Join me in welcoming my friend and author, Kayelle Allen! She wears many, many hats. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, etc. and read her interview. You won't want to miss some of her insights :-)
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality?
I started writing stories before I could spell. I remember my mother telling me I had to learn how to spell so my scribbles would make sense, but that I’d made a good effort. I think I was 4 or 5. I wrote my first book at 18. After 400+ pages, I realized it was a lot of work, took some time to think about that, and tried again at 30. Guess what? It was still a lot of work. ;) I put it aside again. By the time I decided to dust it off and treat it like a business, I was 50. Since then, I’ve made it my life’s work. Yes, writing is hard. You spend time alone, working with no one to cheer you on. When you finish, you have to sell a publisher on the idea, then edit it, promote it, and protect it from pirates. Why would anyone want to be a writer, unless it was something they just couldn’t help doing? I tried to quit. Twice! And here I am. Steps I took once I’d decided the work was worth it -- I found a critique group, wrote out a history for my story world, developed the concepts, and began teaching myself writing skills. I read everything in my genre I could get my hands on. I read books about writing. And I wrote and rewrote and then rewrote my stories some more. I made myself write for at least 15 minutes every day. You can’t do anything for 15 minutes every day without getting good at it eventually. The number one thing I had to do was not mind that it was work.
2. What 3 things would you like readers to know about you?
a) I love to hear from readers, first and foremost. I do all this for you, so if you have an opinion, good or bad, I’d love to know.
b) I created my own website, and have way over 100 pages on there. It’s made for readers to explore and discover hidden pages. There are some trap doors to spring, as well as some hidden secrets. Should you ever ever ever contact Pietas? You’ll have to find the button that lets you do that and decide for yourself. Should you trust the Sleeper? Think about that before deciding. But did you know you can actually submit a resume to work for Lucsondis? No personality-cloned androids need apply however.
c) On a personal note, I’m married; I have 3 grown children, and 5 grandchildren. Since I’m only 18 years old myself, I’m not sure how I managed that. ;)
3. Tell us about your books. Genre, titles, any favorite characters? What can we look forward to from you in the near future? WIP’s, upcoming releases.
Here’s the chronological order for my Science Fiction Romance series. All are M/M except as noted: Wulf: Tales of the Chosen, At the Mercy of Her Pleasure (M/F), For Women Only (M/F), Alitus: Tales of the Chosen, Jawk: Tales of the Chosen, Surrender Love. All are set in the Tarthian Empire and have overlapping characters. You can read them alone, but if you read them in this order you’ll see things as they unfold. If you have no patience for series, then read Surrender Love. It’s the latest, and does a fair job of catching you up on everyone. Then as you find you’re interested in particular characters, explore their books. Favorite characters? Well, Luc Saint-Cyr is in every one of the books set in the Tarthian Empire, but so are a few others.
Latest book: Fifty Gays of Shade. It’s an M/M BDSM anthology from Torquere Press. Here’s the blurb: Welcome to Shady Business, the hottest gay BDSM club in town. Owned by Grey Shade, it's the place you want to be if you're into leather, whips, crops, and hot and steamy sex.
Each story in this anthology takes the reader inside the club for a steamy, hot night filled with passion, sex, and leather. From love stories that pluck at the heartstrings with riding crops to subs masquerading as Doms, from virginal first-time forays into the scene, to tales of experienced members in the leather community, there's something for every reader here. Top or bottom, Dom or sub, every need is met, every desire filled.
At Shady Business, no good deed ever goes unpunished.
The book is edited by Kiernan Kelly, with stories by Kiernan Kelly, Kayelle Allen, KC Burn, Lydian Harker, CR Guilano, Sascha Illyvich, Wt Prater, Emily Moreton, CC Bridges, Wade Kelly, CB Conwy, DC Juris, Amelia June, KC Wells, Winnie Jerome, PT Walden, and Sean Michael.
Coming April 23rd: a mini-sequel to Surrender Love (Loose Id) called Forbid My Heart (M/M). Blurb: Waking in the middle of the night, Izzorah seeks Luc for comfort. His lover has pledged to take him back to his homeworld, but Izzorah knows the fact that they’re gay could cause their death if the Kin Pride Council hears about it. Izzorah’s heart tells him to trust Luc, but his fear is real. Luc can’t seem to accept that some things aren’t worth fighting for, and tries to distract Izzorah by a sexy game of dominance and submission played during their shared shower. For Izzorah, trusting Luc is easy. Trusting his own heart has never been so hard, or so rewarding.
No release date yet, but I have a short story coming out from Ellora’s Cave later this year. Blurb: Keeper of My Pleasure is a male/female BDSM romance. Koo Ayakura is a recent college graduate. He restored an antique car, and when it’s stolen and the thieves hold him liable for damages, he seeks a lawyer. Rai Whethen is in her late thirties, and a successful attorney. Her penchant for handsome young men with long hair is easy to indulge, but Koo, her newest client, makes her long for more than the usual boy toy. After she wins his case, he agrees to go to dinner with her, and then to being tied up and whipped. Koo not only submits, he enjoys submitting, and wants more. Perhaps Rai has found that perfect partner she’s been seeking. She longs to take Koo beyond sub to full time lover, but he’s a young man with a future ahead of him, and she’s a jaded lawyer. He wants sex, not love. Yes, he gives in to her the way she’d always dreamed it could be with a lover. She trusts him to submit. But to keep Koo close to her, Rai is going to have to learn to trust her heart.
4. Is there a common thread in your books? How do your values show up in your writing? What do you want readers to take from your writing?
My books cover diverse and unconventional families, interspecies and multicultural relationships, role-playing games, conspiracies, war, duty, honor, respect, love, and through it all -- humor. I love to laugh. I have characters who giggle while making love, or who play pranks on one another. There is humor in the absurd. One scene in At the Mercy of Her Pleasure features a robotic suitcase that goes berserk at precisely THE absolute worst possible time, and havoc ensues as the characters try to deal with it. In Surrender Love, Izzorah is healed from being almost blind, and Luc is excited to share the world with him. Trouble is, he completely forgets that Rah hasn’t seen the outdoors in years, and when they walk outside, he is exposed to the bright blue wide-open sky -- and freaks. Everyone goes into panic mode thinking there’s something terribly wrong -- but it’s just Izzorah having a minor meltdown because there was suddenly more of everything than he knew how to deal with. Luc has to stop and deal with his fear, and it’s a tender moment laced with humor. If there isn’t a dollop of humor somewhere, you aren’t reading one of my books.
What do I hope they take away? I make this promise to my readers, right on my homepage: “I promise you a complex plot that immerses you in an exciting tale and provides unexpected action in settings so real you'll swear you've been there.”
5. What do you look for in a good book?
Great editing. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it yanks me out of a story to find typos and grammatical errors. I’m not talking about the one mistake that every editor in the publishing house overlooked in chapter ten -- I’m talking about poor writing and editing that allows blatant errors on page one. If I pick up a book and it has errors in the first couple of pages -- I put it back down. It tells me the rest of the book will be the same way, and I’d rather read than edit. My inner editor won’t shut up, so writing has to be top notch for me to enjoy a story. I wish I was oblivious to it, but I can’t be. Will you find errors in my work? Probably. No one is perfect, but I strive for it with everything in me. I expect the same in a story I buy.
6. What are some of the best social media, marketing, and publicity tips you’ve come across?
How long do you have? LOL I created Marketing for Romance Writers to share them with everyone. Favorite tip: grab your name on every new social media out there. Sign up, create a profile, and then if you want to forget it for a bit, fine. If you decide to use it later, it’ll be waiting for you. Nothing worse than discovering you want a program later, but someone has already tied up your name and you have to think of creative ways around it. Also, sometimes signing up is free at first, but later you have to pay. It’s good to be ahead of the game.
7. What are some things you know now about writing and being an author that you wish someone had told you at the very beginning?
That it’s work. That it’s a business. It isn’t just telling a story. You must do that of course. But once you tell the story, you have to edit, publish, edit more, promote, protect, and so on. It’s like a baby -- you don’t just have it and then throw it out the door. You have to care for it. If you are serious about writing, you need to get serious about your career as a writer too.
8. Along that same line, what are some of your favorite resources?
A new one that I don’t know how I ever did without is ProWritingAid. It’s a free service that edits for you online. You can get a pro version of it as well, but the free one is amazing. It has 19 reports you can get just by entering your text and clicking “analyze.” I have beta readers, but before it goes to them, it goes here. Once it’s polished with this, I send it to my beta readers who go over continuity of story, characterization, and story theme. When they’ve approved it, it goes to my publisher for editing.
For research, there’s nothing like Google. You can find anything with that search engine. If you have an image but don’t know who or what it is, you can go to Google, click Images, and drag the image to the search box. It will find matching images for you so you know more. Amazing way to find data. Try dragging your book covers there! You will be surprised what it finds.
9. What lifts your spirits when you’re discouraged?
Discouraged as a writer? A good review. When I get one, I copy it, paste it into Word, and save it in a file. Then when I need a snippet (or a pick me up) I can find it again. I always include the URL so I can go back to it later. Those change when sites archive, so be ready to do some research to find them later.
Discouraged as a person? I get out of the house and go for a walk. Get some rest. Get away from work. I spend time with my grandchildren. Nothing picks you up like time with kids. If you’re discouraged because you have kids you can’t get away from -- bless you. ;) I’ve been there! All I can say is -- you will survive. Just hang in there and try to enjoy as well as endure. Twenty years from now, you’ll look back and remember these times as the good old days. No, it doesn’t help now. But it will. It gets better.
10. What tips can you offer towards building and maintaining a strong support system as a writer?
Befriend other authors. Take time to support them. If you do that, you will always find a friend when you need one. No one reads just one book. People crave good stories and good authors. Your author friends have readers looking for things to read, and you should be telling your readers about them as well. Find people who write stories similar to yours, and read their books. Review them. Email them and tell them how much you love their work. Tweet a link to their website. Friend them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. You could mean the world to another author. When you have a new book out, guess who will be glad to have you come by and share?
Links to books by Kayelle Allen
Author site - http://kayelleallen.com/Books.html
Liquid Silver Books - http://lsbooks.com/Kayelle-Allen-c145.php
Amazon - http://is.gd/amz_kayelleallen
Barnes and Noble - http://is.gd/MMkil7
iTunes - http://is.gd/itunes_kayelle
Torquere Press - http://is.gd/50gaysofshade