Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Welcomes the Fabulous Julia London

All of us at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales are excited to have one of our favorite authors of historical romance with us today, the fabulous Julia London. For those of you who are new to historical romance, here's what you should know about Julia.

Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than a dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Lockhart Family Trilogy and Desperate Debutante historical romance series, as well as several contemporary romances, including American Diva and the very popular tie-in novel to the daytime drama, Guiding Light: Jonathan’s Story.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a three time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Round Rock, Texas, with her husband and one old Labrador retriever. To keep up with all the Julia London news, please visit www.julialondon.com

Writing through a Real Life

By Julia London

When I quit my day job several years ago to write full time, I thought life would be a piece of cake. I now had the cushiest job on the planet and I didn’t even have to change out of my pajamas.

I learned pretty quickly that’s not entirely true. Writing is a solitary existence, but life still swirls around you. Most writers don’t tell you before you quit your day job, but when you live and work in the same two thousand square feet, day in and day out, sometimes, worlds collide. You can’t escape your life by going to work. You can’t escape your work by going home. Sometimes, they are two lumbering roommates, both in the way of the other, aggravating each other by intruding where they are not welcome. And the writer still has to produce a book.

In the last year, due to some family drama, I got behind in my writing schedule and had to re-negotiate my delivery dates. I announced to one and all that I had to make my deadlines—life could not intervene any longer! They all said, yes, of course!

But then my husband, who worked for a large, multi-national company that starts with Fed and ends with Ex, started getting wind of lay-offs. He worried—which meant I worried—about things. That worry crept into my head and started messing with the book and the deadline got closer and closer. Unfortunately, the words weren’t coming like they usually did.

Then my husband was laid off. Not only was he worried about getting a new job, he was home. It didn’t matter than he was respectful of my need to work, he was around and he was breathing in my work/live space, and suddenly, life had intruded too far into work this time. It was stomping around my house muttering under it’s breath and constantly—and I mean constantly—rummaging through the fridge.

The clock kept ticking. The pages I needed to write kept mounting. I had to get away or I was going to lose my mind. And the most miraculous thing happened. I rediscovered the joy of escaping into a book. When it dawned on me what a great escape it was, I couldn’t write enough. I escaped the rough patch of our life by writing, and I am pleased to report that it worked. I met my deadline. Better still, my husband got a new job. And I am eager to start my new book so I can escape again. I had forgotten over the years how to do that.

How do you escape when life interrupts? Are you able to block life from your mind when you are reading or writing, or does it muscle its way in? Would you like to escape into HIGHLAND SCANDAL? I am giving one away today!

Okay readers, leave your comments here for Julia to be entered in a contest for a copy of HIGHLAND SCANDAL. I have to tell you, it is a not-to-be-missed read! I was lucky enough to win one from Julia in a previous contest and absolutely loved it. After a long hiatus from historical reads, Highland Scandal reminded me of why I love historical romance.

So, comment away. I'll announce the winner tomorrow morning!


Debbie Kaufman said...

Reading is absolutely my most effective form of escape. Growing up, my children always knew that if mom had a book in her hand, any answers she gave to your questions didn't count. They learned that I wouldn't remember the conversation at all!

I truly loved Highland Scandal and highly recommend to all our readers that they go buy it if they don't win today!

Tami Brothers said...

Too funny, Debbie. I should make that rule at my house!!!

Thanks a ton, Julia, for sharing this with us. I'm sure a lot of us can relate, especially during these times...

I'm smack dab in the middle of school right now and I have to tell you it is very hard not to pick up a book and read when I'm stressing about a test or an assignment. But books are what help me through the day to day. They helped when I was growing up in a less than ideal household and they help now when things get a tad bit overwhelming... Thanks for that little reminder... I had forgotten how much I actually rely on them.

And, I haven't read an historical in a LONG time. This one sounds very cool and I totally trust Debbie's reviews, so I'll have to grab it.

Again, thanks for visiting with us today!!!

Tami Brothers

Marilyn Baron said...

I would love to escape with Highland Scandal. It sounds like a great book.

I write and work from home and it has its advantages. I've learned to avoid distractions (looking out the window at the deer, watching TV, talking on the phone to friends, and eating (well not so much eating).

But my favorite escape is reading. I always have a book with me. I even watch TV with a book in my hand so I can read during the commericals (or even during the show). I fall asleep at night with a book and I even bring a book to the post office to pass the time while waiting in line.

People used to look at me like I was crazy but now they just look at me like they wish they'd brought their books.

Thanks for blogging with us today.

Marilyn Baron

Cinthia Hamer said...

Hello, Julia! Thanks so much for coming to visit with us today.

Historicals are probably my favorite books. I love how I can escape to not only a different place, but a different time in history.

I'm in the middle of writing an historical right now. Not only am I enjoying writing about a different time, but I'm enjoying the research as well. Each time I must look something up, I learn more than I ever expected.

Highland Scandal sounds truly intriguing, so I'll have to put it right there at the top of my list for my next trip to the bookstore.

Once again, thank you, Julia for coming to visit!

Maxine Davis said...

Thank you for posting on PF&HT!! I enjoyed reading your post. Glad to read your life is back to a somewhat-normal.

Escapism is wonderful - reading or writing - although I admit the reading is easier.

I cannot wait to read Highland Scandal - it sounds like it will totally be my type of book!

Julia said...

Hello everyone and thank you for having me. Debbie, thank you for that wonderful shout-out on Highland Scandal.

I also escape by running. I don't do it very well and I am slow as molasses, but it really helps me clear my head. Anyone else use exercise as an escape?

kimscastillo said...

LOL. Excercise as an escape? Surely you jest, Julia. I wish!

To totally agree with Debbie, Highland Scandal rawks!

Excellent blog, Julia. You brought up a great issue I didn't even realize I had. I knew I was having a hard time structuring my day but I didn't realize why. Its the 50 potty trips the dogs need. The 300 calls from my mother asking "What are you doing?", etc. I need a door and a lock on my office!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Oh, Kim. So true. For me, today, it's all that (except for the calls from my mother which would be a strange and supernatural experience) and my five yr. old granddaughter in the house. And, it's Spring Break here and the 14yr.old wants to know if we can go shopping :)

Julia: I do spinning/cycling class and Zumba, a Latin dance excercise class too. Can't run, too many problems with the feet. I envy you, even if you are slow!

J Perry Stone said...

Oh man, do I hear you about them breathing in your space. It isn't as though they mean to suck up all the oxygen. They just do. Mine is going away for two days. When I told my mom, she said, "Are you rejoicing?"

Yes. And after day 2, I'll start missing him, but not right now.

Actually, this post could not have come at a better time, Julia. I screw the joy out of things all the time by making them obligatory. We're living with a looming lay-off threat, as well. I sit in my office sending out a billion teaching resumes (to counties who now are on hiring freezes)then tap away at my computer in the hopes I'll get a book contract. Something, please.

Anyway, lo and behold, I sunk into a writing slump. It's much like you say. I was going at it with an attitude of fear. No wonder, I've been stumped. I forgot the joy. The escape.

As for my escapes ... books, of course, friends, talking about it till there isn't anything left to say and I have to do, and talking about it with a glass of vino.

BtW, I already have Highland Scandal. I have two book shelves. The one upstairs for my "meh" books, and the one down stairs, in my writing hole. These are my keepers. You're below stairs, baby.

J Perry

EC Spurlock said...

Thank you for your wonderful post, Julia! It's encouraging to us unpublished writers to know that even established authors can have the same troubles as us lesser mortals, and find a way to overcome them.

I myself have had a rough couple of years, losing my job and three close and dear relatives. I was already in the middle of a story that was just not working, and the negativity in my daily life was creeping into it as well and just making it worse. Finally, like you I just took a break from it and escaped into my to-be-read pile. It really helped clear my head and readjust my perspective. It also inspired a couple of new story ideas that I jotted down for future use. Now I look forward to returning to my troublesome WIP with a fresh eye and hopefully clearing out some of the problems.

Susan May said...

Thanks for the post. Life does get in your way. I'm just getting cranked up again after an occurance. I read magazines during the day, but at night I read from a book. It is my way of going somewhere else where I know things will turn out all right.

J Perry Stone said...

Good point, Kimmie. We need to get Gestapo with our days. You, in particular, need to stop taking calls from your friends who call crying to you about their lives ;)

Emma Lai said...

It's interesting how both good and bad events intrude into writing. For me, it's pregnancy. Before, I was writing and writing and writing. Now...nothing and I've got rewrites due. However, I'm finding the joy in escaping into imaginary worlds again...of course by reading...and the tingles of inspiration have once again began to tease the corners of my mind.

Julia, HIGHLAND SCANDAL sounds great. I'm sure it will be as interesting as all of your others!

Marin Thomas said...

Hi Julia

Wow, can I relate to your story. I've been through three lay-offs with my husband during our marriage--corporate American can be a real bear. Writing with hubby in the house is very difficult. The only noise in my home when I write is the washer and dryer--when hubby's around the TV is on all day and it's hard to concentrate. I'm getting better at it though because hubby works from home two days a week now.

My escape is walking the dogs and when the weather permits working in my garden.

Highland Scandal sounds like a wonderful book!

Marin Thomas
A Cowboy's Promise (April 2009)

CiCi Barnes said...

Thanks for stopping by, Julia, and I'm really glad to hear I'm not the only one with such a problem. Home and work coincide in my house. During the school year, it's not so bad. Hubby is gone most of the day. He learned early on during the summer, that I still have a 9-to-5 job, after I not-so-timidly let him know.

I close the door or escape to the deck, turn on loud, instrumental music and hang a Do Not Disturb sign out. He gets the picture. If the door is open, he's welcome to stop by for comments.

And as for the phone, answering machine. I don't even look at the caller ID if I'm writing. I've told the kids, if it's an emergency, hang up and call right back, then I'll know I need to answer it.

As for my big escape? That just happens to be the subject of my blog tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Thanks again, Julie. Loved your post and can't wait to read Highland Scandal.


Michelle said...

Julia - Great post. I work from home and just this morning I was looking out my studio window at my yard in bloom and I got a little teary over my thankfulness that I get to be home. That being said, it's a struggle. I find myself wandering in the house to do laundry or chatting on the phone too much. I have demanding deadlines as part of my real job and I will kill myself to hit them, but so often I don't treat my own writing deadlines with the same respect.

Julia said...

Kim, I forgot to mention parents and friends. Oh my LORD -- they think since you work at home, the middle of the day is the perfect time to call. I finally had to tell both sets of parents that I couldn't answer the phone before 5 because that was the only time I had to work.

You know, J Perry, you made my day telling me I am below stairs, LOL. I forgot to mention in my post that I also escaped by going to the library. I can't do Starbuck's very well because I get distracted by everyone coming and going. But when I went to the library, it was quiet, there were no phones, no internet, nothing but me and my thoughts. So if you can afford the time, I highly recommend it.

Michelle, I agree with you--I am so lucky to be able to do what I want to do on my terms. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I realized how hard it is to work and live in the same space every day. Like my husband said before he started working again: "How do you DO this??" hahahaa. I didn't tell him it's much easier when he's gone!

Anonymous said...

My husband is in the kitchen EVERY MORNING, spilling coffee and making a mess while I'm trying to get to work! :-)

Mae Nunn
Inspiration with a Kick!
A Texas Ranger's Family, September 2009


The_Book_Queen said...

I can't wait to read this one-- I've read all the previous ones, and I LOVED them. But this one has to be even better-- I mean, come on, it's got Scotland in it! Who doesn't love a nice highland hero? Or heroine-- they make for interesting characters too. ;)

Manda said...

Hi Julia! First off let me tell you that I'm coming off of a Julia London glom. I've had The Book of Scandal on my TBR for a while now and do you know how sometimes you have to wait for the right time to read a book? Or maybe that's just me. But anyway, it just called to me the other night and started to read and kept on reading until I was three quarters of the way through and my eyes were crossing because I HAD to go to sleep. What a wonderful, poignant, charming book. I wish I'd read it sooner, but then again, waiting was good because then I could dive into Highland Scandal right after. Which I also loved! (But don't put me in the running for prize since I already have it.)Then of course I had to go back and read "Snowy Night with a Highlander," Fiona's story, which I also loved. Thanks for such wonderful reads.

Your blog is right on target for me right now. I too have discovered what a relief it can be to escape into writing. Which is wonderful since I need to be writing anyway:)

Nicole North said...

Congratulations on the release, Julia!! I loved your Lockhart Family series and can't wait to read this new Highland book!! (I am of course in love with all Highlanders or men who wear kilts.) ;) You have given me some awesome advice in your post. I sometimes have a hard time concentrating too. But if I think of it more as escaping into the story, that might work! Thanks for the idea!

julia london said...

Nicole, you know how it is when you first start writing, and you are so thrilled that you can do it, and so amazed at where you imagination takes you that you can't wait to get to it every day? I will confess it's been a long time since I felt that way. Working on deadline often means I am racing to get the book down on paper so I can go back and edit some charm into it. I had honestly forgotten how fun it is to submerge yourself in that story -- reading or writing -- and just let go. It saved me through the Time He Was Laid Off era of my marriage, hahahaha. But it also rejuvenated me. I can't wait to start the next book. I just have to write the stupid outline first. Augh! Hate those!!

CrystalGB said...

Hi Julia. Highland Scandal sounds great. I find the greatest escape in books. For a little while, you can journey to another place and time and escape the issues in every day life.

Cheri2628 said...

Hi, Julia! Congrats on the new release! I am a big fan of your books. So far, the Desperate Debutantes series has been my favorite.

Reading is my favorite way to escape "life" for a while. Thank you for being one of the authors who helps me escape! ;-)

Jeannie Ruesch said...

I would LOOOOVE to escape into HIGHLAND SCANDAL. I've been waiting for this book! :)

I completely understand the invading spaces of work and home. I actually work my full time job from home (I'm a marketing and graphic person) AND I write from home AND I take care of my son most of the week. (He has a fabulous babysitter who gets him three days a week.) But everything tends to smoosh together when everything you do is at home.

Not to mention, when my hubby gets home from his long week of work (and 3 hour commute per day), all he wants to do is STAY home...and yup, all I want to do is...leave. :)

elainec said...

Hi Julia,
I'm trying again. My comments were sent into cyberspace instead of posting. :-(
Thanks for sharing how getting into your writing got you through the block of daily life. "Highland Scandal" sounds great! I'm a fan of both your historicals and contemporaries.

Dellani Oakes said...

I can relate to this so very much! My husband works nights and I work at home as a writer. Not only is he here during my prime work time, but the phone rings & he doesn't answer. Someone comes to the door, and he doesn't answer. He goes to bed, the boys come home from school - repeat the routine only with their friends dropping by, not anyone who wants to see me!
Congratulations on the publication of your new book!

Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks so much for stopping by and also for the timely post. I just stopped teaching full time, and I really struggle with making time to write while keeping the house somewhere just above inhabitable and keeping the two year old from ingesting things that should not be ingested.

I finally gave up and take my laptop to a neighborhood cafe while my daughter's in school where I can't see the piles of laundry or the dishes. I can just write. I also agree with you that sometimes I need to run and or/lift weights to clear out the cobwebs and work through a plot problem.

Any other advice, especially for those of us who can't keep the same schedule every day?

Oh, and I would love to escape into Highland Scandal!


julia london said...

Dellani, what is it with men and phones? Mine NEVER answers unless I throw it at him. And the ironic thing is that it is almost always for him because he is actually a chatty Cathy.

Sally, my other secret, which is not so affordable for most -- is a housekeeper. I will live under a bridge before I will give her up. She comes once a week. I cannot work with chaos around me, and as I have a two year old around, too, I know the sort of chaos they can create. Honestly, during the era of He Was Laid Off, we let go a lot of things -- dining out, some groceries, WINE for God's sake -- but I would not give her up!

Janga said...

Julia, I loved Highland Scandal, even more than The Book of Scandal. I think Jack is one of your best heroes. I'm adding him to my personal Romance Heroes Hall of Fame.

This week I'm rejoicing that spring break is over. I can usually escape the ordinary clamor of my household to write or read, but spring break meant five days of from 1-5grands ages 3 to 9 added to the tumult. Escape was impossible. I adore them, but with TVs, video games, and ownership disputes, they magnify the noise level by about 1000. On the other hand, their hugs and laughter are the world's best cure for the grim blues or the mean reds.

babs m said...

Definitely my dream. Because I'm self-employed over the years I've been able to regulate my time and write when things don't overwhelm me, but sometimes work just does that. Best wishes with your career!

Walt Mussell said...

I can relate from one side. Losing your job is difficult to deal with.

Hopefully I can relate from the other side some day, the side of beig a successful writer.

Great post!

Linsey Lanier said...

Writing is very much my escape. I live for it, even though at times it's hard to escape into my escape.

Some great thoughts.


Cyrano said...

Thanks so much for stopping by PFHT today. I love to read our daily blog, look forward to it with relish in fact, but it's even more thrilling to get a glimpse into the writing life of our visiting published authors as well.
I'm very fortunate to be a stay at home mom of teeneagers. I have a good bit of free time. The problem is, I don't always use that free time wisely and sadly my WIP suffers because of that.
I've been taking my daily solitude for granted. But it's high time for a change. I've made a goal to write each day for at least one hour. I initiated that goal two days ago and I haven't fallen off the wagon yet.
Thanks so much for your time today. Keep writing those wonderful books.
Have a beautiful afternoon,

julia london said...

Thank you, Janga -- I am so glad you liked the book!

Walt, I think that being laid off is much harder on men. It goes against everything they are taught from the cradle, to get out there and earn. I hope you get to write for a living, too! It really is the greatest job.

Cyrano, I would say you have mastered half the battle. I don't think people understand how difficult it is to have the kind of self-discipline you need to be a writer. So if you can make yourself write an hour a day, you are way ahead of everyone else!

Nicki Salcedo said...

This is really the encouragement I need this week! Life is even interrupting my LIFE. Never mind my writing. :-)

I just accept it and understand that when life interrupts it doesn't have to be a permanent thing. I have 3 small kids, so I don't want to look back and think I didn't take the time to enjoy them. But I also write now so that when they grow up I don't resent them preventing me from following my dreams.

And to think I thought life stopped bothering you once you are published ;)

Thanks so much, Julia. I'm so glad to hear that writing is your escape. It is mine, too!

alba said...

Hi Julia reading is my escape when those dreadful thing's that life throws at you what I love to do is either run a hot bubble bath listen to my Enya and read something about her music and Historical bring the vision of the story's to light for me.
Cant wait to get my hand's on a copy of Highland Scandal. Did I mention that my middle name Is Lockhart I was named after my Aunt oh and yes Im Scottish too.
Happy Spring.Ann

julia london said...

Nicki, I know exactly what you mean! And then it interrupts so much you look back at the day and wonder what in the hell you actually accomplished, right?

Alba, a bubble bath sounds heavenly. SIGH

Anna Steffl said...

I wanna win! I will eat haggis for you (hey, I like it).

Thanks for the great advice. Always nice to know I'm not the only one retreating to the fridge. Why does nothing tasty miraculously appear in there after I open the door seven times?

Ana Aragón said...


I love your books! I write hot contemporaries and erotic romance, but I prefer to read historicals.

Wow, it must have been scary when your husband was laid-off. That's what keeps me on the day job. Plus, I'm afraid I'd just sit around and bore myself. I seem to be more prolific when I'm on deadline or if I have way too much on my plate...I excape into my make-believe world!

I hope I win your latest, but even if I don't you can be sure I'll run out and pick it up for my summer reading.

Thanks for blogging with us!


Pamela-reader said...

Hello Julia: I'm not a writer, but that is about the only thing I don't ESCAPE from by reading! I love your books - I have bunches of them. I actually looked last night in the store for "Scandal", just in case, but of course, had no luck.

Just like Debbie K said at the top here, I get so deeply involved in a book, I literally cannot hear conversations. My husband has (mostly) been trained to get my attention (and wait for a reply) before he starts talking to me... I think he finally got tired of repeating himself when on the 3rd sentence, I would look up, blink & say "Wait! Start over - I didn't hear you." :-)

julia london said...

Anna, I would never make anyone eat haggis (I did try it once and only once) :-)

Ana, thank you -- and I am like you. Even though I have sooooo much time to write, I actually do more writing when my back is up against the wall with a deadline. What is that all about??

Pamela! I hope you will try again! I hate when that happens. I love to read, too--I just wish I had more time!

julia london said...

Thank you all so much for having me here today. I appreciate all the comments about my books -- it really pumped me up ;-). I look forward to seeing who won -- thanks for coming out and commenting and hope to see you again soon -- Julia

Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

Julia, I love escaping into your books. Like most others here, reading is my pleasure, coping mechanism, way to see different times and worlds. Thanks for the part you've played!

Thanks also for sharing this story. My husband is a consultant who recently has been working from home. It doesn't matter that he has work and I have work, I never get as much done when he's around. This time of working remotely has been fun, but I'm looking forward to his going into the office again. :)

Anonymous said...

Reading is the ONLY escape I get. My 3 yr old even comes into the bathroom when I shower to make sure I am still there! My husband is home all the time and the novelty of this wore off long ago. I will pick up a book and totally get lost in it, until life interrupts again, which, unfortunately, is usually every few minutes. Thanks for the blog today!

Barbara P.

Dianna Shuford said...

I can definitely relate. During summers when school is out, I think, "Now, I can get some writing done!" Ummm, doesn't usually happen like I think because the kids are home with me. When things get really bad, I retreat into my "office" (my master closet) and do my best to pretend I'm alone. Sometimes it even works.

Gannon Carr said...

Hey, Julia!

Reading is most definitely an escape for me, followed by writing my reviews for RNTV. When I'm in the zone, I can block just about anything out.

Glad to hear that Jack London got a new job and there is less "refrigerator rummaging." ;)

elainec said...

Hi, again.
This has been a fabulous blog.I've enjoyed reading it all day. Many of you are writers and have different ways of dealing with the problems inherent in working at home. What really stands out, though, is the similarities of your problems and how you deal with them. You are so supportive of each other. That's great.
I know I find it difficult to do work in the house when my husband is home - not working. I get a lot done on the three or four days he does volunteer work. It's petty of me, but that's how I am.
Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences. Some things seem to be wide spread and funny, particularly men not answering the phone. :-)