Regal Crest Enterprises author K. Aten is here.
Kelly is giving away two books, The Fletcher and Rules of the Road. More details are below.
I want to give a shout-out to Ted who helped craft the questions. And thanks to Kelly for being such a good sport.
Without further ado, please welcome the wonderful Kelly Aten.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
Hi, it’s great to be here answer questions and spill all my secrets. Well, probably not so many secrets since I’m pretty open about myself. I will say it’s a new experience to find myself as an author to be interviewed, straddling that line between fangirling and being fangirled. (Is that a word?) There are so many authors out there that I love and consider favorites. If I can just be one person’s favorite, I consider that a success.
Please tell us a bit about where you grew up and how it has impacted your writing.
I grew up poor near the center of Michigan, downwind from a dairy farm. <points at hand to show you her home town> (It’s a Michigan thing, because our state is shaped like a mitten) I wouldn’t say where or how I grew up impacted my writing at all, except that I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. My love of fantastical artwork, large paper sacks of my mom’s sci-fi and fantasy books, and my insane curiosity and need to create were the biggest influences for my writing.
I’ve heard you love spreadsheets. Care to share about this, telling us how it started, does it persist, and why?
Spreadsheets! I know who told you that. LOL. Basically I work with Excel and Visual basic all day as my alter ego, Kelly-san. I love order/organization. I thrive on it and I also use spreadsheets in my personal life for a lot of things. I have documents for my financials, my library, tracking metrics for my books, diet/exercise, and for my writing notes. I keep extensive notes on everything when I’m writing. (names, chapter lengths, links to resources, plot ideas, power grids, fighting techniques, etc) And yes, I do think of writers as being a little bit like a superhero and a villain all rolled in one. Because we both save people and put them in jeopardy in our books, right?
Why is Halloween your favorite holiday and how do you typically celebrate?
Oh jeez, I love Halloween for a multitude of reasons. It’s not religious, it’s a holiday for the freaks and outcasts, and it’s a massive celebration of creativity. Every year my g/f, her ex-husband, and his wife (yes we have an amicable quad raising my g/f’s two boys) walk around the neighborhood with the boys trick-or-treating, and I pass out candy in our garage that I’ve spent all day decorating to look like a spooky E.R. Some kids refuse to come in and I have to take candy out to them. But the look on both children and adult’s faces when then come in a look around, it’s totally worth the time and effort. I guess I enjoy another outlet for my creativity and being a bit of an entertainer.
2018 is a big year for you when it comes to publishing. How many books have been released and how many more will be launched this year? Also, why is 2018 your publishing year?
It is a big year and I’m super stoked! Let me begin with your last question first. I didn’t start seriously writing until the middle of 2015. I’ve always been a poet, but never put more than a few thousand words down into some pretty bad short stories when it comes to other writing. Then one day out of frustration and boredom, I finished a Xena fanfic I had started years before. It topped out at 66,000 words and I thought to myself “hey, let’s give this a shot”. So I finished another little story I had started back in 2007 and it was like a switch was flipped. I kept writing story after story obsessively. I posted my works on Archive of Our Own and got so much positive feedback I decided to submit a book, The Fletcher, to a publisher back in August of 2016. Three rejections later, I found my home with Regal Crest Enterprises in April of 2017. By the time they signed me I had a backlog of novels written which brings us to this year. They’ve done a phenomenal job of cramming my books down the publishing pipeline. The Fletcher just released January 3rd. Rules of the Road is due to come on March 1st. Then I have 3 more books schedule this year. April is book 2 in the Arrow of Artemis series, The Archer, September is my dystopian sci-fi, Waking the Dreamer, and December will be the last book in the Arrow of Artemis series, The Sagittarius.
How did Xena fan fiction propel your desire to write?
Xena fan fiction drew me out of a closet that I didn’t even know I was in. I believe there is a blog somewhere on Women and Words where I talk about the fact that reading female/female Xena fan fiction made me realize I was gay. It was a new and exciting time for me and there was a community within the readers that made me feel welcome. The desire to create my own tale intensified with each new story I absorbed. Fan fiction fueled my passion for a variety of different genres and showed me what was possible within one person’s creativity.
You have a partner, her kids, fur babies, and a day job. How to you squeeze in writing? Do you have a set schedule?
I have anything BUT a set schedule. My weekly work and commute total 51 hours a week. Then with both boys in sports, plus band/concert stuff, and all the normal family stuff per week (like family TV night watching The Flash, or board game nights on the weekends), life is busy. When I’m writing while sitting on the couch, the dog or the cat try to get in my lap forcing me to push the computer down to rest on my shins until they’ve gotten their fill of attention. On top of that, last fall I juggled 3 novels at once in the official editing process. Sometimes I write at home after the kids go to bed and the routine is complete for the day. Sometimes I write at work while on my lunch (or on the sly during long boring meetings). When I’m in the thick of novel writing I’ll stay up much too late and barely function on 4 hours of sleep the next day. I’ll go digging for information about something or another I’m writing about and get sucked into informational websites or videos, productive but still distracted from writing. Then again, there are days where I fall down the rabbit hole of Facebook or Pinterest and I’m not productive at all. I need to be better.
Tell us about your latest release.
Rules of the Road is a rom-com I wrote over the course of 5 weeks in November/December of 2016. I had my heart set on this sci-fi dystopian but after the election it was a little too depressing and close to real events, so I opted for the light-hearted contemporary piece I had in my notes instead. Rules of the Road was actually inspired by my daily commute to work. I use the Waze app (a traffic/navigation app) religiously, which is hella useful. The book is about two women who meet and chat though a driving app. They both have major baggage but become friends. I figured if people can meet through online dating sites and things like Tinder, why not through something that wasn’t designed for that purpose? Nearly all the funny/gross work anecdotes contained within the book are true. I used my own engineering and manufacturing background, as well as a friend’s work stories (who was a dental assistant) for the source material. It’s funny though, even I laugh out loud while editing it and the stories are old news to me.
What inspired your first novel The Fletcher?
The Fletcher (Arrow of Artemis book 1) was my baby, my passion piece. It was the first book I completed as the new ‘writer me’. It was inspired by my Xena fanfic, and yes even the characters. (There are so many current published books that had uber Xena roots) I’m not one for historical novels, and I’m definitely NOT a student of history, but something about the time period stayed with me and I had to tell a tale about it. It was also inspired in part by the novel Valley of the Horses by Jean Auel (and all the others in the series). I’ve always been fascinated by how people did things before the invention of many of the modern tools and medicines. And I did so much research for the Arrow of Artemis series. Set in ancient Greece in approximately 20 BCE, it was incredibly hard to find data but I managed. Flora, fauna, names, furniture, weather patterns, boats, weapons, fletching, archery, basically everything you can think of, I had to research. It was written before I switched notes over to spreadsheets and my notes document was 40 pages long on its own!
And the main character, Kyri Fletcher, I think perhaps she is an analogy for my writing in general. She is new to the ways of the world, and just wants to find her place in the scheme of things as well as a home. When Kyri endangers her future by saving a traveling Amazon from sure death, her dying father encourages her to leave and make a life with the Amazon’s tribe. The only reason this book ended up as a series is because when I finished writing The Fletcher, the story wouldn’t leave my head. I wrote book 2 of my urban fantasy series and knew I had to get back to Kyri. So I cranked out the 2nd and 3rd books (The Archer & The Sagittarius) back to back and the Arrow of Artemis was born.
Now that 2018 has hit and you have a full load of editing and publishing, has it impacted your ability to crank out stories?
OMG yes! After analysis (yes, I totally over-analyze everything) I realized that there were a few reasons my writing was bogging down so much.
1. Any author knows that editing is hard work. You go back and forth with your editor multiple times reading through the novel and fixing errors and such. Then there is a second editor, then a pdf review, then an eBook review. Not only am I thoroughly sick of my book by the time it releases, but I’m convinced it’s going to be complete and utter crap. An analogy would be to look at the surface of your skin through a magnifying glass. You’ll think you have a horrible disease.
2. Sometimes I’m editing more than one book at a time, each one taking up 100% of my energy and resources to get it turned around within a decent amount of time, and I never know when I’m going to get a manuscript back for another round.
3. Looking at your work under a microscope like that makes you see all the flaws and I’m not going to lie when I say my self-confidence and creative energy takes a hit. I start to second guess, convinced everything I’m doing is crap and wonder what the point is? Then I shake myself by the scruff of the neck and slog on. So yeah, the editing schedule saps my time and energy and also competes with my love of reading. *sigh*
What can your fans expect from you in 2019?
I’ve been writing along at a pretty good clip, though it has slowed considerably since last fall and my editing schedule began. Until that point I was averaging 4 novels a year. As of right now, 2019 is too far out to have a definitive schedule in place, but I know 4 books that are signed to release at some point next year. Running From Forever and Embracing Forever are books 1 & 2 of my urban fantasy Blood Resonance series. I also have Burn It Down, which is a contemporary piece about a Detroit firefighter working her way through grief and guilt. And the 9th book I have completed is the beginning of an epic adventure series. The Sovereign of Psiere is what happens when you want to write a book but can’t decide on a genre. It’s a bit steampunk, its set on a new planet with pyramids with a divine mystery. There are psionic powers and even some mythical beasts. But the biggest part of the tale is equal parts royal romance and Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones type adventure. While I don’t like writing series books in general, I had no choice with Psiere. It has a large over-arching plot and it couldn’t be told with just one book. 2019 may end up having a 5th book added, similar to my schedule in 2018. However I need to get off my duff and finish my current work in progress. Yes, my writing has definitely slowed.
Okay, time for the lightning round.
-Raman noodles: love or hate them?
Love, of course. I know this came from my beta reader which is why I’ll even include a pic! (I’m looking at you, Ted!)
-Who is Olivia?
Olivia is my pretty blue car. A Hyundai Veloster turbo, and she is the inspiration behind Jamie’s car in Rules of the Road. I’m glad I wrote her into that book because I’ll probably have to upgrade to something with more ground clearance and passenger room this fall. Living in a state rife with wicked potholes, and having a family, is really trimming off my cool points. *sob*
-Roller derby-fan or not?
I’m a pretty big fan, though I rarely get to watch bouts any more. I played for a few years between 2009 and 2012 but my knees forced me into retirement. I even won 3 awards my rookie season on the team. About once a year I travel across the state to see my old team play and catch up with everyone. Fun fact, I still run a roller derby oriented Facebook page that has more than 700 members. But shhhh, it’s a secret!
– One of your quirks not many know about:
There are a lot of quirks that people would know about me just by following me on Facebook. I love bow ties and pocket watches, I organize the sh*t out of everything (including shirts by color in my closet), and I dress my dog up in matching button down shirts with me to have selfie photoshoots. Things that people may not know about me is that I was a poet long before I ever wrote a story. And I love to make up words. You can find a few samples of my poetic writings on my website, under the “words” tab.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
No, thank you for featuring me. As you can tell I’m pretty verbose when it comes to writing. I can be the same way in social situations and many would be surprised to know that my social butterfly tendency was a learned trait. Once I warm up to people I’m fine, but I used to be pretty quiet until that point. However, no matter how social I seem, it’s draining. I like to come home and recharge in quiet. But…BUT, answering questions like this? Oh, I can do this all day long. Especially when I admire where the questions are coming from. I am honored to be featured on I Heart Lesfic, it is such a wonderful resource for readers like me. Not to mention, it is a great promotional boon to writers, uh, like me. It’s still hard to believe that I’m a real, published author. But people like you, positive reviews, and the occasional email from fans solidify it a little more each day. You have my deepest gratitude for all you do.
RULES OF THE ROAD
Release date: February 25, 2018
Jamie is an engineer who keeps humor close to her heart and people at arm’s length. Kelsey is a dental assistant who deals with everything from the hilarious to the disgusting on a daily basis. What happens when a driving app brings them together as friends? The nerd car and the rainbow car both know a thing or two about hazard avoidance. When a flat tire brings them together in person, Jamie immediately realizes that Kelsey isn’t just another woman on her radar. Both of them have struggled to break free from stereotypes while they navigate the road of life. As their friendship deepens they realize that sometimes you have to break the rules to get where you need to go.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Kelly works in the automotive industry coding in Visual basic and Excel. Her avid reading and writing provide a nice balance to the daily order of data, allowing her to juggle passion and responsibility. Her writing style is as varied as her reading taste and it shows as she tackles each new genre with glee. But beneath it all, no matter the subject or setting, Kelly carries a core belief that good should triumph. She’s not afraid of pain or adversity, but loves a happy ending. She’s been pouring words into novels since 2015 and probably won’t run out of things to say any time soon. You can see her full publishing schedule on her website.
CONNECT WITH K. ATEN
Enter here for a chance to win either:
RULES OF THE ROAD
There will be two winners. One will receive an e-copy of The Fletcher. The second winner will receive a paperback copy of Rules of the Road and signed swag.
All you need to do is fill in your email, check the box confirming you aren’t a robot, and hit enter.
Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.