Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
This week we are featuring Kellie Coates Gilbert, author of A Woman of Fortune (Revell)! To enter to win a copy of A Woman of Fortune, leave a comment on this post.
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
First, let me thank you for inviting me on your blog, Suzanne. While I’ve admired your writing career for a number of years, we’ve never had the chance to meet. I so hope we get to connect in person soon.
To answer your questions, I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal who spent more than a little time juggling the roles of wife and mother while working outside the home. During those years I wrote magazine articles here and there. In 2008, my husband made a career move that brought us to Dallas allowing me the freedom to transition to full-time novelist. I still own a contract paralegal business and a legal marketing business too, so my waking hours are pretty full!
On a more personal note, I grew up on a sheep ranch near Sun Valley, Idaho. I married my skydive instructor who drove a green Chevy van (yup, my daddy was a little worried!) and we raised our family in Boise, Idaho. Turns out Dad had little to worry about. We’ve been married nearly thirty-five years. Now, we live near both of our adult sons and I spend every possible minute I can with an adorable three-year-old grandson who places his little dimpled hands on either side of my face and says, “I wub you Dammy!” (I know! Melts your heart, huh?)
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest . . .
I write (and mostly read) contemporary women’s fiction.
I spent a lot of time in courtrooms working on high profile cases, including the Jack-in-the-Box e-coli litigation in the mid-nineties and the largest cattle fraud case in the United States. People are often at their most vulnerable in these tense situations where much is at stake, and I gained a unique perspective on the human psyche. Early in my writing career, I recognized there could be value in telling stories about women facing relationship fractures, betrayal, and loss and what it looks like to exhibit strength and dignity in these journeys.
I am meant to write stories for women that focus on relationships, and the deep places in life. People have many layers, and never more than in family dynamics and hard times. I’m intrigued with the coping mechanisms we employ to fill our empty places—that space inside of us designed to be inhabited by God. These are the stories of my heart.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Following the advice of nearly every publishing conference speaker I heard while learning the craft, I waited and didn’t submit until I knew I could write a story well enough to warrant a reader laying down the price of a book. With every novel, I want to earn and retain the trust of my readers and do the best job I possibly can to take their minds and hearts on a journey worth their time and money.
For me, that process was eight years. Partly, because I was working at a demanding career while I was studying the craft and learning the industry. When I finally believed it was time and I submitted my work to a publisher, the house wanted to contract me.
I believe there is tremendous value in quality and not pushing to be published too early.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
What fires my creative story-telling ability more than anything else is to read a great novel by a talented author. Often, I underline and make notes in the margins. This process sparks ideas for scenes and characters and plot devises.
When I sit down to write (and I write every weekday from nine am to three pm) I pull from these notes and ideas whirling inside my head.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
I am an avid reader, and by far that has helped me more than anything. The other day, I was reading Bambi to my grandson and had to stop and make some notes. There’s some great plot devises in that story . . . especially the bleakest moment scenes!
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Oh, yes! This entire profession is every bit as much fun as I expected. I get to be creative, work from home and control my own schedule, collaborate with one of the smartest agents in the industry (Natasha Kern) and a publishing team at Revell who are hard-working and supportive people who think outside the box and care about delivering quality stories to readers.
Sometimes I get to work outside by the pool. Can life get any better?
What was one of the best moments in your career?
Opening and reading my very first email from a reader:
“Hi Kellie, I was in Barnes and Noble last Friday evening around 6:00 pm on the 7th. You signed your book for me, I just wanted to say your book was touching, gut wrenching and truly amazing at the same time and made me cry a lot. This book made me feel like I knew this family just by reading your book. You’re an amazing writer! It’s very hard for me to find the “Right” book to where once I start to read I can’t put it down. I finished it and just wanted to let you know I can’t wait to read the next one!”
Readers, you have no idea what your emails and reviews mean to an author! Thank you for taking the time to give feedback when you read a novel.
Work hard. Don’t publish until you are ready. Read.
And, what I tell everybody . . . BUY BOOKS!
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
A Woman of Fortune (a Texas Gold novel):
Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream—designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But her Neiman Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family—and discover a life worth living.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
The Texas Gold novels are all contemporary women’s fiction stories featuring women in life-changing circumstances. The stories are set in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin and incorporate elements of the legal cases I’ve worked on or situations you may have seen on the nightly news. Early reviews have been great and I’m really hoping readers enjoy following the collection.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
I hope readers will visit my website at www.kelliecoatesgilbert.com and will follow links to my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads accounts. My events and appearances are also available on the website. Most importantly, I’d love if readers would sign up for Readers Club so they are notified of future releases and promotions.