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An Interview with Bria Quinlan upon receiving an offer of representation.

Bria Quinlan (Simply on QT) has signed with agent Kim Lionetti of BookEnds, LLC.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
This book is the first in a set of standalone YA books about girls dealing with tough issues with humor.
How long have you been writing?
I used to write myself little stories. In college I had a fire and lost everything I'd written. I couldn't seem to write anything after that – but I kept telling myself little stories all the time. I finally started writing again almost 2 ½ years ago.
How long have you been working on this book?
Secret Girlfriend was a bit of a surprise. As a break from my fantasy series, I wrote it in eleven days during Nano. Nine month later, I edited it in two weeks and put it away until I heard back from my beta readers. It was pretty clean and went out right away. I doubt that will ever happen again.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you stay on course?
Frustrated: YES. Quitting: NO. When I started writing I gave myself 3 years to give it 111%. At the end of that, I had planned to sit down and see if I was far enough along the writing career path. I'd also said I wouldn't think of quitting until I'd gotten at least 150 rejections. Giving myself long term things to aim for kept me focused. No matter how many rejections I got in a week, I could look at the list and say, “Well, I haven't gotten to 150 yet.”
So, this isn't your first book?
No. I also have an YA epic fantasy. I love love love this book…now. I made the mistake of going through most of my agent list when I thought it was done. Newbie mistake, I know.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have a Bachelors in English. It's a little old at this point…do they have an expiration date?
Do you follow a writing ‘routine' or schedule?
No. But I'm big on goals. I actually lead an online writer's accountability group. We set long term goals and then weekly ones. Each week we have to own up to how our goals went as well as having a weekly chat about writing and time management topics.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I'm a pantser mostly. My stories come to me like a forgotten memory that's suddenly triggered. Then, as I write, the details get more clear.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried this book for about a month to my top 20 agents. It happened really fast. Such a surprise, especially after the ongoing search with the fantasy.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I did a lot of research for the first book I queried – blogs, twitter, interviews, asking writing friends about their experiences. My list definitely changed for this book for a couple reasons: 1. It's a totally different type of book, 2. I learned a lot more about the agents and what they were looking for from the first search.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
No. The last book I queried I worked hard to personalize each letter. Half way through that process I stopped unless I had actual personal experience with the agent. I found my numbers didn't change at all.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Get out there. Network. Meet as many people as possible. Give back. Build your online presence.

Every agent I spoke with referred to something from my blog. Several mentioned my serial free read. They liked seeing my voice in another context and that I could do something else. Also, I have a bio, references, tools and a timeline of my writing. Every agent came away from my blog with something we discussed.

Would you be willing to share your query letter with us?

Ridge View High is a place teeming with secrets. Amy Whalen should know, she's living one.

Shy. Introverted. Wallflower. Dreaded words, but not strong enough to describe Amy. She knows she's nothing short of invisible since her mom died. Invisible at home. Invisible at school. Sometimes, if she looks in the mirror long enough, she's invisible to herself too. Until Chris Kent – the only person she ever wanted to see her – needs her to be his girlfriend. His secret girlfriend. That's fine with her - mostly. She can stay out of the spotlight while he implements “The Plan” for getting into college: He needs to win Homecoming King and soccer team captain with the help of his very public-image girlfriend…who just happens to be the head cheer-dealer… ah, cheerleader.

The Plan is coming along just great thank you very much, until Luke Parker shows up for tryouts and sees through all Amy's defenses. To him, she isn't invisible, she's amazing and he can't figure out why she lets people ignore her and walk all over her. When Luke decides he wants Chris's spot on the team and wouldn't sneeze at the captain's jersey either, their rivalry spins out of control. It doesn't help any that he also wants the girl Chris kept hidden all summer: Amy.

Now she's trapped between the guy she's always wanted and the guy who saw her when no one else did. But who can trust guys when there's so much at stake? Now Amy's got her own plan now. She's stepping into the spotlight and choosing her king. Senior year was not supposed to be this complicated.

Secret Girlfriend is complete at 54,000 words.

With a BA in English and a Creative Writing minor and years of experience in the workforce, I've returned to my first love, writing. I'm the former Vice President of the New England RWA chapter and the Workshop Chair for the 2008 Conference.

Thank you for your time and looking at my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Bria Quinlan

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