Dash-Board Interview – Amanda Brice, Honorary Member

31 May

Let’s start off with a short bio.

 Amanda Brice lives outside of Washington, DCwith her husband and toddler daughter. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. A two-time Golden Heart finalist, Amanda’s debut novel, CODENAME: DANCER, was released in April. You can learn more about Amanda and her books at www.amandabrice.net.

 Tell me a little about your GH book.

 Codename: Dancer finaled in the YA category of the GH in 2009 and I released it as an ebook in April and in print last week! Here’s the blurb:

 Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is thrilled when hit TV show Teen Celebrity Dance Off comes to the campus of her performing arts boarding school. She trades the barre for the ballroom and gets set to cha-cha-cha to stardom with Hollywoodwonderboy Nick Galliano.

At first their partnership is awkward, because Dani is in awe of her longtime teen idol crush. But soon their chemistry is heating up the dance floor and the attraction moves into real life.

Her excitement is short-lived, because someone wants her off the show. Bombs, poisoning, arson… Will Dani’s 15 minutes of fame be over before she reaches age 15? Dani and her friends are suddenly at the center of some serious sabotage. And if she doesn’t find out who is behind it, her next pirouette could be her last.

I’m pretty excited, because I just yesterday (Tuesday) got a great review, from Kelli at the fab YA book blog “I’d So Rather Be Reading”. She called it “a perfect example of YA done right.” Wow!

What’s the opening line? 

 My first hint that the devil was wearing Prada earmuffs and a Burberry scarf should’ve been when my parents gave in and let me go to theMountainShadowsAcademyof the Arts. After all, they’d sworn up and down it would be a cold day in Hades before they let me go away for high school.

 

Tell me about your GH call… and aftermath

My 2009 final was actually my second GH final. (I’d finaled the year before with my manuscript Party Like It’s 1899.)

My first GH call was pretty crazy actually. A real rollercoaster. My phone rang at exactly 9:01 am on March 25, 2008 and it was Trish Milburn. My heart started beating fast because I knew that a call from an RWA board member on that day could only mean one thing. Only she didn’t start off by telling me I’d finaled. Instead she asked me about the word count of a short story I’d published a year earlier. Crash and BURN!

 I was all “seriously? Why would she call me today of all days???” But it turns out someone in the RWA office had questions. They thought that maybe my short story was really a novella, which would have disqualified me from entering, let alone finaling, so they needed to verify the wordcount. Once I confirmed it was only 7000 words, you could hear the relief in Trish’s voice. “Congrats! You’re a finalist in the Golden Heart!”

 Exactly a year later I got another call from Trish. This time as soon as she introduced herself I knew I had to be a finalist. I’d entered two manuscripts this time, Party (that had finaled the year before) and Codename. When she told me Codename had finaled, I honestly didn’t believe her. Well, that’s not quite true. It was more that I couldn’t believe I’d only finaled with one. You see, I honestly believed Party was the stronger of the two, and since it had finaled the year before…so I was surprised I would final with Codename. When I got my scores back I saw just what a crapshoot the Golden Heart could be. I’d gotten near-perfect scores the year before for Party (a couple of 9s, a couple of 8.9s, an 8.8) and then in 2009 this manuscript received an average of roughly a 6. FOR THE EXACT SAME story, with no revisions! Crazy, huh? It really just goes to show how it all depends on the judges and what they’re in the mood for.

Anyway, I thought I had it made. Two finals in two years. I was on top of the world! I was going to sell in like two seconds flat, right? Wrong.

Both my finaling manuscript got fabulous feedback from editors when my former agent shopped them, but despite the rave reviews and editors gushing about my voice, neither ultimately sold. In the case of Codename it was because of the niche subject (it’s a mystery set in the dance world, and apparently NY thinks only little girls and toddlers want to read about dancers) and also the age group (the protag is 14, and the book straddles the line between Middle Grade and YA…intentionally).

I thought both manuscripts were essentially dead in the water, but then a funny thing happened this Christmas. It’s estimated that somewhere netween 5 million and 8 million Kindles were sold in 2010 alone, with a lot of them around the holidays. And you had to have been living under a rock if you didn’t hear the story about how Amanda Hocking sold 100,000 copies of her self-published books in December alone. Suddenly the idea of self-publishing seemed to have legs.

Now, I don’t have any illusions I’m an Amanda Hocking. But it occured to me that by doing it myself, I could reach the niche readership that NY didn’t want to take a chance on. And I’m loving the results so far!

 

What got you started writing?

I remember taking a break from my paper on the patentability of indigenous medicinal methods (yawn!) to read Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Dirty Girls Social Club. I finished it on Election Day in 2004 and said “Wow, I want to write a book.” So I sat down and banged out the first 80-ish pages of a chick lit…and had to get an extension of time to finish the law paper. Oops!

 

Have you always written YA?

No. My first ever attempt at writing a “novel” was in 3rd grade, and it was a chapter book (I guess) featuring runaway orphans on the prairie or some other such nonsense. I carried around a little notepad and a purple pen that entire summer. My next “book” was epically bad Nancy Drew fanfic titled “Nancy Flew and the Mystery of the Lady Ghost.” I was in 4th grade at the time.

I didn’t start writing seriously until that day in 2004, and that was a rotating 1st person POV chick lit that didn’t really have a plot. I refer to it as my learning book and it shall never see the light of day. But after that one, I started writing YA. I recently began an adult cozy mystery, and I do hope to finish it some day, but for now I’m having fun with YA!

 

Now, let’s do the fast money round!

Chocolate or Vanilla?
 Chocolate. Definitely.

 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?
Spring! Summer’s too hot, winter’s too cold. Fall is nice, but it starts to get cold and the days shorter, so it reminds me that winter is just around the corner. So that leaves us with spring. It doesn’t hurt that I was born in May, so I might be a little biased. LOL

 

Movies or TV
Hmmm…it depends. (Hey, I’m a lawyer, that’s our favorite line.)  

 

Hot or Cold
Hot, but not too hot

 

Beach or Mountains 
beach

 

Travel or Staycation
travel! 

 

Soccer Boys or Some Other Sport Guys (yes, we’re a little partial here at Luv YA)
basketball! 

 

Silly or Serious
 silly

 

Early or Late Bloomer
The question is, “in what?” (Hey, my catch phrase “it depends” comes to mind.) 

 

Morning Glory or Night Owl
night owl 

 

Since we’ve been doing Quirky Facts on the GH Loop – share the quirkiest one you have… about you

My best summer job ever was working for the Olympics in 1996. I was just 19 years old, and my position entailed assisting with making protocol decisions as to free tikets for VIPs who weren’t quite as “VI” as others. For example, Bill & Hillary Clinton could walk right into any event at any time just with their badges (without actual tickets) and would get seated, but Chelsea had to apply for tickets that morning. (Psst…we always granted her request.)

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7 Responses to “Dash-Board Interview – Amanda Brice, Honorary Member”

  1. briaq June 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Dude, anyone who has the power to let a presidential daughter in anywhere gets props in my book!

    So cute – also, everyone, go read Amanda’s book. It’s adorable!

  2. Gwen Hernandez June 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Your book sounds like fun, Amanda! Good luck with the online sales. I love spring for exactly the same reasons you delineated. Too bad the one we had this year in DC was so short, huh? =)

  3. Suzanne June 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Love your premise, Amanda. And really surprised that NY wouldn’t take a chance on that setting. Doesn’t make sense. I suppose that’s why I responded so strongly to the Post article on self-publishing. My books don’t fit neatly in a box, and the idea that I could self-publish and no longer have to twist and reshape my stories to please a particular market, got me pretty excited. I’d like to hear more about your experience at some point.

  4. Amanda Brice June 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Bria, thanks so much for having me here today! And thanks for the lovely words about my book!

    Gwen, tell me about it! Is it just me or did spring seem to last about 2 weeks at most?

    Suzanne, any time! In fact, if anyone has any questions, just feel free to ask! My email is contactamandabrice (at) gmail (dot) com or if you see me at Nationals, just stop me and chat.

  5. Gwyn June 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Great job, ladies. Amanda, I know Codename is going to take you far. It’s just too cute yet, within, holds a tough but important message for young women everywhere.

  6. Erin Kelly June 2, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Great interview!! I’m so loving that self-pub is giving so many awesome – if somewhat niche – books the chance to find their way into eager readers’ hands. Here’s to a long and successful career, Amanda 🙂

  7. Jenn June 2, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Amanda, hello! Sorry I missed this blog but LOVED reading about you and your book sounds amazing! i look forward to seeing you at national!

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