Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Novice To Watch: Meet KELI GWYN!!!

Welcome back, TLN'ers!! Hope your weekend was nothing short of FABULOUS!!

I've got just the thing to kick your Moanday off with a boom-boom-pow! How about another segment of A Novice To Watch! But wait, there's more!! Today's Novice Writer is also a GOLDEN HEART FINALIST!!

Please make welcome KELI GWYN!!

If you've been needing a little push to get your game plan going again, sit back, relax, and get ready be inspired!!

1) If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

Recent Empty Nester Keli Gwyn is following her longtime dream of writing romance. Each morning, she settles into her cozy but cluttered home office, sets iTunes to serenade her with classical music, and is transported to the second half of the 1800s where she enjoys reliving the early days of California with her characters.

When Keli returns to the present, she ignores the killer dust bunnies breeding in every corner, Mount McLaundry, and anything remotely associated with cooking. Instead, she heads to Taco Bell to fuel her creativity and satisfy her addiction to seven-layer burritos. At the end of the day, after meeting her writing goals, she lets Calgon take her away and enjoys several chapters of a historical romance. Life is good!

2) Using three words, describe your voice.

Heartwarming. Satisfying. Inspiring.

3) When you do get published, where on a bookstore shelf would a Keli Gwyn fan look?

On the long-awaited day when my first book is on the shelf, it would be found in the inspirational fiction section. Most stores shelve the contemporary and historical novels together. If that were the case, my titles would be in great company. To the left one would find books by Robin Jones Gunn. To the right, readers would see those by Cathy Marie Hake. How do I know for sure? Because I’ve stood in the store and imagined my book sandwiched between theirs. Someday . . .

4) Tell us a little bit about your WIP(s)? What kind of word count do you aim for?

I’ve completed five historicals. Four are awaiting much-needed revisions. The other story, with the working title Violets & Violins, is the one my Dream Agent, Rachelle Gardner, read when she served as a final round judge in the Launching a Star contest last fall. She requested the full and made me an offer of representation on the eve of Christmas Eve. Talk about the best Christmas present ever!

I’m revising V&V under Rachelle’s guidance. The story is set in 1870 in the small California Gold Rush town of El Dorado, near where I live in the Sierra Foothills. A determined widow heads west to accept a partnership in a mercantile, but when the handsome owner learns that she’s a woman, he rescinds his offer. Unable to return home, she opens a shop across the street from his. The two fight for the town’s business—and against their growing attraction.

My goal is to write 1,000 words a day, six days a week. Some days, my fingers fly over the keyboard, and I exceed my goal. Other days, I struggle and come up short. If I end up with 5,000 words a week, I’m satisfied.

5) Which MS did you final in the Golden Heart with? Take us back to the day you learned the good news. What was your reaction? How did you celebrate?

I finaled the first time in 2008 with two of my inspirational historicals. I was such a newbie that I didn’t dream of finaling, so I didn’t even know what day the calls were going out. The phone rang, and I thought at first a chapter level contest coordinator was calling. When I heard the words Golden Heart, I was stunned. I grabbed paper and a pen because I was in such a state of shock that I knew I’d never remember what the RWA board member said. I got off the phone and wandered around in a daze for days.

My call this year came at 8 a.m. on the dot. I didn’t have time to get anxious. I’d been up since 6 a.m. hopping between blogs and the RWA website. I was more interested in seeing if some of my writer friends’ names were showing up than I was in looking for my own. I’d already enjoyed the thrill of being a finalist and had my agent, so I was ready to cheer for those who got the GH call.
It’s exciting to be a finalist again. RWA treats us like royalty. I’m part of another great group of finalists, with whom I hang out on our Yahoo! loop, and I get to go to Nationals and spend time with my awesome critique partner, two-time GH finalist Anne Barton, whom I haven’t seen since Nationals two years ago. It will be fun to wear the special ribbon on my nametag, but seeing my writer friends is what I’m most looking forward to.

6) Any advice for those aspiring to enter the Golden Heart this fall? (lol like me!)

Write. Study craft. Rewrite. Edit. Polish. Solicit feedback. Repeat as needed. Submit. Keep writing. Keep studying. Keep hoping. Don’t give up!

7) Where do you go from here? Any future aspirations you'd like to share?

Right now, my goal is to complete the rewrite of my manuscript, send it out for critique, clean it up, and submit it to Rachelle. I’d love for her to tell me it’s ready, but I’m fully prepared to go through more rounds of revisions if need be. We both want the story in the best shape possible before she begins submitting it.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be your guest, Sarah. I’m honored. Your questions were great. Those first two really made me think.

No problem, Keli!! I'm the one honored to have you! I'm so excited for you! I think your accomplishments are stunning. You'll have to give Anne a hug from me, too! You gals sure know how to aim for the stars! I know it won't be long before I'm having you both back as Debut Authors!

If you'd like learn more about Keli Gwyn, stop by her blog, Here's wishing you all the best, Keli!!

THANK YOU, TLN'ers!! I hope you've gotten a healthy dose of inspiration!! I know I sure did. I think a little
LEANN WOMACK and I HOPE YOU DANCE is the perfect song to get you feeling ready to take on the world. Don't be afraid to reach for your dreams! Just keep moving forward and we'll get there together! See you Wednesday!


Keli Gwyn said...

Sarah, thanks again for inviting me to be your guest. And, wow, you sure said some nice things about me. I'm blushing.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Congratulations of finaling in the GH again! I have to say, that's one of the most fun experiences EVER!!! It sounds to me like it won't be long before you can go to the bookstore and see your book exactly where you imagined it to be. Best of luck to you. :)


Keli Gwyn said...

Jacquie, thanks for sharing in my excitement--and for the vote of confidence. One day soon, I hope to see my book on the shelves instead of just visualizing it.

Congrats on your success! I took a peek at your lovely website and saw your faery and cowboy books. May there be many more in your future.

Keli Gwyn said...

Neecy, what a cool name you have. I could see using it in one of my historicals, short for a character named Bernice perhaps. I'm adding it to my idea file.

Finaling in the GH is pretty awesome. I didn't want the interview to get too long, so I didn't spend much time on my first final. The experience changed my life though. I'd been writing in isolation for two years. I knew no other writers. My only connection with the writing world was my membership in RWA. I devoured each copy of the Romance Writers Report and made use of the contest section at the back.

When I finaled in 2008, I was invited to be a guest at The Seekers blog. I'd seen one friend's blog and had no idea how she had set it up. I was talked through the blogging process. Two of the other finalists found me as a result of that post, and one of them introduced me to the 2008 GH Yahoo! loop. All of a sudden, I became part of a wonderful group of writers (we call ourselves the Pixie Chicks).

My life opened up from there, and now I have to drag myself away from the Internet because I have so much fun hanging out with my pals in cyberspace.

The GH final brought me out of my cave into the writing world. That was the very best part of finaling.

C.J. Redwine said...

I can't WAIT for the day when I can walk into my local book store and buy VIOLETS AND VIOLINS. I'm going to tell everyone in the building you're my friend and they should buy it too. (And you know I will! lol)

Congrats on finaling again this year. You've really hit your stride!

Keli Gwyn said...

CJ, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to drop by. And thanks for the huge vote of confidence. I think you'll beat me to the shelves, though, and I'll be the one pointing to Casting Stones and saying "I know the author, and she's way cool. Just wait 'til you hear her amazing Voice."

Terri Tiffany said...

I loved this interview and the questions that were asked:) Keli I am such a huge fan of yours and can't wait to stand in the bookstore too and pluck your book off the shelf:))

Keli Gwyn said...

Jill, it has been an amazing year. God has blessed my cat socks off. I've had so many reasons to head to Taco Bell to celebrate. Not that a TB addict like me needs a reason. :)

I'm sooo eager to spend time with Anne. We email nearly every day and chat by phone every few weeks, but seeing in her person will be WONDERFUL!!

And I totally agree. Sarah has a great Voice.

Keli Gwyn said...

Terri, I'm thrilled to have you a fan. I'm one of yours, too, and look forward to reading your book one day soon.

Diane said...

Love Keli! She is such an inspiration and encouragement. Great interview. :O)

Keli Gwyn said...

Diane, thanks for your support. It means a great deal to me.

Sarah Simas said...

Well, what a way to start the day! Welcome everyone and thanks for swinging by! :)

Did I see someone mention Taco Bell?! Oh, boy, are you speaking my language! LOL

It's a pleasure to have you here today, Keli. We're all pulling for you! :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Good morning, Sarah! I was so excited about the interview that I was up bright and early.

I'm a serious Taco Bell addict. Sounds like you might be one too. Is that so? My current fave is the 7-layer burrito with added green sauce. What's yours?

Anne Barton said...

Hi Sarah and Keli! What a wonderful interview! Loved the question about where would you be on the bookshelves, and Keli's answer. :)

I'm looking forward to Orlando too--esp. cheering for you when they announce the GH finalists Sat. night. Woo-hoo!

Keli Gwyn said...

Anne, how delightful to see you here. I have you to thank for introducing me to Sarah and her lovely blog when she interviewed you earlier this year.

Isn't it fun to think about where our books will on the shelves? With your name, you'll likely be close to the beginning of the romance section, which is a good thing.

It's not long until Nationals. I'm getting quite excited.

Sarah Simas said...

Oh, Keli! I knew you were awesome! I love the 7 layer, too. Except I have them ditch the guacamole. I can't stand their brand of guac. My next favorite is a bean and cheese burrito with easy red sauce with extra sour cream! Taco Bell would be perfect if they would carry Diet Coke! LOL

*waving madly* HI ANNE!! :)

prashant said...

Congratulations of finaling in the GH again!
Contextual Ad Network India

Keli Gwyn said...

Prashant, thanks for stopping by and for sharing in my excitement.

Keli Gwyn said...

I wanted to add an update. I completed my revisions in September, my agent sent the story out on submission the next month, and we received two offers. I accepted one of the offers on December 7th. Talk about a great Christmas present.

My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released by Barbour Publishing on July 1, 2012.

And, yes, Sarah, there were several trips to Taco Bell to celebrate. =)