Friday, March 3, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Think Historical Romances Are Boring? Think Again!

                                                                      © Kelli A. Wilkins
A woman recently told me that she loved romances, but didn’t read historicals because they were boring. I replied, “Some of them might be, but not mine—far from it.” I’m not sure if I convinced her to try historicals, but our conversation got me wondering, why do some romance readers think historicals are dull?

Maybe they were turned off by boring history lessons in school, or they think nothing exciting happened in the days before electricity and the Internet. Perhaps they tried a historical romance ages ago and it was weighted down with hard-to-read language or endless “boring” details.

I write historical, gay, paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary romances. People often ask me how I can switch genres so easily. “What’s the trick?” they want to know. Well, the trick is… there is none. Writing historical romances is pretty much like writing contemporaries. I use the same basic storytelling techniques—an interesting plot, sympathetic characters, and the right mix of backstory, setting, and details that draw readers into the story and keep them there.

Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars and cell phones, that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and sensual love scenes. And these are the same elements that go into making a compelling contemporary romance.

The key to writing an appealing historical is to create characters who are engaging and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson!

I bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. I focus on how the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after. And they are far from shy when it comes to having fun in the bedroom! The heat levels in my romances vary from mild to super-scorching hot—depending on the characters and their storylines.

Some of my heroines are virgins waiting to meet the love of their life (Michelle from Loving a Wild Stranger), while others are curious and want to explore their sexuality (Odaria from The Viking’s Witch). Other heroines are far from virginal (Shauna from Dangerous Indenture) and aren’t shy about giving in to their desires, despite the so-called impropriety of the times.

As I’m writing, I only include the historical details and descriptions that are integral to the story. I don’t bog down the plot with a step-by-step procedure for churning butter, or go into an endless description of how to unfasten a corset (unless it’s befuddling the hero who’s eager to remove it!).

For example, when I wrote my western, Lies, Love & Redemption, I researched what life was like on the Nebraska prairie in 1877, all about general stores, and other elements of the Old West. I added some of the interesting things I learned into the storyline or weaved details into the background, but I didn’t use everything. It was important for me to convey the flavor of the time period while keeping the reader hooked and the plot moving.

Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing about interesting characters that fall in love, whenever and wherever that may be.

If you’ve never read historical romances, why not give them a try? You might just find yourself swept away into the past…

I hope you enjoyed this inside look at writing historical romances. I welcome comments and questions from readers. Be sure to follow my blog for the latest updates and visit me on social media.

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins

Here are the descriptions and links to my two newest historical romances,
Loving a Wild Stranger and Lies, Love & Redemption

Loving a Wild Stranger

A woman running from her past… straight into the arms of an untamed man

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and forced to rely on her instincts, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride.

Committed to her deception, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and starts her new life with Luther in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. Michelle has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from.

Luther’s friend, Redfeather visits and tries to convince Luther to send Michelle back east. Distrusting Michelle, he warns Luther that his bride is not what she seems. But Luther is in love with Michelle, and he is harboring a secret of his own—one that might force Michelle to reject him when she learns the truth.

Michelle falls in love with Luther and adapts to her new way of life. Together, they face off against brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy everything.

Order your copy of Loving a Wild Stranger

Lies, Love & Redemption

Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.

Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.

As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?

Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store but find their efforts are thwarted—and their lives endangered—by the locals.

Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth?

Cassie has everything invested in the store—can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?

Order Lies, Love & Redemption
on Amazon  and on B&N 
Read more
about the book and get links to other platforms CLICK HERE


Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.

Loving a Wild Stranger was released in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.

Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.

In 2016 Kelli began re-releasing her romances previously published by Amber Quill Press. Visit her website and blog for a full title list, book summaries, and other information.

Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative non-fiction guide based on her years of experience as a writer. It’s filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

If you like to be scared, check out Kelli’s horror ebooks: Dead Til Dawn and Kropsy’s Curse.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page and Twitter @KWilkinsauthor. 
She also writes a weekly blog  ,  Goodreads and Pinterest

Visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter Click here.


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Story Behind The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

Based on a true story, "The Beauty Shop" is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.

 The Beauty Shop

My debut novel, The Beauty Shop, was released on the 28th November 2016. The reason for writing this came from my discovery of the Guinea Pig Club and a New Zealand plastic surgeon called, Archibald McIndoe. At that time, not many people knew about the club or the story around it. This year, however, happens to be the 75th anniversary of the club and there has been much done to raise the profile and to bring this story to light. I say, this story, when I really

ought to say, their story – the story of all 649 members of the club, all veterans of WW2, all ‘boiled, mashed or fried,’ as they would say, and cared for by McIndoe at his unit, in East Grinstead.

What is so remarkable about them? A surgeon, a hospital and hundreds of men, mainly airmen, injured and disfigured as a result of the war in the air. Well, their story is rather colourful, and while tragedy infiltrates its core, it is richly layered with humour, love, pranks, humanity, care, courage and above all, indomitable spirits.
Firstly, they called their surgeon Archie, Boss or Maestro. Some even called him God, because to them, he was a god. Archie was a formidable man. He knew what he had to do; he knew what was needed to be able to do it, and Archie would do whatever it took to have the necessary resources for ‘his boys’ as he called them. He could shout as good as the next man, after all, he was only human, but he had a heart, and he cared for those boys, our veterans. He was determined they would go on
to live full lives.
Archie had a busy time during the war. He battled with the hospital committee who did not approve of his methods. He battled with the Air Ministry and with the Royal Society of Medicine when he needed to get things done, such as change policies or medical practice. Often, going through the appropriate channels did not give him the results he wanted, so he’d go higher up the chain of command. That was his way, but it seemed to work.
He’d often spend up to twelve hours plus in surgery, did ward rounds in the evening and had to find time to visit other hospitals during the week while looking for the more severely burned airmen who might benefit from his expertise. He was an innovator, but then he had little choice. Burns treatment back then was in its infancy, and Archie took what he knew and developed it to be able to treat the men effectively. During this time, he discovered the benefits of saline. The airmen who landed in the sea fared far better than those who bailed over land. Sea water is salty and soothes burned tissue, acting in a sense like a natural anodyne. It also has antiseptic properties and from this Archie came up with the idea of installing saline baths on his ward.
Step back into Ward 3, and take a look around. It’s a typical ward, with beds on either side, in rows. At the end is a piano – someone’s always striking the keys and playing a merry tune. The radio plays all day and evening, and the airmen love to dance, grabbing hold of an unsuspecting nurse or volunteer for a jive or a slow dance. The air is thick with a haze of tobacco, and they swill beer morning, noon and night. Burns patients require a lot of additional fluid, and Archie always keeps a keg of watered down beer for recreational and medicinal purposes. Occasionally, one of the lads will come sailing in on a bicycle, and you may witness him towing a bed through the ward too – they’re always getting up to something.
There are many volunteers here, and some of them happen to be beautiful chorus girls from London’s West-End who chaperone the men when they venture out to the pub. There’s also the odd romance and whispers of marriage. Yes, the Maestro’s methods certainly seem to work.
East Grinstead is the town that did not stare. The locals here took the burned airmen into their homes and their hearts. They looked them in the eye, as Archie asked them to, and they treated them like anyone else. They cared for them then as they still do today. Of the original 649 members, there are 17 veterans still with us. They’re so special, even though they don’t think so.
The Guinea Pig Club was also a registered charity, and it has served the men all these years, not only providing annual reunions and camaraderie, but financial support for those who needed it. Archie realised that some of the men would find it extremely difficult to gain employment for instance, and the club helped a number of veterans to establish their own businesses. There’s no club like it in the world and there probably never will be again.
The men, or ‘guinea pigs’ as they call themselves, overcame such adversity to live full lives, just as their Maestro wished them to do. They are Archibald McIndoe’s legacy in a sense. They are the brave few who risked their lives for us today. Lest we forget.
In memory of Sir Archibald McIndoe (1900-1960), an outstanding plastic surgeon and human being. He saw what others did not and pioneered great change. His memory and work live on today.

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realises her own battle has only just begun.

About Suzy

Suzy Henderson was born in the North of England, but a career in healthcare would eventually take her to rural Somerset. Years later, she decided to embark upon a degree in English Literature with The Open University.
That was the beginning of a new life journey, rekindling her love of writing and passion for history. With an obsession for military and aviation history, she began to write.
It was an old black and white photograph of her grandmother that caught Suzy’s imagination many years ago. Her grandmother died in 1980 as did her tales of war as she never spoke of those times. When she decided to research her grandmother’s war service in the WAAF, things spiralled from there. Stories came to light, little-known stories and tragedies and it is such discoveries that inform her writing.
Having relocated to the wilds of North Cumbria, she has the Pennines in sight and finally feels at home.
Suzy is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association. "The Beauty Shop" is her debut novel and will be released 28th November 2016.

The universal link is: The Beauty Shop

Friday, November 25, 2016

Suzy Henderson: The Other Douglas Bader

The Other Douglas Bader

Many people have heard about Douglas Bader, the RAF pilot who miraculously survived an aircraft crash in the 1930s, but sadly lost both of his legs. Bader, through sheer courage, willpower, and true grit returned to flying after the outbreak of WW2. 
But Bader was not the only double amputee to serve in the war. There was another.

Colin Hodgkinson

Suzy Henderson: The Other Douglas Bader