Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blogside Chat | Keli Gwyn + Giveaway!

Good morning, everyone! I'm excited to introduce you to debut author, Keli Gwyn! I read her novel A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's the blurb from the back cover before we dive into our chat:
An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them? Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business? Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

i blog 4 books: Keli, welcome to i blog 4 books! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Keli Gwyn: I’m a California native and live in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. When my fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of my laptop, I enjoy strolling past stately Victorian houses in my historic town, burying my nose in reference books as I unearth interesting facts to include in my stories, and interacting with other romance readers. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.

ib4b: What was the inspiration behind A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California?

KG: I’m a California native and love the historic Gold Country where I live. I wanted to bring the area to life in my stories. While El Dorado is a sleepy suburb now, it was a thriving town in its heyday. When I read about the town’s leading merchant, a mercantile owner named James B. Wetherwax, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about him. However, I couldn’t find much information, but being a writer, I could imagine such a man—and I created the hero of my story.

Widower Miles Rutledge has the most successful business in town, the most impressive building, and is well liked, but he doesn’t have a woman in his life. Along comes Elenora Watkins—and her shop across the street. Since women could own businesses in California from the early days, I knew I had a viable set-up for the story.

ib4b: Wow! That's a really great "story behind the story." :) What message or lesson do you hope readers will take away from reading it?

KG: I hope they learn that we are valued not so much for what we do as for who we are. Ellie is out to prove herself on several fronts, but she doesn’t need to. People like her the way she is.

I’d also like readers to understand that the Lord is there for us—even when we don’t sense His presence. When the story begins, Ellie doesn’t believe the Lord hears her prayers or cares about her concerns, but as things progress, she experiences growth in this area.

ib4b: How do you see yourself in the book?

KG: I identify with the heroine, Elenora. Like me, she’s the mother of a bright, talkative daughter. Ellie tends to be a bit overprotective at times, and I was, too, when our college daughter was younger. I can’t cook very well, and neither can Ellie. She’s a hardworking, determined woman, and I am, too. Like Ellie, when I set a goal, I put my all into achieving it.

ib4b: The more I read, the more I appreciate the research that authors do to deliver a realistic story. Tell us about your research process for this book.

KG: I have a pretty good picture of the Victorian Era, but I’m forever checking to be sure new facts I want to use are accurate. When I want to use a certain historical detail in a story, I run for my personal reference library or fire up Google.

A Bride Opens Shop includes violin playing and shooting. Since I’m neither a violinist nor a marksman, I had to do a good deal of research. As part of my musical research, I was able to see two world-renown violinists in concert at my daughter’s university: Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell. That’s my kind of research. =)

My dad helped educate me about the basics of shooting a revolver. A local friend came over with a revolver much like Miles uses, so I could see what it felt like in my hand. Our friend helped my husband and me act out a few poses that involved the gun, so I could describe them accurately. I had more fun than I expected, and I think that comes out in the shooting scenes.

ib4b: I love that you're so hands-on with your research. It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?

KG: I worked as a bookkeeper to put myself through college, a process that took me eleven l-o-n-g years and helped developed the perseverance that has served me well in the publishing world. I spent a year as a copyeditor at small publishing company, a position I thoroughly enjoyed. When our daughter arrived, my husband and I made the decision that we’d live on his salary so I could be a stay-at-home mom. I embarked on my writing journey once she was in high school.

ib4b: Where do you like to write?

KG: I write in the privacy of my own home. Since I often speak lines of dialogue out loud, make faces to be sure I’m getting my gestures right, and act out scenes while I work, I would be afraid to write in public. People think I’m goofy enough as it is when my characters and I chat while I’m on my walks. :-)

ib4b: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

KG: The Little House books and Little Women were some of my favorites. I loved the history in those books along with reading about Laura’s real-life romance with Almanzo Wilder and Jo March’s dream of being a writer.

ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?

KG: I’m a big Karen Witemeyer fan, so her recent release, Short-Straw Bride, was a “must read”   book for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and highly recommend it to fans of inspirational historical fiction.

ib4b: Now for the totally random . . . what is your biggest pet peeve?

KG: I’d have to say tailgaters. My husband, my daughter, and I were all rear-ended in three separate incidents this past year by people who were following us too closely. Not fun.

ib4b: What was the last thing you bought online?

KG: A pretty white corset. Since I write stories set in the Victorian Era, I’m going to wear the corset for a full day, so I can better relate to the women in my stories. I’ll be blogging about the experience on one of my Friday Fun Victorian Style posts in August.

ib4b: Okay. That was definitely not what I was expecting you to say! I can't wait to read the blog about wearing a corset. If you could only drink one beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?

KG: Sweet tea

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?

KG: I’m encouraged by Isaiah 41:10a, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” There are times the writing journey requires courage and forging ahead in the face of disappointments, and it’s comforting to know the Lord is there for me on the dark days as well as the days of rejoicing.

ib4b: Write your memoir in six words or less.

KG: Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic

ib4b: Great memoir! Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?

KG: More inspirational historical romances set in during the Victorian era. I’ve run several ideas by my agent, and she liked them all, so I’ll be busy writing for years to come. I look forward to having another book in stores soon.

ib4b: Sounds like you'll be a busy lady, and I for one am looking forward to reading your next book. Thanks for stopping by for a chat today, Keli!

KG: Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Brooke. Spending time with you and your blog's visitors is a real treat. I loved the questions you asked and would like to end by asking all of you to answer one of them: What was the last thing you purchased online? I'm guessing it wasn't a corset. =)

Keli Gwyn Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Keli has offered to give away a signed copy of A Bride Opens Shop to one lucky reader! Thank you, Keli! Open to US residents. Ends 8/14/2012. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Brooke. I had such fun answering your wonderful questions.

  2. Thanks for a great interview and awesome giveaway. i am looking forward to reading this novel.

    The last thing i bought on line was a computer game. The last thing i downloaded from online was a craft item for making cards. Before that? a free ebook (i don't buy ebooks)

  3. wonderful, ladies!

    a great interview and cute blog!

  4. Hey Keli & Brooke,

    Great interview! I suspected the corset because of past conversations but wasn't sure. Can't wait to hear how you enjoy wearing it, Keli. And be sure and let us know what Gwynly thinks ;)

    You know I'm not entering for the book. i already have mine and really need to get my review written. (hanging head in shame)

    Have a great day, y'all!

  5. My last online purchase was yesterday. It was quilting fabric. I was short 6 inches and the local fabric store was out of that specific kind.

    Thanks for such an interesting and cute interview.

  6. Marianne, I used to make cards and really enjoyed doing so. I still have a huge collection of rubber stamps and supplies. One day, when I get my schedule under control, I want to create some cards and do some scrapbooking again.

  7. Debra, isn't Brooke's blog cute? I really like the buttons.

  8. Anne, I look forward to blogging about the corset. Gwynly wasn't too excited about my experiment. He doesn't like to see me in pain. I have a hunch it will be hard to get him to lace it very tightly for me.

  9. My last online purchase was yesterday. It was quilting fabric. I was short 6 inches and the local fabric store was out of that specific kind.

    Thanks for such an interesting and cute interview.

  10. Lcenlow, how cool that you quilt. I haven't the patience and admire those of you who do. I saw some gorgeous quilts at the fair this summer, and I oohed and aahed over them. Do you have a favorite pattern? Do you do any of the work by hand, or is yours all done on machine?

  11. I enjoyed the interview!

    The last thing(s) I bought online were for my son, he will be 4 on the 30th. I bought him a John Deere long sleeved shirt for this Fall/Winter (he loves tractors) and some games for his very own Nintendo DS. He will be pleasantly surprised.

  12. I ordered through Amazon A collection of books by MaryLu Tyndall, and a few other items.

  13. The last thing I purchased online was a pair of running shoes for my son-in-law. Great price!

  14. The last thing I bought online are some ebooks that I found at a discount price for my Kindle account

  15. Kelly, I hope your son has a wonderful birthday. I'm sure he'll love the fun things you got him.

    Abigail, books are one of my biggest online purchases. I keep the Amazon staff busy. =)

    Merry, nothing beats a great bargain--unless it's the happy son-in-law who gets the shoes you got him.

    Lisa, isn't filling one's Kindle fun, especially when the titles we want are on sale?

  16. Keli, A corset???!! I'll file this away with little-known facts about famous writers, but it may resurface after you've become famous.
    Brooke, thanks for hosting a very nice lady and a great writer.


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