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.

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.


  1. Carla,

    I have longed to tell you how much I enjoy your writings, so here goes...

    I once wrote a poem with the words "a misplaced treasure found" which also describe how I feel about your writings. Each time I delve into a Carla Kelly novel, I feel like a miner who's finally hit that lode. There is so much dreck out there, but I can always count on you for quality in plotting and characterizations. (Did I mention that you're a fine storyteller?) :-)

    I "discovered" you last year while visiting a forum at Amazon. I had one of those "Where have you been all my life?" moments when I started reading my first Carla Kelly novel: MARRYING THE CAPTAIN. I am now well acquainted with the one click buy button at Amazon.

    Thank you for creating true romantic heroes: men of honor who try to do the right thing and who fix their mistakes when they can. Those type of men are truly sigh-worthy.

    You keep writing them, and I'll keep reading them.

    A Kentucky Bookworm,

    Robin Wilson

  2. I promise to keep writing them. These are the kind of guys I know - the decent ones who keep trying. You're going to really like Marco Mondragon in The Double Cross, out August 1 (although I do have my copies now).

  3. With a name like Marco Mondragon, I can't wait to meet him. (Gotta love alliteration.) Thanks, Carla!

  4. I have to tell you something about Marrying the Captain. I've received huge flack for the name Nana, but I have a reader/friend named Nana and I asked her permission to use the name. (I've never called a Grandma of mine Nana, so the thought never crossed my tiny mind.) Also, Marrying the Captain was the first book I wrote after I had actually been to England, specifically Plymouth. I'd go back in a minute.

  5. Well, since you brought it up...:-)
    I always substitute "Nan" for "Nana" in that book. If not, I kept imagining grandmothers and dog/nursemaids. (Peter Pan, anyone?) Other than that one quibble, MARRYING THE CAPTAIN is just about perfect--one that I've read over and over.

  6. Funny. If it's any reassurance, Marco Mondragon's "sudden" wife is Paloma.

  7. "Paloma" works for me! :-)
    I'm throwing a question to you in case you check this section again. I just read MISS CHARTLEY'S GUIDED TOUR and found it to be a typical Carla Kelly read: terrific plotting and characterization. Here's my question: Were you at all concerned that your hero would be unforgivable to certain readers? I felt that he'd punished himself through the years and paid dearly for his reprehensible behavior. (Gee, I hate bachelor parties.) Some reviews that I've read could not get past the point that he cut off all contact with Omega and didn't reach out to her even though she'd lost her father and lifestyle after Matthew abandoned her at the altar. I felt that it was part of his shame. He would only make her life worse by contacting her again. I'd love to hear/read your thoughts.

  8. Robin, I've discovered that it is simply impossible to please every reader. I've stopped trying. Here's the thing: I sincerely believe in repentance. It's possible to atone for some pretty bad stuff and move on. Matthew's terrible, deep shame colored everything he did. I suspect that many people could never pick up again with someone like Omega. If they hadn't been thrown together, I'm sure they never would have connected again on any level. But sometimes events are kind.

  9. "But sometimes events are kind."
    I love your phrasing to describe fate, destiny, etc. It is wonderful when serendipity seemingly lands in your lap after a long dry spell in life.
    Carla, it has been a joy "chatting" with you. I love visiting NYC, and if I wasn't having foot surgery on May 30th, I would have been at the Jacob Javits Center with bells on. If you have a newsletter, I'd love to sign up for it. Oh, and congratulations on your Whitney Award! The judging committee certainly got it right. MY LOVING VIGIL KEEPING has a firm spot on my Kindle keeper shelf. :-)

  10. Thanks, Robin. Best to you on your surgery.