What made you decide to focus on YA genre? I went back to college in my late twenties and took a course called Adolescent Lit. I thought it would be an easy A and it filled a requirement. I didn't realize how much the novels we read would impact me. After I read Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Write books that spoke to people.
How did it all begin?
I read every YA book I could get my hand on. Then I started writing, and tweaking my craft. I started a lot of things. Then I ended up with a complete novel.
How long did it take you to write the book?
About a year and I lost track of all the rewrites.
Who encouraged you along the way?
I joined SCBWI and met some incredible writers. Finding them made everything start to fall into place. They pointed me in the right direction and are the best cheerleaders I could ever have.
How long did it take to find a publisher?
My debut Reaper found a home at J. Taylor Publishing after only a few months of querying small presses.
How did you go about getting an agent?
My agent also happened very quickly. I queried a handful of agents with a YA contemporary. One particular agent sent me some fantastic feedback. I took the advice and revised. When I was starting to query again, a friend retweeted an agent who was looking for sports-themed YA. I queried her the next day. A month later, I signed with Julia A. Weber.
Did you ever want to give up on writing the book and getting it published?
I have a few novels I did give up on. Not everything gets published and, in hindsight, they weren't that good. It happens.
Are you active with any writing groups?
I'm a network co-rep for my SCBWI region and am a member of RWA and Missouri RWA.
What are some of the more difficult aspects of writing a YA novel?
Making sure the voice is authentic. It's so easy for some authors to believe teens sound like we did when we were kids, and they don't. Not anymore than we sounded like our parents. ;)
Any thoughts in publishing in other genres?
My novella, Neighbors is a traditional romance for adults, but I really focus on YA romance.
How do you write? Did you do an outline first or individual character development?
I outline first. The characters grow with the novel, so I don't do a lot of character development. My first drafts are a "getting to know each other" phase.
What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
That it's hard. It's so very difficult to get your name out there and to keep it out there.
What type of publicity do you do to promote your book?
I do all requests for interviews and contact blogs to see if they'd be interested in hosting me.
What has worked best for you in generating sales?
Each book has been different. What worked for me in 2013 with Reaper doesn't necessarily work this year with Pixelated. What worked for my friend last summer, doesn't necessarily work now. The landscape is constantly changing. It's a marathon sprint to keep up.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Don't give up. If this is what you want, do it. But don't expect to get rich either. Write because you love to write. Write because you have something to say. Don't write to get rich.
What other works do you have in the process?
I'm currently writing a YA Contemporary about a boy who did a very bad thing. I know, that's very vague. ;)
Just a trickle of information to pique our interest. If you'd like to follow up and learn more about this book and others she's written, here's a link to her website: http://lsmurphy.com/