Sunday, December 4, 2011
Interview with award winning author Julie Lessman!!!!!
So with much excitement I present to you the woman whose books I have on auto buy….Julie Lessman!!
1) What do you like most about being a writer?
Oh, that’s a no-brainer—writing love scenes, of course! I like tension, lots and LOTS of romantic tension, so when I write those scenes, my keyboard is smoking because my fingers fly. In fact, one of my friends wanted to know why I couldn’t just write a nice, “sweet” love scene. Duh, because I would fall asleep! :) Even my husband noticed the fast and furious pace of my love scenes—he said he would be meandering along in a nice, easy passage and then, BAM! A love scene would hit, and before he knew it, he was 20 pages down the road!
2) What do you like least about being a writer?
Oh, cold chills—trying to get published and promotion, absolutely! Thank God half of that is over for me … uh, I hope! :|
3) Do you have a particular place or setting in which you do your writing? Maybe an area that fuels your creativity?
You bet!! My family jokes that I am an “Ambiance Queen” because dim lighting with candles during dinner is a must, as well as a mainstay for my writing. During the summer months (basically May through October), I sit outside on my lower deck that runs the length of the house, overlooking a lush, green wooded area that has sunlight dappling through the trees. I have my feet up on this cushy lawn furniture at all times, hazelnut coffee, lip gloss, phone, a mirror (to capture those expressions I’m writing about) and a fan gently blowing while I sit with my laptop on my ... where else? Lap!!
In the winter when I’m not in the hearth room with a crackling fire, I write in a tiny computer room that my artist husband and I share. It has a big window that lets in gobs of light and lots of fun distractions like chipmunks and deer. It’s a pretty small room, though, so most of the time, we are back to back, which is kind of nice because I like to lean back and kiss him after I put lip gloss on, which is OFTEN! That would definitely qualify as one of my quirks—lipstick and lip gloss. I wear it everywhere, even to bed (the lip gloss, I mean). Also, when I do write in our office, I always have a candle lit next to a favorite picture of my husband and me before we were married. How’s that for romantic inspiration? J It sure works for me!
4) How many words do you write a day? On average, how long does it take you to finish a novel?
Oh man, what an embarrassing question because I don’t write many at all unless I’m really bearing down on a deadline and then I’ve been known to write all day and all night (from 8:00 AM to 5:00 AM several times!). There are actually months when I don’t write on my contracted ms. at all, but when I do, it can be anywhere from four to twenty pages in a day. Of course, it’s different on every book, but generally it takes me about nine months on a book—six to write it and about two to edit/revise. A Passion Redeemed was the only exception, because I literally pounded it out in two months while working part-time, which boils done to one month straight to write an almost 500-page book. Which proves I can do it if I have to … :)
5) Do you plot your novels or do a chapter-by-chapter outline?
I do not do a chapter-by-chapter outline, but I do now plot my novels, all except for the first two, A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed. Back then, you could pretty much label me a “Seat of the Pants” Queen! You see, I’m a first-line freak, whether beginning a book or a chapter, so all it takes is a key line popping into my brain (while on the treadmill or in the middle of the night), and I’m off and running.
However, with two 3-book series that chronicle fourteen characters in the O’Connor family from 1916 to 1932, I was forced to become somewhat of a plotter as well, creating an age/birthday/anniversary chart that would boggle the mind. In addition, I have created incredibly detailed synopses to help me keep all the plots straight for both primary characters and subordinates, WHICH if the “pantster” in me has its way, may or may not end up in the final story. :)
6) Tell us a little about your upcoming series, The Cousins McClare. How do you think this series will differ from your previous novels?
The Cousins McClare is set in 1900 San Francisco with book one releasing April of 2013 and the subsequent books out at nine-month intervals rather than yearly. It covers the stories of three cousins from a wealthy political family in 1902 San Francisco (four years before the earthquake!) and the unlikely men with whom they fall in love. From the glitter and glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill, to the seedy dance halls and gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, you might say “The Cousins McClare” is a study in contrasts between the haves and have-nots, and barriers between rich and poor that only faith can transcend. Think Little Women meets Dynasty.” And for those of you too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.
To please my husband (who wants me to write for the market, which means shorter, less passionate and more linear plots), the next series will be a lot shorter (yeah, good luck with that!), less sensual (everybody’s single, so no married love scenes) and less complicated, God willing!! Which means the books will be about 300-400 pages rather than 500, and the plots will be two tier instead of 3- and 4-tier (i.e. less subplots than A Passion Denied and the “Winds of Change” series). There will be the story between the hero and heroine, of course, but also a second-tier love story between the older couple in the series, a godly widowed matriarch who butts heads with an ungodly brother-in-law to whom she was once engaged before he cheated on her, causing her to marry his brother instead. Now that she is widowed, the brother-in-law wants her back, so of course there will be LOTS of romantic tension between them as well as between the hero and heroine. J
7) How did Seekerville get started and what part did you play in starting it?
Seekerville got started when fifteen contest divas kept butting heads with each other in various contests, so we knew each other’s names. Then Ruth Logan Herne and Tina Radcliffe came up with bright idea of joining forces to support each other (and eventually our readers) on the road to publication and beyond. When we started four years ago, only two of us had contracts, Deb Giusti and Mary Connealy. Since then, all 15 of us are now published and anxious to see our Seekerville friends published too!
As far as what part I played in the initial start of Seekerville? Almost nothing initially, but now I like to think I play an important part because I get my husband to do a lot of the art-related things for Seekerville such as the bookmarks and the ads in the ACFW Magazine. :)
8) What’s your typical writing day like?
Gosh, lately pretty sporadic because life has been “getting in the way." But usually I rise at about 6:30 or 7:00 AM, eat peach oatmeal and drink coffee while I check a few blogs (The Seekers, for one, at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/), then I listen to worship music on the treadmill for 30 minutes followed by Bible reading and prayer time. Laundry, paperwork, etc. gets my attention briefly before I dive into e-mails. When I write (I don’t write everyday like a good author should), I start about 10:30 or 11:00 AM and crank ALL day (usually without lunch) until Keith’s stomach starts to growl around 6:00 PM or so … :) Not real “disciplined,” I know, but it works for me!
9) Recently you had to cut 50,000 words from your upcoming release, A Love Surrendered. How did you go about doing that?
LOL … a WHOLE lotta prayer!! Basically my editor had me cut two sub stories (Lizzie and Brady’s and Charity and Mitch’s) plus half of the epilogue and several bit characters. I also cut a long “come-to-Jesus” revival scene for the heroine where she and her “wild” friends get her drunk and take her to a Billy Sunday revival, who actually spoke in Boston at that time. That accounted for about 30,000 words, and then I was able to cut another 10,000 by simply going page by page, cutting lines and words.
10) What’s the number one tip you have for writing a great love scene? If you can’t name just one, what about the top two tips?
Goodness, great question!!! The #1 tip I would give for a great love scene is getting inside of the hero’s head. The male is key. I personally believe his feelings/reactions generate readers' feelings/reactions even more so than the heroine's because his desire translates into the desire every woman wishes she could elicit. For me, getting inside the male head during “the kiss” intensifies the “desire” factor. You can show his strength, his dominance, his angst at falling in love with a woman he wants, but can’t have, which always enhances the “WOW” factor. Like Rhett with Scarlett in Gone With the Wind or … ahem … Collin with Faith in A Passion Most Pure.
This was one of the tips given (along with actual excerpts to bear it up) in the detailed handout for the ACFW workshop Ruth Axtell Morren and I taught called, “A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss,” so if the winner of your blog contest would like a copy of that handout, I will be happy to forward it to her.
Thanks SO much, Amanda, for hosting me on your blog this week. I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so they can feel free to contact me through my website at: http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at: http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/.
My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways including one right now to have a character named after you or a loved one in my next book. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots” (http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/), which is a very laid-back, Friday journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/), a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.
Julie resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and new granddaughter, and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Her “Winds of Change” series features A Hope Undaunted, which ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010 and is followed by her most recent release, A Heart Revealed. You can contact Julie at: www.julielessman.com
Next week we are offering yet another interview, this time with author Zeke Lam. Zeke is the author of "subMission" a nonfiction book about Biblical Submission. This is a great opportunity to support a new author so stop by and read Zeke’s inspiring interview!
Next week we will also resume our Countdown to Christmas giveaway with a special Love Inspired christmas book and cookbook package. So stay tuned for more prizes and fun!
As always- Happy Writing,
Posted by Amanda at 2:31 PM