How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?
I joined Inspire in September 2011 soon after attending the awesome conference.
What prompted you to join Inspire?
I learned about Inspire from Chris Pedersen a number of years ago, met some of the wonderful members at Mount Hermon in 2009, and heard more about the group from Beth Blee, Joanne Kraft, and others. I have a critique partner and online writing pals, and I belong to the local chapter of Romance Writers of America®, but I lacked a face-to-face group of inspirational writers. Inspire meets that need. The fellowship, support, and instruction are great.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you were a writer?
In January 2006, after working with a life coach to figure out what I wanted to do with myself now that our daughter was in high school, I decided to pursue my long-time goal of being a published author. I’d not written fiction before, but when I splashed that first chapter on the page, I was hooked. Five historicals flowed from my fingertips during the next two years.
Describe your writing career high point and low point.
I’ve had many high points. The highest high so far was opening my email in December 2009, seeing a message from my Dream Agent to whom I’d sent a requested full the day before, and reading the words, “I’d like to discuss the possibility of representation.” I danced around the house, literally bouncing off the walls for fifteen minutes, shouting “Oh, my gosh!” until I went hoarse. Rachelle Gardner’s offer of representation was an incredible Christmas present.
My lowest point came after I double-finaled in the RWA® Golden Heart® contest in 2008. I felt tremendous pressure to succeed after having received such public recognition, and yet I knew my stories weren’t publishable. Despite prayer and my husband’s unwavering support, discouragement gained a foothold. I did little writing the next year, focusing instead on studying craft. At the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference the following spring, the Lord led me to let go of my expectations. Once I surrendered, the joy of writing returned.
Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?
I’m quite fond of my first story, one I’ve hidden in the recesses of my hard drive for good reason. However, the story closest to my heart at this point is the one my agent sold, which will be my debut novel. I poured my heart into this story, rewriting it multiple times. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.
Describe receiving your first book contract.
A year and two rewrites after my agent offered representation, she called to tell me we’d received an offer. Stunned would best describe my reaction. A week later, on December 7, 2010, my agent called with a second offer. If I was stunned before, I was in a state of shock at that point. I hadn’t dared hope for one offer, and yet I had two—and a choice to make. I prayed, talked with my husband, and accepted the offer from Barbour Publishing. A contract for Christmas was a great gift.
What project of yours is gathering dust?
During my bout with doubt that followed my first Golden Heart® finals, I attempted to write a contemporary romance. I’ve yet to finish that story. I learned I don’t have the voice for contemporaries. My “old” voice lends itself quite well to historicals, which is where my heart is and what I write.
What’s next for you?
I’m eagerly awaiting the release of my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, which takes place in 1870. The book is due to hit shelves July 1st.
What have you read recently that you couldn’t put down?
The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz. Laura is a gifted writer, and this historical romance is a real gem.
What does it mean to you to be a writer?
I get to pursue my passion and share my stories with readers who enjoy reading romance as much as I do.
Was there a book that changed your life?
After reading Deeanne Gist’s debut novel, A Bride Most Begrudging, which released in 2005, my dream of being a writer resurfaced. I wanted to tell stories that moved readers the way hers moved me.
Describe your writing environment. Or better yet, include a photo.
I wrote my stories on my desktop computer, but I’m a recent convert to a laptop.
Learn more about Keli by visiting her blog. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.