Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Author Interview - Julie Lessman

Julie Lessman is a new author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her Web site.

1. How did you decide to write Christian romance novels?

Well, Susan, frankly I got SO sick of the world pushing its amoral agenda in romance novels that I decided to try and write my own where I could push God's agenda instead. My thinking was to promote His precepts with the lure of the same kind of passionate romance that I fell in love with at the age of twelve, when I read Gone With the Wind, which by the way, is when I started writing A Passion Most Pure. Back then I wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what is today my debut novel, but I didn't finish it till after I turned 50. But better late than never, eh?

2. Can you share some of your publishing journey with us?

Well, I started out like many authors do, entering contests, none of which I finaled in at the onset. But I studied books on writing and took a fiction-writing course and prayed about every judge's comment in a contest, changing my manuscript according to judges' and the Holy Spirit's leading. And then lo and behold, I started finaling in every contest I entered until I finally hit the jackpot - the Golden Heart! Since this is the grand-daddy of all romantic contests for the unpublished writer, I determined I would "make hay while the sun shines" and sent out 25 queries to agents and 15 to publishers advising each of them I was a Golden Heart finalist.

You can imagine my disappointment when I received 39 rejection letters and only ONE favorable response. And, unlike all the others, this favorable response came in the form of an e-mail from one of the biggest agents in the business, Natasha Kern. She requested that I express mail the manuscript to her so she could read it on the plane en route to a conference! All it takes is one "yes."

3. What made you choose Boston in 1916 as the backdrop for your story?

Well, Boston and Dublin are the only two settings I've used in all three novels of The Daughters of Boston series, and I chose those cities when I was a little girl. I knew I wanted an Irish family coping with a war (like Gone With the Wind), 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 a kid, as well as anything Colonial. (I used to LOVE Disney's Swamp Fox TV show.) I'm 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!

Thanks, Susan, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website, either by sending an e-mail or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog to which I belong that talks about "The road to publication." God bless!

Hi Everyone, Susan here. Julie has generously offered to give away one of her books in a drawing. If you've already read A Passion Most Pure, you can choose one of her other books. She informed me they are best read in order.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment with your email address. You have until Saturday midnight, May 9, 2009, to enter. The drawing will take place, Sunday, May 10, 2009. I'll furnish Julie with the winner's name and snail mail address. She will ship the book directly to the winner.

39 comments:

Renee said...

Wow it's so great that you started A Passion Most Pure at the age of 12! A perfect example to never give up on your dreams! I love this series and would love to win a copy of A Passion Denied since I LOVE the first 2 books! Keep up the great work Julie and congrats on the 1 year anniversary of the blog Susan! Thanks for the chance to win :-)

steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessica said...

Yay Susan! I'm so glad you post before the crack of dawn. LOL I'm fixing to leave on my trip but I just wanted to stop by and be entered for one of Julie's books. :-)

Since my historical is set in 1918, it's pretty cool to hear about the potato thingy. That's not something I learned in my research.

Thanks for the interview Julie and Susan!

Kathi said...

Susan, thank you for celebrating your "blogversary" with this interview. It was a blessing to read the interview. I am often frustrated by the walls I've hit in marketing my book and am blessed when I see that others have "been there, done that" and see how God's timing is always, always perfect. I know I would enjoy reading Julie's books! God bless you, Kathi kcevans@verizon.net

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess,

LOL! I set all my posts to publish at 12:01 A.M. There are advantages to scheduling posts in advance.

Have a great trip! I'm glad you picked up an interesting tidbit for your book.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Renee -

Welcome to my blog. Thanks for entering the drawing, and for your good wishes.

I'm reading Julie's 2nd book right now, and enjoying it. I can't wait to see how things turn out.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathi -

We can learn so much from the experience of others. Hearing about the many rejections Julie encountered and her eventual success also encouraged me to keep pressing forward.

Thanks for commenting and entering the drawing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

The interview with Julie was wonderful, very encouraging too. I love all the inspiration I get from other writers:-) Thank you, Susan. And thanks for entering me in this contest too.

klange61@hotmail.com

Julie Lessman said...

RENEE, thanks SO much for your kind comments and, YES, perseverance is a key component in this publishing game, so NEVER give up!

JESSICA, you have a historical set in 1918?? Oh, WOW, I have grown to LOVE that era through my Daughter of Boston series, so maybe it can provide a tiny bit of "research" for you in your WIP as well. Very fun era ... especially the 20's, which I am writing about now in the next series about Katie, Sean and Steven O'Connor.

KATHI, trust me, I hit more walls than a can of paint, but God is faithful. In fact, if you contact me through my website at www.julielessman.com, I will e-mail you a whole bunch of Scriptures/prayers that I put together JUST for writers!

And, SUSAN, SUPER CONGRATS on your "blogversary"!! Here's to many more years to come.

Hugs,
Julie

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Julie -

Thanks for joining us. It was a joy doing the interview and getting to know you. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Thanks for commenting and entering the contest. I'm sure Julie will be stopping by again later.

BTW, all comments are moderated. There's a bit of a delay, especially when I go to work! Hope all of you will check back this evening. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Jeanette Levellie said...

Susan:
Thanks for this post, and the drawing. Please sign me up. I've heard great things about "Passion Most Pure" but havent' read it.
jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com

mez said...

I think some of the best moments in life have to be at 50 or after! Bravo, Julie, you are an inspiration.

worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

Jody Hedlund said...

I've seen Julie over at Seekerville, but am so glad I got to hear her writing journey story! I feel like I've gotten to know her a little better! (So thanks for the interview, Susan!)

And Julie, your journey is just what I needed to hear. I've just started the contest rounds this year and needed the reminder that its not going to happen right away. And then if I ever win, even then it will be difficult to find an agent. It's so easy to get one's expectations too high. And so I appreciate hearing that I just need to be patient.

I'll look forward to reading your book whether I win Susan's contest or not!

jjhedlund (at) aol (dot) com

peachykath said...

I loved reading about your inspiration though life. I would love to win a copy of anyone of the books. I am borrowing a passion most pure and would love to own the whole series. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks, Katherine

peachykath79[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sandi said...

I just found the books this week and was so excited that I could not put book one and two down. I read them both in 4 days! (My house needs me now!) They are both wonderfully inspirational and contain enough passion and romance to send our hearts beating! With the wonderful family ties and connections in the books I must say I cannot wait to read book 3! I am in love with John Brady already!
Thanks for your amazing books!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Mez -

Welcome to my blog! Thanks for commenting and entering the drawing.

I agree with you. Julie is a wonderful inspiration.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I'm glad Julie's experiences gave you insight into the process. It's always wise to learn from those, who have walked the path before us.

Thanks for entering the drawing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

You're welcome. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi peachykath -

Welcome to my blog! I post here on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This month, there will be lots of book drawings.

Julie's book, "A Passion Most Pure," was excellent. I know you'd enjoy it.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandi -

Welcome, and thanks for entering the drawing.

Wow! Two books in 4 days! I'm a fast reader, but couldn't get through a book in such a short time.

Blessings,
Susan :)

sherrinda said...

I have been trying to win one of Julie's books on the blogs! There is alot of buzz about this series and I would love a chance to win!

This was a great interview...I always love road to publication stories. It is so encouraging to hear that other people have had a less than perfect journey to publication! ;)

sherrinda(at)gmail(dot)com

ha! my Word Verification is MINDLIMP! Doesn't bode well for my writing this evening! lol

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sherrinda -

Welcome, and thanks for entering the drawing. Watch for more throughout this month.

Julie's books are popular. Who knows? Maybe you'll win this time. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, KAREN! If you are a writer, I hope the interview encouraged you.

JEANETTE!!! Well then, we just have to see about getting a winner's copy to you, now don't we? :)

MEZ, yes, I am inclined to agree with you (what choice do I have at 58???). But seriously, life really DID take off for me after 50, so I hope that encourages all you youngsters! I've never been happier ... in my marriage, in my love affair with God and in my life!

JODY, thank you!!! Not only for leaving a comment here today and your kind words, but for being a part of Seekerville. It's like a great big club over there, isn't it, though? I just LOVE those ladies AND all the wonderful ladies who drop by to comment and chew the fat!

Thank you ALL for dropping by to leave a comment and a great BIG thank you to Susan for hosting me today. This is fun!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PEACHYKATH (I LOVE peaches, so I really like your addy!) -- I am glad you are borrowing A Passion Most Pure, because my thinking is ... what if you don't like it??? If you do, well then, you can just go ahead and buy it, I guess. No argument here! :)

SANDI!!!! Holy cow, you read both books in 4 days???? Does your husband hate me now??? And, grin, I hate to tell ya, but if you love John Brady now, just WAIT until you finish A Passion Denied!! He is a smoldering fire for sure, both for God and ... uh, well, I'll let you read the book ... :)

SHERRINDA!!! If anybody needs to win a book, it's you, girlfriend, for leaving comments on all my blog interviews -- THANK YOU!! And, oooo, yeah, "mindlimp" does not bode well for your evening ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Julie -

Thanks for popping in again. :)

Hey folks, tell your friends about the giveaway. The last day you can enter is Saturday. I'll draw the winner on Sunday. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Sharon Ball said...

I always love reading about a writers journey. For some reason it gives me hope. Please thank Julie for sharing a little of her journey with us. Great interview, Susan.

Amber S. said...

Great interview! Your perseverance is so inspiring! I'm glad that you did get published...so I can read your book in Borders :) Anyway, thanks for another chance to win...and I'd actually like a chance to win the first book, because it might take a long time to finish it at the rate I'm going! And it's hard having to leave during a really good part...

stokes[dot]a[at]suddenlink[dot]net

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sharon -

Hope is an important ingredient in a writer's life. Sometimes we only see a person at the height of their success and not the struggle to get there. Getting a glimpse of what they went through helps us to persevere.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Amber -

Welcome, and thanks for entering the drawing.

Julie's books are hard to put down. I didn't want to stop reading even though I had a headache.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Julie Lessman said...

SHARON, gosh, you are MORE than welcome! I won the booby-prize award for the most rejections in a year at the ACFW conference one year, so I have great sympathy for the aspiring writer, but with prayer and perserverance (in that order!), it CAN happen to you too!

AMBER!!! Goodness, as much as you make me smile, I may just have to start calling you "Smile Girl" instead of "Borders Girl"! You're gonna get that book yet, I have a feeling ... In the meantime, are they not getting just a wee bit suspicious of you at Borders????

Hugs,
Julie

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Julie -

Your story has touched a chord in all of us. Thanks for sharing it.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Carolynn W. said...

Hi Julie & Susan,
Great interview!
Julie, I keep following you around :). I can't wait till I get an email telling me I've won the book!
I can absolutely not wait to read it!
Thanks for giving us the chance to win copies!
carolynnwald[at]hotmail[dot]com

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carolynn -

Welcome to my blog, and thanks for entering the drawing. I'll be having other drawings this month, so I hope you'll stop by and check them out.

I'm sure Julie will be happy to know she has such fan.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Julie Lessman said...

CAROLYNN honey, you can follow me around all you want! Some of the followin' is bound to get you a signed book sooner or later, or at least I hope so! I just appreciate your diligence and interest, so THANK YOU!

And by the way? Every time I see your cute picture with that scarf on, I think to myself -- wouldn't that make a great cover for a romance novel? You look so mischievous and cute ... and a little bit like trouble. Mmmm ... a perfect combination for Katie O'Connor's cover ... also a girl who is more than a little bit of trouble ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Julie -

Thanks for stopping by again. This interview/drawing is so much fun.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Stina Rose said...

Susan,
Thanks for giving me a heads up about including Canada in this drawing. I have never read Julie Lessman's work, but would be very interested. Please enter me in the drawing.

Stina
dr.mrs.banks[at]gmail[dot]com

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Stina Rose -

Thanks for entering the drawing.

I'm more than half-way through Julie's second book and loving it. I have to force myself to put it down and take care of things like eating and sleeping. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Julie Lessman said...

Hi, STINA ROSE, soooo glad you are interested in reading my work! Good luck in the contest and thanks SO much for dropping by.

And, SUSAN, I am thrilled you are enjoying book 2! I can't help it -- I just LOVE Charity, but then Scarlett O'Hara is one of my all-time favorite characters, so what do you expect?

Hugs,
Julie

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Julie -

Charity is growing on me, and Mitch is maturing. I'm anxious to see if my scenario is going to play out. Eh, Julie. Maybe you could give me a hint? Sigh. I guess I really don't want to mess up the ending.

Everyone's probably wondering what I'm talking about. Sorry folks, you'll have to read the book.

Blessings,
Susan :)