An Interview With Kate MacLeod – Short Flights Bundle Author

Our next Short Flights interview author is Kate MacLeod (whom I already love because I think we’re kindred spirits–half of her answers could have been written by me!). Kate lives in Minnesota and keeps a website at, where you can find her social media information and sign up for her newsletter.

 SDR: Kate, tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

KM: “Unsafe, Unsound” is a western weird tale of a family on the edge of civilization who catch a glimpse of the other layers beyond this world. It’s told in multiple points of view because each character has an entirely different experience. For a long time it was the darkest thing I ever wrote.

SDR: I love hearing about where other writers write, so could you describe your current writing workspace?

KM: I have a treadmill desk set in a bay window so it’s almost like walking outside while I type or dictate. I need lots of sun and fresh air when I make the words.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for “Unsafe, Unsound”? What was it?

KM: This was actually the rare instance where I used something from a dream. I had recently moved from a heavily populated neighborhood to one at the edge of the suburbs, surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms. In my dream I had the image of a man walking up my dirt road in the light of the full moon and I just knew that there was something wrong with him. I couldn’t get the image out of my head and had to know what his story was.

SDR: I’m always surprised when some people say they don’t enjoy short stories, so I’m asking writers, why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

KM: I love short fiction! My reading time is half fiction magazines and anthologies and half novels. As a writer I get story ideas that work best at some specific length and I don’t try to wrestle with that, I just let it be the length it is.

SDR: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

KM: It’s either “The Dead” by James Joyce or “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Don’t make me choose between the two!

SDR: All right, we’ll change the subject. :) Have you written any series characters? What’s their appeal for you?

KM: I’m writing my first series character now. I wrote her first book as a standalone but loved her character so much I had to go back and continue her story. The Scout Shannon books are young adult science fiction and I loved the idea of slowly expanding her awareness of her world, planetary system, and galaxy around her as she grows into it. Plus she has two dogs, who are thinly fictionalized versions of my dogs, and I love writing about them!

SDR: Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

KM: I like music but I get easily distracted by lyrics so when I’m writing it’s all instrumentals, and generally movie soundtracks. The last novel I wrote I had the soundtrack to “King Arthur” on repeat. Currently it’s “Blade Runner 2049”.

SDR: I also love movie soundtracks for writing music–and also video game soundtracks! You should give some of those a try, too (Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo are great).

Now, to finish up, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview.  :)

KM: I’m currently halfway through a young adult science fiction series called The Travels of Scout Shannon. Book 3 of 6, Among Treacherous Stars, just came out on Tuesday. In April I have short stories that will appear in both Analog and Mythic Delirium, which is huge for me!

SDR: Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us, Kate!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Kate’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

We have more interviews coming soon, so stay tuned!

2017 in Review: Treadmill Desk Stats

I’m going to be looking at 2017 from a few different perspectives, as I get organized and going in 2018. I thought I’d share some of that process here, starting with my walking-while-working stats for the year. Because yes, I do use a spreadsheet to keep track of such things. #nerd

My treadmill desk use always fluctuates over the course of the year: I use it most in the fall and winter and less in the spring and summer, which makes sense because honestly, I just don’t tend to use it if my office is very warm. In fact, during the summer months I often write outside, so the treadmill option is right out. I get my walking in outdoors, so I stay active, but I can’t multi-task with writing as well. My goal this coming year is to extend the season of use for the treadmill a bit, because it really does help keep my back troubles in check and is just all-around better for me than sitting for extended periods. (I’m walking as I write this, as a matter of fact.)

For 2017, the numbers are…pretty grim. I spent 3,742 minutes walking while I worked, or about 62 and a half hours. That’s only a little over an hour a week on average, which is just abysmal. It equates to almost 51 miles of walking–less than a mile a week! Oh, my. I just glanced at my 2016 stats, which show 8,395 minutes of treadmill walking! Wow, what a slip.

Well. I know what I have to do from here on out. Make sure I get at least one walking session every work day (excluding July and August, because I know that just won’t happen). I guess that’s focus item #1 for 2018. More to come…

NaNoRetro: 2012


Today we jump ahead to 2012 in the NaNoWriMo Retrospective. This was the year I wrote most of the first draft of The Family Business, which is, sadly, another of the still-unfinished manuscripts waiting for my attention.

I had a lot of fun with this one; it’s a ghost story and a mystery, and it’s definitely one I want to finish. Here’s the blurb:

Stella McKarron is sorry when her Uncle Ambrose dies suddenly, but she doesn’t think it will actually change her life much. They’ve never gotten along terribly well, anyway. So it comes as a surprise to learn that he’s left her his cat (she’s allergic), his car (she doesn’t drive), his private detective agency (she’s a librarian) and his collection of ten thousand books (she’s actually okay with that one). The bigger surprise is yet to come, however, when his ghost appears and tells her that he was murdered, and the first case he wants her to take on is his own…

familybusinessHere’s my hastily throw-together cover mockup; I still like the concept although it could be MUCH better executed.

The November draft came in at just barely 50k, since I was also working on the rewrite of One’s Aspect to the Sun that month. I see from the notes in my spreadsheet that I actually did not have an idea for what to write this year until I actually sat down to do it. I’m trying to remember where the idea eventually came from, but it appears to be lost in the mists of time.

Notably, this was the year I set up my treadmill desk, and this was the first project I wrote at it. I don’t seem to have stats from that month, although I suspect they are around somewhere…I do like obsessive record-keeping from time to time.  We do seem to have had a lot of word wars in the Ramsey household, according to my notes, and some successful write-ins with other Cape Breton Wrimos.

I believe that this one remains unfinished because I made that classic error of trying to write a mystery without enough advance planning. Other genres can work out okay with the “gardening” approach, but mysteries require more of the “architect” thinking. Or as I once said in a radio interview, “When it comes time to lay down a clue, you’d better have a clue.”

Someday soon I’ll pull this one out and see what it needs. It’s  fun tale with some quirky characters and deserves to play out to “The End.”