Author’s Roundtable: Melissa Keir


Thank you Jason for having me on your blog. I’m so excited to share my books and my life with your readers.

How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

My husband and children were super supportive. They celebrate each new release with me. My dad was very proud. My mom tried to become a published author back in the late 70s. Her dream is realized through me. My sisters are a little skeptical. They think that I’m writing stories about them.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child. In high school, I was on the school newspaper and wrote poetry for fun. In typing class we had to type for a period of time, and I would write silly horror stories for my friends. I’ve been a published author for little more than a year.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Writing has always been something I’ve done for fun and to relax. I find that putting my thoughts in writing is easier than speaking many times. I didn’t consider ever becoming an author until last year. I thought I didn’t have what it took, but a few authors I know pushed me to give it a try. They have become my own fairy godmothers.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have six books out currently. All are short novella ebooks and available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can see my website for details on the different books. They are all contemporary romance and feature small towns as a setting.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

I have a series titled The Wilder Sisters series, which is about five daughters who left their small Ohio town after high school graduation only to each return to Amherst to face the things that caused them to leave. There are currently three books available in that series. I also have two books that tell the tale of Lissa and Alex Hunter who were brought together by Alex’s ex-wife. Another book is a play on the Three Little Pigs. Protecting His Wolfe tells the tale of a small town secretary who is targeted by someone for murder and the police detective, Jonah Pigg must protect her with his life.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I get my inspiration from the world around me. I love to people watch and listen to people’s stories. I also have a vivid imagination and ask “what if” a lot. I’m always playing with ideas in my head.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, Amherst, Oh., is my hometown. I grew up there, but the story is not about me. I loved being able to share my favorite place with readers. I also have been divorced, and my character, Lissa Vincent, went through a tough divorce. I took some of my feelings from my divorce and wove it into the story. But I do have to remind people that the stories are made up-fiction-not my life.

DSC_0212 bwIs there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

The best advice is to keep writing. I’ve continued to take classes to improve my writing, and I write daily. Writing leads to better writing. Also never give up. There are always setbacks but nothing should stop you if you love writing.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

[Getting your work] Professionally edited is a MUST in today’s publishing business. Whether you pay for it or your publisher does, your work needs to be edited to avoid mistakes that make your book, and you look like less than professional. Poorly edited books reflect badly not only on yourself but also on the profession in general. So many people had a negative connotation about self-published books because of the lack of good editing. That wasn’t true…only a few poorly done books have spoiled it for everyone.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Some of the hardest things are my own expectations. I would love to have everyone enjoy my stories and write glowing reviews of my books; however that isn’t realistic. It takes time to build a following, and not everyone is going to love every book you write. Throughout my publishing career, I’ve had two publishing houses close. One time it was before my book ever was published. This nearly broke my heart because I took it as a sign that I shouldn’t write. But again my fairy godmothers intervened and gave me a kick in the behind. 🙂

How did you find time to write your books?

Time is hard for me as I’m juggling being a full-time elementary teacher, wife, mother and author. In addition, I am co-owner of a small publishing house helping other authors make their dreams come true. I try to write on the weekends or in the evenings from my bed. I love to curl up with my dogs in bed and write my stories on my laptop.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

I do think that writing has benefits. It allows people to organize their thoughts before they speak. This is so important if they are like me and have to give speeches. I also believe that through writing, I am able to share stories that may inspire others. It also keeps my mind active and alive, something we all need at any age!

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

I don’t have any specific examples. Writing is an important part of my daily life. I enjoy putting thoughts down on paper. I do it in a silent room with my dogs, which allows me to relax and veg out.

Can you also talk a little about how writing your book was therapeutic? What do you mean?

For me I use my writing to work through different situations. I always want my characters to have a happily ever after. Today our world is full of danger, crisis and stress; by writing I am able to lower my stress and hopefully help other people relax and enjoy their quiet times.
 
Has writing made you a better person?

I think I was a pretty good person before. I’ve certainly had my share of challenges that I’ve faced. Being an author hasn’t made me anything different. It has given me the opportunity to connect with other people I’ve made friendships with and hopefully am able to learn from.
 
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read. It has been my first passion. I have so many different genres that I enjoy, but always romance has topped the list. My tastes have changed over time. When I went through my divorce, I read every book on divorce. With my blended family, I’ve read many non-fiction books on how to help navigate this tough situation. Currently, I’m reading paranormal romance books.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

I think that some people put a lot of importance on reviews. I know that Amazon uses reviews to help others purchase books or suggest books. In those ways, it helps promote your book. Good reviews can make other people interested in your story. But I also feel that reviews are over-rated. I don’t use a review to tell me if I should buy a book. For books, the cover and blurb are the most important part.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

We all receive bad reviews. If you have thin skin, get out of writing now. Of course negative reviews sting. You want to have everyone love your book, which isn’t possible. So I try to let it flow off my back. There’s nothing I can do to change their mind, and engaging with the reviewer is just asking for a fight. Why spend the energy?

fireman's helmet and jacketWas there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

There have been many times in my life when I’ve wished that I wasn’t here. As a teenager, I used to cut before cutting was popular. I used the physical pain to help deal with the emotional pain. My parents were not getting along but didn’t believe in divorce. It was hard to live in a house where fighting was always going on. I moved out and was married at 18 to handle the pain of my family’s issues.

I didn’t believe myself to be loveable after my divorce. I was told for years that my marriage problems were my own fault. Getting medical help and counseling helped with the divorce issues. But also writing helped. I kept journals and wrote about my feelings during those years.

I’ve faced my own health issues as well as the death of my mother while I was back in college. All of these challenges have made me wonder about my purpose in life. I tried to focus on the positive to keep myself going and when I needed help, I reached out to my family, loved ones and doctor for help.

What are your goals as a writer?

I would love to be a New York Times award-winning author. What that means to me is that people read my books and love them. I really want to connect with readers and have them fall in love with my characters.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

There are always challenges in every life and every day. It is important to focus on the good rather than the bad. I hope to pass that onto my students, children and readers.

Thank you Jason for letting me be on your blog. I’m so fortunate to have you as a friend, and I hope that your readers enjoy hearing about my books.

Check out this blurb and excerpt of Forever Love by Melissa Keir

Blurb

Fifteen years ago, Syndie Wilder left her small hometown-Amherst, Ohio-to escape the pain of losing her best friend and boyfriend. Deciding that Chicago offered more for an up-and-coming jewelry designer, she enjoyed the big city life until she chooses to return and care for her father. Taking care of her father and relocating her Internet business, Syndie has no time or desire for romance but fate has a way of playing with best-laid plans.

Thom Johnson broke Syndie’s heart all those years ago and regrets it every day. As a firefighter, Thom sets out to protect Amherst and redeem himself for his bad choices. However, he never has forgotten Syndie and the hurt he caused her.

When a chance meeting happens, can the two former friends allow themselves the chance to become friends again, or will the sparks turn a childhood friendship into a forever love?

Excerpt

Deciding to get out of the house, we headed out for dinner at a popular local restaurant. The Armors Diner was located in an old home that had been converted into a homey place to eat. They had a full menu, containing anything that might tickle your fancy, but they had the best Coney dogs and fries. The Armors was a favorite hangout for the high school crowd, so the walls were covered with photos from all the sports stories covered by the local newspaper. The place was packed, but we found a spot at a small table near the large front window.

The Armors held a lot of fond memories from my time in high school. I used to come to the restaurant as much as I could to hang out and visit with my friends. We would always order the large fries and talk about the boys we liked. The restaurant also had its share of sad memories too—mostly surrounding T.J. and our time together. As if just thinking about him caused him to appear, I looked up to find him walking through the door, alone, and heading directly over to our table.

“Hi Syn, Mr. Wilder. Do you mind if I join you? This place is packed, and I hate to eat alone.”

“Hello Thom. Nice to see you. What have you been up to lately? I haven’t seen you since you dated Syn, here. I must have scared you off good,” dad replied with a grin.

“Mr. Wilder, you didn’t scare me off. Syn decided to run away to the big city and leave this small town behind.” T.J. winked at me, so I stuck my tongue out at him.

I felt like an idiot while they spoke about me, and a little shocked that dad didn’t remember T.J. being at the recent fire. “Hello—I am sitting right here. You shouldn’t talk about me like I’m invisible.” They continued to ignore me, in favor of the conversation. I took the moment to look at T.J. He certainly had grown up. I studied his profile, trying to find a small part of that little boy who was my best friend growing up. His strong jawline and full lips were new to me. His baby fat was gone, but his strong nose was the same. The aquiline had a bump that always looked like he had broken it, which earned him the nickname Rocky. I loved his smile. It was a full grin that lit up his whole face and made his eyes twinkle. I wish I could go back and have a chat with my teenage self. I would share with her just how sexy T.J. was today. Of course, I would probably also have a few words to say to teenage T.J. too. After all, I wasn’t the only one in that relationship.

My ears perked up when I heard Dad invite T.J. over for dinner tomorrow night. It will be nice to give Dad something to do, but another evening with T.J….can my heart handle it?

The Armors provided a nice dinner among friends. Dad seemed to enjoy talking with T.J. about guns, hunting and his job at the fire station. Sitting there in the background watching them interact was a treat. Dad was animated, reminding me more of the guy I grew up with than the pale version of himself he had become since my return. He hasn’t been so upbeat in a long time. I don’t think I’ve felt so upbeat in a while, as well. T.J. had many fun stories of life in the station that made us laugh. I was getting reacquainted with the guy I left behind, as he was filling in the missing years.

T.J. had been my best friend growing up. We were childhood playmates. Then, in high school, we turned into a couple. He became my boyfriend. We used to spend a lot of time hanging out at the train depot and talking about our future, but that didn’t last. T.J. was looking for a girl who was sexually active, which wasn’t me. He broke up with me and went on to date other girls who were more physical with him. It was hard watching him move on, but I was going to leave our small town for bigger pastures when I graduated, so I didn’t need to be tied down. Now that I was back, though, would we try to make it work?

Buy Forever Love at the Secret Cravings Store, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About Melissa Keir

DSC_0299 bwAs a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and EPIC. Melissa is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars. She also believes in helping other authors and features authors and their books on her blog.

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a book reviewer, an editor for a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice-a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature “happy endings” and is often found plotting her next story.

Check out what readers are saying about Melissa’s books:

Amazon five-star review for Second Time’s the Charm: “Such a sweet and heart-warming story. As I read it, and the details unfolded, I was engrossed to see if that I thought was going to happen, would really happen.” – Lacey Wolfe, romance author

Barnes and Noble five-star review for Protecting His Wolfe: “Great read. I couldn’t put it down. I really liked the characters, especially Betsie and the Pigg brothers. A love story with suspense and surprise.” – anonymous

Melissa loves hearing from readers on her website, Facebook author and fan pages and Twitter!

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