A lot of my 'pleasure reading' is knowledge based. I read a lot of psychology and developmental books as well as "How To" books that have to do with a project I'm working on. I dive into Jud Wilhite's Christian books from time to time and am completely guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest pop culture fantasy novels like Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Samsung tablet!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Dating the Wrong Men has a great following on social media, especially Instagram. I also have an amazing publicist.
Describe your desk
Messy. (Hey, at least I'm honest.) Being an Online Marketing Specialist, I have multiple computers. Tucked away, I have a few of the rough drafts of my book with red ink all over them. I have promotional items, pens, candy that my fiance can get away with eating but I can't and, of course, hair clips.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
This is one of the hardest questions someone can ask me. I moved several times as a child from Florida to Arizona, then to Oregon. I think the greatest thing you can gain from moving is the understanding that you don't need to conform yourself to the box of the people or the places around you. I was very young when I left Florida, so I can't say how it influenced me. Arizona influenced me to be positive and social. Oregon has an amazing encouragement for creativity and reflection. So, throw that all in a hodgepodge, and you've got my writing style.
When did you first start writing?
I was always a creative writer from a young age. My mother loves to remind me of how, in the fifth grade, I had an assignment to write a report on a country in Central America. I showed up to class on the due date having created a travel guide of Costa Rica. I guess the teacher pulled my mom aside and had to comment on my creativity. Through the years, some were encouraging of my writing while others weren't because of my loud opinions that would jump off the page at them. But, I kept going with it because I had something in side of me that needed to be said.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I started a blog in 2009 that became pretty popular on my own site MissKellyRossi.com. I was writing about my every day experiences intertwined with the insane "Wrong Men" stories that have happened in my life. Then, about three years ago, I met an amazing man who didn't quite fit into my 'Wrong Men' stories anymore. In fact, it was pretty much like he was carved out of my exact dreams of what I had been looking for through all those years of passing on questionable dating situations. So, there I was with nothing new to write about "Wrong Men" because I had found someone so "Right" for me.
From day one, he knew all about my blog and it never bothered him. I'm thinking it was because he knew that he treated me well and wouldn't give me reason to write about him in a "Wrong Man" story. Now, THAT, is a little thing called "Integrity", take notes boys. However, about a year and a half into our relationship, I really felt like my "Wrong Men" stories needed to be written to not only show people how to spot a bad dating situations, but to get through them, grow and recognize the right ones. He agreed. Through the years, I also would touch base frequently with a friend of mine John Russo (co-author of Night of the Living Dead) who loved my blogs and kept suggesting I needed to write a book.
In early 2013, I wrote the first version of Dating the Wrong Men. My 'Right Man' was the first person who read it with me telling him I'd scrap the whole thing if he didn't feel comfortable with it. I was braced for any response. His first response when he walked out the door after reading it was, "What the hell! I can't believe some of the stuff you went through." Through this book, I think he finally could realize how I wasn't that trusting when it came to men and could comprehend how the situations had effected me. Again, proving he knew how to be an actual man, he was compassionate about how the stories had affected me. With his intellectual sledge hammer of a brain and amazingly sexy charm he broke down walls, and showed me that no matter what I had been through, I was lovable and the girl for him.
John took the reigns as my main mentor on the book. He was second to read it and the only word I can use to express that the response he gave me was "shock." He has been married a long time and had heard stories that women went through these days, but I don't know if anyone had really opened his eyes as clearly as to what is going on in the single world as I did. I also don't think he thought someone as positive as I always am could have possibly gone through the things I had. After a few days to process, he came back to me with the Foreword to the book. The book was a very raw version at this time and I could tell by John's voice it needed a lot of work to get him back to the point he would always get to with my blogs of cracking up at the literary twists I took with each unbelievable story. No matter what, this is when the jokes of similarities of the characters in my book and his horror books began.
I feel like the book went through 500 versions over a year and a half. In the beginning, it was just the stories. The humor and the entertainment factor slowly started weaving it's way through each chapter making it a true "Kelly Rossi" piece of work. But still, I wanted something more. I needed this to be something people could benefit from and something that might give that guidance that I clearly state we're all lacking. This is when I turned every experience into a so-called "Wrong Man" personality and threw in "How to tell you're dating a ... " and "Final Thoughts on dating a ... " in each chapter. One of my favorite times during writing this book, was when my 'Right Man' and I sat down and went over each chapter's "How to tell you're dating a ...." We had a blast coming up with them. I brought in what I had experienced in relationships and he brought in what he knew guys would try to pull. What an amazing contribution from 'Mr' Right.'
Then, illustrator Stephanie Olivieri came into the picture. I gave her a copy of the book and told her to choose 9 chapters and do whatever she wanted. I asked to avoid a few chapters that targeted very serious issues like abuse and addiction because I didn't want to make light of the subjects. I also said there is only one chapter I need her to do 200% and that is the one with my dog. What you see in the book and the front cover are the final versions of what she came up with. They are absolutely amazing and no one who has read the book has not commented on them!
Finally, the day came when I sent John one of the last versions through email and called him a few minutes later when he was reading it. He was cracking up laughing like he used to with all of my blogs saying "What Dolly Parton Has to ... oh no! ha ha ha". I knew it was there. He told me "I wouldn't be afraid to show anyone this book at this point." And that was that, a few more edits and it went to print.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just got started on Smashwords actually. I joined mainly because fans on Instagram really wanted an eBook and they didn't have a Kindle. We'll see how it goes from here!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When my writing touches people and helps people I will literally get teary eyed. With Dating the Wrong Men, those are some pretty harsh experiences that caused pain in my life no matter how comedic I write about them. Nothing feels better than to feel like going through those experiences had the positive outcome of helping others.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! This book is words on a paper without fans. As I have said, making a difference means everything to me especially during the hardest times in a person's life. I've always been the girl that friends would call when they were dealing with a horrible dating situation. I think it's because they knew I had been through too much crap with relationships to judge them. They would all love to hear stories of my past because they were always outrageous or they could take something from them. I like to think of the book as the extension of my personality to any person dealing with their "Wrong Man" relating to their situation and cracking jokes while we're kicking back with a cocktail.
What are you working on next?
My wedding! I'm getting married to my "Right Man" in a few weeks so that comes first. Of course, people have asked for a sequel, but I haven't figured out what I would like to do with that yet. With that being said, if you've read my book, reach out to me on social media (you can't miss me) and let me know what you'd like me to tackle next!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.