Award-winning author, public speaker and freelance writer, Julie has also become a new kind of missionary- over cyberspace. People from all over the world text, Skype and email mentors to discuss issues they face, confidentially and anonymously. Julie edits and writes devotional and inspirational articles to spur these conversations.
When do you find time to write? Julie: I carve out time. I work outside the home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which leaves all day on Tuesdays and Fridays to write for my ministry. Often, God grants me the time to work on my novels as well. When I am not speaking on weekends, I often have a PJ day and write then as well.
Threes Sixes and Thieves is my tenth book, and it launches this summer. I have two suspense romances―Hush n the Storm and Legitmate Lies―published, three clean romance novellas, two contemporary women’s novels, and now am writing cozies. Four more cozy mysteries are under contract. One more for the Bunco Biddies and a new series set in the early 1970s called the Case Files of Jack Manson. They will be released in 2018-19.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? Julie: Vegging out with a bowl of popcorn on my lap watching murder mysteries on Netflix, especially the older British ones like “Midsommer Murders,” “Father Brown” and “Morse.” And yes, I watch “Murder She Wrote” and “Columbo” as well. They are so cheesy, I love them! Did we really wear wide-shoulder clothes and big hair like that in the eighties?
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels? Julie: The newest resident of Sunset Acres, the Bunco Biddie’s retirement community, is found chopped up in a dumpster in Book #1, Dumpster Dicing. Yes, they are humorous reads. In Legitimate Lies, the villain is crushed by a toppled an ancestral marble statue in an English mansion. Pretty classic.
Current book: Three Sixes and Thieves When only homes with threes and sixes in the house numbers are robbed, the Biddies want to find out why. Third in the Bunco Biddies Mysteries.
Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])
Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)
Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)
Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)
Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains, Renee Blare lives in Wyoming with her husband, crazy dogs, and ornery cat. She serves her beautiful small town as a pharmacist while penning her stories about struggling Christians as they travel along the journeys of their lives. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.
When do you find time to write? Renee: I work full-time as a pharmacy manager, so I write whenever I can. I guess that means whenever I can squeeze it in! I used to work part time, so it was a lot easier, but now I find time is a bit harder to manage. LOL But God is good.
How do you connect with your characters? Renee: My characters are real to me and I love them so much! I put so much of me and those who I know in them that I can’t help but connect to them. Their struggles are much the same way. Physical, spiritual, or mental…I or someone I know has walked in their shoes. It makes it very easy to connect with them.
Why do you like writing romantic suspense? Renee: I guess I like the flow of it. Suspense always keeps me wanting to know where the story is going to go next and romance keeps my heart warm and fuzzy! LOL. What can I say? I guess I love having people fall in love. God loves me, and I want people to be happy.
Current book: Racing Hearts A young couple sets off on an adventure, but challenges arise in their newfound paradise. Soon, their love faces a trial. Placing the fate of their unborn child in the hands of God seems rather easy, but trusting each other? That may prove to be the largest challenge of all.
Here in Northern Virginia, the weather is warming up (sometimes too quickly!) and we can see the lazy, hazy days of summer right around the corner. Thinking about summer always brings to my mind what books I’ll read and where I might like to read them. Here are some of my favorite places to curl up with a book and lose myself for a few minutes (or, if I’m lucky, hours!).
My reading chair in our bedroom. Nice lighting, comfy seat–what could be better?
On our screened-in back porch. I need to get some floor lamps to make reading after the sun goes down easier.
In our screen room while camping. We have some of those really nice gravity chairs that make reading very cozy away from home.
Pretty much anywhere when on vacation. Since we’re less connected to our regular life, I have more opportunities to slip into another world.
Where are some of your favorite places to crack open a book?
This piece originally appeared on the ACFW blog on April 14, 2016.
The idea comes to you in a flash of brilliance. The plot, the setting, the characters all jumble together like a kaleidoscope of words just waiting to be brought into focus by you. You eagerly sit down in front of the computer, fingers poised over the keyboard and a fresh, blank document open on the screen.
Is there anything better than starting a new story? All of that promise just waiting to be realized fills a writer’s heart with joy.
But what happens all too frequently is that the new idea comes knocking at the door when you’re in the middle of your current work-in-progress (WIP). It’s hard to keep plodding on the manuscript you’re with when a new love comes to town.
When that great story idea bursts upon your consciousness, here are five tips to stay you focused on the WIP—and not alienate completely the seed of perhaps your next novel.
Remember that the grass is always greener. The story you haven’t started will inevitably appeal to you more than the story with which you might be wrestling. The new story doesn’t have any flaws or hiccups—it’s pristine and beautiful to the behold, while the current manuscript might have bogged down in the middle, had an ending change or character flaws.
Remember that all stories have to grow up. The new idea is only in its infancy, in which it is cute, cuddly and without many of the problems or pitfalls a fully grown story will have. Yes, it appears quite charming now, but give it time to grow up and it will resemble your current WIP.
Remember that ideas come and ideas go. The idea you think is fantastic now might fall apart after the first couple of chapters. Sometimes, stories sound better in our heads than they do on paper.
Remember that putting the idea on paper looses its power. Take half an hour to jot down enough details to capture the essence of the idea. Once you have written down the storyline or plot points, you will be free to return to your WIP with a clear head.
Remember that finishing will help you start. The more we leave manuscripts unfinished to start a new story, the harder it is to bring any story to its denouement. Having the fortitude to finish the story—even if it’s one that will never see the light of publication—will help you become a better writer.
By allowing the idea to flourish in its proper place, you will be able to concentrate on your current WIP. And remember that the storyline will wait for you as long as it takes. That’s the beauty of ideas—they can be very patient things.