Keli Gwyn
Life After The Call

I’m sharing from my heart today. If you came expecting to learn seven secrets to overnight success or three tips on preparing for publication, you won’t find them.

What you will find is a post from a newly-contracted author who’s just experienced one of the most amazing weeks of her life. It ranks up there with marrying Gwynly, getting my bachelor’s degree after eleven years of study, moving to Germany, and the birth of the Fashion Queen.

One of the best parts of the whole week was sharing my excitement with you, my awesome friends. I’ve been blown away by the deluge of congratulatory messages on my blog and Facebook and those received via tweets on Twitter, personal email, and even snail mail. I’m beyond grateful.

As amazing as the past seven days have been, I’ve begun my return flight from the outer reaches of the stratosphere. Not to worry. Mine isn’t an asteroid-heading-for-earth-ready-to-make-a-serious-dent-in-its-surface descent. Think instead of a feather floating to the ground with gentle twirls and swirls as it encounters updrafts en route to its destination.

A New Focus

I’ve done a great deal of thinking about the future in terms of my writing career and my blogging efforts, and I’ve made some decisions. One thing I know from interviewing over a hundred debut authors is that life changes after the first contact is signed. I’ve embarked on a new course of study as I learn the business side of the publishing world.

When I examined my blogging efforts to this point, I realized I’m all about the journey and doing whatever I can to help you on yours. When I thought about the type of posts I’m drawn to, I narrowed it down to two: posts on craft and posts on the writing life. I can teach craft and might have craft-related posts at times, but I consider posts on the writing life more suited to me and my style.

A New Plan

When I share the news of my contract with my non-writer friends, many of them were shocked to learn that it might be eighteen months before my book will be available. I gave them a condensed version of the process my book and I will go through before I hold it in my hands for the first time. I couldn’t give them more than that because, quite frankly, I don’t know everything that will take place.

Being a detailed person who has a love affair with lists, I feel a bit a loose ends right now. I wish I had a time line to follow with every step presented in sequence. While there are books and blogs about the basics, I have a desire to know the little stuff, too.

My plan is to share my writing journey with you so you can see the process as I go from contract to release date. At first I was hesitant to do so. After all, I’ve read many blog posts saying that talking about ourselves on our blogs can be boring. I’ve taken that into consideration, but I reminded myself that I couldn’t get enough of the posts that took me through a writer’s journey to publication. My thinking is that I’m not alone and that you might find it interesting to see the process from the eyes of someone going through it for the first time.

A Request

My plan at this point is to publish posts Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If I find that schedule to be overly ambitious, considering the fact that I will have publishing deadlines and will also be posting on my other blog, Romance Writers on the Journey, twice a week, I might have to cut back to two days a week here.

I’d like to enlist your help as I embark on my plan. While I will be using my journey from contract to release as an example, I don’t want my posts to be all about me. I want them to be of help to you. And I most certainly want to make them fun to read.

So, I invite you to give me feedback. If I discuss an aspect of my process you’d like to hear more about, let me know. If you have questions, share them in a comment or shoot me an email. (My address is in the sidebar.) And if you find my posts to be as exciting as belly button lint, by all means tell me. I don’t want my blog to be known as a great place to visit if you’re suffering from insomnia.

* * *

What aspects of the publishing process are you most interested in?

Join me Wednesday when I share my book’s tentative title.

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Keli Gwyn
Why the One-Sentence Summary is SO Important

Can you tell me what your story is about in one sentence?

Let me be more specific.

Can you summarize your story in a single sentence of fifteen to twenty-five words? If you can’t, it’s time to get to work.

The one-sentence summary is a tool every writer needs to have on hand. When an agent or editor asks about your story, this short string of words is what they want to hear. Not the rambling, mumbled mess I managed to push past the boulder lodged in my throat when I attended my first writers conferences back in my newbie days.

The one-sentence summary goes by several names . . .

  • hook
  • logline
  • elevator pitch
  • one-sentence pitch

I learned another one yesterday: blurb. That’s the term my agent, Rachelle Gardner, used when she asked me to send her the brief description of my book, which she’ll use when she submits the sale announcement that will appear in The Latest Deals listing on Publishers Marketplace.

Did I freak out? No. Well, truthfully, I did stare at my computer screen for a minute in a state of slack-jawed disbelief, but only because Rachelle’s request was one more proof that she really did sell my book. I didn’t dream the whole thing.

Once I shushed the giddy little girl in me and got myself under control, I went to work.

A one-sentence summary is a vital sales tool, so I’d spent time drafting one. Lots of time. Too much time? I don’t think so, considering the fact that this sentence can put a gleam in a publishing pro’s eyes if done well or cause him to glance at his watch and force a polite smile in place if done poorly.

I tend to be a wordy writer, so preparing a pithy one-sentence pitch that will wow anyone who hears it is not one of my strengths. I turned to the experts.

Three posts that teach how to create an effective one-sentence summary

When I received Rachelle’s request, I snagged the one-sentence summary from the proposal, polished it until it shone like the chrome on Gwynly’s classic MGB roadster, and sent the blurb to her. Well, not one. I sent her six possibilities and invited her to work her magic because her editing skills are top-notch. And because I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist.


.A well-crafted one-sentence summary can . . .

  • Catch the attention of an agent
  • Catch the attention of an editor
  • Catch the attention of book buyers
  • Catch the attention of readers

The announcement of my sale on PM will be the publishing world’s first glimpse of my upcoming book. That little ol’ blurb, short as it is, can create interest in the story, which is why it’s so important to have a well written one.

* * *

Do you have a one-sentence summary you’d like to share?

Do you have a one-sentence summary success story?

Do you have tips you use to create great hooks?

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Keli Gwyn
Of Cupcakes, Cats, and THE CALL

Welcome, maties! There’s been a mutiny on the blog.

I’m Anne, Keli’s CP, here to tell you a story. A special story with a very happy ending.

Put on your fuzzy slippers, grab a cupcake . . . or two, and gather round . . .

(Be sure to check out the gift bag giveaway at the end of the post. There are three chances to win.)



Keli’s Story: From Dream to First Sale in Five Years

Keli and Anne


Keli with Rachelle Gardner, who offered her representation in Dec. 2009.


That’s right! Keli SOLD her story! Woo-hoo!!!

And now, she’s here to tell us all the juicy details.

Welcome, Keli, and CONGRATULATIONS!


First, tell us all about The Call!

Thanks for hosting this cyber celebration, Anne! You’re the hostess with the mostest.

The Call? Well, there were two actually. And I missed them both.

The Calls, which are still on my answering machine to this day. =)

On November 30, I sat holed up in my office with the door closed, cranking classical music on my computer while I updated Quicken. I took a break from the excitement of reconciling check registers and emerged from my office in search of shortbread and sweet tea. I approached the kitchen, saw a blinking number 1 on the answering machine, and punched “play.”

When I heard Rachelle asking me to call her back, I was pretty sure she had good news,¬† but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I left her a message and proceeded to pace and pray. My cats got tired of watching me wear out the carpet and resumed their naps.

A few minutes later, Rachelle called and told me we’d received an offer from a highly respected publishing house. I said some rather incomprehensible stuff, which Rachelle assured me is quite common on such an occasion. I got off the phone, did some high-pitched squealing, and sent our cats running for cover.

Rachelle had yet to hear from a few other houses, so we had to wait to finalize things. I spent several days floating on above the clouds and doing spontaneous happy dances.

On December 7th, I returned from the grocery store to see a number 2 blinking on the answering machine. Imagine my surprise when it was Rachelle saying we had a second offer on the table and to call her ASAP.

In order to spare her eardrums, I took five minutes to whoop and holler before returning her call. She gave me the details and told me to take time to think things over before I gave her my decision.

Both houses are great. Both editors have stellar reputations. But I had to choose.

I talked to the Lord, my hubby–and myself. I hyperventilated, paced, and prayed some more. The decision was not an easy one. Both offers put stars in my eyes. Only when I’d come to feel a sense of peace, did I call my awesome agent back.

Sending in the contract.

And then began six weeks of knee-bouncing, toe-tapping waiting during which I talked Gwynly’s ears off. My guy is amazing. Never once did he ask me to stop gushing.

On Saturday, January 15, 2011, I signed my first publishing contract, went to the FedEx counter at Office Max, and sent the life-changing document to Barbour Publishing.


How did you celebrate?

At Olive Garden with my celebratory glass of Asti champagne.

There have been multiple celebration over the past six weeks. Since Gwynly knows I don’t care for cooking, he took me out to eat at Olive Garden, Panda Express, and, of course, Taco Bell. He’s come home with bouquets of flowers and balloons. And he gave me a mushy card that warmed this romance writer’s heart.

I got to share the news with my church family and local friends this past weekend, which was wonderful. They’ve been a tremendous source of support and encouragement.

And now you’re hosting this awesome party for me, Anne, and I’m able to celebrate with my cyber friends. Talk about being blessed!


Can you share any details, like when your story will be released and what the title will be?

The contract didn’t specify a release date, and I’ve yet to meet my editor, but I trust I’ll have more information soon.

In regards to a title, I can tell you three titles my inspirational historical romance won’t have. It won’t be Playing on Heartstrings, the title it bore when it placed in two contests back in 2007. It won’t be Violets & Violins, the title I used when I entered it in contests in 2009. And it won’t be Love in Store, the title it bore on the proposal.

I can write stories, but when it comes to titles, I obviously need help. Thankfully, publishers are pros at such things. Barbour listed a tentative title in the contract, one I really like and look forward to sharing in a future blog post. For now, I’m simply calling it The Book That Sold. ūüôā

This is a milestone in my life, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the love, support, encouragement, and assistance of a small army of incredible people. This post would be twice as long if I tried to list everyone, but I do want to say thank you to my husband for being the nicest and most patient person I’ve ever met, our amazing daughter for dealing with a writing-crazed mom, Rachelle for believing in me and giving me two of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received, and Jody Hedlund and you, Anne, for being awesome critique partners and treasured friends. I wouldn’t be celebrating today if it weren’t for you and the many others I’m privileged to call my friends.

* * *

Anne’s Gift Bag Giveaway

Each gift bag includes a notepad, bookmark, candle, and cookie.

*sigh* (Anne again.) I love stories with happy endings!  I promised there would be cupcakes, . . . so we have a cupcake themed giveaway.  Can you smell the frosting?

If you’d like a chance to win one of the¬†goodie bags, just leave a comment on January 17th. I’ll hold drawings at noon and 4:30 p.m. EST and ask Keli to hold the last one at 9 p.m. PST. To enter, leave a comment and add your email address when prompted.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Congratulations to the winners: Dr. Richard Mabry, Cara Putman, and Susan Hatler.

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Keli Gwyn
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