Make new friends, but keep the old! One is silver & the other gold! A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long I want to be your friend!

Longest blog title ever, right? Old Girl Scout campfire songs FTW!

Y'all, I need your help. I'm working on two projects right now. Both of which I'm very excited about! One of which I've run into a little problem with! So this project is super new to me, and unlike anything I've ever written. The characters are THERE and I love them, and they're talking to me! But they're not talking to each other. Womp, womp. That's right you heard me. I'm having some chemistry issues. And I've actually narrowed down the problem. (Pardon me while I toot my own horn for a sec.) I am really, really good at creating chemistry between characters who have history together. Characters who grew up together, are related, used to date, ex-bestfriends, etc. But I'm starting to notice that  creating chemistry between two characters who are meeting for the first time doesn't come as easily to me. Previously this hasn't been an issue because I really love stories about people with deep-seated pasts together. But that's not the case with this WIP.

So, this is my question: How do you, personally, create natural chemistry (romantic and platonic) that feels organic and easy between two characters who have just met? And furthermore, do you have any reading recommendations that you think shows a good example of this? I'm not talking insta-love... and I'm not too interested in anything paranormal/fantasy--at least not in this case--unless it's just a must-read.

Please, please leave your two cents in the comment box. I could really use some feedback and I know y'all won't fail me! Whether you're an NYT bestselling author, or just dabbling in writing, I would love to hear your input. And because you're such a pal, I'd appreciate it if you passed this on to others. RT the hell out of it. The more input the better.


The blog I wasn't cool enough to write. Kiley & Veronica Roth!

So you are probably wondering where Julie is, and you have reason to, she’s pretty awesome.  But don’t worry, she’ll be back soon.  In the meantime, Hi, I’m Kiley Roache, a high school sophomore and columnist for “The Doings” a suburban outlet of Sun Times Media.
 In my most recent column, I wrote about Veronica Roth and her amazing books Divergent and Insurgent, which Julie had originally told me to read. When I interviewed Ms. Roth, she shared some great writing advice.
 Sadly, I didn’t get to include most of it in my article.  In my opinion, what she said was infinitely helpful, and Julie was kind enough to let me guest blog, so I get to share it with you.
[Warning:  If you haven’t read Divergent by Veronica Roth, the following post may contain some spoilers.  Also, what are you doing, go read it now!]
 So if you’ve read Divergent and Insurgent, you are probably in love with Tobias.  This, I know, is a little scary since he is a fictional character and all.   The reason you felt this way is because Ms. Roth has created characters that truly seem like real people, including Tobias.  Roth said that with Tobias, “I always have a sense of what he’s doing when he’s not on the page…that helps a lot to make him feel like a real person in my mind.”  I think we could all use this advice since it’s so easy to focus on the main character, but when the reader becomes invested in the lives of many of the characters, that’s what makes a great novel. 
As for main characters, Roth stressed the importance of having them make mistakes.  She said “I think as an author it’s hard to do that because we kind of want to protect characters that we come to love, but it’s so important in making them seem like real people, because real people make mistakes all the time.”
 Ms. Roth also gave two key insights into creating the relationship between Tris and Tobias.  She said that she loves that Tobias believes in her strength, because, “So often, we see love stories about boys who want to protect girls, and he certainly wants to do that with her, but he also kind of trusts her to take care of herself and their mutual respect for each other really helps with the love story.”  She also remarked about the closeness between Tris and Tobias that comes from them exposing themselves to each other like they don’t to anybody else.  She said, “If you can develop closeness in the relationships between your characters that people can see on the page and not just hear about from one characters prospective, important.”
Finally, Ms. Roth taught me a very important lesson with the answer to a question about height.  I had noticed that while Ms. Roth is six feet tall, her protagonist, Tris, is quite short, so I asked her if making her short was a conscience decision.  She replied that it was, and she wanted Tris to be underestimated not only because of where she came from but also physically.  She said, “She doesn’t start off very strong, but she grows to be a stronger person both physically and mentally.  And I wanted that physical part of that journey to be really clear.  So I made her small.” 
I thought this was about the coolest answer ever.  I realized how remarkable it was that Ms. Roth had written a page-turner while still developing many layers to her work, and Tris’s simultaneous journeys was only one of many examples of this.  The complexity that Roth developed shows how possible it is for books to crossover from the required reading list to the best seller list.
 Thank you so much for taking time to read this, and if you didn’t like it, don’t worry, Julie will be back very soon.  I will leave you with Ms. Roth’s words on writing in general.
“Keep writing as much as you can and do not be so afraid to show your writing to other people, people that you trust.”

Quick note from Julie: Hey y'all! Just wanted to give a shout to Kiley and say a big fat THANK YOU! Isn't she awesome?? And pssst picture shows Veronica and Kiley at the signing! Kiley, can you come blog for me all the time? ;) No, but seriously.


So Wild.

Very few authors have had the same effect on me in my adulthood as they had in my childhood. But Maurice Sendak has.  Sometimes society loses people, and it feels so personal. And I'm not talking about your Grandpa Ed or a Kardashian. I'm talking about the people who have chosen to share themselves with us. Their words, their voice, their pictures. There are paintings and songs and books that are so dear to me that they no longer belong to the artist (or anyone else for that matter), but to me. These things become a part of my timeline, and my experience. These things become landmarks to me. I look at the art of these people and am able to relate it back to a feeling or a time that changed my life in both big ways and small.

Myself, like many of my friends (bookish and not), have a distinct connection to Maurice Sendak and Where The Wild Things Are. I love all of Sendak's work, especially his most recent Bumble-Ardy. But WTWTA will always be different for me. Growing up, not a whole lot of people read to me. And not because they didn't want to--I don't think--but, because I wanted that experience. And so, because I preferred to read on my own, I was a little older than most when I stumbled upon WTWTA, which I think allowed me to remember my initial feelings about it more specifically. (I've always had trouble with early childhood memories, they're all so foggy to me. I can only remember screenshots of events, and not always the events themselves. I digress.) I recall reading Wild Things and, at first, not liking it. Not being at all pleased by it. I thought Max was foolish, and he made me embarrassed about being a kid. At that age (maybe 7 or 8? maybe even 9?), I wanted nothing more than to be an adult. In my family I was the only girl my age. So all the boys played sports and I was this chubby little girl who just wanted to be a grownup. I'd watch movies like Sleeping with the Enemy, Dances with Wolves, and Pet Sematary with my sister. But then I read WTWTA again.  And again. And I started to like Max. Because I understood Max. Because when I saw Max I didn't see a boy, or a girl, or a kid. I saw a person. And I could relate to that person.

As an adult, upon revisiting WTWTA, I found that I felt the same. And probably even stronger.

So, this morning, I woke up to the news that Maurice Sendak had passed. And I cried. Burst out into tears crying. Which, although I loved that grouchy old man, is silly. Because Maurice was 83 years old, and he had lived a long full life--much fuller than many others. I cried while I got ready this morning. I cried on my way to work. And I cried at my desk. I don't cry too often, so this was not at all happy-making. Then I said, "Self, why are you crying?" (I'm very self-aware like that, you see.) I don't know Maurice Sendak. Not personally, anyway. When he died, his books didn't dissipate off my shelves. They're still there. I checked.

I guess, yeah, it's true what they say. An artist's work will live on long past the artist. So let's be happy that we had Maurice Sendak. And let's be happy that he chose to share his work. And let's treasure the artists we still have. But most importantly let's share our work. Even if it's just with one other person, that's one more person who your work will live inside. Because what if? What if Maurice hadn't ever shown us how to be wild?


Blogger, Baby, I Just Couldn't Stay Away

So I set up my super pretty website, which you can totally stalk. But I really, really missed my blogger account, so here I am. You guys'll take me back, right? There were a few  blog posts lost to the transition, but that's okay because I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack! And in celebration of that, I leave you with this: