The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BookExpo America

This is a commercial. Cedar Fort is flying me to New York City on Thursday to participate in BookExpo America. I've never been before, but I do know it's a super-duper, big deal of a book publishers/sellers' convention. Cedar Fort is expanding and looking for a wider audience, and this is one good way to do it.

The event takes place at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. On May 31, Friday at 2 p.m., I'll be signing my books at the Cedar Fort booth. On Saturday, I'll do the same at 10 a.m., then catch a plane for home that afternoon.

This'll probably a noisy, crowded, above-all interesting event, and I'm looking forward to it. We lived in Brooklyn, NY, from 1969-1972, while Martin earned an MFA in directing from Brooklyn College. We were poor students at the time, but we did manage to see the major sights in the Big Apple. I wish I had time to visit the Frick Museum again on this trip, and go to Coney Island for Nathan's hot dogs, but I doubt it's possible. (And I doubt Nathan's Famous is still 50 cents.) I'm supposed to attend a party for Harlequin on Thursday night, but we'll see. I'm not the world's greatest mingler. Still, I can probably leave anytime I want.

It'll be hard to top last weekend in Washington, DC, when I saw a niece get married, visited with my two sisters, had a delightful day of sightseeing in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Appomatox Courthouse and Lexington, VA) with my brother-in-law and 2 beagles, and toured Ford's Theatre in DC. Good cake at the wedding, too. And what could be cooler than the Star War's Victory March used as the recessional?

I do like a good time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whitney is becoming a favorite name

There's a point in awards ceremonies where I always ask myself, why do this? I can eat chicken and mushrooms at home, and I can avoid rolls at home. Then I ask myself, should I really just take one bite of the chocolate mousse pie and give the rest to my husband, because after all, I probably won't win a Whitney this year, since I won one last year? And gee willikers, I paid a lot for food I'm a) either not eating  b) or I could cook at home. (This is how nervous nellies think. It's not a pretty sight.)

But I was a good enough girl. I passed up the roll, didn't eat all the mashed potatoes, and yes indeedy, handed over that chocolate mousse pie to Hubby, after one - mebbe two - bites. Then I waited through interminable comments by presenters until we arrived at the historical fiction category, where My Loving Vigil Keeping won best Historical Fiction of the Year at the 2012 Whitney Awards.

I happily accepted the Whitney Award in memory of "my guys," the 200 men and boys who died in the Winter Quarters Mine Disaster in 1900. They were on my mind anyway, since it isn't that long since May 1, when the Number Four Mine blew up and killed the morning shift. Quite a few guys in the connecting Number One died, too, of afterdamp. That's only part of the story, of course. Novels are built of more than that.

Three days before the awards ceremony, I went up to Scofield for a visit. Going to the cemetery makes me sad, because they all died too young, and generally with large and hopeful families. And some of them were buried so far from previous homes in Finland, England, Wales, Scotland, you name it. The sadness passes, though, and I feel the peace of the place. Eagles swoop and soar overhead. The logical side of my brain tells me they're only on the hunt for the cemetery's gophers. The other side suggests to me that they're looking after my guys,too.

Time passes. In a few weeks, there will be a paper flower on each grave. The Price Sun-Advocate began a project a few years ago called "No grave left unadorned." Scores of folks make paper flowers, which are put on each grave in Carbon County. Once a year, someone leaves a paper flower for my guys. But I go up several times a year, walk the rows, and think about lives cut short, hard-working men, and what compels people to leave their homes in other nations or states and follow the coal veins to Utah. For some, it was religion, and probably the hope of better lives for their children. For others, it was just the latter, or better lives for themselves.

I've noticed that sometimes others leave flowers during the year, so I know these men are remembered. I remember all the time.


Now a little housekeeping- If any of you live in New York City, you're welcome to drop by the Jacob Javits Center on May 31 at 2 p.m., or June 1 at 10 a.m., where I'll be signing books. It's part of the annual Book Expo America. Cedar Fort is flying me there, and I'm totally jazzed about it. I've never been to BEA, but I hear it's a great place to meet authors and snag free books. I'll also drop by the Harlequin booth on Friday morning, and maybe the Signet booth, because I have some interests there, too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Readers make my day

A month or so ago, I received a forwarded letter that had been sent to Mills & Boon in London. It was from Joan in Dubbo, New South Wales, who had some kind things to say about The Admiral's Penniless Bride. It's fun to hear from readers, and doesn't happen all too often.  Thought I'd share it with you. It's my birthday today and I can do what I want. I looked up Dubbo, NSW. It's a small town on the Macquarie River, sort of west by northwest of Sydney. Ironically, it's close to Wellington, which is where I live, but 15,000 or so miles away on another continent.  Joan is forever etched in my heart for two reasons: I really enjoy readers, and I especially enjoy readers who know how to use a semi-colon, which she does. Goodonyer, Joan!

To Harlequin/Mills & Boon

   Would it be possible for you to e-mail or Fax my regards to Carla Kelly? I have just finished reading 'The Admiral's Penniless Bride' and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed any book as much as I did this one.
   The sense of humor comes across beautifully. In fact I cannot recall any Historical Story with humor like this one.
   As I have read hundreds of Mills & Book books over the years and hope to have many more years left to enjoy even more; I hope there will be more from this author especially if it contains the same type of humor. 
   Many of my friends also enjoy these books and we pass them backwards and forwards between us.
   These include my mother-in-law -- aged 86 this year and a good neighbour aged 84 this year.
   My age is 72 and many of my friends are in this age bracket.
   At our ages we have the time to sit & read (& enjoy) a good romantic story.
   As I am computer illiterate I cannot write to Carla myself so will hope you can forward this to her.
   Thanks so much for such a varied range of reading matter.
Yours sincerely,


7 May 2013

Dear Joan,

Harlequin /Mills & Boon forwarded your kind letter to me here in Utah. Thanks for your words about The Admiral’s Penniless Bride. I have to tell you – the germ of the idea came from our move to Utah from North Dakota. My husband bought a house that was a total wreck. I had remained behind in North Dakota because I was a) packing  b) finishing up a history of Fort Buford for a publisher. I didn’t speak to him for a few days!

Luckily, we all survived. The house was completely remodeled in stages, with the kitchen finished last summer. This summer, we’re going to remodel the basement. Crazy. Since I’m a writer, I naturally drew from my own experiences, although we never had a house as erotic as the one Admiral Bright inflicted on Sally Paul.  Well, almost not. My dad was in the U.S. Navy, and we lived in postwar Japan for a while. Our first house was owned by a Japanese writer, I believe, who had some oddball “western” ideas. He had a huge statue of a naked woman by the front door. My mom was a bit of a prude, and it gave her quite a jolt. I was 7 at the time, and my sister was 9, and we thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Maybe that’s part of being a writer – we remember quirky events. At the time I certainly never planned to write anything, much less a novel with a naked statue, but it did come in handy, years later!

Here’s another chuckle about The Admiral’s Penniless Bride – every few months, or now and then (it’s random), I get a box of 3 books which is a translation. I can generally figure out the language, but “Bride” came a few months ago in a language I had never seen before. It looked a bit Finnish, but not quite. We finally figured out that the book had been translated into Estonian.  

And yet, it’s not a funny book, not at all. Some readers took me to task because they thought the admiral’s reaction was extreme, but I never thought so. A man used to command and instant obedience is not about to tolerate what he thought was a terrible coverup from the woman he was now in love with.  My original title was “Admiral Bright’s Inconvenient Marriage.”  But Harlequin loves to change titles, for good or ill.

My most recent Harlequin is set at Fort Laramie, Wyoming Territory, in 1876.  I had been begging and begging to write something besides a Regency, and Her Hesitant Heart was the result. It’s just out, but doing well. I’m back to writing Regencies, though. Working on one now.

The Fort Laramie story will always be dear to my heart, because I used to work at Fort Laramie National Historic Site as a ranger in the National Park Service. I love the place and know it well.

And you’re from New South Wales. We had to look up Dubbo on our atlas. I have to tell you, Joan, that I have three favorite books, and one of them is Nevil Shute’s novel, A Town Like Alice (I believe it was originally titled The Legacy).  Great book.

I’m a bit younger than you. I’m 66 today, May 7. I write for two other publishers, besides Harlequin. If you were computer literate, you could look me up on Amazon and maybe get some of those books, too.

Best to you, and thanks so much for writing.


 Carla Kelly
I think I might send her another book. I'll do that for someone who understands a semi-colon.