It's time for a new episode of Steam Scenes and Kelly Ohlert is this week’s guest! We talk about her debut rom com To Get to the Other Side and, of course, writing the naughty bits. It’s a great conversation filled with lots of talk about sexual freedom and independence so you know I was there for it!
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Kelly alert is an adult fiction author with a focus on romantic comedy. Her debut novel to get to the other side comes out December 6 2022. With all Cove press, she's a lifelong avid reader of all genres, and as a busy mom has an enthusiastic appreciation for audiobooks and multitasking. Kelly grew up in the Chicago area but moved to attend Western Michigan University she hung around Michigan, hopping from city to city, her meet cute involved borrowing that hot guy's baseball cap and it's been love ever since. She her husband, the aforementioned ball cap owner, and their two young daughters reside in the Lansing area with their menagerie of five Furbabies. Aside from the obvious reading and writing Kelly's hobbies include belting out showtunes game nights losing her cell phone with alarming frequency Mewtwo and cutting outside to enjoy nature. If you meet her approach with caution she works from home and in her cabin fevered state has been known to pounce on unsuspecting strangers to leech them an ounce of adult conversation. Welcome to steam scenes, Kelly, we're having very adult conversation today. And it's really great to have you here.
Thank you so much.
So I'm what I'm kind of. Okay, do you have a day job? We don't have to say what it is. I'm just kind of curious.
Yes, I do. I'm an implementation consultant for a tech company.
I have no idea what that means. Because I'm always curious if like the writing part, like if that if like writing has anything to do with your day job so that in the slightest No, I was gonna say it sounds like it's it doesn't. So I'm curious. When did you when did the writing thing happened? Like, when did you realize, oh, I want to do this.
So I wouldn't say for me that there's been one single moment where it was like, Yes, this is it. And from then on, I was writing. I mean, when I was a kid, I always liked to write stories. In my free time. It was just something fun that I did. But I don't know that I really thought yes, I'm going to be an author. That's what I want to do. And then in college, I would always get comments from my professors that, hey, your writing is really good. And you should, you know, maybe consider that. But I didn't really start taking it too seriously. Around 2011. I was thinking about giving it a go. And I got about halfway through writing. It was actually a middle grade. Or maybe why a fantasy that I never ended up finishing. And then I stepped back from it for a few years. And then I started reading romances. And something kind of clicked into place. I was like, Oh, yes, this is what fits my voice. That's the piece that was missing before. And so I started writing one after I had read a few more and had a better sense for the genre. And it just kind of has taken off from there. So I've been taking it seriously since probably like 2017.
Okay, I'm curious what kind of clicked into place for you like, what, what what clicked into you in 2011 that made you say, Oh, I think I want to write this fantasy. This why fantasy?
I think it was so when I started reading the fantasy. It was kind of boredom and needing a break from wedding planning to do some other things. And so I tried doing that and I just got halfway through it. And I hadn't really at that point, it was still more of a hobby to me and I wasn't like researching craft or anything like that. So when I got stuck, I didn't know how to fix it, because I wasn't, you know, set on doing this as maybe a potential future career. And then you know, when my mom recommended a Sophie Kinsella book to me, I read it and I actually don't remember which one it was because I loved it so much that I immediately read her entire catalogue. So I read like 20 of her books back to back to back so I don't remember which one was the first one. And then once I ran out of those, I was like okay, I have to find more I have to find more rom coms. And so then I read the hating game by Sally Thorne and the kiss quotient and some others and have just branched out from there the roomies by Christina Lauren and, and kind of branched out and I just I felt like that style really worked well with what I had been trying to do before. And the more adult voice that I was able to take at that point because I am an adult. It just it just flowed better for me than what I've been trying to work before.
And then so so because you found romance in 2017 That's when you started taking it seriously. What was that shift that you said, oh, you know what, I think this could be a thing that I do.
I III? I don't know. I mean, I, I joined Twitter.
I'm so sorry.
Yes, yes, it is a hellscape. But there are also some really cool people. Yeah, and I had, and that's kind of how I met the writing community. And I guess it kind of tore down that wall to where authors weren't just this mysterious creature that was totally inaccessible. Twitter brought about a level of accessibility to authors that I hadn't had before. And I could see them tweeting about their process and things like that found things like pitch wars, where you could get a mentor I didn't, I entered it. But I was not accepted into pitch wars. But through that, I met a whole community of other writers joined some other groups to speak with other writers. And we began critiquing each other's work, and it just made it something suddenly that was achievable versus just total pipe dream.
Oh, that's so cool. And you found all of this, this community on Twitter?
Yeah, I would say the biggest thing was, I don't know how I came across pitch wars originally. I think I was just maybe like searching for writing contests or something like that. And I came across it and was like, oh, a mentorship. That's, that's what I need. Because I was still so new to it. And there were so many people submitting to it, and just like anxious over the wait period, that one day I tweeted, hey, does anybody else want to be in a DM group where we can just commiserate about this weight, and a whole bunch of people replied, and it pared down. So we started with maybe like, 20 people, and it reduced, I think there's seven of us in it. Now, who years later, I think it's two years, since since we started this group, maybe it's coming up on three. And all of us are in there every day chatting and following each other's process. And three of us now have booked deals, several others have agents. And it's just been a really fun journey. And I'm just so grateful to have the support of them. And other groups that I've joined. Since
that's so cool. I had no idea that that kind of happened, you know, because I always wonder how, you know, writers would find each other, right, and then sort of like theirs. And they're like, Well, I have my, my, my writing group, and we get together on it when we write together on Zoom, or we do that. And I'm like, how do you find all these people?
Like, just by tweeting it people? That's, that's all I did, and the people came?
That's really kind of great. Um, what was, I guess, what was the most surprising thing you learned through this process?
Um, I would say that, I. So we have to take everybody's advice with a grain of salt, because, you know, not something that works for everybody will work for you. But it came as a shock to me when I realized that like, I don't have to have an entire hour and entire two hours to be able to dedicate to my writing to make good progress. So when I shifted from writing for only when I could sit down at an app for an hour at a time to anytime I had 15 minutes, I would just try to get a paragraph or two down, I realized that I could get a lot done that way. And I wrote the second half of my draft that I was working on in like, a quarter of the time as the first half of that draft. So that really kind of revolutionized things for me and made this much more attainable, while also having a full time job and also being a mom.
Wow, okay. I'm fascinated by this. Because I am like, if I don't have that two hours, or whatever, like if I feel pressed and like can't get the two I like I'm like I can't write today. And I think that's a mistake, because like you said, like you don't see any forward progress. And so I'm very curious about this sort of like, I know that you can do the writing sprints, right. And so I guess, Does this qualify? Is that what it is, it's just sort of feels like a sprint.
Yeah, it does feel like a sprint. And to help me with that, what I'll do is, at the end of a writing session, I'll make myself write for just like, an extra four seconds. Like I'll write one sentence that just quick tells me where I was going with things so that I don't have to spend, you know, the first five minutes rereading the last page or so that I wrote to get back into the flow of things. Just see, this is what my intention, this was where I was going next. And I can take right off from there without having to do so much rereading.
So do you plot ahead of time because I'm just kind of curious if this works better for plotters, or if it can work for Panthers.
God I wish I could plot ahead of time. I wish I so desperately want to be a plotter and I am just not I've tried, I tried really hard. And for a proposal that I submitted to my publisher, you write the first three chapters, and then chapter summaries for the rest of the book to submit the proposal. And I swear to you, I think it took me longer to write those chapter summaries and synopsis that it would have taken me to just draft the actual book, because it was just so hard for me to try to outline I just, my brain does not work that way.
I'm the same way. And I'm really trying to outline the the book that I'm working on now, because I'm feeling a little bit stuck with the story. Like, I'm like, I have the premise. And now I'm like, I don't know where to go with this. And so and so I'm like, Okay, I think it's time that you outline, and that it just sucks.
I just feel your pain,
I just want to write the damn thing. But I do love the idea of 15 minutes. And I'm sort of encouraged that you said it took you because it just it's for me, it's like, oh, if I just do 15 minutes here or there, I'm never gonna get the book written that way. But you did get the book written that way
it did. And I still did do the longer sections too, I would still have because most of the time I write at night after my kids are in bed. So I would still do our two long sessions at night when I could and what my brain was feeling up to it after they were in bed. But adding that 15 minutes on a lunch break or 15 minutes. If I got the kids to school a little bit earlier that day and had time before work. It really helped speed up the process. For me.
That's really cool. And that's really good to know. And I think I'm going to try that because I'm just going into like a really busy, like day job time and I'm start and I know like I'm not back in my rhythm. I'm not on my schedule. I'm not writing as fast as I should. And it's beginning to sort of really weigh on me. So I think I'm going to try this 15 minutes.
Absolutely. Give it a go.
Okay, so you mentioned Sophie consola and I read her Shopaholic because she's got to shopaholics I think confessions and then a second one. I think there's a whole bunch of Lego. Yeah. And I loved it, but I can't remember was that that was closed. That wasn't really steamy. Right? No. Okay,
the books are all open door. Okay. I mean, closed door. Sorry.
Okay. Because because I was like, I can't remember if if she had the steamy scenes in it or not. So when you wrote, okay, let me let me go with to get to the other side. Was that your first romance?
It was the second one that I drafted. So the first one I drafted, it got me my agent. But when we were sending it on submission to publishers, we were getting very consistent feedback on it. And it was just not something, it was all valid. And I 100% agreed with it. It just wasn't something that I felt like I could fix. And I knew that to get to the other side, was in a place where we were almost ready with it. And I was just so much more confident and knew it was the better book that I made the decision with my agent to pull back that first manuscript and instead finished getting to get to the other side ready, so we could send that out. But yeah, it's my second manuscript.
Okay, so do you mind? Are you comfortable talking about like, what happened with that first manuscript that you felt like it didn't sell?
Yeah, I think it was, the feedback that we were consistently getting was that the writing was was solid, the voice was great. But that it did not have enough of a plot to stand out as a debut. And I don't disagree with that. I think that's a very accurate assessment. But missing a plot is not exactly an easy fix. It's kind of a total rewrite. So it's something that maybe I'll address and go back to in the future, because there's a lot of good pieces to it that I really love. Or maybe I'll just take those bits and pieces and use them in another book down the line. Who knows? We'll see. I feel like nothing is ever shelved forever. So we'll see where that goes.
Right? Absolutely. I mean, that's the great part about having like a little bit of a backless that hasn't seen the light of day as you can, rework it, pull from it, move things around. Like that's like really some great stuff that you can actually do with this with the things that you think are just like, oh, nothing's gonna go anywhere with that, but actually, like it will, you know, like, sometimes, characters I've crafted for other projects that I've never really worked, you know, never really went anywhere. I'll be like, well, let me pop them in this book. Because that could be fun. You know?
Yeah, sometimes there's another good fit for it. Yeah,
exactly. Exactly. So with the first book. Did you write steamy scenes in there? Or were you close the door? What was that like for you?
At this point, I have drafted It fully five, five, I think five manuscripts. And I think each one has gotten progressively more open door started off totally closed. And I think as I've gained comfort with it, I've just opened that door a bit more with each book. And I think some of that has to do with the reading as well, because I started off reading off Sophie consolas. And all of those were closed door. And then I've started reading more and more open door books as well. So I've kind of gradually opened that door as I've gotten more comfortable. And there's other reasons that I think open door scenes are really important, and I want to include them in my works. So moving forward, I would anticipate most of my work being open door.
So well, I guess, a two part question. But what why do you feel like they're important?
Sure. So I think that, with everything that is going on today, without getting too political, I feel like it's really important that women maintain their sense of sexual freedom and independence. And so I think romance is something that can help do that, when a character is vocal about what they need in the bedroom of like, yes, that right there. Because I feel like so many women don't inherently know that, hey, it's okay for you to speak up for yourself about what you want, and what you need in the bedroom. And that sex is still a really uncomfortable topic for a lot of people. And I love that romance has an opportunity to help bridge that gap and make it a more comfortable topic. And I feel like romances can also be a teaching tool. I love that I'm seeing in books. Recently, I'm seeing more of a stress on there being enthusiastic verbal consent. In books, I think that's super important. And I'm also seeing more on the page conversations about STI testing, and use of protection, and all of that. So I think it goes a long way towards normalizing those conversations in life when you're reading them again. And again, it makes you more comfortable to talk about those things in person. So I think that they can really help function as a means of sex education, and just normalizing conversations in general.
I love it. And I completely agree. And I also think that it can I think anytime that we can celebrate women's pleasure, I think that is so such an important thing to do. Because too many times we're just sort of like, treated like vessels, right? Like, like men can enjoy sex women have to bear the burden of like, you know, unwanted pregnancy or, you know, like, it just seems like the like there is no point there's pleasure is not allowed for women. And if we do have that pleasure, it always comes with some sort of punishment. Absolutely. And not the fun, kind. And so to see women have unapologetically fun, pleasurable sexual moments is like, I don't know, it's such a radical notion.
It is and it shouldn't be. But yeah, that's why I think it is so important to include those in books and why I think I will be trending towards having that open door.
Yeah. What What made you uncomfortable to start with, like, how they, you know, I love that you kind of like ease into it, right? Like realistically try this. And let me go a little further, a little further, a little further. And I'm sort of wondering, what was the whole what was holding you back to start?
I don't know, I when I say that it's an uncomfortable topic for money. I feel like, just a few years ago, it was an uncomfortable topic for me. But the more and more I read with other books that have open door, the more and more comfortable I get with it myself and get with having those conversations and, and all of that. So I think that's how it became important to me is that I've seen how important it has been with bringing that level of comfort for myself, it'll help bring that comfort level to others at least that's the hope there. So that's
so for, for book five, right? Because you said you have five manuscripts and I'm sort of curious for book five, like how far along are we?
So, definitely, I still want to be in the rom com genre and not quite moving into erotica, just because I kind of want that consistency in genre. So I'm not quite crossing that line, but definitely open door scene or scenes depending on the book and what feels right for the book. How many scenes There are, and using that more explicit language throughout the scenes, stuff like that. And I've, I should say I've written five manuscripts but of course, one is the one that didn't sell. I have two solds currently. And then I have two others that I'm working on, kind of getting ready for submission, but aren't actually out of their way to publishers or anything like that yet.
Okay, because that is to get to the other side, which is coming out in December. Current on your second book is let's get quizzical. Which sounds like a hoot. I mean, they both they both, like, sound like absolutely hilarious. And I, did you sell them together as a package deal? Or did you sell one and then get get the deal for the second one?
No, two separate deals. So we sold them about a year apart from each other. And let's get quizzical I had drafted. I probably had it drafted by the time that the first one sold, but we only sold ticket to the other side in a single book deal. And then over the next year, I worked on getting less get quizzical and more editor eyes friendly, I guess we can say and then ended up selling it in another one book deal a year later.
That's really excellent. Did you ever imagine that you would sell that's so cool. No, I
didn't. I mean, I hoped but you you never know. And I know a lot of people who have just been who have just incredibly talented and have been grinding at this for years and, and still not managed to get where I'm at. So I think a lot of it comes down to luck. In addition to of course, perseverance, and working hard and learning the ropes so that you have an idea what you're doing. So very grateful to be where I'm at. But getting that phone call was definitely a fun, fun moment. Fun Day.
Yeah, you know, and I know, you know, self publishing is sort of, you know, especially with romance. That's what most writers do. So I think, you know, when you do go to get that trade deal, like, I don't know, I just I just always find that really kind of fascinating, like, why did you decide to do the trade deal, as opposed to doing it yourself.
Um, I just, for me, the dream was very tied closely to, I want to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my book. And that's a much harder thing to do when you go with any publishing and there's nothing wrong with indie publishing, I have lots of indie authors that I absolutely love and have put out some phenomenal work. But I just felt like the traditional route, at least to begin with was the way to go for me.
Gotcha. All right. So so to get to the other side is closed door. Yes, let's get quizzical. That is not? Or is that sort of like your toe in the door open? Like, I'm just sort of curious, like in terms of like the evolution of your steamy your steamy scenes?
Yeah, sure. So to get to the other side, it actually did start out as closed door, but with a lot of sexual tension. So that first, that first book, there was, you know, some crude humor in it, that first manuscript, but not a ton of sexual tension, like a whole lot of language in there. But then with to get to the other side there is there was a ton of sexual tension. And I think it was maybe because I knew deep down that I really wanted to open that door. But I wasn't quite ready to do it. So I was like, as close as I could, opening that door without quite getting there. And at the time, my publisher wasn't putting out Open Door scenes in their books, either. So we ended up scaling it back a little bit and taking out some of the physical reactions that they had to each other in different moments and toning back the language a bit. But there still is a lot of that tension in there and a lot of stuff. I don't know, that kind of language that you don't typically see. So I feel like it's, it's still is closer to being an open door book without quite making its way there. Right. And then with let's get quizzical, grounded, I don't know what the finished product is going to look like because it's not coming out until fall of 2023. So it hasn't gone through the Edit process with my publisher yet. So who knows what the final product will look like. But it does have an open door scene and my publisher has since you know started putting out books with Open Door scenes and that was one of the conversations that we had when we were talking about signing a contract for this second book or was that I really wanted it to be open door and I wanted to be able to keep that scene in there. And they were fine with that. So I'm fairly confident that it will end up in the final product having that open door scene.
What was that like for you to write? Since it was your first one?
oh, good. Usually everyone's like, it was agony. But I got through it, you know, and I love that you're like, it was freedom.
Yeah, it was. I mean, like a little bit of awkwardness to it, of course, as well. But it was also kind of like, Yes, I think especially because I'd come so close to writing that with the first one that like, finally going over that line. Felt good to do. But I will say I do prefer to prefer to be a wee bit tipsy when I write my when I write my Open Door scenes, so it just kind of takes that filter off a little bit. They definitely come out spicier the vibration is.
See, this is where that doesn't work for me anymore. Because like I used to write at night like you and then I changed my schedule so that I write first thing in the morning.
At 5am. You imagine
it's like just me and my wineglass if that would be a problem. I don't know. I don't know how that would work out.
I will tell anybody.
When you say you're writing your first one, and you're like, Okay, this is freedom. Did did was there anything that? Did it just flow? Or did something slow? You down? Did have writing? Like, did you feel like you were slowed down a bit? Because you're trying to sort of figure out okay, how do I get out of my head? My own head to write this scene?
Yeah, um, I think there was still a little bit of a black in there, because it was the first time I'd written one, and there's still a little bit of that discomfort. And it's like, well, which word for certain parts should I be using? Does that sound too cringe? Does that sound too much like, I should not be writing this kind of scene or? So if I need that balance was a little bit tough. And I think with with one of the ones that I'm drafting now, I noticed that when I was just reading through it recently, in doing it at it, I noticed that I definitely used a lot more of the vulgar terminology. With the open door scenes in that one, I was like, Oh, wow, I really went for it here. So I can, I can see myself getting more comfortable with each manuscript. It's kind of an interesting progression to watch.
You know, the words are hard, but I do think I struggle because I don't want you know, first of all, nobody wants to write for robbing member like nobody. And and, you know, but you just kind of like emojis. Just the eggplant emoji is just so great, right? It's just I'm like, I would love to write with him. Because after a while, like how, what can I call those? What word can I use that that hasn't been overused that matches the moment that because sometimes, you maybe want to tone down the vulgarity, even if the scene is super steamy,
right? Yeah, you don't want it to call this such a shock. And something that I'm learning through with the reviews on my first book, unfortunately, are that you have to make sure that the language that you're using really fits the tone of the rest of the book. So if you have a closed door book, maybe you shouldn't be using such explicit language throughout. Because that, that leaves a bit of a letdown because people have our setup for a certain expectation of a book going one way and then it goes another. So I think you have to make sure that the language you're using in those scenes fits the tone of the rest of the book. Whoa,
okay, wait. So you're I'm assuming some early reviews are trickling in from the arc reader. And you're saying that there were some reviews that were sort of saying like they the the language, they made them misinterpret what the book was?
I mean, I think it's just that. And I think this is a very valid point. That as they're reading, because I use some stronger language throughout, and we have a lot of that touch tension throughout. It kind of sets an expectation that it is going to be open door. So then it has a tendency to feel a bit more like a letdown when that door does not end up opening up in their case. So you know, hindsight 2020 If I could go back that is probably one thing that I would change is to tone down the language a little bit to match the fact that it is closed door.
Oh, no. Okay, that's really that's super interesting. Do it. You know, Samantha chases work?
I do not. Oh, she's awesome.
And she was one of an early guests, I actually need to have her back on because she was so super fun to talk to. She writes closed door, and. And she's hilarious because she's like, I just can't write open door. I just can't do it. But when you read her stuff, like it is super, super steamy. And she takes you right to the edge, and then closes the door. And the readers love the readers. Absolutely. I would take a look at her stuff. I mean, just just you know, to just take a look because she is writing like the super like, I when my my expectation when I was reading her, her book and the scene that she sent me for the first time I was like, oh, it's uh, you know, it's gonna be not steamy at all. And then I read it and I was like, Jesus, this this is really, really like, Leo's really steamy. Like, it really went. She really was sort of dancing on that line. Yeah. And I thought that that was super interesting. You know, because I've often heard like, you people either want the open door, or they don't want the open door. But I think that there's a happy medium in there right now that people are starting to gravitate towards like,
are you on Tik Tok? I am.
Okay, have you heard about? I've only noticed it. Maybe it's a thing, but I only noticed it on Tik Tok recently, medium spice.
Yeah, I mean, I think tick tock I think every person on there has their own rating scale for what spicy memes? I think you would find a very wide range in the definitions of spicy there. So it very much depends on the person. And when you say medium. I mean, to some people, medium is open door. And that's about it. And then to some people medium is some pretty heavy stuff. So I think it just really depends a lot on the person. But I could see that there absolutely is, you know, a call for for middle of the road. That that makes sense to me.
Yeah, absolutely. I just was like, sort of fascinated by because I was like, What is medium spice? And I think there's Samantha right, medium spice? Or would that not be like spice light, like this medium spice business? So I was like, just kind of like, well, maybe it's like the close door but a little bit more graphic on the way to the bedroom?
Yeah, I've seen people on their Instagram, like on their profile. They have like, what their rating scale means.
Oh, that's actually really useful. Yeah, that
that is handy.
Unknown Speaker 32:47
That is really, really useful.
I wish I could think offhand of somebody who does it. But I can't.
I've been kind of like slightly tick tock, tick tock obsessed, because I'm having a terrible time with that. So I'm, I'm curious. It's easy to get fooled. Are you on? Like, do you do the videos and stuff like that? Are you?
I do I have. So I for a long time was like I'm not doing tic tac about learning another platform. I'm not doing it. I'm not doing that. But I do it. And then I joined it. And then I felt like totally obsessed with it. And was was posting a lot of content and all that and lately, I haven't had as much time for it. So I have two weekly series that I do on there. So lately, my posts have pretty much just been those two weekly series and then an occasional promo post. And I haven't been doing as many just for fun posts as I used to do. But I would love to do more if time allowed for it. But yeah, I enjoy tic tac much more than other platforms.
Really because I'm just I I'm struggling on there. I'm dying a slow death. I'm just like, I just feel so awkward and weird. And I'm like maybe I'm too old for this. Maybe that's the problem, where I'm like, Oh, I don't know about this. I don't understand what's going on. And I see everybody's like so natural. And I'm just like there with my resting bitchface just being like what I don't know is so awkward. I'm cute. What do you do for your series that you have on there?
So okay, so for me, I think the biggest difference between Instagram and Tiktok is that Instagram is like this is my beautiful perfect thing. And tick tock is like go ahead and be sloppy we don't mind.
Which I'm down for that because yeah, Instagram pretty is like Not me either, but I can't do I don't know tick tock is like, oh,
yeah, I have this amazing skill for every time I go viral. It's like one of the videos where I'm in pajamas. I'm like, awesome, great. That's fantastic. One of the ones where I look nicer, but whatever. I'll take it either way. But the series that I do so on most Tuesdays whenever I have time for it. I'm Most Tuesdays I do my publishing Tuesday where I talk about mostly romances that are releasing that week. Sometimes I throw in another book, if something in particular catches my eye, but I kind of quickly sum up romances coming out that week. And then, on Thursdays, I do debut view, which is, I work with other debut authors, mostly who I've found through their 2022, debut slack group. I will invite them onto my channel to share a little bit about their book, whether that's a quick these are the tropes that I have in my book, or whether they're just talking about their book firm that or they're doing a like stitch challenge or something like that, that is relevant to their book, I invite other debut authors on to it, and I've been doing. I've been doing publishing Tuesday for about a year and a half and debut for about a year. So I started that with some of the 2021 debuts and like continued that with 2022.
Wow, this is really amazing. Like, you're kind of playing the long game here. That's very, yeah. Like, I love that you started so early. I mean, I've been on tick tock for over a year. And I'm just like, Oh, I think it's been over, you know, maybe it's been less than a year. I can't even remember now when I dropped when I joined. But like there was like, just like this huge gap between like joining, and then first post, and then second post it, you know, and I've just, you know, like, I'm still like, I was pretty good like for like a week. Or I posted like every other day, but I kind of had a lot of stuff saved up in drafts. And then I ran out and I was like, No, I don't know what to do. I, but I do love that you have this group 22 debuts that I've gotten a number of people that I've interviewed for this podcast from that group. And how did you how did you find each other was this another Twitter call? It
was, it was I stumbled across it on Twitter. And I cannot recommend highly enough to any new author to find your debut group. There's one for every year, there was one for 2021. I know there's already one set up for 2023 and 2024. Absolutely join that group because the value that that group has brought can, I cannot speak highly enough to it. Because just being able to commiserate with other people who are going through the same things that you're going through and see other people going through in some cases before you or if you're like me, and you're probably the last person or one of them, if not the last person to debut in the year because I would December, getting to see a lot of people going through it and being able to learn from them has been incredible. There's been shared resources. So like we all are anybody who's able to donate it a little bit of money to it. And then we use those funds for like group giveaways, we bought a group Canva license so that we could have a professional camera license that everybody has access to. So there's tangible resources like that. Myself and a bunch of the other romance authors that are in the group are working together on a bunch of group promos as well, where we're making sure that we're boosting each other's release days. But then we're also doing some fun like game promotions where we had a jigsaw puzzle with all of our covers, and like a matching memory game with all of our covers. And we're going to be doing a few more over the next couple months. With promotions like that. So just so many group promotions, so much commiseration, so many things you just don't think about like what brand of pens should I buy for signing books, there's been conversations about that, and how do I approach a bookstore if I want to set up, you know, doing my sign copies for them or doing an event with them. And it just and then people sharing things like your podcast when you know, somebody's looking for other authors, there's just been a lot of opportunities like that that have come up. So the value of those is incredible. So much I have gotten from that group and I am so lucky to have found that. That's so
cool. And I'm guessing like when you know, January 2023 rolls around calendar rolls over, the group doesn't go away. You've stayed together as kind of like, you know, on the author journey, I'm assuming
Yeah, absolutely. We've got group or we've got channels in there for talking about future books, so that we can have conversations about how things differ with future books versus your previous books. We've got lessons learned after publishing so that people can share you know, some bullets of Some of the things that they learned through their journey, stuff like that, you know, good reads channels and just everything that you can imagine,
in terms of like, what what you're writing, right? Are you? Are you all rom com? Or is it across the spectrum?
It's it's truly across the spectrum. So it's everybody, it's all age group age categories, all genres. And then we have sub channels with, are you familiar with the way slack is laid out?
I am. Yeah, so.
So we've got the bead slack group, but that we have channels for different genres in different age groups. So that if you're posting something that's only relevant to a Seuss a smaller group, or if you want to do something like the US more targeted promotion, like we're doing with the romance group that you can kind of address that in those smaller channels.
This is amazing. Okay, so this is like every author, I mean, obviously, not every author. But if you're writing thriller, you can be in 22 debuts. If you're writing police procedurals, you can be at 2222 debuts, like this is like everything. Correct? We lost romance? Oh, that's really cool.
Yeah, it's great. And we've done, you know, especially for those of us in the second half of the year, who tend to get left off of most anticipated lists. Oh, so we were a few of us, were getting kind of bummed out about that in the channel one day. And they were like, well screw it, let's just make our own most anticipated list. So we, you know, the way that this group comes together, and people just like organize so quickly, to get something like this at action, we immediately had a spreadsheet with a list of different ideas for different categories that we could do. And people could add themselves to the list that they wanted to be on. And then people volunteered to put an article together about that list. And then we've got other volunteers who run the Twitter page and the Instagram page and built our website. And so there's just so many people who have put forth so much volunteer work that has really just created this synergy, where it's, it's just incredible.
That's really cool. Okay, so I didn't know that there were all these, like, I'm gonna have to go check this out, because I'm fascinated by this, because I absolutely love. I absolutely love it when authors are supporting other other authors. I mean, that's why I do this podcast, because this is like fun for me to talk to other authors and to support and give you an extra outlet. Because, you know, I love my day jobs in media. And I like it's hard to break out in more mainstream outlets, you know, New York Times doesn't review romance books, they should, you know, but they don't, they're very dismissive. You know, so it's, and it's just increasingly hard to get any sort of media coverage. And so, you know, this is, that's why podcasts are amazing. And it's been great to sort of see other, you know, creators doing these things who are saying, hey, you know, this thing exists and, and come on my show, and let's promote each other and build each other up. And so I absolutely love the whole idea of this of this group.
Yeah, definitely check it out. 22 debuts.com. So it's just the to to debut stock calm. There's, you can search by author, you can search by book, there's, you can search by genre, age group, you can, I think we even have, I want to say that we might even have a trip search on there, but I couldn't do that. And then we've got a blog on there that has these most anticipated lists. So like the most recent post is 11 new books by neurodivergent authors. So we've got all sorts of categories.
Oh my god. So how many people in this group? I mean, I don't need a hard number, but like, just approximate
hundreds, it's Wow,
wow, that's great, though, because there's like strength and numbers right there. Right. Like, you can do these things like the most anticipated and, and, you know, I love that you sort of said that. The, you know, the writers with the books coming out towards the end of the year, we're not on the most anticipated list, because I'm like, you know, goes to show you and uh, you know, it's not necessary, it can just be a time of year thing, where people are just not noticing anything past July.
When people post their most anticipated books of the year, they're posting those in like December in January. Well, at that point, a lot of the December people for this year hadn't even announced yet let alone cover reveals have by links up or anything like that. So they had just no shot of being on those lists. So
right, right. And so it's not it's not anything that you did, it's just the way that it is and I love that you addressed it proactively, and said, Well, if we couldn't be on those lists, we're going to create our own. I think that's awesome and I love that proactive nature. That's, that makes me really excited.
And I just looked it up and it's 436 members. Oh, that's crazy. There's been a whole bunch of authors debut authors who have listed this year. So I'm proud of our group, we've we've accomplished a lot.
That's awesome. Well done, well done. It's also just nice to have somebody to talk to you about shit, right? Yes. You know, and that's just, that's just what I love. So let's get to your intimate theme. Okay, this is from your debut. To get to the other side, which I love this title. I also love Let's get physical. Your titles are fantastic. So what I guess let's start with what is this book about?
So this book is about Trixie who finds a chicken crossing the road one day in downtown Chicago. And presumably, to get to the other side. That was actually inspired by a real life situation. So I called up my friend Gretchen, who I used to go to high school with and one day just to check up say, Hey, what's going on? And she said, Well, I've got a pet chicken now and I said, come in. I've got a pet ticket now. And I said, But don't you live in an apartment in downtown Chicago?
Have you do this?
And she's like, Oh, and it's also uses a wheelchair. And I said, you have a wheelchair using chicken in your apartment in downtown Chicago? And she's like, Yeah, and I found it crossing the road. And I'm like, Stop, you did not. And I just knew immediately I was like, this belongs in a book. Can I use this? And she's like, absolutely. So from there, the story just kind of grew. And I'm like, I know she's actually living in this apartment with a chicken. But that just seems so unrealistic to me, even though I know it's actually happening that I can imagine
the reviews never happen.
And I tried to make it more realistic. And I still get those comments. Oh, my.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, there's one thing with a chicken and a wheelchair.
Exactly. So I changed so I thought you know, okay, so how can I make her housing situation more realistic? Well, maybe that's what it is. Is that to her like, you know, ticking time bomb that, you know, helps bring momentum to a book is that she's got to move out. Within a week. Her landlord is like, nope, nope, as loud, you gotta move. And she's like, No, I'm keeping the chickens so she has to find a new place to live. And so she stumbles across an ad that bear who is the hero in the story. His meddling sisters put this ad out in the newspaper for a his spare room without his knowledge because they just feel he really needs to put himself out there more is an introvert. Yes, he is. He's an extreme introvert. And they're gonna fix that for him. So she responds to this ad and they end up living together. So it's a form of proximity roommates to lovers. Romance, where they are co parenting this chicken and getting up to all sorts of money making shenanigans to try to pay for rising bills and all that kind of fun. Oh,
my God, that's hilarious. So we've got this is grumpy sunshine, I'm guessing is one of the tropes Correct? Or react? Because bears a little bear is a bear? Don't the Bear Bear is a little grumpy it in the way though, right? Like because not really.
Yeah, he's, um, he comes off with that gruff exterior, but he is a total teddy bear. All
right. So um, set up the scene what what has happened here, right before? Where are we in the book.
So this is a picnic scene. And essentially, they're just kind of getting to know each other and they haven't really, they're still kind of fighting that connection that they have between them. Still are kind of set on keeping things platonic, but are getting to the point where that is not super realistic for them anymore. So they're kind of like right towards the edge of their breaking point there.
Okay. How they kissed? I can't remember now if if there were had they kissed yet or was it just that the tension was so strong that they knew that there was something between them it's just that tension they have not kissed at this point. So we are embarrassed point of view and your dual point of view correct Or?
Or? Yes, yes. Mostly alternating chapters. I think there's a couple of words of back to back but mostly alternates chapters.
Okay, cool. So we are in Bear's point of view at this picnic. Like the three of us out for picking the three of us is the chicken too. So it's bear. It's Trixie and it is Check, check. So the three of us three is the third is the chicken. Okay, the three of us out for a picnic at the park felt like such a family thing to do. When we hung around the house as much as we were spending time together, it was easier to brush it off as a roommate thing. Getting out in the world, US and her feather baby that felt as much as my now is hers hadn't concerned me when I'd suggested it. But now I was worried it was a mistake. I could feel the ridges of her back tensing against mine, I didn't certainly pushed us into a gigantic leap forward. I hadn't anticipated. And if I was reading her correctly, we were both beginning to freak out about it. Oh, I kind of love that. There was like some there was intimacy here. Even though there was like nothing really sexual about it with the exception of they're sitting back to back kind of holding each other up. And he just feels her back tense. You know, and so I kind of really liked how there. This felt like such an intimate moment, but there was absolutely nothing going on between them.
Right. It's amazing how just the subtlest things can feel so intense.
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Because it was just that the fact that he noticed her back tensing and the fact that he felt it in the fact that he was thinking about it. And, and the fact that he interpreted it as this sort of like, you know that she was interpreting it the way he is interpreting it, you know what I mean? Like it was it was really kind of well done.
Right? They can reach, they've reached this point in their relationship, which is still a friendship at this point, where they can kind of read each other's minds and he knows what she's thinking just from her physical reactions. Right,
right. Okay, so jumped down a little bit. Actually, no, I'm gonna I'm gonna keep going from where I am because it makes more sense. Fun stop by when I start fawn stop. I when I stopped home on lunch, she mentioned now now fawn is his sister library. It's easier. My family was a conversation topic I could usually handle that's nothing new. She stops by like twice a week. Yeah, but you won't like this one. I found already knowing they'd taken liberties with my generosity and letting them use my stuff all the time. What she borrow you sure you want to know? She asked. Maybe better if you didn't know and I should cook breakfast tomorrow. Well, that was a mistake. That was a statement that was going to be hard to respond generously to. She'd attempted to make it she'd attempted to take over more of the weekend breakfast cooking while I was keeping off my ankle, her gloopy pancake puddles had been less than impressive. What did she take and what does it have to do with breakfast? I asked. A dog barked at the foreign on the far end of the park. A distant siren blared. But no sound came from Trixie. Damn, it must be real bad really bad. It really must be bad. Trixie. I scooted away to look at her forgetting she was leaning against me. She toppled backwards onto the blanket with a Yelp. I chuckled and leaned over looking down at her sprawled under me. Like that brought back too many memories of our single night of ecstasy. The reminiscent position acted as a conduit for the ever present chemistry between us, Trixie his lips parted and our pupils dilated, her breath hitch pressing her breasts against my chest. I let out a rumbling growl. I know that look, a blush tinge to her cheeks and her shoulders lifted, and a small acknowledging shrug. I positioned myself over her, my knees on either side of her hips, and my arm, arms propped about her shoulders as if I were about to do a push up. My need for her was an ache that ran bone deep I wanted her. I wanted her, but she didn't want me. She wanted to stay platonic roommates and friends. Mom was sure she would come around, but I don't know. I didn't know how much of this I could take. I bent lower her face was so close to mine that if she lifted her head against that if she lifted her head the slightest bit, our lips would come together. Her hips rose to meet mine brushing against me. She sucked in a sudden breath and our hips pulled away from mine back to the ground. What comes next? I asked balls in your court. It's a public park. She whispered. It was deserted But that could change quickly and neither of us could afford a ticket. But I wasn't worried about that. I could have you home and in either our beds in a matter of minutes. Oh my god. Yeah, there is there. tension
there is there's a lot of tension. And if you can believe that there was, you know, more explicitness to that in the original draft, we definitely had a hard on going on in there that she could definitely feel. But we decided to scale it back a little bit again, trying to even out that language to make it more fitting with the fact that it is closed door.
Oh, that's super interesting. I was wondering if this was like maybe like the one of the scenes that some of the reviewers were like, I was expecting it to be open door or because, you know, because it is chopped down for sure. You know, I mean, there's a little bit but I mean, honestly, like Samantha had Samantha was a little bit more graphic. Like, so there's definitely, you know, not it's definitely not very graphic to me, anyway.
Yeah. Not anymore. Not after the revision.
I guess like, is it? Is it language choice? And, you know, because I guess I guess that's the thing that sort of, like makes me go well, how do you know when it's when it's too much? Like, you can't like the like, for clothes? For something that's not spicy? Like, you can't even discuss a hard on? Like, is that like, you just can't?
I mean, I don't think it's the hard and fast rule. I think it you know, as you're reading through, and it's kind of where How does it feel to you as the reader and does it feel like you're going in a certain direction? And is it going to be like a letdown when you get there. So, I don't know that you can put it into such a hard and fast rule like that. But in just going through, we kind of felt like it needed to be toned down to match that. So we did take out some of that or explicit language.
Wow. Okay, interesting. Because I mean, I don't know like, I don't know. It doesn't. It's it's closed door to like, for sure. But I don't, I don't know. I guess I like a battery. And maybe it's medium spice. And I like medium spice.
It's just the right flavor.
It's just the right. Okay, keep going. Tell me what you want. Trixie. I don't know. She breathed. And I'm not the only one here. I laughed disbelieving land to the ground in case it wasn't clear. I want you My heart broke with each passing second. She didn't reciprocate. Just sex she finally asked. disappointment in incredulity, frustration, anger, the emotions whipped around me like balls in a bingo cage. I lifted my head up and looked her in the eye. No, I'm beyond that point with you. I want more. I want to call you my girlfriend. And I think you want that too. Whether you're able to admit it to yourself or not. Her lips moved as if trying to formulate a response and failing, she glanced away and I knew I'd lost her at least for the moment. Her eyes started wheels were turning, looking for a subject change. I lifted myself off of her. She took your favorite spatula, she said, oh, oh, poor bear. Like he just admitted things. He just, she just blew him off.
Right. And he's such a closed off person to begin with that, to make that kind of declaration is a tough thing for him to do. So it is really hard for him to hear that in that moment.
I mean, you know, I just was so like, oh my god, he just he just admitted this. And you know, and this is a big deal. And she just, like, slammed it like just push them away without Oh, I felt so bad. And you know, and so it's kind of curious, like, what? You don't have to answer this because it could be a big old spoiler, but what's keeping her away from him.
She's got a lot of issues in her backstory. But she's very emotionally closed off because she used to be kind of like a dancer. And on that kind of circuit where she was all smiles and her parents were kind of abusive in the in the sense that they kind of force her to go to these great lengths to achieve success as a dancer and kind of force her into always smiling at home and nobody can ever see her with a frown. And so she just becomes convinced of this lie that she always has to have a smile on her face and that smiles get you where you want to go and showing any kind of other emotion is just no out, okay. And she's had experiences all throughout her life that have reinforced that belief to her. So she just feels like she can display any emotion that isn't her true emotion. And in the scenario that she's in where she's dependent on him for a place to live, because she's moved in with him, she has to be very careful because she does not have that outlet anymore of another place that she can go when she needs to release those emotions. Because where she used to be able to do that at home, he's with her at home. So she has no sense of privacy, no sense of being able to open up and she's afraid that the moment she shows him anything other than happiness, she'll lose him. So that's, that's kind of her fear that hers her afraid of opening up to him of getting closer to him, and kind of putting everything at risk.
And I feel like this was a big step for him. Like admitting this, like that, that that kind of I feel like was also a big step. And for her reaction to be like that. I'm sort of wondering, how is bear gonna pick up the piece of find out? I know, like, right after this. We have like, the meddling sisters come in. Which was absolutely hilarious in this whole spatula setup, because you know, the ranks are so true. Like, we all have that favorite spatula. I actually did have one favorite spatula gets stolen from my house once. No one happy about it. Yeah, it was really bad. But yeah, like it was a thing that really happened. So you know, take that anybody who says that that doesn't ring true. Because it did it totally did. And I was like, oh my god, he loses his like pride and his bachelor in the same
day. Exactly. We're just really beaten him down here.
This poor guy. Poor guy. So this was a super fun peek at this new book. That is out. Yeah. Well, hopefully it will be by the time this rolls out. We'll be closer to it. But this was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Oh my god. So we're Um, where's the best place to find you on the internet?
I am on just about every social media network you got I am at Kelly alert. Oh, H L e r t on Twitter, on Instagram and on Tiktok. I have a reader group on Facebook. I think it's called the Kelly alert reader group. And my website www dot Kelli alert.com Excellent. And
I will have links to all of that in the show notes. So if you're driving you don't have to get in an accident. Please don't get please don't get an accident. Kelly, thank you so much for being here. It was really fun having you.
Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai