Debut Authors Bash: Julie Shepard


After her father passes away, seventeen-year-old Rosie is forced to live with her abusive stepmom Lucy and her deadbeat boyfriend, Judd, who gives Rosie the sort of looks you shouldn’t give your girlfriend’s step-daughter. Desperate for a way out, Rosie would do just about anything to escape the life she’s been handed. Then she finds a letter her dad wrote years ago, a letter confessing that Rosie’s birth mother isn’t dead, as she believed, but alive somewhere—having left them when Rosie was a little girl for reasons he won’t reveal.

Rosie resolves to find her birth mom, and she’ll put everything on the line to make that happen. She hires a PI paid for by her best friend, Mary, who turns tricks for money. Unlike Rosie, Mary’s no delicate flower and when she sees the opportunity to make some cash and help out her closest friend, she takes it. Romance blooms when the PI Rosie hires hands the case off to his handsome nephew Mac, but Rosie struggles to keep her illicit activities with Mary a secret. Things begin to unravel when Rosie starts getting creepy anonymous texts from johns looking for Mary. And then there’s Mary, the one person Rosie can count on, who’s been acting strangely all of a sudden. As Rosie and Mary get closer to finally uncovering the truth about Rosie’s mom, Rosie comes face to face with a secret she never saw coming. With the ultimate unreliable narrator and twists and turns around every corner, Rosie Girl is an unforgettable tale of identity, devotion and desperation.

Favorite Quotes from “Rosie Girl”:


It’s kind of weird, selecting favorite lines from your own book. I think, by nature, writers are humble about their work. We have lofty goals of choosing just the right word or phrase to convey our thoughts but most times feel we come up short. Is it ever good enough? Do the words do the feeling justice, and are we successfully earning a reader’s time? All we can do is hope! So in that spirit of hoping I captured at least a little bit of “the right words”, here are three of my least terrible (and thus favorite!) lines from my debut YA novel, “Rosie Girl”:


  • Rosie talking about best friend Mary:

She’ll not only take a bullet for me, but she’ll also remove it with her bare hands and then stitch herself up with the needle I’ve threaded. 

Why I like it: the structure is more complex than usual for me. Whether it’s exposition or dialogue, I gravitate toward simple sentence structure and many times opt for phrases. So I like the structure, and I love how Rosie views Mary. It’s one of Rosie’s more “aggressive” sentiments, as it’s usually Mary who has thoughts like this.

  • Rosie talking about stepmom Lucy:

She could be mean like that when you didn’t listen to her.

See? This kind of simple sentence is more my speed. It also conveys a childlike quality in Rosie, one that sees Lucy as a volatile person, capable of hurting her. This is a sentence in the original manuscript that has never changed.

  • Elaine speaking to Rosie on the bus after she was harassed by Ralph:

“I did want to cry, Rosie, because as hard as you may think your life is now, wait until you have trouble seeing, and your knees hurt, and the person you love most in the world doesn’t even recognize your perfume anymore.”

Ah, this is a sad one. And it’s so frickin’ true. Every time I read that sentence it reminds me how all of us – one day – will not be so young and spry. The slow disintegration of our bodies will begin to limit us. Our minds may betray us and hurt those we love most. Elaine is the moral compass of the book. She’s tough in all of the scenes, so this brief insight into her life exposes her fragile side.

As a child of the 70’s, Julie’s writing career began on a Smith Corona typewriter, where she hammered out terrible short stories about dog catchers and homicidal identical twins who conspire to get away with murder. Throughout high school, she hand-wrote essays that challenged even the most accommodating creative writing teachers. In college, on a blessed Magnavox word processor, she translated Beowulf onto ninety-four pages of special paper that ultimately lost all traces of ink and simply became ninety-four blank pages of not-so-special paper.

After receiving her degree in English Literature from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), Julie earned her teaching certificate and taught seventh grade English and several after-school creative writing programs. It was during this time she developed a keen ear for adolescent drama and knew that young adult fiction was the path her writing journey would take. Although she left the classroom years ago, her passion for crafting dark, edgy stories continues. Happily, on a computer.

Julie knows that success as a writer is a goal no one can achieve alone, which is why she is actively involved in the writing community—attending conferences and workshops, meeting with fellow SCBWI members for a monthly critique group, and holding various committee positions for YARWA.
While her sons have already flown the coop, Julie and her husband still occupy their own slice of paradise in South Florida.