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Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Kaufman Kalb, writing as Erika Kelly!

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Today we’re thrilled to welcome 2014 Golden Heart Finalist in Contemporary Romance, Suzanne Kaufman Kalb, who writes as Erika Kelly.

Suzanne / Erika is already a Golden Heart WINNER: she took the big prize in 2011 in Young Adult Romance for IRRESISTIBLE. She’s a UCLA graduate in English Lit (which breaks our recent streak of finalists with science backgrounds), and has been writing for years—plays, screenplays, short stories, novellas, and was one of the contributors to the book A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love.

She found her true voice, though, in writing passionate contemporary romances. Just recently, she sold a contemporary series to Berkley. The first book, YOU REALLY GOT ME, comes out in January 2015.

Wow, she’s on a hot streak!!

What factors have fueled her writing and propelled her to the threshold of big success? To find out, grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a little chat with her right now!

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ERIKAKELLYTell us a little about your 2014 Golden Heart book, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

In this New Adult story, Dylan, a freshman, has just left his troubled mother behind for the first time. Seeing himself as a white trash kid in a college full of prep and boarding school kids, he’s committed to avoiding friendships and relationships. He’s just going to keep his head down, do his work, and get back to his mom. But then he meets the irresistible and irrepressible force that is Nicole Everett. She shows him that he’s no different from anyone at the school–their families might have money, but the students don’t. Here’s his chance to become the man he wants to be. He resists her until he no longer can stay away.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? How did you know? Was it always Romance you were interested in?

As far back as I can remember I’ve spun stories in my head before falling asleep. Never in my wildest imagination would I have considered sharing them with others, let alone selling them. It just wouldn’t have occurred to me. Until a friend of mine brought up the idea. Together, we wrote screenplays. But that just wasn’t my medium, so I decided to shake things up. One day I sat down to do a creative exercise—650 pages later I had a novel. I’d truly found my medium. But I’d never read romance before, so it wasn’t until an editor wrote on my manuscript, “Does this author know she writes romance?” that I sought it out in the bookstore. Once I did, I totally immersed myself in it. Turns out those stories I spun? Romance all the way. Wish I’d known a lot earlier!

LOL…at least you got it figured out! You’re clearly versatile AND prolific. What is your writing process like?

I usually wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning with ideas spilling out all over the place. I have to hurry downstairs and take notes before they drift away—and they drift quickly.

From the moment I decided to write professionally (and that took a very long time!), I blocked out school hours for my writing time. No appointments, no phone calls. So, other than exercise and lunch, I really try to stay focused on writing between 7 AM and 2:30, when my daughter (and the last of the 4) gets off the bus. It’s always been really important to me to put my family first. I feel like my time with them is fleeting, so I don’t want to miss a moment. It will be interesting to see how my habits change in the new world of the empty nest.

Pantser or plotter?

I would say I’m a plotser—I don’t write outlines or flesh anything out, but I definitely need to know GMC and plot points before I sit down to write. Usually, I’ve imagined loads of scenes by the time I start a book, so it tends to flow nicely. I’ve written by the seat of my pants before—when the story came out faster than I could write—but that was just way too hard to shape into a decent story.

Your soon-to-be debut book, YOU REALLY GOT ME, is a romance set in the world of rock music. Where did the inspiration for that come from?

After graduating UCLA, I truly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I did, however, really love Jackson Browne, so I called up his record company and asked if they were hiring. Incredibly, someone had just quit. So I went from receptionist/secretary (and can I be perfectly honest and tell you I had zero skills?) to National Marketing Manager. And, strangely, in all the years since then, all the screenplays and books I’ve written (dozens), I never once set a book in the music industry. Until now.

Awesome! Being brave pays off! So how did you get from National Marketing Manager to spinner of romantic tales?

All during my time at the record company, my friend and I were writing screenplays, and I have to say we got really tired of working FOR creative people (they’re crazy!) when we were creative people ourselves (oh, wait, um…). Then I met my future husband…

Do tell!!! On your new website, you call him “the love of my life.” Was it a soul mate thing?

Interestingly, I wasn’t very woo-woo, but I always had this very strong sense that he was out there and that I should wait for him. A friend in Chicago had tried for ages to get me to come out and visit her, so on a whim one weekend I did. It was during the Old Town Art Fair. My friend had an invitation to a roof party, but others in our group didn’t want to go. I suggested we compromise. Let’s go, and if we don’t have fun, we bail. So I forged the way up those stairs, emerged onto the roof, and immediately my gaze landed on HIM. And a voice in my head said, So that’s what he looks like. I’m from LA, worked in the music industry, and dated actors and musicians (no wonder I couldn’t find anyone!). And this guy? He looked like he went to Yale (he didn’t). Very preppy. SO not my type. Together, we left the party, walked through the fair, talking, talking, talking, and then met up with our friends at the food court. As one, they all looked up from their meals with an expression that said, They’re together. And we were. We were together from that moment on. To my family’s utter shock, I moved to Chicago (he’d just started business school) three months later. 25 years and 4 kids later, we still prefer each other’s company over anyone else’s. So, yeah, I do believe in magic.

I love that story!! Good for you for talking your way up those stairs! You seem to have a knack for taking chances and ending up somewhere fabulous! One last question before we open up for comments: what’s the best tip you can give other writers?

The very best tip I could give is to write, write, write. Don’t let rejection slow you down, and don’t get all twisted up in the drive to become published. Know that it will happen—and it will happen—as long as you keep on writing and learning your craft. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not talented or you don’t have the chops to sell, so don’t let it mess with your head. Just sit down, pull up a blank screen, and write another book.

What question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

Do you believe in soul mates? Did you wait—or are you still waiting—for yours?

 

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You can find Suzanne / Erika online at

Website is www.erikakellybooks.com

Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/erika.kelly.1293?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter is https://twitter.com/

106 Responses to “Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Kaufman Kalb, writing as Erika Kelly!”

  1. Suzanne,
    I love your story of how you met your husband – it sounds like a romance plot! :) I do believe in soul mates. Our friends have always found it strange, but my husband and I prefer spending time with each other over anyone else. Our whole first meeting mutually through friends, he talked about glass (windows and mirrors) for almost two hours, but I asked questions and tried to be interested, since I was — just not in the glass.

    When we first got together, we could have spent 24/7 together, and we tried (even if university and jobs sometimes interfered). I did wait for him, and while I’d sometimes have killed for a boyfriend in high school, when I met my husband through friends, and after some rough stuff we’d both been through, we knew we just hadn’t been ready for each other until that point.

    That said, I don’t necessarily believe there is only one soul mate for every person out there. How unfair would it be if yours got hit by a bus? I think we have several “potential” soul mates, and depending on who our lives make us and which turns we choose, that’s how we end up in the right place, at the right time – like you and your hubby on the roof top. :) Great post, and congrats on the forthcoming book.

    • Suzanne says:

      Yes, I agree about being ready, Shelly. My husband got into UCLA but chose another school instead. We both agree if he’d gone and we’d met–it’s unlikely we’d have connected in the same way. Had to live a little first. I’m so glad you and your husband have that special bond. Preferring to be around each other is a real gift.

      Thank you for sharing your story. And congratulations to you, too, for finaling in the Golden Heart!

  2. jbrayweber says:

    What a great story of how you met your DH. Wonderful interview, too, Suzanne. Good luck on the Golden Heart with Too Good To Be True!

    Jenn!

  3. Suzanne/Erika (Suzika),

    I love your soulmate story, it’s inspiring and beautiful. I believe in soul mates. Good luck with the GH.

  4. Hey Suzanne!
    What a fascinating, winding road you’ve taken! Congrats on all your success and I can’t wait to read your books!

    I believe life is all about timing (for love and publishing:) My hubby and I shared mutual friends in college so we were at the same parties and hanging out with the same people. But, he was engaged to someone else and I dating another guy through most of college. There was no spark there. After I graduated I didn’t see him for four years. Then I walked into a New Year’s party for 2000, and he was there. This time, we were both single and there was most definitely a spark. We dated long distance for two years and got married.

    It’s crazy how life works sometimes!

  5. Sharon Wray says:

    What a lovely post, Suzanne. I still remember so clearly sitting at the table in front of you when your name was called in 2011. You looked shocked, panicked and stunned. I was afraid you were going to run out to the room! But I am so happy for you and I cannot wait to read your new contemporary. :)

    And yes, I do believe in soul mates. I met my husband when I was 16 and we are still together, married almost 28 years. (yes, we were both too young to get married, but luckily that didn’t occur to us until last year. :))

    • Suzanne says:

      Yeah…about that…let’s just say that I’m blessed with a do-over in 2014! I really wasn’t prepared back–love writing, but I wasn’t ready for the business aspect. Now, with my last one going off to college, I’m rarin’ to go.

      I love that you met your husband so young–that’s so romantic that you’ve held tight all these years!

  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Suzanne! It’s great to have you with us today.

    I don’t know whether or not I believe in soulmates (I married relatively late, and was seriously in love more than once before that), but I definitely believe in the power of putting yourself out there in the universe–charging ahead and making that phone call, or bargaining your way up onto that rooftop. Good things come to us when we make ourselves vulnerable.

    I met my husband when we were doing a play together. It was a large ensemble cast, so I didn’t have any scenes directly with him. I even had a crush on ANOTHER cast member. But at that cast party, I ended up in the kitchen talking to him…and a couple days later, a mutual friend called out to both of us that he’d liked the play, and we both walked over to talk with him. He left, we went out for coffee…and it’s been more than 20 years.

  7. Suzanne says:

    It is crazy, Laura. I’m not much of a woo woo person, but there is magic at work in our lives.

    Congratulations on your sale and finaling in the Golden Heart! Big year for you!

    p.s. my son’s majoring in chemical engineering. I keep telling him to explore all the options available–not sure we considered a career in romance, though!

    • This is totally off the subject of writing…but the one thing I wish I had realized before majoring in ChemE was the fact people don’t build chemical plants in nice places!! Think oil refineries along the TX, LA coast, papermills, etc. Just something to think about.

      That being said ChemE classes are usually small and my best friends now are people I went to school with because you become so tight. And, I wouldn’t have met my husband otherwise!

      • Suzanne says:

        Laura, my husband’s in oil and gas, and he’s eager to set our son up in an internship in the field next summer, but I really want him to see what’s out there before choosing to be on a rig in LA for a summer! So many possibilities with chem. eng, which is why he chose it.

  8. Suzanne!! What a great story you’ve got!!

    It sounds like you’ve led an exciting life. And I love both your blurb for your GH book and the upcoming rock star story. Congratulations!! :)

    I do believe in soul mates but I do think we have to be wise enough and ready enough to accept them into our lives. I think when we’re ready, that the powers that be put the people we need in front of us.

    I can’t wait to meet you in San Antonio!!

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you so much, Marnee!

      I couldn’t agree more about being ready. I’m kind of a late bloomer and had so much growing up to do when I left home and after college. I met him at just the right time–I was ready.

  9. Jessica Ruddick says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    Great interview! My GH finaling MS is also new adult, but I finaled in the YA category. NA seems to have been lumped in with YA, so it didn’t even occur to me to enter in the contemporary category. What are your thoughts on NA, and where is belongs?

    • Suzanne says:

      You know, I consider myself a women’s fiction writer. All of my stories, whether starring 18, 21, or 40-year-olds, are the same journey–two people who find each other, have to battle their own demons in order to earn each other, and then win true love as the prize. The only difference between YA and the other categories–for me–is the level of heat. And I write the WHOLE story, if you know what I mean–doors wide open–so NA is better for me than YA, where I have to shut the door. So, to me, YA and NA shouldn’t be shelved together because NA’s too explicit. At least the ones I’ve read. So, looong way to say, I’d put it in the romance section, along with the other single titles, because that what it feels like to me.

      What do you think?

      • Jessi says:

        What you said makes perfect sense. My NA is closed door, so that probably makes it more YAish than some of the more explicit NA out there. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t even think about putting it in the adult contemporary category. Of course, there’s some YA that’s rather explicit and some adult is closed door. So I guess it all boils down to how you want to market the book.

        • Suzanne says:

          I know the books are selling well on e-readers but not so well in print. It used to be because booksellers didn’t know where to put them, but now I’m wondering if it’s price-based. I asked my 18 yo daughter if it’s the age range of the characters, but she doesn’t think that’s it at all, given the way readers (all ages) are gobbling the books up.

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        I don’t write either NA or YA, but I love your formulation of the journey for h/h:

        “two people who find each other, have to battle their own demons in order to earn each other, and then win true love as the prize.”

  10. Hi Suzanne!

    Yes, I absolutely do believe in magic and love at first sight! Maybe that’s why I decided to write romance. The first night I met my husband, I knew within 25 words that he was ‘the one’. 22 years and 3 kids later I guess I was right!

    Congratulations on another GH final and selling to Berkley. Can’t wait to read them.

    Shelly Alexander

    • Shelly– you sound like a writer “within 25 words” LOL! That first paragraph really is critical, isn’t it? :)

    • Suzanne says:

      Shelly, the moment I got up on the roof, I saw him and I heard a voice in my head that said, Oh, that’s what he looks like. He didn’t look like the guys in LA at all. So preppy!

      I love that your story’s so similar!

      I look forward to meeting you soon!

  11. June Love says:

    Suzanne, welcome to the Ruby blog and congratulations on your final and your sale!

    < < ...don’t get all twisted up in the drive to become published. Know that it will happen—and it will happen—as long as you keep on writing and learning your craft.>> Awesome advice! I equate this to getting all caught up in the “rules”. Learn your craft, but don’t let it dictate your writing to the point you lose your voice. That’s been a tough lesson for me.

    As for soul mates – I do believe. I was older when I married. I’d had some good relationships, some not so good, but odd thing is I never saw myself spending the rest of forever with any of them. Not until…I met him. I knew he was the one. We’re celebrating our 25 years together next month. Your love story is a HEA. The best kind. Congratulations on your 25 years, too. :-)

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh, yes, June. I definitely lost my voice for a minute there. Too much rejection had me trying to do it this way and that way to try and please different editors/agents/markets. When I wrote the book that sold, it was me just throwing off all advice and craft and everything and just letting the story pour out of me. That story reminded me why I’m a writer to begin with. And I’m having fun again!

      25 years is a true accomplishment. Congratulations!

  12. Julie Mulhern says:

    Suzanne,

    Lovely interview! And, CONGRATULATIONS!!! You must be walking on cloud nine.

    I do believe in love at first sight. I met my husband at a party then told my friends I’d met the man I was going to marry before he even called me. When you know, you know.

  13. Suzanne/Erika– I absolutely loved reading about you, from your books (which sound great) to your love at first sight husband-meeting, to your record company job– you must be unbelievable on the phone, by the way. :)

    Congratulations on finaling for the GH again and on your book deal! I’m proud to be your Dreamweavers sister and can’t wait to meet you in person.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks so much, Amy! You’ve led a pretty cool life yourself. I know that you write NA, too, so you’ve probably got thoughts on where and how it should be marketed. It seems a tricky genre–readers love it, but book stores don’t know where to place it.

      I look forward to meeting you soon!

  14. Pintip says:

    Suzanne, what a fabulous story about meeting your husband! Thanks so much for sharing it. Your books sound wonderful, and I can’t wait to read them. I don’t know if I believe in soul mates, but my husband is my best friend — and has been since we met and started dating freshman year in college. So maybe I believe in “best friends” rather than “soul mates” — but the two aren’t really so dissimilar. Best of luck with your upcoming release!

  15. Nan Dixon says:

    What a fabulous inciting incident! Oh I mean first meeting with you and the love of your life! :-)
    Mine shot rubber bands at me while working in the post office. And I’m not talking small rubber bands – these were the monster one that held bundles of mail together. It was a great job while in college and I got both paid and an eventual hubby out of being smacked in the butt with those rubber bands.
    Congratulations on no longer being eligible for the GH!! Prosecco flowing for you fellow Starcatcher and Dreamweaver!

  16. Suzanne says:

    Thank you, Pintip!

    I did know the moment I met him that he was the one, but I think it’s when the love endures that makes it feel like a soul mate thing. For all we’ve been through, all the times I wanted to throttle him, we’ve had this deep bond holding us together. That’s what makes the magic.

  17. Vivi Andrews says:

    Welcome, Suzanne, and congratulations on your new final, your win, and your upcoming release! How exciting.

    I haven’t found my soul mate yet, but I do want to believe there’s one out there for me. Or maybe it isn’t a question of The One. There’s a great quote from the movie Kissing Jessica Stein – “I don’t believe there’s just one person. I think there are, like, seven.” Seven seems like a good number. Improving your odds a little bit. ;)

    • Suzanne says:

      I liked that movie, Vivi! I absolutely believe there’s someone for everyone. It’s all about the timing.

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

  18. Great to meet you, Suzanne, and congratulations on another GH final!

    And YES, I do believe in soul mates. I met mine “kicker dancing” when neither of us had ever danced. He walked into the dorm room where our group was meeting (I didn’t know anybody but my friend who invited me), and knew immediately I was going to ask him to dance. We’ve been together 20 years and have 3 kids. He’s my partner in every way. I’m so glad you found your soul mate – such a romantic story!

  19. Jillian Lark says:

    Erika/Suzanne,

    Congrats on the GH monination and sale to Berkley! I’m not a plotter or a pantster either. Thanks for sharing your fabulous roof top love story!

    You’ve sparked some interesting opinions about soul mates. I agree with Shelly Chalmers about the existence of more than one soul mate and like Pintip’s best friend description. My favorite so far is Shelly Alexander’s first 25 words or less test.

    I can’t wait to read YOU REALLY GOT ME, so I’m glad I don’t have to wait that long to meet you and my other GH/Dreamweaver sisters. See you in July.

    ~Jillian

  20. Great interview, Suzanne.

    I tackled my soul mate-literally!!! It was the beginning of football season and a group of us met at the local high school field to play flag football. We were on opposite teams. I’m 5’3″, he’s 6’4″. I dove for his feet and, like they say, the mighty fell hard.

    We’ve been married 43 years!

    See you San Antonio.

  21. Hi Suzanne,

    Great interview. And enjoyed reading about your book. Soul mates – I do believe they exist, but they can be for moments in time – sometimes the attraction can be so complete and so quick – the only way to describe it is a mating of the souls…seriously. So what I am really saying? I’ve had more than one soul mate:)…

    Looking forward to meeting you in San Antonio!

    • Suzanne says:

      I agree, Denny. And it’s not just a romantic thing. I consider one of my dear friends my soul sister–so they come in all different forms at random times throughout life.

      Thanks for commenting today!

  22. Great interview and great soul mate story. Made me smile.

    And your advice to our readers is spot on. Write, write, write.

    Congrats on you final. Good luck!

  23. Sarah Andre says:

    Hurray Suzanne! Your RUBY day!
    Love everything about this interview and congratulations again on your Berkley contract! How great that all your hard work has paid off!

    Soul Mate: I kind of believe in it because of a strange event that was only a few minutes long; a simple pass-by with a hot-looking stranger in 1993. I lived in CA and was leaning on a bridge railing talking with a friend when I glanced down at the canal and saw a speedboat puttering closer.

    The Guy was leaning against the back of the boat, legs and arms crossed. There were people in the front, but I don’t know how many because my eyes were drawn like a magnet to this man, and his intense stare felt like a laser beam. I could see the exact same emotion on his face that was racing through me–”it’s YOU!”
    Like we’d known each other passionately in another lifetime and had finally found each other again, or something just as inexplicably crazy.

    A magical stillness came over me (aka, not even hearing my friend beside me speaking) and the world shrank to a pinpoint: into just the two of us. As the boat drew closer to the bridge this guy and I leaned in, as if we could get closer to each other. And we stared and stared and I’ll never forget the intensity and yearning in his brown eyes.

    The boat passed underneath us and I ran to the other side of the bridge and leaned over just as the bow emerged. And then there he was again. He’d turned around in the boat and was looking up, waiting for me, knowing I’d be on the other side. We both smiled sadly then. I lifted my hand–kind of a ‘hi’ and kind of a ‘stop the boat, for the love of God.’ He returned the raised hand and you could tell we were both so confused about what the heck had just happened here.

    And the yearning stares continued until the boat eventually disappeared. I stumbled off the bridge with an incredible sense of loss. I recall thinking “that was HIM. That was my soul mate.”

    (And then I had a lot of explaining to do to my friend, who’d witnessed this whole thing while trying to talk to me!)

    I rarely think about those few minutes (and am very happily married!) But when I do visualize that bizarre day it still brings back the yearning, regret and loss. Isn’t that weird?

    • Oh, I had chills running up my arms when I read about your moment, Sarah. That needs to go in a book!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Wow…wow, wow, wow…what an intense experience!!!

      How awful that there was no way to contact him or stop that boat!! (I guess you could have jumped off the bridge into the river??)

      What a story, though!

    • Holy crap Sarah!
      Please write a book around that!! If only they had Craig’s List or those classifieds back then, you know…”Looking for the soulful brown-eyed hottie on the boat…” Missed connections! That’s what they’re called.

      Argh. I’m happy you’re happily married, but dang, that’d be a book I’d buy…

    • Suzanne says:

      Wow, Sarah, what a story. I agree with Laura–you should use it in a book. Only give it a happy ending, okay? Make sure they meet up again and wind up together!

  24. Hi Suzanne,

    I think there’s more than one soul mate out there for each person, but I totally believe in the concept. When it came to my husband, I was a little dense before I realized he was the one. We went on a blind date where we kept on bumping into girlfriends past, which he swears was an accident. So, I had written him off but liked one of his friends. I only went out with hubby again because he invited me to that friend’s BBQ. While there, the girls of his group of friends campaigned hard for my husband and I started looking at him a little differently. The campaign continued while hubby was out of town for two weeks and when he came back, thanks to his female friends’ hard marketing tactics, I was half in love with him. :-)

  25. McCall Hoyle says:

    Suzanne, I loved the post and learning more about you and your writing. Looking forward to meeting in San Antonio.

    Totally believe in love-at-first-sight soul mate. My husband who I started dating after my junior year of high school is proof! :)

  26. Kim Law says:

    Suzanne, I so love your story of how you met your husband! So beautiful and heartwarming. About the best I have is that my husband and I were set up by this guy we both knew, and we both knew he was not always the best judge of character. A good guy, yes. But he did some sketchy things. So we’re both heading to meet up for our date, both essentially rolling our eyes at the fact we’re meeting someone our friend set us up with, and both considering going home. We didn’t, and it turned out good ;) LOL

    Congrats on your sale, and many wishes for it to do wonderfully!!

  27. Rita Henuber says:

    Congrats on the GH final.
    As for Soul Mates for some reason I’ve never liked that term. I certainly believe in what it means to most. I thought I met my DH when I was 14. We broke up three times were geographically separated for two of them. It wasn’t until after we were married hubs told me we’d met when I was nine. He was 11. He remembered because he’d kissed me and I bopped him with a stick. I also believe more men than women know the first time they see a women she’s the one. I use that to my advantage in my books.

    • Suzanne says:

      I agree with you, Rita. My husband knew right away, never wavered. And it’s still the same, after all these years. That kind of certainty has given me the deep security a girl needs to get through 25 years of marriage and all those kids. I look at our friends over the years–and the guys can play around for a long time, but when they find the one, they just know it and seal the deal.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, I love that, Rita!

      He knew, he remembered, he waited.

  28. Piper says:

    Hello fellow Bruin, and GHer!

    I believe that people can have soul mates, but they are not always fortunate enough to find that soul mate. I think romance, as a genre, is about finding that soul mate. I was raised by a pair of soul mates and I find a great deal of support and security in their love for one another. Thank you for such a great post!

  29. Suzanne! I loved everything about this post! From the editor asking if the author knew she wrote romance–lol–to the moment you saw your husband and thought, “so that’s what he looks like.” :-). No wonder you were writing romance and didn’t know it!
    I can’t wait to read all of your books! Your NA sounds just as wonderful as your adult. And a YA as well. Are you trying to corner all the markets here?!
    Good luck to you! And thanks for sharing. Your story gave me the warm fuzzies.

  30. Piper says:

    Yes, I was lucky. very fortunate.

    And yes I’m a UCLA alumn. I may be the one old enough to be your grandma. They won a men’s basketball championship the year I graduated. :)

  31. Charis Calhoon says:

    Fascinating and fun interview, Suzanne! I look so forward to shaking your hand in person and reading YOU REALLY GOT ME (again!). : )

    Following up on ‘not giving up’ or letting rejection slow you down, would you be willing to reveal how many manuscripts you wrote before you sold…? For whatever reason, this always inspires me (unless it’s one book : ).

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh, Charis, I’ve written dozens of books. I’ve been at this a long time. Marketing wasn’t a primary focus, though. I’d toss a book in a contest or query or pitch every now and then. My focus was really and truly on raising all these naughty kids. But my youngest is off to college in the fall, so the timing really is perfect.

      Are you back in your house yet? And are you going to San Antonio?

      • Charis Calhoon says:

        Oh, yes, Suzanne, I’ll be there… (!) My home turf as a native Texan, although I only ever went to San Antonio on vacation….OMG, it feels SO good to hear that you focused on raising your kids first and didn’t submit or market as much until recently. I feel like I’m on that same trajectory, if I can stay the course. I remember our first e-mail exchange (when I met you in a previous life), you said, ‘I’m a mom first.’ I now use that line all the time….Looking forward to meeting you in San Antonio….Congrats again!

  32. elise hayes says:

    Yup, I believe in love at (almost) first sight…that was how I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I was 15. He was 16. He had come to my sister’s b-day party (a campy thing where we were doing three-legged races and egg tosses and such), and he arrived late, wearing all white, and he was utterly beautiful and utterly confident–and I thought, “what a conceited jerk.” But then he somehow ended up paired with me for every event that followed, and he was just so amazingly intense that…well, by the end of the afternoon I was head over heels. That relationship didn’t last but a couple of months, but it took me 10 years to get over him.

    But the most interesting part of that experience, for me, was that it really made me question what romantic love is (and how do you know when what you’re feeling is “love”?) My eventual answer was/is that each person has a different definition of love, and that each relationship can explore a different aspect of “love.” Pretty much a perfect recipe for writing romance, don’t you think?

    • Suzanne says:

      For me, what made everything different with my husband, was that even in the worst of times, I felt this deep pull, this bond that wouldn’t let me leave him or move back home. It wasn’t that crazy, manic “love” that had me driving past a certain boy’s house (will that memory even fade?!). It wasn’t manic at all. It was deep and abiding. I didn’t have good relationship role models, so feeling that deep bond was revelation.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

  33. Fantastic interview, Suzanne and Elisa! Suzanne, congrats again on your GH final and your Berkley deal — I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to read your books!

    I believe in soul mates, but not just in the romantic sense. I have a number of friends I clicked with immediately and think of as soul mates. :)

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you, Vanessa. One of my oldest friends is my soul sister, so I know just what you’re saying.

      Congratulations on your book sale and GH nomination!

  34. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for being with us today, Suzanne! I loved hearing all the soul mate stories!!

    Good luck in San Antonio, and congrats again on getting to wear that Finalist ribbon along with the one that says First Sale!!!!

  35. Suzanne says:

    I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing your stories and your wonderful show of support!

    Thank you for having me!

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