Sunday, November 4, 2012

Build a Cast of Supporting Characters in Your Next Romance





Hi everyone!
 
This month, I'll be sharing a bit of everything on the blog - writing tips and advice, my newsletter, bits about my books, and whatever else pops into my head. Today, I'm offernig advice on how to create great supporting characters!
 
Supporting (or secondary) characters are sometimes overlooked by writers and can be overshadowed by “larger” (or more interesting) main characters. But, if developed the right way, they enhance a story and make the hero and/or heroine shine.

 
Almost every main character needs a secondary character to “play” off of, whether it’s a meddling nosy neighbor (remember Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched?), a trusty sidekick (Batman’s Robin), or a friend (Hermione from Harry Potter). Supporting characters help move a story along by giving out information, getting themselves or other characters into (or out of) sticky situations, showing up at the worst (or best) moment, or just by being a sounding board.

 

Another advantage to using supporting characters in a story is that you can have them misbehave, be socially inappropriate, and shake up the story in ways that your well-behaved main characters can’t. For example, in my book, Dalton’s Temptation, Prince Allan was introduced as a hedonistic, selfish secondary character. He caused all sorts of trouble, and yet he served an important role in the story.

 

Like any character, secondary characters need to have a purpose for being in the story. Sometimes they are introduced to move a story along or to provide comic relief, but they have to do something. Dave in Trust with Hearts acted as a sounding board for Sherrie and Curtis, offering each of them advice they wouldn’t listen to.

 

If you’re working on a story now, take some time out and identify the supporting characters. You should be able to answer these questions for each secondary character: What are their roles in the story? Are they important to the plot? If you removed them, would the story still make sense? If they’re not there for a reason, either give them one, or see if your story works just as well without them.    

 

How developed are your supporting characters? They need to be as “real” as any other character, but on a smaller scale. Each one should have a backstory, a history with the main character(s), a physical description, and a personality. (Preferably one that stands out or contrasts the protagonist.) Don’t just “drop” a character into a story and call him the “quirky” neighbor—flesh him out and let him come alive. Make sure the reader knows why he’s important to the story, even if he just has a small role.

 

One note of caution: watch out for secondary characters who try to take over the story. Sometimes they become “too big” to remain supporting players, and they could detract from the main characters in your story. If this happens, scale them back a little. If you’ve created a fantastic secondary character who absolutely demands time on the page, save up some of his adventures and let him run free in his own story. (When I was writing Dalton’s Temptation, I knew that Prince Allan needed his own book. Now he has one, The Pauper Prince.)

 

Secondary characters are a great way to enhance your writing, create unusual personalities, and, if, done right, they can jump off the page and remain with readers long after they’ve finished your story!

 

Happy Reading!
 
Look for my newsletter next week!
 
Kelli
 
 
Learn more about Kelli at: www.KelliWilkins.com and


 
Readers can also find Kelli at these sites:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.-Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Even More Spooky Stories for the Halloween Season!







Hello everyone!
Welcome to part three of my horror fiction blog! This week, I’m sharing an inside look at two more stories, “The Ape” and “Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men”.


The Ape” appeared in TheFour Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death, published by Pill Hill Press. 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.

An Excerpt from The Ape

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.

The red curtain behind the high wooden counter whipped open. An ancient black woman wearing a bright yellow dress stood in the doorway, looking him up and down. She frowned. “Little boy, what you doin’ here? Don’ you know better?”

“I need a spell,” he whispered.


My humorous sci-fi short, "Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men" is one of 14 sci-fi tales appearing in What if…. Each story is unique and is based around the concept of “what if…” In “Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men”, a young couple moves into an old Victorian house and discovers they’re not alone.

An Excerpt from Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men

Sam grabbed a handful of yellowed "Not of This World" newsletters and dumped them into a trashbag. Everywhere he looked, he found books and pulp magazines about UFOs, aliens, and mystical creatures.

"No wonder everyone thought the old lady was a wacko," he muttered. He glanced at the cover of a sci fi magazine. The poorly drawn illustration showed three little green men standing next to a rocket. He frowned. Maybe these magazines had given Margie the idea about the pixies, or maybe she'd been hearing the strange noises at night, too.


***

Next week I’ll be back with a look at paranormal romances. Until then, you can check out more of my writings on my site: www.KelliWilkins.com

Happy Haunting!
Kelli


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two More Spooky Stories for the Halloween Season!






Hi everyone! 

Hope you’re enjoying the autumn weather!

Today I’m sharing an inside look at two more of my horror stories, “Kropsy’s Curse” (an individual flash fiction read available from Fictionwise), and “Just an Innocent Little Cat” (which appears in the Dark Things II: Cat Crimes anthology).

As almost everyone knows, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and before I started writing erotic romances, I wrote lots of horror stories. When I was growing up, I always wanted one of my horror stories to get published in an anthology so people could read it. Well, I'm happy to say that my horror fiction has appeared in several print and online anthologies.

And even though I’m writing romances, my horror stories have a special place in my heart! Don’t worry, I haven’t stopped writing horror - new stories will be out in the next few months. Until then, here's a little bit of backstory about each of these tales of terror:


My Halloween-themed short, Kropsy'sCurse was published in the October 2003 issue of The Far Sector SFFH and is available in electronic format from Fictionwise. (Isn’t that a great cover?!) I actually had the ending to this little gem in my head before I knew the rest of the story. In this tale, I combine the best of Halloween/horror themes into a quick and spooky read. Remember folks, if you go exploring a graveyard on Halloween, leave the ouija board home!

Here’s an Excerpt from Kropsy's Curse

Kyle’s sneakers slipped on the dewy grass as he followed Jerry down the last hill in the cemetery. The moon appeared as a slit in the night sky. Dark clouds occasionally floated out of its way, and a sliver of pale yellow mixed with the blue-black night.

A field of headstones stretched before them. The white marble markers, old and worn, were sunk into the ground and leaning in different directions. Kyle knew they had to be in this section, the neglected part of the cemetery, for tonight's purpose.
***
 Just an InnocentLittle 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 with an attitude. Cats are loyal and devoted creatures – and they’re damn smart, too. This “tail” is a good example of what could happen if you don’t stay on a cat’s good side. All proceeds from sales of this anthology go to several cat sanctuaries across the USA.

An Excerpt from 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!”

***

I hope you’ll check out the stories! They really were a lot of fun to write. Check out the new horror pages I made on the blog. Next week, I’ll offer up two more tales….

Until next time, Happy Haunting!
Kelli


Monday, October 1, 2012

Two Spooky Stories for the Halloween Holiday Season






Happy October!

As most everyone knows by now, I not only write sizzling erotic romances, I also write short horror fiction. I’m kicking off my month of horror blogs with a look at two of my short stories that have appeared in horror anthologies.

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 get in the spirit of the holiday season, Frightmares and Haunted are just for you!

Haunted is a collection of 42 stories about haunted places! 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

Here’s an 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. He let out a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair.

My flash fiction story, “Death is Just a Tick Away” appeared in Dark Moon Digest’s e-magazine (Issue #1), and it also 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.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dave couldn’t sleep. The ticking echoed through the house. Even at 35 years old, the damn thing still spooked him. Lots of families passed down stories to scare kids, but most of them didn’t involve cursed objects that could kill.

He was seven when Dad had told him about the clock. His great, great grandfather had severely beaten a servant who had forgotten to wind the clock, and the old lady had cast the curse on them. If ever the clock was allowed to wind down to a stop, one of his family members would die.

Three days ago, Dave’s father had been found lying at the base of the black walnut clock, one arm stretched toward the ten-foot high carved demon. Paramedics said he had suffered a heart attack. But Dave thought he knew better. Dad had been trying to wind the clock.

***

Next week on the blog I’ll share two more horror stories! And I've also added links to my horror stories on the blog’s upper right corner. 

Until next time!
Happy Haunting,
Kelli



Monday, July 2, 2012

Trust with Hearts - After the Story Ended


Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an “After the Story Ended” inside look at my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts.

Here’s the synopsis:

TRUST WITH HEARTS

After a bitter breakup, Sherrie Parker seeks refuge at her cousin Dave’s house in rural West Virginia. Early one morning, she runs into Dave’s other houseguest, a singer named Curtis Taylor. The last thing Sherrie wants is to share living quarters with a country music crooner – even if he is sexy, in a cowboy sort of way.


Thrown together by circumstances, Sherrie and Curtis get off to a rocky start, but soon discover they have more in common than they ever imagined. Unable to fight their growing attraction, they give in to their desires and start a sizzling summer romance.


Everything is perfect between them until Sherrie discovers that Curtis is keeping secrets from her – and his biggest secret of all will change everything. Can their newfound love survive, or will destiny keep them apart forever?


Most people don’t know that the book had a much longer and different ending. Here’s an exclusive snippet:

Curtis leaned back in the red vinyl booth as he toyed with his granddad’s pocketknife. He had found it in the back of a kitchen drawer this morning when they’d closed up Gram’s house. It wasn’t very sharp, but it made a nice memento.

For the last three days, Sherrie and Ginny had gone through the house, sorting and shipping important items to the ranch in California. Now they were headed back to Dave’s house. It was late, but they would be home by one o’clock in the morning. He was looking forward to telling Dave the good news about their engagement in person.

That pocketknife comes in handy later in the book when Curtis and Sherrie get into a terrible car accident. (Sherrie has to cut through the seat belt and pull Curtis out of the car before it burns.)

After they’re released from the hospital, they go back to Dave’s house to recover. Curtis’s cousin Jen and her son Rowan were coming to stay with them for a while. In the alternate ending I hint that Jen and Dave might hook up:

“Ginny and Rowan should be here soon,” Curtis said.

“Good. It’ll be nice to see them. I’m glad they’re gonna stay for a while. Has she ever met Dave?”

He shook his head. “Nope. Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if they hooked up and got married? Then we’d all be related in some weird hillbilly cousin kinda way.”

Sherrie laughed. “I just hope they get off to a better start than we did.” She batted his shoulder. “And I don’t think Dave’s going to settle down with anyone, anytime soon.”

Curtis shrugged. “You never know. Strange things happen. I got you to like country music,” he said with a wink.


So what happened after the story really ended?

When Curtis and Sherrie got back to California, Curtis started recording his latest CD titled “Yankee Girl” and was besieged by reporters. They wanted to know all about CJ’s “secret” life and find out every detail about him and Sherrie. At first he resented the media’s intrusion into his very private world, but after his brother threatened to blackmail him about his background, Sherrie convinced him to give a candid interview and open up about his past.

Sherrie volunteered at a local animal rescue shelter and helped them adopt out homeless cats.

Three months later, Curtis and Sherrie got married and honeymooned in Hawaii. Jen and Dave and most of Curtis’s band members were in attendance. After the honeymoon, Curtis went on tour with Sherrie at his side.

A Trust with Hearts sequel?

I had an idea for a follow up story focused on Jen and Dave. The basic plot went something like this:

One afternoon Jen finds out that her ex-boyfriend, Tony, has been released from prison. Jen fears that Tony will come after her and calls Dave for help. Dave tells her that she can stay at his guest cottage as long as she needs to. Jen arrives with her five-year-old son, Rowan, and Dave can see that she’s barely holding everything together.

Over two weeks, Dave and Jen bond and fight their growing attraction to each other. Dave helps Jen relax and see herself as not just a mother, but a sensual woman with needs. Dave and Jen have been hurt in the past and have trust issues, but eventually they give in to their desires.

When Jen goes to town she sees a man that looks like Tony and is afraid that he’s found her. Dave reassures her that everything is okay and she reluctantly lets Dave take care of Rowan for the rest of the day. When Rowan accidently gets injured, all of Jen’s fears resurface and she falls back into her old pattern of not being able to trust anyone. Dave and Jen argue and she decides to leave. That night as she packs, she finds Tony waiting for her in the cabin. Eager for revenge, Tony wastes no time terrorizing her.

The idea for the follow-up book is a romantic suspense – with plenty of intense love scenes between Dave and Jen.

Readers – I’d love to hear from you! What do you think about the alternate ending to Trust with Hearts? Should there be a spicy sequel featuring Dave and Jen? Or should we just leave the characters where they are?

I welcome your feedback, ideas, suggestions, and questions! Feel free to email me (or post a comment) and let me know what you think.

Happy July!
Kelli

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cats and Writing - A Purrfect Combination!




Hi everyone!

June is Adopt-A-Cat month and as always, I’m advocating adopting pets (of all kinds) from shelters and giving them a real home. (Would you want to live out the rest of your life in a wire cage?)

This year, adopting cats has become even more personal. After deciding we wanted cats and visiting several humane societies and rescue places, we adopted two adult cats from a local no-kill shelter. The volunteer was happy to hear that we weren’t looking for kittens and were interested in a pair of adult cats. (Most everyone wants cuddly kittens because they’re cute now – but they do grow up. Sadly, adult cats have a bad rep of being hard to place – not true!)

Over the course of three days we visited three shelters and saw more than 300 homeless cats waiting for loving homes. With hundreds of cats available, it was hard to choose the “right” ones – but I’m happy to say that our cats chose us and now they’ve found a forever home with lots of windows, places to lounge, and people who love them.

As a writer, my love of cats has naturally extended into my writing. In December 2011 my short story “Just an Innocent Little Cat” was included in the Dark Things II: Cat Crimes anthology.

This collection of 21 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. If you like mystery/suspense/horror or just like to read cat stories, order a copy and help give a needy cat a new leash on life.


I even found a way to weave cat adoption into my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts. The subplot of the book – Sherrie’s devotion to save Kitty Corner – was crucial because I wanted to give her a purpose, something to build her self-esteem. Sherrie’s cat adoption project lets her help unfortunate cats who need rescuing and good homes. It parallels how Dave takes Sherrie in (aka “rescues” her) and gives her a second chance at a new life.

I’ve also written three non-fiction cat care books that explain how to choose a cat and keep it happy and healthy. You can find them all on my author page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.-Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Please consider adopting a cat (or two, or even a dog – they need loving homes too!) and saving a life. Not sure where to start? www.Petfinder.org is an excellent source for locating pets looking for good homes. And if you don’t want to own a pet, you can always click on http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3 to help feed homeless animals and support shelters.

Until next time,
Kelli

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kelli's Quill Newsletter - HOT May/June Issue



KELLI’S QUILL

The Official Newsletter of Author Kelli A. Wilkins
May/June Issue (Vol. 5 Number 3)

Happy Summer Everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying the warm weather and enjoying life. This issue is filled with news about my two upcoming romances, and a special look at cats! (June is Adopt-a-cat month.)

FOR READERS:

The Viking's Witch is being published by Medallion Press on August 1, 2012.
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.




Read a Great Book & Help Shelter Cats!
June is Adopt-A-Cat month and as always, I’m advocating adopting pets (of all kinds) from shelters and giving them a real home. (Would you want to live out the rest of your life in a wire cage?)

As a writer, my love of cats has naturally extended into my writing. In December 2011 my short story “Just an Innocent Little Cat” was included in the Dark Things II: Cat Crimes anthology.

This collection of 21 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. If you like mystery/suspense/horror or just like to read cat stories, order a copy and help give a needy cat a new leash on life.


I even found a way to weave cat adoption into my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts. The subplot of the book – Sherrie’s devotion to save Kitty Corner – was crucial because I wanted to give her a purpose, something to build her self-esteem. Sherrie’s cat adoption project lets her help unfortunate cats who need rescuing and good homes. It parallels how Dave takes Sherrie in (aka “rescues” her) and gives her a second chance at a new life.

I’ve also written three non-fiction cat care books that explain how to choose a cat and keep it happy and healthy. You can find them all on my author page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.-Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Please consider adopting a cat (or two, or even a dog – they need loving homes too!) and saving a life. Not sure where to start? www.Petfinder.org is an excellent source for locating pets looking for good homes. And if you don’t want to own a pet, you can always click on http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3 to help feed homeless animals and support shelters.

FOR WRITERS:

Killing Your Darling Characters

 Have you started writing a story (or an article) that you just can’t seem to finish? Have you ever wondered why?

In some cases, it could be writer’s block. You’ve gotten to a certain part of the story and run out of plot or ideas, or just don’t know what to do next. (I’ll blog about that more in future issues of the Quill.)

Or in other cases, it might be a case of not wanting to let go. Recently, a writer told me she didn’t want to finish the story she was writing. Why? Because she’d fallen in love with the characters and she hated to leave them behind. When the story was done, she wouldn’t be in their lives anymore.

That’s true – but your story can’t take on a life of it’s own (i.e. get published and in readers’ hands) until you finish it and send it off into the world.

Part of the joy of writing is creating interesting characters and following along on their journey throughout the story. Unfortunately, not all journeys have happy endings, and sometimes you have to kill off a character or leave him/her in fate’s hands.

It’s hard. I had to do it in my book, The Pauper Prince. I won’t give away the identity of who I had to kill, but sadly, that character had to go for the sake of the story. (I cried, but I did it anyway.) Remember, if it’s crucial to the plot to have a character die, then you have to kill him (or her) off. If it helps to soothe your grief, give your character a heroic death, one that takes place off-page, or one where he or she comes to an understanding that it’s time to go and quietly moves on.

But whatever you do, finish the story. Then set it aside for a while. When you’re ready, you can come back to it (to edit and revise) and not feel so emotionally attached to your characters and their plights. 

If you just can’t bear to bring yourself to “kill your darling” then reconsider if that character is right for that plot. It could be that your main character is looking to save himself for bigger and better things - or the next story that comes along!

Q&A WITH KELLI

Here’s an excerpt from Kelli’s interview with Manic Readers. (The link to the full interview is on the News page of Kelli’s site: www.KelliWilkins.com)

MR: You are indeed a multi-published author with “10-Minute Romances” in the Sun for one —tell us about these romance stories. How did you get started writing them? Can anyone write and submit or what was the process you went through to get yours published?

KELLI: The Sun’s romances were a lot of fun to write. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the Sun is no longer publishing fiction. The “10-Minute Romances” were some of the first short stories I had published. One day I came across a copy of the Sun, read the romance and said, “I can write this!” so, I did. I had the pleasure of working with a fantastic editor on all my Sun stories, and it was a great experience.

MR: I saw some non-fiction works on your beautiful website about cats & kittens and an unusual choice of pets, the hermit crab. Tell our Manic Readers about these books.

KELLI: I’m naturally an animal lover, which is a good thing, considering many of my books and short stories are about pets! I’ve written three pet care books, including Hermit Crabs for Dummies, Cats, Quick & Easy Cat & Kitten Care, and I was the co-author of award-winning book, The Simple Guide to Cats.

I enjoy writing pet care guides because I feel that all too often, people buy a pet because it’s “cute” (or it’s a curiosity), without knowing how to properly care for it.  My goal with these books is to educate pet owners/readers in an informative, yet fun way, and teach them everything they need to know about keeping their pet happy and healthy throughout its lifetime. It’s sad to think of how many pets are neglected because owners don’t properly care for them.

For example, most people don’t realize that hermit crabs need proper humidity and moisture levels in order to stay hydrated breathe through their gills (yes, they have gills!), and that they do not reproduce in captivity. I learned a lot about hermit crabs when writing that book, and I hope readers learn something, too.

MR: Do you write under more then one name why or why not?

KELLI: I don’t write under a pen name. I work hard on all of my books and short stories and I deserve credit for them. I think readers want to connect with authors and get to know the person who wrote the book they’re reading. (Remember the Richard Bachman/Stephen King fiasco? It annoyed a lot of readers.)

I’ve talked to authors who’ve written under their real names in one genre (for example, non-fiction) and used pen names for other genres (say, horror fiction). Most of them regret doing it, because it’s a lot of work. If you write under different names you need to build separate websites and author pages for each pen name. Also, it’s hard to establish a wide fan base if people aren’t sure who you “really” are.  

One benefit to writing everything in my own name is that I can list all of my writings (in each genre) on one website. This makes it easier for readers to find my books and other stories.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Kelli’s Quill. Feel free to share with other readers, writers, and everyone you know who likes a good book!

Until next time,
Kelli

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
 

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!

FOR READERS:
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

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. Some erotic romances include more explicit details and let readers peek in on the sexual activities of the romantic couple, while others 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.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Kelli’s Quill. Be sure to visit my website (www.KelliWilkins.com). 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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kelli's Sharing an Interview - Peek Inside a Writer's Mind.......



Hi Everyone!

Today I'm sharing an excerpt from my interview with Romance Reviews Today. It offers an inside look at my writing process. Enjoy!


On Valentine's Day I'll be posting hot excerpts on the Amber Quill Press Yahoo Group and giving away a PDF of my wrestling romance, A Perfect Match. More details are on the loop here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberheatreaders

And on Feb. 16th, I'll be a guest blogger on Shannon Leigh's blog: http://authorshannonleigh.blogspot.com/

I hope you'll check them out! And now, for the interview!

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. I’ve always been writing stories. When I was in high school I wrote short stories and plays for fun and I took a lot of creative writing classes. After college I took a series of Commercial Writing courses and learned a lot. The classes were great experiences because I received a lot of helpful advice and feedback.

Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your stories?
A: I’m always thinking of new ideas for stories. I have entire folders of ideas just waiting to be developed. (I have more ideas for stories than I have time to write them!) I find ideas everywhere – while driving, watching people at the store, from overheard conversations… usually something catches my attention and I let my mind wander, to see where the ideas take me.
For example, my 2008 release, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover, came about because I wanted to write a story about a vampire who falls in love – at the beach!
Q:  What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
A: I have two quirks. One is that I write in several genres, including romance and horror. Some people can’t quite understand how I’m able to write romances one minute, then create spooky horror stories the next. (I like to think that one half of my brain writes the horror and the other half writes the romance.) I’ve also written dozens of sci fi stories and four non-fiction books, so I pretty much write everything.
My other quirk is that I write everything in longhand. Every short story and novel all start out on paper, then I revise and edit them as I type them up.
Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
A: I thought I knew all about my characters before I started writing ThePauper Prince and A Midsummer Night’sDelights – but I was wrong! One thing I learned while writing those stories was that characters can surprise you and take the story in a different direction. I outline my books and stories before I start writing them, so I was surprised to discover a different (bisexual) side to both Prince Allan in The Pauper Prince and Julian in A Midsummer Night’s Delights. Another thing I learned was that I had to turn off my “internal editor” when it came to writing some of the more detailed same-gender love scenes in each book.
Q: What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
A: I’ve been reading since I was very young, so I’d have to say that every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way. Some authors are great examples of voice, mood, or tone, while others are excellent with details, plot, or characters. I think the more you read (in any genre) the more you learn what works in a story and what doesn’t.
Q:  What does your family think about your career as a published author?
A: My family is very supportive. My husband loves reading my romances and I have a few close friends who give me feedback and suggestions on rough drafts.
Q: Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you, writing-wise?
I’m working on a few new romances (a paranormal and a historical romance/mystery) plus revising a few horror stories. In August, I have a full-length historical The Witch & the Warrior set for release from Medallion Press.
Until Next Time,
Kelli