Thursday, May 27, 2010

Long Weekend

We have a holiday weekend coming up, and tomorrow morning I'm off to a family wedding in Chicago. Mr. Bear is staying home with the cubs.

I'm going to miss them so.

I'll think about them every time I put on nice clothes and go to grown-up restaurants (smirk).
I'll miss them as I sit quietly on the airplane (giggle, giggle).
I'll send them waves of mother-love as I write for hours without interruption (happy dance time!).

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my family, but this weekend really is a mini-vacation from the tiny tyrants.

I think I'll get the chance to read at least one good book, too. I challenge you to do the same. What will you be reading?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Believable Villains

Bad guys whose sole motivation is "to do bad things" annoy me. I've seen a lot of them over the years--more often in movies than in books. Whenever I encounter them, their unidimensional phoniness kicks me out of the story. They offend me--both as a writer and a psychologist.

If you're a writer, you need to make your characters believable.

Even the villains.

Especially the villains.

What motivates your bad guy? Greed? Revenge? Fear? Even if your villains are insane, their actions need to make sense from their own world view. The crazy homeless guy waving his arms and running down the street does it because he sees bats the size of house-cats flying at his head. They are absolutely real to him. Motivations don't have to reflect reality--they have to reflect the character's reality.

I'm revising book three of Ganzfield right now, and I need to make my bad guy's motivation clearer. It looks like revenge, but it's really fear. There's a desire to "monologue" here--the movie The Incredibles mocked that beautifully--and simply let the villain share his evil-plot-to-rule-the-world when he believes that the MC is helpless and about to die.

When in doubt, try writing a few scenes from the villain's POV. It's quite illuminating. You can also check out Gregory Maguire's Wicked or Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, if you want to see the great ones build "sympathy for the devil."

To put you on the side of the angels today, though, check out these charity fundraisers that run through the end of May:
Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes Research
My book trailer for Nothing But Nets

Yes, I know there's a problem with my homepage (not; that's fine).
Network Solutions is trying to fix whatever's wrong, FTP-wise.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Pop quiz:
Would YOU rather be an evil genius or a good-hearted simpleton?
If you had 100 points to allocate between goodness and intelligence, where would you put your points?

Are "right" decisions based on fact or feeling for you?
If you're a writer, which of these drives your MC?
Can rational thought take the place of morality?

I hope this keeps you thinking today.

BTW, I started considering this after seeing an ad for the summer reality show True Beauty. I LOVE the premise: pretty people who believe they're in a model-themed reality show are really being evaluated on who they are and how they treat other people--a.k.a., "inner beauty." I don't watch much TV, but I may have to check out the first episode of this one.

This completely unrelated video depicts one of my personal nightmares
(and the main reason my book tour is almost entirely online):

Thanks to Brenna Lyons in the Broad Universe discussion for the link.

And I got this yesterday--it made my day:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Contest Winner!

The winner of the signed copy of Minder is... Gail!

And thanks for the limerick, Misty! You're getting a signed copy, too, but you don't need to do anything...

(cue ominous music)... BECAUSE I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE.

(cue less-ominous music) ... because you're on my Christmas card list.

Gail, to claim your book, please go to and send me your mailing address through the contact form.

I feel like the prize is somewhat diminished this morning, as yesterday I found two typos *gasp!* and a few places where the paragraphs hadn't indented properly. Ugh. Looks like I'll need a second edition. It's amazing how many times I've read the manuscript and completely missed these errors. I wonder if there are more...

Grrr--bad thought. I may never sleep soundly again.

On a side note, it's amazing how many times I go onto YouTube to find something really cool and just end up looking at kitties. You've probably seen these two, but here they are again. If these are new for you, I suggest watching them in order.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Syndicated Bear

Hi folks,

As part of my publicity and marketing thing for Minder, I'm being syndicated.

Basically, that means I've got to either write a bunch of new material--or drag out some old blog posts and package them as new material. Either way, I've got some work to do.

So, today I'm going to make this a short post and simply offer a

Post a joke, limerick, or funny line in the comments section.
The best one wins a signed copy of Minder. Spread the word!

La R├Ęgles:
(No idea why I felt the need to put that in French. Maybe the coffee I'm drinking is French Roast).

Rule #1: This is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. But, since it'll cost me at least $16 to send a $12.99 book to Australia, it'd better be a REALLY good joke.

Rule B: People of all ages and sensibilities read this blog. Jokes with insinuation are fine, but please keep the
really dirty stuff in your sick, sick mind. (Peter, I'm talking to YOU). I'll have to disqualify and delete any inappropriate entries.

Rule the Third: Please post your entry by midnight (Eastern Time) on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010. I'll announce the winner by noon on Monday the 24th.

Rule Delta: Enter as often as you like.

Rule V: I'm the sole judge, but please feel free to comment on the entries!

"Minder? I don't think you've ever mentioned your book before, Kate. What's it about?"
Link to the Minder Book Trailer

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...But I Wouldn't Want to Live There

Yesterday, Nathan Bransford posted the question:

If You Could Live in the World of One Novel, Which One Would You Choose?

Most of the really amazing stories take place under terrible circumstances, though. It's like the old Chinese curse:

May you live in interesting times.

Yeah, my first choice would be to live in Minder's Ganzfield world. I kinda already do anyway--I look up from writing and THIS world seems strange and unfamiliar.

And very, very interesting.

Speaking of which, please watch the book trailer to support Nothing But Nets.

So, back to Mr. Bransford's question: where would YOU live?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Playing with Your Heads

Hi folks,

My ARCs have arrived! I'll be sending those out to reviewers in the next 24 hours. I mailed out a couple of the proofs last week, so, if you've already received a book, don't worry about a rip in the space-time continuum. We got the size wrong on this batch (7x10 inches, when it's supposed to be 6x9), but it's fixed now, and all future batches will be right.

Someday, if Minder becomes a major bestseller, these mis-sized copies will be valuable collector's items!

Anyhoo, here's something fun. Thanks to Stef for the link!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Department of Redundancy Department

I seem to be repeating myself a lot lately. Repeating. A lot. Repeating myself. Ugh.

My marketing campaign starts this week. I keep posting the same bio, and the same jacket copy, over and over.

In fact, here it is again:

About Kate Kaynak
I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I was able to escape. My degree from Yale says I was a psych major, but my true course of study was
After serving a five-year sentence in graduate school, I started teaching psychology around the world for the University of Maryland.
While in Izmir, Turkey, I started up a conversation with a handsome stranger in an airport. I ended up marrying him.
We now live in New Hampshire with our three preschool-aged kids, where I enjoy reading, writing, and fighting crime with my amazing superpowers.

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place.
Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.
A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.
And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.
But it's still better than New Jersey.
Especially once she meets the man of her dreams...

I sometimes change out the "YPMB" line, if the bio's going somewhere without link-access. But that's my life, distilled down to 100 words. Sometimes I think I'll be puttering around the nursing home in 2050, muttering about how I escaped from New Jersey. And I'll still be gushing about that book I wrote to anyone who can't move out of earshot fast enough.

I hope some of the other nursing home residents have dementia, so I'll always have a fresh audience.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Purchase Orders

I love you guys. Those of you who pre-ordered Minder from Amazon--I love you. I just had a "very special moment" in the life of an innocent, young publisher--my first purchase order.

They say you always remember your first. *sigh*

I got the order in from Seattle while sitting at my computer in New Hampshire. I sent the print order to the printer in Tennessee, who'll ship the books to the warehouse in Indiana. God Bless America and the internet.

BTW, if you want a signed copy, please preorder from the Spencer Hill Press website. It says that you have to order before the release date to get a signed copy, but I'll send you one anyway if you ask. That's the kind of love I have for you.

You can also win one in a few weeks at the Virtual Launch party--right here at The Disgruntled Bear June 14-18th. Today, I'm feelin' mighty gruntled.

So tell me, what kinds of giveaways do you want? Signed books? More t-shirts? Query critiques? Home-baked cookies? I'm up for any and all of the above--comment below to let me know your preferences.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Independent Publishing--Part 3

One thing really tipped the balance when I decided to start my own press--my research into marketing and publicity.

Marketing costs money: advertising, promotions, etc.
Publicity is free: reviews, blurbs, interviews, yadda-yadda-yadda.

The big six publishers pay for very little marketing for most debut authors. Publishing follows a business model in which they put their resources into products that are likely to earn big returns. You need to take artistry out of the equation to understand their logic--it's a business, like the music and film industries, so the executives make their decisions based on projected sales, rather than the intrinsic awesomeness of the book, album, or movie.

For many creative types, that sounds soulless and horrible. It is--it's business. The cold hard fact is that there are a LOT of talented people in the book, music, and film industries. "Talent" is a cheap raw material in these business models. A few movie stars might earn $20 million per film, but that's still a single digit percentage of the studio's expenses. Ditto for the publishing industry. They pay the top names big money because they expect to make much more money from that person's fans.

Promotion sells books. Even a wonderful book won't sell very well if people don't know it exists. Therefore, marketing is the largest chunk of my publishing budget. I requested proposals from several marketing firms, and I eventually went with the Penny Sansevieri, who literally wrote the book on internet promotion. She's had a bunch of clients on the NYT bestseller's list. I have dreams (or delusions) of joining them there.

Online marketing works with my business model because the target demographic groups for a YA paranormal romance series like Ganzfield are very internet-savvy people. I can reach thousands of readers who might like my book through online channels. I'm not planning too many in-person author events for this marketing run--they aren't cost-effective. But I set up a nice-looking website, created a book trailer, and run online promotions like the t-shirt giveaways and the charitable donations to Nothing But Nets. I carry around promotional items--postcards and stickers with the cover art--everywhere and foist them upon anyone who shows the slightest interest in my book.

There's one aspect of this whole process that may seem counterintuitive, though. I'm not aiming to make a profit from Minder. Like a drug dealer, I've made the first taste free.* The goal is to get people hooked, so they come back for more. Minder's just the first book in a series that will have at least six volumes (and I'm playing with some ideas now that may become book 7). This model wouldn't work as well with a stand-alone novel.

Happy weekend!

*It's not evil--it's just business. The first 80 pages are available as a PDF file. I'll also have a lower, promotional price for the Kindle edition of Minder after the launch date. A few of you may have noticed that the entire Kindle edition is already for sale. I'd entered the proper release date when I set things up, but it went "live" early. Premature release--I hear it happens to a lot of bookstores.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Breaking News

Part three will have to wait until tomorrow. I sat down to write it this morning, but the doorbell rang two minutes later. I ran to the door like a six-year-old on Christmas morning.

Yes, that double-chinned woman
with the wild look in her eye is

It's too hard to type while doing the happy-dance and giggling.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Independent Publishing--Part 2

OK, once I decided to sell Minder unagented, I had three options.

I could go to an existing independent press.
I could self-publish.
I could start my own indie press.

I did my research. There's a LOT of research in a decision like this. Basically, I needed to figure out what agents and publishers brought to the publication process--professional editing, formatting, cover art, distribution, pricing, marketing, publicity, etc.--and then decide how I would get those things for my book.

After checking out my choices, I decided to start my own press. And thus, Spencer Hill Press was born. It's not just for my own work, although I'm figuring out the best methods as I put Minder through the process. I'll open the press to new submissions in October--if you write YA (or New Adult) urban fantasy, please consider querying!

I filed the proper paperwork with the State of New Hampshire, adding the "Doing Business As" name to my LLC. I set up my website, and opened the proper accounts with printers, distributors, and Bowker (the ISBN assigners). I got a bank account and a credit card. I've run my own business before, so I knew the drill. I created a business model that took into account my target demographics, a realistic sales projection, and included marketing the rest of the series, since there will be at least six Ganzfield books. I gave myself a six month lead time to get the book released; I've found that to be a tight (but doable) time-frame, so I'll expand that to about nine months for future releases.

My publishing checklist has nearly 50 items.

I covered item #1 yesterday: write a book. The two most important--and expensive--remaining items were marketing/publicity and editing. I hired professionals to do both, and my company paid a premium to get really good people. I figured out that, with my expenses to date, I need to sell at least 3,400 copies of Minder before I see a profit. That's not much compared to Stephenie Meyer's 85 million units of the Twilight saga, but it's substantial when you consider that 95% of the books published each year sell fewer than 5,000 copies. How do I plan to beat the odds? First, I strongly believe I have a really, really good book. I wouldn't put in all the time, money, and emotion into a mediocre product. Second, I have an innovative marketing strategy and a great team on-board.

I'll tell you more about marketing and publicity tomorrow in part 3.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Independent Publishing--Part 1

Before I start today's post, here are the winners of the blog-jog t-shirt contest:
Warren Baldwin
Linda Henderson
Barbara M. Hodges

Please fill out the contact form at
Include your shirt size (S, M L, XL) in the comments section. They run a little small after they're washed, so go with the larger size if you're on the fence.
Then, just send me a picture by June 10th of you wearing it (with the front logo visible, please!)--I'll add it to the collection.

Back to today's post: Independent Publishing (Part 1 of however many it takes). I finished the articles that my publicist requested, but we found that the one about "How I Got Published" didn't really fit the rest of the campaign. But it fits here, since several of you asked for the info--so here it is:

The first part of publishing your book is writing it.

Checklist Item #1: Write Manuscript

Chances are, you read Nathan Bransford's blog and you think that the next step is writing a query letter and sending it to agents. Ha! Wrong wrong wrong. The next step is to revise. When you finish revising, revise again. Polish that sucker until you can see your face shining in it. Get feedback from responsible readers (people who know how to write well and will give you honest feedback). Take their critiques to heart, and revise again.

And again.

And again.

Do NOT shake off criticism as "They just don't understand my work," unless they really don't—and you're OK with that. My grandmother is intelligent, literate, and a published author, but she doesn't "get" Minder. She thought the action was "too intense," and she wanted them to "stop and eat a bowl of cereal once in a while." Fortunately, octogenarian New Englanders aren't my target demo. I didn't add the quiet cereal scene--all my meal scenes are action-packed with the threat of imminent violence.

Once your book is really, really, REALLY ready--write your query letter, revise THAT a bunch of times, and then send it out. When I queried agents for Minder, I got a bunch of partial and full manuscript requests, but nothing panned out. I think I read that agent Janet Reid got over 10,000 queries in 2009--and took on two new clients. The odds are against you.

So, if your queries are successful--and getting 10% "Send me more!" responses is considered successful at this stage--you'll start sending out partial and full manuscripts. If you get an agent at this stage--congratulations! If not, well…

Now comes the moment of decision. Is your book really as good as you think it is? What did the professionals say? What works and what doesn't? Does it need another revision; does it need to go in the drawer; or is it publishable, but just not getting into the right hands?

Be brutally honest with yourself. You can be sad and disappointed now--or sad, disappointed, poorer, and several months closer to death later. My first novel, Bagastana, is still in the drawer. I queried extensively, but I never got even one partial request on it. I keep telling myself that I'll get back to it someday and revise it up to professional caliber later.

The point is, I moved on. My second effort was originally titled Maddie Dunn. It's the story of a sixteen-year-old who can kill with her thoughts. The book's now called Minder, and it comes out next month.

And tomorrow, I'll tell you how I got it there.*

* By writing cliffhanger endings that kept people coming back for more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Exploding Toilets

Ah, the glamorous life of the emerging novelist.

It gets light around 5am this time of year in New Hampshire, and my kids read the sky better than the clock. At 5:18 this morning, I woke to the sound of running feet and anxious little voices in the hallway.

I don't know what they put down the toilet to make it overflow with such magnificent deliberation. The article(s) in question has been lost to history. But the flood of 2010 will not be soon forgotten.

So I found myself an Army-Corps-of-Engineers-of-One. Before coffee. My husband conveniently has meetings with out-of-state clients today, so he missed the waterworks and the disinfection of everything in the path of the tsunami.

I guess it means that Mother's Day is over, and I needed to start earning next year's pancakes.

Happy Monday.

Moving on:

Oh, special thanks to Brenda for recommending the Blog Jog! We had a great turnout here, and I found some wonderful new blogs, as well.

Please keep passing around the link to the book trailer video:
We're saving children from malaria with every penny.
And we're promoting my book, which is cool, too.

The t-shirt giveaway is still active through midnight Eastern time today (Monday). Please comment in the Blog Jog post if you want one. I'll announce the winner(s) tomorrow, probably before noon--assuming the kids don't crack a water main between now and then.

Finally, here's something that reminded me of writing loglines and summaries:

Thanks to Nathan Bransford for the link.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blog Jog!

Disgruntled Bear is part of this weekend's Blog Jog.
If this is your first time here--welcome!
The next stop on the Blog Jog trail is :
While you're here, please watch my book trailer. For every view, I'm giving 1-cent to Nothing But Nets.

Minder comes out in June (click here for a PDF excerpt). Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have pre-order options. We'll have a virtual launch party here the week of June 14-18th--giveaways and contests and all.

If you like this blog, please sign up as a follower--just click "Follow" on the right or in the top menu bar.

Finally, we're having another Minder t-shirt giveaway this weekend. Want one?
Comment below with the location where you'd wear it. Please post your comment by midnight, Monday, May 10th. I'll list the winner(s) on Tuesday the 11th and post a link so you can send me your size and mailing address (US addresses only, please!). Send me a photo of yourself in the shirt, and I'll add it to the growing collection.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day Job

Finally home at 9:47pm after a day-long training session. I hope my book becomes a bestseller, so I can write for a few hours every morning, then spend my days sipping coffee in Paris, running with the bulls in Pamplona, or downing margaritas in Key West.

How weird would I look with a beard?

Man, I'm working too hard.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marketers, Editors, and Printers--Oh My!

Greetings and Salutations from the surreal world of having a book published.

Today's new thing: Minder's up on Kindle, although the link won't allow purchases until the June 18th release date.

I'm working with the distributor to have Minder available in the UK next month, as well. I'll give you Brits and ex-pats a link when everything's set.

I hope to get book two to the editor by the end of the week. I'm applying the stuff she mentioned in the book one edit before I send it to her. Who knew I used the word "that" so often?

Please keep spreading the word about the book trailer and the affiliated charitable promotion. I'm off doing training for my day job for the rest of the week, but I'll have some extras over the weekend for the blog jog and shirt giveaway, so check back!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Really Scary Bloodsuckers

From now until the end of May, I'll be holding a promo on YouTube.

For each view of the Minder book trailer, I'll donate a penny* to Nothing But Nets, a non-profit organization that distributes anti-malaria netting.

And, if you feel a penny's not enough, please go to their site and donate.

Please, watch the trailer. Feel free to up your view-count by watching it multiple times. Embed it on your sites and ask other people to watch it. I want to sell a ton of books, of course, but there are more important things out there, like saving helpless children from murderous bloodsuckers.

Oh, and spread the word: Telepaths are the new vampires.

"Penny for your thoughts? Nah, I can get 'em for free."

* I gotta cap this at $1000, since I'm a struggling writer.
That would be 100,000 views, which would be amazing.

From now until the end of May, author Kate Kaynak will donate 1-cent for every view of this trailer (up to 100,000) to Nothing But Nets (, a charity that helps protect kids from malaria. Please watch as many times as you like, embed it on your sites or blogs, or link to the YouTube page via Twitter or Facebook. It's a win-win: people hear about the book while saving the lives of children.

MINDER, the first book in the Ganzfield series, comes out in June. Pre-order on Amazon, com,, or

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. The training facility at Ganzfield isn't exactly a nurturing place.

Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.

A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.

And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.

But it's still better than New Jersey.
Especially once she meets the man of her dreams...



Trailer Art: Katie Diamond
Music: "Angels" by Glenridge. Used with permission.
Editing: Peter Alton
VO: Mary Alton

Monday, May 3, 2010

Busy Week

Much is afoot here at the Disgruntled Bear.

The shirt pictures are trickling in--thanks to everyone who has sent them. They can be seen here.

I'm gearing up for the Minder marketing push this week. Disgruntled Bear will be part of a Blog Jog this weekend, and I'll have another shirt giveaway as part of that. Make sure you check in over the weekend for info.

The Brenda Novak auction to benefit diabetes research will run through the month of May. Check it out:

I won some great stuff last year, and I'm offering a critique this time around.

The final, longer excerpt of Minder is now up on Or you can just click here for the PDF File.

We're having a book launch event here in New Hampshire on June 29th at 7pm. Please use the Ganzfield contact form if you'd like to be added to the guest list and mention the "June 29th event" in the Comments section.

Finally, I have a big announcement for tomorrow, so be sure to check in. TTFN!