My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly – Guest Post & Giveaway

Welcome back to Author Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a popular and acclaimed writer in the Regency romance genre. She is the author of over forty books and short stories. Her books are “keepers” and accordingly hard to find. Renowned for what she calls “dukeless” regencies, her stories often revolve around ordinary people solving their own problems. However, her regencies only reflect a part of her writing interests. She has a strong interest in the American West which is reflected in her earliest published works and in her non-fiction.

I’m fortunate to have 2 separate guest posts from Carla today, one sent from the publisher and one sent from Carla.  Instead of choosing I’m running both.  The 1st is on Advice to Hopeful Writers and the 2ns is on her switch to writing for a LDS Audience.

Advice to Hopeful Writers


I’ve been selling short stories since 1977 and novels since 1984. If you write for national and international markets long enough, you develop loyal readers. The business pays modestly, which never hurts. You get asked occasionally to give writerly advice.

Writing is a business. A strange business, but still a business. You need to be good enough for publishing houses to offer youcontracts, or editors to contact you. I will never suggest that you self-publish, although it is easier now than ever. Burn this on your brain: “If a publisher doesn’t want my novel, there’s probably a reason.” Your task is to figure out what that reason is, and write a book that sells. If it’s a narrow little topic, it’ll be hard to market, and publishers won’t bother.

Read good books. This is monumentally important. From Euripedes to Robert Crais, read books that have sold well through time. There’s a reason why Antigone is so heart-breaking, why War and Peace is a masterpiece, ditto Pride and Prejudice. They speak of universal truths. Study good books to learn what sells.

Avoid critique groups. Writing is a solitary business. Learn to trust your own voice. Don’t rely on critiquing groups, unless your mentors are published by mainstream, national houses. If you are critiqued by people who have never sold anything, or who only self-publish, you’re wasting time.

Avoid [most] writers’ organizations. These can suck up spare time you should be using to write.

Don’t Talk Out Your Stories. The fear isn’t that someone will steal your idea. Face it; every plot has been written. If you talk out your story to others instead of writing it, you run the risk of thinking that you have written it, making it stale before you even start.

There isn’t anything you can’t delete.  I mean it. Deleting is the true test of a serious writer.

Take a creative writing course. Writing classes teach the how and why. You’ll be forced to write various types of prose, and receive pretty good feedback. The first creative writing class I took taught me the how and why. A later course taught me how to sell. My “final exam” short story sold for $750 to a great little magazine.

Historical fiction takes real effort. There’s nothing worse than “wallpaper” history slapped onto an era. Get to know your history by reading about the period, and reading in the period. Get inside those 19thcentury heads. This comes through continual, in-depth research. I have an amazing library of Indian Wars texts and Napoleonic Wars books. It was costly, but worth every penny. I’m now accumulating a research library on Comanches and borderland history. When I write about historical events, I write with authority, and readers know the difference. (For my Indian Wars stories and novels, it didn’t hurt that I was a ranger/historian at Fort Laramie and worked in Living History.)

Be interested in everything. Everything. You never know where the next idea is coming from.

Listen to people. Observe them. Pay attention to details. It’s what writers do.

Always keep copies. When I am writing a novel, I print out each chapter. I put it on a thumb drive, which goes everywhere with me.

It’s never going to be easy. When I start chapter one of each novel, I always take a deep breath, because I know that 350 unwritten pages lie ahead. I don’t write because it’s easy; I write because I can.

With any luck, you’ll never have to get a real job. Bingo!

Why I Switched to an LDS Audience
            
           Let’s be clear: I have not abandoned Regencies. I currently write for three publishers: Harlequin, Seattle’s CamelPress, and Utah’s Cedar Fort. Under the terms of my last Harlequin contract, I wrote two Regencies, then was allowed to write a novel set in the American West.
            That American-set story, Her Hesitant Heart, will be out at the end of April in paperback, and May 1 in ebook. The story takes place at Fort Laramie in 1876, that year of the Powder River Campaign, the Battle of the Rosebud, and Custer’s debacle at the Little Bighorn.
            I am currently writing the first of my next two-book Harlequin contract. Both of those novels will be Regencies. Obviously, I have not abandoned the Regency.
            What I like to do is mix things up a bit. So far, not counting short stories, I have written 22 Regencies. For the most part, they have been fun to write. What I fear is becoming stale, if that’s all I am ever “allowed” to do. I’ve never written the coming-out, dance-at-Almack’s stories. I prefer to write about the Napoleonic Wars. From 1793 to 1815 – an entire generation –
England knew nothing but war. That much war affects everything there is, and that’s where my interests lie. It’s more complex than parties.
            All I ever want is the chance to do my best. I’m well aware that some readers want nothing but what I have always done. Where’s the growth in that? Would these same readers like to do the same thing day after day, through the years? I doubt it supremely. Why are writers any different?
            So far, I have written three LDS-themed novels: Borrowed Light, Enduring Light, and My Loving Vigil Keeping. Another will be out in August. That’s all so far, and it’s not the end of the world. I’m a Mormon and I’m enjoying this opportunity to write about my church. I’ve chosen that 1900s era, when Mormons were long-settled in Utah, and beginning to make their influence felt over a wider area. My Loving Vigil Keeping is not so much about Mormons as it is about a mine disaster. Many of the characters were naturally LDS, because the disaster happened in Utah. That’s not something I can change. A significant number of the characters – the Finns, for example – are not Mormons. “Vigil” is a story appealing to anyone interested in immigrants and the American Dream.
            Are you keeping score? I also write for CamelPress, which has republished a few of my earlier traditional Signet Regencies. I sent my editor at CamelPress a story idea about a juez de campo [brand inspector] in 1780s colonial New Mexico, and his charming “sudden” wife, Paloma Vega. I am currently contracted to write four of these romantic suspense novels. The first, The Double Cross, will be out in August. These characters are people of their times, too – religious and Catholic.  This little series is shaping up as one of the most delightful writing experiences I have ever had.
It’s such a pleasure to have publishers willing to listen to what else I have in me. If I am to entertain readers, it’s best that I not be bored by writing the same thing all the time. With more publishing outlets now, when I do write Regencies, I’m hopefully fresher.
Dear readers, it won’t hurt you to mix it up a bit, either. Life is about change. But if only Regencies will do, that’s your worry, and not mine.

My Loving Vigil Keeping

Della’s giving up all the comforts of bustling Salt Lake City to teach school in a rural coal mining camp. Little does she know, she may soon be giving up her heart as well. But when tragedy strikes in the Scofield Mine, Della’s life will be changed forever. Based on true events, this thrilling new romance from award-winning and bestselling author Carla Kelly is a must-read.

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Giveaway Details
1 copy of My Loving Vigil Keeping
Paperback open to US only
Ebook open Internationally
Ends 3/21/13

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