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Writing Excuses

I FINALLY finished my seventeenth novel! It took longer than I’d hoped and life got a little in the way, but it’s done, and it’s pretty awesome. The title is Shell. I’m pretty much in love with it. I love the way it feels when I look up from a creative work, blinking in the harsh light of reality, and feeling that exhilaration of creative completion. It’s not always easy to finish a project.

I have all kinds of excuses for not writing when I’m supposed to be writing. Some of them are valid, and others . . . not so much. One way to get rid of the excuses is to stoke the creative fires. A good way to do that is with the podcast Writing Excuses with Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler. They are some genius writers giving genius advice. I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker on Writing Excuses a couple of times. It’s always a delight to be part of their show, merely because they are super fun guys and good friends. My favorite episode  where I co-guested (is that a thing?) was the one with James Dashner. SO. Much. Fun.

So in honor of completing my seventeenth novel, Shell, and in honor of the beginning of my eighteenth novel, Daughters of Air, I give to you Writing Excuses–the one place you can go to be entertained, inspired, and educated all at the same time.

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/06/20/

I will be at the storymakers conference this weekend hanging out with many of my beloved friends and presenting the class “How to Take the Suck out of Success.” Hope to see you there!

xoxo

 

Author Copies!

It’s super fun when the doorbell rings and I am still in black yoga pants and a t shirt with my hair pulled into a bedraggled sort of ponytail. Feet are bare. Teeth are not brushed. Yes, it is after ten in the morning. Thank you for asking. It is that moment when I wonder, “Do I dare answer? What if it’s important? What if my dog bit the pool guy while I wasn’t paying attention? Or what if it’s a random stranger selling girl scout cookies?” At the thought of the cookies, I actually get up to answer the door. The pool guy can take care of himself. I have homeowner’s insurance. The cookie salesman, however, waits for no one.Curses! It wasn’t the cookie salesman. I swear the Girls Scouts of America do not try hard enough to search me out and sell me calories I don’t need but desperately want. Happily, it wasn’t the pool guy missing appendages either. What it was instead was a box on my doorstep. Our postwoman always rings the bell when she’s leaving a package. She is terribly considerate that way.

Inside the box were my author copies of my latest book Victoria’s Promise! HOORAY! The Newport Ladies Book Club series marches ever onward. I love this book. It’s super fun, filled with heart and all those aching love-sicky feelings that a good romance should have. I dedicated it to my ever-inspiring editor, Kirk Shaw, who ditched me to go be a lawyer. He is so lucky I love him and haven’t used the voodoo doll I bought of him when he told me he was leaving me. Actually, I am super proud of him for making good choices for his family and am so grateful that he helped me be the writer I am. Victoria’s Promise turned out really well. I am pleased with my finished written product. Feel free to go see the nice reviews on Amazon. I love people who leave nice reviews. We won’t talk about how I feel about those other people. Didn’t their grandmothers teach them not to say anything when they didn’t have anything nice to say? So sad they missed out on a valuable education. Actually, there’s a lot to be learned in the not-so-nice reviews as well. Anyway, I digress.

The point is that I have my author copies and books in the mail is always super fun. Speaking of Super and books in the mail, my dear friend Marion Jensen has a new book out as well. His title is Almost Super! Legit funny book! Buy it. Read it to your kids. Laugh yourself sick! And feel free to buy my book too. I may not be Lord Byron, but I’m infinitely more entertaining.

Author Copies!

Author Copies! And as a fun aside, my book has a doppelganger. The first person to discover the title of my book’s doppelganger will receive a prize. Hint . . . it has something to do with the red bike. Leave a comment with the title to win cool prize.

 

 

My New Book! Victoria’s Promise

A luxurious mansion. Thirty stunning bachelorettes. One very eligible bachelor. All of the ingredients are in place for a successful reality dating show, and behind the scenes, Tori Winters is set to pull the romantic strings as assistant director of Vows. Despite her distaste for public exhibitions of love—which spelled the death of her last relationship—Tori intends to give the public exactly what they want: scintillating footage of a bevy of beauties vying for the attention of Christopher Caine. But Chris, a consummate Southern gentleman and the star of Vows, seems almost too good to be true—and soon, even Tori finds herself falling under his spell. Despite legal obligations to avoid fraternizing with the talent, it’s clear her feelings are anything but unrequited. With the support of her friends in the Newport Ladies Book Club, Tori must make a life-altering decision: is she willing to jeopardize all she’s worked for in order to embrace her own fairy-tale ending?

I confess that it’s hard to not call this book Victoria’s Secret since the book that came before this one in the series is Ruby’s Secret and since that is a major national chain with serious brand recognition, but I will overcome this and call the book by the title the publisher has given. However . . . if you ever hear me slip up, feel free to giggle at me and then forgive me. I do not always behave intelligently. Regardless of all that, I can PROMISE that this is a fun read, one you will enjoy, with plenty of heart and laughs. Let the romance begin!
Victoria’s Promise releases to stores January 15th! So be on the look out for it!

I have an Agent!

I have written thirteen novels. Eight are published, which leaves five unaccounted for.

I wrote them for a different market than the one my awesome niche publisher handles. Five manuscripts moldering away on my hard drive waiting for the light of day and the smell of ink to bring them to real existance.

So, I’m sitting here, wearing my “I love Boston” T-shirt and my favorite comfortable jeans that are slowly disintegrating even as I sit. Holst’s The Planets is playing in the background—though I’m not listening to it anymore.

I just got the call. THE CALL. If you’re a writer, you know what that means. It is one of two things. Either an offer of representation from an agent, or a book deal.

This is the first kind. The offer of representation. The phone is hung up. And I just now realize my hands are shaking. When did they start doing that? Were they shaking while I was on the phone? Or worse. Was my VOICE shaking while I was on the phone? Hands I can hide, but the voice? There would be no hiding that. Sadly—or happily, I will never know either way.

This call means that someone else thinks I am good enough. Someone who isn’t my mom, or my husband, or my kids (after their dad gives them the stern look that tells them they have to like everything I write no matter what). This is someone else. Someone on the outside of my sphere. It’s as if this new person has just walked into that same sphere, sat down, and put their feet up while they grin and ask me how I’m doing?

How am I doing?

I want to throw up.

And scream.

And laugh.

And cry too.

Someone outside said I am good enough. Something I’ve worried over, wrung my hands over, paced over, cried and cried and cried over. Am I good enough? What will I do if I ever discover I’m not?

It’s a relief to hear someone affirm with those sweet, soft words, “Yes. Yes, you are.”

That’s why I want to cry. And throw up. And scream. And Laugh.

Because so often I’ve heard a different answer. So many of my rejection letters have come in saying, “We love your writing, but . . .” “We love your characters, but . . .” “We love your story, but . . .”

I’ve just been looking for a different contraction. I just wanted to hear, “We love your writing, your characters, your story,  AND . . .”

And now someone has.

I don’t know what to do with this information. I don’t dare consider that this new person might be wrong. That will only lead to more pacing, wringing of hands, and crying, crying, crying.

And it’s strange how the reaction for today’s acceptance is so similar to the reactions from past rejections.

All this emotion bubbling over and spilling out. And I want ice cream. Rocky road.

She loved it, AND . . .

AND  . . . today, I have an agent. Not just any agent. I have THE agent, the one I’ve researched and kept coming back to and wishing was mine because she is just that good at what she does and because she is just that great as a human being. Sara Crowe said yes to *me*

And her email right after we hung up? “Hi Julie!  Just wanted to say YAY! Talk soon!”

Yep. After an email like that, it’s a good day. I toast this cone of rocky road to the road I’ve just traveled to get here.  There were rocks—more like mountains with sheer cliff faces, and I’ve tripped and fallen more than I care to admit.

But today . . . it’s a good day

I’ll tell how this all came about later, but for now, the moral of this story?

I didn’t quit.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit.

Launch Party for Olivia!

I don’t know how much I’ve shared about my experience with writing the novel Olivia, but I am so excited to announce its release! Olivia,-the first book in the Newport Ladies Book Club series was shipped to stores today! This means that in the next week-ish this beautiful cover will be looking at you from book store shelves:

Olivia

How it all started was Josi and I went on a booktour in 2009.

Josi and Julie Booktour

I’m really glad we put the date in the picture because I’m a little flaky when it comes to remembering stuff like that. And don’t you love our toes. Josi treated me to my first ever pedicure. I tell you people–she is the friend to have! It was a great experience (the whole thing, not just the pedicure). Josi is the sort of person I can talk to all day and all night and never get tired of it. She is an amazing woman.  Even when she’s feeling evil . . .

Josi grinning in evil joy

Josi likes to keep a strict time schedule. This is a good thing, since I tend to be flaky about schedules too. I wanted to stop every few minutes while on the road because there were lots of cool things to see. We’d basically planned the tour right down to the minute which means had Josi given in to me, we would have been late to everything. So I had to settle for to settle for drive-by Photography:

Drive by Photo

While we were driving, we talked about everything. We talked about books. We talked about books we really liked.  We talked about authors who wrote books we really liked. Then Josi had an idea. A brilliant, magnificent, WONDERFUL idea.

I’d like to claim it as my own, but really I was just in the passenger seat listening to her tell me her brilliant, magnificent, WONDERFUL idea.  The important thing to remember here is that *I* was in the car when it happened,  and therefore my contribution of being present was vital.

The idea was to get with two other authors, ones of the awesome book-writing variety, and two who we really loved and wanted with us, and write a series with them. Not just any series, but a series where the stories interconnect and weave together.

Four Women.

Four Books.

Four lives changed through friendship.

See! I told you it was brilliant!

We met with Annette Lyon and Heather Moore for breakfast when we got home and pitched the idea to them. We were all on board. And that was the birthplace of the Newport Ladies Book Club. We each wrote from the viewpoint of a different character so in each of the books, you’ll get some of that character’s story, but only by reading all four books will you get the full picture or find out the endings to the other character’s stories. It was great fun to write the books–to get together and discuss the characters. We’d be typing away and then one of us would look up and say, “Oh, by the way, your character is going to do this in the second meeting.” or “Hey, what color is your character’s hair again?” And wow. Reading the finished products? WOW. Each story is so unique and interesting and beautiful.

And Olivia has been shipped to stores today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (insert freakish girl scream here).

We are celebrating the release of the Newport Ladies Book Club:

Saturday February 18th  1-3 PM

Deseret Book  1110 FORT UNION BLVD  MIDVALE, UT  84047

There will be food and prizes and fun and BOOKS!

Please come join me in the celebration!

Nineteen Years

Yesterday was my nineteenth anniversary. It feels weird to think I’ve been married that long. I don’t feel old enough to have been married NINETEEN YEARS, and yet, I have a hard time remembering life before Mr. Wright—though that might have something to do with the fact that I went on my first date with Mr. Wright when I was sixteen-ish. I’ve learned a few things in the years of being married and decided to share nineteen things about being married I’ve learned in my nineteen years of actually being married.

  1. Romance is more about friendship and fun than it is about roses and candlelight
  2. Kicking a man under the table to get him to shut up is useless when he just loudly asks, “Why are you kicking me?” afterward.
  3. The three syllables I’m sorry are as important as the three syllables I love you.
  4. Mr. Wright and I must have a good mix of genetics, because our kids are beautiful, brilliant demigods.
  5. There is nothing sexier than finding your husband in the middle of the night trying to balance a bottle, a baby, and a book as he reads the scriptures to your newborn.
  6. Speaking well of each other inspires the other to live up to the reputation you’ve given them.
  7. I feel safer when he’s with me.
  8. I’m lost without him—and I don’t mean that in a metaphoric sense. I really mean I’m lost without him. I have never been good with directions, and he has a grid in his head at all times.
  9. I’m a complete grouchy monster of a female when I am tired.
  10. Mr. Wright is a complete grouchy monster of a male when he is hungry.
  11. We are pure evil when I’m tired and he’s hungry at the same time.
  12. Little things make a big difference. I love that he makes Crème brulee for me—that I hardly ever have to touch a gas handle because he tries to keep my car full of gas for me—that he laughs with me. That he never complains when I call him for directions when I’m on the road and lost.
  13. No one can chase a dream alone. No one can climb to success without someone else holding the ladder for them. I would not be a published author without his support, belief, and help.
  14. It’s funny when you dump a bucket of ice water over the curtain on a man taking a shower.
  15. It’s not so funny when he gets you back, and it’s hard to understand why he’s laughing when he should be apologizing.
  16. Listening to my husband explain physics, math, verb conjugation, the golden rule . . . to our children is some of the best noise I’ve ever heard.
  17. True love is sticking around when things are bad, so you’re still there when things get good again.
  18. I didn’t know what people were talking about when I was a teenager in love—when they would say I didn’t really know what love was. Nineteen years later when I love him more today than yesterday and more yesterday than the day before that . . . I think I am finally understanding.
  19. Growing up with him was fun, exciting, exhilarating. Growing old with him is perfect.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Wright. I love you.

Whitney Awards, Conference, and Good Stuff

I have never been speechless in my entire life. Never. Not once that I can recall. I think I was born talking. My dad used to take me to his business stuff and military stuff when I was incredibly small because I had a huge vocabulary and absolutely no fear of using it. He liked showing off the baby who spoke in full sentences even before she had enough hair to qualify her as a girl. Seriously. Never. Speechless.

Until Saturday night.

I had not allowed myself to prepare any kind of acceptance speech if Cross My Heart should win the Whitney Award. Any time my mind wandered in that direction, I immediately yanked it back. After my freakish month of feeling wretched, I wasn’t emotionally up to disappointment. I’d read the other finalists. They were good. I closed one in particular and thought to myself, “She is definitely going to win.” But it didn’t really bother me to think I’d lost. I attributed it to their excellence, rather than my mediocrity. Good books should win. And that was okay with me.

So I went to the conference feeling surprisingly normal. A lot of that normal feeling stemmed from the fact that I FINALLY finished Hazzardous Universe Book 2 and got it turned in to my illustrious editor, Kirk Shaw. Getting the book done and in, and feeling good about the end result of that product, went a long way toward feeling normal. The conference went well, meeting up with friends, and making a few new ones, went a long way toward normal as well.

And then Saturday night happened. I wore black . . .  because that’s what I do, found my seat with wonderful online friends that I pretty much only see once a year, picked at my food, and listened to the opening statements. It started so quickly. The romance category was announced first, and it seems I had barely enough time to blink as I wrenched my cloth napkin in my hands and felt my legs turn to water.

Then they were announcing my name . . . the title of MY book. My brain froze. I couldn’t process the words, yet my emotions experienced no such freezing as I immediately melted into a snotty, sodden mess of waterfall. Had they really called *my* name? I knew I had to go up there, but my legs wouldn’t move. Mr. Wright had to tap me and remind me to walk to the stage.

People talk about slow motion where every breath inhaled and exhaled feels as though they mark the passing of minutes rather than fractions of seconds. Where the time in which every step forward seems monitored by hours. I can’t really remember the walk to the platform and the microphone, but it felt like it took forever. I remember the hugs from the people who announced the award for the 2010 Romance category. Sheila, Shanda, and Mindy were hugging on me and crying right along with me.

And then I turned and faced the podium, stepped up to the microphone, and experienced the impossible.

I was speechless. It wasn’t just about having nothing to say. I literally could not get the air to flow past my pipes to create sound. I made some odd orangutan movements, squawked like some mental bird, and looked pretty silly in general before the words finally came.

Granted, the words were rendered difficult to understand through the blubbering and squawking. And, granted, they weren’t all that brilliant, or poignant, or entertaining, or even well thought out.

But at least they did show up.

It was a humbling experience, and I still feel a little weepy (absurd . . . I know), and I still feel a little giddy. And that beautiful award shaped like a book that really opens and closes and has my name and title etched into its perfect acrylic face looks absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

My daughter reminded me today that when I first bought that particular bookcase, I remarked how well a Whitney Award would look on it.

I love being right.

Thank you, Kirk, for being such an amazing editor. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first three winners were your authors. Thank you, Josi, for the incredible work you put into the awards this year and the work you’ll have to put in next year. Last weekend Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and I spent the weekend in a hotel together so we could work on a series we’re writing together. Heather, Annette, and I were finalists. Josi knew the results. And she didn’t say a thing. She didn’t so much as breathe a clue in our direction as to how things had turned out.  She should get an award for THAT. It’s pretty amazing that each of the four of us have one of these awards now. What an amazing group of friends I am so lucky to have in my life. Thank you, Covenant, for being such a great publisher, for standing behind me in all the things I write, and for being so amazing to work with.

Thank you to the academy of bookstore owners, reviewers, publishers, and storymakers who voted. My smile muscles obviously need more exercise because they still hurt, and my eyes still feel a bit blurry from all the camera flashbulbs, and I still feel genuinely loved from all those hugs. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Here is the list of award winners:

Outstanding Achievement Award
Rick Walton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Evans McCloud

Best General

Best Historical

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Romance

Best Speculative

Best Youth—General

Best Youth—Speculative

Best by New Author

Novel of the Year (Tie)


Congratulations to all the winners!

And Congratulations to all those eating “loser pie” and snapping silly pictures. A part of me hated not being able to join in on those pictures. You are all amazing writers and there is nothing loser about that group . . . not even remotely. Though I still love the joke of the pie 🙂

Wow, What a Night and Winners!

So the launch party was awesome. And by awesome I mean humbling and exhausting  and thrilling, and amazing. Barnes and Noble was very gracious as hosts and the manager told me it was the biggest event they’d had in three years. They were very pleased with the sales. 🙂 YAY for pleased bookstore managers!

What was really awesome was the amount of support from friends and family. It’s really humbling to have the people you love stand behind you and support you when you have a reason to celebrate. It’s fantastic to know they’re celebrating with you and they’re happy for your accomplishments. It was a great night. We talked, laughed, signed books, and had cheesecake.

THANK YOU everyone for your support in this new series. My goal is to make Hazzardous Universe shine like a star going supernova!

AND I was peer pressured into sushi with Howard Tayler because Kevin insists that sushi is best when eaten with Howard. Because of my negative notions of sushi, I strong-armed Jessica Day George into coming with. I don’t want to be the only sushi novice in the group. Dan Willis joined us as well. I can honestly report it wasn’t that bad (aside from the “dessert” that looked like a ripped out spinal cord). I think I’ll even do it again sometime.

The winner of the blog, tweet, facebook mentions is . . .

PK HREZO!

Congratulations! You are the owner of a shiny MP3 Player and an even shinier, and much cooler, copy of Hazzardous Universe!

Here are some pictures from the launch party:

Tyler Whitesides, Josi Kilpack Annette Lyon, Shanda Cottam, Jeff Savage, Luann Staheli, and Nancy Allen

Shanda, Julie, Sheila, Kevin

Hazzardous Universe

A new book *and* a contest! (read to the end to get contest details)

Yesterday, I held my newest book in my hands for the first time. I should say our newest book because it belongs to Kevin Wasden and me together. I love the art inside the book. Love it, love it, love it. And the cover is so awesome, I can’t even count all the shades of awesomeness!  🙂

There is really nothing like seeing your novel in its finished form–all that research, writing, cursing, creating, deleting, adding, deleting again, rewriting finally shows up in your hands–bound and clean and satisfying.

It’s strange that as I finish writing HU2, Hu1 is barely making an entrance. It feels good to be here with a book that holds such limitless potential, and with a partner who is as committed to the series as I am, and with a publisher who wants the success of this book as much as I do. It seems lame that even as I am giggling with glee over this shiny new book, I also feel humbled and grateful.

It fits in with a question I got at a school visit I did recently. A kid asked me, “Do you know any crazy authors?”

My answer?

“Oh, honey . . . we’re ALL crazy.”

Please come  join Kevin and me for our launch party for Hazzardous Universe! It’s on March 9th at the Murray Utah Barnes and Noble (5300 south and State Street) We’ll be there from 6-8 pm and we would love to see everyone there.

And this is where the contest comes in! If you blog or tweet or facebook about the Hazzardous Universe Launch Party with its location and time, leave a message in the comments letting me know you’ve done it and you will be entered into a drawing. If you do all three, you get three entries (make sure to leave three comments so I don’t accidentally miss anything). The prize is: a copy of Hazzardous Universe signed by both the author and artist AND a 4 gig Digi-star MP3 shuffle. 

Come celebrate with us!

LTUE 2011

Hey! Two posts in one month! I almost seem like a committed blogger . . .

Ah commitment–such a fickle thing. 

The launch party for Hazzard Universe Book has finally been set in stone! It will be held at: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Murray UT. On the corner of 5300 S and State St on Wednesday, March 9th from 6-8 pm. Kevin Wasden and I would be thrilled to have you join us to celebrate the beginnings of this series with us. We’ll have light refreshments, some door prizes, and be signing books!

Hazzardous Universe Book Two is finally over 40,000 words. And I started a new book yesterday. Mr. Wright came up with a title and the first line few pages just came to me and I had to hurry to get them written even though I’m on a deadline for this book, and even though I am on a deadline for another book. I also have a book trailer for Hazzardous Universe featuring several of the full page sketches Kevin has done for the interior.

I spent the weekend at the BYU fantasy and science fiction symposium of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I was on several panels and love being able to do that, but I also love being able to learn.

I learned a lot this year. I actually took notes. Something I came away with this time around is something I already knew but really struck home to me. It was from Tracy Hickman:

Being published isn’t important. It is nothing to be published; it is everything to be *read*

Wise words.

Saw the King’s Speech with Jessica Day George and Dan Willis and loved the movie. Loved loved loved it. It was poignant and rich. But it made me laugh a lot when, after a half hour of trailers and the movie FINALLY came on, Dan leaned over to Jessica and whispered, “I almost forgot why we were here!”

I love that LTUE means friends, laughing, Thai food, and books. Thank you to the committee who works so hard to keep the cooler in the green room stocked with Dr. Pepper. I sing praises to you. Honestly. Such. A. Good. Time.