Does The Chicken Have a Name? (or: How does Kendel do it?)
Kendel Flaum is also a visionary, an entrepreneur, a risk-taker, and a whirlwind of ideas and projects. And there’s still more..she’s tireless and nimble and imaginative and generous. And if you don’t know her or her books or her publishing company–well, good, because that’s why you visit Jungle Red!
HANK: When people say—what do you do for a living—what do you say? Or maybe, finish these sentences: Kendel Flaum is: and Kendel Lynn is:
Kendel Flaum is: The managing editor of Henery Press.
Kendel Lynn is: The author of BOARD STIFF, the first in the Elliott Lisbon Mystery series.
I generally answer based on who’s asking. Or I end up mushing them together into something jumbled as I ramble about writing and editing, but it doesn’t matter because they were just being polite anyway.
HANK: You are so…brave, on so many levels. You started a publishing company, you dumped your big time agent, you…well, talk about your decisions, and why you made them.
KENDEL: Like most, I spent years getting that big time agent. I wrote and queried and revised, and when the offer came in, I was truly overjoyed and delighted when my book went out on submission.
At the same time, I was involved in several writers groups, some focused on alternative publishing options, like small presses and DIY models, boutique agents and publishers. As I listened to their experiences, I was appalled most of the options: horrifying contracts, scary too-quick to market publishers (FOUR WEEKS!), AWOL editors, out-of-date websites. There are only a handful of solid, legitimate houses. The mystery market needs better choices.
So I created one–Henery Press.
My business partner and I wanted something fresh, engaging, and fun. A community where we help our authors put out the best book possible, and they help one another achieve their dreams. And there’s a chicken in rain boots for a logo, so of course we’re successful.
My big-time agent was unable to sell my book to big-time New York publishing houses, she wanted to start on smaller targets. I took a pass, putting my eggs in the Hen House basket, figuring I might as well join the fun.
HANK: Your debut novel—BOARD STIFF—where did that come from? Tell us about the wonderful Elliott Lisbon…
KENDEL: I spoke at Malice Domestic this past weekend, and a nice lady who sat through my chatfest told me it was clear I really loved Elliott, that it showed in the way I talked about her, and I do! She’s the director of a well-funded foundation on a South Carolina island filled with wealthy, eccentric residents. Elliott has a slight aversion to all things germy and is only four thousand hours away from getting her PI license. One reviewer said she a cross between Stephanie Plum and Monk. I also think of her as a mash-up of Kinsey Millhone and Archibald McNally. Serious when she needs to be, and sassy when that doesn’t work.
HANK: So I read this on your website—“I’m left-handed, prefer cupcakes for dinner, and would love to eat In-N-Out every single day. I can spot a bug on the floor across the room even with the lights out and I really hate shopping.” You are hilarious! And that sense of humor really comes through in BOARD STIFF. Do you think about “funny”?
|Kendel, Hank and Diane Vallere at Malice|
KENDEL: This is a total fan moment. You were the first established/successful/famous author to tell me my writing is funny, several years ago. Talk about a boost! You so generously volunteered to read for me, then called me to give me encouragement, advice, and truly made my writerly life exciting.
I don’t usually think about humor when I’m writing the draft, and it’s such a surprise when I read it back and something makes me laugh right out loud. I do try to the temper humor, though. I don’t want to wear out the reader. But it’s kind of fun to wake up in the middle of the night with a really hilarious tidbit, scribble it out, then giggle about how funny I am. Only to discover it makes no sense in the morning.
|Yay for Susan Boyer! Henery’s first Agatha Winner!|
HANK: Henery Press—so rocks! And congratulations on your debut author Susan Boyer, whose delightful LOWCOUNTRY BOIL won the Agatha for Best First! What’s it like being a publisher?
KENDEL: I know!! What a dream night – it was like being at the Oscars. I was so totally thrilled for Susan and her LOWCOUNTRY BOIL. She deserved it, and I’m lucky she took a chance on me to be her publisher. We talked often before she signed, about our vision, commitment, where we were going and what we wanted to build. Sometimes those leaps of faith work out.
I enjoy publishing, even though it feels like I’m juggling wet cats most of the time. It’s very deadline driven. Each book has about fifteen different deadline milestones to hit before publication, so with another twelve books due out this year, we’ve got a lot of deadlines. Luckily, every book is at a different stage, so some of those cats are cute little kittens (while others are mean old cats).
We try to pioneer, look at things differently. From promotions and reviews to content and distribution. Since it’s our own venture, we can do what we want, in our own way, and not follow any set convention.
HANK: How do you possibly manage your time?
KENDEL: Lists. Lots and lots of lists. I have an entire wall of my office covered in to-do lists, one for each book. There’s something extremely satisfying about grabbing my blue marker at the end of the day and making little x’s on each sheet. I build wiggle room into every schedule, for every person who needs to work on each project. Henery comes first, but I pencil in writing time at the end of every day. And for those days that don’t go as planned, I eat cupcakes. (So yes, I eat lots and lots of cupcakes.)
HANK: What are you looking for as a publisher? (Sorry, I’m imagining wet cats…)
|Are these adorable or what? Win one! See below.|
KENDEL: Tightly-written, well-plotted, page-turning whodunits. I tend to enjoy humorous mysteries the most, with Southern charmers right behind. I’d love to get my hands on a magical mystery, a fast-paced traditional PI novel, and another crafty killer series. But truly, any engaging story that grabs me and won’t let go is exactly what I’m looking for.
HANK: What do you know now that you didn’t before?
KENDEL: I’m learning and growing with each day, and I love it. Writing, querying, submitting can be a heartbreaking, soul-crushing experience, but it’s important to take control of your career. Pull yourself up, make different decisions, take some chances. It’s empowering and invigorating and who cares what anyone else thinks? My biggest lesson I’ve learned: do what’s right for you and the rest will follow.
Hank, you’re an amazing mentor and a true super star. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, friendship, encouragement, and time with me – I don’t know how you do it, but I’m so glad you do!
HANK: Awww…my complete pleasure. And let’s give away some loot to a lucky commenter! Kendel says: “How about a signed copy of Board Stiff (very valuable), plus a Henery Press mug (we commissioned an artist to paint them, they are numbered and signed!).”
So–questions for Kendel? Anyone want to name the chicken? (Or, Kendel, does the chicken have a name?)
Kendel Lynn is a Southern California native who now parks her flip-flops in Dallas, Texas. She read her first Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators at the age of seven and has loved mysteries ever since. Her debut novel, BOARD STIFF, won several literary competitions, including the Zola Award for Mystery/Suspense. Along with writing and reading, she spends her time as the managing editor of Henery Press where she acquires, edits, and figures out ways to avoid the gym but still eat cupcakes for dinner.
As director of the Ballantyne Foundation on Sea Pine Island, SC, Elliott Lisbon scratches her detective itch by performing discreet inquiries for Foundation donors. Usually nothing more serious than retrieving a pilfered Pomeranian. Until Jane Hatting, Ballantyne board chair, is accused of murder. The Ballantyne’s reputation tanks, Jane’s headed to a jail cell, and Elliott’s sexy ex is the new lieutenant in town.
Armed with moxie and her Mini Coop, Elliott uncovers a trail of blackmail schemes, gambling debts, illicit affairs, and investment scams. But the deeper she digs to clear Jane’s name, the guiltier Jane looks. The closer she gets to the truth, the more treacherous her investigation becomes. With victims piling up faster than shells at a clambake, Elliott realizes she’s next on the killer’s list.