Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just in time for the holidays...Dark Things II - Cat Crimes -

Hi everyone,

Here’s some great end-of-the year news!

The anthology, DARK THINGS II: Cat Crimes: Tales of Feline Mayhem and Murder has just been released.

Everyone knows I’m a cat lover and author of three non-fiction cat care guides. Now I’ve combined my love of cats with my love of horror stories, and I found a way to benefit cats across the country.

My horror short “Just an Innocent Little Cat” appears in this anthology. This collection of tales (tails?) features feline mayhem, murder, and other things you always suspected cats were doing when you weren't looking. Cats you don't want in your worst nightmares and cats you might want on your side against evil. (My story falls into the latter CATegory.)

All proceeds from sales go to several cat sanctuaries across the USA. Enjoy over twenty-one cat “tails” and give a needy cat a new leash on life. (You’d think someone with such a bad sense of humor couldn’t write horror stories, huh?)

And here’s an excerpt:

“Just an Innocent Little Cat”

Chester sat on the bathroom floor with his tail wrapped around his body. He arched his neck and lifted his nose high in the air. Eggs and bacon. Betty was making food downstairs. That left him alone with Danny.

He leapt onto the side of the blue bathtub and sat on the rim, just outside the shower curtain. The hot water was running inside the tub, and he twitched his nose at the harsh-scented detergents filling the room. He studied the shadow of the fat man as he moved around behind the thin curtain.

Last night, he’d decided that Danny had to go. Before Danny came, Betty used to have her lady friends over to visit. They played something called “Scrabble.” Sometimes, the little brown pieces of tile landed on the floor and he swatted them under the couch. It was a fun game. But now, the nice ladies didn’t visit anymore. Danny wouldn’t allow them to come here. This made Betty sad.

After a few minutes, Danny turned off the water and opened the shower curtain. He yelped and stepped back.

“Damn thing! Get the hell out of here!”

Chester riveted his gaze on Danny, then hissed.

“Ma, hey, ma!” Danny screamed and covered himself with his hands. “Get this cat outta here!”


For the record: Chester was based on a real-life highly intelligent orange cat my parents owned. And isn't the cover cool?

Enjoy the holidays!

Kelli A. Wilkins

Friday, December 2, 2011

Something Spooky for the Holiday Season!

Hi everyone,

In this week’s blog I’m sharing a short and sweet promo for a new horror anthology! As most everyone knows by now, I not only write sizzling erotic romances, I also write short horror fiction.

If you’re looking for a gift for someone who likes to read horror stories - or if you’re a horror fan who wants to tune out the cutesy holiday cheer and explore the dark side, Frightmares is just for you!

My flash fiction horror story, “Death is Just a Tick Away” appeared in Dark Moon Digest’s e-magazine (Issue #1) this summer. And it now appears in the Frightmares: A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror paperback anthology published by Dark Moon Books. The story is based on a real superstition!

The book is a compilation of dozens of flash fiction horror stories. Each tale is under 500 words and is a quick read. The authors weren’t limited to a central theme (vampires, zombies, or haunted places), so each story is completely unique.

The link to the print book on Amazon is:

And you can still order a Kindle version of the magazine here:

(Note: These links are for Amazon. However, these titles are also available at Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores.)

Next week on the blog I’ll be taking a look back at my 2011 Amber Quill Press romances!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kelli's Halloween Horror Movie Blog

Hi everyone!

Happy Halloween! In honor of the holiday (it's my personal favorite and yes, those are my decorations above), I’m sharing a bit about my favorite horror movies. Although this is off my usual topic of writing, writing and movies are connected - after all, every movie begins with a story idea!

I recently watched a show on AMC where Stephen King shared his views and ideas about various genres of horror movies. He talked about the classics and went into his favorites by subject. So I figured, why not do the same?

Horror movies (like ice cream) come in a variety of flavors, and horror movie fans/buffs have their personal likes and dislikes. Some people are devoted to the classic 1930 and 1940 Universal Studios films starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Others enjoy the British Hammer films of the 1960s. Other types of fans are attracted to a specific genre (torture porn, mutant families, clowns) or a monster (vampires, werewolves, and zombies). Still other folks are loyal to a specific character (Jason Voorhees) or franchise (Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm St.)

So what are my favorites among these categories? I have my list of “classics” but I have a special fondness for 1970s horror films. Some are considered classic or revolutionary and others are just plain bad. (The “so bad they’re good” kind.)

I could go on and on (really!) but here’s a short list of my favorites in alphabetical order by genre. They’re not all necessarily gory or scary, but they have a good story, tense camera work, or are just plain cool.

Creepy Children:

The Bad Seed (1956) – An 8 year-old sociopath fools everyone (almost!)

The Other (1972) – Often overlooked story about creepy twins – need I say more?

Haunted Places:

The Shining (1980) – Red-rum! Would you stay at the Overlook?

The Amityville Horror (1975) – Some houses are cheap for a reason!

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) – When someone tells you not to open something, don’t! And the 2011 “remake” was pretty good too!

Werewolves & Other Monsters

Dog Soldiers (2002) – Best werewolf movie ever.

The Mummy (1932) – Don’t mess around in tombs

King Kong (1933) – A classic for its time, and the island part is the best!

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) – Spooky TV movie!

Frogs (1972) – One of my favorites – original poster had a hand hanging out of the frog’s mouth.

Murder & Mayhem

Halloween (1978) – An instant classic that still freaks people out

Psycho (1960) – Leave it to Alfred to scare everyone out of the shower

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Paranoia and persecution = Polanski

Twisted Brain (1974) – Horror in high school (makes a great double feature with Bad Ronald!)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The horror classic about a dysfunctional family – and there’s no blood – really!

Black Christmas (1974) – The first really creepy Christmas movie – still holds up after all these years

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – A family goes camping and meets another, stranger, family

Race with the Devil (1975) – Again, while trying to go camping, a group meets up with trouble (anti-camping movies are their own genre!)

Enjoy them – at your own risk!

And here’s a treat:

I’m having a mini-contest and will be giving away a PDF copy of one of my Amber Quill Press romances. It’s easy to enter: all you need to do is sign-up to follow my blog between Nov. 2 and Nov. 22. A winner will be chosen at random from all the new followers. Check out my blog on Nov. 1 for more details.

Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing Horror Fiction - Just in time for Halloween!


In a previous blog, I talked a little about horror stories in general. Now I’ll get more specific. How does a person write a horror story? What makes a great one? How can you make a convincing story about a monster if monsters aren’t real?

First, it’s important to realize that horror can take many forms — gore-filled splatter-punk with buckets of blood… mysterious, cursed people living in isolated Gothic castles (or even tropical islands!)… psychological, unsettling horror that makes you feel uneasy… or your ordinary “classic monsters” such as vampires, ghosts, zombies, and werewolves. Each kind of horror story has its fans, probably because everyone is scared of different things (heights, monkeys, bridges, etc.). But whatever type of horror story you write (or read) there are a few universal elements that should go into any horror tale.

An important element in writing horror is to invent a believable horror universe where monsters, angels, vampires, and other paranormal elements are possible – and conflict with the characters you’ve created.

The TV show “Supernatural” is an excellent example of horror world building. The Winchesters go around hunting “things” for a living. They were raised believing that paranormal creatures were more than legends – to them, they’re 100% real, no question. That’s what every horror author has to do – make the reader believe in the element of horror (whether it’s a nightmare-invading serial killer, a 60 foot sea-creature, or a ghost) and take the reader on a journey with the main characters. The situations need to be plausible and told in a way that grips the reader, even if the premise seems a bit far-fetched (at first).

As with any story, the author has to establish a believable setting. Whether your tale takes place in a gritty, post-apocalyptic city or a foggy rural graveyard, you need to give your readers a concrete foundation of where the story is taking place. Use lots of details and props to make your descriptions come alive. Ask yourself why your story has to take place where it does, then take your reader there. My story, “Kropsy’s Curse” makes great use of setting. What’s better than a horror story set in a graveyard on Halloween? It’s available on The link is:

Remember that all characters (even the monsters) need to have a purpose. Why are your zombies in Wegmans? Your readers will want to know why (and how) the events in your story are happening. Your job as a writer is to get readers to suspend their (dis)belief and buy into your story. This is done by giving characters a goal and following it up with in-depth characterization and details. You don’t have to go into a lengthy explanation, just give your readers a reason, have your characters believe it, and move on. In my story, “The Man in Apt. 3-A”, the main character really didn’t believe a vampire lived upstairs…until he met him. (Read it for free in the horror section of my site!)

And try to avoid clichés like the plague! Masked killers hunting campers in the woods, serial-killing cannibal families, miserable Goth vampires in ruffles, and mindless zombie attacks have all been done to… well, death. When writing horror, don’t be afraid to break patterns, make your characters different or have them go against the stereotype. Give readers something unexpected, turn a cliché on its ear, or use a different point of view — it’ll make your story stand out. Why not set your werewolf story in Hawaii? My flash fiction story, “Guest of Honor” uses setting, mood, and purpose to deliver a clever ending. It was featured in The Best of the First Line. Read more about it here:

My flash fiction story, “Death is Just a Tick Away” appeared in the premiere issue of Dark Moon Digest’s e-magazine (Issue #1) this summer. The story is based on a real superstition! You can order a Kindle version here:

Remember, when writing horror, the only limit is your imagination!

Want more horror? Visit the horror section of my website:

 Look for a special Halloween-themed blog next week, then exciting changes in the new year!
Happy Haunting,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Have you ever read a Bigfoot romance? Beauty & the Bigfoot - an Inside Look...

Hi folks!

I’m devoting this blog to one of my Amber Quill Press paranormal romances, Beauty & the Bigfoot. It’s interesting to see how this unusual story came about….

Beauty & the Bigfoot (Yes, it’s a Bigfoot romance!) offers readers a quirky look at the legend of Bigfoot. When I told people I was writing a Bigfoot romance, they said, “You’re kidding, right?”

Nope! Maybe I watched too much “In Search Of…” as a child, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the strange and unusual. I write horror stories and romances, so it was only a matter of time before the two blended together.

The book started out with the premise: “What if a girl fell in love with a captured Bigfoot?” I liked the idea, but I wasn’t sure where I could take it. Later, when I was doing research for the book, (Yes, there was research involved!), I came across several historical accounts (dating back to the 1500s) of huge, hairy “wild men” living in the woods. Native American tribes have several names for Bigfoot and they took the subject seriously. After reading these stories, my imagination took over from there. (Once you read the book, you’ll see how it all ties in together.)

To get a feel for the character of Charlie (the resident cryptozoologist) I did a lot of research on Bigfoot and become an “expert” on the subject. Charlie and Tara have been surrounded by Bigfoot evidence forever, and I needed to know everything  they would know about Bigfoot (size of his tracks, etc.) so I could convey it to readers in a realistic (believable) way. 

Beauty & the Bigfoot was a lot of fun to write and I had a great time creating the characters. Through Tara and her eccentric father, Charlie, I was able to turn up the camp level and add in many wacky references and asides. Readers fell in love with the characters and the humor, and I’m happy to say that the book got several great reviews!

So, is Bigfoot real? Is the Patterson film a hoax? Are there Sasquatches roaming the forests of the Pacific Northwest? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the legend continues on – with a happy ending – in Beauty & the Bigfoot.

Here’s a synopsis and a hot excerpt:

Can true love exist between the species?

Tara’s world is anything but normal. Her father is known as the resident crackpot – just because he’s on a personal mission to catch a Sasquatch. Despite all of the “Bigfoot evidence” cluttering their house, Tara never really believed in Bigfoot – until the day her father brought him home.

She affectionately names her father’s prized catch ‘Joe’ and discovers there’s something oddly familiar – and erotic – about him. With a media circus descending on her father’s ranch and a showdown brewing with the local sheriff, Tara risks her life to save Joe. When Tara finally succumbs to her animalistic urges, she learns that Joe is not exactly who – or what – he seems. Joe is more than a Sasquatch – he’s her soul mate!

The HOT Excerpt:

He squeezed her breast and a low moan escaped her throat. Every time she took a breath, all she smelled was the heady scent of flowers mixed with musk. Her body felt dizzy and heavy, like she was being drugged.
Joe licked her neck while he fondled her breasts. Her lower body throbbed, and a slick heat built between her legs. If she kept her eyes closed, she could pretend Joe was a guy she’d just met and they were out for a good time…
Part of her knew this was nine different ways of wrong, but another part of her wanted to do what came natural. It was obvious what Joe wanted, and honestly, she wanted it, too.
Tara repositioned herself so she was kneeling on either side of Joe’s hairy hips. She glanced down at his penis. It had to be at least ten inches long, and she wasn’t sure he was fully erect.
“Wow! You are a big boy, aren’t you?” Joe sniffed the air, then slipped his hand between her thighs. She shivered as he touched her. What was Joe thinking? How did he know how to do this? Right now, none of that mattered. “Yeah, that’s good. Keep going,” she whispered.
Joe swirled his finger around her wet folds, taking his time and rubbing her slowly. After a minute, he pulled his hand away and made a noise that sounded like a combination of a grunt and a growl.
She got the hint. Her body ached and pulsed, desperately needing to be filled, and Joe’s huge cock would certainly do the trick. “Did you ever have sex? Do you know what’s coming next?” She giggled at her own joke, then slowly lowered herself onto his thick shaft.
Tara moaned as her body molded and stretched around him. It had been six months since her last date, and Joe’s penis was twice the size of her last lover’s—in width and length.

The book link is:

Here’s what reviewers had to say:

4 Coffeecups! "I thought this story was going to take a weird and strange turn when I first started reading it. A large sigh of relief escaped my lips when I discovered it to be a regular love story with an odd twist. I enjoyed this book a lot. I have always been fascinated by the idea of Bigfoot and the author heightened my curiosity by adding a hint of the Native Americans’ belief. Tara’s father, Charlie, adds a certain comedic flair to this book. His dedication to Bigfoot and not caring about public opinion won my heart. This is one story where you will laugh and sigh all in one reading."
Kimberly, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

"An Erotic Twist on the Classic Bigfoot Tale"
Having a father who is a certified Bigfoot investigator was not easy for Tara MacAllister growing up. He has been obsessed with the fictional creature for years, even claiming one lived within miles of their own place. Not believing in Bigfoot, Tara warred with her father constantly, until the day he actually brings Bigfoot home.
Feeling an instant connection to the tall, hairy creature that looked very much human, Tara is strangely not afraid around him. Deciding he needs another name besides Bigfoot, she names him "Joe". Succumbing to the desire between them, Tara learns there is more to Joe than anyone knows. What she finds under all of the hair is something more than just a legend, she finds true love.
Beauty & the Bigfoot is a thoroughly entertaining read on a classic legend, that I found enjoyable and sexy! Ms. Wilkins puts a twist on the bigfoot myth, that left me pleased with the ending. Beauty & the Bigfoot was a well thought out, erotic and downright fun read to the end! I loved Tara and her take on what is happening to her, and Joe is just a downright yummy male, even if he is a little hairy! If you are looking for a fun, erotic and entertaining read then Ms. Wilkins delivers.
Reviewed by Missy Brown –

In my next blog, I’ll share a bit (or a bite!) about Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover

Happy Haunting,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Horror Short Stories - The Ape & Whispers from the Past

Hi everyone!

Happy October!

To celebrate my favorite month, my blogs for October will be devoted (in some way) to the horror and paranormal genres.

As most everyone knows, I write in several genres, including romance and horror. For some, that might seem an odd combination, but it works for me. One half of my brain writes the horror, and the half writes the romance.

Although I write hot and spicy romances for Amber Quill Press, I actually started out writing short horror stories. Since I grew up reading horror fiction and watching horror movies (the whole horror movie thing is a blog for another day) it only seemed natural. (After all, Halloween is my favorite holiday!) Later, I branched out into science fiction and published 40 or so pulp fiction-style sci-fi stories for the Sun.

In horror fiction, I get to explore different settings, plots, and characters that I couldn’t develop in romance. Sometimes after working on several romances, I’ll switch moods and write a horror story to give my brain and writing muscles a change of pace.

My horror short stories are more psychological/spooky/creepy than gory, and I like to explore the darker aspects of a story and not always give the characters a happy ending, as I do in my romances. It’s fun to take a seemingly normal situation (a Halloween party, a man living in an apartment, a boy with a grudge) and add a supernatural/horror element.

Recently, two of my short stories appeared in horror anthologies published by Pill Hill Press. (Both books are available on

Haunted: An Anthology of the Supernatural - contains 42 short stories about haunted places. Set in a haunted house, “Whispers from the Past” blends the paranormal with a startling bit of reality.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Paul rolled over in the narrow twin bed and tried to ignore the faint whispers. No matter what he did, they invaded his mind like silvery moonbeams.

He closed his eyes and counted to fifty, hoping to focus on anything but those quiet sounds on the edge of his sanity. Ghosts did not exist, yet he was hearing eerie noises in the dead of night.

The whispers grew louder, more insistent. Now and then, he could make out a word or two in the hushed voice he recognized from long ago.

It can’t really be him. It’s just my over-stimulated imagination, or maybe the contest people are playing tricks on me.

“Stop it!”

He snapped back the bedclothes and stood up. The whispery voice fell silent.

To order an electronic copy, click here:

The Four Horsemen – An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death – This anthology of twenty-five short stories is based on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In “The Ape” a young boy in South Carolina uses an unusual “toy” as a tool for revenge. Here’s a snippet:

South Carolina, 1961

Billy wrinkled his nose as he entered the dimly lit shop. The air smelled funny, like a mix of spices and smoke. He closed the door behind him, cutting himself off from the outside world.

His mind fired a jumble of warnings. Nobody knew where he was… he wasn’t supposed to be here… who knew what might happen to him?

He fought the urge to yank open the door and run, but he couldn’t. He had work to do. It had taken every bit of courage he had to get this far, and he wasn’t going to give up now. Everyone in town knew where the voodoo-lady practiced her magic—but no kid in fourth grade had ever been brave enough to come inside before.

In my next blog, I’ll share an inside look at my paranormal romance, Beauty & the Bigfoot.

Links and excerpts from my other horror tales are on my website

Until next time,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kelli's Quill Newsletter - Special Sept/Oct Horror Issue


The Official Newsletter of Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Special Sept./Oct. Horror Issue! (Vol. 4 Number 5)

Hi everyone!

Happy Autumn! This edition of Kelli’s Quill is devoted to my favorite holiday, Halloween! To celebrate, I’m doing a recap of my short horror fiction and my two Amber Quill Press paranormal romances, plus sharing a bit about how I write horror and romance. Enjoy!


Kelli’s flash fiction story, “Death is Just a Tick Away” appeared in the premiere issue of Dark Moon Digest’s e-magazine (Issue #1) this summer. The story is based on a real superstition! You can order a Kindle version here:

And a Nook version here:

In 2010, two of Kelli’s horror stories appeared in anthologies. “Whispers from the Past” was published in the July 2010 Pill Hill Press Haunted anthology. Set in a haunted house, “Whispers from the Past” blends the paranormal with a startling bit of reality. The anthology is available in paperback and electronic formats. Order it here:

“The Ape” appeared in The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death, published by Pill Hill Press. This anthology of twenty-five short stories was released in May 2010 and is based on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In “The Ape” a young boy in South Carolina uses an unusual “toy” as a tool for revenge. Order a copy here:

Kelli’s Halloween-themed tale, “Kropsy's Curse”, was published in the October 2003 issue of The Far Sector SFFH and is available in electronic format. This story proves that it’s not a good idea to fool with ouija boards in graveyards! Order a copy here:

Set during a very unusual party, Kelli’s “Guest of Honor” appears in The Best of the First Line - The First Three Years anthology and was also featured in TFL on Tape (Episode 10) as an audio broadcast. The story begins with the line: “The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.” (The original issue date was Vol. 3 Issue 2 – March/April 2001.) Order a copy of the individual back issue here:

or get the full “Best of…” anthology here:

Sci-fi stories can also be a thrill! Kelli’s quirky “Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men” appeared
in the What If? Science Fiction Anthology. Get a copy here:

Want to read a real ghost story? Check out Kelli’s encounter with a ghost dog in Personal Stories of Departed Pets! The book link is:


Kelli’s Amber Heat romance, Beauty & the Bigfoot, was released in August 2009. This quirky paranormal-comedy offers readers a delightfully unique look at the legend of Bigfoot. It is available in several electronic formats from Amber Quill Press. You can order it here:

A vampire goes to the beach and falls in love… Confessions of a Vampire's Lover was released in December 2008. This contemporary paranormal romance received great reviews and is available in electronic formats.

Links broken? Go to Kelli’s website ( to find them all. Or visit and search for Kelli A. Wilkins. All of Kelli’s books and short stories are included on her Amazon Central author page!

Q&A Here’s an excerpt from Kelli’s recent interview with Bookwenches. Want to read the whole thing? A link to the full interview is on the News page of Kelli’s site (

Q: Taking a peek at your website, I see that you have written several horror stories. Between horror and romance, does writing one come more naturally than the other? What inspires you to pick up the pen (or fire up the keyboard) to write a horror story?

A: I originally started out writing horror short stories, and then I alternated with romance. I think I have a good balance of writing in both genres. (One half of my brain does horror the other half does romance.) I generally get inspired for horror the same way I do for romance – an idea pops into my head, the story clicks, and off I go.

I was able to combine both worlds in my paranormal romance, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover. It’s a romance, but it also has a gothic-horror feel. 

Sometimes after working on several romances I’ll switch and write a horror story. It allows me to change up my writing style, use different settings, and create characters you wouldn’t find in romance. My horror short stories are more psychological/spooky/creepy than gory, and I like to explore the darker aspects of a story and not always give the characters a happy ending (as I do in my romances).

Q: I recently read your story “Beauty and the Bigfoot” and thought it was a lot of fun. What inspired you to write a story about the Sasquatch and to give him the romantic lead role?
A: Beauty & the Bigfoot was inspired by a wacky idea that popped into my head: “What if a girl fell in love with a Sasquatch?” I’m not sure where the idea came from, but the more I thought about it, the more the story unfolded.

I knew that a romance about Bigfoot would have to be a comedy – nobody would buy into the idea of a “serious” love story about Bigfoot. From there, the idea, characters, and back story about the legend grew and morphed into the book. It’s sort of a modern take on Beauty and the Beast – with plenty of humor and drama to draw readers into Tara’s crazy world.

Q: Share with us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t think to ask.
A: Even though I write horror stories, nobody ever asks me about the paranormal. One thing you probably wouldn’t think to ask: “Do you believe in ghosts and the supernatural?” The answer is definitely yes!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter. Feel free to forward it to friends and post it on various social media sites. Want to comment on something or have a question you’d like to see me answer? You can contact me via the “contact the author” form on the News page of my site.

Happy Halloween!

Kelli A. Wilkins

Thursday, September 22, 2011

5 More Fun Writing Tips for Anyone!

Hi everyone!

Whenever I do an interview, I’m usually asked if I have any advice or tips for aspiring writers. Well, I sure do! Today, I decided to share five more writing tips. (In a blog earlier this summer I shared five other fun tips.)
Writers will (hopefully) find them helpful, and readers will get an inside look at some “secrets” that go in to making interesting and sexy stories. These writing tips are based on advice I received in my writing classes and discoveries I made as I wrote. I included brief examples from some of my Amber Quill Press romances to illustrate a few points.

Divide by Three: As a writer, you should be doing one of three things: writing new material, revising/editing what you’ve written, and submitting. Divide your writing time into thirds and get to work. Some days I’ll work on outlining a new story, then I’ll spend a day sending out submissions, and then go back to revising an existing story. Someone once said that you should never not be writing, so don’t wait around to hear about a story you’ve just finished before you start another project—especially if inspiration strikes.

For example, when I was halfway through editing my book Trust with Hearts, the entire plot for A Perfect Match popped into my head. Not wanting to lose a scrap of the story, I put Trust with Hearts aside for two or three days and wrote a very detailed outline for A Perfect Match. Juggling projects/stories/ideas may seem hard, but every so often it’s a good idea to switch up and do something different for a day or two.

If you’re already published, you’ll also have to make room for a fourth element: promotion. Getting your name out there on blogs and websites, participating on guest author days, doing interviews, and contacting review sites is like a job itself. So make time to promote all the great things you’ve written!

“Someday” I’ll Use That: Keep a folder for ‘someday’ story ideas, characters, settings, and anything else that sparks your attention. File all those notes, scraps of plots, bits of dialog, and photos of scenic views that you’ve accumulated in one place. If you’re ever stuck on your writing, open the folder and see what inspires you. Long before I wrote A Most Unusual Princess, I had scribbled down the name “Elara” to use as a character’s name, along with the description “unusual princess.” At the time, I had no idea where I would use it. The idea for the pleasure palace and nasty Emperor Salizar in Dalton’sTemptation came from a hastily scribbled idea I wrote down on a scrap of paper. If I come across a catalog with interesting clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc., I tear out the page and file it away in case I can use in a story. Periodically, it’s a good idea to go through the folder and review what you’ve saved. Often you’ll find yourself muttering, “What the heck did I save that for?” or you’ll uncover a gem of an idea just when you need it.

Keep a Writing Resume: This is an excellent bit of advice I received from my writing teacher. Note the date of publication, the title of the piece, where it appeared, and include a link to the publication or story (if it appeared online). If you want to set up a website, having this info readily available in one place will help you locate your writings (and links). I also note reviews and interviews on my resume (with links) to help me with my newsletter and website updates.

A writing resume is also a great motivational tool for when you’re not feeling 100% confident in your work. You can look back and see all that you’ve accomplished over time. (I like to revisit all the sci-fi and mini-romances I wrote for The Sun.) If you haven’t been published yet, start a resume anyway. List any degrees you have, writing classes or workshops you’ve taken, contests you might have placed in and writing organizations/groups you belong to.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cut: Suppose you have a great story that’s 2,500 words and you find a contest that has a 2,000 word limit – what do you do? Cut! Don’t be afraid to edit your story to fit a market or contest guideline. Yes, you may have to lose a bit of the back-story, details, dialog, or condense a scene, but it might just get you published. (Be sure to save the “long” version, too. If the shorter story is rejected, you’ll still have your original.)

I did this with my gothic historical, The Dark Lord. The Amber Heat contest limited stories to 15,000 words. My original version of The Dark Lord came in around 20,000 words or so and included a few extra scenes. To make it fit the rules of the contest I deleted and condensed a few scenes and the book worked just fine.

Sometimes you need to cut scenes to make the book “work”. Believe it or not, the original version of Trust with Hearts was an additional 20,000 words long. I had at least four more chapters and a completely different ending to the book. (It still had a HEA, but the characters got there via a different path.) Why did I cut it? Several readers didn’t like it and said that it felt too contrived. I figured that if more than three people thought the same thing, they might have a point, so I changed the ending before I submitted it to AQP.

Take Writing Classes: Whenever I’m asked if I have advice for writers, I always advocate taking writing classes. Writing classes (or workshops) are an excellent way to learn storytelling techniques, explore different genres, and understand the basic mechanics of writing. (I started out taking one little writing class for “something to do” and it blossomed into a writing career.)

In most cases, writing classes will require that you finish a piece and share it with the class. It’s a great way to overcome any fear or shyness about sharing your work with others, and it’s always helpful to have different readers give you feedback and critique what you’ve written. Making the commitment to sit in a class for a few hours a week and actually write and share a story will give you an idea of the work, challenges, demands, and rewards involved in being a writer. (Trust me, it’s not as easy as people think!) If there are no “live” writing classes available in your area, consider taking online classes or attending workshops at writing conferences.

I hope you enjoyed these writing tips and learned something about the process of being a writer. If you’d like to catch up on all of my writings, visit my website:

I’ll be sharing another batch of tips in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned!

As a side note, this blog could use some more followers. I’ll be running a mini-contest in November, but feel free to tell your friends to sign up now and and follow along. I’ll be showcasing horror and paranormal writings all through October!

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wading Through Job Hell…and Coming Out the Other Side Part 3 – To Thine Own Self Be True

Hi everyone!

Here's part 3 of my "jobs from hell" blog. I originally wrote this as a writing exercise to vent my frustrations. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Wading Through Job Hell…and Coming Out the Other Side

Part 3 – To Thine Own Self Be True

Several years ago, I left a job that was emotionally draining and making me utterly miserable. Everyone was shocked, but the moment I left the place behind, I felt free.

After a few months, I decided it was time to look for another job. I quickly discovered that my old job had given me a skill I couldn’t put on my resume I was an expert at identifying potentially unhealthy work environments.

Here’s just one example:

After being screamed at by the boss for putting someone into his voicemail when he was on his three-hour lunch, I was told by a female secretary: “Don’t worry. He yells at all of us all the time. You’ll get used to it. You’re new here. If you like your job, you won’t make waves. This is how we do things here. You have to obey him."

Excuse me? Did she say obey him? When did I go back in time to the 1800s? I really wanted to ask her what the punishment was for not obeying. Beatings? More screaming? Did he have a whip? Did her husband know that her boss verbally abused her on a daily basis? Was he fine with it? Because I sure as hell wasn’t.

I couldn’t leave the building fast enough. But I really shouldn’t have taken it to heart (at least that’s what they told me). After talking to a few of the salesmen in the office (women weren’t allowed to be salespeople) I was told that the boss: “…yells at everyone and treats everyone like crap, but the women get it worse. He doesn’t pull that kind of crap with the guys because he knows we won’t take it.” Lovely! And here I was hoping for Equal Opportunity Misery.

If you like your new job except for a few minor things, great! Stick it out and see how it goes for a few months. But if the boss threatened you (“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay past six and type this letter, or else.”), or insulted you (“What are you, stupid?”), then it’s probably time to go.

And go. Don’t be afraid to leave. Leave for lunch, then call them and tell them to stick it if you have to, but go. Leaving doesn’t hurt. Being out of a bad environment is much better than staying somewhere filled with worry, anxiety, stress, and fear every day.

Give two week’s notice if you feel you won’t be further abused once word gets out that you’ve resigned. Otherwise, quitting on the spot after a public humiliation (or other inexcusable affront) will work just fine. It won’t matter what they say about you once you’re gone, and if you’ve only been there a week or two, you’re not listing the job on your resume anyway.

When I questioned things at my job, I was accused of “putting ideas in people’s heads” and “starting trouble” in the office. Was I advocating a revolution? Only a personal one. Everyone has different boundaries. Ask yourself: What will you stand for? What is your limit? How much is too much? And when do you know when you’ve had enough?

We all have different tolerance levels. Some people are afraid to leave or stand up for themselves. Granted, leaving is easier if you have someplace else to go, but if you find yourself trapped in a bad job, don’t feel like you’re bound by indentured servitude to stay there.

Once, I started a new job right out of college. When I walked in the door on my first day I saw the owner screaming at a female employee. His exact words have stuck with me all these years: “Are you so stupid you can’t remember to empty my garbage can when you vacuum my office?” The grown woman was in tears.

Later, when I asked about the incident, I was told: “He does that all the time. She’s been here three years, she’s used to it.” At that moment, I swore I’d never end up that way. After three days of endless shouting, I left unemployed, but wiser.

Oddly, it was always the women who told me to “accept it” for “the way it was” and not to “make trouble” and “get used to it.” A few times I asked them why. Why should we blindly accept bad behavior and tolerate abuse just because we work there? The men aren’t yelled at and they certainly aren’t forced to vacuum.

They looked at me like I had just landed a spaceship on the front lawn.

Over the years I’ve learned a valuable lesson: When it comes to difficult interviewers and/or employers, you have two choices: rise up and be respected, or leave. There’s no harm in utilizing self-preservation and demonstrating self-respect.

If anything, it’s a liberating, empowering feeling to know that you’re doing what’s right foryou, regardless of what anyone else tells you. Everyone has to decide what’s best for themselves in their own time and in their own way. You may not get others to follow your lead, but in the end, you’ll be on a much better path.


Until next time,


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wading Through Job Hell…and Coming Out the Other Side Part 2 – Always Trust Your Instincts

Hi Everyone,

This week I'm sharing part 2 of my "jobs from hell" blog. It's an amusing (and true) account of ridiculous things I've been asked during interviews, at jobs, and how I managed to come out the other side with my Self intact.

I wrote this "essay" ages and ages ago, mostly to vent and let off steam about the crazy people I had encountered. It was good therapy and goes to show you that writing something down (even if it's for your Self and not for publishing in the world) can certainly put things in perspective and make you feel better.


Wading Through Job Hell…and Coming Out the Other Side

Part 2 – Always Trust Your Instincts

What’s a woman to do when she discovers that she’s on the Interview From Hell? Run? Laugh? Lament? No, just be aware and beware. Some interview questions should tip you off that something is seriously wrong.

Two questions on the top of my “beware” list: “How do you react to being yelled at?” and “Are you okay with cursing and swearing in the office?” (I didn’t tell the woman interviewing me that I generally react by leaving, because the person is obviously irrational and might be better suited to working in the monkey house at the zoo – he’d blend right in.)

If you’re on an interview and anything sets off warning bells in your head, don’t second guess yourself. Always trust your instincts. Take heed if you see people complaining loudly, bosses screaming at employees, managers throwing things, or the interviewer says (while you’re waiting outside her office): “Let me just get rid of this person and I can go to lunch.” (Yes, that's a real quote!)

Take these signs to heart. You won’t be happy there.

And always, always take a tour of the building on an interview. If they don’t offer one, ask and see what happens, but don’t accept any job without one. If the interview went well and you like the place, ask to use the bathroom before you leave and nose around.

I know, it sounds silly, but the state of the office will tell you volumes about the employer. Maybe you should be concerned if the bathroom has overflowing toilets and they tell you: “Oh that happens all the time.” And if there is one bathroom the size of a closet for both men and women that reeks to high heaven – run don’t walk – to the nearest exit.

While you’re investigating, try to check out the kitchen area. A refrigerator, a microwave, and a sink with hot and cold running water are not unheard of office luxuries.

If there’s no place to sit and eat your lunch (if you bring it every day instead of going out) what will you do? I once was told: “Everyone sits at their desks and eats – but you still have to answer the phones.”

Thanks! Did I tell you I’m on the raw carrots and celery diet? Crunch, crunch, crunch!

Remember, every interview is a two-way street. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be wary if they balk at answering a “normal question” or seem uncomfortable with you asking any questions. Watch out for seemingly innocent phrases sprinkled into the interview, like: “It’ll be nice to have a pretty young woman at the front desk.” (Yes, it’s a real quote again!) “How old are you? You don’t look old enough to be…”

Ask yourself if the place is somewhere you want to be every day for eight hours. What perks (if any) apply? If the best (or only) good thing you can say about them is that “They’re close to home.” or “It’s a paycheck.” it might not be a good move.

Of course, if you want the job, by all means do your best to get it. But don’t settle. You don’t want to trade your peace of mind (or your whole mind) for a paycheck. You can afford to be at least a little bit choosy. After all, it’s your life and you decide how and where to spend your time. Do you want to be in a positive environment where you’ll be happy, or suffering in a hell-hole because you were afraid to say no?

So what happens if you take the job from hell like I did (Actually, I took three, but they were short-lived and gave me these great stories to tell!), and after three days find yourself crying at your desk wondering what the heck happened? Do you blame yourself for making a bad choice?

The answer is complicated. Sometimes the job is not what it seems. Maybe you didn’t realize it would be this bad, or they outright lied to get you to work there because nobody else wanted to. (That happened at all 3 of those jobs from hell - another sign that the inmates are running the office!)

In my case, the truth started to leak out after a few days. I found out from the office gossip that the position I took wasn’t open for two weeks because a woman left to have her baby and never came back. The real story was that six people were in the position over the last six months. They all left after three or four weeks because they couldn’t stand it.

All-too-soon I found out first-hand why people left. After being screamed at by the boss for putting someone into his voicemail when he was on his three-hour lunch, I was told by a female secretary: “Don’t worry. He yells at all of us all the time. You’ll get used to it. You’re new here. If you like your job, you won’t make waves. This is how we do things here. You have to obey him.”

Oh really? That was all I needed to hear.


I have more to say on this topic - and I know you won’t want to miss the conclusion of this blog next week!

Until next time!