Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's Fresh with Liza Conrad's The Poker Diaries

From the author of Rock My World and High School Bites-a tale of a poker-playing teen whose two lives are about to collide.

For a city girl, Lulu has the best of both worlds-uptown and downtown. Her mother teaches her about art and high society...then every other weekend she's with her dad, playing poker in the back room of her grandfather's bar. Mark, her downtown crush, is almost as good at the game as she is, but her uptown friends lose their shirts. So when her buddy Dack gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and loses a bit more than he should, it's up to Lulu to win it back for him. But things have become even more complicated- especially now that her mom is dating Mr. Toughon- Crime himself, the Mayor of New York City.

Hi Liza, thanks so much for chatting with us at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Liza: I was a book editor and ghost writer for about ten years after college, and I nursed this secret dream of writing a novel. I wrote my first one, Spanish Disco, but I knew it was really quirky. A tequila-drinking, b-word of a heroine. I had landed an agent, and he sent it out and I had a deal with Red Dress Ink in about three months, which is a sickeningly easy first sale story--so I hate to tell it. Since then, I've written and published about twenty novels, including three YAs writing as Liza Conrad. (I write for adults as Erica Orloff.)

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Liza: My typical day is atypical! :-) I have four kids, three dogs, a parrot, a python, a canary, and assorted fish. Only the fish are well-behaved. My kids all play instruments (except the baby--who is two and learning to feed the dogs things like the contents of my wallet)--violin, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano. So my house is noisy. I write in the quiet lulls--early in the a.m., around 5:30. Later at night. And when I can in between. I've learned to write with distractions . . . and I guess I am just used to it. But I don't have any set schedule. I kind of wish I did. But then I wouldn't have my wonderful, messy life.

Please tell us about your latest novel YA novel, The Poker Diaries, and what we can expect from your characters.

The Poker Diaries is about Tallulah "Lulu" King. Her mismatched parents divorced when she was a baby, and now she splits her time between her mother's cultured world on Central Park West, and her father's world in Hell's Kitchen--where she plays illegal backroom poker. She is an amazing poker player because she trusts her gut and she can read people well. And when her best friend, Dack, loses an irreplacable watch in a poker game, she tries to win it back--and in the process gets blackmailed into playing a very high-stakes game in which she is in over her head.

The characters are, like a lot of my books, extremely loyal. These are the friends who watch your back no matter what.

Sounds unique and fresh, Liza! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Liza: I am working on a trilogy for Nocturne--paranormal romance. I just completed my next Red Dress Ink title for 2008. And I just gave my agent a proposal--top secret--for a new YA series.

Thanks again for sharing with us, Liza! I wish you the best with The Poker Diaries. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Liza: My tip is my life philosophy. Live your life with gusto, try new things, meet new people, be open to life, laugh loudly and inappropriately at least once every day, live each day breathlessly as if it's you're last--and then you'll have lots to write about, full of rich detail and, hopefully, meaning.

Liza Conrad is an author who lives in Virginia with her family and a menagerie of pets, including a python (her son's... she is waiting to get up the nerve to hold it), a very loud cockatoo, a disobedient corgi who can field grounders but doesn’t know how to sit on command, and two adorable mutt puppies who have turned her office upside down. In her free time, Liza likes to play poker, hunt for Buddha statues to add to her collection, knit lopsided scarves (still working on mastering this knitting thing), and of course...WRITE! She may be reached at her website at Visit her writing blog at

3 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Adorable cover! And I sure recognize the name of Erica Orloff from my adult reads. This book sounds great--can't wait to read it--and I couldn't agree more about living life with gusto!


Erica Orloff said...

Hi Tina:
Kelly was so nice to have me on her blog. And this was one of my fave covers ever!!


Kelly Parra said...

I love the cover too!

And thanks for sharing with us, Erica!