Keli Gwyn
Flashback Friday: RWA Nationals 2008

Keli at 2008 RWA Awards Ceremony

RWA@ Nationals is coming!

This will be my 3rd time at this amazing conference.

On March 25, 2008 I received a call informing me that two of my stories had finaled in the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest. Since Nationals that year was being held in San Francisco only three hours from where I live in California’s Sierra Foothills, I decided to attend the conference.

Little did I know what a big deal Nationals is. Florescent green newbie writer me was overwhelmed. Not only was it my first RWA conference, but I was there as a Golden Heart finalist, which added to the wow factor.

Although there were moments of sheer terror, such as walking into my first-ever pitch appointment, the highs far outnumbered them. I had a blast and met many wonderful people. Among them were my fellow Golden Heart finalists, which include my dear friend and talented critique partner Anne Barton.

Anne and Keli

The Awards Ceremony was incredible. Being in a room with 2,000+ romance writers decked out in their finest was thrilling. RWA really knows how to put on a gala event.

Nationals is coming again, and I’m getting excited. This will be my first time in New York City, and this West Coast gal is eager to see what The Big Apple is really like. I get to room with Anne, wear a First Sale ribbon, and get “booted out” of The Golden Network, which is the RWA chapter for Golden Heart finalists. It should be a fabulous week.

Note: Since I’ll be gone next week, I won’t be publishing blog posts.

• • •

If you’re a writer who’s attended a conference, what are some of your favorite memories?

If you’ve been to New York City, what were some of your favorite places?

If you’ll be at Nationals, please let me know. I’d love to link up.

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Keli Gwyn
Lessons Learned at a Car Show

Last week Gwynly and I took a mini vacation. We headed to a car show held in the “Biggest Little City in the World,” otherwise known as Reno, Nevada.

This was not just any old car show. This was MG 2011, a gathering of some 800 classic British MG sports cars from across the US and Canada that takes place every five years.

Gwynly is an MG enthusiast and has owned his 1968 MGB roadster over 40 years. Her name is Midge, and she entered his life long before I did. I like to joke that she’s his blonde and I’m his brunette.

When we left home, I welcomed the opportunity to be a supportive spouse. Gwynly is incredibly supportive of me and my writing, so this was my turn to be there for him. I didn’t expect to have much fun and took along a manuscript to edit in case I got bored.

I had a great time and hardly touched that story. During the four days we were gone, I learned some lessons.

Passion is contagious. Gwynly was in his element, and his enthusiasm was palpable. He rarely gets outwardly excited, but he sported a cute grin much of the time we were there. I had fun being with him and saw the cars in a whole new light because I viewed them through his lens.

Expect the unexpected. The first night we attended a dinner for MGB owners. I entered a room filled with 300+ people. Counting my hubby, I only knew three of them. We sat at the other couple’s table. They were to Gwynly’s left. A couple I’d never met sat to my right. The wife was beside me doing her best to be a supportive spouse, just as I was. We began chatting, and guess what I discovered. She wants to be a writer. Our dinner conversation took off once we discovered that bond. I was able to give her some helpful information. We had such a great time talking that we were some of the last to leave the ballroom where the dinner was held.

A smile goes a long way.  The last day of the event Gwynly and I helped tally ballots for the voting at the car show. I had such fun chatting with the members of our car club with whom we were serving as well as with those stopping by to drop off their ballots. I dished out smiles and was rewarded with many in return.

The keynote speaker at the Awards Dinner was Tim Suddard, editor of Classic Motorsports magazine. Since he’s an editor, I paid close attention during his talk just in case he shared some information I could use. Since he was talking about racing and classic cars I didn’t expect much to apply to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some nuggets I gleaned.

  1. Don’t be scared to be scared. Tim was talking about racing, but the counsel is sound no matter what the endeavor. Writing can be scary at times, but I don’t have to let that scare me away from pursuing my dream.
  2. Don’t take on a major project unless you can spend 10 hours a week on it. Tim was referring to restoring cars, but the advice would apply to any big undertaking, such as writing a book.
  3. When submitting an article to his magazine, Tim gave these pointers:
  • Ask what makes your story special.
  • Doing a story right takes time.
  • You’ll catch more flies with honey. He said his magazine publishes articles from nice people.

I returned home rested and ready to dive into my writing with renewed enthusiasm. While getting away can be hard for homebody me, I’m glad I had this special time with my guy and learned such valuable lessons.

• • •

What are you passionate about?

What hobbies or interests do you share with your special someone?

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Keli Gwyn
The Character Therapist: Help for Your Characters

I’ve got a treat for you. Jeannie Campbell graciously agreed to be my guest. She just launched a cool new website and blog, The Character Therapist, where writers can get tons of information to help them develop their characters and research the pesky issues that can plague them. If you want to give your characters some messy backstory, Jeannie is your go-to gal.

Welcome, Jeannie! I’m happy to help you introduce your new site. Could you begin by telling us what treasures await us there?

Thanks so much, Keli! The thing of most interest to writers would be my “Make an Appointment” tab where writers can fill out my online intake form and get their character some couch time, either for a free mini assessment or a modestly-priced full assessment. I’ve also got lots of free articles to look through as well as four Writer’s Guides that I’ve written to help authors take their characters deeper.

Wow! What a wealth of information. Those Character Clinic assessments sound interesting. I’ve got a character who really could use some time on your couch. He’s one bad dude and is making life tough on the hero and heroine in my work-in-progress.

I want to have some fun today and take advantage of your education and experience. I once had a psychologist friend tell me he could take one look at me and know I’m a perfectionist just by my hairstyle. He’s right, of course. 🙂

As a writer, I found my friend’s insight intriguing. I realized I could convey a lot about my characters before they even say a word. Since you’re a professional people person, aka licensed therapist, I’d love to have your help. What are some ways a writer could use appearance and mannerisms to show each of the following:

A shy guy

lack of eye contact; might have a slight hunch; drives a conservative vehicle; avoids crowds; might gravitate toward more intellectual pursuits, possibly dating via social media; very dependable at work; can’t say “no” to people; finds relief in some artistic/creative outlet, like gardening or photography

A laid-back loafer

tanned (depends on locale, of course); bed-head; mismatched and/or wrinkled clothes; perpetually late—but hey! The party doesn’t start till he gets there anyway; procrastinator; not into confrontation; hard time keeping a job unless that job lets him do his thing or he is the owner

A take-charge type

takes pride in his or her appearance and belongings; confident stride and posture; avid texter and fluent in all things social media; multi-tasker; talks over other people or frequently interrupts others, perhaps without even realizing it; doesn’t do well in group dynamics (generally will take over or butt heads with the designated leader)

A rigid rule-follower

drives the speed limit, regardless of honks from other drivers; lives and dies by the clock (all of which are synchronized throughout the house); follows a strict daily routine; actually reads everything before signing, even the Apple iTunes updates; can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees-type person; probably not a people person

A cold, calculating crook

can come across as aloof and unemotional (caveat: those that don’t and can present a decent façade to the world are way more fascinating—likely psychotic); very keen on details of every kind, an observer; better-than-average memory and likely intellectually gifted; lack of remorse, even about spilling coffee on someone or kicking a dog

Thanks, Jeannie. That was fun. You’ve given us some great ideas. Don’t be surprised if I show up at The Character Therapist to have you get in the head of that villain of mine.

• • •

Jeannie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She’s currently Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit. She has worked in a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitative program, several non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice. Yup. She knows her stuff.

Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer.

Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romances” were finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.

That’s the official info, but I’ll add that Jeannie’s a really nice person. We’ve been friends a couple of years, and I was privileged to meet her in person at the 2010 ACFW conference. She’s friendly, fun, and has a heart for helping other writers.

• • •

Jeannie has offered to give away a copy of her Writer’s Guide to Personality Disorders.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Jeannie by June 21st and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. On June 22nd, I will hold the drawing, post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment, and send him/her an email.

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