Welcome to the eleventh Author Spotlight post of 2022! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.
This month, the author in the spotlight is Kelly Reynolds! I found Kelly on Instagram, and as soon as I saw the cover and description of her debut novella, I knew I needed to read it.
These are some things the story includes: "bisexual short king who paints his nails," "casual fling-to-lovers," "unapologetically fat and tattooed heroine," "toy play and butt stuff," "LGBTQ+ and enby supporting characters." What more could you want?
Bio: By day, Kelly Reynolds works primarily as a freelance writer, professor, and author's assistant. By night, she hosts the comedic romance novel review podcast, Boobies & Noobies, which after six seasons, has over 150k downloads. Since receiving her MFA in Screenwriting in 2016, she's worked with several casting, development, and production companies and contributed to programs appearing on such networks as MTV, ABC, Hallmark, GSN, and Netflix. She's ghostwritten two previous novellas but MEET ME IN LOS FELIZ is her debut self-publication.
Originally hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently lives in Portland, Oregon and spends the bulk of her time dreaming up unconventional romantic comedies (while watching murder documentaries). When she isn't writing, you can often find Kelly eating her way through hole-in-the-wall restaurants, sampling cider at the nearest brewery, or bingeing the latest season of Top Chef.
Q: Can you tell readers about your debut novella, Meet Me in Los Feliz?
A: Absolutely! Meet Me in Los Feliz is basically a compilation of all of my favorite things—LGBTQ+ characters, fat characters, tattooed characters, toy play, Christmas parties, wiener dogs, the list goes on. When I set out to write this book, I had a few things in mind. First, I wanted to write a holiday romance set in Los Angeles. So many holiday romances are set in small, idyllic towns or mountainous cabins, but I grew up in California, so the idea of being snowed in with a lumberjack is foreign to me.
On top of that, I feel like city life in general usually gets a bad rep in romance novels, especially romance novels set during the holiday season. “The City” is usually the place romance characters escape from, but I’ve lived my entire life in cities, so I know how much they have to offer. Los Angeles might not seem like the Christmas destination of America, but it’s a city I know well, and it has a lot to offer. I also wanted to write about characters I don’t see enough of in romance, which is why I wrote about an unapologetically fat and tattooed heroine and a bisexual “short king” hero.
Q: Nora and Bowie are both wonderful characters with their own quirks and strong personalities. How did you come up with them?
A: Simply said, Nora is me and Bowie is my ideal partner. I’d be lying if I said Nora and I didn’t share several qualities, from our similar body shapes to our career-driven agendas, and even our thigh tattoos. But that’s what I want to read! Characters who look like me and have similar shared experiences.
Bowie, on the other hand… Oh, Bowie. Bowie is pretty much the incarnation of my “perfect man.” He’s comfortable in his body and sexuality. He’s sweet and gooey on the outside, but hot and spicy on the inside. He’s a caring, supportive partner. And let’s be honest, the British accent and glasses don’t hurt, right?
Q: Why did you decide to write a “low-angst, high-heat” romance story?
A: I don’t know about you, but I for one, am sick of reading the third act break-up moment in my books. I understand that couples have disagreements and misunderstandings from time to time—often due to lack of communication—but too often in romance books, these minor incidents end the couple’s relationship. I mean, how many times have you screamed at a book you were reading, “Just talk to her, you fool!?” I know I have. Seeing as this is a novella, one in which the couple is in the very early stages of dating, it just made sense to me to keep the plot relatively low angst!
Plus, it’s Christmas time. That’s stressful enough. The last thing I want anybody to worry about during the holiday season is whether these fictional characters are going to get together! High heat on the other hand… as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good idea all year round. In fact, one of the very first scenes I thought of in the book is the one with the… sexy reindeer onesie.
Q: The meet-cute in this novella is hilarious (readers, if you know, you know). How did you come up with this scene?
A: I’m so glad readers liked this scene! The meet-cute is kind of inspired by a real-life encounter, however the real-life version definitely wasn’t as… graphic. When I still lived in LA, my roommate invited me to Easter dinner with her parents, sister, and brother-in-law. He and I showed up for the event, but the two sisters did not! I couldn’t help but think about how this had all the makings of a good romance meet cute: two strangers stuck together at a family dinner, only the family isn’t theirs. That was the jumping off point for the novella!
In MMILF (and no, I actually didn’t plan that acronym), their meet cute has a bit more penis.
Q: Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
A: Really, I just wanted to see if I could do it! I’ve been writing for years, reading for even longer, and it just seemed like the next step. I’ve interviewed a lot of romance authors on my podcast, so I felt like I sort of had a basic understanding of what it took. As it turns out, you will never fully grasp just how much work goes into self-publishing until you do it yourself. That being said, I’m thankful I went this route.
The best thing about self-publishing is that you have full creative control—about the content of the book, the cover art, etc. It’s all up to you! This Type-A Aries likes to be in control, so it’s hard for me to imagine going about the process any other way.
Q: What advice would you give authors who are looking into self-publishing?
A: I’m a big fan of research. Granted, there are things you can’t fully prepare for and I’m sure that there will be some hiccups along the way, but do as much research as possible. Listen to podcasts about self-publishing, reach out to your favorite indie author with questions, look into Amazon’s Terms of Service for Kindle Direct Publishing, just get out there and learn what you can before you jump into the deep end.
Also, in my experience, most indie authors are more than willing to lend a helping hand to new authors. Building a community of critique partners and friends is so important, because they will be the ones to lift you up when you’re feeling down. They will be the ones to remind you that this is a “long game” and that there will be plenty of hurdles along the way. Having somebody in your corner can make all the difference!
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)
A: Not especially, however I do find that I get more done when I leave the house. Less distractions, that way! I wrote the bulk of MMILF at the same coffee shop.
Q: What does your research process look like for your writing, if there is one?
A: I’m definitely more of a “plotter” than a “pantser,” so I do write a basic chapter outline before the actual writing begins. However, I’m trying to be a bit less rigid when it comes to the outline, to allow for any character or plot surprises that might come up. I also find it helpful, both for myself and for readers, to create character inspiration mood boards. Other than that, any research that occurs happens during the writing process. The amount of random Google searches in my browser history…
Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you’ve learned from on your writing journey?
A: While writing MMILF, I was constantly consulting the same two resources—Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes and Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path to Success by Jennifer Probst. I also strongly recommend Guilty Pleasures by Arielle Zibrak, which is more of an analysis of the culture of romance novels.
On top of those, I always think back to a conversation I had with Nana Malone about “writing to your id”—basically, writing about the things you’re trash for. For me, that’s fat characters, queer characters, characters open to sexual exploration, stories set in Hollywood, stories about creatives, etc. I’m thankful for that conversation each and every day.
Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?
A: Just. Write. The. Book.
This is the advice I have to give myself when I’m dealing with imposter syndrome. You can’t worry about people reading your books or disliking your books or comparing them to other books if you don’t write them in the first place!
And let me just say, if YOU like what you’re writing, somebody else will, too. Period. Your passion for the story and the characters will shine through.
Q: How do you refill your creative well?
A: Thankfully, my creative well is FULL. In fact, it’s probably overflowing with ideas that I’ll never find the time to get to. I find them in articles I read, videos I watch, conversations with friends, books I read, podcasts I listen to, etc. The list goes on!
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: 2023 is shaping up to be a busy year, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be publishing! I’m hoping to put out three more books, however one thing’s for sure… the follow-up to MMILF, another holiday novella out next fall. I’m in the early stages of writing it now and if you’ve read MMILF, you’ll know exactly who it’s about!
Q: Bonus question: In addition to being an author, you are also a podcast host of a fabulous romance podcast. Tell us about Boobies & Noobies!
A: Boobies & Noobies started as a romance review podcast, one where “noobie” romance readers set aside any preconceived notions they might have about the romance genre, to read and review their first romance novel. With me, of course, the romance reading veteran! After five years, six seasons, and 200+ episodes, the podcast has certainly changed (for the better, I think). In addition to romance review episodes, I also interview authors (both indie and traditionally published), I moderate a monthly panel discussion on YouTube called “Tit Talk,” and I host two annual, seasonal specials—“Slick Summer Nights” in July and “The 12 Days of Boobsmas” in December.
As much as I enjoy reviewing romance novels, my true passion lies in discussing the genre itself. The conventions, the tropes, where romance comes from, and, potentially, where it’s going. I think it’s important to be critical of the things we love most, and for me that’s romance. That’s what I hope to discuss more in future episodes of Boobies & Noobies!
If you'd like to follow Kelly Reynolds on her writing journey or find out more about her stories, this is where you can find her: