a good topic for the post, and in it I broached the possibility of collecting past posts into a book. Since I’d already been dipping my toes into the world of self-publishing (with children’s books and nonfiction), positive feedback from readers was all it took to encourage me to go ahead with the project. I even had a ready-made title, the same one I used for my very first blog at MCW: I Kill People for a Living.
I fuss over my blogs, proofreading and revising each one. I didn’t think I’d have to do much editing once I selected those I wanted to use in a collection. Boy, was I wrong! Most blogs are written in an extremely casual style, frequently containing asides and references to what is going on in the rest of the world at the time. In the distant past, I taught college freshmen how to write essays. Some revising was definitely going to be needed. Then, too, my posts about writing often dealt with works-in-progress. Did I need follow-up? Maybe add Author’s Notes? I also wondered how I was going to arrange these “essays” in the finished book and if not having illustrations, as most blogs do, would make the text less interesting.
Since I wasn’t planning to go out much for another few months and didn’t have any pending deadlines for other projects, it didn’t take me long to become thoroughly engrossed in pulling together a collection of essays. Then fate, in the person of Meredith Phillips, an editor I’d worked with in the past, stepped in to lend a hand. Meredith was going freelance and offered to copyedit a manuscript of my choosing, free of charge, as a sort of introductory offer to her services. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. Self-published books are always far better if they have been professionally edited.
The end result, I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries, is available now, online and through bookstores and libraries, in both e-book and trade paperback formats. I ended up sorting a hundred and fifteen blogs into nine categories, ranging from essays about writing books and short stories (Cozy Mysteries, Historical Novels, Miscellaneous Thoughts on Writing) to more personal topics (My Life in Books, Climbing the Family Tree) to pieces on people (real and fictional) and places that influenced me or my writing or both. I grouped material that didn’t quite fit anywhere else under Odds and Ends. And, of course, there was one other topic that rated it’s own section, since I do (mostly) write cozy mysteries. There are eight essays devoted entirely to cats.
Readers: Do you enjoy learning the story behind the story? If a book includes cats, is that a bonus for you?
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-three books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books and three works of nonfiction. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her next publication (as Kaitlyn) is the fourth book in the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series (Murder, She Edited), in stores in August 2021. As Kathy, her most recent novel is a standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things. She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen, now available in e-book format.