Julie, welcome to the Blog today! Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Julie Arduini (Are-due-we-knee) and I write contemporary inspirational romance, but recently completed a YA/Women’s Fiction series that I co-wrote with my teen daughter. My writing features a surrender journey and a chocolate mention. I live in Ohio with my husband and our two children, 22 and 17. I also gained two children when I married. They are adults who are both married with children of their own. When I’m not writing/reading, I’m watching shows with Hannah or helping out with youth group.
Describe your new book, You’re Brilliant, briefly please.
Amazing things happen to a mentoring group of girls and women when they discover they’re more than capable. In this final book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series, You’re Brilliant, Bethany Tuttle starts in a new high school and finds herself in trouble. KJ Curry comes to her rescue, and Bethany realizes it might be KJ that needs the most help of all. Pastor’s Wife and mentor Cheri begins a second job to help pay for Sabrina’s wedding, only to make a mess of every task given to her.
What is the inspiration behind your story?
Our daughter Hannah has slight special needs because of chronic health issues. Middle school is hard for anyone, but it was extra challenging for her. We took time to process it and she expressed the desire to encourage girls younger than her so they wouldn’t struggle. As she talked, I realized she was telling a story. I encouraged her to continue, and if she’d work with me, I’d make sure the work was published. She plotted a three-book story around a mentoring ministry, Linked, and the lies the girls and their mentors were all believing about themselves. We released You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, and finally, You’re Brilliant.
Do you reward yourself when a book is finished? If so, what is your favorite treat?
I like to go to a movie alone, and pray that I’m the only one there. I’ve come close!
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
The previous two books featured girls who were already involved in the Linked ministry. That was true for You’re Brilliant as it was Bethany’s story combined with her mentor, Cheri, but a secondary character, KJ, ended up being a lot more involved in the plot than we originally planned. I have a friend with a daughter the same age group who was going through an issue we knew teen girls experience. We felt it was important to incorporate that into the story.
How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
Hannah created nearly all character names for the entire series. She considered how names would sound, she thought of names close to the friends she was using as inspiration, and names she liked. KJ Curry is a tip of the hat to my friend who shared the teen struggle with me that we used in You’re Brilliant. The family likes Steph Curry, so that’s where that came from.
What’s next for you as an author?
With Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series completed, I’m back to contemporary romance. The new series will be six books called Surrendering Opinions. It’s about a group of sextuplets who remain in the national spotlight after a tragedy. Each book features a sibling trying to find their own identity and true love just as their parents shared. The first book is Anchored with the firstborn, Jordyn Collins, an overachiever struggling with her dad’s re-marriage and her new job as morning co-anchor with the mysterious Spencer Hart.
You are one busy writer! I’m impressed with your desire to include your daughter in writing the series. That must have been such a growth experience for both of you. Precious memories. Here is the lovely cover of You’re Brilliant, along with a short excerpt:
Amazing things happen when a group of high school students and women discover they are more than competent.
Bethany’s not excited to start high school in a new community where she doesn’t know anyone. She quickly befriends KJ, a popular sophomore, and it looks like the transition will go well until Bethany discovers KJ’s boyfriend is a bully. With a strong sense of justice, Bethany challenges Brent Sullivan, and he’s determined to make her suffer.
Cheri takes on an additional job in a school to help pay for Sabrina’s wedding. It’s a different atmosphere than at the church where she feels more comfortable as the pastor’s wife and mentor with the Linked ministry. After several mishaps, Cheri feels like she’s found an assignment where she can make a difference until a teacher belittles her work.
Can Bethany and Cheri resist the lies about their competency and hold on to the fact they’re brilliant?
The final book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series for tweens, teens, and women of all ages by mother and daughter authors Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini.
One glimpse at the sprawling Boardman Valley High School campus and my throat starts to close up. It’s a fortress. So many windows. Multiple parking lots. More than one athletic field. There’s even an attached brick circular amphitheater to house the enormous drama and musical talent the Youngstown suburb is known for.
The morning crowd travels to the main entrance. I’m trapped in the middle of the swarm, moving with the wave of peers, my anxiety escalating with each step. Even if I wanted to yell for help, the buzz of first day chit-chat fills the lobby.
What am I doing here? Oh, right. My parents moved and this is the closest school district. Where I know no one.
A boy with a head full of curls wearing a Saturday Night Live shirt bumps into my side. “Hey, tourist. If you don’t know where you’re going, step to the side.”
“Sorry. Did my fanny pack give me away?” I smile at my attempt at humor, but no one chuckles or even looks in my direction. There’s so much movement. “Say, are we students or cattle?” My voice rises above the fray, but I sound like a squeaky kid.
“Keep mooo—ving funny girl.” The tall blonde surrounded by three girls mimicking her every move, throws her head back and laughs. Her minions follow her lead and they’re giggling with her.
I’m not as agile as my friend Jazmin, but I’ve got stealth working for me. With a few duck and weaves, I exit out of the throng of people and slam against the wall next to the office.
A slim, tall girl with shiny, straight brown hair is about to approach the receptionist when she looks my way and tilts her head. “Are you Bethany Tuttle?”
I raise my eyebrows. How does she know my name?
She gestures me forward. “C’mon. I’m KJ Curry. I’m the student council rep the vice-principal lassoed into keeping you corralled.” Her expression is sober for about a second before she breaks into a chuckle.
KJ heard my cattle joke. And thank God, she thinks I’m funny.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Julie! Readers, you can buy a copy of the book at: https://amazon.com/Youre-Brilliant-Surrendering-Stinkin-Thinkin-ebook/dp/B0874Y5B4C/
You can find Julie online at any of these places:
Monthly Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/321e32f02e17/juliearduininewsletter
One lucky commentator will receive a copy of Julie’s book – Ebook or Print – US only – today. We all remember middle school. What experience do you remember the most about your best friend from that time? Leave it in the comments to be entered for a copy of Julie’s book, and thanks for stopping by!