Tag Archives: GH 2011 Interview

Dash-Board Interview – Suzanne Kalb

25 May

Welcome to my Dash-Board member Suzanne Kalb. Suzanne and I actually met at a lock-in (okay, a realllllly long retreat, but sometimes it felt like an old-school lock-in 🙂 ) a few months after I started writing. So it’s really exciting to kind of come full circle with her!

Let’s start off with a short bio:

Born and raised in LA, I’ve spent the last 23 years on the east coast with my husband and 4 kids. I’ve been writing all my life, but only recently focused my voice in contemporary single title and YA.

Tell me a little about your GH book. (can be a blurb, one liner, pitch or just a casual description)

A jock and a brainy artist want nothing more than to get to college and start their futures, but when the principal forces them to work together on a project to make up for missing credits, the rush to leave town turns into a fight against time.

What’s the opening line.

Castle Parkhurst glanced at the clock.

Exciting, I know. But it gets better after that!

Tell me about your GH call… and aftermath J

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about the GH. I’d entered the book hastily—not wanting to miss yet another year of entering the GH because of timing.

That morning, I’d received contest results for one I hadn’t finaled in. I opened up the file to an unusually low score. I zeroed in on the particulars to find she’d given me a 1 (on a scale of 1-5) for conflict, dialogue, pacing, plotline, description, and synopsis. She offered a 2 for mechanics. There wasn’t a page of the entry that didn’t have whole passages crossed out. She changed words, sentences, paragraphs, and the entire premise of my story. A weight settled over me, and I couldn’t think for all the noise in my head.

That’s when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the area code or the last name: Landry. So when she told me I’d finaled in the Golden Heart, I cried. I was very quiet. And then I asked, Are you sure? My husband stood nearby, anxious to find out why I was crying. As soon as I hung up, he pulled me against him and held me tightly. He whispered, You deserve this. And that’s when I snapped out of it. I realized that my first reaction had been—No, it can’t be. How could I final in the GH?

But he put it into perspective. I’ve been writing for decades. I’ve studied my craft. I’ve written like a professional for years. I don’t believe I deserved to final—but I definitely earned it for the number of manuscripts written, contests entered, conferences/retreats attended, craft books studied, on-line classes taken. And then I went back and looked at the contest entry and realized that anyone who felt the need to change my ms so entirely was not really even reading my story. She was trying to change my voice to hers.

What got you started writing?

When I was 12, I read Harriet, the Spy. I loved it. I bought a journal and started taking notes on the activities of my neighbors, friends, family. From that moment on, I was a journal writer. I have countless boxes of them. As far back as I can remember, I had dream sets. They were stories I saw in my mind each night to put me to sleep. Never once did I consider myself a writer. I didn’t have the burning desire for others to read my work. Just the burning desire to spin them. Then, in my mid-twenties, when my friend and I were hiking, we came upon a strange sight and I started making up a story about it. She said, You should be a writer. That was it, right there. The moment I set myself on this path. Together, my friend and I began writing screenplays. Then, I moved away, had a baby, and continued writing on my own. I hit a wall with screenplays and tried a creative exercise: I’d write down one of those dream sets. It turned into a 650-page novel. I loved it! I’d found my medium.

Have you always written YA?

I’ve written 2 YAs. Most of my books are contemporary single titles.

What’s your book’s or character’s theme music?

This book had no music! I’m not sure why. Each book has a totally different process, and this one has no sound.

Now, let’s do the fast money round!

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Oh, chocolate!

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?

Summer, absolutely!

Movies or TV

Movies for sure!

Hot or Cold

Definitely hot.

Beach or Mountains

Both.

Travel or Staycation

I’m a travel nut.

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

Volleyball!

Silly or Serious

Equal parts of each.

Early or Late Bloomer

Proudly, the latter.

Morning Glory or Night Owl

There aren’t enough hours of the day, so I could keep on reading or writing or baking or catching up on email, but since I always wake up around six, I find I’m more cheerful to be around if I go to bed early. Did I answer the question?

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

I couldn’t decide between 2 major quirks, so I’m giving you 2 for the price of 1. 1: I spread my butter, peanut butter, honey, jam all the way to the edge of the bread, bagel, English muffin. There are no untended spots in the garden of my meal. It’s beyond my control. 2: I absorb lyrics. Car + music + singing my heart out = my bliss. I HEAR lyrics and remember them for ages. Love music, love singing.

Dash-Board Interview: Bria Quinlan

9 May

I have about a bazillion blogs that I owe the Luv YA readers… all 4 of you… including an update on the Auction from last week and the YA Survey from 2 weeks before. Those are coming, I swear!

But, this week we kick off my little series introducing my 2011 YA Golden Heart Finalist sisters. They’ve been wonderful to get to know. We’ve bonded over important things like Em-Dashes. You might even say they’re my DASH-BOARD *snort* Okay, yeah.

Wednesday, we’ll start with Jennifer Stark (w/a Jennifer McGowan), but I thought all was fair in the interview world, so here’s mine. Enjoy (hopefully)~~~

Let’s start off with a short bio.

 Bria Quinlan’s close friend loves to tell people she’s like a puppy: Cheerful, inquisitive, and willing to jump into things with both feet. Also, she likes to be fed at regular intervals and play outside daily.

It didn’t surprise anyone when Bria started writing YA Rom Coms… after all, her life is a walking sitcom (minus the commercials). Plus, secretly Bria is still 16 (although her license says something different). Finally putting those English Literature and Creative Writing degrees to work, Bria’s excited to get her quirky stories on the page to share with the world (or at least a segment of it). A four year member of RWA, she expects that her experience as New England Chapter Workshop Chair and VP will help her take over the world.

She’s represented by the awesomely amazing Lauren Macleod of the Clan…. Oh, wait. Of Strothman Agency.

Bria writes Romantic Comedies for teens that take hard topics and make you laugh through your tears. You can contact her at briaquinlan@aol.com OR twitter @briaquinlan

 

Tell me a little about your GH book. 

My book, SECRET LIFE, finaled in the GH this year. It’s very excited, because it had never even left home for a contest before.

Rachel Wells is a liar. No one outside her family knows about the panic attacks or the medication, the weekly therapy drive-bys or the rules she has to follow to stay sane. No one, not even her best friend knows about The Disorder. When Rachel comes home from a summer of counseling and coming off the meds, everything is upended enough. But when her best friend’s bad boy kind-of-ex-boyfriend needs a tutor, she’s painted into a lying corner she should have avoided at all costs.
 
Chris Kent is IT. Hot, popular and a state-wide soccer god. He can have any girl he wants. Actually, he pretty much has…and that’s the problem. Chris is fighting his own demons after he lost the one girl who liked him for who he might have been. As he tries to score his way into college, he needs to get his grades up and the only qualified person available without a hook-up-history is Rachel.
 
Now, the two most messed up people in Ridge View High are trying their damnedest not to fall into the one trap that will expose all their secrets: Love.

 

What’s the opening line.

I wish I could have blamed my mad dash to the restroom on what the school passed off as nutritional fare.

 

Tell me about your GH call… and aftermath

My call came while I was waiting for another out of state call, so I had a moment of “It’s just Stacy” — And then all I heard was “RWA” and I started weeping…. Not pretty, Demi-Moore-In-Ghost tears, but overwhelmed-nothing-has-gone-right-in-so-long-I-really-needed-this tears. I had to ask the poor caller to repeat herself two more times. Then, I hung up and called my first-call buddy Ms. Jeannie Lin. But when I opened my mouth, a realllllly high pitch scream came out instead of words. The poor girl was driving. I think I nearly killed her.

Then, I called Ms Gwen Hayes (I tried to stall because she’s on the other side of the country, but the stalling didn’t work. More screaming and jumping.

Then I called my Awesome Secret Agent Macleod. You might be wondering why I didn’t call Awesome Agent first, WELL – note the screaming and stupidity. I wanted to purge that.

Then I tweeted it. I live for twitter – go, go join twitter right now.

After all those “thens” were done, I remembered the amazingly vivid dream I had about getting the call the night before. It was life-like vivid and I panicked. What if I just dreamed this? What if I called two of the besties, the agent and tweeted the freaking news and I’d made it up? Holy Schnikies that would be bad! Rush! Rush to the RWA site. *refresh* No Bria Quinlan *refresh*

Oh thank the Lord. There I am. Wait, that says me, right? Maybe it doesn’t. *refresh* Yes! Yes it does! OMGOSH! I’M A GOLDEN HEART FINALIST *and the screaming and jumping started again.

 

What got you started writing?

 I’d always written, but after a fire in college right before I graduated where I lost everything I’d written, I stopped. It just hurt too much. When the need to get the stories out of  my head (and my friends’ need for me to not be living in my head when I was with them) became too great, I started writing them down again… Which I’m not sure the friends appreciate any more than the living in my head 😉

Have you always written YA?

Yup. YA is stuck with me.

 

What’s your book’s or character’s theme music?

 Rachel and Chris are a mess. Both of them. But they just can’t seem to steer clear of each other even though they know they’d never be good for one another. It’s a story of falling in love when it’s the last thing on your mind. Their song has been Beautiful Wreck by Shawn Mullins since the very moment they started sparking.

It’s a beautiful/sad/hopeful/messed/sensical song. You can check out the cool video HERE.

 

Now, let’s do the fast money round!

Chocolate or Vanilla?

 Chocolate. All the time.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?

 Fall. I adore Fall. When I was in first grade and we’d moved north, I got my first ‘F’ for writing about “My Favorite Season” as Indian Summer… Yup, I colored outside the lines.

Movies or TV

 I’m not much for TV. If the TV is on, there’s probably a movie in.

Hot or Cold

 Cold is the enemy.

Beach or Mountains

 Mountains

Travel or Staycation

 Travel! I have itchy feet 😉

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

 Soccer Boys…. I know, you’re all shocked

Silly or Serious

I take my silliness very seriously 

Early or Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer. I kid you not when I say my awkward phase lasted about 17 years 

Morning Glory or Night Owl

 Night Owl

William or Harry

 William who?

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

 I’ve been in absolute darkness. I hadn’t realized how truly uncommon this was till I went to Carlsbad Caverns and did one of the advance tours. It was freaky and awesome and totally not what I expected.