Friday, October 12, 2012


My guest is best selling author, Julie Ann Walker. She looks more like one of those beautiful women who grace the cover of a book rather than the one who wrote it. Julie's degrees are in mathematics, and while I'm sure she's excellent with numbers, it's her flair with words and dialog that grabbed this reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh perspective Julie brings to special ops fiction and a tough group of former military guys, Black Knights Inc, who ride Harleys and get the bad guys. Love these guys! 
Julie talks about her road to publication and the concept of the 10,000 hour rule.

I'm the world's worst when it comes to a touching story involving my journey to publication... 

I hear so many authors speak of their struggles, their setbacks and heartaches, which then makes the tales of their eventual victories so sweet I often find myself sitting on my hands for fear of shooting a crudely impulsive fist in the air.  "Huzzah!  After eight years and ten manuscripts, she finally sold!"  I LOVE those stories.  Everybody does.  Because there's nothing more satisfying than knowing through struggle, dedication, and perseverance, dreams do come true.

But for me, my writing career didn't come upon me after the requisite slog.  Quite the contrary, it was a freight train, barreling down the tracks under its own steam, with me just along for the ride.  Now, I must set you straight if you're getting the impression I'm some sort of prodigy.  For the record... I. Am. Most. Definitely. Not.  It may seem that way when you learn I won contests with the first manuscript I ever seriously submitted, I snagged an agent within two weeks of sending out query letters, and I signed a three-book deal within eight weeks of securing an agent.  But the truth of the matter is, I've written all my life.  Journaling.  Blogging.  I was the senior editor of my school newspaper.  I've been a dedicated pen pal, an amateur poet, and travel writer for my family vacations since I could put pen to paper.   In short, if I could string all those sentences and poems, ruminations and letters together, I'd probably have a catalog of over hundred books. 

So, though it may be true, I didn't suffer through the rejection letters and slush piles.  It's my contention the only reason that's the case is simply because I didn't attempt to publish until I already had hundreds of thousands of words under my belt.  In Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, he discusses at length the concept of the 10,000 Hours Rule.  Put simply, the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.  And I'm here to tell you, if I haven't written a total of 10,000 hours in my life, I'm pretty darned close. 

Well, then the question becomes, how did I know I was ready for publication?  How did I know I'd practiced enough?  And the answer, as uninspiring and trite as it may sound, is that I didn't.  You see, all my life I considered my writing to be a hobby.  Something I did for my own pleasure and the pleasure of close friends and family.  My degrees are in mathematics, and I was very certain I would spend the rest of my days in the classroom, teaching fresh, young minds the wonders of Algebra and Calculus, the beauty of numbers and patterns and symmetry.  Then the unthinkable happened.  My husband lost his job and we were required to move across the country.  Teaching positions were scarce, and I found myself at loose ends. 

For entertainment, I sat down at my computer and decided to write down the first in a series of stories that'd been banging around in my head for years.  On a whim, I entered that story in a contest and you know the rest...

So, for those of you who dream of being a writer, I have one simple piece of advice.  Write.  Then write some more.  And after that, write some more.  And when you think you've been writing for about 10,000 hours, submit your work to the world.  According to my experience and according to Malcolm Gladwell, by then you should be ready.  See, it's just that simple.  Hahaha!

Thanks to Sia McKye for having me on today.  It was lovely.  Cheers, happy writing,  and happy reading!  

And before I leave you, I have a question... For those of you who love to read books, have you ever considered writing one?        


He Never Misses a Target…

Jake "the Snake" Sommers earned his SEAL codename by striking quickly and quietly - and with lethal force.  That's how he broke Michelle Carter's heart.  It was the only way to keep her safe - from himself.  Four long years later, Jake is determined to get a second chance.  But to steal back into Michelle's loving arms, Jake is going to have to prove he can take things slow.  Real slow...

She Aims to Make Him Beg…

Michelle Carter has never forgiven Jake for being so cliché as to "love her and leave her."  But when her brother, head of the Black Knights elite ops agency, ticks off the wrong mobster, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in Jake's hands.  No matter what they call him, this man is far from cold-blooded.  And once he's wrapped around her heart, he'll never let her go...

Julie Ann Walker is the USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first two books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) and In Rides Trouble (September 2012). 

For more information, please visit or follow her on Facebook  and/or Twitter. 



~Sia McKye~ said...

Julie, welcome to Over Coffee! I've been looking forward to your visit.

I have plenty of coffee and lots of milk to put in it. We have a selection of baked goodies on the virtual bar and a nice comfy chair for you to sit in equipped with high speed internet, a cat or two--my Casey rivals Peanut both in size and volume of her pur. Then there is Charlie Tango;he's still a kitten and tackles everything. Except fingers moving on the keyboard, thankfully.

Jo said...

Yes I have certainly considered writing one but never had an idea for a subject. I did start writing a personal history interspersed with recipes but was told it wouldn't sell because I wasn't 'known'.

I think I must have blogged 10,000 words.

Olivia Cunning said...

Congratulations on your smashing success, Julie! I'm one of those authors who started submitting books before they were ready. :-) I'm also one who didn't query much. So I have one or two, sometimes as many as 10 rejections for a large volume of "practice" manuscripts. Not sure how many hours I'd clocked before being published. Way more than 10,000.

Julie Ann Walker said...


Thank you so much for having me on today. It was lovely. And the change in topic - besides the usual interview - so very refreshing.

And, oh, you must send pictures of Casey. I love kitty photos!


Julie Ann Walker said...


I would read a personal history book interspersed with recipes - I love to cook - and as long as the story was compelling, I wouldn't care if you were "known" or not. *sigh* The publishing industry is such a tough nut to crack. And I oftentimes lament the fact that many really good stories never make to the page.

Thanks for commenting!

Julie Ann Walker said...


Most authors go the "practice" manuscript route, and I salute you and them. Had I suffered many rejections, I don't know if I'd have had the courage and/or gumption to slog it out until I found success. So, congratulations on your determination and fortitude. I'm so very envious of that won't-take-no-for an answer attitude. And even though I might lack it, I try to imbue my heroines with it. Because, you know, that type of woman is so very fun and easy to like!

Hope to meet you at a writer's conference some day!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey, I never planned on being an author either! I did go through many months of rejections before a publisher said yes, but it was to the first story I'd ever written.

J. B. Chicoine said...

I like that 10,000 hour rule--a lot of truth to that. I still have thousands of hours to go, but they do accumulate, don't they?

I guess I'm in that line-up of authors who didn't originally intend to publish, but once I finished a novel (and I was never really convinced it was finished), publishing just seemed like the next step--sort of like hanging a painting on the wall.

LD Masterson said...

I wanted to but didn't. Then I did. And now I am.

Enjoyed your post. Thanks to Julie and to Sia for hosting.

Tara Tyler said...

ah, the 10,000 hour plan! sounds like a fad diet! love it!
keep writing is the best advice. thanks!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ah yes, the important thing is to continue writing and practicing.

Julie, I do have pictures of Casey in my photos on Facebook under My animals or pets. Casey is an Orange and white tiger stripe. She part Maine Coon Cat which are huge cats to begin with. She's a bit rounder than she should be. She could stand to lose 2 or 3 pounds. :-)