Welcome, Kelsey, to Hound Day
By Jeff Salter
Ever since I was finally able to catch up with Kelsey to book her for my Hound Day blog, I’ve been trying to remember where and when I first encountered her. Can’t recall. It’s a bit like trying to remember the first time you felt a cool breeze in late Spring… or where you first tasted a fresh strawberry.
Maybe it was her blog, perhaps her street team, or possibly a book release event on Facebook. Who knows? Kelsey is one of those people you meet and it feels like she’s already been your buddy for a good while. I definitely associate her with my friend Nancy Naigle, with whom Kelsey has partnered for many ventures and adventures. After I hosted Nancy as my Guest Fox back in May, I knew I just had to trick Kelsey into stopping by.
For those of you who have not met Kelsey, you can get a good sense of her from the several video clips she’s posted. Many of the ones I’ve viewed have her and Nancy setting up their booth or table at an event somewhere. Most of you will realize that’s a lot of hard work… yet Kelsey and Nancy make it seem like a small party that you wish you’d been invited to.
I don’t travel much anymore, but one of these days I hope to find myself in the same city at the same time as Kelsey. I expect it will feel like a cool breeze in late Spring.
- When did you start writing creatively and what type things did you first write about?
[ K. B. ] — My story is probably like many other authors… I’ve been scribbling stuff down for ages, since I was a kid. One of my first stories was about Custard, an imaginary dragon friend. Yes, Puff might’ve been an inspiration for that. 😉
- I can tell you love to travel. Can you explain that interest?
[ K. B. ] — I grew up in a small East Texas with a population of about 1500 people. My parents weren’t much into traveling (probably because their daughter…ahem…me…had a habit of becoming violently car sick on family vacations). So by the time I graduated high school, I was determined to see everything I could. I’ve made pretty good on that promise to myself, having been all over the world. My husband, son, and I lived in Qatar for five years, which made the Middle East and Asia very accessible travel spots for us.
- I asked Nancy Naigle a similar series of questions, so I thought it would be interesting to learn your perspective. What’s it like to take a road trip with Nancy? Who drives? Who decides where to stop? How do you select your destinations?
[ K. B. ] — It’s always slightly chaotic, but in the best kinda way. I’ve traveled by air for so many years that I’m a minimalist packer under normal circumstances. A road trip with Nan is NOT a normal circumstance – LOL. The car always looks like a bookstore vomited in the backseat. As far as the driving, we both take turns. Strangely enough, neither of us really enjoys driving, but we have fun when we’re together. Sometimes we choose the destinations and sometimes they choose us. For example, our recent trip to Suffolk and Cape Charles, Virginia, were because of events we had scheduled there.
- Whose idea was it to visit those Little Libraries? How do y’all decide on a route? What can you tell us about your next trip?
[ K. B. ] — I admit that I got Nancy hooked on the idea of LFLs. In my old neighborhood here in the Athens, someone had put one in near a retirement center, and I got so hooked on the idea. In 2015 while Nancy and I were doing our16-state LFL tour, my son and husband actually built a LFL that’s now in my front yard. I love being able to provide a resource like that to the folks in my community! Hmm… the route? I suppose we use certain things as “anchors” – for example, in 2015, we were attending the Barbara Vey Reader Luncheon in Milwaukee and then Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. Those events helped us create an outline for the trip.
Our next tour isn’t totally nailed down yet, but I can tell you we’re looking at fall 2017 or spring 2018. Why the wait? Because my son is a senior in high school this year, and I want to be home as much as possible.
If authors are interested in sending books for the next tour, they’re welcome to reach out to me by email and I’ll put them on my contact list!
- You’re still a youngster, but did you imagine – 10 years ago – that this is what you’d be doing now? Writing, traveling, publishing, selling books all over the country?
[ K. B. ] — Ten years ago is actually when I started writing again. We moved to Qatar in 2006. Around that time, I started a blog to chronicle that time in our lives and I wrote my first romance scene. I finished my first full-length book in 2007 (which was my debut in 2013 — Personal Assets). I wrote that first book just to see if I could. So I can’t say I foresaw all this 10 years ago. But I definitely had my eye on the future by 2007.
- Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?
[ K. B. ] — Not really. I think what’s more common is coming across people who don’t think there’s much value in what I do. They either see it as a hobby, disregard romance and mystery as “fluff,” or simply don’t care about my writing. LOL. I know that sounds harsh, but some folks just aren’t interested in people who spend their lives trying to express their creativity.
- If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?
[ K. B. ] — Oh, I’ve done a little bit of it ALL – from hooking rugs to crocheting beanies to scrapbooking. I was a damn good scrapbooker. So even when I was teaching high school and working in higher education, I always had a creative pursuit. But they were hobbies back then.
- How would you describe the TYPE of fiction you write?
[ K. B. ] — I write sassy, sexy, feel-good contemporary romance, cozy mystery, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, and paranormal romance. Can you tell I have a hard time staying in my lane? LOL. I’m easily bored, so I take on different types of projects and stories. It may not be the best business decision, but it IS the best soul decision.
- Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.
[ K. B. ] — A fan contacted me early on and told me that Personal Assets, the first book in my Texas Nights series, helped her get through the grief from her grandfather’s death. That I made her laugh during a time when she wasn’t sure she could laugh. Nancy and I also hear on a regular basis how the characters from the G-Team Series (formerly The Granny Series) lift them up and light up their world. That’s a pretty amazing feeling, to have someone say that.
- We’re highlighting one of your releases here, today. Besides the blurb (herein) tell us something about that novel.
[ K. B. ] — Hmm – Going Hard is my first true romantic suspense. By nature, I’m a contemporary romance author, but this was a fun challenge. Besides, I rarely get to kill people in contemporary, so having that luxury was freeing. (And if you’re thinking “That girl ain’t right!”…you’re totally on target – LOL)
- What led you to the economics curriculum at Texas A&M?
[ K. B. ] — Longish story. I started school in Louisiana [ah… because the drinking age was lower there 😉 ], which is where I declared my Econ major. I had a professor, from Minnesota of all places, that I thought the world of. So when I transferred schools, I took my major with me!
- How/why did you end up in Georgia?
[ K. B. ] — Lord have mercy, all my life stories are long! LOL. Short version of this one is my husband was offered a job at UGA, the University of Georgia. So we packed up and moved cross-country from Los Angeles.
- What types of employment have you had during your working years?
[ K. B. ] — Besides the pole dancing, you mean?? 😉 I’ve done several different things, with most of them having some connection to higher education. I was a consultant for Andersen Consulting back when they still existed. I taught high school in Texas—psychology, sociology, economics, and history. I’m certified to teach all secondary social studies. I’ve done university career services for engineers, business majors, liberal arts majors, and MBAs. Before I left the US to move overseas, I was the director for a $6M+ annual fund at Texas A&M. Once I was in Qatar, I started writing, but also did some contract work that included organizing logistics for a huge event that brought people in from all over the world. Highlight of that? Meeting the Texas Rangers and Secret Service people who came in to watch over the VIPs.
- Which job [or which PART of that job] did you most enjoy? And why?
[ K. B. ] — Jeff, you seriously ask the hardest questions! One of the things I’ve most enjoyed with any of my jobs is the ability to get up in front of people and talk or present. I’m a natural-born camera ham. Ask one of Nancy’s friends… he thinks I hog too much camera time when she and I are together. LOL
- [If you don’t mind saying,] which job [or which PART of that job] was your least favorite? And why?
[ K. B. ] — Hmm…if we’re being honest here (which I unfailingly am), my least favorite thing in a work environment is when someone doesn’t follow through or rides other peoples’ coattails. I’m big on integrity and accountability. If you say you’re gonna do something, then you better darn well do it.
- What is one writing question you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked? Then answer it here.
[ K. B. ] — You are seriously more lethal than many of the job interviewers I’ve ever faced. I can admit there’s no such question overall. And if something comes up that I want to say in the moment, well… I just say it!
- What made you decide to team up with Nancy for the Granny Series? Who takes the lead? Or… how do you divvy up the writing duties?
[ K. B. ] — I was telling her a story one night when we were together at a Romantic Times convention in Chicago years ago (more deets on our website!) and when we woke up the next morning, she said, “We need to write that story!” We don’t really divvy up the writing duties. We sit down, face to face, and fast-draft the initial draft of a book, and then we go back and forth on the editing.
- Have you teamed up with other authors for any writing projects? How do those collaborations come about?
[ K. B. ] — Yes, I’m currently collaborating on the Steele Ridge Series with Adrienne Giordano and Tracey Devlyn. They both write romantic suspense normally and are helping me expand my horizons. J I’ve known these gals for a long time now. We actually created and launched Romance University together back in 2009. Although we’re no longer involved with the blog on a day-to-day basis, we’re just thrilled that it’s made the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Authors the past few years!
- How do you picture your typical reading audience?
[ K. B. ] — In their pajamas?
- What would you say (about your writing) to someone who’s trying to decide whether to buy one of your books?
[ K. B. ] — If you like sassy characters and want to laugh a little with each book, you’re in the right place.
- If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?
[ K. B. ] — Pretty much exactly what I do. If I were only here for the money, I’d choose one genre and stick the hell with it – LOL.
- I understand dogs are a part of your life. Have you got a dog anecdote for us?
[ K. B. ] — I have tons! Funny, crazy, heartbreaking. The heartbreaking one was when we had to drop off Pharaoh for Advanced Training at CCI in Orlando. My son, Smarty Boy, sat down right there and sobbed. I thought my heart was being ripped from my chest. A month later, Pharaoh came home to us because they released him from the program for a heart problem. In a way, that was heartbreaking too because it meant his future as a service dog was over. But he’s happy now — being a regular ol’ dog. He and Smarty Boy sleep together on a regular basis. Pharaoh is our family therapy dog. 😉
- In nearly every photo – with that lovely smile – I’ve seen, you look like you’re having such a terrific time. Do you have fun wherever you go? Or is there another “side” of Kelsey?
[ K. B. ] — The dark side, you mean? Bwahaha! I do try to have a great time wherever I travel. I’m usually successful because I’m careful not to build unrealistic expectations. I try to take the experience for what it is. That wasn’t the case back when I was younger, but I’ve traveled so much now that I know a trip or a place is truly what you make of it. If you’re too determined for something to happen or turn out a certain way, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed. I think if you stay open, then the surprises will just thrill you.
- Those of us who read your posts see frequent references to your husband, the Tech Guy. What’s the most dramatic computer rescue he’s handled of your hardware or software? What’s one other quality or talent of his that you especially value? What does TG think about your writing career?
[ K. B. ] — Hmm – Tech Guy rescues everything technical in my world because I have anti-SLIderism (LINK here). Often, my printer or something else simply won’t work until TG strolls in the room. My devices have an unnatural affection for him. Besides his technical prowess, I love that he’s steady and straightforward. Because let’s be honest, I’m a twisty hot mess. If I didn’t have him, I’d probably jump off the deep end. If he didn’t have me, he’d be bored out of his skull. 😉
And he’s a HUGE supporter of my writing career. My biggest champion, especially since my mom is no longer with me. Psst – I’ll tell you a little secret…Tech Guy is the husband other women wish they were married to. 😉
Slick sports agent Griffin Steele is living the highlife in Los Angeles, far from the shadow of the North Carolina mountains where he grew up. But when his hometown falls on hard times and needs his help, Grif reluctantly agrees to commute between coasts. He never expects the lush scenery, in the form of pretty tomboy Carlie Beth Parrish, to be such a temptation.
After an impetuous one-night stand with Grif Steele fifteen years ago, hardworking blacksmith Carlie Beth has tried to make a living and raise her daughter in the hometown she loves. Then, too-sexy-for-his-Rolex Grif blows back into town like the perfect storm, making Carlie feel less like a thirty-something mom and more like an infatuated teenager.
When a stalker targets Carlie Beth, Grif can’t help but step in to protect her. But once he discovers the fourteen-year-old secret she’s been keeping from him, will he embrace the truth or will he turn his back on Steele Ridge and Carlie Beth forever?
USA Today bestselling author Kelsey Browning writes sassy, sexy romance and co-authors Southern cozy mysteries. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog, and Pharaoh, a (fingers crossed) future therapy dog.
Anybody have any comments or questions for Kelsey Browning?
[JLS # 297]