Romantic Intentions

She built a career on love between the pages

By Jessica Laskey
January 2024

Julie Soto didn’t intend to become a published author. But, like the plots of the romance novels she writes, it seemed destined to work out.

“In romance, you’re kind of guaranteed a happy ending,” Soto says. “If you already know how a book will end, you have to make it fun along the way.”

Soto approaches her creative endeavors with a sense of fun. The Sacramento native began in musical theater. She performed in youth and community productions before moving to New York after graduation from Sacramento State.

Inspired by the city’s theatrical environment, Soto and two friends wrote a musical together. Titled “Generation Me,” the show was accepted into the New York International Fringe Festival in 2014 and the New York Musical Festival in 2017. It won multiple awards, including Outstanding Book for Soto.

“It was fun to create a musical with friends and it grew a life of its own from there, but I didn’t necessarily want to be a musical writer,” Soto says.

Around the time “Generation Me” was getting prepped for the festival in 2017, Soto started dabbling in fan fiction, which she describes as “not-for-profit stories posted online” about existing characters.

“I had been reading fan fiction for so long, I eventually wanted to try it myself,” she says. “I would wish there was a certain story out there and I finally thought, go write it yourself!”

She posted fan fiction of Harry Potter and Star Wars and found herself immersed in a new community of creatives. She formed friendships with other writers. The real world of publishing soon came calling.

“An agent reached out to one of my good friends, Ali Hazelwood, because they’d been reading her (Star Wars) fan fiction,” Soto says. “She sold her book ‘The Love Hypothesis’—which started as fan fiction—in early 2020. (It has since become a New York Times bestseller.)

“One time when we were hanging out in New York, she convinced me to take one of my fan fiction stories and rework it, really make it my own, and send it out to agents.”

Soto turned a story into a novel and pitched it to agents in 2021. It took six months to land an agent. Six months after that, in January 2022, her manuscript hit the market.

“Forget Me Not,” a rom-com set in Sacramento, was published last July. Her second book, a contemporary romance titled “Not Another Love Song,” is due out this summer.

“Romance works in tropes,” says Soto, who splits time between Sacramento and Fort Bragg. “They go on a trip and there’s only one bed! They’re going for the same job promotion! Let’s sabotage each other until we fall in love! Each story has the same beats. You’re looking for similar tropes and situations to put characters into without being stale. It’s about finding new twists on those tropes.”

Soto’s background in fan fiction helped with the rom-com realm. So did her work in musical theater.

“We were exposed to so many different musicals when we were younger,” she says. “The idea of how to get from point A to point B in completely different ways has always been interesting. You learn the formulas that exist and then watch them get broken.”

Having published a debut novel and finished a five-city book tour, Soto is in the editing stages of her second book. She enjoys where her storytelling skills have taken her.

“Writing has become my fulltime job,” she says. “I’m definitely living the dream.”

For information, visit

Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

Stay up-to-date with our always 100% local newsletter!

* indicates required
Type of Newsletter
Share via
Copy link