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Interview With Julie Carobini

Shake the sand out of your shoes and check out Beach-lit Author Julie Carobini, this month’s ACFW Featured Author.

Your new book, Chocolate Beach, releases in February. Give us an overview.

Sure! Chocolate Beach is the story of Bri, a laid-back beach chick from So Cal. Bri has it all: the man of her dreams and their surf-ridin’ son, a chocolate-loving best friend, and a kicky job as a coastal tour bus host.

She also has a few things she didn’t ask for like a know-it-all friend, a snobby mother in law, and a Fabio-meets-Dilbert boss, all who eagerly share their suspicions about Bri’s relationship with husband, Douglas.

When Bri’s rose-colored sunglasses crack after she finds evidence that Douglas has grown tired of her carefree ways, she resolves to win back his heart.

Tell us a little bit about your road to publication.

I started out writing personal experience stories and features for church papers, magazines and even some newspapers. In between I wrote a couple of romance novels that didn’t sell. Then a few years ago I plucked a pink-covered novel from the Christian fiction shelves of Barnes & Noble. I didn’t know the author, but I found the cover and back copy so fun. That was my intro to sassy women’s fiction, and I was hooked. I wrote the proposal for Chocolate Beach, had it torn apart, I mean, critiqued during Mt. Hermon’s Mentoring Track—a terrific program by the way—and then submitted it to Bethany House.

How do you strike an agreeable “balance” between your writing time and other responsibilities?

Having school age kids helps (as opposed to toddlers who need mama every second!). I won’t lie though. With three kids and their many needs (dental appointments, after school events, homework help), it’s tough to work and be the energetic, pleasant mom I want to be. Any working mom would agree with that, I think. So I guess the answer would have to be: discipline. I absolutely have to use those quiet times during school hours, and those late night hours to write (as opposed to playing on the Internet, for instance) And frankly, my house and laundry just don’t get the attention they deserve.

And how does your faith and spiritual life play into the picture?

I couldn’t live this life without my faith. No way. Every good gift is from God, and I know that. I talk and laugh with God all through the process of writing—not just during the highs. And I’ve been known to shout out a “Good one!” to Him when he inspires a particularly fabulous idea for a scene.

What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

Fear of rejection can be a real killer—even after being published. To overcome that fear and move on, I’ve had to really take a look at what type of writer I believe that God made me to be (you know, as in embrace my inner chick) and go unashamedly in that direction.

What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

That’s an interesting question for me. The obvious answer would be having a novel published, but I think it goes back farther for me. One of my first stories was printed on the much-coveted back page of Expecting Magazine, an offshoot of Parenting Magazine that targeted expectant mothers. Titled “Baby, Cordless Phone and Me,” this story first appeared in the early 90s, and has been reprinted three times. Although I’ve written for all sorts of publications, this one stands out because though it’s non-fiction, it’s most like the sassy, light fiction style that I’ve come to love now. The “baby” in that story is now 15 years old J, and all these years later, I vividly remember the thrill of selling that angst-ridden, yet humorous story of coping with a little one in the house.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

I write because I love it—even when I’m yelling at my computer screen. As for inspiration? I just look around me. And I listen. Seriously, shut your eyes sometime while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store (but watch your purse), and just listen to the conversations going on all around you. It’s amazing what people say and how they say it. Often a whole new story comes from just the tiniest bit of reality.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

Okay, secret confession time here… I took acting lessons for years as a kid. Growing up in an artsy family in Los Angeles, well, it seemed like the thing to do. Even though I didn’t stick that out—I was pretty terrible at it—I think all those improv skits and acting classes have helped me get into character a bit. Conventional wisdom says that writers should picture characters in their heads, but I like to actually climb in there and look around. This is especially important when writing in the first person POV, as I do.

Finish this question. When I get a rejection, I…

eat chocolate. Next question… Seriously, though, rejection stings, and in the beginning (more than a dozen years ago), it crippled me. These days, I let it roll around in my head a bit before I face it head on, and then it motivates me to want to prove the critics wrong (Grrr). Usually, I end up seeing the problems (sigh), and then make myself hunker down and do a better job.

Any parting words for up-and-coming writers?

If you really love it, keep learning and trying, and don’t give up. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before because this is what published writers often say to up and coming writers, but let me just add something personal to that. Several years ago I gave up writing completely. I was in a funk, and tired of so much rejection. I’d published only one article the year before—just one! So I took another job and threw myself into learning something new. Within a month of starting that new job, I received nine writing assignments and a request for a full-length manuscript. So much for giving it up—writing found me anyway. And in that process, I found a new writing direction.

So if you love it, I hope you’ll keep learning, writing, and passing it on. You never know when God will fling open those doors and usher you onto a particular writing path.

Thanks for sharing with us, Julie!

Thanks so very much for having me, Dineen and my ACFW friends! I wish you much success as you press on!

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