I’m so fortunate to have Julie in my ACFW critique group. I actually met her in an elevator and we’ve been friends since. She graciously has allowed me to interview her for my blog.
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DLB: Some days the writing and reviews can get to you. What do you do to escape and recharge?
Julie: Are you kidding??? I read!!! I love nothing better than carrying a book around in my purse when I’m out and about or leaving it in the powder room on days that I’m home, stealing wonderful moments here and there in another world altogether. One of my favorite times of the day is at bedtime, when I can snuggle in with my hubby for twenty minutes or so and read while he watches TV—ahhhh, sheer bliss!
DLB: Name 3 favorite writing books.
Julie: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas (the workbook is AWESOME!), The Synonym Finder by J. A. Rodale (my writer’s Bible!), and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
DLB: Pen or Pencil? Why?
Julie: Pencil because I … uh … tend to edit a lot!
DLB: What do you feel was your biggest mistake when you started writing?
Julie: My biggest mistake when I started writing was head-hopping—I was clueless about point of view. But I had a paid critique at an ACFW Conference with top author, Tracie Bateman, and she set me straight pretty quickly, thank God (and thank, Tracie!).
My 2nd biggest mistake was trying to get published on my own, without an agent. I garnered some 39 rejections and wasted three years of my time before I finally got an agent who then sold me in six months.
DLB: Do you listen to music when you write? If so who gets your fingers moving on the keyboard?
Julie: NOOOOoooooooooo!!!! I have to have COMPLETE and utter quiet, which is a real pain the tush for my sweet husband. You see, he is an artist who HAS to have music on when he works, a real dilemma in the evenings when we sit in back-to-back chairs in our cozy office. So, the man is a saint because he now wears a headset when he has a project, which works out nicely because I tend to talk to my characters and read lines out loud all the time!
DLBL: Do you have a favorite quote or bible passage that you’d like to share?
Julie: Gosh, I have so many, but one of my favorites (which I also pray everyday) is the last paragraph in Psalm 139, verses 23-24, which I’ve listed below. But a word of warning—don’t pray it unless you mean business, because God will definitely nail you to the wall on a few things!
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
DLB: Where would you like to travel to if money were available?
Ooooooo … Ireland, of course! Then England and a sandy beach in the Caribbean—in that order.
DLB: What do you like best about the O’Conner women?
Julie: Grin. Oh man, I love how EMOTIONAL they are, which is pretty much how I am, so what do you know—I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! But most of us are pretty emotional deep down, it’s just that a lot of people don’t show it. I love how Faith is emotional (or passionate) about God, and how Charity is so emotional about love. It’s this deep-seated fire that burns inside of both of them (and ALL of the O’Connors) that I truly love to write about.
DLB: What’s your perfect day like?
Julie: Early to rise, treadmill with worship music, Bible/prayer, e-mails, then WRITING till my sweetie comes home!! Doesn’t get any better than that!
DLB: Fill in this statement “I’d love to overhear the conversations of and .”
Julie: Rhett and Scarlett, from Gone With the Wind. I’m a romance writer, after all!
DLB: What would you say to yourself as a beginning writer?
Julie: Basically the same advice that published authors gave to me:
1.) Get involved in a writing network by joining a writers group (for instance, as a romance writer, I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers, http://www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com/), FHL (Faith, Hope & Love, http://www.faithhopelove-rwa.org/), and RWA (Romance Writers of America, http://www.rwanational.org/), both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about my craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group.
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press.
5.) Enter contests for valuable feedback, to build your confidence, AND to sometimes get your work in front of publisher/agent judges.
6.) Go for an agent first, publisher second. Then query agents like crazy and even some publishers if you like.
7.) Submit stories or articles to magazines to build name recognition and a resume, to provide encouragement, and to acquire networking contacts.
8.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.