2009 Golden Heart® winner and debut author Kelly Ann Riley writes contemporary and historical romantic suspense and mystery. Tread Softly: A Want Ad Murder was an 07 Golden Heart finalist in the Romantic Suspense category. Her entry, Kitty’s Fire, finaled in Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure in 08 and won in Inspirational this year.
I had the privilege of interviewing Kelly Ann in June. Since that time, life has held even more successes for her. She went on to win the Golden Heart this year and to sell her winning entry, Kitty’s Fire, to Love Inspired Suspense.
Kelly Ann lives on 15 rural acres in Alabama with her engineer husband, two teens and an eclectic menagerie of cats, dogs, birds, horses, turtles and other assorted critters. Kelly Ann is a Registered Dietitian with an MBA who has worked in various hospitals and clinics as a teacher and manager. She’s also worked as a firefighter, waitress, janitor, teacher’s assistant and shoe salesperson, experiences that have given her fodder for her stories. When not heightening the suspense for her characters, she likes to read, read, read; watch movies (a happy ending is a must); direct her church’s youth club; camp; hike; swim; garden; play with her many animals and hang out at bookstores.
Join me as we learn more about Kelly Ann’s journey to publication.
(And be sure to check out the drawing prizes at the end of the post.)
Wow, Kelly Ann! When you were here as my guest in June, did you expect to be back so soon as a Golden Heart winner and debut author with a contract offer on the table? I’m not surprised. With your many successes up to that point, I felt sure I’d hear good news in the near future. Congratulations! I’m delighted for you.
•Things happened quickly for you. Please give us a summary of what took place in the weeks following the interview and leading up to that life changing phone call. Be sure to include the euphoric experience when you leaned that your name was called at the RWA® Nationals Awards Ceremony.
Thank you, Keli, for having me back on your wonderful blog, and no, I didn’t expect it to be this soon. This is really cool.
The summer was remarkably busy. I traveled to Utah and Wisconsin on two separate trips, worked on my historical romantic suspense, The Promise, and edited Kitty’s Fire after Steeple Hill requested it from the Golden Heart Contest.
Sadly, I was unable to attend RWA’s National Conference in D.C. For the last five years, my family has volunteered to assist in a teen mission trip for our church. This year we went with thirty-five teens to Monument Valley, Utah to conduct a Vacation Bible School program for the Navajo children and do some community work projects. I hadn’t missed the national conference in many years, but because of the earlier dates of the conference this summer, it overlapped with the mission trip. Since I’m the VBS coordinator, leaving in the middle of the trip would’ve been difficult, and I struggled with what to do. My family was very supportive and told me to go to D.C. since I was a Golden Heart Finalist, but in the end I felt God wanted me on the trip.
We stayed in the SDA Mission school in Monument Valley, and luckily there was an Internet connection, so on the night of the Golden Heart and RITA ceremony, I planned on watching the results online. Unfortunately, I forgot about the time zone difference and went to go eat supper. I even left my phone behind because I’d return shortly. When I got back upstairs, there were a string of text messages on my cell phone from my writing partner, Cee Dunsheath, telling me they were announcing the Golden Heart Winners, my category was up, etc. But the message I zeroed in almost immediately was
My heart nearly stopped. I had to reread it several times and then call Cee before it sank in. I started jumping around and squealing. People who didn’t even know what the Golden Heart was congratulated me. It was great fun!!
I wish I could’ve been at the ceremony, but I felt truly blessed by being on the mission trip, and winning the award added an extra special blessing. My friend and fellow 07 Golden Heart finalist, Donnell Ann Bell, accepted the award on my behalf, and when she sent me the Golden Heart pendant, I got to celebrate all over again.
I was thrilled to find out that Tina James from Steeple Hill had requested the full manuscript of Kitty’s Fire. After a quick edit, my agent sent it off at the end of July.
•And then you got The Call! I was so excited when I first received the news. As everyone who visits my blog soon learns, I love to hear Call stories. Would you please share yours? Did you know it was coming, or what it a total shock? How did you react when your long-awaited first sale became reality?
I love hearing about The Call Stories too. I always thought it was fun that the authors could remember the date and exact time they got The Call, even many years later. Since I’m terrible with dates, I used to wonder if I’d remember the details like they did. Now I can say, yes, I think that moment is etched in my brain forever.
The morning of the day I got The Call, I was lying in bed and thinking “Please God, let this be the day someone buys my book.” This wasn’t the first time I’d sent similar prayers skyward about my writing career, nor will it be the last, I’m sure. Little did I know… 🙂
Tuesdays are when my agent generally follows-up on submissions, so when Kelly Mortimer called that morning, my heart skipped a beat, but … it wasn’t The Call. She’d phoned to inform me about another opportunity I might try out for. We even discussed that it was still too early to call Steeple Hill to find out the verdict on Kitty’s Fire.
This was Tuesday, August 25th, a day that had been marked on our family calendar for months because the Jonas Brothers’ concert was coming to Nashville. My daughter and her best friend were in teeny bopper heaven. Nashville is about two hours away from our home in Alabama, and we were loaded up in the car to go pick up the best friend when the cell phone rang at 1:42 p.m. It was Kelly Mortimer again, and she asked if I had any questions about the other opportunity. (She’d emailed me guidelines, and I’d packed them in my purse to take with me to the concert.)
So we were chatting about the different requirements when all of sudden she said. “Well, there’s one caveat, you may not have time to work on the mystery series because you are a Steeple Hill author now.”
I screamed and had to pull off the road. I couldn’t believe it. Kelly got me good. It was so funny and thrilling. My daughter had a big grin on her face and had to sit there and try to be quiet. I could barely concentrate as we went over the details of the offer. Finally I accepted it, calmed down some, and drove very carefully to the concert. I think I even screamed for joy a few times more—not that anyone could hear me above the deafening teenybopper screams (note: take earplugs to combat the fans if you attend a Jonas Brothers Concert).
So, that’s my Call Story. The offer was an answer to prayer, a dream come true, and that day changed my life forever.
•I’ve heard a writer’s plate becomes very full as she embarks on her new career as a published author. Please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning and how you’re adjusting to living with publisher’s deadlines.
I’ve been floating around on Cloud Nine for days, but I think I’m finally settling back to earth as my responsibilities become more apparent. I talked with my editor (always wanted to say my editor :-)) last week, and she sent me a list of revisions. I’m also supposed to submit some ideas for a new title and fill out an Art Fact Sheet for the cover. I also need to get my next proposal polished and ready to send in, and then there’s the ACFW conference in Denver in a couple weeks.
My family is starting to realize more that writing is a job, and I can’t just drop everything at moment’s notice for unimportant things. I’m lucky I don’t have to work outside home right now, so I can write during the day. I homeschool our daughter, but she’s in high school, so she can be more self-directed. I’ve always been a planner, but I’m striving now to be even more organized with time management as I try to balance family, homeschool, church duties, and writing.
•Since you’ve just gone through the initial euphoria of getting a contract offer and the resulting return to reality that soon follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive The Call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
I have a lot to learn but I’ve heard this advice from other authors, and I think it’s helped me: Before The Call, learn to write to deadlines, have an established writing routine, and remember that writing isn’t just art, but a business. If you start acting like professional writer before the first contract, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to being a published author.
Questions for Kelly Ann
Kelly Ann, it’s been great to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your wonderful news with us.
And now, I invite your visitors to squee with you and to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer.
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Learn More About Kelly Ann
Visit her Web site: http://www.KellyAnnRiley.com
Friend her on Facebook: Kelly Ann Riley
Follow her on Twitter: Kelly Ann Riley
Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Saturday Special Drawing
I’m holding a drawing for those who leave a comment for Kelly Ann on Saturday, September 5th.
Because Kelly Ann’s debut novel involves a cat, and because I’m a cat person, too, I have cat-themed prizes to give away to two lucky winners.
Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?
101 of the most perplexing questions answered about feline unfathomables, medical mysteries & befuddling behaviors.
By Marty Becker, DVM, and Gina Spadfori
~ and ~
A set of sixteen note cards featuring four adorable shots of kittens catching some ZZZs. (Four of each design.)
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on Kelly Ann’s post on September 5th (by midnight Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On September 6th, I’ll post the winners’ names here and in a comment.
Congrats to Jamie Michele who won the book and Cee Dunsheath who won the note cards.
My Regular Drawing
My next drawing will take place September 10th.
The winner will receive a visit from Gerard Butler.
OK. Not exactly, but she will get to see him in one of his famous roles.
I’m offering a DVD of The Phantom of the Opera in which he stars along with Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by September 10th (multiple comments do increase your chances) and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On September 11th, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and September 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On October 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)