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.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Wanda Brunstetter is Mera Weis! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (amy@litfusegroup.com)

This week Kelly Long is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Kelly’s latest book, Lilly’s Wedding Quilt, 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?

I’ve been married for twenty-five years and have two special needs children at home…ages 13 and 10. Dealing with autism spectrum disorder and its co morbid conditions is extremely difficult. In addition, we had a family move and my mom died a few months back. It was tough to meet my deadline, but God is merciful and I asked a lot of people to pray. I’ve learned to write in ten minute snatches, and that seems to work.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

I write Amish fiction for Thomas Nelson but found there was a need in the market for historical Amish fiction, so I went back to pre-Revolutionary times and did a ton of research for Arms of Love. It’s the first novel in the Amish Beginnings series while my Patch of Heaven novels will continue as well. I also enjoy doing novellas with Beth Wiseman and Kathy Fuller. Watch out for An Amish Kitchen in December 2011!

Another key passion of my heart is life applicable Bible study. To this end, I created “Novel Bible Studies” which will debut in Arms of Love. These are brief, four week Bible studies that use the novel as the launching point to make the Bible apply to everyday life. I am really excited about what readers will discover or find interesting in these teachings.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author? 

I started writing in nonfiction and truly dabbled with ideas for fiction…nothing more. Then, I was encouraged by a fellow author, Maggie Brendan, got an agent and just got started. It wasn’t a dream at first, but it has become one to me! I also think that part of that dream lies in the fact that I am writing in an emergent subgenre of literature, Amish fiction.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published? 

I know this sounds really bad and spoiled even, but I wrote a proposal in a week and had it sell in a week—that was Sarah’s Garden with Thomas Nelson. It was then that I learned the value of a good proposal. Here’s a little sample of a proposal from my newest series, Amish Beginnings because a lot of new authors want to know how to start a proposal:

Amish Beginnings: A Series Proposal by Kelly Long
“ Historical Amish fiction imbued with texture and breath and the rushing color of time”
Goal of Series: To provide the reader with an educated, authentic engagement with the hard won and deep roots of the Amish people which results in the seemingly “simple life” of today—and to entertain, as well as build knowledge, by bringing larger historical issues into the romance of everyday life through charged and memorable Amish loves.

Purpose: To inspire deeper thought on the teachings of Christ, particularly, surrendering as strength; and fighting the war within the self between the true meanings of faith and love, right and wrong.

Key Premise: The moral premise of the book lies in the duality of the title—The Arms of Love—love is worth fighting for and worth yielding to…

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? 

Inspiration or the formation of an idea in its infancy really fires my brain. I like to see the story spread out in my head, like a puzzle. It’s why I write in a non-linear fashion, which sounds weird…but I write Chapter Three then might do Chapter Nine and so on. It keeps me from becoming bored with my work. I like to write in bed…very comfy! And, I write about 3-5 hours per day.

You’ve been called both the “Deeanne Gist of Amish fiction” and the “Queen of Edgy Amish Romance.” How do these attributes mesh with your writing in reality? 

The Amish are a passionate people—passionate about the land, their families, and their faith. I try to capture some of that passion in my writing, and occasionally, that comes across in intimate kisses or warm conversation. But my goal is always to bring life to the heart of the romance as well as to remember that “…the greatest of these is love.” And, of course, I am extremely honored by the comparison to Deeanne Gist…she is amazing!

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

I guess my answer would be that I had an image of the writer’s life, not as my own, but that of some older man, with a well-stocked molding library, comfortable but tattered velvet covered sitting chairs, a low fire in the grate and a pipe….Hmmm…instead I find that my books move back and forth for research that there’s no time for dust to grow, let alone mold…I have no library, just a coffee table piled high, no pipe, no velvet, and no, not a man…but my life is in full, running motion and I guess I wouldn’t change it if I could.

What are your biggest distractions? 

My biggest distractions are routine appointments…For example, it used to be fun to go to the hairdresser…now it is a BOTHER. My husband manages to look handsome and distinguished with his gray hair, but not I…so I have to go, but it’s just not a treat…proof that meeting deadlines is an all encompassing activity!

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst? 

Best moment…putting my first book in my best friend’s hands…Worst moment…every deadline.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

I like the flexibility that the job gives me to spend time with my family…Sometimes, the thing I like least is what I write and then rewrite and rewrite…

What is the role and importance of an agent?

Writer life changing, impacting knowledge, friend, secret sharer, career mover, ‘climb the mountain’ and ask the life meaning questions kind of person.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Hold your head up…and up…you are the child of the King. Keep hitting the proverbial writing ball against the wall and you’ll get it eventually…Oh, and ‘death to the muse.’

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. 

Grab your throat, hold you captive, riveting, soul stretching fiction. Don’t read if you don’t want to think…

What’s on the book horizon for you?

Let’s see…An Amish Wedding with Beth Wiseman and Kathy Fuller in December. Arms of Love in 2012, Threads of Grace…and An Amish Kitchen and a few more surprises!

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

My books are at Walmart, Rite Aid, Amazon, etc…I can interact with readers on my Facebook Fans of Kelly Long page, on Amish Hearts or Amish Living.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

Thank you for having me and to all the readers, thank you for your care, prayers, and minds!

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