Welcome, Keli. I'm thrilled to feature you with your debut novel, which I loved. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I like to think my characters are much better people than I am, but my heroines do seem to end up with a few traits they got from me. Elenora, the heroine of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado California, is a lousy cook. I don’t like to cook, although I’m not quite as bad at it as Ellie.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I create voices for our cats. Sometimes our only child felt the need to talk to someone other than her dad or me when she was young, so her cat brother became her confidant. Now, I know I’m not the only one to voice a pet, but I took my feline vocalization to extremes when we were on a vacation in Europe. Our daughter, eight at the time, was feeling particularly homesick one day and missing our furry fellow something fierce. She wanted desperately wanted to talk to Snuggles, so I invented the tailular phone. Yes, a phone that uses a cat’s tail as an antenna. If our daughter wanted to communicate with Snuggs, she could. All he had to do was raise his tail, and voilà. The connection was made. What we mothers will do for our children. :-)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I dreamed of being a writer since I was seven. My earliest efforts were letters to my grandparents. As I got older, I added friends to my list of correspondents. It wasn’t long before they started saying I should be a writer. I didn’t tell them my dream, but I did treasure their words of encouragement. Some of the very people who encouraged me are now sharing in my excitement, as my first book is about to hit the shelves.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read some contemporary romance and a rare women’s fiction work, but inspirational historical romance has long been my favorite genre. There are many talented historical authors out there, such as you, Lena.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Great question. Getting out of the house each day for my Curves workout or a walk helps me clear my head and gives me a much-needed break and a relief from stress. I return home ready to get back to the tasks at hand.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Finding a photo, one of the small carte de visite with the image mounted on cardboard, is my first step. Once I have that, I study the person in the picture until a character begins to take shape in my mind. Often the name is one of the first aspects I choose. I check to make sure it’s period appropriate. If it is, I let the name sit for a few days and see if it matches the character I’ve envisioned. Most of the time the name sticks, but I have changed a few as I got into a story.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
After raising our daughter, getting a book published with a traditional publisher would be next on the list. I’m also proud of putting myself through college. It took me eleven years to get my bachelor’s degree, but I did it.
I also worked my way through college, but it took me only five years. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
My dad used to say I was like a banty hen because I’m small and I go after what I want no matter how big the obstacles in my path appear to be. This particular trait served me well as I pursued publication. :-)
What is your favorite food?
I’m a Taco Bell addict, but I enjoy Mexican food and Tex-Mex, too.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Poor plotting was my biggest problem. I overcame it by admitting that my pantser method wasn’t working for me. These days, I don’t start a story until I have an outline with the major turning points, black moment, conclusion, character arcs, and faith elements figured out. Knowing what’s going to happen when helps me keep the story moving in the right direction and avoid the dreaded sagging middle.
Love Is Gold inWidow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become a partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.
Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.
Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.
The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?
Please give us the first page of the book.
The Sierra Foothills of California
The stagecoach lurched to a stop, throwing Elenora and Matilda Watkins against a damask-covered sidewall.
Elenora clutched her nine-year-old daughter to her side. “Are you all right, Tildy?”
“Oh Mama. You don’t have to be so skittery.” Tildy shrugged out of the protective embrace, scooted across the bench seat, and shoved the leather window shade aside. “I want to see what’s going on.” She peeked out, whirled around with wide eyes and an enormous grin, and let the dust shield fall with a thwap. “It’s an outlaw, and he’s pointing a gun at the driver.”
Where did her daughter get those wild notions of hers? Elenora shot Tildy a reassuring smile and leaned over the center jump seat to have a look. “Lord, help us.”
A shudder ripped through her. The horrid man atop the big black horse was, in fact, aiming a gun at the coachman, but he was aiming a look of sheer evil at her. One of his eyes bored into her while the other seemed to roam. His sneer made her skin crawl.
How could this be happening? They’d ridden all the way from Omaha on that snorting beast of a train and made the line changes in Ogden and Sacramento City without incident. Why did something have to go wrong on the final five miles between Shingle Springs and
The outlaw’s deep voice boomed. “Hand it over.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I invite readers to visit me at my cyber home, www.keligwyn.com, with its parlor, library, study, carriage house, and more. My blog and social media links are there as well.
Thanks for having me as a guest on your great site, Lena. What fun to spend time with you and your visitors. I have a question for y’all. (My mom was raised in
Texas, so I figure I can
use that word even though I’m a California
gal. :-)) Have any of your pets ever talked?
Thank you, Keli, for visiting my blog, but also for allowing me to read the book for endorsement. As you know, I loved it.
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California - paperback
A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California - Kindle
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