Posted in Interviews

Jobe Interviews Author Ellie Di Julio

Ellie Di Julio is a nomadic writer currently living in Hamilton, Ontario with her Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike husband and their two cats. Between nerd activities like playing Final Fantasy IX or watching Top Gear, she enthusiastically destroys the kitchen and tries to figure out what it’s all about, when you really get down to it. She also writes urban fantasy novels and short stories riddled with pop culture references, peculiar memories, and sexy secret agents.

Website: http://elliedi.com
Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/elliedijulio
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EllieDiJulio
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/writer.elliedijulio
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/elliedijulio


Q: You’ve lived a lot of places. List a few. Do you feel place has influenced or informed your identity as a person and/or as a writer?

A: Holy cow. Yeah, I’ve lived in a lot of places! Touchstones include: born in Kansas City, six months in Germany, and a year on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. When I did my immigration paperwork to get legal in Canada, they made me list every address I’ve had since high school. I think I’m up to 45. I do believe that all that moving around fundamentally shaped who I am as a person, and therefore who I am as a writer. Being a fourteen-year-old jerk when you’re living in Europe as a latchkey kid effects you in a completely different way than it would if you were backpacking there on your own dime at thirty, you know? I like to think having experienced a lot of cultures and settings brings depth to both my character and my work, although that’s more a judgement for other folks to make.

Q: You’re working on a series. Without giving too much away, give us the rundown. Where did you get this idea? Is any of your fiction based off your personal experiences?

A: Essentially, Forgotten Relics explores the idea that human belief is what powers the supernatural—and what’s happened to all the gods and monsters in our modern, highly secular world. Cora and Jack are the primary heroes, and they’re working to stop a power-hungry goddess from basically enslaving humanity. It’s part FBI crime drama, part urban fantasy, part paranormal romance. The idea actually sprouted from my first book (and NaNo 2012 project), Inkchanger. That was supposed to be a standalone novella, but I loved Agent 97 and the idea of magic being real in our world that I spun it up into this epic concept. So Inkchanger wound up being sort of a number zero to the series that starts with Cora Riley. Then, the more I dug into the underworld story in that book, the more excited I got about expanding the world and exploring what it means to be human and the power of belief. I had plans for a five-book series before I realized what I’d done. And yeah, my own experiences definitely inform my writing; I think that’s probably true of every fiction author. You take what you know and let it run down what-if avenues and see what happens. For example, the car crash in Cora Riley actually happened to me. That was hard to write, but man does it pack a punch. I’m also using places I’ve visited as locations in all the books so I can help the reader tie more intimately with the setting. All the years I spent in White Wolf LARP doesn’t hurt, either.

Q: And I can’t mention your series without asking about your newest book. Where can readers nab a copy?

A: Ha! Thanks for asking. The newest book, The Sword of Souls, is the second in the series, and it deals with Cora’s heritage and Jack’s romantic past in the realm of Faerie. It also brings back a beloved character from Inkchanger, so you’re definitely rewarded for having read that one, although it’s not required. All my books are up on Amazon in Kindle and print format, as well as on the Barnes & Noble site. But if you want extra brownie points, you can buy the digital books directly from me on PayHip (payhip.com/elliedijulio). Doing that nets me 90% of the sale price rather than the 70% offered by the Major Online Retailers. /end shameless promotion

Q: Who are your top 5-10 authors right now? Who do you read for fun? Who influence you as a writer?

A: What’s really funny about this question is that the answers all run together. I’m convinced that both the authors we read before we started writing and the authors we read for fun after influence us hugely. It’s how we learn the way a story works, what we do and don’t like, the elements of style and voice, and soak up new ideas to experiment with in our own writing. Philosophy aside, I’ll always count Terry Pratchett and Francesca Lia Block as my primary influences, as well as my favourites to read for fun. Since I started stalking other authors on Twitter, I’ve been getting great enjoyment out of reading their books; Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, and Delilah S. Dawson spring readily to mind. Basically, it’s a lot of speculative fiction, leaning hard to urban fantasy, soaked in a sass bath.

Q: If you had to compare your style and/or genre to some of the Big Names, who would you say your work is like?

A: This question is so rough! I always feel like an egocentric d-bag, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ve been favorably compared to William Gibson, which I feel is wholly undeserved, but I’ve also gotten Jim Butcher (of Dresden Files fame), with which I’m very comfortable and admit I’m pretty proud of. Personally, I’m shooting for the love child of Terry Pratchett and Elizabeth Gilbert. If you want me to love you forever, write that in your reviews. I’ll make you cookies. On the internet. In my mind.

Q: You’ve had a lot of fun hair colors. List some of the wildest. What made you decide to take a break?

A: Oh, man, I feel like I’ve done it all. Jet black to purple to green to orange to pure white. I started dying my hair when I was 16 (out-of-the-box-red) and ran with it until about 24, when I grew it out for my wedding, for which I had royal blue locks. I dyed here and there for a while after that, eventually giving up the ghost a couple of years ago. Honestly, it got to be too much work. I had to shave my head down to peachfuzz twice because my hair was so horribly damaged from bleach and other assorted chemicals. I get the urge to play with color every once in a while still, but then I remember how much time and money goes into it and just get a normal haircut instead. But I do still lust after those multi-colored locks.

Q: Take us through a normal day. What’s your writing habit look like?

A: It’s kind of boring, actually. Basically, I wake up at 6.30am, make breakfast and have coffee with my husband before he goes to work, check my social media and email, do brainstorming or outlining if necessary, then write from like 10am to 2pm (sometimes as late as 4pm if the words aren’t coming). After that, it’s up in the air. I should be blogging or marketing, but if I’m drafting, more often than not post-writing time is spent decompressing with a book or gaming. I turn in somewhere around 10pm. When I’m not in a hard writing cycle (like right now, trying to do a 75K novel draft in 30 days), a big chunk of my day gets spent on business-y things like marketing, website junk, bookkeeping, and social media tweaking. Being a one-man show is not all it’s cracked up to be, y’all.

Q: When you’re feeling worn out, what refreshes your joie de vivre? Art? Music? Video games? Other?

A: Travel is my number one. It’s surprisingly easy for me to leave behind all the electronic devices and internet connections to just be somewhere. I don’t even take pictures anymore when I go places because I crave that present-ness required by not constantly documenting everything I do. Being in the world and not in my computer does wonders for my psyche. Barring that, though, I do far more TV watching than anything else these days. Shameful that I’m not reading, I know. But I feel like I’m learning a lot about cinematography elements, serialization of story, and in-depth character building from shows like Supernatural and Walking Dead. No, seriously—stop laughing!

Q: Best advice for those of us slogging away at Nanowrimo this year?

A: Don’t hate on yourself if you flop. While I absolutely extol the virtues of having concrete goals with hard deadlines, this challenge isn’t for everyone. Especially if this is your first year, you may not have the skillset to “win” NaNo. That’s okay. But you absolutely should use the time to create new, better writing habits. Having wordcount goals and learning to meet the work demands of a story—without relying on something as flighty and untrustworthy as a “muse”—will make you a better writer. Then even if you “lose” this year, you have a better chance of “winning” next year because you’ve grown. There’s no such thing as wasted effort.

Q: Best advice for young or new writers?

A: Write. I know that’s super simple and probably super cliché, but it’s got to be said. I know so many people who have these grand story ideas and big plans—they can tell you about it all day—but when it comes time to put their butts in the seats and do the friggin’ work, they have no end of excuses. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer—you won’t create anything. Even if it’s five minutes crammed in between brushing your teeth at night and getting into bed, you have to do the work. Writers write, period.

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Posted in Colleen

An Annual Letter

It’s been some time, guys. I apologize for the lack of blog posts. I don’t have a great excuse besides my birthday (it was on Monday)… 🙂 but I thought this would be a good time as ever to talk about an annual writing goal!

As I sat in front of my laptop, wondering what to talk to you about, the first thing that comes to mind was distance. I thought of how distant I’ve been from my writing, from the writing community, and most importantly- from myself. Writing is who I am and I forget that sometimes…

But alas, I got my kick. The holidays are approaching and crunch time is nearing for the one and only Hathaway Family Christmas Letter! No, but really. This is a thing.

Years before I was born, my parents started a tradition of sending out an annual letter to their friends. My father was in the military so he traveled and met oodles of people over the years. Also, our extended family lives up north so we don’t see them very much. #ArkansasProbs This letter is a way to update everyone on the big things that happen over the year.

So as I sit here, writing and editing, I ponder how I’ve changed this year and reflect on how I’ve grown as a writer. It’s easy to look back at pictures you’ve posted on Facebook and Instagram and get a blips and snapshots of your year. But I’ve realized it’s difficult to remember where I was 12 months ago as a writer. Have I grown? Have I challenged myself? What did I learn?

Writing this letter for my family makes me think about perhaps writing an annual reflection on my personal growth as a writer. It can’t hurt to have something to look back at years down the line. It could help me keep the distance from taking over. Who knows?

Care to join me in writing an annual letter to yourself? It doesn’t have the be pretty and clean or any certain length. It’s for you and it can be at any time and cover whatever you’d like. As you mature in your writing, your letters will reflect that over time. As much as we devote ourselves to our writing, why shouldn’t we paint a picture of ourselves with this gift as well?

-Colleen

Posted in Nanowrimo

Jobe Looks at Word Counts

Howdy, y’all, Jobe here for another bonus weekend post. Since yesterday 11/15 marked the half-way point for Nano participants, I wanted to take a look at word counts. 2011 was my first year participating in Nano, and I won, so it’s a good year to use for a comparison to this year, which I also intend to win!

Here’s how I stack up against my prior self:

November 2014 vs November 2011

  1. 2802                       1866
  2. +2313=5115           +2396=4262
  3. +1182=6297           +2225=6487
  4. +1342=7639           +1887=8374
  5. sick                         +2024=10398
  6. class                       +1951=12349
  7. tired                        sick
  8. +3620=11259         +4295=16644
  9. +1047=12306         +1320=17964
  10. +1747=14053         tired
  11. reading                   cleaning
  12. +1316=15369         +3813=21777
  13. class                       +1100=22877
  14. work                        tv
  15. +5329=20698         friends over

So I started stronger this year but by day 3 my prior self was going at a faster pace. This year I’ve taken 6 days off and by this point last time I’d taken only 5 days off. In 2011 my highest words for one day was 4295 words on Nov 8th. This year my highest word count was 5329, which I did yesterday at a Write-A-Thon sponsored by the local Nano group. And my mid-month totals aren’t far off from each other, only 2179 words apart. I think I can close that gap pretty fast, don’t you?

Tell your mid-month Nano story in the comments! And as always, Keep Writing.

Jobe

 

Posted in Nanowrimo

Jobe Shares The Love

Another bonus post! Yay!

Whether you’re doing Nano or not, you should check out the amazing archive of encouragement that Nano stores on its site. I’ve compiled some chunks of advice that I pulled from my Nano mailbox, mostly from 2013 pep talks. These aren’t “the best” or even my favorites, they’re just a random sampling, but I think they’ve all got great content.

Cheers,

Jobe


Instead of finding the time to write, you make the time to write.

– Kami Garcia


NaNo has given me more than the gift of a new novel; it’s given me creative momentum.

– Grant Faulkner


You’ve got to honor your imagination, for it is your ally.
– Holly McGhee


Many an aspiring writer is just in love with a glammed-up idea of being an author, but not enthused about the actual work. Well, the only way to learn to write is to write (and to write a lot). Sit down and get started.
– Ralph Peters


1. Yay, Verily. You Must Sit Down and Write.

1a. Thou shalt not go see a movie instead. Or watch reality TV. Thou shalt write. No. Stop. You don’t need to clean out the fridge right now. Neither dost thou need to sort the recycling. I’m not even kidding. Go and write.

1b. Thou shalt not just think about writing. Seriously. That is not writing. The worst unpublished novel of all-time is better than the brilliant idea you have in your head. Why? Because the worst novel ever is written down. That means it’s a book, while your idea is just an idle fancy. My dog used to dream about chasing rabbits; she didn’t write a novel about chasing rabbits. There is a difference.

1c. Thou shalt not read, either. I know it’s book-related, but it’s not actually writing. Yes, even if it’s a book about how to write. Yes, even if you’re doing research. You can research later. Sit. Down. Write.

-Patrick Rothfuss


I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you wait for inspiration to strike before you sit down to write, you’ll probably never finish a damn thing…How often am I filled with inspiration before I start writing? Pretty much never…So, inspiration isn’t what gets your book written. Discipline is…The only thing that needs to show up every day is yourself—and your determination to see this through to the end.
– Malinda Lo


Give yourself permission to work on what is most pleasurable in the moment. If you’re inspired to write a scene out of order, do it. The scene may change later, but what you lose in rewriting time you gain in positive reinforcement and better energy on the page.

Finally, position yourself to succeed by doing the other things in your life that rejuvenate you. Some form of exercise, for example, in combination with eating chocolate, or taking time off to watch part of a TV show. You can create little islands of time away from your novel that will help preserve your balance. Exhaustion will affect both your writing’s quality and your productivity toward the end of the month.

– Jeff VanderMeer


It’s not about having some triumphant breakthrough moment. Being a novelist is a matter of keeping at it, day after day, just putting words after other words. It’s a war of inches, where the hardest part is keeping your nerve.

When you look at other people’s published novels, they seem gleaming and perfect, like the authors knew what they wanted to do from the start and just did it. But trust me: they didn’t know…Being a writer isn’t like being a musician. You don’t have to get it right every day. The wonderful thing about being a writer is, you only have to get it right once. That’s all anyone will ever see.

– Lev Grossman


They don’t have to be scenes in chronological order. They don’t even have to end up in your book. But they will help you to keep going. So keep going. You’re almost there. Just a little more. You are stubborn. You are exhausted. You are determined. You are a Writer.

– Marie Lu


If it’s mediocrity you fear, embrace it. Mediocrity is evidence that you have begun your journey towards becoming extraordinary.
– Tim Kim, NANOWRIMO Editorial Director