Interview: Kelli Jae Baeli author of the AKA Investigations Series

Kelli Jae Baeli is here to chat about her writing, life, and a massive giveaway she’s taking part in.

First things first, she would like to wish her beautiful wife Melissa happy birthday. So here goes, “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday…” Okay, my cat is telling me it’s cruel to torture Melissa with my lackluster singing skills on her special day.

Back to Jae. She was kind enough to play a game. Below, you’ll find the Spot the Lie section. You can join the fun by guessing which of the three statements is the lie. Let us know by leaving a comment. The lie will be revealed on Friday.

And now here’s Kelli Jae Baeli.

Before we begin, I would like to thank you for chatting.

My pleasure, and I appreciate the opportunity! Thanks for having me.

First, you’ve written 54 books. I can’t wrap my head around that impressive number. Do you ever sleep?

Well actually I miscounted, it’s 55. LOL. I do sleep. Sometimes four hours at a time…and sometimes like a rotisserie…. seriously, though, that number is helped along by the fact that I’ve been at this profession I love for about 29 years, and as a full-time vocation since about 1999, and I spend very long days at it. Sometimes 15 to 20 hours a day. Now, that kind of time is predicated on the fact that as my catalog grows, it also creates more work for me as an Indie Author & Publisher. I am essentially doing the work of 10 people in a small publishing company. I need to clone myself. Also, I believe if you are serious about a vocation, you make it priority. So if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Even when you don’t love it. As I’ve said, I love writing, and sometimes the feeling is mutual. When the feeling isn’t mutual, that’s when you have to break out the discipline and push through.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long did it take you to realize your dream?

My story-creation activities began when I was young, as I’d play with the dolls of my Johnny West collection. I had all kinds of storylines going with them. Finally, I couldn’t keep track and had to write them down. I’d also written poetry from a young age, which is where, I think, many writers begin that journey. This led to journaling and essays and short story writing, and eventually, I embarked on my first novel in 1988 –that was As You Were. But it got shelved for a while since my girlfriend at the time was jealous it was about a hottie I met and had a fling with while in the Army. I moved on to expand my short story, Armchair Detective, into a novel, and then, of course that became my AKA Investigations series. I’m currently working on book 7 of that series, but have to finish it after three other projects I have on deck first.

I first published Armchair detective as an ebook before ebooks were a thing. That was late 80’s, early 90’s, and then I was offered a publishing contract on As You Were with a small press in Connecticut, but the publisher went bankrupt due to health issues soon after, so it never went in print, which I’m thankful for, because then, the book was awful. Much later, I was offered a contract from a well-known lesbian publisher, but decided against it. I was verbally attacked by that publisher for saying no. I’ve always believed in the power of being able to say no, and I have no idea why that was such a personal affront to her. Maybe no one had ever said no to her before. But it was an intensely personal decision, and I didn’t want to make it merely because it was the expected course. I didn’t like how I would only get 10 or 15% of the profits from my hard work, and didn’t like that they had creative control, nor their selections and designs for my covers. If I was going to be writer, I wanted to have control over the finished product, because my name was going to be on it, and I care about that.

At that point, I began to learn the business of being an Indie Author and Publisher–again, before that was even on the radar in the mainstream. Eventually, I built a loyal readership, all along the way becoming better at the business side and learning how to make covers and promotional materials in Photoshop. It’s always an ongoing process, but I suppose the dream was realized when my books were available on Amazon, and it’s been a continuation of that process all these years. My first huge success was having Rain Falls be a number one bestseller in three categories. It was my first bestseller that high in the rankings. That ranking, and those royalties made me feel like the real deal. I was confident I could continue, and I have, with 23 bestsellers to date. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and I love being an author.

What’s your writing process like?

I’ve written quite a lot about this, mostly in my blogs, and I have a bunch of that in my Reading, Writing & No Arithmetic series. But just when I think I’ve nailed down my methodology, it will change, depending on the needs of any particular book. I can be both a planner and a pantser. If I’m being a planner, I usually begin with a synoptic idea for the book, a premise, and start a new Scrivener file, where I will jot down notes in each chapter about what seems a natural flow in the story. Then I will expand those out in detailed synoptic notes, and finally, convert that into the actual fiction story. If this isn’t working, or I get stuck, I’ll become a pantser and just freewrite until the story emerges. Often, that means just letting the characters talk to each other until I get an idea of what the story is, and then I fill in the other structures and narrative around it. That happened with Also Known as DNA. It was originally 100 pages of dialogue.

I’ve found that if I get stuck on the composition of the book, it’s usually that I need either another character, another conflict, or another method–one trick that is quite helpful, which I now use almost exclusively as part of my methodology, is the Three Assumptions technique. I write down three assumptions about the character or the plot, and then I turn it on its ear. I try to imagine what the reader would expect, and then I do something else. This keeps the stories and plots fresh. After the story is down I do several edits for diction, flow, pacing, narrative, sensory details, things like that.

Why do you write lesbian fiction?

I’ve found that since the market opened up for self-publishing, with no gatekeepers, anyone who wanted to write and publish, could. And this isn’t always a good thing, as many lesbian authors (and mainstream Indie authors as well) leap in before they’ve mastered the craft. I spent 8 years in college, learning how to write, and I read hordes of books on the craft, attended workshops, got subscriptions to writing magazines, took special classes, and also spent years practicing it, always rewriting everything as I learned more.

Writing is a profession, like any other, and that means we ought to take it seriously. Anyone can slap a story down on a page, but I believe we ought to care about the quality before we care about the idea of being published. Lesbian readers are hungry readers, and I love that about them, but sometimes I think some of them don’t really care if a story is well-done. They only want to read about people like themselves. And I think that’s a testimony about how much gay people have been relegated to the fringes. In my estimation, we ought to be proud and that means we ought to produce works that are professional, and rendered with the utmost care in the tools of the trade–grammar, story construction, diction, character development, pacing, and all the machinations of choice for point of view and voice and narrative style.

I wish more authors took pride in the quality of their work, both in mainstream and in lesbian fiction. A few typos in a book are inevitable, especially when an Indie author has to do some much in trying to get a book written and published, but when every page is full of elementary mistakes, it gets under my skin. It feels like an affront to all the years of hard work I’ve done to turn out the best stories I can. I’ve said that I began to write lesbian fiction because I wanted to write a story *I* would want to read. Early on in the process, I found very little of that. I decided I had good stories to tell, and the discipline to learn to tell them well, so that’s been my goal since the beginning. Now, there are, of course, many talented authors, but the market is so glutted, it’s often hard to find them.

Tell us a bit about your book in the massive giveaway hosted by E. A. Kafkalas and Anne Hagan.

Well, there are two. The first is the latest release, co-authored by my wife, Melissa Walker-Baeli. Go.Leave.Stay. went through many iterations, and sprang from a larger work I’d been working on off and on for two years. Eventually, hard decisions had to be made, because the story had become unwieldy and self-serving, and it just wasn’t working. I had to put aside my hubris. I placed all but the last section into a cut file, and since Melissa had been working so closely with me on it, I invited her to be co-author, and we revamped that story into something new. It only took us ten days to do that, and we were thrilled when it reached #4 on Amazon. I had myself another bestseller, and Melissa enjoyed having that be her first co-authoring experience.

Armchair Detective was, as I said, the second novel I wrote. It was expanded from a short story. I had always wanted to write about a female P.I., as I’d had some experience with that vocation, but I didn’t like the usual tropes I found in detective fiction. I wanted the main character to be green and flawed, and so I used that Three Assumptions method, and made her into a unique character that defied the conventions of that genre. When my friend Tanya (a straight woman and old high school friend) read it, she said, “I love this book and these characters! You have to write a sequel!” She kept at me until I finally seriously considered it and so Also Known as DNA was born. I think that book was even better than the first. Then, I realized those characters had a lot more story to tell, so I continued it as a series, always applying new paradigms, to keep the series fresh.

What’s the best part about participating in these giveaways?

Seeing the enthusiasm of the readers, being able to give away books to those with that enthusiasm. Not every avid reader can afford to buy all the books they read. That’s why I make mine available in Kindle Unlimited, so they can be downloaded and read for free, and why I keep my prices on the ebooks lower than the usual prices. I want my work to be read, and I want them to be accessible. Without the readers, I would have no career. A contest like this feels like a way to thank them for their years of loyalty and support. And it’s also a plus that my work might find its way into the hands of a new reader who will continue to enjoy the stories I want to tell them, and the more readers I have, the more I’m able to devote my time to continuing that process, and providing new books to read. The process is very symbiotic.

You have a big adventure planned later this year. Can you share a bit about that?

Our plans got delayed by my surgery, but Melissa and I will be embarking on a tour of sorts. With a travel trailer (we’ve named Segue) behind our Avalanche (which we named Ava Lanche {pronounced launchay}) we will visit all 48 contiguous states in the U.S., writing our books and taking pictures for my 2DollarShots stock site (I wanted to offer quality photos for those who can’t afford the pricey stock sites–all photos on the site are $2), and enjoying America on a level we haven’t before. I still believe America is the greatest and most beautiful country, and I fear that we have all become complacent and haven’t appreciated all it offers. There has been so much ugliness in our country for the last few years, and I want to get back to what makes this chunk of earth of mine so wonderful. Good people, beautiful places, freedom….We want to experience that on a visceral level, and traveling around, seeing it all, meeting all these new people–I think that’s a great way to do it. We hope to publish travel articles about this excursion along the way with various LGBT magazines and publications, and then compile our story into a memoir titled Life Everywhere. We will also have our YouTube channel Operation Homestead, where we will document this adventure via video as we go along. The name is a reference to the ultimate goal–after our American journey, we will settle on land in Wisconsin and create our forever-home.

Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always a joy to talk with an author dedicated to telling original stories.

Thank you and your crew for your hard work on this endeavor, and for including me in it.

SPOT THE LIE

For a bit of fun, Kelli Jae Baeli has provided two truths and one lie? Which do you think is the lie. Let us know by leaving a comment.

  1. I had a pet chicken named Crossy.

2. I was a merchandiser for Maybelline.

3. I enjoy being around large groups of people.

 

ALSO KNOWN AS ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE

Jobeth O’Brien awakens on the floor of her kitchen, her battered face and the memory of an angry visitor tells her that she is close to something important in her investigation. In between this surveillance and delivering newspapers, her beloved ‘62 Falcon is the scene of middle-of-the-night romps with a lonely socialite, who gives her more than she bargained for. Her quest for the truth pits her against errant husbands, a modern-day madam with a taste for blood, a horny landlady, a vicious attack dog, and the lies she tells herself. Amid these challenges, Jobeth stakes out her prey and runs for her life, continuing the investigation that pulls her into close calls, unexpected allies, and more secrets. But Jobeth has secrets of her own, and only love can excavate them.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Even after 55 books, Kelli Jae Baeli always tries to write the sort of book she would want to read. She says her favorite thing to do is take a common trope and turn it on its ear. Where you expect a zig, she gives you a zag. In her pages, you will find strong female characters, ethical dilemmas, realistic romantic storylines often filled with adventure and intense pacing, tempered by witty dialogue, and happy endings. All are hallmarks of her work.

Indie Publisher and author of 23 bestsellers, Baeli enjoys a sales position in the top 5% of lesbian authors, also penning numerous essays, short stories and silly, serious and vitriolic Facebook posts. At the end of 2017, she and her wife, Melissa, a budding author in her own right, will embark on a journey around America, visiting all 48 contiguous states with a travel trailer in tow, taking pictures, writing novels and travel articles and enjoying all this country has to offer.

Twitter / Facebook / 2 Dollar Shots / YouTube Channel

GIVEAWAY

Now for the massive autographed book contest.

30 Indie Lesbian Fiction Authors have banded together for a massive giveaway of 39 titles and a total of 43 books in all!

There will be 3 winners, all chosen at random. The grand prize winner will receive 24 books! The 2nd place winner will receive 12 books, and the 3rd place winner will receive 7 signed books!

Also, there will be a special prize for the entrant that shares the most!

The competition is open worldwide. Click here to enter.

Don’t miss out! The competition ends at 11:55 p.m. (EST) on September 15, 2017.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Don’t forget to share which statement you think is the lie. The lie will be revealed on Friday.

Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.

 

 

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.

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5 Responses to Interview: Kelli Jae Baeli author of the AKA Investigations Series

  1. EA Kafkalas says:

    What author enjoys being around a large crowd of people? I’m going with that as the lie.

  2. thelittlemst says:

    Ha! Easy peasy. Number 3 is the lie. No way does she enjoy crowds!

  3. As a fellow author, I’m calling BS on #3, and if I’m wrong, you will be the only writer I have ever known who likes crowds. Also, I had a pet chicken named Tweety. Just thought I’d share that.

  4. Anne Hagan says:

    Love this whole interview! And, while I would like to believe #3 is the lie as well, to be contrary (and spark a possible later debate with my good friend E.A.) I’m going to say, that’s not it. You’re also a singer/songwriter. Why write a couple hundred songs if you’re only going to sing them to yourself? I’m going to go with #2, being a merchandiser for Maybelline…when would you have had the time?

  5. TBM says:

    Howdy all. It’s time to reveal the lie. Many of you were correct. Jae does not like being in large crowds. Thanks so much for playing and have a wonderful Sunday!

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