Monday, March 05, 2007

Chat with Julie Carobini

I met Julie at Mt. Hermon writer's conference last year, and she is as sweet as the chocolate brownies she writes about so vividly. So I'm delighted to chat with her today about her debut novel.

(That's Julie and her mom in the photo on their visits to California bookstores - where they spotted a display of Renovating Becky Miller with Chocolate Beach - our two new novels.)

Hi, Julie!
Thanks for visiting my corner of the blogosphere and letting me kick off my snow boots and dig my toes into the sandy beaches of your world. ☺You’ve done a lot of writing, but this is your debut novel. What has been the most surprising discovery about the process and experience of coming out with your first novel?

Julie says: Hi Sharon! Okay, one of the most surprising discoveries about this process is that I could finish an entire book. LOL! Seriously, about 2/3 of the way through I found so many pieces strewn about that I worried I wouldn’t be able to bind them together into something presentable. Thanks to God I did ☺ As far as its release, I thought it would come out and I’d be too busy writing the next one to be that involved. What planet was I on? So I guess you could say I was surprised by how busy I’ve been letting people know that my baby has arrived.

How about you Sharon? With a second book out (Renovating Becky Miller), what have you done differently, if anything, from the first go at it?

Sharon says: I’ve watched other authors a LOT this year – viewing all the options for ways that writers are involved in their book’s releases. I have friends who want to put every ounce of energy into writing, so they purposefully don’t pursue book signings, visiting stores, arranging interviews, etc. I have other friends who invest huge amounts of time in speaking to various groups, traveling, seeking media exposure. I’ve tested the waters – organized book launch events, participated in multi-author signings, spoken to groups of various sizes and types, participated in blog tours, produce a monthly ezine (folks can sign up for it on the “contact Sharon” page of my website) and have done numerous media interviews.

I enjoy people. I love to answer questions and interact and chat about the themes of the books. I like knowing that I’m doing my part to support my publishing house in getting the word out. But on the other hand, those efforts DO drain my energy sometimes. So, I’m still grappling with finding the right balance and protecting my writing time and energy. Ultimately, I feel like my calling is to produce the best, carefully crafted stories I can. So if speaking, traveling, interviewing, etc., keeps me from that, then I’m heading the wrong direction.

Now, let me ask you about your wonderful character. I enjoyed getting to know Bri, because she felt like a different end of the spectrum from Becky Miller. Becky is incredibly driven and guilt-ridden. Bri may struggle with guilt or worry about her marriage, her parenting, her faith walk…BUT she has a deep ability to kick back and enjoy beach time. I think Becky needs to spend some time in flip-flops watching the dolphins with Bri. Do you have Bri’s carefree sensibilities? What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of her approach to life?

Julie says: I want to have Bri’s carefree sensibilities! When people began to suggest that this book was autobiographical, my 12 year old daughter said, “That’s not true, Mom! It says that Bri’s ‘laid-back’.” LOL Thanks kid! Bri’s strength is in her deep love for her family, and her desire to have a normal life, and yes, her pursuit of everyday kick-back moments. Her weakness, though, is in avoidance. She avoids what may be the truth, makes assumptions and ends up making questionable fixes. (Oh my.)

Becky Miller has a bit of a fixing problem herself, doesn’t she Sharon? ☺ Can you relate (I know I can)? On the flipside, what strengths really shine in Becky?

Sharon says: Oh, yeah. As I read about Bri hiring a designer to re-do her beach-side home, I thought of Becky’s efforts to remodel an old farm house….all while trying to fix problems at her church, with her friends, and most of all in the lives of her family. Men have the reputation of liking to solve and fix things – but we women are right in there, too. Yep, I relate to both our characters’ efforts to make things better—which sometimes goes cattywhampus.

As far as Becky’s strengths, she has a deep faith, a good-hearted desire to help others, and a lively imagination. And although she may charge ahead in the wrong direction sometimes, when God gets her attention, she’s willing to listen and change course.

Now, to change the subject, I have to comment on your awesome characterizations. I stuck a post-it in Chocolate Beach as I was reading this line:

“His mother shook my hand—or rather, she shook my fingertips. For someone with the reputation of a cutthroat, Mona’s handshake lacked finality. Maybe the weight of her diamond-studded tennis bracelet weighed her arm down.”

I adored that. A couple lines and we learn SO much.

Did you always love to write? And what are a few of your favorite recent reads?

For Julie's answer - and the rest of our conversation - click to her blog to continue! :-)

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