Please welcome Julie Lence to the blog today. Julie, I’m happy you can join me today so readers can learn more about you and your latest book, DEBRA’S BANDIT. Julie is giving away two copies of DEBRA'S BANDIT to two commenters on this tour. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment if you want to be included in the drawing.
Caroline: Tell us something about yourself:
Julie: I'm from Schenectady, New York, home to General Electronics. I have two brothers and one sister, all younger than me. They still reside in Schenectady, while I live in Colorado. I am married to my wonderful husband of 28 years, Stan. We have one son, who is currently in the eighth grade.
|General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York|
Stan and I grew up in the same town and went to high school together. We married two years after graduation, and I accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the U.S. Air Force. While in school, I wasn't a bookworm or a jock. I took business and accounting courses. My favorite was shorthand. By the time I graduated, I was up to 130 words per minute. I did enjoy reading and writing, as long as I could pick the topics I wanted to write about.
When Stan and I married, we had one car, so I didn't work for a few months. (He needed it to get back and forth to the base.) During that time, I read a lot. Mostly Jackie Collins. A few years later, a friend introduced me to the world of romance, and I was instantly hooked. Johanna Lindsey was a favorite and still is. I loved her westerns and her family saga featuring the Malorys. (James Malory is still my favorite hero.) Then came Judith McNaught. Her flawless writing voice inspired me to try my own hand at penning a novel. My husband was very supportive of my decision. He still is, always going that extra mile to help when I have computer issues.
When I began writing, I didn't give up my day job. I wrote at night and on the weekends, honing the craft for several years. I did take a few years off from writing when my son was born, and when we retired to Colorado, I jumped right back in, joining a writing and critique group. Today, I'm a stay-at-home mom enjoying a career writing western historical romance and taking care of my family.
Caroline: Writing while working outside the home is tough, especially with a family. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Julie: My favorite genre is western historical romance. I love cowboys and horses and have since I watched my first John Wayne movie way back when. My favorite authors are Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey and Linda L. Miller. Each time one of these ladies has a new book on the shelf, I'm right there scarfing it up and devouring their words.
Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?
Julie: I like to read, though when I'm working on a story, I don't read as much. I enjoy watching television; NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles are my favorite shows. And I'm all for taking a nap. Shopping used to be a favorite pastime, but anymore I hate the mall. Usually, if I need something from the store, I'll have the hubby make a quick stop on his way home from work. Talking to Mom on the phone always relaxes me, and I enjoy an afternoon drive through the mountains. Here in Colorado we have some beautiful scenery, and plenty of small towns to explore.
|Pike's Peak from the Garden of the Gods, Colorado|
Julie: Live and Let Live. I think everyone should be treated equal and not teased or ridiculed for being different.
Caroline: I agree. How long have you been writing?
Julie: Oh gosh, I guess I started back in '91 or '92. I began writing contemporary romance, ditched those two stories and switched to western historical romance, because I read somewhere a person should write what she loves or knows. As I mentioned, I love horses and cowboys, and ranches and anything to do with the wild west, and I love family sagas. "Dallas" used to be my favorite television show, so taking inspiration from Ms. Lindsey and Ms. McNaught, I created my Weston family series and spent years learning the craft and honing those novels until I finally found a publisher back in 2007.
Caroline: I love family sagas, too. Tell us about where and how you write.
Julie: I prefer the comfort and quiet of my home office, working on my desktop. I hate typing on a laptop, as I make too many mistakes. I used to be able to work with the music playing or the family home, but now those are distractions. I was either singing along to a song, listening to the news or straining my ear to hear what the hubby and kiddo are doing and not getting much writing done. Now that I have a quiet room, the only exception is summer. If my son has a friend over and is occupied, then I can write.
Caroline: I like classical music, then I’m not tempted to sing along. Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Julie: Both, but mostly a panzer. I world build and define a character's looks, mannerisms and background on paper, and I'll write up goals and motivation, maybe a brief description of what I want to happen in the story, but somewhere along the way, that description changes. The characters take over and do or say things I never imagined they would and I'm off in a whole new direction. There are a few instances where I've been stuck and can't see my way clear through the next few chapters, so then I'll outline backwards, to the point of where I am stuck. I find if I place a character in a room or a situation far ahead of where I'm currently at, it's easier to work backward to figure out how they got there than it is to work forward to place them there.
Caroline: I think you’re what’s called a plotzer. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Julie: Not too much. I may draw on personal experience, as far as how I felt during a particular situation, or liken a character to someone I know, but that's about it. The only 'real' person I used in a story, and he was mentioned and never on scene, was Apache War Chief Mangas Coloradas. I read about him in a western magazine and thought he was such an interesting man that I had to have him mentioned somewhere in a story. He appeared in LADY LUCK, the second book in the Weston Family Series.
|Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, circa 1880|
I do, however, research areas I'm not familiar with and historic facts. For instance, in the Revolving Point, TX series, the hero of the first book starts out in prison. I wanted the prison to be close to the fictional town of Revolving Point, so I went on the internet and found the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. There wasn't much description as to the inside of the prison back in the 1800's, but I was able to incorporate the bell tower into the story and use its nickname--The Walls--throughout all 3 books.
Caroline: I love that you’re so thorough. Do you set daily writing goals? Do you get a chance to write every day?
Julie: I set weekly writing goals, hoping to have written 3 scenes by week's end, which translates to 1 ½ chapters for me. I don't do page or word counts. I structure my week to write Monday-Wednesday, with Thursday for tying up loose ends and posting a bi-monthly blog. Friday is chores and the weekend is for family, though sometimes I do work on the weekend. I usually write in the mornings. That's is when I think better and have a good focus on the story. If I'm on a good roll, I'll write in the afternoon until it's time to pick up my son from school.
Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Julie: A sense of right vs. wrong, good conquers evil, love triumphs all, and two souls that are meant to be together will be together.
Caroline: Me, too. What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Julie: I'd like to go back to my Weston family and sister Rachael. At the beginning of the series, Rachael ran away and no one knows why or where she ended up. I'd like to find out her reasons for running away, what her life has been like and if she has a need to return home and mend fences. After that, I don't know.
Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Julie: A short story that I hope to have out in time for Christmas. The working title is: A WESTON WEDDING and features Tess Weston about to marry James Landry. James had to go to Denver two days before the wedding and is now delayed getting back home. I can't tell you the rest--it's still a work in progress.
Caroline: Oh, readers will love a Christmas wedding. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Julie: Never give up and write every day, even if it's just a short paragraph. And believe in yourself, because the longer you write, the stronger your voice will become and one day, your dream of seeing your work published will come true. It happened for me, because I wouldn't allow myself to give up.
Caroline: What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?
Julie: I'm a neat freak. I'll spend hours organizing closets, kitchen drawers and the basement and still not be satisfied when I'm done. The house has to be clean or I'm thrown out of sync for the day. The only exceptions are the pillows on the couch or when I'm sick.
Caroline: Please come to my house and organize to your heart's content. ☺ What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?
Julie: I swim naked--Not! I write about heroes and heroines rushing into danger to save the day or a loved one, but in reality, I'm not a risk-taker. I'm about as boring as it gets.
Caroline: That’s why we write--we can live vicariously through our characters. I believe you said your book is a series.
DEBRA’S BANDIT is the third book in the Revolving Point, Texas series. This series is not a family saga, though there are recurring characters throughout the books. It's more about outlaws turning on the right side of the law and helping a town rebuild after a fire nearly destroyed it and keeping the rabble rousers who left because of the fire from returning. The townsfolk who remained after the fire want to live in a peaceful, respectable town, and my heroes are there to ensure that.
Caroline: Tell us something you learned researching your book that surprised/interested you?
Julie: I'd have to go back to my original research for the first book and the prison in Huntsville, Texas. During the Civil War, the prisoners seeded cotton to be turned into clothes, blankets, etc, and I found a working prison to be fascinating. I also liked the nickname of The Walls. It was catchy and something I could envision as part of my heroes vocabulary.
Caroline: I love the book's cover. Can you give us a blurb about DEBRA'S BANDIT?
Julie: Here's the blurb:
Forced to flee his home in Chicago, Gage Cantrell shed his greenhorn ways and joined an outlaw band. He’s spent the last six years dodging bullets and a Pinkerton determined to bring him to justice. Now that Gage has settled for a spell in Revolving Point, Texas, hoping to win the heart of the woman he loves, his past is about to catch up to him. Trouble is, Debra doesn’t know about Chicago. If she’ll forgive his cowardice on that fateful night, he’ll finally know peace. That is if he can thwart the Pinkerton and send him packing—for good.
Raised in the St. Louis orphanage, Debra Moore has known more hard times than good. Riding with her brother and Gage as they raided the west brought about a longing for a real home, and for Gage to return her love. She’s found a comfortable haven in Revolving Point and wants Gage to cease to his bandit ways and put down roots with her. But Gage has never been the settling type, and lately he’s been more secretive than usual. Something’s bothering him. She’s going to find out what that something is and convince him there’s more to life than the tomfoolery of outrunning a posse.
|Rio Grande on the Texas border with Mexico|
Julie: Here's one:
"You make it a habit of assessing other men?" Gage demanded.
"What? No! He—Ow!" Tears welled in Debra's eyes and she dropped something into the water.
"What is it?" He crowded close to her.
"I cut my hand on a knife," she cried.
"Let me see." He gently gripped her wrist and drew her hand toward him, seeing blood and soap suds trickle down her right palm. "It's a flesh wound."
Wordlessly, he grabbed a towel from the drawer beside him and wrapped the cloth around her hand. He reached into the cabinet above him and took out a bottle of whiskey, removed the towel and poured a good amount of the rye over the cut. Rifling through the cabinet, he found a piece of linen and wrapped it around her palm, tying the ends off in a knot. “Keep the bandage on so the wound doesn’t fester.”
Debra looked up at him. Tears swam in her copper eyes. Two fat drops spilled from the corner of her eye.
He watched them trickle down her skin to her delicate jaw before returning his gaze to her watery eyes. Past the rest of the tears she tried to hold at bay he saw something else. A longing not to be ignored, to be loved by him as a man loves a woman.
Something inside him shifted, the roots that had been planted long ago digging in deeper. He leaned toward her, telling himself he was only going to ease her discomfort…
Caroline: Intriguing excerpt. Where can readers find your books?
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Julie: Here are my links:
Website Link: www.julielence.com
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?
Julie: Yes, I enjoy meeting fans of the romance genre. Stop by my FB page and introduce yourself and let's talk romance. Thank you, Caroline, for having me. It's been a pleasure stopping by your site and visiting with your fans.