Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and winner of 14 RWA awards, Julie Lessman was voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, as well as #1 Historical Fiction Author, #3 Author, #4 Novel, #3 Series, and Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Julie resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, A Passion Denied and the “Winds of Change” series—A Hope Undaunted, A Heart Revealed, A Love Surrendered. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
How did you come up with the idea for these stories?
Well, my two newest books—A Love Surrendered and my Christmas e-book entitled A Light in the Window: A Irish Christmas Love Story—are the final two novels in the O’Connor family saga, so I suppose I need to explain where I got the original idea for this family epic since each book springboards off the prior one.
As most of my readers already know, I started writing the first book in this saga, A Passion Most Pure, at the age of twelve after reading Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. I 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 like Margaret, so I settled on WWI instead.
As the 12th child in a dysfunctional family of 13 kids, I also knew I wanted to portray a family the way God intended a family to be—flawed but steeped in faith. The result is the saga of the O’Connors, a passionate but imperfect family of six children who love God and each other in the best way they know how, all interwoven with a secondary love story between their parents. The first three books in The Daughters of Boston series highlight the love stories of each of the three oldest daughters, and the second series, Winds of Change, focuses on the youngest daughter and two sons. Oh, and the Christmas e-book? Ah … that’s the prequel I’ve been longing to write and finally did, which details the tumultuous love story of the saga’s happily married parents, Marcy and Patrick O’Connor.
If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Ooops, sorry, Lena, I’m primarily a historical romance reader, but when I do read contemporary fiction, I can tell you right now that there would need to be ten authors at this party or none at all. My Seeker buds who write contemporary are a must—Mary Connealy, Debby Giusti, Audra Harders, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson, Glynna Kaye, Sandra LeeSmith, Tina Radcliffe, and Missy Tippens—every one a gifted author with a unique style all her own that captures me each and every time. And then, without question, my dear friend Patti Lacy as well, one of the few women’s fiction authors I simply will not miss because she is flat-out riveting.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
For me, parties are about good friends, so again it would have to be my Seeker buds who write historical fiction, and those are—Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Pam Hillman and Cara Lynn James. And without question, NO party would be complete without two of my dearest author friends and prayer partners, Laura Frantz and MaryLu Tyndall—women whose hearts beat to the same rhythm as mine and whose work I absolutely love!
Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Ha! At this time in my career?? How ‘bout ALL of my career, which has been the same age-old problem I’ve struggled with more than anything else, and that is the annoying focus on sales, contest wins, good reviews and contracts. BUT … the good news is that after almost five years of being published, I have finally turned a corner on that nasty problem, thank God, through a combination of prayer, fasting and a pretty amazing book entitled The Well by Mark Hall, pastor and lead singer for Casting Crowns. You see, my church has been urging each of its 6,000 members to read this book, and once you do, it’s pretty obvious why. Like Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, He is the only source of “living water,” and to try and draw our confidence, peace, hope and joy from stagnant holes such as success, people’s approval or talent will never truly satisfy and will only make us sick.
For me, getting published was like hopping aboard the scariest roller-coaster on the planet, and let me tell you, as much as I LOVE angst, drama and thrills in my books, I have a fear of heights and HATE roller-coasters! Everything happens so fast—you go flying to great heights with contest wins, wonderful reviews that bring tears to your eyes, and connections with reader friends that deepen and enrich your life. And then in the next pulse-freezing second, you go crashing back down to earth with 1-star reviews that cut your heart out and a truly awful obsession with Amazon rankings and book sales. The good news is that God has used this crazy lifestyle to ground and level me in HIM despite the endless ups and downs, for which I am eternally grateful.
Tell us about the featured books.
Gladly! Although I usually only have one book release a year, I’m very excited to announce that I have THREE books coming out in a six-month span. A Love Surrendered—the final book in the O’Connor family saga—released October 1st. Then my Marcy/Patrick e-book prequel, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story, released November 9 and I am SO proud to say that my artist hubby designed the cover and my daughter modeled for it! Then, April 1st, book 1 in my new Heart of San Francisco series, Love at Any Cost, releases, so there’s lots of “Passion with a Purpose”—my tagline—coming, and here are the blurbs for the two books out now:
A Love Surrendered:
He broke her sister’s heart …
Will she be next?Orphaned in
A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story:
One woman. Two men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, attraction, dreams and faith only muddle her mind. Can the light in the window illuminate the path of true love?
They both sound wonderful. Please give us the first page of each book.
A Love Surrendered:
So help me, if I get caught tonight, Peggy Pankow’s name is “Mud.” Susannah Grace Kennedy braced herself against the cool of the salty sea air—and her guilt—and hurried down the dark street toward Revere Beach, almost regretting she’d let her new friend talk her into sneaking out of the house. A crescent moon rose while the waning light of dusk cast purple shadows on the boardwalk where streetlamps were just beginning to glow. People milled on the seashore, mere silhouettes backdropped by a fuscia sky glinting across restless waters. The sound of music drifted in the air along with the scent of the sea, and suddenly a tingle of excitement trumped any worry she had.
“Hey, Suzi-Q,” Peggy had said after class last week, “my big sis says we can tag along to Ocean Pier on Friday night.” Her brown eyes had sparkled with the dare of adventure. “Wanna go?”
Suzi-Q. Susannah winced, the little-girl nickname her family had coined a painful reminder of just how much her life had changed in three months. Her smile was patient. “Peg, it’s Anna now, remember? Not Suzi-Q or Suz or Susannah or Gracie or anything else that reminds me of a past I’m trying to forget.” She battled the familiar malaise that always accompanied thoughts of her once happy home. “Besides,” she said, her voice trailing to a whisper, “I’m not that girl anymore.”
“Okay, okay, but I refuse to call you Anna. Too stuffy.” Peg pursed her lips. “I should call you Dr Pepper Girl the way you guzzle the stuff when Aunt Eleanor’s not around, but with that strawberry blonde hair and cute freckled face, you’re an Annie through and through.”
“Annie” chewed on her thumbnail. “I don’t know, Peg, you don’t think ‘Annie’ sounds too young or rural?” she asked, anxious to shed her small-town roots. “After all, I’m a city girl now, looking for a new name and a new life.”
“Nope, it’s perfect.” Peggy wriggled her brows. “And you mean love life, don’t you?”
Annie’s stomach dipped and rolled like the seagulls over
and she gulped down a sliver of nail. Love
life. Not just sterile words written in her diary this time back in her
hometown of Badger, Iowa, or in one of her many handwritten novels. Nope, this
would be real flesh-and-blood kisses from real flesh-and-blood men. She
swallowed hard. “Uh . . . maybe.” Revere Beach
“No maybes about it, kiddo,” Peggy said with a wink. “A deal is a deal. You tutored me in algebra? I tutor you in love. What kind of romance writer will you be without research? Not to mention our bet—you swore you’d get your first kiss at Revere Beach or I get to keep your favorite sweater, remember?” Peggy sighed when Annie hesitated. “For criminy sakes, Annie Lou, you’re a woman who’s never been kissed, and this is your chance. Besides, Ocean Pier is the perfect place to lose your heart.” She elbowed Annie in the side, eyes agleam with mischief. “Or your reputation. What do you say, wanna go?”
A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story:
Boston, Massachusetts, Summer 1895
I will not throw up … I will not throw up ...
Eighteen-year-old Marceline Murphy set her overnight case on the O’Rourke’s wraparound porch and pressed a quivering finger to the brass doorbell, a battalion of butterflies barnstorming her stomach. The last time she’d been this nervous was at the age of eleven when she’d frozen on the top limb of a massive pine tree in the backyard of her best friend Julie O’Rourke. The memory of Julie’s older brother Sam climbing up to rescue her made her hands sweat even now, his body close behind as he helped her down, limb by limb. At the bottom he’d tugged on her pigtail with that dimpled grin that had always fluttered her pulse. “Best keep your feet on the ground and your nose in a book, Marceline,” he’d whispered in her ear. “You’ll want to stay far away from danger.”
Danger, yes. Marcy swallowed hard.
Heights and Sam O’Rourke—two things that made her dizzy.
She heard the thump-thump of hurried footsteps on the other side of the door and nervously smoothed her hair. Carefully puffed and pulled back on the sides in the new Gibson Girl style with a tortoise-shell comb, the rest of her long blond curls trailed the back of her powder-blue shirtwaist. Adjusting her wide black belt, she slid a damp palm down her cream gabardine skirt that loosely hugged her hips before it spilled into a bell shape at her ankles. Children’s laughter floated on the summer breeze while a pink sky reflected in shiny parlour windows, casting a rosy glow on a white wicker swing. Marcy breathed in the fragrance of the scarlet pillar roses that coiled and tangled on a trellis at the end of the porch, their scent recalling summers playing jacks with Julie or discussing favorite book heroes while lazing in the swing.
It had been five years since she’d seen her best friend, five long years since Papa had whisked them away to
New York for his new job
as a vice president for Reading Railroad. But he hadn’t counted on an
agricultural crisis that would result in a worldwide economic depression in
1893, costing him and thousands of others their jobs. Some of Marcy’s
excitement over returning to Boston ebbed as her thoughts strayed to the
financial crisis in which a quarter of the nation’s railroads—including the
company Papa worked for—went bankrupt. In New York alone, unemployment among
industrial workers exceeded twenty percent, which meant Papa had been forced to
return to Boston to look for work. Squaring her shoulders, Marcy shook off the
malaise that always settled when she thought of Papa out of a job, but she had
no doubt that her faith—and that of her parents—would see them through. Even
so, tonight she was back home with her best friend, and she refused to let
anything dampen her excitement of seeing Julie again. Especially Julie’s brother.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Of course, I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so they can feel free to contact me through my website at http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways including one right now to have a character named after you or a loved one in my next book.
Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/, which is a very laid-back, Friday journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Or they check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/. Finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.
Thanks, Lena, for allowing me to connect with your readers, and I’m looking forward to giving the winning commenter a signed copy of any of my books, including A Love Surrendered or an e-book of A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story, so GOOD LUCK!!
Thank you, Julie, for sharing both of these books with us. It's always such a pleasure to have you here. You need to contact me to book your next book.
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