Get Into the Christmas Spirit with Julie Cameron’s Debut!

I’m delighted to host debut author Julie Cameron, who recently published Christmas Spirit, a book she describes as a love story with a ghost, a crazy-evil ex-girlfriend, and a loveable younger brother. Who wouldn’t want to read that?!

In this post, Julie shares her thoughts on the journey from screenwriter to novelist, the importance of critique partners, and her decision to self-publish.

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?

The first response that popped into my head for this question was “Sometime around 2009, when I was laid off from my I/T job, and knew I wanted to do something else.”  But then I realized, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in high school, and joined the Literary Guild Book Club – every month, I would get a new book in the mail, and they were always romance novels.  I loved all of them, and knew that I wanted to be a writer someday.  Unfortunately, I just forgot that part for about 25 years.  I’m back on track now.

When did you decide to write a book?

I had started to write a book several years ago, but discovered that I really seemed to lean toward screenwriting, because most of my story turned out to be dialog (apparently, I like to talk).  However, when I started getting interest from companies in my screenplays, I discovered that selling them meant I would most likely lose my rights to the storyline.  Since I had become very attached to all the characters and the story in Christmas Spirit, I decided to turn it into a novel in order to keep the rights to it.  I had not counted on the learning curve – screenwriting is a completely different style from writing fiction – but I found a great coach (Doug Kurtz with Write Life Coaching), and he helped me turn my camera lens viewpoint around to a perspective better suited to a novel.

What inspired you to write this story?

The funny thing is that I’m not that big a fan of Christmas – it starts way too early, and seems to be a huge source of a stress (and money) on everyone.  But I do love our family traditions.  So, when my screenwriting manager in L.A. asked for a Christmas script, I decided to use our traditions in the storyline, thinking they would at least be fun to write about, and unique to use in the plot.  Then, suddenly, there was a love story, with a ghost, a crazy-evil ex-girlfriend, and a loveable younger brother (who is now the focus of the second novel in the series).

{I already want to read the book!} 

How long did it take to complete?

Weeeellll….if you count the first time I tried to convert it from a screenplay into a novel, this whole process took over two years (my first attempt was an abysmal failure, and I had convinced myself that I wasn’t a novel writer after all).  But, if you start the clock from when I decided to take converting it into a novel more seriously (and to stop whining about it), then it took about eight months.  It helped to have a great company (BookFuel) helping me with the self-publishing side of things.  They did everything from helping me design my website and my book cover, to editing the manuscript, to formatting it and pushing the button to distribute it.  All those things I have no idea how to do myself!

Is this the first book you have written?

Yes, this is the first book I’ve written, but I’ve had so much fun writing it, that I’ve decided to do more.  Originally a standalone story, it has morphed into the first of a series of four books.

Did you work on simultaneous projects?

Hmmm…tough question… yes, and no.  I did have several different things going on (a couple of screenplays, and different ideas for other novels), but for the most part, I only worked on Christmas Spirit when I was converting it into a novel.  But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t thinking ahead to the next book in the series, or talking with my manager about the screenplays she has of mine that she’s pitching to different production companies.

When I’m working on a specific project, I do seem to be focused exclusively on it, but there are always distractions from life that can get in the way from time-to-time.  And of course, there’s my “real job” which pays the bills, and is pretty much a project in and of itself.  Does that count?  {Absolutely! 🙂 }

What was the rest of your life like while writing the book? Were you working? Raising kids?

I have a full-time job running the day-to-day operations of a growing property management and real estate company.  It has its challenges, like anything else, but I enjoy it, and especially like interacting with the other people in the office.

I don’t have my own kids, but I like to borrow my sisters’ kids all the time (especially when a new Disney movie comes out, although they are all too old now to get away with using them for that excuse anymore).  Luckily, I don’t have to raise them, or pay for their college, and when they were younger it was fun to let them eat all the sugar they wanted, and then hand them back to their parents when they got out of control and started bouncing off the walls.  It’s great being an aunt!

How did you fit your writing into the rest of your life?

Usually by running away from home…  However, when I can’t do that, I also designated Mondays as my writing day, and have almost got everyone trained not to bother me on those days. And, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t just randomly pick Mondays because they are generally considered the worst day of the week.  I picked Mondays because, as a member of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, I can go over to the house and stake out a spot with other writers and spend several hours focused on putting words to paper (or computer, as the case may be).

Were you involved in a writer’s group?

I belong to a few writer organizations — Colorado Romance Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers are two that I love.  I attend workshops and conferences to help hone my craft, and also to meet other authors.  There’s something amazing about the energy in these groups.  I also belong to a fabulous critique group that meets once a week to help review and provide feedback on each other’s work.

Who gave you feedback as you worked through writing the book?

Anyone I could pin down or bribe.

I also had a fantastic writing coach, and a great critique group.  I believe that it’s important to step outside of the circle of people who love you, if you want to get honest and productive feedback.  My critique group has writers of all different genres, so it was helpful to get criticism from people who don’t normally read my genre.  It’s a great feeling to have someone who writes horror say, “I normally hate romance, but this was pretty good.”  High praise indeed!

What kept you going through the process?

That same circle of people who love me, but who weren’t always the most objective for honest and critical feedback (because they love me), were the same people who kept me upbeat and positive whenever I had doubts.  But I believe that you truly have to love what you do, or you will never get through it. I love to write, and that keeps me going.  I honestly cannot imagine why everyone doesn’t want to do it.  Then again, my sister runs a school, grades K-12, and loves helping to help shape the future of bright young minds, That would just scare the bejeezus out of me – our future would be in great peril.

How many submissions did you send out?

I think I sent out two…?  I was able to pitch to a couple of editors during workshops and conferences with my writer organizations, and both of them asked me to send them my work.  It felt great that they were interested enough in my storyline to request that I send it to them, but my decision to publish didn’t hinge on them.  I had already decided that I was going to self-publish, and it would have bumped my publish date out to Christmas of 2016 if I had decided to go with a traditional publisher.  I’m not a patient person, and once I had committed to having my book out by Christmas 2015, there was no changing my mind.  Well, okay, that’s not entirely true…massive amounts of money may have swayed me.  Probably.

What has surprised you most about this process?

What surprised me most was truly how much I enjoyed the whole process (well, maybe not the self-marketing part, but I’m learning).  It was also very easy, but I know it was important to have the right resources helping me.

What would you change if you could?

Make get someone else do my marketing?  Okay, kidding, it hasn’t been that bad.  The hardest part has been learning social media.  There is so much out there, and so many different ways to do things, that it was a bit overwhelming in the beginning.  And what a time sucker it is, too!  I would go out to reply to a couple of comments that I had, and the next thing I knew the whole day had gone by.  How does that even happen?  Social media is great, but it’s a huge distraction when I would rather be writing.

 

christmas spirit

Emma Anderson loves Christmas: the lights, the celebrations, and especially her family traditions. She’s also in love with George Landon, her boss at Landon Literary, even though he doesn’t seem to like anyone or anything, including Christmas. But she has a plan to get him to fall in love with her before the New Year. Things get complicated when George ends up in a coma, and appears as a spirit that only Emma can see and hear. But even though she has his complete and undivided attention, she still has trouble succeeding with her plan because she keeps getting sidetracked by his gold-digging girlfriend, his flirtatious younger brother, and his own emotional ghosts from Christmases past. To make matters worse, the clock is ticking and the timetable has been moved up…Emma discovers she now only has until Christmas Day for her plan to succeed. If she fails, both George and her Christmas spirit will be lost to her forever.

Book Trailer: http://juliecameron.net/trailer/

 

Profile-Pic-w-Glasses julie cameron

 

Julie Cameron is a screenwriter and book author of humorous women’s fiction. Her daytime job is Operations Manager for a rapidly growing real estate and property management company in Stapleton. She manages all company operations including, office management, owner accounts, general accounting, processing of security deposits, and tenant/owner relations. Although a long-time Colorado resident, she finds downhill skiing an utterly frightening endeavor and is therefore much happier hanging out at the base of the slopes reading or diligently working on her latest storyline while drinking Chai tea lattes (coconut milk, no whipped cream). When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her friends and family or thinking up excuses to take her nieces and nephews out in search of a chocolate fix.

http://juliecameron.net/

https://www.facebook.com/JulieCameron.Writer

https://twitter.com/julie_cameron

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016JCWCMQ?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Get Into the Christmas Spirit with Julie Cameron’s Debut!

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