(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Ellie was written by Ellie Mack.)
Usually her Muse Shop wasn’t a beachfront shop, but today it was. Ah, the magic of the imagination. Today’s interviewee could decide between the two locations—a beach and the Muse Shop—so Kelly adapted to it to include both. She polished a silver candleholder and stared out the front windows of the shop to the blue ocean stretched out beneath the cloudless sky. Yeah, maybe Kelly would keep her shop here. It was nice. She could get used to it, and a fond smile found her face.
The door chimed, drawing Kelly out of her thoughts, and she looked to see a woman entering her shop. Setting down the candleholder and the rag, Kelly stepped around the front corner. “Hello, Ellie Mack. I’m Kelly Blanchard. So nice to meet you, and I must say, thank you for suggestion a beachfront location for my shop. I like it!” She gave her a grin then gestured at all the tables and shelves lined with unique antiques. “You’re welcome to browse while we chat. How are you doing today though?”
“I”m doing fantastic!” Ellie sighed as she glanced around the shop. “It’s such a refreshing change from the cold winter we’ve had in the midwest. I love the sand, the surf, and especially the warmth of the sun on my skin even though it’s shockingly pale.” Ellie smoothed the front of her shirt nervously as she noticed the stark white of her skin compared to the shopkeepers.
“You probably aren’t old enough to remember, but there was in interesting show on tv several years ago about an oddity shop. It was interesting.” Ellie caressed a milkglass bowl that was on the shelf alongside of a milkglass candleabra. “These type of shops are so much better than the usual convenience store, or big department or discount stores. There is history here.” Moving closer to the counter to shake Kelly’s hand as she offered. “Thanks for inviting me.”
“Very cool.” Kelly smiled then picked up an old, heavy book to put it away on the shelf. “So, Ellie, tell me about yourself, where you come from, what you do, and so forth?” She raised her brows.
Ellie laughed lightly. “Old books. Full of lots of tales to tell. Do you have someplace I can put my bag while we chat?” Still looking around the eclectic shop as she cleared her throat to begin sharing a bit about herself. “Well as to me” she points to the old book. ” I feel like that some days. I seem to be years older than a lot of my constituents. I’ve been around the block more than a few times. Older than I’d like to be or than I feel. I’ve had many job titles over the years, including federal employee, caregiver, substitute teacher, and my latest stint was as a mortgage loan originator until recently. The one thread that has remained constant through all those things is my writing. Whether it was journaling, secretly writing the next breakout novel, or journalist I guess I’m just a bard at heart. I’ve lived in the midwest my entire life. Some day, I will move to a sunny beachfront location such as this.
“Very interesting.” Kelly nodded, motioning for Ellie to follow her to a corner of the shop where there was a table. “We can sit here if you’d like, or you can continue browsing. Doesn’t matter to me.” Kelly smiled as she took a seat at the table. “So, you said you’ve been writing all this time, but do you remember what really got you writing? Or was it just a general love for stories and such?”
“I think I’d like to just sort of walk through browsing if that’s ok?” Ellie set her purse down on the table as she moved to a glass case that contained cut glass bottles, admiring their craftwork. “When I was in like 4th grade, I know…ages ago. Anyway, I read Tom Sawyer for the first time. I loved that book. Begged my parents to buy it from me as I had the school library copy and didn’t want to return it. Mom already had it on her shelf and she gave it to me. I rewrote my fourth grade version of Ellie Sawyer’s great adventure”
Ellie’s eyes landed on a crystal carafe on the top shelf. ” Tell me, do you know the history of these items, or do you just trade them?” She seemed lost in her thoughts focused on that carafe. “All throughout my school years, I dabbled with short stories. I had a creative writing class in high school that I absolutely loved and the teacher was such a doll. Her name was Mrs White. I had my first lessons in free-writing from her, and I still use those today.”
Kelly smiled. “Some of these items were gifts given by other authors or their characters, but most of them are from my own story worlds. Each one has a history.” While Ellie meandered around, Kelly picked a box off the floor and set it on the table, and began taking out the items to organize them, clean them, and then put them on the shelves. “Okay, so, Ellie, what kind of stories do you write? What genre?”
“My first book, well the only one published is a contemporary romance. Pure romance. The mushy stuff.” The box that Kelly was emptying caught her attention, drawing her closer. ” Can I, can I have a look at that small jewel box there?” her fingers itched to touch the baroque detail on the fifty year old inlaid box.
“Of course. Take a look!” Kelly gestured to it. “And romance is good.” Kelly reassured her with a kind smile as she moved to put a glass bowl on a shelf. “So is that the story you’d like to talk about? I’m up for anything!”
“My other writing however is less romantic. I am currently working on a series called Valkyrie’s Curse which involves paranormal elements, time travel, murder mystery, a serial killer, and of course a love interest. “I also have a series about shape shifting dragons that needs revisions. OH and a nano novel about pirates, and one about zombies. Nothing is off limits.” “I’m pretty proud of the romance, being as it is published. That is a step that I have worked towards for many years.” Ellie caressed the box, turning it over in her hands.
“The theme is, that true love conquers all. Except for ex-girlfriends.”
“Except for ex-girlfriends?” Kelly raised her brow when she heard this. “There’s a story there. What is that supposed to mean?” But she had to smile at the thought.
“well yes of course there is a story there!” Julia is kind of a mousy, insecure gal who doesn’t realize her own value. She sees herself as a wallflower, a less than. Growing up in the foster system has left an indelible mark on her psyche, and she has a terrible sense of self-worth.”
Ellie glanced between the box and the carafe. “Can I buy these from you? They remind me of my grandfather. Kind of like most women do in some fashion or other. The character I mean, not the carafe.”
“Julia meets Derek at a New Year’s eve party where she was set up with another guy for a blind date that failed. They seemed to hit it off quite well then she is left standing on the street as his ex, a slender gorgeous blonde fashion model embraces him as she looks on. “That’s just where it starts.” Ellie set the items on the table, scanning the room as she continued sharing. “It’s hard to believe that a man would choose us over say, that girl, or that other girl with the big cahonies, or the one with the great smile, or the one with blonde hair if you are a brunette, or the one that is athletic when we aren’t. It’s a chick thing. We are always critical of ourselves, and compare ourselves to every other female. Or maybe that’s just me, “
“No, that makes sense.” Kelly nodded as she went to the counter, “And you’re welcome to buy whatever you’d like. Okay, so this story, why did you write it? I mean, what inspired you to write it?”
“As a matter of fact, I wrote it initially as a flash fiction based off of a picture. It was picture of a waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. I used to manage a group blog that featured new and upcoming authors, as a way to get exposure. It was a nightmare to organize and required way too much of my time, and that was one of the things that I had to let go. So I wrote this flash piece, it was just one scene, a thousand words. But it wouldn’t let me go. I came back to it , and made a larger story for a specific call from a publisher for a weekend getaway theme. That story was 15000 words. It was rejected.” Ellie rolled her eyes as she moved towards the antique pictures in the display case by the window.
“Really?” Kelly lifted her brows as a smile came to her face. “Do you have the picture with you now?”
Ellie moved toward her purse, searching through it. Oh yes, here it is. “When it was rejected I pouted for a good while, then decided I was tired of rejections and I was going to self publish it. I knew i could write dammit! Even if no one else appreciates it, I will write what I want.”
“And you said you self-published this story, right? Good for you! Every story that’s written has a reader out there somewhere. Not only that, but such stories can outlive us and live on to future generations we will never see. You don’t know the impact of the words you write, so never give up on that.” Kelly gave Ellie a reassuring smile as she wrapped up the items Ellie requested. “So, what’s your favorite thing about this story? I mean, what makes it so different than other romance stories because there are many romance books out there.”
Then the craziest thing happened. I had finished writing Red Wine & Roses, and I was contacted by a fellow author that had recommended me to a small publishing house. They wanted to publish my writing!!! I was so thrilled. IT was one of the best days. I mean, it’s a writer’s dream come true!
“What makes it unique? Hmmmm. Well,It’s not unique in the sense of a romance. All romances innately have the HEA—the happily ever after. That is part of a romance. So in that way it’s predictable. However, it’s also about self discovery, realizing her own value, her own importance. At the heart of it is a lesson that each of us are valuable. each of us are worth more than we give ourselves credit for, and each of us should fight for that and the unifying theme is that love is worth fighting for. True love, not temporary lust, not for a good time call, not settling to not be alone, but being with a person that you respect and that respects you. “Sorry, I get a little ‘on my soapbox at times.” Ellie looked down sheepishly moving back to the case of photos. “I’d like this tintype photo of the man and his wife – the one where he is holding the baby in his arms and they both look like they just saw a ghost. I have an idea for that.”
Kelly nodded when she heard this. “But there’s also a need to be content alone and with yourself before you can be happy with others, but that’s another story for another time.” She smiled as Ellie started getting ideas from the items in her Shop. However, Kelly noticed the clock on the wall indicated to the time, and she frowned. “Our time is almost up, which is frustrating because I feel like we *just* got started. So, I’ll be meeting a character of yours from which story?”
“Oh yes, it’s important to be content with ourselves—and that is actually included —part of learning her self respect.” Ellie moved toward the counter to pay for the items. “This has been a blast. I wish that we had another couple of hours. Well, it seems logical that I should introduce you to the characters from Red Wine. Oh, and as a bonus, because my character loves to bake—there is a mini cookbook in the back of the book!
“I may bring some cookies then, and I’d love to meet whichever character you’d have me meet.” Kelly grinned and handed Ellie what she had requested. “Here, no cost. It was just a pleasure to meet you, Ellie. I know you were nervous about it, but really, it was great to chat with you, and I hope you the best with your stories and publication!”
“Thank you so much!! I had a blast and you were right. As usual, I was wound up over something that there was no need for. You’ve been a delightful hostess. I’ll send you the story from the photo when I write it. And thank you. I hope to have most of the rest of my stories published eventually.”
“I’m sure you will do well. Just keep writing, and never give up.” Kelly gave her yet another smile and watched as Ellie left the Shop.
Ellie Mack’s book Red Wine & Roses is available on Amazon. Be sure to check it out! Also, follow her on social media: