Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kelli's Quill Newsletter - Hot Summer 2013 Issue







KELLI’S QUILL

The Official Newsletter of Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Hot Summer 2013 Issue (Vol. 6 Number 3)


Hi everyone, and a warm welcome to summer! Flowers are blooming everywhere and the days are heating up. While everyone else is taking a summer break, I’m revving up with more news and working on more stories.

As always, feel free to forward this newsletter to your writing groups, post to social network groups, and friends. I look forward to chatting with readers and other writers! Email me or drop me a line on my blog with questions, comments, or anything else that comes to mind.

In this issue I’m sharing news about my GOLD IPPY AWARD, another new anthology, giving a sneak peek at upcoming projects, linking to interviews, and more!

BIG NEWS FOR FOR THE VIKING’S WITCH:
In May, THE VIKING’S WITCH won a Gold IPPY Award for best romance ebook! Kelli went to NYC to receive her gold metal and pose for photos. This year, there were 5,203 total entries and 372 medals were awarded to talented authors in all genres. Kelli also posted a two part blog about THE VIKING’S WITCH (and a few photos) on her blog.

Raven at Reviewing Vixens gave The Viking’s Witch 4 out of 5 kisses. Here’s what they had to say: “A great read that will have you guessing right to the end of the book. I was literally tied into knots wondering what would happen next, if they would actually make it as a couple or if all they'd done would be for nothing. Two very interesting characters, very opposite and yet the perfect match for one another. Read this book.” Read the full review here http://reviewingvixens.webs.com/apps/blog/show/25980658-the-viking-s-witch-by-kelli-a-wilkins


KELLI IS PART OF THE BIG BAD ANTHOLOGY OF EVIL!
Not to abruptly switch genres, but….Kelli’s
sci-fi story "The Con" was published in the anthology, The Big Bad - Anthology of Evil. In this collection of speculative stories, the bad guys rule!  The “heroes” are anything but good – at least not in the traditional sense. This book is available in paperback and eformats. Order a copy here: Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Big-Bad-Anthology-Evil-ebook/dp/B00D3RNNCY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370283450&sr=1-1&keywords=%2C+The+Big+Bad%3A+An+Anthology+of+Evil



READ KELLI’S INTERVIEW WITH RAINE DELIGHT:
On June 21, Kelli’s interview about her romances and the writing life appeared on the Raine Delight blog. Read the full interview here:  http://authorrainedelight.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/welcome-kelli-a-wilkins/


MORE ZIPPER RIPPERS!:
Four Days with Jack, Kelli’s gay paranormal romance, was recently a featured spotlight book on the Zipper Ripper blog. Read it here: http://zipperrippers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/book-spotlight-four-days-with-jack-by.html

Read Kelli’s new interview with Zipper Rippers here: http://zipperrippers.blogspot.co.uk/

KELLI ON THE WEB:
Don’t forget to visit Kelli’s blog for inside looks at her romances, horror stories, writing tips, and more. And her website has been completely revamped. Same url www.KelliWilkins.com but a totally different look. Each book page includes summaries, links, and reviews. Check out the News page for links to new projects, interviews, and more.

Kelli on Kindle!: Did you know that all of Kelli’s romances are available in electronic format? Visit her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.-Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 or type in amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins to see all of her writings!

Q&A WITH KELLI


Here’s an excerpt from Kelli’s Interview with Two Lips Reviews. Read the full interview on the News page of her site: www.KelliWilkins.com

What makes a great book to you?
An interesting (and maybe unusual) plot, believable details, and well-developed characters I care about. If the author can accomplish all that, then he or she has written a great book.

What really draws your attention to a good book, the cover art, the genre, the author or the blurb?
The genre and the blurb/plot get my attention first. If I follow a particular author, the name might make me pick up the book, but if I don’t like the genre or plot, I probably won’t buy it.

Is it difficult when you have to hurt your characters or make them do something they don’t want to do?
Absolutely! And it’s especially hard when writing romance. I ran into this problem with The Pauper Prince. I can’t give away too many details about the situation, but I had to kill off a character I had come to love. It broke my heart to do it, but it was necessary for the story to move along. Sometimes you have to “kill your darlings”—and some of your characters.

However, if I’m writing a horror story, or if I’ve created a villain that deserves to be bumped off (or eaten by a monster), I have no problem writing the scene. Sometimes characters just have to “go”—but it’s easier if they’re not nice.

Are any characters actually inspired by people you know?
Sort of. I’ve taken bits and pieces from real people and used some elements for my characters, but no one character is 100% anyone I know. I’m also a “people watcher” so I pick up character traits from observing people and how they act.

How long does it typically take you to write a book?  Do you spend a lot of time researching or do the characters just come alive in your mind?
Usually the characters, the setting, and the story just come to me in my head. Once I have a genre or time period for the story, I do some research for details and/or ideas for clothing, occupations, or the food that people ate. I like to weave little details into the books and blend them in as naturally as possible. When I’m writing fantasy romance, I try to make the details believable, even if I’m making them up!

Depending on the book, it can take anywhere from a week to a month to write the first draft. (The Sexy Stranger and The Dark Lord took a week. My full-length novels, Trust with Hearts, The Pauper Prince, and The Viking’s Witch each took about a month.) I write all my stories in longhand, so after the first draft is finished, I edit and revise it as I type it.

How difficult is it to separate the author from the person?
I don’t have a hard time separating Kelli the Writer from Kelli the Person—but a lot of other people do. Because I write romances, people think that the love scenes are “confessionals” or are inspired by what I do in my personal life. Not so! Fiction is fiction, no matter what inspires it. It’s the characters who are doing these things, not me.

Believe it or not, not-so-polite people have asked me if I “act out” the love scenes at home. I tell them that I don’t act out what happens in my horror stories, so why would I act out my romances? I let them know that I have a very vivid imagination and I can create anything—whether it’s a vampire story, a romance, or even a vampire romance!

On one side, a strong sexual relationship between characters is very important, but on the other, it is just as important that the stories can stand on their own without this element. How important do you feel the sexual relationship is in making a story interesting?

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 story, and add to it. I think love scenes should show how the characters relate to each other, how they fall in love, and add to the overall emotional intensity of the story. When I was taking writing classes I was taught that if a scene doesn’t move the story along, then it should be cut. This goes for chase scenes, flashbacks, and even love scenes.


In my books, I often use love scenes to illustrate how the characters have learned to trust each other completely and that they have an emotional commitment. When I’m writing, I focus on the plot and make sure that the stories can stand on their own and “work” without extraneous love scenes.


Is there a genre you don’t ever see yourself writing?
Right now, I’m not ruling out anything, but I don’t particularly see myself writing mysteries. It’s possible that I’ll include mystery elements in my other books and short stories, but I don’t see myself writing a hard-boiled mystery.


FOR WRITERS: BE FREE!!
Sometimes the best of us get “stuck” on what project to start next, or we’ll be in the middle of a story and say “now what?” Or we might just need some writing motivation to get started for the day. What’s the solution?

A great way to get the creative juices flowing is to practice free writing. It’s an interesting psychological exercise to get your mind away from thinking logically and linearly, and open up to random thoughts and ideas. (And maybe some ideas will become stories.)

Here’s how to do it: Get a piece of paper (or open a blank computer document) and just start writing (or typing) whatever pops into your head. It can be groups of words, your stream of consciousness, or random thoughts. (You can even write a letter to your muse explaining the writing problem and ask for results.)

Practice free writing for five minutes at a time (or longer, if you enjoy it). Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything to write—you’re not trying to be creative or coherent, you’re just trying to let your mind relax. If you get stuck, try these prompts:

“Today is… (day of the week) and I am… (wherever you are) free writing.”

“Yesterday I… (fill in with what you did, where you went, or what you ate).”

“I really like… (let your mind wander and write whatever you feel like).”

“Here’s a story about (fill in with something) and a (fill in with something else).”

If you have any venting, ranting, or angst to clear out, now’s a good time too! “(Something/someone) annoys me and makes me scream.”

You can even write “I have nothing to write I can’t think of anything. Nothing nothing nothing…” for five minutes and it still counts!

Have fun with free writing! You can also tailor your exercise to work alongside a story you’re writing. (This is more like free association, but it works.) Say you’re writing a romance/mystery and need to flesh out ideas (or plot, or names, or whatever). Start with one or two key words and build from there, adding whatever pops into your head. Here’s an example:  (And it’s all authentic free writing! I just made it all up in the last 2 minutes.)

Setting: Ireland, East Coast, Maine, ocean, rocky coast with cliffs, cold water, fishing village, small town

Characters: gruff fishermen in town, pampered heroine out of place in this new town, small town-type folk, nosy & into everyone’s business; hero helps her at the house or rescues her when she first arrives

Plot: did heroine inherit a house/mansion/manor and the people in town resent her?  Is this house haunted? Was someone murdered there & nobody will go near it? Is there an inheritance, something they don’t want her to collect, does she now own the cannery & they’re afraid of losing their jobs?

Action: hero or killer chases heroine off cliff, or falls into the water from a boat, someone’s trying to kill her to protect a secret?

Give free writing a try and you never know where your mind will take you!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Kelli

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Viking's Witch - Voted Best E-Romance - Part 2 of An Inside Look...




Hi everyone,

Welcome to Part Two of an “Inside Look” at The Viking’s Witch.  For those who haven’t heard, The Viking’s Witch just won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Romance e-book. (Yes, that’s a photo of me accepting my award!)

The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D.  The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then – nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer.

In the last blog, I talked about how the book came about, the research involved, and the violence that takes place in the story. Now I’ll share some insight into the characters, Odaria’s magic “witch” powers, and leave you with a steamy excerpt! First, here’s the plot summary:


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?

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.


Interviewers have asked me how I can create such interesting and diverse characters for all of my books. They want to know where Rothgar and Odaria came from. Well, there’s no real way to answer that other than, I just made them up. They’re not based on any particular person. (Although Chris Hemsworth from Thor is pretty much is what I envisioned Rothgar to look like.)

Odaria is a strong-willed “witch” who is tired of being abused and ridiculed by the people in her village. She swears she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get by. Rothgar was once a powerful warrior, but a personal tragedy has softened him and left him broken and unwilling to love anyone again. When they meet up, they each play off the others’ weaknesses. Odaria has no qualms about standing up to Rothgar and arguing with him, and he respects her willful and fearless behavior. Eventually they realize that they need (and want) to be with each other forever.

I like introducing secondary characters and subplots into all my books to flesh out the story. I’ve been asked about the secondary character, Nordskog. He’s not the type of “hero” one would typically find in a romance, but he serves an important role in the story. Where did he come from? Well…

I used to work with a woman whose last name was Nordskog and I told her that one day I’d use her name in a book, so I did! Nordskog is a violent, vicious berserkr and has a history with Rothgar dating from Rothgar’s old fighting days. Nordskog’s hatred of Karnik draws him closer to Rothgar’s side as the story develops. After Odaria helps heal his leg, Nordskog develops a fondness for her, as well. He’s an impulsive brute, but he’s not stupid. He knows that Rothgar is wealthy and will reward him for his services and loyalty.

But if readers thought Nordskog was bad, the antagonist, Brennan, is even worse.

Brennan has been described as “a perfectly evil villain” which was exactly my intention. I wanted to portray him as an arrogant, self-righteous SOB – but not have his character be too over the top. Brennan is a lying, murdering, religious zealot and that makes him dangerous to Odaria and the other villagers. Most of the terrible things he’s done happen off page and we learn about them through Odaria. Each time I wrote a scene for, or about, Brennan, I made him a little more unstable and psychotic, so by the end of the book readers see that he needs to learn his lesson and pay for what he’s done.

Throughout the book, Odaria shows off her “witch powers” and uses them for self-preservation and to get revenge on the people who hurt her. Rothgar doesn’t believe her and thinks she’s just pretending to be a witch to frighten people. But after an interaction with Brennan, Rothgar got a taste of what Odaria could really do if she set her mind to it.

I loved showing readers (and Rothgar) Odaria’s powers of clairvoyance, telekinesis, and psychometry. The “magic” elements were a lot of fun to write! I’ve always been interested in psychic phenomena and other New Age subjects, so it was easy for me to incorporate what I know into Odaria’s character.

Now that you know all about the book and the characters, here’s a short (yet steamy) excerpt from The Viking’s Witch.

As Odaria rubbed her temples with her fingertips, the wool blanket slipped down, exposing her breasts. She tried to cover herself, but Rothgar held her wrists.

"Let me admire you." He pulled away from her and sat back on his heels.

Although she was a bit embarrassed, she felt no need to shield herself. She trusted Rothgar like no other. Before she knew what was happening, Rothgar’s warm mouth covered her left breast. A flash of desire coursed through her, and she groaned.

He suckled her gently, then twirled his tongue around her nipple. The sensation of his mouth working against her flesh sent her senses reeling, and she longed for more. A low moan escaped her throat as he increased the pressure on her breast.

She wrapped her arms around Rothgar’s head and held him to her, arching her back as he devoured her. Her lustful feelings from this morning resurfaced, and she willed him to ease her back onto the bed and make love to her.

After a few minutes, Rothgar moved away. "I thought that would make you feel better," he said with a wink.

She smiled. "Aye. I do. I’m tingling everywhere, but it isn’t enough."

Rothgar stroked her cheek with his forefinger. "Then lie back. I will make you feel things you’ve never dreamed of."

Odaria lay on the bed and closed her eyes. Her entire body felt prickly, and her heart thundered in her chest like a drum. What would Rothgar do next? Would they make love? He was the only man who had ever sparked these desires in her. It felt natural to give herself to him.

She felt a slight chill as Rothgar tugged the wool blanket away from her lower half, exposing her. A tremor of fear rippled through her. "What happens now? I dunno how to do this," she whispered.

"Fret not, my little witch. We will not make love now. I wish to save that pleasure for tonight." He chuckled. "But I know how to give you the same pleasures of lovemaking while leaving you intact."

"How could—?"


She gasped as Rothgar leaned over her and suckled her breast again. Her skin quivered as Rothgar trailed kisses down her ribs and stomach, inching lower with each kiss. His strong hands massaged her calves, sliding upward until he rubbed her knees, then her thighs. His kisses went lower, tickling her until he reached her lower belly. She moaned and squirmed on the bed. This delightful teasing and touching was something she’d never expected. How did Rothgar know how to make her feel so weak and vulnerable?


***

 You can order a copy of the book here: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/the-vikings-witch/


If you've read the book, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment on this blog or drop me a line on Facebook, or write me at the address on my site: www.KelliWilkins.com



Until next time,

Kelli

 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Viking's Witch - Voted Best Romance E-book - An Inside Look at the Backstory (Part 1)





Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an inside look at my Medallion Press novel, The Viking’s Witch. For those who haven’t heard, The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Romance e-book. (Yes, that’s a photo of me accepting my award - look for more photos soon!)

The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D.  The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then – nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer.

In this blog, I’ll talk about how the book came about, the research involved, and the violence that takes place in the story. (Yes, even though it’s a romance, everything’s not all hearts and flowers.) Next week, I’ll talk about the characters, Odaria’s magic ‘witch’ powers, and more!

First, here’s the plot summary:


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?

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.
Interviewers and readers have asked what my inspiration was when I was writing the book, and they are curious about how much research I had to do to create the characters and setting.

Like many of my books, the idea for the story just came to me. One day, the entire opening sequences popped into my head and I knew I had to stop what I was doing start writing the book. At the time, I had the basic plot (Viking warrior falls in love with Celtic witch), but I wasn’t sure about the character names, their backstories, and the subplot. All of that came later, along with the secondary characters Brennan and Nordskog. (I’ll talk more about them next week.)

Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot. In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with angry villagers and the other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island – and survive.

Before I started writing,I had to do a lot research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland, where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story (there are 70 different islands, but today, only 20 are inhabited).

I also had to research what life was like at that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book. (I guess it worked - the book has received several excellent reviews!)

And of course, if you were living in 803 with bands of Norsemen and crazy villagers, you can bet there was some measure of violence. Some readers might think that there’s no place for violence in a romance, but I believe including this type of realism enhances the story.

In 803, life was completely different from how we live now – especially on a remote island. People got hurt, sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch is about a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with bad reputations, so the violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters. I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of violence was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.

I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500 or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. Sorry, but if I’m writing a historical, my characters and settings are going to be as close to “real” as I can get them.

I hope you enjoyed Part One of this “Inside Look” at The Viking’s Witch. Next week, I’ll delve into the characters and discuss Odaria’s magic!

You can order a copy of the book here: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/the-vikings-witch/ 


Until next time,

Kelli