Kelly recently did an interview on Writers at Play http://www.writersatplay.com/ where I learned that Graffiti Girl has been mentioned in TEEN mag, become a Latinidad Top pick, and been selected for the NYC Book Up program to encourage middle grade students to become long time readers. She calls it her "Little Book That Could" and after reading the interview I felt so proud of her! (I'm almost old enough to be her momma!)
Please welcome Kelly Parra!
Hello Jamie! Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog along with these talented RITA nominees! :)
Kelly, how did you get started in the publishing business?
Creativity has always run through my blood. It wasn’t until I was home and expecting my first child that I took up reading Romance. I’ll always remember reading Nora Roberts’s BORN IN ICE…that hooked me on my path to becoming a faithful Romance reader and eventually writing. After joining RWA and writing short stories and failing miserably at contests, I became serious when I hooked up with two fabulous writers, Dianna Love and Tina Ferraro. From there it was finishing that book, learning the craft, and eventually querying agents, signing, and reaching that precious goal of selling!
Any surprises? Biggest challenge so far?
For me, everything is a surprise when I first experience it. My biggest challenge came very quickly after selling a novel to the Bombshell line and having my Romantic Suspense not published after the line closed. My young adult sale came quickly after and with my spirits down, it was mentally difficult to finish my second book, but I pushed myself and GRAFFITI GIRL was turned in. When it was published it meant so much more to hold it in my hands. That’s why this nomination and my nomination for Young Adult Romance are such a surprise and both a wonderful honor.
What is the best part of being a novelist? Creating characters and stories all from my imagination. Sometimes I wonder where do these images in my head come from, but then I think I don’t care as long as they never stop. Being able to write stories is a gift, and one I don’t ever want to take for granted.
What’s the average day in the writer’s life look like for you? Are you scheduled and organized or are you more the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type?
Oh man, I am so unorganized it’s not even funny! Okay, maybe a little bit. I have a chicken scratch list of tasks I need to take care of that is always growing. I really just switch my plentitude of hats every hour or so: Mom, wife, writer, blogger, interviewer, promoter, reader. Sometimes I have to wear them at the same time. Haha, talk about busy! ;)
What are your inspirations for your stories? Any tips and tricks for someone who is stuck?
My inspiration has always been wonderful books. When I read a novel that makes me feel I want to share that gift with other readers. I often become stuck, so when that happens I start to write from a different scene that will hook me back into the book. Works like a charm. :)
Have you had a mentor, critique group or teacher that has helped you get where you are today? Have you been a mentor to someone else?
I would have to say Dianna Love (http://www.authordiannalove.com/) has been my mentor for years. I met her on-line before either of us sold, and she was a Golden Heart finalist. She would take the time to answer my many questions and read my work. Through the years she has accomplished so much from becoming a Golden Heart winner, selling, RITA winner, and now recently a NYT bestseller with PHANTOM IN THE NIGHT. I am very proud of her!
My cyber partner and most valuable player in my writing life is young adult author, Tina Ferraro (http://www.tinaferraro.com/). We hooked up through a critique service years ago and have been best buds ever since. We share our hard times and our triumphs and I could not ask for a better critique partner and friend.
The mentoring I’ve done has been through judging contests and doing my best to share my thoughts and experience on my Words of a Writer blog. This RWA conference I’ll be taking part in a workshop with Shelley Adina, Carol Culver and agent, Jennifer Jackson. Hopefully, I’ll be able to speak past shaking with nerves!
What does it mean to you to be nominated for a RITA award? How did you feel when you got the call? And what do you think the RITA means for the romance novel genre? As I mentioned, it is a wonderful honor to be nominated. I was in shock when I received my call and trembling! By the time I got my second, I thought pigs were surely flying, and until I saw the official announcement I wouldn’t believe it. What a day that was! I think the RITA is an honor to those who write Romance and for finalists and winners. Something to be proud of. :)
What are you wearing to the RITA Awards Ceremony in San Francisco? (LOL) Do you have the dress picked out? Any stories? LOL, is right! I have never been to a RITA ceremony and I’m allergic to panty hose and heels. (Just kidding!) It is going to be quite the task picking a dress I feel comfortable in.
Are you preparing a speech in case you win?
I have not prepared a speech, and I may draft something, but the competition is so fierce for me it’s just been such a pleasure to be nominated! I never dreamed to be a finalist, but I’m always willing to take a chance.
Congratulations on your RITA nomination. Any last thoughts?
Thank you, Jamie! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I’m sending my congrats to all of the finalists in every category as well as our own. Best of luck, Everyone, and I can’t wait until San Francisco!