Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Today we’re going to talk about discipline …Wait, did you feel that? It was a cold chill collectively rippling through my body and every other person reading this blog today. Because let’s face it, nobody really likes discipline except the body-beautiful types who live in a gym. Uh, that’s not me and since this blog primarily speaks to writers, I’m pretty sure that’s not you either.

The hard truth is … discipline hurts. I can still remember the looks of abject horror on my daughter’s face at the age of three whenever I would slap her hands, which one tends to do a lot with an oral child for whom I called Poison Control over 13 times. And no, I was not a bad mother who left her unattended (with a kid like her … are you kidding???). Usually the “tasting” incident took place within one to ten feet of me, whether it was crunching on a dead bug I’d killed with Raid, licking the Comet can while I cleaned the tub, or sucking on a tree spike. The girl had an oral fixation that would bring tears to a dentist’s eyes. And, yeah, those swats on the hand or bottom were painful, but SO necessary to keep my little girl alive and well so she could GROW into the woman God intended her to be.

Ahem … not unlike her mother. Trust me, as an unpublished and published writer, I’ve been taken to the woodshed more times than I can count. But when the hurt feelings go away and the tears finally dry from my eyes, I always come away with valuable lessons that help me to GROW into the writer God intends me to be. So I thought, why not share a few of my woodshed experiences? Because who knows—maybe I can spare you some pain ...

Woodshed Experience #1—Contest Judges:

God bless ‘em, contest judges have sawdust all over their feet from taking entrants to the woodshed. Some of them are kind about it while others definitely sting with their well-aimed swats. Either way, if we are willing to learn, they can impart a wealth of knowledge. The most important thing I’ve learned is to PRAY about every piece of advice given by a contest judge, because it’s been my experience that the Holy Spirit can use them BIG TIME in shaping us into the writers God wants us to be. Uh, ESPECIALLY if you get the same comment from more than one judge.

Judges told me my heroine was “whiney,” so I softened her by lending humor to her complaints and giving her polio as a child (Thank you, Donald Maas for your Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook!). Judges also told me that I needed to get the action up front, so I moved “the kiss scenario” from page seven to page five to page two and then finally to the first paragraph of A Passion Most Pure, saving the reader from wading through SEVEN pages of internal monologue!!! YIKES … what was I thinking???

Woodshed Experience #2—my agent:

Trust me, NOBODY is better at imparting lessons a writer needs to learn than my agent Natasha Kern. The woman is a master at shaping and molding writers into the authors that God wants them to be, even if it doesn’t always feel so good at the time. Like recently when she read my manuscript for Katie O’Connor’s story, book 1 in my next 3-book series about the O’Connors of Boston. “Julie, I think this could be your best book yet …” she begins on our casual stroll in the direction of the woodshed. I can still feel my stomach constricting at the pause in her tone before she enlightened me that I needed more “moral premise” to pull it off. Uh, come again? She suggested I read The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams, an excellent book that shows how bestseller books and box-office movie hits not only include a “practical lesson” in the story for the hero or heroine, but weave that lesson through the story so magically that EVERY character is struggling with the same thing at the same time, albeit in different ways.

For instance, apparently I did this in book 3 of The Daughters of Boston Series, A Passion Denied, even though I had NO CLUE until after I read The Moral Premise AND a good friend pointed it out (thank you, Cathy Richmond!). You see, in A Passion Denied, everything in the book is about denying passion. Brady denies Lizzie his love because his past won’t let him go there, Lizzie denies Brady her friendship because she’s tired of being hurt, Patrick denies Marcy when he learns a secret from her past, Mitch denies Charity out of a fear from his past, Collin denies Faith out of hurt pride, and so on and so on. Unbeknownst to me, denial is woven throughout this book in a way that binds it and the characters tightly together, hopefully offering the reader a one-two punch at the end that will leave them gasping for more. And although I accidentally “stumbled” into moral premise in A Passion Denied, there is another Seeker/client of Natasha’s who, according to Natasha, is a natural at moral premise—none other than our own Mary Connealy. Humph … I always knew she liked you better than me, Mare!

So thanks to Natasha and The Moral Premise, I hope I was able to take Katie O’Connor in book 1 of the next series from a spoiled, controlling heroine to a deep and driven young woman by using a natural moral premise of the 1920’s era—women’s rights (when women first got the right to vote and the first Equal Rights Amendment was introduced)—and interlacing it with a moral premise of surrender—to God, to love and to an era that took our country to its knees, The Great Depression.

Woodshed Experience #3—my editor:

Without question, I have one of the best editors in the business. And when an editor with the vast experience and well-earned respect of my editor gives a green debut author like me her revisions, well, trust me, it’s a true learning experience. The number one lesson she taught me is a very simple and often repeated one, and yet I didn’t truly understand it or really learn it until book 3, A Passion Denied.

The lesson? WRITE FOR YOUR MARKET. For those of you who have read A Passion Denied, you know it is the “edgiest” (i.e. most passionate of the three books and John Brady’s past, the darkest of all the heroes in the series). But trust me, originally it was darker still because I strongly felt I needed a really dark past to keep Brady away from Lizzie and then in the end, enough shock factor to keep Lizzie away from Brady. My very wise agent tried to tell me that the “dark aspects” would not fly, but being as stubborn as my characters, I stayed the course—mine—and submitted the dark plot to my editor anyway after softening it somewhat. But in a way that left no room for confusion, my editor convinced me that my market (Christian romance readers) want to be inspired and lifted up, not brought down by a hero’s truly shocking past. After all, I am not writing women’s fiction here, but a “Calgon, take me away” type of romance to not only inspire, but leave them with a feel-good ending that will take them away (hopefully to my next book!). I can honestly say now that unless my editor had “taken me to the woodshed” on writing for the market, it is a lesson I would not have learned and one that could have easily cost me readers down the road.

Woodshed Experience #4—God:

Goodness, I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, wouldn’t it? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (thank you, God, for your mercy in this hard lesson learned) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on are high or low or when a 1-star review begins with the line “this is simply a horrible book.” Which is why I CLING to the following Scripture from 2 Corinthians ll:3 as my number one prayer: Dear Lord, do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

At the end of the day when lessons have been learned and the grass has been trampled thin on that path to the woodshed, for we Inspirational writers, there is no woodshed experience greater than that given by John the Baptist in John 3:30:

He must become greater, and I must become less.

God help me, I have so much to learn …


Ausjenny said...

you know the woodshed may hold a whole new meaning. I have heard metion of it for discipline before but not thought much about it cos for me its a place to get wood.
we have a wood fire and I also find it a place to release anger, frustration and vent. Came in really handy at times when things got hard with mum and I just needed to split or chop wood to get the feelings out. In australia I dont think its really a place associated with discipline as much.
Thanks for the lessons today.

Jessica said...

What a great post!
OUch, the woodshed. *cringe*

I need some discipline really bad. Wish someone would give me a good whack. LOL!

Thanks for sharing all that stuff you changed about your books. So interesting!

Ann said...

Hey, Ausjenny, your woodshed sounds like my cow barn :-)

Good advice, Julie. I think I would curl up like a pill bug and die if I got a review like your one star one. But God is faithful, isn't he.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, even the owwie ones.

I brought donuts. Hope you all will help us eat 'em up. Also put the coffee on.

Debby Giusti said...

Hey, girlfriend, looks like you are a gym babe from the photo you posted! :)

Great blog and so true. I hate rejection. Always have, always will. Yet I do learn from it ... sometimes more than I want to learn.

I back off writing when my hand's been slapped. My progress slows. I find other things to occupy my time. Mentally, I tell myself I'm "thinking" about the next book when I'm really hesitating to move forward. It's only after days -- or, heaven forbid, weeks -- pass that I realize I'm stalled. Years ago an agent rejected me, and I didn't write for SIX months! Crazy! Actually more like stupid!

Loved your No. 4 woodshed experiece. If only publication meant everything would be easy. I recently read an article by Elmer Leonard, and he said we become more critical of our work the more we publish. Guess that means as writers we take ourselves to the woodshed.

Cara Slaughter said...

Great post, Julie! And what a great picture--of you, lady, not the woodshed.

Thanks for the name of the book about premise. I think I'll order it. You can never have too many great books about writing.

So, after so much guidance from your editor and agent, do you think you're a much better writer now than when you first sold? I bet you are.

Julie Lessman said...

Good morning, all! And goodness ... Blogger is acting up today, isn't it??? The blog looked almost normal when I posted it a few days ago and I promise you my picture was not NEAR as big ... YIKES!!! Not sure I want to see THAT first thing in the morning!! But being the computer illiterate I am, I'm scared silly to try to go in a fix it, so if any of the Seekers feel brave enough to make the pic smaller ...PLEASE DO!!

JENNY ... good morning! Being taken to the woodshed is an expression I'd always heard when I was growing up, and my husband's farmer grandma actually did take her kids and grandkids "to the woodshed" a couple of times, which was ... well, an actual woodshed where discipline was administered.

And good point, JESSICA ... at least having woodshed experiences, as painful as they are, do indicate progress, which is always a good thing, eh? Gotta move forward ...

ANN ... grin, "curl up like a pill bug and die" ... yep, pretty much how I felt. Actually cried all the way to the parking lot at work the day I got that one. Now I'm tough as a parking lot ... most of the time, so even those "woodshed" experiences served a positive purpose!

DEB, six months??? Wow, that was a tough rejection, my friend! But those toughies push us into the arms of God, which is ALWAYS a good thing, eh?

And since Blogger is acting up this morning and being a little crazy, what do you say we do the same and have some crazy breakfasts? My son always likes to eat cold pepperoni pizza for breakfast, so bring it on, only make it loaded with every vegetable known to man and nuke it for a few seconds! And for you traditional types, we do have applesauce and chocolate chip pancankes on the sideboard ...


Debra E Marvin said...

A great post, Julie. I appreciate your willingness to share those painful moments.

Like mothers, those people around us who are willing to discipline us do it out of love. If they didn't care (meaning if we were not worth the trouble) they'd wouldn't be taking the time to do it.

Thank God He disciplines us. We can go willingly or fight it--it's still going to happen because He cares for us and wants our maturity.
Thank God for critique partners, editors and agents who believe in us.

Now, where's the food? I brought a leftover melon from the Fourth.
Must Have Carbs

Julie Lessman said...

CARA ASKED: So, after so much guidance from your editor and agent, do you think you're a much better writer now than when you first sold?

Good morning, Cara! Well, I'm certainly smarter than before, more experienced, especially as a client of Natasha's because she truly is a teacher at heart. But better writer? I would like to think so because every writer wants to believe they are getting better with every book they write, smoother, cleaner, sharper as they hit their stride.

DEB ... critique partners!! Oooo, I forgot about them! Grin ... one of my first critique partners was Kelly Mortimer, and I still smile at how crazy I could make her with exclamation points!!!! :) And I did learn to tone them down (in my novels, not my blog comments or e-mails ... :)). And you're SO right, Deb ... thank God that God disciplines us because He's definitely in the growth business, and we sure don't want to be stunted for life ...


Tina M. Russo said...

Thank you for having the courage to share with us. This was like sitting through a workshop. One of the best I have ever attended.

Ausjenny said...

Julie I have heard the expression but I guess didn't think much about it cos the wood heap for me is work! Oh I have crashed into the wood heap when learning to ride a bike I couldn't turn and ended up in the woodheap.
Ours use to be very open and more a heap than a shed. Its also interesting seeing the photo of the wood so much different to our red and blue gum.
and on that note im off to bed the fire is nice and warm but its cold tonight and beds calling

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, TINA, thanks! I always like to talk about the hard realities of publication because I'm a bottom liner who wants the truth, so why not share our war (or woodshed) stories as a way of encouragement and learning? And since I have little or no pride and way more honesty than is legally safe, why not? :)

JENNY, good-night, sweetie! Cool night, warm fire ... if it weren't summer here, I'd be tempted to sneak back under the sheets as well. :)


Pepper Basham said...

This is a fantastic post...even convicting. wow! Do you realize how many years in a row I've had the SAME New Year's Resolution - too many. The need for discipline is so important.
I just sent off a fantasy proposal two weeks ago and had the five kids hold hands with me around the computer before I pushed the 'send' button. We prayed and I said, "And Jesus, no matter what happens, help Mommy take it like a Christian."
You've responded to discipline in a positive way, which is why you're growing as a writer and your books are great! Mary's too! I think for us newbies, how we take that discipline determines whether we're cut out for the world of writing or not. Do you think?

Lee Smith said...

This is a great post. I sit here and hope I can learn some of my lessons from reading about yours, but I know I have plenty of woodshed experiences ahead of me. I'm trying to look forward to them as opportunities for growth, but I am not the biggest fan of pain, and those Amazon reviews just sound painful.

Erica Vetsch said...

I have GOT to check out The Moral Premise. I tried to get my library to purchase a copy, but they said the readership wouldn't be broad enough and denied the request. Pooh!

I've been schooled in the woodshed more than once. But as all good discipline hurts for awhile, but the lesson helps you move forward.

Very good post today!

Janet Dean said...

Julie, I loved your informative and entertaining post!! Thanks for sharing the lessons you've learned, a great reminder and encouragement to be teachable and keep growing our talent while clinging to God's Word.

After reading Natasha Kerns and your post, I'm convinced I need to buy The Moral Premise.

I brought chicken salad, croissants and fruit for lunch today. There's unsweetened and sweetened iced tea.


Julie Lessman said...

OMIGOSH, PEPPER, the image of you and your kids holding hands around the computer as you pushed the button brought tears to my eyes!!! How adorable and how true!! Lord, have I been there more times than I can count, holding hands with my husband and praying before I click on the "send" button! Like you, obviously, on the wings of a prayer is how I send all my mail too ... :)

And, YES, I do agree "that discipline determines whether we're cut out for the world of writing or not." Because bottom line, those who learn and grow from the trials not only please God (and He honors those who honor Him), but they actually have something worthwhile to share with their readers. Those who allow the hurt and pain to embitter them and close them off close themselves off from God's blessings ... period.

LEE, yeah, those Amazon reviews can be pretty brutal, but trust me, they make for great stories later ... uh, after the tears dry from your eyes, that is. :)


Julie Lessman said...

ERICA, thanks for stopping by, and yes, I highly recommend The Moral Premise ... it really did (along with Natasha, of course) make my next book a much better book.

JANET!!! Thanks for bringing the chicken salad -- yum, my favorite!! And I am NOT a nonfiction reader, but The Moral Premise kept my interest for the most part and more importantly, taught me (I hope!) what I needed to know ...


Melanie Dickerson said...

So timely, Julie!!! I've just been pondering this very thing. Isn't the whole writing/struggling-to-get-published experience just the thing to refine us--by FIRE!? I mean, talk about an emotional roller-coaster! Oh, my! That's exactly what it is when you get some really bad news/criticism one day and the next day you find out you're going to the conference after all, and the next day you get a call from an editor telling you they love SOME parts of your book but other parts are simply not ready to be published. One day you've decided there's no way you can deal with the rejection any more, and you want out of this unrewarding life of working your heart out without getting paid. The next day God has an editor from a top publishing house call and ask for revisions on your latest book.

Then you get another rejection and you think, Okay, God, what is the DEAL!?!

But you realize, the deal is, God is working on you and refining you and making you a better person. He's forcing you to deal with your insecurities, your fears, your lack of faith and trust, and your struggle to believe Him when he says he loves you. And pride. The writing life can so totally force you to deal with your pride problem, as I've found out! If you let it, writing-to-be-published will totally humiliate--oh, I mean humble--you.

Great post, Julie! And I LOVE your books!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh mylanta, I started this comment hours ago and it started with:

I brought coffee. Gallons of it. Mix at will.

Then children descended in multiples and I had to walk away and now there are sixteen comments and...

No coffee.

Are ya' kiddin' me? No one grabbed a pot? Fired up a kettle? Opened a can?

Did I miss it? Is it buried between the lines, 'cause I need coffee badly.


Jules, I'm with Teeeeeeeeena on this, what a wonderful premise for a workshop in this singular post. Baby, I'D GIVE you a conference slot because this is timely, effective and strong.


You know I'm a big fan of discipline. My Native American heritage decrees it.

Oh, wait.

I'm Irish.

Okay, so I DON'T come by it naturally (grinning here), but I believe in it. Undisciplined writers need a smack upside the head. Luckily they got you today (so much nicer and gentler than me!!!!) so they're prepared for whatever I dish out tomorrow.



Loving the cold pizza. Gimme.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Pepper, your comment made me cry! I guess because my daughters pray for me to get published and rejoice with my good news. But more likely, it's because I struggle to pray, Lord, if this is a rejection, help me take it like a Christian. I don't want to get rejected, and I don't always take it well! That's the biggest struggle for me right now, how to take the rejections well.

Oh, and crit partners ... one recently got so upset at something I wrote ... well, it wasn't pretty. Apparently I didn't handle a sensitive subject very well, something she was very sensitive about! Yikes. But at least I can improve it, since it isn't published yet. And I thank God I was able to be humble about it.

Ayrian Stone said...

Dear Julie, Bless you for being vulnerable and sharing the hard lessons you've endured and grown through. In a Passion Denied, I expected something alot darker, and would have been fine with it, because I love to see Jesus' redemptive power shine through. However, I agree that most readers of romantic fiction don't want to be too terribly shocked. So good job writing with the perfect balance. I really enjoyed the 'moral lesson' of denial woven through it. I'm glad you're creating the same moral friction in Katie's book. I'm SO looking forward to reading it!

Ayrian Stone said...

Ann--I am all over those donuts. glazed, chocolate, sugared--bring them on!

Julie Lessman said...

MELANIE!!! Yep, you have some woodshed stories of your own with all that you are going through right now, girl, but yes, they DO make us stronger and far, far better writers, I'm sure. And pride? Gosh, that gets stomped on so many times when you're trying to get published, that I've just pretty much been depleted, which is why I can tell everyone the hard and humiliating things that happen to me without any compunction whatsoever! :) Because you are SOOO right when you said "If you let it, writing-to-be-published will totally humiliate--oh, I mean humble--you." Grin ... amen to that!

RUTHY!!! Oh, man, I can't believe I forgot the coffee!! YIKES, there are probably more than a few caffeine headaches out there right now because of it. And thanks for the vote of confidence about the workshop, but I'm afraid with that much more time to bend everybody's ear, I just may destroy my career completely the way I'm prone to letting my jaws get away from me!

And your comment that "Undisciplined writers need a smack upside the head" is certainly true. Uh, I do believe I could have used you as Woodshed Experiences #5, 6 and 7 ... :) But as a truth-Seeker (and someone who truly loves honesty in a dear friend), I always appreciate your sage advice no matter how painful it may be at times ...

MEL ... thanks for reminding me about Pepper's point to pray to take discipline "like a Christian." Excellent point, Pepper, and one we would all do well to apply. And crit partners are wonderful at walking us to the woodshed in a kind and loving manner, which I can't say the same for reviewers. BUT, kind or not, they ALL teach us something that can help us grow ... even the "this is simply a horrible book" reviewer. Trust me, I GREW big time when I prayed my heart out for her for days and days until the hurt went away ...

AYRIAN!!! Thanks SO much for your sweet comment AND your encouragement, my friend. And, grin, "being vulnerable and sharing the hard lessons I've endured and grown through?" Can't stop myself, I'm afraid ... my mouth has a mind of its own, it seems ... :)


Julie Lessman said...

HEY EVERYONE ... I'm heading out the door to swim/pray with my prayer partners, so I will be gone most of the afternoon, but will respond to questions this evening, so have at it! And have a great day!


Lisa Jordan said...

I work in the early education field, and I'm sure Ruthy can attest to this--children hate to be disciplined. Tell a toddler "no" and you'll hear shrieks and screams that can wake the dead. Sometimes I worry what my neighbors think. Good comes when those children learn from time-outs or gentle reprimands.

Like those children, we writers struggle with discipline like Julie so eloquently said. We may scream and kick and throw very mature fits, but in the end, the discipline refines us as writers.

I wonder how many times God sits in Heaven shaking His head, thinking, "Lisa, how many times are you going to do that before you listen to Me?" Sigh...

Great post, Julie.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

It may be a ‘guy’ thing but I don’t consider criticism or rejection as discipline. I see it as a part of coaching.

Warning: Sport Metaphor.

For example, if after making a poor play the coach comes over and shows me what I did wrong and how I could have fielded the ball cleaner and positioned my feet to make a more stable platform for the throw to first, I don’t consider this discipline. I want the coach to do that. Indeed, that is why he is there in the first place.

Now, if I ‘hotdog’ a play, using one hand to show off, and the coach makes me do 15 pushups: that’s discipline. I desire coaching but seek to avoid discipline.

As for “A Passion Denied” I was very worried near the end of the book. I kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t go there. Don’t go there. If you go there, you can’t come back and the book will be a downer.” Your editor was ‘spot on’ about knowing your market. As someone very much in your market, let me say this: “If I want to read Tennessee Williams, I’ll read Tennessee Williams.”

About “Edgy” Christian Fiction

I think I have encountered a second component to ‘edgy’ Christian fiction. I just read a Medical Christian fiction book which went as far as very passionate kissing. However, it did not seem a bit ‘edgy’ because something would always come up and they would simply stop kissing. There was never any indication that they were entering the ‘occasion of sin’ or that they were under any temptation whatsoever.

I think to be metaphysically ‘edgy’ the characters have to realize they are on the ‘edge’ of sinning. This is something your books do very well. The characters are aware of the possible consequences of unbridled passion. This is why I see your books as being “Real World” Christian fiction as opposed to being just ‘edgy’.

BTW, I really enjoyed your post. I found it very encouraging. Reading it make me think of Matthew 7:20 “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”. Please keep the fruits of your 'disciplined' labor coming. Thanks.


lynnrush said...

God help me, I have so much to learn …

DITTO that!!! Whoo - Hoo. Great post!

Pepper Basham said...

I think it's only by God's Spirit that we can take criticism well (and as often as I fail at it) I hope to get better and better. I don't think anyone likes to be critiqued, but I'm with you and Julie and so many else do we grow?
My agent ripped my proposal apart a few weeks ago and after staring at the computer in an angry fog, I took a deep breath and said, "Of course, he's right."

Mary is a fantastic critiquer (is that word?) She's encouraging and gently makes recommendations.

I think kids teach us so much about our relationship with God, it's startling. If I pay attention, I see how much I act like a child in the presence of my Heavenly Father...and how much I need guidance, discipline, and gentle reproof. (sometimes a swat on the butt)

One quick, funny story: My seven year old was being disobedient and I asked him, "Honey, what does God say about obeying your mom and dad?" he replied. "Obey your parents in the Lord....that you may live long in the land." He suddenly burst out crying. "I'm going to die SOOOO young."

Sometimes, I want to scream that to God. Lord, I can't ever get it right. Just take me now!

But He's always faithful to keep working on me and not giving up, so (as believers) we can all find joy (and encouragement) in that hope. :-)
Sorry for the novel. I'm supposed to be working right now...yikes.

Pam Hillman said...

Julie, awesome allegorical post comparing publishing to being taken to the woodshed!


I wouldn't be surprised if this one gets syndicated!

Mary Connealy said...

I think The Moral Premise is possibly the ONLY book on writing that I could feel substanitally influencing me on the writing after I was done. You said in the column that I was a natural at it, but if so, I wasn't able to define even what that was? Moral Premise? Huh?

the change in my writing was simply awareness of what in the world the moral premise was and to be CONSCIOUS of those moments when I touched on that premise. I hope it didn't really change my writing at all, it just helped me to put into words...and be more deliberate ... in something I was already doing.

I'm very sleepy.
And that has nothign to do with this column, just an early mornign and a long day. I could really use that coffee, Ruthy

Tina M. Russo said...

I'm sorry Pepper...MARY WHO???


Pepper Basham said...

Ha! Do you ALWAYS pick on Mary? ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

Did you also notice that Julie has been Julie all day today? No other personalities...
I wonder who she'll be when she comes back from the pool? ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

What a great post, Julie! I can attest to what a pro Natasha is at "gently" taking a writer to the woodshed. Responding to one of my ms. submissions a few weeks ago, she took way more time than you'd ever expect a busy agent to spend on a non-client and explained in detail where my story had gone wrong--all sandwiched between some much appreciated encouragement.

And of course she recommended I read THE MORAL PREMISE. If you haven't read it yet, GET THAT BOOK!!! It will change the way you look at everything you write, every TV show or movie you watch, every book you read.

Unlike Mary, some of us don't always "naturally" put this concept to work in our mss. But it really is the key to making our stories resonate with our readers long after they read the last line.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


I don't think you're supposed to tell people we don't read books. They'll think we're illiterate or some such thing and run screaming...


Or just run!

Vince, eloquent as always. You rock.

Mary, here's that coffee. Man, I've become dependent. MORE dependent. Dave just made a pot and I'm diving in. And nothing keeps me up at night, so we should be all good.

I love that Julie bares all. I admire people that don't sugar-coat the angst life hands us. Writing is great personal therapy. HUGE!

Hey, we made a dark chocolate fudge cake today with homemade buttercream frosting. So yummy. Try some for dessert.

Or supper.

With the coffee.

And Jules, I'm actually trying to work on my woodshop demeanor, soften the harsh edge.

Practice being nice.

It's killing me, btw.



Carol Bruce Collett said...

Great post. Thanks!

Julie Lessman said...

Wellllll ... that swim session certainly took longer than I expected!! Sorry, but I got home late (after six), and of course men expect to eat, followed by dishes and phone calls. Sigh. Not enough hours in the day for we writers, eh?

LISA ... grin, great analogy with the toddlers. Believe me, I've thrown a tantrum or two after a woodshed experience -- just ask my husband! And trust me, I'll bet Christian writers give God more headaches with the shaking of His head than any other profession ... almost!

VINCE!!! As always, you challenge me to think things through in a really unique perspective ... must be a male thing, I guess. If we haven't told you before, we truly appreciate you here in Seekerville as one of our few token males. You bring wonderful and fresh perspective our way.

And thank you for your input on Denied (since you agreed with my editor, heck, maybe I should shoot all my manuscripts your way first ... :)) and your kind words. Especially your statement that said, "The characters are aware of the possible consequences of unbridled passion." Unbridled passion ... mmmm, sounds like a great title to me if I didn't write Inspy ... :)

LYNN ... grin ... you and me, kid!!

Great story, PEPPER, and don't EVER be sorry to share wonderful tidbits like that with us! Your son sounds adorable.


Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY!!! Welcome back from vacation, sweetie ... so good to have you back in the house. And syndication??? Uh, I'm having trouble with publication as it is ... doubt I'm ready for anything else at this point, but thanks, my friend.

MARE ... well for not be aware of "Moral Premise," you sure in the heck have it down, you little brat ...

PEPPER ... Uh, I'm still Julie right now, but since I was late getting home, I'm gonna say somebody else was driving the car who has a lead foot and drives like a fiend. One of my alter egos, no doubt ... :)

Hear, hear, MYRA!!! And it's no surprise to you that Natasha likes you and your writing A LOT!! Trust me, she doesn't spend that much time on nonclients unless she sees great potential.


Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY ... so you're working on "woodshop demeanor," eh? Uh, is that where you "nail" people with the truth before you "buzzsaw" their bad habits??? Or did you mean "woodshed"? Either way, please don't ever change, sweetie -- we all love you (and need you) just the way you are ... especially me!

And talk about me "baring all." Honey, you are SO down-to-the-core honest Ruthy, that you don't have to bare all because it's already out there ... what we see is what we get!

CAROL ... thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment -- so appreciated!!


Ausjenny said...

Hey Julie my current woodshed also holds the woodshop tools!
the axe and saws sit with the hammers, drills etc.
Oh and the gardening stuff.
which reminds me I have to take myself out there and chop me some wood!
funny we are going to have a chirstmas in July at church and word verification is thelf as in the elf!

Julie Lessman said...

JENNY ... gosh, you started our day today and now you are ending it also!! So good to have you back in Seekerville, my friend. Merry Christmas!! :)


Audra Harders said...

OMG, Julie! You've sent splinters up my spine, LOL!!

So many lessons learned and need to be learned. Thank you for sharing the insight and instep of your journey. No, the truth is not always pleasant, but God bless the friends and writers who love us enough to tell us straight when we lack perspective, or moral premise, or any number of things that we just don't see.

I fall far short of the discipline needed to figure out all the answers myself. I'm thanking God each day I have friends who love me enough to drag me to that woodshed.

Awesome reminder, Julie!

Tina M. Russo said...

OMG now she has your sympathy, Pepper. This is not looking good for our team (Help, Ruth, help!)

Tina M. Russo said...

BTW I ordered The Moral Premise this am and it arrives on Saturday. Thanks for the heads up.

Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA ... yes, we are SO blessed to have friends (aka Seekers) who not only tell us the truth, but soften it with their love and understanding.

TINA ... You can't go wrong ordering The Moral Premise, but gosh, I sure think Natasha needs to get royalties on this one ... :)


JStantonChandler said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! Especially about making God our confidence, and not our accomplishments or lack thereof.
Discipline isn't something any of us look forward to (or something we like to cultivate for that matter) but it is necessary for growth!

Amy said...

JSTANTONCHANDLER ... Thank YOU for taking the time to read it and leave a comment! Have a blessed day!


Missy Tippens said...

Julie, I'm late reading your post. But I'm so glad I did! It was a wonderful lesson. Thanks so much for sharing.

Pepper Basham said...

btw, I do know all the words to the Hallelujah chorus. Happen to sing it about every Christmas, but if you have the word "Hallelujah" memorized, you get about 75% of it right :-)