Amanda Brice writes young adult romantic mysteries set in the dance world. Codename: Dancer, a 2009 Golden Heart finalist, was released today as an e-book and will be released in print on May 21, 2011.
Amanda lives outside of Washington, DC in Northern Virginia with her husband and toddler daughter. When she’s not writing, she works as an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency. Amanda holds degrees from Duke University, Arizona State University, and George Washington University.
In her spare time, Amanda enjoys dancing, reading, cooking, traveling, and obsessing over whether Duke will beat Carolina in basketball. Go Devils!
Amanda, can you believe three years have passed since we received the news that we were Golden Heart finalists and became members of the awesome group known as the Pixie Chicks? Some exciting things have happened in your world, including the birth of your princess. How do you juggle motherhood and writing?
Basically, I don’t sleep! I am so in awe of people like Gemma Halliday, who had her baby only two months before I did, yet she’s written way more words in the past year than I have. But that’s okay. We all take different paths, and she’s incredibly hard-working and prolific.
I took a long “maternity leave” from writing. I actually went back to my day job as an attorney four months after my daughter was born, but it took a full year before I was ready to start writing again. I’m not exactly certain what it was, but I wasn’t ready before then. But then sometime after Christmas, I just felt this weird pull to write. I had a story that was screaming to be told, so I sat down and the words started flowing.
I still haven’t figured out the perfect balance of writing, work, and motherhood, but I’m trying. Every day I do a little more. Fortunately my job is flexible enough that I just need to work 80 hours every two weeks (they don’t really care when as long as the bulk of the hours are during regular business hours), so I’ve found that if I can frontload those hours, then I’ll have a full day off every week to stay home and write.
You’ve taken a big step recently. You’re one of the many brave souls venturing into self-publishing. I rarely interview self-published authors, but I’m eager to hear why you, a Golden Heart finalist and talented writer, ceased your pursuit of a contract from a traditional publisher and decided to go it on your own. What led to your decision?
Well, I haven’t actually ceased pursuit of a traditional contract. For this particular book, yes, but unlike many indies, I continue to love New York and aim for a traditional publishing experience with future (unrelated) books.
That being said, a New York contract just wasn’t in the cards for Codename: Dancer. This book was my second Golden Heart finalist (in 2009, making me part of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, in addition to being a fabulous Pixie!), and received tons of excellent feedback when it made the submission rounds. Editors at several houses raved about the writing, the voice, the characters, the premise…and it made it to final acquisitions meetings at a couple of houses, but ultimately they passed.
Despite editors who loved it, marketing didn’t know where to place it. The Young Adult imprints all said it was Middle Grade, and the MG imprints all said it was YA. In reality, it’s both. And neither. And that was completely intentional. There’s a large segment of kids out there who are ready for something more substantial than what you find in a Middle Grade book, but aren’t quite ready for the more mature emotional themes of older YA. I’d actually written Codename with these girls in mind, but it ultimately made it a very hard sell.
New York called it “niche,” but that’s the beauty of indie publishing. Doing it on my own, I can afford to take risks. Sure, I invested in a freelance editor, a cover artist, and a freelance formatter, so it certainly wasn’t free, but I’ve always spent money (organization fees, chapter fees, conferences, workshops, postage, etc.) on my pursuit of publication. This is merely another cost of the journey. The manuscript wasn’t doing anything for me while wasting space on my hard drive, so I decided to roll the dice and see if I could find it a readership on my own. Get it out there in the world and let readers decide whether it has any merit.
Six months ago, if you’d told me I would self-publish, I probably would have laughed at you. Actually, not probably. I definitely would have. But then a funny thing happened this Christmas. It’s estimated that somewhere between 5 million and 8 million Kindles were sold in 2010 alone. That’s certainly not insignificant. And my target audience is used to doing everything online or on their phones as it is, so the concept of e-books just makes sense to teens and tweens. (Possibly even more than reading print books, as sad as that may be to you or me.) Suddenly the pioneering self-published authors were finding a readership and it because a viable career choice.
So given the choice of leaving Codename to languish on my hard drive or seeing what it could do for me on my own, I decided to take the risk. And I’m having a blast already!
What have been the biggest surprises as you prepared your first book for publication? The biggest challenges? The biggest rewards?
I was very pleasantly surprised at how supportive people have been. I attended a party a few weeks back hosted by one of the biggest names in romance fiction. And as always happens, everyone was asking one another about their writing. I mentioned that I’d decided to self-publish, and braced myself for the inevitable polite-but-sympathetic “that’s nice, dear” responses. Only they didn’t come. Everyone was legitimately interested, and asked me all about the process. Our hostess herself even indicated that she thought it was a smart move and commended me on taking control of my career. Seriously, jaw on the floor.
Obviously I have no idea how this venture will do for me, but I’m already finding it very empowering to be on my own boss. Obviously I’ve hired freelancers to edit, do my cover, and format the book, but ultimately I have total control. Of course, that means I’ll sink or swim all on my own, too. LOL
Please tell us a little about Codename: Dancer.
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 Hollywood wonderboy 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. Could he actually like her?
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.
It’s like ‘Nancy Drew in toe shoes’ in this light-hearted tween mystery, a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Young Adult Romance.
Questions for Amanda
Amanda, it’s been wonderful having you here to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on your debut novel.
I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your venture into self-publishing or your debut novel. And, of course, feel free to help Amanda celebrate her new venture.
Amanda has generously offered to give away and e-book copy of Codename: Dancer.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Amanda by April 27th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. On April 28th I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email.
Congratulations to Christie Craig, winner of Amanda’s book.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Amanda
Visit her website ~ www.amandabrice.net
Visit her group blogs ~
Friend her on Facebook ~ Amanda Brice