Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I don’t know about you, but every now and then I need an attitude adjustment. Like now, mere days after my publisher offered me a second contract. Needless to say, I am overjoyed! But there’s a gravity too.

I mean, what if I can’t do it? What if I can’t meet the deadlines of writing a big, honking book every six months? What if the first books were a fluke, and I can no longer string a sentence together to save my soul? What if my first series ends up sucking pond water, and Revell changes all their e-mail addresses so I can’t contact them?

What-ifs are deadly. But so are thoughts like “I’ve done it! I’m on my way! I’ve arrived!” Because at the end of the day, when all the contest wins are tucked away in a scrapbook, or all the accolades and great reviews are filed away, only one reality remains:

None of us can do it without God.

Not write, not win contests, not get published and not succeed as an author. Because He is the Alpha and the Omega … the Beginning and the End … the End All and the Be All.

Yes, there are other things that are important on the road to publication, and I highly recommend them. Things such as:

1.) Connecting with other like-minded writers and learning about your craft by joining organizations like ACFW, FHL and RWA.

2.) Taking fiction-writing classes or attending writing seminars or conferences.

3.) Joining a critique group.

4.) Purchasing and studying writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND investing in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale.

5.) Entering contests for invaluable feedback and confidence and WONDERFUL friends.

5.) And going for an agent first, publisher second.

6.) Then praying your heart out and putting it in God’s hands.

BUT, the most important thing of all is to remember the reason we write.


Which brings me back to my original need for an attitude adjustment. Trust me, I would pack up and go home right now if I believed for one moment that it was me alone who had to write these next three books. But it’s not. It’s God and His grace that I will be relying on -- HEAVILY. Which means, pure and simple, that if I want Him to answer my prayers for help, then I have to make sure my heart is … well, pure and simple. Why? Because:

Proverbs 15:29 “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Psalm 66:18 “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

Call me crazy, but I’m not about to risk my prayers not being heard! For me, that means keeping my heart clean from murmuring, jealousy, backbiting, bitterness, greed, arrogance and any other gods my little ole heart tries to put before Him (i.e. my writing, my sales, my reviews). So I hope you don’t mind, but this blog today is my way of adjusting my attitude and getting my heart RIGHT so I can WRITE for Him. How? Well, by going through the following steps. And I invite you to go crazy and join me, because I guarantee you won’t regret it:

1.) First, a critical scripture to PRAY:

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

2.) REPENT for those things He brings to mind.

3.) PRAY for those people or situations that caused us to sin or even get close to it.

Like the debut historical romance author whose numbers are better than mine on Yep, I have been praying for that woman, a complete stranger, to go straight to the bestseller list. Why? Because I REFUSE to let jealousy thwart my prayers and the progress of my books.

And God is SO good! Because of that particular prayer I've been praying for that beautiful debut author, God did something wonderful for me in a Sheraton bathroom at the recent ACFW Conference. You see, I actually ran into said author (whose book is OUTSTANDING and whose friendship is now a joy), and that story remains for me, an amazing highlight from this year’s conference. But then … that’s another blog altogether!


Tina M. Russo said...

Awesome post Jules.

Tell us about your CONTRACT.

[and wondering about the bathroom experience]

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Tina,

Well, I'm shaking in my boots just a bit because I've never written a book under a deadline before, much less a 6-month deadline! But, oh well -- I'm the idiot who gave THEM the schedule!

This series actually continues the saga of the O'Connors, but Revell plans to market it as a completely new series, devoid of any mention of the O'Connors and Boston for marketing reasons.

Book 1 will be Katie's story, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression.

Book 2 will be about Sean whose love interest will be ... are you ready ... Emma! I don't know if you have ever read Francine River's excellent Mark of the Lion trilogy, but the main heroine is a gentle and amazing character named Hadassah who is physically scarred, and that is how I see Emma, who is also physically scarred.

Book 3 in the series will be about Steven (who I envision as a tall, dark, smoldering Eliot Ness-type character bent on justice) and a new heroine who will be mentored by Faith (much like Mrs. Gerson had mentored Faith), which will bring the series full circle with a final heroine like Faith O'Connor. These three stories take place during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde, so I am very excited about them!

Glynna Kaye said...

So excited about your 3-book contract, Julie! The next series sounds fabulous -- I LOVE that era! AND I love your attitude in keeping God first and foremost in your writing and all the issues that surround it.

Ann said...

Those all sound very exciting, Julie. You know, Al Capone had a compound on a lake not far from here ... now it's been turned into condo's, but we can look across the lake and imagine ...

As for having the right attitude, bless you for putting that up there. No matter what business we are in, we have to deal with sales and sometimes envy and jealousy.

I needed those verses today.

Right along with some coffee. The kettle is on for chai or hot chocolate ...

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks so much, Glynna, it is an exciting era, that's for sure, but as far as keeping God first -- I don't have a choice. I honestly hit the wall in writing if I don't put Him first, so my motivation is purely selfish!

And, oh, I just noticed I didn't answer Tina's comment about the bathroom incident at ACFW. I intend to write that story in a future blog, so I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you that the initials of the debut author mentioned are J.K. :)

Julie Lessman said...

Ann, bless you for your comment!! I am so glad those verses were helpful.

You know, my husband thought I shouldn't mention the new contract, but the point I really wanted to get across is that even with a new contract, there are feelings of insecurity and fear and especially jealousy over other authors who intimidate me.

Which means it doesn't matter WHERE we are on the road to publication -- just starting out, a contest winner or a debut author -- we all need to put God first or it's not going to be very pretty.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ann, I'll have chai. Love the stuff. Spiced vanilla, of course.

Jules, great post. Totally wonderful. I felt you coming off the page, into my office, the words and expressions pure Lessman.

Your enthusiasm is fresh and wonderful as always. An Irish gal, Jules has a wee bit o' temper that lands her in the stew pot fairly often, a trait we share. Open mouth, insert foot. Then God gives us plenty of time to repent at leisure.


But a truer friend and fine author you just can't find. A blessing.

And I love that the coming series embarks on a new time frame. So much happened in that thirty year historical time span. Wowza. Great story fodder for differing plot lines, a must for series authors.

Great job, Lessman.


Inspire said...


I loved this post. These are things we need to remind ourselves of every day. Thanks for pouring out your heart. I'm praying for you.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Ruthy, your words mean a lot to me ... so does your friendship, uh as pointed as it can be at times ... :)

Stew pot, eh? Mmm, well I will have to agree -- whether simmering in a stew pot or eating humble pie -- I do a lot of cooking, for sure! And you know that adage about too many cooks spoiling the stew? Not true -- at least not where The Seekers are concerned!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Rita, for your kind words! So appreciate you stopping by with your support AND prayers! :)

Kim said...

Terrific post, Julie! Thanks so much for encouraging us to give all of ourselves to the One who gives us our life, our talents, our everything!

Thank you,

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It's nice to know that even published authors have the same type of fear and insecurities as us unpubbeds!

I think that's one of my biggest fears - to sell a book (yay) and then have someone say "I need another one in 6 months." How would I do it? How could you force yourself to be creative and work under that kind of pressure?

Today, you've given me a hint on how to handle that. Thanks!


Mary Connealy said...

Hey, Julie Baby, is this not familiar? We were talking about this at ACFW when I was trying to explain the weird panick and pressure and gloom that can go along with the joy and excitement. You sign that contract, you'd better be able to come up with the books. You are COMMITTED.
And for me, committed seems to come with men in white coats carrying a big net.

You can do it, girl.
Here read this

Writer's Heaven

Julie Lessman said...

KIM!!!! So good to see you, my friend! And thank you for your kind comment, but selfishly, this post was my way of setting my sights on the true Author of Romance so I can get rolling again. The nice thing about God is that He doesn't mind if our motives for focusing on Him aren't so noble -- just as long as we focus on Him!! :)

Hey Sue, thanks for stopping in -- help yourself to some still-warm cake donuts with chocolate frosting (my Achilles heel!!). And yeah, hate to break it to you, but those fears and insecurities don't go away with a contract ... they just shift a wee bit, which is really a pretty good thing, I guess. It just underscores how much we will ALWAYS need Him, which is pretty much His plan, I suppose. But then, you will find that out soon enough when you ditch unpubbed island in the future! :)

lynnrush said...

Awesome post.
Julie, you're so right. It's all about our Audience of One. If it's HIS will, it'll be done. Regardless.
I mean, look at a little Christian independent film shaking things up (FireProof).

We are little people here on earth for a short time, but GOD is big, and He can do BIG things through us if we only look for HIM to work through us.

So, hold on tight, Julie, God's gonna take you on a BIG ride!
God Bless!

Audra Harders said...

Mornin' Julie and might I say your post was pure Julie Lessman! When you post your bathroom experience, I'll comment about OUR first meeting at ACFW. . .

You have a way of accosting strangers, LOL!

Anyway, your words were beautiful this morning, and I know God placed them on your heart to share with the world. Thank you for the verses, words to ponder all day long!

You've got bestseller list stamped on you, too, babe!! I'm so proud of you I could just bust : )

Myra Johnson said...

Lovely, inspiring post, Julie. Whenever I need extra prayers or a spiritual kick in the pants, I always know whom I can turn to.

I am so thrilled about your astounding success, and so excited about the new series! Will these books be as "big" as PMP and PR?

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, Julie, you're one terrific lady.

I struggle with those things, too, especially fear of failure. But I also fear the pressure of having to meet a deadline, if that ever happens! See, I'm not supposed to worry about the future, but there I go.

I haven't had much writing time at all in a long time. Right now I'm feeling overwhelmed with all the other things people expect me to do. I just have to trust God to help me to make the writing happen when it's time for it. This week, it isn't going to happen.

Julie Lessman said...

Yeah, Mare, I remember me trying to calm you down, telling you you can do it, so I guess it is a bit of reverse deja vu! Thanks for the link to your blog with the cute writer's story -- I needed the laugh, which I can ALWAYS count on you for!

Oh, Lynn -- I LOVE that -- "An Audience of One"!!!! Can I steal it for one of my books??? And thank you for your kind encouragement and keen perspective -- I sure need that right about now!

Audra!!!! I do NOT accost strangers ... except maybe at ACFW conferences ... :) I am sooo glad that I accosted you years ago, forging a friendship that will last a lifetime. Not sure if I am destined for the Bestseller List, but I'm pretty darn sure I'll make the B.S. List at some point in my life, at least with my drama-queen tendencies ... :)

Missy Tippens said...

What a wonderful post, Julie! Something we all need to be reminded of.

I was listening to a Beth Moore Bible study recently, and she mentioned pride. She said that in her ministry she realized she had to ask herself, would I be this happy if someone else instead of me had this success? She said she would have to be just as happy for someone else to be reaching others as she would be for her to reach them. (I don't know if I'm wording this well enough!) So as long as people are being reached for God, we shouldn't care if it's us or someone else doing it! That's what it means to keep pride out of this writing ministry, too.

And maybe that wasn't exactly what you were talking about, but I think it goes along with it--for me, at least. Getting published has been so exciting, but I have to watch the pride thing. It's God working, not me.


Patricia W. said...

Congratulations on your new contract, Julie!

Awesome post. Reconnecting with God right after receiving great blessings seems like just the right thing to do. So does reconnecting with Him when we find ourselves subject to fear, worry, doubt, or anything else that might get in our way.

That pretty much covers most days, doesn't it?

Thanks for the reminder.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks so much, Myra, for always encouraging me too! And, grin, I have no idea if these books will be as "big" (by which I assume you mean as "wordy" as the others (aka almost 500 pages), but dear God, I hope not!! Keith keeps telling me to make them shorter so I can get done faster, but it doesn't work that way with me. I write till I'm done, and unfortunately, that's around 477 pages (the exact # of pages for both books 1 & 2!!). But then, everybody knows how I tend to run my suck ... just ask Ruthy!:)

Oh, Mel, move over -- you and I must be twins separated at birth, only I was born a decade or two before you! "Deadlines," being "overwhelmed" and not finding time to write are the banes of my existence, so I totally relate. Thank God that God is in control and not us, eh?

Amen, Missy, I'm right behind both you and Beth Moore on that one. Pride ... shiver ... a nasty thing we all wrestle with ... over and over again!

Thanks so much, Patricia! And, yeah, that pretty much does cover most days ... from sunup till sundown ... beginning to end. Which is why I am sooooo glad we have a God who IS the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. You might say he's got both ends covered. :)

Kristi Holl said...

Congratulations, Julie. That's wonderful news for you. Your feelings are certainly normal. I felt that pressure and all the what if's for at least six or seven books until it dawned on me that I could stop worrying about it. The pressure we put on ourselves! I guess, though, it's a good clue for when we're leaning on ourselves instead of the Lord.
And then comes the attitude adjustment! Thanks for sharing.
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Julie, every time I finish a book and send it off, the enemy whispers in my ear that it isn't good enough and the editor won't like it.

I just have to look to Jesus for the truth.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Julie,
Love your blogs! And the scripture you always provide!

I agree, self-doubt is difficult to overcome. The nice thing is we're writing for the Lord and he's in control. Although I often ask why he didn't choose a gal who was more organized or prolific instead of slow-as-molasses me! :)

(If you attended Margie Lawson’s workshop at ACFW – or M&M this past weekend – you’d immediately scream, “Cliché alert!” Something I'm working on!)

Julie Lessman said...

Kristi! WOW, you've written 35 books???? Yeah, you bet I checked out your Web site because I wanted to make sure that the woman who was telling me I would stop worrying about this after six or seven books knew what she was talking about!! Thank you SO much for the encouragement and for stopping by! Your Zonderkidz, Faithgirlz, devotionals and Writer's First Aid books look amazing!

Bless you, Lena, for your encouragement AND for stopping by -- sooo good to see you here!

Deb -- yeah, well I'm "slow as molasses," too, sweetie, so we are a matched pair. And Margie would have a stroke if she knew how cliche-ridden my mind is. I swear, if I had a dog-zapper collar on to train me to stop with the cliches, my husband would find me on the floor, dead and smoking!! :)

Erica Vetsch said...

What a timely post for me today. Thanks for helping me adjust my attitude today and remember why we do this crazy writing thing.

Cara Slaughter said...

Julie, I hope you're at your typewriter tapping those keys. I know you write quickly, so you'll make your deadlines, I'm sure.

Congratulations on your 3 contracts. That's so awesome. Now get back to work!

Cheryl Wyatt said...


I'm dying to know the bathroom story.



Tammy Doherty said...

Julie, you're an unbelievably wonderful inspiration. At least to me, and apparently to a lot of others too!

I just knew Sean and Emma would be a great story (I'm almost done Redeemed). Katie in the Roaring Twenties is a scary thought!! LOL

You told me once that reading certain well-known and successful authors can bring on a load of self-doubt. I can relate :D But you know what? You are one of those authors that "intimidates" me - because when I read your books it seems to flow like it couldn't possibly have taken much work (a sure sign that you slaved over it for hours, maybe even months or years!) But what really gets me is your faith. Someday I hope my faith can be a strong as yours. What you've written in books 1 & 2 really made me think and examine my faith.

This post is challenging me to set my focus each morning. Or at the beginning of my day (I really don't like mornings!) I've been one to take my faith for granted - you've reminded me what's really important. Thanks!

Hugs and Blessings (and more Congrats),

Tammy Doherty said...

Oh, yeah, and Julie says she'd love to meet me next year at the ACFW conference. Does that mean I'll have a story about being accosted by Julie?!!!!!!!


Julie Lessman said...

Erica, thanks so much for stopping by! So glad I could help.

Thanks, Cara. Actually only got two pages written today, so at that pace, it's gonna be scary. Maybe tomorrow will be better ... I hope!!

Grin, Cheryl, you are just gonna have to wait, sweetie, because I need that story for blog material next month!! :)

Oh my goodness, Tammy, what an incredible comment!! You're going to make me cry! Please don't be intimidated by me because if you saw me on this end, pulling my hair out and picking my nails and wondering why the words on the page are putting me to sleep, you would KNOW that it's God's grace and His talent, not mine. And he's given each of us a measure of Him to do what He's called us to do.

And you know what?? Maybe my faith seems strong because I am so desperate and so not together that I need to lean on HIM so much more ... ever think of that??? :) Or, I guess it could be that I'm a heck of a lot older than you and have had EONS more than you to work on it. Yeah, that's it. Love ya!

Cara Putman said...

Julie, so thrilled about your next contract!!! Yeah! Love the O'Connors. :-) But you already knew that. And awesome post. You captured it, girl!

Tammy Doherty said...

You aren't much older than me, Julie! Although, somedays I feel like a child...completely lost in the grown-up world!! I'm pretty good at leaning on the Lord, it's telling others about Him that's my weakness. Even in the written word. I guess ten years can make a huge difference.

The "thing" that inspires me the most about you is that you're so real. Everyone on this blog is, actually. Same fears and doubts as lil' ole me (but my deadline is self imposed!). When I grow up, I want to be just like Julie :D

Oooh, I just realized that's probably not good for your attitude adjustment, is it?! Okay, I'll just pray to be the very best me :D Which is a better plan, all around, since I'm writing contemporary romantic suspense and it's not at all like early 20th century Boston :)


Janet Dean said...

Julie, Thanks for your inspiring post and for the reminder that I'm not writing this book alone. I needed to hear that today.

I know you'll do a great job with this new series!!!


CandaceCalvert said...

Julie, a fabulous post and awesome reminder. Meeting YOU was one of the golden moments of my ACFW conference experience!

I'm so thrilled about your new contract. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

Tammy -- trust me, ten years is a lifetime at this age! I don't know what costs me more -- hair color or hormone replacement therapy!! But thank you, my friend, for your kind and sweet (albeit your misguided) opinions about me! Although I am "real" ... real crazy, real passionate and real good at putting my foot in my mouth. :)

Janet, thanks, sweetie -- so glad I could encourage you. :) Bottom line, I think ANYBODY who wants to write for God could pretty much use this message, and trust me, I'm first in line.

CANDY!!!!!!!!!! Oh, girlfriend, meeting you and sitting with both you and Leanna at the awards banquet was an absolute highlight for me too!! The three Natashaketeers!! Thanks for stopping by and for the congrats.


Julie Lessman said...

CARA!!!!!!!!!!! You must have sneaked a comment in there because I almost missed you! Thanks so much for chiming in AND for your kind words. Yeah ... the O'Connors live on ... now if my creativity and passion can too, I think I'll be feeling a whole lot better ... :)

Geralyn Beauchamp said...

Hey PJ, slow down! I'm still reading the first book! Which is very good by the way, dahling! Congratulations! And YOU CAN DO IT!


Amy said...

Julie, you know I'm thrilled (and relieved lol) about the new contract! Yay! And I thought I saw that Emma/Sean connection coming!

I always love it when you post. Your love for God is such an encouragement. Thanks for your words.

Joetta said...

thank you for your blog about 'attitude' - God has such a sense of humor, b/c I've 'sporting a 'tude' (as Patsy Clairmont would say) - I need to readjust. thanks for once again pointing me to Jesus. keep writing!!

CherryBlossomMJ said...

I am so happy. I'm so excited. I cannot wait to read more from you!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey PG, thanks for stopping in to say "Hey" and for the congrats!! Like I said, I'm chomping at the bit to get to yours -- sitting on the desk in my office, taunting me ...

AMY!!!! So good to see you here, girl, and thanks for your sweet comment. I'm pretty thrilled myself, but nervous too. And yeah, the Sean and Emma thing has me excited!!

JOETTA, girlfriend -- SO fun to see you here too!! I relate to the "tude," girl, so I'm glad I could help with the readjustment.

MARGARET!!! Thanks for your support and encouragement -- I can't wait to write it either!! :)

Hugs to all ...