Interview with Connie Keenan

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Up until my husband and I moved to North Carolina almost seven years ago, I spent most of my life in Northern New Jersey, right across the river from New York. I was actually born in Cuba to Cuban parents and came here at the ripe old age of one month! For the first two years of my life, we lived in Miami until my parents divorced. My mom then moved to Hudson County--we lived in the towns of West New York and later Union City--which has provided the setting for GLIMMERS OF HEAVEN and one of the characters in ONE SWEET DAY, Ileana Cardenas. It's an interesting place, and the bonus is that you have Manhattan very close by, so your characters have the best of both worlds! Because the Jersey shore figured very strongly in my childhood and youth, it also gets some play in my stories.
When did you first start writing?
When I was about my granddaughter's age (five), I scribbled on a piece of paper, showed it to my aunt, and asked excitedly, "What does this say?" My aunt, a busy lady, (also my godmother, or in Spanish "Madrina") said, "Nothing. It's scribble," and continued mashing fried plantains for dinner. At the age of twelve, I began writing stories in black and white composition notebooks and sharing them with my friends, one of whom also wrote, so we critiqued and encouraged each other all through seventh grade. I wrote in my diary back then, "When I grow up, I'm going to become a writer." Today, I'm grateful to say that my dream came true!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, my work was being published by traditional print publishers. I'd been rather disillusioned because it seemed like, creatively, I wasn't really able to write the kind of books that came from my heart. In 2011, I published my first indie book and was hooked! I love being able to "think outside the box," or rather, "outside the guidelines." This was something I'd been doing anyway for the smaller presses, wonderful ebook publishers I'd had the pleasure of working with. I love everything about indie publishing, which allows me to have creative control over everything from the content to the cover. I know that I'm giving my readers the kind of stories that I myself would want to read.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
So many things to enjoy about the process of writing! We have to pick one? LOL! Well, first, I'm not one of those writers who maps everything out ahead of time. Maybe that works for other people, and I applaud them, but that's never been my journey. I prefer letting the characters lead the way and I follow them into their world, watching them, listening to them, and reporting back to the reader exactly what I see, as best I can. I love when the words come faster than I can type them, though albeit that doesn't always happen. Sometimes writing is hard, but always, it's worth coming back to. I love starting a new project, being delighted when a character surprises me with something I personally didn't know about them before, and especially, when something I write brings someone else pleasure. I'll never retire from writing. How do you retire from something that's been a part of you for over half your life?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm very grateful that my life is full. Sometimes I feel like I'm TOO busy. I count myself blessed in that I have a relationship with my Lord and Savior. My blessings from Him include my wonderful husband, great sons and daughters-in-law, three beautiful grandchildren and three dogs that are my other spoiled babies. Whenever possible, I like to make sure there's time for the gym or a long, invigorating walk or a hike up a mountain trail. I love catching up on my reading, trying out new recipes, and discovering interesting little shops. And sometimes, I just want to drive with the sunroof open, with no particular place to go!
What is your writing process?
There's no easy way to answer this question! Stories come to me in so many different ways. Recently, I was in a consignment store--I LOVE those--when a beautiful wedding gown caught my eye. I'm happily married, so I myself wouldn't have been in the market for it, but I was admiring the gown's detail. The consignment vendor and I struck up a conversation, and she told me the remarkable story behind the dress. My husband chuckled because I whispered to him as I walked away, "I'm gonna write a story about that. It's too beautiful to let it go!"

It always starts with an idea. Or sometimes it's a character who comes into my head, and the story evolves from that one character. Then I'm very organic, not very organized, but I begin by selecting a few specifics: What are the main characters' names? (Very important; they have to live with those names, and they have to fit them perfectly.) What's important to those characters? Where have they been? Where are they going? Sometimes I have a musical playlist that inspires me throughout the writing of the WIP.

I'm chronological when I write, though I sometimes return to sections to rewrite them, if necessary. Past experience has taught me to back up my work because computers aren't perfect; neither are their operators, LOL! Usually, I don't interrupt a work with another work (and I know some writers easily write two books or more at once). I can only start another work when I'm in the process of editing and polishing another one. Works for me!
What do you read for pleasure?
All the books I read are for pleasure! Even if it's nonfiction. Life is too short to read something that doesn't give you some sort of joy. My all-time favorite book is the Bible, but I also love romance fiction, whether it's light and funny or rich and touching. I like other novels, too, and my taste is rather varied when it comes to fiction. I like books about other cultures, too. One of my favorite books was a nonfiction--THE PERFECT STORM--and I ran out and dragged my family to see the movie when it came out! I love books about diet and fitness, spiritual warfare, and eschatology. Sometimes I will read a book that's outside of what I usually read because someone recommended it. If a book keeps my attention and doesn't let me go, I consider it worth the time I give up sleeping to read it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
When it comes to marketing, I'm still learning, but I have found certain things especially helpful. Book giveaways have been extremely helpful in getting my name out there, both ebook and paperback giveaways. As with GREETINGS FROM MY SANDY DREAMS, which is a perma-free read (in ebook; there's a price on the paperback version), I plan on publishing other books or novellas that will be free, so that readers will have little free treats along the way. Over the past year, I've made more use of my blog and Goodreads, and recently began creating my own book trailers, too. What I have found to be the most effective marketing tool, however, is being prolific. If you continue to write, continue to have a book coming out, you're in the swing of things and keeping your author name alive. I plan on writing and publishing no less than four full-length books and a novella this year, with at least two of the books hopefully being the start of a new series.
Describe your desk
Ah, my desk! Sometimes my "desk" is a table at Panera's or Starbucks, where I write in longhand while I have a cup of French onion soup or a hibiscus tea. Or it's my dining room table, where I'll write or edit early in the weekday mornings before going to my day job. Or it's upstairs in my home office. Actually, it's a baker's rack, not a traditional desk. There's usually also a cup of coffee or a glass of Diet Pepsi poured over ice which I sip while I write. On summer afternoons, I sometimes have the good pleasure of having a beach blanket as my "desk," where I can write the latest section of a chapter in a WIP while my hubby soaks in the sun. This year, I'm hoping to take a writing retreat in the mountains for a day or so. That's my "desk."
What are you working on next?
Even before publishing ONE SWEET DAY, my latest novel, I had begun work on another book. ONE SWEET DAY is a longer book than I've done in the past, over 70,000 words, and it deals with the prophecies of the last days. So I'm looking forward to this next work, which is a contemporary Christian romance, and as for its setting, I'm headed to the beach again. Even in the coldest winter we've had in a long time, it's so nice to have characters who'll transport you right back to summer!
Published 2014-01-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Goodnight, My Love
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 54,170. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
While still in high school, Gina Bertoletti's life takes an exciting turn when she lays eyes on handsome and charming Tony La Rosa, who dreams of becoming a star. Enter rugged fisherman Kelly Whelan, the polar opposite of Tony. One is her first love, but only one can be her true love.
Once Upon A Painted Horse
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,670. Language: American English. Published: September 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Romance, Fiction » Christian » Suspense
Having lost her dream job and her apartment, Heather Blackburn is not having a stellar year. Deciding to start over, Heather moves to North Carolina, where she agrees to house-sit for her parents' pastor. While there, she discovers an amusement park that is said to be haunted...and its intriguing owner, Tom Clayton. A sweet Christian romance with elements of the supernatural.
If I May But Touch
Price: Free! Words: 6,440. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Short stories, Fiction » Christian » Historical
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
The fictionalized account based on the true story of the woman with the issue of blood that lasted twelve long and desperate years, as told in the gospel of Mark, who came to Jesus seeking a miracle and found much more. Please note that this work is a short story.
Crystal Waves
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 80,240. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Fantasy
things begin to happen—events that some are calling modern-day miracles. Reporter Carissa Brilhart believes she’s there to investigate, discovering there’s even more to the story than meets the eye. The same, too, can be said of Katie Howard, the mysterious young waitress who works at the diner on the pier. Or has the town received a divine touch from Heaven?
Distant Fire
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 45,790. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Romance
Linda Cuthbertson doesn't pay much attention when she hears the news that her church has just hired a new music director. That is, until she comes face to face--again--with Drew Lingerfelt. Years, miles and life itself have come between Linda and the man she has always thought of as her first love.
Unconditional
Price: Free! Words: 53,880. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Romance
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Valerie Welch works at the public library, but her real passion is music. Summer has just gotten a whole lot more interesting--and romantic--now that she has met Josh Coleman. But will the truth about his past destroy any hope of a future with the pretty violinist he loves?
One Sweet Day
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 71,020. Language: English. Published: January 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Christian » General, Fiction » Christian » Contemporary
An abandoned baby, a young girl, a funeral director and a troubled teen. They are all strangers, struggling, having unusual dreams and visions. They will be brought together by a day that was foretold in prophecy over two thousand years ago. A Christian novel by the author of THE LARKSPUR VALLEY SERIES.
Greetings From My Sandy Dreams
Price: Free! Words: 55,010. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
(3.50 from 4 reviews)
Cherry Martinez has always wanted to live at the beach. So she does the unthinkable—she cashes in her savings, quits her job, and moves to a tropical seaside town. Love still knows where to find her, though, in this lighthearted summer romance.
Forever in My Heart
Series: The Larkspur Valley Series, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 58,120. Language: English. Published: April 18, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Historical
Take another trip to Larkspur Valley, that small town in rural Pennsylvania. Five years has passed since then, enough time for some new people to have moved in. The third and final book of THE LARKSPUR VALLEY SERIES.
More Than Sparrows
Series: The Larkspur Valley Series, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 61,320. Language: English. Published: February 18, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Historical » USA
Big changes are coming to the people of Larkspur Valley in this 20th Century historical novel about the power of love, the special bonds of family and friendship, and lives that are supernaturally transformed by faith. A Christian novel by the author of GLIMMERS OF HEAVEN.
The Christmas Waltz
Series: The Larkspur Valley Series, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,280. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Eighteen years have passed since music teacher June Sheppard's fiance died in the war. Yet on a snowy day in 1962, while conducting the school choir at a Christmas concert in the park, she sees Paul Everett again--just a face in the crowd. Not one to believe in ghosts, she's nonetheless haunted by dreams of long ago and a love that has never been forgotten by her...or Paul.
Champagne Taste
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 39,040. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
In this chick lit/romantic comedy fusion, Kara Childers finds her heart torn between the man she thinks she should marry and the man who's about to rock her world.
Glimmers of Heaven
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 28,030. Language: English. Published: March 12, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Romance
Zachary Phillips has left his small town in upstate New York to work as the youth pastor in a struggling city church. He hadn't counted on meeting the pretty teacher's assistant, who is also the church caretaker, or the sparks that fly between them. A touching, sweet Christian romance.
Dimension
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 23,200. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
People in town always believed the place was haunted. Goodson’s Furniture Store had been abandoned for years. It had stood there, dark and decaying, beside an old cemetery, for decades. The former owners left in a hurry, though no one’s ever been quite sure as to why. Callie Drennan, a local young woman, often went there to hide as a troubled young girl, to find solace from her painful life. One
'Twas the Spy Before Christmas
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 20,050. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Humorous, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
All Beth Gardner wants for Christmas? Forget diamonds and perfume. The holiday wind is blowing into her life a tall, hunky former spy named Dan O'Neal! This is one secret agent man who's about to turn her world upside down. Will this just be a quick holiday romance...or will those fireworks between Beth and Dan turn into a love as enduring as Christmas itself?