Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest authors Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

Today I have authors Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays.

Finding balance, and other myths about the writing life
It’s Friday night and everyone we know is out having some well-deserved fun after a long work week. A nice meal with locally-sourced ingredients, microbrews and trip-hop at a music venue, chalking up at the climbing gym, returning from wind-surfing at Hood River or some other equally Portland-centric activity.

Here at chez Cowboy and Vampire, the TV is on mute, the laptops are fired up and we’re pecking away on another blog post and a new interview while keeping an eye on the tweet stream.

We’re often asked how we balance creative writing (which is super fun and, to be honest, our only reason for living) with marketing (which is hard and soul-sapping). The simple truth is, we don’t. There is no balance. Ever.

We both work day jobs in communications. We’re “lucky” because we write for a living. The unlucky part is that we spend nine-plus hours each day writing on someone else’s timetable and for their purposes, and we’re exhausted by quitting time. That means our creative work and self-promoting usually happens only on nights and weekends.

That also makes trying, and failing, to find balance between working on the next book and marketing the current book more precious than diamond-covered unicorns.

Any second spent not writing creatively seems skin-flayingly torturous, but with hundreds of thousands of books coming out each year, getting Blood and Whiskey noticed demands, tragically, plenty of marketing: blog posts, guest blog posts, interviews, blog tours, media pitches, Facebook posts, tweets, etc., ad infinitum, times a thousand.

We both nurture a secret belief that writers shouldn’t have to be marketers, but the days of martini-swilling publishers and fedora-wearing agents running interference, if they ever existed, are long gone. Today, the writing world requires making peace with self-promotion. We joke that a successful writer is 50 percent talent, 50 percent marketing and 50 percent stubbornness. And probably ten percent “needs to brush up on math skills.”

Our trick to finding balance (keeping in mind that balance is unattainable) between writing and promoting is to convince ourselves that promoting is creative. Or at least endeavor to make it creative. So we find topics that intrigue us (near death experiences, sunstones), sharpen up our skills on every blog post, use interviews to perform a forensic dissection of our books as a way of arming ourselves with the best approaches for the next book. It requires a sustained derangement of the senses, but isn’t that what writing is in the end?

There’s only one rule: never give up. Do something to self-promote every day until it’s time to move on to the next book. And after years of working together, we’ve come up with a highly scientific process to determine exactly when to unbalance the two and switch back to straight creative writing: when you just can’t write one more self-promoting word without vomiting on the keyboard.

Actually, that would make a pretty good blog post.

About the authors: Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall wrote The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Darkly Romantic Mystery, and Blood and Whiskey. They are currently working on the next book in the series, when they aren’t marketing. Find out more at www.cowboyandvampire.com.

Currently on tour for their book Blood and Whiskey


Blood and Whiskey
A Cowboy and Vampire Thriller
by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall
Publication date: May 1, 2012
Fiction, Trade Paperback (362 pages) $14.95; e-book $4.99
ISBN: 978-0-9838200-1-7; Library of Congress Control Number: 2012902814


Wanted: Lizzie Vaughan, Dead or Alive

Relationships are always hard, but for a broke cowboy and a newly turned Vampire, true love may be lethal.

After barely surviving an undead apocalypse in The Cowboy and the Vampire, Tucker and Lizzie hightail it back to quirky LonePine, Wyoming (population 438), to start a family. But she’s got a growing thirst for blood and he’s realizing that mortality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when your girlfriend may live forever. With a scheming Vampire nation hot on their boot heels and a price on her head, how far will Lizzie and Tucker go to protect their unlikely love?

Blending evolution, religion and an overly sensitive cow dog named Rex, Blood and Whiskey drags the Vampire myth into the modern west, delivering double-barreled action, heart-pounding passion and wicked humor. 


Long before Twilight and Vampire Diaries, Llewellyn published the first book of a thriller series, The Cowboy and the Vampire, in 1999, in trade paperback, with a print run of 10,000 (which sold out). It then went out of print. In response to the Twilight and Vampire Diaries mania, Midnight Ink, an imprint of Llewellyn, released a second edition in 2010 with a print run of 6,000, and, for the first time, with an e-book edition. Blood and Whiskey, the second book in the thriller series, is now being published by Pumpjack Press. Both books are by husband and wife writing team Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall.


Clark Hays grew up in Montana in the shadow of the Tobacco Root Mountains. In addition to his fiction work, he is a cowboy, a published poet and occasional food critic. Recently, he was nominated for Pushcart Prize for short fiction and not so recently for a Rhysling award for poetry. Clark brings a deep knowledge about the modern west, weaponry, country music and existentialism to his writing.

Kathleen McFall grew up in the heart of Washington, D.C. She worked as a petroleum geologist and, later, as a journalist, and has published hundreds of articles about scientific research, energy and natural resources. An interest in the overlap of science and mysticism are an essential aspect of her fiction writing. She received an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship for fiction writing.


Jacqueline Paige said...

Thanks for making promotion sound entertaining! It's a 10 on my 'ugh' scale.


CowboyandVampire said...

Glad to know you share our outlook! Thanks for having us on to vent.

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