Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NAWS: Interview with Julia King

Today, I’m excited to have the brilliant Julia King with us! Be sure to check out Julia’s awesome blog Writing Jewels where she shares lots of fun advice and cool stories. Also, if you would like to follow her on Twitter, you can do that here.

A bit about Julia (in her own words):

"I'm a YA author represented by Lauren Hammond. My book is called FÉLICITÉ FOUND, and I'm revising my second book (first in a trilogy). I love reading, music, traveling, HGTV, & chocolate. I adore dogs." (link)

Q and A:

First of all, what do you like to do for fun when you aren’t writing?

Sleep. Haha! No really! I do enjoy reading, eating, and watching movies and TV.

What inspired you to start writing? Was it always a dream? Or did a certain event get you going?

I actually never thought I’d be an author. To be honest, I hated writing up until two years ago. The catalyst to my writing adventure was a trip to Paris, France. I fell in love with the city so much that I dreamed about it all the time. One night I fell into its landscape but once again and the dream stayed with me for weeks. I started plucking away on my laptop and formed a story. Ever since then it feels like writing is my calling in life. Sigh!

I know you’ve done a lot of traveling. How have those experiences fed into your writing?

Paris! Oui, Oui! My WIP is set in Ireland and the Boston area. I spent a week in Ireland and loved it. Ok, I was searching out all the U2 sights in Dublin. That’s what took me there.  So, when I got the idea for my current book, Ireland was the perfect setting. Plus, I spent all of three hours in Boston years ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Hence, it is set there as well. Yippee!

Do you have a particular writing routine? A way to get yourself focused?

Umm, it depends on the day. If I have to work, I kick my butt to turn on the laptop and start typing away when I get home. It takes me about ten minutes to get into the flow. After that, no one better disturb my zone. If I don’t answer a phone call, don’t feel neglected. On the weekends, I dilly dally around, then kick my butt to the computer again. It’s a maddening cycle.

What would you say is the hardest aspect of writing?

All of it. Every aspect has its challenges. It just depends on which part you’re in. That’s why you have to make goals and accomplish them. Otherwise, you’re sunk, floundering in deep water. You’ll never make it as an author.

What kept you pursuing your dream of finding an agent even when you felt discouraged?

Lots of chocolate. Ok, seriously, it’s because I know my book is good. I want people to read it. And I’ve never felt so driven with any of my endeavors. I HAVE to be published and there’s no “NO” about it. Having other authors on my sideline, too. They were my saviors because they knew EXACTLY what I was going through.

What is one unique thing that happened to you during the querying process?

I got an agent. It was either pure luck or pure genius on my part.

When you received The Call, what were your reactions?

I thought I was asleep. Really. I kept on pinching myself. Then I ran into my boss’s office and jumped around in a squealing and giggle fest. For at least two weeks I felt as though I was still sleeping. Soon I’d wake up from one of those super great dreams feeling severely disappointed. It’s like you were robbed of the best kiss ever. You know what I mean. 

When taking The Call, is there anything you would recommend a writer be prepared for?

Be cool and pay attention. I think I was super on the high of getting it that I don’t remember half of what was discussed.

How did you know beyond a doubt that Lauren was the perfect fit for you and your novel?

Because she told me she loved my book and had great faith in it. Of course, I giggled and squealed on the phone. She believes in FÉLICITÉ FOUND. That was enough for me to sign.

Based on personal experience, what final advice could you give to other writers? This can involve the querying process, general writing advice, or both.

I’ve said it once, twice, three-hundred times and I’ll say it again: SOCIAL NETWORK. You have to get your name out there. You have to find writing buddies to keep you going. It is a must and helps you learn loads to get your book(s) honed into masterpieces.

Just for fun short answers:

What is your favorite music?

U2 all the way and anything that inspires me.

I know you *love* dogs. Do you have a favorite breed?

Beagles are my buddies. While I lived in Taiwan, I noticed tons of people owned that breed of doggy. Ever since then, I’ve been madly in love. Hopefully one day I’ll have my own precious to love forever and ever.

So, my fellow chocolate lover, what is your favorite chocolaty treat?

Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups. Nummers! I once ate a whole bag in two days. Luckily I can still stand them.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Isabella Swan. Why? Cuz then I could kiss Edward Cullen any time I want. And I don’t mean Robert Patinson, the REAL Edward in my mind. *Smooch Smooch*

What’s one place you’ve never been that you’d love to go?

Antarctica. Really! I will go there one day for sure and play with the penguins. I’ll leave pretty quickly thereafter. I hate the cold. Brrr.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little bit of both. With my first book, I pantsed it all the way. My WIP started off as a plotting event, but turned into some pansting. Although, it still followed the initial plot line. I’ll follow that pattern from now on.

Favorite part of the writing process: first draft or revisions?

Being done! Ok, seriously, drafting is my favorite part. I like the words flowing freely to make the story whole. Writing those last words is magnificent. It makes me feel extremely accomplished. Sort of a natural high. Love it.

What is one thing about you that might surprise readers?

I love Cheerios in chocolate chip ice-cream. Super numms. Also, I can say in the last month, I’ve slept for 12 hours straight at least three times. I love sleeping.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Julia! I wish you the best of luck on your current and future writing projects! :) 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing by Music #2

The other day, I came upon this song and completely fell in love with it. Since it's such great music to write by, I thought I’d share it with everyone.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing Hint #16 - The Giant Book of Everything I Need to Know About My Characters

She hates strawberries. Wait. She hates watermelons.

He loves baseball. Or was it football…?

Her favorite color is green! No, it’s orange.

Umm, help?

Every writer has to create an entire cast of characters from scratch. We have to give them personalities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, physical descriptions,….

Essentially, we have to give them life.

Beyond personal traits, we have to give our characters a depth that comes with knowing their background, who their family is, what their experiences have been and how those experiences have shaped their personalities, actions, and general outlook on life.

And this doesn’t need to only happen with the MC (main character). It has to happen with every single character that makes an appearance in your novel. It’s true that a minor character who only shows up for one or two scenes will not require the development that the MC requires. But those minor characters still need a depth of history that a reader can feel, even if it is only hinted at. (You never know when one of those minor characters might make another appearance *wink wink*)

With so many characters and so many personalities and so many quirks, how can we keep everything straight in our heads? 

*Cue drums of greatness*

The Giant Book of Everything I Need to Know About My Characters!!

(Yes, I could have made the title shorter. But I didn’t want to. *snicker*)

Write everything down in it. And I mean everything – every seemingly near-insignificant speck of information that reveals something about your character. It makes it so much easier to give your characters the depth and development they deserve. If nothing else, it will help you to remember whether they hate strawberries or watermelons. *smile*

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Forever Faves #2 - Crown Duel

There are several books that have inspired me so much they have been relegated to my "Forever Faves" booklist. These are the books that I can read over and over and over again. Today, I'd like to share one of those books with you.

Crown Duel (The Crown and Court Duet) by Sherwood Smith
(originally published separately as two books -- Crown Duel and Court Duel)

Book Description:

Battle on and off the field, with sword and fan, with might and manners...

It begins in a cold and shabby tower room, where young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, a war that threatens the homes and lives of the very people they are trying to protect.

But war is simple compared to what follows, when the bloody fighting is done and fragile peace is at hand. Although she wants to turn her back on politics and the crown, Meliara is summoned to the royal palace. There, she soon discovers, friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fill the dance halls and the  drawing rooms.  If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting -- with wit and words and secret alliances. In war, at least, she knew whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one....

When I was a teen, this is the book that single-handedly launched me into the compelling world of fantasy. And I've never turned back. If you haven't read this book already, what are you waiting for? Go read it now. Seriously.  :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!!

Hey everyone!

This is the very first post of the year 2012! Is anyone else excited for this new year? I sure am. I don’t know why, but it’s definitely giving me good vibes. *smile*

Right about now, people all over are setting goals for this year, and I’m no different. I have a number of goals, but I'll share just a couple of my writing/reading related ones here:

Write every single week at least five days a week.

I did pretty good with this one last year, but there were times that I didn't write five days a week. Even if I only manage to yank out a single paragraph, I *will* make that goal this year.

Read at least fifty books.

A lot of these will probably be YA since that’s what I write and what I love, but I also want to mix in several adult books of varying genres. I’m a fantasy and mystery/suspense girl, but I also *love* historical fiction and the classics. I hope to get to some books on my shelves that I’ve put off reading for one reason or another.

And my ultimate -- my *dream* -- goal for this year…

To sign with an agent.

So, what goals are you setting for yourself this year? Whatever they are, I hope you have fun achieving them. :)

Happy New Year!