About Julia

Welcome to my site!  Do you believe in the power of words?  Do you love reading and encouraging everyone around you to embrace the habit?  Do you sometimes obsesses about grammar?  Then consider yourself a word nerd in good company.

Wait- you don’t obsess about grammar?  You only read sometimes?  That’s okay too. 😉

At Diary of a Word Nerd, I share more than book reviews.  Come here twice a week to learn about the benefits of reading, the easiest ways to incorporate reading into your life, and what to read. Hopefully, you’ll learn a few new words too!

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The Word Nerd

My Word Nerd Beginnings

I have always loved words: speaking them and reading them.  It’s a passion, and a bit of a curse.  In second grade, I received a Valentine candy heart that said:

You talk too much.

My teacher laughed and told me to frame it.

In eleventh grade English, my teacher dubbed me “Babbles Vanderwal”, “Babs” for short. It stuck.  This isn’t necessarily the nick name you want when you’re 17.  When we studied Latin roots, the same teacher assigned me a presentation on loqui.  Guess why?  (Read about loquacious here.)

My obsession with words continued.  I spent Saturday mornings snuggled up with a blanket and a book, the thicker, the better. (I’m talking about the book here, not the blanket.)  I edited my high school paper and wrote feature articles that (I hope) made my classmates laugh. As a young adult, I used my word nerd tendencies to earn a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and later Master’s Degrees in teaching and physical therapy.  But when child number two arrived, I set my professional career aside.

BernadetteAs the fog taking care of my young children dissipated, I realized, like one of my favorite characters, Bernadette Fox, that being creative feeds my spirit and keeps me sane. When I heard that Stephenie Meyers started writing Twilight at her kids’ swim practice, I thought, “I want to do that!”

Now, I nourish my creative side by building this blog and writing fiction, usually contemporary YA.  I tell my husband it’s cheaper than Valium, and bless him, he keeps encouraging me.   When I’m not coaching soccer or shuttling my kids, I snatch moments with the laptop to write, revise, and learn from other writers. If there’s time, I run, swim, or strike a yoga pose.

I live on a farm in the mountains of southwest Virginia with my patient husband, four energetic children, a rescue dog, a spastic puppy, and three cats.

This road runs by my farm. Not a bad place to run, huh?
The road outside my farm. Not a bad place to run, huh?


Some of my favorite books are:

Children’s: Where the Wild Things Are, Knuffle Bunny (One, Too and Free!) and anything else by Mo Willems

Middle Grade:  Wonder, Artemis Fowl, Bridge to Terebithia, Harry Potter (#6 is my favorite), From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Young Adult: The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, The Truth About Forever, The Outsiders, Twilight, See You at Harry’s, Skinny, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Adult: Paradise, The Help, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,  The Night Circus, To Kill a Mockingbird, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Join me for book reviews and literary (aka “Word Nerdy”) discussion!  Contact me at julia dot tomiak at gmail dot com.


  1. The answer to your first questions: YES YES YES YES YES!!! OH my gosh, I think I love you. I’m so excited by the AMAZING people I’ve met through Dana’s review of my book! Wow. (LOVE Night Circus! when is erin going to write another book????)

    heading to stalk all your social media accounts and read your blog……I use the term talk loosely. Not really.

  2. I found your web page by looking up he word obdurate from Kings book 11/22/63 I love your site has been so helpfull I love sTEPHEN kINGS BOOKS JUST READ LIKE i SAID 11/22/63, dOCTOR sLEEP AND yNDER THE dOME, ALL AMAZING What is your favorite one by him. Can you recommend and other author that writes page turners.

    Thank you

    May God bless and happiness always

    1. Honestly, I don’t like most of King’s work- I scare very easily. I did enjoy his book The Dead Zone. A lot of people like James Patterson for page turners- have you tried him?

  3. Hi Julia!

    So glad I discovered your blog. I am also a word nerd, and an avid reader. Now my kids are becoming the same, to my great delight!

    I studied French Literature for my Master’s (my first language is French), and I work as a professional translator.

    I will be back to check on your blog! 🙂

What do you think?