Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.
Welcome to The Engrafted Word Julie Lessman! It’s wonderful to have you here!
Savanna: We all know how great you are at making your characters blush ( and many of your readers too! ) but have YOU ever blushed over something you wrote?
Julie: LOL … only stupid things I say in interviews! Actually, no, I haven’t made myself blush over anything I’ve written, but then you have to remember my background. Before I came to Christ, I was a wild child of the 70’s who used to read secular romance, so trust me, in light of today’s secular market where books like Fifty Shades of Gray have, unfortunately, taken center stage, my books are watered-down pabulum.
Savanna: I read somewhere that you and your hubby love to bike ride. (My hubby and I do too!) Besides a bike trail, where is some place your readers might not expect to run into you?
Julie: On a boat in the middle of the Lake of the Ozarks! Of course, if someone “ran into me” there, I’d be in the water, I suppose. 🙂 My hubby and I have had tons of boats over the years, and although we don’t currently have one, we do love boating with friends who do! One of my favorite things is to ride in the open bow of a speedboat with the wind whipping my face. And when the boat is anchored in a gorgeous cove? You’ll find me in the open bow with feet up, reading a book.
Savanna: That sure sounds perfect right about now! I’m ready for summer, aren’t you?! 😉 Since we’re both Missouri girls, is there a famous Missourian – past or present – you would enjoy ( or would have enjoyed ) having lunch with and getting to chat?
Julie: Mmm, Brad Pitt might be nice … But, seriously, I think I would LOVE to chat with Mark Twain and Harry Truman because they were both such quirky characters, and as anyone who reads my books know, I SO love quirky characters!
Savanna: Great choices! (Including your first one! 😉 ) Back to your books, who is usually the first lucky person to read your book once you’ve finished writing it?
Julie: Would you believe my husband? He’s not much of a reader except sports columns and how-to stuff, so I was totally blown away when I caught him reading my debut book A Passion Most Pure after it came out. I still remember breezing around the corner one day and jolting to a stop, blinking in shock at this big, hulking guy holding a romance novel. The moment he looked up, his eyes locked on mine and he mouthed the words, “It is soooo good!” Needless to say, my heart swooned! I mean, the man had only read one other book for pleasure in 30 years, so this was a very big deal. I’m happy to report that my book not only kept him up till the wee hours of the morning, but it made him tear up as well. Now he reads every single one of my books and gives me his feedback before I send them to my editor, and let me tell you—the man is good!
Now my daughter? Another story! Although she was an A student in college at the time, she despises reading, so I actually had to bribe her with $20 to read the first chapter of A Passion Most Pure. But I am happy to report that it hooked her, and the rest of the books didn’t cost me a dime!
Savanna: What initially sparked the idea for Romance-ology 101? Was it easier or harder to write than your other novels?
Julie: Oh, definitely easier—it’s only 70 pages, which is usually one scene for me! 😉 And I promise you, the reason I wrote it is nothing earth-shattering or inspirational! It was more out of necessity because I was slated to co-teach a workshop at ACFW last year with my agent and Julie Gwinn that dealt with the merging of traditional publishing and indie publishing to create the hybrid author. You see, I self-published an Irish love story called A Light in the Window (a prequel for the parents in my Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series) through my agent, but she did all the work, so I felt it was necessary for me to do a book on my own as well.
A few years back, Ruth Axtell and I taught a workshop at ACFW called A Kiss is Not Just a Kiss, which actually drew the largest crowd that year for a workshop, so I knew it was a popular subject. Then after I did a Seeker blog on it and a reader suggested I put it in a book, I thought—mmm, why not? I mean, great research project for a hybrid workshop, right? So I did, never really expecting to “earn” anything but experience, but I have to say, it’s been a lot of fun. Especially designing the cover with my hubby using my daughter’s marriage-proposal picture on the front.
Savanna: If you didn’t write for a living, what would you like to do instead?
Julie: Oh, gosh, I have no idea! My husband would like me to clean the house, I suppose, but we both know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. 🙂
At one time I would have said Christian counselor because I’m a bottom-line kind of person who likes applying God’s Word to people’s problems, then shoring it up with prayer. But since I’ve gotten older, I don’t seem to have the energy for an occupation like that anymore. Of course, I don’t seem to have the energy for writing lately, either, so maybe I need to look into a better vitamin …
Savanna: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Julie: Yes, I’m really excited about the brand-new release of Dare to Love Again, book 2 in the Heart of San Francisco series, so I hope your readers will check it out. It’s the story of the second McClare cousin, Allison McClare, a woman who has had her heart broken three times and is determined it will not happen again. She’s seeing red and wielding a stick, a dangerous combination when she meets a crotchety Italian police detective whose temper is as loose as hers.
Here’s the jacket blurb for this sweet and funny love story that I will warn you, is the sweetest, least passionate of all my books, which means there are very few kisses, but LOTS of romantic tension!
She’s a sassy socialite burned by love. He’s a jaded cop burned by the upper class. When sparks fly … will love catch fire again? Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast, she quickly discovers she’s no match for the unsavory characters that haunt the dark streets. Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite self-defense, but it seems he has little choice. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But is he just a fraud like all the rest of the men Allison’s cared for? Or the one man she can dare to love again?
Savanna: I know I loved it. (Read my review of DTLA here.) How can readers connect with you?
Julie: Well, I love to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my Newsletter. Or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest.
Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots”, which is a very laid-back weekly journal to my reader friends that will give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing.
Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website.
Of course, I can be found daily at The Seekers Blog, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond.
Finally, here are some fun freebies, sales, and giveaways going on right now or in the future:
1.) FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut novel A Passion Most Pure! American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has over 340 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download! AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and CBD.COM
2.) SALE TO END SOON ON 99-CENT A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW! I hope you’ll check out my video for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, which stars my daughter and has won three awards and garnered 125 five-star reviews. It’s still only 99 CENTS on Amazon, but only for a little while longer, so check out the video here, http://bit.ly/1kkzvlC, and you can download it here: AMAZON.
3.) FREE DOWNLOAD on Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets coming FEBRUARY 11-15 on Amazon, so mark your calendar and here’s the link to find out more about the book: Romance-ology 101
4.) NEW CONTEST TO HAVE A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK! I have a newsletter contest going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you’re interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay?
Thanks, Savanna, for a fun interview!
Julie has generously offered to give one winner their CHOICE of her signed books! Which story of hers are YOU hoping to read next?
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