Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kelli's Interview with Coffeetime Romance - Part 2 - Advice to Writers




Hello again everyone!

Today I'm sharing part 2 of my interview with Coffeetime Romance. I'm sharing an inside look at the writing process, and offer advice to beginning writers.

(Wanna hear what else I have to say about the writing life? Links to all of my interviews are on the News page of my website: http://www.kelliwilkins.com/news.html)



What is your favorite part of being a published author? What is your least favorite part?
I love the process of writing the story. Creating characters, worlds for the characters to live in, and telling the story of their adventures is a lot of fun. It’s interesting to see what the characters do, watch them fall in love, and learn how they overcome their troubles to have a happy ending. 

However, once the “fun” part of writing is over, then the real “work” begins. Revising, editing, and proofreading the story is necessary, but it’s not terribly creative. You have to pull yourself out of the story and focus on wording, the plot, and other details that make the story “work” as a whole. This painstaking process has its rewards in the end, though. I have a phrase I use when I’ve finished a story: “I love having written.” This means I love having it all finished, polished, and done!

How have your friends and family responded to your becoming a published author?
My friends and family have been very supportive. My husband is proud to call me the “resident writer” in the family. I have a few close friends I turn to for encouragement and guidance about my writing, and family members are always asking about my latest (or next) project.

What do you think is the hardest thing about writing romance?
I think one of the hardest things about writing romance (aside from creating the story in general) is to write love scenes. The intensity, details, and descriptions have to be tailored to the genre and heat level of a story.  Plus, you have to make the scene develop naturally and fit the personalities of the characters. 

If you’re writing a tender historical romance, love scenes are handled quite differently than if you are writing a super sizzling erotic romance. The heat levels and intensities vary among all my books, so I’m able to experiment with different scenarios in the love scenes. Sometimes you have to set aside your “internal editor” and write the scene that’s appropriate for the book and the characters, regardless of what other people think you “should” write.

What would you like your readers to come away with after reading one of your books?
Ideally, I’d like my readers to become involved in the characters’ lives and fully engrossed in the story. I’ve had some great reader feedback about my books. People were surprised at the twists and turns in The Pauper Prince, and wondered how (or even if) Claudette and Allan would end up together. One person confessed to tearing up during parts of Dalton’s Temptation. Those are great things for a writer to hear. It tells me that I’ve created believable characters that readers care about.  

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
The best advice I can give to any writer (regardless of what genre he or she likes to write) is to keep writing. It takes a lot of dedication and determination to sit down every day and write something. But the more you write, the easier it gets. (And don't just talk about writing "someday" - sit down and do it! The stories won't write themselves.)

Writing classes are a great way to learn the basics and meet other writers. If possible, join a writer’s group or a critique group to get feedback on your stories. A lot of times an outside person will notice something wrong with your story when you don't. If someone makes suggestions on how to improve your story, listen with an open mind, and don't take any criticism personally. 

When you’ve written the best story you can, submit it! You can’t get published if you never submit, and you never know when your first acceptance will arrive.


Remember, if you have a topic you'd like to see me address on the blog or a question about the writing life, drop me a line. I may answer your question here!

Until next time,
Kelli


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kelli's Interview with Coffeetime Romance - Peek Inside the Mind of a Writer


Hi Everyone!
Today I'm sharing an excerpt from my interview with Coffeetime Romance. It offers an inside look at my writing process, a bit about my background, and more!

Enjoy!



What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I never actually decided to be a writer—it was just something that seemed natural to me. I’ve been writing 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. Oddly, 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.


Do you have a favorite genre or two that you like to write in?
I write in several genres: horror, romance, sci fi, and non-fiction. I have a lot of ideas, so I’m able to diversify and switch gears now and then. In romance, I like to write historical/fantasy stories.
My “Royal Desires” trilogy from Amber Quill Press (A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton’s Temptation, and The Pauper Prince) is a “medieval” fantasy. I liked writing the series because it allowed me to create a whole world for my characters. My romance novella, The Dark Lord, is historical, and The Sexy Stranger is contemporary.  Although I’m drawn to historical/fantasy settings, if I get a great idea for a story I’ll go with it, regardless of the genre. My novella, A Midsummer Night’s Delights, is also a fantasy story.

What actually motivates you to write? Do you have a muse or muses that keep you going during those times when you may experience writer's block?
I’m self-motivated. I keep a folder of ideas, and if I’m ever at a loss for my next project, I read through the folder and see what story/plot/idea appeals to me to write next. Whenever I get stuck on a story or need to work out some details (of plot, characters, or whatever), I take a break from writing and go for a walk to clear my head. Usually the “writer’s block” clears up on its own and I get clarity on how to fix the story.

Where do you think you get the ideas for your books?
Ideas are everywhere. I’m constantly observing what goes on around me, listening to other peoples’ stories, seeking out unusual settings, and noticing what most people don’t see. All of that, plus my overactive imagination, leads to story ideas. Once in a while, a story idea will just come to me out of nowhere. Sometimes I take two ideas and combine them into one, or I take an idea and ask myself “what if” to invent new scenarios.

When I wrote A Most Unusual Princess, I knew I wanted to write a story about a headstrong princess who was far from typical. (And boy, was she ever!) I fell in love with Elara and the other characters, and from there, created an entire trilogy. For The Dark Lord, I wanted to evoke a feeling of gothic mystery and suspense. Sometimes stories aren’t necessarily based on a concrete idea as much as they’re based on a character, mood, or setting.

Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your own writing style?
I read a lot of books in all genres, horror, mystery, romance, general fiction, and non-fiction. I think I’ve been influenced in some way by everything I’ve ever read. Each time I pick up a book I notice how the author draws me into the story, if he/she keeps me interested, what works for the story and what doesn’t. I think reading helps me develop my writing skills.

Look for part 2 of the interview next week!

Do you have a topic you'd like to see me address on the blog? Have a question about getting published, writing, or my books? Send me a note or post it in a comment and I'll make your suggestion part of the blog!

Until next time,
Kelli
 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What’s on Kelli’s Desk? An Inside Look at a Writer's Life...






Hi everyone,
As most of you know, I’ve published thirteen erotic romances with Amber Quill Press, four non-fiction pet care guides, and dozens of romance, horror, and sci-fi short stories. You can probably imagine that I’m a very busy author with a messy desk!

Over the years my desk has witnessed a lot of triumphs, agonies, long hours, characters being born (and getting killed off), and all the other ups and downs writers go through as they create stories.

My desk is situated under the window in our guest bedroom. The view isn’t particularly inspiring (I can see the street, some trees, and the occasional squirrel), but that’s okay because when I’m at the desk I’m usually “just” typing.

Unlike most authors today, I write everything out in longhand. When I get an idea for a story, I grab a pad of paper and several pens and start writing an outline. People ask me why I write like this when “everyone else” types. I think the act of putting the pen to paper helps me get in touch with the story and the characters. It’s also easier for me to write anywhere, at any time. If it’s nice outside I’ll sit in the backyard and scribble under the trees. If I’m stuck waiting for someone, I can pull out the pad and start writing, or just jot down ideas.

I give myself permission to write the first (usually very rough) draft on paper, then I go back and start typing. When I head into the guest room to work on a book, I tell my husband that I’m going to “chain myself to the desk” for a few hours.

Drafting the story and creating adventures for the characters is the fun part of the writing process. Typing, editing, revising, and proofreading are what make writing anything “work”. But I’m not alone at my desk.

Ages ago, my mother bought me two small cherub statues that now sit on either side of my monitor. One angel is reading a book and the other is writing in a book with a feather pen. They remind me of why I’m there – to write and to produce stories that people read. I also share my desk space with a squirrel statue I call Dave. I like squirrels. They’re hardworking, determined, motivated, and pretty crafty. These are all qualities that writers need. When I get discouraged, tired, or feel like giving up, Dave reminds me to “keep on keeping on” as the phrase goes. 

As I type the manuscript, I add, delete, or rearrange scenes and fill in with missing character descriptions or setting details. By the time I have a first typed draft, the story is in pretty good shape. But while I’m typing the book, my desk gets a workout. Highlighters, pens, scraps of paper, and stacks of marked up manuscript pages cover every visible surface. As I finish a scene or chapter, I staple the pages together and plop them on the nearby dresser to get filed later.

After a story is finally done and off to the publisher, I take a day or two to sort through the piles of manuscript pages, outlines, notes, and whatever else has accumulated on my desk. I keep what I need, recycle the rest, and give my desk a good dusting. A clean and clutter-free surface mirrors my mental state at this point. That story is finished, and now I have the time and energy to start thinking about a new piece of writing, to fill up another notebook, and start the process all over again.

I hope you enjoyed this “insider look” at where writers create the stories you love!

Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kelli's Author Spotlight & Book Contest








Hi Everyone!

Today, I’m the Guest Author Spotlight on the Amber Quill Press Yahoo Loop. I’ll be posting excerpts, reviews, snippets from interviews and who knows what else. 

I’ll be giving away a PDF of my historical/fantasy romance, A MOST UNUSUAL PRINCESS. The contest only runs on April 6 and ends at midnight (Eastern Time.) To enter, all you need to do is send me an email (off-list) with “A Most Unusual Princess contest” as the subject line. A winner will be chosen at random.

Be sure to spread the word to groups & other readers!

Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kelli's Quill Newsletter - Big March/April Issue


KELLI’S QUILL
The Official Newsletter of Author Kelli A. Wilkins
March/April Issue (Vol. 5 Number 2)
 
Happy spring everyone! The weather’s been really warm here and my flowers are in bloom. As we say goodbye to a mild winter, I’m sharing some news, an interview excerpt, and more!
 
SPECIAL NOTICE:
On Friday, April 6 Kelli will be the Spotlight Featured Author on the Amber Quill Press Yahoo group. Kelli will be hosting a contest and giving away a PDF copy of her first AQP romance, A Most Unusual Princess. Want to enter? Check it out here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberheatreaders
Check out the FB event page here: http://www.facebook.com/events/142903419172541/

FOR READERS:
 Kelli’s Been Blogging Like Wild:

On Valentine’s Day, Kelli joined other Amber Quill Press authors for a group blog. She gave away a copy of her contemporary wrestling romance A Perfect Match. (Why that book? Because the hero is named Vinnie Valentine!)

Kelli also guest blogged on Shannon Leigh's blog on Feb. 16. The link is:

Mark your Calendar – The Viking’s Witch is Coming!:
Kelli’s first romance with Medallion Press will be released in e-book format in August. The Viking’s Witch (formerly known as The Witch & the Warrior) will be available for pre-order in July. You can visit Kelli’s author page here: http://medallionmediagroup.com/author/kelli-wilkins/

Here’s the plot summary:
The Viking’s Witch
Scotland, 803 A.D.
 
About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.
 
But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?

After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village? 
 
Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other . . . before time is up.


Cats& Horror:
Kelli’s horror story, “Just an Innocent Little Cat” was published in DARK THINGS II: Cat Crimes: Tales of Feline Mayhem and Murder. The character of Chester is based on a real-life orange cat. All proceeds from sales of this anthology go to several cat sanctuaries across the USA. Buy a copy (or three) on Amazon and help cats! The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/DARK-THINGS-II-Crimes-Feline/dp/1468055488/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324187873&sr=8-1
What’s in the Works?:
Kelli just submitted a few horror stories to anthologies and contests and is currently working on new romances (a m/m paranormal and a historical suspense ….).Her website should be updated soon…really!
The Blog& Other Web Places:
Kelli has added book pages to her blog! Links, covers, and summaries are there for the reading. She also added a small tribute to Davy Jones of The Monkees.
Kelli’s on Amazon: Did you know that all of Kelli’s writings are on Amazon? (Romance, short fiction, anthologies, horror, non-fiction, and everything else….) Visit her author page and catch up on books and short stories you may have missed. The link is: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.-Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1326933452&sr=8-3
KELLI’s INTERVIEW:
This month I’m sharing an excerpt from my interview with Whipped Cream. It offers an insight into my views on what is romance and what’s not. Enjoy!
Q: How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?
A: When I started writing erotic romance, I wasn’t 100% sure what “officially” defined erotica, erotic romance, and porn. It seemed that everyone I talked to had a different opinion – so I devised my own definitions.
I consider ‘erotica’ to be stories that explore a character’s erotic adventures or exploits and contain explicit details – but romance isn’t at the core of the story. An example would be Anne Rice’s “Beauty” books. The reader follows Beauty and the other characters through their sexual adventures, but they’re not involved in romantic relationships.
I define ‘erotic romance’ as a sexually-charged story that has romance (either M/F or same sex) as the main focus. To me, an erotic romance needs to have an interesting plot and character development that keeps readers wondering “What happens next? Will the couple get together? How will the story end?”
Erotic romance has more (and more detailed!) love scenes than a ‘traditional’ romance. And there are many different ‘heat’ levels to erotic romance. Some are tamer and only hint at what’s going on between the sheets – or as in my book, The Sexy Stranger, the story builds sexual tension as the characters tease and flirt with each other. Some erotic romances (such as The Pauper Prince) include more explicit details and let readers peek in on the sexual activities of the romantic couple, while others (A Midsummer Night’s Delights) are scorching hot and include toys, multiple partners and other sexual acts that might be considered “taboo” to some readers.
And porn? I think porn is basically people having sex. Usually there’s no character development, story conflict, or background details. The quickie definition I sometimes use is “The pizza guy shows up, finds half-naked horny women waiting to pounce on him, they screw, he leaves.” It’s a one-time encounter that doesn’t aim to make readers care about who the characters are – the sole purpose is to show people screwing and… well, we all know the rest.
Q: How do you judge what makes a good erotic story when writing your own fiction?
A: When I’m writing my stories, I generally look for a unique plot and interesting characters to support that plot. When it comes down to the basics, a reader won’t sit through any story (no matter what genre) that isn’t attention-grabbing or that doesn’t have appealing, believable characters. Readers like to get to know the characters and identify with them as they have their adventures. Without a solid base, the story will fall flat, regardless of how exciting the love scenes are.
Once I have the story down, I let the characters have fun! When I write love scenes I sort of stand back and let the characters do what comes natural. I generally know how far the scene will go ahead of time, but I let the characters take over and enjoy themselves. Later, when I edit/revise the story, I go back and cut anything that doesn’t work with the scene. I think love scenes have to flow naturally from the plot and the characters. I avoid just plopping them in there for the sake of spicing up a story.
Q: What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotica?
A: I can name several, but I can’t pick just one! Some of the biggest public misconceptions about erotica are: that the stories are mindless scenes of people having sex; that there’s no “real” plot or characterization; and that they’re “easy” to write. Other misconceptions are that the authors of erotic romances are basing the love scenes in the books on their own private lives, and that we ‘act out’ the love scenes in our books. Not true! The stories are fiction, not confessionals. And writing good romance is just as difficult and as labor-intensive as writing horror, sci fi, or mystery.
 
 
FOR WRITERS:
Something to Think About – Spring Cleaning for Your Writing
Are you hanging on to old stories that you’d swore you’d fix up “someday” and submit? Maybe you have a half-finished novel or you’ve been saving up guidelines for markets that you “might” try… Well, it’s time to make a commitment. Spend an hour (or more, depending on your schedule) revisiting the old and neglected stories. You know, the ones you abandoned because they weren’t going anywhere, or you got stuck on the plot, lost interest, the phone rang, whatever. Now’s the perfect time of year to keep the best, get rid of the rest. (Yes, that’s my very own motto.)
Cut the old stories loose or add them to your schedule. Read them over and make a serious evaluation. Are you really going to finish the three-quarters done sci-fi story? Will you develop those scrawled notes into a novel? Perhaps you have old stories that just need a little help. If you like what you’re reading, fix up the story and send it out. (You may discover a gem you’d forgotten about.) If the stories aren’t any good, let them go.
If you’ve been collecting market guidelines to use someday, but never submitted anything, let them go, too – especially if they’re over a year old. When you have a story ready to send, you’ll need new guidelines anyway.
And what if you don’t have any old stories hiding out? Now’s a good time to write some! Here are a few writing prompts to use for a fun writing exercise. Spend 5-10 minutes on each one and see what you come up with.
A woman buys a house with a haunted swimming pool in the back yard.
“I only hit him once. I didn’t think it would kill him.”
The man stood next to the wall, watching.
Jane screamed as the mouse ran across her desk and under the wall.
Nobody knew where he was. If he didn’t get help soon, he’d die.
Take some time to clear out the old writing projects that haven’t gone anywhere and make room for the new stuff – you never know where some spring cleaning might lead you!
I hope you enjoyed this issue of Kelli’s Quill. Be sure to visit my website (www.KelliWilkins.com) and blog (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/) for more news and writing tips. Feel free to forward the newsletter to groups, friends, other writers, and anyone who likes to read!
Happy Reading!
Kelli
Got questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact the author at: www.KelliWilkins.com