Today I’d like to introduce you all to another fellow RWA member. Megan Kelly has been writing long enough to feel comfortable as an author. But let’s let her tell you more. Here’s her official bio and then we’ll dip into the questions.
Megan Kelly writes heart-warming contemporary romance set in small towns. After selling four books to Harlequin, she ventured into self-publishing. Her “Love in Little Tree” series celebrates Montana cowboys, while her other romances are set in fictional Midwest towns. Quirky secondary characters often steal the spotlight, but romance is always center stage. Fortunately, she has a very supportive husband and two kids who don’t remember a time when Mom didn’t write. She lives in the St. Louis area, where the weather has an imagination (and sense of humor) of its own.
You can sign up for her Readers’ Group newsletter on her website page at megankellybooks.com.
Betty: When did you become a writer?
Megan: Every day when I sit down to write I’m a different, hopefully evolving writer. I’ve been a storyteller since childhood. My Barbie and GI Joe had many romance adventures dreamed up in my eight-year-old mind. LOL But I first *felt* like a writer when I finished a full manuscript—and it was something I’d want to read.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Megan: I learned so much from being a member of Romance Writers of America. I had submitted several manuscripts and entered many contests as well as attending workshops and joining a critique group. It took thirteen years between taking my writing seriously (a key step) to getting THE CALL that Harlequin wanted to publish my book. RWA allowed me access to business as well as craft workshops, so when THE CALL came, I was ready!
Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
Megan: I loved the emotional, sweeping historicals of Laura Kinsale and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Carole Mortimer, Betty Neels, Kathleen Korbel, and Nora Roberts introduced me to contemporaries. I love the humor of Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Kristan Higgins.
Everything I read influences my writing, whether it inspires me to entertain like the authors mentioned, or it serves as a cautionary tale when I read something not well written or a story not well told.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Megan: I had read a lot of “old” books from the 1980s where the hero was a pig and the heroine a doormat. This didn’t mesh with how I viewed romance. At the end of the book, the hero almost always said, “I’ve loved you since I met you,” and I would go back to look for any hint of that in his words or actions. I knew I could write a better ending (where he’d grovel a lot). Then I decided I could write a better book (where he wouldn’t need to and where she wouldn’t have put up with that).
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Megan: I have old notebooks with opening scenes of contemporary romances that never went anywhere. I recently found lots of (very bad) rhyming poetry. I’ve always been drawn to mystery and romance, so I started writing contemporary romance for the reasons noted above.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Megan: I used to primarily read historical romances because I found the eras and events fascinating. Very much an alien world I wouldn’t want to have lived in (no a/c, no electricity, no microwaves—pretty much in that order). However even then, I wanted to write contemporary romance because it’s harder to navigate a relationship with ever evolving societal rules. *In general,* male and female roles were clearly stated in the past. During the 1960s, women stepped out from behind men, changing both gender’s roles. Note: my books focus on the male/female relationship, but I acknowledge there are diverse romance possibilities.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Megan: I truly feel I learned first by reading. The “old” books mentioned above were quality writing and publishing. When I learned of the local RWA chapter in St. Louis, I absorbed every workshop program they held. I attended other chapters’ conferences and their workshops as well as RWA National’s conference. I forced my way through Dwight Swain’s “Techniques of the Selling Writer,” which is great but heavy with knowledge. Most importantly to my writing, for many years, I would re-read Debra Dixon’s “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict” before I started a new manuscript.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Megan: I wish I’d known how much of my essence was being a writer. That I hadn’t doubted I could do it and held myself back. While I still have that pesky internal editor making me doubt every word I write, I no longer doubt that I’m supposed to be a writer.
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Megan: I love Kathleen Korbel’s romances. She is also known to us as Eileen Dreyer, writer of suspense and historical romance. If you haven’t read “A Rose for Maggie,” rush to your bookseller and buy it. I started reading romances as a teenager, and her hero, Joe, is still my favorite. Then the writers I’ve mentioned by name, plus any writer who sweeps me away.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Megan: I was sitting in a writing workshop, mind wandering. Two sisters popped into my head. One a bride, one her twin who had feelings for the sister’s fiancée. The bride tricks her sister into the wedding dress and then rushes out of the church. Then the workshop ended. So I had to write the story to find out what happened.
LEFT IN THE LURCH…
Rancher Jack Walker eagerly anticipates marrying the quiet, lovely artist who has agreed to be his wife and stepmother to his six-year-old daughter. Their union will mirror the peace and security of his previous marriage.
AT THE CHURCH
Veterinarian Lexi Marshall is tricked into her twin sister’s wedding dress minutes before the bride disappears out the back door. Now Lexi must tell Jack there is no wedding. But instead of “guess what?” she says, “I do?”
Covering for her sister by marrying Jack is a big mistake. But even Lexi’s confession can’t untangle the mess after she learns he could lose his ranch if they divorce.
Legal problems aside, how will they handle the attraction simmering between them?
Lexi stared at the beautiful wedding dress her twin sister held toward her. Lovely satin shimmered and beckoned, and pearls gleamed in the light of the church’s dressing room. Their mother’s veil lay on top, luring her closer with its lace and pearls.
“Go ahead,” Grace said. “Try it on.”
Lexi shook her head in denial of the gown’s promises. “I know what I’d look like. I’ve seen you in it.”
“It’s not just how it looks. A wedding dress feels different than any ordinary gown you’ve ever worn.” Grace arched a brow. “Although no one would say you wear many dresses, let alone gowns.”
A grin crossed Lexi’s face. Grace traveled the world painting, gaining renown for her outdoor scenes and use of color and texture. Lexi’s work as a vet kept her happy with her life in eastern Montana. As the crow flew, Little Tree lay three hours northeast of Billings, but it felt like a world away from everywhere.
“There’s no time,” Lexi protested.
Grace grabbed her purse and pulled out the watch Jack had given her for an engagement present. He’d hoped to curb Grace’s lack of regard for schedules. She glanced at it, sobered for a moment, then turned to Lexi. “There’s just enough time. Besides, if we run late, they’ll wait for the bride, right? Come on, sis, share this moment with me.”
Buy link: Amazon
I love how the inspiration for this story came while in a workshop, Megan! Workshops can prompt a lot of good ideas and this one sounds like a great premise for your story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
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