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
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. Texas
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
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
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
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
, several decades ago. What
would be your dream vacation? Abilene,
I’ve always wanted to tour
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
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
Texas— Dallas, 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.A Woman of Fortune - Christianbook.com
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Woman of Fortune, A: A Texas Gold Novel (Texas Gold Collection) - Amazon
Woman of Fortune, A (Texas Gold Collection): A Texas Gold Novel - Kindle
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