Episode 1: Interview with Kay Coyte

Hello from author Patricia McLinn. The Authors Love Readers podcast will be interviews with fellow authors for our readers – we talk about books and life and quirky, fun things. I’ve gathered questions from readers, adding them to the many, many, many I always have.

To start, I did an interview with Kay Coyte, my intrepid assistant, whom many of my readers know from her handling giveaways as well as answering questions and such. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her better, how we work together, and her experiences in stepping into the whirl of publishing. : – )

Among the first authors I interview are Judith Arnold, Patricia Lewin, Laura Resnick, Emilie Richards – and many more! We cover lots of genres and all kinds of books.

Music by DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast!

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Patricia McLinn [00:00] Hi, welcome to this week’s Authors Love Readers podcast, where we delve into the stories behind the stories. We’re asking authors questions, some of them fun, some of them serious. And from their answers, you’re going to learn things you never knew about the people who write the stories you love. My name is Patricia McLinn. I’m your host and designated question asker.

Patricia McLinn [03:33] Now, let’s start the show.

Patricia McLinn [00:35] Hi everybody. This is Patricia McLinn and I am here with Kay Coyte. Those of you who on my reader’s list or on my Facebook page often hear about Kay or are asked to communicate with her as my assistant. And I thought it would be fun for you all to meet her in person say hello, Kay.

Kay Coyte [00:58] Hello, everyone.

Patricia McLinn [00:59] And also to get to know, get to know a little bit about how we work and how we started, um, working together. We actually started working together. Mumble mumble mumble years ago—

Kay Coyte [01:15] Many years ago.

From the racetrack to the Washington Post

Patricia McLinn [01:16] —many years ago, yes. At the Washington Post and, uh, Kay was working there part-time and additionally, in addition to working a full-time job at a horse magazine, um, so you want to tell them a little bit about the horse magazine or your background with horses?

Kay Coyte [01:33] Yes, I’m, I’m a graduate, uh, grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, graduate of University of Kentucky. And while I was an undergrad, I actually worked on the racetrack in the mornings, um, mucking out stalls and walking the horses until they cooled off. Um, so I sort of parlayed that into my first job at a newspaper in Upstate New York to cover horse racing at Saratoga and went from there to a national trade horse racing magazine based outside of Washington, DC.

Kay Coyte [02:02] And I think I must be the only person who came to the Washington Post from a horse racing trade magazine. But I got my toe in the door to work part-time on a sports copy desk, and I really wasn’t very good at first, but, um, I got a bit more and more tied on as I stayed there, and I really wanted to make it work. So I did. Um, and when Pat came on, um, uh, I was probably a pretty regular Steady Eddie part-timer at that point.

Patricia McLinn [02:34] Yes.

Kay Coyte [02:35] And I did eventually go full-time not long after Pat arrived.

Patricia McLinn [02:38] And I, I arrived as a full-timer from the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had been assistant sports editor. Um, the Post had recruited me and I thought, you know, I will never have another chance to try the Washington Post without having written a query letter. So that was my big reason for, for doing a tryout with them. Um, because I liked Charlotte, I liked it a lot. But it, it turned out. Oh, and the, the AME for sports, the assistant managing editor for sports, told me the winters were no worse in Washington DC than they were in Charlotte. And the first winter, when it was really bad, I said, Hey. And he said, I lied. Yeah, you will recognize that. Right? Kay.

Kay Coyte [03:28] Right.

Patricia McLinn [03:29] Our mutual former boss. So we worked together on the sports desk for quite a while on the copy desk. Eventually, I was a copy chief, um, defacto, for sure. And by that time though, I was also starting to write and publishing, I think, um, Kay was the only one at the Post who knew that I was writing until I’d actually sold the book. Um—

Kay Coyte [03:51] And then let me interject there. Those, that year and a half or so, it was like the hardest thing I ever did in my whole life, because Patricia was working on a book about, that was the book that became Hoops. So it was sports related, basketball coach meets a student advisor, and I wasn’t allowed to talk about it to anybody. And I like to talk about things. So, um, but I have to say that. You know, we often would, we had the way the sports copy desks work. We often had a full hour long lunch, and that was to give us something to do in between additions of the newspaper, but keep us there late at night for late-breaking sports news. So I learned a lot about the publishing business right along as Pat was learning about the publishing business, it was, it was kind of interesting.

Patricia McLinn [04:41] Yeah, that was, that was the old publishing business.

Kay Coyte [04:44] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [04:45] Um, and so then as I started publishing more regularly, um, I eventually went part-time, and I had, I come to, uh, a crossroads where I either was going to apply for higher up jobs, um, including, uh, um, day editor. I was asked if I wanted to apply. And I said, yes. And I thought about it overnight. And I thought, what do I really want to do with my life? And I, it was, um, writing. So I came back the next day and said, no, I don’t want to apply for that job. And I’m going part-time. So, as far as I know, I am the only person at the Washington Post who ever got a going away party for going from full-time to part-time. And worked both days, the two days in a row with the— One day I was full-time. One day I was part-time. So then our paths sorta crisscrossed for awhile cause you went to Detroit—

Kay Coyte [05:47] Right.

Patricia McLinn [[05:48] —right?

Kay Coyte [05:49] Yep.

Patricia McLinn [05:50] And then you came back to the Metro section.

Kay Coyte [05:53] Right. That’s exactly right in between that time I had a child. Um.

Patricia McLinn [05:58] Yes.

Kay Coyte [05:59] So I went part-time in order to be with my son more often and followed my husband up to Detroit. I sort of vowed that I would never work— Before I left, I was with the new service, and that was the first time that, that as working colleagues, um, Patricia and I crossed paths again, she was at the new service before I was, um, but I was also working on other desks, financial desk style desk, Metro. Um, and I went back to work in sports in Detroit, which was a lot of fun, cause it was such a great sports town, but sadly that newspaper went on strike shortly after we moved there and I went, went running back to the Washington Post full-time on the Metro desk, um, and stayed there for a couple of years before an opportunity came to, to get back on with the new service.

Patricia McLinn [06:44] Yeah. And by that time, I, because initially when I was part-time I worked for sports financial and the new service. I was doing a lot of juggling. And, um, eventually I, I went to working strictly with the news service, um, which was so different from the six deadlines a night of, of sports and, and lots of pressure. And how much can you get done in twenty-two seconds? Um, and handling lots of stories. Uh, so it was a different pace, had different requirements, especially as we got more involved with graphics. But, uh, I continued there and then I left the Post in 2007 to move to, um, Northern Kentucky because I could write full-time here because it was so much less expensive to live in than, um, Northern Virginia where I lived.

Patricia McLinn [07:39] And Kay continued at the Post, was the head of the news service. Um, and then retired actually retired a year later than she was supposed to, according to what she’d told me, and when I was going to start her having be my, be an assistant. And then a little over two years ago, so in the fall of 2015, she finally retires and she sort of got thrown into the deep end of being an assistant for an indie published. Well, I think I was. I was like, no, I just finished being hybrid at that point, so I was strictly indie, um, because my previous assistant, um, had pulled back because of family issues. Um, so instead of gaining help, I had Kay really, as I said, got thrown into the deep end. And, um, I, I had told her going in, there are a lot of moving parts. So what’s been your biggest surprise about this, Kay, the past two years?

Kay Coyte [04:48] I think the biggest surprise is just how things continually change. So I will think I have got something learned, um, and then we evolve. So a good portion of what I do, of what I do is a lot of physical uploading of Patricia’s books to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, et cetera, um, and making, and price changes on those sites with their sales, that sorts of things. And seems like there’ll be snags or problems or, you know, just different things and, and they, there’s just changes all the time. Um, and there’s changes all the time in, you know, of course we do a lot of social media, um, work on Facebook in particular and Twitter and other platforms. And that is kind of constantly changing.

Kay Coyte [09:41] What is, you know, what is most visible and, um, it’s just always changing. And then, then of course, there’s some things about the publishing business that to me are just counterintuitive. I think at one point when I had, um, you know, sort of some free reign to do some book sales, I think I set a book at a dollar ninety-nine, I think it was. And, and I got this kind of universal, you know, like blow back from Pat, but I think I was at a meeting where other people went, Oh no, not a dollar ninety-nine, because apparently has to do with, um, we’re royal to where the, where the dividing line for royalties jumps in. So there’s just lots of minutia that I, I didn’t know, but I will say this about how, how sometimes it’s interesting how past jobs dovetail into present jobs. Um, back when Pat and I were both working on the news service, I used to joke that it was the Reader’s Digest, condensed Washington Post, because that’s what we did. It was at a time when there was more staff, more newspapers, and part of our job was to boil down these Washington Post stories and to concise stories other newspapers, who didn’t have as much space, they could use these.

Patricia McLinn [10:53] Right.

Kay Coyte [10:54] So it’s really been helpful in, you know, in doing those stories, the Washington Post, I was mindful of each reporter’s voice, you know, I wanted to keep their voice, not just lop off the bottom ten inches of this story, but try to keep the voice, if it was humorous or you know, keep it balanced. It was strictly news. And this has been helpful in sometimes I’ve had to boil, um, book descriptions to smaller things, or I’ve had to boil something down—

Patricia McLinn [11:23] Right.

Kay Coyte [11:24] —to what I think is how Pat would describe something. And I think this gives me at least a little bit of confidence to be able to do something like that.

Patricia McLinn [11:32] I’ve always said that being an editor of any sort requires you to be a chameleon, being a good editor, because you do have to adapt to that voice, uh, of each, not only each writer, but each work, each story.

Kay Coyte [11:47] That’s true.

Patricia McLinn [11:50] Um, because they can vary so much so, and it, and it helps a lot that, you know, we’ve, we’ve talked five days a week for mumble mumble years, and we’re not going to go into that, uh, exact comment of yours. So, um, I think we do know how, how each would respond to things and, and might phrase things. Um, and I, I think the changes, uh, are not going to stop by any means. In fact, I think they’re going to accelerate. And the upshot or the upside of that is that, you know, they say that learning new things keeps you young, so we are never—

Kay Coyte [12:23] That’s right.

Patricia McLinn [12:24] —going to get old, Kay.

Kay Coyte [12:25] The changing in the publishing business, um, as I was leaving the Washington Post, um, we were, the news service was in the process of updating its very outdated website, and we were putting together one that was pretty good. Well, about the time we were in, this was a years’ long process, and that’s when Jeffrey Bezos bought the Washington Post and there became many more good tech folks available to make this a better, sharper website, but at one point, one of our officials on the desk, not a news-based person, but one of the more sales-based people said, well, you know, we’ve got to get this website right, because we won’t keep changing it. We won’t change it again for oh ten years. Most looked around the table, and I thought, ten years, you know, ten years, we might be just thinking about things and they’re going to appear somewhere somehow. No one can predict—

Patricia McLinn [13:33] Right. Right.

Kay Coyte [13:34] —no one in the web, the internet publishing business, where anything is going to be ten years from now.

Collies and mutts with a Lassie heart

Patricia McLinn [13:40] Yeah, that’s nuts. And as a side note, I was back at the Washington Post in April, this April of 2017. Um, writers’ conference took me there. Um, and I got together with some former colleagues, your ears must’ve been burning, Kay, cause we were talking about you a lot. But that the Post, since I left, had moved from the old spot where it was on 15th and L to a couple of blocks away. And I will tell you, the new building is very snazzy. And my comment to the former colleagues is, Hey, when I was here, we had mice. Now you’ve got marble, you know, this doesn’t seem right. This isn’t fair, but, um, but I gotta say I, I missed people from the Post a lot. I miss the DC area a lot, but I don’t miss working every day, so for the, for that kind of work, I like the writing, um, and the writing world. So as you, um, listeners, uh, communicate with, with me through the newsletter. Oh, and one of the things Kay is doing now is the pets. You want to talk about that.

Kay Coyte [14:58] Sure. We just, um, we all know that Patricia is a huge dog fan and particularly a huge collie fan. You’ve seen pictures—

Patricia McLinn [15:08] Yep.

Kay Coyte [15:09] —of Kalli and previous collies and mixed mixtures of collies. Um, and actually, I had a dog in my, many dogs—

Patricia McLinn [15:18] Named Lassie.

Kay Coyte [15:19] —some named Lassie, which was ironic because my dog named Lassie was like a little brown mutt that looked nothing like a collie.

Patricia McLinn [15:29] She had a Lassie heart.

Kay Coyte [15:33] Yes, she did have a Lassie heart. Um, but, uh, so we, those, uh, people, Patricia’s readers love reading about the dog and dogs also figure prominently in her books, many of her books. Um, so we started maybe seeing pictures that people were, were posting on Facebook and thought, well, let’s just ask people to send their pictures in and we’ll, you know, make it a little regular feature of the newsletter. So we do that now once a month, we feature two or more pets. Um, and we’ll, I’ve, I’ve got, uh, quite a few more, but I’m always on the lookout for more pet pictures.

Patricia McLinn [16:09] It’s been fantastic. They’re they, they always make me smile every, every time we have them in and they are just so cute. Um, oh, I love that. And Kay is doing another feature in the newsletter too, in honor of my mystery series, Caught Dead in Wyoming, the sleuth who’s Elizabeth Margaret, also known as E. M. Danniher is, um, a consumer affairs reporter in this little tiny station in, uh, Wyoming, which is a major life change for her. So Kay is doing, um, uh, consumer protection type, uh, posts on my blog and in the newsletter. And then they show up in the blog too. So do you have any favorites of those that you’ve done?

Frank Abagnale and consumer protection

Kay Coyte [17:00] I don’t know about favorites, but one of the, um, uh, one thing that occurred here in Louisville recently was, um, a speech by Frank Abagnale, who is the real-life character from the Catch Me If You Can movie. He was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie, and he came to speak in Louisville about identity protection, um, and I went down to hear him speak. I expected, you know, kind of a dry, um, presentation, but it was really a very heartfelt presentation, a lot about him personally. Um, but because of this background that he has, and he pointed out during that speech that he was not particularly smart.

Kay Coyte [17:45] He was just, you know, a young man who was observant and knew how to to take advantage of vulnerabilities and systems. And this is how he managed to pose as an airline pilot and fly all around the world and as a doctor and other professions. Um, but he’s applied that across, um, you know, banking and other, um, things that we use every day. So he’s, uh, you know, he’s had a complete 180 turn in his life and now dedicated to informing people about scams and fraudulent practices. So I reported on that, uh, the first one, and I’ll keep reporting on that off and on in newsletters as we go along, because it was just really very interesting and some things I wasn’t thinking about. Um, but I think some of the ones that kill me are scams that prey on old lonely, you know, elderly, lonely people, or, um, some of the most vulnerable people, a whole nanny scam where people were pretending or scamming people are scamming nannies by pretending that there was jobs available for them. And, um, just, you know, just how low people can go to make a buck is just very sad to me.

Patricia McLinn [19:02] It is sad, but it’s all the more important that people are on the alert and aware of them and, and the most recent, uh, Caught Dead in Wyoming book backstory, one of the scams that figures in it is, um, people calling up and saying that you, uh, you missed jury duty and you’re going to get this huge, horrible, fine, unless you, um, and, and be arrested unless you pay the fine and you have to do it right now over, um, you know, using your credit card or, you know, they have various, um, ways that they do it. So I always think one of the lessons is, you know, you don’t do anything on the phone right away. You always check, and you check, you don’t call the number they give you, you go find the, the, um, main switchboard number for an organization or, or legal or business or whatever. And then, and then you do the tracking down.

Kay Coyte [20:07] And that, that was another, that was one of the ones I wrote that was very personal for me because something like that, very similar to the jury duty scam is the, um, the granny scam where, uh, uh, uh, a person calls and pretends to be the grandson or nephew of an older person, and they use their confusion and their concern about this person to use Western Union to wire them money. And my mother nearly fell prey to this. And of course this was, you know, family lore that, that this was the case. And then my sister’s husband, even though he knew about this, he almost did the same thing because it was so realistic. Um, but thankfully, both of them, you know, realized when it was a scam hung up and didn’t pursue it.

Patricia McLinn [20:54] Yeah. That’s, that’s so scary that, that it can happen to, to anybody. And it’s taking advantage of your concerns, which is why they succeed and why they keep doing it, so— Well, we may be having new features for you in the coming year. Not saying exactly what, what it will be. Um, this might actually be a surprise to Kay, but you never know when these things are going to show up. So it’s been lots of fun talking with you. Uh, we talk pretty regularly, and, but letting the readers in on this conversation and I hope you all have enjoyed it too. And we’ll come back as we have more recordings of various kinds, um, about the books, about writing, who knows where, maybe about dogs, huh? Who knows where these recordings will lead.

Patricia McLinn [21:54] But for now, we’ll say, Hope you have a great day. That’s the show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you for joining Authors Love Readers podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our guest authors in the show notes, and you can find out more about me at www.patriciamclinn.com. You can also send in questions to be asked of future authors at podcastatauthorslovereaders.com. Until next week, wishing you lots of happy reading. Bye.


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