Purely for my own entertainment, I am certain, I wrote my first book at age 6. It was called The Old Mill, and contained two sentences. Most of my efforts were expended on the construction paper cover, with the drawing of an old mill. Here’s the crazy part: those two sentences had a plot.
From six through 12, I wrote short stories and some poetry, the usual route of young writers, I suppose. In junior high, Mrs. Berstein let me build my spelling sentences into a short story, rather than just unrelated sentences. Thank you, Mrs. B, for that exercise in bending words to my will.
In high school, I fell into the clutches of Jean Dugat, who taught English and journalism at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville, Texas. What a teacher. She was exacting, demanding and difficult. For a few years I wavered between hating her and fearing her. When I was a junior, I caught the vision that if I listened to her, and did what she demanded, I could become a professional writer.
So it proved. My senior year, I was associate editor of our high school newspaper. My specialty was feature writing, which is a nice mix of creativity with journalism. Some state awards came my way, but the best part was the confidence that came from knowing how to treat a sentence to make folks sit up and pay attention. Thank you, Miss D.
College followed and degrees in history. Papers were a breeze (refer to above paragraph). Marriage and children followed. Busy times. We lived in Wyoming, where Martin taught theatre at a community college. I spent my summers as a seasonal ranger/historian in the National Park Service, working at Fort Laramie.
It was there that I started writing short stories about the frontier army, and found an outlet for them in magazines. A couple of Spur Awards from Western Writers of America came my way. I kept writing and selling longer and longer short stories.
A novel came next, Daughter of Fortune, which tells the story of the Pueblo Indian uprising in 1680 in colonial New Mexico. I acquired an agent along the way, and she suggested I write Regency Romances, which I am still doing. Thank you, Eileen.
I’ve become a specialist in Regencies focusing on the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy in particular. I credit my dad for that, a career officer in the U.S. Navy. Thank you, Dad.
Also along the way, I acquired some loyal readers, so there is always a market for my Regencies. I switched from Signet (two Rita Awards there from Romance Writers of America), to Harlequin in 2004, and continue to write Regencies. Harlequin also kindly let me write a novel based at Fort Laramie in 1876. It will be out in April, and has been tagged as part of a Harlequin promotional sent to 320,000 potential readers. And now there are ebooks of my earlier Signets available. Thank you, technology.
Through the years, I’ve become acquainted with helpful editors, one of whom invited me to write for CamelPress in Seattle. I’m writing a historical mystery/romance series for them, set in 1780s colonial New Mexico. I like borderlands history. I’m also taking a look at my own Mormon background with LDS-themed novels. I’ve written four of those so far.
Where from here? Who knows? I like to write.
What about you What’s your passion and who made an impact on it? One commenter will get a signed copy of ‘My Loving Vigil Keeping’. [*US ONLY]
Author Bio: Award-winning author Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America.
Recently, she’s been writing Regency romances (think Pride and Prejudice) set in the Royal Navy’s Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France. She comes by her love of the ocean from her childhood as a Navy brat.
Carla’s history background makes her no stranger to footnote work, either. During her National Park Service days at the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Carla edited Friedrich Kurz’s fur trade journal. She recently completed a short history of Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.
Following the “dumb luck” principle that has guided their lives, the Kellys recently moved to Wellington, Utah, from North Dakota and couldn’t be happier in their new location. In her spare time, Carla volunteers at the Railroad and Mining Museum in Helper, Utah. She likes to visit her five children, who live here and there around the United States. Her favorite place in Utah is Manti, located after a drive on the scenic byway through Huntington Canyon.
And why is she so happy these days? Carla is enjoying writing for an LDS audience now, where she feels most at home.
Find Carla at: Her Blog