About a month ago a very friendly person, named Kallypso Masters, or Kally, requested me as a friend on Facebook. Am I ever so glad. See, Kally is a first-time author and writing a genre that I’ve only tipped my toes into reading, because well, there are some authors that go deep into the heavy side of BDSM and I’m not into all the heavy. I want a love story and healing, if need be, with my kink 😉 Cherise Sinclair is my favorite in the BDSM romance world. Hers was the first BDSM series I read and fell in love with the Masters and subs of Club Shadowlands. I have a strong suspicion Kally is going to be another favorite.
Kally’s first book, Masters at Arms, is actually an introduction to her Rescue Me series. There is no HEA in Masters at Arms. What you get instead is to meet the three men who will get their own books in the Rescue Me series. Kally shows us what happened to the men to get them to the point of becoming such strong friends and they ended up running a BDSM club together. And let me stress it is a great but very emotional read. Master Damian’s section of MaA pretty much broke me down. It was uncomfortable to read at parts, but so very worth it and I have a feeling by the time we get to his actual book, Kally will finish his emotional journey to our satisfaction.
I asked Kally if she would mind doing an interview, because, to be honest, she’s trapped me with just one book, and not even a finished story…..
Naughty D’ – Hi Kally! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me…I know you’re busy with Master Marc and hopefully he won’t punish you too much for taking time away from him to talk to me. If he’s upset, send him my way 😉 (Can you tell I’m sorta a “brat”?)
Kally – Thanks for having me! And Master Marc’s giving Angelina aftercare right now, but I told him I would chat quickly and get back to his story.
Naughty D’ – I am so intrigued by the introduction to the series. To me, it seems like a risk for a first-time author to put out something that’s not a full story with a HEA. What made you decide to set up the Rescue Me series like this?
Kally – Originally, I decided to write what I then called a “prequel,” but now refer to as an introduction. I wanted to publish a novella to tell how the three men who run the Masters at Arms BDSM club formed their band-of-brothers bond. I just didn’t want their intense stories to be relegated to “backstory” in their later novels. The stories had so much emotion and intensity that I couldn’t rush it, so the novella became a novel of 58,000 words. It’s a risk to put something out as an “erotic BDSM romance” that doesn’t deliver a Happily Ever After and, quite frankly, doesn’t go beyond spankings with various implements and orgasm torture in the realm of BDSM techniques. What I didn’t consider is that it wouldn’t even be categorized as a romance on Amazon. It’s actually on the Genre Fiction “War” bestselling list. But, as you know, there are two first meets in the book and I assure readers the HEAs are on their way!
This entire book was written without a synopsis, outline, or a clue where I was going with it. I knew tidbits about each characters’ backgrounds. I write by the seat of my pants and once Adam & Karla, Damian & Savannah, and Marc came onto my computer screen, they just took on a life of their own. All summer long, they would drop bombshells on me (they’re ALL sadistic like that!) and have me scrambling to work them in. Oh, the secrets these men were hiding (some of which I know they have yet to reveal)!
But now I can see myself writing prequels for all of my novels, because I gained so much insight into these characters by seeing them in the circumstances that formed their character traits. Some of those prequels will never see the light of day. But with these kinds of stories in MASTERS AT ARMS, how could I not share them with readers? I could never have shown the bond forming between the men as backstory in their various novels.
But I always intended for MASTERS AT ARMS to be a marketing piece and to sell it for 99 cents as a way to hook readers and to give them an inexpensive option for sampling a representation of my writing style. You have to find creative ways to get readers to try you, because there are a LOT of options for them out there. This was mine.
Naughty D’ – What made you decide to self-publish and what challenges do you see?
Kally –I had quit my day job a few weeks before and was sending out resumes, but was at loose ends and thought, why not write while I wait? Then I saw a couple of articles in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about writers independently publishing books. I had been writing off and on for three decades, but never tried to get anything published. So, I decided to make this a one-year experiment. If I succeeded to make a modest income, I would continue; if I didn’t, then it would be back to job hunting. I’ll probably publish five books within that one-year period. Wish me luck!
The biggest risk I faced was being an unknown, previously unpublished novelist. So, in early May, I started a Facebook page using the Kallypso Masters pseudonym I had created on Twitter a couple years earlier, but hadn’t used much. I’ve been in Romance writing circles since the 1980s, so many friends came to me when I told them who Kallypso was. But then readers and other writers started to friend me. I’m not quite certain where all the fans came from on the new FB page. Oh, and I loved to post photos of the hot guys who inspired my characters. I’d make them my profile picture, which attracted lots of friends. Some saw postings I made to other peoples walls, like Cherise Sinclair’s. When I started my secret FB group, Cherise even posted an announcement on her page, which probably found me another 70 friends. And my FB page was open to Everyone to see what I was posting.
Then, of course, I started talking about Masters Adam, Marc, and Damian as if they were sitting right beside me and I was interacting with them. That really connected with a lot of readers. One fan said I was the EF Hutton of Facebook—when Kally speaks, people listen. Soon they were asking me to send one (or more) of the Masters over to their places for inspiration (and sometimes discipline, like brats like you do, Naughty D). Then I got my first real fan message from a reader in Australia—before I even had a blog up, much less a book published! People were asking where to buy my books months before anything was published. By August, I had 650 friends on Facebook when I published Masters at Arms.
One last thing—I love to engage the readers in the writing journey with me, such as asking their opinion about a character’s tastes in music or chocolate. As you may have noticed in my Acknowledgements, I also like to credit the people who helped with some of these aspects of my stories. Readers have commented to me that they love getting a glimpse into the writing life, too. I know some writers play it very close to the vest. I’m not one of those. I love to talk about ideas, what scene I’m working on, and anything having to do with my characters.
Well, enough talk about the writing process and marketing. Let’s talk about the Masters!
Naughty D’ – Good idea! With each Master you deal with some very emotional issues. Which one was hardest to write? TBH Master Adam’s backstory broke my heart as much as Master Damian and Savannah. Oh GAWD when Adam said, “Safe journey, little subbie,” major waterworks for Naughty D.
Kally – I assure you, Master Adam’s story causes me to cry EVERY time I read it. (But he also makes me laugh out loud. I adore that man!) I wrote the first scene in MASTERS with him in the bus station after a very sad day at the oncologists’ offices with my sister who is battling cancer right now. I was in such a sad and depressed mood that my writer friends said—channel that emotion and write a scene. So, for months, the opening pages used to turn on the waterworks for me.
In the original writing of the book, Section One ended with him saying goodbye to her in the cab. Really! Then I realized I needed more to get Karla to pine for this man for nine years, so I thought, he needs to come into her home. The scene with him in the kitchen without his shirt on (one of my favorites) and his revealing his real “back” story, which Karla’s mother knows, but the readers don’t yet. (Naughty D’ the kitchen scene was one of my favorites also, I love Karla and Master Adam)
Then that section just kept evolving until it was Thanksgiving morning. The “Safe journey, little subbie,” scene you’re referring to was one of the last scenes I wrote (adding it a couple weeks before publishing). Adam had just revealed to me a little more about his childhood (which you’ll learn more about in NOBODY’S HERO/December) and, I swear, he just left the house to get away from the chaos of Thanksgiving Day preparations and to catch his breath. The next thing I know, this heartbroken, grieving man is standing at the shore of Lake Michigan. He reminded me he’s from Minneapolis/St. Paul and that he’d been at Lake Superior many times. Then the memories of his life with Joni came flooding back. Yes, major waterworks. He was such a faithful, loyal husband and Dom—and don’t you just want to wrap your arms around him and give him a big hug? *sniffle*
But Savannah’s and Master Damian’s actual romance story (NOBODY’S PERFECT/February) will be the hardest to write for me emotionally. Savannah’s story because of my own issues as a survivor of child sexual abuse (nothing nearly as severe as hers, thank God!). But they both have severe PTSD issues and it’s going to be like a dancing through a minefield to get these two making love again with all their triggers and walls they have. They’ll also be the only couple in these first four books in the series to get more into the Sado-Masochism (SM) aspects of the BDSM lifestyle as a result of the issues in their pasts, which I’m researching. The other stories deal mostly with light BDSM, primarily Bondage and Discipline. But SM is so natural for these two based on their backgrounds.
Naughty D’ – Why did you decide to write BDSM and include Military men?
Kally – I’ve always loved reading romances about Marines, Navy SEALS, special ops, and other military types. I think my love of the military hero/heroine comes from having a father, uncles, and cousins (male and female) who have served or are serving in the military. These real heroes among us are a special breed and are such great inspiration for the honorable heroes (and heroines) in these books.
The first BDSM novel I ever read was “The Story of O,” which I borrowed from an older sister back in the 1970s, while I was a teenager. That is in NO WAY a romance, though. (No HEA and some hardcore BDSM, including one of the things that happened to Savannah.) But then came romance novels and I loved the dominant males in the Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, and Johanna Lindsey romances of the 1970s and 1980s.
Fast forward to the Kentucky Romance Writers’ annual workshop in March 2009, where I learned about these “new” erotic romances. I had been out of the RWA for a decade and there was nothing like this when I left! Writing erotica (all sex, no happy ending) never appealed to me. I need the emotional connection and relationship growth, as I’m sure you noticed!
I was interested in BDSM elements in erotic romances, and discovered Cherise Sinclair’s CLUB SHADOWLANDS. I downloaded it in PDF because I didn’t even have an e-reader yet. The next month, I finished a complete draft of NOBODY’S ANGEL. Cherise’s books just enthralled me. I wanted to create a world like that with strong Doms and subbies exploring the lifestyle and forging lifelong commitments to each other. I’ve always been a romance-novel reader and am a sucker for HEAs (which made writing MASTERS hard!). Life and a crazymaker job intruded over the next two years, then I broke free of MY bonds and haven’t looked back!
Naughty D’ – What has been the biggest challenge in writing and getting MaA published?
Kally – The writing came easily, except for the fact that I couldn’t give them all the HEA I wanted them to have after all they’d been through. But, honestly, the hardest part about publishing was the technical stuff—getting it to upload to Smashwords and Amazon. I think gremlins attacked it every time I uploaded, even when someone else got everything all ready for me. *head palm* So, I managed to get Smashwords done with the help of friends in the Kentucky Romance Writers chapter, but gave up on Amazon. Finally, author/publisher Sandy Lea Sullivan, an angel of mercy on Facebook, came to MY rescue and uploaded it to Amazon for me. Next time, I’m going to hire someone to do that stuff, so I don’t lose four writing days again. (And I’m still waiting for Smashwords to upload to Barnes & Noble!)
Naughty D’ – Who has been a major influence in getting started with your books and in encouraging you?
Kally – In my latest foray into the writing world, I’d have to say Cherise Sinclair. In the circle of BDSM readers and writers, she’s known as the Alpha Sub. She is so nurturing, great at mentoring, very encouraging. I still remember a message from her in June when she said she couldn’t wait to read my book and I screamed out loud. She started out as my idol, but now is becoming a friend. But I will always adore her and her books. But having her tell me she enjoyed Masters at Arms and wants Master Adam all to herself just thrilled me. Okay, we’re still negotiating visitation rights over Master Adam, as you know. But aside from that, we get along quite well! (Naughty D’ – I LOVE Cherise Sinclair, I actually messaged her thinking her for the “caution statement she puts in her books, it helped me explain the difference of Domestic Violence and BDSM to my 18 yr old daughter, when the song S&M by Rhianna came out. Cherise responding and I agree is a very nurturing, caring person)
For the business aspects of writing, Kim Jacobs, who owns Turquoise Morning Press, has been very helpful in the “business” of publishing. Donna MacDonald and Sondra Allen Carr, fellow RWA chapter mates and independent authors, shared their tips on aspects of Indie publishing AND held my hand, along with Kim, while I was going through the nightmare of uploading my book.
Oh, there’s just no way I can tell you all the people who have helped me to get where I am in launching my career as a writer. And to all those I didn’t mention here, my sincerest thanks for all you did, because I know I could write a book listing all the people who supported me and my writing over the years.
Naughty D’ – Is it better for you if we buy through Smashwords or Amazon? Does smashwords count towards New York Times best seller list?
Kally – Smashwords offers multiple formats (epub, pdf, and more, not just Kindle), but Amazon and Barnes &Noble are the sites used to calculate rankings for the New York Times list, I believe. But Cherise showed me that I’d made the Amazon/Kindle Genre Fiction “War” lists and I’ve become addicted to the rankings. I think writers look at these more than readers do, but it’s fun to watch numbers go up. (But they are up and down all day long, so I probably need to limit this to once a day! Soon!)
Naughty D’ – Since you are a new author, would you like to take a chance to tell us about yourself?
Kally – I’m 53 and live in Kentucky. I have been writing off and one for more than 35 years (since high school). My background is in journalism, technical writing/editing, and non-fiction writing. But this is my first novel. I’m happily married (28 years) and have two adult children.
Naughty D’ – Thank you so much Kally. I really, really love MaA and can’t wait for the next books about these three Masters in the RESCUE ME series. =)
Kally – Thank you so much for having me back and for the lovely review! When I saw your new book review site, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it—but receiving a 5-star review was a pleasant surprise, but the enthusiasm in your review just bowled me over!
And I hope your readers will send me a friend request on Facebook (Kallypso Masters), follow me on Twitter (@kallypsomasters), or follow my “Ahh, Kallypso…the stories you tell” blog at http://kallypsomasters.
blogspot.com. And I welcome e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
SOOOO WTFbr followers, comment here for a chance to win a copy of MASTERS AT ARMS…I have a feeling you will be as hooked as I am…Winner to be announced, Friday, 8/19/11 at 3:00 pm CST
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