Thursday, July 8, 2010

Divine Detours with Seekerville Guest, Julie Carobini

Remember that Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jon Lovitz as Stephen King? If you do, you're old, like me. Ha ha. Anyway, as I recall, there’s Lovitz (as King) furiously tapping away on a Smith-Corona or similar. (In those days, Stephen King had so many books out he released several under a pseudonym.)

I'm going from memory here, but as I recall, the interviewer asks Mr. King about his prolificness (yes, it's a word ~ I looked it up) and suddenly, inexplicably, the typing stops. Panic overtakes Mr. King and he begins to bemoan his writer's block, uttering phrases like, It's over! I'll never be able to write again! My career is gone!

After a comedic pause, a thought drops into his mind, he blithely says, "never mind", and then he's back to furiously tapping those keys.

Welcome to the writing world! Though that skit poked fun at the inner life of the writer—something many of us know well—what I’m talking about here is the outer life. Or, the things beyond our control. (Which is, basically, everything.)

The Journey (in a nutshell)

I first began tackling writing as a profession after leaving my day job at the YMCA to give birth to my son. He will be 19 later this year. My first published essay, “Baby, Cordless Phone and Me,” appeared soon afterward in Expecting Magazine, and because readership changed every nine months or so (ahem), they published that story three years in a row. After that, I wrote articles, devotionals, and interviews for all sorts of magazines and compilations.

It didn’t make me rich. Nor famous. But it kept me writing, and I liked that. As time passed, and with two more children and a house filled with kidlet chatter, yay-high finger prints, and bowls of mac ‘n’ cheese, I longed to keep the grown-up side of my brain intact. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate.

So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. In between the short pieces, I finished writing two novels that didn’t sell, but at least, I had the articles and stories to keep me busy.

Until one year when I didn’t.

By mid-summer 2004, not one assignment or on-spec piece had come my way all year. I felt baffled…and a little depressed, both common reactions among writers, but difficult nonetheless. By this time my youngest was six and in school, and I began questioning my life. Not that being a mommy wasn’t enough! But I’d always written, some way, some how, and suddenly, I didn’t know which direction to take.

So I took a break.

Our church’s associate pastor had approached me about a part time job, and I took this as God’s answer to my questioning. We had not been part of this church long, so the job helped me quickly make new friends. I also learned unfamiliar computer programs, and found myself using my writing skills with newsletters, email correspondence, and visual aids.

Several months later—suddenly it seemed—the writing doors swung back open.

~ I was invited to be interviewed on an LA Christian radio program.
~ I received a check in the mail for an article I’d submitted two years previously.
~ An “out of the blue” request came in for five devotionals to be published in a weekly booklet.

Then, an old acquaintance, now an acquisitions editor, invited me to send one of my long ago novels his way. As it turned out, that novel wasn’t right for his house, but the editor who read it liked my writing style and invited me to submit future novels to Bethany House. (Tip: If an editor says this to you, save their information and do follow up!)

That spark of interest gave me what I needed to start a new story. It took nearly a year of working and writing part time, but eventually, the proposal for my novel, Chocolate Beach, was ready for submission to Bethany House—and it sold. That book was published in 2007. And just a few days ago, I saw the release of my fourth novel, A Shore Thing (B&H Publishing Group).

So that’s it. End of story … right?

The thing is, getting published feels great … until there’s a bend in an otherwise straight path. Sometimes when I’m between contracts, or when the ideas don’t flow like Mr. King’s, panic tries work its way through fissures in my confidence. It attempts to say It's over! I'll never be able to write again! My career is gone!

Yet when I look back at God’s hand on my life—not just my writing career, but my life—I know better. Through all the good days—and the not so good, such as an early relationship gone wrong, major illness, and the inconsistencies of the writing life—God has never abandoned me during the pauses. I’ve never been left for long to face a seemingly dead end with no inkling, no direction, and no hope at all.

Instead, I’ve found that when moving forward is hard, the best thing to do is look back at all that God has done. Then I begin to see, once again, that breaks along the journey are actually Divine detours.

About Today's Guest:

Julie Carobini writes seaside novels filled with faith, flip flops and waves of grace. Her lastest release, A Shore Thing, received 4 stars by Romantic Times, and is part of the acclaimed Otter Bay Novel series. Julie and her husband Dan have three children and live on California’s central coast.

Today Julie is graciously giving away one copy of A Shore Thing to one Seekerville visitor. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Please leave an email with your comment.


  1. Coffee's on!!

    Julie, I loved your story. It's a spark of encouragement for the trying times.


  2. Julie, I really needed this today. I'm unpublished and have been writing almost 4 years now. I have yet to really submit anything. I've had several requests but then realized I wasn't quite ready. I'm almost there. I'm so close to the submission process that I can taste it.

    This week I polished up 100 pages and came to a point where I need to really dig into rewrites. Excited and determined, I opened the file, sat down and got one of those phone calls that leaves you nail-biting and visiting hospitals. The emotional strain has left me unable to write, so I've been escaping in books. We've also come to a place financially where I should go to work. If I did I'd pretty much have to give up writing. The thought breaks my heart. But God has a plan and a purpose and it's so much bigger than mine.

    Thank you for the bubbly words of encouragement. I just may go ahead and open that file right now, even though it is way past bedtime.

  3. Thanks for sharing your testimony, Julie. I don't remember the SNL skit because I never really watched SNL that much. I'll have to look on the web and see if I can find it. I love things that help me laugh at myself. And, thanks for the encouragement.



    I saw Julie sitting on the beach and knew she was a SEEKERVILLE KIND OF GAL.

    Actually I found her on Shelf Awareness..there was a nice ad about her book and it looked so cool. Beach, flips flops, faith..what's not to love.

    If you have never gone to Shelf Awareness you ought to. Google it. Then subscribe.

    Helen, thanks for putting on the java. Beach breakfast is ready, guava, kiwi, nectarines, pineapple and coconut bowl. AAANDD, Jimmy Buffet omelets to go.

    And Julie (who is on California time) when you have a moment can you tell us about B & H Publishing? The inside scoop of course.

  5. Good Morning Julie, Thanks for the interview and your openness with what you went through. It is very encouraging.


  6. Hi, Julie! Thanks for joining us at Seekerville. Kids can really detour us from a writing career. When mine were little (they're adults now, sort of)I was too tired to write when I got the chance which wasn't often. Or maybe they were my excuse.

    I'm drinking a latte--a great way to start the day.

  7. Hi, Julie! If the moments of panic thing weren't so true, it wouldn't be so funny! Although I think it's the rest of us, not Stephen King, who has those!

    I started writing articles and short stories too, but I soon got tired of the short stuff and wanted to write novels. That was my goal in high school, to be an novelist, but I didn't start writing again until 15 years after high school.

    Hope all goes well with Shore Thing and Bethany House! Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Good morning, Julie. Enjoyed your post. Shows how we have to be patient and wait for God's timing.

  9. Julie, your entry is quite inspiring, and it has blessed me. I've taken long breaks from writing over the years, and you have encouraged me. God bless you.

  10. Good morning, Julie and welcome to Seekerville!

    What an exciting trail ride you've been on. Don't you just love the detours God has planned for you? You may not appreciate them at the time, but eventually the wisdom catches up with you, LOL!

    Congratulations on your series and on your current book. May many more follow!

  11. "Divine Detours"!! Oh, Julie, that's a blog in itself, isn't it, though???

    Welcome to Seekerville, the perfect place for a beachcomber author who likes chocolate!! I had no idea you were a fairly new author because it seems as if I have been hearing good things about you for a long, LONG time!!

    You said: "Instead, I’ve found that when moving forward is hard, the best thing to do is look back at all that God has done."

    Gosh, Julie, godly wisdom if I ever heard it, born of experience, and JUST what I needed this morning, so thank you!!


  12. hi julie...

    i enjoyed 'reading' your story.

    thanks for the chance to read your latest novel.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  13. I loved the Stephen King skit explaination. So hilairous.

    Great post, Julie. :)
    THe book looks so cute..I need to add this to my "to read" list.

    BTW, Tina, did you mean "new" visitor, or the ones able to make it by and comment?

    Either way, to save time, here's my addy.

    If it's just for "New" visitor, I completely understand :D

  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Julie! Your post resonated with me. I'm a pro at harboring doubts, yet when I look back at what God has done in my life, how He has directed my path and protected me, I know I can trust Him and His plan. Thanks so much for this post!

    Wonderful breakfast, Tina. Delicious!


  15. Good morning Julie, I'm on California time also so know its still early. yaaawn.

    But the coffee is great so welcome to Seekerville. Love the cover of A SHORE THING. I'd buy that in a heartbeat just for the cover. Now I'm excited about the insides too since I grew up on the California coast. And you sound like a terrific writer.

    What an inspiration. I love the term "divine detours" Don't we all have those? Thanks for the advice to look back. God is amazing.

  16. Inspiring story Julie!

    And Renee, I can so relate to you.

    I've been writing on and off for 14years! I submitted a query letter to Harequin in 1998 and was politely rejected. Since then, I joined RWA, learned more of the nuts and bolts of writing and have started 6-7 manuscripts. About 5 years ago I started entering contests and, lately, have been consistently finaling. My writing has improved dramatically, my plots are full of conflict and I know exactly where the story is going. But... I haven't completed a manuscipt since 1998!

    The problem? After I entered contests and went to writing seminars, I learned everything I had been doing was wrong. Judges offered good suggestions to my entries so I chopped out scenes and changed others. Before long, my story wasn't fun anymore. It was even MY story.

    This week as been especially hectic at home so I turned to my writing as a getaway. Yesterday afternoon, I made up mind. I'm dragging out my favorite manuscript, Husbands May Run but They Can't Hide,(a histical romance,) and I'm going to rewrite it. My way, with all the original quirky scenes that made writing a exciting.

    By this weekend, I'm going to query an agent and just get my story out there. It's time to be true to myself and my writing style.

    Wish me luck.

    And good luck to you,Renee.

    bcountryqueen6 (at)msn(dot)com

  17. As a writer who has had those "silent" times, your message really hit the spot. The whole thing about doors shutting and windows opening is so true. But no one ever tells you that the shut/open thing is not necessarily simultaneous!

    Your books sound so fun and unique.

    Peace, Julie

  18. Julie, loved your story and title. "Devine detours" is a great way to look at so many things in our lives. And I love your advice to look back on all God has done when faced with these times.

  19. I love Julie's books! Thanks for offering this one.

  20. Thanks for the uplifting post!


  21. Thank you for the encouragement today! Just what I needed to get back to work and be grateful for the journey.

  22. Oooh, oooh, pick me, pick me! I'd love to sample Julie's writing.


  23. Hi Julie, what a great inspiration and encouragement! I needed this today like so many others. I thought I was at a dead end, & wasn't looking at this as a detour, but it's a much better way of looking at my circumstances. I believe God has me where He wants me, & He'll work everything out for me in His time.
    @ Connie: Go Girl! Good Luck to you!
    tappitytaptap at gmail dot com

  24. Armed with the knowledge that you may have more divine detours in your path, what's next for your writing career Julie?

  25. Dianna, great minds. I went looking for a youtube of that SNL skit.

    Sounds hilarious!!!

  26. Julie, this post was just the little pick-me-up that my heart needed this morning! You have been a great encouragement just by sharing from your life's experiences. I am in a season of "waiting" in my writing life, but I know God is using each and every experience for my good.

    I didn't remember the Stephen King skit from SNL until the line "Never mind" and then it clicked with me. I wonder if it's on You Tube? I never missed an episode of SNL back in those days. That does *not* make us old! Let me just say, you definitely do not look like you are old enough to be the mother of a 19-year-old. :-)

  27. I would love to read Julie's book...please enter me. Thanks!!!

  28. Oops--here's my email address:


  29. Wonderful post, I enjoyed reading it and your book cover is lovely. :) Wishing you great success.


  30. Hi, Julie. Thanks for being on Seekerville. I enjoyed hearing about the long and winding road to publication.

  31. Hi Julie:

    The best place I’ve lived was a few hundred yards from the ocean north of Santa Barbara. I’d love to ‘revisit’ the location in fiction. About where do your stories take place: Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Monterey? Also, is it OK to read “A Shore Thing” first? That is, will it act as a spoiler for the earlier books?

    BTW, I prefer ‘Sacred Sabbaticals’ to ‘Divine Detours’. : )


    Vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  32. I need to look more often for God in the divine detours of my life, thanks for the reminder. I'd love a chance to win A Shore Thing, it sounds like the perfect summer read.

  33. Julie,

    Thanks for sharing your ups and downs. I think only other writers can understand what we go through! So glad you persevered. Your book looks amazing. Who can resist a beach?

    Connie, good for you! Never let anyone change who you are as a writer. Stay true to yourself and someday, somewhere, someone will appreciate your talent! Happy re-writing!

    Renee, we've all been where you are, and it's okay. You will find a way to write - believe me. And it's okay to take breaks. Sometimes I don't write for months at a time, then suddenly I have to again. Hope your hospital trauma resolves itself quickly and you can get back to your polishing and submitting.

    After the 4th straight day of unbearable heat, I'm hiding out in the air conditioning!

    Keep cool everyone. (Having an iced tea instead of coffee today.)

    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  34. BTW, I prefer ‘Sacred Sabbaticals’ to ‘Divine Detours’. : )


  35. Good Morning Seekerville! Sorry to be late to breakfast ~ youngest had a dr. appt! But I'm here now and enjoying you all so much. I will read your comments over and over again.

    Couple of things: I love writing for B&H. Karen Ball and I met in 1995 and she encouraged me along the way, so what a blessing to finally get to work with her! (We met at the Mt. Hermon writer's conference and she took one of my earlier manuscripts home with her and dissected it...basically told me that I'd crossed all my T's and dotted my I's, but that I didn't seem passionate about the story. Lots of wisdom there.) Julie Gwinn in marketing is also amazing and has that wonderful southern charm ... I so appreciate her too.

    Vince asked where the books are set. Otter Bay is a "fictional" name for the Cambria/San Simeon areas of the central coast. Although the people and businesses are fiction, locals will recognize nods to places such as SLO and Hearst Castle. In fact, the next book (2011) revolves around the castle itself! Since there are new main characters, the books do not have to be read in order...although a few small things will be given away if you read the 2nd one first. Thanks for asking, Vince! And I too like Sacred Sabbaticals :)

    Thanks again, all, for writing. Appreciate reading your stories too. I will check in at lunchtime :)

  36. It's amazing how we can be so confident in other areas of our lives and so insecure in our writing.

    What DOES that say about us?


    Ruthy, Mary, and Tina, remove your hands from the keyboard NOW!

  37. Connie, thank you! Writing has to be enjoyable. Yes, sometimes it is difficult. I say just write. I found most writers have a list of dos and don'ts. THEIR list of dos and don'ts, and when you take in 20 writers' dos and don'ts it overwhelmingly confusing.

    I tell a friend of mine that she'll never learn about herself as a writer unless she finishes something.

    I just have to get through revisions. And I will on book 1 by the end of July and book 2 by the end of August.

    And thank you, Tina, I'll take all the hugs I can get.

  38. I think I'm having a divine detour right now, cuz I'm here reading comments instead of writing.

    Bad Mary!!!

  39. Renee, Now that a new day has dawned, I hope you've opened that file! Send that puppy out then prep yourself for the wait (sigh). But you won't know till you do it, right?

    Saying a prayer for you right now.
    --Julie C

  40. I am enthralled with books about Ocean living as I've never lived near a big body of water. I'm amazed by the ocean, sea shells, white sand and the wave sounds.


  41. Well Julie, don't tease us, LOL.

    Tell us a teeny bit about the next story.

    Oh and folks here's the blurb from Amazon for A Shore Thing...doesn't it sound fun????

    Callie Duflay just isn’t like the rest of her family. While they’ve built white collar lives, she prefers getting her hands dirty by working with children and local California causes. When Callie learns that a beloved piece of untouched property in her town of Otter Bay may soon be developed, she confronts the architect assigned to the project.

    Gage Mitchell may be an easygoing, eco-friendly professional, but he’s not about to back off this job no matter how cute Callie or her pet pooch, Moondoggy, may be. His reasons and hers are noble—both have a heart for protecting God’s creation, and the truth is these two would be perfect for each other outside of this face-off. But will they ever figure that out?

  42. Julie, thanks for this great, inspiring post! I'm so glad you joined us today.

    By the way, I've really loved all your titles and covers!! So appealing.

  43. Big fan of Julie's! Looking forward to reading her newest release.


  44. I haven't yet read any of your books but they sound like ones I'd like to; need to add them to my list! Please enter me in the drawing to win your latest book.

  45. Julie, so glad to have you in Seekerville today! I haven't had a chance to read your books yet, but honestly, those beachy covers really do entice me!

    And Hearst Castle? What a fascinating place! I will definitely have to snag a copy of your next book!

    Thanks for sharing the inspiring story of your writing journey!

  46. I'm not a writer, but I always think it's fascinating to read the process an author goes through. I don't remember that particular Saturday Night Live but I'm certainly old enough.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  47. Okay, Tina. Didn't mean to tease--sorry!! The next book is tentatively titled Fade to Blue (Chose that title a long while ago, but it may change as it's still in the early editing stage at B&H.)

    It's about a single mom who trains for her dream job of restoring art for the famed Hearst Castle …not realizing the restoration taking place in her own soul.

    A little cryptic, but more to come. Promise! Loved writing this story and learning more about that famous castle on the hill--shed some serious tears! It's due out in early summer, 2011.

  48. Thanks so much for sharing your journey! I haven't read your books, but they sound exactly like the kind of books I'll love. Give me the beach ANY day! I appreciate your encouragement, and the encouragement of the Seekerville folks. It really does give the unpubbed, like me, that extra little shove to keep writing!


  49. Hi Julie:

    I love restoration stories – especially when they take place in Venice. (I’m thinking of “Don’t Look Now” with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie). Cryptic and powerful often go hand in hand. The restoration theme can go so many different ways. I’ll be looking for an ARC of your book but I’ll bet the title will change a few times before then. : )

    I’ve been to the Hearst Castle several times and I can’t see “Citizen Kane” without reliving memories of those visits. Did you watch “Citizen Kane” as part of your research? Just curious. Restoration themes are ideal for screenplays. I feel that you might have a ‘high concept’ idea! Very visual & millions of people have been to the Castle – all natural prospects. I like it!


  50. Every time I think about favorite SNL skits, the first one that comes to mind is "More Cowbell."

    I've had magazines come back to a year later on articles I've submitted, but your story is amazing.


  51. Julie, thanks so much for being with us. We hope you'll stop by often and we wish you continued success!!!

    The winner of Julie's latest release will be announced Sunday in the Weekend Edition!!

  52. I really enjoyed reading Julie's interview and the honesty that you can feel. Many people would gloss over the things that you discussed. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

    hspruitt {at} juno DOT com

  53. Julie! Such a great story and very helpful to me right now. I need to get back on track and this really sparked me! Thanks girlie!

  54. I remember that episode of SNL, it was hilarious! Thanks Julie, for posting an encouraging story to those of us still striving to reach our goals.

  55. I'm not Anonymous, I'm didn't accept my name.

  56. Julie, this was a great post and one that's encouraged me to keep on writing and submitting. "Divine Detours" I Like that. Renee and Connie I hope you'll not get discouraged by delays and detours and get back in there.

  57. Julie, I would love to have you guest at my blog,

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