Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Guest Post with Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13!

Hello everyone! Happy Mother's Day, to all of our wonderful mothers out there! You ladies make the world an amazing place!

And today, I have the fantastic Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13, to talk about her mother.

Even if She Never Reads a Word 
by Liz Coley 

My mom is the rock on which my life has been built--a soft one, to be sure. The role she has played in my becoming a published writer is like a poured foundation hidden from sight in the ground, concealed in plywood and carpet, yet providing solidity under every step I take. 

Mom is brilliant, an Oxford-trained mathematician who took a fifteen-year leave from teaching college students to raise her own four children as early readers and early mathematicians. As a mom (and now Grom), her outstanding characteristic is that she honors the emotional life of all children with patience, empathy, and understanding. No one is ever scolded for “feeling” a certain way or for acting on those feelings. She believes that “a good cry” is cathartic, not something to shush. She knows that exuberant yelling and teasing and silliness are all okay, not reasons to be scolded or squashed. She knows that children and adolescents experience their emotions far more intensely than in the damped down middle years, but that, if anything, makes them more valid, not less. 

In Mom’s tween years, feeling invalidated and spirit-crushed by the prevailing 1940’s attitudes towards children, she swore never to forget what it was like to be a child; given her ridiculously acute memory, she didn't  When she explained this resolution to me in my tweens, it made a huge impression. I can’t claim to be quite as patient with my own offspring as she was with us, but thanks to Mom’s early tutelage, I've always understood that what other people dismiss as “drama” is kid-reality. Life is that sad; it is that wonderful; it is that hopeless; it is that infuriating; it is that unfair; it is that ecstatic. This reverence for the tempestuous experience of childhood and adolescence informs my characters’ layered and complex emotional lives. Memorable and authentic characters are probably the strongest aspect of my writing craft. 

that you don’t have to do it all at once—you can approach your life in phases. I had a post-college working phase until the birth of my second child, and then, without being made to feel like I was wasting my expensive education, I left the paid work force to concentrate on making a home and expending my energies as a parent volunteer. I had Mom’s support in this, of course, as she often said raising the four of us was the most satisfying job she ever undertook—this from someone who has been a tenured professor, a headmistress, a senior warden, and a board chairman of multiple boards. As she laid the groundwork for going back to teaching by taking statistics and programming classes (in the days of punch cards!), I laid the groundwork for becoming an author by taking a correspondence writing course (pre-internet!), attending conferences and writing workshops, joining critique groups, and writing short stories. With two kids out of the house and one only a year away from driving, it’s time for me to enter my own phase three, which officially began with the publication of Pretty Girl-13

So here’s the funny thing. Mom doesn’t read any of my work. My early attempts were all science fiction and fantasy, which, with apologies, she just “doesn’t appreciate,” and for realistic fiction, Pretty Girl-13 is too dark for her sensibilities. But even if she never reads a word, her influence and unquestioning support have made it possible for me to be the writer I am becoming. 

The other mother to whom I have to give a shout out on Mother’s Day is my mother-in-law Barbara, who has read, carefully critiqued, and meticulously proofread pretty much every novel, published or unpublished, I have written (ten to date). She has been an unswerving fan and cheerleader, and I appreciate her support every day of the year.

Check out Pretty Girl-13!

Pretty Girl-13

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 19, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads):

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing - and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Check out the trailer for Pretty Girl-13!


  1. It is hard to live up to a strong parents expectations but sometimes it does give us strength to work harder. I'm glad to hear you both do what you love. I am excited to read some of your work soon!

    1. It definitely is - but I agree. I try my best to live up and exceed my parents' expectations.

  2. Well, that is just THE coolest post from Liz! I love how supportive of her her mother is, and what she ingrained in them like reading and going after their dreams. All that definitely shone through in Pretty Girl-13, which I quite liked.

    Thanks for hosting Liz so we could get to know about her. And thank you for commenting at my blog, Alyssa! :)

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    1. I agree! And I'm glad you've read Pretty Girl-13! Thanks, Molli!


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