July 02, 2012

Keli Gwyn, Debut Author: Interview & Giveaway

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!

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You can find Keli at any of the following links. She'd love to hear from you!


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You can purchase Keli's book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California at any of the following retailers.


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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?

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GIVEAWAY!

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. 


45 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to read this!! Don't enter me because I've all ready ordered it. Love the line you picked out. I can just hear the snark. LOL

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    Replies
    1. Jessie,

      Yes, Elenora does have a bit of snarkiness. As he gets to know her, Miles finds he admires her spirit and spunk, but sadly for him, he bungled things badly when they first met and has put her off.

      Delete
  2. Such a fun interview and this sounds like a delightful book. Since I don't have any pets, I'd be worried if I heard any pet voices! LOL

    mochawithlinda at gmail dot com

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    1. Linda,

      Yes, it would be strange to hear pet voices if you don't have any pets to "talk" to you. Of course, if you get too lonely, I suppose you could always converse with the dust bunnies. :-)

      Delete
  3. What a great interview, ladies! Can't wait to read the book and chat with you on my blog, Keli!

    Sherrinda, great questions--so fun! :)

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    1. Jess,

      Thanks for sharing in my excitement. I look forward to spending time at your cyber home, too.

      Delete
  4. Love the following excerpt: "He stops pacing, turns, and says, “You’re a woman.” Ellie replies with those two words I love, “You’re observant.” " DEFINITELY says it all! I think I've actually heard people say that!

    Loved your interview, getting to know you more. And the only pet that 'talks' to me is my cat with his many, variant meows. Never knew a cat could flex his voice so many ways!

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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    Replies
    1. Linda,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I loved watching those words appear on the screen when I wrote the story. They really represent Miles and Ellie. Miles speaks without thinking oftentimes and has a habit of tasting shoe leather, and Ellie is one spunky lady.

      Our first cat was quite vocal--in his own right. He had quite the extensive vocabulary of meows. It's fun to have a cat who can communicate that way, isn't it?

      Delete
  5. Fun! I can't wait to read Keli's book!!

    I don't have any pets at this point...but that doesn't keep me from talking to nonexistent pets or people. :)

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    1. Melissa,

      Ah, yes. A woman after my own heart, who can converse with those who aren't even there. I do it all the time, which is why I can't write in public. People think I'm goofy enough as it is. :-)

      Delete
  6. Sherrinda,

    Thanks so much for hosting me and for asking such fun questions. I had a blast answering them.

    And thanks for your unflagging support. You are a gem, my friend. I ❤ you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Keli, I just got back from an outing with my family! I have the week off and went out to the new Trader Joe's to browse and get our hands on some yummy food!

      Thank YOU for letting me share how wonderful you are! I'm so thrilled about this new turn in your journey and know God has amazing things in store for you!

      Delete
  7. Yeah Keli! I'm SO excited for you!! Can't wait to get your book in my hands and devour it ... now if my newborn would grant me reading time! :)

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    1. Jaime,

      Ah! The busy days of mothering a newborn. I remember learning to do many things one-handed. Reading was a toughie, though. Holding a book open and turning the pages takes two hands. However, a Kindle could work. Too bad they didn't have them when our gal was a baby.

      Delete
  8. Two of my favorite writers on one blog (plus all the beautiful ladies who have already commented)!

    Keli, the more I "get to know you" the more I like you! I can't wait to read A Bride Opens Shop. This was such a fun interview to read. Great questions, Sherrinda! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Gabrielle,

      Wow! You say the nicest things. I wish you could see the smile you put on my face.

      I agree. Sherrinda asked great questions. I had such fun answering them.

      Delete
  9. I have so been wanting to read this book. It looks and sounds so good. Thank you for the interview and the great giveaway.

    I don't have a pet that talks now as we had to put him to sleep last May but we did have a Border Collie Bear that it sure did seem like he was talking to us.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    azladijo(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jo,

    I'm so sorry you lost Bear. Pets become such a part of the family. Losing a beloved pet leaves a hole in one's heart.

    ReplyDelete
  11. No, I don't have any pets. My daughters family does and we live together, but they don't talk.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Wendy,

      I love your gravatar. Our daughter is 21 now, but when she was a girl, Raggedy Ann was her all-time favorite doll. And get ready for this--Annie talked. Since our daughter is an only, Annie was her confidant. She also offered our daughter companionship, counsel, and confidence when needed.

      Delete
  12. Anyone Sherrinda backs must be a wonderful person. Keli, so glad we got to know you better on this post. Congrats on your success and can't wait to read the book in its entirety. Ellie sounds like my kind of heroine--spunky and quick-witted--qualities I wish I had in real life. :0)

    No pets currently reside in my home, although my husband has begun answering me when I talk aloud to my computer while testing dialogue. At least he's house-trained!!!! LOL

    Thanks Sherrinda and Keli. avajenkins(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Ava,

      Thanks for your kind words. Ellie would appreciate the compliments. While she doesn't exactly see herself as spunky, she does like to think that she's quick-witted because that trait is one she needs when dealing with a certain mulish mercantile owner. :-)

      How fun that your husband voices your computer. There are times I wish my laptop could speak. I'm sure it could give me all kinds of tips to make my life easier. I can just hear it now: "Why did you type all of that over when you could have just copied the old text, pressed command V to insert it, and made your one tiny tweak?" Or better yet: "The email from your agent that you've been waiting for just arrived, and it's good news!"

      Delete
  13. Hi Keli, Have your book on my wish list as new author for me. Looking forward to reading about a gutsy lady who fights for her right to be independent.
    I have 4 cats and all love to talk, especially when they want a treat or TLC. I can recognise each one my their meow.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  14. Kallie,

    Wow! Four cats! Talk about having plenty of company. I'm sure they are great pals for you. I hope they all get along. Our two guys do OK most of the time, but our mellow cat does get picked on by his feisty brother at times.

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  15. The closest I have to a talking pet is my horse, who grumbles at me in the mornings when I walk out the back door. That grumble is to remind me that the pasture gate hasn't been opened yet. :)
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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    Replies
    1. Pegg,

      A talking horse would be such fun. This will really date me, but I remember a show about a talking horse called Mr. Ed that was on TV when I was a small child. I wonder if anyone else here in the comment trail is old enough to remember that show.

      Delete
  16. Great interview. Really enjoyed it. Keli's book really sparked my interest even though it's not my usual era of choice. Love finding something new and expanding my horizons.

    No talking pets, but my lab, Brody, definitely makes his opinions known! He's always a bright spot in my day, laying at my feet as I write. He used to use a stack of reference books as his pillow when I'd write in the office.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Marney,

      How fun that Brody is your writing pal. It's neat that he uses your reference books as a pillow. I'd love to see a picture of that.

      Delete
  17. I really enjoyed reading the interview. The book looks so very good! I have two cats, Ruby and Reba. They are sisters who are 5 years old. They do talk! People might think I am nuts but we talk all the time!
    pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

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    1. P ~

      I've seen your Gravatar picture on other blogs and wondered if Ruby and Reba are the cats shown. How neat that the gals talk with you all the time. Imagine what fun we'd have if we could get you and your gals and me and my guys together. :-)

      Delete
  18. i am from Canada, so just stopping in to say how much i enjoyed the post, and i loved the humor of Elenora. i will have to put this on my wish list.

    marianne dot wanham at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marianne,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the sneak peek. Elenora would appreciate the compliment. I'll be sure to pass it on to her. =)

      Delete
  19. I have a cat, but she is one of the most silent critters I know! Not to much personality...
    Would love to win this book!

    Patty
    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patty,

      I'm sure your cat is a sweetheart--even if she is reserved. I realize not all cats "talk." =)

      Delete
  20. I would love to win Keli Gwyn's latest book...'The Bride Opens Shop In El Dorado, California....I have shared on facebook and twitter....babyruthmac16ATyahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks so much for the shout out! Good luck in the draw!

      Delete
    2. Lucy ~

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the link to the post. Like Sherrinda, I appreciate it.

      Delete
  21. 18 years ago this month my husband and I became parent's together for the first time to our furry child Hunter and another furry child Chelsey came along 9 months later. We used to make them talk all the time. Each dog also had a theme song that we would sing to them -- God figured we must have been bored since we were continually adding human characteristics to our furry children and blessed us with 4 human children. We haven't given a "voice" to our newest furry child, since we are busy listening to our 4 non-furry children. However, she is a mastador (1/2 purebred lab & english mastiff). Little did we know that english mastiffs are known for talking. I've never heard a dog make so many different noises, wines, squeels, barks and at so many different octives. Nor did I know that a puppy could be colicky, she fussed for hours every night for the first several months we had her. So instead of us giving a voice to her - she's given a voice to us. My husband and I (mostly I) speak to her by mimicking all of her doggy sounds. couturecloset at comcast dot net

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Dianne,

      I remember when you got your first two furry friends. I'm sure it was fun to make them talk, but not nearly as much fun as listening to your four wonderful kids.

      Sounds like your new dog is quite a character and keeps you all entertained with her "chatter."

      Delete
  22. I had a stuffed dog named Brownie as a child but he got lost.
    We just found a 2 day old kitten and she hasn't started "talking" yet; but I'm sure she will soon with seven of us caring for her. Would love to win Keli's book! Thanks for the chance!

    seventysevensusieq[at]yahoo[dot]com

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    1. Susie,

      A newborn kitten! How neat. Sounds like you might have rescued her and that she has definitely found a place in your hearts. I hope one day soon she's "talking" to you and telling you how much she appreciates all you're doing for her.

      Delete
  23. Keli,

    All our animals have voices.... We have a fat chihuahua named Vito who talks in a whiney, fat voice with a NY gangster accent, a big, shaggy much younger female dog named Betsy and even thought she's very smart and very pretty, she's very exuberant about things so her voice is breathy and everything ends with a question mark. Hollie the horse, speaks with a snobby British accent because she thinks she's all that. There's Martha and her sister-flock of hens - she speaks a bit like Julia Childs. The goats - Patchouli is the main dam and she sounds like a soft-spoken hippie, Dwalin is a wether (neutered male) and he has a lisp.... I could go on and on and on, but I won't.

    So looking forward to your book - would love to win a copy of it!

    beckydwriter(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Becky,

      I loved your comment and hearing about the very distinctive voice each of your pets has. Talk about fun--and clever! It would be a hoot to hang out at your place and hear them all chatting away.

      Delete
  24. Looks like a great read! I would love to be entered in the drawing :)
    samanthaakuiper(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samantha,

      Thanks for the kind words. You're in!

      Delete

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