Become a Writer Today

Building a Lasting Writing Career with Julie Tetel Andressen

May 20, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
Building a Lasting Writing Career with Julie Tetel Andressen
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
Building a Lasting Writing Career with Julie Tetel Andressen
May 20, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Can you build a long and successful career as a writer?
 
My guest on this episode is Linguistics professor Julie Tetel Andresen. Not only has she published more than 35 books, but she also writes in many different genres, including romance, police procedurals, and crime thrillers.

I encourage you to listen until the end of the episode, as Julie reveals the importance of a backlist and why it's almost as important as the book you are currently working on.

But before that, I was interested in discovering more about Julie's take on sustaining a rewarding writing career that lasts a lifetime.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What it means to get into your writing shape
  • How to balance writing with a career and family
  • Why romance is a very expansive genre
  • Julie's process for writing a book
  • How a good editor can make all the difference
  • How Julie markets her writing 

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Can you build a long and successful career as a writer?
 
My guest on this episode is Linguistics professor Julie Tetel Andresen. Not only has she published more than 35 books, but she also writes in many different genres, including romance, police procedurals, and crime thrillers.

I encourage you to listen until the end of the episode, as Julie reveals the importance of a backlist and why it's almost as important as the book you are currently working on.

But before that, I was interested in discovering more about Julie's take on sustaining a rewarding writing career that lasts a lifetime.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What it means to get into your writing shape
  • How to balance writing with a career and family
  • Why romance is a very expansive genre
  • Julie's process for writing a book
  • How a good editor can make all the difference
  • How Julie markets her writing 

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Julie:
Oh, yeah, no, I don't have any problem with the notion of things having conventions. I mean, I know perfectly well what conventional, historical, current I'm writing in. So I have no... That's why I have no problem saying that I write romance. Yeah, I do find it the perfectly respectable thing to do. People have been doing it forever. And the idea that it is an older form of literature does not make it more juvenile, like something, "Oh, well, surely you're going to outgrow that at some point?" No, it's not like the modern novel is more sophisticated and more adult. So that's just kind of one of those prejudices that kind of gets filtered along with, "Oh, this thing is the profane." I have no problem with working within conventions. No, absolutely not.

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan:
How can you build a writing career that lasts? That's something that I've been wondering about recently. Hi there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. At the moment of recording this episode, I'm in that weird between sending my manuscript to an editor and waiting to get feedback from the editor about the manuscript. So I've been using the time that I normally spend writing this particular book, which is about parenting, to think about what I'd like to write next. And I've looked at the output of other writers that I admire, authors who've written lots of books over many years, and a lot of them tend to have trilogies, or they tend to have a series, or they tend to write about similar themes or topics in their work. Some of them plan it in advance while others seem to jump from team to team within each series.

Bryan:
So I guess I've been asking myself, "What type of themes would I like to address in my work?" I've written books about productivity, I've written business books, I now have written a parenting book, so should I write fiction next, or should I pick a different non-fiction topic? That's something I suppose I'll need to figure out over the next while. Probably not going to figure it out before I get back the edits from my current book. It's actually with an editor that I found on Reedsy. I always find editing is good because it gives me time to reflect on whether the writing process actually worked for this book in question and what types of issues I should fix before I start something new.

Bryan:
Now, recently I had the chance to catch up with Julie Tetel Andresen. She's actually written across multiple genres, including romance and police procedurals and crime thrillers and novels. She's published over 35 books and she's also a professor of linguistics. So I was really curious about Julie's take of sustaining a rewarding writing career that lasts a lifetime, but encourage you to stay on for the end of the episode, because Julie talks about the importance of a backlist. And this isn't something I'd really consider, because I don't have as big as a backlist as Julie does, but she talks about how a backlist should be something that's evergreen and it's nearly more important than the current book that you're working on.

Bryan:
Now, before we get over to this week's episode, if you'd like to become a Patreon for the show, click on the link in the show notes, and for just a couple of dollars a month, I'll give you discounts on my courses, on my writing books and on writing software. And if you do enjoy the episode, please take a moment to write a short review on iTunes or share the show wherever you're listening, because more reviews and more ratings will help more people find the podcast. Now I started by asking Julie to explain or to tell us why she's written so many books and how she sustained such a rewarding writing career. Welcome to the show.

Julie:
Thank you so much. I'm delighted to be here, Bryan.

Bryan:
So Julie, I wanted to talk to you today because, I guess, you've written 35 novels across so many genres. So I'm wondering how does somebody sustain creative work for that long and balance it with everything else that's going on in their life?

Julie:
Well, I've always thought that writing is an aerobic activity and there's something about being in writing shape. And when I first started, I remember I could spend all day writing two paragraphs, and I mean from 8:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. Two paragraphs, and at the end I was exhausted. And the next day, when I look at those two paragraphs, they were terrible, right, I mean just start over. So it took me about 10 years to understand that writing is an aerobic activity and it's something... It's about mental breathing. It's about being in writing shape. And it's much easier to stay in writing shape than it is to get out of it and then try and get back into it. So sustaining it, for me, was like always staying in writing shape, always having a story, always having a linguistic article that I was writing, always writing, always having a couple of things on my desk that I was working on. And so that's how you sustain. And just by having good breath... you don't start a marathon by just tying on your shoes and writing. What is it? 26... Running-

Bryan:
26.2 miles. Yeah, I like to run a lot, so your marathon metaphor appeals to me.

Julie:
You work up to it and then you sustain it. That's how you... I don't know if that satisfies you as an answer, but...

Bryan:
And are you writing one project at a time or do you have multiple projects on the go?

Julie:
No, I have a couple projects going because I've had a scholarly career, I'm Professor at Duke University,[inaudible 00:05:00]. Doesn't matter. I want to write those things anyway. And so when I hit a snag in a plot of a romance novel, I think, "Okay, let me do some linguistics." And then if I kind of don't see where this is going to go back to my story... So I'm always going back and forth and I really do think, as I now kind of look back, is that they have really enriched one another. There was a time when I thought, "Oh, you got to choose one or the other, one or the other. Choose, choose, choose." And I couldn't. And now I see that they're very mutually enriching.

Bryan:
So could you describe what your writing process looks like and how you balance it with, I guess, your professional obligations?

Julie:
Well, of... And now I know that you have young children.

Bryan:
I do. I do. Yeah. Three of them.

Julie:
Yes. And I do remember when my children were young, especially when they're really young, I would never waste a nap time, nap time at my desk. And then I realized, as a mother it's like, "Well, I could..." I worked on 15 minute snatches and so I kind of said to myself, "Well, maybe I have tremendous powers of concentration so I can work from 15 minutes and then another 15 minutes a couple hours later, or maybe I could only think in 15 minutes snatches anyway." But for me, getting a lot of writing done was actually mobilizing very short periods of time. As the kids got older, of course I could use longer periods of time, but to me it was always a life of reading and writing and taking care of kids and doing laundry. I don't know.

Bryan:
Yeah. For short periods of time I liked to write in the morning before the kids got up. So I did that for a good few years. I would write late at night after they'd gone to bed. I found that worked for me. So did you naturally go from academia into romance and police procedurals or were you doing both at the same time?

Julie:
I was always doing both. And I mean, in a way, all of my stories really would count as romance. I mean, I think I have a very expansive notion of what a romance is, which would also include Moby-Dick and Star Wars, right. Even the Freudian notion of family romances operating in Star Wars, where you got the dark father and you got enchanted swords and talking robots. And that's really the notion of the medieval romance. So even in my police procedural, it's like crosscut with a romance. The whole point is, why turn the page? [You want to find out 00:07:22] who done it. You want to find out how they're going to get together. Yeah, paranormal, I think, is a wonderful venue for exploring romantic possibilities. I've done paranormal reincarnation romance, and then I'm doing kind of series on shape-shifter romance.

Julie:
So, I have always thought of the genre, the romance mode, to be very expansive and I wanted to sample all the sub-genres, like tune my ear to what makes a good medieval romance turn my ear. And this is very much the linguist in me. It's about language. So what makes a good police procedural, what makes... And so it's kind of like I want to give my interpretation of those subcategories, but you can still hear my voice in it. And that to me is a kind of... I didn't start out deliberately to do that, but, again, as I look back I think, "Oh yeah." Because when I first started, I thought, "Oh, I'd always do medievals and knights and ladies and the court and blah, blah, blah." Well, I did one set in a castle, one set in New York and then one set in the London Court, and I thought, "Okay, I'm done." Right. I've exhausted the venue. So I've got other stuff to do now.

Bryan:
So you mentioned a few minutes ago, when your kids were smaller, you rose early in the morning, or you wrote during the little parts of the day when they were down for their nap. What would you say to somebody who's struggling with the other problem that you brought up, which is reworking the same piece over and over and over and not getting to the end of the book?

Julie:
Well, you do have to finish something sometime, even if it's crap. The Russians have a saying, "The first pancake is never good." So my first one went in the garbage. So I would tell this person, "This is your bad pancake. Finish it, be done with it, move on. Even if it's crummy, just finish the darn thing." I don't know if that's helpful.

Bryan:
I think it is now, because that's the mistake I made. I spent a lot of time rewriting short stories and I wasn't getting feedback about them from editors and from other people. But finishing that gave me an opportunity to move on to something else.

Julie:
Exactly. And just know that it's okay to [inaudible 00:09:28]. Or what is it? It was one of the Gershwins who said, "I write six songs a day just to get rid of the bad ones." Make some bad pancakes, get it out of your system. We all have a gutter ball or two in us, right? And then we can hit a strike. Just do it. That's not helpful, but...

Bryan:
No, I think it is. I think the more stuff you finish, the more chances you give yourself to find something that you like reading, or like writing, and something that people like to read as well. You mentioned that you think Star Wars is romance. So I know you have some interesting thoughts about how the romance genre is a form of literature. Would you be able to maybe elaborate on that?

Julie:
Well, I think maybe you're referring to my understanding of Northrop Frye, the literary critic from 1957 anatomy of criticism, who any literary scholar would today say, "Oh, that's a bit old fashioned." And I would only have to agree, because nobody does grand theorizing of the last 2000 years of Western lit anymore. But what was interesting to me when I came upon that work, which I read only a few years ago because a colleague of mine in English says, "Oh, he has interesting things to say about genre," as I recall. Now, he wrote that in 1957 and he had zero concept of genre such as we know it today, which are in effect, New York City publishing marketing labels. Science fiction, romance, mystery. What else do we have? Fantasy. All of these are made up labels by the New York publishing industry. All they're doing is trying to sell books to certain people.

Julie:
Well, there's a much more expansive notion of romance. It goes back 800 years. And why is a romance called a romance anyway? Are you aware? These were stories of nights on a quest and damsels in distress and the Holy Grail and the whole thing. And those works were written in a romance language and were therefore called romances, which were contrasted with another important form of literature in the middle ages, which was written in Latin, namely the Bible. So from the very beginning, romance was figured as profane, in contrast to the Bible that was figured as sacred. And so as the term has changed over the years, it has continually found a way to occupy this position of profane. And I'm very much against it. I am no longer buying into that dichotomy, of the sacred and the profane. That's like 800 years old. Can we move on? So writing a romance where you are really interested in... So Moby-Dick would be a romance. You're on a quest, there's good in evil, and that's what you're doing. That's what Herman Melville is doing. And I think he even subtitled it, "A Romance. Moby-Dick."

Bryan:
It sounds a little bit like the hero's journey.

Julie:
Well, it is very much. It is. We know those 12 stages in Joseph Campbell and whatever, but right, yeah. And so tell me something that doesn't have a love story in it. I don't know. For me, romance is you're only foregrounding the love story and backgrounding the police procedural or the mystery or any Hitchcock movie. It's like the MacGuffin. You're always trying... What's the thing everybody's trying to find? I just crosscut that with the romance. Who did it? I always have dead... Not always, but I often have dead bodies. A mystery to solve, a thing to find, a problem to solve.

Bryan:
So a couple of years ago I took a story writing workshop with Robert McKee and he describes the conventions of a genre and how, if you're writing in the genre, you need to know what that genre is supposed to do, otherwise the reader's not going to be happy. So when you're writing must regard its day as a romance book, surely there must be some conventions that you have to tick, even though you might be uncomfortable with the label?

Julie:
Oh yeah, no, I don't have any problem with the notion of things having conventions. I mean, I know perfectly well what conventional, historical, current I'm writing in. That's why I have no problem saying that I write romance.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
Yeah. I do find it the perfectly respectable thing to do. People have been doing it for ever. And the idea that it is an older form of literature does not make it more juvenile, like something, "Oh, well surely you're going to outgrow that at some point?" No, it's not like the modern novel is more sophisticated and more adult. So that's just kind of one of those prejudices that kind of gets filtered along with, "Oh, this thing is the profane." I have no problem with working within conventions. No, absolutely not. I like conventions.

Bryan:
What would you say to the new writer who is struggling to figure out what genre they should write in?

Julie:
What do you like to read?

Bryan:
That's actually the exact same answer Robert McKee gave at that workshop. He said the same thing.

Julie:
Yeah. What do you like to read? I mean, don't go against your own grain. So my romances always have... there's always some kind of mystery. There's always some kind of intrigue. Then why turn the page? So I fully embrace... I have lots of dead bodies and lost items and family secrets and all that, but I just love the idea. For me, the love relationship is like... and I often use this analogy, do you know the French Impressionist painter, Paul Cézanne?

Bryan:
I do, yeah.

Julie:
He did a whole series of paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire, this mountain outside of Aix-en-Provence, France. And he'd painted at 8:35 in the morning from this angle with these colors and shadows and crags. And he'd walk around the mountain and then painted again at 3:47 in the afternoon with different contours and shadows.

Julie:
And so, for me, the love relationship is I'm walking around my Mont Sainte-Victoire, looking at the shapes and shadows of a good relationship in this light and then shapes and shadows of it in another light. But it also has to be crosscut with people doing something in their lives. They're solving the mystery, you're trying to get off the island or work through whatever problem they're working through. And so it's just kind of... I kind of foreground the development of the love relationship, but it always has to intersect with something else that they're doing in life. Nobody ever just stops and does a love story. They're living their life. And that's the fun, for me, is this looking at my Mont Sainte-Victoire with all the different shapes and shadows, just like Cézanne did as he made his slow walk around the mountain. So, for me, that's the analogy.

Bryan:
So your new book is called, "Money For Nothing"?

Julie:
Yeah.

Bryan:
It's Book 2 in the Shapeshifter Series. Do you write books like this with an outline in mind, or a series even, or do you see where the writing takes you?

Julie:
Well, I've... Since I've done quite a few... When I first began, because I know that you would like advice for beginning writers, and this is how I started, I would imagine where I wanted to be the very center of the novel, then I would abstract back what must be the initial conditions for me to get there. And you always want to start as close to the end as possible, right. So then once I figure out what those initial conditions are, I write and then it's sort of a train laying its own rails. So it's sort of like, what do I want the center of the center of the romance dynamic to be? And that's how I started out. Now, sometimes I'll just whip up kind of initial sets of conditions and see what happens. I've become a pantser, as they say.

Bryan:
Does it take you long to write a book like Money For Nothing, these days?

Julie:
I probably did a good... Well, I'd probably say... Oh, I thought about it for many, many years and then wrote it in eight months. I don't believe why I couldn't write it. I just kept thinking, "I should be writing this book. I should be writing this book. Why am I not writing?" It was the second in a series and I even had a prequel. And I thought, "Why can't I do this?" And I don't know if I should tell the story.

Bryan:
Please do.

Julie:
Well, so I am an academic and I do enjoy teaching and I love linguistics. I love teaching linguistics and I had a wonderful visiting professorship at Florida International University last year. And when I started the Shapeshifter Series, I started like four years ago, and I always knew from the beginning it was going to be werewolves in London, werepanthers in Florida and werebears in California and Japan. That, I just knew as a global idea.

Julie:
I had no idea I would be teaching at the University of Florida in Miami last year. I had no idea. Okay, so we've got werepanthers in Florida. So it was, yeah. So, werepanthers in Florida. I wasn't able to write the book. I wasn't able to write the book. I am actually at the... It's Florida International University and I'm teaching in the arena and the mascot for FIU is a panther. Twice a week I would walk to and from class, looking at this panther, and go, "Why am I unable to write the second book in the series? What is wrong with me? And it went on all semester and it was extremely frustrating. Of course, when I started the series, I had no idea I was going to have a visiting professorship at FIU or teach in an arena where I would see a panther, a Florida panther, twice a week.

Julie:
It's like uh-uh (negative). This is in your face kind of... You no talent, heck, you don't know what you... A lot of negative, lot of negative self-talk. On the last day of class, I had the three groups of students talk about endangered languages in Miami. One was Haitian Creole, the second group did Spanish, which I can tell you is not endangered in Miami, but, okay, leave that aside, and the third group did Mikasuki, which is a Native American language. And I walked out of classroom and, oh, now I know, my werepanthers are Mikasuki, then sat down the next day and started writing the book. And I said, I know exactly what I'm doing now.

Bryan:
It sounds like the book had been percolating, I guess, in your mind for a long time.

Julie:
Two, three years. It was like, what's with me? Of course I had a lot of negative self-talk, right.

Bryan:
Yeah. What writer doesn't?

Julie:
Yeah, I know. It's awful.

Bryan:
So I'm curious, because one problem I'm having at the moment is figuring out how many books to write in a year, because the beauty of self-publishing is you can just publish it once it's ready. So, I mean, you've published over 35 books, so what is that? Like one or two a year? How did you decide on that cadence?

Julie:
Well, I did the first 15 or 16 or 17... I haven't counted up lately, with the mass market. So I was with Hot Box, [inaudible 00:20:20]... oh, I did a bunch for Harlequin, somebody else. And so I did maybe, like I said, 15, 16, 17 with the mass market. And they were kind of one a year.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
Yeah. And as my kids have gotten older and I've gotten in what I would call better writing shape, because I do think writing is an aerobic activity and it's like mental breathing and there's something to being in writing shape and there's something to being not in writing shape.

Bryan:
How did you get to a cadence of publishing one book a year? It sounds like for your first 15 books, it was to do with your contract, so you were publishing one a year.

Julie:
[inaudible 00:20:57] the contracts and it was... I'd sit down and I have an elaborate chart and I'd keep a writing blog and how many days... and I still keep a writing blog, as a matter of fact. How many [inaudible 00:21:08] I write a day and, yeah. I mean, it's a discipline. Yeah.

Bryan:
Yeah, funny you mention a writing blog, because when you're training for a race, like a marathon, runners keep a training log. So I do recommend writers track their word counts as well.

Julie:
Oh yeah, no, it's mental breathing. So there is such a thing as being in writing shape and there's such a thing as not being in writing shape. But the thing is getting in writing shape and that's just, yeah. I mean, it's an aerobic activity. It's mental breathing, right?

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
And if you don't write much, like when I first be... Of course, I couldn't have formulated this idea when I first began, but when I first began, as I might've said earlier, I might write two paragraphs, it would take me eight hours and I look at them the next day and they were horrible. And of course I'd be exhausted by the effort to produce two horrible paragraphs. Now I'm in writing shape. Well, I think the pandemic has changed things, but we could talk about that. But if you think of writing as an aerobic activity, there is such a thing as being in writing shape and not being in writing shape.

Bryan:
Yeah. Something you have to practice.

Julie:
Oh yeah, no, it's mental... You don't tie your shoes on and run a marathon. Nobody does that. It's impossible. You get in right. You have to get in running shape just like you get in writing shape. That means you do it.

Bryan:
And did you ever lose motivation during your career at any point? Because 25 books is quite a lot, one a year.

Julie:
No, because I think my linguistics and my romance writing were mutually and intersecting inspiring and mutually supportive, I guess. And if I hit a snag in one, I could move to the other. Hit a snag in the other, I move. And I could just kind of zigzag back and forth.

Bryan:
So where do you go when you need inspiration? Are there any books you like to read?

Julie:
Well, I do read all the time. Oh, just this past week. Oh, I think it was because I listened to your podcast. I read Stephen King, On Writing.

Bryan:
Yeah. It's a great book, yeah.

Julie:
But I've read a ton of writing just because they're fun to read. Just never read his and I got a big kick out of it.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
Got a very big kick out of it.

Bryan:
Probably one of the best ones, I would say.

Julie:
Well, I love Julia Cameron. If you've ever... There were artists way... I love L. Lamar, I love Natalie Goldberg. I think they're... I certainly enjoyed Stephen King's On Writing.

Bryan:
So just go back to your, "In writing shape" metaphor. Are there any exercises that you'd recommend for keeping in writing shape?

Julie:
Well, I am with a lovely... I am very fortunate now that I've built a team around me. Writing is a solitary activity, but any success is due to a team and I have a very good team. I have web development people who take care of everything and they suggested, I don't know, seven years ago to write a blog. And I'm thinking, "Oh dear God, who needs another blog?" Right? Nobody in the world needs another blog, but they said, "No, no, just do this." And it turned out that writing a blog, it wasn't nobody reads it and it doesn't matter, it's wonderful for staying... is another part of staying in writing shape. And I had totally underestimated the importance of kind of having something... So if I'm between books, it's really you'd have to take kind of a break. You can't keep writing the same thing. And let's say you have writers burnout for writing novels, find something else to write. Write a children's book or write poetry or something like that. And I have found writing a blog twice a week, 700 words, a really nice way of staying in writing shape.

Bryan:
Blogging definitely helps with selling non-fiction, but can it help with selling fiction?

Julie:
I guess in a way, because what's happened, of course because I wrote so many books for the mass market, my team has shifted that I do... I think it does bring people to my website. Why? But I do sell more from the web. That's what they've been doing over these past seven, eight years, is I do most of my sales on my website.

Bryan:
Oh, you're selling direct, rather than on Amazon?

Julie:
Oh, I'm happy to be on all the platforms, but that's not the principal place anymore. But, again, I've done like 30, God knows how many, and actually the blog... I'm always a little shocked. Oh, and last year I did a Decameron special, which was if you know The Decameron, Boccaccio, there's the plague in Florence and this is in the mid 14th century. And 10 people leave Florence to escape the plague and what are they going to do all day? They have to tell each other stories. So I went and made my whole catalog of books free for the entire world for two months. You cannot believe what happened. I cut a huge readership.

Bryan:
Was this on your website or on Amazon?

Julie:
My website. And it just-

Bryan:
Snowballed.

Julie:
It snowballed, yeah. And so the idea was we need stories and everybody needs comfort now. And here's some COVID comfort and just to have at it and just to open it up. And I was totally shocked. I mean, I think my favorite were I got readers in Eswatini. And I had to look up, where the heck is Eswatini?

Bryan:
Where is Eswatini?

Julie:
[Inaudible 00:26:25] 2018, the king of Swaziland renamed it Eswatini, Swaziland. I nearly lost my mind. Oh my God, I have readers in Eswatini. And you know what they were reading? My Regency romances.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
[Crosstalk 00:26:42] Eswatini. Why not?

Bryan:
Yeah. That's the beauty of self-publishing. And that's actually what I wanted to ask you as well, because you said your first 15 books were with a traditional publisher and then you moved into self-publishing. Was that a conscious choice or did you-

Julie:
It was a very conscious choice, because I was going through the New York publishing at the time when you were either going to become a bestseller or they were going to really keep you... you were just the journeymen. And when I realized that I could make more as a... Not that Harlequin isn't publicly traded company, but I could make more as a shareholder of Harlequin than I was as a writer for Harlequin. I thought, "I know what to do. Get all my copyrights back."

Julie:
And I mean, I wasn't starting out. I had already had 15, 16, 17. So it wasn't like I had started out. And so instead of... And I knew exactly the team you need. So, the editor, the copy editor, the marketing person, the book cover person. And so it was like I just reorganized my relationship with all of those players. So writing a book is a very solitary activity, but a book success is not a solitary activity. It's a team effort. And so over the years I assembled the team I have around me and I have a very good team around me. And of course it begins first with a great editor.

Bryan:
Its good advice.

Julie:
Yeah. So having a good editor is made all the difference.

Bryan:
And what strategies are working for you today, apart from giving away the free books for promoting your work?

Julie:
That actually, I didn't know that was going to be so unbelievably successful. That was sort of like a response to the moment. I think my advice for... What are the tips for a lifelong writing career? And of course, the stupid thing, the first thing you say is, "Well, write good books." Well, how do you write good books? Of course you want to write for the marketplace, but you also have to think in terms of what's going to sell over the long term. And I always had that in mind. I always had in mind that you got to know that, sure, your current focus, your most important product, but after that, it's your backlist. So you have to think a little more long-term than what's just going to sell now. And my best example of that is my book and you saw it on my website, And Heaven Too, which I wrote 1990, set in the 17th century.

Julie:
It's set at the twilight of the English theaters and the closing of the English theaters is coming. And it's kind of a play in the play within a play. And it's kind of a comedy, but it's based around the... And the plot turns on a painting by a woman named Artemisia Gentileschi who was a Baroque painter. And I kind of got on her work back and I thought, "Oh, this is great." And then right in her painting then became the central plot point around which the whole plot revolves. Guess what? In 2020, the national gallery in London did the first solo... 2020, the first solo exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi's work. And I went, "Oh, guess what? I have an entire book [inaudible 00:30:00] her work." I sent it to the national... Oh, my team sent it to the national gallery. They started reading it. It got a whole new life for this book. It was suddenly about an obscure, totally obscure Baroque painter in 1990, who was suddenly the toast of the town.

Bryan:
And you would have written that book a few years ago?

Julie:
I wrote it in 1990.

Bryan:
Oh, 1990? Oh, wow. That's amazing.

Julie:
[inaudible 00:30:28] he said, "Oh, this is really good. Her work is [inaudible 00:30:31]. I can see this." Of course, I thought she might've hit the big time a little earlier. It took until 2020.

Bryan:
Yeah. I like that writing is something for the long-term. That's kind of evergreen.

Julie:
[inaudible 00:30:42] you have a long-term writing career, is you have to write to trends. I wrote that book for Warner Books. It did okay at Warner Books. It met all the publishing conditions of the time because at Fredda Isaacson and the [inaudible 00:30:56] editor at Warner Books bought it and it was published. So it met whatever those conditions were. But I was also thinking long-term. She was this really interesting artists that I saw. Her work was quality. Women artists weren't as valued then as they are now. I didn't know I would have to wait for 2020 to have a tie in, but I did. And so the book got renewed attention.

Bryan:
Yeah. That's amazing. I like that.

Julie:
Yeah, so that's kind of what you have to think really long term. And you have to think, what is the most valuable thing you have after the book you have coming out now? And I can tell you it's your backlist.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
If you write only to trends, your backlist will be of no use in 10 years, or maybe even five. So you have to find a way to write to the current conditions, but you have to have something else that's going on that can survive, because-

Bryan:
Is that why you write a lot of series?

Julie:
Well, I do have trilogies.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Julie:
Yeah. So I'm bringing back my Timeslip Trilogy, which my editor wants. She says, "Oh no, no, this is a good time for it" because I did it maybe 10, 12, 15 years ago. But I did it. I had a lot of climate change. It was all about the three stories. So it was a trilogy. They were in it to reincarnation romance, all three stories. And so each one has a different climate change plot that concerns a hundred years ago and then today. And my editor says, "Oh, We got to bring this back out." And so those three are coming back out this year because I had hit on kind of a timeless or forward thinking theme that actually plays better now than when it first came out.

Bryan:
Yeah. So something that didn't work, or didn't work as well as you hoped years ago, could work in the future.

Julie:
Oh, it worked great as reincarnation romance and people were [inaudible 00:32:51] "Oh, I'm so interested. You've had so many past lives." And I'm thinking, well, I mean, yeah, I did a lot of research. I didn't just invent my past lives, but now that climate change sub-theme makes it pertinent again, just like my choice of Artemesia Gentileschi as a painter to organize an entire plot around suddenly in 2020 and actually 2021, because the exhibit at the national gallery in London is still on, foregrounding her work. So if you can just think of themes... So you have to think of two things, what works now for the market and what is going to work in the future, because that's the only way you're going to have a career. You don't want to write a book that cannot sell five years from now.

Bryan:
Yeah. So best to take out something that's going to date.

Julie:
Exactly. So I did write to the market conditions in 1990 with the book, the Artemesia Gentileschi book, but it plays now. Plays just fine now.

Bryan:
So Julie, where can people find you or where can they buy your books?

Julie:
Well, I mean, I am on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Hulu and all over the place. But of course I like people to come to my website. Julietetel.com, T-E-T-E-L, or you could get there with Julieandresen.com, A-N-D-R-E-S-E-N, or any way, any domain name will get you there.

Bryan:
It was very nice to talk to you today, Julie. Thank you.

Julie:
Lovely. Thank you so much.

Bryan:
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