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Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Aubrie Dionne

I’m thrilled to have Aubrie Dionne back on Musings today.  She’s an agency sister of mine and absolutely delightful. Her writing career is off and running. I’m honored to be a part of her new blog tour for Haven 6. I love YA and SF is fast becoming an obsession, so this is an exciting fit for me. Aubrie has a fantastic giveaway planned. Use the rafflecopter to participate. And enjoy getting to know this lovely lady. Here she is talking about her experience reading the slushpile!

What I’ve Learned from Reading the Slushpile

Hi Julie! Thank you so much for having me today on your blog!

Julie and I have the same awesome agent, and today I’m going to talk about what I’ve learned from reading the queries in her slushpile. I took on the job to see what’s out there, and also to be a better writer myself. Boy, has it taught me a lot.

1. Don’t start your story with telling.

“Once there was a little boy who caught a frog in a pond.” This is passive and boring. Start with. “Jacob reached into the murky water and wiggled his fingers around hoping for a prize…” It already gets my attention better because I’m wondering what he’s looking for, so I keep reading.

I label every story that starts with telling as “Telling” then reject. I don’t even get through the first chapter. Especially if there’s a lot of telling and no dialog or action.

2. Stay away from generalities. Make your query specific.

Too many queries are so alike, they all blend together. There’s the YA story about a girl with superpowers that goes to a special school. Or a girl that falls in love with a boy, but he’s a vampire. If you’re going to write a cliché, show me in the query how it’s different than all the other. Show me that you’re playing off the cliché.

3. Long winded queries, or very big paragraphs in your first chapter make my eyes glaze over.

Punctuate your writing with varying paragraph lengths, and when in doubt, keep it short. Or else, when I have to read through 50 of them, I lose interest very quickly. Don’t beat around the bush in your query. Come out and state what’s going on as clearly as you can.

Thanks for letting me ramble about queries, Julie!

Haven 6 by Aubrie Dionne

A product of an illegal pairing, Eridani is the only woman without a lifemate aboard the colonization ship, the Heritage, and she is determined her less than perfect DNA will not get in the way of finding love. As the ship nears it’s final destination of Haven 6 after five hundred years of travel, images of the surface show evidence of intelligent life on a planet that’s supposed to be uninhabited. Commander Grier assigns Eri to the exploratory team to spy on the alien society and return with information on how to defeat them.

When Eri’s team lands, tribes of humans attack and Eri is saved by Striver, the descendant of a colonist and a pirate from Old Earth’s colonization efforts in other parts of the galaxy. Striver helps Eri rescue her team and they are drawn to each other despite their different allegiances. While Striver battles with trusting Eri, Eri must decide whether to warn him and his people about the commander’s intentions, or follow orders and complete her mission.

About Aubrie:

Aubrie grew up watching the original Star Wars movies over and over again until she could recite and reenact every single scene in her backyard. She also loved The Goonies, Star Trek the Next Generation-favorite character was Data by far-, and Indiana Jones. But, her all time favorite movie was The Last Unicorn. She still wonders why the unicorn decided to change back to a unicorn in the end.

Aubrie wrote in her junior high yearbook that she wanted to be “A concert flutist” when she grew up. When she made that happen, she decided one career was not enough and embarked as a fantasy, sci fi author. Two careers seems to keep her busy. For now.

Find Aubrie Online:


For your chance to win this amazing necklace, enter with the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


My First Vlog — It’s Ridiculous. Just So You Know.

This weekend I had the most amazing time in Columbus, Ohio at the Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Conference. This was my third year attending and every year I have so much fun. This year I met fellow tweeter, writer and YA addict, Leah Anne Kopans, as well as one of my favorite teen readers, Alexa Hirsch :) We met at Jeni’s Ice Cream and Leigh Ann surprised me with an impromptu vlog. SO, here it is….it’s all kinds of silly and not well organized…that’s how impromptu goes…sometimes planned things go like this for me too, but this time it really wasn’t planned. Also, there was ice cream involved and as we’re inside an ice cream shop…the sound quality is meh-to-awful.

Thank you Leigh Ann and Alexa for coming to see me!!!! Thank you dedicated Jeni’s workers for letting us goof off a while and thank you Hubsy for always indulging my crazy :) Muwah xoxoxo


Love Blossoms Blog Tour Visits Lindsey Bell!

Today I’m traveling. LOL I’ve taken my show on the road and I’m blogging for a lovely lady I met while tweeting! I so love twitter! And Lindsey Bell is one of the reasons :) I’m blogging today at her delightful sight, at Faith & Family . I’m honored to be featured on Lindsey’s blog. She’s absolutely amazing as both a fellow woman writer and a friend.

Stop by and see me. All commenters will be entered to win a copy of Love Blossoms!

Love Blossoms by Me! Julie Anne Lindsey

Jillian thought she had everything she needed until Jackson walked through her door…

There’s a wedding coming to Honey Creek and the whole town’s preparing for the party. When Jillian Parker agreed to host a few groomsmen at her inn, she had no idea what she was getting into. One of those groomsmen is Jackson Tate, and he’s making her concentration completely impossible. He’s funny, fascinating, frustrating, and leaving in a week. Jillian does not have time for that level of distraction. With Jackson nearby, events to coordinate, a bride to please, and an ex-fiancé to dodge, her peaceful life’s getting crazy fast. With any luck, she’ll survive the week and put the whole thing behind her as soon as possible.

…But not if Jackson has anything to say about it.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet romantic read with a very happy ending, I hope you’ll visit Honey Creek. The sun is setting, bullfrogs are croaking and the crickets are singing, “Come on.” Sweet tea or hot cider. Fresh summer strawberries or crisp fall apples. You’ll find it there. And taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) I hope to see you there!


Writer Wednesday Welcomes Back: Karen Wojcik Berner!

I’m excited to welcome back a lovely lady author today. She comes to us as part of her blog tour with the fabulous Wow! Women on Writing.  Karen is a bibliophile with a message. And while she’s here to celebrate the release of her new title, Until My Soul Gets It Right, she has graciously offered up this fun post on a place she knows and loves! Please welcome Karen!

One lucky commenter gets a copy of Karen’s new release, so don’t be shy! Crop a note and say “Hi!”

A Bibliophile’s Guide to Chicagoland

Thanks so much for having me here today, Julie.

My series, The Bibliophiles, takes place mostly in the Chicago suburbs, but in my latest book, “Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two),” Catherine Elbert decides she needs to escape her family’s Wisconsin farm for some greener pastures, farm pun intended. ((Groan.)) Anyhow, Catherine bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self, traveling from Portland, Maine clear across the continent to San Diego, California. Eventually, she ends up in Chicagoland, my home turf.

Chicago is a great literary city with a reputation for gritty, social realism both in its fiction as well as its poetry. Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie,” a tale of what can happen when a country girl loses herself in the big city is set here, as well as James T. Farrell’s “Studs Lonigan,” which focuses on the lives of Irish-Americans during the Great Depression. Upton Sinclair’s famous “The Jungle” portrays life working in Chicago’s early meat-packing plants. A part of the old Union Stock Yard Gate is still standing today on Exchange Avenue and Peoria Street.

More recently, Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time-Travelers Wife” takes place in Chicago, along with the non-fictional “Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson. Hard-boiled detective V.I. Warshawski lives here, as does her creator, Sara Paretsky. “Presumed Innocent” author Scott Turow also calls Chicago home.

Here are some of Chicago’s great literary sites.

Carl Sandburg House, 4646 N. Hermitage Avenue, Chicago. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sandburg (1878-1967) is best known for the famous “Chicago” poem in which he describes “The City of the Big Shoulders.” Sandburg lived here when he wrote for “The Chicago Daily News.” He is also penned a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, the last of which earned him the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1940.

Nelson Algren House, 1958 West Evergreen Street, Chicago. Algren (1909-1981) often wrote about the American Dream gone awry while he lived on the third floor of this building. Winner of three O. Henry Awards, both the International Writers Guild PEN and Chicago Tribune have fiction contests named after Algren. He won the National Book Award for his 1949 novel, “The Man with the Golden Arm.”

The University of Chicago, Hyde Park, on Chicago’s south side. Among its many illustrious alumni are Saul Bellow, author of “Adventures of Augie March,” and Studs Terkel, known for his personal stories of average people in “Working” and “Division Street: America.”

The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago. Chicago’s independent research library, it houses a collection of rare books, manuscripts, music and maps spanning six centuries, including letters from President John Adams and his family and manuscripts from Nelson Algren, Sara Paretsky and Ben Hecht.

Gwendolyn Brooks Home, 4334 S. Champion, Chicago. The first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize, Brooks is best known for her “Selected Poems” and “A Street in Bronzeville,” as well as many essays and reviews. She was Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and taught at many local colleges.

Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, 200 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois. Out in the near-western suburbs stands the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway spent his first twenty years in Oak Park and attended Oak Park-River Forest High School.

Which Chicago literary site would you be most interested in visiting?


Until My Soul Gets It Right by: Karen Wojcik Berner

The ladies (and man) of the Bibliophiles Book Club are back! This time the spotlight is on Catherine. Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a child or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to her life than being stuck on her family’s farm.

So Catherine became enamored with the complete opposite of the flat farmlands of Burkesville, Wisconsin – the ocean, lobsters, and rugged coast of Portland, Oregon. Despite her parents’ threat to disown her and her brothers’ bets on how many days until she comes home Catherine heads for Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.

She is finally free. Or so she thought. What Catherine forgot was that you can’t run away from yourself!

About the Author:

Karen Wojcik Berner lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right? However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much so that she majored in English and communications at Dominican University. Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the Society that surrounds her.

A booklover since she could hold one in her chubby little toddler hands, Karen wanted to announce to the world just how much she loves the written word. She considered getting a bibliophile tattoo but instead decided to write about the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The series is called, of course, The Bibliophiles. When she isn’t reading, writing, or spending her
time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen spends her time can be found sipping tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton movies or “Chopped,” her favorite foodie TV show.

Find Karen on the Web:

Karen Berner’s website:


Inspired by Scent

I discovered years ago how powerful my sense of scent is. Not like I have a bionic, drug-dog-sniffing nose, but how much scents impact me. I learned in college the smell of a burger can make a girl drool if she’s survived on Ramen Noodles for three months. A physical reaction to smell. I was all psych major-Julie and impressed with this new realization. Once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing it. Now it’s my thing. For years I’ve entertained myself by taking mental notes of my reaction to smells – not bad ones. Gross. Good ones. Happy ones. Fun ones!

Scent for me is like hearing a song that instantly transports me to another time. A ninth grade dance. Spring break in Cancun. A first kiss. Wedding vows. Seeing my toddlers dance….*inhales deeply* Ahhhhhh….

I burn candles all year around because they make me happy. I always pick the ones that smell like something baking because they make me calm. Smelling apple pie or salted caramel makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket and everything is going to be okay. My mom baked a lot. I assume this is why. I can’t be certain, but I keep them going all the time because I love it.

I try to incorporate scents into writing as often as possible for this reason. Scents take us into a scene. I find myself looking for stories where I can add scent in a way that increases the story’s impact. I love the smell of new pencils, but not everyone relates to that, so I angle for those things that resonate widely. Barbecues. Fireworks. Wildflowers. Donuts!

This weekend my husband and I took our three kids to the county fair. Before we parked the car, I could smell it. It smelled like childhood and happiness. Associations I made with funnel cakes and vinegar fries over the course of decades exploded in my mind. My kids were mesmerized. The lights and music and spinning rides, laughing families, hundreds of animals, game guys taunting them to come try to win. The whole spectacle is a touch overwhelming, but the scents keep you rooted. How can anything be bad when it smells like an funnel cake? My preschooler marveled over a corndog on a stick for half an hour. I only buy the minis at home. It was on a STICK! LOL My 6 & 9 year olds devoured my elephant ear right off the flimsy paper plate before I could finish smelling it. We drank vats of fresh squeezed lemonade and watched 4Hers race horses and show pigs.

I decided again I’m blessed and lucky, and given the opportunity to move anywhere in the world, I’d stay right here. Rural Ohio is wonderful, safe, cozy, real. Added bonus: I love what it smells like :)

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