Thursday, January 31, 2008

Please Leave Contact Information!!!

I have a problem. Already two people have left their comments for the drawing for Julie Lessman's wonderful book, A Passion Most Pure, but I have no contact information for them. Your name may contain a Blogger link when you post a comment, but when I click on it I get either no info at all or am told that the information is blocked.

If I don't have contact info I can't put your name in the hat!

So, remember that if you want me to put your name in the drawing, I must have contact information. It's as simple as that!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Win An Autographed Copy of Julie Lessman's "A Passion Most Pure!"

The day is finally here, and I'm excited.

CFBA is featuring Julie Lessman's "A Passion Most Pure" this week, and I have to say that I devoured this story like the world's finest dark chocolate. And, that's saying something because in recent years I haven't been drawn to historicals very often. But, two of my writing friends have worked to change all that. Maureen Lang is one, and Julie, today's featured author, is the other.

Julie has very kindly agreed to send the winner of the drawing I'm holding on this blog their very own, pristine, autographed copy of "Passion," for their own. My own copy is dog-eared and marked up LOL. I feel like those publishers who put stickers on their books that say "guaranteed you'll like this book or your money back." Well, you won't have to ask for your money back if you win this book, nor will you want to!


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. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.

So lets get on to my interview with Julie, and then I'll give details on how to enter the drawing for the book.

1. Welcome to A Writer's Journey, Julie. You said you started A Passion Most Pure when you were twelve years old after reading Gone With the Wind. How much of the story is still in there and what did that entail at the time? Obviously it wasn’t full of the passion that you include now, was it?

Uh … actually, there WAS a lot of sensuality and passion in my first attempt back then. You see, I've ALWAYS been this way—obsessed with romance! J I used to sneak downstairs at night when I was kid and watch romance movies on the TV when my parents were sleeping.

That's why after reading Gone With the Wind at the age of 12, I went CRAZEEE and started writing my own novel, which I titled “When Tomorrow Comes” (now a Janette Oke title, how weird is that?). Back then, the story still entailed the love triangle between Faith and her sister (whose name was “Del,” short for Delatha … yeah, don’t ask me what I was thinking!) and the bad-boy hero, whose name was—I’m even ashamed to admit it—Bart! And just like A Passion Most Pure, the story began in Boston and traveled to Ireland, with ONE major difference, as indicated in the first line of the original book: Patrick O’Connor was dead. Obviously Patrick (the father in the story) is very much alive in the updated version, especially when he and his wife clash over Charity’s discipline!

2. A Passion Most Pure has been published in the CBA market, but you have said you have a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational.” What do you mean by that?

I am writing for the CBA market because my books will always be ingrained with a strong spiritual message. But I have to admit, I have a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” which I hope would cross over into the ABA. Now, what do I mean by “Mainstream Inspirational”? Well, according to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” The majority of these women fall into a category I would define as “Mainstream Christianity"—women who proclaim God, but not always in their sexuality. Many of these women want compelling novels with strong romantic tension and often turn to the secular market to satisfy this need. But recently, Bethany House came out with a line of historicals they refer to as “edgy Inspirational,” which is a good term to describe my books—novels of passion about real people with real emotions, desires and temptations, doing their best to deal with them according to God’s precepts.

3. You’ve joked about being the “Queen of Rejections”—can you tell us a little about that?

Uh, yeah … anyone who attended the 2005 ACFW Conference will remember me as the poor slob who waved her hands wildly in the back of the room when Brandilyn Collins asked who had the most rejections in a year. I won hands-down with 19 (at that time) and went on to garner in excess of 45 (both agent and publisher rejections, including three received AFTER I signed a 3-book contract with Revell Publishing!). Even my agent, Natasha Kern, blanched a bit when she first signed me, realizing after the ink was dry just how many times I’d been rejected. I believe the word she used was “daunting.” But apparently not too daunting for her amazing skills as an agent because she landed a contract for me within six months.

4. LOL, I remember that conference! And now look where you are. What an encouragement to other authors who are still waiting for "the call."

Your series is called the Daughters of Boston, so I assume the second sister, Charity, is the heroine of Book 2, A Passion Redeemed. I’m a bit curious as to how you are going to have a heroine that readers love to hate! Was it difficult to write Charity’s story?

Difficult? Oh, no, absolutely not! It was the easiest of the three books to write (a 500-page book that I wrote in two months while working my part-time job!). A Passion Redeemed will release in Sept. 2008 (in time for the ACFW book signing ... YEAH!), and I have to tell you that it is my absolute FAVORITE of the three books in the series.

Why? I just love, love, LOVE Charity—she is so wonderfully flawed and SO fun to redeem! Yes, you feel like slapping her now, (I actually received a reader e-mail asking me to slap Charity for her) but I promise you will LOVE her before the book is done (and the hero, too, of course—be still, my heart!). A Passion Redeemed reminds me a lot of the old-time movies where the hero and the heroine butt heads like crazy (think “A Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara or “It Happened One Night” with Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert). In fact, it was so fun and easy to write, that I feel as if I hit my stride in this book, making it a very FAST read, according to my sister who finished it in 8-10 hours.

5. You label A Passion Most Pure as a “Family Saga Historical Romance,” and I can certainly see why—the family plays a very important role, and readers fall in love with each and every one of them. Do they play an important role in the next two books in the series as well?

Oh, my, YES!! And I want you to know that I love these characters SO much, that they factor heavily into each of the three books. I love series, but one of my pet peeves is when I fall in love with a hero and heroine in book 1, and then they are only mentioned in books 2 and 3. Not in this chickadee’s books! Each book in this series gets thicker and more complicated because I incorporate lots of sub-stories about the subordinate characters.

Besides, I love writing about families in depth, exploring the emotional highs and lows of a large family (as one of 13 kids, I wonder why!). I especially enjoy incorporating the love affair between the mother and father of the family because that is so critically important in today’s society and so overlooked. You should never stop having a love affair with your spouse—it’s the greatest thing a mom and dad can give to their children—a tender and passionate love between each other. And it’s so much fun for me to incorporate in my books the wonderful lessons I’ve learned with my own husband … uh, humbling though they may be! J

6. High point, low point as a writer?

Mmm … a definite low point would have to be the time my husband and daughter hid contest scores under my daughter’s mattress. You see, after that hormone-cancer scare a few years back, I went off hormones. BIG MISTAKE!! I was crying nonstop, and everything ticked me off. So, for my state of mind (and theirs!), my family remained silent while I badgered the poor Contest Coordinator from the Heart of the Rockies contest (who’s out of rehab now, I believe). I didn’t see those scores until three months later, AFTER I went back on hormones and my husband let it slip about the mattress contraband. I wrote about it on the following Seekers blog—just scroll down to Oct. 18:

High point? Oh, man, it was the moment I got “the call” from my agent. I was in the middle of praying with my prayer partners when my cell phone rang. My heart dropped when I heard Natasha’s voice, but when she told me the pub board went great and she was 99% sure we had a sale, I started crying. I repeated everything she said so my prayer partners could hear, and they were screaming and jumping up and down in the background. Believe me, after 42 rejections and another publisher giving me a slice-n-dice rejection the week before, this phone call was balm to my battered soul.

7. In the acknowledgements at the back of A Passion Most Pure, you mention “Windowsill Jesus.” Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, as a child, I had an imagination like a runaway train! And, of course, I was a very emotional kid (big surprise there). I wanted to relate to Jesus on an intimate and personal level—you know, see Him … feel Him? So I would press my nose against the screen of my bedroom window and squint toward my sister’s bedroom right next to mine. I’d imagine I see Jesus’ sandals kicking in the breeze along with His long, white dress as he sat on her windowsill. That image comforted me so much as a child—and took a lot of heat from me as a bitter teen—that I never forgot it. Through at all (even agnosticism in my early twenties), Windowsill Jesus never let me go, finally bringing me into a truly intimate and personal relationship with God at the age of 23, which became THE turning point for a very lonely and very angry little girl. I owe Him my life.

8. Key advice for other writers?

Get connected!! Join ACFW, FHL, RWA, critique groups and make writer friends! We’re an odd breed and need to interface with our own kind. One of the best things that happened to me as a writer is connecting with 14 very talented ladies whose names I butted up against over and over again in contests. We formed a group called the Seekers for contest junkies like ourselves. We now have a blog that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” All of these women are award-winning writers, the best of the best. When we started our group two years ago, two of the 15 were newly contracted. Now, half are published/contracted, and I am quite certain the other half are close behind.

9. Parting words?

Well, first I want to thank you, Pam, for hosting this interview—it was a lot of fun! And one of my favorite ways to close an interview is to share this really cool quote I found that some people attribute to Maya Angelou: “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” I absolutely LOVE this quote because it is the total essence of what my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, is all about, and I hope and pray this message will resonate with every person who picks up my book. God bless!

Have Julie and I whetted your appetite to read A Passion Most Pure? You can order it at Amazon, but you may want to hold off and throw your name into the proverbial hat to win a signed copy here. All you need to do is leave a comment on this blog article. PLEASE, PLEASE, BE SURE TO LEAVE CONTACT INFORMATION. It is most frustrating to have a comment left without any means of contacting the person if they win.

I will draw the name next Monday, February 4, 2008.

Thanks, Julie, for visiting here today. It's been fun!

Monday, January 28, 2008

CFBA Presents Two Books This Week!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Awaken My Heart

Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)


DiAnn Mills


Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.


1803, the colony of Texas

Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled.

Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

Buy it at Amazon!

And come back on Wednesday when I'll be featuring the second CFBA book of the week, A Passion Most Pure. I'll be holding a drawing for an autographed copy and posting an interview with author, Julie Lessman.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's Gone -- So Why Can't I Get Going?

Yesterday I completed proofing my manuscript, tweaked the proposal, and typed a cover email letter. Then I hit "send" and the package whooshed off into cyberspace to the agent's in-box.

A weight has been lifted. And I'm free! Free to do other things that have been on hold like finish organizing my storage, work on ACFW projects, and write an article that's been requested.

Why is it so hard to get going?

I just sat down here to write the article which has already been outlined, yet I found myself going to the Internet to nose around, and then I decided to post to my blog.

It's a perfect day to write. Only five degrees outside and I'm here toasty warm, still in my jammies, cup of coffee by my side. Maybe I should take a day's break and just chill. Figuratively. It's too cold out to want to really chill. LOL. But there's so much that needs being done.

It's going to be a while before I hear anything about my manuscript so I need to start working on the next story. And just the other day someone pointed me to a newspaper article I'd enjoy. That sparked excitement in me when I realized what a great storyline I could develop from what I read. Then there's all the article ideas I came up with a couple weeks ago.

I'd better say have a nice weekend and close this post. I've got some serious writing to do

Thursday, January 24, 2008

CFBA Book of the Week: Fallen by Matthew Raley

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Kregel Publications February 29, 2008)


Matthew Raley


Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.


Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.

Buy it at Amazon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Guilty As Charged!

I am so guilty of neglect.

Neglect of this blog.

I wish I could say I've been outside making snowballs in the beautiful snow we got yesterday morning, but I can't.

My days have been consumed with proofing my story by reading it out loud, including saying every period, comma, quote mark. Do you know how long it takes to read a 90,000-word story that way? That's the bad part of the process. The good part is that I'm catching things. When I do, I have to take time to go into the document and make adjustments. Hopefully, today is the day to finally finish. Then it's on to the proposal, tweak that, then send to the agent.

I've been so consumed in this that last night at Bible study, when I went to read something out loud to the others, I almost said the punctuation! What a hoot.

So hang with me!

Next Wednesday I'll be posting an interview with Julie Lessman. Julie's debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, is the CFBA featured book next week. I totally fell in love with this story. Along with the review and interview, I'll be having a drawing for a free, autographed copy of the book. So be sure to check back in here next Wednesday!

Now back to the reading.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008

WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2008)


Sally Stuart


Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.

Check out her blog!


The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!

Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!

I can personally testify to this market guide's usefulness. It's a must-have for any writer serious about publication in the Christian market, be it non-fiction magazine articles or full-length fiction. It's a tremendous resource, and has been for years. And to make it even sweeter, the annual edition now comes with a CD that you can refer to rather than having to always go to the book. If you're serious about your writing, you need to get this book!

Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.

To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.

Order it from Amazon!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hitting the Ground Running

I didn't mean to ignore this blog for so long, but life got in the way. For the past several weeks life kind of chugged along at a nice pace. I stopped setting the alarm to wake up extra early (after all, it was Christmas break!), my story was just about ready to submit after a few read-throughs by volunteer readers, and I was leisurely moving through a good first-of-the-year project--organizing my closets and storage.

Then last Monday arrived

And it all blew up.

I've been on the treadmill of life with the machine set on "sprint" all week long.

I've attended two on-line meetings in chat rooms for ACFW, sat through a half-day of training to be an election judge on February 5th, attended a seminar on how to develop a marketing campaign using Constant Contact, attended my Beth Moore Bible study at my church, and after receiving very sage and constructive advice from one of my readers, went back to the "drawing board" for the umpteenth time to make some adjustments to the story. Not huge adjustments, but they are requiring me to read through it page by page once more.

The storage organization has ground to a halt for now and my condo looks like it. But for now I have no choice. Not only do I have the story to go through, but I have ACFW projects heating up in relation to our conference coming up in September.

Also, writing related is my determination in 2008 to refocus on non-fiction in the form of articles and devotionals. I've already queried about one story idea and have been invited to submit the article. An article not yet written. I decided to set aside every Friday to work on non-fic (except not today LOL). The old adage "story is king" can also be applied to prioritizing. For now my story is king and it trumps article. I need to get this baby finished ASAP and out the door.

Today my calendar is clear of outside schedules and my little laptop and me are going to be attached at the hip. God willing, except for an errand midday I'll be right here and not sleeping like the kitten in the picture. That's really what I'd prefer.