Monday, March 28, 2011

A Golden Opportunity

It was 6 am. As much as I tried to squeeze my eyes closed and deny the truth, like it or not, I was wide awake. The three or four butterflies traipsing around my tummy when I went to sleep the night before had somehow managed to clone themselves into a veritable army. Yes, there would be no more sleep for me this morning. I was too daggone excited.

About what, you ask? Well, let me back up.

It all started in Chicago. Last April, I attended my very first writer’s conference. Almost a complete newbie, I clung like a spider monkey to the only person I knew—my friend Jodie. Soon, she had introduced me to the awesome ladies of my online crit group, and I began to relax. Everyone I met seemed so lovely and open, it was easy to mingle and make friends.

It was during this conference that I met four amazing ladies: Heather Snow, Cat Shield, Rochelle Staab, and Erica O’Rourke. Besides being fantastic people, I soon discovered that they were all Golden Heart® finalists. What’s this?, I asked, unfamiliar with the name. I soon learned that it was a prestigious contest held by the Romance Writers of America for unpublished writers. Sort of the Olympics, or the Academy Awards of the Romance writing community.

I could see the instant respect the GH finalists enjoyed; that certain credibility it seemed to lend them. It was a conversation starter and a great way to network. By the end of the conference, my interest was definitely piqued. When I arrived at Nationals a few months later and could see all the doors that were opened by those little yellow ribbons attached to the name tags of GH finalists—not to mention that wonderful camaraderie the finalists shared—I *wanted* it. I started planning then and there to enter come November.

After endless revisions and agonizing over every word (thank you crit partners who stuck with me!), at last I posted my entries in the mail. And then waited. And waited. And waited.

And then finally, March 25th arrived: the day the calls to the finalists would be made. Yep, with my nerves shot and the butterfly army rioting, I already wanted the day to be over the moment I opened my eyes.

To be honest, for months I had fluctuated wildly between 'hey, I have a chance' to "OH MY GOD I'M THE WORST WRITER EVER." That morning, I was leaning toward the latter, but still a beacon of hope shined in the back of my mind. Perhaps I had a chance [biting nails nervously] With the possibility of sleep was nil, I puttered around the house, toting both phones with me just in case. At one point, I even jumped out of the shower to turn my ringer on when I remembered my cell phone was on vibrate.

At around 9:30, I was watching Dr. Phil when the caller id flashed on the tv. My heart stopped dead in my chest. Seconds later, the phone itself started ringing, and I stared at it like it was a snake. If this was a telemarketer, I would *KILL* them. Feeling like someone had just put me on a Tilt-a-whirl, I slowly picked up the phone with a tentative "Hello?" The woman asked for Erin, and my heart began to pound wildly. "Yes?" I got as far as her telling me she was from the RWA and the room started to spin.

I tried to listen to her instructions, but honestly, my brain was somewhere in outer space, giddy and weightless and soaring all at once. I was a FINALIST!!! When I hung up I was nearly hyperventilating, and since I couldn’t even fathom getting a proper sentence out of my mouth, I just tweeted: “AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Luckily, at least one of my writer friends understood, and soon we were celebrating. I emailed my awesome crit partners and my agent, called my dear friend Heather, then belatedly realized I had to call the hubby and fam, lol.

Since Friday, I have been floating around in a pink bubble of happiness, thankful and humbled by all the well-wishes I have received. Though I have my fingers crossed that I do actually manage to take the award (and by take, I mean snatch from the real winner and run for the hills, lol), I can’t imagine that it could feel any better than I feel right now. It’s a feeling that I wish for each and every one of you at some point in your live :)

Thanks for being such awesome readers. I love you all! Heck, I love the whole world!

So, tell me about something that made you really, really happy recently. I can’t wait to share in your joy as you have shared in mine. :D!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Spring In My Step

Okay, so I know I waxed poetic about the snow, and I know that I grumble all summer long about how blasted hot it is, but I just want to say: hallelujah, it’s SPRING!! Can I get an amen?

Seriously, this has been the longest, coldest, darkest winter ever recorded in the history of all of mankind (as scientifically determined by me freezing my tushie off for the past four months), and I have never been more excited to see a blooming goldenrod bush in my entire life.


This weekend, we were even able to crank open the windows and wear short sleeves. I feel enlivened. I feel invigorated. I feel…stuffed up. Whatever – I’ll take a little sinus hassle if it means frolicking through the backyard with naught but a sundress on. I’ll suffer the neti pot for the decadence of enjoying our first boat cruise of the year. (Although, really, I think that medieval torture device should have stayed in the dark ages where it belongs. I use it, but it is so wrong.)

But best of all about the coming spring? How much it inspires me. With the return of light in the evenings and a warm breeze through my house, I am invigorated with all the possibilities. I want to clean, to check things off my to-do list, and—best of all—I want to write. What is it about the spring air that absolutely begs for a happily ever after?

Today, in a rare act of self-indulgence, I snuck out and saw a movie all by myself (a love story -purely for research, of course!). When it let out a little after six, I stopped for an ice cream cone and wandered around the charming little plaza amidst the stores and restaurants, nodding to the shop workers and passerbys alike. Before long, a sun-drenched bench beckoned, and I sat alone in the waning sunshine, watching four young siblings play Simon Says on the turf ahead of me. As I lapped at the last vestiges of creamy, strawberry goodness, I smiled at the memory of the games of Red Rover, Red Rover, dodgeball, and Red Light, Green Light a thousand years ago, when I was that young.

Those sweet memories led to others: flying a kite on a brisk Kentucky spring day, lying back on the soft bluegrass and watching the swiftly moving, diaphanous clouds morph rapidly from an elephant, to a peanut, to a hot air balloon against a brilliant blue backdrop. We even had a real hot air balloon land in our yard once, like a colorful, graceful jellyfish floating down from the heavens. I was slightly older then, around 11 or 12, but still young enough to feel the rush of delight at such a wondrous thing. Even now, every time I see one in the sky, a brightly colored dot hanging against an endless blue canvas, I think of that day and smile.

Spring has always brought light, and warmth, and color, and life. As I breath in the new season, that indefinable taste of happiness, an odd sense of hope washes over me. Hopeful for good news with my writing, hopeful for a finished kitchen, hopeful that the coming pollen won’t lead to more neti pot use ;)

What are some of your favorite springtime memories? Have you been enjoying the same beautiful weather as we’ve been blessed with here? And if any of you are spring-cleaning…can you come over here and help me?? :)

Cabinets are scheduled to be installed starting today – hooray! Another two weeks for the countertops, but the hardwoods are nearly completed and the entertainment center is taking shape! It won’t be long now until everything’s done and I can post pics!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Underwater Cave

As I’m sure you well know by now, I am currently a resident of Chaos, population 2. Or rather 5, if one includes the pooches, and I always do. For the most part, having my house in such disarray has driven me a wee bit crazy. Or a lot crazy. Really, who’s counting? (Me! I am! Get me out of this dust infused, manual labor-requiring nightmare!)


There have been some very bright spots, however. One of which was the rediscovery of my Young Authors books, written when I was in elementary school. Pulled from obscurity during the great box-up of all our crap- er, stuff, I dropped what I was doing and plopped down on the couch to take a closer look. Bound with cardboard and contact paper and carefully illustrated with colored pencils, these simple, homemade storybooks represent the beginning of my career as a writer.

I read through them and couldn’t help but laugh. Simplistic, imaginative, and fun, the story they really offer is a glimpse into the child I once was. For you, dear Cake Readers. I thought I would share the original Erin Kelly masterpiece: The Underwater Cave.

As any budding authoress knows, the first page is reserved for a shout out to those who made the book possible. The dedication succinctly sums up all the important people in my life at that point: My Mom, Dad, brother, sister, dog, bird, and cat. *sniff* Poetry, isn’t it? I’m sure my bird was greatly honored by the mention :)

Because I am feeling like a nostalgic old fool, I decided to publish some of this great novel. Without further ado, the literary stylings of ten-year-old me:

Chapter 1: Catalina Waters

We were looking for shelter. We had very little food. Me, Erin, and Ernie were all miserable. We had not any parents, and it was up to me to take care of everyone. And that’s how the adventure started, One day we were swimming in the ocean, cooling off. All of the sudden I heard a horrid scream! I jerked my head around to see my younger brother trying to get away from a shark!! I swam out to get him and all the sudden, something lifted us up! It was a dolphin!

The dolphin swam to my youngest brother Eric, and picked him up and carried us out ot deep sea, maybe 75-100 feet. I was terrified! And then, to add to my death defying experience, he dived into the water. Her went so fast, it took him 15 seconds to get to his destination at the bottom of the sea. He went a little slower until he got to a cave. He went inside and let us down in front of a very old man. And all of the sudden, we could breathe again! I and my brother were gasping for air.

Chapter 2: The Old Man

The old man looked at me and said, “You have been chosen.” Then he led us into a strange room filled with underwater beings. He went on. Finally we ended up in a very, very, beautiful room. There were there other children who looked exactly like us, like twins to us. He waved his hand towards three empty chairs. We sat down. Then he identified himself. He said, “My name is Sire Petroid, King of the Lost City.” I was speechless! Then he said, “These are your shadows. They are noting but black in the sun, but are real in The Lost City,” (Me, still speechless).

Then he turned to me and my brothers. He looked at our hands and blinked his eyes. And in a flash we had crystals on our hands. Then he looked at our foreheads and nodded. We had beautiful crowns on. I even had makeup and outrageous jewels on. We were fascinated by this trick. I turned to him and said, “I am grateful for what you have done, but why?” He responded to me, “You have been chosen by the people of my town.

Chapter 3: The Young Princess

“You see, when you were born you were born down in The Lost City, your mother was one of us. And when I saw you, I knew that you were the one, the princess of our kingdom. But when your mother found that out, she made an agreement with me, and the agreement was that you were to live above sea until the age of 15, then you were to come down to your home town to rule our land for us and give us what we need. I looked at him and said, “But I am only ten years old, why now?” He looked at me like he was about to tell a long story, not just long, but LONG.

Okay, I will spare you from the rest of the book (and that LONG story) :-) Needless to say, it all works out in the end. It really is fun to see the beginning spark of the author within—though I am sure you will be relieved to know I am now much more judicious with my use of exclamation marks, lol. It makes me wonder if anyone else saw traces of who they would become in their young selves. Early on, when we could focus on naught but what makes us happy? My husband had his tinker toys, my dad surely played with toy planes. Did your interests in childhood blossom into what you do today? If you have children, do you watch them with their interests and wonder if you are seeing the very beginnings of their future careers?

Only a few more weeks, and I’ll be back to posting recipes. I can’t WAIT to pull out my bowls and pans and get to work creating something yummy! Kirk has already requested cookies, so I’ll have to think long and hard about the perfect recipe to christen my new kitchen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Day in the Life of Being Kitchenless

Erin’s Kitchenless Journal

Day 1

Wow, it is so weird not to have the oven and stove at my fingertips. Or a sink. Or a pantry. It’s like an adventure! We’re like Robinson Crusoe, without the beard or scary cannibals! I know, I’ll grill a delicious pork loin, microwave SteamFresh veggies, and pour wine for the hubby :)

Day 3

Okay, at some point I should probably wash those grilling tongs and wine glass. If I could find the dish soap, that would be a positive step. And if the bathroom sink were a little deeper, that would make things so much easier. Hmm, perhaps Lean Cuisine has a yummy entrée I can pop in the microwave.

Day 5

If I look at one more Lean Cuisine, I am going to hurl. Oh, wait—what did that commercial just say? $5 footlongs the whole month of February? SCORE! I love Subway. And there are so many different subs to choose from! Man, it is just so nice to have an excuse for eating out.

Day 9

If I ever meet Jared, I will ask him how the hell he ingested so many &*#$ing sub sandwiches. . Subway should give away free subs for life more often as a promotion. After 4 days, the winner won’t be coming back and just think of all the marketing they’d get out of it. Man, I’m a marketing genius! I guess I should give the nicer restaurants a try now.

Day 11

(in fetal position on dust-covered couch, watching dust-covered tv. An orange peal, granola wrapper, and empty Redi-whip can littered on the tray before me)

Day 12

Did you ever know that you’re my hero? Did you ever know that you’re the wind beneath my wings? {Neighbor blinking} “Um, does that mean you do want to come over for dinner tonight?”

There’s a special place in heaven for neighbors and their extra pot roast. It was simple fare: meat, veggie, and rolls. I may contact Michelin to see about getting her a star rating from them. Brilliant. Best food of my life. I may have licked the plate. And Kirk’s.

And those box cupcakes with the canned icing? Best ever. EK heart Neighbor 4ever

Day 15

THE CABINETS ARE COMING! THE CABINETS ARE COMING!!! The rescue squard, er, delivery company called to schedule delivery today. Shoved aside the loaf of banana bread I have been eating on for three days (again, EK heart Neighbor 4ever)

:) Can you tell I’m ready to have my kitchen back? So have you ever reached the point where there was nothing you wanted more than a home cooked meal? Have you ever looked at a food that you once adored and considered chucking it out the window? *coughsubwayclubcough*

My recipe for the week? Wait for a neighbor to have pity on you and feed you a hot meal ;) Lord, I can’t wait to get my kitchen back and start inventing new recipes again! Happy week to you all, and yes, I did finish my revisions. Hooray!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This is a Test, This is Only a Test

Good morning, dear Cake Readers. I just wanted to post to let you know that I am concentrating on finishing my revisions ( al...most...there...), so I'm delaying this week's post until such time that I am not revising like a mad woman :)

I plan on posting this week's blog by Thursday at noon. Wish me luck, and I hope to see you back here then!