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Julia Bartz Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Writing Retreat (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Julia Bartz
Julia Bartz is a practicing therapist and Brooklyn based writer. Her fiction has appeared in The South Dakota Review and InDigest Magazine, as well as other places.

She started “The Writing Retreat” during NaNoWriMo 2014. In this early draft, Alex fled from New York after her friend breakup with Wren, but wound up in Montana, of all places. She began sleepwalking, and Roza appeared in her dreams, yet in this version, she was an alien deciding whether or not she’d save mankind. It was a fun idea, but just didn’t gel for Julia.

Several years later, she was sitting outside during her lunch break from her office job, and the idea of writing about a writing retreat landed on her. So she grabbed her phone and scribbled some notes down. The characters out of her original draft shifted right into place. And she knew this would make a fantastic story.

She was working on a “dystopian” book where Roe v. Wade got overturned. After working closely with her agent on several new drafts, the agent decided to part ways with Julia. At the time it was devastating, however she learned it wasn’t too uncommon. She had written two novels by that point that had yet to find representation. Did she really want to begin this process over for a third time? Writing a novel takes a lot of energy and time, and she didn’t want to be disappointed yet again. But the story felt urgent and like it really wanted to be told.

She ultimately decided if this was a story she was going to tell, she needed to focus all of her attention on the process rather than the outcome. She wanted to use this as a chance to explore her feelings around being a disillusioned and stuck writer. She also wanted to enjoy creating a novel she’d enjoy reading: suspenseful, complex, and disturbing. She’s glad she finished it, because this was the novel that wound up getting selected by a publisher and agent.

Writing about novels within the novel was actually a character exercise: what would Keira write about? Or Taylor? Or Wren? It was a ton of fun to be able to play with different ideas and see what truly felt right for them. This was a similar process that she went through with Roza, figuring out what tales she’d be interested in sharing with the rest of the world. With Alex’s novel, she wanted to more deeply show the process of writing and how it actually feels: sometimes a vivid picture can jump start your imagination.

Julia also wanted to demonstrate exactly how writers are affected differently by what is happening in their own lives. After Alex is betrayed by Taylor and Roza, for example, she writes about how Abigail, Daphne’s friend, deceived her. She wanted to explore the idea of channeling, because oftentimes writing fiction does feel the same way, when you see the scenes in your mind and hurry to capture them on paper. A character will sometimes even do something which startles you. It is both exhilarating and eerie.

One of Julia’s earliest writing heroes was Natalie Goldberg. She picked up “Wild Mind”, one of her books about writing during her preteen years and became in awe of her instantly, and she felt like a mentor to Julia.

“The Writing Retreat” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. “Please Join Us” meets “The Plot” in a psychological suspense debut novel about a young writer at this exclusive writer’s retreat which descends into a nightmare.

Five authors, four weeks, and a one million dollar book deal for the lucky winner. It’s a book deal to die for. Unless, of course, they vanish first.

Alex, having recently turned 30, has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance: to attend this month long and exclusive writing retreat at Roza Vallo’s estate. Even the knowledge that her current rival and ex-best friend, Wren, is going isn’t enough to dampen her excitement.

However she the attendees all arrive, Roza (a feminist horror author) drops quite the bombshell. They all have to finish a whole novel from scratch during the following month, and the author of the best book is going to get a life changing seven-figure publishing deal.

Each author has to write up a proposal for their full length novel, and crank out 3,000 words each day to be critiqued. But despite the trappings of luxury: wine, food, and an unparalleled library, there isn’t any ignoring the simple fact they are trapped; there is no cell service or Wi-Fi to speak of.

Determined to win this apparently impossible contest, Alex buckles down and attempts ignoring all of the bizarre happenings at the estate. Which includes Wren’s cruel mind games, Roza’s erratic behavior, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. However when one of the authors disappears during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something incredibly sinister is afoot here. With time running out on her, she is desperate to learn the truth and save herself.

A propulsive and claustrophobic thriller which explores the dark side of fame and friendships, this novel is an unputdownable debut from a compelling new talent. Julia turns a hopeful writer’s dream come true into a cutthroat psychological nightmare.

The novel is a wild ride right from the very first page. This blends themes of ambition, friendship, courage, and creativity, it’s a thrill packed story that brims with intrigue, secrets, and murder. Julia wrangles tension of the highest order, and executes a fiercely original tale with style and vigor. It is a top tier read that is accomplished, intelligent, and exciting.

Readers found this to be a thrilling, sexy, and compulsive meditation on art and competition among women that ought to be sisters, but there’s something malignant getting in the way. The novel is action packed and darkly satirical and breathes fresh air to the locked room mystery. Her writing is flawless and her plotting is adeptly woven.

This masterfully delivers everything thriller readers crave: sinister characters, stay up all night suspense, palpable atmosphere, full body chills, some jaw dropping twists, and you never want it to end.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Julia Bartz

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