Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Elly Kate!!

Today we’re welcoming another Omega, Elly Kate, a 2019 Golden Heart finalist in the Contemporary Romance category with her manuscript THE CINDERELLA FACTOR.

Elly Kate began reading romance novels early, pilfering from her mother’s collection kept piled in a basket in the kitchen. Writing romance came much later – in fact, not until just a couple of years ago. After years of penning poetry and non-fiction, dreaming up romantic stories has stolen her heart and she can’t seem to stop.

Born and raised in the Boston area, she has lived for the past twenty years in and around the city of her soul: Philadelphia. When she’s not writing or working at her day job as a librarian and archivist, she spends her time being a mom, wrangling two cats and a dog, fixing up an old house, reading, playing the banjo, knitting, cooking, gardening, and generally making all kinds of stuff.

Here’s a blurb for THE CINDERELLA FACTOR:

What happens when a precariously-employed academic with anxiety meets a book-loving, stress-cooking British movie star?

 After losing her job as an adjunct professor of Medieval Literature, Julia Harrow takes a chance on appearing on a morning television segment about courtly love in an attempt to raise her profile—despite her fear of cameras and public attention. Happily, her job search yields a dream opportunity in London: two years at a renowned college with the possibility of permanent appointment.

 Jake Flynn is the movie star heartthrob every woman wants. With his boy-next-door good looks and the leading role in a successful action series, he seems to have everything. But what he knows he can’t have is the brilliant, fascinating woman on the television morning show. Approaching a “regular” woman never ends well.

 Lightning strikes twice as Julia and Jake meet first in Miami Beach, then in London. But with Julia’s fear of public attention and cameras, Jake’s life in the spotlight is her worst nightmare. And it doesn’t help that her new boss is after her to stay out of the tabloids. Can love last when the reality of the fairy tale is everything she never wanted?

What a fabulous scenario!! You had me at a book-loving, stress-cooking British movie star!! (Weirdly, I also am a former academic who had a brief pop-culture moment being interviewed by HuffPost about medieval love poetry and Tumblr…but I digress. And I’m still waiting on my hot Brit actor boyfriend….)

Sounds like there’s plenty to drive Jake and Julia apart, and also a universe that very much wants them to be together!! Splendid!!

Okay, it’s time to gather round, folks. Since the story’s got a Miami Beach connection, I’m setting out some chaise lounges on a posh hotel balcony overlooking the ocean. Pour yourself a frozen tropical cocktail (with a flamingo stirrer, naturally), while we learn more about Elly Kate.


Welcome, Elly! Thanks so much for joining us today all the way from Philadelphia, which just so happens to be the city where I was born…and I’m always appreciative of anyone who recognizes what a charming and chill and wonderful city it is!!

I don’t usually start with questions about the day job, but I’m intrigued: you’re a librarian who does archive work. What a great profession for a romance writer! You must see so much intriguing material!

I’ve been an archivist and librarian for more than two decades, working in universities, museums, and other types of institutions with rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and other primary source materials. I’ve been doing this for so long that it absolutely permeates every other aspect of my life, including writing. As an archivist, I think a lot about the past, and about whose past is recorded, or not. Whose story isn’t heard, or what aspects of the human experience are lost as time passes.

I like to think that fiction addresses these issues just as much as archival records do. In a way, fiction records the human experience more holistically – and maybe in a more empathetically comprehensible way for future generations – than record-keeping systems that in a hundred years may seem very foreign. Well, fiction as well as letters – there is nothing better as an archivist than reading old letters!

The only other job I have any experience with is working in horse stables, which, as it happens, factors into my current WIP…

 So you spend your days looking through old photographs and rare books and letters (my heart swoons at the idea!!), and your heroine is a Medieval Lit professor. How did you end up writing Contemporary Romance instead of historical? How did the idea for your Golden Heart book come to you?

I wrote this book by accident. Really! I spent the better part of a year researching, planning, and plotting a dark and dramatic historical. But every time I sat down to work on it, it felt like a slog. I wasn’t having fun, and the words weren’t coming. So, I started a different historical. Still nothing. Then I happened to take a vacation in Miami Beach, and while I was walking down the main street the meet cute in The Cinderella Factor just came to me. (And no, I’m not going to spoil it here!) I worked backwards and forwards from that scene to figure out who these characters were, and what would eventually lead to them to their happily ever after. Once I started writing I couldn’t stop! It was such a joy. I’m not saying it was easy, but I loved the process. I’d found my story.

Ah, with love and stories both, the heart wants what it wants! You can never force it, but when the right one comes along….boom!! So, once you had the story idea, what was your writing process like?

I’m still trying to figure out my process. Or maybe process is something that’s supposed to be constantly changing… Who knows? I completely pantsed my first book, wrote scenes out of order, and embraced the chaos. Not knowing where the story was going to go kept me engaged. I’ve started to do a bit more plotting with subsequent books, because I think it makes for a tighter story. We’ll see. I still enjoy discovering the story as I write it. I do revise as I write – unrepentantly! It helps me remember where I was and where I’m going, and makes later revisions so much easier. And I write wherever, whenever: before work, at lunch, at night, on weekends, at the dining room table, on the couch with the dog, in between laundry loads and errands and “Hey Mom”s from my kid. Whatever works! I rarely get more than a few hundred words per day with everything else I have going on, but it adds up. Just write. Just keep moving the story forward. Every little bit is progress. That’s the only advice I’ve got.

“Every little bit is progress”—yes, yes, yes!! And look where it’s gotten you!! What was it like getting that awesome phone call when you learned you were a Golden Heart Finalist?

I don’t think I let myself really feel just how much I wanted to be a finalist until after I got the call. Now I recognize that this was something I wanted on a bone-deep level: the experience, the opportunities, and most of all, the community. I was so incredibly nervous the morning the announcements were made, and all I could think about was that I had to somehow get through the day at work, trying to be productive, not knowing if I was a finalist. I parked my car and tried to motivate myself to get out and go into my office – and then my phone rang! I have no idea who it was who called me, I just kept thanking her over and over. I was excited, of course, but also SO relieved that I didn’t have to wait any longer to find out!

Congratulations! It really is such a special and transformative experience. And Nationals will be a blast. Have you ever been before?

This year will be my first time. As soon as I heard that the conference was in New York – so close to Philly! – I planned to go. Now, my schedule is full of Golden Heart events, and I’m so grateful that I am able to attend and have this experience. I can’t wait to meet the other 2019 finalists in person, as well as past finalists. I also have a whole crowd of romance-related friends I only know online, and I’m excited to meet them in real life. And I’m incredibly lucky that members of my local chapter – Philadelphia Romance Writers – are attending, so I will have some friendly faces around.

Don’t worry about finding friendly faces—that Golden Heart Finalist ribbon on your conference badge will have total strangers chatting you up in the coffee line.

And it’s eye-opening to see in a very concrete sense just how big and diverse the romance-writing community really is. So many different writers, so many different kinds of books. And so much going on right now in RWA in terms of trying to more fully embrace and engage our diversity. As a librarian, I’m sure you’re very aware of these issues. What would you like to see more of in the Romance genre?

Everything! I want to read more of everything. There’s so much room in our genre to write stories for everyone, and about everyone, and to imagine worlds where every type of person and every type of love ends in an HEA. I realize that there are deep, sustained structural problems in the publishing world and in society that frequently suppress certain kinds of stories – especially those by and about marginalized people. There’s so much work to do. But that’s the goal: stories for everyone!

Amen!! There’s so much wonderful work out there that deserves a big audience! I’m eager to see what new steps RWA is planning to take in the coming year.

 Okay, it’s time to open the floor to our visitors today. What question do you have for our readers?

What stories do you wish someone would write? What stories have you not seen, that you’re just dying to read?



Connect with Elly Kate on social media:

Twitter and Instagram: @EllyKateRomance






33 responses to “Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Elly Kate!!”

  1. Becke Turner says:

    I look forward to this blog and the chance to learn about another Omega sister. We are going to have so much fun in NYC. Can’t wait.

    I love your ‘every little bit is progress.’ I think writers need the reminder and often! So thanks for the hook of the day. I’m intrigued by your characters and everyone likes the celebrity aspect.

    I’d like to read about mature lovers, over 35. I think many readers are moving to women’s fiction to find this perspective and the H/H can be from any marginalized group. I just want a good story.

    • Elly Kate says:

      Hi Becke! I totally agree – I would LOVE to read more romances with main characters over 35 – or even 45, which is my own age. Love doesn’t have a cut off number!

  2. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Elly!

    One of my favorite Toni Morrison quotes is a comment she made about writing The Bluest Eye in an era in which few African American women’s voices were heard: “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” And not only did she write that book, and many others, she worked in the publishing industry to get other marginalized voices into print.

    In the Romance world, I’m hoping the next few years will see all sorts of new voices getting the mainstream attention they deserve.

    Beyond that, of course, I just want really good stories that make me cry and laugh and care deeply about the characters.

    • Elly Kate says:

      Someone recently asked me what famous person I would completely lose it over if I met them, and I had to think for a while, and then said Toni Morrison. Truly one of the greatest writers, and such an inspiration! I hope that those whose stories do get told can create space and help amplify those whose stories are often not heard. And I share your hope that the next few years will bring new voices in romance to the fore.

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        I got to hear her give a series of talks at Berkeley back in the late 80s or early 90s…she was so impressive and formidable.

        I’ve seen her on talk shows a few times recently, and she’s loosened up a lot–very funny and even giggly.

        People who know her well say she’s shy in person, and developed her fearsome “Toni Morrison” persona to counteract that.

        Well, I was certainly intimidated. It was like being in the same room with someone from Mt. Olympus.

  3. Jennifer Whitney Bray-Weber says:

    The Cinderella Factor sounds wonderful. What a great premise.
    And let me say your job as an archivist must be intriguing. I adore history and there is just no way getting out of wondering what life was like both as a society and as an individual.

    Good luck in NYC! You’ll have a blast, I promise!

    • Elly Kate says:

      I do love my job, but honestly, like so many jobs it’s a lot of time in meetings, at my computer, etc. But other times it’s absolutely as exciting and special as you’d imagine. And I can’t wait for NYC!

  4. Oh wow, Elly, I need your book to get published! I would one-click that sucker so fast. That premise is my catnip. I’m always wishing there was more good romance that plays with the crazy world of fame culture (which is why I seem to keep writing those books). Huge congrats on your final and good luck in New York! Hopefully I’ll see you there!

    • Elly Kate says:

      I, too, need my book to get published. 🙂 Haha! I’m really interested in fame culture and what the reality of that sort of life is versus what we all daydream about. It’s so fraught, and has both benefits and downsides, like anything else, I suppose. There’s so much to mine for book fodder! And thank you – hope to see you in New York!

  5. I *need* this stress cooking hero, asap please. The CR category is packed with amazing entries this year.

  6. Jilly Wood says:

    Hi Elly! As a long-time London resident I love that this book is set partly in my city, with a Brit hero and the heroine earning a two-year assignment at a renowned college here. Can you tell us more about the English connection? Have you spent time here, or did you do lots of research?

    Can’t wait to read it!

    • Elly Kate says:

      I did! I’ve been to London a number of times, and it was just screaming to be a part of my book… I actually had a vacation in the city during the time I was writing The Cinderella Factor, and wrote several scenes while sitting in the actual location of the action. It was amazing to be able to physically walk through the places I was describing. I just wish I could go back again soon! Some day… And all that said, I’ve never lived there, so I’m sure I got tons of things wrong. 🙂

  7. Anna Collins says:

    Hi Elly – another first-timer here!

    Love, love, love the concept of your book. Very Notting Hill-esque. 😀 Can’t wait to see it in print.

    As for books I want to read, maybe a satisfying revenge story would feel good right about now. Like ‘misogynist serial-dater gets what’s coming to him’? Very much down with the patriarchy at the moment. Lol!

    • Elly Kate says:

      You’re the second person who’s told me it’s like Notting Hill, and YOU’RE RIGHT! 🙂 Except that it never even occurred to me as I was writing! LOL. And yesssssss I am so here for any burn-down-the-patriarchy stories, now and always!

  8. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Your story sounds wonderful. Hope you enjoy Nationals. My best advice is … pace yourself. It can be overwhelming.

    I’d like to see more stories with disabled MCs–like HIS ROAD HOME or THE KISS QUOTIENT. Whether the disability is physical or developmental, I love reading about people who aren’t sure that they’ll ever find someone to look past the differences–but someone does.

    • Elly Kate says:

      Oh, yes – as someone with some chronic health conditions… And I’ll be real here, they’ve definitely affected my relationships in the past, and not in good ways! I would LOVE to see more MCs with health issues and disabilities get their HEA.

  9. Tracy Brody says:

    Elly, Congratulations on your Golden Heart final. So glad that you found the story of your heart (literally) rather than give up when the historicals were being standoffish. 😉 I look forward to meeting you in NYC.

  10. Lisa Heartman says:

    Elly, your book sounds like it’s going to be a fun read! Hot guy who can cook? Sign me up! I’m so excited to meet you and the rest of the finalists in NYC.

    A book I’d like to read? Just watched Always be my Maybe, so I’m thinking about a second chance romance with childhood sweethearts would be good right about now. I like when life tears people apart just to bring them together (even better than before) again.

    • Elly Kate says:

      Oooo I watch basically zero movies, but I DO want to see that one! I’ve heard only good things about it, and it sounds delightful. There’s just something about a “we weren’t right together then, but we’re right together now” story!

  11. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Hi Elly — wonderful post! Your book sounds amazing, and I hope it gets published ASAP because I soooo want to read it. I’m so glad you got “the call” and that we get to be Omegas together! See you in NYC.

  12. Fenley Grant says:

    Hi, Elly!

    I loved hearing more about you, my fellow Omega, and can’t wait to meet you in NYC!

    To answer your question, I try to write the stories I wish someone would write! Historical paranormal romances, time travels to obscure locations around the globe, stories with heroines facing huge personal challenges, and urban fantasies based in places I’ve lived.

    I love that you based The Cinderella Factor around a place you visited and I can’t wait to read your book!

    • Elly Kate says:

      Ooo I adore time travel stories of all kinds, and I feel like there’s not enough of them! So thank you for writing them. 🙂

  13. Keely Thrall says:

    Love this! I’m totally on Team Hero Who Feeds the Heroine. Bonus points for the cooking (so not my favorite thing to do).

    Your story sounds fresh and delightful and like it should already be on my Kindle.

    Looking forward to meeting you in NYC!

    • Elly Kate says:

      I can’t wait to meet you in person! I will try to be slightly less awkward than I usually am… And yes, I really have a thing for heroes who feed their women – it comes up in basically every story I write. 🙂

  14. Claire DeWolf says:

    Hi Elly,

    Your book sounds fun. Can’t wait to read it. I love your story of about the cute meet just popping into your head. Don’t you love when that happens?

    Looking forward to meeting you in NYS. My brother and his family live in Ardmore. We’ll have lots to talk about. xo

    • Elly Kate says:

      Oh, I used to work near Ardmore! It’s such a nice town. And while I’m not originally from Philly, I adore it, and am always up for talking about how great it is!


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