Crux author Julie Reece talks about Julie Reece!

Welcome, welcome to my most honored guest today, Julie Reece. Julie’s debut young adult novel, Crux, is hot off the press as of July 9th and she’s hot on my blog today.

I’ve known Julie since our salad days, neither one of us published, trying to figure this business out (though admittedly we still are). We were also both in an anthology released last month called, Tidal Whispers.

I had the chance to pin Julie down before she got really busy with her release and asked her a few questions curious readers and fans want to know.

One of the places I know you spend a lot of time at is Goodreads, a wonderful environment to meet fellow readers first and foremost. What about the reading public most encourages you and most disappoints you?

Crux is my first book. The reading public and I don’t know each other yet. I hope my story will be well received. *chews nails off contemplating that statement* As a reader, my interaction with other readers, discussing books and reading each other’s reviews, has been a lot of fun and really interesting. I haven’t had a bad experience. As a writer, most of the other writers I’ve met are truly lovely people who will definitely go out of their way to help a sister/brother out. As for your question, I guess I have to admit the jury is still out on that one. From what I’ve seen, YA readers are fiercely loyal. They wait for the next book of a writer they love for months, almost blind to any fault in the work. That’s pretty cool, but the writer had to earn their admiration first. YA readers are also honest, sometimes brutally so, and that can really hurt. Obviously, I hope to win respect, one reader at a time, and am committed to working as hard as I can to achieve that end.

Who has surprised you the most support-wise, fan-wise or is your most unexpected fan?

Okay, you can roll your eyes if you want to, but I’m going to tell you the straight up truth here. My husband. I liked him enough to marry him. Awesome doesn’t cover it. He’s always been supportive, but since I started writing, not a day goes by he doesn’t tell me he’s proud or that I can achieve my goals if I’m patient and keep at it. I had learning disabilities and suffered some harsh verbal abuse from teachers when I was a little girl. When I told my husband I wanted to try and publish one of my stories, I thought he’d pat me on the head and say “Aw. That’s nice, dear.” And we’d both know I’d lost my mind and I could never realize that goal. Instead, he took me seriously, built me up, pushed me and told me I could do it. The guy needs a white horse.

The other thread of support came from a band of women writing warriors called the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens. I’ve never met anyone like them. We beta read and critique each other’s work and lend support when needed. Any of these amazing creatures will tell you how much work my writing needed/still needs and how insecure I was/am, but they made me improve. They crack their whips to keep each other moving in the nicest possible way. I love these people!  If you don’t have a critique partner, I strongly suggest joining a writing site to find one.

Whose works do you read and then think, “I am nothing but a hack?” if you think that at all?  And if you don’t have those thoughts, how do you build that sort of self-confidence in yourself?

I’m in the hack camp. I admire those who have that bold unabashed confidence, but I’m not one of them. I don’t suffer from false modesty either. I know I have a lot to learn. I was raised on the classics, Austen, Dickens, Bronte, Poe, Whitman, Frost … you get the idea. My first toe into the arena of writing made me feel like an infidel intruder (how dare I think I could do this?) From those geniuses, I moved onto YA reading, Suzanne Collins , Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Gayle Forman, the list is as long as my arm, Kristin Cashore, Rick Riordan, Maggie Stiefvater, Veronica Roth These people’s writing ensure I will never be guilty of having a big head. What keeps me from curling into a permanent fetal position is knowing I work as hard as I can, both to deliver a good story and to improve with each book. J I’m hoping my efforts will pay off, and there will be a place for me in the world of YA writing.

What aspects of your life are most neglected because of your writing?

My housework. Dude, I used to be so neat and clean, ugh! I’m married, have a full time job, two girls, two cats and a dog, church, friends … something had to give … or will give, eventually, under the foot of dust weighing it down! I don’t love the look of my house right now. There’s unfolding laundry piled in a corner chair, mocking me. In fact, I need to scrub my floors and scour my bathrooms and vacuum. Will it happen? No. Because I’m going to write instead. So wrinkle, foul laundry, I care not. Death to you, oh  tiresome dust bunnies— a scourge and pox be on thy head for breeding in thine home under my armoire. More important duties call this day, and I shall not deny them! Uh, yeah, sorry. Got carried away.

OK, now for some less writerly questions. Describe what’s  in your purse.

If you got a look inside my purse, you’d swear I was a depression baby or hoarder. I’m incapable of carrying a purse smaller than an airline carry on because it won’t hold enough. I’m so looking through my purse right now to see what is actually in here … LOL Okay, if my office is taken over by terrorists in the next ten minutes, I have these items to sustain me and my coworkers: gum (nothing like minty fresh breath in a crisis) crackers, lipstick, tissue, stamps, feminine products (I doubt I’m going to intimidate the terrorists with those) a pocket knife (now that might work) two paperback novels, nail file, polish (mani/pedi anyone?) dental floss, cat toys (don’t ask) wallet, address book, keys, water bottle, mace … Ah ha! Crisis averted! Police arrive, but I already have the perps tied up with my dental floss and crying from the mace I sprayed in their eyes. *Wild applause* Thank , no really, thank you, officer Bradley. It was nothing. See? You can never be too prepared.

Who would you cast as YOU if they made a story of your life?  Why?

Megan Fox. Because we look so much alike. (Claire’s note–Julie is a blonde and she’s much prettier than Megan Fox. Just sayin’)

Fill in the blank with one of the offered choices and explain:  “I’d rather have an abundance of _______. (time, money, solitude, companionship, public recognition, intelligence,  or physical prowess)

Wisdom. I think King Solomon got this one right.  We age and physical prowess fades. A person can have mere intellectual intelligence and make some very stupid relational choices. Money, alone, can be lonesome, while too much companionship can smother you. For me, life lived well is about balance. Wisdom is needed to achieve that. I believe a very wise person makes decisions that may lead to all the rest: money, companionship, recognition … Why not have it all?


Why not indeed!

Thank you so much, Julie for visiting me today and for offering readers a little insight into the creator of Birdie and Grey. I wish you many, many sales of Crux and look forward to your next published works!

About Crux

She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight.

Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night.

In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich and very out of her league Grey Mathews wants to save her.

Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together.

Her heritage did.

Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.

You won’t want to miss it! So don’t…

Where to buy (in ebook or paperback formats):

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s

Julie About Julie

Hey! I’m Julie Reece and I write Young Adult novels. I live in Atlanta with my husband, and daughters, and am passionate about animals, underdogs, and dark chocolate. I love to read urban fantasy, paranormal romance … okay, pretty much anything YA.
You can find me here:

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

2011 Wordstock (Portland)

This past weekend, I attended my first writer / reader convention–Portland, OR’s Wordstock. It was and it wasn’t what I expected.

The Misses:

Not much free stuff…at all.  I’d hoped for free books, bookmarks, pens, pads, etc.  I got nothing but a 3/4 inch diameter button proclaiming the festival.  I found this particularly annoying on day two when I realized I’d forgotten a pen and could find no free ones anywhere.

No agents trolled the area for amazing new talent such as myself, and those that were there kept very low profiles and/or told us to leave them alone and go to their websites.  They stated they found being approached by so many writers overwhelming.  Fair enough.  I just hadn’t expected that.

Book signings were limited to the speakers.  Certainly a few intrepid authors had their books available for purchase / signing, but they paid for that right by renting a booth.  The other authors were either mobbed or stood lonely at their signing podiums waiting for readers to approach them.  Frankly, the whole signing thing felt a little intimidating as the popular authors had really long lines.  Those whom I’d heard speak felt like unapproachable Gods / Goddesses.  I know this is my own perception because I’m sure they all put their pants on one leg at a time and are probably lovely people.

Most of the publishers who rented booths were local indie presses.  I didn’t see any of the BIG names there, names like Random House, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Avon, Mills and Boon, etc.  I didn’t even see any of the larger e-publishers like Carina, Wild Rose Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain (these being all Romance e-publishers, of course).

Most of the other booths were writing services like editors, self-publishing support services (e.g. Amazon Createspace had a booth), the Wall Street Journal (offering a high pressure deal that came with a massive coffee table book–I didn’t have the heart to say I don’t read newspapers anymore), local literary press magazines, non-fiction writing suppliers, libraries raising money, etc.  All worthy exhibitors, just not what I wanted or needed.

I didn’t get to see two big name authors I really wanted to see:  Ursula Leguin and Scott Westerfeld, nor did I get the books I brought by Maggie Stiefvater and Mr. Westerfeld signed.  Our schedules just didn’t align correctly.

The Hits:

The authors who spoke or read were AMAZING!  My favorites were:  Jennifer Egan, Steve Almond, Chelsea Cain, Moira Young, Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Oliver, Kimberly Derting, Patrick Carmen, Lidia Yuknavitch, Cheryl Strayed, and Lindsay Leavitt.  All these writers impressed me either as speakers and/or they whet my appetite to buy their books.

I mean why wouldn’t I want to read a YA book about a girl who falls for the boy sitting in front of her after she is required to write a journal entry about an inanimate object and she chooses the back of his head (Leavitt’s Sean Griswold’s Head), or the female teenaged Dexter (Cain’s Gretchen Lowell in The Night Season and its sequels), or the girl who falls in love right before she is scheduled to lose her ability to feel the emotion (Oliver’s Delirium).

On the titillating side, you have to admire a woman who can write so openly about her descent into promiscuity after losing her mother to cancer (Strayed’s memoir Wild).

I’m not normally one for literary fiction, but I think I’ll have to buy Pulitzer prize winning author Jennifer Egan’s novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, after her reading and explanation of how and why she wrote a chapter in Powerpoint!  Plus, her ability to explain in such intelligent terms her technique for layering lush writing techniques left me feeling vastly unworthy–like comparing refrigerator art to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The sheer volume and variety of choices when it came to speakers more than made up for the lack of exhibitors handing out trinkets and trash or those of current interest to me.  I filled up two days moving from stage to stage to hear authors from many genres speak on a wide variety of topics that weren’t only about their books.

Here are the sessions I attended over the two days (an hour each):

  • How to win over agents and editors
  • Book Trailers: A driving force?
  • Jennifer Egan (reading)
  • The death of print and digital humanity
  • Pushing the limits of form and fiction
  • Teens facing fears in fiction
  • What’s with America’s Sexual/Literary hangup?
  • Vampires are so last season
  • Mean Girls
  • Smells like teen spirit
  • Ellen Hopkins and Jen Violi (readings)

I give props to the festival organizers who did an awesome job keeping everything organized, for selecting terrific moderators for the panels, terrific authors to speak.

The festival featured a heavy Portland, OR flavor with most of the authors either living in or near Portland, OR or the Pacific NW.  This I REALLY appreciated.  I’ve always known my part of the world was home to many authors, but I’d no idea just how many.  Color me impressed and proud of my hometown colleagues.  It must be the rain that inspires us to write.  Must be.

Jennifer Egan

Chelsea Cain

Ellen Hopkins