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:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Romance Recap - A Perfect Match



Hi everyone!

Today I’m sharing another part of my “summer romance” blog series. I’m offering an inside look at my hot contemporary, A Perfect Match. This love story is a bit different - it’s set in the world of professional wrestling!

 I grew up watching wrestling and many years ago I had the opportunity to hang out with real life wrestlers. At the time, I wasn't writing books, and the thought of creating a wrestling romance never even entered my mind. But I've always been the nosy and curious sort, so I kept my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. 

 I learned a lot from observing the guys as they traveled to and from matches, dealt with zealous fans, and talked about the internal workings of the business. But two things stuck with me most: 1: when it came down to it, they were regular people (granted, very large regular people) and 2: 95% of the world doesn't understand what they do or why they do it. I filed all that away in the back of my mind and carried on with my life.

 So how did A Perfect Match come about? Years later (after I had been writing for a while) I woke up one morning with the entire book in my head. I knew the plot, the characters, and even the subtle backstories of everyone. I had everything I needed to write the book, so I did. (And the hero, Vinnie, is not modeled after any one particular wrestler - although it's fun to see who readers think he 'really' is. His character is a combination of about five different wrestlers. The other characters are all compilations, too.) 

 The book made the rounds to 'big name' publishers who all said the same thing: "Wrestling? Who wants to read about wrestling?" (Even though the book was a top ten finalist in the first "American Title" book contest.) Their rejections only solidified my theory: people just don't understand it.

But I'm happy to say that the book got excellent reviews and several people have commented on how it opened their eyes to what goes on behind the scenes. A Perfect Match isn't just for wrestling fans - it's for anyone who loves a spicy romance. 

And for everyone who fell in love with the characters - here's a bit of good news. I'm working on a follow up book! This one is all about Everett (Vinnie's best friend). It's still in the revision stage and as yet untitled, but stay tuned for more about this steamy gay romance.

Here's a summary, a steamy excerpt, and a few of those nice reviews!

A PERFECT MATCH
Falling for the wrestler she had been assigned to interview wasn’t part of Danni’s plan, until Vinnie Valentine pinned her heart in a flash.

Disgruntled with her job as the office gopher for a national sports magazine, Danni Stone impersonates a reporter to prove herself to her boss. Her assignment? Spend thirty days on the road with Vinnie Valentine, a sexy professional wrestler. 

Life isn’t going well for the Heavyweight Champ. Vinnie is struggling with a manipulative boss, prepping for the most important match of his career, and feuding with his arch-enemy, Thorn. The last thing he needs is a nosy reporter following him around—even if she is hot.

Thrown together in close quarters, Danni can’t help falling for Vinnie. Their mutual attraction grows, and Danni gives in to the lustful feelings she’s repressed for years. As their relationship deepens, she finds herself drawn into Vinnie’s world and becomes a key player in his title bout. But before Danni can tell Vinnie that she isn’t the reporter she claims to be, he discovers her deception. Her lie threatens to destroy everything between them. Is their fragile love destined to fail, or are they a perfect match?

***
Danni hurried down the hall to the locker room. She hadn’t meant to be late picking up Vin tonight, but the moron lot attendant wouldn’t let her back into the parking area. She pushed open the locker room door and rushed inside. “Vin, I’m sorry I—”

Her tote bag slipped through her fingers and dropped to the floor. Vin stood less than three feet away, soaking wet. A white towel barely covered his waist.

“Oh, my God!” Her entire body flushed as a tingling sensation built deep in her belly. Vin was practically naked and dripping wet from the shower.

“I…um…you’re…I…oh God,” she muttered and whirled around. Why wasn’t he saying anything?
Vin’s warm hand settled on her shoulder. He gently turned her to face him. Beads of water dripped down his chest, and she longed to lick them away. “Um…you…you’re wet.” She glanced at the towel and prayed it would fall off his waist.

“And you’re not?”

She squealed as Vin drew her to his chest. His mouth covered hers, and she lost all sense of reason.
A wet heat built between her legs as Vin’s tongue entered her mouth. Her body surged beneath his touch. She clutched him tight and dug her fingers into the solid flesh of his back and ribs. He smelled like soap and water and yet there was a hint of something manly, musky about him.

Vin moaned and cupped her buttocks through her sundress, melding her body against his. A high-pitched mewing sound escaped her throat as a long-denied lust flared within her. Was this really happening? She’d had this fantasy for so many nights, would she wake up and discover it was only another dirty dream? 


***
 “5 stars! Kelli A Wilkins’ A Perfect Match is one of the best books I read in awhile. It’s romantic, sweet and HOT!! Vin and Danni have it bad for each other and once they both give into their passion, its hot and heavy. I really enjoyed this book, it has a great storyline and I loved all the characters.” – Wanda, Reviewer, Romance Writers Reviews

“4 stars! A Perfect Match is a how-to manual of what goes on in the professional wrestling world. I found it fascinating. You don’t need to know or like the sport to enjoy this tender, yet fierce love story, with a ‘HEA for now’ ending. I hope you like it as much as I did.” – Patrizia M., Reviewer, Manic Readers

 “Kelli A. Wilkins writes a daring romance. She gives her readers ringside seats to a spectacularly sexy main event. Danni may have her reasons for being deceitful, but her treachery will not allow her to obtain what she honestly wants. Vinnie may be on his way out, but he will not surrender without the fight of his life. Together, they create a tag team that cannot easily be defeated. Ms. Wilkins certainly pins her readers and keeps them down for the count. I definitely could not stop reading once I was caught firmly in the grasp of the entangling romance. A PERFECT MATCH throws out all the rules and shows just how no-holds-barred love can be. This was a fun, fast, and feisty tale.” Melissa K., Reviewer, Noveltalk

I hope you'll check out the book - and give wrestling a try!
Happy Reading,
Kelli 




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 debuting in spring 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
writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli's Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. 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: