20 questions and a selfie: A day in the life of Julie Stroebel Barichello, news editor by day, independent author-designer by night

For this installment of “20 Questions and a Selfie,” we catch up with Julie Stroebel Barichello, newspaper editor by day, children’s author-designer by night.

Raised in the rural farmland of north-central Illinois, Barichello spent her childhood playing make-believe in a five-acre backyard and stashing books under her pillow to read by the garage light’s glow through her bedroom window at night. Like many authors, her childhood experience informs her writing as an adult, as she is the author of Sarah & Katy and the Imagination Blankets, a children’s tale about two sisters and their magic blankets, which are “able to transform the sisters into anyone and transport them anywhere their imaginations can take them.”

Julie lives in Illinois with her husband and cat, whose initials spell WORDS (Webster Oxford Roget Derek Stroebel). [Editor’s note: May we suggest adding Allan Poe to give AP style some love?]

You can connect with Julie on Twitter @JSBarichello and on her website, www.juliestroebelbarichello.com.

Our 20 questions with Julie start now:

1) What is your full name?

Julie Stroebel Barichello

2) What is your professional job title?

Children’s author

3) Describe your organization.

By day, I am a newspaper editor. By night, I work as an independent author and designer publishing under the imprint JSB Independent Books.

4) Describe your surroundings right now.

I am a minimalist when it comes to my writing surroundings. Bare desk except for a computer, pen jar and phone.

5) What was your first paid writing gig?

My college newspaper, The Eureka College Pegasus.

6) What was the last thing you wrote?

The outline for my next children’s chapter book, The Mountain of Dempsey Molehill.

7) What is the next thing you plan to write?

Now that the outline is ready, I plan to buckle down and write The Mountain of Dempsey Molehill.

8) Finish this sentence: The ideal way to start my day is …

Browsing a magazine. I love reading in the morning, and magazines are a short-term commitment, so I can read a bit, then move on to writing.

9) Besides your computer, what is sitting on your desk right now?

A pen jar, a phone and a 12-ounce Mountain Dew (or, as I like to call it, “canned caffeine”).

10) So-called writer’s block is no match for you! What is your antidote?

A shower and a stack of Aqua Notes. I’m convinced shower caps are the ultimate thinking cap.

11) Finish this sentence: I hate it when I read …

… library books that previously were checked out by a Cheetos eater. Seriously, wipe your fingers.

12) What are the most important tools, programs and systems you use for your work?

Scrivener is my best friend, as is Dropbox. InDesign is essential for independent author/designers as well.

13) First book that comes to mind? Go!

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. I just started reading that one.

14) What are your favorite smartphone apps and why?

Believe it or not, I’m a 20-something who doesn’t use any apps. Not one. I even still take notes with pen and paper instead of on my phone.

15) What have you always wanted to write?

A child’s favorite book. If one kid ever tells me my book is his/her favorite, I’ll fulfill a life goal.

16) What is your advice for aspiring professional writers?

Independent publishing, when done right, is professional writing. To do it right, you need editors and designers. Don’t skimp or cut corners.

17) First famous writer who comes to mind? Go!

Mark Twain

18) Finish this sentence: My favorite thing about being a writer is …

… telling someone’s story. Even though the characters are creations of my imagination, I love being in their shoes and telling their stories.

19) Pencil versus pen—who wins and why?

Pen. I don’t have to pause to sharpen a pen. (Although I love the smell of pencil shavings.)

20) Finish this sentence: One word or phrase people will never read in my writing is …

“impact” used as a verb.

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