Tag Archives | Julie Kibler

A Room Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Julie Kibler

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Julie Kibler | @JulieKibler

My writing space? A room of my own?

Ha. It’s more like one side of the kitchen table, where I plant myself during the day, removing my computer when it’s time to eat dinner. It’s more like a corner of the family room sectional, where I spend late evenings pounding words out on the keyboard when everyone else is asleep (see my night owl post!).

It’s not that there isn’t room in my house for me to have an office, exactly. My children are leaving the nest, one by one, the youngest here only a few more years. But if I appropriated the mostly vacant room upstairs, my freshman college student daughter might feel we’d already banished her from home, and none of us are ready for that.

I suppose I could climb the same stairs each day and sit at the desk in the loft where my husband pays bills, and where I might have stored some office supplies several years back.   But then, I’d have to run back down again each time my sweetly obnoxious rescue dogs need to go outside. And again when they need to come back in. And again when the doorbell rings when the UPS guy shows up with an unexpected delivery. And again each time I want a snack or need to refill my drink. And again when … well, you get the picture.

Apparently, I’m just too lazy to have a room of my own.

However, it dawns on me, I do most of my writing when I’m nowhere near this place I call home.

As I ride in an elevated train on a vacation in Chicago.

As I chat with a classroom of at-risk kids while talking about my newly released novel in Denver.

As I make a chauffeur run to pick up my daughter and listen to my dad on speakerphone, telling me the details of another family story.

When my hairstylist pumps the chair up to the level of her hands and fastens a cape around my neck (not too tight, like Isabelle in Calling Me Home), chuckling with me about an older client she just finished styling.

When my kids walk aisles toward brides, and diplomas, and sing on a stage at school.

As I observe a young mother struggle with a decision outside the café where I’m drinking iced tea.

It’s in these places my stories are written. My home is simply the place they’re transcribed.

But here’s a picture of my kitchen table, with one of my foster kitties a few years ago, keeping me company there.

And one of those ornery dogs, trying to convince me a walk would be a better use of my time than writing.

And my newest companion, trying to read over my shoulder on that scroungy sectional late, late at night.


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Literary First Love – Julie Kibler

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Julie Kibler | @Julie Kibler

UPDATE: the winners for this giveaway are Susan Coster and Sandy Nawrot. They have been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.

Those of you reading CALLING ME HOME this month will understand the symbolism of the thimble. But Julie decided she didn’t just want you to read about it, she wanted to share one with you. Which is why she’s giving away two of these thimble necklaces today. One for a reader and one for a member of  our Blog Network. All Blog Network members are automatically entered. And any readers who would like to toss their name in the hat can simply leave a comment on this post.

The first word I clearly remember reading on my own, without prodding from an adult, my fingers running across each letter, was Heidi  —  the title on the colorful cardboard sleeve of a read-aloud record album. I must have read other words before that. I was four or five, and I was an early reader, but for some reason, that experience remains vivid and fills me with nostalgia and the memory of listening to the story.

This doesn’t surprise me. Throughout my childhood, I was drawn to nostalgic stories about girls who were marginalized but remained or became strong.  I was a painfully shy, often lonely girl. We moved a lot. I attended seven different schools. We never seemed to have quite enough money to make ends meet, and my brother and I were frequently ridiculed or bullied by the kids who had lived in our neighborhoods their whole lives. Being a preacher’s daughter often made things worse. Strong female characters who chased their dreams in spite of seemingly insurmountable barriers resonated with me. I lived vicariously through my fictional friends when my own life felt out of control.

They were orphans — Heidi, Pollyanna, Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase‘s Sylvia Green.

They were poor and/or living on the edges of society  —  Laura Ingalls Wilder, Francie Nolan, Anne Frank,  The Borrowers’ Arietty Clock,  Blue Willow‘s Janey Larkin, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March.

They were just plain different  —  Cress Delehanty, Velvet Brown, Ramona the Pest, Caddie Woodlawn.

Or they were all three  —  Pippi Longstocking.

I grew up, married, and had babies. I divorced and lived five years as a single mom before remarrying. Now I’m following a career path I dreamed about for as long as I can remember—author.

And I’m not a bit surprised that I’m drawn to writing nostalgic stories about characters who are marginalized, yet resilient, characters who attempt to build happy lives and strong families in spite of their circumstances. In Calling Me Home, Isabelle is a young girl who falls in love despite all the naysayers. Dorrie is a single mom who would do anything for her children when they’re in trouble, yet believes she must handle her brokenness alone.

In spite of our differences, I am all of them. And they are me.

What characters did you relate to as a child? What characters did you want to be?



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Writing In The Night

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Julie Kibler | @JulieKibler

Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation.  Darkness stirs and wakes imagination.  —The Music of the Night, Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber

I’m the worst night owl you’ll ever know. My workday is distinctly off kilter from most of the rest of the world. Unless I have an appointment or I’m traveling, I sleep from about 3 a.m. until 11 a.m. (with a brief awake time to get my daughter off to school). As the rest of the folks in my time zone prepare to eat their midday meal, I’m grabbing a light breakfast, followed quickly by lunch. As a rule, I spend my afternoon hours conducting the business of being an author. I write blog posts, answer emails, make phone calls, and spend entirely too much time on social media. I make a chauffeur run to retrieve my teenager from her activities at some point before eating a late dinner with my family.

In the evening, my husband and I relax on the sofas, the TV playing in the background. We watch a few shows together, but I’m usually paying half attention; I’m easily distracted, by texts or conversations with kids, or more social media.

These distractions, I suspect, are why my real work starts much later.

As the house begins to quiet again, so does the Internet. The dogs get one last trip outside. My daughter settles into bed. My husband follows his routine, readying his clothes for work, reading for a while. Then, little by little, the house falls asleep.

Except for me.

I’m waking up. Well, my body has been awake for hours. But my writing brain has been slumbering, sometimes peacefully, sometimes restlessly—depending on the state of my work-in-progress. And this quieting of the house serves as an alarm clock for my mind.

In the dark, in the quiet, there are no distractions. The gentle hum of the refrigerator and snoring dogs serve as a soothing soundtrack.

I open my manuscript, and if I’m paying attention, the words flow like the Milky Way through the navy depths of the sky.

Not surprisingly, the nighttime scenes I write tend to be my favorites. Even now, when I visualize Isabelle and Robert in Calling Me Home, my mind goes straight to the scenes set at dusk or at night—when they were alone, when they were simply two teenagers in love.

If technology were not such a large part of everyday life for me, or for authors in general these days, would I still be a night owl? Would I still find the hours between 11 p.m. and three a.m. the best for creating?

I suspect I’d answer yes to both questions. For like the Phantom of the Opera, my imagination stirs in the darkness, and the other worlds I occupy come into sharp focus.

When is your brain most alert? When do you get your best work done?

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February Book Club Selection

**Update: the winners of this giveaway are: Jenny Zimmer, Alana, Cheryl Hart, Rhonda, Billie Brinkley, Leah, Susan Coster, Carol, Tamara, and Myrna Ashby. They have all been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! We hope you’ll all join us this month for our online book club discussion.

*Update: comments are now closed on this post. Thanks to everyone who entered! We will be selecting and notifying all ten winners by email today. Names will also be posted here. Stay tuned!

This month we’re doing something we have NEVER done before. We’ve chosen a book that won’t release to the general public for eight more days. Why? Because it’s that good. We just can’t wait. And we want to make sure you hear about it here first.

CALLING ME HOME,  by Julie Kibler, is a  soaring debut novel interweaving  the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship. It’s about family and love and loss. It’s about things we remember for a lifetime. And we guarantee it’s one of those novels that will find a permanent spot on your “keeper shelf.”

Why tease you like this when you can’t run down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy today? Even though CALLING ME HOME won’t release until February 12th (just in time for Valentines!) you aren’t completely out of luck. If you’re DYING to read it this very moment–and we know you are–you have three options:

  1. Pre-order it today  and have it in your hot little hands by February 12th. You’ll have plenty of time to read it before our book club discussion at the end of this month.
  2. Enter to win one of the TEN copies we’re giving away, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press (just leave a comment on this post–winners will be chosen on Friday)
  3. Don’t take any chances and do BOTH.

About the novel:

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister  has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It’s a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation  why. Tomorrow.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle’s guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But  Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son’s irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.

Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper–in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship  and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle’s first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

{Mark your calendars for Monday, February 25th. Our new Online Book Club Leader, Tamara Welch, will begin our discussion of CALLING ME HOME that day and continue it for the entire week. So you’ll have plenty of time to jump in and join the conversation.}

You can read the first chapter of CALLING ME HOME here.

Julie Kibler began writing Calling Me Home after learning a bit of family lore: as a young woman, her grandmother fell in love with a young black man in an era and locale that made the relationship impossible. When not writing, she enjoys travel, independent films, music, photography, and corralling her teenagers and rescue dogs. This is her first novel.

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The “Faith” in Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale

Guest post by Julie Kibler | @juliekibler

If the word Faith is in the title, you can figure there’s going to be some discussion of it in the story.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel from Amy Einhorn Books (May 2012), doesn’t tiptoe around the issue. Nor does it stomp. Here’s a little bit about the book from the publisher:

“On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories, a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith really selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?”

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Rutledge a few times in person at book events, and when I told her I was considering a blog post about the faith aspect of her novel, she grinned. She said she’d be interested to hear what I thought. Her reaction indicated she fully believes readers will make their own interpretations, and they might be completely different from anything she thought or intended as she wrote the book. This is just the kind of book I love to dig into. Serve me literature that makes me think, please.

From page one of Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale to its very last sentence, the subject of faith is clearly pivotal. Take a small town in Texas, where, as in many Texas small towns, the Baptists and the Methodists run pretty much everything, whether directly or indirectly—even the banks. Throw in a slowly dying Episcopal parish and a priest who isn’t sure about anything anymore. Add a heaping cup of tragedy and a character named Faith, and you’re going to have to deal with the topic.

Faith Bass Darling has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and time has evolved into a new continuum. One minute she’s in the present; the next, she’s in the past. And she’s surrounded by all the worldly goods her family—the family who basically ran the town and the bank for years (along with the Baptists and Methodists)—collected. These possessions, some with incalculable monetary value, have become more than their physical properties. They have defined each family member and are the impetuses that changed the course of their collective lives.

Author Lynda Rutledge

Faith has clung to these things too long. She believes she hears the voice of God—a voice, in fact, that she hasn’t heard in more than 20 years for reasons not quite clear to herself or the reader at first—telling her she will soon die, and she must rid herself of the things that have held her hostage in her huge, lonely mansion. She drags them out to her yard, one by one, and practically gives them away, much to the delight of Bass, Texas’s curious population—except for a few characters with more vested interests, whether legal or emotional, who try to convince her otherwise.

Strains of familiar passages of the Bible tickled the back of my mind as I read this novel—both the first time, all the way through, and again after I turned the last page and went back to re-read the first few. While searching for the phrases that floated in my memory, I found Matthew 19:21 (from The Message, which is a paraphrase of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures rather than a word-for-word translation):

“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”

It could have been that one. But maybe it was these:

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26, also from The Message)

Yes, it might have been those. Especially as I consider the rest of the story, where Faith Bass Darling—not to mention those around her—wrestles with the events that led to her being alone and lonely, surrounded only by her beautiful possessions instead of by the husband who died under mysterious circumstances, or the son who died under tragic ones, or the daughter who disappeared when it all became a little too much to deal with.

At various points, Faith turns to the Episcopal priest when she feels betrayed by her own understanding of faith, thinking he might have better answers. But the priest himself is in the midst of his own faith crisis, and their interchanges serve only to bring each of their questions into starker relief.

The reader could bring countless interpretations to what the author intended for this story to “say, ” about faith, about forgiveness, about the afterlife. I drew my own conclusions about what Faith felt she had to do to make her peace by the time the new millennium appeared. You might draw your own conclusions, too. What do you think Rutledge might have been thinking about faith as she wrote Faith’s story?

I do know this to be true: one friend who read the book said, “Lynda Rutledge has written one of the most tender, holy end-of-life scenes I’ve ever read. ”

FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE is our May book club selection. There are still two days to enter this month’s giveaway–a Texas themed gift basket. Click here for details.

Julie Kibler’s debut novel,  Calling Me Home, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in February 2013. She lives in Texas and is currently writing her next novel. She likes books, movies, and music that make her think about the hard questions. You may find her online at her  website, on her group blog,  What Women Write, and on  Facebook.

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