I am SO very delighted to feature the talented and gracious Julie Lessman on my blog today! Julie's love of life as she walks with the Lord vividly comes across in her writing - and she truly appreciates her readers and loves to chat with them.
She is also giving away one of her books, winner's choice, so please make her feel welcome. Enjoy the interview and then leave a comment or question for Miss Julie. And be sure to check back because Julie will respond to your comments. (Entry details are at the bottom of this post.)
It was so much fun reuniting with the McClare family in Dare to Love Again. Please see my review here.
1) Dare to Love Again is book 2 in the Hearts of San Francisco series. Tell us a little about this story, Julie - how it fits in with the first book, the overall theme of the series, etc.
As you mentioned, Dare to Love Again is book 2 in the “Heart of San Francisco” series that launched last April with book 1, Love at Any Cost. The series itself is kind of a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins during the Irish-political landscape of 1902 San Francisco. Think Little Women meets Dynasty. J And for those too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.
This series is a bit of a departure for me because it’s a little lighter and I hope a little more fun than the angst and high drama of my two prior series. And, without question, Dare to Love Again is the lightest, “sweetest” and funniest of all my books so far where spontaneous combustion between the two main characters explodes right off the bat! My spunky, hot-tempered Irish heroine goes head-to-head with my hard-as-nails, Italian police-detective grouch of a hero in the first chapter—or maybe I should say the first round. I have to admit, I had WAY too much fun at the expense of these two in a relationship that goes from fireworks to a flaming romance in the short lick of a fuse.
Here’s the jacket blurb.
She’s a sassy socialite burned by love.
He’s a jaded cop burned by the upper class.
When sparks fly … will love catch fire again?
Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast, she quickly discovers she’s no match for the unsavory characters that haunt the dark streets.
Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite self-defense, but it seems he has little choice. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But is he just a fraud like all the rest of the men Allison’s cared for? Or the one man she can dare to love again?
2) Your books are wildly popular with many readers. But for anyone who might not be familiar with your novels, to what do you attribute their appeal?
Thanks, Carole, I appreciate that, but they definitely are not for everybody in the Christian market. I refer to myself as a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) because I thrive on angst, drama, and passion, so my books reflect that, which is generally not the norm in Christian romance. The romance in my books is definitely more passionate, but then so is the spirituality with multi-layered plots and characters who become like family. When people ask me my genre, instead of saying “historical romance,” I like to say, “historical family-saga romance,” because it really depicts more of what my books are about. Just like much of the CBA readership enjoys Amish and Prairie romance because they harken back to a simpler, less complicated time, my stories harken back to what I think God intended a family and marriage to be—close-knit, God-centered, and human.
3) You seem extremely busy all the time, Julie - constantly giving of yourself to writing, publicizing, and connecting with your readers. And while we may not be writers, I'm sure that most of us also struggle with a similar amount of "busyness" from time to time. Does this affect your personal walk with the Lord and where do you go to recharge spiritually?
Yes, unfortunately, it does affect my personal walk, both with God and my family, which is the main reason I’m pulling back and taking a year off from the demands of deadlines, contracts, and promotion. In fact, my interview with you is the last one scheduled until my next book comes out October 7, book 3 in the Heart of San Francisco, Surprised by Love … which is also my last book for while since I plan to write at my own pace and leisure, at least for the next year. And focus more on God and family!
My biggest problem is promotion, which eats up a lot of my time. And then, of course, I LOVE my readers and like to get to know them better, which also entails a lot of emails. HA! I stopped sending Christmas cards over 30 years ago because I found I had to write a book in each one, and unfortunately, the same is true of my emails—I can’t seem to write a short one to save my soul.
But the truth is, I care about my readers—a lot! Which is why I take the time to respond with lengthy comments and emails. Unfortunately, time and sanity—and God—are forcing me to pull back, so I’m heeding the call.
4) What is the most important insight that you would like readers to take away from Dare to Love Again?
The most important insight I’d like people to take away from Dare to Love Again is that sometimes our hopes and dreams take a detour or don’t pan out the way we hope they will. It’s in these times of discouragement, despair, or even betrayal (such and Alli, Nick, and Caitlyn experience) that we need to hold on to our faith like a lifeline, never taking our eyes off the prize—our love affair with God. A God Who not only “dares to love us” despite our failings and humanity, but dares to offer each of us a hope and a future that is abundantly, exceedingly more than we could ever hope, think or pray.
Thanks so very much, Carole, for hosting me on your blog. Readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at julielessman.com/excerpts, and I hope writers will visit The Seekers blog at seekerville.blogspot.com, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond.
Finally, here are some fun freebies, sales, and giveaways going on right now or in the future:
1.) FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut novel A Passion Most Pure! American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has over 364 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download. AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, CBD.COM
2.) SALE TO END SOON ON 99-CENT A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW! I hope you’ll check out my video for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, which stars my daughter and has won three awards and garnered 129 five-star reviews. It’s still only 99 CENTS on Amazon, but only for a little while longer, so check out the video here, http://bit.ly/1kkzvlC, and you can download it here: AMAZON.
3.) FREE DOWNLOAD on Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets coming FEBRUARY 11-15 on Amazon, so mark your calendar and here’s the link to find out more about the book: Romance-ology 101.
Thanks again, Carole, for a fun interview!
One of our readers will win a book by Julie, winner's choice. To enter, follow these steps:
1) Leave a comment or question for Julie
2) Bonus entry #1 - follow my blog through Google Friend Connect (see sidebar)
3) Bonus entry #2 - "Like" my Facebook page
Be sure to leave your e-mail in a safe format so the winner can be notified. Contest ends Saturday evening, February 15. US mailing addresses only. Winner will be selected by random.org.