Author Interview - L.G. Kelso, FIERCE

Hey, gang! I'm coming to you with a rare weekend post to share an interview I did recently with author L.G. Kelso. L.G. is a good friend and a talented author, plus FIERCE is a truly unique book that features a tough as nails heroine. So I know you'll love her and it!

5 Questions With Author L.G. Kelso

EJ - Your novel, FIERCE, is about a woman chasing her dream of being an MMA fighter. It's a struggle for her both inside and outside of the ring. Any similarities between her journey and your journey to become a published author? (I know I've had my ass kicked in this business more than once. :)

LG - What a great question. I hadn't really thought of it, but I think you could say yes. Tori faces a lot of doubt and negativity from external sources, and I think that is something every writer faces, no matter what stage of the publication process. Both areas get a lot of criticism, and certain MMA groups are more respected than others (similar to the various kind of publishing and stigmas still attached to them). 

If I had to give one, solid answer it would be this: Tori had to fight to become who she is and she struggles with that identity. Publishing her story was a fight in some ways, because she isn't what the market "is" and doesn't fit the market mold. I think while Tori worked to accept who she is, I had to work to accept what I wanted for the book and strive to get it. Tori tries to fit in and it's rough, in both the MMA world and the "regular" world (as she calls it), and that's because of her history and her experiences, and that same characterization did add to the struggle of publication.

EJ - FIERCE uses a confrontational sport to take on some very real and complex social issues. (Notably, the struggles of women who wish to feel empowered and be respected for their actions--not necessarily categorized by their gender first.) As a writer, what were some the challenges in bringing that to the page? Anything you'd approach differently next time around?

LG - Confrontational sport. I like that term. It's very accurate, and women aren't normally associated with "confrontation". Actually putting those struggles and issues on the page wasn't an issue. The challenge was making sure that both the highs and the lows were there, that readers would see these very real problems but also see the very real beauty of it. For being one of the most popular sports in the US right now, MMA is often misunderstood. Does it have problems? Oh, yes. So do many other male-dominated sports. But there is also lots of beauty in it, and I didn't want people to judge it solely based off the problems, but I also didn't want to sugar coat it. I did in some ways as far as language is concerned, but I didn't want to sugar-coat the issues.

EJ - You box in real life. You get five minutes in the ring to take out your frustrations on any one part of the writing/publishing process What is it? Why?

LG - Can I pick two? I just can't pick one. What would I chose:

1) The stigma associated with the various forms of publishing. I hate this stigma of traditional verses indie. I hate the misconception that indie authors are forced to go indie and don't have choices. I know most of us do, and even those that feel like it is their only choice, well, that doesn't mean their work shouldn't be seen! If anything, this publishing journey has taught me how different our tastes are and that there is little reason to judge another work when it comes to things that are subjective, because it may not work for me but it may be the best thing ever for you. The stigma goes even deeper than just the indie vs. traditional. I've seen it with digital only imprints and so on. It needs to stop.

2) Marketing. I'm not a good self-pimper (yes, I said that, just go with it). I really enjoy certain aspects of marketing-like making teasers. Time suck of my life, people. Love making teasers. And I did a program on gender-stereotypes that was really enjoyable and could fall into the marketing side of things. Overall, though, I hate being like "BUY MY BOOK!" Also, I would prefer to be writing instead of pimping, so you know...

EJ - FIERCE is technically New Adult fiction (though it could definitely fit in upper YA, because it's not erotic or overly sexy). You encountered some interesting resistance creating the main character, Tori. What do you think a writer's role is in reshaping social and reader perceptions/expectations? Can we really walk a line between authenticity--or progressiveness--and mass appeal? Or do you have to sacrifice some of one for the other? 

LG - Yes, it is technically NA (college-aged kids with NA themes) but I do feel it fits into upper YA as well. Tori is not the mold, and that was one reason that I decided the publishing route I did, because changing Tori drastically enough to fit the mold would have meant not only changing the story on a huge scale, but also would lose the ave authenticity. Tori grew up in the fighting world, and that really did create her persona. 

I do think we can walk that line. I think we do have a duty to help reshape reader expectations. If we as writers don't give readers that diversity, then how will anyone know if anyone wants to read it or not? If that's not even an option, or a very limited one, of course it's not going to have mass market appeal just because of the fact it's not greatly available. 

I do think that if you want to fit into the mold of what is currently a big deal in the mass market, then sometimes authenticity does have to be sacrificed. I, for one, can't do that. Honesty is something that is important to my writing. I'm not saying that every big name book and author out there sacrificed any authenticity, but I do think some of them have had to. The only way to change that is for writers to not being willing to do that, and that's a whole different discussion since we're talking about peoples paychecks here.

In short, I do think we can walk that line and I think walking that line is going to be the way we can, even if gradually, help grow and diversify reader expectations.

EJ - Last question, and our favorite! Where can we find FIERCE and more information on your writing endeavors?

All about FIERCE--

New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance 

Tori's MMA career was taking off ... until she beat the wrong man. Her training partner, nursing a bruised ego, snapped—shattering her trust and confidence.

Three years later, Tori’s keeping her fists to herself as she struggles to put herself through college. But when a group of gangbangers hassle her at work, old habits kick in and her fists fly. Max Estrada, a frequent diner customer, steps in and gets them out of hot water, but Tori is still fired... days before tuition is due.

With no other option, she’s forced to take a desk job at her old pounding grounds, where her demons still haunt the cage and the temptation to go glove-to-glove with familiar pro-fighter, Max Estrada, is too much. The sexy Colombian draws her back into the world of MMA and revives her dreams of becoming a professional face-puncher—until Will, her old partner and current Middleweight Champion, struts back into the gym. The secret they share is an unexpected liability to his career, and he's determined to keep her silent.

With her life on the ropes, Tori will have to face the past for a shot at winning back her future, or carry the weight of a loss even greater than before.

Praise for FIERCE

"A unique twist on the fighter trope-- FIERCE is a compelling, original read with my favorite kind of heroine (a kick-ass one)."

- New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cora Carmack

"If you're looking for a strong heroine who stands out in the New Adult contemporary world, L.G. Kelso's Fierce is the book for you. Why I loved it: A complex heroine dealing with inner and external obstacles; a romance that isn't the character's main goal (though it is hot!); powerful voice and an authentic journey into the MMA world."

-Diana Gallagher, author of What Happens in Water (Fall 2015, Spencer Hill Press)

Fierce Links: | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | SmashWords | Pinterest | GoodReads | Website

About the Author

L.G. Kelso is a fantasy and contemporary novelist. Having grown up watching Xena and Hercules with her grandmother, she inherited her passion for all things magic, paranormal and mythological. She also has a probably unhealthy obsession with martial arts, and as a boxer she strives to give readers an authentic view of MMA in her contemporary sports novels. | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | NA Alley| GoodReads | Pinterest | Amazon

The Big C Hop

Hey, gang! Today I'm taking part in the 'Big C Bloghop' being instigated by our blog friend Michael Di Gesu in honor of another blog friend, Melissa Bradley. 

Melissa is currently undergoing cancer treatment, and the bloghop posts will be collected for an anthology that will be sold to help with healthcare costs for M. As well as provide donations for an organization (Gilda's Club Chicago) dedicated to helping women fight endometrial, cervical, and ovarian cancers.

Melissa has been a great talent and feisty spirit in our blogging and writing community for a long time and she needs our help. There has been a GoFundMe page established by her friends, and I know she greatly appreciates your donations and sharing.

Get well, M! We are in your corner.


Please visit the others in the hop and show your support for, Melissa.

1.Michael @ In Time ...2.Denise Covey
3.Elizabeth Seckman, Author4.Julie Kemp Pick
5.Julie @ Empty Nest Insider6.tammy theriault
7.Tyrean's Writing Spot8.Nicki Elson
9.Jemi Fraser10.Melissa's Imaginarium
11.The Girdle of Melian12.Livia Peterson | Leave it to Livia
13.Scattergun Scribblings14.Life by Chocolate
15.Write with Fey16.Ella's Edge
17.WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS18.Positive Letters and Stories
19.Far Away Eyes20.Confessions of a Watery Tart
21.E.J. Wesley, Author22.The Cancer Assassin: Ken Wins!!!
23.Donna Hole24.Aloha! Mark Koopmans says hi from HI
25.Michelle @Writer-In-Transit26.Stephen Tremp
27.PK HREZO28.Elizabeth Hein-Scribbling In The Storage Room
29.The Murphey Saga30.Robyn Campbell
31.Theresa Milstein @ Theresa's Tales32.Elizabeth Hein-Scribbling In The Storage Room
33.Sweet as Honey...Hotter than Hell

(Note about my entry: Melissa is one of the funniest people I've met, so I've added a touch of humor and sarcasm to my essay just for her. :) I give full rights to this work to Melissa and allow her to use it however she sees fit.)

5 Things I learned About Cancer Living With An Oncologist

I’ve never had cancer, but I have a pretty intimate relationship with it. My wife is an oncologist, so I hear about the struggles and triumphs every day. I see how determined she is, even after logging seventy to eighty hours away from home on an average week, to stay persistent and encouraging in the face of such brutal diseases and treatments. And she tells me that most of her dedication comes directly from the courage she sees in her patients.

Ultimately, she gets to go home. Lots of people aren’t so fortunate. So, other than being grateful for whatever health I’m given every second of every day, what other things have I picked up living with an oncologist?

1. Cancer hates weekends and holidays … and pretty much every other special moment in life. It’s like a demonic Santa Claus. It knows when you’re sleeping. It knows when you’re awake. It knows when you haven’t eaten or seen your family in three days, and it doesn’t give a damn. People have it 24/7, and those people need to be taken care of 24/7. It’s a vicious cycle for everyone involved.

2. Cancer sucks. Cancer treatment can suck more—at least in the short term. What do you do to a disease that’s trying to kill you? Why poison it—and you—naturally! Seriously, it’s like Agatha Christie invented modern oncology. There are also surgeries, needle sticks, ports, and pretty much everything else evil in the world. When you hear about people ‘fighting cancer’, that’s exactly what it is in most instances. A knock-down-drag-out brawl to reclaim their health. When a doctor tells you a procedure or treatment ‘isn’t fun’ that’s code for “this will probably be worse than being mauled by a lion".

3. The psychological toll of cancer is often harsher than the physical toll. “You have a life-threatening disease. Have a great weekend!” That’s not how a typical visit with an oncologist goes down. A huge portion of cancer treatment is counseling the patient and their families. It’s preparing them and getting them the help they need for the inevitable depression. It’s educating them on treatment options (remember, some of which really suck, see #2) and side effects. It’s helping folks stare down their mortality—even for the good kinds of cancer. (See - #4) You can’t be diagnosed with the Big C and not have your insides turned out.

4. There are good kinds of cancer. Okay, poor phrasing. No cancer is good. But there are WAY worse kinds to have. Doctors get really excited when a patient has one of the good ones. It truly makes their month (sometimes year) when they get to tell a patient the goal of treatment is cure, because that’s definitely not always the case. Way too often they’re dealing in weeks and months, not years or forever, when it comes to prognosis. So they live for those appointments when they get to talk about curing a disease, not just treating it. 

5. Speaking of forever, when you live with an oncologist you quickly realize almost nothing is. Absolutes make all doctors crazy, but especially cancer doctors. They see lives yanked out from under folks like shabby rugs on a daily basis and it’s their jobs to help them get back on their feet if they can. They understand that diseases are random and unilaterally unbiased. Good people, bad people, old people, young people, smart people, funny people, silly people, loved people—anyone can get cancer. This might seem like a depressing or alarming amount of knowledge to have (and it can be a really poor party topic at times), but it’s mostly empowering. You want a VIP pass to enjoy life? Get real about how precious and beautiful it is, and how so many people are stripped of the ability to live it to its fullest.

E.J. Wesley


Remembering Tina

A college fund has been established for Tina's children. Donations to can be made here--

IWSG - Time Marches On

Hey, gang! Today marks the 3rd(!) anniversary of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. To say that this group has become a light of encouragement in our community is a gross understatement of its importance.

Like so many artists, writers are often ruled by our insecurities. Our desire to share our creativity with the world is often the very thing that terrifies us the most. Having this group of likeminded individuals--many of whom I look up to a great deal--sharing their trials and successes each month has sometimes been the only thing putting my butt back in the chair to keep writing.

So often I've felt that I was doing this writing thing wrong. That there was some piece to this cosmic puzzle that wasn't included with my set. Then, IWSG rolled around and I'd invariably find that ONE other writer who expressed exactly what I was feeling at any given time. And in our business, a small bit of affirmation can go a long way.

IWSG doesn't just give you spoonfuls of confidence and encouragement, it dishes it out in heaps. (There are over 300 members as of this post.) So if you've ever needed a boost, please click the pic below and give the group a look.

Time Marches On

My insecurity this month really isn't an insecurity, just more of a bitter fact of life. I can't control time for others, only what I do with my own. And I REALLY wish I could stop it altogether sometimes.

I live far enough from my 'growing up' home that I'm only able to visit most of my family once every 6 months (sometimes not even that). I'm the youngest of 4 children, my parents are elderly and not in great health. Every time I visit I wonder how much more time I'll have with them. My nieces and nephews grow an inch (or three) between every visit now. My siblings get a few more gray hairs and wrinkles. When you memorize everything about someone because you think about them all the time, it's jarring when your mental images no longer match up to the real thing.

I have a 15 year old chihuahua named Eddy. He has been by my side for many moves and adventures. I'm losing him, and I'd give just about anything to be able to hit a pause button and keep him with me for another 15 years. A dog that is able to grow old and die in a loving home is a lucky dog, because so many have hard, hard lives. But I'm still greedy enough to always want one more day with him.

We've lost some people in our writing-blogging community of late. People you see flash by in your feeds every day. People you've had conversations with. People who've lifted us up. We grow so accustomed to feeling their presence it's absolutely glaring when it's suddenly gone. My heart aches for their families, because I know they are feeling (x 1,000) what I am about time right now. We just need more of it with those we love. Always.

But that's not how life works. It keeps moving even if we stop.

Sometimes I listen to the wonderful Passenger song "Life's For The Living" when I get overwhelmed with these kinds of thoughts. The chorus really brings me back to the proper perspective.

Don't you cry for the lost
Smile for the living
Get what you need and give what you'r given
Life's for the living so live it
Or you're better of dead

Tears for what we've lost or missed are okay and good. But they won't give us any more time. It marches on and we have to try to keep up as best we can. We only have the moments we are given, and it's up to us to cherish them.