Sunday, June 14, 2009

Author Q&A with Kelly Abell

Author Kelly Abell lives in Florida with her family and a dog named Snickers. She holds a masters degree in adult education. Her new book, "Sealed In Lies" is a romantic suspense story that deals with spies, abuse, betrayal, and finding true love. The two main characters are very unlikely companions and eventually form a bond out of necessity. Read the first chapter free at

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I wrote a lot in high school but stopped shortly after that. I’ve always had stories swimming around in my head but never really thought about writing an entire novel. I was a manager for an insurance company and I was conducting a performance evaluation with one of my employees one day when we starting talking about hobbies. I told him I’d always wanted to write a novel. I mentioned a book on writing that I had seen at Barnes & Noble called "The Weekend Novelist" by Robert J. Ray and how I’d thought about buying that book. The next day he brought in a Barnes & Noble gift card and gave it to me with instructions to use it only for that one book. I was deeply touched and I wrote my first novel that summer. It took a while for me to get published but "Sealed In Lies" is a direct result of that Barnes & Noble gift card and Chuck’s encouragement.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I would say there is a mixture between my real life and experiences and fiction. The majority of my characters are made up but do contain some personality traits of people I really admire or people I know. I never totally copy someone I know as a character. Most people are not as interesting as those you make up in your head. I do a lot of research to make sure my character’s experiences are authentic. Whatever you do you should be true to your character all the way through the book. Don’t have them do something that is inconsistent with the personality you’ve built for them. Your readers will lose interest.

What's your writing routine like?
I really wish I could have a set schedule. I have to go with the flow but generally I get in at least an hour or so a day either before my day job or in the evening. I usually tell my family that from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm is my writing time. I can do more on the weekends and that is usually done early in the morning before anyone gets up. Once I start a book I generally do a thorough character analysis on the characters. I lay out their physical description, their personality traits, and what it is they want in respect to the story. I list their goals and the obstacles that they will encounter along the way and how they might overcome them. Then I write my back cover. There is a great set of books by various authors called "Writing Great Fiction" that gives you great advice and that is where I got the idea to write the back cover first. It really helps give me direction. Sometimes I do a chapter outline with a brief paragraph or two about each chapter but generally I'm not much of an outliner. I may do some research ahead of time but most of it is done through the course of the book. Then I set a goal to write so many words per day. I even have a spreadsheet where I keep track of the words I do per day in comparison to my goal. It's a great motivator. I got this from an author friend named Kelley St. John. What is important is the discipline to write every day.

Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from a variety of places. Most come from true news stories. "Sealed In Lies" came from a news story about a burglar who broke into a prominent Virginia Senator’s home not realizing whose home it was. He was caught by the wife and he kidnapped her. I read things like this and wonder what if??? Then the stories just flow. I also base stories on events that happen to my friends and family. They don’t usually know this of course. Sometimes, and you’re going to think this is weird, I dream my ideas. I keep a notebook by the bed and I have recorded multiple dreams for books later on. The problem is not getting the ideas, it is getting the time to write them all down.

Whose work do you admire?
I have a few favorite authors that I follow but my all time favorite is Nora Roberts. She is a machine when it comes to writing and her characters are so real and alive for me. I also like thrillers so I love to read Dean Koontz –a master of alliteration, and James Patterson.

What would you say to an aspiring author?
Patience, my dear, patience. It can take a long time to get published and you cannot be afraid of rejection. What is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so don’t give up. Make sure your work is complete, thoroughly edited, and ready before you submit to an agent or a publisher. Don’t be afraid to try some of the e-publishers. Be careful and do your research. The e-book is becoming more popular and developing quite a following. It can lead to more opportunities down the road. My publisher Hearts On Fire Books is a great one. Check it out at

What are you working on?
A young adult paranormal book about a teenage girl, Sam, who discovers she’s a medium and ends up having to rescue the most popular girl in school, Amy, when a particularly nasty spirit arrives with some furniture to Amy’s house. Amy’s boyfriend begins to have an interest in Sam which leads to all kinds of teenage drama.

Favorite links:
EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light, and she has received the top award for series writing in Texas, the Texas APME, as well as a silver from the Parenting Publications of America. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and is seeking representation for her new novel, 'At High Tide.'

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