#PitchWars 2017: Pimp My Bio

Hi PitchWars Peeps!
I’m late to the party but I’ve been busy … ummmm … writing! Sit down and enjoy a nice glass of Pinot Noir while we “chat.”

wine gif

This year, I had a NEARLY FINISHED manuscript as PitchWars approached, so I kicked some major writing butt to get the story complete so I could submit it. This second manuscript was a completely different experience than the first, I’ve officially become a “plotter.”

I decided the time was ripe (well—actually, a bit overdue) to go ahead and #PimpMyBio for the Pitch Wars mentee blog tour.

The Basics
I’m Keli Vice. I live in middle of Sonoma County wine country in Northern California. By day, I consult for amazing wineries who make some of the most incredible wine on the planet (for real—this is not an exaggeration). This is Cab country (Alexander Valley), Zin country (Dry Creek Valley … and NOT the pink kind), Pinot country (Russian River Valley). Yes, they also make a crap-ton of Chard, but I’m a card-carrying member of the ABC Club (Anything But Chardonnay).

Books are the foundation of my life. I have been kicking people out of my room because I’M READING since I was seven. (Seriously. Ask my sister.) I regularly stay up hours after my husband, bleary eyed and yawning, just because I have to know what happens next. Thank God for my back-lit iPad and a consulting schedule that allows me to sleep ’til 7:45am and still start working at 8:00am.

reading gif

I have a strange habit of re-reading novels. Like multiple times. (Most people think this is insane.) I will not even admit how many times I’ve read the Outlander series. I always find some new turn of phrase or different take on a scene—Diana Gabaldon is my hero.

My Writing
Like many of us working on getting our first novel published, that pesky day job and mortgage have kept writing on the side for many years. I have seven book ideas in various stages of development—two complete and edited.

I’ve written a YA/Paranormal Romance titled Shift, and a NA/Adult Contemporary Romance called Behind Cellar Doors. I’m submitting the latter for this year’s PitchWars contest.

I love writing dialogue. When I started writing, I was a complete panster, writing scenes all over the book, then trying to connect all the dots. With the second manuscript I did the complete opposite: the entire summary and “Save the Cat”-style plot arc was written before a word went on the page. I have days where I can’t write a word. I have days where I fall into writing only to emerge out of the rabbit hole hours later wondering what happened to the day.

My #PitchWars Novel
I’m entering a completed NA/Adult Contemporary Romance titled Behind Cellar Doors (75,000 words).


Instead of embarking on a carefree post-graduation trip to Europe, 22-year-old TAYLOR LANSING is rushing home after her father’s heart attack to run the family winery. It’s trial by fire as she works to keep the financially unstable winery afloat, and navigate a budding romance with the gorgeous billionaire financier-cum-winery-owner ALEC ESTRELLA. A series of mishaps raises suspicion that someone is trying to force a sale of the winery. Could it be her new boyfriend?

Short Synopsis: 

22-year-old Taylor Lansing is trying to finish her last final at UC Davis, but someone’s blowing up her phone. The frantic calls from Martin Sandcastle, the winemaker at her family’s winery, send her racing home to Sonoma County: her father has had a heart attack.

Now Taylor must cancel her carefree summer trip through Europe to help run the winery while her father recovers. With the ink barely dry on her winemaking degree, Taylor jumps in with both feet, soon discovering that the winery is in serious financial trouble. She refuses to consider the option to sell out to a big corporation, instead putting up her personal trust fund and banking on the upcoming harvest.

When the high-tech sensors fail in an important vineyard block, Taylor is caught in a downpour and thumbs a ride back to the winery. An ancient work truck stops and she’s stunned when a gorgeous guy in work clothes rolls down the window to offer her a ride. She sees him again a few weeks later at the annual wine auction – this time in a tailored tuxedo. He’s 29-year-old Alec Estrella, the billionaire owner of a venture capital firm, with a budding interest in the wine industry … and in Taylor Lansing.

Their romance begins with a candlelit cellar dinner for two and she’s soon captivated by Alec’s dark good looks and intimate smile. By the night of her birthday, she’s overcome her insecurities and slips into his room for a night of sweet, hot lovemaking.  Alec Estrella might be out of her league, but she’s falling for him. Hard.

But as her private life heats up, Taylor continues to be plagued by troubles at work, clashing with Martin on winemaking and dealing with a series of mishaps, from the frost fans failing to the spring bottling being threatened. Eventually Taylor begins to suspect someone is trying to sabotage her family winery, forcing a sale. Alec’s already bought up all the vineyards surrounding her estate. Could her new boyfriend have his eye on acquiring more than just Taylor’s heart?

I have not yet sent this MS out for Query.


Why I Want to Work with You
Behind Cellar Doors is a promising story—with lots of romantic sex appeal and smart, interesting characters. BUT … with the expertise and advice of one of you fabulous PitchWars Mentors, I want to transform it from a promising story to a solid story to a great book.

Why You (Hopefully) Want to Work with Me
I will work hard. Really hard. I’ve spent years in corporate marketing, so I know how to take feedback on a project, incorporate it and turn in into something better. I want your constructive criticism to make this story stronger, better and more believable. I’m ready to tackle the rough parts and reshape the characters into bigger, brighter more interesting people.

And … did I mention I will work hard?

Random Facts

  • Hogwarts House:  Ravenclaw (I wanted to be a Gryffindor, but the sorting hat insisted)
  • Faction: Erudite (the nice ones)
  • Favorite Fiction:
    Too many to list. A handful: Outlander (all of ’em), The Help, Eat Pray Love, The Pelican Brief, The Da Vinci Code, The Prince of Tides, The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Secret Life of Bees.
  • Favorite YA Novels:
    Harry Potter (esp. The Goblet of Fire), The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Raven Boys, Percy Jackson, The Selection, Forget Tomorrow. 
  • Favorite Princess: Belle (‘Cause she’s a geek who reads and saves her father, herself AND the beast — ‘nough said.)
  • Favorite Villain: Loki and anything played by the late, great Alan Rickman
  • Favorite Ice Cream: Chocolate on Chocolate
  • Favorite Movies: Love Actually, Pride and Prejudice, Chocolat, Shakespeare in Love, Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather (I and II), Shrek
  • Favorite Baseball Team: SF Giants
  • Favorite Yoga Move: Dancer
  • Favorite Beach Activity: Snorkeling


My Street Cred
I have an BA in English from UCLA and wrote for a magazine in LA for the first few years after school. Then I got into PR and worked for a tiny audiophile record company that made specialized reissues for hi-fi stereos on gold CDs (great product, bat-shit-crazy owner). After that, I ran the publicity department at our performing arts center and got to rub shoulders with folks like Bonnie Raitt, Wynton Marsalis and Carole Burnett. From there I entered the wine industry and moved through PR and Marketing into consulting. Today, I develop and manage websites, email marketing programs and social media outreach for winery DTC departments (that’s Direct to Consumer for those of you outside the industry).

At Home
I have two awesome teenaged daughters (one off to UC Davis in September), a marathon-running husband, a teeny 5-pound rescue cat who’s a badass birder and the sweetest Lab on the planet. Seriously, the sweetest.

If you got this far down the page—THANKS! I appreciate you reading my pimped up bio! Good luck to all this year’s PitchWars Mentee hopefuls—and THANK YOU to all the PitchWars Mentors. See you  in the Pitch Wars thread on Twitter.

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