Anya: Hi Keri – thanks so much for visiting here today! Tell us about yourself! How long have you been writing, and what are you working on now?
Keri: It was 5 years in July! I plotted my first book during college Lit 2! Right now I’m working on the second story in my Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas Series. My editor wants 6 in all, so I need to get cracking! Only 2 are finished.
I was raised in South Arkansas on a farm surrounded by family, horses, cows, donkeys, ostriches, emus, chickens, ducks, Canadian Geese, and enough dogs one would think we were a pound…And then I bought a Cosmopolitan when I was twenty-two.
I don’t recall what I’m sure was some fantastic sex tip, but I vividly remember reading an excerpt of Christina’s Skye’s Code Name: Princess. One elevator scene and quick thought of, I didn’t know people wrote stuff like this… and my life would never be the same.
Anya: You’ve just sold two books (but your editor wants SIX??? Wow!). Would you tell us about the books you’ve completed and sold?
Keri: Yes! Short version: Hot sex for shy girls!
Long version: The women in Apple Trail, Arkansas are working up the courage to ask for some spice in their life. They don’t want to be chained up and whipped, but just have a little…fun.
Stephanie’s been hearing her neighbor’s nightly sexcapades through her bedroom wall and she wants a turn. But Parker Madison isn’t so easily swayed. He wants Stephanie all right, but not just in the bedroom. He wants commitment and long-term, not a quick roll.
Short-term does not lead to long term.
Or can it….hmm…we’ll have to wait and see what these two can do!
Anya: They sound great – I’m excited to read them both!
What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Keri: I’m a pantyliner (I didn’t coin that phrase, I picked it up along the way). I usually start with an idea, pant my tale off (heh) for the first 3 or so chapters and then after that I loosely plot the rest.
Anya: I’m going to have to remember that one!
We met (in person) at Lori Foster’s get together in Cincinnati, but that’s not where you come from. Tell us a little about yourself!
Keri: And it was so much fun meeting you! Sorry if I snored. And sorry about the makeup everywhere…and shoes…and clothes (I’m not a light packer, folks).
I’m from South Arkansas. I’ve been down here since I was 3ish. I grew up on a farm and shortly after I married, my husband and I put a house on that same farm. I live about 200 yards from the home I grew up in. It’s really cool to look outside and see my little boy playing in the same places I did when I was his age.
Anya: Um, you didn’t snore, but I bet I did. And, honey, I think my makeup took up more of the bathroom than yours did! (Remind me to send you the latest blackmail payment – I wouldn’t want those pictures of me without makeup getting out!)
Tell us about your interests and activities in your “real” life!
Keri: Life exists outside of writing and the internet?? Why hasn’t anyone told me this before???
I have a lot of interests in a lot of things that I don’t get to do near enough. I LOVE to draw pictures with charcoal, but with a toddler in the house, that’s hard to do. I enjoy making large 3D cakes for my son’s birthdays and family functions. This turkey was a huge hit at Thanksgiving last year! I’ve got an idea in mind to do a bucket of apples for a function later in September! It’ll be my first dip into using modeling chocolate, too!
Anya: Now that we know you can make 3D cakes, you will be in charge of food for our next party! (I’m thinking nekkid cowboys, shirtless Scot …)
Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are some of your favorite books? (For example, if you could only keep five books, what would they be?)
Keri: Oh, boy. Okay, here’s five, sort of. And they are subject to change!
Victoria Dahl’s Start Me Up. This is a newer release, but this story had a direct impact on my Uninhibited series by showing me strong, sexually active heroines who don’t come across as trashy/slutty.
Janet Evanovich’s One For The Money. This showed me characterization and how very small things can make you laugh out loud and be remembered. It showed me it’s the small things that can make a book memorable.
Anya: Great choices!
Still on the subject of books, which books/authors turned you on to romance?
Keri: My first romance book was Christina Skye’s Code Name: Princess. I was hooked. And then Suzanne Enoch’s Sin and Sensibility was my first historical and turned me onto that genre. Anytime I think of books that brought me to the genre, those are at the top of my list.
Anya: What were your favorite books as a child?
Keri: The Shel Silverstein poem books. My grandpa gave them too me and I loved them. I’ve read them several times over. In fact, I bought my son his own set so he couldn’t ruin mine. (safety first!) When I was pregnant, my husband read all of them to my belly.
Anya: Aww, that’s so sweet!
Would you share your “call” story with us – how you found out you’d sold your first book?
Keri: That was such a whirlwind! I sent Turquoise Morning Press a historical that they passed on. The editor there said she’d love to see something contemporary from me. I was working on a novella at the time, so when I finished it, I sent it to her.
I woke up the next morning to an email saying she loved it and she wanted it! It was about 6 in the morning, so I ran and jumped on the bed and woke my husband up. And then had to wait several hours for other people to get out of bed before I could do more exciting jumping and squealing. In all, I submitted, sold and signed my first contract in under 24hours. Like I said, whirlwind.
Anya: Wow, that is so cool!
What have been some other important turning points in your life?
Keri: Uh…I kind of failed at a lot of things. I wasn’t afraid to try anything new. I went to college for broadcasting, dropped that after about 3 days. Who knew you had to be so invested in politics to read a telemonitor??
Next I tried out photography. I love taking pictures. Forming the books and ordering prints and all that jazz—not so much. Next I looked at education. I though high school teacher! Yeah, that didn’t last either.
Writing was something that I loved day in and day out. Even when I was stuck on a story and rejections were rolling in, quitting never came to mind. After I had stuck with it for over a year and still found it thrilling, I knew then writing was what I was supposed to do. I just clicked on day and drove me harder to write more and learn more.
Anya: They say we only learn when we fail, you know. And now you are on your way …
Who are your hotties (in real life, fiction or TV/movies)?
Keri: Ah, gotta say my husband here. We met when I was 17. I knew before I turned 18 I wanted to marry him—and I did a few years later! My favorite story to tell is of our first date. We met at a jr. high football game and he was so nervous, he hid in the press box for the first twenty minutes!
Anya: So romantic!
Where would you like to be, career-wise, in five years?
Keri: Would saying Top of the New York Times be a little farfetched? I have a saying, reach for the stars and maybe you’ll land on the moon. I always think big and broad and reach as far as I can. An end goal for me would be supporting my family with my writing.
Anya: I’ve heard you have to imagine it to make it happen, so go for it, baby!
Tell us a couple of little-known facts about yourself.
Keri: I hate the letter ‘k’. I really do. It’s such an ugly letter to me. It’s all sharp edges and straight lines. I don’t even like writing it all that much. You would have thought I would have factored that in when I selected my penname.
Umm…I don’t wear makeup or glam up at home all that often. So when I do, people who’ve known me my whole life often don’t recognize me. I talked to someone for about fifteen minutes one time before he figured out who I was. He was shocked.
Anya: Now I wish I’d asked for before and after make-up pictures! But – the letter K? Well, I already know a Carey (and two Keri’s and a Kerry), so what’s it going to be: Qery? Uhhhhhh …
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Keri: A flying unicorn. Let’s just say I never lacked for an imagination. It wasn’t just a random dream. I mean, I seriously thought out the pros and cons of it. The travel I could do. The good I could accomplish (I supposed I fancied myself as a possible superhero). I could fly around to see the world for free! I was a big dreamer—still am.
Anya: Is it confusing to share the same first name as one of your author friends?
Keri: LOL, not at all. For those who don’t know, Keri Stevens is a good friend and author who also recently made her first sale to Carina Press! Yay!
We call her Keri and I’m called Whippersnapper (they think I’m so young because I don’t get pop culture references from like, the 80s and before. Okay, early 90s and earlier.). I do get confused on FaceBook sometimes because it just puts, “Keri has commented on *blankblankblank*.” It always stops me and I usually have to go look.
Anya: I can see where that would be confusing, WP! (BTW, anyone starts calling me an age-related nickname, and there will be hell to pay!)
Thanks very much for answering my nosy questions! I hope I’ll see you again soon!