I am thrilled to be able to introduce Julia Reffner as a new Writer’s Alley contributor. Julia is a wife and mother of two small children whom she homeschools. She is a member of ACFW and reviews books on her blog, Dark Glass Pondering, as well as Title Trakk and Suspense Zone. She is currently busy writing on her women’s fiction manuscript.
Obviously, being a contributor here at the Alley, you are a writer. When did you first know you were a writer and how did it change your life?
Thanks, Sherrinda. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Alley. As soon as I began reading at 3, I began zipping through every book I could find. In elementary school, I began writing stories. One memorable occasion was “enjoying” the chicken pox (granted, I had quite a light case) because I was “forced” to stay home for the week, which I spent perched in a tree penning over 40 memorable stories, such as “Santa’s Salty Soup”. Am I too sarcastic for The Alley?
In fifth grade I had a wonderful teacher named Miss Hurley whom I credit for bringing in writing contests and encouraging me to enter them. She was the first teacher that took a special interest in me in such a way and it changed my life.
I would say a huge no—you are not too sarcastic for us here! We drip with sarcasm at times! What genre do you write in and who are the authors that have influenced your writing in that genre?
My manuscript is women’s fiction, although someday I would like to try my hand at historical fiction. I’m a research buff and have enjoyed writing historical short stories. Wow, there are so many great authors in Christian women’s fiction. My top two would probably be Francine Rivers and Mary DeMuth. Francine because she tackles issues women face with such grace. And Mary DeMuth writes lyrical fiction, filled with heart-wrenching brokenness transformed by beautiful grace. I admire her bravery in tackling things from her own heart, something I would really like to see in myself. Patricia Hickman’s Milkwood Hollow series is another favorite. Hickman shines in portraying in-depth characters that the reader grows to love. Lisa Samson’s Resurrection in May was a recent read that God brought into my life right before I was on a murder trial, so its themes had a strong impact. (Just as an aside, I wouldn’t recommend this particular book for everyone…it deals with the Rwandan genocide so there is one chapter that is fairly violent).
I’m not sure I can even remotely say “influenced” but these are some authors I have definitely enjoyed. I like the genre of women’s fiction because it deals with relationships and contemporary issues. I feel there is an opportunity to be a witness as we focus on issues we all struggle with: relationships, balance, where do we find our worth, overcoming insecurity, etc. Though my main character’s situation may be different from the typical woman, the issues she faces are those faced by all of us as women.
How many manuscripts do you have under your belt?
OK, Sherrinda, on the count of three, everyone shout “NOOB.” I am a big-time newbie. This is my first manuscript, although I have written many short stories. I have to be honest I was intimidated by writing a novel, because of length. But I’m really enjoying the process and learning a lot along the way.
We love newbies here at The Alley! We are all about learning and growing as we travel this road to publication. Now, are you a plotter with a detailed outline, or do you sit down and write by the seat of your pants?
OK, I’m a former assistant librarian, so I’m a big-time plotter. Not comfortable with the idea of being a pantser at all, but interestingly although I did a lot of plotting; as I began writing, my characters took over taking the manuscript in completely different places than what I had planned. I used storyboarding software to help me with outlining.
I’d be interested in that storyboarding software! You should definitely do a post about that one! What is your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?
My favorite part is when the characters take over and I merely dictate for them. You know that’s a good writing day. My other favorite part is when something I’ve written (and so far this has been on my blog or through email) has encouraged someone. Because ultimately that’s why I write and I pray the Lord would keep that central in my mind always. Least favorite part is worrying about grammar and mechanics.
I noticed that you review books at Titletrakk and Suspense Zone. What genres do you review and how often do you do them?
I review once a month for The Suspense Zone. For Title Trakk it is open to the writers how much they will review in a given month, one a month is what I’ve been posting thus far. So far I have reviewed suspense, romantic suspense, and historical fiction. I really enjoy the opportunity to review. Like most writers I adore reading and feel I learn so much about the craft by reading the best Christian books available.
I love the title of your blog: Dark Glass Ponderings. How did you come up with the title and what does it mean to you?
Thanks, Sherrinda. My blog title is based on 1 Corinthians 13:12,” For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
We were studying 1 Corinthians at our church at the time. Another verse that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
Someday we will have full understanding of God’s glory, to know Christ even as we are known by Him. How amazing is that? The closer I draw to Christ, the more I realize I don’t know about Him, the more I see my own brokenness. Yet at the same time, as I empty this vessel that knows nothing, He fills me up and can use me as a vessel. I want it to be a reminder to myself. Am I willing to make myself look foolish in the world’s eyes?
That is wonderful, Julia! I love knowing about a writer’s rituals and how they do the business of writing. What writing rituals do you have, if any?
Honestly with kids I don’t really have time for rituals. My kids are 2 and 5, so I need to take advantage of the moment. Most of my writing is done either while my son naps and my daughter has her quiet time or post 9 PM. I guess my rituals would be prayer..and if the kids are asleep I like sipping a cup of herbal or iced tea.
What book are you reading right now? Is it for pleasure or for review? What book is at the top of your TBR list?
I’m currently reading Hatteras Girl by Alice Wisler for review. I’ve recently discovered Mary Lu Tyndall and T.L. Higley and am anxious to read more of their works. The neat thing about Title Trakk is I am able to review many of the books which I had already hoped to read anyway.
Okay, now for some fun….give us three things about you that nobody knows. Funny, personal, silly, scary…we want the details!
Hmmm…this is tough. Hubby knows everything, maybe I should ask him the weirdest things about me.
1) I used to play an elf in World of Warcraft named Hippolyta (from Shakespeare) and my husband played a gnome named Lumpkin (after the horse in Lord of the Rings).
2) I had to have my knee operated on due to a bulbous bump caused by falling through a trestle at Letchworth Park (FYI, this is also where my husband proposed to me…but not the same occasion, LOL). The doctor who performed my operation later was sued for removing the wrong limb on someone else.
3) I have been known to arrange vacation itineraries based on restaurants available in the area.
Julia, thanks for doing such an interesting interview! We are thrilled to have you here and we welcome you with open arms! You are now officially an Alley Contributor! Woohoo!
Readers, do you have any questions for Julia? Comments? Encouragement?