BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

JULIE LESSMAN SHARES HER HEART and HOW TO WIN COPIES OF DARE TO LOVE AGAIN



ABOUT AUTHOR: Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was 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. She has also garnered 17 RWA awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her 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. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books atwww.julielessman.com.


LIFE ON THE EDGE … By Julie Lessman

Okay, it’s true—I’m definitely what you’d call an “Edgy Inspirational” romance writer, teetering on the edge of what some consider appropriate for the Christian market. But I have a confession to make—yep, I’m afraid of heights. And let’s not sugarcoat this, I’m talking heights of any kind … peering down from those tiny windows at the top of the St. Louis Arch (cold chill) or a knee-knocking trek across a dry creek on a board three feet high. Whether it’s the physical aspect of getting nauseous on the Six Flags ferris wheel or just sick to my stomach over a 1-star review, trust me, it’s not pretty … nor comfortable.

It takes me back to the summer my 12-year-old daughter talked me into an innocent chairlift ride at the Lake of the Ozarks, billed as a relaxing scenic adventure over a pretty ravine of trees and wildflowers. Yeah, right. Pretty? Maybe, if I had kept my eyes open. Relaxing? Not even close for either my daughter or me, the poor, scarred child whose mother had a death grip on her, forcing her to sing Amazing Grace while I hyperventilated and muttered “In Jesus’ name” over and over under my breath. I wanted to throw up once my feet hit solid ground, and I vowed I would NEVER go there again.

So a few years back, when a reviewer told her blog audience that she stopped reading my newly released book, A Passion Denied, halfway through because “In my opinion, smut is smut. Even if you slap God's name in it on occasion, it's still smut,” I have to admit, it kinda feels like that stupid aerial tram ride had given way, plummeting me into a ravine on a patch of thistle and Missouri primrose. Ouch!

Now before you go feeling sorry for me, please understand that as my Seeker bud, Ruth Logan Herne, likes to point out, I knew I was going to rock the boat when I hit the Christian market with my brand of passion, so duh! And, yes, I really have developed thicker skin for things like 1-star reviews and nasty comments, neither of which barb me quite as much as before. But I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t tell you that I ache inside at the thought of offending people I love and respect because some of the “passion” in my books made them uncomfortable. And more to the heart of the matter, I bleed inside at the prospect that what I write would in any way offend God.

So if you would be kind enough to humor me today, I’d like to take this opportunity to editorialize just a bit by explaining to both my critics and my supporters just WHY I write the way that I do. It should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a woman of considerable passion—whether for God or romance or even just brushing my teeth, which I do, by the way, ruthlessly, eyes closed and a pained expression on my face. So when God tapped me on the shoulder in a beauty shop (figuratively, of course) while reading a 2001 Newsweek cover article on how Christian movies, books and music were on the threshold of exploding, I was nervous. Now is the time to finish your book, the thought came, and I knew that meant the book I’d begun at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. But romance? The "subgenre" that literary snobs (myself included) looked down upon? Yes, the thought came again, write for Me. Mmm … passion for God, an interesting concept. Thus was born my tagline—Passion With a Purpose.


So I did. And then I sent tons of query letters touting the statistic that “nine out of ten women nationwide (90%) consider themselves to be Christian” -- American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group. Ironically, most of these women who do read romance wouldn’t choose Inspirational romance to save their soul. Why, you may ask? Well, I can only speak for myself and my friends who wanted more heart-pounding and 21st-century realistic romantic tension interlaced with God’s precepts, something that hasn’t been real prevalent in the Christian market. As a result, most of my friends, Christian and non, read secular romance, which, of course, generally promotes the world’s amoral lifestyle rather than God’s. What’s wrong with this picture? I mean if the world can take something that God created and use it to sell its amoral agenda, then why can’t Christians utilize this God-given passion to promote Him and His precepts?
Look at the world today—it’s obsessed with illicit passion. Hollywood promotes adultery and unmarried couples sleeping together as sexy, and I can count on one hand how many young, unmarried women I know who are still virgins today, Christian or no. Why? Because passion is important! Not just to romance readers, but to everyone on the planet. We were created that way by a passionate God who analogizes His own depth of love for each of us in a very passionate love letter called “Song of Solomon.” And what happens? The world uses this beautiful, God-given gift to shove sin down peoples’ throats, and I, for one, am really sick of it. I want to use passion the way it was intended—to teach people God’s precepts and therein, His love. It’s the cry of my heart, and I hope and pray that for my readers, my stories of romantic passion translate into passion for God.

But those who disagree with me do give me pause to think … and to pray … that I stay the course with God’s plan and not my own. I thank them for their passion for purity, which I assure them, is as fervent as mine and which inspires me to be even more vigilant and careful in future stories I write. And, yes, I do understand the concern and “passion” of those who feel Christian romance must remain chaste and pure. But on the other side of the spectrum, there are Christians like me, who worry that “chaste and pure” will not reach the majority of Nora Roberts or Hannah Montana or the MTV crowd anymore than old-time Gospel music will reach those who listen to Christian rock such as Pillar or metalcore rock like Underoath. The Body of Christ is just that—a body of human beings at varying levels of faith. It’s not one size fits all in reaching people for Christ, but it’s the cry of St. Paul who said “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Salt … in an unsavory world.

But I’ll be honest—in the last few months, I have been going through a really discouraging time regarding my writing, wondering if I was on track with God regarding the level of passion I include in my books. Sure, I’ve received lots of positive feedback, like the 15-year-old who couldn’t talk to her mom about anything, she said, until she and her mom found common ground in their mutual love of A Passion Most Pure. Or the guy who contacted me to get a signed copy for a friend he wanted as a girlfriend. When he told her he wanted a deeper relationship with her, she actually made him read A Passion Most Pure because “that was the kind of relationship she wanted, with God in the middle.” Or the woman who’d “fallen away” from Christianity and wouldn’t read Inspirational books on a dare, but picked mine up not realizing it was spiritual. She wrote that A Passion Most Pure rekindled her love for God and gave her hope again. These are stories that I treasure in my heart.

But life up on the “edge” is still scary for me, nonetheless, because at the base core of who I am as a woman and a writer, I have this deep, primal longing to please and honor my God. So I was praying with my prayer partner about it (AGAIN!) when her 25-year-old daughter stopped by, a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time but knew that she had strayed from her Christian roots—living with her boyfriend before they got married, not going to church anymore, heavy drinking, etc. This young woman proceeded to tell me that when she read my books, she actually got angry at me. Why? Because the spiritual parts convicted her so much that she wanted to throw the books out. But she didn’t, she said, BECAUSE the intense romance so grabbed her by the throat, that she was compelled to finish the books. And when she turned the last page of A Passion Redeemed, she told me it had brought her to a whole other level with God. I had tears in my eyes when I learned she is now back at church and trying to live for Him. Call me “edgy” if you will, but for me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Writing on the “edge” in anything—romance, suspense, young adult, women’s fiction—is a dizzying prospect for any of us who attempt it, especially for those who don’t like heights … or the jolting effect when you crash to the ravine below. But it’s also exhilarating standing on that cliff, eyes on God instead of the valley below, hoping and praying the wind of the Holy Spirit will help you to soar like an eagle … for Him. And in that one breathless moment when something you wrote turns the heart of a person back to the Father … oh my … you feel like you can fly!

So I’m going to go out on another ledge here and ask what your thoughts are on “edgy” Christian fiction:

Answer one or all of the questions above, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my latest (and sweetest and least passionate!) book, Dare to Love Again.

1.)    Are you pro or con, and if so, why?

2.)    Since “romance” is the top-selling genre in the world with $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 (RWA statistics), does the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon worry you and if so, how do you think Christians should counter it?

3.)    What’s your favorite genre and why?

 Your feedback is important to those of us who write edgy Christian fiction because as one Body in Christ, we need to be sensitive to the various parts and open to honest discourse.

And for those of you who would like to read excerpts of my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books to see just why the Romantic Times says “this isn’t your mother’s inspirational fiction,” here’s the link. Happy reading! http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/

I’m giving away ONE copy of Julie’s book ON THIS BLOG POST.  For ADDITIONAL GIVEAWAY INFORMATION you can go to THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK and enter the 5 book Drawing there www.bookfun.org

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS for my blog entry so that I can contact you if your name is picked!

You must JOIN the network to participate. It’s FREE and EASY www.bookfun.org scroll down after you join and CLICK on the LINK on top of Julie’s new book cover of DARE TO LOVE AGAIN!!

THANKS JULIE for sharing your heart with readers. I love your transparency and the message in your books!

THANKS FOR COMMENTING FRIENDS!! Looking forward to hearing from you all. Thanks to Revell for the book giveaways!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
www.bookfun.org

THANKS JULIE FOR SHARING YOUR PASSION!! THANKS TO ALL THAT stopped by to join in this engaging discussion. CONGRATS to MAJORIE. Her name was drawn. I'll be sending the book out to you by Friday!

109 comments:

  1. I LOVE romance. Haven't read 50 Shades and don't intend to. You can have the passion without the smut, as you prove in your books and which I strive to prove in mine. Keep doing what you're doing, girl. You're doing great!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Cynthia -- SO appreciate the support from a respected peer!! May God bless both of us with many more years of writing romance with HIM at the center!! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  2. Julie, I so appreciate your blog above about romance in Christian fiction. I just finished reading A Light in the Window and was so blessed to read it. But then, in looking for more books about the O'Connors, I came across the negative comment that you are referring to. I am so pleased that you chose to explain how God is using your writing for His glory. I wasn't sure how I felt about all this, until I read your blog. Now, I feel that because you are bring glory to the Lord, you are doing the right thing. So, I am pro romance. Thank you for continuing to allow the Lord to use you!!

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    1. Oh, Judy, you have NO idea just HOW much your comment means to me, my friend -- THANK YOU!!

      I think I am more distressed over the fact that "Christian" reviewers would be cruel enough to slam an author with hurtful reviews than I am with the reviews themselves. I'm sorry, but I think one can get their point across in a more Christlike way with resorting to words like "scum reading" or "smut" or even maligning the author like one reviewer did to me, my marriage, and my husband, asking others to pray for me because I obviously need it.

      Which is EXACTLY why I wrote this blog, so that readers would know my heart, so THANK YOU for taking the time to read it and encouraging me!

      Good luck in the contest!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. I love your heart for the Lord!!
      I forgot to leave my email address for the contest.
      Judy bjcoopers5@gmail.com

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  3. Julie I love your books! I am a 47 year old woman and I read several Christian romance authors. But your books are my favorite. I passed one of your books to my 25 year old daughter and she loved it too. Maybe your books are closer to the edge than some people like but they are true to life. I think people can identify with your characters. I use to be a Nora Roberts fan and I still think she is a wonderful writer but her books have gotten so bad over the years that I will not pick one up anymore even though her style of writing is something that I enjoyed as a younger woman. Thank you for writing your books as I said before I Love Them!

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    1. Oh, Anonymous ... your comment blesses the socks off of me, my friend -- THANK YOU!! And like you, I was a huge Nora Roberts fan -- she is a fabulous writer, no question. But I, too, moved away from secular romance because the truth is for me, romance is just not romantic unless God is in the middle, so I stick with Christian fiction now and LOVE it!!

      Thanks again, my friend, and GOOD LUCK!!

      HUGS,
      Julie

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  4. 3) What is your favorite genre and why?
    I admit it, I love inspirational romance. I got started a few years ago and am addicted to it. I'll read almost any subgenre in Christian romance - chic-lit, mystery, suspense, military, historical, I love all of them. :)
    I must confess, Julie, that when I started APMP that I was a little leery of it, wasn't sure if they'd mislabled it or something. But the more I read, the more my focus shifted from noticing the romance and passion between the characters, to paying attention to their passion for God. I loved that. I desire to have that passion for Him. Seeking Him is a full time job for me, since I fully admit that I am one of His dumb sheep who often gets distracted by the things of the world and I take my eyes off of Him. So reading your books means a lot to me. I know that they will challenge me in my faith and push me closer to God, instead of pulling me away. Thank you for that.
    Blessings,
    Sarah

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    1. LOL, Sarah ... well, from one "dumb sheep" to another -- THANK YOU for giving me a chance, especially for staying the course with APMP when it didn't seem all that "pure" in the beginning. I honestly feel that my books are not only more passionate in the romance, but in the romance with God, too, so I am grateful you finished APMP to see that AND I hope now that you've read this blog by me, you understand just WHY I write romance as passionately as I do as well. :)

      Hugs and good luck!!
      Julie

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  5. Oh, I'm not sure if you needed my email or not - it's booklover1492[at]rocketmail[dot]com
    Thanks for the chance to win this book! :)

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  6. Hi Julie,
    I loved reading your blog above. You have saved me from the "boring" Christian books out there. So needless to say, I do like edgy. I want a book I can sink into, that seems real, with real issues. Not a book where everything is perfect, because life is not like that.

    Fifty Shades a Grey - yes that really disturbs me. There is something not quite right about people who want that kind of life - something really important is missing in their lives. How to counteract it, more edginess. Hahaha.

    My favorite genre - romance - I love happy endings.

    Peg

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    1. Hey, Peg, thanks for coming by, my friend, and for your sweet comment, too!

      I would love to send you a signed book, so here's to a win!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  7. I love Julie's books. Back when I was trying to figure out what kind of book I wanted to write myself, I read every inspirational Christian romance I could get my hands on in an effort to find out where my "place" was. I knew the story bubbling inside of me had to match something that was already out there--and I found that it was with books like Julie's. There are many differences of course, mostly in that she usually has more character POVs than a normal Christian romance would offer, while mine are written from first person point of view of only the heroine. There are a lot of good books out there to read, but not many that get to the level of feelings I'd like. And when the feels come off as shallow, so does the character... at least in my opinion. I think Julie's books are a perfect counter to books like 50 Shades of Gray. I with there were many more like it to add to the "cause", but I do think it's getting better. Hopefully readers will think my books (coming out later this year from Whitaker House) are part of this same fight against trashiness that the world refers to as passion. There's such a difference when it comes to what Julie refers to as "passion with a purpose" and the purposeless self-indulgence that so many people of this world are slaves to.

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    1. Well said, Dawn!! And I for one cannot WAIT to get my mitts on your new book, so bring it on, girlfriend!! :)

      And thank you SO much for your support too! You have always been such an encourager, and I only hope I can be as big a blessing to you with your book as you have been to me.

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  8. Christian Romance is my favorite genre. From the time I was in my mid teens I had discovered romance novels. I loved the plot, the characters, the dialogue and learned way too much about things that never should have been in front of my eyes. It wasn't until I was 20 that someone invited me to church and God convicted me about what I was putting into my heart and my mind. It was really hard for me to quit reading these types of stories. At this point I wasn't even reading the sex scenes- just skimming through them for the story. As I was walking through a Christian book store I realized that there were Christian authors that wrote the type of stories I loved to read but that also honored God. I am so thankful for good Christian authors that write a story that is good and wholesome but that also is an adventure to enjoy.

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    1. Hey, Rebecca, I am SO glad you came by today because, girl, do I have a deal for you!! ;)

      It sounds to me like you haven't read any of my books before and if so, I strongly encourage you to check out a FREE DOWNLOAD going on right now of my first book, A Passion Most Pure, which won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently had 345 five-star reviews. Here's the link if you want to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Most-Pure-Daughters-Boston-ebook/dp/B...

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

      Julie

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  9. I have to say I am thankful for your books. To me, it wasn't smut but showing how passion is wonderful in marriage. Made me want more from my marriage relationship then before because it showed me it is possible. Possible for more then just "marriage" but a marriage rich with love and passion. Real struggles, real love and real passion.

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    1. Oh, Tammy, your comment brings a great, big smile to my face because YES, YES, YES, it is not only "possible," but it's EXACTLY what God wants for us in a marriage. And take it from a gal who learned all the marriage lessons the hard way (Marcy and Patrick's marriage is based on my hubby's and mine!), it IS possible to have a fabulous marriage like that because I am living proof!!

      Thanks for your kind comment and here's to a win!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  10. Hallo, Hallo Ms. Lessman!

    Feels like a proper age has passed since I last saw you on a blog tour like this! Wicked sweet I saw your note via Twitter giving a lovely shout-out to come over and see what you were blogging about! :) I read both inspirational and mainstream romances as you well know, but to me, its not even a question about the book being referenced here as one to avoid. Its a question about how individuals filter out what is best for their mind, heart, and soul.

    I have mentioned this before, even in certain places on my blog and in a podcast I was a guest on. You have to determine what is right for you. If your going to be tempted to do something that goes against your beliefs, I think there is a greater issue going on. Personally, I am drawn into stories of romance which are etched and grounded in relationships. I even discovered a new Indie Press (ChocLitUK) which believes in this as well, as I've reviewed two of their titles thus far, and all of the time, the characters inside are walking the balance between knowing what is right and what is wrong for their own life. You can find hearty life lessons in any story, even if its not under the umbrella of inspirational fiction.

    What I appreciate about your novels specifically is that you give a very realistic approach to life, to falling in love, and to allowing your characters a bit more flexibility in their lives than sometimes the inspirational side will allow. Which is something that I truly celebrate! :)

    My two favourite genres are historical fiction & romance; not historical romance per se, even though I read quite a heap of it! And, yes again, I do not make a distinction between inspirational nor mainstream. A story which is writ with a touch of realism and a dash of romance is one I'm going to enjoy the most! This isn't to say I don't read lighter romances or ones that might push other people's envelopes. I read for serious enjoyment and for fun as much as the next person! :)

    (I do have my limits, which I explain under, "My Bookish Life"!)

    If you ever drop by my blog you'll see where my own heart lies and why characters in both romance & historicals win me over more times than naught! :)

    Honestly I wish there were more edgy inspirational stories like Ms. Lessman! In part this is one reason I am embarking on a Quest to read more inspirational authors, as I wanted to extend myself a bit past Dee Henderson, Deeanne Gist, Julie Lessman, and a few others I have come to love so very much! :)

    My favourite stories are ones where faith is lived through action, words of character, and inside the context of the story. My only bone of contention is that sometimes I think the inspirational stories tend to overkill the obvious.

    Thank you for offering Dare to Love Again !! I would be plumb shocked to win and ever so very grateful at the very same time! :)

    inkand-bookaways(at)usa(dot)net

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    1. JORIE!!! Soooooo good to see you here, my friend, and sounds like your blog is going great guns, so in the words of a sweet young thing I know, that's "wicked good" !!

      LOVE your statement, "My favourite stories are ones where faith is lived through action, words of character, and inside the context of the story." Amen to that, girl!!

      Oh, and by the way ... don't be surprised if you see the word "fishcats" in my next book ...;)

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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  11. I stand with the Bible's teaching, and I choose to read Christian fiction for this reason.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. I'm with you, Susanlulu, and that's why I choose to WRITE Christian fiction as well as read it, so I think we're both on the right track!

      Hugs and good luck!!
      Julie

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  12. Julie, I absolutely love your thoughts on this. I had strayed away from God, but after picking up Dee Henderson's O'Malley series I found my way back. Authors can influence readers and not even realize it. Yes, I love to read a good romance. We had a sermon not long after my reading the series about how would you feel if Jesus were beside you while watching tv? What would he think of the content you were exposing yourself and family to? Was it Godly? Needless to say this was something I put alot of thought into. I started reading mostly Christian books. I was amazed at how much better the stories were.
    Most authors today focus only about putting as much sex or innuendos into the book that the plotline just doesn't make since or flow. Most Christian authors are more about the story they want to share. I feel that's refreshing. Intimacy is part of human nature and when shared in the proper context can be wonderful. So many teens young adults and even the older generations get a glimpse of how to make or have God in the middle of their relationship is a great thing.
    Okay I have wrote enough. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Keep writing so we can keep reading.

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    1. Katrina, you are SO correct, my friend, and beautifully said! And that just blesses the socks off of me when I hear how Christian fiction has gently nudged someone back to the throne of God -- AWESOME!! I used to read secular books, but knew something huge was missing because there was no spiritual uplift, no real truth because He IS the Truth, and without Him, the pages are just empty.

      Thanks so much for coming by, my friend, and good luck in the contest!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  13. As an author and a reader, I absolutely Love Julie's writing! I am very PRO on edgy writing as to me, it is more realistic. Yes books like Fifty Shades bother me as IMHO that is NOT romance! Sex yes and sex sales but where is the love and romance? I haven't read the book, mind you, but from what I hear, I'm not missing much. To counter Fifty, I and other Pelican Book Group authors teamed up and put together a FREE weekly devotional: Red "in this devotional written by Pelican Book Group authors, discover that, while life may seem to be painted in multiple shades of gray, there is only one hue that restores body and soul and offers eternal life."

    I'd love to be entered into the contest to win Julie's book: pthib07 (that's zero) @ gmail.com

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    1. WOW, Pam, that is AWESOME about you and the Pelican Book authors teaming up to weekly devotional called "Red" ... LOVE the name! Very intriguing.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment as well, my friend -- means more than I can say coming from a respected peer.

      Hugs and good luck!
      Julie

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  14. Julie...how I love you. You wrote that beautifully. And I totally agree...I'm one of those women who really doesn't like reading 'Christian' romance (except yours...which goes without saying) because it seems so...(forgive me) watered down compared to life...as if it's apologizing for that amazing love God created between a man and woman that leads to marriage and a family. As romance author as well, I struggle with finding the fine line between far enough and too far in the passion area. With books like the 50 shades and many others that blend erotica with a mainstream 'hit' of passion that makes it seem less of the destructive anti-love, it's easy to want to write off all romance. Tossing out the baby with bathwater, so to say, but that's not a best course of action. As a woman, and a reader, I crave that type of romance that in many ways, reflects the Father's love for me. The unconditionality, the willing to go to extreme lengths to have me, the knowledge that I'm not replaceable...but beautiful, loved, wanted, desired and pursued. Books that captivate those particular traits grip me, and many others...it's what draws people to your daughters of Boston series because it accurately reflects that type of love...and love that is first manifested in our Heavenly Father. So in saying all this, as authors, readers and women of Christ, I think its a beautiful blessing to read about passionate love...especially when it reflects the covenant God made between a man and a woman, which is nothing but a reflection of the true love that comes from Christ. And there should be no reason to ever apologize for something so wonderful. After all, God made romance. :)

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    1. WOW, Kristin ... you just brought tears to my eyes, my friend -- talk about a "beautiful blessing"!! Thank you SO very much for your beautiful and heartfelt comment with which I TOTALLY agree!

      You said, "as a woman, and a reader, I crave that type of romance that in many ways, reflects the Father's love for me. The unconditionality, the willing to go to extreme lengths to have me, the knowledge that I'm not replaceable...but beautiful, loved, wanted, desired and pursued."

      Oh, preach it, my friend -- YES, YES, YES!!! That is exactly what I crave as well and what I set out to do in my books, so it blesses the socks off of me that you think my DOB series reflects that -- THANK YOU!!!

      We sound like we are definitely on the same wavelength, my friend, which is a great thing because the world needs more romance writers who write from that perspective, whether in the CBA or ABA, so you go, girl!!

      Hugs and thank you for taking the time to come by ... AND for reading my books!! :)

      Julie

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  15. I've just started A Passion Most Pure and can't put it down! pat at ptbradley dot com

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    1. WHOO-HOO, Patricia -- THANK YOU soooo much for taking a chance on it, girl!!

      And I don't know if you post reviews or not, but if you do, I wanted to let you know about a newsletter contest I have going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you're interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay? But if reviews are not your thing, NO WORRIES, okay? I'm just grateful you read my books in the first place!! :)

      Hugs and happy reading!!
      Julie

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  16. I forgot to answer the questions! I haven't read 50 Shades and have no desire to. And it really bothers me that a lot of young teenage girls think that the relationship in 50 Shades is normal. Inspirational Romantic suspense is my favorite genre.

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    1. Oh, Patricia, you nailed my thoughts exactly with, " And it really bothers me that a lot of young teenage girls think that the relationship in 50 Shades is normal."

      That is one of the saddest things about this awful trend -- it's setting young women up for heartbreak and demoralization, which just breaks my heart. Which is one of the reasons that I SO long to reach young girls like that, but unfortunately, most of them don't or won't read Inspy romance because they're used to the world's more "passionate" fare. I really long to help change that by giving them "passion with a purpose," and passion that will, hopefully, lead them to God.

      Hugs and good luck!!
      Julie

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  17. Julie, I have read all your books and loved them. I would say that your books are not smut at all. I did read the fifty shades books, hated them and only read them because most of my co-workers had and were talking about. Will never touch those type of books again. There is no substance and reality to any of those books.Your books have substance and depth that brings the stories to life so wonderfully. God has given you a wonderful gift of storytelling and a great love for Him that flows into your stories. Keep up the great work. I always keep an eye for your new books. I love Christian romance fiction. There are so many great authors in the category. I just love these books so much with the great stories that I can relate to. The stories show the love real love between two people and the relationship they find and have with God. Christian romance are a richer and captivating story than secular romance. I would encourage people to read the authors I have. I got my mom addicted and a few Christian coworkers on Christian authors. Julie, keep up the great work!!!
    Email: radyk2011@gmail.com

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    1. Aw, Rachel, thank you SO much for your kind words -- you've blessed me richly through them! And I couldn't agree with you more about Christian romance offering a "richer" and more "captivating story" than secular romance. Even if it's a sweet, unoffensive secular romance, the plain truth is that God is not a factor in it, and frankly, that makes it just plain empty for me.

      Thanks for coming by to encourage and bless me, and I hope I can bless you with a win!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  18. Julie, I love your writing and your style! I most especially like how you write your married couples. Whether they're young marrieds or hitched twenty years you portray their relationships the way God intended them to be: passionate, respectful and loving. We don't have a plethora of good examples of those these days. So don't stop sending me over to my air conditioner vent (or at this time of year in the mid-west, outside) to read one of your books! ;)

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    1. LOL, Jen ... you are TOO cute!! Gotta keep that fan handy, girl ... ;)

      Thank you SO much for your encouragement, my friend, and I especially like my sub stories about the married couples as well because God has taught me SO many great lessons in my own marriage (the hard way, I might add), that it just seems a shame not to pass them on, and fiction is how I do that. :) So I'm glad you like that part of my books as well. :)

      Hugs and happy reading and GOOD LUCK!!
      JULIE

      Delete
  19. Okay let's talk about these questions. 1) As to whether I am pro or con, if you are speaking in terms of Julie and her books, then that would be definitly PRO. She is by far one of my favorite romance writers.
    2) As for the 50 Shades of Gray; yes, it does concern me that so many will pour in to see the movie and spent hours reading the books. I haven't read them. A couple of co-workers were reading them and I picked up one and opened it and was totally shocked at what was on that page and that they thought they were great. I will stick to the same philosophy with the movie that I used with the book. I would not want Christ to return and catch me with that in my hand, so why would I want him to catch me watching it.
    3) My favorite genre . . . just about any/all Christian fiction, but within this market I like the edgy stuff the most, whether it is included in a mystery, romance, or historical. If it keeps me turning the page then I am in.

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    1. Sheryl!!! Soooo fun to see you here, my friend, and thank you so very much for your kind words!

      Great example about 50 Shades, that you would not want Christ to catch you, and frankly, that's really what's happened here for the most part, I think. The e-readers have made reading "mommy porn" popular because nobody can SEE what they are reading, so they won't get "caught" reading smut because that's basically all it is. Which is why I get pretty upset when reviewers refer to MY books as "smut." Sigh.

      And, Sheryl, I have your copy of DTLA sitting on my counter, and when I do my winner's mailings in one fell swoop like I do, you'll be getting a signed copy, okay?

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  20. I'm definitely pro, as long as you continue to hold to your assertion that there is nothing romantic about passion that goes against God's Word (adultery, premarital sex, etc.). I so respect that stand, especially with what's out there, including 50 Shades. I love romance, but it's ruined for me when all of that comes into play. Thanks for writing great romance while still maintaining Christian principles. And thanks for the giveaway! Danandlyndaedwards(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. Hey, Lynda, you said: " I love romance, but it's ruined for me when all of that comes into play."

      Oh, AMEN to that, my friend!! I once had a friend tell me I should read The Bridges of Madison County because it was one of the most romantic books she'd ever read. Excuse me? Since when is "adultery" romantic? Not to me, certainly, but apparently to quite a few women in the world who flock to that type of book or movie.

      Thanks for coming by to comment and enter, Lynda, and here's to a win!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  21. Julie, I have read all your books and loved them. I would say that your books are not smut at all. I did read the fifty shades books, hated them and only read them because most of my co-workers had and were talking about. Will never touch those type of books again. There is no substance and reality to any of those books.Your books have substance and depth that brings the stories to life so wonderfully. God has given you a wonderful gift of storytelling and a great love for Him that flows into your stories. Keep up the great work. I always keep an eye for your new books. I love Christian romance fiction. There are so many great authors in the category. I just love these books so much with the great stories that I can relate to. The stories show the love real love between two people and the relationship they find and have with God. Christian romance are a richer and captivating story than secular romance. I would encourage people to read the authors I have. I got my mom addicted and a few Christian coworkers on Christian authors. Julie, keep up the great work!!!
    Email: radyk2011@gmail.com

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    1. Hey, Rachel, this is a repeat of your comment above, so thank you for your persistence! Nora works a full-time job, so she's only able to accept posts before and after work, so sometimes people think the post didn't take and repeat it. I answered you above, so hop up there to check it out. Thank you for coming by AND for all your word of mouth to your coworkers on behalf of Christian fiction!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  22. In answer to your first question: I absolutely agree with you. I have never read your blog before today, but it will not be my last time. Your detractors have obviously never read Song of Solomon. cindywpratt@cox.net

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    1. Hey, Cindy, thank you SO much for taking the time to read my blog today, and it blesses me that you intend to continue. I do have a personal blog on which I post once weekly where sometimes it's a devotional and sometimes promotional depending upon what's on my mind that day, so you may want to check back through my previous blogs for more spiritual ones since most of them lately have been for contests and giveaways. Here's the link: http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/.

      Also, it sounds like you have never read my books before, so do I have a deal for you!! ;) The book I referenced in my blog above, A Passion Most Pure, is available for FREE DOWNLOAD right now, so I sure hope you consider downloading it. It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently has 349 five-star reviews, so here's the link if you are interested. If you like it, let me know, okay? And if you don ... uh, never mind. :)

      http://amzn.to/1alRt37

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  23. I'm thinking my favorite genre is romance. See, I love fantasy, science-fiction, dystopians, historical, modern-day, suspense, mysteries - almost every genre really. But if it doesn't come with a heavy dose of romance, it looses the "must-read-now" appeal. Yes, I'll still enjoy it. But when I weigh a romance-less book against something with a good romance, the romance always wins.

    That being said, over the past 10 years or so, I've been drifting away from Inspirational romances. I got tired of the heavy preaching for one. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home - to accept Christ in elementary school - and to have never really strayed from that faith, despite the ups & downs every walk has. So reading preachy, preachy "come-to-Christ" content got old fast and I'd had it up to here. Christian content was well & good but I needed meat to challenge my walk and wasn't getting it.

    Also, I wanted romance that reminded me of the butterflies & giddiness from back when my husband & I first met and began to be an "us". Realistic romance with tension and yearning and balancing those things with a Christian life. But I had read too many books whose main characters were meek innocents with no backbone and, apparently, no realistic biology. So I started reading more & more secular YA. Cleaner than a "romance novel" (as I don't want things to go THAT far) but not so insipid as "Christian romance".

    Somehow I ended up reading a few books recently that began to entice me back. Lisa Buffaloe's "Prodigal Nights" and "Promised to Another" by Laura V. Hilton. Then I discovered Melanie Dickerson's books. They all had the one thing I'd been missing - actual passion in the romance to go along with their faiths.

    After you pointed out that I must like the "sparks" I realized you were right. ;) And I started reading Love At Any Cost last night. This blog post only confirms what I already know - that you are about to become one of my top favorite authors. So don't be too discouraged. For those readers who like tame, mild romance - there's plenty of authors out there for them. You are helping to fill a void in the Inspirational romance genre and I for one, 150% appreciate it. Thank you!

    (On a side note, I just have to say I am right there with you on the heights thing! One of the most terrifying moments of my life was when I let my husband talk me into attempting to ski. First there was the lift - oh, my heart! And then we accidentally got on the wrong trail and ski patrol ended up having to rescue me. (Those little sleds they drag behind their snowmobiles? They do not make one feel secure. At all!) And I once let myself get talking into crossing a rickety swinging/suspension bridge across a hot springs river. The wind picked up halfway back on my return trip and I had a literal meltdown right there in the middle - my husband had to literally frog-march me off. I don't let myself get talked into "pushing" myself anymore. Nosirree)

    kawaii (dot) katers (at) gmail.com

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    1. Oh, Sparksofember ... you have NO idea just how much I appreciate your comment -- WOW!!

      You said you wanted "realistic romance with tension and yearning and balancing those things with a Christian life."

      OH. MY. GOODNESS!! I may just change my tagline from "Passion with a Purpose" to that, my friend, because that nails it to the wall exactly what I have been trying to do!!" Practical application of God's Word in an amoral society. Thank you SO MUCH for your incredible comment, truly, especially given the reading journey you've taken from secular to Inspirational fiction!!

      You also said: "For those readers who like tame, mild romance - there's plenty of authors out there for them. You are helping to fill a void in the Inspirational romance genre and I for one, 150% appreciate it."

      Okay, I'm sorry, but those lines actually brought tears to my eyes, because THAT is exactly how I feel as well. I absolutely believe in a broad spectrum of Inspy romance -- from the most conservative Amish books to the sweetest prairie romance or proper Jane Austen-type novels. But there hasn't been a lot of the edgier types of romantic fiction for those women out there whose reading habits are currently mired in the secular market, and I LONG ... let me repeat this, please ... I LONG to broaden the circle of Christian influence in romantic fiction because our world sorely needs it. And if "passion" is going to get their attention, then let's give them Godly passion, both for romance and for the God Who created it!!

      Okay ... I'll step down off my soapbox now, but girl, your comment lit the fire, and I cannot thank you enough for your support and encouragement.

      One last thing, "Spark" ... since you have already read Love at Any Cost, I hope you will consider entering a newsletter contest I have going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you're interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay?

      But if reviews are not your thing, NO WORRIES, okay? I'm just SO grateful you have started to read my books in the first place!! :)

      Hugs and HAPPY READING!!
      Julie

      Delete
  24. I'm thinking my favorite genre is romance. See, I love fantasy, science-fiction, dystopians, historical, modern-day, suspense, mysteries - almost every genre really. But if it doesn't come with a heavy dose of romance, it looses the "must-read-now" appeal. Yes, I'll still enjoy it. But when I weigh a romance-less book against something with a good romance, the romance always wins.

    That being said, over the past 10 years or so, I've been drifting away from Inspirational romances. I got tired of the heavy preaching for one. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home - to accept Christ in elementary school - and to have never really strayed from that faith, despite the ups & downs every walk has. So reading preachy, preachy "come-to-Christ" content got old fast and I'd had it up to here. Christian content was well & good but I needed meat to challenge my walk and wasn't getting it.

    Also, I wanted romance that reminded me of the butterflies & giddiness from back when my husband & I first met and began to be an "us". Realistic romance with tension and yearning and balancing those things with a Christian life. But I had read too many books whose main characters were meek innocents with no backbone and, apparently, no realistic biology. So I started reading more & more secular YA. Cleaner than a "romance novel" (as I don't want things to go THAT far) but not so insipid as "Christian romance".

    Somehow I ended up reading a few books recently that began to entice me back. Lisa Buffaloe's "Prodigal Nights" and "Promised to Another" by Laura V. Hilton. Then I discovered Melanie Dickerson's books. They all had the one thing I'd been missing - actual passion in the romance to go along with their faiths.

    After you pointed out that I must like the "sparks" I realized you were right. ;) And I started reading Love At Any Cost last night. This blog post only confirms what I already know - that you are about to become one of my top favorite authors. So don't be too discouraged. For those readers who like tame, mild romance - there's plenty of authors out there for them. You are helping to fill a void in the Inspirational romance genre and I for one, 150% appreciate it. Thank you!

    (On a side note, I just have to say I am right there with you on the heights thing! One of the most terrifying moment of my life was when I let my husband talk me into attempting to ski. First there was the lift - oh, my heart! And then we accidentally got on the wrong trail and ski patrol ended up having to rescue me. (Those little sleds they drag behind their snowmobiles? Do not make one feel secure. At all!) And I once let myself get talking into crossing a rickety swinging/suspension bridge across a hot springs river. The wind picked up halfway back on my return trip and I had a literal meltdown right there in the middle - my husband had to literally frog-march me off. I don't let myself get talked into "pushing" myself anymore.)

    kawaii (dot) katers (at) gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm thinking my favorite genre is romance. See, I love fantasy, science-fiction, dystopians, historical, modern-day, suspense, mysteries - almost every genre really. But if it doesn't come with a heavy dose of romance, it looses the "must-read-now" appeal. Yes, I'll still enjoy it. But when I weigh a romance-less book against something with a good romance, the romance always wins.

    That being said, over the past 10 years or so, I've been drifting away from Inspirational romances. I got tired of the heavy preaching for one. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home - to accept Christ in elementary school - and to have never really strayed from that faith, despite the ups & downs every walk has. So reading preachy, preachy "come-to-Christ" content got old fast and I'd had it up to here. Christian content was well & good but I needed meat to challenge my walk and wasn't getting it.

    Also, I wanted romance that reminded me of the butterflies & giddiness from back when my husband & I first met and began to be an "us". Realistic romance with tension and yearning and balancing those things with a Christian life. But I had read too many books whose main characters were meek innocents with no backbone and, apparently, no realistic biology. So I started reading more & more secular YA. Cleaner than a "romance novel" (as I don't want things to go THAT far) but not so insipid as "Christian romance".

    Somehow I ended up reading a few books recently that began to entice me back. Lisa Buffaloe's "Prodigal Nights" and "Promised to Another" by Laura V. Hilton. Then I discovered Melanie Dickerson's books. They all had the one thing I'd been missing - actual passion in the romance to go along with their faiths.

    After you pointed out that I must like the "sparks" (I'm sparksofember) I realized you were right. ;) And I started reading Love At Any Cost last night. This blog post only confirms what I already know - that you are about to become one of my top favorite authors. So don't be too discouraged. For those readers who like tame, mild romance - there's plenty of authors out there for them. You are helping to fill a void in the Inspirational romance genre and I for one, 150% appreciate it. Thank you!

    (On a side note, I just have to say I am right there with you on the heights thing! One of the most terrifying moment of my life was when I let my husband talk me into attempting to ski. First there was the lift - oh, my heart! And then we accidentally got on the wrong trail and ski patrol ended up having to rescue me. (Those little sleds they drag behind their snowmobiles? Do not make one feel secure. At all!) And I once let myself get talking into crossing a rickety swinging/suspension bridge across a hot springs river. The wind picked up halfway back on my return trip and I had a literal meltdown right there in the middle - my husband had to literally frog-march me off. I don't let myself get talked into "pushing" myself anymore.)

    kawaii (dot) katers (at) gmail.com

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    1. LOL, Lady Spark, I actually think your comment was so fabulous that it DESERVES to be printed three times in the comments, but I'm guessing you didn't think it took, and I understand that because I thought the same thing about mine. But Nora works full-time and is only able to accept comments in the morning and then at night, so sometimes commenters think it didn't take, but it did! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  26. I am definitely PRO on romance, especially after reading "A Light in the Window", it made me think of how it must have been when my father courted my mother. It was one of the best romance [CHRISTIAN] books I have had the Pleasure to read in a very long time. I felt myself struggling along with the main character, and crying with her as well, but the one more important thing, that I feel should be said about Julie's writing, is that you can still have honest to goodness romance, without having to read pages and pages of nothing but filth! Julie takes us into the story, where we can experience all the wonders of love and romance. I will always remain a loyal reader because her books are just down right awesome! I do not intend to read "50 Shades of Gray", not because I have been influenced in any way but because I enjoyed reading her book so much it made me want to go out and purchase another one.... My favorite genre I would say without a doubt it's definitely worth taking the timeto pamper yourself with a great story. God Bless you Julie.

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    1. Oh, Babbie, your comment absolutely blesses the socks off me, which is saying something because it's 11 degrees in St. Louis right now, so I don't take my socks off for just anything!! ;)

      Seriously, thank you SO much for reading ALITW and I don't know if you were able to get the next book in the O'Connor saga, A Passion Most Pure, but it's available for FREE DOWNLOAD right now, so I do hope you check it out. A Passion Most Pure won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently had 345 five-star reviews, so here's the link if you want to download it: http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Most-Pure-Daughters-Boston-ebook/dp/B...

      And I don't know if you post reviews or not, but if you do, I wanted to let you know about a newsletter contest I have going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you're interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay? But if reviews are not your thing, NO WORRIES, okay? I'm just grateful you read my books in the first place!! :)

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

      Julie

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  27. I love your books and do not feel that they cross any lines. I am worried about the fifty shades of grey phenomenon and as a christian and a library and information technician do not know what to do about it. Prayer and recommending christian fiction where I can is all that I have done thus far. Oh, my favorite genre is historical romances. csaunderson123@gmail.com

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    1. Miss C, thank you SO much for your kind comment! I SO appreciate the support you give Christian fiction as a library and info tech, my friend -- in a way you are on the front lines because you can steer people to Christian fiction that can help change their lives, so THANK YOU!!

      I would love to send you a signed book, so here's to a win!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  28. Just last week I shared with my grown daughter that I wished when I had married (30 yrs ago) that someone would have suggested some books about passion in marriage so that I would have known how to proceed. I just needed a Christian training manual My whole life I knew I was supposed to wait for marriage so anything beforehand would be a big NO NO. Then all of a sudden it's a YES YES because I'm married! Do we think because we're Christians we have different feelings and likes about romance than a non Christian? Your books teach us that we can be emotional and romantic in our lives. God's love within marriage is should be the most passionate of all!

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

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    1. Melody!! Thanks for coming by, my friend, and boy, are you right about that!!

      That's one of the reasons I really longed to write my own books because yes, I love romance between the young hero and heroine, but what about us older married gals? As a Baby Boomer, I got tired of the young girls having all the fun I decided to do something about it by ALWAYS having a second-tier romance in my books with the mom and dad or a widow and her brother-in-law! ;) That way I can impart in the married couple's lives all the lessons God has taught me in my marriage, which has been SO fun because we married gals know A LOT about love and relationships, right?

      Thanks for coming by, girlfriend, and GOOD LUCK in the contest!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  29. My favorite genre is anything Christian! I mainly prefer historicals, but I also enjoy a good contemporary or(depending on my mood) suspense novel. I choose Christian fiction because I feel that there is hope within the pages, rather than in a secular novel, where there isn't. I recently had to read some novels for college (3 out of the 4 of them being secular), and by the time I finished them, I was so saddened to see that there was no hope whatsoever. With books like Julie, I am encouraged and blessed to see that she keeps Jesus as the main focus. =)

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    lubell1106(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Elyssa!! Here you are, and wouldn't that be something if you won this giveaway too! :)

      You said, "I choose Christian fiction because I feel that there is hope within the pages, rather than in a secular novel, where there isn't."

      Beautifully said, my friend, and SOOO incredibly true. In secular romance, without God in the center, all too often it's just lust, not love, and it leaves one empty. I tried to relay that in A Passion Denied where Lizzie describes romance without God in the middle, as "nothing but lust—heat that burns but doesn’t keep you warm. A flash of fire that leaves you feeling empty and dirty and cold, like charred remains.”

      Thanks for coming by, my friend, and for your support!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  30. Hello, dear friend!

    What a good post! I sense your intensity and yearning to write what God has called you to write, with integrity and honesty. Although I'm not considered a romance writer, but an historical fiction author, I've encountered the same conundrum whether to write honest, down-to-earth stories, or sugar coat them with unrealistic expectations and endings. My agent says my books are too Christian for the general market and too edgy for the Christian market. LOL! That's a tricky place to be :)

    But, like you, when I receive letters from those who had given up on God, or an atheist who read "Sun King" and told her friend, "Maybe there is something to this God stuff after all," it makes it all worth it.

    You go, girl! I posted the quote below on my FB page today. (Don't know where it came from.) It kind of summarizes where I am these days. A fresh wind of the Spirit is blowing...

    "Get your fire back. It's not over until God says it's over. Start believing again. Start dreaming again. Start pursuing again what God put in your heart."

    Love you, girl!

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    1. GOLDEN!! Wow, girl, SO great to see you here, my friend!!

      It's SO interesting to hear that your agent said your books are too Christian for the general market and too edgy for the Christian market." Ironically, that's EXACTLY what my agent told me as well, so YES, my friend, it is a VERY tricky place to be indeed, but you've managed very nicely, girl! :)

      And, WOW, what a quote!! A "fresh wind of the Spirit," indeed, a true confirmation of what's happening if I ever heard it. 2014 is supposed to be a year of blessing for Christians, and a year of drawing closer to God than ever before, and I'm ready, girlfriend, how 'bout you??!!

      Thanks for sharing, Golden! Will you be at ACFW this year, I hope?

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  31. Oh, Julie, thank you for sharing this! I write on the edge but it's about real life and how our sinful choices destroy us and how God can, if we let him, step in and fix the unfixable. Over and over it feels like CBA doesn't want that because it's too honest, too real. But I feel called to write it. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going, even when the negative creeps in.

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    1. Hey, Sally, you wouldn't have a passion for that, my friend, if God hadn't put it there in the first place, and that's what I tell myself as well! So we need to stay true to our calling and follow His path. I plan to -- how 'bout you? ;)

      Hugs!!

      Julie

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  32. I am not surprised with the success of Fifty Shades of Gray as it is a progression of the mainstreaming of subcultures that have been taboo in the past. There’s nothing new under the sun. These activities have existed, they just haven’t been accessible to everyone in the form of a book (Madonna’s Sex book had special circulation requirements). Culture in general, and especially in post-modern times has thrown out meaning in the societal/religious “rules” about sexual behavior and now we’re seeing it available to everyone (e.g. BDSM in Fifty Shades of Gray, CSI’s Lady Heather, Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back). What does it matter what Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters do? I’m definitely worried that these standards are being eroded.
    The only way we can counter this is by taking a stand that each life has worth and that there is a value to glorifying God in every area of our lives. We have to love our neighbor and help them out of sinful lifestyles by pointing them towards God and by showing them how destructive those lifestyles are.
    On the flip side, we have the responsibility to convey that there are fulfilling, healthy elements to relationships (especially marriages) that are within God’s will. I would even argue we have the freedom to convey some of what those are – Song of Solomon can be a starting point for this discussion. The next questions involve whether or not visual, audio, or textual descriptions of sex or arousal have any place in Christianity. Do they cause your brother to stumble, even to the point of committing adultery, by invoking imagery in their mind? What constitutes “art”? Must Christian depictions of such be limited to instructional times (Family Life Conferences)? Tough questions that haven’t been addressed enough in mainstream Christianity (Schaeffer touched on them). Maybe it’s about time …

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    1. WOW, Gil ... you could teach a course, my friend, you know that? You're not a teacher or professor, are you? If not, you should be -- that was incredibly deep and articulate and SO very true!!

      You said, "We have the responsibility to convey that there are fulfilling, healthy elements to relationships (especially marriages) that are within God’s will."

      Oh, PREACH IT, my friend! If the Church doesn't convey these things to the world, who will??? Instead, all too often, we cluster together in our own little religious circles, enjoying the fruits of a life in Christ (in our relationships, our marriage, our homes) without regard for those who not only don't have that, but don't want to listen to it either. How do you reach people like that? In varying degrees, I think, but reach them we must!

      "Tough questions that haven’t been addressed enough in mainstream Christianity," indeed, and I thank you for broaching some here. You're a provocative thinker, and we could use a lot more of those in the Church, my friend.

      Thanks SO much for coming by!

      Kind regards,
      Julie

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  33. Love your books, love you, keep writing--God has anointed you. Big hugs! Don't enter me, I have your lovely book, reviewed it, and have given away copies!

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    1. Oh, Carrie, you sweet thing ... you probably single-handedly keep me in business!! LOL. Uh, you and a sweet girl named Bonnie Roof ... ;)

      Love you back, my sweet friend, and am SO grateful our paths have crossed!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  34. Hi, Julie!

    I, actually, have two (2) favorite book genres ( I almost never read anything that isn't in the Christian field): Historical Romance, and Biblical Fiction. I hated studying history in school, but love being able to read for enjoyment, and inspiration - while learning tidbits of history. And - I love learning more about the bible through biblical fiction, and taking biblical characters and infusing their stories with those of more contemporary characters - both make the bible more "live" to me.

    Regardless of how much it has been praised, I would be going against my Christian morals - to read 50 Shades of Gray. Allowing God to have control of my life - changed my entire outlook, and desires, as to the things I read.

    That being said - I love reading Christian romance novels, full of passion, when they are channeled in the right direction, with God as the center, as yours are. God is the creator of love, passion, and romance - a successful, happy, Christian marriage requires Christ in the center, along with healthy doses of love, passion, romance, and other important elements. I enjoy books that address romantic issues of Christians, rather than "push them under the carpet" as if they didn't exist. Christians are human, and have human problems - it is inspiring to see how God helps them resolve their issues.

    Julie, I hope you never stop writing Christian romance novels filled with "passion with a purpose" - thank you for allowing God to use your writing gift to inspire me, and give me many hours of reading enjoyment. May He bless you many times over the blessings you, and your books have been to me. Your books ALWAYS inspire me to draw nearer to Him, and I wish they had been around when I was married, and "searching" for THE way. But - I'm grateful for valuable lessons learned along the way that DID draw me back to Him!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Bonnie!! Are your ears ringing?? LOL ... I just talked about you to Carrie up above and didn't even realize you were next!!

      LOVE your statement that "Christians are human, and have human problems - it is inspiring to see how God helps them resolve their issues."

      Oh, YES, YES, YES!!! That's one of the things I love MOST about Christian fiction, that we can see in a very practical way just HOW big our God is and CAN BE in our own issues and lives!! I'm not much of a nonfiction reader, so fiction is HOW God reaches and teaches me A LOT. And Jesus must have thought it was pretty effective, too, since he mostly taught in parables, right?

      Thanks for coming by, my friend -- as always, you are a true blessing!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  35. I'm pro romance and passion, I just worry that it gets out of hand. I actually love reading romance and believe that love and passion IS a God-given gift. I guess, as a young adult, I am trying to figure out where my convictions lie. I'm concerned about where the line is drawn, you know? A book doesn't have to be full of sex in order for one to develop lustful thinking.
    But, like you said, Song of Solomon is full of passion. It's also God's word-- being words of pure passion.
    So where does one know what to read and what to write when there are so many convictions out there? I don't want to be edgy just because I want to witness. I believe that the Lord turns hearts-- it's not because of me, but He does work through me and in the hearts of those He calls for salvation. I don't want to look like the world so much that unbelievers can't tell the difference between me and them.
    Yet, I do want them to know that I need Jesus too.

    And after all that being said, my favorite genre is historical romance (...and suspenseful too! Gotta have our "super" heros sometimes too ;) ).

    Danielle D.
    (P.S. I put my e-mail as who I was commenting as, so please let me know if it doesn't work, and I'll give my e-mail.)

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    1. Danielle, you sound like a very wise young lady, my friend, and I admire your stance -- stay true to yourself and to where God is leading you! God has given us a conscience (and the Holy Spirit) to be our guide, and each one of us has to follow His leading for our own lives, and it sounds to me like you are well on your way, my friend. :)

      Thanks for coming by and good luck in the contest!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  36. We talked about this. I think your books are very real life situations. And they help us to see hoe to deal with them in a Godly manner. So I think it is great they are out there. I want my daughters to read them and know passion is from God, but to be reinforced what I have told them, it should be saved for marriage and can be with God's help. And only that way. I think your books help us to see that. Thanks for writing. Christians are human and filled with feelings and passion is one of them! Try reading Song of Solomon and one will see that!
    I have no desire to read Fifty Shades of Grey. But reading your books did spark a desire to want to have a more passionate relationship with my husband. To talk more, be closer. Thanks for stepping out on that scary ledge Julie and being obedient.
    Nancycooks4u (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Nance!!! Thanks for coming by, my friend, and I already told you just HOW much it meant to me what you said here:

      "But reading your books did spark a desire to want to have a more passionate relationship with my husband. To talk more, be closer."

      That absolutely blessed me to no end, truly, because that is SUCH an important part of what I am trying to do here!! God created passion and He intended for it to be a vital and precious part of marriage, but the world has tainted it for their own purposes, unfortunately, by abusing it within marriage and out. So when I get a note from a dear friend like you, who tells me that something I wrote in one of my books inspired passion in your own marriage -- WOW!! I am grinning for sure!!

      God bless you, girl, and keep those home fires burning warm with the flame of God's love and passion!! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  37. GREAT post and interview! I always love learning more about you, Julie!! Couldn't help but notice that GWTW pic above you in that picture by the desk...!!! *wink* You are doing great things with your writing and I KNOW you are following God's plan. Keep going, we love you AND your stories!!!

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    1. LOL, Amber, and trust me -- those are only a tiny part of the GWTW paraphernalia I have at my house!! For years I would only drink coffee out of my Rhett and Scarlett mugs on weekends. Sometimes I felt like Scarlett, and other times I wanted to drink out of Rhett. :) Somehow it always made my weekends better ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  38. Great interview! I actually love a variety of genre. I think the way you write is great..

    wwchildren at gmail dot com

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    1. Lani!!! Hey, girl, how are you doing?? And thank you, my friend, for your kind comment -- it makes me smile, just like YOU always do!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  39. I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey although its sales are astronomical. I do not think that romance has to go against Christian values to show a love story with edgy scenes. I love reading your books, Julie. Although some consider them 'edgy', I consider them an encouragement to strive for a fun and romantic relationship with my husband. There is sexual tension that has to be given to God so that we can have a great relationship with God and our spouses. Thank you for being brave and stepping out on the ledge.

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    1. Thanks, Katharine, for your sweet comment, and like I told Nance above, I LOVE the following statement you made about my books: "Although some consider them 'edgy', I consider them an encouragement to strive for a fun and romantic relationship with my husband."

      YAY!!! That's what Godly romance can do ... make us sigh with passion for our hubbies, and I'm sorry -- that just blesses me to no end to hear that!! :)

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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  40. I definitely believe you can have passion without the smut! We are passionate people and if you are writing about people in a relationship that aren't passionate, then I think that would come across as a stilted relationship or at the very least, not true to life. I haven't read the 50 shades and don't plan to (and I didn't read the Twilight series that was said to inspire 50 shades). While there is passion, Christian women absolutely need to guard their hearts and minds against mommy porn and focus more on a Biblical relationship.

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    1. Dandydo ... you are absolutely right in your statement that, "While there is passion, Christian women absolutely need to guard their hearts and minds against mommy porn and focus more on a Biblical relationship."

      YES!! A wise statement if ever I heard one, my friend, and part of the Biblical relationship God intended is passion in marriage, as He so clearly demonstrates in Song of Solomon!! So really, God was the first romance writer, you might say ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Looks like I forgot to leave my email address: dandydew at gmail dot com :)

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  41. I'm unashamed now to be more open with my husband in our relationship and I'm a passionate person, your books in a Godly way helped me to see that that's okay. Thanks for being so courageous! I think there are women who have read 50 shades that may have done it in secret or felt bad about it afterwards, because it didn't honor God. Your Books do and they have "Sizzle" not "Smut"!

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    1. Oh, Melissa, when you told me that prior to this, it just blessed me SO much and it blesses me now all over again, girl!! "Honoring God" is the key phrase here, and I can't help but think romance written in light of His precepts and HONORING His precepts is one of the many ways to put a smile on His face ... as is a marriage where a man and a woman are passionate for each other AND for God!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  42. My email is : mizzougirl07@gmail.com :)

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  43. I love romance books, but I don't think I would add 50 Shades of Grey to that category. In my mind there is romance, and then there is erotica. 50 Shades is erotica, not romance. To be quite honest, I only read Inspirational (or Christian) Romance anyways. Mainstream romance almost always crosses the line.

    heatherhart84 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Hey, Heather, I am SO with you!! Erotica is not "romance" in my opinion either. Romance implies love, but erotica always implies lust to me, a HUGE difference!! :)

      And I have to agree with you that "mainstream romance almost always crosses the line." Last year when I judged the Ritas, EVERY SINGLE BOOK I judged (and I had 8) had sex before marriage in it in varying degrees, and I was pretty ticked off about that. The Ritas sort of strong-arm authors to judge if they want their own books to make the cut-off in the contest, so a lot of us do judge, but it's murder for the inspy authors like myself when we get the smutty stuff. Gosh, and some 1-star reviewers think MY books are smutty!! Good night ... I would be pablum in the secular market!!!

      Good luck and hugs,
      Julie

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  44. Well said Julie! I don't need to be entered. I just wanted you to know that I support you and love reading your works of fiction.

    Stacie
    Livonia, Mi

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  45. Sorry about the triple post. Grr. I wasn't sure my posts under my wordpress profile were taking. It would seem to go through and then seem to reset. Once I posted with my google account, I got the little "this post will appear later" comment. And, of course, I can't delete them now. I always seem to have trouble with blogger - couldn't reply up above either, had to reply down at the bottom or not at all.

    Anyway, I'm glad you liked my comment(s), Julie. :) I went and signed up for the newsletter and will get to work on that review. Reviews always take me hours to write - I write & edit & rewrite like it's a term paper! But I will get it done soon as I can! (glad I have a while! lol)

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    1. LOL, LADY SPARK ... do NOT kill yourself on that review, darlin' because short works JUST fine, trust me! :) Be sure to let me know, though, so I can give you points in the contest, okay?

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  46. Aw, Stacie, BLESS YOU, my friend -- I can't tell you HOW much your support means to me, truly!

    Have a great weekend and HAPPY READING!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  47. I love Christian romance they are clean romantic fun reads. And I love love love Julie's books. thanks for the chance to win

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot[ com

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  48. ABS!! Sooo good to see you here, my friend, and I'm anxious to see what you think of DTLA, so GOOD LUCK in the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  49. Julie!!! LOVE this post, Lady!!! I am SO with you on the purpose of your passionate writing! You go! It's why I write, too. We want to promote healthy, God ordained, God honoring, passionate relationships. You write passionate romance and I write life-changing romance - both with the purpose of transforming lives. I say all of this to say, be encouraged! You are NOT alone! You're passion is a touchy subject and my dealing with/overcoming abuse is touchy - two things the Christian market has been shy about for too long.

    1.) Are you pro or con, and if so, why?

    Obviously, I am PRO-edgy!!!! We need to meet readers where they are. With fiction that reflects real life and real life issues!

    2.) Since “romance” is the top-selling genre in the world with $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 (RWA statistics), does the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon worry you and if so, how do you think Christians should counter it?

    This does concern me. Very much! Our society has abused s e x to the point that Christian woman are made to feel slutty if they enjoy their spouse... as if the enjoyment of it is sinful. Or that if they don't enjoy their spouse, something is wrong with their marriage and they need to find a new spouse who excites them. What we so easily forget is that marriage is the ONLY place where you are FREE to ENJOY it! S E X is not sinful unless outside of marriage. God made it for husband and wife to enjoy together. It's to be a picture of our union with Christ. Jesus wants a passionate intimacy with his bride, and marriage is supposed to reflect just how intimate he wants to be with us. We are so turned around in our culture. It's as if the only place people get excited is outside of marriage. This is so anti-Gospel! We need to revolutionize S E X and marriage, and bring it back to where it's supposed to be. If we can help that along through our writing, let's go for it!!! All Christians need to take a hard look at this issue and reclaim the blessings of the marriage bed, and show the glory of the Gospel through it. Not in a weird voyeuristic sort of way. o.O But through happy, healthy marriages filled with passion for each other and Jesus.

    3.) What’s your favorite genre and why?

    Romance, of course! God-honoring romance like Julie Lessman writes! :D

    I am a follower of this blog and my e-mail addy is:
    lr.mullin at live.com

    Great post!!! :D

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  50. LINNETTE!!! You made it, and I am SOOOO glad, my friend, because your comment is EXCELLENT!!

    LOVE the lines, "We need to meet readers where they are. With fiction that reflects real life and real life issues!"

    Oh, PREACH IT, GIRLFRIEND!! I couldn't agree more, especially with your statement that "We are so turned around in our culture. It's as if the only place people get excited is outside of marriage."

    Unfortunately, SO true, and it's all because sin is seductive, and it's seduced our entire society into believing that sex is only sexy when it's elicit in some way, which is why God-honoring passion like you and I want to write is ALL the more critical today. Kinda like fighting fire with Godly fire ... ;)

    Thanks for coming by, my friend, and you go, girl!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  51. 1) I don't mind "edgy" as long as the ultimate point of the story points back to Christ.
    2) Haven't read "50 Shades" doubtful I will. I don't want to criticize it on here say.
    3) My favorite genre is mystery/suspense. I love figuring it out along with the protagonist.

    Thanks for the give away!
    hollymag*at*gmail*com

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    1. Hey, Holly ... I don't write mystery/suspense, but I guarantee you I will KEEP you in suspense with my books, since I always plant a shock surprise at the end. Your name looks familiar, so I'm thinking you have read my books, but if not, I encourage you to check out my first book, A Passion Most Pure, which is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD. It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently has 355 five-star reviews, so hopefully it's not a dog. Here's the link -- I hope you check it out!

      http://bit.ly/1e3D9wP

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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  52. My favorite genre(s) are Christian Historical and Amish. As for "Fifty Shades of Gray", I have never even had a desire to read it! ! ! ! !

    Thank you for the chance to win your book.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Good for you, Wendy. Me either, but from what I've heard, we're not missing anything. :)

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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  53. No need to enter me in the drawing as I already have this book and love it. Julie is a terrific author. One of my favorites. Thanks for featuring her on your blog.

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    1. SANDRA!!! I always get a big ole grin when your sweet face pops up, my friend -- thank you SO much for taking the time to come support me. You are a true blessing!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  54. My first introduction to Mrs. Lessman and her book was reading a similar blog post, but I was still surprised of how "passionate" her books were at first (compared to anything else I had read at the time). Being older now and having read books by other authors such as Marylu Tyndall and Deeanne Gist, I think she and those other authors have a good balance on that line. I'd say I'm pro-edgy because I think that Christian fiction deserves to have a broad range of romance. Ten years ago, I made a commitment to save my first kiss for my future husband. I haven't every had a boyfriend yet, so it's been easy so far. Other than reading and seeing the romantic relationships of others at a distance, I don't really have a frame of reference for love and attraction ... I think authors like Mrs. Lessman portray the temptations and struggles in a way that makes me think, "Yes, I'm waiting for God to guide me, show me who He has waiting for me ... but what would I do if someone took an interest in me? What if I was attracted to him? How would you keep God at the center of your relationship when your feelings and emotions are going crazy?" My favorite part of Mrs. Lessman's books is the romance between her married couples --passionate, wonderful love as it should be in context of a God-ordained marriage ... it seems so far away for me, but reading her books made me realize I don't want to settle for less. =)

    Ah, 50 Shades of Grey ... as others have mentioned, erotica and romance are two totally different things! Once as a reader judge, I had to read a couple of secular romances ... for the most part it was fine, but I had to flip pass a bedroom scene in a Harlequin novella ... if I couldn't stomach one scene in a general market romance, I don't think I want to imagine what's in erotica. Even with my limited knowledge of the secular market, I have to say that those who think that Christian fiction authors are writing "smut" are ... grossly misinformed. =P I don't know how 50 Shades could be countered, except for maybe through discussion and dialog with others ... What about it interests them? Does that change their expectation of love? Does sex = love? Would you want your daughter reading this?

    My favorite genre ... I'll read almost anything, but I usually tend to stay in the Christian fiction realm ... In general, I like medieval-based fantasy and historical novels the best.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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    1. Gosh, LDK ... I am SO very proud of you for the stance you've taken, and I always tell my daughter that "God honors those who honor Him," so He WILL honor you for your obedience and your commitment to Him, I promise!

      And that makes me smile about the romance between the married couples being your favorite part because it's mine too! You know why? Because it IS possible to have that kind of wonderful marriage like Marcy and Patrick and the others because I've experienced first hand in my own marriage, so I know it can happen with God in the center. I'm sure you've heard me say that Marcy and Patrick's marriage is based on my hubby's and mine, so that's how I know. And I'm praying the very same thing for you RIGHT NOW, so you go, girl!!

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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    2. I can't decide which is my favorite so I will have to say that I love both Christian historical romance and Christian suspense (I love a good mystery!). I really love anything that keeps my attention and makes it hard to put the book down. I'm known for reading an entire book in a day because I can't put them down and it drives my husband nuts, haha.

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  55. WHEW, SARAH ... I was wondered historical romance wouldn't make the cut, girlfriend, so THANK YOU!!

    Good luck and here's to a win!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  56. I love a good Christian romance because I know it will be interesting and the words will be proper for a Christian lady to read! Shelia Hall sheliarha64@yahoo.com

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    1. Me, too, SHELIA, so here's hoping I can send you a signed copy of one of mine!!

      GOOD LUCK!!
      Julie

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  57. I like Christian romance...books free of lust..and trashy language. I have yet to read a book of yours yet...so I couldn't tell you if I consider it edgy or not. I'll be glad to have the privilege and honest in my opinion! :)

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  58. Look forward too seeing if I consider you edgy. I posted but forgot email! ewe_r_merritt(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  59. Hi, R. MERR ... I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of my "passion with a purpose" style writing as well.

    And guess what? NOW you can check it out for FREE because book 1 in my Irish family saga, A Passion Most Pure, is currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD, so I'd love to see you give it a shot. It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and has 361 five-star reviews.

    OR ... you can check out the prequel to that family saga which is even "sweeter" than the above book, A Light in the Window, which as won three awards and currently has 128 five-star reviews. My artist hubby did a great video for it, so I hope you take a peek at http://bit.ly/18ivWEY.

    Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  60. I'm way late but I love this post! I wrote my book and was rejected eight ways from Sunday because it was too sensual for tradtional Christian romance but too Christian for traditional mainstream romance--among other things.

    I did not grow up in the church and maybe that's why I also see value in reaching readers where they are. I understand how people come to God in ways devout Christians can't imagine. I can't speak the language of devout, I only know the language of a sinner who's trying to be a good person, even if she lusts, has a drink or drops the f-bomb along the way. Thus, my stories reflect my skewed perspective of inspiration for those readers like me.

    Thank you for letting me vent :-)

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