Please Welcome Julie Reece, Author of Crux!

| Monday, July 23, 2012

Today I would like to welcome author Julie Reece to my blog. Julie is the author of

Released in July 9, 2012. Here's a little bit about Julie from the Goodreads and J Taylor Publishing websites:
Hey! I'm Julie Reece and I write Young Adult novels. I live in Atlanta with my husband, and daughters, and am passionate about animals, underdogs, and dark chocolate. I love to read urban fantasy, paranormal romance ... okay, pretty much anything YA.
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess... or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of this book for review from J Taylor Publishing. I loved everything about this book. Here's my review:


CruxCrux by Julie Reece
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would like to thank J.Taylor publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of this book for review.
Summary from Goodreads: She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight. Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host, and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night. In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich, and very out of her league Grey Mathews wants to save her.Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them, until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together. Her heritage did. Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.
This story was really engrossing. I love Reece's use of language. Her descriptive ability is amazing. There was not a time in this book that I wasn't able to picture exactly what Reece was describing. She is lyrical and poetic while at the same time she inserts a bit of humor into the story, no doubt to somewhat lighten the mood. The flow of the words truly kept me wrapped up in the story and I didn't want to put the book down.
Birdie's character is amazingly strong, yet unsure at the same time. She certainly has that teenage angst we see in most young adult novels but at the same time, you can see she has maturity beyond her years. I think the fact that she had to live on the streets toughened her. Yet, she is still quite vulnerable and untrusting. She doesn't want to open herself up to anyone for fear she will get hurt. She seems to accept her fate without question, knowing full well fighting to save her heritage may cost her her life and the life of the one she loves.
Grey is the perfect male lead. He's confident and sexy, he's caring and loving and he knows what he wants. He's not afraid to go after it and put aside what others might think. He has an immediate connection to Birdie and he never waivers in how he feels for her. He is utterly swoon worthy and strong with an enormous want to protect Birdie. Grey is willing to risk his own life to save Birdie, how can you not love that in a male lead character?
Jeff, Birdie's mentor, is mysterious. He holds secrets he won't tell Birdie, no doubt to protect her. He is that rich, eccentric man you see in such stories as Little Orphan Annie and The Sound of Music. He is calm and collected and there is more to him than meets the eye.
Throw in a great supporting cast of characters who are well developed and how can you not love this story?
The story line is flawless. Reece escorts you through her book with what seems like effortless prose. She reveals just the right amount of information at just the right time, building a story that is completing intriguing. Reece spins a tale of historic lore and weaves in romance and fantasy which captures the reader, never letting go. She creates characters who are believable and lovable, characters you care about. Reece also brings about a range of emotions from making me laugh, to making me scared, to making my heart ache.
This book gets 4.5/5 stars from me. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because I know this is a stand alone, and it left me wanting more: more Birdie, more Grey, more story. Julie Reece has definitely become one of my top authors. I am looking forward to future books from her!

And now, Julie has generously answered some questions about her writing and her book! Enjoy!

  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was your inspiration? 
Three years ago. My girls and I were reading a lot of YA books together and got to talking about what we would write if we were authors. The more ideas started rolling around in my head, the more inspired I became to try and write my own story. I wrote the book I couldn’t find, with all the elements I like in the books I choose to read. I’m lucky and grateful J Taylor took a chance on an untried, no-name writer. I’m just thrilled. It’s like a dream. J
 How long does it take you to write a book? 
Four or five months to write and a month or two to edit. Another month is spent sending the sucker out to beta readers so they can slice it up for me, and then I rewrite based on that feedback for a couple of weeks. Oy. A lot of time, I know. Many writers are faster than I am, maybe I will get better as I go. That’s my goal, to improve in every way with each new novel … fingers crossed J
 What do you think makes a great story?
Conflict is uber important. I know it’s mean, but I sit around and think up ways to torture my characters. I think, ‘oh, are you happy? Well, what can I do to mess up your day!’ *insert evil laugh here* There needs to be something blocking what my hero wants, and something entirely different preventing what my heroine wants. As far as relationships go … they need to want each other, but of course, there have to be good reasons why they can’t be together … throw in a good villain, maybe an earthquake … deadly plague, giant rats, whatever horrible thing I can toss at them,  I will. Pssst … you do realize they will have to overcome it all for the big romantic make out scene in the endright? Yep. That’ll do authors, that’ll do.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing? Do you have a specific place and/or time you like to write?
I write when I’m not working, sometimes all day on weekends and late at night. I’m always writing in my head , though. Standing in the check-out line in the grocery store, in the car, doing the dishes … I may go into a rubber room at some point because the ideas never ever stop. There’s a good chance I’m there now, or in a hospital. Maybe all this is only happening in my imagination … and I live in a reality I’ve made up while my body lies in a coma... Now I’m freaking myself out and must stop, lol. I’m so weird. J
How do you balance family and writing?
My family is very patient and supportive. They all live under the delusion my books will be made into movies and we will get rich and move to Fijitherefore, they think it’s in their best interest to leave me alone and let me write. The truth is, I try really hard to have integrity in all areas of my life. I try. Sometimes I fail. I schedule, make time for work, writing and pouring into my family and friends. If I neglect any area, the consequences will make a part of my life that I love suffer, so I’m watchful to ensure nothing gets lopsided.  
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I research in libraries, magazines and online, but the ideas can come from anywhere. Crux was born from a dream I had,  but sometimes my ideas are hatched from a song or something one of my girls dreams or talks about.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? Did you do specific research?
I did a lot of research on Vikings and fell in love with them. I will definitely write more with this theme. I didn’t know outside of a few runes, they had no written language until monks brought Latin into their lives. They were a much more elegant, evolved and complicated people than I realized. Fierce? Heck yes, but they had their own code of honor and loyalty I find fascinating and wonderful. 
On another front, homeless people and the plight of kids caught in the skin trafficking trade weighs heavily on my heart. I did research in that area, too, and it pissed me off, actually. I needed Birdie to so something I can’t, put the smack down on some people responsible.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Not really. Most are figments of my imagination or people I wish I knew! I think every author pulls from their own experience, we jumble bits and pieces together until we create the hero or villain we want. That’s the best part. J
How hard is is to get published? Do you have any advice for writers who are looking to get published?
That really depends on who you ask! Some fortunate authors get picked up by an agent and they sell their books right away, others labor for years  to see their name on the spine of a book. I think it’s hard to publish, because to do it well, planets have to align. Here’s what I mean: writing badly leads to critiques and beta readers, which leads to writing better, which leads to queries and rejections, which leads to  edits and rewriting, which  leads to awesome writing, which  leads to publication. Phew! That’s the way it happens for most of us. It’s hard work, and the ones who cross the finish line are the ones who don’t quit. (PS almost everyone thinks about quitting at some point)  Don’t! J  You can do it!!!
What do your family and friends think about your book?
Man, everyone has been super supportive! Even if Crux isn’t their preferred ‘genre’ they’ve cheered me on. My boss even read it. He’s an attorney who is usually knee deep in legal descriptions,not fantasy romance. If that’s not loyalty, I don’t know what is! LOl. J 
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Hang with my hubby. He’s my best friend. We go to antique stores, eat, and go to concerts together. (We just saw Aerosmith live, awesome!) I like to ride horses, fish, garden, eat, (did I say that?) rescue animals, sleep, travel, read, paint, buy shoes and things that sparkle, watch TV and go to the movies. J
 Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they? 
Beg, borrow or steal some beta readers to point out mistakes and give you feedback on your manuscript. Be humble and give good consideration to their comments, especially if you hear the same criticisms from more than one reader. It’s your reputation on the line, so you want to make it shine! Don’t rush, even though you’re excited, be patient. I put my finished book away for a month or two and then go back and re-read it. You’d be surprised what mistakes you’ll find.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
Marry my hero. LOl . Seriously, I’ve been a ridiculous romantic all my life and that was number one on my list. Marry the hot guy. J After that, lion tamer, fine arts artist, nurse, landscape architect, interior designer or a movie star. Yeah, that about covers it. J 
What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you?
Wow, tough question! I loved the classics, Austen, Webb, Dickens, Bronte …  I could keep going. Now I love Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Maggie Stiefvater, Rick Riordin,Kelly Creagh, and many more.  Um … how much time do you have? J There’s never been so many amazing YA writers. When my writing grows up, I want to write like the names on my list!
What makes you want to pick up a book?
First, I get seduced by a beautiful cover. I can’t help it. J I’m an artist, and pictures draw me in and start to tell the story before I even turn the first page. I love that! A good blurb on the back cover will make me read, a recommendation from a friend I trust or any new book from an author I’ve already grown to love.
Do you read reviews before reading a book? Have you read the reviews on your books? What are the effects of a good versus a bad review on your writing?
Sometimes, but if I’m dying to read a book, I’ll read it despite dubious reviews and decide for myself. I’m sort of quirky (can you tell?) so sometimes I will like a book or movie that’s overlooked by others. I have read many of the reviews on Crux. I’m always excited, ecstatic (happy feet level) and grateful when someone seems to ‘get’ my story. If a review is less than glowing, I try to learn from what the reader said. If they were frustrated or disappointed, I can take that information with me into my next story. Likewise, if someone loves something, I pay particular attention to what moves readers and  try to learn from that as well.
For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for getting their material published?
I was given a piece of advice I cherish, and I will pass that on to you. Hone your craft. Don’t get frustrated if you get a few rejection letters (or a lot of rejection letters) and rush to self-publish. No matter how you publish, self, indie or agent/large publisher, the work needs to be edited by someone other than you, and it’s important to spend serious time revising. When you query an agent, be sure to read the guidelines on their site. Nothing ticks off an agent/publisher like someone who didn’t care enough to see how they like to receive their submissions. Address an agent by name when you contact them, no one likes to be addressed as …
‘Yo, agenty-type-whatever-person,
It’s your luck  day! I’m just what you’ve been looking for and you’re gonna love my book!’
Be professional and take as much pride in your work as you can. No one’s perfect. Agents know that. They really are very nice people and aren’t sitting around waiting to crush us like bugs, but they will ask us to take each submission seriously, so do your homework on the agent you query and find out what type of book they are looking for.
That was great advice to me. I hope it helps you, too. J
What are you working on now?
I have three novels started, all YA and different premises. I’d guess I’m about a third into each one.  I have a fourth one (finished) that I am editing now and will send out to be shredded by my really mean beta readers soon! LOl  J

Thank you very much. I had a ball answering the questions  J
And I loved having you answer them! Thanks so much for stopping by!
And now, Julie has generously offered an ebook copy of her book, Crux! It's excellent. Enter with the Rafflecopter below and good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

55 comments:

  1. Awesome interview. the story sounds cool and the cover looks awesome so I want to read it! :D The protagonist look like one of those kick-ass heroines!

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    1. Thanks Faith! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. This looks like a great story! I know Brooke doesn't give out a 4.5 stars easily so this book must be great! Lastly, there has not been a book that Brooke has recommended to me that wasn't a great read.

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  3. This looks very interesting and something different from what I usually read! And plus...there's hot guys in this right? How can I pass that up! LOL ;p

    Great review by the way!

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  4. Wow I am completely inspired! I love finding new YA authors and recommend them to my reading circles at home and college! Very excited to see what this book is like. If I dont win it this is definitely going on my to read list :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Alicia! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  5. As Faith had said, the cover was awesome which had attracted me and had interested me. The story is interesting. It must be fate? then what would happen if she flows with that fate?
    And as said it's flawless and seem effortless. Which is good. i love to read something like that ^^

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  6. What a great interview. Can't wait to read the book!

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    1. Thanks Christine. I think you will really love this one!

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  7. I'm one of Julie's mean beta readers, LOL, and I can tell you it takes a lot of work to find something to be mean about because she has such an eloquent pen and so much natural talent. She also reads a lot of YA because that's what she loves, and that love shows in her work. It's always a treat to read Julie's work, even in its earliest stages.

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    1. Awww, what nice a nice thing to say! You're too good to me.

      XOXOXOX

      Julie

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    2. LOL! Mean, eh? Hmmm....well, sounds like you like this one!

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  8. This sounds great! My youngest 2 suffer from learning disabilities too and it's heartbreaking when they struggle. I can tell the one has more problems than the other and it's just very hard.

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    1. As a child that struggled and the mother of two (one of which inherited my issues) I share your heartache. All I can tell you is that the struggle can make them stronger, and forever sympathetic to the learning issues of others in a way they can't be otherwise.

      Hang in there, help them find a hobby that they are good at and makes them feel good about themselves (that's what we did) and keep your chin up!

      XOXOX

      Julie

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  9. This looks like just my kind of novel..I love kick butt heroines! Great interview-I love to see when people work past disabilities to become successful.

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  10. Hi Brooke! awesome giveaway! I heard some great things about this book so far!

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  11. Hi everyone!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my book! If you've already read it, thank you!!! *bows* If you plan to read, I really hope you enjoy it.

    I also want to send my special thanks to The Cover Contessa, basically for being part of my blog tour and just being six kinds of awesome! I aprreciate all the nice things you said about Crux. :)

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    1. My pleasure, Julie! You know how I feel!

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  12. Awesome Interview! This book is great.

    -Book Whales Team

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  13. The story line sounds very cool. I have a heart for Norse mythology, too, which has leaked into my own writing, so I'm curious how Reece has woven it into hers.

    I love Reece's advice and agree with every bit of it! I'll add CRUX to my TBR list. Thanks, Brooke!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie!

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  14. The story sounds interesting and the cover is just gorgeous! I've had it in my to be read pile for so long!

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  15. Thanks everyone for you interest and support. You all are so great!!! Good luck with the contest I wish you all could win :)

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  16. I loved to read and I really enjoyed this post.

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  17. I'm making it my life goal to win this thing O___O Thanks for the giveaway luv! :D

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  18. I'd love to read it because it sounds great and I trust your opinion.

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  20. Sounds like a great book so I'll have to read it...

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  21. I agree...hot guys are a must! Book sounds great.

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    1. Oh, Grey is swoon worthy for sure!

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  22. awsome interview and giveaway!! great book!!!

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  23. I talked to the author about her book and she totally sold me on it. It sounds awesome.

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    1. Julie is total awesomeness! I really love her!

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  24. You guys are totally making me blush!

    You know I love ya'll, too :)

    Good luck to all the entries. I really hope you like the book!!!

    XOXOXO

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  25. Ive said this before but the cover of Crux is just gorgeous. Julie is such a wonderful person and can't wait to see what all of her new books will be.
    Jody :)

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    1. I love love love the cover! She is wonderful and I am so looking forward to what she puts out next!

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  26. I like the interview. The answers show the the author really want to share with us her experience. Will be a pleasure to read Crux

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  27. Great interview! Crux sounds fantastic, I would love to read it! Thanks for the opportunity.

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  28. Nice interview. Looks like a fun read. I love the genre.

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    1. It's a very different read! Good luck!

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