Guest Blog: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Susan Lee – This One’s For the Dreamers

Today we’re welcoming another member of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists: Susan Lee, whose manuscript DRAGGED has finaled in the Young Adult category.

Susan Lee has built a career as a Human Resources executive at successful startups such as Spotify, Warby Parker, and SeatGeek. Her biggest job takeaway: we are all, for the most part, ridiculous. 🙂 And she channels this into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition. You can find Susan around New York City enjoying bottomless brunch, catching any show with her favorite local drag queen, Marti Gould Cummings, or trying to snag cheap tickets for Broadway previews. Susan is a 2018 PitchWars alum, a 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, and a lifetime Shangela stan.

Here’s a blurb for DRAGGED:

Goody two-shoes Grace Lee has a surefire plan for success: work her butt off to become a doctor and then be rich enough to buy herself a new butt. She’s one-hundred-percent focused on graduating first in her class and accomplishing all her goals. Nothing can stop her…except her smug arch-nemesis, Henry Liao. Henry is fast on Grace’s heels in their race to the top. He’s also the villainous traitor who convinced Grace to participate in a senior prank gone terribly wrong. Left shouldering the blame, Grace faces an enormous repair bill and—even worse—disappointed parents (eek!). To redeem herself and get back on track, Grace must win the school’s Most Outstanding Student Award, along with its hefty scholarship. Problem is, “outstanding” requires not just good grades, but song, dance, and jazz hands, too. 

 Enter stage right: Azia J’Adore, New York City’s hottest teen drag queen. With her huge wigs and an enormous heart to match, Azia’s the fairy dragmother Grace needs to land a role in the school musical, catapulting herself past Henry and straight into the winner’s circle. But working with Azia stirs up unexpected feelings in Grace. And when she finds out Azia’s true identity, Grace is knocked for a loop. With opening night fast approaching, it’s time to face the music: win the scholarship at any cost and screw up the one relationship she never knew she wanted, or toss aside her best-laid plans for the chance at a future unlike anything she ever imagined.

Oh, my!! What a fascinating and fresh storyline!! I’m dying to know exactly who Azia really is! Just from this blurb, Susan, I can see the humor and warmth in your writing voice, and can’t wait to see this book out in the world!

Today, readers, Susan has a wonderful guest blog post for us, one that’s especially poignant just after Father’s Day.

Thanks so much for being with us, Susan! Take it away!!


This One’s For the Dreamers:

It is such an honor to be a finalist for the 2019 Golden Heart award. Some of my favorite authors started their careers as GH finalists and to share this achievement is mind-blowing for me. I’m a baby writer – I’ve only been putting words to page for a few years now, and this is my second completed manuscript. But, I think I’ve been a storyteller my entire life. And I know I’ve been a dreamer from the very beginning.

My father passed away a few weeks ago. It was a difficult loss for my family. But as I’ve been scrolling through memories of him in my mind, there has been a common thread: my dad was a dreamer. He was hard-working, uber-practical, stubborn, demanding…but he was a dreamer nonetheless. From early on, he dreamt of a better life and greater opportunities, success for his family, and a legacy to leave behind. And he made those dreams come true for us.

When I was growing up, he moved us to a new neighborhood in the suburbs of San Diego. We were one of the very few families who looked different than the rest. In school, others would actually tell me that they’d never even seen a kid who looked like me. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When I walked down the stairs of our home, he would announce “Here comes Miss Korea!” And I would wave and smile and stand taller with pride. I was unfazed by looking different than other kids because in my heart I knew I was beautiful. My daddy told me so.

We attended a Korean church every Sunday. It was one of the only places I had access to other Korean kids, kids who looked like me. But most of these kids were born in Korea, where I was born in Chicago. It’s funny what kids decide is weird to them. For these kids, it was weird that I was “not Korean”.. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When we watched the news at the kitchen table, he would proudly say, “Susan, you’re the only person in our family who can be President of the United States.” And I would nod and let those words sink in and accept all the opportunity ahead of me with pride. I was unfazed by kids telling me I wasn’t Korean. I knew I was Korean-American and that meant something big. My daddy told me so.

The dreamer in me wants to tell stories that are life-affirming, confidence-building, and honestly, belly-achingly funny (my dad was that too, by the way). I write young adult romance because I want the teens who might worry there isn’t a place for them, to be assured that there is. There are stories for them. There is love and happily ever afters for them. I don’t want to tell kids to forget who they are, but to explore all the possibilities that lay ahead of them because of EXACTLY who they are.

I was raised by a dreamer.

I am a dreamer.

I write stories for the dreamers.

What about you, readers? Who inspires you the most in your life? 



Connect with Susan Lee on social media:

Twitter: @susanleewrites

Instagram: @syleegurl



40 responses to “Guest Blog: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Susan Lee – This One’s For the Dreamers”

  1. Jilly Wood says:

    Your daddy sounds wonderful, Susan. Thank you for sharing a little of him with us. I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a powerful, positive legacy he left.

    I don’t usually read YA, but a story that’s life-affirming, confidence-building, funny and kind? I’d buy any book like that in a heartbeat. Wishing you a long and fulfilling writing career.

    I don’t have a single role model, but I’m inspired by pretty much everyone in my community. My parents, who were a loving partnership of equals and who were determined to give their kids the opportunities they never had; my husband of many years, who’s kind, funny, and always supportive. And my friends, likewise. I am a very lucky woman.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Jilly.

      I, agree, that the community around us (friends, family) can serve as such as inspiration. You are, indeed, a lucky woman! 🙂

  2. Oh Susan, I love this gorgeous tribute to your dad and the foundation he gave you. I feel so fortunate to have a family who believe I can do anything even when I’m not always so sure.

    And can I just say, your book sounds amazing. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves so I can snap it up. Good luck in NYC and congrats on your final!

    • Susan says:

      Thank you, Viki! Here’s to families, both born and made, who support us on our journeys! ❤️

  3. Jennifer Whitney Bray-Weber says:

    What a lovely post, Susan. Your love for your daddy is strong and he taught you so well. I know he is proud of you beyond measure. Like you, my daddy and I share a special bond. Both my parents have always been loving and supportive. And boy do I sometimes dream too big. LOL!

    Dragged sounds like a fun read. I’m super excited for you! Congrats and GOOD LUCK in NYC!!!!

    • Susan says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! So glad you have wonderful support from your parents, too. It’s a gift!

  4. Tracy Brody says:

    Your dad is 1000% hero material, Susan. Sorry that you have lost his presence, but may his words always live in you and give you life!

    Congratulations on your Golden Heart Final with a book that sounds fun and fabulous and you already have me intrigued and wanting to read. I look forward to meeting you in NYC.

  5. Julie Abe says:

    YOU inspire me, Susan! I’m so excited about your nomination and all the good things coming your way!

  6. Lyssa Mia Smith says:

    Susan, your words brought tears to my eyes. I am so excited to read DRAGGED! and everything else you do. Thanks for sharing your words with the worlds, and congrats!!

  7. Rosie Danan says:

    This post was so moving, Susan. Your dad sounds like an incredibly special man and I know he would be proud of both the woman you are today and the rich, hilarious writing you bring into the world. I would totally vote for you for president. My best friend, Quinn, is someone who inspires me. She’s one of the strongest people I know and her stength comes letting herself be vulnerable and honest. I try to channel that in my craft.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you, Rosie!

      Quinn sounds like an amazing person to have in your corner and knowing how wonderfully charming your writing is, I hope to meet her one day! 🙂

      Love you!

  8. A.Y. Chao says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful tribute to your father. Congrats on your GH final!! Your books sounds life affirming and am very excited to read it.

  9. LL Montez says:

    Susan, this is such a beautiful post! I love your reasons for writing, but I especially love that DRAGGED is going to be the first story you share with the world that has you, your dad, your friends, your vivacity, and all your dreaming tied up in one perfect package. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT.

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss, but his was a beautiful tribute, Susan.💛

  11. Lovely post, Susan!

  12. Leanne Schwartz says:

    Susan this is so beautiful and inspiring! Your book is going to pass that on to teens who need it for sure <3

    • Susan says:

      Leanne! Thank you for always have a wonderfully kind word and supportive heart at the ready! ❤️

  13. First of all, your books sounds AMAZING!!
    Second, your dad saying that you were the only one in the family who could be president was so powerful and a testament to his dreams!

  14. Anna Collins says:

    What a lovely post Susan. I’m so sorry for your loss!

    Can’t wait to read your book – it sounds so fun!

    I’m not really sure who or what inspires me the most. People, I guess. Imperfect, struggling people who strive forward. 🙂

  15. Mare says:

    Susan! This was so lovely! But I’m not surprised because you are so lovely! Love you friend Congrats!

  16. Sarah Suk says:

    Such a wonderful post, Susan. You have a real gift with words and I can’t wait to cheer you on as you keep on sharing stories with the world <3

  17. Michelle says:

    Lovely post, Susan. Your words will inspire a new generation of dreamers.

  18. Elvin Bala says:

    This is a wonderful post, Susan! Such a great tribute to your dad. Keep dreaming and tell us all about them.

  19. Susan, what an incredible post and tribute to your dad. The world needs more dreamers like you! I also love the blurb for your book and hope to be able to read it soon. 🙂

  20. Becke Turner says:


    Your post touched my heart and left me speechless.

    I was also close to my dad. Although he’s gone now, I often hear his words whisper in my ear.

    I love a good YA and your’s sounds fun and inspirational. Nothing like a spoonful of fun to get the message across.

    Thank you Ruby Sisters for this blog and the amazing peek into my fellow Omega’s lives.

    Looking forward to meeting you in NYC.

  21. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Beautiful tribute to your dad, Susan. I’m so sorry for your loss and am sending you so many hugs.

    The person who inspired me most was my mom, who was also a dreamer (and a voracious reader!) and encouraged me to write. I tear up every time I remember walking with her down the hall of her assisted living after I had a short story published and her collaring anyone who passed to say, “This is my daughter, a published author!”

  22. Lisa Arbitrary says:

    Beautifully worded, Susan ❤️

  23. Elisa Beatty says:

    So glad to have you with us today, Susan!!

    Your father sounds like an amazing, loving man. There’s no gift parents can give their children that matters more than the gift of knowing they are beloved and beautiful and capable of doing whatever they want in life!

    May his memory always be a blessing.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely tribute to your dad.

    DRAGGED sounds amazing. Best of luck in NYC! And so glad you joined us on the blog today.

    My daughters inspire me. They both have some disabilities, and they have not let that slow them down. They’ve turned into such wonderful women.

  25. Mary R says:

    Susan!! This is such a lovely tribute to your dad and I have tears in my eyes still. You are so very incredible, and I can’t wait for DRAGGED! to be out in the world.

  26. Lisa Heartman says:

    Wow, Susan, this is a great post. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m so happy that you dedicated this to your dad. He sounds like an amazing man who taught you some valuable life lessons. My father always told me I could be anything I put my mind to, and it sounds like your dad was a lot like him. I’m so grateful to have you as a GH sister.

  27. christine gunderson says:

    A beautiful post about a wonderful father. Those of us lucky enough to have great fathers won the life lottery 🙂 I can’t wait to meet you in NY and hear more about him, and your fantastic book 🙂

  28. Fenley Grant says:


    What a beautiful tribute to your father. And what a wonderful way to model his words. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I, too, worked in HR, as a HR director for a Fortune 500 company. We could write a book, my fellow Omega, on all the weird and wonderful we have seen.

    I can’t wait to meet you in person in NYC and look forward to reading your book (because IT WILL get published!)


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