Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Seana Kelly!

Today we’re welcoming Seana Kelly, a two-time Golden Heart Finalist in Contemporary Romance with her manuscript WELCOME HOME, KATIE GALLAGHER.

seanakelly-headshot2016In addition to contemporary romance, Seana writes urban fantasy, and is dabbling in YA. She lives in Santa Clara, California with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. She writes in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep. Her day job is high school teacher-librarian. She reads a ridiculous amount of YA so she can find just the right books to encourage her students to read. She is proud to be a Class of 2016 Mermaid, and is looking forward to National’s in San Diego.

Here’s a blurb for her Golden Heart book, WELCOME HOME, KATIE GALLAGHER:

After realizing that marriage hasn’t curtailed her husband’s dating, Kate Gallagher grabs the chance to start her life over by moving to the cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine that her grandmother left her.

It sounds like the perfect place to lick her wounds. Unfortunately, the cottage is far from perfect. Woodland creatures are squatting in Gran’s home and plotting to get her out. When she’s not battling raccoons, or working in a food truck, she’s ricocheting between the grumpily seductive Chief of Police and the local carpenter who’s doing his damnedest to sweep her off her feet.

Still angry and disillusioned after his fiancé dumped him at the altar, Chief of Police Aiden Cavanaugh is content with very short-term relationships, a few hours tops. That is until he finds a car parked in the middle of a deserted road. It’s been fifteen years, but he’d know that face anywhere. Katie Gallagher.

Torn, he’s not ready to trust any woman, especially the one who broke his fourteen-year-old heart, but he’s finding himself unwillingly drawn to her. Instead of feeling relief when his friend Bear tries to woo her, Aiden instead acts as the world’s worst wingman.  

Aiden might begrudgingly learn to love again, but will Katie take a chance on someone who so clearly refuses to trust?

Doesn’t that sound awesome–and hilarious? Definitely a book to look forward to!!

Seana’s here today to talk about her love of books–and not just in general. She’s sharing what’s special to her about some partiuclar books which have made a difference in her writing, and in her life.

She’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter!

Take it away, Seana!


Seana-read2-smallLike most writers, I’m an avid reader.

Books are amazing. They entertain, while helping us better understand ourselves and our world. They teach empathy. They train us to look at the world through another’s eyes, to walk in another’s shoes. Many of the world’s ills could be eradicated if we had more readers, more people willing to try on a different point of view, to find common ground. For instance, I think we can all agree, Christian, Muslim, Gay, Straight, Black, or Latino, that Reyes Alexander Farrow is hot. Can I get an Amen? 🙂

So today, in light of my bibliophilia, I want to discuss some of my favorite authors and what they’ve taught me about life and writing.

Jane Austen– It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good book, must be in want of a hero like Mr. Darcy.

Anne Bishop– When I’m excited to see secondary characters’ names pop up on the page, the writer is doing her job well. In urban fantasy, give your heroine a power that costs her, while helping others. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not a sacrifice, and therefore not as heroic.

Patricia Briggs– I respond most strongly to heroines who are strong, flawed, and selfless. Also, secondary characters make a story. If the hero/heroine isn’t surrounded by interesting, fully-realized characters, I’m less invested in the story.

Charlotte Bronte– I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was quite young. Jane, with her quiet grace and hidden strength, became the prototype for proper heroines after that. Dark, brooding heroes are a good call, too.

Jennifer Crusie– A well-crafted story doesn’t just happen. It takes intelligence, skill, and talent. A great sense of humor helps.

Charlaine Harris– Give your heroine a power that is equal parts cool and harrowing. Allow moments of wonder to happen on the page. Don’t rush by that which is extraordinary in order to get to the next plot point.

Kristan Higgins– Quirk is good. Write charmingly flawed characters who are trying to do the right thing while failing horribly. They’ll get there, and we’ll cheer for them every step of the way.

Darynda Jones– The battle between good and evil should be funny. In a paranormal series, the main character’s power(s) and conflicts need to increase in each successive book. Also, if you have the chance to create a character like Reyes, please do.

James Joyce– Words have power. Take the time to search for (or in Joyce’s case, create) the precise word that conveys the meaning you wish to express.

Stephen King– Popular fiction is not a dirty phrase. Why would a story that has a broad appeal to a large swath of the population be seen as lesser? There’s an ugly elitism at work there. We have an innate desire to tell and hear stories. They needn’t be stories of emotionally paralyzed families staring across the dinner table, forever eating their own hurts in order to be seen as worthy literature. Oh, and twin girls dressed identically and holding hands in a deserted hotel will always be horrifying. True Fact.

Harper Lee– When Scout derails a lynching by looking into an angry mob and seeing each man individually, she’s ripping away the mask of anonymity. With the three words ‘Hey, Mr. Cunningham’ she defuses the situation. They’re no longer a faceless mob bent on murder. Scout pulls her classmate’s father out of the crowd, and in doing so causes each of the men to pause, to remember who they are and what they are about to do. When I hear about people behaving badly, their conscience and humanity buried under a group hate, I think of that scene and wish we had Scout around to tear away the masks.

Jandy Nelson– Yes, you can write a YA novel with language so beautiful it brings tears. You can write images that are indelible.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips– Even when your hero or heroine is making horrible mistakes, find that accessible, relatable characteristic that humanizes him and forces your reader to root for him. If you can write convincingly from both male and female points of view, please do! If you can’t, please don’t.

Julia Quinn– Champion the wallflower. Tell stories that turn the paradigm on its ear. If at all possible, let your heroine have a pet hedgehog.

Nora Roberts– Boundless stories, combined with a strong work ethic and unflagging determination, will lead to being read and beloved the world over. Oh, and anything short of arterial blood you can deal with yourself. Let Mommy write now. 😉

J.K. Rowling– Magic is all around us if only we take the time to look with the right eyes.

J.D. Salinger– Proof that you can write a novel about emotional paralysis that is both beautiful and accessible. I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time in 4th grade. I liked it, but thought Holden was annoying. The image of him standing in the rye field, trying to catch the children before they fell off the cliff was powerful and has stayed with me ever since. When I read it again in high school, I was uncomfortable. It like holding up a mirror and fixating on my worst characteristics. In my twenties, I started to love Holden and could appreciate the artistry of what Salinger was doing to engender the reactions he was in his readers. Another powerful image, the rain on Holden’s brother’s grave, took up permanent residence in my mind. In my thirties I became fiercely protective of Holden, adopting an almost maternal view of him. I’ve read the book five or six times in my life and have found that though the words on the page never change, the reader (me) who comes to the page does. Books don’t really exist without a reader. They are black marks on a page. The reader has the power to bring the story and characters to life, and so the story is forever evolving.

Jill Shalvis Funny is sexy. Alpha heroes may not speak much, and certainly not about feelings, but they’ll always have your back (while fondling your front).

John Steinbeck– There is a beauty, a poignancy in telling stories of the average man. It’s our humanity, our ‘one soul’ as Jim Casey says in The Grapes of Wrath, that makes the ordinary extraordinary.  

These are some of my favorite authors. I’d love to hear from you, though. Tell us a favorite author of yours and what you’ve learned about writing or life from him or her. One lucky respondent will win a $20 Amazon gift card. I can’t wait to hear who your favorites are!

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