Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Julie Lessman - A PASSION DENIED - Free Book

I've really been anticipating having Julie back on my blog. I love her books and can hardly wait to read the new one. Welcome, Julie. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?

Gosh, Lena, I try REALLY hard not to “see” too much with my own vision because as we all know, that can set you up for a fall. And if there is one thing I have learned (ahem … the hard way!), it’s that I’d really rather not focus on what I want, but what God wants for me. BUT, if you are asking me what I would LIKE to see in my future, I can certainly share my dreams with you and your readers.

Deep down in the core of my being, I have a burning desire to reach women like I used to be—women who, yeah, maybe they believe in God, but they are not living for him—not in their lives or in their sexuality. I look at the young women today, mired in an amoral society, and my heart cries out to make a difference in their lives. To show them what God showed me—that unless He is in the center of our relationships, true happiness will be very hard to come by. Unfortunately, most of these types of girls and women don’t read Inspirational Romance. BUT … it is my desire—and I hope, God’s—that the edgy romantic tension in my books will somehow draw women like this to the type of Inspirational Romance that I write. And IF they read it, I am convinced the spiritual message will resonate for some of them.

How do I know? Because I get e-mails all the time, telling me so. And just last week, I was going through a really discouraging time regarding my writing, wondering if I was on track with God regarding the level of sensuality I include in my books. I was praying with my prayer partner about it when her 25-year-old daughter stopped by, a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time but knew that she had strayed from her Christian roots—living with her boyfriend before they got married, not going to church anymore, heavy drinking, etc. This young women proceeded to tell me that when she read my books, she actually got angry at me. Why? Because the spiritual parts convicted her so much that she wanted to throw the books out. But she didn’t, she said, BECAUSE the sensuality and intense romance so grabbed her by the throat, that she was compelled to finish the books. And when she turned the last page of A Passion Redeemed, she told me it had brought her to another level with God. I had tears in my eyes when I learned she is now back at church and trying to live for Him. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

I know what you mean. When I receive feedback about how one of my books changed someone's life, it's as if the Lord is saying, "Keep doing what I've called you to." Now, Julie, tell us a little about your family.

Well, first off, I am married to a man I don’t deserve—he’s way too kind and patient for the likes of a high-maintenance drama queen like myself, but therein lies the goodness of God! He is an artist who designs my Web site, posters, bookmarks, newsletters, whatever I need. I also have a 25-year-old son who lives in Omaha with his wife who just graduated from med school, and we were blessed to learn she obtained a residency in St. Louis (where we live). I also have a sassy 21-year-old daughter who is headed for law school in the fall, so come May, my husband and I will go from empty-nesters to having five adults and three golden retrievers under our roof. YIKES … we’re a close family, for sure, but the question is, will we remain that way?? If nothing else, it should provide plenty of fodder for my books. :-)

Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?

Yes! Before I started writing, I never read anything but the Bible, some non-fiction and an occasional best-selling novel. You may find this hard to believe, but I never read romance! Why? Because I was a romance snob—one of those professional women who wouldn’t be caught dead reading a romance novel because I didn’t consider it “serious” reading. And then eight years ago, God set me free from my bias when He dropped the bomb on me that the actual desire of my heart was to write romance for Him. What a shocker! Since then, I have read everything in the Inspirational market I can get my hands on to study how it was done, and that’s still pretty much all I read.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished my fourth book about the O’Connors on St. Pat’s Day—how’s that for great timing as far as Irish novels? It’s called Refuge From the Storm (working title), and it’s the first book in my new 3-book series, which begins with Katie O’Connor’s story, the youngest daughter from The Daughters of Boston series. Katie is a pistol who comes of age during the Roaring 20s and The Great Depression, so it was fun to write.

Books 2 and 3 will be about the O'Connor brothers, Sean and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Sean's love interest will be ... guess who? Emma! Charity's scarred friend from Dublin. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after real-life Elliot Ness. Some of your readers are probably too young to remember this, but I am modeling him after Robert Stack from "The Untouchables," who played Eliot Ness in the TV show years ago. I am very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say "complicated"???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

I'm sure they will. What outside interests do you have?

Grin. Not many since I’ve taken up writing, I can tell you that! I used to be into gardening and entertaining, but with a 500-page book due every six months, there’s not much time for those things anymore. But, I do still love to watch old movies and musicals with my husband, fix special dinners and READ, of course!

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Well, Boston and Dublin are the only two settings I’ve used in all three novels of The Daughters of Boston series, which are the only books I’ve written, and I chose those cities when I was a little girl. As you may remember, I started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind and immediately knew I wanted an Irish family coping with a war (like GWTW), but didn’t have the audacity to try another Civil War epic. :-) Ireland was always a given, and Dublin is one of its biggest cities, so that’s why I chose it.

As far as Boston, I have never been there, but I LOVED Boston Baked Beans candy when I was kid, as well as anything Colonial (I used to LOVE Disney’s Swamp Fox show), so I am guessing I just picked Boston because of those reasons. You can imagine my excitement when I wrote A Passion Most Pure 40 years later and learned that Boston was considered the heart of Irish America because of its large contingent of immigrants after the potato famine. Very cool!

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?

Are you kidding? Jesus Christ, hands-down … or maybe I should say, “knees-down.” He is the love of my life, and I would thrill at the opportunity to worship Him in person.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?

I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, wouldn’t it? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (AGAIN!) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on Amazon.com are high or low, which is why I CLING to the following Scripture from 2 Corinthians ll:3, praying it almost every day: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

I even believe that every rejection for a manuscript comes from the Lord. The publisher who rejected the proposal or manuscript wouldn't be able to reach the readers who need to read that story. What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

Ouch, Lena, you really know how to go right for the jugular, don’t you? In fact, the lesson the Lord is teaching me right now has been so painful, that I’m afraid it’s still a bit raw. He’s teaching me that it doesn’t matter if I final in contests or if my numbers on Amazon are high or low or if a reviewer thinks my books are too sensual or not. All that matters right now is that my heart is stayed on Him and His will for my writing. Period. I’m getting there, but I have to admit—it’s slow.

We wouldn't grow, if we didn't experience the pain. I know. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I would rather not limit it to three things, because I suggest all of the following in order to succeed, which is basically what I did:

1.) Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers at http://www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com/), FHL (Faith, Hope & Love at http://www.faithhopelove-rwa.org/) and RWA (Romance Writers of America at http://www.rwanational.org/), both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group.
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!).
5.) Enter contests for invaluable feedback.
6.) Hang out at Web sites devoted to getting published, such as The Seekers (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/), an excellent group blog that I belong to.
6.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
7.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.

Very good advice. Tell us about the featured book?

Book 3 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied, is the story of Faith and Charity’s little sister, Lizzie, a shy bookworm who dreams of a fairy-tale romance. It unfolds a man’s dark past and a young girl’s shattered dreams … and the God who redeems it all.
Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God. But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him, he refuses to act on the attraction he feels. His past won’t let him go there. Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Gladly, and how fun! I have never had anyone ask that before! Here you go:

Boston, Massachusetts, Spring 1922

Oh, to be a calculating woman! Elizabeth O’Connor sighed. She dodged her way down the bustling sidewalk of Boston’s thriving business district, wishing she were more like her sister, Charity. She chewed on her lip. Regrettably, she wasn’t, a definite character flaw at the moment. And one that would have to change.

She sidestepped a rickety wood wagon heaped high with the Boston Herald, hot off the presses. The freckle-faced boy hauling it muttered an apology before disappearing into a sea of pin-striped suits, short skirts and bobbed hair. On his heels, a young mother ambled along, cooing to a wide-eyed baby in a stroller. The baby’s soft chuckle floated by, and the sound buoyed Elizabeth’s spirits. Spring in the city! Despite the whiff of gasoline and tobacco drifting in the unseasonably warm breeze, she was ready for the promise of love in the air. Her heart fluttered. And maybe, just maybe, a little spring fever would do the trick!

She pressed her nose to the window of McGuire & Brady Printing Company and peered inside. John Morrison Brady was bent over a press, his lean, muscled body poised for battle with a screwdriver in his hand. Her chin hardened, and her smiled faded. That man suffered from a terminal illness that would be the death of their relationship: friendship. Elizabeth straightened her shoulders. And the worst kind of friendship at that—the big-brother kind.

She touched a hand to the wavy shingle haircut her friend Millie had talked her into. “It’s all the rage, Lizzzzzie Lou,” Millie had insisted, the sound of Lizzie’s name buzzing on her tongue like the hum of a busy beehive. A self-proclaimed modern woman, Millie had convinced Elizabeth “Beth” O’Connor to change her name to Lizzie over a year ago—to add excitement to her life, she’d said. And now, in the throes of radical 1920s fashion, Lizzie’s best friend had also convinced her that the chestnut tresses trailing her back simply had to go. The result was a short, fashionable bob, newly shorn just yesterday. Softly waved, it fell to just below her ear, showing off her heart-shaped face and slender neck to good advantage. Or so Millie had said. She squinted at her reflection in the window. She did look older, more sophisticated, she supposed. A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. And it certainly seemed as if she had turned a few more heads at the bookstore where she worked. She opened the door, spurred on by the tinkling bell overhead, and took a deep breath. Now to turn the right one …

The reason I now ask for the first page is to give the readers a tiny glimpse that will hook them. And I'm hooked. I can hardly wait to read the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thanks for asking, Lena. Readers can contact me through my Web site at http://www.julielessman.com/, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, which will keep them updated on The Daughters of Boston series, as well as give them sneak peeks at the inside publishing process and info on book releases and signings. They can also just pop in and leave a comment and their e-mail on our group blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a blog about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”

Thank you, Julie, for once again giving us a wonderful glimpse into your life.

Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on A Passion Denied, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll receive is the winners announcement on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

Or you could sign up for Feedblitz in the right hand column. Then you won't miss any of the posts.

If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, come to http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com to leave a comment.


Renee said...

I want to read this soooo bad!! I have such a crush on John LOL!!! The first 2 books are amazing, I can't wait to see what happens to Lizzie and the other O'Connor's in the next books! I'm so happy to hear that we haven't heard the last of these characters with the end of this series! PLEASE enter me to win this book! Have a great day!


Mary Connealy said...

I've got the book, Julie! I can't wait!

I'm just dying to read it. I was hoping this would be the next story when I was reading A Passion Redeemed.


Carly Kendall said...

I have seen this book many times in the bookstores. It looks really good. Please enter my name. Great interview, by the way.

Jessica said...

Woohoo! Great interview. I'm going to have to dog every interview and try to win this book. LOL
I"m so happy that that girl was touched by A Passion Redeemed.
Honestly, I'm 26 and your sensuality levels don't seem too high to me. Maybe older people will be offended by them but girls of my generation have been exposed to wayyyyyy more than a few tingles when someone kisses you. I love the romance in your books. So does my mom. She passed Faith's story onto my unsaved stepsister, hoping that the romance and faith will open her eyes to a God she doesn't know.
Keep up the awesome stories and writing!
Thanks Lena, for the awesome interview!

Julie Lessman said...

Renee, thank you SO much for your kind words and, grin, you're not alone on your crush on John. :) I can't tell you the e-mails I've gotten over this tall, still-waters-run-deep Billy Graham-type character! Since I have a tendency to like "bad boys" in books (who eventually come to God, of course), I found that I needed to give Brady a reallllly bad past to rough up his image just a bit. Unfortunately, I tarnished him a little too much to suit my editor (and the Christian market, she said), so I had to tone it down a bit for Revell, but he still has a past that makes him really multi-dimensional.

Mary!!!!!!! I can't wait to hear what you think of it, girl! And I can't wait to see you in Omaha for dinner on Wednesday!!!

Carly, actually I'm thrilled that at least you are "seeing" the book in bookstores because I've had a lot of people tell me they have had trouble finding it. But I would be thrilled all the more if you read it and let me know what you think. Good luck in the contest, and do check my website calendar for even more opportunities to win your choice of one of the three books in the series.


Julie Lessman said...


So great to see you here, and thank you SO much for your encouraging words. I am finding that most of the e-mails I receive through my website are from young women ages 15 through 30 who seem to LOVE the level of romance and spirituality in the books, so that does encourage me when I get those 1-star reviews that slam me for too much sensuality.

And, gosh, thank you SO much for passing the book along to your mom and please thank HER for passing it along as well. Word of mouth is everything in this business, so I truly appreciate it.


Tami said...

I have just discovered Julie's books and have to admit - I'm hooked! :) I found the first book last Friday and spent most of the day Saturday reading. I turned right around and went back out to the bookstore Sunday after church to hunt down a copy of the next one. ;>) I would love to win a copy of book three!

sixsunflowerseeds at gmail dot com

Paige said...

I am soo excited for this book! Ever since I finished A Passion Redeemed I couldn't wait to read Lizzie's story. Please enter me to win the book:)


Julie Lessman said...

Ooooh, TAMI, you are JUST the type of reader I'm looking for, girlfriend!! :) Good-night, you turned around the next day and bought book 2??? Bless you!! :)

And so far, both my editors and most of my friends (and my husband!) like book 3 the best, so hopefully I am improving with age, God willing???

And, PAIGE, thank you for your excitement!! I have to admit, I'm excited too because I did something a little different in this book in that not only is there the main story about Lizzie and Brady, but I incorporated sub-stories on each of the other couples as well, and let me tell you, Charity is a real hoot in this one! And I have to say, Marcy and Patrick's story brings tears to my eyes every single time I read it, so I hope it will do the same for you.

Thanks so much both of you, for stopping by!


Missy Tippens said...

What a wonderful interview!! Julie, thanks so much for sharing yourself with us.

Lena, great interview. Thank you. Don't enter me in the drawing. I already have the book and get to start it this week!!


Patty Wysong said...

I cannot wait to read this, Julie! Wonderful interview, too--encouraging on many levels for me. Thank you!

Julie Lessman said...

MISSY, thanks SO much for stopping by -- always good to see a Seeker bud! And, gulp, always a little nervous too, when a Seeker bud is getting ready to read a new book of mine ... :)

And, PATTY, it's great to see you here too -- thanks for your comment! I am looking forward to my interview on your blog May 18-22 as well!


mez said...

Thank you so much for a little teaser! A Passion Denied sounds as wonderful as books 1 & 2, I can't wait to read it. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks.

Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway.

Amber S. said...

I would LOVE to win a copy of this book! I've been reading some of the first book each time I've been going to Borders recently, and I'm really enjoying it! It's thrilling and inspiring, and I'm looking forward to finishing it and hopefully reading the others in this series. Thanks for a chance to win!

Julie Lessman said...

MEZ, thank you so much for reading books 1 and 2, I hope book 3, A Passion Denied, will be as wonderful for you!

DEB, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Good luck!

Grin, AMBER, you actually are reading it at Borders??? Dear Lord, girl, you definitely need to win this one! :) But make sure you read book 2 (at Borders) before book 3, okay? This is one series that needs to be read in order to get the most out of it due to several huge surprises. Gosh, I'm still grinning over this! :)


sarahw said...

i really enjoyed reading the first two books an dam looking forward to reading this one. please enter my name in the draw. thanks,
sarahwoll at hotmail dot com

Nicole O'Dell said...

Great interview! I'm going to get this book.


Cynthia said...

I look forward to reading this series of books. It sounds very interesting. Normally I'm not into reading historical books, but these stories peak my interest.

Julie Lessman said...

SARAH, so glad you dropped by to leave a comment -- thank you for your kind words.

Thanks, NICOLE, glad you enjoyed the interview and I hope you like the books even better! :)

CYNTHIA, don't let the fact that this series is a historical throw you -- these are primarily family-saga romance first and foremost that just happen to take place in a prior era. To be honest, I wasn't big on historicals either when I started writing them ... but, uh, now I'm quite fond of them ... :)


Megan said...

Look at all of these comments! So many people want to win this book! I hope to win too!

megan.nadalet at gmail dot com

sherrinda said...

I'd love to read this book! I read Julie on the Seekers when she did a post about romantic tension....oohhh la la! I hear she is the best!
I also love the verse she quoted in Corinthians...keeping our focus where it needs to me is something that God has been leading me to lately.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey MEGAN, don't worry about all the comments ... I am giving away TONS of books (winner's choice of one of the three books in the series) on all kinds of blog interviews I am doing, so please check out my calendar on my website at www.julielessman.com to increase your chances for winning, okay?

SHERRINDA!!!!!!!! It's always SO much fun to see a fellow Seeker friend -- thanks for stopping by. And, gosh, you'll give me a big head with praise like that, girl, but THANK YOU! One thing's safe to say, though -- I do LOVE romantic tension in novels!!


lastnerve said...

I would love to win this book for my sister in law. She believes in God and is doing all she thinks she can to follow him but she is slipping into a depression thinking she is going to be alone for the rest of her ife. I really think this is a book that she would love to read.

Thanks for the contest

Julie Lessman said...

Lastnerve, well hopefully the romance won't depress her, but the spiritual lessons in these books will definitely help her. I have had readers write me that the romance/love between the mother and father and hero and heroine is so strong and wonderful that they worry they will never have that, but I truly believe that with God in the middle AND application of His precepts (which this book drives home in a big way), romance like this IS possible ... maybe not always probable, but definitely possible. And I speak from life experience because Marcy and Patrick's relationship is basically mine and my husband's but ONLY after we applied God's precepts in a big way. Thanks SO much for stopping by, and I am saying one for your sister-in-law RIGHT NOW!


Stacie said...

Thanks for the chance.

Linda said...

You are very right on--giving us a sample page to read does hook us into wanting to read the book. It's sold me on a lot of books that maybe didn't sound too thrilling. The author's description always reveals a lot of her heart in the book.
Please enter me in your contest.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Carla Gade said...

Great interview with some wonderful advice to boot. I'd love to read this book. I'm from Boston so I just love reading stories from that area.

Judy said...

What a wonderful interview...in particular I loved the advice that was given.
Please enter my name for the book drawing.

Sheila Deeth said...

I loved this introduction. Thanks.

~Ley said...

Now that is a perfect cliffhanger! And I still need to read book 2! I'll have to get on it. *grins* Thanks for the contest!

Amee said...

Please enter me! I can't wait to read this one. It sounds so good and that first page really has me wanting to read it now. Very sneaky! ;)

Julie Lessman said...

STACIE, thank you for stopping by to comment -- good luck in the contest!

LINDA -- You are SO right!! The author's description DOES reveal a lot of his/her heart, and in the case of my books, my heart bleeds all over these pages, revealing -- I hope -- my passion for God and my passion for romance. Sigh ... my two favorite things to write about! :)

CARLA, you are from Boston??? Oh-oh, I always get a wee bit nervous when a Bostonian reads my books as I have never been to Boston, but hopefully I did my research adequately enough to satisfy you ... I hope!


ladybug said...

Please include me to win this! A lot of my friend have been waiting for this release as well!

Julie Lessman said...

JUDY, you're certainly welcome for the writer's advice given -- those are basically the steps I took, and trust me, I know what I am talking about from painful experience. As a true "rejection queen," I garnered 45 rejections in all on A Passion Most Pure, three AFTER I sold to Revell!!

SHEILA, so glad you liked the first page, but if you need more convincing, you will be able to read the first chapter next month when the FIRST WildCard blog tour features it on June 10. That gives you a glimpse into Brady's POV that is VERY revealing!

And, LEY, YES!!!! You DEFINITELY need to get on book 2, girl, especially if you are one of the many who would like to see Charity maimed or hurt because she definitely gets hers comeuppance in that book.


Julie Lessman said...

AMEE, yes, I have been known to be "sneaky" at times. How do you think Charity (the heroine from book 2) got that way???

And, LADYBUG, soooo glad your friends have been waiting for A Passion Denied. To tell you the truth, I have too!! Although I originally liked book 2, A Passion Redeemed, the best, I now think I like Denied the best, which coincides with the opinions of my two editors, my husband and most of my friends, so hopefully you and your friends will too.


Courtney said...

I absolutely cannot wait for this book!!!! I've read the first two in this series and am dying for more of the O'Connors!!! OH,and I'd love to win it.

Carolynn W. said...

Oh, I'm so excited about this book! I love Julie's books and can't wait to read this one! Thanks so much for the chance to win!

Julie Lessman said...

COURTNEY, grin ... I am THRILLED that you are "dying" to read Denied because I'm "dying" for readers like you who are as excited about reading my books as I am to write them. Thank you SO much for your support, and I'd love to hear what you think when you're done, okay? You can contact me through my website at www.julielessman.com. Happy reading!!

CAROLYNN -- thank you SO much for your kind words, and I am excited too!! It's so much fun (and a little nerve-wracking!!) when you wait nine months to deliver your new "baby." Gosh, I hope it's worth the wait! :)

ladystorm said...

I am reading this book right now and it is very good....I so can't wait for her next three because they are in my FAVORITE ERA!!! I can't wait, I can't wait!!! lol


not entering just commenting

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Stormi, soooo glad you are enjoying it, my friend! And the next three are fun because of the era ... uh, except for the Great Depression, that is, but that plays well into the stories, so it's all good ... :)


adrienne said...

I'd like to read this book, I saw it in my CBD catalog and it looks good. Please enter me for this contest, thanks.

Julie Lessman said...

ADRIENNE, thanks for stopping by. And you probably noticed that the cover in the CBD catalog is different than the final product. That's because Revell changed the cover model because they did not feel the first one truly reflected Lizzie. Thank you for your interest and good luck!

Marla said...

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading. I can so relate to the "fairytale romance." Thank you for the entry.


Julie Lessman said...

MARLA, thanks so much for stopping by to leave a comment. A word of warning, though -- this is one series that definitely needs to be read in order to get the most out of it due to a number of HUGE surprises in book 1, A Passion Most Pure. So I would definitely encourage you to beg, borrow or steal books 1 and 2 before you read book 3, A Passion Denied. And if you win Lena's contest -- just ask for book 1, okay?