Writer Casie Bazay Shares Path to Publishing First Novel
Family dynamics can be tricky, especially when finances are involved! In the debut novel by Casie Bazay, Not Our Summer, she focuses on the relationship between two cousins with a family inheritance on the line.
As a former English teacher, Casie Bazay has always had an affinity for the written word and enjoys reading and writing. Her opportunity to focus on writing a book came a little over 10 years ago following the birth of her daughter, when she made the decision to become a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. Casie Bazay began the hard work of daily writing with the goal of sending her book to agents to pursue traditional publishing. That goal took discipline, perseverance and many rejections before her fourth novel, Not Our Summer, was accepted for publication.
TK: As a former teacher, what did you enjoy about that profession?
Casie: I taught for Coweta and Broken Arrow Public Schools for 10 years and enjoyed working with students in the classroom. With my background teaching English to middle school students, I was able to share my love of reading and writing with my students and incorporated books and stories into the curriculum; always including one book in particular, The Giver by Lois Lowry. The award-winning book was thought-provoking and always a hit with my students.
TK: When did you decide to write a book?
Casie: Teaching definitely had an impact on my love of reading and writing. I’ve always loved reading – especially Young Adult novels. While I was teaching in the classroom, popularity grew in that genre with books like the Twilight, Hunger Games, and Divergent series. I started having thoughts about writing my own book at that time, but I didn’t act on it. I really focused on my writing career after I left teaching.
TK: Can you share the process of juggling your role as mom and writer?
Casie: My children are older, so I keep school hours. Creating a habit and sticking with it will get you there. I write after I drop my kids off for school and then when I pick them up, I’m finished for the day. I keep the same schedule during the summer as well.
TK: What do your kids think about your writing career now that you’re a published author?
Casie: My kids are so used to hearing me talk about writing that it’s just a normal part of everyday life, and the process to publication was such a long one, I’m not sure they understand just how big a deal it is. But if you asked them, I’m sure they would say they are proud of their mom!
TK: What is one misconception you had about writing?
Casie: Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. That rarely happens. I learned that the secret to making progress was forcing myself to sit down and write for an hour or two. Some days, I’ll only finish a couple of paragraphs and other days I can knock out an entire chapter. The repetition of writing every day helps me progress. I consider any progress to be one step closer to my goal, no matter the amount.
TK: What have you learned through the writing process?
Casie: For me, it’s been a 10-year process. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer. I’ve completed five books now and am working on my sixth.
TK: How did you come up with the idea for Not Our Summer?
Casie: This was the fourth completed novel I have written. One of the lessons I learned is that you have to take risks with your writing. In my first three books, I focused on horses in those books because that was my comfort zone. I have horses and write for equestrian magazines and companies with my freelance writing. With my fourth book, I intentionally decided to come up with a different idea focusing on the relationship between two characters. I had several hours mowing a horse pasture when I came up with the idea for this book. I felt like I was taking a risk and stepping out of my comfort zone to write a story that was different from my first three books.
TK: Tell us a little about the book.
Casie: The premise centers around five trips, two cousins, one family feud, and a summer that will change their lives forever. The main characters, KJ and Becka, are estranged cousins who come from different backgrounds. KJ was raised by a single mom and Becka has a little more stability in her household, although her mother is on her third marriage. This story follows the cousins on their journey of learning how to deal with their past and come together to earn their inheritance. It’s full of real-life lessons and a dramatic plot twist that many find unexpected.
TK: What words of encouragement would you offer to others who want to write a book or are attempting to write their first book?
Casie: Writing books isn’t just for other people. Anyone can do it. I highly recommend going to conferences, meeting people, finding critique partners. Just learning from people who know more than you. Be willing to learn from those people.
TK: You sent a tweet saying, “I think that half of being successful at this whole writing thing is acting like you already are.” Can you expand on that?
Casie: I tweet a lot of things that come to me or have helped me in the writing process. What I’ve learned is tricking yourself into believing you can. The more you write, the more your confidence will grow. Writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
TK: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
Casie: My biggest piece of advice is don’t stop after your first book. I queried over 150 literary agents that ultimately rejected my first book. It was hard for me, because I loved that book, but I decided to set it aside and write a second book. The second book also received rejections – and same with the third. Not Our Summer is my fourth book and it finally got published!
TK: What else would you like to share?
Casie: For those interested in writing, I offer some editing services. Anything in your submission process: from fine tuning your query letter, to critiquing your whole manuscript. You’re welcome to reach out to me through my website. I really enjoy helping other authors along in the process.
To listen to the full interview with Casie Bazay check out the Sharing Passion and Purpose Podcast by Nancy Moore on your favorite podcasting platform.