Monthly Archives: July 2012

Dang it all, pull your pants up writers! (Yeah, I mean me, too)

This is about the separation of writers, critique partners, beta readers and readers.

Prepare yourselves. I’ve had another thought.

Long before writers become authors, they are listeners of great stories and then joyful readers. Those with writing in their souls go on to write. (Yes, I know you still like to read) but those who love to read without a need to write … read, hence the separation. Make sense?

Just go with it.

If you have good taste in books, it takes a long time to translate that into your own writing, but for beta reading, I still believe in my heart I can separate good, quality work from the meh works to the crap. There is a lot of crap. Some of it’s been written by moi so put down your torches and pitch forks, okay? The point is the ability to differentiate comes from early exposure and grows.

In the separation of the initial list above, I want to focus mainly on the relationship between beta readers and writers. Writers? This is where you’ll need to man up and get your grown up panties on.

Yes ma’am, you in the back, thongs are fine. Oh, it’s sir? My apologies, Mr. Jones.

Anyway …

A beta reader came to me recently concerned she’d hurt the feelings of someone she’d read for. She gave her honest, critical opinion and was met with crickets.

For shame writer, whoever you may be.

If you ask someone to read for you, you thank them and treat them like the little bundle of beta royalty they are. Unless you paid them (and I hope you didn’t) they just did you a favor. If they didn’t love it, that’s okay, they might have just done you another one, and saved you some serious embarrassment.
I don’t know how many times someone has read my work and made suggestions to make it shine. If they tell me what they loved, I’ll do it again. Likewise, they’ve pointed out the bad stuff, like when my main character was being a jerk. For example, when I first started writing, a beta reader said this … and I quote:

Beta Reader:  “Ugh your heroine is a big fat jerk. I want to smack her.”

After my eyes quit watering I answered: I need her to be a twit so everyone can see her lovely character arc and how much she changes throughout the story. You’ll love her in the end. Trust me.

Beta Reader: You’re so dumb, lady, if your readers hate your main character this much, they won’t read past the first chapter to see the arc grow. So fix it, woman, or watch your story go down in flames!

She was right of course.

Regular readers are not betas, they are not reading because it’s a favor they agreed to, or for money, or a commitment based on a manuscript swap. They will put a poorly written book down. So down! That is why I rewrote my heroine and made her flawed, but not jerky.

My betas told me when I did too much telling, when my writing was unclear, when my plot had a huge hole in it, when the back-story bored them to the point of zzzzz. Sometimes I had tense issues, head hopping or points that dragged.

Betas fix these things people! God love them, we need these folks in our lives!

 *cheering commences*

On my blog tour and during my book signing last week, many asked what might make them better writers. My tongue swells when people ask me this because I will tell you right now I am no expert, and I don’t pretend to be. What I can tell you is you need to get your humble on. Adapt with a teachable spirit or (unless you are a genius, and if so, congratulations, I’m jealous) you may doom your own writing.

As writers, we have to learn to take a hit; it’s what is best in the long run and what truly makes us better. We won’t grow, and eventually get good, if we don’t allow our betas to say what’s true. I don’t mean it’s okay for them to insult you or be heavy handed, it’s not. You also have to use your own common sense. But if we get to the place where we are so huggy- kissy-writer- family-friendly we can’t be honest anymore … we might as well get married and disband. Ya’know?

I know critiques hurt. Believe me! I always feel like I got slapped with a dead Mackerel. I tried so hard, what do you mean it didn’t make you weep with joy?

In truth, many of my beta readers are far, far ahead of me skill wise. They shred my work, but I try to be grateful, even if it hurts, because they’ve earned my respect and thanks. As a good friend pointed out …  “Remember beta readers have their own insecurities, too. They’re just as afraid of upsetting the author unnecessarily or offering bad advice or wording their criticisms in a harsh or unclear fashion or being called out for forgetting what the author wrote just one paragraph earlier.”

True dat.

I still give it my all when it’s my turn to critique. I’m polite but don’t sugar coat much and writers either listen or they don’t. Let me just say if a writer wants a writing career of substance, and ‘body’ of work, at some point, they’ll have to humble themselves, suck it up and listen.

… though he slay me yet will I love him…   Job 13:15

I’m suggesting just because you don’t understand something, and it stings a bit, that doesn’t make it wrong. Consider carefully. Sometimes it’s right.

Betas: on behalf of writers everywhere, we thank you! We are lucky you’re willing to spend time on our work, whether we always show it, or not.

So … What do you think? Let it all out, baby.

J.A. Belfield asks: Is your love Eternal?

Hello ya’ll

I’m excited to talk about J.A. Belfield‘s new release Eternal. 

I love Belfield’s writing, and if you haven’t read her stuff before all I can say is … what are you waiting for?

The blurb:

 An unmarried woman living in a house of men breeds hearsay and lore. If only the villagers knew the truth.
It’s not Jem Stonehouse’s marital status that brings unwanted strangers to town. Rather, it’s that she is the only female werewolf in existence — a prize to any pack.
Sean Holloway, the love of Jem’s life, has gone to great lengths to protect her. As a new attack becomes imminent, Sean realizes he must take greater measures with Jem’s safety or risk losing her forever.
His first task must be to marry her, but a force greater than the largest werewolf stands in his way.
Her mother.

Doesn’t it sound awesome? Yes. yes, it does. 🙂

And here’s what people are saying!

“If you like historical romance with some action and a lot of steamy romance this book is for you!” — Never Ending Stories

“The Holloway Pack quickly found a place on my must read list after Darkness and Light and Ms. Belfield’s latest pack installment, Eternal, does not disappoint.” — Wendy — reader

“…this is a whole lot of story in not a lot of book a satisfying read and a great contribution to the series if you haven’t read any of the Holloway pack books yet, why not?” — Emma (Reader)

“”… Eternal … wow, just wow.  This book is so full of romance and action and suspense …yes, I know it’s a novella, but still… it’s got it all.”” — Known to Read

“Ms. Belfield did a great job sinking the reader into the historical 1800s setting and dealt with the moral codes (they are together and not married in the 1800′s — oh the scandal!!) and attitudes in the time period with an accuracy that rang true to me.” — Bex Book Nook

“… I really enjoyed this story and I really need to read the other books in the series 🙂 If you like historical romances this novella is for you!” — Synchronized Reading

Don’t you want to read it now? Drop me a line and let me know! 🙂

About the author:

One day, a character and scene popped into J. A. Belfield’s head, and she started controlling the little people inside her imagination as though she were the puppet master and they her toys. Questions arose: What would happen if …? How would they react if …? Who would they meet if …? Before she knew it, a singular scene had become an entire movie. The characters she controlled began to hold conversations. Their actions reflected the personalities she bestowed upon them. Within no time, they had a life, a lover, a foe, family … they had Become.
One day, she wrote down her thoughts. She’s yet to stop.
J. A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her husband, two children, three cats, and a dog. She writes paranormal romance with a second love for urban fantasy.

For more information on J.A. Belfield:

FYI  J.A. Belfield writes adult paranormal romance, people.

More writings from this author. Check it out!

Amaleen Ison lets her hair down

Hi everybody!

Today I’ve got a treat!

I’m excited to introduce fantastic writer and friend, Amaleen Ison.  I completely and utterly love this story and I’m jealous of  the rich and gorgeous voice she writes with. Follow me and get to know the lovely Ms. Ison better …

Here’s the cover and blub for her story…

Eighteen-year-old Millie Scrubbings must decide if she can stomach her responsibilities as Hell’s new Gatekeeper, or risk the denizens of Hell defiling her home turf.

When eighteen year old Millie Scrubbings moves to new digs on East London’s Nightingale Estate, she believes she’s finally closed the door on a childhood dictated by strangers. But overnight, her peaceful high-rise turns bonkers, and a series of grisly murders leaves Millie frightened and more helpless than ever.

Millie must accept her lead role in rescuing Nightingale from its descent into anarchy, or risk all Hell breaking loose.

Here’s what people had to say who loved it like I did …

♣ Demons, angels, hellhounds, gate keepers and familiars all packed in to one fast, fun story. Goodreads Review

♣ All of the ingrediants of a fantastic read were there–fast pacing, clever writing, high-stakes, and heavy on the occult and paranormal. Plus it doesn’t hurt that this author seems to have a knack for writing descriptions stunning in their originality! Amazon review

♣ Her descriptions are spectacular, writing style smooth and engaging, and her imagination knows no bounds. This tale will have you gripping your e-reader, flipping page after page until you make it to the end. Goodreads Review


And now on to Amaleen herself  …

Amaleen Ison is a 35 year old married mother of one. She lives with her family in Hertfordshire, England, along with her two cats (Oscar and Winston) and two guinea pigs (Thelma and LouLou). She writes Young Adult fantasy stories that meander into a variety of sub-genres – urban, paranormal, supernatural, preternatural, and horror.

Is that all?

Of course not.

As a child, I lived most of my life in my head. I’d go about my daily routine, but imagine myself in mystical lands populated by the weird and wonderful.

At twelve years of age, I read a fantasy series called The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. The story follows Alanna of Trebond, a girl of noble birth who switches places with her twin brother to train as a knight. It was the first YA book I’d read, and I gobbled up every word. I couldn’t think of anything else but Alanna’s adventures for months after, and I harassed the school librarian to order the entire quartet. The poor woman grew to hate my daily pestering at the enquiry desk.

Even now, as an adult, I read YA books. The fantasy element is important, but more so the raw emotion of a first experience. Whether it’s first love, first ride on a broomstick, or first battle with a demon, the hodgepodge of emotions that result from each new encounter fuel my passion for reading and writing YA fiction.

Ms Ison will now take your questions …

Q. As an adult, what is your favourite genre to read and write? Why?

I’m never so happy as when I’m reading YA books. Genre isn’t especially important, but I tend to read more fantasy and horror than anything else. I love YA books because the emotion is amplified. You experience everything as if it’s fresh and brand new. Who wouldn’t want to fall in love for the first time over and over again, or share that first kiss a hundred times over?

Q. What books first inspired you as a child/teen?

I could talk for hours about the books I read as a child, because I took something special from each and every one of them.  But the novel that began my love affair with YA books was from a fantasy series called The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. The protagonist, Alanna, switched places with her twin brother to train as a knight. The subterfuge and romance blew my mind. I couldn’t think of anything else but Alanna’s adventures for months after.

Q. Can you chat briefly about your road to publication?

I’d dreamt of writing a book for years, but never did anything about it until after my daughter was born. The thought of creating a novel she might one day read, love, and cherish ignited something in me.

I’m a tenacious woman once I set my mind to something and set about teaching myself to write by reading mountains of craft books and joining on-line critique groups. The most helpful was a writing community called Scribophile. The site ran all sorts of short-story and flash competitions. My entries to those competitions eventually got published and gave me confidence to submit larger works to new markets. I also benefited from meeting lots of amazing writers like you, Julie. J

Q. What was your inspiration for ‘The Trouble with Nightingale’?

The Trouble with Nightingale developed from an anthology prompt about witches. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the story ran too long and veered from the original premise – as my stories so often do. When I realised I couldn’t sub to the anthology, I looked to other publishing markets and found Musa Publishing. They were prepared to print my novella as a solo publication, and that really appealed (of course J).

Q. What was the most challenging scene you’ve ever written?

I find any scene that requires backstory seamlessly woven into dialogue rather tricky. The conversation always starts off sounding contrived and authorly.

Q. What type of reader does your work appeal to?

Everyone, I hope. J

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring YA novelists?

The key to successful writing is reading (lots), learning craft, and seeking feedback.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love anything that involves escapism. So reading, watching films, drawing and painting all feature near the top of my favourite things to do list. But, the top spot goes to spending time with my daughter. J

Q. We’re huge animal people here. Can you tell us a bit about your pets and how they came to be in your life?  (If you’re willing, please include any photos of your pets I might post)

It’s been a slow process introducing my husband to pets. He never had any as a child and wasn’t keen to open up his home to them. But …he’ll do anything for our little girl. When she asked for a guinea pig, he couldn’t refuse. He bought her two, Thelma and Lou-lou, who have the run of our back garden (which is fully enclosed) in the summer and an open cage in the house to jump in an out of in the winter (because we don’t believe in caging animals).

Next my daughter asked for a kitten. J Hubby bought her two, because he couldn’t bear to leave the last one (the runt) behind. Yes, my husband is a total softy. One year on, Oscar and Winston are full family members. We wouldn’t be without them.

I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my five year old doesn’t ask for a pony next. We couldn’t fit a stable in our backyard.

For more on this wonderful author:

Thanks Amaleen, for letting us get to know you better. It’s been wonderful having you today.

For my readers, doesn’t her story sound fantastic? Give us a shout out and let us know what you think …

Book signing adventure …

I had a ball at my first book signing on Saturday. I admit the whole thing felt surreal, as though I was sitting in someone else’s chair, filling in, until they got back from the bathroom. I am telling you this published author gig just didn’t feel real.

And then it did.

I felt like Clark Kent who went into the phone booth and came out Superman, because the longer I was there, the more I felt at home with that other side of me. The one who can be outgoing, and even bold in a group.

I loved meeting/visiting with new people and answering their questions. It was fun to talk about Crux (a favorite subject of mine) and I met several teens who shared their dreams of being published themselves. I tried to encourage everyone to follow their dreams and not give up, and I did it with a stupid, sappy grin on my face because I’m so happy a dream of mine came true July 9th with the release of my book.

Below are a few shots taken at the signing. I’m giving a big shout out and thank you to Books for Less for being an amazing host and featuring my book on their shelves. Ya’ll rock!

I got to talk with the coolest people today!

A few fans who dropped by around 11:00 🙂

I’ve never been so excited to write my own name!

Isn’t it pretty?

More signing and talking, very cool.

There must be sugar!

My awesome cover, I just love it!

Isn’t she cute? Gorgeous hair like a cover model. 🙂

I was there from eleven to three, sold a lot of books and talked shop with people who share my love of reading and writing. It was a blast, and I’m grateful to everyone who came by! 🙂 Let’s do it again!!!

Crux Unleashed! Today is the Day …

July 9th may be special for a lot of different reasons. Maybe it’s your anniversary, or the day you had a baby or reached a long time goal. I get that, because for me, it feels like all three. This day will be cemented in my brain forever because I’ve been married to an idea for two years, gave birth to a novel, and with that, crossed an unattainable, pipe dream. unreachable important finish line.

I’m excited, nervous and just plain tickled to introduce you to some people I love. Let’s get silly!

Its release day for my debut YA novel Crux! I want to tell you a little bit about the story and characters…

If you’ve done any beta reading for me, you know I write (and adore) young adult paranormal romance complete with purple prose and superfluous description. My favorites include characters that do a lot of longing, gazing deeply into one another’s eyes until someone falls over, brooding, glaring and sighing. Sorry, it’s simply true.

I also like adverbs.

Crux is not that book.

Crux is … well, it’s an urban story based in modern day Atlanta with a homeless girl playing the lead. I’m going to be really mean to her and send her back in time to face people like him …

Wait, there’s more! My story has this mythology and general hotness sprinkled in …

And if you act now (and before you get all mad at me for picking on my heroine too much) I’ll send some major dude buddy to help her out …

Yeah, he’s a dog. So? Oh, right, you were expecting, maybe, a hot-model-type guy to help? Hold the phone.

If you know me at all, there’s no way I’m going to leave it there, because I still want some romance. Are you with me?

Well, our story begins with our heroine here:

Hmm, it isn’t very pretty, but she gets infused with some of this:

And when she  meets up with some :

… it’s all good.

The above should give you a better idea of what you’re going to experience inside the pages of Crux.

If you’ve read an early copy of this book, God bless you. *bows, places hand over heart* I thank you a thousand times over, and I really hope you enjoyed it. If you plan to read it in the future, I’m just so grateful. I know there are plenty of awesome YA books to choose from right now, and I appreciate, in advance, if you’re taking a chance on mine.

So, where can we buy it my precious?

Patience, my love.


My publisher:

Barnes and Noble:



People are saying the nicest things: ( that’s right, and I  ya for saying them, too.)

♦ “Crux is completely original and addictive. Birdie’s voice is young and cool giving Crux a fresh tone that will appeal to all ages. A fun romance and adventurous read, Crux will stay with readers long after the last page is read!” — Lovey Dovey Books

♦ “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.” — BrookeD (Reader)

♦ “Reece pulls off some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming even though the clues were there all along. Thank you, Ms. Reece, for making sure I was so invested in Birdie and her mission I didn’t see the signs until she did.” — J. Keller Ford – Author, Amulet of Ormisez

♦ “Crux is a smart, heart-rending and empowering addition to YA urban fantasy that will appeal to Cassandra Clare fans, lore fans and really, anyone who appreciates tough characters that know how to tug readers’ heartstrings.” — Stephanie Lawton — Author, Want

♦ “Julie Reece has a gift for conveying deep emotions with her writing. I felt Birdie’s regret, distrust, apprehension, excitement and joy. And I love the characters – small and large!!!” — Known To Read

♦ “I have to say that Ms. Reece has to be one of the most talented authors on the planet. I know I’m gushing right now, but I loved this book that much.” — ChristieR (Reader)

♦ “Action-packed with a memorable cast of characters, Crux will easily appeal to teen and adult readers, whether or not they love urban fantasy.” — Mrs. ReaderPants

♦ “Julie Reece’s CRUX is a refreshing and gritty young adult novel with glimmers of the paranormal, glimpses of the historical, and more than a dash of romance and mystery.” — Surrounded by Books Reviews

♦ “What a dream to read. I laughed. I cried. I clutched my kindle, wishing I could read faster, frustrated when I couldn’t get to the end fast enough.” — Jocelyn Adams, Author, The Glass Man

♦ “… the author’s writing has an almost lyrical tone to it, a flow to her prose that can lure you along without you even realizing you’ve been captured.” — J.A. Belfield – Author, Darkness & Light

♦ “So, what did I think about Crux? How best to say this … it was awesome!” — Emi Gayle – Author, After Dark


♣ Talented writer and friend Jennifer Eaton made this video (puppet) for me as a debut gift … isn’t she awesome!!!

I just want to take a second to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and kind support. I love you guys. Sometimes writing is lonely; I’m so grateful you are traveling this journey with me!