And as icing on the cake, Julia told me she's happy to give away some digital copies of THE DEEPEST CUT and LITTLE MISS INDEPENDENT to a few lucky commenters! So here's the deal - tell us which one you'd like to read and leave your email address and you'll be entered into a drawing for the 8th February!
Here's Julia's story...
How long have you been writing?
Close to twenty years now.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
I think the "aha" moment came around 1993 when I attended a Romantic Times Convention. I left that conference knowing I wanted to become a romance author.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
Go for it!
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
I'm all over the place when it comes to reading. I love young adult romance, historical romance, time-travel romance and I'm a big non-fiction lover as well. When it comes to writing, I prefer writing young adult romance.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
I had a day job, so I fit in writing when I could.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
I attended writing conferences, joined Romance Writers of America and read books on how to write. I was a sponge!
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
I do have critique partners and have for years. I think it's very important to share your work with other writers before you send it off to an editor or agent. It's amazing what your CP's can catch that you don't because you're so close to the story.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
I write adult romance under my real name, and young adult romance under my initials, so I'm not taking a big leap or trying to go incognito. I just want to make sure readers know that there's a difference between my young adult novels and my adult novels. :)
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
I actually sold short stories to confession magazines before I sold my first novel, and when I did sell my first book it wasn't the first novel I had written. The book that went on to sell first was a sexy regency I had written in six weeks. I received a phone call from an editor at Kensington shortly after submission, and that phone call was a milestone in my life. It was an incredible, unforgettable moment for me. I'll never forget the elation I felt. It was wonderful.
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
Eventually I sold the first story I wrote, but it took years to get it into shape. It was a mess. I'm very proud of how it turned out though! And just so you know--the story was a time-travel/ghost/reincarnation story. Talk about a hard sell! What the hell was I thinking?
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story? I couldn't begin to count the drafts on that first novel. Too many to count. Now I'm a lot more comfortable with the writing process and I will write my first draft without editing myself. I just get the words on the page, and then when I finish, I set the story aside for a week or two. Then I go back and flesh out the scenes. I then print the manuscript out and read from the hard copy. At this stage it's very much about adding, fleshing out some more and getting everything right. I type changes into the computer and then print it out one more time. I read through the manuscript with red pen in hand, looking for typos, punctuation errors, etc., make those changes and then off it goes to the critique partners. I make the changes/suggestions from CP partners, read the story one final time and then off it goes!
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I submitted directly to publishers.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
Word of mouth & reading the market update at Romance Writers of America market section.
Did you ever get rejected?
If so, how did you handle it? There's a lot of rejection in this business. I have a very thick skin and I try to learn from what the person is saying vs. being hurt by the rejection. Does rejection sting--absolutely, but you learn to take what they're saying and apply it to your writing.
What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?
A proposal that knocks their socks off. Talent or trends--I'll say both.
What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?
Self-publishing is all the rage and I am all for it. I love the fact that I'm responsbile for every single step of the process. It's liberating, but if you fail...you have no one to blame but yourself.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
Absolutely! I highly recommend it!
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
All my Julia Templeton titles are available in both formats, and my J.A. Templeton novel is currently available in digital format and soon to be available in print (October).
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
Write, write, write. Don't make excuses, sit your butt in the chair and get the words on the page!
What are you working on now?
THE HAUNTED, which is book two in my YA paranormal romance MacKinnon Curse series.
What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
THE CONQUEROR from Brenda Joyce & THE PRIZE by Julie Garwood for favorite historical romance, and I loved Jay Asher's young adult THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. That book stayed with me a long time after I turned the final page.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
I tend to watch movies vs. read a lot while I'm in the middle of plotting or writing a book. I just want to put my brain in coast and enjoy something visually ;).
What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?
I'd have to give credit to the historical romance authors of the late 80's and early 90's. Heather Graham, Virginia Henley, Arnette Lamb, Susan Johnson...to name a few.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you? What a great question. Let's see...I'd say the funnest character to write was Elizabeth (Lizzie) Johnston from KIERAN THE BLACK, a time-travel romance featuring a 39-year-old woman who travels back in time and wakes up in the body of an 18-year-old Saxon princess. I had a blast with that one. As to the most challenging character--I would have to say Adelstan from THE CONQUEST. He started off as a secondary character in another book, and he was just a really good guy. I have a tendency to write about rakes and bad boys--guys that are a bit rough around the edges, and Adelstan wasn't like any hero I'd written before. He was just so...nice. I admit--bad boys are just funner all the way around ;).
How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?
I have to have structure, and I'm a creature of habit, so a schedule works for me. I try to stick more to a word count than I do a time limit when it comes to writing. If I make my word count or chapter for the day, then I feel like I can stop for the day. If I feel like writing more and time allows, then I write. My kids are raised and my husband is completely understanding of my writing schedule. He can tell when I'm in the writing zone, and he just let's me have my time. Bless him...
Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?
I tend to listen to my playlist that I've made for the book or a particular scene. Music helps me get into the character's head and into the scene itself. Oh, and before I start a book, I make a collage of the characters and location on a poster board. I love having the visual of the story in front of me while I'm writing.
Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?
Writing books that I'm proud of and in the genres that I love. Writing is my passion and it feeds my soul. I don't think I'll ever stop. ;)
What's your website URL?
http://www.jatempleton.com/ & http://www.juliatempleton.com/
Are you on Facebook?
http://www.facebook.com/people/Julia-Templeton/716038703 & http://www.facebook.com/people/Ja-Templeton/100001561666899
How do you connect with readers?
Mostly on Facebook or if they email me.
Julia Templeton writes historical, time travel, vampire, and contemporary romances featuring sexy alpha heroes and strong heroines, and young adult pararnormal romances under the pen name J.A. Templeton. Aside from writing and reading, she enjoys research, traveling, riding motorcycles, and spending time with family and friends.
Here's an excerpt from my young adult paranormal romance THE DEEPEST CUT:
“You can see me,” the ghost said in a thick Scottish accent. It wasn’t a question.
I looked away, but it was too late. He knew I had seen—and heard him. He was pumped. I could see the excitement in his eyes.
I was so screwed. What had I done? Why had I reacted? This was so not the way I wanted to start off in a new town. Now every spirit in Braemar would be on my doorstep wanting to talk to me.
Pissed at myself, I took the Band-Aid out of the wrapper and placed it over the cut, my mind racing. With a trembling hand, I put the blade back into the bloodied tissue and into the matchbox, and shoved it in my pocket.
Pulling up my sock, I felt the blood flow over and around the bandage, seeping into my sock and into my shoe. Only one person had ever asked me about cutting, and that had been Becca, my best friend since third grade. During P.E. one day last year, Becca had seen the scab on my leg and asked what had happened. I saw the concern in her eyes, and when I told her I’d fallen and scraped myself, I could tell she didn’t buy it.
“What’s your name?” he asked, looking like he wanted to hug me.
I stood so fast, I got a head rush and had to grab onto the tree for support.
“Are you well?” he asked, sounding concerned.
The lightheadedness passed and I pushed away from the tree, wanting to get as far away as fast as I could. Why had I cut out in the open? What an idiot. I should have waited until tonight, after everyone was asleep. I’m sure there was a lock on my bathroom door.
Then again, it’s not like a lock would keep a ghost out.
“Say something.” The ghost followed beside me. “I know you see me. You looked right at me for feck’s sake. Speak to me, lass. Say something.” He was starting to sound desperate.
As desperate as I was to get away from him.
I pulled the hoodie up over my head, hoping he would just go away.
I rushed from the trees, onto the main road and nearly into the path of an oncoming car that had to swerve to avoid hitting me.
Jesus, what was wrong with drivers here?
“Watch where you are going, lass. You could get yourself killed.”
If only he knew how little I cared about living.
“What is your name?”
He was seriously getting on my nerves.
The ghost stayed with me, and even moved ahead, and then he came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road.
I walked straight through him and smiled inwardly as he cussed under his breath. He was determined—I’d give him that. He was back beside me in seconds, staring at me.
My footsteps faltered as I came closer to the inn. As much as I’d like to escape to my room and crash out, I couldn’t face the inquisitive Miss Akin, or my moody brother for that matter. Plus, I had a feeling mister annoying here wasn’t about to leave me alone. I left the main road and veered off, onto the grass and toward the river, hoping the ghost would get the hint I didn’t want his company.
“I have no intention of leaving, if that is what you are hoping I will do,” he whispered in my ear. “I shall stay with you every second until you acknowledge me.”
He was so close I felt his icy breath on my neck.
A small car, full of teenagers drove by and I quickly averted my gaze. The car slowed and I kept walking, away from the road, and over a small, grassy knoll. As promised, the ghost stayed with me.
I found a place on the river’s edge. I glanced over my shoulder to see the inn, which gave me some comfort. Not that I felt in danger of the ghost at my side.
He started whistling, and I knew he did it to get under my skin.
Sitting on a flat stone, I leaned over and picked up a few small rocks. I threw them into the river, one by one, and as promised, the ghost didn’t budge. In fact, he stared at me. Honestly, I wanted to stare back. In that fleeting moment at the castle when I looked at him, I couldn’t believe how hot he was with his long dark hair and brilliant blue eyes.
I’d also noticed his bizarre clothing—snug, thigh-hugging black pants, and a pirate-looking shirt that opened in a V at the neck and showed part of his wide chest. Knee-high boots finished off the outfit. Given the clothing, I wondered how long he’d been wandering the earth as a spirit.
“Talk to me, lass. I swear to you that I will not harm you.”
I liked his deep voice and sexy accent…even if he did speak like he was a Renn Faire regular.
“And if you do not speak to me, I will not leave your side…ever. I can chatter all hours of the day and night, if you like.”
My better judgment told me to keep my mouth closed, and yet a part of me was curious. I’d never met a ghost close to my age before. I ran a hand down my face in indecision.
“Or, I can continue to whistle, or perhaps you prefer singing…”
Before I could talk myself out of it, I turned and looked directly at him.
My heart skipped a beat.
He was movie star gorgeous, his eyes even more amazing than I remembered from that first glimpse. The brilliant blue orbs were framed by long, thick lashes any girl would kill to have, and he had high cheekbones and nice, full lips. Tall and broad shouldered, he made me feel all fluttery inside.
As I continued to stare at him, his blue eyes mirrored the same shock as when I’d first looked at him.
“My name’s Riley Williams, and yes—I see you.”
~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.