Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with Eileen Key ...

Today we welcome Eileen Key, author of the novella My Heart Still Beats from the Christmas collection, A Door County Christmas.  It's so good to have you with us today, Eileen!  Here is an introduction for our readers.

Eileen Key, a retired teacher, taught middle school for thirty years and survived.  She is now a freelance writer and editor.  She has published eight anthology stories and numerous articles and devotionals and a cozy mystery, Dog Gone.  A lifelong reader, Eileen has owned a library card from eight different cities. Eileen is an active member of Grace Community Church.  Keeping up with her three grown children and their families is her delight.  Any spare time is devoted to two amazing grandkids.  Visit her Web site at

What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

WAITING to see what the editor wants to cut/rewrite!  Remember waiting on that pass/fail grade in school?  What would the professor post?  Same feeling….. I’ve been blessed with AMAZING editors that made the whole process easier.

Tell us a bit about your typical (if there is such a thing as typical) day.

I had to laugh.  Typical?  I work as a part-time church secretary---am at the whim of the needs of my grandchildren—love to lunch with friends—hate to shop!  When do I write?  Sandwiched in between any and all activities.  Fortunately my office is very quiet and I get a lot done there.

I'm sure that, as a church secretary, there is not a lot of routine or boredeom in your day!  Let's pretend that you just finished your book two days before deadline.  How will you celebrate or reward yourself?

With my first book, I celebrated with the birth of my granddaughter.  Not sure I’ll want to do that every time!   And dinner out with friends or family is always a treat!

What’s up next for your readers?

Come mid 2011 I have a cozy mystery releasing from Avalon.  I really enjoy the mystery genre.  My first book, Dog Gone, from Barbour was a joy.

I've always been a mystery lover too - especially on a cold winter's night when it is dark outside and the wind is howling.  What is your favorite meal?

Sirloin steak from the grill and baked ‘taters.  My daddy was a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so that’s what Mama made.  I believe it’s my comfort food—takes me back a longgg way to childhood.

That's what my husband and I had for dinner last night!  Unfortunately, it was not a very good steak and the dog ended up eating most of mine.  Would you share your favorite Bible verse?

Jeremiah 29:11. I’m so glad the LORD knows the plans he has for me.  My life’s been full of unexpected turns and I’m not but what I’d been derailed without HIS guidance.

Do you like music when you are writing or do you prefer solitude?

Solitude.  I’ve never been one for music while I work.  I find myself caught up in the tune or listening for the words and lose my thread of concentration.

If you were not writing, what would you rather be doing?

Reading!  As my bio said, I’ve carried many library cards.  When I lived in one tiny Texas town with a tiny library, I started with the first fiction book on shelf A and read all the way to shelf M before we moved a year later. (Emphasis on TINY, but still…a lot of books!)

Do you have any words of wisdom for those who are just starting out on the path?

The publishing process takes TIME.  And few of us love to wait.  However, write/read/hone that craft/write/read/ and attend a conference or two so you might meet others.  Keep at it.  Articles, devotionals, letters, short stories.  Whatever you can get on the page.  The Lord knows the timing!

If you could choose when you were born, what era would you prefer to live in and why?

Right now.  I’m afraid if I’d been a pioneer, we’d all still be in Boston… I’m a creature of comfort: air conditioning is my friend.  When I get to heaven, I want to meet Mr. Carrier who invented a/c and thank him!

I'd have to agree with that!  I don't think I could have made it without running water and electricity.  How did it transpire that you and the other three authors teamed up to write this book?

Funny you should ask.  The team approached my critique partner who was swamped with work.  She pointed a finger in my direction.  I said sure, why not!   When the contract came I explained to my new buddies that I’d never even been in snow!   Writing about December in Wisconsin for a Texas gal? Thankfully they were up for a visit to Door County where I learned places are forced to close in winter because of that white powdery substance.  Wow!  Who knew?  I had to be careful: my characters couldn’t pop in for a cup of coffee when a restaurant was boarded up.

I'd love to trade places with you - I am definitely NOT a snow lover!  What was your most memorable moment from a conference?

Conference #2 in Houston - I met with Tracie Petersen.  She held 10 pages I’d sent in for a crit.   AND didn’t laugh me out of the room.  She was SO kind and encouraging, and I bless her for that.

That sounds wonderful!  I was supposed to go to my first conference this year but some events transpired that changed my plans so I'm hoping that maybe I can go next year.  When did you know that you were destined to become a writer?

So many people mention they knew as a child they would write.   I READ.   My mother said I was born with a book in my hand.  My dad predicted one day I’d write a book.   But I don’t remember thinking that.  In 2001, a friend asked me to edit a story she wrote.  (I was an English teacher, so I should know, right?)  Then she invited me to a critique group session.   I went and was…taken aback to say the least… at what I heard.  I went home Googled Christian+writers and found the American Christian Romance Writers.  I joined, began to learn the craft and decided I’d try my hand at a book.  (That was the one Tracie skimmed. Bless her heart!)  Because of the friendships formed online, the encouragement, and the conferences I began this journey.  God’s hand in my life, I think!

How much of ‘you’ can be found in your characters?

Quite a bit. They tend to have some “attitude” and a sense of humor.

I have to say that the humor was very much present in your novella!  Are you a plotter or do your characters tell you what direction to go?

I begin with the idea, write a bit, then try to sketch out where I want to go.  Not necessarily a carved in stone outline, but (especially with mysteries) an idea of where I’m going.  Believe me, it’s very flexible.

It's been delightful to have you with us today, Eileen.  Do you have any final thoughts you would like to add?

Thank you so much for this opportunity.  It’s been fun to chat about what I love to do and get to meet some new readers.  If you’ve never visited Door County, it’s amazingly beautiful!  I was swept away and hope to return one day.

 I'd really like to visit there.  All four of you ladies have made it sound like a wonderful place to visit.  However, I think I will try to plan my trip when the snow is not flying.  You can read more about Eileen on her web site

Don't forget to join us tomorrow for a visit with Cynthia Ruchti!


  1. Hey, Eileen, for a Texas girl, you did a wonderful job on your Wisconsin story!

  2. Eileen, I can HEAR YOUR VOICE as I read the interview. Awww, I miss you, lady! And I'm so proud of you. Love ya muchly!

  3. What a fun interview! Having read through Eileen's Door County novella as part of her critique group, I can attest that it is a delightful read. The characters will make you laugh and tug at your heart at the same time.

  4. Excellent interview. I learned things I didn't know about you, Eileen! And all four of the novellas are wonderful reads. Door County is definitely a must-see place. :)