Welcome back to Novel Journey!
Thank you, Lisa!
You published several books since the last time you visited Novel Journey. Has continued success made writing easier, or more difficult?
Well, I do love the process of writing, of mulling ideas in my head during my shower and then letting my fingers fly across the keyboard while my hair is still wet. Those are the times when writing comes easiest.
However, it’s often in the re-writing or editing process when the degree of difficulty increases. Not a bad thing—but a necessary one! For instance, my incredible editor, Karen Ball, went through Sweet Waters with me line by line. Even though that process sometimes sent me ‘back to the drawing board’, I appreciated her seasoned eyes so much.
I’m sure you’ve had your share of reviews. What impact did this have on subsequent books?
At times I have allowed myself to get tossed about by both positive and negative reviews. They love my writing…I can’t change a thing! Or They don’t get me at all—I need to change! It’s a trap that can stun/cripple/paralyze any artist.
More and more I’m learning to trust my own instincts, pay attention to the readers I’ve entrusted with critiquing my manuscript prior to sending it in to my publisher, and of course, listen to my valued editor (who advises writers not to read reviews…).
You recently released the first book of series from B&H. How is writing a series different than writing a stand alone?
Technically, my first two books were also part of a series. They didn’t start out that way, but after the success of Chocolate Beach, it made sense to write a follow up story, Truffles by the Sea. (Gaby, the heroine of Truffles… had appeared in Chocolate Beach.)
The Otter Bay Novels could each stand alone as well. They are held together--not by the same characters--but by their stellar central California coast locale (although I’ll tell you a secret: previous characters do make cameos ;)
Are you a plotter or a SOTP (seat of the pants) writer? Why?
At heart, I’m an SOTP writer, but in the interest of time, I’ve learned to plot. That said, when I’m really stuck, I set my outline aside and just write for a few pages. Often I find the best twists in those SOTP moments!
How much marketing do you do? Do you market all of your books at once, or concentrate solely on the newest release?
I’m always looking for ways to market my work without appearing obnoxious. Know what I mean? That said, I’m always looking for natural ways to bring attention to my work. For instance, if there’s a news item that coincides with an issue in one of my books, I’ll blog about that.
As for what to market when, I focus on the upcoming release. Here are a few things I do (hopefully this list can help someone else too):
· Send thanks to publisher’s sales team
· Host launch party at a local bookstore
· Send out postcards to growing list
· E-mail my occasional newsletter to subscribers
· Stay active on Twitter and Facebook (personal status updates more than marketing pitches!)
· Link to really GREAT interviews of my books on my blog
· Give away a lot of books and candy
· Drop-in book signings (a great excuse to travel!)
· Highlight author-friendly bookstores on my blog
The last time you visited Novel Journey, you said your favorite part of being a writer is when “a scene falls together beautifully.” Is that still true? What steps do you take to make that happen?
Remember when I mentioned earlier that I’m an SOTP writer at heart? For me, a scene won’t necessarily fall together beautifully if I’ve outlined it in its entirety. Just the opposite, it’ll probably come across as flat, canned. My scene outlines should probably be called scene ‘gists’. My favorite scenes are the ones in which I began to write and the characters surprise me on the way to the goal.
So, tell us a little about your latest release:
Sweet Waters tells the story of sensible Tara Sweet, a woman hoping that moving back to the California coast her family left years before will lead to the fairytale she remembered. But Tara discovers fairy tales are fragile—and truth is often one ugly layer after another of secrets, accusation, rumor, and a past an entire church wants to forget. Enter Josh Adams, a rugged firefighter battling his own demons. Soon they find themselves at odds with their families, their faith, the townspeople of Otter Bay—and each other. Only in facing the lies from the past can they find the truth.
How did you come up with this story?
I read the verse “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands…” (Jer. 31:10) and thought, “Hm, what if a person had to be physically moved from one place to another in order for God to get her attention?
From there, I played the ‘what-if’ game. While this story is fiction, I realized that God had done a similar thing in my own life, and that once removed from the things that kept me from him, I finally heard him clearly.
Tell us a little about your main character and how you developed him/her:
Sensible Tara Sweet is the first-born, leader of the family. As life as she knows it begins to unravel, she makes a single ‘non-sensible’ move and I followed along to see where that would lead. She did not disappoint!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Least?
My first books were fun-filled chick-lit romps with lots of asides. I laughed all through writing them.
With Sweet Waters, I enjoyed a bit of a transition. Humor exists within the pages, but it’s more understated than in the past. This story also contains a couple of ‘dark’ issues that I had to research to better understand, and while I can’t say that I ‘enjoyed’ learning about them, I did find them fascinating.
What does your writing space look like?
I write in my closet. No joke. But it’s a really cool closet with a built in desk and added window. Check it out:
What would you do with your free time if you weren’t writing?
I know it sounds like a cliché, but I just love to walk or jog the beach. Preferably with my husband, children and dog. And a latte.
Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
There’s always a bit of me in some of the characters. In Chocolate Beach, Bri’s a beach lover; in Truffles by the Sea, Gaby’s a Czech-Mex gal who talks too much, and in Sweet Waters, Tara’s the first-born, leader of the family. All qualities of moi.
What message do you hope readers gain from your novel?
I hope Sweet Waters demonstrates that sometimes when we get what we wish for, it isn’t ‘all that’? And yet if we surrender it all to God, his plans for us are better than we could have concocted for ourselves.
Tell us what we have to look forward to in the future. What new projects are you working on?
I’ve just completed the second of the Otter Bay Novels, A Shore Thing (June 2010 release). This story centers around Callie Duflay and her fight to keep a huge development from destroying the central coast—while also protecting her heart from the charming architect on the proposed project. You can learn more about this and other stories on my website: www.juliecarobini.com
Thanks much for having me here on Novel Journey today!