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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Posted by Julie on March 17, 2015 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award11-287x300 Nothing ushers in spring like a beautiful, colorful surprise from a friend. Fay Lamb is an author, editor and champion for other authors. When I was seeking direction she whispered encouragement to take a risk very few had. The risk paid off and now we’re colleagues at Write Integrity Press.

Fay surprised me with this award and talk about colleagues, the other women she nominated are amazing. I hope you check out June Foster, Patsy Dyer, Jennifer Hallmark, and Elizabeth Owens.

Now, here’s where the fun begins. It starts with the rules:

The Rules

1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

2.  Put the Award logo on your blog.

3.  Answer the ten questions sent to you.

4.  Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

5.  Nominate five blogs.

So, thank you, Fay. I’m forever grateful for your encouragement, and thankful you included me in this list.

Here are my answers to Fay’s questions:

1.  Why did you start writing?

It’s always been a passion, something I loved to do. I would have been content writing for the local Mothers of Preschoolers newsletter, but God had other ideas. Obedience to the Lord was the biggest reason I started writing beyond a small circle of friends.

2.  What novel(s) has influenced you the most and why?

There are many but Kristin Billerbeck’s What a Girl Wants confirmed to me that chick lit, snarky humor in romance, has purpose. Readers can be transformed by fiction. Embracing that fact and devouring her series opened doors to my imagination and writing.

3.  What’s been the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

It’s general advice I use for writing. Fear held me back for a long time and rejection was a huge part of those fears. I had a friend sit me down and equip me for the future. She said I needed to have “Skin like a rhino and a heart like a dove.” That helped me surrender my fears, start writing and when the review came that wasn’t very nice, I wasn’t even bothered by it.

4.  What’s been the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

First time novelists should never, ever write first person, present tense and expect it to sell.

Now, that actually is good advice and I’m not saying I’m above such conversation. For me, I had that “burn in the belly,” that gut feeling I believe is the Holy Spirit, guiding me that writing first person, present tense for Entrusted was His plan for me. I felt Jenna’s voice was strong enough to carry the book, and that’s the one comment I keep hearing. Readers love the voice. I’m glad I didn’t change the point of view.

5.  What people in the industry have helped you the most in your writing endeavors?

I hope I don’t forget anyone. Fay was one of two voices that told me to go for first person, present tense as I prepared to query what is now Entrusted. Joi Copeland was the second. Vicki Hinze allowed me to come on board to the team blog, Christians Read, before I was published. She felt like it wasn’t if I would be published, but when. June Foster spent an incredible amount of time with me helping me recognize telling and how to change it to showing. Every member that has come and gone from the critique groups I’m a part of, they have been a huge help. Tracy Ruckman took a chance on my Adirondack ideas and offered me what is now the Adirondack Surrender romance series.

6.  What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Getting motivated. I think it goes back to fear. Can I start something good? How can I create a readable middle? How can I finish strong? Revisions and edits? I don’t think I have what it takes. I fight my thoughts all the time, and honestly, sometimes the thoughts win.

7.  When did you first call yourself a writer?

I think in 2007 when I earned a writing credit in an anthology.

8.  How has your writing life been different than you imaged?

It’s a lot lonelier than I ever imagined. I’m an introvert by nature but the process to separate from the story and go back to being wife and mom is hard. The kids are older so they are starting to do their own thing and my husband works a lot of hours.  There are hours and hours the only talking I engage in is with the pets. But, when I’m in that zone where I’m completely involved in the story, that’s a great feeling.

9. What is your favorite place to write?

I have an office with a view of our backyard and woods. It’s so peaceful.

10. How do you reward yourself when you accomplish a writing goal?

Chocolate. Then again, that’s my reward some days for waking up.

I nominate anyone that would like to participate. Between one I did recently and the great people included, I can’t think of anyone!

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SMITTEN BOOK CLUB | KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY, FACEBOOK PARTY, AND SATURDAY BRUNCH

Posted by Julie on February 19, 2014 in Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


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One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)



So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!


Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

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Remembering Diann Hunt

Posted by Julie on December 15, 2013 in ACFW, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

Anyone seriously interested in the writing craft is going to be a reader first. Long before I put a pen to notebook or a finger to keyboard, I had a book open. Always. My reading style tends to be by author. I find a book by someone, love it, and get my hands on everything they’ve written.

And that’s the case with Diann Hunt.

I found Diann through Kristin Billerbeck, one of my favorite authors. They have a joint blog, Girls Write Out, with Colleen Coble, Cheryl Hodde, and Denise Hunter. I read one of Diann’s books and kept going.

The Girls Write Out Authors. Image from their blog used only here as a tribute to Diann Hunt.

The Girls Write Out Authors. Image from their blog used only here as a tribute to Diann Hunt.

 

I also kept reading the blog and every once in awhile would leave a comment. And they were gracious to respond to the posts. I followed them on social media, and again, everyone was great in responding.

But Diann and her interaction with others blew me away. She wasn’t afraid to be silly and share it. She wasn’t afraid to be bold. And she never wasted an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus and His goodness.

Her books took a backseat to the person, and I think that’s how Jesus wants it. Diann was a double whammy for Him because she was a bright light directing people to Him in both her actions and her words. I’m a better person because of how she conducted herself as a believer in Jesus and an author.

Sadly, Diann passed away November 29th after a long battle with ovarian cancer. I never knew Diann beyond her kind replies to blog and Facebook posts but her passing knocked the air out of me. I know I’m not alone. She was so open sharing her journey, so my heart breaks for her husband, children, and grandchildren. I have a small circle of friends who are everything to me. To think of Colleen, Denise, Cheryl and Kristin not having Diann present to knock ideas off of or laugh, my heart is as heavy for them as the Hunt family.

Thing is, Diann’s still changing the world for Christ. Her family has shared letters Diann left and conversations with others. Diann just didn’t believe in God, she believed Him. She knows where she is, and she is not sleeping on a cloud. That woman is healed and celebrating with Jesus. She had no doubt, and neither do I. I can picture the laughter. Don’t think heaven is sterile, it’s perfect, and there’s a difference. And there is much joy and laughter in heaven.

One of the trademark Diann conversations was something the funeral home director shared. As people dealt with the funeral process she wanted everyone to know when they saw the casket that what they saw inside was just a shell. “The nut is in heaven.” That’s Diann.

I want to leave an eternal mark as she has, one that transcends the author’s life. Yet, she lived in a real world that has a grieving family. I’d like to introduce you to her words as an author because I believe you’ll fall in love with her work. I also know any purchases you make will help her family.

And I’d be remiss not to share eternity with you. One of the books Diann read in her journey was Randy Alcorn’s Heaven. It is a book that brought me great comfort and is Biblically based. If you’d like to get a better visual on Diann’s eternal home, I recommend this book.

Thank you for allowing me to share a tribute on a beloved woman today. There are many others across the blog-o-sphere doing the same today, all about Diann. Do find and read their posts. You will be blessed.

 

Be Sweet ~ Same mom. Same dad. Completely different lives. Who’s to say which sister has it sweeter?

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Bittersweet Surrender ~ Carly spends her days at a spa (okay, so she owns the place), she’s dating a hunk, and she’ssurrounded by chocolate. She’s living the dream . . . or is she?

 

 

For Better or Worse ~ She’s a wedding coordinator. He’s a divorce attorney. She begins marriages. He ends them. How could these two possibly find common ground.

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510ltTGrS7L._AA160_Hopeful Hearts ~ 2 delightful romances. Abigail O’Connor is determined to discover who left her as an infant on her adoptive parents’ doorstep—and why. Adelaide Sanborn longs for an adventurous life at sea, but society’s conventions prevent seafaring ventures for “respectable” women.

 

Love Letters in the Sand ~ Though the tide of World War II washed away her happily-ever-after dreams, years later, Eva Hilton dares to consider another chance at love.51fqDvzJL5L._AA160_

 

51wDSETJ5aL._AA160_Hot Flashes and Cold Cream ~ An eccentric best friend, a leaky Chihuahua, a teenager in trouble, and a workaholic husband with a gorgeous new colleague. Those are the ingredients for Diann Hunt’s wise and funny story about growing…well, older…with grace.

 

 

RV There Yet? ~ Life’s a journey. Midlife’s an adventure. But two weeks in a RV with the hot-flash sisters could drive anyone over the hill.41x9HlzwYxL._AA160_

 

feetHot Tropics and Cold Feet ~ When the going gets tough, the tough hit the beach. After years of being single, Lily’s about to head down the aisle again. But just as she’s about to take the plunge, she gets cold feet–ice cold.

 

 

Prayers & Pawprints ~ When two very special dogs descend on Acorn Hill, Alice wonders, could a dog be an answer to prayer?

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51VFxDISSFL._AA160_We Have This Moment ~ When one of the inn’s guests reunites with a long-lost beau, the former high school sweethearts get a second chance at love. But will their families accept their rekindled romance?

 

 

Smitten ~ Welcome to Smitten, Vermont. With the help of four friends, it’s about to become the most romantic town in America.

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5131up3d4lL._AA160_Smitten Shelby You’ve Got A Friend ~ When a group of friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country’s premier romantic getaway, Shelby finds her own true love along the way.

 

 

Knit One, Love Two ~ Winter, spring, summer, and fall, Smitten is a place for love  . . . and mystery. But will knit-store owner Anna ever find patience for either?51hTD1U-C8L._AA160_

 

51RRhBOW7GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Secretly Smitten ~ Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

 

 

 

Smitten Book Club ~ The century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

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51iaGsBGxcL._AA160_Delight Yourself in the Lord, Even on Bad Hair Days ~ Using the great and small “bad hair days” of life, the authors deliver reminders that the first step toward triumph is joy in the Lord. Whether single or married, career girl or stay-at-home mom, today’s Christian woman is faced with daily obstacles. Delight Yourself in the Lord……Even on Bad Hair Days is a devotional filled with upbeat reminders about infusing hope and joy in the Lord as the first step toward conquering life’s problems and chasing down the desires of your heart. Through 100 funny and thought-provoking devotions, the authors remind women to go back to the basics with God. And they even share a few private “bad hair confessions” along the way!

There are other authors/bloggers sharing their tributes today. Please visit them!

Carrie Turansky: http://carrieturansky.com/index.php/diann-hunt-day/

Lena Nelson Dooley: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Trish Perry: www.trishperry.com

Julie Arduini: www.juliearduini.com

Bonnie Calhoun: http://bonniescalhoun.blogspot.com/

www.agatharemembered.blogspot.com

www.Writingcareercoach.com

Ane Mulligan: www.anemulligan.com

http://everythingwriterly.blogspot.com

http://writingonboard.com

Rachel Hauck: http://rachelhauck.com/blog/

Rose McCauley: www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com

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The Next Big Thing: Aaron Paul Lazar, the Adirondacks, and Me

Posted by Julie on April 4, 2013 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

THE NEXT BIG THING

This meme swept through a few months ago, and I’m happy to share my answers again. This time mystery author Aaron Paul Lazar tagged me and I’m so glad. His Tall Pines series is set where my WIP is, the Adirondacks. He’s been kind enough to mentor me, and we laugh because our work features our favorite grocery store, Charlie Johns, and other things in common. Yet I have a romance and he’s working on a serial killer. I’ve even joked about placing his serial killer in my scene to see what would happen. Fun times, to be sure.

Aaron’s post on the Next Big Thing can be found here. I highly recommend you check out his author site. He’s got great wit, strong characters, a bit of romance, and of course—murder.EY audio 3-10-13, 2401_blue

Here are the answers for my Next Big Thing. Thanks, Aaron!

1-What is your working title of your book? 

SPECTACULAR FALLS, but I suspect that will change.

2-Where did the idea come from for the book?

I visited the real Speculator, New York in the early 90’s and fell in love with the Adirondacks and the people. I can’t get enough of the place. As I drank in the mountains and waters Ben and Jenna’s story came to me. That first story is a shell to what it is now, but the magic I felt from my first visit, I believe that remains.

IMAG0051

A picture from my first visit to Speculator.
3-What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance written in first person, present tense. Although it is a romance, I feel there is a “Mitford” feel to it as the people of Speculator Falls are quirky and sweet.

 

4-Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A great plug for my Pinterest board. I picture Ben Affleck as Ben Regan, and perhaps Jenna is a Keira Knightly’esque character. I envision Jenna arriving to town with a short bob filled with lowlights and texture. As she adjusts to mountain living she surrenders fear of what the local stylist, the sheriff, might do to her hair, and allows Carla to style it. Jenna, like her hair, has sass.
5-What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 

 She’s a rustbelt bred senior center director producing a lot of change for the rustic, Adirondack living grocer.

 

6-Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Great question! I’m open to anything, but feel first I need to seek an agent. I seek God for every step and have a team pray over my writing. His will be done. I’m probably 2/3 done editing and taking it through critique groups. There are still things I want to change. In May I have a pitch to Harlequin Love Inspired.

 

7-How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the shell of the story soon after that first visit to the Adirondacks, naively thinking it was done, but knowing I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. I grew serious about the craft in 2007, and returned to it in 2010. It’s only been in the last few months I’ve really broke it open and started revising to the point I felt I had a chance to make it publishable. So you can say months, or even close to 20 years.

 

8-What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jenna Anderson reminds me of a lesser refined Ashley Stockingdale, crafted by the great Kristin Billerbeck. The romance and voice remind me of Kristin, Janice Thompson, and Tamara Leigh. The community spirit reminds me of Jan Karon’s MITFORD series and Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer’s CAPE LIGHT.
9-Who or what inspired you to write this book?  
 God’s nudge, inspired by one place in the world that gives me peace, Speculator, NY.

 

10-What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s so much more than a romance. It’s a community that invites the reader to live there, too. It’s a lesson on surrendering fear. All my books will feature a form of surrender and a character loving chocolate. It’s literally sweet fiction that motivates the reader to trust God. From an author doing the same.

 Here is a snippet:

A black four-by four-truck squeals into place next to the squad car. A door slams and within seconds a well-built man who looks about thirty jogs from his truck to us. Half a minute later my car has the whiff of the woodsy cologne that follows him.

“Carla, Howard Wheaton told me someone plowed through my grandfather’s handiwork. I presume this is your perpetrator?” He commandeers our conversation, his face is so red it resembles my Ohio State sweatshirt.

The sheriff pivots to the angry but tantalizing smelling man. “Hello, Ben. The situation is under control.”

He almost loses his fading New York Giants baseball cap before he finally stands still. He has enough beard stubble to cover a chin dimple, but not enough to hide a bobbing Adam’s apple. “Really? Because this mess of flowers says otherwise.”

She hesitates. “Ben, this is Jenna Anderson, the new senior center director. She lost control while she tried to figure out what was going on with her GPS. I looked at the box, and I think it’s repairable. You love doing that sort of thing, so how about you fix it?”

Thank you, Sheriff Carla Rowling. I can’t help it, but I smile. I think this woman might be my first new friend.

Ben whips off the hat and twists it until his knuckles bulge. “I’m sorry, destroying property is funny to you?”

I want to say something brilliant. More than eight hours on the road leaves me a little lost, GPS ineffectiveness aside. “At least I hit his box. Not him.”

His Adam’s apple movement seems to escalate. “My grandpa is dead.” He points the hat at me to emphasize each word. “You better hope this box isn’t.” He turns back to the sheriff. “Carla, I’ll repair it.” Then, directs his milk chocolate colored eyes toward me. “You, city girl, watch where you’re going. The people who belong here don’t need a GPS.”  He pivots in his tattered sneakers and heads to the injured flower box. As fast as he comes on the scene, he leaves.

Carla offers her hand. “Welcome to Speculator Falls.”

 

Since so many of my writing friends have done this, Aaron and I decided to do an open tag. If you want to share your Next Big Thing with the blogging world, go for it. Share your answers, and be sure to send them back to my page, and even better, Aaron’s. Thanks!

image courtesy lazarbooks.com

 

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Book Review: Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter

Posted by Julie on January 26, 2013 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

When it comes to romance, there are a lot of sub-genres. Historical, contemporary, suspense, inspirational, and chick-lit to name a few. Secretly Smitten enters a sub-genre I don’t think I’ve heard–cozy romance.

This book, written by real life best friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter, is a sequel, but you wouldn’t know. Each story is a stand alone and doesn’t confuse readers with information from the previous book. Although mystery is part of Secretly Smitten, romance takes center stage and deserves a standing ovation.

secretly-smitten-200

Each author wrote a story and they are all quick reads. They flow so well together, it’s obvious these are authors who know each other well enough to finish each other’s sentences. Afterall, that’s what BFF’s do, right?  Aside from reading enough from the authors to know their own quirks (who knits, for example) I would not have been able to tell this was written by more than one author. The transition between stories was seemless.

Each story is held together by the past. One of the characters, Tess, finds a pair of dog tags in her grandmother’s attic belonging to David Hutchins. Turns out he was her grandmother’s first love, and she believed him to be dead. Tess and her sisters work to unravel how David was thought to be dead when he really wasn’t, and was he still alive?

While they investigate the past, the Thomas’ women discover love on their own. Each woman has her own struggles, and I love that the women had to overcome. Each character was strong in her own right, but there was a challenge in each story. Their men were also each different, with their own backgrounds and conflicts that threatened the romance.

Mystery and romance would be enough to satisfy, but the authors create an added layer for the reader to work through, family. As the David Hutchins mystery unravels, two sisters endure hurt and unforgiveness. I thought this backstory was exceptionally well done and relatable. There truly is something for everyone in Secretly Smitten.

From Amazon:

Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

Secretly Smitten was as comfortable as a pair of slippers, a favorite blanket, and a roaring fire. Which I think you should gather as you read this equally cozy book.

Purchase Secretly Smitten here.

I received Secretly Smitten from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Secretly Smitten Live Webcast February 5th

Posted by Julie on January 22, 2013 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, webinars, Writing |

The “gals” are celebrating the release of Secretly Smitten with a fun Live Webcast on February 5th. They’ll be debuting the *NEW* animated Smitten trailer, giving away tons of prizes, dishing on the book and their friendship. They’ll also be wrapping up the Secretly Smitten blog tour, answering audience questions and testing your trivia skills. Don’t miss the fun and bring your friends. Click here to RSVP and set up a reminder.



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