I'm a sucker for a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie.
Yes! These are totally chocolate chip cookies! I baked them especially for you.
Your "How I got my agent" story is my FAVORITE OF ALL TIME. Care to share?
Oh, dear. This story doubles as one of the most embarrassing stories of my life. Okay, here goes. I was attending a writer's conference in Park City with some friends a couple years ago. The night before the conference started, we went to dinner with the conference organizers and the agents and editors. I happened to join the carpool that included Laurie McLean, agent extraordinaire. Another writer drove in her nice, leather interior truck, and my friends and I sat in the back and asked Laurie questions. We got to the restaurant, and as we waited for our food I started to feel nauseated. My stomach felt worse and worse, and by halfway through the meal I was doubled over.
My friend Jaime took pity on me and walked me next door to the Whole Foods store, where she bought me some ginger capsules and real ginger ale. I swallowed some capsules and chugged some ginger ale and felt a ginger bomb fermenting in my stomach. By this time everyone else was done eating and wanted to shop at Whole Foods too. So I sat on a bench outside the store, moaning, and called my husband to beg him to come and pick me up because I felt so sick I wanted to die. He knew that I would regret missing out on the conference, so he encouraged me to stay and see how I felt in another hour or so. The other ladies came out, looked at me, and stepped back a few paces.
Laurie said, "You look green. You should sit in the front seat." I took her up on the offer because I thought it might be necessary to exit the truck quickly. I rolled down the window, hoping the fresh air would help, and tried to keep my dinner down. We were almost back at the hotel when I suddenly realized that the ginger bomb in my stomach had exploded. I yelled to the driver, "Pull over. Right now." She pulled over, but she didn't stop fast enough. The puke was coming out, and I was not going to coat the leather interior of her new truck with it. So I threw open the door and jumped out of the still-moving truck while puking. I landed wrong on my ankle and stumbled along the rocky embankment while spewing all over. From inside the truck I could hear ladies yelling, "Oh no! Did you run over her? She jumped out before I stopped! Is she okay?" I hurled like it was going out of style, and finally, when I was done, I took a water bottle and rinsed off my shoes, then climbed shakily back into the truck, where everyone was expressing their extreme concern for me. I wanted to die, I was so embarrassed. But Laurie reached over my shoulder, handed me her business card, and said, "Send me a partial."
I spent the rest of the night with my head in the toilet, and the next day limping around the hotel and lying in bed with ice on my ankle. When I saw Laurie in the hall, she stopped to ask how I was doing. (Barely surviving.) Then she told me that she admired my perseverance in staying there even though I obviously wasn't well. She said it bode well for my career as a writer. I began to love her. The last day of the conference, I won the drawing to send Laurie my first three chapters for a critique. When they announced my name and I stood up, she cheered and gave me a hug and said, "It's karma!" I thought the same thing. It was fate that we should meet. I am sure there are other nice agents in the world, but nobody could have surpassed Laurie's graciousness. I have since learned that she is more than gracious and kind--she is hard-working, brilliant, optimistic, a go-getter, and the world's greatest cheerleader. Everything you want in an agent.
(Oh, my gosh, guys. Isn't that the best story EVER?) Julie, you actually got your book deal before you got your agent, right?
Yes, I did things a little backwards in that regard. I had published a non-fiction book with the same publisher a year before, so I already had contacts there when I began to consider submitting my novel. After having many agents read my full manuscript and respond that they "loved it, but couldn't sell it without sex in it," I had given up on the agent route. In fact, I didn't even send Laurie my full when she requested it, because I was afraid she would say the same thing. (I know. I was a wimp.) So I submitted my manuscript to Shadow Mountain, and after I had an offer from them, I contacted Laurie and asked her if she would like to represent me. She read my full manuscript in one night, loved it, and called me the next day to offer representation.
Then you went from book deal to publication date with lightning fast speed. What are the pros and cons of having a release date so soon?
I received a verbal offer from my publisher at the end of July 2011, and my book will be released the end of March 2012. Since this is my first novel, I don't really have a different experience to compare it to. But I will say that my team at Shadow Mountain has not lost their excitement for my story, and that is a pro in my book. For cons, I think one challenge with this short time-frame is getting everything done in time. My editing deadline was one week from the time my editor sent me my manuscript. Life is pretty hectic right now, but I am a very impatient person, and after working on this manuscript for five years, I feel like it can't come out soon enough.
A week?! I would've died. Edenbrooke must be one incredible book for them to push it with that kind of speed! Tell us about the book.
Edenbrooke is a love story set in the Regency period in England. (Think Jane Austen.) Seventeen-year-old Marianne Daventry is invited to spend the summer at Edenbrooke, a great estate in the countryside, where she imagines she will be able to do the things she loves, like ride horses and paint, while her twin sister tries to snag the handsome heir. But Marianne's plans for the summer are turned upside down and she finds herself caught in the middle of secrets, intrigue, and a headlong fall into the kind of love that changes you forever. It has humor, suspense, a lot of flirting, and a happy ending. It was a lot of fun to write.
Your book takes place in England, and you're going to England in a week to research your next book. Now tell the truth. Do you plan your book locations based on best vacation spot? :)
Absolutely! No, really, I have always loved England. It's in my blood--most of my ancestors came from England or Scotland, and it has been my favorite place to read about and dream about. It made Edenbrooke so real to me to visit England, that I knew I had to go again to do research for my next book.
I just decided. My next book is either happening in Hawaii or at the castles in Scotland.
Sign me up! Actually, I think my third book will be set in Paris. But after that, definitely Scotland.
The first two letters of your first name and the first two letters of your last name combine to make the greatest nickname-- Judo. I love it! Which begs the question: Did your husband's perfect last name figure into the equation when you said yes to his wedding proposal?
Thank you. I love my nickname. And, no, the sad thing is I didn't even realize that my name lent itself to Judo until our mutual friend Erin started calling me that. We were in a writing group together with another girl (and friend) whose name is Julie Dixon. So I couldn't be Julie D, because she was Julie D also. So I became Judo. I like it more than I should. It doesn't sound sophisticated at all, but it appeals to the side of me that jumps in the air and does karate kicks when I'm excited.
(I, obviously, did NOT take my husband's last name into consideration before saying "I do," since the same formula in a nickname gives me the name Peed.)
Your book sounds so fabulous, Julie, and so are you! Why don't you share all the important links so we can find out more about it and you.
Buy Edenbrooke on Amazon
Buy Edenbrooke at Barnes & Noble
Buy Edenbrooke at Deseret Book
Thanks so much, Peggy! This was such a fun interview, and I loved your cookies!
Thank you, Julie!
And guess what? Her publisher sent me an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) to give away! In your comment, just let me know if you'd like to be entered for a chance to win. Bonus point if you use the words "nickname," "ginger," "regency," and/or "escape by tuck-n-roll" in your comment. Extra bonus point if you tell someone about the giveaway via facebook, twitter, blog, phone, email, texting, talking, good old fashioned note, smoke signals, and/or sign language. (Make sure you tell me if you get the bonus point.)
Giveaway ends Sunday night (March 18th) at midnight MST. Best of luck!!