1. Tell us about your newest release.
My newest release is All the Boys I Ever Kissed and it is A Choose Your Own Ending Novel. It’s about a widowed travel writer who looks to her past boyfriends to find a husband. Lana Patterson has amazing adventures with a DC firefighter/paramedic, an Argentine millionaire, and an English baron, but each has their failings. Which man will she end up with? The readers get to choose.
I made this a Choose Your Own Ending Novel because I fell in love with all three men while writing the book. It pained me to choose one, so I wrote three different endings thinking I would find one I preferred. I didn’t. All of these men have their flaws and their strengths, and I decided the reader should get to choose their favorite. What you think of that idea?
I also wrote The Man Tell All Q&A because I missed having the men’s point of view in this first-person novel. I broke a lot of rules of the romance genre, but I’m happy with the end result. If you like it, please tell your friends. All the Boys I Ever Kissed is now available on Amazon.
2. What makes your story special to you?
I was career focused and had finished three historical romances, so I had no plans to write a contemporary women’s fiction, but this book bubbled out of me. I was at a music convention with my husband and brother, but I stayed in my room and wrote the first ten thousand words on my iPad. That was mid-August, 2012.
On September 13, 2012 just after noon, I rescued a two-year-old girl who was drowning in my backyard pool. Her mother and I had miscommunicated, and I was inside my house when I saw the girl in the pool flapping her arms furiously like a little Nemo, her mouth already underwater. I jumped into the shallow end and pulled her out, and I had the perfect thing to say to a traumatized twenty-five pound toddler. “You were strong to stay up so long, I thought you were swimming.”
A few minutes later, she returned to the pool in her floaties with me an arm length away, and I remembered that the week before I had written a scene in my book where my heroine saved a little girl on horseback, on September 13, 2012, a few minutes before noon. The day I wrote the scene would have been my mother’s 92nd birthday, and I wept as I wrote early in the morning, both very unusual for me.
I can’t help but feel that my parents were sending me a message to be alert. I didn’t write for two weeks as I visited psychics and tried to understand what had happened. This was way outside my comfort zone. There are dozens of odd coincidences about this book, and they keep coming up. So that’s what makes this story special. Has anyone else ever had a spirit connection to their books?
3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I had always been an avid romance reader, but I never thought of writing a book until my children graduated high school and we moved to Florida for health reasons. My husband has a successful consulting business, often working 60 to 70 hours a week, so I was helping with that, but I was bored. I planned to write magazine articles and took a writing class at a local college. One of the women in the class was writing a novel, and on my birthday seven years ago I sat down with a glass of wine and my laptop and decided to treat myself by writing fiction instead of something serious. 165,000 words later I had an epic tale set in 1835 West Africa and England. I was hooked on fiction.
4. What is a typical writing day like?
I’m a night owl so I don’t get up early, and then I check in with my husband and feed the dogs before I get started. I usually read over whatever I wrote last, and it’s often 11 o’clock before I’m writing new words. I usually write for about four hours until the scene in my head has been poured onto the screen. I spend time in the evening with my husband until he goes to bed early, and then I often work past 1 AM (it’s 1:20 as I’m writing this.)
5. Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit?
I use Dragon dictation software so I speak my books. I’m not a touch typist and I was keeping my chiropractor busy fixing my neck. I was struggling with whether I could keep writing, but a random conversation at RWA national about Dragon Naturally Speaking saved my career.
6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned as a published author?
How slowly the publishing industry moves. It takes six months to a year to write a book, and if you’re lucky enough to find an agent, it can take a few months to years to find a publisher. Then contracts and edits can take another six months to a year or more. So a book I write today could take several years to be published. Of course, indie publishing has changed that, but most authors would still like an agent and a traditional contract. It seems like a very inefficient system, and I suspect in the next five years we will have a new paradigm in the industry.
7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
I’m a member of the Tampa chapter of RWA, and I wouldn’t be published without the education and support I receive there. My critique partner, Jeri Black, has made my writing much stronger. Heather Burch is another of my writing buddies and her insights are always valuable. Ten years ago, one of my girlfriends suggested I write a novel because I read so much and was a technical writer. I thought she was crazy at the time, but the suggestion stuck. It’s important that we encourage people when we see a talent they may not have recognized in themselves.
8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
I have five brothers and a sister, and I know they’re proud of me although none is a romance fan. My husband is supportive but he has never read any fiction that I’ve written. That used to bother me, but now I find it freeing, especially writing a book like All the Boys I Ever Kissed.
9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
My husband and I are entrepreneurs and I enjoy brainstorming and implementing our projects. We applied for a patent together last year and our new venture marketing a respiratory therapy device is looking promising. I sing in a choir and at home with my husband and friends. (Sam Woolf from American Idol and I share a vocal coach.) I love to travel and I love conventions. RT is my favorite because I get to wear costumes. My daughter-in-law grew up as a Renaissance fair artisan and my husband and I enjoy that community. We attend as Lord and Lady Bliss, which should give you some insight into our marriage. Does anyone else out there enjoy costumes? Check out my website for pictures.
10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?
I have two more books to edit in my Wanton Widows series with Ellora’s Cave – Puzzles of Passion and The Scandal of Art. I’m doing a lot of promotion for the next few months on All the Boys I Ever Kissed. My brain hurts from everything I’m learning about social media, promotion, publishing, and my new business. I have a few story concepts floating around in my head, but they are on the back burner.
11. How can readers connect with you online?
For everyone who makes a comment here and then goes to my website, www.marilynkelly.net, to sign up for my newsletter, I will send you a gift package in the mail with an acrylic shot glass and a heart-shaped pill case as a thank you. Just mention Romance Reviews Today.
All the Boys I Ever Kissed – A Choose Your Own Ending Novel blurb.
Lana Patterson wants a husband, but she's striking out online and with blind dates. Her sister suggests she look to her past to find her future, and Lana starts contacting old boyfriends. She's been practically housebound since her husband died, so she starts local, in Washington DC.
Captain CPR is Chippendale firefighter hot, but other than his incredible body and compatible sense of humor, Lana doesn't find him the ideal bedmate or potential husband. Pierce Abrams runs into burning buildings for a living, and she wants a husband who will be there to walk her daughter down the aisle.
Lana grew up as a Foreign Service child and is now a travel writer. Her sister and daughter insist she hit the road, so Argentina and England are her next stops. The first boy she ever kissed is athletic, adventurous, intelligent, wealthy, and the most amazing Latin lover. Unfortunately, Sergio Salazar has a closet full of girlfriends that he claims he's willing to give up. Lana has her doubts.
Her high school boyfriend has more potential, since his current girlfriend is on the wane. Duncan Claymore is a baron with a castle, and oh so tempting, even introducing Lana and family to the Duchess of Cambridge. It would be a fantasy life, but his conniving sister threatens to derail their renewed love affair.
Three amazing men are all having adventures of their own. Which one will capture Lana's heart? The reader gets to choose!
Marilyn Kelly bio:
I write super-strong women, which is no surprise. Growing up with five brothers, my theme song growing up was Anything They Can Do, I Can Do Better! I’ve traveled the world, visited over 40 countries and lived in three, earned a Master’s in Microbiology, obtained a patent, and trained thousands of emergency responders internationally. My creative side constantly knocked, and I beaded, faux painted and entertained as a wedding DJ on weekends for years. A few years ago, I started writing sexy historical romances and my college sweetheart husband jumped in, helping me with research and grinning all the way.
My Wanton Widows series, published by Ellora's Cave, is about three accomplished women in Victorian England who are all searching for love, respect, and passion. The first in the series is Sounds of Love about a matchmaking novelist, a scholarly widow and an arrogant earl.
All the Boys I Ever Kissed (A Choose Your Ending Novel) is my first contemporary romantic women’s fiction. If you like The Bachelorette or Mamma Mia, I hope you'll love this book!
My goal is to make thousands of readers happy and fulfilled. Please let me know if I've succeeded. If you would like to receive my newsletter and participate in contests, visit my website, www.MarilynKelly.net or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.