Monday, June 09, 2014

A WOMAN OF FORTUNE - Kellie Coates Gilbert - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Kellie Coates Gilbert’s newest book. Kellie is a dear friend, and I’ve been blessed with the privilege to have her in the critique group that meets in my home before she was published.

This new story could have been ripped from a Texas newspaper’s headlines. It’s gripping that the characters touch you deep in your heart. I could really get into the plot, wondering what I would do if I had to face something similar. I will warn you that you won’t want to put the book down until you read the last word.

This is a good book for our Summer Reading Challenge.

Welcome back, Kellie. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal who worked on many high profile cases, including the Jack-in-the-Box e-coli litigation in the mid-nineties and the largest cattle fraud case in the United States. People are often at their most vulnerable in these tense situations where much is at stake, giving me a unique perspective on the human psyche. Early in my legal career, I recognized there could be value in telling stories about women facing relationship fractures, betrayal, and loss and how we often exhibit strength and dignity in these journeys.

My agent urged me to write romance to break into publishing. I did, and my first novel sold. But that story was not one that burned in my heart as I wrote. When the publishing house switched directions and pulled back even before we got the contract to sign, the situation was an easy one to let go of.

I am meant to write stories for women that focus on relationships, and the deep places in life. People have many layers, and never more than in family dynamics and hard times. I’m intrigued with the coping mechanisms we employ to fill our empty places. These are the stories of my heart.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’m a happy gal and mighty blessed, so it’s difficult to choose a single happy day. Maybe the best way to approach this answer is to tell you about a RECENT event that brought me a lot of joy:

Anyone who follows me on social media knows how much my little grandson means to me. A few weeks ago, he spent the night. At 3:00 am – I was awakened from a dead sleep by two tiny three-year-old hands on my cheeks. "Dammy, let's go blow bubbles outside again." I rubbed my tired eyes. "Go back to sleep, Peanut. It's dark out there." He tapped my shoulder. "Dammy, but we can turn the lights on."

And so we did.

My heart is wrapped around my little Peanut. A few weeks ago, his little sister Gumdrop was born. This “dammy” plans to enjoy these little ones over the next months and years, and read to them every chance I get. That is what happiness is all about, isn’t it? My own Gram instilled in me the love of books, and the knowledge I was her “Precious Puddin’ Gift of God.” I fully plan to pass those sentiments on . . .

With each of my grandchildren and great grandchildren, I bought a preschool picture book and took it to the hospital to read when I first held the little darlings. And I continued to give books to them. How has being published changed your life?
I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal who worked on interesting cases, often ones you might have seen on the news. While I adored the fast-paced nature of my legal profession, and I’d climbed to the upper rungs of the career ladder and enjoyed all the perks that came with that . . . something was missing. Deep inside, I remembered my lifelong dream of becoming a career novelist, and how I’d placed that aspiration on the shelf to pursue a sensible career that would help raise two boys and put them through college.

When my husband received a call from a recruiter with a very lucrative offer, he accepted and moved us from the Pacific Northwest to Texas AND told me this was my chance. He wisely advised that if I failed to pursue my dream at that juncture, I likely never would.

Today, I feel like I am just as busy. Writing on a four-book contract with six month turnarounds has its pressure, especially coupled with all the marketing that authors must do in this current publishing environment. But, Lena . . . I’ve never felt more in my skin. And I’m finding that all those years in courtrooms are finding their way onto the pages of my novels. I’m telling contemporary stories about women in life-changing circumstances and exploring how strong women find their way to faith in light of it.

I love my life!

And you do it so well. What are you reading right now?
Research material! I’m an avid reader and normally read at least two novels a week. When I get a few minutes to place my nose in the pages of a good story, I often choose a Jodi Picoult novel. Normally, I devour her novels within a week of release. Sadly, this tight writing schedule has interrupted my casual reading time.

I am a huge fan of Ms. Picoult. While some of her recent subject matter seems a bit soap-boxy in nature, there are few novelists who write with the skill she exhibits on every single page. I study her work, diagram her plots, tear apart the tools she utilizes and try to bring my own craft to a higher level by mimicking her talent the best I can.

I also love how her books take on contemporary subject matters that inherently hold multiple points of view and foster lively discussion. And no one creates tension and emotion like this very talented author.

What is your current work in progress?
In late 2008, many of us watched as master financier Bernie Madoff’s story unfolded. I couldn’t seem to pull my eyes from the television as the man accused of swindling thousands of innocent victims—including family and friends—out of billions of dollars in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, was taken from his posh Manhattan apartment in handcuffs and his family became vilified in the media. The events held particular interest for me. In my former role as a legal professional, I helped unravel, what was then, the largest cattle fraud in the United States. I interviewed dozens who were caught in the betrayal and who found themselves and their businesses floundering as a result. These stories fascinate me on many levels, but in particular, I’m intrigued with the families behind the scenes. What is it like for a wife to learn her husband is a criminal? What happens to children when they face that kind of shame? We know, at least in part, what transpired in the Madoff family in the aftermath—fractured relationships, family devastation, and suicide. As a novelist, I yearned to explore what might happen if the converse were true. What would the story look like if a strong woman protagonist bucked the odds and used her faith to land on solid ground?

A WOMAN OF FORTUNE is about a Texas socialite, Claire Massey, who is living the dream—designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But her Neiman Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family—and discover a life worth living.

You’re too young to know about this one, but as I read the book, the story reminded me of the Billy Sol Estes scandal that happened in Abilene, Texas, several decades ago. What would be your dream vacation?
I’ve always wanted to tour Israel and Jerusalem. My former church took a tour and I was booked to go, but my husband’s job change shifted plans.

We’ve owned seven motorhomes (I used to write for Motorhome Magazine as a contributing editor) and we’ve done a lot of traveling around the United States. There’s nothing too much better than exploring America’s small towns and backroads, stopping at places like the Gilroy Garlic Festival on a whim. As soon as my hubby retires, that’s likely where you’ll find us again.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
The Texas Gold books are a collection of standalone contemporary stories, each set in a metropolitan area of TexasDallas, San Antonio, Houston and then Austin. I’ve really enjoyed the research trips, and I think readers will close the pages of these novels feeling like they’ve spent time in these cities. A Woman of Fortune is set in Dallas and you’ll see some very familiar settings, Lena!

Yes, I did, since I’ve lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex since the early 1970s. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
President Barack Obama. That answer would surprise people who know me well. But I think running this great nation is an immense responsibility. I’d like to tell him I pray regularly that he makes wise decisions and that he seeks wise counsel. And I’d listen . . . try to learn what his job is like in this current time. I’d hope we’d end the evening with a new understanding and respect for each other’s points of view. Perhaps we wouldn’t agree on everything, but I’d like him to know that people who follow Christ care very much about him and his family and want him to make the best decisions possible for future generations.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to throw dinner parties. Sadly, I haven’t had time to enjoy doing that while trying to meet my writing deadlines.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Oh, this one is easy to answer . . . ISOLATION! I’m so used to working in a collaborative environment and writing is such a solo act. Luckily, I’m blessed with a great writing partner (Lynne Gentry), and we talk every weekday morning from six to six-thirty or so. We plan out what we’re writing that day, work through problem areas with characters, motivation, etc. Rarely, we read passages to each other to see if they are working.

Frankly, there can be DAYS where my husband is traveling and I sit in the house not seeing another human being. I’m working to correct that and have joined a lot of women’s groups and a book club and force myself to close down my Mac and go out some evenings and mingle with people who are NOT somehow involved in the publishing industry!

As you know, I used to show up at your door every Thursday to critique with other novelists. I had to give that up when I starting writing on this tight deadline. I miss it, though.

And I really miss seeing you, too, Kellie. You, Lynne (another of my favorite authors and friends), and I need to get together soon. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read. Don’t get in a hurry. Learn as much about the craft of writing as you can before you start submitting. Get a great agent (and editor). And read. Then, read some more. In the end, great story trumps great craft. If you have both, you’re far ahead of the pack trying to break in.

And here’s a bit of a secret: Publishing a novel is as fun as you think it will be. Nothing compares to a reader email that says she couldn’t put your book down and your story will remain in her heart.

That is so true, Kellie. I just love hearing from readers. They are one of the main reasons I joined Facebook. We connect a lot more there. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Kellie, for visiting with us today. We need to schedule the next three books on this blog.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
A Woman of Fortune -
Woman of Fortune, A: A Texas Gold Novel (Texas Gold Collection) - Amazon
Woman of Fortune, A (Texas Gold Collection): A Texas Gold Novel - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Britney Adams said...

I enjoyed learning more about Kellie and can't wait to read A WOMAN OF FORTUNE!

Britney Adams, TX

Lane Hill House said...

Glad she will find her real Treasure! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Kellie Coates GIlbert said...

Thanks for commenting, Britney and Lane! This story fascinated my heart as I considered all those families behind the scenes in scandals played out on television. Can you even imagine? Good luck in the contest!

Diana Gardner said...

Portsmouth, VA

Melanie Backus said...

A Woman of Fortune sounds wonderful and I love the cover!

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Preston said...

Thank you for the great interview. I'm going to enjoy A WOMAN OF FORTUNE.

Mary P


Vera Godley said...

Your book sounds interesting. Instead of the rags to riches theme you've chosen a riches to rags theme and it will be good to read how you are having your characters handle their new station in life.

Living and loving North Carolina.

Jackie Smith said...

I loved learning more about Kellie!! I am expecting her first book in the mail any am very anxious to read this book as well.
Thanks for the giveaway!
Jackie in Georgia

EJ said...

Thank you for the interview - love learning about new (to me!) authors. Interesting person to spend an evening with - but I do agree that as a Christian we need to pray for our leaders. Elaine in Iowa

Patsy said...

Would love to read Kellie's book.

From Mississippi

sm said...

Wow! I think A WOMAN OF FORTUNE sounds fabulous. I like how you take current events and turn them into a novel. I also enjoy reading Jodi Picoult but have come across some of her books that I could not continue reading (ex: 10th Circle) and another about fortune telling. I wonder which ones you've read of her recent ones that don't frustrate a believer too much; though I realize all her topics are controversial. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

apple blossom said...

thanks for the chance to win this sounds like a good book.
live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Patty said...

Thanks for the interview ladies. I always love discovering new contemporary authors...

Patty in SC

Merry said...

A Woman of Fortune sounds intriguing. It takes so much strength to go through hard things, especially for someone who is pampered all their lives. Please add me!
Merry in MN

Danielle Hull said...

Love your blog! My book wishlist is out of control! In Indiana :)

Library Lady said...

Thank You for giving me the opportunity to win this book.
Janet E.

Cindy W. said...

Beautiful book cover. I would love to be entered to win a copy. Thank you.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Sharon Richmond Bryant

rubynreba said...

A Woman of Fortune looks very good. I would enjoy reading it. Thanks!
Beth from IA

Courtney Clark said...

I'd like to win!
Courtney C. from Arkansas

Tonja Saylor said...

Sounds like a really good book! Thanks for the interview
Tonja VA