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  • Writer's pictureJulie Hauswirth

Creator Interview Plus a Giveaway: Elizabeth James

One of the hosts of #MidWeekCritique and Author/Illustrator of the Pippa Potter chapter book series!

I first "met" Elizabeth when I was lucky enough to win a #MidWeekCritique from her several months ago. Her feedback helped me to really pinpoint the heart of my story. If you haven't already, you should check it out on X (Twitter). They'll be taking a break in November and December, but will resume in January!

Elizabeth has been working in the publishing industry for over two decades, having started out as a magazine writer and editor and then working as an in-house book publicist for New York Times bestselling books and authors. She's had bylines featured in Health, HOW, byFaith, Focus on the Family, Clubhouse, CityBeat, Inspire magazine as well as Guideposts’ recent Pray a Word a Day, vol. 2 devotional. She will also have her first illustrations featured in an upcoming issue of The Toy and was a winner in the Spring Fling Writing Contest. In addition, she helps host monthly critiques with #MidWeekCritique along with three other super talented KidLit authors.

Elizabeth is in the process of self-publishing her illustrated chapter book series Pippa Potter, President's Daughter and writes picture books as well. She's currently writing, revising, and querying projects, too. You can find her on X (Twitter) @elizjameswrites or Instagram @elizabethjameswrites, or visit her website here:

There's also an amazing giveaway! Elizabeth is offering one lucky winner their choice of a query critique, manuscript critique, or an ask-me-anything call! Make sure you read through the interview for details!

"...what appears to be a valley might just be the peak you’ve been waiting for—one of life’s greatest plot twists!"

How did your journey as a KidLit creator begin?

When I was in first grade, I wanted to be an artist. But in second grade, my teacher encouraged us to make books and I was hooked: I loved writing. However, I never considered the option of being a book author. Instead, I went the route of magazine journalism, because somewhere along the way, I became convinced that I “couldn’t do plot.”

Fortunately, in 2021, I was challenged to revive a passion from my childhood, and I was reminded of summers growing up when I would sit in my room and type a manuscript. So I decided to give it a try, and on January 9, 2024 that will all come fruition as I publish my first book, an illustrated chapter book, Pippa Speaks Up! It’s the first book in the Pippa Potter, President’s Daughter illustrated series that takes kids into the captivating world of the White House while weaving empowering, kid-friendly mental-health techniques straight into a heartwarming storyline of family, friendship & finding your voice!

What is your favorite thing about creating for children?

I think childhood is such a pivotal age and I have empathy for what kids experience and face. I want to speak into those places and come alongside them, particularly with encouragement and empowerment, which is why a lot of my writing incorporates SEL themes.

This is an industry full of high highs and low lows. What are some of the peaks and valleys you've experienced in your career?

I’ve had lots of close calls with agents and editors, even having had some of my manuscripts go all the way to acquisitions and garnering a huge list of praise and positive feedback from industry professionals. But I still don't have a traditional contract to show for it.

So, from that valley—with no contract and no industry professional by my side—I unexpectedly discovered a new peak: self-publishing, where I can take my vision and run wild with it, breathing all kinds of life and creativity into it. Is it hard? Definitely. I know my life would be so much easier if I could outsource a lot of it! But I also know I can do hard things and have proved that, most recently through a successfully-funded Kickstarter after only 2 weeks (!!) as well as having garnered some incredible endorsements for the book from mental-health professionals.

In that way, I’d point out that what appears to be a valley might just be the peak you’ve been waiting for—one of life’s greatest plot twists!!

Do you have a "day job"? If so, what is it, and how do you create balance between your "day job" and your work as a creator?

Writing has always been my day job, having been a magazine editor/writer and then a book publicist. But since having kids, I’ve done it solely as a freelance and contract position from home during the day while my kids are at school. However, once they are home, my duties transition to taking care of them and family time, which has been vital for me to strike a necessary work/life balance so that I’m not working and writing all the time! Rest and play are necessary for creativity to flourish!

What motivates you to keep going when this industry gets you down?

I have to go back to my “why.” Why do I write? I write because I feel called to it. As a person of faith, I have spent a ton of time praying about my writing and that has given me a solid sense of peace as I press on and into this journey. (If anyone wants to know more about the role my faith has had in my writing journey, I wrote a whole series of posts about it for my newsletter subscribers that folks can opt into if they want.)

What is a favorite craft tip you'd like to share with other creators?

Idea is king. I’ve spent so much time polishing stories with incredible word choice and stellar grammar, only to discover that the story itself doesn’t stand out enough. Before you invest too much time writing, spend ample time contemplating your idea and what will make it stand out in the sea of books.

Who are some authors or illustrators that inspired your style as a creator?

In regards to chapter books, I have been inspired by Jasmine Toguchi by Debbi Michiko Florence and the Lola Jones series by Jonathan Eig. I consider both of their chapter-book writing to be stellar—entertaining and exciting contemporary stories but kids also actually learn something through the stories (about a different culture through the Jasmine Toguchi books and about some classic literature in the Lola Jones books).

As far as artwork for chapter books goes, I love that Erin Entrada Kelly is a fellow author-illustrator with her Marisol Rainey series, so that was a huge inspiration for me to forge ahead as an author-illustrator!

What advice do you have for someone considering starting their journey as a KidLit creator?

In this industry, I think you have to walk a fine line between seeking out and embracing critique and feedback but also trusting your gut. Every month, I giveaway three query/manuscript critiques through #MidWeekCritique on Twitter (find me at @elizjameswrites). Critiques have been hugely important for me in figuring out how to zero in on a story and help it shine. But you also have to take them with a grain of salt, which goes for any feedback including from agents and editors. Just because they are the “expert” doesn’t mean that they know what’s best for your story. I heard a quote one time from a big-name author who said that even taking 5% of feedback and changing your story can be too much. You’ve really got to have a solid belief in your story to be able to filter out the feedback that isn’t helpful for that which is. At the end of the day, your gut is the greatest tool in your toolbox.

Is there anything else about you, your career, or the industry that you'd like to share?

Sure, I’d love to share more about my upcoming book, Pippa Speaks Up!:

Pippa Potter just wants to fit in at her new school. But the fact that her mom’s the President of the United States—who never seems to be around anymore—doesn’t make that easy. Nor does the annoying classmate who won’t stop reminding everyone who her mom is. (As if anyone could ever forget! It’s not like anyone else is followed around by a Secret Service agent.) But when her teacher assigns class speeches, Pippa’s best-laid plans at blending in begin to crumble. Then, an emergency trip takes her mom halfway around the world and Pippa becomes the topic of discussion at school, causing her to literally become sick to her stomach as her fears spiral. Pippa must learn to calm her anxieties and embrace the power of speaking up—before she not only flops the assignment but also buries her true feelings from everyone closest to her, including the President herself.

Pippa Speaks Up! is the heartwarming and empowering first installment of the Pippa Potter, President's Daughter series, which weaves proven therapy techniques directly into the story as readers are transported to the fascinating world of life inside the White House. Through Pippa's experiences, young readers will learn to identify emotions they don't even realize they're having, better understand their anxiety as well as discover empowering, anxiety-management strategies and gain resilience in the face of adversity. Not only will they see that they aren’t alone in their struggles, but they’ll also learn tools to face their anxieties head-on and overcome them!

If you're interested in reading the first chapter of Pippa Speaks Up! and see the illustrations, check it out here:

Speed Round: This or That!

Let us get to know you better! You must pick ONE- no "I don't know" or "neither" allowed! Ready... Go!

Summer or Winter?


Chocolate or Vanilla?


Cats or Dogs?


Playlists or Podcasts?


Text or Call?


Unicorn or Dragon?


Ice Cream or Cake?

Ice Cream

Physical Books or E-Books?

Physical Books

Coffee or Tea?


Sunrise or Sunset?


If a Giveaway is Offered, Mention it Here!

Elizabeth is generously offering one lucky winner their choice of a query critique, manuscript critique, or an ask-me-anything call! To enter the giveaway, comment on this post with your name and email address so we can contact you if you win!

For an extra entry, add PIPPA SPEAKS UP! to your "Want to Read" list on Goodreads HERE:

That's it! The giveaway closes on Tuesday, November 14th at 11:59pm EST.

Be sure to connect with Elizabeth through her website or find her on Twitter (X) @elizjameswrites and Instagram @elizabethjameswrites!

6 comentários

Tonnye Fletcher
Tonnye Fletcher
14 de nov. de 2023

Congratulations on making your dream come true! Thanks for sharing the highs and lows and how your faith influences your writing. Best wishes for Pippa!


09 de nov. de 2023

Thank you for sharing your insights and all of the great advice! Congrats on your new book!


Christine Alemshah
Christine Alemshah
08 de nov. de 2023

Congrats, Elizabeth! I can't wait to read your new chapter book and share it with my 9-year-old daughter who is also a voracious reader. - Christine


Thelia Hutchinson
Thelia Hutchinson
08 de nov. de 2023

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your journey. Great interview. I love your thoughts on receiving feedback. Congratulations on your success.


Sue Leopold
Sue Leopold
08 de nov. de 2023

Thank you, Julie, for introducing me to Elizabeth.

I enjoyed this interview. I like Elizabeth's thoughts on receiving feedback " . . . even taking 5% of feedback and changing your story can be too much"

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