I am especially thrilled to share this W.O.W. because it is part of a special blog promotion for today’s featured author, Lizzy Charles, whose debut YA novel, EFFORTLESS WITH YOU, hit bookstores yesterday! Lizzy was kind enough to take time out of her busy promotion schedule to share her writing journey with me. She has a lot on her hands with being a NICU nurse, and mom, but she still managed to write a stunning book that I encourage you all to read!
Many thanks again to Lizzy for sharing her writing odyssey today…
Amy: I know you are a NICU nurse, so I have to ask, how do you find time to write?
Lizzy: Actually, being a nurse doesn’t squander my writing time as much as being a mother to two toddlers. I work part-time as an evening nurse to cut childcare costs, so on the evenings I don’t work, I write after I get my little ones in bed. I actually get some of my best writing ideas on my drives into work, it’s my only “me” time. Also, occasionally my unit is overstaffed, so I can get the day off. On those glorious days, I bring the lap top to Barnes and Noble, buy a soy chai tea latte, and go to town.
Amy: What inspires you to write YA?
Lizzy: I’ve always connected with the heart of young adult literature. Some people think YA writing is more superficial, but I actually find the themes very deep, extending into adulthood. Adults just get better with coping with them (sometimes). When writing, I’ve always found myself using a young adult voice. It just fit for me!
Amy: Was EFFORTLESS WITH YOU the first manuscript you queried? If so, how many agents did you query before you got a positive response?
Lizzy: It is my first manuscript! I queried probably around thirty five agents. But, the whole time, I was always hoping that Jamie Bodnar Drowley would love my manuscript. Thankfully, she did!
Amy: Did you have critique partners or beta readers for EFFORTLESS WITH YOU? If so, how did that influence your writing process?
Lizzy: I can say without a doubt that EFFORTLESS WITH YOU would never have received an agent request if it wasn’t for my critique partners. For EWY, I had two main critique partners that assessed my manuscript. After EWY was ready to rock and in the query world, I joined a critique group called The Off Beats, a group of seven women with an array of talent. Spending months critiquing and beta reading their work actually allowed me to dive back into EWY, revise again with new eyes and new skills, and that’s when EWY really started to draw attention.
Amy: What can you tell us about your call with your agent, Jamie Bodnar Drowley? How did you know she was a good fit for you?
Lizzy: Jamie Bodnar Drowly was always my dream agent. When I was querying, she was a new agent that I’d heard amazing things about from other author friends. I was drawn most to Jamie’s professionalism, kindness, and brain activity. Brain activity? Yeah! She’s an orthodontist. As a nurse and writer, I LOVE that she’s driven by both her left brain and right brain (Can you tell that I’m a nerd and love science?). The fact that she’s owned orthodontic practices gives her great people skills, business skills, and contract negotiation skills. Not to mention, she knows how to work hard! That’s a tough profession, not to mention the schooling. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t admit how much I admired her from a far! I really thought she rocked!
As for our call, it was something that I think neither of us expected. I’m normally extremely nervous on the phone, but somehow, talking with Jamie is like speaking to a sister. We got along so well. After giving me feedback and advice on my manuscript, I was shocked when Jamie offered. I was so thankful she was taking her time to give me advice. When she offered representation, I lost all sense of professionalism. I threw out a lot “Are you kidding? For real? Wait, What!?” lines. We had a great laugh together!
Amy: What was one piece of advice you got during your early writing stages that has stuck with you to this day?
Lizzy: Can I give a few?
1. Write what you love.
2. When writing, remember you have a reader. Just because something is interesting to you, doesn’t mean it’s necessary for the reader. Don’t be selfish about entertaining yourself, unless the novel is only for you.
3. Find your tense. How do you imagine the story while you write it? Are you in the characters head AS it happens? Then write in first person present. Are you the character telling the story to the reader? Then write past tense. Watching the characters? Go third person. Once I realized the tense I needed to approach my writing with, everything clicked and the voice leaped off the page.
Amy: If you met an aspiring writer at a book signing and they told you they were going to give up on their writing dream, what would you say to them?
Lizzy: Don’t give up. Get critique partners, grow thick skin, but keep trying if you still love to write. And remember, it takes a lot of time. I spent two years working on EFFORTLESS WITH YOU before it even hit a critique partners hands or an agent’s inbox. From first sentence typed to its publication date in mid August, it will be exactly three years and two weeks. Also, I feel like one of the lucky ones. That’s fast compared to so many author stories.
School is out and Lucy is ready for the perfect summer: lazy days at the pool, invitations to the most exclusive parties, and romantic dates with her hot new boyfriend. That is, until she lands in trouble one too many times and her parents issue the ultimate punishment: a summer job. Suddenly, the summer can’t end fast enough.
To make matters worse, the job is painting houses with Justin, the most popular, egotistical guy in school. Spending all summer with Justin might be other girls’ dreams, but definitely not Lucy’s. After all, Justin is cocky, annoying, and a jerk. So what if he’s the most beautiful jerk Lucy’s ever seen? Or that his grin makes her forget she’s mad at the world? Or that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to Justin than Lucy realizes. Only one thing is certain: it won’t be the summer she wanted, but it might be exactly the one she needs.
I AM PROUD TO HELP LIZZY KICK-OFF HER AMAZING DEBUT AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO GO HERE FOR SPECIAL GIVEAWAYS AND MORE!
When Lizzy Charles isn’t scrambling to raise her two spunky toddlers or caring for premature and sick babies as a neonatal intensive care nurse, she’s in a quiet corner writing or snuggled up with a novel and a few squares of dark chocolate. Black tea keeps her constant and she loves guacamole. She married her high school sweet heart, a musician, so it’s no surprise she’s fallen in love with writing contemporary YA romance novels. For more on Lizzy check out her blog, LizzyCharles.com, follow her on Twitter or Facebook.