Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .
That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden¾with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security?
Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?
Julie: Hi. [smiles warmly]
Wow, Julie, this sounds like an exciting book! How long have you been writing?
Julie: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and I even won first place in a second grade writing contest for my essay on why we should respect cows. I need to go look for that certificate. I think it would be fun to frame it!
That sounds like a fun contest. I recently explained to some first graders that there are different breeds or types of cows. They looked amazed. How many books do you have published, and are they all about cows?
Julie: I started to get serious about novel writing in 2002 and my first book was published in 2004. My new novel, All Fall Down just came out a month ago. It has nothing to do with cows, but it takes my published novel count to eight. I also have eight children. What does that say about me? Never mind. Don’t answer that.
All I have to say is, I feel bad for you if you get fourteen books published! Yikers! So, what’s your favorite bit of writing advice—don’t gauge family size by the amount of books you publish?
Julie: No, actually my favorite writing advice is to never give up. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author is that one gave up.
I'm going to hold on to that tidbit. [taps finger to chin] Hmm. Eight books published in nine years. Do you have a favorite activity when not writing—or are you always writing?
Julie: That’s a hard one. I love to read, play with my kids, and travel. I can’t even choose between those three! Maybe I should just take a vacation where I can do all three and then I don’t have to choose.
It’s called, family vacation. Otherwise, it’s hard to do all three at once. Do I dare ask if you ever get the dreaded writers block?
Julie: Usually when I’m stumped I just write out the dialogue to the scene, then I can go back later and fill in the setting and anchors and such. It frees me a bit to just see the scene in my head, with my characters talking, and I write the conversation down. The rest of the scene seems to follow and my being stumped days are over!
So, if your characters say it, the rest will come. Interesting.
I love candy and my wastline is starting to show it. Do you snack when you write? If so, what?
Julie: Well, it depends on if I’m trying to be healthy or not. If I’m trying to be healthy I snack on baby carrots. If I’m off the wagon, I usually eat pretzels or York peppermint patties. Let’s just say that lately, I’ve been on a peppermint patty kick. I know, I know, it’s naughty. I’m working on it.
Ah, sometimes you’re naughty, and sometimes you’re nice. I feel a Christmas song coming. Do you write lyrics?
Julie: I write novels.
Are you published traditionally or Indie? If you’re an Indie author, what guided your decision to go indie?
Julie: Six of my books are traditionally published, and two are indie. I loved my traditional publishing experience, but there is a freedom in being indie that I also love. I think I have the best of both worlds!
It’s interesting that your latest book is about freedom. What do you write about--Cows--the military?
Julie: Enough with the cows. Sheesh! I write international romantic suspense with spies and military and all the good stuff. Some call it thriller. I would describe it as thrilling adventure with a dash of romance.
That does sound thrilling. What’s the best flavor of ice cream to eat while reading one of your novels?
Julie: Moose tracks. To honor my Canadian heritage.
I went to Alaska once as a child. They sold varnished moose droppings and called it, Moose Moose. [frowns skeptically] This doesn't have anything to do with that, does it?
Julie: No, no. It's vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and fudge swirls.
Okay then, that does sound tasty. Yum! Let’s end the interview with your favorite writer’s memory.
Julie: When I was doing research for my book All’s Fair I was put in contact with a Marine who was stationed in Iraq. His unit would gather around the computer after they’d come in from their missions of disarming IEDs along the roadsides and answer all my questions. (And I was seriously grateful for them and their patience.) One of the things they told me they missed from home was the candy, Skittles. I arranged for a Skittles for Soldiers food drive at all my book signings after the book came out, and was able to collect 900 lbs of food and hygiene items for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just so our soldiers would know they weren’t forgotten and we appreciated them.
My most tender memory was having an older man come to one of my book signings, with an army cap on, who came to my table and could only grasp my arm for a minute while the tears rolled down his face. He finally got out the words, “Thank you. Thank you for remembering us.” I couldn’t do anything else but cry with him. I will always treasure that memory.
That is a sweet memory. Thank you, Julie. I’m sure you have more babies to write—I mean, novels to make—I mean [blushes], have a nice evening.