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Behind the Book with Kristine Raymond

This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to the absolutely wonderful Kristine Raymond! Liz - Tell us a bit about life in south-central Kentucky?

Kristine - You’ve asked during one of my two favorite seasons – spring. (My other favorite is autumn.) In another month, I’ll be complaining daily about the heat and humidity, but right now, it’s simply gorgeous here. Lush and green and fragrant. My wisteria is about to bloom, the hummingbirds have returned for another season, and I’m busy constructing a new Hügelkultur bed for the veggies and herbs I bought last week at the local nursery. One great thing about living in southern Kentucky is the long growing season.

Liz - Congratulations on your new release, Finn-agled! Can you tell us about it?

Kristine - Finn-agled is the first in the Finn’s Finds cozy mystery series and was so much fun to write. Pretty much everything about it – from the genre to the characters to the plot – came as a surprise to me as I’d set out to write a thriller. But the moment I wrote the opening line, I knew the story was going in a different direction than I had – loosely – planned.

Finn Bartusiak is a single, thirty-three-year-old woman who owns an antique shop aptly named Finn’s Finds. She’s perfectly content with her life as it is – which include her Basset Hound and all the Polish food she can eat, courtesy of weekly dinners at her grandparents’ home – until…

What? You thought I was going to give away the plot? 😊

Liz - Where did the inspiration for the antique wooden box come from?

Kristine - Knowing next to nothing about antiques but intrigued by ‘old stuff’, I perused countless sites online in a quest to find the perfect implement in which someone could hide a coded message. One of my forays led me to where I happened upon a listing for a rare wooden writing box complete with secret compartments. Eureka!

Liz - What was it that led you to pursue writing seriously in 2013?

Kristine - Pure chance. After learning about self-publishing from a friend, I decided to try my hand at writing. It wasn’t anything I’d ever considered in the past but figured why not give it a try and see what happens. My original intention was to write one book, but before I was halfway through the plot of my first story, I had planned out two more. Then three books became eight, then twelve... then eight years later, and I’m still writing.

Liz - Finn-agled is a cozy mystery. What do you enjoy about writing in this genre?

Kristine - The humor. Not that other genres aren’t funny, but I love putting a comedic spin on macabre topics such as death and murder. Even more so on Finn’s reactions when she’s in mortal danger. Her thoughts tend to drift toward the most inconsequential subjects at the most inopportune times.

Liz - What are the other genres you enjoy writing in and is there a genre you would still like to try?

Kristine - My first love is Historical Western Romance, and I think I’ll always go back to that in one way or another. If time travel were a real thing, I’d go back to the Old West (hopefully, by that time, there’d be a cure for motion sickness) and stake my claim on the western frontier. There was a time when I announced that the Hidden Springs series, set in the 1800s, was complete, but I’ve since amended that statement as new story ideas keep popping into my head. Translation – fans of the series can expect a tenth Hidden Springs book in the not-so-distant future. Hopefully.

As to which genre I’d like to write in, a thriller is still on the table. Four, actually. A standalone and a trilogy. As to when I might hit publish on these stories, well, let’s hope time travel hasn’t been invented first. Lol.

Liz - You’ve become quite schooled in navigating both the publishing and promotional aspects of the indie author world. What tips and words of wisdom can you share with others?

Kristine - Ah, thank you. I fake it well. 😂

Seriously, though, the best advice I can offer is don’t give up. I know; a cliché, but also true. There are going to be days (weeks, months, years) when you’re ready to call it quits because if you have to re-read the same paragraph for the thirty-seventh time or post in one more author group on Facebook or describe your 90,273 word book in 280 characters on Twitter for the fourth time this week, you’re going to go Office Space on your laptop and become a day drinker who crochets gerbil sweaters out of cat hair. Resist the urge and take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone; that most (if not all) authors have felt the same way at one point or another and then rediscovered their muse.

I’m not going to lie and say marketing is easy. At least, it’s not for me. When I finally got frustrated with promoting (after seven years of doing it on my own), I hired a publicist – Creative Edge Publicity. The best in the biz, in my opinion, but there are scores of excellent marketing and publicity agencies out there. Do your research, find the company that best fits your needs (and budget), and then let them tackle the promotion aspect while you concentrate on penning your potential best-seller.

Liz - You’re the mother to some furbabies! Can you tell us about them and how they came to join your family?

Kristine - In addition to a slew of elderly pooches and kitties that we’ve rescued over the years, the hubs and I share our home with a pair of eleven-month-old Beagle siblings and a ten-month-old Basset Hound. As you might imagine, it’s never quiet but is always entertaining! What was I thinking??

Liz - I love that you have chickens! It’s something I’d love to do if we had the room. How have you found raising them?

Kristine - Chickens are fascinating creatures! You know how some people can sit and stare at fish in an aquarium for hours on end? That’s how I am watching my poultry run around our homestead. We keep guinea fowl, too, and I’m planning on adding ducks to the mix next year. Let me tell you – nothing beats a freshly laid egg for breakfast. Or dinner. Or anytime in between.

A few of my hens went broody this year, so now we have chicks running around. If I’m not careful, my flock size will double before I know it. Chicken math is real!

Liz - Do any of them keep you company while you write?

Kristine - The chickens? Lol.

No, my office is off-limits to fur (and feathered) babies. At least, that’s my intention. The dogs sit at the baby gate and stare at me with their sad, puppy-dog eyes, and the cats simply jump over it. So much for mom having a room to herself!

Liz - What does your writing set up look like?

Kristine - I have an office/library/craft room where I write. I find using a laptop challenging, so it’s butt-in-chair in front of my desktop in order to get any writing done. Stacks of files and papers and miscellaneous do-dads clutter my desk, threatening to topple onto my keyboard at any second, but it’s my process, and after sixteen books, I’d say it works.

Liz - You also enjoy gardening. What types of plants do you have in your garden?

Kristine - I’m a ‘stick-it-in-the-ground-and-let-it-grow’ type of gardener. I don’t fuss much with my plants, though my pride and joy are my blueberry bushes. About the only thing I do to them is cover them during a late frost/freeze once flowers have appeared, usually in late April. In return, they reward me with gallons of blueberries. Yum!

I’m also putting in a rather large vegetable garden. Trying my hand at growing winter squash this year. Plus tomatoes (for pizza sauce), eggplant (I could eat it daily), zucchini and crookneck squash (I found an awesome quick bread recipe online), and loads of herbs to dry for later use.

Liz - Reading is another favourite past time for you. Do you prefer to read books in the same genres that you write?

Kristine - Sometimes, though I’d never read a cozy mystery until after I wrote one. I love psychological thrillers and romantic suspense. Some historical romance; some mystery. My go-tos are P.J. Tracy, Sandra Brown, the Kellermans – Jonathan and Faye, Dean Koontz...oh, the list goes on and on and on.

Liz - Your first books were the Hidden Spring series. What was the inspiration behind them?

Kristine - As I mentioned earlier, I have a real love for the Old West, so it came as no surprise that I chose 1860s Arizona Territory as the setting for the Hidden Springs series. I always get asked about my inspiration for stories, and honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that question. Plots just sort of come to me without me having to think too hard about them. I don’t mean the heart of the story. But the general theme. So, with Here to Stay, I knew going in that my heroine (Kate) was going to come back to the hero (Sam) and ask for a second chance. (Note – not a spoiler. It’s how the story opens.) Anyway, from there, I had to figure out why she left him to begin with and why she came back.

With the subsequent books in the series, each one built off of the story that came before it. So, when I introduced the characters of Jack and Landry in Here to Stay, the idea for their happily-ever-ending germinated, thus resulting in Hearts on Fire, and so on.

Liz - Out of all of the books you’ve written to date, do you have a personal favourite?

Kristine - Oh, that’s a toughie! I always say the book I’m currently working on is my favorite, but I really love Seasons of Love. Here to Stay is also special because it’s my first, and I’m head-over-heels for Finn-agled.

Short answer – no. Lol.

Liz - In the past you hosted the successful podcast Word Play, which I’m honoured to say I got to be a part of for an episode! How did this come about and what plans do you have for it in the future?

Kristine - I loved having you on as a guest. It was a treat chatting with you!

The idea for the podcast came about as I was mulling over new ways to promote not only myself but other authors. I woke up one day and told the hubs I was starting a podcast. It debuted October 31, 2018, and went on hiatus December 31, 2020. It was an honor to speak with 231 amazing guests – mostly authors, but also bloggers, readers, and entrepreneurs.

As of right now, I don’t have any plans to re-launch the show, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. One thing I’ve learned in this business – never say never.

Liz - I see you’ve dabbled in tie-dying which looks amazing! Are there any special techniques involved and do you think you’ll go on to sell the items?

Kristine - Thank you. Yes, in my never-ending quest to entertain my inner creative child, I took up tie-dyeing last year. Basically, anything that lets me get messy while playing with different colors is a no-brainer. Tie-dyeing is a lot like writing – each artist (authors are artists, imo) creates their own technique. I’ve watched several tie-dye YouTube videos to pick up pointers, but generally, I simply fold or twist and dye.

As far as selling them, yes. I made several shirts on commission last summer and have a stockpile that I’ll be putting up for sale on Facebook soon. In case anyone is interested in wearing a Kristine Raymond original. 😁

Liz - As a fellow Netflix binge-watcher, what are some of your most recommended shows?

Kristine - Ozark, You, Dead to Me, Santa Clarita Diet, Grace and Frankie – all awesome shows!

Liz - Where can our readers follow you?

Kristine - The best place to keep up with me is on my website – I’m also most active on Facebook, though I occasionally post on Instagram.

Thanks so much for hosting me on Behind the Book today, Liz. It’s been a pleasure!


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