I’ve been so excited about hosting Keli Gwyn, whose debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, released yesterday, July 1. Keli is one of those people who have God’s fingerprints all over them. She is kind, considerate, giving, and selfless. She is a gifted writer and I know God has big things in store for His servant, Keli.
ABOUT KELI GWYN: Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives, will be released in July 2012.
When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.
MY INTERVIEW WITH KELI:
Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?
I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was seven. Forty years passed before I dusted off that long-held dream and began writing my first story. In the interim I worked as a bookkeeper to put myself through college, earned a degree in Mass Communication/Print Journalism, and spent a couple of years as an assistant editor at a small publishing company before marrying and being a stay-at-home mom. The dream never died, though, and after all this time it’s coming true. The lesson I learned is: don’t give up on your dreams.
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
Five years. I began writing in January 2006, and my agent, Rachelle Gardner, sold my story in December 2010.
How many manuscripts have you written and which is your favorite?
I’ve completed six historical romances so far, five of them before I sold. My third story, the one that led to my offer of representation and first contract, is near and dear to me for those reasons. However, I have a soft spot for my first story, one hidden in the remote recesses of my hard drive. And I’m excited about the story I’m working on now. Sheesh. What am I saying? I love all my stories. 🙂
You are agented by the coveted uber-agent Rachelle Gardner. How long did you write before you sought representation? Tell us a little about gaining her as your agent.
After I spent a year studying craft, I rewrote that third story. I decided to enter it in some contests to see if I was getting closer to having a marketable story. It did well, garnering me several wins and requests for fulls.
One of those requests was from Rachelle. I sent it to her. The next day I received an email with words that set me bouncing off the walls and shrieking “Oh my gosh!” for a full fifteen minutes: “I’d like to discuss the possibility of representation.” We did, and on the eve of Christmas Eve 2009, I received an amazing gift when she called and I accepted her offer.
How long does it take you to write a book?
In the early days, before I’d discovered the wonderful world of writers online and hadn’t learned about craft, I lost myself in my stories for weeks on end. I’d come up for air after a couple of months with a completed story and a heart filled with joy. These days it takes me longer to write a book than it used to because I’m no longer holed up in my writing cave.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? Are you ever NOT writing?
In addition to writing, I spend time on promotion, connecting with readers on social media sites, responding to email, etc. I’m sure I’m not alone in having to carve out writing time. The important thing is to make it a priority.
I spend time each day working out at Curves or walking. I love strolling past the Victorian houses in our historical Gold Rush-era town or hiking on the trail reading a romance. Yes, I’ve recently learned to read while walking. My husband and I enjoy watching shows from Netflix. Some of them are romances or period pieces, but because I love Gwynly and won’t subject him to a steady diet of them, many are mysteries. They help me learn about plotting.
Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?
Have fun! The pressure to follow every “rule,” final in contests, send out queries, get an agent or a contract, etc. can rob us of the joy of writing. When that happens, writing can cease to be fun and our work can suffer. I know, because I’ve been there. When the Lord led me to let go of my expectations, I started having fun again, my writing took a real leap forward, and things began happening for me.
Now that you are agented and published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?
I’d heard that published authors still receive rejections, and I’ll admit to having found that hard to believe. Well, I’m here to tell you from personal experience that it’s true.
A Bride Opens Shop releases July 1! Tell us a little about the book.
Widow Elenora Watkins looks forward to meeting her new business partner, Miles Rutledge, who owns a shop in 1870s El Dorado. But Miles is shocked to see a woman step off the stagecoach. His rude behavior forces Elenora to reconsider—so she becomes his competition across the street. Can Miles win her heart while destroying her business?
If you could only share one line from A Bride Opens Shop, which one would you choose and why?
My favorite line is two words long. In order to understand why I like it so much, I’ll give you the set-up. Miles and Elenora have just met. He expected a man to show up and is dealing with his shock—and not doing a very good of it. Elenora is unaware that Miles’s mother didn’t tell her son that his prospective partner is a woman.
Miles and Ellie are talking in the backroom of his shop. He stops pacing, turns, and says, “You’re a woman.” Ellie replies with those two words I love, “You’re observant.” To me, this line shows her personality well. She takes Miles head on, shows her spirit and quick mind, and doesn’t let his rudeness faze her. Ellie definitely has spunk!
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
More inspirational historical romances set in during the Victorian era. I’ve run many ideas by Rachelle, and she liked them all, so I’ll be busy writing for years to come.
Now for a little fun…tell us 3 FUN facts about yourself that you don’t think anyone knows. It doesn’t have to be writing related, but a funny writing quirk would be FABULOUS!
Ooh! This is fun, Sherrinda!
I created voices for our two cat brothers. Dandy got the only low one I can make, but poor Sandy is dismayed that his “voice” sounds girly. What’s worse is that he has a bit of a Bostonian accent. Where that came from, I’ll never know. I’ve never even been to Massachusetts.
I collect hedgehog figurines and stuffed animals. I became enamored with this interesting creature when Gwynly and I lived in Germany. We actually got to rescue a real one once when it wandered into the American military high school where Gwynly taught. That was pretty cool.
When the words aren’t flowing or I’m searching for just the right way to word something, I reach into a little basket of toys I keep beside my writing desk. I’m sure some would wonder what tossing a ball in the air or bouncing a metal slinky from hand to hand has to do with writing. That’s easy. Playing with toys takes me back to my childhood and unlocks my creativity. That’s my answer anyhow, and I’m sticking with it. 🙂
Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your lovely blog, Sherrinda.
And now, I have a question for your visitors. Do you have any pets who “talk?”
Oh Keli….I have loved having you here! Thank you for your wonderful answers, giving others a glimpse into YOU! May God bless you on this exciting journey!
You can find Keli at any of the following links. She’d love to hear from you!
You can purchase Keli’s book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California at any of the following retailers.
Back cover copy
Love Is Gold in El Dorado, California
Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become a partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.
Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.
Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.
The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?
If you would like a chance to get your hands on Keli’s debut book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, leave a comment with the answer to Keli’s question at the end of her interview. Leave your spam-free email address….janedoe(at)gmail(dot)com….so that you can be contacted if you are the winner. I will draw for the winner using random.org and announce it next Monday, July 9. Only U.S. citizens, please.