Author RJ Keller, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, answers personal “everything you [I] always wanted to know” questions about cancer

Kristen Tsetsi
27 min readMay 9, 2021
RJ Keller being cool in about 16 different ways. Photo courtesy of Kel.

RJ Keller and I have known each other virtually for over a decade. Sometime around 2008–’09, she, authors Henry Baum, Eddie Wright, and I created an indie author collective called Backword Books (yes, that’s spelled correctly) whose goal was to deliver and market quality fiction written by those in the collective.

Waiting for Spring was RJ Keller’s gritty, beautiful novel, initially self-published but later acquired by Lake Union Publishing.

We Backword Booksers were going to do all of the promotion and marketing on our own, with and for each other.

But you know how writers can be — high on creativity, short on businessy follow-through (as a group, at least…so many different writing schedules).

Some fizzled-out months later, in the interest of marketing our work but also because FUN, RJ Keller (may I just call her “Kel” from now on? her real name is Kelly Hewins) and I started making videos that poke fun at writers the way only writers can — or should. We called our production company Paper Rats, and our series was Inside the Writers’ Studio. If you love writing, you’ll love the series. Kel did all the editing, and she’s brilliant at it.

In addition to being a Writer to Read and a genius at video editing, Kel is great Facebook entertainment. She and her friend and fellow author Danielle Bannister have hosted several live FB chats about books, writing, booze, and more in a series they call “Between Two Couch Cushions,” which you can sample here.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Hewins

She gets pretty salty (okay, profane — she’s not afraid of the “fuck” word) in posts about people who are jerks, most of her posted memes make me hit “share,” and she’s otherwise frequently hilarious, so she’s a lot of fun to be social-media friends with. Here’s her Facebook page:

Now that you’ve learned even this small fraction of what there is to know about Kel, you can imagine the horror when she…

Kristen Tsetsi

Author of the post-Roe v. Wade novel THE AGE OF THE CHILD. “A voice & perspective we rarely see in literature. Total page-turner." - Amazon Review