Ok.. so… y’all know that I simply love kissing books!
That’s why I’m thrilled today to be able to chat with the KISSING QUEEN herself – Julie Lessman!!!
Known mostly for her historical novels, Julie brings her “passion with a purpose” flair to a new contemporary novel Isle of Hope which just released on November 1st. My review for Isle of Hope will follow later today but I can sum it up right now with one word – Wow. Amazing, heart-wrenching, toe-curling, healing, redemptive… wow. You will need a stockpile of tissues if you’re a weeper, but there are so many delightful moments of humor as well. And, of course, kisses 🙂
She stole his heart.
He stole her peace.
Can hope steal their pain?
At the age of eighteen, Lacey Carmichael was a wild girl bent on fun, promised to Jack Carmichael, a straight-and-narrow pastor’s kid bent on the seminary. When her father kicks her out of the house, she runs away from Isle of Hope, turning her back on everything she loves. Now, eight years later, she’s back as a woman of faith, hoping to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only the bridges she’s burned are still smoldering, kindled by an adulterous affair by Jack’s pastor father that damaged his son’s faith. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?
-Available to Purchase-
Let’s start Julie out with our traditional “fast four”!
Me: Apples or oranges? Why?
Julie: Mmm … if you’d said “apples or Clementines/cuties,” my answer would be different, but definitely apples — especially if they’re sliced in flower mode like I do for my grandkids with caramel dip in the middle. 🙂
Me: Yummmmm that sounds good!
Skittles or M&Ms? Why?
Julie: Uh-oh … I don’t like either, but I DO love peanut M&Ms, so I guess that’s my answer. But NOT the brown ones — I never eat those. 😉
Me: Well, of course not 😉
Dogs or cats? Why?
Julie: Oh, dogs, no contest!! I’ve had two golden retrievers who were absolutely ADORABLE and such great company for my hubby and me! I suspect any affection I may have had for cats fled the moment I took care of my prayer partner’s cat while they were on vacation. I felt so bad for the little gal, being all alone and everything, that I’d take a book down there and read for a while to give her company. Until … the little feline tore by me with claws extended, scratching my bare legs to pieces. From that point on, I wore jeans and long-sleeved clothing to clean her litterbox instead of shorts and trust me, I didn’t stay long …
Me: LOL! I guess not… Oh – and my unofficial blog mascot appreciates your “dogged” support for her species 🙂
Ok – Coke or Pepsi? Why?
Julie: Oh, Pepsi, definitely, because I like the tingle on my tongue.
Me: Speaking of tingles on one’s tongue…I love kissing books. (Sorry! Could not resist that gift-wrapped lead-in haha! Ahem.) Anyway… as I was saying… I love kissing books. You are the QUEEN of kissing books. What are the elements of the ideal kiss in a book?
Julie: Aw, thanks, Carrie — you are a sweetheart to say that! Mmm … the perfect kiss? That’s a little bit like asking about somebody’s favorite food, isn’t it? I mean, come on—some people like their chili flamin’ hot and others like it mild and sweet.
Which means that the “perfect kiss” to some might be a nose nuzzle while to somebody else—like moi—it’s a lip lock that not only curls your toes, but your tummy as well.
But for me, the real secret to a great kiss are the emotions surging around it like a romantic riptide that rolls in and out. Sure, you have to get the actions right, taking the reader through the step-by-steps of a kiss as if they’re watching a movie, like I blogged about in my Seeker blog, Keeping It “Reel” … or a “Novel” Approach to Putting a Movie in Your Readers’ Mind. But it’s those waves of emotions before and after the “kiss” that sweep the reader through a tsunami of feelings that will hopefully leave them breathless and gasping for more.
One of my favorite things to do with a kiss—which, in fact, is why the two examples you’ll find at the link below are what I consider my “perfect kisses”—is to use powerful emotions to frame a powerful kiss. For instance, my favorite love scene that I’ve ever written is from A Hope Undaunted and takes the reader through the ebb and flow of several strong emotions before and after “the kiss” (or “kisses” as in the first example below). In this example, the actual kiss portion of the scene begins with caring and concern on the hero’s part, then swells to shock, attraction, passion, more shock, anger, revenge and finally retribution and regret for both hero and heroine.
Deep breath …
Okay, I’m sorry, but for me as a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), the more emotion the better, and I think for the reader, the more emotion, the better the kiss! Which is why the second example below, also from A Hope Undaunted, is my second favorite kiss because it has all the elements I like in a love scene—tenderness, passion, humor—unleashing a groundswell of emotions from the hero’s malaise to his jealousy, attraction, longing, shock, gratitude, desire, embarrassment and humor.
Ready to see what I’m talking about? Here’s a link on my website that has my first and second favorite kissing scenes that I’ve ever written. Why? Because when it comes to emotions, both are SO multi-dimensional! But, don’t take my word for it—YOU be the judge. Tell me in the comment section below the snippets which of the two kissing scenes YOU prefer and why, and I’ll enter you for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books, including the paperback version of Romance-ology 101.
And remember … a few drops of Tabasco doesn’t make the chili bad … only a little spicier!
Me: I’m sorry… what were you saying? I got distracted by those kissing scenes…. Whew! Does anyone have a fan??? By the way, those happen to be two of my favorite kisses as well – I love Luke and Katie!! 😀 And yes – absolutely and completely agree that one of the best secrets to a great kissing scene (at least for this particular connoisseur) is emotion! But just to be sure, maybe I’d better go read those snippets again 😉
While I’m doing that… tell us what “Passion With a Purpose” means to you.
Julie: My tagline “Passion With a Purpose” means that in a world tainted by the likes of Fifty Shades of Gray and mommy porn, I choose to use romantic passion—which was created by God, by the way—to glorify Him and hopefully woo a broader reach of romance readers to His moral precepts.
No question my books are what I would refer to as “edgy Inspirational,” meaning they are a tad more passionate than the majority of Inspirational fiction in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market. And I did this on purpose. You see, I’m the type of woman who loves a heated romance. You know—the heart-fluttering, pulse-pounding emotional tug-of-war between a man and a woman? It draws me, always has, from the early days of Gone With the Wind. But for me, heated romance is not enough. Without God and His precepts in the middle, it’s nothing but lust—heat that burns but doesn’t keep you warm.
Let’s face it—passion is powerful. It can drive a woman into the arms of a man, or a person into the arms of God. In truth, romantic passion gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God. After studying the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible , I’m convinced that the God who created passion and intimacy did so to mirror the intensity of His own love for mankind. It is my belief that romance laced with God’s precepts is also powerful—it can draw, woo and win advocates to its cause with the stroke of a keyboard. It is my hope that my books strike the balance between romantic and spiritual passion for the broad base of readers searching for its message, and by interweaving the two, bring them into an intimate relationship with the true author of romance. And for those who disagree with me, I hope they will consider reading a blog I wrote as to exactly WHY I write the way that I do. It’s called Life on the Edge, and it’s my true heart perspective on romantic—and godly—passion.
Me: I love that description- “heat that burns but doesn’t keep you warm.” So true. I love love LOVE your perspective on passion and why you write romance the way you write it.
Across all of your books, which character most surprised you?
Julie: Without question that would be Charity, the vixen sister from A Passion Most Pure. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like her and nobody else did either. In fact, I received letters from readers asking me to “slap Charity for them” and one who wanted to see her “maimed or dead.”
So when I went to write Charity’s story in book 2, A Passion Redeemed, both my editor and my agent were a tad worried whether I could make a likable heroine out of her. But as I wrote her novel, she began surprising me with a violent back-story that no one ever knew about, and by the end of the book, once God got a hold of her, she quickly became my favorite character as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Faith O’Connor, the heroine from book 1, A Passion Most Pure, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today—heavily dependent on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her. But Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that’s why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh, especially in the later books.
Me: We readers do tend to get passionate about characters we like – and those we don’t. I can’t say as I’ve ever told an author that I wanted one maimed though LOL!! Also – I think more of us are like Charity than are like Faith and we need that reminder that even the most unlikable are pursued by Jesus.
You told me how Charity surprised you. Before I let you go, what is something about YOU that would surprise your readers?
Julie: Well, not only do few people know this about me, but most would not believe it either because in my books and online, I’m a bit of a clown with a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) personality. But, yes, it’s true—I am a bona-fide hermit who seldom leaves my laptop/comfy chair to go out unless my husband drags me. I like to joke that I’m a recluse who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality because I literally lose myself in my writing and my work, which my husband and daughter refer to as the “zombie zone.”
If I had my way, I’d stay at home, grafted to the seat of my chair and write, write, write! Hate shopping of any kind, no longer do scads of lunches with friends like I used to, and NEVER talk on the phone if I can help it. So I guess I wish friends and reader friends understood this so they wouldn’t get their feelings hurt when they don’t hear from me because I reallllllly hate to hurt people’s feelings.
Me: I’m a bit of a hermit myself so I completely understand that 🙂 Julie, thank you SO MUCH for joining me today for a chat. I can’t wait to tell everyone about Isle of Hope!
Julie: Thank you, Carrie, for hosting me on your blog—it’s been a pleasure!
I love to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me and read excerpts from my books at www.julielessman.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest or by signing up for my newsletter. I also have a blog called “Journal Jots,” which is a very laid-back journal to my reader friends, or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website. In addition, I can be found daily at The Seekers, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond. Although Seekerville has been listed on Writers Digest 2013 and 2014 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” it is also a blog devoted to readers as well.
Finally, I have the following sales/contests currently going on:
- AWARD-WINNING IRISH LOVE STORY ON SALE! The eBook for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window—262 five-star reviews on Amazon and winner of three awards—is on sale for only $.99, so I invite you to take a peek at the excellent video my artist hubby did for A Light in the Window, starring my daughter. ALITW Video.
- o’connor christmas novellas! ‘Tis the season, and I’m ready for it with two novellas that are part of the Hope for the Holiday’s Historical Collection and the Home for Christmas Historical Romance Collection, both of which include novellas from other award-winning authors for only $2.99 per collection, so I hope your readers check them out.
- Calling All Writers!! My writer’s workbook entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets is on eSale for $2.99
- CONTEST TO HAVE A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK, A SIGNED COPY, AND CHOICE OF ONE OF MY OTHER BOOKS. Sound good to you? If so, just head on over to the CONTEST tab of my website and check it out.
Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Julie has garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her latest novel, Surprised by Love, appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014. Her indie book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.
November 1–Singing Librarian Books
November 2–Just Commonly
November 3–Between the Pages | Anna Weaver Hurtt, Author
November 4–Faith, Fiction, and Fun
November 5–Buzzing About Books
November 6–Reading is My Super Power | Smiling Book Reviews
November 7–Wishful Endings
If you are interested in becoming a Singing Librarian Books tour participant, apply HERE.
CARRIE!!! Thanks SO much for having me on your blog AND for the great promo — can’t wait to read the review, my friend! YOU ROCK!!
JULIE!!!! You just made my day 🙂 Love ya!
Loved your interview with Julie, Carrie – thanks!! Even though I feel like I know her well, she frequently manages to drop a fun, interesting new tidbit – I’m smiling at the brown M&M peanut candies, flower mode apple slices, and tingle on my tongue comments; so typically sweet Julie!! She’s a “hoot”, and so are you.
And “Kissing Queen” of Christian Fiction – amen!! That passion of hers – with literary characters, God, and personally – gets me every time. Love Julie, her beautiful inspiring novels/novellas, her transparency, encouraging spirit, love for her readers, and her love of, and light for – God!!
Bonnie!!! I need to interview YOU sometime – what an awesome description of Julie!
LOL … come on, Bonnie, you don’t think you’re a weeeeeee bit prejudice, do you? 😉 Thanks, my friend, for ALL of your amazing support!
P.S. No way I could pick a fave kissing scene – I love every one Julie has ever written, lol!!
My fave kissing scenes of Julie’s are usually the ones I’m reading at the time 😉
Aw, Carrie, you are very rapidly becoming one of my tip-top favorite bloggers, young lady, so BLESS YOU!!
Carrie is a real sweetheart, Julie – full of joy, encouragement, and a “book junkie” (as most of us reader friends are). I was privileged to meet her at Laura Franz’s book signing, she only lives about 1 1/2 hours from me – so hopefully, I’ll see her again in the near future. I’m impressed that she teaches English to people of other nationalities – twice a week – gives you an idea of her heart for people. AND – she writes beautiful reviews, as you can see!!
Julie – yes, I’m definitely prejudiced – have never denied it – when it comes to you and your writing, dear friend, lol. However, I’m also always very honest and accurate in my compliments.
Bonnie, I am unbelievably touched! Such kind words! (By the way, the offer still stands any time you want to come hang out at ESL 🙂 )
Thanks,Carrie for a great interview with Julie Lessman .I have to agree with the title of “Kissing Queen” I think the romantic scenes in her books are among the best ever written!! In fact I think they`re all so good I don`t know if I can pick a favorite. 🙂
that’s my problem too, Lynne! 🙂
Awesome interview! I guess I have to say I’m more of a cat person since my family has the prettiest orange tabby, but she’s super independent and doesn’t like cuddling or petting at all. Maybe if I ever get a dog I’d switch loyalties. =P
if you ever got a dog, you would certainly switch loyalties 😉
Carrie and Julie, you two cracked me up! You two really should get together more often. We get such great juicy details. Love every question on this interview! Including Charity. She was not my favorite character going into Passion. Redeemed but you can say she surprised me too. Thanks!
Haha! I will hang out with Julie any time 🙂
Okay so those kissing scene, just wow. I love them both, but if I had to pick it would be kiss number 1. The way Luke was so concerned about Kate before hand it was just so sweet and there is so much emotion in that scene, amazing!! I have to say I absolutely love the Passion you write with, it is nice to have pure clean Passion in a book. Also I have one question, why do you not eat the brown peanut m&m’s? 🙂
I’m gonna have to go back and read those kissing scenes again now, Lisa – for the hundredth or so time 🙂
Julie is such an inspiration! Her interview is charming and I love her books
Great interview! Never would have guessed you to be a hermit Julie! I can be sometimes too! Sorry I haven’t stopped by earlier this week. Been a little occupied. ? Bonnie is right, Carrie is great! And her words for you Julie are spot on!
Hope you’re feeling less pain, Nancy!
I wish I could like this post multiple times!!!! What a fun interview. I have to say, Charity O’Connor surprised me a few times, too, but her story might be my favorite of that series!
I’m reading Isle of Hope now…. hoping to finish in the next few days. I’m loving Julie’s writing style shining through a contemporary story. And I’m loving the kisses 🙂