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Tech Triumphs

Julie Miller Pennell

Julie Miller PennellShe moved to NYC two weeks after graduating to work in magazines. Now her first book, The Young Wives Club, is scheduled for release on Valentine's Day. Sweet!

Title: Author/Freelance Writer

Hometown: Shreveport

Degree: Journalism, winter '05

When did you move to NY and why? I moved to NYC in January '06, two weeks after graduating from Tech. I wanted to work in magazines and ended up getting a job at Seventeen where I had interned a couple of summers before (internships pay off!).

How did Tech prepare you? The journalism professors were great. I heard from them all the time, "Show me, don't tell me," in class and I still recite that to myself every day when I'm writing. I was also an editor for both The Tech Talk and Lagniappe, which really helped me fine-tune my writing and gave me good experience working on a team.

What are jobs you've had since moving? I worked on both the print and digital sides of Seventeen, held a digital role at a PR agency, and then was a senior editor for Alloy Entertainment at Warner Brothers. When my husband was asked to do a year of research in Oxford, England, I quit my full-time job to move with him and became a freelance writer while there. When I moved back to the states, I decided I wanted to continue working from home. I currently write for sites like TODAY.com and Teen Vogue.

What's a typical day for you? I wake up at 7:30, make coffee and then sit on the couch under a blanket and write for hours. Then I do yoga, and then I write more. My day pretty much involves me staring at my laptop. To give myself outings and human interaction, I meet up with other writers, belong to book clubs, and I'm mentoring a high school student with the Girls Write Now organization; we meet every week at a local cafe.

Mets or Yankees? Both have great food at the stadium...so either!

Knicks or Nets? Nets all the way; (I live in Brooklyn).

Jets or Giants? Saints!

What's the hardest part of your job? Staying creative.

Tell us about the new book? The Young Wives Club takes place in a fictional south Louisiana town and follows four young women who get married pretty much right out of high school. There's relationship drama and all of that, but the book is more about self-discovery and the friendship between these girls. I also tried to make Louisiana a fifth main character -- I loved writing about the culture, sights and smells of my home state. I craved crawfish, beignets and chicory coffee the whole time I was writing it.

Have you gotten used to meeting famous people?, and tell us about one of your "famous people" interviews: Ha! Yes, I have gotten used to interviewing famous people now :) I think my most A-list celeb interview was Julia Roberts who was just as charming as you would imagine. But I think the most starstruck I've been was when I met The New Kids on The Block backstage before one of their shows. My childhood self was freaking out.

When do you write? Every day!

What does your husband do? Christopher is a surgery resident.

What on-campus activities did you enjoy at Tech? My life at Tech revolved around The Tech Talk and The Lagniappe. At one point I was the editor in chief for both publications and basically lived in Keeny Hall. I also loved going to the football and basketball games with my roommate Jordan and friends. I also still cherish the off-campus memories of the midnight runs to Walmart and the burgers at the Dawg House.

What advice do you have for Tech students interested in a writing career? Write as much as you can. Students now have an advantage of freelancing for national publications (there are so many more opportunities now than when I was at Tech) so submit your work and see what happens! And start your own blog if you don't have one already. The best advice I can give to any college student is to intern in your desired field. Oh, and don't forget about the hand-written thank-you notes – they'll get you far.

What's one thing you know now that you wish you'd have known when you moved to New York? Buy a heavier coat.


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