Keli Gwyn

Do you remember when you were a kid and it felt like Christmas would never come?

Time seemed to move with the speed of the ketchup in this classic 70’s commercial. And yes, I’m old enough to remember singing along. 🙂


Those days of living life at impulse speed are gone. I don’t know about you, but my warp drive engines are fully engaged and pushed to the limits most of the time.

In spite of the fast pace at which life is zipping by today, I still find myself looking forward to many things, and the anticipation can be mighty sweet. Here are three. . .

Seeing many of my writing friends at the ACFW conference next week

Having our college daughter home for Thanksgiving and Christmas

The release of my debut novel in July of next year

• • •

What are three things you’re eagerly anticipating?

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Keli Gwyn
A Victorian Lady’s Accessories

I took delivery of my Victorian gown last week and am impressed by the work of my talented seamstress friend, Patricia Ricci. The dress is gorgeous, and I’m thrilled with it.

I’m looking forward to wearing the dress for the first time at the Awards Ceremony at the ACFW conference being held in St. Louis September 22-25. But as any Victorian lady could have told us, the dress itself is only one part of the ensemble. While of primary importance, one must have one’s accessories if one is to be properly attired.

Not only did Patricia create a stunning gown, she also agreed to design a hat to match. And what a hat! I squealed with delight when I saw it the first time. I think she outdid herself.

Patricia found flowers the exact shade of the dress and used black feathers and ribbon to match the trim on the dress. (Note: the coquettish smile was aimed at my Gwynly. :-))

Since I have a modern haircut, I asked Patricia to add a bow to cover the back of my head. She used the same fabric as the dress and added wide black ribbon. It looks great.

Since the dress has a V-neckline similar to what a married woman (or widow, which the heroine of my debut novel is) would have worn to a formal evening event such as the concert that takes place at one point in the story, I wanted to find a necklace. My writer friend, Karen Hansen, found this one for me on Amazon, and thought I might like it. How right she was. I love that it’s both locket and watch, the kind of item my heroine would have had for sale in her shop–one in direct competition with the hero’s. 😉

A Victorian lady wore gloves in all seasons. I found a satin pair with beaded scallops that look quite feminine. The fan is an accessory with many uses. It had a language all its own. A lady could let a man know she was interested–or not–by holding it in certain ways. I was delighted with the fan I found, which is made of Battenburg lace.

A Victorian lady carried a small handbag called a reticule. It could be a drawstring or clasp variety. I opted for a fancy beaded reticule with sequins. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the beading creates a floral pattern. The bag has a rounded bottom.

I found an adorable pair of boots. The laces are for looks since there are zippers on the sides. While I want to dress as a Victorian lady, I opted to use modern materials for price and care considerations. In the case of the boots, those worn by my heroine would not have had the laces threaded through grommets since they’d not come into wide use yet.

I’m essentially playing a grown-up version of dress-up and am happy to look the part of a Victorian lady even though I’m really a modern imitation. 🙂

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Keli Gwyn
Moved to Tears

Are you prone to tears?

I am.

I’m a charter member of the Weepy Women’s Club.

I cry when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m deeply moved. Although I wish that weren’t the case, it’s how I’m emotionally wired. I learned at an early age to carry tissues and to warn friends of my tendency to shed tears.

Our daughter was only two when I taught her what tears of joy were. She’d see me get misty-eyed when she acquired a new skill and think she’d done something wrong. I wanted her to understand that I was happy. She’s 20 now and actually tries to make me cry at times. When I opened a gift from her last Christmas, one selected especially for me, I teared up. She got a big smile on her face because she knew she’d scored.

Being a leaky faucet can be embarrassing at times, though. At the ACFW conference last year I was privileged to sit with my agency mates, just two places from my new agent. As I looked around the table, I was overcome with a profound sense of gratitude and awe, so much so that my eyes filled. I did my best to breathe deeply, blink rapidly, and all the other tricks supposed to keep tears at bay, but they failed me.

Others noticed me weeping, and I was mortified. I apologized, explaining that nothing was wrong. I told them I was just so happy to be sitting with them in that place at that time.

To my surprise, my friends didn’t find fault with me. Instead they showered me with acceptance. My agent even got out of her chair, crouched behind mine, gave me a hug, and told me she was glad I was there, too. I smiled through my tears.

Writing can be a challenging profession. We’re told we must develop thick skin and let things bounce off. I try. Really I do, but I fail. I feel the pain of a pass. I feel sad when I find out my story stinks. I feel fear when the words aren’t flowing. And sometimes I cry.

But I’ve shed many tears of joy, too. Sure, there have been some for myself. I’ve wept over contest wins, my offer of representation, my First Sale. But I tear-up for others just as easily. When I learn that a friend finaled in a contest, signed with an agent, or sold her first book, my eyes fill. The first time I saw my critique partner’s latest book in print–the first one I’d helped her with–I blubbered like a baby. That was a two-tissue moment.

As a writer, I’ve learned that characters who cry can be perceived as weak. We’re warned not to let their tears fall. However, I’ve read moving scenes in books or watched them in movies when characters gave way to their emotions, and I didn’t think of them as weak. I connected with those characters at a deeper level because they were moved to tears. They felt deeply, and as a result, so did I.

I used to chastise myself for being a weepy woman, but I’m doing my best to accept that God gave me tear ducts that work all too well and a heart that feels things deeply. That’s not to say I’m going to become a free-flowing fountain. I’ll continue to fight for self-control just as my characters do, but when the tears fall, as I’m sure they will, I won’t be as quick to condemn myself.

What do you think about characters who cry? Do you see tears as a sign of weakness? Or do you find a character who is moved to tears during times of intense emotion one you can relate to? If you’re a writer, have you written scenes where a character gives way to tears? And I have to ask. Am I the only member of the Weepy Women’s Club, or are there other tissue-toting members out there?

(Wikimedia Commons Image from Kennedy Garrett)
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Keli Gwyn
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