Today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly is a special episode—our very first interview of another author on the show! We interview Kitty Chambliss of Living Without Boundaries.
This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.
In today's episode, your host Sagan Morrow interviews her fellow polyamorous indie author, Kitty Chambliss, about her experiences with writing "The Jealousy Survival Guide." Questions we explore in this episode include:
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Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. I’m your host, Sagan Morrow: a productivity strategist and author of polyamorous romcoms.
For new and returning listeners, you can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes plus book and writing updates delivered directly to your inbox each week at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.
Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today is a very special episode, because it is the first time we have ever had a guest on the show!
Our guest today is Kitty Chambliss, who interviewed me on her Loving Without Boundaries podcast a couple months ago. That episode was released just last month, and it was such a fantastic conversation. You can tune into Episode 163 of the Loving Without Boundaries podcast to hear that interview, and you’ll definitely want to check it out, because I share things on that episode that I don’t think I’ve ever shared anywhere else. Kitty has a way of bringing out the juicy details!
I’ll pop that link in the show notes so you can tune into it.
In the meantime, we have Kitty here on Indie Author Weekly! Like me, Kitty is a polyamorous and sex-positive author, and we had such a great time during our interview on her podcast that we absolutely needed to do an interview here on Indie Author Weekly, too.
A little introduction to our guest today:
Kitty Chambliss is a #1 Amazon best selling author, relationship coach, keynote speaker, polyamorous and sex-positive advocate, and founder of Loving Without Boundaries in 2012. She is a member of the American Psychological Association Division 44 Consensual Non-monogamy Task Force, a former staff writer for ENM (Ethical Non-Monogamy) Magazine, as well as an Outreach Representative for the Relationship Equality Foundation. Kitty has made it her life’s mission to make thriving relationships – even unconventional ones – attainable to everyone.
Welcome to Indie Author Weekly, Kitty!
Kitty: I am super excited to be here! Thank you so much for having me on here to share with your listeners.
Sagan: Thank you so much for being our inaugural guest on the show—
Kitty: I know! I feel so honoured!
Sagan: It’s so exciting! It only took a little over 100 episodes to make this leap of having a guest! This is exciting.
Kitty: I am so thrilled that I was one of the inspirations for you to start interviewing people. Really happy to be here.
Sagan: I’m so glad that you are here to share your story about being a polyamorous author with us today.
To begin, tell us a little more about yourself with regards to your author journey. What led you to writing your book, the Jealousy Survival Guide?
Kitty: Such a great question. What’s interesting is, I’ve been dealing with jealousy in one form or another, as I’m sure many of your listeners have too, well before I ever identified as polyamorous. For me, it started with my career; I was a graphic designer who got promoted to art director and then creative director, so first I had to deal with jealousy when I got promoted over someone else… All the politics and backstabbing that would go on, that was very challenging. Later on, I experienced it ironically around the time I wrote this book, with friendships. Sometimes you have people in your life that can be extremely competitive, to the point that it feels toxic. So those were areas I dealt with jealousy early on.
Later on, when I identified as polyamorous and had open relationships, that’s when I began to take it even more seriously, and I started truly studying the topic. I thought, it’s one thing when it’s a coworker or a friend, but dealing with it inside intimate relationships… Before, it was other people dealing with jealousy, but inside intimate relationships, it was really me that was more acutely dealing with jealousy. So I started to study it and experiment with what worked and didn’t work, I studied human behaviour and the root causes of jealousy, whether it’s self-esteem issues or, how does toxic or dysfunctional behaviour come into play; what’s toxic behaviour and what’s not in relationships… and that was kind of the brain child for wanting to write a book.
Once I felt like I was getting this dialled in and figured out for myself, and I started to help different people in the consensual non-monogamous community and my Loving WIthout Boundaries community that was growing, I got to this point where I thought, “I want to pay this forward,” to this community that’s often marginalized or feels misunderstood. And a lot of times, people feel shame just for feeling jealousy in the consensually non-monogamous community. So I wanted to reach out and help people, and help them understand that jealousy is simply just another emotion. It’s okay to feel it! You’re human, it doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad polyamorous person. And I also saw that there was a real need. There aren’t enough thought leaders and educators and people in the helping profession, helping this marginalized community. So it’s a privilege and honour to first write the book, and then keep expanding that mission beyond the book, especially with relationship coaching for anyone who’s colouring outside the lines of heteronormative monogamy.
So that’s the long answer to your question!
Sagan: I love that, and I love that your entire journey with non-monogamy started in a non-romantic setting. Because so often, whenever people find out I’m polyamrous, one of the first questions people ask me—and I’m sure a lot of other polyamorous people can relate—is, “How do you deal with jealousy?”
It’s interesting how, so often, jealousy is only addressed in non-monogamous situations. But in reality, jealousy is something that comes up in all areas of our lives, in different types of relationships.
Kitty: Yeah, I mean, it’s painful on both sides. It’s painful on the receiving end, for example when I wrote this book, there were rifts in friendships: “Oh, you’re so hot, you wrote a book!” There’s different ways that jealousy pops up, but it’s painful on both sides… but that doesn’t mean you can’t work through it and address it. SO that’s part of the brain seed for writing it.
Sagan: Yeah. So now, I’m curious, with regards to jealousy… One thing I’ve seen come up in the non-monogamous community is compersion as the opposite of jealousy: this whole feeling of love and joy when the people who we love are getting what they want. Essentially. I feel like that sort of sums up compersion. What do you feel about htat?
Kitty: That’s a great question. The way I usually describe compersion is, sympathetic joy when somebody else is happy. Finding joy with another person. It’s the same thing where I don’t want people to feel shame for feeling jealousy, there also isn’t necessary to feel shame if you DON’T feel compersion. Because it can be on a spectrum. You may not feel it in your intimate relationships, but it can feel helpful or soothing to know that anytime you feel happy for anybody else, for example with writing a book—say your friend writes a book, and you’re like “That’s the greatest thing ever, I’m so excited for you! Let’s celebrate!”—That’s compersion! It’s just outside of an intimate relationship. So sometimes I think it’s soothing to know that people have already felt compersion, they might just not be calling it that, so to speak.
So, with intimate relationships, it can be nice to know that first jealousy on one end of the spectrum, then in the middle a neutral zone where you don’t feel jealousy or compersion, and then on the other end of the spectrum where you might feel full-on compersion. But it’s okay to be anywhere along that journey, as long as you’re taking some steps or tools if you’re in a toxic situation with the jealousy you might be feeling.
Sagan: For sure. That totally makes sense. And what you were saying in terms of jealousy around book writing and publishing, I’m sure a lot of listeners can relate to both ends of the spectrum, having jealousy around seeing other people writing a book, maybe if you haven’t published a book, or if you HAVE published a book, experiencing that on the other end of other people being jealous of you. It’s certainly something that authors, at every point of that journey, experience. It’s so important, what you were saying about not judging ourselves or feeling shame, but rather experiencing it and addressing it for what it is.
Kitty: Yeah, and not making yourself feel wrong just for feeling human and experiencing human emotions.
Sagan: Yes. And jealousy is a very human emotion!
Sagan: Okay, so with writing the Jealousy Survival Guide… What was that experience like, with writing the book?
Kitty: That’s such a great question, and I would say, the experience was certainly exciting, especially when you think back to it, but when I was going through it, there were definitely some moments of anxiety, and there were also moments when it was super challenging. I’m sure like a lot of your listeners, I felt imposter syndrome, and asked those disempowering questions like “who am I to be writing a book, why does anyone want to hear from me, what do I have to say on this topic,” and that was, you know your inner demons are something that can be really challenging to work through.
So I will say, I did find good ways to work through that which I’ll talk about in a minute, but one of my saving graces was my editor! Dr Elisabeth Sheff. I wanted to work with her as my editor, and she also wrote the forward, but what I didn’t know was that she would be my biggest cheerleader. She was always cheering me on and each time I’d send her a chapter, that accountability was super helpful… knowing she was there waiting for the next chapter, it kept my momentum going. And when I’d give it to her, she’d go over the top, I didn’t tell her to do this but it was very helpful: “This is so incredible! Everything you’re saying really resonates with me! This is so needed in the world!”
So, that cheerleading was super helpful, and I didn’t even know I needed it. But it gave me that charge to keep going. I also found little mental tricks, like I was very used to blog writing, so I’d think of writing each chapter liek a blog post: I’d think, “I’m sitting down this week, just to write a blog post, it’s not that big of a deal.” I’d chunk it down and make it seem more doable.
Also, when I first started writing the book, I thought it’d be a short e-book, but as I got going I thought, “If I keep going on this path, maybe it can be an honest to god book. And if I’m doing all this work anyway, why don’t I go ahead and do that?” So, then I started to get more confidence and see that the process was doable, especially with my amazing cheerleader editor… and then I’d say, once I got even the first draft done, it was just this “Ah!” release of tension. There was still a lot to do, but I felt like I could get through it. But it was definitely a long hero’s journey, so to speak, writing, particularly your first book, I’m sure, for a lot of people… but just to give others hope: if I can do it, you can do it! Those are hurdles to get through.
Sagan: Yes! I love what you said about having that cheerleader—that can make such a difference to have someone who’s supporting you every step of the way. It doesn’t have to exist in a silo! It doesn’t have to be a completely solitary activity.
Kitty: Yeah, to be honest, if it was a completely solo activity, I don’t know a) if I would’ve gotten it done, and b) if it would’ve just ended up as a 20 or 30-page digital e-book. So I needed that driving force, it was like the jet fuel that got me going.
Sagan: Yeah. I love, too, what you were saying about chunking it down and looking at it as blog posts… this is such a wonderful way of approaching it; my productivity strategy brain absolutely loves it. Because when we look at it as, “I have to get this entire book written,” that just feels SO daunting. And then we sometimes won’t even start. Or it’s too overwhelming to pick up and start again the next day. But when you’re looking at it as those little chunks, that’s such a good way to navigate it all.
Kitty: Yeah. It made it more doable.
Sagan: Yeah, for sure. I’m curious, where were you at with your work, at the point that you wrote this book and published it?
Kitty: Great question. I always joke about how, you know, that whole overnight success is a myth… It’s 2021 as we’re recording this. I wrote my first blog post in 2012, then started my online community and podcast Living Without Boundaries in 2015, and I got certified to be a relationship coach in early 2017, so I wrote the book the same year that I completed the certification for relationships coaching. That was an ambitious endeavour that I took on! But I guess I viewed it as a launching pad, and luckily that was a big help in launching me, in terms of getting my name out there, and also just putting something out there to show that I’m serious about what I’m doing, and putting a stake in the ground that I really do want to help this community. So it was very early on in my relationship coaching, that’s for sure.
Sagan: Interesting. You are also a #1 best selling author on Amazon. Which is amazing—congratulations! That’s the dream for so many authors. I’m sure our listeners would love to know, do you have any secrets when it comes to marketing and getting onto that bestseller list?
Kitty: It feels like it was a long time ago, but it was only less than four years ago… but I was very lucky. I always love the quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Whether it was serendipitous or not, I went to a conference that summer (when I was writing the book), called World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. It’s geared toward people up to doing big things, entrepreneurs, and people who are unconventional with their lives. They happened to have a workshop all about writing a book and doing book launches. I obviously signed up for it, and took such good notes. I’m a very good note taker! It was all hand written notes, I didn’t have a recorder… I wrote down every single thing that those speakers shared. One of them specifically focused on how to launch a book. It was Tim Grahl, and I did everything this guy said in terms of how to market the book, going on guest blogs to promote your book on as many platforms as you could, guest podcast episodes, lots of guerrilla tactics and reaching out to everyone I knew… I remember, the recommendation was to do your best to get 25 Amazon reviews BEFORE your book launch date, so that when you’re doing your official launch, you’ve already got all these reviews there.
So I created this Excel spreadsheet of everything I learned at that workshop, and I implemented it all by myself. I had no one helping me with that, and I don’t even use Excel very well! I just did everything this guy said, and that helped me get to #1. When you find the right guru, why reinvent the wheel? Find someone who knows how to do this and do everything they said. And it was just from that workshop. Later that weekend at the conference, I went up and thanked him, just saying “Thank you so much, there couldn’t be better timing for you to give this talk, I’m really excited,” and I think I got to see him a couple years later at the conference and tell him how meaningful that was and how it really helped me. I was just kind of lucky in that way, and very ambitious in my efforts with the marketing and reaching out to people.
Sagan: That’s amazing. I love that, because you really were ambitious, right; it really was about taking the strategies and implementing all the pieces. And I mean, spreadsheets are always the best thing ever. Love spreadsheets for keeping track of things!
Kitty: Yeah, it just helped me remember who I’d reached out to go on their podcast and all of that stuff. It also helped keep me sane, once we were in that stage of the journey, I was like “okay, now I know what I need to do next,” and just kept going forward.
Sagan: Yes, absolutely. So, your book, the Jealousy Survival Guide, is available in audio format, which I've always been intrigued by, and also a little intimidated about doing for my own books! Can you tell us a little about how you got to the point of doing that, and what was involved with turning your book into audio?
Kitty: Sure! And I’ll be completely transparent with you and tell you that I thought I’d get it done a lot faster after my print production, but it actually took me almost a year and a half after publishing my book to finally get around to doing the Audible version. And it was probably the same as you, I was intimidated, I felt busy and wasn’t sure how to get started, but then I finally put a stake in the ground about it and sometimes I reverse engineer things—I partly got it done because I had a party for the launch of the book, before I got it done. So that I had a forced deadline! “Now, I’ve gotta get it done!” That’s one of my tactics. Luckily, I have a great sound engineer that helps me with my podcast, his name is Troy, he’s just amazing. So, first I just went on Audible.com and did some research on what they were requiring. I sent that to my sound engineer and asked him, “How am I going to do this?” He said, “You have to buy this and that, you’ve got to do it in your closet,” and he explained to me everything I had to do. Then, I set a date again, I said, “Troy, by this Friday, I’m going to send you 5 reading examples of the intro, and you tell me if it sounds okay,” so we tested the sound to make sure I had the proper soft noise and all of that to make sure the sound was as good as it was going to get. And then I had to figure out when I was going to do it. Ironically, just another happenstance, I had an all-day event on a Friday that got cancelled due to inclement weather, and I thought, “You know what? I’m going to just start this today and I’m not going to finish until the end of the weekend. This is getting done, right now.” And to my shock and surprise, it only took me about 5.5 hours on that Friday afternoon, sitting in my closet and reading the book, and I thought, “If I’d know this was only going to take 5.5 hours, I’d have done this a long time ago!” I had no idea that’s all it would take!
By the time it was done, I was so relieved, and I had a little fun—I created all these Easter eggs that I hid at the back of the book for anyone listening. It was a way to celebrate that it was done. My sound engineer was a bit confused about what he was going to do with the Easter eggs and almost talked me out of it, but I was like “No no, this brings me joy! We’re putting these in here!” So that was fun.
In terms of the production, I gave the files to my sound engineer, he followed the instructions from Audible, and we had little bumps here and there where we had to talk to tech support at Audible to make sure we were doing it correctly, but we just checked all the boxes until it was done. Then I had my Audible book launch party and it was great!
Sagan: That’s so cool!
Kitty: Yeah! But what was so funny to me was how I’d blown it up in my head as this huge project, and I did the actual biggest part of it in less than a day.
Sagan: Which is such a good reminder that sometimes we do blow things out of proportion. If we haven’t done something before, and we need to learn how to do it or figure out the process, then it feels like a much bigger deal than it actually is. Then we say, “Oh, this wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought!”
Kitty: Exactly! Yeah, it was really surprising and a great reminder of that.
Sagan: I love that. Okay, Besides the Jealousy Survival Guide, you've also contributed to several other books. Correct?
Kitty: Yes. What actually started me on this journey was, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, who would later write the forward and who was my editor for the Jealousy Survival Guide, she put out a call for essays for a book she was putting together, called Stories From the Polycule. And so I reached out to her over email and asked if I could submit an essay. That’s how we first met, over email, talking about that. And I submitted my essay and she accepted it and said she’d publish it, so that was my first time that I got excited and got published. That was that little seed of, “Ooh, if I can write that essay and get published, maybe I could write a book!” That’s how that journey started. It was very exciting.
After I wrote Jealousy Survival Guide, I wrote a forward to another book, called Hot to the Touch, that was put together by Cole Riley, that’s also a collection of stories around consensual non-monogamy. I’ve also been interviewed for some snippets for other books but wasn’t a formal contributor.
Because of my graphic design background, I’ve also designed books for some colleagues—the interior design, the covers—so book publishing, design, and the writing, that’s all very dear to my heart.
Sagan: That’s really cool that you’ve been involved at all these different stages of the publishing process.
Kitty: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.
Sagan: Are you still doing the book design and stuff like that?
Kitty: Sometimes. It depends on my bandwidth. I still enjoy design, but right now, doing relationship coaching is taking up more of my time. It’s a juggling act of timing of what I can fit in.
Sagan: As always! Now, I’m curious: As you were writing your book, what was the hardest part about writing it... and what was the best part?
Kitty: Great question. I love this. I would say, the hardest part was dealing with some of those inner demons,like imposter syndrome and moving through that,how do you eat the elephant. Writing a book is a big project. And learning how to properly launch it from a marketing perspective and doing it all myself, because I did decide to self-publish my book. Also learning from a tech perspective how to do that: how to get the Kindle version done, and all those little hoops you have to jump through.
And I would say, the best part was my own inner resources, I guess, and creativity that I found along the way that I didn’t even know was there. For example, in terms of how to move through it emotionally and mentally, I ended up creating this self-coaching cheatsheet, which had these affirmations that really helped me, like “People really do want to hear what I have to say,” and “I’ve got this great girlfriend voice and I know how to relate to people,” things like that. I also created a word of the year, I do this every year, so in 2017 I knew I wanted to write a book and chose the word “focus.” I just kept remembering that I was a heat seeking missile, holding the vision of seeing this book on a shelf, all completed, and sitting there, signing the book for people, and kind of holding that vision. So there were lots of mindset strategies that in the end really helped me and I was proud of myself for coming up with them.
I would say also, that feeling of accomplishment when you’re done: first the print version was the big YAY, and then having that feeling again when we did the Audible version. But the ultimate best part is when you get those, “Thank you thank you thank you so much, you changed my life” emails, and “Everything you shared in the book helped me tremendously,” that just has me grinning from ear to ear, you know, whether they come in the form of email or FB message or Amazon review. Those just melt your heart. Words can’t describe how that’s really the biggest reward: knowing you helped even one person. And anything more than one person, you're over the moon! It’s hard to describe that feeling of gratitude in your heart. So that’s definitely the best part.
Sagan: Yes! Oh I love that. I totally agree. Getting those types of messages, it truly warms the heart! I love that idea as well of having the affirmations along the way. What a great idea. Especially because, there’s so much involved with the book writing process that we’re bound to experience imposter syndrome and all of these issues multiple times along the way. The more that we can ensure we’re set up to work through those in advance, the better. We almost need to expect that we’re going to experience those kinds of things so we can be really prepared for them.
Kitty: And it also helped my confidence as I was writing. You know, having that idea in mind, “I have something they want to hear,” fueled from an energetic perspective my writing, and it would kind of leap through the pages, so to speak.
Sagan: Yes. I love that. Okay, I’m curious. When you were deciding to write this book, what made you decide to be an indie author and self-publish it, rather than go the indie author route?
Kitty: It was a number of things. I guess the biggest one, I wanted to have as much control over the process as well as how quickly I could get it out into the world. I would say that’s the #1 thing. And I’ve always been pretty self-reliant and a self starter and relatively self motivated. It helps that I’m a graphic designer and relatively tech savvy. So I knew that I could get the job done. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew that I could do it. So that was the #1 reason. I guess the second reason is, I didn’t want to be told “No” 99 times. I just wanted to get the book out there! I wasn’t interested in that idea of shopping it around. On top of that, it was going to just be an e-book initially anyway, so that wasn’t something I was going to shop around. But I knew what the goal was, it was to help people. And I wanted to help people as quickly as I could. So I would say those reasons, all combined.
Sagan: I love that we have the exact same reasons for being indie authors!
Kitty: Yeah! I was like, “I just want to get this done, I don’t want to talk with anyone else about it, just let me do this.”
Sagan: Right? “I need to get it out there!”
Kitty: Yeah! I want some helpers along the way… but let’s just do this thing!
Sagan: Okay. Do you have any other book projects in the works right now?
Kitty: Great question. I’m talking with some colleagues about possibly co-writing some more self-help type books or non-fiction books, but due to te pandemic partly, I’ve gotten into erotic writing, to pass the time during the pandemic… and I’ve been inspired by some writers we’ve had on the podcast, like Lexi Sylver, Joanna Angel, or even yourself, as a romantic comedy novelist… Not anytime necessarily soon, but down the road, I think it would be neat to write an erotic novel series, whether it’s a collection of essays of myself and other people, something along the lines of that erotic fiction… that’s a long-term goal. And right now, I’m having fun practicing! But I’d say that’s a down the road thing I’d love to do, holding that vision, from that sex positivity slant.
Sagan: Yes. I love that. I’m hoping that you’re going to share a snippet of your writing on your podcast! I feel like you should probably do an episode featuring some of the writing you’re doing…
Kitty: Oh wow. You just made me get really nervous when you said that! But that’s a good thing. That’s what’s fun about all of these things, you’re putting yourself out there, it’s an exciting and exhilarating thing to do. It's a good nervous.
Sagan: Yes, absolutely.
Kitty: I’ll consider that! I hadn’t even thought about it until you said it, so thanks for that gem of an idea.
Sagan: All right. So as we wrap things up, are there any last things you’d like to share, and where can listeners learn more about you and how can they buy the Jealousy Survival Guide?
Kitty: One thing I want to share is, definitely give yourself permission to feel your feelings, whatever path you’re on. Know that there’s no need to make yourself wrong just for feeling feelings. There are tools and strategies that you can use to work through that. Sometimes, books are great and they can be helpful, but there’s no shame in reaching out for help if you need help from a professional such as a therapist or coach or counsellor. We all need different help at different parts of our journey. That’s what the professionals are there for. As well as books! But sometimes it can be multiple things that get you where you want to go. So that’s important to tell people.
In terms of where to get my book, you can go on Amazon, it’s available for both print and Kindle as well as on Audible as an audio book. You can also go to LovingWithoutBoundaries.com and find the book there, my podcast, other free resources, my blog, and a free masterclass on there about jealousy. There’s also an opportunity if you want to look more into relationship coaching. The last thing is, I have a closed private Facebook community, that’s Loving Without Boundaries: Healthy Open Relationships and Lifestyle Freedom. That’s another place you can find a safe place to let your hair down, ask questions, and be surrounded by other like minded people so you don’t have to feel so alone inthe world, if you’re looking for a sex-positive environment, or where there’s people from marginalized communities, or if you’re looking for a non-monogamous framework, to be able to ask questions safely.
Sagan: I love that. We’ll have links to all of that in the show notes.
Kitty: Awesome. Thank you.
Sagan: Thank you so much, Kitty, for being on the show! This has been wonderful.
Kitty: I’ve had such a good time talking with you. This has been a great conversation, and I hope it’s really been helpful for your listeners, especially if they’re aspiring authors. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
Sagan: This was absolutely wonderful. And that, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast.
Thank you so much for tuning in. Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts—I really appreciate your support.
Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.