Friday, November 20, 2009

My Success Story by Julie Lessman

Both Dawn and I have hosted today's guest on our individual blogs, but more than that, we have become friends with Julie. She inspires us, supports us, prays for us, and we return the favor. May her story of publication and winning awards encourage you this Fortifying Friday.

My Success Story
Julie Lessman

God, help me … when Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner. You see, Gone With the Wind captured me like no other book had done, and at the age of twelve, I immediately set out to write what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere, but I did write 150 pages of a story that became the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

Fast forward some forty years later—I’m sitting in a beauty parlor reading a Newsweek magazine cover article about how Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and a little voice said, “It’s time to finish your book.”

So I did. Uh … unfortunately the “little voice” forgot to mention how difficult publication would be. Those who attended the 2005 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) may remember the poor slob who waved her hands wildly in the back of the room when asked who had the most rejections in a year. I won hands-down with 19 and went on to garner a total of 45 in six years. Even my agent, Natasha Kern, blanched a bit when she signed me, realizing after the ink was dry just how many times I’d been rejected. I believe the word she used was “daunting.” But apparently not too daunting for her—she landed me a 3-book contract six months later.

When A Passion Most Pure won Debut Book of the year at the ACFW conference this year, I may as well been stunned by a Taser. There was no way I expected to win, but it certainly drives home a powerful message for every aspiring author out there—although 45 publishers/agents may say “no” … it only takes one to say “yes.”

The Bible says to take it “one day (or one step) at a time, so here are the steps I took on the road to publication. May they help you in your dream to write for Him.

1.) Join ACFW, FHL (Faith, Hope & Love) and RWA (Romance Writers of America) both to connect with like-minded writers and to learn your craft.

2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.

3.) Join a critique group (you can do that through ACFW).

4.) Study writing books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, AND invest in a great thesaurus like The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!).

5.) Enter contests for feedback, growth, confidence, to network and to get your name out there.

6.) Frequent websites/blogs that deal with writing/getting published such as The Seekers.

7.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.

8.) Last but not least? PRAY your heart out … then put it in God’s hands.

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her Web site.

18 comments:

  1. I love Julie's books. I have all three of the Daughters of Boston. Can't wait till next series is out. Thanks for the post

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  2. ABI!! There should be a prize for the first comment, girl -- thanks for dropping by AND for your encouraging support.

    And, as a matter of fact, JUST got my revisions on Katie's story this week, and am happy to report my editor loves the book and thinks it's my best yet, so I am PUMPED!!! Hope you think so too.

    Have a blessed weekend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  3. Woohoo! I'm so excited that you got your revisions for Katie's story!!! I CANNOT wait til it comes out...especially since your editor thinks it's your best yet!!!!!What am I gonna read til next fall??!! LOL!

    xoxo~ Renee

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  4. RENEE ... ALWAYS so good to see you, girl -- thanks for dropping by! And, honey, if you are anything like me (and I suspect you are, you romance-lover you!), you have a TBR list taller than my husband, so both you and I will bide our time with lots of wonderful books until the O'Connors heat things up next fall. :)

    Thanks for your support, Renee -- you're a doll!

    Hug,
    Julie

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  5. Thanks, Julie!

    Your story of sticking in there, despite the rejections, is so encouraging. :-)

    I'm so glad you didn't give up!

    Hugs,
    Dawn

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  6. I've read all of julie's daughters of boston series. i'm so thrilled about another series starting up soon! of course you could have made it easier on my poor nerves by speeding it up a bit, like a year or so :)

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  7. Hey Dawn ... thanks to both you and Annette for hosting me on your blog! And there are days I'm glad I didn't give up, either. Although there are some when I still do feel like it ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  8. REBORNBUTTERFLY ... Oh, honey, I tried, believe me! Even gave my publisher 6-month deadlines, telling them in the contract I would provide them with a book every six months. BUT ... I ran into some health issues last year that put me three months behind and then MAJOR revisions on Katie's story that put me ANOTHER three months behind, so BOOM ... suddenly you have a year between books. And the really awful part is that I just found out each of the books in this series will be releasing a year apart. Sigh. So much for 6-month deadlines. :/

    Thanks for your support, my friend.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  9. Great post. I have read these books and they are well worth the read. Greatly enjoyed each of them.
    tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  10. APRIL ... Thank you SO much, not only for reading my books, but your kind words as well.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  11. Hey Mrs Lessman,
    God has truly given you a wonderful gift for writing! I just love reading your posts. But you just about broke my heart, A year between books?
    *sniffles*;~)I guess I'll have to get over it:~) Anyways, have a blessed weekend Mrs.Lessman!
    Love Y'all,
    Ashley

    P.S Renee is right. What are we gonna read?

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  12. Love having you visit, Julie!! Thanks for dropping by and sharing your story.

    Big hugs,
    Annette

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  13. I always think I would like to write a book, but am so scared of being rejected. I think it is from other trauma in my life, but I would love to write! Thanks for the encouragement! The Passion series is for sure a different type of Christian fiction and deserved to win! You kept me reading without stopping until I was done.....which is hard to do as the mother of 4 boys!

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  14. Hey, Martha, thanks SO much for dropping by and for your kind comment ... especially given the fact you even have any time to read with four boys to take care of!! And trust me, you get USED to rejection as an aspiring writer ... it's part of the training! :) If you have a story burning a hole inside of you, just pray about it and follow God's leading. I raised two children before God opened the door for me to write, but sometimes he opens it a lot sooner. He'll let you know ... by the driving passion inside of you to get your story down on paper. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  15. Julie, you're always such an inspiration!

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  16. MISSY!!! It's SO great to see a fellow Seeker here -- thanks for dropping by, sweetie.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  17. Julie, I just dropped by to read you post. I also like to read the comments, and I'm so sorry to hear about your health issues and I hope everything is ok now. But don't worry your books are worth the wait! Happy Thanksgiving!

    your fan~Kayla

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  18. KAYLA, you are SUCH a sweetheart -- thank you! I am actually editing Katie's story (A Hope Undaunted) right now, and I am hoping you will like it as much as I do!

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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