Friday, January 25, 2008
FEATURED AUTHOR: Julie Lessman
EDITOR'S NOTE: I write edgy Christian Fiction, so I’m always on the look out for these types of books. My fellow writer friend, Michelle Sutton, tipped me to a new book by a debut author and of course I had to read it. Oh my goodness I couldn’t put it down. It was so good. I was up all night reading. I love those types of books. What was really surprising to me is it’s a historical. Not many historicals are edgy. I highly recommend picking up this book. You will not be disappointed. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in this series. Did I mention I love series too. Yes, she’s found a new fan.
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new writer, even better if she’s from my home town. I know you’ll going to be a new fan too.
Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, was released January 2008.
Visit her Web site at http://www.julielessman.com/
A Passion Most Pure
She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...
As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.
How did it feel to hold your first book?
Believe it or not, not as surreal as it felt seeing it on the shelf of Borders, right next to a Beverly Lewis bestseller!! You see, the publisher had already sent me an ARC copy—Advanced Reader’s Copy, which is a cheap, fast mock-up of your book that is sent to reviewers before the book is actually published; it has the cover and everything—so that was a real thrill, to be sure! But the moment that really brought it all home was the first time I saw A Passion Most Pure on the shelf at Borders! It was before Christmas, and my book wasn’t supposed to be out until January 1st, but a good friend said she had just bought it at a Borders in Indiana. Sure enough, there it was in our St. Louis Borders, so my husband and daughter faced it out (blocking some of the spines of Beverly Lewis’s books … sorry, Bev!) and took a cell-phone camera picture of it, which is now their screensaver. Way cool!!!
What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
The MOST important thing I pray readers take away from this book is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. This book may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue. You’re the apple of my eye!” He’s been the love of my life ever since.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
Gulp, well, right off the bat, my first concern is will I regret giving up my day job!! YIKES, I took a leap of faith and gave my notice so I can write fulltime. Okay, God, it’s you and me!
Other concerns are silly things like promotion (Dear Lord, I HATE promoting!) … or how to set up a newsletter on my Web site … or writing a new synopsis (universal groan). And every so often, I do battle annoying concerns about coming up with new plots or fresh characters for the long haul. But since I am a pretty wired individual (ya think?), I cannot afford the anxiety of concerns, so I simply turn them over to God. Easy to say, but hard to do? Yeah, at first, but then like anything, it becomes a wonderful habit, and of course you have God’s Word to anchor you—an absolute must!
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
First, I wish I had known to go for an agent first, publisher second. I wasted two years and about 31 rejections on unagented queries to publishers, some of which took as long as three years to reply. In fact, within six months of signing with my agent, I sold to a publisher who STILL had an unagented proposal from me lost somewhere in their very deep slush pile!
Secondly, 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.”
Thirdly, I wish I had known to establish more of a database a year before my book was released. My agent says you only have one shot at a debut novel, so you have to give it your all—via a loaded Web site, blogs, newsletters, etc., none of which I had until about three months prior to my launch. I attended an ACFW seminar where the teacher said you need to work on this at least 1-1/2 to 2 years prior to a book launch, which, of course, I didn’t!
Which aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
Love the best? Oh, easy—writing love scenes, of course! I like tension, lots and LOTS of romantic tension, so when I write those scenes, my keyboard is smoking because my fingers fly. In fact, one of my friends wanted to know why I couldn’t just write a nice, “sweet” love scene. Duh, because I would fall asleep! Even my husband noticed the fast and furious pace of my love scenes—he said he would be meandering along in a nice, easy passage and then, bam! A love scene would hit, and before he knew it, he was 20 pages down the road!
Hate the most? Groan … trying to get published or trying to promote a book. YUCK!! Dear Lord, just let me write!
Are you a morning writer or a night writer?
Generally all afternoon (on my 2 days off, that is, after Bible time, prayer time, exercise and laundry are taken care of!). But if I am in the final stretch of a book, I pretty much write every available moment after prayer/Bible/chores are done, day and night, often into the wee hours of the morning. During those times, my husband and daughter think it’s kind of like living with a zombie—vacant stare and blank personality until that final line is written. Needless to say, they’re not too fond of the “end-of-book” mode and take great pleasure in teasing me about it.
What do you do to make time for yourself?
I READ—every chance I get! I actually carry a book almost everywhere I go so I can read while I’m waiting in store checkout lines, at doctors’ offices or even at a stoplight (especially if there is a train!). My favorite genre is romance (shock!), the bigger the book, the better (which explains the … ahem … length of my own novels!). I also love watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites) and I especially like going out to dinner with my husband or snuggling with him while we watch a movie on “his” big-screen HD-TV. Mmm … now that’s making time for myself!
What should a new writer know about the publishing business.
Oh, boy, that it is slower than cold molasses!! You wait F-O-R-E-V-E-R for rejections or responses BEFORE you sell, and then you wait forever for things to move AFTER you sell. Maybe it’s my ten-cup-caffeine personality and twitchy leg syndrome, but I was not prepared for how LONG things take to go from contract to bookstore. So whatever you are sending to a publisher—from query letter to edits, you better be prepared to hurry up and wait.
How can readers get in contact with you?
Thanks for asking, LaShaunda! 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, LaShaunda, for having me as your guest—it’s been fun!
Julie is kind enough to offer an autograph copy for one of our lucky readers. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Drawing on Friday
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