book review, fiction, giveaways, interview, Keli Gwyn, romance

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. 

book review, fiction, review, romance

Review: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

It has been a long time since I have read a whole book in a day. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a book I just couldn’t put down, that gripped me from the start, that kept me turning the page, even when I had laundry to do and supper to cook. My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade was that book for me this past weekend.

Wade’s debut Christian novel tells the story of Kate Donovan, a single woman who travels to Redbud, Pennsylvania with her grandmother to orchestrate the renovation of the family homestead. Matt Jarreau is the man hired renovate the house, and he has baggage. Lots of baggage. Matt is an ex-hockey player who can’t get over the death of his wife. It is only through Kate’s stubborn persistence that he begins to open up and feel again.


It is difficult to explain how much this book affected me…stayed with me. The pain and hurt in Matt’s heart was palatable and I could feel Kate’s empathy and growing love for him. There were moments when I would find myself holding my breath, listening for Kate’s words of encouragement, waiting to hear Matt’s heart speak, anticipating the moment when the two would connect on an emotional and spiritual level.

Secondary characters played a big role in the book and made for some comic relief. It reminded me of the movie Return to Me, with a group of seniors hanging out with the young couple, having fun, being merry, and being a HOOT! Loved these seniors!

The romantic tension between Kate and Matt was FABULOUS (yes, there were definitely some swoon moments!) and they were paced in a satisfying way. Seriously, this was a romantic book. Well done. Satisfying in every way.

I have to tell you, the characters stayed with me for quite awhile. I think it was because the author did such a great job in getting into the character’s mind and heart, going deep, delving into the dark parts. She didn’t just tell about their inner selves, she showed it in every gesture, thought, action, glance. It was brilliant.

Normally, I do a giveaway with my book reviews, but I am keeping this one. It’s too good to give up. I’m sorry! But you can go HERE to purchase it! I highly recommend it!

ABOUT MY STUBBORN HEART:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure.  When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.
        Yet, she discovers a different type of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house.  He’s attractive and clearly wounded — hiding from people, from God, and from his past.  Kate can’t help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.


book review, fiction, romance

REVIEW: Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson

Love on the Range, by Jessica Nelson
Back cover copy: 
Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again.
Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.
My thoughts:
I found Jessica Nelson’s debut book to be a delightful romance. Sweet, fun, feisty, and with a little mystery all in one. I loved the hero and heroine and thought Jessica did a good job in developing their character arcs. You could see their gradual growth and are able to connect with them emotionally and route for their love. The romance was sweet and genuine, not contrived, and I found the hero’s journey overcoming his unworthiness was real and compelling. The secondary characters were fun and unique, giving the book a well-rounded feel. And best of all, there were some good kisses! 
If you love a sweet, fun romance, you will enjoy Love on the Range. Jessica is a good writer and will no doubt have many more books to come!

You can find Jessica Nelson HERE.
You can purchase Love on the Range HERE.

Tomorrow I’m interviewing Jessica at The Writer’s Alley and I’m giving away a copy of Love on the Range! Stop by and find out more about Jessica and her journey. Comment tomorrow at The Writer’s Alley for a chance to win a copy!

beginning, challenge, contests, discipline, encouragement, fiction, time management, writing, writing fun

Speedbo and Me

I am embarking on a new adventure this month and it is called SPEEDBO, hosted by the incredible ladies at Seekerville. If you have heard of NaNoWriMo or Book-in-A-Month, then you know what kind of adventure I am talking about.

SPEEDBO stand for Speed Book…I think. It is all about writing a book in a month, or at least write as much of a book in a month as you can. You set your daily word count. You don’t have to share if you met your daily goal. You just write the most you can, every day. Simple as that. I’ve even added a word count meter in the side bar…look to your right…to keep track of my progress for the month.

Stop by Seekerville’s blog HERE for instructions to sign up. Did I mention they have tons of prizes to dish out for those participating and commenting on the blog? Hmmmm, yeah…they are awesome like that.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up and be my accountability partner! 

fiction

Top 20 Fiction On Christianbook.com

I saw a list for the top 20 fiction titles at Christianbook.com and here they are, as of August 1:

  1. The Missing, Seasons of Grace Series #2, Beverly Lewis
  2. The Shack, William P. Young
  3. A Cousin’s Prayer, Indiana Cousins Series #2, Wanda E. Brunstetter
  4. Fields of Grace, Kim Vogel Sawyer
  5. Forgiven, Sisters of the Heart Series #3, Shelley Shepard Gray
  6. Dawn’s Prelude, Song of Alaska Series #1, Tracie Peterson
  7. That Certain Spark, Only in Gooding! Series #4, Cathy Marie Hake
  8. A Surrendered Heart, Broadmoor Legacy Series #3, Tracie Peterson, Judith Miller
  9. A Man of His Word, Hearts of Middlefield Series #1, Kathleen Fuller
  10. Intervention, Terri Blackstock
  11. Take Two, Above The Line Series #2, Karen Kingsbury
  12. The Believer, Shaker Series #2, Ann H. Gabhart
  13. Green,The Beginning & the End, Circle Series #0, Ted Dekker
  14. Where Grace Abides, Riverhaven Years Series #2, B.J. Hoff
  15. A Dream to Call My Own, Brides of Gallatin County Series #3, Tracie Peterson
  16. The Carousel Painter, Judith Miller
  17. Lonestar Secrets, Lonestar Series #2, Colleen Coble
  18. Outlaw’s Bride, Lori Copeland
  19. Angel Train, Wagon Wheel Series #4, Gilbert Morris
  20. Montana Rose, Montana Marriages Series #1, Mary Connealy

What I find interesting about this list is that 8 out of the 20 is Amish fiction. I confess this is not my favorite type of read, but evidently it is for alot of people. What is so compelling about this type of fiction? Is it the simple life? A simple faith? A cloistered life? I don’t know…you tell me.