Category: Seven Stone Updates

24
Nov

Seven Stones Signed Copies & FREE SHIPPING!

I don’t know about you, but I am SO READY FOR THANKSGIVING! An entire holiday devoted to family, friends, football, and genuine gratitude? There’s nothing better. One thing I’m grateful for: this past Saturday was Shane and my TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! Ten years ago on November 19th (at 12:29 am – how do I know the exact time? Shane WROTE IT DOWN and told me a few months afterward when I thought our anniversary was November 18th…he is adorable). These past ten years have been filled with more love, laughter, and adventure than I ever thought possible. We had an amazing weekend, and are so excited to be home and with more people we love.

Which brings me to the food. Oh, the FOOD. As you know, I’m a big rabbit so we will be bringing some awesome veggie recipes home to family Thanksgiving. Here are a few of the recipes I’ll be whipping up today:

Chai Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

AND my homemade Cranberry Sauce. Now, growing up, I used to think that cranberry sauce was picked from the vine in cans. I couldn’t possibly conceive the arduous, complicated process that went into the jelly-like, can-shaped red substance I relished every year. Right? WRONG. If you’ve never made Cranberry Sauce, this is your time. It is so stinking easy and SO much tastier than that canned stuff. My favorite recipe uses maple syrup for sweetener, but you can use granulated sugar if you prefer and just add a bit more water. Here goes:

Julia’s Super Easy Totally Delicious Cranberry Sauce

Nothing better than Wisconsin cranberries 😉

1 12 oz. bag cranberries

1 cup maple syrup (that’s right, a CUP)

1 cup water

Directions:

Put the cranberries into a pan. Awesome. Now add the water. Dump in the maple syrup. Great. Heat on Medium-Low until the concoction starts bubbling. Let it simmer for 10 minutes (the cranberries will start popping – this is my favorite part). After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let cool (the cranberries will thicken as they cool).

Boom. Cranberry Sauce. You’re welcome.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! I also come bearing gifts. Hey, consequently do you know what makes an AMAZING gift? SEVEN STONES! It’s a perfect stocking stuffer, Hanukkah present (why not buy a copy for each night?!), or addition for your winter solstice celebration.

If you are looking to get some holiday shopping done post-turkey coma, don’t go out to a huge department store on Black Friday. Support small and local businesses on Saturday, and while you’re at it you can buy a few copies of Seven Stones for readers on your list! To celebrate this season of thanks and cheer, I would LOVE to send you a personally signed copy AND pay for your shipping!!!

How do you get such a great deal? Send me a message (or a private message through Facebook). Provide your address and what you would like me to include in your personalized message. We can talk about payment methods in your message or you can shop RiverPlace Press directly.

I hope everyone has a safe Thanksgiving full of too much good food and even better books!

Happy Thanksgiving!

15
Oct

Welcome to the Fall!

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I’M ALIVE!

Hello, world! It’s me, Julia. It’s been awhile. How are you? What’s been going on?

I have meant to write a blog post for sooooooo many weeks. How many weeks exactly? Ever since the Wisconsin Highland Games over the Labor Day weekend. The Games were AMAZING like they are every year, and I had such a blast. I got to meet new readers, catch up with people who bought Seven Stones last year (and who are clamoring for a sequel. I hear you!), and revel in all the Scottishness around me. Best of all, I SOLD OUT OF BOOKS AGAIN! 2 zealous readers actually pre-ordered books from our fourth printing (which just came out a few weeks ago). How cool is that?!

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RIGHT after Highland Games ended, my last semester in graduate school began. Hence the radio silence. I’m taking a Children’s Lit class that runs 8 weeks instead of 15 – which means I have a whole semester of reading, posting, and assignments crammed into half the time. In other words, my life has been an endless party since I last wrote. 😉

HOWEVER, an 8 week class means that it officially ends November 4th. And you know what November is, right? November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word book in one month (you can check it out here if you’re interested), and that’s what I intend to do. I already have a good chunk of my novel written – if I can use November to finish the first draft of my sequel, I will be a happy author. Grad school owns me until the end of October. After that, I’m going to be working HARD on the sequel to Seven Stones. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to focus solely on my writing soon, but I am so incredibly excited to be getting my MLIS. Just a few weeks to go!!!

One other big highlight from the past month was the Minnesota Library Association annual conference in Duluth!!! As you know, I’m a big nerd. I LOVE GOING TO THE LIBRARY CONFERENCE. I full on nerd-out and come back super pumped about all things library. This year, the conference was even better because it was in Duluth (aka, one of the most beautiful cities in Minnesota…or quite possibly period). As part of the conference, us librarians got to tour the Glensheen Mansion. Pics below. Yes, you may drool. I won’t judge.

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Glensheen

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Step right in…

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I felt like Lady Grantham should be coming down those stairs.

 

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Tea in the drawing room?

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And, the library, of course!

Last thing I want to share before I go back to homework is one of my favorite fall dinners: Warm Autumn Salad. Shane and I have never really done salads for dinner before because they never kept us full – we’d just eat popcorn or something worse after trying to be healthy. This salad recipe is not only filling, but amazingly delicious. The farmer’s market in Mankato has just been brimming with fresh, delicious produce and we put them all in this salad. If you’re into meat, add some local chicken or beef. Add/change/omit what you want and get some more green power in your diet with his scrumptious salad!

Warm Autumn Salad

salad

You will not be hungry after this salad. Trust.

Here’s What You Need:

1 cup wild rice (I like to make mine with stock instead of water for more flavor)

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed

5-6 beets, sliced into silver dollars

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

Kale, or other local greens

Your favorite cheese, grated (we had cinnamon apple cheddar from home)

Your favorite salad dressing (Hilary’s Apple Fennel is FABULOUS on this salad)

Here’s What to Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange squash cut side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Arrange the beet slices on another baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on some of your favorite herbs or seasoning salt, if desired. Roast for an hour or until browned and delicious.
  2. While your veggies are roasting, prepare the wild rice (usually 1 cup of wild rice to 3 cups of stock). Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and let that simmer for about 45 minutes.
  3. Boom. All your warm stuff is warm. Hard part is over. Now all you have to do is plate. Get a big ol’ dinner plate and pile on a bed of greens.
  4. Spoon wild rice on top of that.
  5. Cube up your squash (or Shane just likes it scooped out like mashed potatoes) and put it on top of the wild rice.
  6. Snag some beets and drop fat beet (or several) on top of the squash.
  7. Add the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle on cranberries and walnuts.
  9. Drizzle with dressing.
  10. Serve with a nice red wine and some fresh local fruit! We’ve got DELICIOUS apples in season right now!

Eat Salad. Be satisfied. You’re welcome.

Happy Weekend!

11
Jul

Minnesota Highland Games & Seven Stones eBook!

I’m a sellout. Literally! Shane and I traveled up to Eagan (still feels weird saying “up” when referring to the Twin Cities area after living in Bemidji and Brainerd so long) this past weekend for the Minnesota Scottish Fair and SOLD OUT OF BOOKS!!!

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I enjoyed the Scottish Fair this year even more than I did last year. First of all, there was no tornado the night before (tent intact!). Selling out of all my books was a big plus, but my absolute favorite part of the Fair was meeting readers! I had so many people come up to my table and tell me that they bought Seven Stones last year and LOVED IT! Seriously, there is no better feeling in the world. 🙂 Thank you to everyone who stopped by our tent, has read Seven Stones, bought a signed copy, grabbed a bookmark, or added your name to our email list. I love you all!

Thanks for reading and making me feel like a super star, Katrina and Andrea!

Thanks for reading and making me feel like a super star, Katrina and Andrea!

Me and my newest reader, Abbie!

Me and my newest reader, Abbie!

Readers also came by to tell me to get my butt moving on the sequel. It is great motivation for a writer to hear the sequel is anticipated, and I really hope to get the manuscript done by the end of the year! I’ve had so much support and encouragement, now I just have to get a draft down that I actually like and we’ll be in business. This latest draft is very promising–I’ll keep you updated!!

Speaking of updates, SEVEN STONES IS NOW AN EBOOK!!! It is available here through Amazon. TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Then, tell all your friends to write Amazon reviews (they are a HUGE help). I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have an eBook version of my novel. It’s one of those things that makes me feel all official and swanky and whatnot. Yes, I said swanky. And you can be swanky, too! My eBook comes with extra swankiness! Okay, done writing the word swanky.

As you can see, July has been a wonderful whirlwind! Thrown into the mix was Shane and my SIXTH wedding anniversary yesterday! In case you don’t know, Shane is the most impossibly amazing husband and best friend anyone could ever hope to have. Six years being married to this guy, and I still feel like we’re on our honeymoon. I wouldn’t be able to do this whole author thing without his constant love, support, and encouragement.

Thanks to the love of my life for six amazing years!

Thanks to the love of my life for six amazing years!

We had a perfect day: slept in, made a big breakfast, watched the Euro Cup final, did some yoga together, had a beyond incredible fancy dinner at our favorite Italian place, Neighbor’s, and finished the day with video games. Now, it’s back to my library for another week of awesomeness and back to my writing chair to work on the sequel.

Happy Monday!

21
Mar

Happy Birthday, Seven Stones!

PARTY! And by party, I mean read my book.

Seven Stones is one-year-old today! It’s really hard to believe that it was only one year ago that my first book was published by the most amazing folks at Riverplace Press. In that year, I went from novel novice to published author, went on a book tour, spoke at libraries, and met more incredible people along the way. This past year has been magical.

Dream come true!

Dream come true!

On this day last year was one of the most memorable, touching, and meaningful events of my life: the book release party. Honestly? I was terrified that no one would show up or that I would mess up the speech I had to deliver. Instead, I was overwhelmed by how many friends and family crowded into Prairie Bay and the scary speech went better than I could have hoped for. Such an amazing day, and I am grateful for every moment and book printed since then (Ahem, 3 printings in case you’re keeping track).

So much love!

So much love!

Thank you to everyone who made my dream a reality. Who listened to me, encouraged me, and never let me doubt myself. And a BIG thank you to all my readers! If you’ve read my book, you are on my list of favorite people. If you haven’t, check out what readers and critics have been saying, then check it out for yourself.

I have a lot more planned for my little book. Hopefully, I’ll have another book birthday to celebrate in the not-so-distant future!

To celebrate a year in my literary life, I made what Shane has dubbed, “the best things I’ve ever baked”: Cranberry Pistachio Scones.

I got the inspiration for these bad boys from my local tea shop. I went to Curiosi-Tea the other weekend and fell in love with their Pistachio Shortbread tea. One whiff of that buttery tea and I was hooked. I’ve been trying to get into baked goods ever since.

Now, if you’re not lucky enough to have pistachio tea around you, you could also try making this recipe with pistachio extract. Equally delicious. Also, don’t sweat it if you don’t have bread flour. Shane and I have been making all of our own bread since December, so we had it at home. If you have a different kind of flour—like all-purpose—feel free to sub.

The most important thing to do is make these scones. They are insanely delicious, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweet. So put the kettle on, grab a cozy blanket, and curl up with my cranberry pistachio scones. I hear they go great with Seven Stones.

Book Birthday Cranberry Pistachio Scones

Baked Pieces of Heaven

Baked Pieces of Heaven

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached bread flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

1/3 cup Sucanat

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries

¼ cup pistachios, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and tea. My tea was whole leaf, so I ground it to a fine powder in my mortar and pestle. Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix in with two forks or pastry cutter (if you’ve got fancy things like that. I don’t.) until the dough is nice and crumbly.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond milk, Sucanat, and vanilla. Fold in cranberries and pistachios. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined (don’t overmix). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a circle. Cut with a floured knife, dividing the dough into 8 equal wedges (like a pie).

Place wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 13-15 minutes, until scones have started to brown and firm up.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle with Pistachio Tea Glaze if desired (trust me, you’ll desire it).

Pistachio Tea Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp almond milk

¼ tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea, finely ground Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add more icing sugar or milk to adjust the consistency if necessary.

Happy Monday!

21
Jan

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review!

Do you know what today is? Do you?!

It’s my one-year blogging anniversary (blogiversary?)!!! Happy Birthday, Open Book! Last January, I was living in Bemidji and just shot an In Focus about my upcoming novel, Seven Stones, with my friend and Lakeland News reporter Catherine Silver. It was so much fun to shoot, and I couldn’t believe how amazing it turned out!

Today, I received another great gift: a FABULOUS review from One Girl, Two Cities for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

“…could not put this book down. I felt like I went back to high school, trying to maneuver my way through body issues, boys, school work, and figuring out how to fit into two different cultures.”

“Lee’s writing will hold your attention and keep you wondering what will happen next.”

To see the whole review, click here!

Thanks to everyone who reads my ramblings, comments, occasionally giggles at my jokes, and especially to those who have read Seven Stones! I love you all! What a crazy awesome year it has been!

Happy Thursday!

 

14
Dec

Homemade Breakfast Cereal

My life for the past few weeks

Almost there. One class is completely done. Discussions are wrapped up. It is finals week, people! I have one last HUGE project to finish and I am FREE (for a whole month).

The struggle is real. The struggle I’m referring to, of course, is not allowing myself to become distracted by the internet. Like, for example, writing a blog post when you’re supposed to be working on your 20 page paper. Just a random example. But while I’m here, let’s talk about some cool stuff that’s been going on!

In between projects, papers, and finals, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun! Seven Stones was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature–a dream come true!!! We’ll find out on January 30th if I make it to become a finalist! Keep your fingers crossed EXTRA tight!

Another great honor was being asked to be a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Advisory Board. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The group is currently reviewing multicultural books to promote, and Seven Stones is one of them! I can’t wait to share the review. Stay tuned!!

We’ve also decorated for the holidays (nothing gets Shane happier than decorating a tree or setting up his Christmas village. Yes. It is HIS village and he is VERY proud of it), cheered on our Packers, and I’ve had so many cool things going on at the library it is hard to pick a favorite! This Wednesday is my big, 3-hour Star Wars: The Force Awakens party for 50+ kids, so wish me luck! I’ll definitely post pictures!

Before I scurry off to do more homework, I want to share a quick recipe: Homemade Breakfast Cereal. I love breakfast. I’ve never been the biggest fan of boxed cereals, however, because I never feel like they fill me up. Often, they are way too sugary and not very nutritious. During finals week, it is more important than ever that I get a good breakfast that will keep my brain fueled throughout the whole day. Enter, buckwheat.

Such a superfood, it should have a cape

Technically, it isn’t a cereal. Cereals are grains like oats, wheat, and barley. The main ingredient in this homemade breakfast cereal is buckwheat, which is a crazy nutritious seed that acts like a grain. It is packed full of protein and as a bonus is gluten-free! The best part of this buckwheat cereal is the taste: real maple, cinnamon, and vanilla combine to create a breakfast that is out of this world. Plus, while it is baking your entire apartment smells like Christmas! That’s what I call a win-win.

Make sure to plan ahead with this recipe, because it takes about 4 hours between the soaking and baking. I made a double-batch yesterday to last the whole week. I started baking in the morning, worked on my paper, went for a hike in the woods with Shane, and when we got back the cereal was done! Super easy, super delicious!

I got the recipe from one of my favorite food channels on YouTube called “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” The recipe below is simply a double of the original. To watch the how-to video (and for more tasty inspiration), click here!

Julia’s Favorite Cereal of POWER!

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Delicious toasted cereal imbued with holiday spirit!

4 cups buckwheat groats, soaked in water for 1 hour
1 c maple syrup
4 t cinnamon
2 t salt
1/4 t stevia

1. Soak buckwheat groats for at least one hour, then rinse (soaking will get rid of starchiness and soften those groats up a bit)
2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl an mix like you mean it!
3. Spread on two baking sheets and let bake in oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, rotating the pans and mixing groats around half-way through. At 2 hours, check your groats. They dry? Yes, take out of oven and let cool. No? Stick them back in until dry.
4. Crumble apart any large chunks of cereal. Pour into bowl. Pour any type of milk over the top. DEVOUR!

Happy Finals Week!

26
Sep

Weekly Wrap-Up: Royalty Checks, Conferences, and Celebrations!

Horray! Saturday!

It’s not Friday. I accept this. So, instead of Friday Favorites, I’m calling this the Weekly Wrap-Up. Better late than never, right? I’ve also accepted that writing three blog posts a week while starting a new job, grad school, trying to write a sequel, and have a semblance of a life is insanity. For now, at least, I think I’m going to switch to two blog posts a week. Not that I won’t write more when I have the time (haha), but two posts is much more feasible than three right now.

But enough of that–let’s get on to the actual post! This past week was a curve ball. I attended not one, but TWO workshops on early literacy and librarianship. One of the workshops was in the Cities (the Twin Cities or Minneapolis/St. Paul for those of you outside Minnesota), which was amazing because I got to have dinner with one of my close friends from high school. Also, I had my first full staff meeting with the whole library system. Does it make me a huge nerd to say that I was REALLY excited for the staff meeting? Most likely. 🙂

Besides the workshops, here are a few other highlights from my week:

My First Royalty Check!

That’s right, people! I OFFICIALLY HAVE MADE MONEY FROM MY BOOK! Actual, real money! From my own writing! I can’t tell you how amazing that feels. I literally danced around and sang when my publishers gave me the check. And speaking of Seven Stones

River Place Press is Running a THIRD PRINTING!!!!!

Third Printing!

Third Printing!

A third printing. Three printings in one year. Can you believe it?!? People are reading my book! PEOPLE ARE READING MY BOOK! If you are one of those people, THANK YOU!!! If you aren’t one of those people, you really should reconsider your life choices.

Eid al-Adha

I LOVE experiencing new cultures and ESPECIALLY new foods. On Friday night, I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate Eid al-Adha with new friends, and it was wonderful! Mankato has a very large Somali population, and most of the community practices Islam. I had never been invited to an Islamic celebration before, but when my cousin asked me if I wanted to attend a feast how could I resist?!

Because I’m a nerd who loves to learn, I did some research on the festival of Eid. Eid al-Adha is known as the “Festival of Sacrifice” which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. After a day of prayer, greetings, and the exchange of gifts, there is a big celebration where you eat tons of delicious, delicious foods while visiting with friends. What could be bad about that?! Answer: nothing.

The spread!

The spread!

I had never had Somali food before, and found that it is FABULOUS! My favorites were Samboosa (fried savory triangles stuffed with spiced meat), Bur (a slightly sweet fried dough), Shaah Somali (a light, milky, very sweet chai-like tea flavored with cardamom and other spices. Shane hates tea, but he loved Shaah Somali. He drank a whole cup!).

Bajia: little fried bits of heaven

Bajia: little fried bits of heaven

My absolute favorite food was Bajia. If you like falafel, you’ll love bajia–they are little balls made from chick peas and fried to perfection. I. Love. Bajia. Also on the menu was Kahawa (fried coffee. That’s right. FRIED coffee infused with cardamom, spices, and sweetened) and a spiced rice, potato, and meat dish called Bariis Iskukaris.

All of the food was so good it was hard to stop eating! It didn’t help that all the other women kept telling me that I was too skinny and had to eat more. Oh well, twist my arm. 🙂 I love the spices in Somali food–especially the use of cardamom. Cardamom has always been one of my favorite flavors–such a sweet, earthy, spicy flavor–and it was in almost everything I ate.

Dessert: simple biscuits dunked in the sweet, spiced Kahawa or Shaah Somali.

Dessert: simple biscuits dunked in the sweet, spiced Kahawa or Shaah Somali.

I feel so fortunate to be invited to such a beautiful celebration! There I was, a Celtic lass talking and laughing with women from Somali, the Sudan, and Yemen. It was awesome! I met some new friends and found some new favorite foods. Eid Mubarak. 🙂

That’s my week! I’m off to do homework!

Happy Saturday!

01
Jun

Seven Stones Book Trailer!

 

Seven Stones has an official book trailer!

I have been waiting for this day ever since I learned that I had been awarded the Region 2 Arts Council Individual Artist Grant back in March. I knew what kind of trailer I wanted, and I knew exactly who I wanted to work with. For the past month, I’ve had the great fortune to have the wonderful and talented Christy Brown of Brown Design in Brainerd, Minnesota craft an absolutely stunning book trailer. From the first rough proof to the finished product, being a part of the design process has been incredible! Christy not only understood the heart and essence of Seven Stones, she also makes me look and feel all swanky and important every time I view her creation (which is about once every five minutes).

I am very proud to share this trailer with you, and hope you share it with others! 🙂

What do you think?!

Happy Monday!

29
May

Friday Favorites: Wrapping Up the Birthday Week

I love being 27 already! My birthday was absolutely wonderful. I love any excuse to eat good food and hang out with amazing people, and birthdays give me the perfect excuse! Thank you to EVERYONE who sent me messages, called, stopped by, and made me feel so incredibly loved. Here are some of my favorite things from this past week:

Jane Austen Tea Party

My first ever tea party was even better than I imagined! My birthday dawned sunny and bright, and I spent the afternoon prepping tiny sandwiches and eating ALL the crusts (what else are you going to do with them?). The spread was absolutely gorgeous, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get pictures–we just started eating right away! I made 12 tomato-fresh basil-balsamic cream cheese sandwiches, 12 avocado egg salad sandwiches, and 12 cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches. All were marvelous, but my favorites were the tomato basil. I adore fresh basil leaves. To me, they taste like summer, cool and refreshing.

We also had pineapple, watermelon, fresh organic veggies, homemade cranberry-orange biscotti, and four types of delicious tea. The favorite of the night was the mocha hazelnut yerba matte–it was like drinking dessert! For actual dessert, I made green tea honey ice cream. So. Freaking. Good. And SO easy! Here’s my super simple recipe for a sublime summer treat:

Julia’s Green Tea Ice Cream

image from choosingraw.com

1 can coconut milk (full fat will be creamier, but lite works as well)

2 tsp. Matcha

1/3 cup honey

Mix everything together and pour into your ice cream maker. Voilà! You are an ice cream genius and everyone will be impressed. You’ll be the talk of the town.

Marrying Mr. Darcy

As we ate our ice cream and nibbled biscotti, we played Marrying Mr. Darcy. This game has it all for Jane Austen fans. You get to become a female character from an Austen novel (I got to be Elizabeth Bennet!), the goal of the game being to get your suitor to propose. The suitors, however, each require different things from their would-be loves (Darcy required his future bride to have a wit of 5 or higher).

Throughout the game, you try to acquire beauty, wit, friendliness, and reputation points by interacting with the cards. However, getting a scandal card makes you lose attributes and make sure you watch out for Mr. Wickham or you’ll be eloped and ruined in before you’re first ball!

The cards are very tongue-and-cheek, and the best part was reading them in our best (or worst?) aristocratic English accents. This game is definitely going on my need to own list! 🙂

 

Second Printing!

Website Cover Art

As an added birthday bonus, the final proof for the second edition of Seven Stones was officially approved and sent off to the printers!!!! HUZZAH!!! I can’t believe we’re actually running a second printing! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has supported me and spread the word about Seven Stones! Keep telling friends, liking my Facebook page, reading this blog, and just being your amazing selves!

 

Word Count

Here’s to another year of adventures–literary and otherwise. My word count for this week? Unfortunately, I’m giving myself a NEGATIVE word count. I actually finished writing an entire chapter…and it just didn’t fit. I tried reworking it several times, but in the end decided to scrap it. This kind of process is necessary for a good end result; sometimes working through all the “bad” words leads you to the good ones. Let’s hope so, anyway!

 

Happy, happy Friday!

I’m lucky enough to celebrate with another birthday bash on Saturday. We’ll be enjoying the beautiful weather with a bonfire, roasting sausages over the flames, and playing lots of games!

 

22
Apr

Seven Stones: A Multicultural Novel

Before we finish up talking about how Seven Stones came together, let’s do a quick overview of Monday: IT WAS AWESOME! After munching on an Earl Grey scone, I drove down to Brainerd and enjoyed a day full of food, friends, and book stuff! After lunch with a close friend for lunch at Christmas Point, I zipped over to meet with my publicist and did a really fun interview for a segment on “Community Corner” (and YES, I will be posting the interview online soon!).

Julia

Once the interview was over, I stopped by the Crow Wing Food Co-Op (home of the best sandwiches and wraps EVER), and had a coffee meeting with my publishers. One of the things we discussed was the second printing and just how many books we want to print. I’m not going to say anything until the numbers are finalized, but trust me: it’s something to get EXCITED about! 😀 We also got to talk about marketing & publicity and just getting our book “out there.” I shared a delicious wood-fired fig pizza at Boomer’s Pizza with another friend, and drove back to Bemidji. I was home around 9pm and went to bed like the old lady I am, exhausted but THRILLED with my day.

Wonderful things are on the horizon, people! Krista begins work on my Midwest book tour today, and my official author page is up on Blue Cottage Agency. Stay tuned for author events and book signings in your area. 🙂

Okay! Let’s wrap up our discussion on how Seven Stones came to be. When we left off last week, I had the Celtic background, the Ojibwe inspiration, and now I just needed to put the two together. To do so, I needed one last element: courage. As soon as I discovered such incredible parallels in culture, mythology, and history, I knew that Seven Stones couldn’t just be about Scotland anymore.

Long ago, a professor told me something that deeply affected how I write. She said that unless an author specifies otherwise, most people will assume a main character or narrator is white and skinny. Now, I’m not saying that is necessarily true for everyone, but I was disturbed to realize how true it was for me. Keilann Douglas was originally red-haired, thin, and white, but that is not what I wanted her to be. But I was scared.

You’re white, Julia, I kept reminding myself. You can’t write about other cultures. I was afraid of other people getting angry or offended. I was afraid of being judged, or getting something wrong. In the end, though, the story I wanted to tell was more important than me or my doubts. After all, if a white author is only allowed to write about white characters, should a white reader only read books about white characters? That is a slippery and dangerous slope, and also one that goes against what I believe writing and reading exist for: expanding your mind, bridging cultural gaps, and bringing people together.

Ultimately, that is why I wrote Seven Stones. It isn’t a book about white people or Native people; it’s a book about people, and the culture that defines and inspires them. Keilann is Ojibwe and Scottish–just like my novel. She is a real-sized girl with real life problems, and learns not only the power of her heritage but, more importantly, the power of her own voice.

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So, armed with passion, dedication, and bricks of dark chocolate, I began writing Keilann’s story and haven’t stopped. I am now well on my way to completing the sequel, and am so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned on this writing journey. For all those of you who have joined me on this journey and have become a part of my story:

Miigwetch. Tapadh Leat. Thank you.

Seven Stones, Part I: A Celtic Novel

Seven Stones Part II: A Native American Novel

Happy Wednesday!

Any questions you still have about Seven Stones? Curious about me or my writing process? Want to know my favorite kind of chocolate? Ask away! 🙂