Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meet Keli Gwyn: an epistolary-style interview

I’m thrilled to have Keli Gwyn, my friend and critique partner, as my guest. Keli describes herself as “a writer of inspirational historical romance, wife of her own hero, mother of a first-year college student, a member of Toastmasters, a scrapbooker, and a Taco Bell addict.” She’s also a 2008 double Golden Heart finalist and a newly-agented writer.

Keli and I met almost two years ago and formed a fast friendship. Since we live on opposite coasts, we email each other quite a bit. I thought it might be fun to give you a peek inside my inbox at some of the emails Keli’s shared with me during her journey.

If you leave a question or comment for Keli, you’ll automatically be entered in a random drawing for a $10 Starbucks gift card. The winner will be posted on Friday, February 19th.

06/23/2008 11:45PM


I'm delighted that you're willing to make a guest appearance at Romance Writers on the Journey. The blog is designed especially for those, like me, who are unpubbed and admittedly have more to learn about this business of writing.


Anne: This email was before we ever met in person or chatted on the phone. I was honored to be one of the first guests on your wonderful blog, Romance Writers on the Journey. Can you tell us more about your blog and all the guests you’ve had? I imagine interviewing two guests a week takes a lot of time and effort. How do you manage to keep up with it? Is it a labor of love?

Keli: Meeting you was one of the high points of my writing journey so far, Anne. You did me a huge favor when you agreed to be one of my first guests at RWotJ, and I applaud your courage in putting yourself in a newbie blogger’s care. At that point, I had a great deal more enthusiasm than I did expertise.

I started RWotJ with the idea of encouraging and supporting others, like me, who long to see their names on the covers of published romance novels. At the outset, I chose to interview novelists who have yet to be published and those with one novel published or soon to be published. I’ve been privileged to have as my guests over 110 novelists/debut novelists so far, who represent the wide range of sub-genres under the romance umbrella. While the majority of my guests are women, I’ve interviewed one gentleman and one married couple who co-author their stories. Some of my guests have written articles for the blog as well.

Hosting RWotJ is indeed a labor of love. Getting to know other novelists and hearing about their writing journeys is fascinating. Preparing for the rather, um, thorough interviews visitors have come to expect on my blog does take time, but I feel honored these women (and a few brave men) have allowed me to interview them. Since I’m able to write fulltime, I schedule a portion of my week for my blogging activity. I’ve been given so much by so many other writers and feel RWotJ is one small way I can give something back.

07/13/2008 7:00PM

I hope you're having a wonderful vacation. I've never been back east, unless you count a brief stop in JFK International. Maybe someday I'll get to experience the other coast. I've heard it's beautiful.

Not long until Nationals. BTW, did you get your dress on ebay?


Anne: The time leading up to our first Nationals in San Francisco was so much fun. We got to know all of the Pixies (2008 Golden Heart finalists) online and spent almost as much time talking about dresses as we did about writing. You had the special honor of being a double finalist in the Inspirational Category. What was it like getting that call?

Keli: Surprising! In 2007, I entered one of the two manuscripts I’d written the year before and received scores that ranked me in the bottom half of all the entrants. My goal for 2008 was to see if I could improve my scores. Since I’d completed three more manuscripts, I figured entering four would increase my chances of getting at least one score in the top half. (Yes, I had five manuscripts, but no one—not even, you, my dear Anne—can see the first until I do extensive work on it.)

At that point, I was writing in isolation. My only link with the writing world was my monthly copy of the Romance Writers Report, which was how I learned about the RWA contests. I knew no other writers and had yet to discover the blogosphere, so I didn’t understand the magnitude of a Golden Heart final. Heck, I didn’t even know what day the calls went out.

When the phone rang on March 25, 2008, the caller identified herself as being with RWA. I thought she was calling about a chapter-level contest I’d entered. It wasn’t until I heard the words Golden Heart that I realized what was happening. I grabbed a pen and paper to jot the title, sure that in my excitement I’d forget which of my four stories she said unless I wrote it down. I’d just scribbled Addie’s Choice when Terry Reed said a word I’ll never forget: “And.” Such a small word, but, wow, did it ever send my heart thundering in my chest. “And?” I asked. She told me that, yes, I was a double finalist. Love in Bloom had also finaled. I was incredulous!


The conference was pretty much what I expected in most ways. For me, the focus was on the people. Odd for an introvert like me to say, but true. I really looked forward to meeting everyone. Having spent two years in writer's isolation, I was eager to make new friends, which I did.

The Golden Heart events were great. I had Pixie love all around me. That was the best part of Nationals.


Anne: My first RWA Nationals was overwhelming, but you seemed to take it in stride. I was in awe of how incredibly organized you were . . . you had a color-coded schedule and the details of every event filed in a small notebook. I counted on you to keep me on track then and I still do! How did the experience of Nationals change your perspective, if at all? What were some of the high points?

Keli: Being surrounded by some 2,000 other writers who love the romance genre as much as I do was thrilling. I’m sure the dropped-jaw, glazed-eyes look I wore when the BIG names in romance walked by revealed the fact that I was a first-timer attendee even more so than the orange ribbon on my nametag.

Meeting writers in person whom I’d first encountered online made my week. I had a blast attending the Literacy autographing and talking with leading authors in my category. Deeanne Gist spent over fifteen minutes with me and imparted advice I took to heart. Another author offered to show my work to her editor. I was blown away by the generous spirit exhibited by these women and many others.

I spent five fun-filled days that thrilled me more than a trip to Disneyland as RWA treated my fellow Pixies and me like royalty. Attending Nationals for the first time is exciting. Attending the first time wearing those special pink ribbons we Pixies did that year was incredible. I returned home rejoicing in my newly formed friendships and eager to resume my writing.

4/8/2009 6:24PM
Hi Anne,

I smiled when I got home last night and found your welcome home message among the 150+ that flooded my inbox after six days away.

I did have a great time at Mount Hermon. I was well fed on all levels—physically, intellectually, relationally and spiritually. I'd love to chat by phone—I have ideas for you that I'd love to share.


Anne: In the months after Nationals, you and I became critique partners, and while we honed our writing skills we also became close friends. When you got back from the Mount Hermon conference in April, I sensed a change in your outlook. Was that conference a sort of turning point for you?

Keli: Definitely. Even though I’d returned from RWA Nationals in San Francisco floating on a conference-induced Cloud 9, I crashed not long after. I’d finaled in the Golden Heart, but in my heart, I knew my stories needed a great deal of work before they’d be ready to submit. Deeanne had told me she determined at one point not to be rejected again and to learn how to write a story worthy of a contract before she submitted again.

Heeding Deeanne’s advice, I shifted my focus to improving my craft and building a Web presence. Why wasn’t I writing? Because I suffered a Confidence Crisis after my Golden Heart experience. I’d ridden a wave of euphoria for months, but soon after Nationals, I hit the beach—hard. The tiny bit of belief I’d had in my ability washed away, leaving behind a writer with a brittle shell, one who wasn’t sure she had what it took to make it.

During that year, doubt and discouragement were my constant companions. I tried my hand at writing a contemporary romance. My initial burst of excitement soon fizzled when I realized I didn’t have a young voice. My characters sounded old. (OK. In all honesty, they sounded a lot like teens did in the 70s when I was in high school.) I stored that manuscript deep in my computer’s memory banks and stopped writing for nearly six months.

Then came my trip to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in April 2009. I went with no manuscript to pitch, no elevator speech to deliver, and no expectations. I went to learn. And learn I did. I learned to listen to my heart, which was telling me to return to my first love, historical romance.

4/14/2009 6:57PM

I'm writing again. Better yet, I'm having fun writing. I began the revision of V&V last night. I had to write an entire new opening scene. I like the new one far better. Today I've been reworking the second scene. Now [my hero and heroine are] ticked when they meet and have much bigger issues to work through, which will make their story a much better read and their HEA far more satisfying.

Yay on the new jeans. It's way cool that they don't have to be hemmed. I detest sewing of any kind.


Anne: There’s nothing better than the excitement of a new project! (Well, maybe a pair of perfect-fitting jeans.) Why did you choose to rewrite Violets and Violins? Can you tell us about that process and what you learned?

Keli: I’d been home one week when I opened the file housing one of the five historicals I’d written, read it, and realized I could make it better. I embarked on a major rewrite, which involved deleting some 70K words in the process, nearly a third of my story. I had written a ho-hum story, which I was determined to take to a new level. My dear Gwynly, who has become my plotting partner extraordinaire, gave me an idea for a new beginning, and a generous contest judge gave me just what I needed to nail the ending.

The joy of writing returned. Three years into my writing journey, I’d found my Voice. My confidence and my excitement grew. I felt I was moving closer to the point of having a story worthy of attention, one I wouldn’t be ashamed to send out into the world.

8/3/2009 11:12PM

Thanks for letting me squee [about my Maggie final] with you. I'm still in a state of disbelief. [Gwynly is] so sweet. He keeps looking at me and saying, "You did it!" or "I knew you'd final." For a non-writer, he comes closer to "getting it" than anyone I know.

I'm excited about my writing in a way I haven't been in a long while. OK, since the GH final.

Well, I'd better get my feet back on the ground. I was writing an interview when my Maggies call came. Need to get back to it.

Thanks for the fireworks! How fun.


Anne: The Maggie was V&V’s first final and win, but it would not be the last! So far, your story has finaled eight times and placed first every time. I know first-hand what a fabulous story it is. Did you ever imagine it would touch so many people? What do you think it is about V&V that strikes a chord with so many?

Keli: Thanks for the kinds words about V&V, Anne, and your part in polishing it. I love reading it and seeing your fingerprints throughout.

When I decided the story was ready, or at least the first chapters were, anyhow, I decided the time had come to see how it would fare on the contest circuit. When I’d entered contests back in 2007, I sent in 33 entries and placed six times. You’re the math teacher, so you know my ratio was roughly one final for every six entries. I figured if I entered ten contests, I might final at least twice.

Well, I was in for a surprise. V&V began to final in one contest after another. And then it began to win. I squealed so often our poor cats may never be the same.

As far as why the story seems to strike a chord, based upon the judges’ comments, I’d say it’s my well-developed characters, my distinctive dialogue, and my ability to transport the reader to another time and place through my vivid description and historical detail. I don’t mean to come off sounding boastful. As you know from our frequent emails, Anne, the wonderful things being said about V&V have left me stunned—and immensely grateful.

10/3/2009 8:21PM

I got to listen to the announcements as they happened at the GRW conference.

I recovered enough to give my speech via speaker phone. If memory serves me, it went like this. "I thank my husband, Carl, who's been so supportive of me. Thank you to everyone who helped with The Maggies.

I'm likely to be several shades of blue and purple from pinching myself. Thanks for letting me gush.


Anne: I loved that you got to listen to your name being announced at the Moonlight and Magnolias conference. Then you delivered your Maggie acceptance speech via a cell phone. Very cool! I think this was also your first request stemming from a contest win. What did this win mean to you?

Keli: The day The Maggies finalists were to be announced, Gwynly asked me if I was expecting to hear from “that big contest.” I honestly thought I hadn’t entered because I didn’t feel ready for such a prestigious contest and told him I wasn’t expecting a call. But then I got your email that evening asking if I heard from The Maggies. The two of you had encouraged me to enter, which I had—and then promptly put it out of my mind.

Minutes after reading your email, the phone rang. I had finaled. That happy dance was wild, and I’m sure our cats lost a life over it. But the fun didn’t end there. Our writer pal, Walt Mussell, a member of the GRW who attended the M&M conference, agreed to accept on my behalf in the unlikely event my name was called.

It was, and I’m sure the cats lost at least two lives that evening as I listened to the announcements via Walt’s cell. I was in such a state of shock he had to prompt me to give my acceptance speech, which included thanks to YOU. (You snipped it above, but I did extend my gratitude to you, my awesome CP, along with the others.)

The Maggies win catapulted me so far into space I didn’t put wear on the soles of my shoes for weeks. All my hard work was beginning to pay off, and I began to believe in my story. After my previous Confidence Crisis, that felt mighty good.

12/19/09 11:40PM

Are you still up? I have BIG news I'd like to share with you.


Anne: Reading this still gives me chills! Do you want to tell everyone what the big news was?

Keli: One of the contests I entered was The Launching a Star, and one of the final round judges in my category was my Dream Agent, Rachelle Gardner. I wanted so much to final in this contest so she’d see my story. I did, she did, and I received a request for the full.

You helped me put the finishing touches on V&V, Anne, reading and editing for me in record time, bless your generous heart. On the evening of December 18th, I typed my query letter, attached the file, and pressed “send.” On the 19th, Gwynly took me out to dinner to celebrate our 22nd anniversary.

When we returned home that night, I opened my email and saw Rachelle’s name in my inbox. I figured she was telling me she’d received my full and would get to it after the holidays. I was wrong! Her first words were, “I’d like to discuss the possibility of representation . . .”

I didn’t even read the rest of the short message. I screamed, “Oh, my gosh!” I rushed from room to room repeating those three words at the top of my lungs, clutching the walls, doorjambs, and backs of chairs to hold me up while Gwynly and our daughter raced to my computer to read the message. I’m surprised the cats have any lives left after my way-beyond-happy dance.

On the eve of Christmas Eve, Rachelle called to make the official offer, which I eagerly accepted. This was by far the most amazing Christmas present I’ve ever received.

Anne: Keli, thanks for sharing your inspiring story. I know it’s only the beginning of great things for you. Do you have a question you’d like to ask our readers?

Keli: Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Anne. I interview others all the time, but this is the first time I’ve been interviewed. What an honor! And what fun.

My question: Who or what has encouraged you to continue to pursue your dreams when you’ve encountered the inevitable doubts, discouragement, and disappointments we all face at times?

Be sure to visit Joy on the Journey where Keli shares snippets from her writing life. You’ll also want to check out Romance Writers on the Journey, where Keli offers support, encouragement and resources for romance writers traveling the path to publication. Learn more about her on her website.


Kris Kennedy said...

What a great way to 'interview' Keli, Anne! I love this idea of culling from the Inbox. You really get to see your girls' friendship and connection, as well as get a sense of what fabulous people you both are. :-) I am lucky to know you both, and count you in my circle of writer friends.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Keli,

I must have been in a fog the last two years. I didn't realize that you were a double GH finalist!
Congratulations from a fellow GH sister.

Connie Gillam

Walt M said...

As the holder of the cell phone during the night you won the Maggies, I am lucky to have shared it with you, Keli.

Anne, wonderful interview. Really nicely done.

Keli Gwyn said...

Anne, thanks heaps for having me. I interview novelists on a regular basis, and they often tell me how fun it is. Now I see what they mean. This is cool.

Kris, I agree. Anne's novel idea of using snippets from our email messages is clever. I'm so blessed to have her as my CP, but even more so to have her as a treasured friend.

Connie, what fun it is to see you here, my dear Pixie pal. Thanks for the congrats.

Walt, I treasure the memory of the night you served as Holder of the Cell Phone on my behalf. I'm just glad I went speechless when I heard the news instead of screaming in your ear. Wouldn't want to be known as the one who permanently damaged your hearing. :)

C.J. Redwine said...

What a fun way to do an interview! :) I'm blessed to call both of you my Pixie sisters and my friends. I'm so proud of you, Keli!

As for what I do when doubts eat at me...I work. I put headphones on, cue up the playlist for my current project, and I immerse myself in writing. I find nothing nips depression and doubt in the bud like productivity. Plus, when I shut out the world and work, I also shut out any negative voices. Double win!

Keli Gwyn said...

CJ, I think Anne's onto something with her format. I'd call this a high concept interview, since I've never seen anything like it. Wish I'd thought of it. :)

Love your plan for dealing with those negative voices. Don't listen to 'em. It's much more fun to tune in to one's tunes--and far more productive in many ways.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

truly remarkable "interview." never read anything like it! keli, wonderful to get to know you better. it's odd being on the other side, isn't it? i still have my first sale scrapbook...waiting to be filled at the right time. i trust you've gotten yours already done? :) congratulations on Violets and Violins. :)

The Character Therapist

Keli Gwyn said...

Jeannie, I'm eager to hear that you're filling that First Sale scrapbook.

It feels odd to be the one in the spotlight, but it's fun. Thanks for stopping by.

Katie Ganshert said...

How cool! I love the combination of letters and questions. Great interview Keli and Ann!

Helene Young said...

What a fabulous interview and such a great fresh approach!

Both you lovely ladies were so welcoming to me at the RWA conference in 2008 - you made it much more fun!! Wonderful to read how your friendship and crit partnership have grown.

Amy Atwell said...

A superb interview, Anne--thanks for sharing Keli's inspiring journey with us.

Keli--knowing the successes you've experienced with your writing and the talent you've clearly proven, it's so hard for me to believe you "crashed." But this writing journey can be a tough one, and it looks like you did some smart analysis about your writing. So glad you've come back out on top! It's a great lesson to other writers to not lose hope!

T. Anne said...

I loved learning more about you. I love how you felt glazed over by big name authors when you saw them in person. I feel the same way. Bigger and better than rock stars, right? WHat a thrill to have Rachelle request a full in such a wonderful way. I'm glad all your dreams are about to come true. You are one neat lady!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I enjoyed learning more about your writing path, Keli. Great interview. I also really liked how pictures were interspersed throughout the interview.

~ Wendy

Anonymous said...

YAY! Fun interview, ladies! Love the letters :-)
Thanks for sharing, you are both such fabulous gals!


Laura Frantz said...

Anne, So good to meet the critter/friend Keli speaks of so very highly:) I was blessed to be a guest on Keli's blog and it was such a great experience. I can't wait to read Violets and Violins!! Bless you both!

Theresa Ragan said...

Anne and Keli, what a wonderful interview! I loved every bit of it. Keli, you are so inspiring. Love hearing about your journey. Congratulations again on snagging an agent. It won't be long now until we see your books on the shelves. I really enjoyed reading about how you took time off and decided to dig into learning more about craft...and it worked! Good job.

And Keli, I hope your cats are doing okay with all that screaming and excitement at your house. :)

Hugs to you both. Hope to see you in Tennessee.

sherrinda said...

I am sooooo glad to learn more about you, Keli, and your heart. And Anne, what a unique way to interview with little snippets from emails! Such creativity!

Keli, you are a delight and have such a generous spirit. I know God has amazing things in store for you! I can't wait to hold V&V in my hands someday and say "I KNOW THIS AUTHOR!"

p.s. Is that Julie Lessman's books I see on your desk in the photo? ;)

Kaylin McFarren said...

What a fun interview, Anne, and I LOVED the pictures! Keli, I couldn't be happier for all your successes. So totally deserved and for someone who never fails to support all of us. You go, girl...and fingers crossed for the Emily. :D


Kaylin said...

Oh, wait! OMG!! Some little birdie just told me you won the Emily in the historical category! My goodness, you are rockin' it this year, Keli. Hug congratulations! :D


Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview, Anne. Accompanying someone on the path to publication has been very interesting. Seeing the range of emotions from mountain tops tops to deep valleys as wins, losses, critique comments, and revision notes come in gives me real appreciation for what everyone wishing to be published goes through. Thanks for telling Keli's story. I can attest to how hard she works and how much her friends in the publishing world mean to her, especially you, her critique partner. I wish you the best on your journey. Carl Gwyn

Anne Barton said...

Hi everyone! I posted this before bed, and it was great to wake up and see all these wonderful comments. :)

To all the Pixies--Kris, Connie, C.J., Helene, Amy, Kit, Theresa, and Kaylin--you are all so warm and supportive. Seeing you here totally made my day. Thanks!

Walt, Jeannie, Katie, T. Anne, Wendy, Laura, and Sherrinda--thanks for coming by! I love the photos too, esp. of the cats. It's great to see even that after all the noisy celebrations they're none the worse for the wear. :)

Hi Carl! I hope you and Keli had a great Valentine's Day. Extra husband points to you for leaving Keli a comment. ;)

Keli Gwyn said...

Wow! I awoke out here in California to find greetings from so many of you, my dear writing buddies--and my incredibly supportive husband. What a way to start my day!!

Katie, I appreciate your support. I can't wait to hear that Rachelle has sold your book. I know you've worked hard to make it the best it can be and trust that First Sale is coming soon. I'm eager to happy dance with you.

Helèné, my Pixie pal and Australian friend, congrats again on the release of your debut novel. I think it's great that you wrote about an aviator, something you know lots about. That's the way to "write what your know" and love. Have fun at your book signings and other events.

Amy, my Pixie pal, goals group leader, and Golden Pen coordinator, you are one amazing woman--a real inspiration to me. I don't know how you do everything and do it so well.

I did crash after Nationals in 2008. Wasn't pretty. However, I used my down time the next year to learn more about craft and make many wonderful friends. I kept writing, even though thinking about what I produced during that time makes me cringe to this day. But, with the help of many, I emerged a stronger and better writer. My parents call me a Sherman tank because I'm small, stronger than I think, and keep on going. I didn't feel very strong at the time, but I did forge ahead.

Keli Gwyn said...

T. Anne, my blogging buddy and witty friend, so, you suffer from Big Name Author-itis too? They are my heroes and inspiration. As I've gotten to know many published authors, my respect has grown. Yes, they made it, but they are some of the most supportive and generous people I know. I couldn't begin to list the names of all the authors who have held out a helping hand to me. I'm blessed to be part of such a wonderful group of people.

Wendy, my clever friend, I love how you challenge me to think deeply when I visit your blog, All in a Day's Thought, for your One Question Fridays. You find such awesome pictures, so I can see why you appreciate seeing mine. It was Anne's idea to include those we did. I tried to find some that go along with the questions. The last one is me pressing "send" when I zapped my full to Rachelle.

Keli Gwyn said...

Kit, what a pleasure it was to meet you at Nationals in 2008. You are a class act, and I was thrilled when your name was called at the Awards Ceremony. You did a great job delivering your Golden Heart acceptance speech. I clapped so hard my palms stung. I knew you'd sell soon afterward, which you did. I enjoyed your debut novel and look forward to the next. You introduced me the the Love Inspired Suspense series.

Laura, speaking of published authors who have extended a hand of friendship and support, you're one at the top of my list. I'm grateful for the time when took an hour out of your busy day to talk with me about your writing and gave me an inside look at the publishing world. I was blown away by your debut novel, The Frontiersman's Daughter, and am in awe of your amazing Voice.

Keli Gwyn said...

Theresa, my Pixie pal and Sacramento Valley Rose chapter mate, how fun it was to sit beside you at the Awards Ceremony in San Francisco. I longed to hear your name called when your category came up. You are a shining example of perseverance. I can't wait until the day a savvy editor snaps you up. I'll squee so loudly those poor cats of ours will be under the bed for hours.

Sherrinda, my sweet friend, I'm so thankful that in my travels through cyberspace I met you. I admire your honesty, generosity, and sweet spirit. What a joy it was to watch as you completed your first novel. And now you're tackling revisions with courage. I wish my initial efforts were as good as yours. I'm excited that you'll be entering the contest circuit soon and look forward to news of finals in the near future.

Yes, those are Julie's books on my writing desk. To be honest, I've not yet read them, but I'm eager to do so. Julie is another published author who reached out a hand to me. I won a critique of my first chapter from her in a blog contest, and she gave me awesome suggestions. I know I'll learn heaps more when I read her triology.

Keli Gwyn said...

Kaylin, aka Mama Pixie, I'm honored that you took time from your busy schedule to stop by. With your debut novel releasing this month, I know you must be quite busy. I hope you have tonz of fun promoting Flaherty's Crossing.

Thanks for sharing in my excitement. Winning The Emily was a surprise. My story is a historical, yes, but it's also an inspirational. This awesome contest lets a writer specify a sub-category, which I did. Even so, a win in this contest wasn't something I expected. I'm honored.

Keli Gwyn said...

Carl, you dear, thanks for leaving a comment for me. When I got up and discovered you doing so, I was touched. I wasn't surprised, though, because you've always been incredibly supportive. I don't know how I could have made it to this point without you alongside me. I'm blessed, and I know it. One of the reasons I want to sell a book is so I can dedicate it to YOU!!!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Congratulations on your success, Keli! It couldn't happen to a nicer person! You've always been so kind and supportive, and I appreciate your emails and cards even when I sometimes forget to say thank you. What a great interview! I enjoyed it very much. :)

Here's to much future success, and hopefully a Call Story soon!!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Lynn, how fun to see another Pixie pal, the first one of our group to achieve best seller status. I was thrilled when I heard the news that you'd made the USA Today best seller's list. You work so hard, and I'm glad to see your talent recognized.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Aw, thanks, Keli! And now you've guilted me into opening the WIP and getting to work, because I certainly haven't been working hard today! :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Keli,

Congratulations on another contest win! Wow, that's awesome.

You've been doing so great. All us Pixies are so proud of you.

Btw, you'll LOVE Julie's books. They are amazing. I've learned so much about showing emotion from them.

Have a great day!


Cindy said...

Great interview. Keli, your journey has been amazing and inspiring. You give so much back to all us aspiring authors out here, it's a pleasure to have come to know you through the Blogosphere. I can't wait to hear more about your newly agented experiences and the chance to read your book when it's on the shelves in the future.

Diane said...

Great interview with fun pictures! Love that your husband is SO supportive of you. You've worked hard and deserve this opportunity. Continued hugs and blessings :O)

Margay said...

Hey, Keli, how did it feel to be on the other end of the interview? You did great. I love the blog Romance Writers on the Journey and that you're always highlighting new and interesting writers. I will have to check out your other blog.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sue, my Pixie pal and GH category mate, what fun to see you here. I'm looking forward to reading Julie Lessman's books. I've heard so many good things about them and know she's an amazing writer. I look forward to experiencing the emotion she works into her stories. I also look forward to your First Sale. Having been privileged to read a portion of one of your manuscripts, I know how well you write. We'll keep on forging ahead. I want to see all the 2008 GH inspirational finalists sell as Kit has.

Cindy, I appreciate your encouraging words. I thank the Lord for the wonderful people I've met through the Blogosphere. I look forward to sharing more of my journey as I enter Revision Land once again, this time with the guidance of my knowledgeable agent, Rachelle. If my experiences can help anyone else, I'm eager to do so.

Keli Gwyn said...

Margay, my blogging buddy and the first place winner of my first-ever writing contest, how delightful it is to have you drop by. Being the interviewee is way cool, especially since Anne did such an amazing job with this post. I'm in awe of her creativity. I already knew she's incredibly talented, but she continues to surprise me with her cleverness.

Keli Gwyn said...

OK, I just read the comments again and realized I misspoke earlier. Julie's books aren't a trilogy. They're a series of stand alone titles. There. I feel better for having clarified that.

MaryC said...

Keli and Anne, what a great interview. It was such fun to read. Best of luck to you, Keli as you continue on your journey.

To answer your question -
Who or what has encouraged you to continue to pursue your dreams when you’ve encountered the inevitable doubts, discouragement, and disappointments we all face at times?

YOU just did. I saw much of myself in your comments and your thoughts. Seeing your renewed confidence and determination was encouraging to me. Thanks!

bevp said...

Keli and Anne, this was a fantastic interview. I hung on every word and felt like I was journeying with you, Keli. Congratulations on every step and thanks for sharing. You have a huge heart and I'm thrilled for you. Can't wait to read Violets and Violins.

Jill Nutter said...

Hi Anne and Keli,
Great and fun interview. You two are obviously an encouragment to each other and all the rest of us.

Keli,I didn't realize you'd been to Mt. Hermon too. I've only been once and if I could afford it I'd go every year. One of my most encouraging experiences was attending Mt. Hermon and being in the small group that Jim Bell led. All I can say is that it changed my perspective and gave me hope.

But I've also been taught and encouraged by many in RWA, ACFW and many, many people and places for the past twenty years.

Hoping for wonderful joys for all of us who write this year.

Keli Gwyn said...

Mary C, thanks for your well wishes. Writing can be such a challenging undertaking. Doubt and discouragement attempt to gain a foothold, but the support and encouragement of others can buoy us up. I'm glad you found aspects of my journey inspiring.

Bev, didn't Anne do a superb job with the interview? I'm so impressed. She's major league creative. But I learned long ago that creativity seems to be a trait every Pixie possesses. I know you're creative, and I'm eager for an editor to discover the wonderful stories you write, which incorporate the horses you love.

Jill, were we at Mount Hermon at the same time? I was there in 2008 and 2009. I hear you on James Scott Bell. He's great! Last year I enjoyed the workshop he and HH editor Nick Harrison presented called "Fiction Tips from Classic Hollywood Films." It was clever--just like JSB!

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh this was awesome!! I felt like I was right there with you both on your journey together!! And then when I read the details abot Rachelle asking you I wanted to jump up and down and cry with you!! You've have put so much hard work into your books--makes me want to do better!

Chris Pedersen said...

Keli and Anne,

You have done a fabulous job with this interview! Anne, you drew Keli out with your questions, revealing the struggle that she experienced along her journey. Keli, your honest assessments along the way help us face the reality of decisions that may take time to pay off. It is one of the most meaningful interviews I've read. Thanks for sharing the inside of Keli.

Anne Barton said...

Wow! Thanks to everyone who's stopped by during the past two days. I appreciate all the good wishes and kind words.

I'll post the winner of the Starbuck's gift card on Friday around 5:00 eastern time. Feel free to comment any time before then! :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Terri, thanks for taking time to stop by, read the interview, and leave a comment. I know you're busy with your new job, so your visit means a lot to me. Since I'm one of those for whom tears come easily--no matter what the emotion--I'm honored you came close to shedding some tears of joy with me. I'm eager to shed some on your behalf--and do a happy dance--when you hear back on those fulls you have out. I wish there were enough of Rachelle to go around for everyone. Perhaps if we were to give her an IV of her favorite Starbucks coffee so she never slept . . . :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Chris, what a joy it is to see you here on Anne's blog. As two of my nearest and dearest writer pals, you both know more of the real me than anyone else. How I wish you could meet. Alas, Anne lives on the East Coast, whereas you and I are here in the Sierra Foothills of California.

I treasure our times together, Chris, and am thrilled beyond belief that you sold an article to Clubhouse Jr. Believe me, I'm going to help you celebrate your sale when we do lunch next time.

Thanks for the compliments on the interview, but the credit goes to Anne. She came up with the great idea of using snippets of my email messages, which I think is sooo cool.

Keli Gwyn said...

Hi, Anne! Thanks so much for asking to interview me. You know better than anyone how I've shied away from being an interviewee. I'm glad you gave me this opportunity. It's been such fun. Thanks for being the blog hostess with the mostest. :)

Julie Robinson said...

Keli, I don't think I realized you had a first year college student too. My only one.

In answer to your question, I know that i am not pursuing my dream of writing as whole-heartedly as I should. Call it self-doubt. I don't know. I took Margie Lawson's class, Defeat Self-Defeating Behavior" in January, so I am working on overcoming some paralyzing fear of putting words on paper, like I did in grad school back in the late 80's.

Your blog makes me feel not so alone, as I witness other writers experiencing some of the same frustrations and difficulties as I do. Two traits I struggle with, which you are VERY good at, are organization and discipline.

The fact that you accomplish so much with your detailed blogs and your writing is testimony to that! Also, you desk is so neat---Not to mention having a color-coded events calendar!!! You're my role model! LOL Like you, however, I also 'detest sewing of any kind.' I just have this 'thing' about it where my whole body literally cringes at the thought of sewing, though I have had to do it before.

Besides loving Taco Bell, I am a Starbucks addict and, in fact, and heading over there in a bit to do some writing. It's just so pretty outside today I need to get out!

Keli and Anne, thanks for sharing your chain of friendship letters. And Keli, congrats on having such a wonderful Christmas. Hope you continue your blog once you've hit the big time!! :-)

Julie Robinson said...

P.S. I really enjoyed the pictures. Despite being an introvert, you're very photogenic. Also loved your kitties. I have 2 myself.

Anne Barton said...

Hi Julie--I hope you had some productive writing time at Starbucks! When it comes to self-doubt, you're definitely not alone. One reason I love connecting with other writers is it makes me feel normal. Okay, semi-normal. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Julie, how wonderful to come home from my weekly Toastmasters meeting and find the great comment from you.

Looks like we have quite a few things in common. Like you, I "cringe" (perfect word!) at the thought of sewing, love Taco Bell, have two feline friends, and sent our one and only child off to college this year. Plus, we're both members of Self-Doubters Anonymous--or would be if there were such a thing, right? :)

I'm excited to hear that you took Margie Lawson's "Defeat Self-Defeating Behavior" class. Sounds like one I ought to investigate. Did you find it helpful?

I laughed out loud when you talked about my neat desk. Before I asked my dear hubby in to take the picture of me sending my manuscript to Rachelle, I tidied up, which meant shifting the stacks from my writing desk to my sadly neglected scrapbooking desk. Gwynly rolled his eyes as I did some last minute straightening. I'm learning to be more real online, but posting a picture of the piles threatening to overtake my tiny office is something I'm not yet brave enough to do. :) (I saw a picture of Anne's office on her blog once, which is not only neat but elegant, and I decided I'd keep my messes private.)

I hope you had a productive writing time at Starbucks. Maybe you'll win the gift card Anne is giving away.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Anne (great name BTW). I always knew when my mom was aggravated because my two names became one---JulieAnne!!

As for the normal part----I'll admit that I'm probably slightly off center---or as my 8 year old niece told me the other day, "Aunt Julie, you're crazy! But in a good way." My son agreed---only when you get to that oh-so-ripe age of 18, it can be embarrassing.
Oh well . . . .

Julie Robinson said...

Hey Keli! Yes, take her class if you haven't. It's only offered in January, unless you order one of her packets. But the good thing about taking the class is that you get to hook up with a Change Coach (CC) partner who helps you through your SBD's (Self-Defeating Behaviors) for the month. The relationship can continue if it is productive for both. My partner and I agreed to continue, which reminds me I need to write her back.

That's funny about your desk. I cleared the clutter from mine by shifting it over to my son's desk. When he comes home for the weekend I move it to the floor ('cause it doesn't all fit on my desk).

I am trying to go through my stacks right now to clear up some of this clutter. Or as Peter De Vries said, "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork." Of course, my DH points out that I really don't have to print everything out! I'm working on that too.

Hey, Maybe I go to Starbucks to escape the clutter! and the housework . . . I just can't write with that guilt feeling at home . . . .

Keli Gwyn said...

Good luck on conquering the clutter, Julie. It's nice to know that if the task gets to be too much, there is always Starbucks. :)