Coffee & Conversation with Suzanna Banwell, our new Critique Coordinator

First off, I must send out a huge THANK YOU to Loretta Carlson for being such an amazing critique coordinator for the past several years! Wow. The task of gathering critique submissions from conference attendees, processing payments, assigning manuscripts to critiquers, sending out the critiques, creating a schedule, and then creating a schedule for volunteer timers is a massive undertaking. I’m exhausted just by writing that run-on sentence, let alone doing all that!

Again, many, MANY thanks to Loretta for all your hard work. We truly appreciate it!

The time has come, however, for Loretta to pass the reins, so with that, allow me to throw out a major congrats and thank you to Suzanna Banwell, our new critique coordinator!

Suzanna is a writer, bookseller, recovering lawyer and proud parent of two charming young men. When not writing or working, she’s probably on the couch with a book, in the garden (likely covered in dirt), or on a plane to someplace far, far away.

Suzanna is joining us for some Coffee & Conversation as a way for members to get to know her. And now that she’s cozy in the cyber chair, let’s begin! 

What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen? As an adult?

Impossible questions! As soon as I answer with one so many others clamor for attention, so I’ll do it like speed dating and blurt the first titles that comes to mind:

  • The Little Engine that Could. The Secret Garden
  • Jane Eyre, Sing Down the Moon, Of Mice and Men.
  • Lolita, anything by Kent Haruf or Jhumpa Lahiri

What is your favorite writing how-to book, technique, or website that has helped you improve your craft or provided inspiration?

Actually, it’s people—it’s always been people. Writing groups, folks at the Bethesda Writers Center, freelance Editors Esther Hershenhorn and Kate Angelella, who I met through our very own SCBWI.

Tell us about your writing journey. When did it begin?

I finished my first book, The Story of Ellen, in 3rd Grade, so let’s say it starts there.

What is your goal as our new conference critique coordinator?

To do everything I can to fill Loretta’s amazing shoes. They might not be big, but they are totally, intimidatingly awesome.

Tell us about your best … or worse conference critique. What did you learn from it?

There was the one where the agent had marked every page with a giant X. When she handed it to me, I burst out laughing. Lesson? Learn everything you can, but don’t take everything to heart.

What advice would you give someone who is getting a critique for the first time?

See above.

What is your favorite quote?

On the one hand: “I think I can, I think I can.”

On the other: “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

Exercising, hanging out with friends and family, and cheering on the Nats! (Somehow I became a baseball fanatic at age 50. I have no idea why).

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Outline or wing it?  Mostly wing it, but there’s always an outline in my head.

Talk about works-in-progress or keep it zipped?  Zipped.

Prefer writing rough drafts or editing?  It’s all exquisite torture.

Dread social media or love it?  Mostly dread, but trying to get over that.

Read Kindle or traditional books?  Both.

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work?  Morning.

Place to work?  My desk.

Music to listen to while writing?  Classical.

Pair of shoes?  Fuzzy socks.

Guiltiest pleasure?  Salt and Vinegar potato chips.

Line from a movie?  It’s worth repeating: “I wish I knew how to quit you.” I say that to my ms. at least once a day.

Thanks again, Suzanna, for taking on this responsibility!

Happy writing and drawing, everyone!

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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