Thank you for spending a little time with us here on the blog today!
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me! I love sharing my thoughts with readers and other writers.
How did you become a writer?
I started writing short stories in high school. After college, I took a Commercial Writer’s Program and read some of my stories in class. At the time, I was writing short horror fiction. Everyone liked the stories and encouraged me to submit them for publication. One day I read a short romance in a magazine and said, “I can write that.” So I did.
My romance novel writing career began when Amber Quill Press hosted a contest to find authors. I submitted three novellas, and they contracted me for all three. After the books were released, I got hooked, and just kept writing. To date, I’ve published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 5 non-fiction books, and an online writing course via Teachable.
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?
I’ve been all three! At first I was completely traditional, then I became a hybrid, and now I’m self-published. Most of my romances were originally published with Amber Quill Press. Later, I had three romance novels published by Medallion Press. Unfortunately, both of those publishers have folded. Over the last three years I’ve re-edited and self-published all of my Amber Quill romances. My Medallion Press titles will be re-released in 2019.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depending on the length of the story or the scope of the book, it can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to write the first draft. Shorter stories like my horror novella, Nightmare in the North, usually take a week. My full-length books such as Redemption from a Dark Past and Trust with Hearts take a month (or maybe longer).
Are You a Pantser or a Plotter?
I’m both. Before I start a book, I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen overall. After that, I outline the scenes and start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline. Sometimes I add entire scenes, or I write scenes that are later omitted. I go where the story takes me.
Each book comes to me in a different form. Sometimes I’ll have an entire story jump into my head, and I’ll know everything that happens to the characters. (That happened with A Deceptive Match, A Most Unusual Princess, Trust with Hearts, and A Secret Match.)
Other times, I’ll get bits and pieces of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, I’ll have a character come first, and as I get to know and develop the character, I’ll find out the story. Then the other pieces fall into place, like a puzzle. (That happened with Beauty & the Bigfoot, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.)
Writing a book is always an adventure for me, and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.
Have you ever taken the NaNoWriMo Challenge?
Not officially, but when I sit down to write a book, I “ binge write” it all at once. I don’t stop and work on other projects while I’m writing a first draft. And since it usually takes me a month to write a book, it’s almost like I’ve created my own writing challenge.
What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre?
I consider myself fortunate to be able to write in any genre or sub-genre. In romance, I’m naturally drawn to historical/fantasy settings, but if I get a good idea for a book, I’ll write it, no matter what genre it is.
I originally started out writing horror short stories, and then I alternated with romance. (I also wrote the occasional sci fi story, too.) I like to say that one half of my brain writes horror, and the other half writes romance.
Writing horror lets me tap into my dark side. I can create characters, plots, and settings in my horror fiction that have no business being in a romance. Horror has a different tone and feel to it.
I’m able to switch genres easily, so I have a good balance of writing in both the horror and romance worlds. Sometimes I blend the two into paranormal romances. My first paranormal romance, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover is a good mix of the two genres, and it has a very gothic feel.
When I wrote the story, I didn’t want the vampire to be too vicious (and therefore not a romantic character) and yet, I had to make sure the vampire wasn’t too watered down and not “horror” enough. Reviewers loved the book, so I think I did a good job.
My horror fiction is more psychological/spooky/creepy than gory, and I like to explore the darker aspects of a story and not always give the characters a happy ending, as I do in my romances. Nightmare in the North is a good example of how I take something ordinary (a guy with car trouble seeking shelter in a storm) and give it an unusual twist.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
The books on my shelves are very diverse. I have books in almost every category: horror, romance, contemporary fiction, self-help, new age, and historical non-fiction. I like to read a lot of different things and I’m always buying books at garage sales and flea markets.
What are you reading now?
Lately I’ve been reading John Sandford, Jonathan Kellerman, and the Preston & Child “Pendergast” novels. I enjoy a good detective/mystery story, and these authors have created some fantastic and memorable characters.
Where do you get the most writing done?
My writing environment is wherever I happen to be at the moment. I write all of my books and short stories in longhand, so when I’m writing I can take the pen and paper outside in the back yard, to the beach, or anywhere. When I write indoors I’m usually in the living room and have music playing in the background.
Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it??
Like anything, there are good and bad aspects to social media, but I can live without most of it. I’m not addicted in the sense that I “have” to check Facebook or Twitter several times a day. I usually go on there a few times a week, see what’s new, post something to my friends, or promote my books, and move on. I don’t feel the need to share every moment of my life on social media platforms.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
The best advice I can give to any writer (regardless if he or she is writing horror, romance, or mystery) is the same: keep writing. Writing is a tough and solitary business. It takes a lot of dedication and determination to sit down every day and write something. You have to push through the times when you don’t want to write or revise a story. You have to pick yourself up and keep going when you get a rejection. You have to put in the hard work to create the best plot, characters, and stories you can. But the more you write, the easier it gets.
I strongly recommend aspiring authors take writing classes, either in person or online. They’re an excellent way to learn the craft of storytelling and get feedback from other writers. In 2018, I compiled my advice into an online writing course, Fiction Writing for Beginners. The course is based on my experience as a writer, advice I’ve received over the years, and the technical “know-how” I’ve gained in writing classes and workshops.
It offers practical advice on how to create a story: from getting a great idea to meeting your characters, developing a plot, and on to writing, revising, and submitting your work. Each lesson contains helpful tips all writers can use, plus fun writing exercises. The course is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
What are your latest releases?
My historical romance, Redemption from a Dark Past, was published in 2018. This full-length Gothic novel is set in the kingdom of Hungary in 1723 and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense. Here are the book blurb and links:
Redemption from a Dark Past
Lord Sebestyen Adrik has an unsavory reputation as a madman, murderer… and worse. Lonely and searching for love, he seeks the companionship of local young women, hoping one of them will ease his torment and bring him the happiness he longs for. Katarina is his last chance—but will she fear him like all the others? Or is she the one who can lift his curse?
Desperate to avoid a forced marriage, Katarina agrees to become Lord Adrik’s latest companion, despite the rumors she has heard about him. She discovers the “Dark Lord’s” secret past and realizes he’s not the monster everyone thinks he is.
As their love blossoms, she renews his passion for life—yet they cannot escape the ghosts of the past.
When a meeting of the nobility goes horribly wrong, Sebestyen’s world unravels, and his enemies plot to destroy him. As all seems lost, a mysterious stranger arrives at the castle. Sebestyen must decide if he is a friend or a foe…and if he can find redemption in his love for Katarina, or lose her and everything else that he holds dear.
Order Redemption from a Dark Past here:
In January 2019 I released the second half of my flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.
Cupid’s Schemes – Volume 1
A Collection of Sweet Romances
In these 16 flash fiction vignettes, Cupid’s arrow hits the mark and ignites a spark between two strangers—whether or not they’re looking for romance. Their unusual meetings lead to new beginnings and new chances at love.
Sweet stories of couples falling under Cupid’s spell include:
* a Medieval knight courting a pretty lady
* two neighbors discover that romance can happen when you least expect it
* a dehydrated mermaid rescued by a handsome stranger
Order your copy here:
And don’t miss Cupid’s Schemes – Volume 2
Another Collection of Sweet Romances
In these 12 mini-romances…
* a photographer falls for a sexy cowboy in a supposedly abandoned ghost town
* new neighbors discover that romance can happen when you least expect it
* a long-lost love returns in an unexpected setting
Order Cupid’s Schemes: Volume 2 here:
What’s coming up in 2019 for you?
Look for a non-fiction romance guide, more horror stories, and I’ll be re-releasing all three of my historical romances previously published by Medallion Press. If that isn’t enough, I’m also working on a few brand new romances. Stay tuned to my blog and my social media pages for updates and release info.
Thanks again for inviting me to your site. I hope everyone enjoyed this peek inside a writer’s mind. I welcome comments and questions from readers and other authors. Contact me via my site, blog, or social media pages.
Happy Reading… and Writing!
Kelli A. Wilkins
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
In January 2019 Kelli released the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.
She also authored her first online writing course, Fiction Writing for Beginners, through Teachable. This course is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
Kelli’s historical romance, Redemption from a Dark Past, was published in 2018. This full-length Gothic novel is set in the kingdom of Hungary in 1723 and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her latest novella, Nightmare in the North.
CATCH UP WITH KELLI
Here’s a full list of where you can find Kelli on the web.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins
Facebook Historical Romances: https://www.facebook.com/Historical-Romances-by-Kelli-A-Wilkins-1703805359922371/
Facebook Contemporary Romances: https://www.facebook.com/Contemporary-Romances-by-Kelli-A-Wilkins-1965702023664339/
Facebook Gay Romances: https://www.facebook.com/GayRomancesbyKelliAWilkins/
FREE READS: http://www.manicreaders.com/KelliAWilkins/
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb
Teachable Online Writing Course: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/