Sure, but I guarantee you, you wouldn’t have liked me back then. I was a 23-year-old hardnosed agnostic from a devout but dysfunctional family of 13 kids. I was so angry at God that I actually used to say I wanted to burn Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. As a wild child of the 60s and 70s, I tried everything to be happy—from astrology and tarot cards, to transcendental meditation and witchcraft—you name it. My vocabulary would have made a sailor blush. Suffice it to say that I was pretty angry at God. According to the world’s standards, I had everything going for me—a hunky boyfriend with a Corvette and a boat, a great job, my own apartment (at a time when other friends still lived at home), and I was acing an advanced writing course at Washington U., a prestigious college in St. Louis. But I wasn’t happy. I felt a lot like Peggy Lee singing, “Is that all there is?”
Then one day, this annoying gal at work approached me. She had a lesser job than me, was divorced with a kid and no boyfriend in sight. I hated her because she came in humming every day, happy as a lark while I was utterly miserable. And then it happened—one life-altering moment when she and I were alone—I looked up from my typewriter and said, “Just what in the heck (except my language was a bit saltier back then) makes you so happy all the time?” She said, “I’ve been praying you would ask.”
Oh, no, a Jesus freak, I thought to myself, but I found myself going to lunch with her, badgering her with questions and accusations. I don’t remember now if it was weeks or months, but either way, I met Jesus Christ through the remarkable patience of a God-sent angel by the name of Joy—pretty appropriate name, eh?
Since then, my life has been a journey of “joy,” because EVERYTHING with Jesus Christ at the center is pure joy—especially romance! A Passion Most Pure was my first love letter to a God whose love took me from the dark into His glorious light, and I hope and pray it and all of my books bring Him the glory He so richly deserves.
You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
YIKES, I couldn’t do that, sorry! I have met WAY too many wonderful people in this business to limit it to just four, especially when I am part of a group blog called The Seekers (http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/) with 14 other incredible authors. But I will say that Liz Curtis Higgs and Francine Rivers have been icons to me in this business—two authors whose work I devour and who have inspired me more than I can say, so I sure wouldn’t mind sitting down with them. And, then, gosh, throw in Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee, two authors who captured me during childhood, and I’d say that’s quite a party!
Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
I have done speaking engagements, but I don’t pursue them. When I started writing, I thought public speaking would be a big part of my ministry because I have never had problems talking to people one-on-one or in crowds and, of course, I tend to be a drama queen, so I get people’s attention. In fact, when I took a speech class in college, the professor took me aside and said, “Julie, I’ve been teaching speech for a long time now, and I work hard to get people to emote, but in all the time I’ve been teaching, I have never had to tone anybody down until now. J I am happy to report that I got an “A,” but even so, today, I prefer my writing ministry to one of public speaking.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
Oh, honey, you’re talking to a woman with “hoof-in-mouth” disease, so the examples I could give would fill your blog for a week! Probably one of the most embarrassing things for me (and certainly my sister) was when I was about thirteen years old and my dear Aunt Julie’s husband died. I tend to babble on when I’m nervous and don’t know what to say, so when my sister and I went up to the front of the casket where my Aunt Julie was standing, I remember hugging my aunt and telling her how sorry I was.
Now, my Aunt Julie was a beautiful woman in her early 40s, and to me she looked like a movie star, and since I was enamored with romance from the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind, naturally romance was foremost on my mind. So after I hugged her, I pulled away to give her a tender smile. “Aunt Julie,” I said with all the wisdom of a romance-crazed thirteen-year-old, “I am so sorry about Uncle Alex, but you are such a beautiful woman, men will line up to marry you, I promise—and you’ll knock ’em dead.” I can still see the shock on my sister’s face as she quietly turned around and walked to the back of the room. This is only one of the many examples of why my daughter jokes about getting me a shock collar for Christmas since, regrettably, I’m not a whole lot better now at the age of 60 than I was then!
Well, of course I tell them to do it, and then I tell them how I did it, giving them the following list of things I did to get published:
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 (you can do that through ACFW).
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, growth, confidence, networking opportunities and to get your name out there.
6.) Frequent websites/blogs that deal with writing, such as The Seekers (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/), a group blog that I belong to whose theme is “On the road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”
7.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
8.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.
Tell us about the featured book.
A Heart Revealed is book 2 in “The Winds of Change” series, and it’s the love story of the oldest O’Connor brother, Sean O’Connor, a confirmed bachelor, and his sister’s best friend, Emma Malloy, a battered married woman. Here’s my own personal blurb:
The ring on her hand belongs to one man …
but her heart belongs to another.As a battered woman, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston ten years ago, seeking shelter for a heart badly bruised by both her husband and guilt. But when she falls in love with Sean O’Connor, a confirmed bachelor who wrestles with demons of his own, fear and shame almost destroy her … until she is finally set free by a heart revealed.
Since I love all your books, I know I'll love this one as well. Please give us the first page of the book.
I would like to post the prologue, but before I do, I want to point out that it’s pretty heavy and violent and not really indicative of the rest of the book. In fact in contrast, the first chapter starts very light, with an O’Connor wedding some ten years after the prologue. So that said, here is Emma Malloy’s past:
A HEART REVEALED
She heard it before she felt it. Harsh air sucking through clenched teeth, the grunt of an arm raised, the soft swish of a hand slicing the air.
“I want the truth—”
And then she felt it. The crack of his knuckles when her jaw met the back of his hand, the thud of her head against the wall, the putrid rise of nausea as it climbed in her throat.
“Did you sleep with him?”
“No, I swear—”
Cruel hands rattled her shoulders while the vile stench of whiskey smothered her air. The taste of blood and vomit soured her tongue, forcing the words to heave from her throat. “It was an innocent comment, I swear, from a friend and nothing more …”
He wrenched her arm and her scream pierced the night before he jerked her close, his foul breath hot against her skin. “You think I’m stupid, do ya? I see the way he looks at you, the way they all look at you …”
“It doesn’t matter, Rory—you’re the one I love—only you!” The air seized in her lungs as she waited for her words to take effect. Blood pulsing in her brain, she licked her lips and forced her gaze to his, watching as his rage slowed and simmered into lust. Her body quivered as she pressed in close, tracing his mouth with a shaky finger. The violent throb of her pulse betrayed the casual huskiness of her whisper. “You … I only want you … forever and ever.”
He stared, the crazed look in his eye finally fading into the smoldering obsession she had mistaken for love. Jerking her close, he devoured her with his mouth, his lips hard and cruel as they plumbed the depths of his desire. He shoved her to the wall, pinning her there with a possessive gaze while his hands took the liberties allowed to a husband. “Mine … you’re all mine, Emma, and no other man can ever have you—do you hear?”
His breathing quickened as taut arms swallowed her up. “Don’t you know how much I love you?” he whispered, his voice pleading as the dark bristle of his late-day beard ground against her cheek. He jerked away to cup her face in his hands, all of his fury suddenly chased away by the lovesick look in his eyes. A gentle smile lifted the corners of his mouth, transforming his handsome face into the lost, little boy she’d fallen in love with. “Emma, my beautiful, beautiful Emma, I’m sorry for hitting you, love, and I swear from now on, I’ll give you all the love you deserve.”
His kiss was gentler this time, and her eyes fluttered closed. Mrs. Rory Malloy—the envy of every girl on O’Connell Street. Her sweat-soaked blouse shivered against her skin. Every lass’s dream … and one woman’s nightmare. Rory’s whispers of love tickled her ear, but all she could hear was her father’s curse, ricocheting off the battered walls of her mind.
I pray to God you get what you deserve …
With a gentle stroke of her cheek, Rory carried her into their bedroom. He closed the door with the tip of his shoe, severing the light as surely as he’d severed the hope from her soul.
Not to worry, Da … I did.
How can readers find you on the Internet?Thank you,
Thank you so much, Julie, for the intimate look into your life both BC (Before Christ) and after.
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