Thursday, September 21, 2017

A birthday party where the honorees give away the gifts

I'm in a group of writers who call ourselves The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. (Long story)


Today's is our eighth anniversary of having a blog, and we're celebrating with a virtual party and we (the birthday girls) are giving away gifts--mostly books and gift cards. So drop by today (21 Sep 2017) before midnight EST and leave a comment. You'll be automatically entered and could win a prize package.  One of the prizes will be awarded to an international visitor.

The Rubies write posts that benefit writers and readers. Some of the prize packages contain writing craft books--but most books are just to read for enjoyment.

Hope to see you leave a comment and maybe win a prize package!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cover reveal for BRAVE by Jennifer L. Armentrout




Ready to see the cover for BRAVE by Jennifer L. Armentrout?

Here we go!!!!



Ivy Morgan hasn't been feeling like herself lately. Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.

It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine... and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.

Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart. If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies. Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves--and, ultimately, to save herself.

Because behind ever evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen


Keep reading for more exciting news and a giveaway for Brave!





Virtual Signing

To celebrate the upcoming release of BRAVE (book 3 in the Wicked Saga), Jennifer is offering an exclusive virtual signing! Through this virtual signing, you will be able to order SIGNED & PERSONALIZED copies of WICKED, TORN, and BRAVE!
And best of all -- This is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!






Brave Giveaway



  • PRIZE: SURPRISE SIGNED PRIZE PACK (containing multiple signed books & swag)
  • OPEN INTERNATIONAL
  • ENDS 10/2/2017


  a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Jennifer...






# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.







Thursday, September 7, 2017

Always there - research

I love the research for books so much that I sometimes forget to stop researching and start writing the story.

The goal, of course, is to write my stories to be as authentic as possible. For historical books, I visit locations, try recipes, check out period details (like fashion, transportation, food, technology) on the Internet, and interview people who may have lived during the time period.

For contemporary stories, I often write about issues, technology, or places in which I have experience. Sometimes, though, my experiences aren't enough to write a complete, interesting, satisfying story. In those cases, I research and research and research...

If you're a writer, here are a few tips for researching books, whether historical or contemporary.

  • Interview your family and friends: Everyone you know is an expert on something--and often their interests and skills will surprise you. So ask--and prepare to be amazed. Make mental notes about their love of horseback-riding or their fascination with astronomy. You will use it one day!
  • Visit museums, historical sites, etc.: Many docents know everything about a topic, and they want to answer your questions. So visit museums or historical sites and engage in conversation with the docents, staff, park rangers, etc. They love eager and interested visitors.
  • Watch YouTube: Let's face it. YouTube has a video for everything. If you don't know how something works, you'll find a how-to video on YouTube.
  • Browse Wikipedia: Yeah, I know. You can't always rely on wikipedia to give you purely factual, accurate information. But, it can supply a good, general overview--and the references linked at the end of each article are priceless.
  • Go!: if you have access to locations or venues that will be featured in your book, go and experience it firsthand. Use local parks as book settings. Take in a ballgame. Sign up for lessons in cooking, dancing, sports, etc. 

Let me show how I applied some of these suggestions to my books.

The Whisper Falls series: It's entirely possible that I have visited every colonial museum or historical site in North Carolina and Virginia. The docents/guides at Mount Vernon, Tryon Palace, Yates Mill, and Williamsburg are amazing. I learned incredible nuggets of information that enriched my stories.

As a time-travel, the Whisper Falls series also required contemporary research. I've watched YouTube videos about mountain bike racing, chatted with my Physical Therapist about how to break noses, and asked my cousin-in-law (who, coincidentally, is the registrar of deeds in a nearby county) to explain how to fake a birth certificate.

The I WISH series: In the first book, the issues were mainly depression and poverty--which I have first-hand experience with. But I also had a biracial character, which required interviews with a biracial friend. The second and third books deal with grief, terminal illness, and disability. Again, I interviewed people with knowledge of brain injuries and caregivers of cancer patients. Their candor was invaluable. For small details--like ballroom dancing or building stacked stone walls--I used YouTube. Lastly, I needed one of the main characters to have an interesting hobby, and the young man ended up with my husband's passion--astronomy.

The Possibility of Somewhere: The heroine, Eden, is dealing with poverty and the difficulties of getting college scholarships when you can't afford the extra-curricular activities that make your resume shiny. Since those issues are somewhat autobiographical, I knew how she felt. But the details had changed since I was in high school. So I read blogs, content on social media, and Quora questions. The hero, Ash, is the son of Asian-Indian immigrants. Because I work at a global company, I had several Indian colleagues who were willing to answer my questions about what life would be like for Ash.

Fade To Us: This book (which releases in February 2018) may have been the most interesting to research because of the variety of disparate threads that are woven through.

  • Biracial stage manager: The hero is half-Chinese and half-white. I interviewed a Chinese friend and her biracial sons to understand the character of Micah. He's the stage manager for theater productions. Happily, my daughter has a friend who is a professional stage manager. (And, yes, Daniel, you will see some of your quotes in the book :)
  • Baseball umpires: The heroine's mom is a lady umpire; that was fun to research! I attended a baseball game with a professional umpire, who called them for me and gave me insider details. In addition to introducing me to a lady umpire, he beta-read the baseball sections of the book.
  • Summer musical theater program: A local high school allowed me to sit in on their musical theater rehearsals, both during the school year and during the summer. Since the musical featured in the book is Oklahoma!, I was able to observe the rehearsals of a local community theater's production of Oklahoma!.
  • Autism: The third main character, Natalie, is on the autism spectrum. I have a child with Asperger's Syndrome, so I've "lived" the research for over 20 years. But I still read books and blogs, chatted with autism parents, and leaned on the many observations I've made with my daughter and her friends on the spectrum. Natalie is--of course--her own unique person; she is not a re-creation of anyone I know.

I hope that some of these suggestions spark ideas for how you can make your research process fun and effective!


Friday, September 1, 2017

And the winner of the Name the Town contest is...

A quick update to my Name the Town Contest. There were many great entries, but the winner of Brooke's fictional hometown is...

Azalea Springs!

The judges felt like this name captured Fade To Us, with its cheerful, Southern small town feeling. Thanks (and prizes) go to Marcia A. for suggesting it!

I'd also like to include the official jacket copy (aka "blurb") for the book. It's been an interesting process trying to get the description of this book just right. We want to make the book sound intriguing without giving too much away.  So here it is:



Fade To Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love.

Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC--having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s--and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.

After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah--the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor…

When summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants–and the love she’s only dreamed about?


So...that's it for now. We should have Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) in the next month or two. As opportunities become available for ARC giveaways, I'll post here.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Contest to name the fictional NC town in Fade To Us

I'm having a contest to name the heroine's hometown in my next book, Fade To Us.


The terms:
  • The name must be fictional (so please do a search for the town's name in North Carolina before suggesting.)
  • Suggestions must be submitted by Thursday, 31 Aug 2017, at 11:59 pm EST.
  • A distinguished panel of judges (aka my family) will help me to select the winning town name. Their decision is completely subjective, impervious to outside influence, and utterly final.
  • If more than one entrant suggests the same name, the entrant who suggests first (based on date/timestamp of entry) will be awarded the prize.
  • You may submit your suggested town name via email (julia@juliaDay.com), twitter, or as a comment on this blog.
  • You may enter more than once.

The prize:
  • Only one prize will be awarded.
  • The winning suggestion will be used as the name of the fictional hometown for my heroine, Brooke, in the book Fade To Us.
  • The prize winner will be thanked on the Acknowledgements page of the book.
  • The prize winner will receive the first signed copy of an ARC of Fade To Us (which should be available in October or November.) USA and Canada addresses only.
no mods made; license link is https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
Raven Rock State Park, photo by Selena NBH

A little more about the setting, to inspire you:
  • This fictional town is located in the middle of the state, also known as The Heart of Carolina. Names with beach or mountain are not likely to be chosen.
  • My heroine's hometown is small and located in a mostly rural area. However, people are beginning to move there from cities like Raleigh and Fayetteville--because the commute is doable.
  • This fictional town is located near a gorgeous state park, Raven Rock State Park (see image to the upper left.) This is a beautiful part of North Carolina!
  • Themes in the book include musical theater, autism/Asperger's, blended families, and baseball.
  • For what it's worth, towns in North Carolina often end with -ville, -ton, or -boro.

I look forward to your ideas, and thank you!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

And now she leaves the nest



"...there really are places in the heart
that you don't even know exist
until you love a child."
- Anne Lamott

After 25 years of being a mom, I'm finally, really-and-truly going to have an empty nest.

I can hardly believe it. My girls have been with me or near me for so many years that I can barely remember my life before. OlderDaughter went to college nearby, lives only 20 miles away, and works at the same company that I do. BabyGirl attended a college that was a mere 8 miles away--and her apartment was a whopping one mile further than that.


But this weekend, she moves to New England--a distance of almost 700 miles--to attend graduate school. Now don't get me wrong, I am proud of her. Delighted for her! Contrary to what she might believe, the world will be a better place because of the energy, determination, and heart that she is putting into her chosen vocation.

Yet it's hard to see her go. To watch her spread her wings. To know that my job is mostly done.

I began my career as a YA author, in part, to hold conversations with my daughters. When lectures failed to communicate my hopes and fears for them, I found a way to show them how I felt by telling stories.

Today's technology has made communication so much easier than when I was spreading my wings. After I left the nest, it was a challenge for my mother to stay in touch. That won't be true for me. I can call, text, Skype, and chat any time of day or night. I can fly to BabyGirl's side in a matter of hours--if she asks. But from this week forward, life will forever be different. Exactly the way it's supposed to be.

I'll miss her. Fortunately, I'm confident that distance is no match for a mother's love.


"But kids don't stay with you if you do it right.
It's the one job where, the better you are,
the more surely you won't be needed in the long run."
- Barbara Kingsolver 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Always there - diversity

When authors write YA novels, there are many aspects that we're all trying to achieve: a well-written story with a good plot and interesting settings.

For me, the most important aspect is to have realistic characters who struggle with relatable problems. Including diverse characters simply reflects the people I meet in my daily life or the lives of my family.

I have a day job at a software company. We're located in the middle of a region with many universities and technical companies. People come here from all over the globe to get college degrees--and they stay to work. When my daughters were in their teens, they attended urban magnet schools with diverse student bodies. They're now in their 20s, with diverse colleagues or university classmates.

Ethnic, cultural, economic, religious, gender, and physical diversity has always been around me. The characters in my books grow out of the world I live in. Sometimes, I make it clear that a character is biracial or Hindu or experiences life differently. And sometimes, the diversity is just there without being explicitly called out.

With contemporary characters, I start by researching them through books, films, websites, and blog posts. I ask questions either online or through interviews. I've also begun to seek sensitivity readers--people who are intimately familiar with the differences I'm writing about.

Whisper Falls series: For people in the 18th century (and throughout history), physical disabilities were devastating, especially for women. In A Whisper in Time, Susanna's sister Phoebe sustains a serious hand injury that will threaten her livelihood. In Whispers from the Past, Susanna's dearest friend Dorcas may never be able to attract a husband because she is "crippled".

I Wish series: I interviewed a biracial friend who helped me to create the backstory for Eli--who has a black mother and white father. In book 2, Kimberley's memory disability is a major conflict. We did extensive research of people with memory disabilities--and received a sensitivity read of Wishing for You from a nurse who cared for patients with brain injuries.

The Possibility of Somewhere - Ash Gupta is the son of wealthy Asian Indian immigrants. I was fortunate that Indian colleagues and friends were generous with their patience and time to answer my questions about what Ash's life might have been like.

 Fade to Us - My next book, Fade to Us, releases in February 2018 (writing as Julia Day). This story is set during a summer musical theater program for teens, with a Chinese director and her biracial son (Chinese and white). A Chinese friend and her two biracial teen sons helped me with these two characters. Another Chinese friend gave a sensitivity read. However, the biggest role that diversity plays in this book comes from the heroine's new stepsister. Natalie is a 15-year-old on the autism spectrum. My daughter, who also has Asperger's Syndrome, helped with Natalie's character development and speech. My daughter is the sensitivity reader for this book.

It's my hope to portray a character's diversity as authentically and respectfully as possible. But truly, a character's personality comes from their background, faith, family, education, life experiences--and their differences. All must work together to form a complete, interesting, sympathetic character.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Always there - technology

A loose definition of technology might be "the ways in which a society uses its collective knowledge and skills to produce goods and services." Or more simply, the "tools" we use to get stuff done.

Historical authors have to research the technologies in place in the time and setting of the book. Fortunately, though, those technologies are not a moving target. A millenium or two ago, people had hammers and wheels and fire--and not much else. Once the author learned what was available in the historical period, she could remain confident about writing their books based on her research.

In the 21st century, technology is exploding at such a rapid pace that a book can be outdated before it reaches bookstores. I am constantly having to decide how to refer to things, like what should I call a phone? Smartphone, mobile, cell, landline? How quickly will a term go out of use? I often use a general term, like "phone", that will likely work for many years to come.

Really, though, it's only natural for books to include technology. Since it's the way we get things done, then it's also the way our (realistic) characters do too. The trick for the author is to get real technology correct--or to get made-up technology believable.

Here are some ways that technology appears in my stories.

Whisper Falls - In Susanna's half of the story, the most cutting edge technology is the grist mill. In the US, the third patent ever issued by the US Patent Office was for a milling system. Susanna's master installs one of those systems--and it nearly ruins him financially.

I Wish - Lacey's story points out how the lack of technology can affect a family. Because they need the money, Lacey sells off their phones and computers. She has a difficult time getting homework done--because she doesn't have a laptop at home to help.

Wishing for You - Kimberley has a memory disability. This book describes all of the technology that she has to use in order to remain safe, to remember details, and to track what she's done in the past and will be doing in the future. Kimberley has become dependent on her technology, and that concerns her.

The Possibility of Somewhere - Like Lacey, Eden's family is too poor to have computers and smartphones. When Eden needs access to computers, she depends on her high schools computer lab or media center.

Fade to Us (releasing in Feb 2018) - The heroine, Brooke, is from a middle class family. Her family members have computers and phones. Her stepfather is a geospatial engineer; his business is immersed in new and expensive technologies for mapping terrain. Brooke earns income by managing websites and doing data analysis on spreadsheets of data. In this book, technology really does match its definition: it's how Brooke and her stepfather use their knowledge and skills to produce services.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Whisper Falls is included in a giveaway of Historical Romance eBooks. Two grand-prize winners will receive all 23 ebooks.  There will be 23 other winners who will receive one randomly-selected ebook from the list.

So what's the catch?  People who enter must be willing to have their email address shared with all 23 authors. Authors will invite each entrant to subscribe to their newsletter mailing list. The entrant can simply ignore (or refuse) the invitation.

So if you know any readers who love historical romance and enjoy discovering new authors, here is a great opportunity.


Win up to 22+ Historical Romance eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks!
(22+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Favorite links for writers - historical research

I love research, possibly too much because I'll immerse myself in details and sometimes delay writing the book. With Whisper Falls (which is half-set in 18th century North Carolina), I researched the colonial and post-revolutionary periods in America for six years before I started writing the book.

Along the way, I've collected many websites and blogs that have helped me get the details right. It's important to trust your sources, and I feel like authors can trust these. (Some have been contributed by author friends. Thank you!)

Warning: This post will be heavy on references to USA history and, in particular, North Carolina history.


Daily Life


Website
Type of content
Metropolitan Museum of Art art work for fashions, furnishings, locations/landscapes
Colonial Williamsburg wonderful place to visit for living history; it also has amazing
content on its website on fashion, medicine,
furnishings, jobs, etc.
Mount Vernon educational resources about George Washington
Colonial Quills blog for writers passionate about Colonial America
Costume Gallery fashion through the ages
Historic food photos and recipes for historic foods in Britain and
Europe
British Museum everything
Bloomsbury Heritage reprints of historical books, maps, etc
Costume Gallery fashion through the ages


People and Events


Website
Type of Content
North Carolina History Project lists people, events, and regions from 1585-present
for the state of North Carolina
Archives:
US
UK
Scotland
North Carolina
historical documents and records, such as newspapers,
wills, court proceedings
Etymology Online A site for discovering a word's origins; it's great for
making sure that the vocabulary you want to use was in
existence in your period of history
Old Bailey Online Court proceedings from London 1674-1913
People History Type in a date in history and learn what happened that day
Library of Congress
Digital Public Library of America
everything and more


About Wikipedia--
I am cautious about using Wikipedia, but I still think it's a great resource. It can give you a good, basic overview of events or people in history. Even better, though, are the resources and references listed at the bottom of the page.

Do you have any links to add?  I'd love to include more links to great historical information--so leave them in the comments!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Kobo sale in CA, AU, US for Whisper Falls

Whisper Falls is on sale for 99cents on the Kobo YA Great Reads sale page. This promotion is offered in Canada, Australia, and USA. So if you have any friends who haven't read it yet, now is a good time.

Also, if you have an account on Kobo, please consider leaving a rating (no words necessary) for Whisper Falls.  Only 2 readers had done that so far, and they both gave it a one-star.  That is their right, of course; not everybody will love the book. However, many have enjoyed this series, and it would be too bad if new readers, shopping for a story, are pushed away by a one-star rating. (Interestingly, Whisper Falls 2 and 3 have great ratings on Kobo.)




Friday, May 12, 2017

Favorite links for writers - self-publishing a book

  The production of a book--where you take it from manuscript to an actual product that a reader can hold in their hands or read on an electronic device--requires time, effort, patience, and perseverance. Traditional publishing houses handle the details of book production for their authors. But if you are self-publishing, then you are the publisher; you own all of the details.

  I have self-published 6 books and learned so much along the way. Below are some helpful blogs, websites, and publishing professionals that I've discovered. My thanks to everyone who have sent their favorite links to me; I've included them here.

Overview of my self-publishing experience

 In 2015, a small press reverted my rights on 3 books (the I Wish series). I worked hard to turn those books around fast, 8 weeks or less. Looking back, I don't really know why I thought it was so important, but I did. And in putting myself under that pressure, I missed out on the opportunity to connect with the pioneers of self-publishing who had already figured everything out. Please don't make my mistake!

  I wrote a blog post about all of the Fun Times with Self-publishing that I experienced.  Feel free to read and enjoy, but remember that it was written in March 2016 (with updates since). Self-publishing and the book market changes quickly--and book production is definitely improving every day.


Self-publishing blogs and support groups

  There are thousands of these groups to help you navigate the challenges of self-publishing. Here are a few sites that I've found helpful:
  Facebook and Goodreads also have many author support groups, so search both sites and see if any feel right to you.



Book cover design

  Your book cover is the best marketing tool that you have. Gorgeous covers will help sales. Bad covers will hurt (or destroy) sales. Ask your writer friends for recommendations or check out cover designs and see what appeals to you. Your genre/subgenre will make a difference too, as they often experience trends.
  Covers can cost from $100 up to $1000s, so research is key. Some suggestions for cover designers to consider include:


Ebook formatting and layout

  The internal layout and formatting of your book requires technical knowledge of ebook publishing formats, like MOBI/AZW and ePub. If you have a good understanding of these formats (or HTML), you might be able to do the work on your own. I'm a software engineer in my day job, so I do my own formatting and stick to the basics. But I suspect that most indie authors seek help, such as:


Professional editing

  If you want to sell a quality book, you need a good editor to point out your flaws. Not just spelling and grammar mistakes--but holes in the plot, inconsistencies in characters, and continuity errors.
  Professional editors are not cheap, and the costs range widely depending on their education and experience. Seek recommendations from other writers. If you find an editor who you want to hire, see if they will edit a sample chapter. It will give you insight into whether their style aligns with yours.
  I've only ever used one editor, Laura Ownbey, so she is the only one I can recommend from personal experience. She is amazing!



If you have any links you would like to suggest, please add them in the blog comments or send them to me through my website.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kindle countdown deal for I WISH



I WISH is on sale on Amazon, as a Kindle Countdown deal.

The deal lasts through next Wednesday.

If you know someone who might love to discover a YA genie story, now's a good time to let them know!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Always there - satisfying ending

I love stories with a happily-ever-after. 90% (or better) of the books I read have an HEA. That's also what I like to write.

Recently, I asked some friends for author recommendations on a genre called Women's Fiction. They gave me many suggestions, such as Liane Moriarity, Sarah Addison Allen, and Kristin Hannah.  I checked out their booklists and reviews. Each author sounds as if she writes beautiful books that readers love. But further research showed that their books often have sad, dark, or unsettling endings. I'm not sure I'm up to that.

It hasn't always been this way. I haven't always insisted on reading books (or watching films) where the villains receive justice and the girl rides off into the sunset with her adoring guy. But the real world has grown so much more complicated, certainly more for my daughters' generation that it was for mine. I want to focus on reading and writing stories that give me an escape from the bad stuff.

I won't pledge to give readers the ending of their dreams, the ending where all problems cease and life magically becomes perfect. I do, however, pledge to leave my protagonists on the road to happiness. There will be hope.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Always there - realistic parents

I have two awesome daughters. They're both in their 20s now, which means that I have survived mothering girls through their teens.

It was hard and fun and frustrating--and I'm so proud of the women they've become.

My girls - many years ago

Parenting is not easy. Most of us want to be good. We want to raise amazing, happy, healthy kids who will change the world (or their little corner of it.) Just when we think we have parenting figured out, another kid enters the family, and we learn that we know nothing. Again.

This is why I try to write realistic parents in my books. They're not all bad and not all good. They get things right and make mistakes. Some are more likable than others.

I will always give my main characters at least one parent who loves them and genuinely wants to be the best they can. That doesn't mean a parent without flaws; it means a parent with good intentions that don't always work out.

Here are some insights into my main characters' parents.

Whisper Falls - Mark's parents love and support him. His mother, Sherri, gets mixed reviews for how inconsistently she treats him. I actually loved writing her character. She's in a stage of life that is so hard for mothers of teens--trying to let go of their young adult while mourning their childhood and not being needed anymore.

I Wish - Lacey's mom is clinically depressed. Crystal wants to be a good mom, but her mental health isn't stable enough for her to succeed. Since depression doesn't solve itself quickly, it isn't until the book 3 that the reader begins to see signs that Crystal is slowly getting better.

Wishing for You - Kimberley's mother Teresa was an angel of patience and protectiveness in book 1. In book 2, readers can begin to see the cracks. Teresa has been Kimberley's "primary caregiver" for years, and it's exhausting. Teresa makes several slip-ups in this book, not because she doesn't care, but because Kimberley's life is growing more complicated, not less. And that is backwards for most teens.

The Possibility of Somewhere - Eden's healthiest parental relationship is with her stepmother. Marnie is as perfect as she can be, given that she's inherited (and wanted desperately) two kids from her husband's first (bad) marriage.  Eden's father, though, is almost impossible to like. Most people see him as a villain, and it's true that he does and says very bad things. But I don't think he's a thoroughly bad man. He's had only poor role models. He's a product of a world that is very limited, and he has no clue how to be a better person. I think America's current political climate is a good example of how decent people can have indecent attitudes.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Always there - North Carolina

Raven Rock State Park
I moved to North Carolina in my twenties, not long after I graduated from college. I've lived here since, and I completely love my adopted state. (Well, okay, maybe I don't like our state government so much.)

Anyway, I enjoy the people, the beaches, the mountains, the history, the weather, etc. There is just so much about North Carolina that I find interesting. This state bristles with stories waiting to be told, which is why I've set all of my stories here.

  • The Whisper Falls series takes place in and near Raleigh/Wake County, both 18th- and 21st-centuries.
  • The I Wish series is set in Magnolia Springs, a fictional town patterned after the real town of Elon. Magnolia Springs lies midway between Raleigh and Wilmington.
  • For The Possibility of Somewhere, I dreamed up Bayville, a town near the Crystal Coast beaches.
  • Fade To Us (releasing in Winter 2018) will take place in the heart of North Carolina, not far from Raleigh and Raven Rock State Park.

Occasionally, my characters will travel to other exciting places, but they will always call North Carolina home.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Always there - no violence

I rarely read books with violence in them. Mystery novels are about the only ones. Even then, I prefer books where the violence or murder happens before the book begins, and I want justice by the end.

As an author, I don't like to write violence, but I have on a few occasions, when I felt like I had no choice in order to tell the story. I guess this post would be better titled "Almost never there - graphic violence."

Whisper Falls has instances of physical abuse during the series. The 18th-century half of the first book shows the plight of female indentured servants. I couldn't have given a true account without letting the reader see the brutality that haunted their lives. Our hero has been the victim of bullying. It's hard for either of those plot points to be authentic without alluding to some violence. In book 3, the villain is again the cause of abuse to both the hero and heroine, although less is visible on the page. The reader knows it's happened, but the details are not graphic.  In this series, justice prevails.

In The Possibility of Somewhere (writing as Julia Day), the realities of the heroine's life are fairly harsh. Physical abuse lurks constantly as a possibility. The heroine, Eden, is prepared to take care of herself, though. "The Mundys of the world believed in a sunshiny legal system... [but] I knew better. The Edens of the world grew up in trailer parks, and they had different rules. Justice changed depending on where we lived."

So, perhaps instead of pledging to never write violence, I'll promise instead to limit it to the minimum needed to serve the story, to describe what's happening without gratuitous details, and to see that the criminals (perpetrators) reap punishment for what they've done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Always there - Norah and Charlie

For any book or series that I write, there will always be two characters with the names Norah and Charlie.

The reason is bittersweet; I do this as a memorial to two adorable little children that we lost too soon. Charlie was my nephew, who died at age 4. Norah was the daughter of a friend. She passed away at age 6.

This didn't start out as a conscious decision. I wanted them both to be remembered--and simply wrote them into my first book. Once I'd discovered this way to remember them, I knew that I'd want to include them again.

Since I Wish was the first YA book that I wrote (although it was the fourth to be published), Norah and Charlie made their first appearance in it. They are two ice-skaters in "genie-land."

They play a bigger role in the Whisper Falls series. Mark (the hero) has a strong relationship with his grandparents, Norah and Charlie. They appear in all three books of the series.

In The Possibility of Somewhere (writing as Julia Day), Eden once held a job at Charlie's Diner, working with a waitress named Norah. A small presence--but I know they're there, and now you do too.

For Norah and Charlie--
We have not forgotten.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Always there - military

When authors write young adult novels, there are many aspects that we're all trying to achieve: a well-written story with a good plot, sympathetic characters who struggle with relatable problems, and interesting settings.

I have other elements that will always be there. Some appeared without me really thinking about. Others--I decided to include in every book or series. And one of those is military service. There will always be a military character in my books.

I served 8 years in the military. My father, brother, and sister are all military retirees. I'm proud to have served--and that spills over into my stories.

All of my books/series have at least one secondary character who has served. In the Whisper Falls series, it was Mark's aunt, an Army major who lost her life in Afghanistan. In the I Wish series, Lacey's dad was a Marine who died in a training accident. In The Possibility of Somewhere, Mundy's father was a Navy helicopter pilot.

In future books, military characters will be more prominent. In my next Julia Day release, the heroine's stepfather is a recently retired Army sergeant. And I've already outlined another book where the hero will be an active-duty military member.

There are a lot of books that feature SEALs, fighter pilots, or military lawyers / investigators. I won't be writing more of those books. Instead, I'll focus on servicemembers with jobs that are less well-known: mechanics, military police, engineers, Signal Corps (telecommunications).  I'm not as familiar with those career fields, but I'm having a lot of fun with the research.

I'm also open for suggestions. So if you are in the military or have a military family member with an interesting job or story that needs to be heard, please let me know.