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Welcome to Rita’s Bower where readers gather to meet our favorite or soon-to-be favorite authors while sipping delicious drinks and savoring decadent treats. Serve yourself a plate and drink, settle back in a comfortable chair, prop up your feet, and welcome our guest author Kelli A. Wilkins

I’m very excited to have award-winning, multi-genre author Kelli Wilkins visiting today. Kelli has published numerous books, contributed to many anthologies, and has written non-fiction books on pet care.

Kelli, tell your readers about yourself and how you started writing.

Hi everyone! My name is Kelli Wilkins and I’m an author with Amber Quill Press and Medallion Press. I live in New Jersey, but I was raised in rural upstate New York. My romances range from mildly sensual to super-hot and cover nearly every genre: contemporary, gay, historical, fantasy, and paranormal.

I’m an eclectic writer—I write horror and romance. Some people think that’s an odd combination, but I like to say that one half of my brain writes horror and the other half writes romance. (Occasionally I combine the two into a paranormal romance!)

I’ve been writing horror short stories since I was in elementary school and the idea of having my stories read by people everywhere always interested me. I’m constantly thinking up new ideas, and I just kept writing story after story as they came to me. 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.

One day, I came across an issue of The Sun. They featured “10-Minute Romances” and I thought “Gee, I can write one of those.” So I did. And they took it. From there, I branched out into writing short romances and became a regular contributor to The Sun. When they started publishing science fiction, my editor called me and asked if I could write sci-fi, I said, “Sure!” So I started writing those, too.

I got my start with full-length romances when I entered the Amber Quill Press “Amber Heat” writing contest. I submitted three novellas (A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, and The Sexy Stranger) and they took all three! My seventeenth book with them, Wilderness Bride (a traditional historical), was released in April 2014. I have another Amber Allure romance coming out on August 31, 2014. That book is titled A Secret Match and is the follow-up to my contemporary wrestling romance, A Perfect Match. (Watch my blog for more info as it becomes available!)
 
When people ask me how I can switch up genres so easily, I like to say, “I’m a writer, I can write anything.” And I do!

You are certainly prolific. As well as being a traditional romance author, you also write horror stories, romance short stories, and pet care guides. What is your current tally? How do you manage to do so much?

To date I’ve published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels, and four non-fiction books. Nowadays, I mostly focus on romances and short horror fiction.

I do a lot of “binge writing” I guess you’d call it. When I get an idea for a story or book, I’ll write it out, but I might not do anything with it for a while. I have two or three very rough drafts of romance books sitting on the shelf for “someday” when I get around to revising and editing them into something presentable. I also have a thick file of story ideas and romance plots. Some of them have rough outlines and others are general ideas I mull over.

It seems like I’m always writing, and when I need a break, I switch up genres. For instance, as I started the final edits for A Secret Match, a new horror story popped into my head. So as soon as that romance is out, I’ll write the horror story. I have no idea when it will be published, but I have it on reserve for “someday”.

I generally write anywhere, anytime, and just keep going from one project to the next. When I’m not writing a story, I’m usually promoting, doing blogs, interviews, or working on something else writing-related. 

It’s amazing how much you accomplish. You aren’t just a prolific romance author, but a multi-genre author within romance. What genres have you written in romance? Do you have a preference?

I’ve written in just about every romance genre: contemporary, gay, paranormal, historical, fantasy… in every heat level ranging from mild to super-scorching hot. The last four books I wrote were very diverse: Ultimate Night’s Delights is a super-hot historical/fantasy with group encounters and same-sex relationships; Wilderness Bride is a traditional historical; Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical with mystery elements; and A Secret Match (due out in August) is a hot gay contemporary.

Most of my romances are historical or historical/fantasy. I like writing historicals because I can explore different settings and time periods, but I’m not married to one particular genre.

I just finished reading one of your two recent historical romances, Wilderness Bride (Amber Quill Press, 2014). I really enjoyed the story. The setting was unusual and the characters were compelling. Both the hero and heroine had to make some hard choices. Tell us about Wilderness Bride.

Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! Wilderness Bride is a tender historical set in the early 1800s. Here’s the book summary:

Wilderness Bride - A woman running from her past…straight into the arms of a wild stranger

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and lacking a means of escape, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride. Kathleen calls herself Michelle and begins living a lie with her “husband,” Luther, in an isolated mountain cabin. She tells herself the arrangement is temporary until she can move on.
 
Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful blonde bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. She has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from. But Luther is harboring a secret about his background and fears Michelle will abandon him if she learns the truth about him—and his family.

The couple tries to maintain their rocky relationship as they work to fight brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When circumstances force Michelle to stay longer than she expected, she succumbs to her growing attraction and falls in love with Luther. But when they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past catches up with her, putting her and Luther in grave danger.

The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain man’s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally fall in love. Michelle and Luther are very different people—sort of like a city mouse and a country mouse—and I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book.

As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both are on their own in a rough, unforgiving world, and both had to fend for themselves to survive, with little or no family support. All of that brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.
 
I enjoyed writing this book, and I hope readers will fall in love with the characters the way I did!

You’ve been very busy the last couple of months. Dangerous Indenture (Medallion Press, 2014) was released the same month as Wilderness Bride. Tell us about the story. How did you manage your double release?

It’s rare for an author to have two books come out in the same month, and even rarer for both to be historicals! The two books releasing within a week of each other was fate. I had submitted Dangerous Indenture to Medallion Press in 2013 and it was scheduled for an April 2014 release. When I finished Wilderness Bride in early 2014, an opening appeared on the Amber Quill schedule, and they released it in April.

Although both books are historicals, they’re very different. Wilderness Bride is a traditional historical that takes place in the wilds of the Michigan Territory in the early 1800s. Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical/mystery set in Pennsylvania Colony in the early 1700s. Here’s the summary:

Dangerous Indenture

Eager to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony.

But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and her hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.

Shauna fights her growing attraction to Ashton, torn between propriety and acting on her emotions. But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants will work for the strange Stewart family.

Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.
When Shauna’s investigation leads her too close to the truth, it’s up to Ashton to save her before time runs out.

I love the characters, the setting, and the fact thatDangerous Indenture is a romance blended with mystery. When I created the characters, I gave them all interesting backstories and unusual quirks. I had never written a romance set in Colonial times before and blending the romance with suspense/mystery was a lot of fun.

Dangerous Indenture was your second book with Medallion Press. I loved Viking’s Witch, a Viking romance set in Celtic Scotland, which was your first book with Medallion. It won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Romance. Can you tell us about the award and your book that won it?

Sure! The “IPPY” Awards (Independent Publishers Book Awards) are designed to bring recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY for Best Romance E-book in 2013. That was a great honor.

The Viking’s Witch is a full-length historical romance set in Celtic Scotland. The story centers around a village girl named Odaria who is accused of being a witch. When she conjures up a ship of Norsemen to save her, she falls in love with their leader, Rothgar. The book blends mystery and adventure with a spicy love story. Readers love The Viking’s Witch, and so do I. Here’s the book 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 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.

You’ve built an amazing career in writing. What advice do you have for new authors or readers interested in becoming writers?

I strongly recommend that anyone who wants to pursue writing as a career or hobby (in any genre), take classes. You need to learn the mechanics of good storytelling, and understand the elements that go into creating characters, settings, conveying details, writing dialog, etc. 

Writers also have to commit to writing—every day for at least an hour at first until you get the hang of it. A lot of people I’ve talked to say they want to write and go into long descriptions of their story idea, but never sit down and write it (for various reasons).

You need to put the hours in to write a draft, rewrite, edit, revise, and learn how to take criticism if something isn’t working. It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun, but you have to do the work required to make a great book. It would be wonderful if magic elves came and did it for you, but I haven’t found any yet!

How can your readers read more about you and your books or contact you?

Thanks for letting me visit! It was fun sharing my thoughts with readers. I invite everyone to visit my site (www.KelliWilkins.com) to read excerpts, reviews, and summaries of all my romances. You can also contact me with questions, comments, or sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari and other social media sites. Here’s a list of where you can find me on the web:

Website
Blog
Email
Twitter
Facebook

Author Pages
Goodreads
Amazon
Amber Quill Press Author page
Medallion Press Author Page

Thank you, Kelli, for visiting. Drop by and visit anytime, the door to Rita’s Bower is always open. Happy reading until our next gathering, 

 

 

 

 

 

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