Author Spotlight: Julie Lessman

Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest books. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Rachel Hauck is Kristie D. My assistant Amy will be in touch for your mailing address.

This week we welcome Julie Lessman. To win a copy of the Julie Lessman book of your choice, leave a comment on this post!

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

Well, I’m a baby boomer (how’s that for side-stepping the age issue?) married to a man who makes me feel like I’m living my own personal romance novel. I have a 27-year-old son and a doctor daughter-in-law (for whom I prayed since my son was a baby). I also have a 22-year-old daughter currently in law school who hates to read, and, yes, it’s true—I paid her $20 just to read the first chapter of my debut novel A Passion Most Pure. I’m happy to say it hooked her, and the rest of the book and the other three didn’t cost me a dime! I quit my day job a few years back to write fulltime and now work back-to-back with my artist husband in a really tiny computer room. Uh, can you say “cozy”?

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?

Four life-altering words: Gone With the Wind. When I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere (grin), but I did write 150 pages of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

Dreams of being published? Oh, yes, I mean really—is the sky blue?? As mentioned above, I started writing at the age of twelve, but never really got serious until July 2001—that’s when I was sitting in a beauty shop reading a Newsweek magazine cover article about Christian entertainment. It said Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and something in my spirit said, “Now is the time to finish your book.” I started A Passion Most Pure the next month, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 45 rejections later.

Tell us about your books.

Well, my first series is entitled “The Daughters of Boston,” and each of the three books focus on one of four daughters in the O’Connor clan, a very close-knit and passionate Irish family during the pre-World War I era. With titles like A Passion Most Pure (American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year), A Passion Redeemed (Inspirational Reader’s Choice Finalist) and A Passion Denied (Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction), I don’t have to tell you that “passion” is a key component in my writing—both in passion for God and for romance.

My brand-new series, “Winds of Change” just released this week with A Hope Undaunted, which is the fourth daughter’s story that takes place during the Roaring 20s and Great Depression. Here is the jacket blurb:

What happens when the boy she loved to hate … becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman–smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband–good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Oh, that’s easy—the treadmill! I put my worship music on and go crazy, singing my off-key heart out much to the angst of my family. But there’s just something about those physical and spiritual endorphins that shakes my creativity loose, so I keep a pen and pad of paper handy when those scenes roll through my head. As far as routines, a cup of hazelnut decaf, lip gloss and Kleenex (for the soggy scenes I write) are a must, with peach or black cherry candles for winter writing inside and a giant fan for writing outdoors on the deck in the summer. I don’t write everyday, but when I am in the heat of production, I will write from about 10:30 AM till midnight or even 5:00 AM as I near the end of the book, stopping only for meals.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Uh, no. 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, right? 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 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.”

What are your biggest distractions?

Oh, without question e-mails and blog interviews. Whenever I have a new book out, I seem to spend more time on e-mails and responding to blog-interview comments, which is time-consuming but something I really love to do because it allows me to connect with reader friends. But when I am on deadline, I have taken to turning Outlook off throughout the day and only checking here and there AND trying to stay brief … which … ahem, for an author who writes 500-page novels, is not easy.

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

The best? When 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 had a rare unanimous vote with several editors reading my book into the wee hours, 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 45 rejections and another publisher giving me a slice-n-dice rejection the week before, this phone call was balm to my battered soul.

The worst? That would be on book 4, A Hope Undaunted, when I thought I was looking at a total rewrite due to a main plot twist that my editor felt defied the tenets of romance. But after a lot of prayer, it turned out to be a really simple fix, so God bailed me out … again!

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

Like the most? Writing dramatic, breathless and compelling love scenes. Sigh.
Like the least? Trying to get published. Yuck!

What advice would you give to new writers?

Since I get asked that a lot, here is a list I compiled of the things I personally did to get published:

1.) Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers at, FHL (Faith, Hope & Love at and RWA (Romance Writers of America at, both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group (you can do that through ACFW).
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!).
5.) Enter contests for invaluable feedback, growth, confidence, networking opportunities and to get your name out there.
6.) Frequent websites/blogs that deal with writing, such as The Seekers (, a group blog that I belong to whose theme is “On the road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”
7.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
8.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

Thank you, Suzanne, for hosting me on your blog. It’s been fun! And I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my Web site at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots”, which is a very laid-back, almost-daily journal to my reader friends that would give your “bleaders” (love that word!!) an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

Thanks again, Suzanne, and God bless!

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. soccrgrlmonkey says:

    I just love your books and the fact that you make them so that you dont want to put down the book and then are craving to read the next one in the series.

  2. Mrs Tina says:

    I enjoyed A Passion Most Pure-it was hard to put down to do necessary things like go to bed, and look forward to reading the other books in the series. I would love to be a winner of one of your books. Blessings, Tina

  3. Kristie says:

    I think it's very difficult to find clean romances. That's what I like about inspirational fiction. I'm excited to learn about you and your books. I'm always looking for a new author to add to my favorites. Hope that I win a book. Take care! Happy writing! Thank you!


  4. lklarner says:

    I'm enjoying reading A Passion Most Pure – you are a very talented writer. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet you at the Green Lake conference! Lisa K

  5. Ann Lee Miller says:

    Julie is turning me into an historical fan. I love, love, love her romantic tension!

  6. Julia M. Reffner says:

    Julie, Following you around again. I'm so thankful that you are so generous in responding to your readers on blogs and now I think I will always picture you with your box of kleenex and lipgloss next to the typewriter 🙂

  7. Julia M. Reffner says:

    Julie, Following you around again. I'm so thankful that you are so generous in responding to your readers on blogs and now I think I will always picture you with your box of kleenex and lipgloss next to the typewriter 🙂

  8. LaShaunda says:

    Excellent interview. It is always nice to learn more about Julie and her writing. A fan for life.

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi Julie! Like Julia Reffner, I'm following you around in the "cyber" world! 😉 Another great interview! Thanks for the opportunity to win a book! I appreciate it! I also agree with Julia about your generosity in responding to your readers. You are one sweet gal! 😉

    scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

  10. Ashley says:

    I have read all 3 off the daughters of boston books. They are amzing! I hope to win a copy of a hope undaunted!

  11. Joetta says:

    As a Mennonite girl with Amish roots… I wasn't too sure when my daugheter told me about this book she was reading and then I started reading, "A Passion Most Pure" and couldn't stop! I LOVE Julie's books, they are inspiring – hard to put down – I usually stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish it – there are so many twists and turns, you never know what to expect! My favorite thing I've learned from reading her books: have a passion for God! It's easy to have passion for my hubby – I love him more every day – and want to spend time with him – Julie has challenged me to look at my Heavenly Father like that… do I crave my time with Him? Do I truly love Him?
    keep writing Julie!!

  12. Wendy says:

    I have been reading a lot about Julie and can't wait to read her newest release.

  13. Julie Lessman says:

    SUZANNE — Thank you SO much for hosting me on your Author Spotlight! I'm really looking forward to meeting you next week in Indy! Hope you are going to be there.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting! I've never read anything by you so it looks like I'm going to have to get my hands on a few of your books. Thanks for doing the interview. I love a peek at the mind behind the book.


  15. Julie Lessman says:

    SOCCRGRLMONKEY: Grin … yeah, I'm devious that way, but thank you for even reading my books in the first place AND for taking the time to come by and leave a comment today. Hopefully it will result in a win! Good luck.

    MRS. TINA … I am SO glad you enjoyed A Passion Most Pure — thank you! So now you think you're ready for Charity in all her glory, do you??? 🙂 Well, buckle up, because that girl sure knows how to take you on a bumpy ride on the road to redemption! Good luck in the contest!


  16. tammy anderson says:

    I have enjoyed this entire series!
    I love that there is passion in thier lives but also honest problems. Without perfection.
    cant wait to read the latest!
    Tammy A

  17. Julie Lessman says:

    KRISTIE … I know exactly what you mean about finding "clean romance," which is why I wrote these books in the first place — I was tired of reading secular books that, although they may not have been of a graphic nature, they did not have God in the middle of the romantic relationship, so to me, it wasn't "romantic." However, I would like to point out that where I would classify Suzanne's beautiful Amish stories as that "gentle" romance that is so effective in transporting readers back to a more innocent and simpler time, mine lean toward a more passionate bent.

    One of the reasons I did this is that many young girls today might not pick up a Christian novel, but they would if it had enough romantic passion to keep them interested, which my books do. But its the passion for God heavily laced throughout that ultimately captures them, illuminating God's precepts as far as the difficult choices they have to make when it comes to temptations in today's world. So keep in mind that for the Amish fiction lover, my books may not be their cup of tea. But as with Christian music which ranges from Old-time Gospel to hard rock, we have a responsibility as Christians authors to cast a wide net, hopefully to reach the masses with the message of Christ.

    Thanks for coming by, Kristie, and good luck in the contest!


  18. Julie Lessman says:

    LISA!!! Oh, how FUN to see you here, girl!! I LOVED meeting you, my friend, and I thank you for not only reading APMP, but for taking the time to come here today and encourage me. You are a blessing!

    ANN!!! Girl, I can't write books fast enough to keep you in "wins," as lucky as you've been lately. Going for a third book, eh?? Well, everybody else may as well pack up and go home, 'cause you are on a roll! Thanks for coming by, and I'd wish you luck, but I don't have to. 🙂

    JULIA … yep, "Kleenex and lip gloss," mainstays of my profession! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, my friend, and I look forward to our interview on 9/24-25, so anybody wanting to win a signed book, be sure to check my website calendar for blog interview/giveaways, including Julia's.


  19. Julie Lessman says:

    LA SHAUNDA!!! HOLY COW, girl, haven't seen you in forever, so it's REALLY nice to see you here!! Hope all is going well with you and the local ACFW writers' group. One of these days I'm going to shock you by dropping by!! Good luck in the contest. Are you going to ACFW in Indy next week, by chance???

    Thanks, MICHELLE, but I am not one-tenth as "sweet" as some of my favorite reader friends such as you, who are SO incredibly diligent in their support and encouragement. You guys honestly make all the work worthwhile, truly. Love ya!!

    Oh, AHSLEY, THANK YOU, and girl, you are now primed and ready for A Hope Undaunted, which is my favorite of all the books I've written so far, so hopefully you will think so too. Here's to a win, sweetie — we need to get you started on it … 🙂


  20. karenk says:

    hi suzanne & julie…

    i loved this interview and posting…i'm so looking forward to reading katie's story…however…it seems like cluny steals the show, at least from the previews that i read!!!

    thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel 🙂

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  21. Julie Lessman says:

    Okay, JOETTA, you're gonna make me cry here, girl, but honestly, what you wrote below blesses my socks off because that is EXACTLY what I am trying to do with my books — to convince readers that we CAN have the same kind of heart-pounding passion for God that we do for our spouse or boyfriend. Thank you for articulating that SO well, my friend, and for being such an incredible support to me!

    Hey, WENDY, you're back!! Good girl, because you are prone to win a book that way, and I hope it's soon. Who knows, maybe on this blog??? 🙂

    Oh, BRANDI, do I have a book for you!! 🙂 I love meeting new readers like you and would be tickled to see you win one of my books. So if you don't win here, please check out my website calendar for lots more giveaway opportunities, okay? Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest!

    Hugs, Julie

  22. Julie Lessman says:

    TAMMY SAID: "I love that there is passion in their lives but also honest problems. Without perfection."
    Thanks, Tammy, sounds a lot like us, doesn't it?? We were created by a passionate God to be passionate beings, imperfect as we are. Thanks for coming by, sweetie, and good luck in the contest.

    KAREN … yeah, I kind of think that myself because Cluny McGee is just a scene-stealer, no doubt about it! As you may recall from prior interviews, initially he started out as a 2 to 3-paragraph bit character in A Passion Denied, who SO stole my heart, that I wrote him into the plot and subsequently into his own book. I had no choice — his charisma just charmed the socks off of me, and in Undaunted, his incredible unconditional love will bless the socks off of you (I hope!). Thanks for coming by, my friend and good luck!


  23. Danyel says:

    I love your books! I can't wait to read the new one. As soon as it is on the Kindle I will be spending the evening with your book. I love the faith, passion, and real life application of Biblical principals.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Julie, I love your books and love your interviews…..have been "reading" you on several blogs! Please enter me for this drawing! Thanks!!!

  25. Julie Lessman says:

    DANYEL!!! Thank you, girl, and it's coming to Kindle soon, so I'm told, so hang in there. PLUS, I am having a Facebook Party on Oct. 7 where you can win a free Kindle preloaded with A Hope Undaunted plus LOTS of other prizes, so if you don't get my newsletter, sign up because all the info is in there, and then will be on my website as well soon!

    JACKIE!!!!!!!!! Girl, didn't you read your newsletter???? I just sent the Sept. edition out on Wednesday and YOU won the destination contest with YOUR choice of signed book, so let me know what book you want (was it Redeemed??), okay? I was SOOOO excited that you won!!! WHOO-HOO!!!


  26. lotus82 says:

    Great interview…of course you're a great author 🙂 I'd love a chance to win one of your books. Thanks!


  27. Anne Payne says:

    Enjoyed the interview. I'd love to read one of your books!


  28. Julie Lessman says:

    Aw, STEPH, thank you SO much!!! And I would dearly love for you to win one of my books, so if you don't win here, I have TONS of giveaways coming up on my website calendar, so check them out, okay? And good luck in the contest!

    ANNE … oh, girl, we have to get you hooked up, then, so like I told Steph above, check out my website calendar for additional giveaways, okay? Thanks for coming by and here's to a win!


  29. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for the great interview. Also for the invaluable advice for aspiring writers. I love the books that I've read so far. Can't wait to read A Hope Undaunted.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  30. Holly says:

    This was a fantastic interview, and a nice pick me up after the week I've had. I still haven't managed to get my hands on Undaunted yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it.


  31. Mocha with Linda says:

    Excellent review. This book is in my TBR pile and I'm soooo looking forward to it!

  32. Alisha says:

    What a great interview! Can't wait to read your latest book!

  33. Lady DragonKeeper says:

    I just finished "APMP" –awesome story– Yes, as a teen, there's a bit more "passion" than some other "Christian fiction" I've read –but it was appropriate . . . though I have some issues with you Collin! *grin* But the ending is worth it . . . *wink*

    I'd love to win a hardcopy . . . of Book 1 or 2 –My dilemma? I read "APMP" because we had downloaded it when it was a free e-book a couple of months ago . . . not knowing anything about it. The thing is . . . I love "real books" more . . . yet, I'd like to read the rest of the series. Whether I buy the books or win one, anyone have suggestions?

    jafuchi7 [at] hawaii [dot] edu

  34. Lady DragonKeeper says:

    My sister's been bugging me again to enter more book drawings . . . right now we're 0 for . . . I don't know how many, LOL.

    Thank you for the interview and contest Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Lessman!


  35. kristia4 says:

    Sorry about the username . . . my sister was still logged in . . . does my entry still count?

  36. Maureen says:

    Julie I love your books…Love that they some times take place in Ireland!
    Thank you for sharing your God Gift with us!
    Bless You


  37. Julie Lessman says:

    CYNTHIA!!! I can't wait for you to read AHU either, girl, so we have to get that book in your hands by hook or by crook! More giveaway opportunities are coming up, so hopefully one of those will introduce you to the grown-up Cluny McGee … sigh.

    HOLLY … oooo, sounds like it was one of THOSE weeks!! I know them well. 🙂 I'm hoping a win will be another "pick me up" in the days ahead. Good luck, my friend.

    LINDA!!! Soooo glad it's in YOUR TBR file particularly, girl, because speaking of reviews, if the one you give me for AHU is as good as the one you gave me for APMP, I'll be in hog heaven!! 🙂


  38. Julie Lessman says:

    ALISHA … thank you, sweetie, and I'd love for you to win my latest book, so you are definitely going about it in the right way, girl. And if you don't win here, there are more giveaways to be found on my website calendar. Good luck!

    LADY DRAGONKEEPER … I am SO glad that you enjoyed APMP and YES, we do need to get a hard copy into your hands because I feel the same way — LOVE the feel of a real book!

    My suggestions for getting these books (signed, no less!) would be to do what you are doing right now by leaving a comment on all of my blog giveaways. One gal actually won FIVE of my books that way last year, so it pays off! Also, once a month on the first of the month, I plan to have "open mic" day on my "Journal Jots" on my website where I will be giving away either a signed copy of any of my books or an Amazon gift card. Hope to see you there!

    KRISTIA … grin, yes, both of your entries count as far as I'm concerned. 🙂

    MAUREEN … thanks, my friend — I love the parts of my books that took place in Ireland too, especially in book 2, A Passion Redeemed, and I'm pretty sure that somewhere down the road, I could be coaxed to do another series there … 🙂 Good luck in the contest, Maureen.


  39. HandyFamily says:

    Loved, loved, loved the Daughters of Boston series! I can not wait to read "A Hope Undaunted"! I am excited to have the chance to win, can't you tell?! God bless you, Julie!


  40. Julie Lessman says:

    HANDYFAMILY!!! YES … I can tell, sweetie, and that blesses me!! This is the way to win a free book, let me tell you. Already so far, one gal has one TWICE on different blogs just by leaving comments on every one I have going and last year, one gal won FIVE books from me, so your odds are good!! Good luck and THANK YOU for your kind words about Daughters of Boston!!


  41. lgm52 says:

    Have not read this author, but would love to. Her books sound very entertaining! Would love to win!

  42. says:

    I also enjoyed A Hope Undaunted and am a big fan of Julie Lessman.

    I found the characters to be fairly three dimensional and enjoyed the interaction between the two main characters, Katie and Luke – although at times I was surprised by Katie’s sudden abrupt turns. The O’Connor family is true to form in their larger-than-life sort of Irish personalities and entertaining as always.

    I posted a more in-depth review of my own at