Thursday, July 26, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Keli Gwyn

Please join me in welcoming Keli Gwyn! Her first novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California  just hit the shelves.

Karen: Welcome to Write Now, Keli. Congratulations on your book!

Keli: Thanks so much for having me, Karen! It’s a delight to be here!                
Karen: I really enjoyed your book. :) Did the story idea originate in any special place?

Keli: I live in the heart of California’s Gold Country and wanted to bring one of the area’s historic towns to life. El Dorado is located just a few miles away from my town of Placerville. In researching El Dorado, I learned about a successful mercantile owner with the largest business in town. He was active in the community and well regarded. He became the model for my hero, Miles Rutledge.

One of Placerville’s historic sites is the Emigrant Jane building. Built in 1861, it’s still standing today. The building bears a plaque telling about Jane, an industrious woman who drove a wagon across the country, had her store built, and went into business. I did my research and learned that women were able to own businesses in California from the early days of the Golden State. That knowledge led to the idea of having Elenora open her own shop when Miles refuses to accept her as partner in his.

Karen: Interesting! I love how you tied local history and the story together. I wondered, too, as I read the book, did your work as a critique partner enhance your writing? 

Keli: I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing authors through the years and have learned a great deal from them. My longtime critique partner, Anne Barton, is the best cheerleader a gal could ever have. She’s been there for me the past four years, lifting me up when I’m down and rejoicing with me at every little success along the way.

Anne read multiple versions of my debut novel and gave me awesome feedback. I love that her literary fingerprints can be seen throughout the book. I was privileged to work with Jody Hedlund on this story, too. She helped me ramp up the tension and emotions. Both Anne and Jody pushed me, helping me take A Bride Opens Shop to the next level, and I’m ever so grateful. Because of them and their input, the story improved. When it comes to writing partners, I hit the Mother Lode.
Karen: Wow, I would say so, what a blessing! While we're on the topic of improving our writing, what is your all time favorite piece of writing advice?

Keli: Deeanne Gist gave me some great advice back when I was a florescent green newbie. I met her at the Romance Writers of America® conference in 2008. When I told her I was a Golden Heart® finalist but felt like my stories weren’t ready for publication and had endured two painful pitch sessions earlier in the day, she said she didn’t like rejection either. What she did was study craft so she could create a marketable story.

I took Dee’s advice, stopped querying, and spent the next year learning all I could about writing. I then chose the best of the five stories I’d completed, rewrote it, and entered it in several contests to see if it fared better than my earlier work had. It did, garnering me several wins and requests, one of which led to my offer of representation. I had to rewrite the story again for my agent, but once it was ready, she submitted it and sold it.

What I took away from this was that my time spent studying craft was a good investment. I’m so grateful to Dee for sharing her wise counsel with me and am happy to pass it on.

Karen: I like that - "a florescent green newbie". I'll have to remember that phrase. :) Now that your book is out, do you feel like a celebrity? Have you had any episodes at the grocery store with the paparazzi?

Keli: Oh, Karen, have you been watching me? I was at the supermarket just last week gently squeezing the avocados to find one just the right ripeness when I heard a squeal, turned, and found cameras from three local TV stations trained on me and three reporters shoving mics in front of me. What an amazing experience.

Um, OK. So that type of scenario only happens in my daydreams. The reality is that life has changed little. I did walk into Curves the other day and had one of the members I don’t know very well tell me she’d read and enjoyed my book. I gotta admit that felt pretty good.

This past Sunday several of my fellow church members who’d bought my book at my launch party the week before told me how much they enjoyed the story. They gushed so much that I got all misty-eyed. These dear people have supported me since I first began writing, and I’m ever so grateful for their encouragement.

And speaking of support, I really appreciate yours, Karen. Thanks again for hosting me. Spending time with you and your blog’s readers is a pleasure. I’d like to end with a question for all of you. What’s a time you were thrust into the limelight, and how did you feel about all the accolades coming your way?

Karen: You are too funny! You had me going for a minute there. And, you are more than welcome, Keli! It's been a pleasure to have you stop by.  I'm happy to help spread the word about your book.

My Review

Miles Rutledge’s mercantile carries everything a home in 1870 needs. He is looking forward to meeting his new business partner, confident that he will be an asset to the thriving business. Miles’ mother is not opposed to seeing him take on a partner; she just knows something Miles does not.

E. Watkins, also known as the widow Elenora Watkins, is eager for a fresh start for her 9-year-old daughter Matilda and herself. Her recently remarried, overbearing father has made it clear that she is no longer welcome in his home or working with his business. Elenora thinks that a partnership with the Rutledge Mercantile in El Dorado, CA is the perfect fit. That is, until she met the proprietor.

To say that Miles and Elenora get off on the wrong foot is an understatement. Miles is stunned to learn that E. Watkins is a woman, and rescinds his offer of partnership. Elenora is equally dismayed over the mix-up. Returning home is not an option, so Elenora decides to set up her own mercantile in El Dorado to support her daughter. This, of course, does not go over well with Miles.

For some reason, I suspected that Keli Gwyn would be a good storyteller. I am happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed. In this, her debut novel, Keli brings life to these stubborn, ambitious characters who butt heads at every turn. This engaging tale is sure to appeal to historical fiction fans. Although A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California just released, I’m already looking forward to Keli’s next book!

If you'd like more info on A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, click here.

To visit Keli's site, go here. 

To stop by her blog, click here. I am sure she would love to see you!

Giveaway Details
  • You must be a follower and leave your email address with a comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST, Monday July 30, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Thursday August 2, 2012.

Don't forget, Keli turned the tables and asked us this question,

"What’s a time you were thrust into the limelight, and how did you feel about all the accolades coming your way?"

Please feel free to answer in the comments. 

Do you have any questions for Keli? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy reading and writing,


  1. Thanks for the great interview and good advice on studying the craft of writing.


  2. Thanks ladies for this interview. I just read the one on Maria Morgan's blog, but Karen... you managed to squeeze some interesting information out of Keli as well :)

  3. Glenda,
    You are welcome! Keli offers wonderful insight and humor; she makes it easy. :) Added your name to the list!

    That was a wonderful interview over at Maria's. I learned even more about Keli. Glad you stopped by!


  4. Great interview, ladies! Keli's journey to publication inspires me every time I hear the story.

    As for being thrust in the limelight? I found success in spelling bees as a middle schooler, but my 13-year-old self never really liked the attention it brought. :)

  5. Congratulations, Keli! I love the concept and the historical research involved to give your story that ring of authenticity!

    Thanks for sharing!

    God bless you, Karen and Keli!

  6. "Fluorescent-green newbie." That sums it up.

    I think that was the nugget in here; studying craft. Interesting that it led to all the good stuff, then, down the road.

    As always, you're such a gracious hostess, Karen. I enjoyed her website; very Victorian.

  7. Thanks for a wonderful interview, Karen. The books sounds wonderful; the title is unusual and interesting.

  8. Karen, thanks so much for hosting me. Sorry to be a late arrival, though. I'm out in California, and since I slept in a bit, that didn't help. Not only that, but I tripped over a pile of dirty clothes en route to the kitchen, so I decided to set fame aside for a few minutes and sort laundry instead. Couldn't let my dear fellow run out of "unmentionables," now could I? However, if I'd known there were so many fun comments waiting for me, I'd have let that laundry marinate a little longer. =)

  9. Glenda, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Marja, didn't Karen ask some great questions? I had fun answering them.

    Sarah, what fun to find out that you were a Spelling Bee champ. I coached my daughter's team when she was in fourth grade and have fond memories of that. I remember feeling sorry for the team members when the day of the Bee arrived, though. The competition is fierce.

    Cheryl, research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I have to be rein myself in at times, because hours can go by as I go off on one trail after another. =)

  10. Rhonda, I'm a huge believer in the value of studying craft. When I began writing, I naively thought it would come easily to me. After all, I had a degree in mass communication/print journalism, had seen my articles on the front page of our college paper many times, and had worked as a copyeditor for a small publishing company. Learning that I had so much to learn was humbling--but enlightening at the same time. I loved school, so having an excuse to do some serious study sat well with me. The year I invested in learning how to craft a marketable story was one of the best investments of time I've ever made.

    Thanks for the compliment on my website. I'm thrilled with it. My web designer, Jason Walker of Website Ministries, does great work. He took my mishmash of ideas, made sense of them, and created a site that far exceeded my expectations.

  11. Rachna, thanks for the compliments on the title. Barbour gets all the credit for it.

    My book is part of Barbour's Destination Romances line. In odd months this year, they're putting out historical Bride romances. In even months, their contemporary Wedding romances hit the shelves.

    The titles all follow the same format. The May Book is called A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, and the June book is A Wedding Song in Lexington, Kentucky by Jennifer Johnson.

  12. Sarah,
    Thank you! Keli makes it easy! I agree, she is an inspiration. :)

    Keli is one smart writer, isn't she? Authentic is right - her book nailed it.

    I know, love that, right? :) Good thing we like the color green. Got your name on the list,girl!

    You are welcome! It is a great summer, or anytime read! Btw, Happy Birthday! :)

    It has been a pleasure to have you stop by. Your interviews have such wonderful personality, as do you! Thanks for sharing all these great tidbits. As for laundry, well, I think that trips us all up now and again. :)


  13. Wonderful interview ladies! Enjoyed learning even more about you, Keli. Fantastic questions Karen!

    Being thrust into the limelight is humbling to say the least. It's made me realize how much I need to learn and how thankful I am for the support of family and friends!

    Have a fabulous weekend Karen & Keli!

  14. A great interview and good luck with the book.


  15. I absolutely loved the interview. Good Luck!
    I am looking forward to read it :) YEAHHH

    Thanks for the update.

  16. Oh, my. This was so enlightening, Keli! I hope I am as calm and clear thinking when my book debuts! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this interview. Thank you for this, Karen. Heading over to Keli's website now.

  17. This sounds like a great read. Put my name in! sdlbishop2(at)gmail(dot)com.

  18. Maria,
    Seems Keli shares something a little different everywhere! :) Enjoyed your interview with her on your blog. You are right, family and friends supporting you is the best!

    Thanks so much! I'm with you, wishing Keli much success!

    Glad you enjoyed it! Keli is such a great person to interview. :) Hope you like the book as much as I did!

    Isn't Keli great? Lots of insight here, that's for sure. Can't wait until her next book. Definitely having her back again! :)

    I thought it was! I've added your name to the list. Thanks so much!


  19. Maria, I agree. There's nothing like the support of family and friends.

    Yvonne, thanks for the well wishes.

    Yessi7, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I had fun answering Karen's questions.

    Susan, thanks for taking time to visit my website. I love my cyber home. My web designer did such a great job with it.

    Sally, thanks for the kind words about the story. You added a smile to my day. =)

  20. I love the cover. I could just imagine you trying to shop with three mics following. Kudos, Keli. I think it's wonderful.

  21. Joylene, one mic would be enough to tie my tongue in knots. Who knows what would happen if there were three in front of me. =)

  22. Keli sounds like such a warm and wonderful person. I'm glad she had such a great support community for her book.

    Once, when I was in 9th grade, I won the outstanding student award. I loved the attention. It was quite unexpected and very rare. I had difficulty just trying to get a blue ribbon in the science fair. (which I never accomplished.)

  23. Nancy, how neat that you received the outstanding student award. That's quite an accomplishment. =)

  24. Keli - I love it that you know your area's history and details so you can enrich your writing with them!! Getting advice from Gist must have been cool! and I love the "flourescent green newbie" phrase - thanks!

    Karen - Thanks for interviewing Keli. It's a delight to read all your interviews. You have such a way of bringing out the best in each author!

  25. Tyrean, I do love research, so much so that I can lose track of time when I'm in the midst of it. Adding some of the many interesting facts I unearth to my stories is such fun.

    Meeting Dee Gist and having her impart her wisdom was wonderful. I've seen her several times since, and she's been just as supportive, encouraging, and helpful.

    And I'm with you. Karen's interview skills are awesome!

  26. Haha, I have to remember "fluorescent green newbie" too!

    Great interview and review!

  27. Lydia, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I did too, thanks to Karen and her awesome questions. OK, I'll admit it. I liked her great review, too. =)

  28. Joylene,
    I know, it's really nice, isn't it? So tell us, have you ever been overtaken by the media at the grocery store? :)

    I agree! It's been a pleasure to have Keli here. :) Sorry that you didn't win at the Science Fair!

    You are welcome; it was a pleasure to work with Keli! Thanks for your sweet and kind words. :)

    I know, gotta love that! Thanks a bunch!

    Blessings all,

  29. Now why isn't that reporter scenario a possibility? If enough people read your book and love it, they could set the Internet ablaze.

    I've entered many giveaways trying to win your book. Maybe I'll succeed here. :)

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

  30. Hi Keli and Karen, Love the interview and looking forward to reading your book Keli. I love stories about women taking on a job that only men have held and forging the way for women everywhere. I keep entering so that I may have a chance to win.

    email subscriber

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  31. Awesome interview, and congrats, Karen! You won in my giveaway. Come claim your prize! :)

  32. Susan,
    Well, it could be. We'll have to tell Keli to keep her eyes and ears open when she goes grocery shopping! :) Got your name on the list!

    Glad you enjoyed the interview. Keli's a great guest! Thanks for spreading the word!

    Appreciate your input today. Thanks for letting me know! Will hop over.


  33. Hi Karen and a nice idea having another writer on your blog, and this book sounds like a good read which includes some history as well. Richard

  34. Karen, thanks for introducing me to Keli. I like the premise--to have a woman being turned away of a gender misunderstanding, but she had the tenacity to stay.

  35. Congrats on the new book! I always think its neat when I read a story that is inspired by a real place. :) wishing you a ton of success!

  36. Richard,
    It's always fun to have other writers visit. Thanks for coming over! Hope you enjoy your blog break!

    You are welcome! I know, love the premise too. It's a good read. :)

    I do too! Keli did a great job with it!

    Blessings all,

  37. Susan and Miss Kallie, let's hope your tenacity pays off. =)

    Miss Kallie and Theresa, I'm glad you like the set up of the story. Ellie is definitely a determined woman willing to challenge men in the business world.

    David, thanks for reading the interview. Karen is a great hostess.

    Richard, I have such fun including historical details in my stories and bringing the past to life.

    Angela, I enjoyed bringing El Dorado to life. It's a town with a rich heritage.

  38. Great interview Karan and Keli. There is a good amount of very useful writing advice and I always love learning from great authors. Congratulations. Keli, on the release of your book. It sounds exciting.

  39. Yep, there's no substitute for learning the craft. Great interview

  40. Hi Karen and Keli .. sounds like an entrancing book - many congratulations on publication .. and I too love your description of "fluorescent green newbie" ...

    Have fun along your journey to continued success - cheers Hilary

  41. Melissa,
    Thank you! Keli makes it very easy. :) I love her sense of humor!

    I agree! Always learning something, aren't we? This is a good thing. :)

    It is a good read! Glad you had a moment to join us. Hope you are taking care of yourself. :)


  42. Oh what a super review sweet Karen and interesting chat with Keli. Don't we all have the daydreams? Mine has Nickelodeon requesting several of my picture books for Nickelodeon TV. Ahhh. I loved spending time with the two of you. And you did hit the mother lode on crit partners. Wow!

  43. Robyn,
    It was really fun! Keli's a great guest! Glad you could make it on over. I appreciate you spreading the word!
    Blessings and hugs,

  44. Melissa, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and found it helpful.

    Lynda, every time I learn something new about the craft of writing, I get excited.

    Hilary, thanks for the well wishes.

    Robyn, here's hoping Nickelodeon comes knocking on your door one day.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!