Author Q&A: Award-Winning Author Kelli A Wilkins

About the Author: Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning romance and horror author who has published more than 95 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.

Her short horror fiction has appeared in several anthologies. In autumn 2015 she released two horror ebooks, Kropsy's Curse and Dead Til Dawn. In 2014, her horror fiction appeared in Moon Shadows, Wrapped in White, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

You Can Write-Really! A Beginner's Guide to Writing Fiction
was released in February 2015. This fun and informative non-fiction guide is based on her 15 years of experience as a writer, and is available exclusively on Amazon.

Kelli published three romances in 2014: Dangerous Indenture (a spicy historical/mystery), Wilderness Bride (a tender historical/Western/adventure), and A Secret Match (a gay contemporary set in the world of professional wrestling). Her romances span many genres and heat levels.

Kelli's stopping by the blog today to share writing tips and talk about what inspired her to write her book.

Deborah Bailey: Glad you could stop by, Kelli! What inspired you to come up with the idea for your book?

Kelli Wilkins: Great to be here! Every time I do an interview, I'm often asked the same batch of questions: Where do you get your ideas? How do I get published? How do you write a book? What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out? Do you have any writing tips?

I've answered these questions many times in interviews and addressed them in guest blogs, but I always wanted to say more. One day, I started thinking about everything I've learned over the years, and inspiration hit me: Why not write a book on how to write? The result? You Can Write-Really! A Beginner's Guide to Writing Fiction.

This fun and practical book walks you through the story-creating process step-by-step: from getting a great idea to meeting your characters, developing a plot, and on to writing, revising, and submitting your work.

Each easy-to-read chapter is based on my 15 years of experience as a writer, advice I've received over the years, and the technical "know-how" I've gained in writing classes and workshops. I also included helpful tips all writers can use, plus easy writing exercises to get you motivated.

Deborah: Were there any challenges in writing this book?

Kelli: The main challenge I faced was deciding what to include in the book. I have a lot to say and I wanted to cover as much as possible, but without overloading a newbie writer with too much information. I kept everything simple and focused on the basics all writers need.

Deborah: There are so many people who would love to write a book. Who do you think will benefit most from reading You Can Write-Really?

Kelli: Beginning writers will gain the most from this book. It's practical advice on how to get started, almost like a Writing 101 workshop. Any writer can use the tips and writing exercises for an extra boost of motivation or just for fun.

Deborah: Do you think this advice would help non-fiction writers as well?

Kelli: Yes. Although the focus is on fiction writing, non-fiction writers can benefit from the chapters on getting started, finding the time to write, cultivating ideas, coping with writer's block, submitting, and marketing.

Deborah: Terrific. Can you share an excerpt?

Kelli: Sure! Here's an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 7, Setting, Details and Research, plus two bonus tips!

Where Are We?
Setting and details are two necessary elements for your short story or novel. They give readers a firm idea of when and where the characters are. (They don't exist randomly floating in space.)

Take a second and look around. Where are you reading this book? In your living room? A park? While walking on a treadmill? Wherever you are is your setting, and your story's setting needs to be as realistic as the one you see around you. How do you do that? Through realistic sensory details and a little bit of research.

Creating a Setting

Setting is when and where your short story or novel takes place. It can be a historical setting (ancient Egypt), contemporary (present day Florida), futuristic (Earth Colony Vega in space year 2513), or anywhere you can imagine. But no matter when (or where) a story takes place, readers have to be comfortable in the setting and "buy into" the fact that the story is set wherever it is. In short, you need to make the setting so real the reader forgets he or she isn't in a Medieval Scottish castle.

And if your historical romance takes place in a castle, describe the castle to the reader through your hero's and heroine's points-of-view. Each character will notice (or not notice) different things. The hero has lived in this castle for years, so he's used to it. He's not going to notice the portraits on the walls or want to investigate a closed-off wing.

However, to your heroine (who has never been there before) everything is new and a bit overwhelming. She can't wait to explore and naturally gets lost, is awestruck at the grand hall, and becomes curious about a locked tower room. As you write each scene, show readers what each character is seeing, smelling, hearing, etc. so they can imagine they're in the castle, too.

EXERCISE 1: If you already have your story idea, you probably have a setting. If not, ask yourself: Where does the story take place? When? Why is it set there? For what reason? You need to know the answers to these questions because the setting is the backdrop of the story; it's where the characters live. Write down everything you know about the setting and start dreaming up the locations you will need.

The setting you choose for your short story or novel adds to the overall mood of the piece. If you are writing a mystery, perhaps the setting is a gloomy, secluded mansion. A moonlit graveyard is a fantastic location for a horror story, and a contemporary romance is perfectly at home set in a California beach town.

Settings can be broad (Small Town, USA) or specific (room 13 of a haunted hotel). If you are writing a short story, you could limit the setting to one place or have the action occur in several locations, it's up to you. Novels are generally set in a number of different locales as the characters move through the story and take readers along for an adventure.

TIP: Look at magazines and photos online to get descriptions and ideas for your settings. If you find an unusual piece of furniture, a fancy dress, or a cool castle you could use in a story, save it for ideas and inspiration.

The clothing your characters wear helps establish setting. If the hero is wearing a ruffled shirt and breeches, readers will know he is not in contemporary times (or he has time traveled). A long-haired guru is wearing a Nehru jacket, denim bellbottoms, and six strings of beads? Welcome to 1968.

Weather can be an important setting element. A rainy, gray day can reflect a character's depressed mood. Kids will be running out the door to play on a sunny summer afternoon. See if the weather could be used as a source of conflict. An earthquake, flood, or tornado causes trouble for your characters, or maybe the witch in your paranormal story can conjure storms with her mind.
No matter how simple or exotic the setting is, make your characters at home there. Describe it so readers know exactly what's in the room and where the story is taking place. How do you do that? Through details.

Bonus tips…
TIP: Set aside an hour a day to write. Not sure you have an hour? Consider writing on your lunch break or during a commute. Get up an hour earlier or schedule time after dinner. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it. You can also write in two blocks of 30 minute sessions.
TIP: Keep a pen and paper (or a voice recorder) with you at all times to note bits of dialogue you overhear, something strange, funny, or creepy you see, or anything else that captures your attention and could be used for a story.

Deborah: Thanks so much for sharing your  tips! Please let readers know where they can find your book and find out more about you.

Kelli: You're welcome! Here you go: You Can Write-Really! A Beginner's Guide to Writing Fiction is available exclusively on Amazon. If you're ready to write, order your copy here:

I enjoy hearing from readers and other authors. So drop me a line with questions or comments. You can catch up on all of my writings and follow me on social media here:
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