Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Name Game

A rose by any other name… would sound kind of strange. This, my dear Cake Readers, is a lesson I have learned over the past four days. Why? Because I made the unwelcome discovery that Erin Kelly is published by Penguin… and I don’t mean me. Oh, no. My name—the one I’ve had since birth—was suddenly mine no more.

Tragic, I know.

But it could be fun to come up a new name, right? You would think, but no, actually, it was most certainly not. It was basically me, emailing every contact I have, saying “How about this one? What do you think of this one?” In summary, I made a pest out of myself.

I may have even become a little obsessed. At work, I thumbed idly through the customer database, whispering my first name with the last name candidates. I pulled out my yearbook, trolled websites, and even unearthed the phonebook. On Saturday, Kirk and I went to see Harry Potter, and as the credits rolled, so did my husband’s eyes—he must have heard me fitting “Erin” in front of the names as they scrolled. (Well they were British names, after all!)

The obsessing didn’t stop there. I pulled out a notebook and began signing different names, I opened Word and typed them in pretty fonts. I went to the bookstore and researched what author I’d be next to on the shelves if I chose one name or another. I shot still more emails to my poor crit group getting opinions.

The problem was—nothing felt right. None of these were me. It felt like such a huge decision. I would be known by this name indefinitely, after all! My books would always be somewhere, touting the name decided on this weekend. I went to bed last night worrying about it, and managed to even dream about it.

It wasn’t until this morning that I took a deep, long breath and realized: Shakespeare was right. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. An author by any other name would still write just as well.

And an Erin by any other name would still be me :) So, without further ado, allow me to reintroduce myself, dear Cake Readers.

Erin Knightley, at your service.

What can I say? If it was good enough for Jane Austen, than it’s good enough for me :)

So, if you were in my shoes and had to choose a new name for yourself, what would it be?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



Holy dark chocolate, batman, does it feel amazing to be able to say that! It’s the phrase I have dreamed of saying a thousand different ways in the last few years, and now that it is here, I can hardly believe that it’s real.

Quick note: If this is a dream, please no one wake me!

In all seriousness, I have been in a fog of giddiness ever since I got the news that one of my top pick publishers had made an offer. It’s not everyday your dreams come true, after all :) Today, proof that no pinching is necessary will come in the form of the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

Erin Kelly’s Golden Heart finalist and debut historical, MORE THAN A STRANGER, a Regency-style YOU'VE GOT MAIL, in which the heroine falls for an enigmatic stranger, unaware he is her brother's oldest friend and the same man she shared a childhood correspondence with before he broke her heart, at auction to Kerry Donovan at NAL by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (World English)

How official is that?! Publisher’s Marketplace, people! THE place for industry news and deals. As silly as it sounds, I’m totally framing that blurb!

So, for those of you that wanted to know how it all went down, I’ll start with the fact that I had no idea when I turned my last revision into my agent, Deidre, that she would love it and have it turned around on submission to all the major houses in less than a week. Don’t get me wrong—I was really happy with the current version, but I think I had become so mired in the revision process, I just assumed there would be more. Suffice it to say, I was shocked when I got the news that we were ready to submit.

The submission went out the Friday before I left for Nationals, meaning I was a whole ‘nuther level of neurotic once I was there. First the Golden Heart awards to think about, and now the fact my manuscript was actually in the hands of the editors I had only been able to read about and lust after from afar? On top of that, I was trying to keep the whole thing on the down low, though I’m not sure how well I succeeded.

I was, in a word, a wreck.

During the course of the week, I actually met with a few of the editors who where reading my work. I couldn’t believe it—I thought for sure no one would pick it up until after the craziness of Nationals. Yet there they were, quoting from the book and laughing about their favorite scenes. I ain’t gonna lie—it was amazing! These women, who I respected immensely and truly enjoyed meeting, really seemed to see something in me. ME! Little old me from backwater North Carolina, with a science background, no less.

Once conference was over, I came home and began the waiting process. A week later, when Deidre told me one and possibly two of the editors were considering making offers, I nearly came out of my skin. Those few days were the longest of my whole life. What if they changed their minds? What if the powers that be decided I wasn’t right for them? What if they came to their senses and realized I was just a hack?!

Poor Kirk. I think he was relieved when, last Sunday, he had to pack up and head out of town for work. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to live with me as I obsessed about whether or not anything would come of it. And then…

And then The Offer came in. The feelings I had were nearly indescribable—joy, excitement, the overwhelming gratitude to God, to my family, to all the people who had helped me. I also remember an immense feeling of relief, so powerful it was like liquid silver in my veins, slipping and sliding through me, touching every cell in my body.

The absolute worst part was that I couldn’t share the news with anyone. It was TORTURE!! That night, I went to the ATM and got a twenty out, then headed to the local organic farm that also sells homemade ice cream. Handing over my cash for a cone, I asked the girl if she knew who I was. She shook her head, more than a little bewildered at the erratic, flushed customer with the wild eyes and maniacal grin. Knowing that the cash kept me anonymous, I spilled the news. “I’m going to be published!”

She smiled and nodded. “Um, that’s great.”

But it only got better. The next morning, another offer came in. What?! How was it possible that TWO publishers could both want me? Over the next twenty four hours, I waited with my heart in my throat as the two went to auction. The poor dogs—the only witnesses to my craziness—didn’t know what to make of me. It was beyond surreal at this point. I was delirious from not being able to tell anyone, exhausted from lack of sleep, and wound tighter than an eight day clock with anticipation for the outcome.

When at last the dust settled, I ended up with the fabulous Kerry Donovan at NAL (an imprint of Penguin) with a three book deal. I literally jumped for joy, right there in the middle of my day job, whopping like ten year old girl and grinning like a fool. Next to when my husband proposed to me, it was the single greatest moment of my life. That single moment has been followed by a thousand smaller ones, thanks to all the congrats, kind words, and shared celebrations from all of you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Dreams really do come true, my friends.

(Actual jumping for joy, lol!)

Though we don’t have a release date yet, we are looking at around early spring 2013 for release of the first book. When that day comes, I do hope one of you will be kind enough to bring a scraper to peel me from the ceiling ;)

(PS - I’d take the opportunity to thank all those who helped get me to this point, but I’ll just refer you to last week’s blog instead, lol!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'd Like To Thank...

My, oh my, has it been a whirlwind past couple of weeks! The conference was an absolute blur, so jam packed that the only reason I ate anything at all was because I had scheduled all my meals with others ahead of time, lol.

It was and is an incredible honor to have been a finalist in the Golden Heart contest. Having that little ribbon at the bottom of my name badge was like magic—instantly encouraging all kinds of wonderful new people to talk to me. Complete strangers offered their congratulations, asked about my manuscript, and wished me good luck. It was humbling and inspiring all at once. Yet again, I was potently reminded of what an awesome institution RWA is.

When the big awards night finally arrived, I was giddy with excitement that my husband, sister, and mother joined me. It was so fun to have them witness one small part of the life I live on the side—all the people I talk about, all the energy surrounding the event, and the sheer mass of the event.

When all was said and done, I was not the winner in my category, but my only regret is not getting to say my speech. Okay, that’s a lie—one foot on that stage during rehearsals and I was TERRIFIED that I would win and have to give a speech to the yawning expanse of that New York ballroom. But I did want to have the opportunity to thank all the people that helped get me to that point.

So, my dear cake readers, I’ve decided give my speech after all. Without further ado, here is my not-an-acceptance-speech speech :)

There are so many people I have to thank, I think it best to just start at the beginning. To my amazing parents, who always encouraged us to follow our dreams. You were no less supportive of me when I announced I wanted to be a romance writer than you were when I declared Marine Science as my major in college. Now that is truly supportive parenting!

To my brother, who indulges his creativity after the work is done and the house is quiet, composing such beautiful music that one can not help but be inspired. To my sister, who broke from her cocoon in such magnificent fashion, reaching for her dreams and succeeding beautifully. It was through your example that I learned that stardust can not be captured if you don’t reach for the stars. It also helps that, as a fellow writer, I have someone to call and complain to at midnight when my characters are refusing to cooperate.

To my agent extraordinaire, Deidre Knight. It never ceases to amaze me that I somehow managed to land such an awesome champion, and I am forever grateful that you decided that you really are, as the contest stated, "just that into me."

To RWA, to my phenomenal local chapter HCRW, my dear friend Heather Snow, and to the amazingly talented and generous ladies of my Historical Romance Critique group. The support and camaraderie that the romance writing community continues to show is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

And lastly, to my husband. I could never hope to craft a hero more perfect for me than you are. You made MY dreams OUR dreams, putting unwavering faith in my ability. You have supported me in every way imaginable, and it is through your sacrifice that any of this is even possible.

I am so blessed. God planted some small seed of talent within me, and so many people have been a part of nourishing that seed, helping me in a thousand different ways so that I can continue to grow and thrive as a writer. Thank you so much, this is an honor that I will never forget.

Every word of that is true, and I didn’t need a win to make it so. All of you guys rock – whether you come by the blog religiously, stop by occasionally, or only just found me. Thanks for the kind, funny, and encouraging comments that you leave for me like little rays of sunshine each week. {{{Hugs}}}

So for today’s recipe, I decided to do a version of a dessert I had at John’s Pizzeria in the Theater district of NYC. Their dessert had chocolate on the bottom, mascarpone in the middle, and was covered with amoretto cookie crumbles and chocolate shavings. It was so good, the whole world receded as the creamy goodness filled my senses. Being the cupcake lady I am, I decided to convert the recipe to cake. I give you…

Chocolate and Mascarpone Cupcakes!

Okay, so I don’t actually have mascarpone cheese at the moment (somehow the local Food Lion didn’t see fit to carry it), but as soon as I can find it, I will be trying the recipe I found here, lol! Click Here

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included some pics from the big night:

The dress (color is grey, not teal!)

Before the awards ceremony

My Mom and Sister :)

A few of my crit group ladies

Julia Quinn (and yes, her hair did smell nice ;) ) PS - Eloisa James juuust made it in the picture :)

Times Square afterwards

I SOO wish I had this cop's name. His expression—and the tilt of his hat—is priceless!