Julie Ann Shapiro
Julie Ann Shapiro is a writer, short story author, novelist and business pioneer. Her writing services firm, Got Dot, works primarily with businesses under seven years old. The past five years Julie has written feature articles, web content, and press releases for clients in affiliate marketing, education, health, high tech, internet marketing, real estate and the arts. In this capacity Julie also provides creative consultation to clients and serves as editor of the Higher Education Digest and Face to Face news journals. Julie’s novels, One Shoe Diaries and Three Drop Pennies are represented by Triada US Literary Agency.
To learn more about Julie and her work, check out www.gotdot.com.
What inspired you to write a novel?
My first novel, One Shoe Diaries evolved from lost shoes. I kept seeing them everywhere...on the side of the road and at the beach. In the One Shoe Diaries, Brad, a successful photographer is haunted by the memory of his girlfriend, Jen-Zen and finds himself first fascinated then obsessed with shoes - but only lost shoes!
My second novel, Three Drop Pennies, started with the pennies themselves. In this novel a romance is threatened by dark psychic visions and obsessions.
Even my short stories often originate from an object I see while running. Exercising with the muse is great fun! I've included my short story, "Hats on a Bench," for your readers.
What do you do for a living?
I make my living as a freelance writer for businesses and have for the past five years. Although, I do some feature stories for newsletters and magazines. I write marketing copy, feature stories, and web content.
How did you find an agent to represent your novel?
I sent letters and samples of my work.
Besides writing, what are some of your favorite activities?
I love running and walking in the neighborhood near the beach. When there's time I like visiting with friends and reading great literary books, books that have beautiful language, ones that make me think and open my eyes.
What's been your biggest dare in life?
I think it's the challenge of doing something people say I can't. Someone in college once said, don't be a writer. It's too hard to make living. It's all I've ever been doing. I hear the same refrain now - oh the publishing world is so hard and why are you writing novels - I do it because I love storytelling and as a writer I like giving voices to stories that need to be told. The characters themselves hook me as both a writer and reader. I write to see what's going to happen to them next.
"Hats on a Bench"
I believed magic lived under the family's hats. I always tried to remove everyone's hats anxious to see a hidden marble, a gold coin, or a note written in invisible ink.
I didn't know I read the hidden ink all along.
When the family gathered in the park for Grandpa's memorial they placed his tweed hat on the bench, in honor they said. Mom favored her French beret picking off the tiniest of lint balls. Dad wore a Red Sox baseball cap. It fell to the bridge of his nose as he shuffled his feet. My brother fingered the rim of a black baseball cap worn backwards. It said, No Fear. The words stung.
Susie stood hatless by the sea wall. I nodded at her, but she didn't look at me. She used to wear Little House in the Prairie style caps. She stopped wearing them at age eight, the same year she lost her voice.
At the sea wall she stretched her arms wide like a bird's wings. I wished she could fly.
Mom and Dad broke the petals of a rose and spread it on the grass. My brother strummed a guitar.
Susie's blonde strands spun in the wind. The family held onto their hats. Susie's lips moved. I followed her gaze towards Grandpa's hat. It didn't topple in the wind. My own straw hat sailed over the wall and out to sea. But Grandpa's hat sat still in defiance of the elements.
When Grandpa used to read me stories he'd tickle me and promise I'd get to hold the hat if I was a good girl.
I was a very good girl, he said. Better than my sister in her bonnets. Susie always cried when Grandpa read to her.
Was it always this way? Grandpa enacted his will. Others acquiesced.
When his hand went down my blouse and I was nine I asked, "Why?"
He ripped my shirt in two. No hiding it, I thought. The secret everyone would know. But he said I was clumsy. How does a nine year old manage to rip their own shirt in half? No one asked.
Yes, I'm clumsy for thinking my Grandpa, the favorite on the block, read the neighborhood kids stories. Did the other kids feel Grandpa's hand between their legs? Did they know the big, bad wolf? Susie knew, didn't she?
After the family left the memorial, Susie slowly approached Grandpa's hat. Her lips quivered. No words fell from her mouth just the threads of Grandpa's hat that she broke with her teeth. When her skirt lifted in the wind I screamed the scream I should have yelled so long ago.
Before she lost her voice she insisted there was no magic under hats and refused to look beneath mine. Susie never saw the marble I kept there just for her. I hoped one day to give it to her when I found a way to save the magic.