Friday, July 25, 2014

Wilderness Bride - An Inside Look & Mini-Excerpt








Hi everyone! 

Today I’m sharing an inside look and an excerpt from one of my latest historical romances, Wilderness Bride. Last week, I shared an inside look at my other historical romance, Dangerous Indenture.
 
Although both books are historicals, they’re very different. Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical/mystery set in Pennsylvania Colony in the early 1700s. Wilderness Bride is a traditional historical that takes place in the wilds of the Michigan Territory in the early 1800s. Here’s the summary:

A woman running from her past…straight into the arms of a wild stranger

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and lacking a means of escape, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride. Kathleen calls herself Michelle and begins living a lie with her “husband,” Luther, in an isolated mountain cabin. She tells herself the arrangement is temporary until she can move on.

Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful blonde bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. She has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from. But Luther is harboring a secret about his background and fears Michelle will abandon him if she learns the truth about him—and his family.

The couple tries to maintain their rocky relationship as they work to fight brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When circumstances force Michelle to stay longer than she expected, she succumbs to her growing attraction and falls in love with Luther. But when they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past catches up with her, putting her and Luther in grave danger.

***
The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain man’s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally fall in love. 

Before I started writing, I went to the library and did some research on the time period, what life was like back then, Native Americans, fur trapping and trading, and more. As I wrote the book, I incorporated my research as background information. This gives the story a rich historical feel without going overboard with details that might bog down the book or be of no interest to readers.

I enjoyed creating the characters and all the conflicts between them! Michelle and Luther are very different peoplesort of like a city mouse and a country mouseand I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book. When Redfeather arrives, Michelle realizes how far she is out of her comfort zone and begins to see her situation (and Luther) in a new light.

As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both are on their own in a rough, unforgiving world, and both had to fend for themselves to survive, with little or no family support. All of that brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.

I enjoyed writing this book, and I hope readers will fall in love with the characters the way I did. Here’s a steamy mini-excerpt:

Excerpt:
Luther eased Michelle down and knelt over her. Her eyes were closed and a slight smile crossed her lips. His cock tingled and ached, wanting her, needing her. 

He propped himself on his elbows and nuzzled the side of Michelle’s throat below her ear. Her wet skin was cool from the lake, yet he felt her pulse hammering beneath his lips. 

Michelle lay still as he trailed his hands down the front of her body. He took his time caressing the outline of her breasts, then worked down to her hips. His head swam with desire as he glimpsed the dark triangle of hair through her chemise. God, he wanted her. He ached to touch her, yet was hesitant about pushing things too far, too fast. 

He kissed Michelle and moaned as she kissed him back. A soft mewing noise escaped her throat. He slid his hand to the top of her chemise and began unfastening the tiny white buttons. Halfway through, he paused and waited to see if Michelle would protest. When she didn’t, he kept going. 

He separated the material, freeing her pale breasts. She was beautiful. His mouth watered at the thought of sucking her. He broke the kiss and looked at Michelle. Her eyes were still closed, and she was breathing hard. 

“Can I touch you?” 

“Yes,” she whispered.
***
Here’s a snipped from the book’s 5-Star Amazon review:
This is the first western romance I've read and it won't be the last. The descriptions were so detailed that I felt I was in that world. I was pulled in right away. Kathleen was such an interesting heroine. She's smart and resourceful and certainly a match for the brooding hero, Luther. It's one of those books where you can't wait to find out what happens once secrets are revealed, yet you want to keep the story going.

Wilderness Bride is available in ebook and paperback formats from:


Next week, we revisit a summer romance. And look for my newest gay contemporary, A Secret Match, coming  August 31!
Happy Reading,
Kelli

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dangerous Indenture - An Inside Look & Steamy Excerpt




Hi everyone! 

Today I’m sharing an inside look and an excerpt from one of my latest historical romances, Dangerous Indenture. Next week, I’ll share an inside look at my other historical romance, Wilderness Bride.
 
Although both books are historicals, they’re very different. Wilderness Bride is a traditional historical that takes place in the wilds of the Michigan Territory in the early 1800s. Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical/mystery set in Pennsylvania Colony in the early 1700s. Here’s the summary:

Dangerous Indenture

Eager to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony.

But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and her hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.

Shauna fights her growing attraction to Ashton, torn between propriety and acting on her emotions. But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants will work for the strange Stewart family.

Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.

When Shauna’s investigation leads her too close to the truth, it’s up to Ashton to save her before time runs out.

***
So, how did the book come about? Dangerous Indenture is one of those books that just jumped into my head. (Yes, every so often that happens to writers.) One day, I overheard the name Shawna Farrell, but I thought I’d heard Shauna Farrow. The name stuck with me and I wrote it down. A few minutes later, I knew all about her: she was an Irish indentured servant who came to Pennsylvania Colony and worked at a house where a previous servant was murdered. Once I knew that, I started outlining the book.

Before I wrote a word, I did a lot of research. I was starting from a good place with the book – I knew where I wanted to set the story and in approximately what time frame it should take place. From there, I spent time in the library going through history books, reading up on Colonial times (What life was like, What people wore, ate, etc.) and indentured servants in general (Where did they come from? Why did they leave their home country?). As I wrote the book, I incorporated my research as background information. This gives the story a rich historical feel without going overboard with details that might bog down the book or be of no interest to readers.

I especially enjoyed creating the characters and setting the stage for the drama that’s about to unfold. Right from the start, we’re told that Stewart House is haunted, and then we (and Shauna) meet the master of the house, Joshua Stewart, and his strange family. When I developed the secondary characters, I made sure to give them all interesting backstories and unusual quirks. Joshua comes off as a mean bear of a man, Minerva just might be crazy (and a murderer), Colin is… a villain in many senses of the word, and Lila thought she had everything going for her – for a while. 

Shauna and Ashton (our heroine and hero) are not entirely innocent and without flaws. They each have sordid pasts, wicked desires, and are not afraid to stand up for themselves – and each other. 

I love the characters, the setting, and the fact that Dangerous Indenture is a romance blended with mystery. I had never written a romance set in Colonial times before, and mixing romance with suspense/mystery to make a Gothic-type story was a lot of fun.

I hope you’ll check it out. Here’s a steamy mini-excerpt:

Excerpt:
Ashton wrapped his arms around her. “Come here. Let me hold you.”

She relaxed against him, and her worries drained away. A familiar heat built between her legs as Ashton leaned forward and kissed her. Ashton moaned, and she felt a hardness jutting out from the front of his breeches.

Her mind flashed back to Ashton in his robe. His chest, his flat stomach, the glimpse of a tiny trail of hairs leading lower... What would Ashton do if he knew how desperately she craved his touch?

She fought the urge to slide her hands to the front of his breeches and stroke him, make him ready. What would it feel like to make love to him? She ached to be crushed under his body as he entered her and—

Without warning, Ashton pulled away.

“Forgive me,” he said, releasing her. “I tend to lose control and let my urges take over. I’m not used to being around a decent woman.”

He thought she was decent? That was a joke. If he knew what wicked ideas were swirling through her head, he’d probably faint.
 
***
Dangerous Indenture is available from:

Medallion Press:



Next week, get the inside scoop on Wilderness Bride!
Happy Reading!
Kelli
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chatting with Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins



Hello everyone!

Today I'm sharing an excerpt from my recent interview with the Writer's Nook. I talk about the writing life, my two new romances, and more!

Enjoy!
Kelli



 1. How did you get your start as a storyteller?
I never decided to be a writer—it was something that seemed natural to me. I have been writing horror short stories since I was in elementary school and writing always interested me. I’ve been blessed with a lot of ideas, and I just kept writing story after story as they came to me. I never tried to get any of my writings published until I enrolled in a commercial writer’s program as an adult. People liked reading my short stories, and I liked writing them, so I decided to submit them for publication. From there, my “official” writing career was born.

I began submitting my horror stories to online and print magazines and eventually started writing “10-Minute Romances” for the Sun. They also published science fiction stories, so I wrote those, too.
I got my start with full-length romances when I entered the Amber Quill Press “Amber Heat” writing contest. I submitted three novellas (A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, and The Sexy Stranger) and they took all three! 

When people ask me how I can switch up genres so easily, I like to say, “I’m a writer, I can write anything.” And I do!

2. How do you begin the process of telling a new story? Where do you start?
Each book comes to me in a different form. Sometimes I’ll have an entire story “jump” into my head, and I’ll know everything about the plot and the characters. (That happened with Dangerous Indenture, A Perfect Match, A Most Unusual Princess, Trust with Hearts, and The Viking’s Witch.)

Other times, I’ll get bits and pieces of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, I’ll have a character come first, and after I get to “know” and develop the character, I’ll find out the story. Then the other pieces fall into place, like a puzzle. (That happened with Wilderness Bride, Four Days with Jack, Beauty & the Bigfoot, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.)

Before I start a book, I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. After that, I outline the scenes and start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline/list. I might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Writing a new book is always an adventure for me and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.

Sometimes I’ll be writing a scene and the characters “take over” and decide the scene should go a different way, or something I planned on happening changes. I thought I knew all about my characters before I started writing The Pauper Prince and A Midsummer Night’s Delights—but I was wrong. One thing I learned while writing those stories was that characters can leap off the page and take the story in a different direction. Even though I created them, I was surprised to discover a different side to Prince Allan (in The Pauper Prince) and Julian (from A Midsummer Night’s Delights).

3. After seventeen-plus romantic novels how do you keep it fresh and spicy in the (literary) bedroom?
I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content. Every story is different, and so are the sexual lives of the hero and heroine. Writing in different romance genres influences the sexual content. In Wilderness Bride, (a historical) Michelle is a virgin, so I wrote her love scenes differently from how I wrote for Danni, a modern, sexually experienced woman in my contemporary romance, A Perfect Match. Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh.

In most romances, a sexual relationship is almost a requirement. However, the type of relationship and the frequency of the love scenes have to fit in with the characters and the heat level of the story. Love scenes should show how the characters relate to each other, how they fall in love, and add something to the overall emotional intensity of the story.

I’m often asked how I “know how much to show” in the love scenes. Sometimes it’s nice to give the characters “privacy” and imply what goes on (this lets readers use their imaginations); and yet, other times, readers want to see the passionate side of the relationship. I blend a little of each into my books. But no matter what type of love scene I write, I try to keep most of the focus on the characters and what they’re thinking and feeling emotionally—how the experience makes them more connected to their lover—rather than focus on what their bodies are doing.

4. When you finish a book what do you do to let go of your characters and the world of that story?
When I send a book off to the publisher, it’s not really “done”—there’s more work ahead. I need to do revisions and review the galley. After those are completed, I breathe a sigh of relief and unwind from writing for a while. I might do no writing at all (except for blogs) for a week or two and catch up on my reading. (When I’m writing, I don’t read, and when I’m reading, I don’t write.) This helps me leave the characters behind and I focus on other things.

After a while I’ll get the urge to write again and start working on something new. Although I love my characters, I know when the story is over, it’s time to leave them behind. (Unless of course, they come back to me later and want me to write a sequel!)

5. You are a prolific short story writer. What is your key to creating a successful piece of short fiction?
The best advice I ever got for writing short stories is: write tight. Take out anything and everything not essential to the story, such as extra words, details, dialog tags, whatever. This is especially important when I’m writing horror short stories. Too many words or distractions can break the tension, ruin the suspense, or otherwise distract the reader.

You also need a compelling story that draws readers into the world of the characters and holds them there. Not everyone believes in ghosts, but if you write a ghost story that sucks readers into that world and scares them, you’ve done your job. A “hook” beginning and a great ending are musts in creating a good short story.

I enjoy about writing horror stories because they let me explore plots and characters I couldn’t use in a romance.

6. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
 My favorite part of writing is the actual writing of the book. I like creating the outline and developing the plot and characters, but the story really comes alive for me as I’m scribbling away. (And I do scribble—I write everything in longhand with paper and pen!) The writing of the first draft lets me get inside the characters’ heads and dig deep into the story. It frees me to write whatever pops into my head. When I edit and revise, I have to focus on the mechanics of writing, grammar, cutting away what’s not essential to the story—all the technical “not so fun” stuff that helps pull the book together.


7. You have just released two historical romances, Dangerous Indenture and Wilderness Bride. How did you handle working in two different eras of American history? Did one come more easily than the other?
I wrote these books a few years apart, so I was able to focus on each one individually. (It’s a coincidence that both books came out in April 2014). Before I wrote a word, I hit the library and do research. For Wilderness Bride, I read up on mail order brides, Native American history and culture, fur traders and trappers, and life in the early 1800s. Before I wrote Dangerous Indenture, I learned about indentured servants. I already knew where I wanted to set the story, so the location wasn’t an issue.

After I completed the research I needed for each novel, I sat down and wrote. Having all the information ahead of time made it easy for me to incorporate nuances and other details into each story. Many people ask me if writing historicals is “harder” than writing contemporary romances. They’re not “harder”
they just require more research and planning.

8. Does your approach to character or relationship differ in your period pieces?
Not really. Many of my historical characters are outspoken, rebels, or otherwise considered “not proper” for their time. Each of my books is a look into a different world, and each character is unique to that book, that time period, and that setting. Not all my historical heroines are virgins “just because” most people expect them to be. Many of them work a job to stay alive or are forced to fend for themselves, much like a contemporary heroine would. Not every hero is a knight in shining armor who always acts like a gentleman. Rothgar (from The Viking’s Witch) has a reputation as a fierce warrior, but is hiding a vulnerable side and a dark secret. These are traits which could easily carry over to a modern-day hero. I don’t hold back on anything with my characters or their relationships just because I’m writing a historical romance. I let them tell me their stories, and I go with it!


Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with readers! I invite everyone to visit my site to catch up on all my romances, sign up for my newsletter, and send me their comments and questions.

Happy Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins

***
ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in 2014: Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/.

Kelli invites readers to visit her website, http://www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.

Catch up with Kelli on the Web: