Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(Warning: This is an editorial by Julie Lessman, as well as a discussion and book giveaway.)

Okay, it’s true—I’m definitely what you’d call an “Edgy Inspirational” romance writer, teetering on the edge of what is considered 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 recently, 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, Ruthy, 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, 21st-century realistic romantic tension interlaced with God’s precepts (i.e. on the "edge," like mine), which in years past, hasen't been overly 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 women 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 sensuality and 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 up 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 … 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 you what your thoughts are on “edgy” Christian fiction—are you pro or con, and if so, why? Your feedback is important to those of us who write it 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 brave enough to comment with your opinions, you will have an opportunity to win a signed copy of your choice of one of the books in The Daughters of Boston series, the series that according to the Romantic Times, “isn’t your mother’s inspirational fiction.” And don’t worry, if you win, I’ll send it in a plain, brown wrapper … J


  1. No, I'm not an early bird. It's exactly 12 hours difference here in China. And if there were donuts available in this country, I'd bring them. Sigh. Anyone else feel like a frosting-topped, white-flour donut that's in no way good for you but tastes absolutely delicious?

    Julie, I love what you shared about the girl who couldn't put your book down and ended up turning her life around because you've done with your novels what Christians ought to be doing in every part of their life--infusing God in the center!

    Whenever I read about kindled passion or amazing sweetness, I blink at the tears in my eyes and say, "Thank You, Jesus. That's You. That's how You treat me." It's amazing how my passion for Him has grown because I've been willing to step off the edge by turning my emotions over to Him. (Love the picture!)

    I think God is using Edgy Inspiration to grab our hearts and wind us back into a love affair with Him just like the one David had in the Bible (okay, I stole that from Passion Denied. Thanks, Julie!)

    Since I love reading and writing edgy romance, too, I seek to ask myself the question--did that just fire me up for God? I think that's the filter that 'purifies' our minds and emotions.

  2. Okay, I can't stand it. I'm posting another thought even though no one else is up yet!

    Here it is: We have to be real about our emotions, hurts, dreams, and needs or we're going to lose this generation for Christ. They're so passionate about life! Even if it is often in the wrong direction, I believe God loves their passionate hearts. He wants so much to bring them back to Him, and I think He's doing it through a number of venues--one, being Edgy Inspirational novels. I think passion applies to everything, not just romance. How deep do we really want to dig into the issues that hurt us and awaken our desires? My answer--as deep as the human heart goes. Why? Because when we slap Jesus into the middle of it--whether it's pain or passion--He's fully able to meet every need and every longing. And if we don't go deep, we're hiding. Cause the pain and passion are there whether we deal with them or not.

  3. PRO!! All the way pro! Like you said - passion is not a bad thing. It's a God-given thing. We humans just take it and twist it into something it was never meant to be. Me likey the passion when it lines up with God's precepts.

    Now I must read your books!

  4. My editor (Tiffany Colter) recently finished reading one of my MS's and told me that my style is edgy for CBA. But she also said there is a huge ministry for women who need to learn that Song of Solomon principle, that God did intend for a husband and wife to share passion.

    So, I'm keeping in the passion, and my agent thought I should too for now. But I'm praying about it, because as you mentioned, we want to stand before the Lord and have him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." If we can't hear him say that, then what's the use?

  5. Oooo..my toes are tingling just looking at that picture, Julie! Yikes!

    I have to say, when I first read about you from one of your posts here at The Seekers, I was enthralled and your words on passion in CBA fiction were like water in a desert. I have read secular romance for years, trying to find authors that had the heart pounding romance yet had a closed door....hard to find!!!!! Last summer I decided I had had enough and would write my own romance. I started it intending it to be secular, not thinking/knowing about the new edgy novels in the Christian arena.

    So when I read about you and what you were doing, I felt like God was validating what I was writing and was even calling me to write FOR Him. Of course now I will need to go back and infuse a Christian worldview into my WIP. Lots of work, I know, but so gladly done.

    So, I thank you, Julie, for letting God whisper through you, to me. I hoped I haven't stalked you too much on the blogs...and btw...I am sooooo loving A Passion Most Pure. It makes my heart tumble and my husband keeps looking at me with a hopeful gleam in his eye, when I heave a big sigh. :)

    God bless you, girl! I'll read your brand of godly "smut" any day! You are making a difference.

  6. Great post, Julie! You already know I'm pro. :-) I think you did a great job explaining why you write the way you do.

  7. Julie, Julie, Julie.

    Don't much care for terminology or labels.

    Real. That's all I want. Is that too much to ask for?

    I think not. And I think that there must be a lot of us out there because we are knocking down the walls.

    Thanks for leading the pack.


  8. Julie, I LOVE your books and LOVE the passion in them! We can't please everyone, nor should we try. Our audience is God and we are to please him, and I think he's smiling down on you and saying, "Well done my child."

    You will know them by your fruits. I dare say your fruits are probably two-fold of what the "smut is smut" ladies is.

    My own writing would be labeled as "edgy" in some areas too, as a break a few of the molds of the norm. I'm trying to figure out the balancing act between trying true to my story and appeasing those who read it... so people WILL read it. *sigh*

  9. What a great post, Julie -- thanks for sharing your heart with us.

    God wired us to be passionate, and we're going to find some sort of outlet for it, whether good or bad. Books like yours help us remember that passion is a good, God-given thing and that having Him at the heart of things points us in the direction He intends. When you're teaching lessons through your stories like how God wants our relationships to be before and during marriage, I think you're doing exactly what He would want. Keep watching Him while you write because I'm sure He's smiling!

    I would offer to make some coffee but y'all wouldn't want to drink it if I tried! So I have warm coffee cake and apple fritters instead. Enjoy!

  10. I want to add that I too believe that passion is ordained by God and we need books from a Christian worldview that deals with, and even celebrates that passion. I know I want my daughter to have a framework to deal with the feelings that will occur as she starts to date. I think Julie's books will be mandatory reading for her this summer! :)

  11. Hi Julie! Great post. Edgy fiction can often keep Christian woman from straying into secular romance where the worldview is completely different. You're on the 'front line' and I applaud you!

    But not everyone wants to read edgier books, so it's great to have different levels of sensuality available in Christian fiction. If it honors God, then it's fine.

  12. Like the others, I think there is a place for passion in our reading. Song of Solomon is a good example - and although it's written allegorically, many of us understand it's clear meaning.

    I think there will always be critics. Oh my word - they're holding hands - stop the presses.

    But God gave us our passion - and He instructed us how and when to use it. NEVER talking about it is just as irresponsible and using it in a way that does not please God.

    Your writing appeals to certain people and with reason. Peter wrote to the Jews, Paul wrote to the Romans. Each kind of person needs a message - but sometimes it takes different writers.

    Now I must go buy your book! =)

  13. My bottom line is -- will Wal-Mart shoppers pick it up?

    If so, and they learn about God's love through this parable, it's all good.

  14. Tina, real is right on.
    Sherrinda, So glad you want to write for Him!

    I challenge myself with the words of Francine Rivers on her website: http://www.francinerivers.com/writing_tips.asp. She said, "A Christian who writes may weave Christian principles into the story, but the work can stand when those elements are removed. A Christian writer is called to present a story that is all about Jesus."

    Praise God we're all so different, and He can reach all stratas of readers through the variety of writing styles He has given!

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  16. KATIE, yes ... you MUST read my books, girl!! :) Especially if you like "passion that lines up with God's precepts," because I don't write anything but.

    JODY, as a word of encouragement, I had 39 rejections on A Passion Most Pure when my agent, Natasha Kern, signed me and she told me then that it would be slim to nil to get published in the Christian market. In fact, I had asked her to pitch me to the secular market instead because I was SO sure the Christian market wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot pole. But she said that I was too spiritual for the ABA, so we took a chance. In fact, I originally had two versions of APMP -- a CBA version (with much less passion, no overt mention of Catholicism, no card playing and no drinking) and an ABA version with everything intact. Fortunately for me, Natasha inadvertantly sent the ABA version to Revell, and I have to tell you, I was totally shocked when they bought it. So hang in there because the market is changing ...


  17. SHERRINDA!!! Gosh, girl, you and I think SO much alike!! I did exactly the same thing -- looked everywhere for that heart-pounding romance that had as much passion for God as romance, and I couldn't find it either, so I wrote my own. I think writers like you and I are out there in droves, and I think God wants to use us BIG TIME to touch the hearts of an amoral generation that yeah, may believe in God, but would no more pick up an Inspy novel than they would darken a church door.

    And thank you for the compliment that my books will be mandatory reading for your daughter this summer! I do hope she's a mid- or older teen, though, as I do think they are a little strong for the really young teen. Although I had an eleven-year-old ask me to sign her book at a shower I went to a few weeks ago. She looked all of eight as she handed me her copy of APMP, and I said, "You read this?? How old are you?" I think eleven may be just a wee bit too young ...

    JESSICA ... grin, yep, I already know you're "pro," my friend ... thanks for showing up on all my blog interviews/giveaways to win a signed book -- you are SO due ... :)


  18. Hi Julie -

    Thank you for opening your heart and the willingness to take risks. My own WIP is edgy in a different way, and I often wonder if it will ever find a publisher.

    I think it comes down to target audience. You're not going to please everyone, but you're not commissioned to reach everyone.

    I enjoyed all of your books, but the first one was my favorite. :)


  19. TINA ... gosh, I'm HOPING there are a lot of us out there, because I'm banking on that to keep me from getting lonely in this market, my friend. And, YES, we have coffee -- my favorite, hazelnut with a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled on the grounds before the brewing process ... YUM!!

    Thank you, KRISTA, for your kind words! And as far as "smut smut" lady is concerned, she obviously feels just as passionate about her viewpoint as I do about mine, and I have to admire that. Passion is good ... as long as it is according to God's precepts, which, I guess, she thinks she is doing ... but then, so do I! :)

    LEIGH ... thank you SO much for your encouragement, especially your comment that "When you're teaching lessons through your stories like how God wants our relationships to be before and during marriage, I think you're doing exactly what He would want." That is SOOO what I am trying to do -- pass on the truth of what God has taught me in relationships, both as a single woman till I was 28 (in an amoral generation such as the 70's) and as a married one. The lessons I try to impart are real ... and so were the moral situations I found myself in over and over ... just like today's young women, married and non, face everyday.


  20. Julie,

    I want to thank you for this post. I admire your honesty and your "passion", both for life and for writing. My husband and I both have time and time again commented on how there seems to be a lack of reality in the Christian market, be it literature or music or what have you. Yes, we must make our focus God and we never want to do anything to offend Him, but why does that mean we must sacrifice truth, reality, and (sadly, more often than not) talent?

    Passion is a part of everyone's life, just as hurt, joy, pain, anger, etc. I admire someone who is not afraid to write from the heart, write what their convictions dictate. God created passion; why should the world get to have all the fun? Besides, if we are too afraid of being real, of relating to people on a level they can understand, are we really witnessing to the hurt, the tired, the lost? People are people no matter what religion or doctrine they profess. We, as Christians, need to shake off this paralyzing fear that prevents us from ministering outside what convention tells us is off limits.

    I, too, am a writer, and a Christian, but I do not write for the Christian genre. I've had to endure some flack for that. But I know what God has called me to do, what he has called me to write, and who he's called me to minister to. You have to be true to his calling on your life, no matter how many people oppose you.

    I applaud you for taking into consideration the feelings of you readers, for without them, our profession would dwindle. I hope that through your authenticity and desire to please HIM, your readers will be able to see your heart and the truth behind why you write the way you do.

    Thanks again for this amazing post. It has really encouraged me to continue writing "my heart".


  21. CARA, thank you for your encouragment and especially your comment that "Edgy fiction can often keep Christian woman from straying into secular romance where the worldview is completely different."

    Oh, man, this is SOOO true! I look at our society today where almost EVERYONE I know is living together before marriage, and I say to myself, "When did this all happen?" I think it happened slowly, with desensitization through movies, books, music, HOLLYWOOD!!! So Christian women and young girls who are devouring a steady diet of secular romance or movies have GOT to be affected, don't they? Desensitized even a little bit until it gets to the point when it's no big deal. For me, as a Christian, there is something achingly sad about that.

    DEBBIE ... AMEN to your comment that, "Peter wrote to the Jews, Paul wrote to the Romans. Each kind of person needs a message - but sometimes it takes different writers." Preach it, girl!!!

    ANN, well I think Walmart buyers MIGHT pick my book up IF it were in Walmart!! APMP was actually in a few Walmarts for a while (which is where I think the "fallen-away" women in my story above may have found my book originally), but I haven't seen it there since.

    AYRIAN!! You're back ... did you sleep at all??? :)

    SUSAN ... thanks SO much for stopping in AND for your kind words! And I totally agree -- it does come down to our "target audience," and edgy Inspy writers have to tell themselves that over and over. We are not going to please everyone, but we are not commissioned to reach everyone, either. Amen to that, because I doubt the Amish market would be real crazy about my books ... although I do have some reallllly GREAT Mennonite readers who have become some of my favorite online friends!! :)


  22. Hi Julie,

    I had to jump in and tell you that you are SO on the right track with your work.

    I am an aspiring Inspirational writer and an avid reader, but frankly a lot of the inspirational romances leave me bored. For someone who loves the romance part, taking half the book to get to a first chaste kiss, just doesn't cut it for me.

    Your books (and I've just got the third) are so refreshing that way. They are heart-pounding, heart-wrenching, and a joy to read. I couldn't put the first two down, then was sad when the story was over! Plus you have a wonderful way of weaving the religious aspect in without being too preachy.

    I aspire to have my writing be somewhere near as good as yours.

    Don't listen to the bad comments. Just know that there are a lot of people out there who love your type of writing and can't wait for your next book to come out.

    Think of yourself as a modern day pioneer in Christian literature!

    Blessings and joy to you Julie,

    Sue Mason

  23. JENNIFER, where to start with your amazing comment?? There were so many parts of it that touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes -- THANK YOU for your incredible encouragement!

    First of all, your comment that "God created passion; why should the world get to have all the fun?" made me want to stand up a cheer! AMEN TO THAT, my friend. We are children of the King and the God who created passion, joy, love, FUN ... why are we Christians not reveling in it?? In Him???

    Then your statement that said, "Besides, if we are too afraid of being real, of relating to people on a level they can understand, are we really witnessing to the hurt, the tired, the lost?" NO, we are not, more often than not.

    And then your comment that "You have to be true to his calling on your life, no matter how many people oppose you." Thank you for those words of truth, my friend. My concern is not so much with my opposers ... but the tiny seed of concern they sow in me that I am not honoring God with my writing. That would crush me ... as does the suggestion of it with their comments.

    Thank you again, Jennifer, for your kind words.


  24. Okay, SUE, you made me cry ... AGAIN!! First Jennifer, and now you! Thank you SO very much for your kind, kind encouragement -- what a blessing you are to me!

    You said "Don't listen to the bad comments," well, I must admit that I DO listen to the "bad comments" because I want to evaluate EVERYTHING in prayer, even those bad comments. You see, it's comments like "smut is smut" that forces me back to the throne of God (a very good place to be if you are writing for Him!). I never want to miss His leading, even if it comes in a way not to my liking. And actually, because of Miss Smut is Smut and a number of other good friends AND my husband, I have made the decision to tone down the passion just a tad in my next series. But hear me on this -- I do believe God has called me to write passionate fiction for Him, and I will continue to do so with everything in me. Thanks again, Sue, for your support!


  25. Julie, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us!
    I am PRO to edgy christian fiction. Because I like reading books that are real, that don't sugar coat or completely ignore passionate subjects. In the secular world we're bombarded with sexuality that's totally apart from God's will. So when we read Christian books we want to see God's approach and His will for the passion in our lives. Books without passion (spiritual or physical) just seem fake to me and I'd rather not read them.
    I hope you understand what I'm trying to say, I can't quite exress myself the way I want to...I haven't had any sleep for a few days due to an infected tooth :P
    Thank so much for the chance to win your book!

  26. Julie,

    Thank you SO much for this entry. I gave up on writing inspirational stories because my first two were rejected everywhere with comments that boiled down to "It's too Christian for the secular market and too secular for the Christian market...."

    Since then I've been writing stories for the general market that center around married couples and are slightly hot but never raunchy.

    Lately I've been considering reworking those first two manuscripts but wasn't sure if I would tailor them to the inspirational or general market.

    After reading these thoughtful words, I plan to buy all three of your books listed here.

    Thank you for giving me some serious food for thought.

  27. To be brutally honest, some Christian fiction I read seems unrealistic. Your books, Julie, are realistic. Perhaps that is why I'm a fan. To me--and I only write for fun--writing is best when it's true, real, down to earth, down to the nitty gritty, etc.
    I like to read about Christian characters who aren't perfect, who struggle like every other human on this planet.
    I suppose that makes me PRO.
    Also, I'd love to win A PASSION DENIED.


  28. Julie, No sleep yet, though I'm gonna hit the sack as soon as my brain will let me. Man, I'm getting addicted to this website. Love the insights from everyone!

    And dare I promote my edgy romance novel, Love that is Blind? A reader posted a review: Warning: R-rated, sexuality throughout. Ouch! Guess that's what I get for delving (with passion) into subjects like promiscuity, rape, adultery and bedroom scenes between husband and wife. Yep, kinda kicks the edge. But I thought--if readers can't really relate to these characters, how will they really understand the battle for the mind that takes place every day of our lives? How will they truly grasp that Jesus' passion for us can free us from every darkness and fill up every empty place? So that's why I pushed past the edge, though I have to add that my favorite character in it is the sweet Christian girl with a passion for nothing less than Jesus.
    (Okay, now maybe I can go to bed and catch up with all of you in the morning!) :)

  29. Hey, Fellow Ledge Occupant,

    What echos across the canyon and reverberates in my heart is the message to write the story God lays on YOUR heart.

    One day we all will lay our stories, pubbed or unpubbed, edgy or traditional, fantasy or fact, at His feet. Oh, to hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

    And that will be enough, dear soulmate Julie (and others). That will be enough.

    In the meantime, accept Living Water from our Savior and manna, both from God and from writer soulmates. Seek them out like your writer's life depends on it, for it just might...

    Dispatched from the edge,


  30. CAROLYNN!!! Honey, I couldn't have said it better myself! Your comment that "In the secular world we're bombarded with sexuality that's totally apart from God's will. So when we read Christian books we want to see God's approach and His will for the passion in our lives." Amen to that, my friend!!

    And I am saying a prayer for that tooth of yours RIGHT NOW, and I invite everyone who reads this to do the same. Then get some sleep, okay?

    CHICKI ... Oh, deja vu!!! Your comment about "too Christian for the secular market and too secular for the Christian market..." Now where have I heard that before??? And good for you, writing in the secular market, because God knows that market could use the salt! But I would definitely try "reworking" those ms. you mentioned for the Inspy market too, because as my books clearly show, the market is changing. And thank you for being so willing to go out and buy "all three" of my books, but if I were you, I'd try winning one first, either today on the Seeker blog or on one of the other blog giveaways posted on my website calendar at www.julielessman.com. That way before you spend the money, you can see if you like my style first, okay? Good luck to you, Chicki, in the Inspy market.

    Thank you SO much, COURTNEY, for your kind words AND your incredible support! You sure deserve to win a book, my friend!

    AYRIAN!!! You haven't gone to sleep yet??? Well, to be honest, I'm glad because I LOVE your comment that "if readers can't really relate to these characters, how will they really understand the battle for the mind that takes place every day of our lives?"

    Oh, amen to that, sister!! Now get some sleep, okay? For real, this time!!


  31. Perhaps I'm biased by the fact that I love your books and they are one of the few that I actually want to reread if I ever find the time just for the sake of reading something that is truly worth my while.

    Anyway I think there are lines that have been crossed in supposedly "Christian" books by Christian authors that I have encountered but yours is not one of them. It is definitely not what most would expect or even what some would approve of in Christian fiction but in my opinion it simply bumps up the bar for other authors that write in the genre to meet my own expectation of what makes a truly memorable and enticing book and I have to agree alot of the status quo in Christian fiction doesn't come close and seems to stagnate in what it has been for decades rather than moving forward to appeal to a contemporary audience while remaining true to God's standards.

    Of course I want a chance at the book but if I win I have plans to give it to someone else so be sure and drop me a note before you sign it - I know this is a big IF but hey just covering the bases now LOL.

  32. Ooops forgot to leave you an email JIC you need it forest_rose[at]yahoo[dot]com

    And also meant to say that I'm with you on the heights and rejection thing as well though I haven't had to worry about bad reviews of my writing as yet.

  33. Julie, I have a point I don't think I can make strongly enough. It's just as that young girl said who couldn't put your book down though she didn't really want to read Christian fiction.

    I just finished A Passion Denied. And, beyond the edginess and the passion and the faith, the bottom line is, it's a fantastic book. Absolutely compelling and engrossing, fast paced. Fun.

    You're very talented and I'm grateful to you and to God that you're using your gifts to write passion with a purpose.

    Keep it up.

  34. There's non-Christian 'edgy' that titillates and Christian 'edgy' that brings God's perspectives to passion. Quite a difference.
    I recently read a non Christian mystery book that was very well written (except for swear words), but the ending was empty, hopeless--no redeeming value of forgiveness and love. (No, I don't normally read them, but it was a free download.) I wrote the author and let him know that it left me empty and hopeless without the redeeming power of Jesus' forgiveness and reconciliation. Great book, no redeeming value of God's point of view. To me, that is the difference of Christian passion and non-Christian passion. After all, God created sex for marriage, passionately. Just as He wants us to passionately love Him. Passion is not a 4-letter word if used properly. But it has to have a redeeming, Christ-centered value throughout. So I'm all for it with the above disclaimers.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  35. Julie,

    Interesting, I started my first story in elementary too.
    Finished it when I was in my mid twenties. I won't tell you how long ago that was.

    I so agree with you, I've said it myself to people time and time again. If God created passion, if he created sex and wants a man and wife to share it within his parameters to fulfill and bless them.

    If he allows a book like Song of Solomon then why do we always act like ninnies when it comes to the discussion of sex.

    oops forgive me...

    I realize there are things that shouldn't be spoken of. But we aren't in the darkages anymore. I told my children to wait and share sex in the way God designed, better me tell them then everyone else and boy do they get enough from the other realms already.

    Sometimes it seems like as a God created woman, I can get a flutter in my hear, but not get a tug of desire. (Heavens, if I'm not having more children I shouldn't even think about it. What's a woman to do?)

    I can read Song of Solomon as long as I wear blinders and black out the parts that talk about the body and longing.

    My body belongs to my husband and his belongs to me. Or so scripture tells me. That means I should please my husband sooo I should wear high collar Victorian (Not Victoria's Secret) gowns to bed.

    I realize there is a boundary that God does not want us to cross, but heaven help me when I get treated like a teenager in a Godly novel about romance and relationships, it makes me want to upchuck.

    I've heard the... it's too strong for CBA as well. Tone it down, but my heart won't let me.
    Perhaps that's why I've been plugging away for the last several years to get published. Yes, I can continue to clean up my stories, grammar and such, but I keep hoping a time will come when an editor will look at my story and say okay.

    In the meantime, I let others read my stories and they love that I make the romance between a man and wife so real. I've had woman tell me they look at their husbands differently after having read one of my stories.
    And I know that's the Lord telling me to keep writing.

    Don't ever let the naysayers keep you from doing what God wants either.

    Stepping down from my soapbox now.

  36. PATTI ... my "fellow edge occupant" most assuredly!! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your encouragement. And "Living Water" and manna sound pretty good to me right about now ... I think I'll finish up answering these next few comments and then go and partake of some!

    FORSTROSE (Melissa!) ... thank you for taking the time to stop by -- I know how busy you are with moving right now! And thank you for your kind words on my behalf ... you KNOW how much I appreciate your thoughts and opinions. I guess I haven't read much Christian fiction that has "crossed the line" because I primarily read Christian romance, but I am so happy to hear that someone well-read like you (a reviewer) does not feel that my books have crossed the line. Thank you, my friend.

    Gosh, MARE, you're making me blush here, but thank you for your words ... high praise, indeed, since they come from one of MY favorite authors and friends.

    WOW, Linda, beautifully put!! Especially the part about "There's non-Christian 'edgy' that titillates and Christian 'edgy' that brings God's perspectives to passion. Quite a difference ... Passion is not a 4-letter word if used properly. But it has to have a redeeming, Christ-centered value throughout." I HOPE and I PRAY from the very center of my soul that beyond all the passion critics see in my work that they can at least say that my books do have that wonderful "redeeming, Christ-centered value throughout." Thank you for your beautiful comment, Linda.


  37. Julie, I'm really not an emotional person, but reading your post made me cry.

    About a month ago, my agent told me Heartsong was wanting to finish out their State series. So I had an idea that I merely planted in one of the states they were looking for. Sounds crazy but I picked the state that interested me the least.

    Now after all the research I've done, I've passionate about this idea. The proposal is due June 1st so I stayed up late last night working on my outline for book 1. It's about 1/2 done. As I wrote, I realized I needed to deepen my book 1 hero's motivation for his inner conflict, which also deepens the motivation of for book 3 hero's inner conflict.

    Did some more research and found out about divorce laws in 1900s New England. Fascinating.

    So I asked some ladies in one of my writing groups for their opininon my understanding of the divorce law. The general concensus was you can't have a divorced main character in an Heartsong.

    I'd undivorce the book3 hero, but in doing so, I lose some realistic internal conflict.

    I've prayed for the last year that God would give me a teachable spirit, and I can see how He has. So my heart is open to asking, "Can I change this aspect and still write the story God has laid on my heart?"

    I don't know the answer.

    I know folks love to walk on the edge for the sake of walking on the edge, and that's generally because they have an "it's about me" attitude. But when I read your post, I'm reminded some people walk on the edge not because they want to be (in fact, they often don't want to be), but they do it because they know that's were God told them to walk.

    Edge for the sake of edge isn't who I am. Not that I'm not tempted at times because when I see stupidity, especially amid God's children, I just want to rock the boat.

    Anyhoo, right now I feel like what's the point of even trying to get this fiction proposal ready. If Heartsong has a No Divorce policy, then I'm either gonna have to do some serious thiking to change my story or give up submitting this to them. What's the point if I'm only giving them a reason to reject despite how great the series idea it is?

    Maybe I should accept the fact the sweet simplicty of Heartsong is too complicated for me. As my agent says, writing a short story takes a different skill than a 90k novel.

  38. Guess what? I LOVE your books! Please tell me anyone you know who hasn't had that spine tingling feeling before...NOBODY! So why is it considered to be somewhat taboo in Christian fiction, to go into "detail"? Your writing is "real!" How can anyone deny that God gives us passion after reading the Song of Solomon? It's what you choose to do with that passion that affects your life! Your series shows both sides of the issue, what can happen if you use if for God's will or your own will. Keep it up!!!


  39. Hi Julie:

    I think it is axiomatic that you cannot be on the ‘edge’ and not offend some people. If you jump in the pool, you can’t avoid getting wet.

    My question is: where does it end?

    Today’s edge is often tomorrow’s center-ground. I just wonder if all your arguments would apply equally well to a ‘Christian’ Blaze romance in which a fallen minister and a street prostitute find salivation in the oneness that results from their perfect and unselfish physical act of love. Would anyone object to a Christian Blaze line of books if it brought lost souls to the Lord? I would not object just as I do not object to Christian Punk Rock music.

    I have two of your books but the type is too small even in the trade paperbacks. I’d like to read your most edgy romance as I think I can get it as an eBook. Which of your books is the most edgy? I just have to know what everyone is talking about.

    BTW, in Oklahoma some like to say that the pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs. I also seem to remember something about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that waits those who venture forth to explore new grounds. Keep up the good work and always choose to “be”.


  40. Wow! Lots of thoughtful posts here today! I'm just thrilled I can post again! (crazy firewalls!)

    Anyway, Julie, you know I love you girl, and I appreciate beyond measure the way you share your heart with your readers...how you pray for your readers....how you engage in relationship with those who read your stories. YOU are real, and that comes through in your writing.

    I've actually been exploring this "edgy" definition through several avenues lately, one through a discussion with a fiction acquisitions editor for a large publisher of Christian fiction. What I've learned is that whether you are the publisher or the writer or the reader you have to be true to God's direction in your life. Yes, you have to be aware of your testimony to others, but first of all you must be obedient to what God has asked you to do.

    Sometimes this results in a home-run all around for publisher/author/reader alike. Sometimes there is much disagreement and sometimes hurt feelings. But the bottom line remains: are you being obedient to what God has asked you to do? No one can answer that for you but God alone.

    God is using some unusual avenues to reach folks - avenues that make me personally uncomfortable. I don't like Christian "rock" music for instance. I don't like to find curse words in books published by Christian publishing houses. And if I'm totally honest, I don't need a whole lot of detail in a sex scene to enjoy the passion. But that's me. I cannot know what will reach another person for Christ, and I know that each of the above mentioned avenues HAS reached out to folks that perhaps would have never heard the gospel otherwise.

    I want to encourage all of us who read, who blog, who write...all of us who belong to Christ...to pray for each other. Pray that we will be obedient to listen to and obey God's voice in our lives. Pray that we will not be afraid to obey even when we're uncomfortable. Pray for those who must decide whose stories to publish in a market that is growing and changing every day. Pray that they will also hear and obey God's voice in their lives.

    Julie, you are definitely hearing the Lord's direction. It is evident everywhere your shining smile appears. You just keep loving the Lord and following Him, and He will direct your writing so that He gets the glory! Your passion for Christ is a bright flame for all of us who are blessed to call you friend.

    Love you!

  41. I'm pro. I am struggling with the edgy writing myself. I just finished my secular YA novel. I want to write in that genre with either Christian or Homeschool characters who aren't whacky as all the YA books available seem to portray them if they make the list of characters. I want to be as C.S. Lewis comments that we need good writers who are Christians. My villain curses because anything less would be absurd for his character. If I could make it believable and not curse I did, but two had to be at least mild curses and boy did I struggle with writing it down being that I have never cursed myself. But poopy-head just doesn't cut it sometimes! :) I had to remind myself that it is secular and there are worse things available in that genre, but at the same time .... I'll see if they survive my rewrite.

    As for the other area I want to write and began last night, Christian Edgy romance makes sense to me presently. Why? Because I know how some inspy fiction is too bland to get anyone but those of us already in the pack (I do love the "bland" ones, but I realize that they don't catch those that may need to be caught). I remember in college, my Christian roommate read Harlequin and when I read one and was hugely uncomfortable I asked her why she read them. She said inspy was too fake. I offered up Redeeming Love for her to consider and she now is hooked. To provide wholesome, but passionately real stories I think is in great demand for those who are filling their minds with immoral stories. Besides, if you own a television and actually watch it, you get tons of short bits of immoral passion storylines just in commercials even if you don't watch the actual show. We are inundated with the secular version of passion and to offer an appealing inspy version I think is needed.

    I think the fact that I am drawn to historical christian is that I actually believe there were enough "stories" back then where they weren't divorced, stayed virgin, etc. but contemporary versions start to ring untrue The more I read them since none of the main characters never mess up big time.

  42. Julie,

    You are more than welcome for the encouragement! I'm just so thankful my comment was encouraging and not out of place. I tend to stand loud and proud on my soap box :) Thank YOU for your encouragement and your courage!


  43. Julie - *sigh* If I start thinking too much into my typing, I will never stop, or either blogger will kick me out for exceeding a word count. So I'll keep it brief as possible.

    You already know my opinions of your books, even the ones that are not written yet, so we are covered there.

    This post of yours comes at an amazing time for me. As in the last month I was reading "A Passion Denied" and carrying it around with me - it opened the door for much conversation. Also, leading the Christian Historical Fiction group on goodreads did as well.

    I have been enthralled with conversations about what you write and explaining to some why you write it. There are some who love it, some who are unsure, and some who do not quite have the preference. But the fact of reading this post and finding most of the things that I have told people about your heart for writing and why things would be portrayed in such a way to get at the heart of the issue and to guide people to the heart of God is incredible.

    It makes me smile and really feel like I know you even better than I realized. *grin*

    *baby kicks!*

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. Julie;
    I love your heart and the passion you have for what the Lord has called you to do. I truly admire that about you.

    I have to be honest I’ve not really read many ROMANCE novels before reading yours. I've never really been into those kinds of books they seemed hokey to me. I will admit I was addicted to the Young and Restless for a while a long time ago. It makes my hair stand to see the soaps today!! OUCH!!

    Your books are very gripping and talk about things we've been uncomfortable to talk about for years.

    I wish I could have had the opportunity to read your books when I was young. Maybe I would have understood what True Love was. I love how you show in your books what True Love looks like. I remember asking people (even Christians) no one really knew or made much sense in answering my questions. I've appreciate the honesty in your books and how your characters struggle with doing the right thing. You let them discover what the right thing is according to what God wants for their life. Not our plan we want blessed by God.

    I have discovered authors have a tough job. Writing what the Lord has laid on your heart is never easy when you have to show it to someone else - not to mention the WHOLE WORLD!!

    Know that I've prayed for you and other authors the Lord has brought in my life. I pray that He will give you the courage to do what He has called you to do no matter what man thinks. Yes, there's a fine line we walk daily. I pray for God's courage to grow in your heart, & mind. I also pray you continue to write what you feel the Lord is pressing on your heart.

    Thanks for being vulnerable, honest and willing to do the Lords will not your own.

    I think that's what sets your books apart for me. Your passion for the right kind of love, your world view, your love for the Lord you so easily share with others, and lets not forget your tenderness that shines through on every page you write.

    Blessings to you friend. Don't get weary of fighting the good fight.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.


  46. Hi Julie Great post. All the books of The Daughters of Boston series sound wonderful.My thoughts on “edgy” Christian fiction—are pro .Keep up the good writing.

  47. TINA, grin ... your comment made me smile ... especially the part about getting treated "like a teenager in a Godly novel about romance and relationships." I smiled because it's SO true AND because you obviously meant like a teenager in the 1800s, not today's variety. YIKES, the stuff those kids are exposed to would curl my poker-straight hair, WHICH is one of the reasons I wanted to make romance more "real" in my books. I went through the temptations when I was their age, and I know they do too, but even worse, so why not give them some real romance with real solutions from God's Word??? And, sweetie ... you can get up on your soapbox all you want -- that's what this post if for today. Uh ... you just may have to shove me off first ... :)

    GINA ... I made you cry??? Oh, dear, I hope they were good tears?? I certainly understand your frustration, my friend. I still remember with painful clarity when I pitched A Passion Most Pure for the VERY first time at ACFW. I got exactly eight words out -- "This is a story about an Irish-Catholic family ..." before she held up her hand to stop me. No Catholicism in their books, which is something I should have known, but didn't. I know now, and that knowledge makes it crystal clear that I am not the author for Steeple Hill nor or they the publisher for me. I think you should consider publishers who are more open to edgier stuff (such as divorce, passion, etc.) like Revell, Bethany House, Kregel, sheaf House, etc. Or have you ever considered going secular? Debbie Macomber does a bang-up job as a strong Christian in a secular market. Just a thought. Of course, I wanted to go secular, too, but as my agent pointed out -- I was too spiritual for the secular market.

    And I love your statement of "Edge for the sake of edge isn't who I am." Oh, I sooooooo agree with that! Edge without God's leading or precepts is not what I want to read ... OR write!


  48. RENEE ... thanks SO much for stopping in today, Steelergirl, to show your support! And how can anyone deny that God gives us passion after reading the Song of Solomon? I wonder the same thing, but maybe some people skip over that book in the Bible ... :)

    VINCE ... very insightful comments, my friend, and yes, I am definitely sopping wet in the proverbial pool!

    "Where does it end?" A VERY important question, so thank you for asking it! Yes, today's "edge" could well be tomorrow's "center ground," WHICH, ironically, is exactly what has happened to the morality of today's society. Yesterday's "necking in the car at the drive-in" is now today's sleeping around and living together before marriage, so how are we going to stem the tide in a generation we will NOT reach with white-bread Christianity?

    First of all, we are not dealing with apples to oranges here. The world's slide into amorality happens quite naturally among those who do not know Jesus Christ -- oranges. But the apples -- those who do know Jesus Christ and attempt to live for Him -- hopefully willactually try to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow God's precepts, albeit failing much of the time. But there is still the "check of the Holy Spirit" at work in Christian writers that I am counting on to keep Christian fiction glorifying God rather than man or sin. Will these Christian authors always heed the leading of God? No, of course not -- humanity is involved. But is that any reason for an author like me, let's say, to stay out of the water? Edmund Burke's famous quote that says "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I couldn't agree more, and we need lots more "pioneers" to enter the fray, arrows in their back or not.

    As far as the Christian Blaze romance, I am not for ANYTHING that does not promote the precepts of God. I had this girlfriend once when I was in my 20s who I actually converted to Christ. Well, this friend of mine loved Jesus, but she would go to the bars, down five or six drinks (all while witnessing for Jesus), then go home with any guy she met and sleep with him. "You can't do that," I would tell her over and over again -- it's sin." She would argue that she was just showing the love of God to these men, her particular brand of witnessing to them. This was a woman who professed Jesus, but she lived by HER precepts, not His. It's the same with writing for God. If your writing does not profess God's precepts and LEAD the reader in His direction, it doesn't qualify as Christian fiction in my opinion, and is certainly nothing that I would care to read, that's for sure.

    Thanks for your provocative thoughts, Vince -- I cannot express how much I appreciate you playing the devil's advocate.


  49. Oh my goodness, how can you stand on the edge like that, I can't even look off a balcony at a hotel or look at the cliff on the side of a road.


  50. KIM ... crying again here, I'm afraid. Between Vince's "pool" and the heart-tugging encouragement of dear friends like you, I am definitely "all wet"! :)

    You are SO right, my friend, when you say "God is using some unusual avenues to reach folks" - avenues that make some personally uncomfortable. Yes, He is!! And what's comfortable for one (i.e. ear-splitting metalcore-rock Christian music, edgy fiction) will NOT be comfortable for all. But instead of taking potshots at each other, we need to do EXACTLY as you so wonderfully stated in your comment: "I want to encourage all of us who read, who blog, who write...all of us who belong to Christ...to pray for each other. Pray that we will be obedient to listen to and obey God's voice in our lives."

    Oh,AMEN AND AMEN!!! I STILL pray for the "smut is smut" reviewer because I want to make sure my heart stays clean before God AND I want Him to bless her and reach her in the areas she may need to be reached. And how I HOPE and PRAY she is doing the same for me!

    MJ ... LOVE the C.S. Lewis quote that "we need good writers who are Christians"!! SOOO true!! Hear, hear for authors like Debbie Macomber and John Grisham who write excellent fiction for the secular market.

    And you are absolutely right -- there IS a great demand AND NEED for passionately real stories for those who are currently filling their minds with immoral stories. I encourage you, MJ, to press on with your writing ... God knows we need all the help we can get in this wayward society of ours!

    CHERRYBLOSSOMMJ (Margaret!), gosh, I ALWAYS love hearing from you, girl, so thank you for taking the time to jump in here. And THANK YOU for ALL of your amazing support, my friend, especially on Goodreads!! I am glad my post today might help you in explaining why I write the way I do and take some of the heat off of you!! (Yes, I've read some of the Goodreads discussions ... YIKES, the water's even too hot for me, girl, so I stay FAR AWAY!! :) So thank you again, Margaret, for all you do for me and my books. Cannot wait to give you and little bambino a great BIG hug in June!!


  51. Oh, gosh, NORA, I had NO idea you didn't read romance!! YIKES ... my book had to be a real eye-opener for you, wasn't it? What a way to start with Christian romance! But thank you for reading it and for your kind words.

    And truly, Nora, I love your heart and the passion you have for what the Lord has called you to do as well -- which is why we connect like we do -- our passion for God and prayer is loud and clear, isn't it? Gosh, won't it be fun to connect for real at the LifeWay book signing in June??? Can't wait! Thanks so much for stopping in, my friend.

    EMMA!!! Short and sweet ... just how I like it right about now! :) Thanks for stopping in to leave a comment and good luck in the contest.

    EDNA ... grin, trust me, I was standing on a rock step that leads from our front door up to the street. I am just blessed to be married to a WONDERFUL artist who can do anything with Photoshop ... including take out double chins and crow's feet under my eyes. And don't think I don't ask him to!! :)


  52. Julie,
    I love your books. Never found anything that wasn't beautifully written and reflective of God's love for His people! You show the rest of us how to write Christian romance. We're the ones who fall short.

    God's gifted you with the ability to show pure love with passion. I'm in awe!

  53. My first time here and all I can say is wow--so glad you are passionate about what you do for God!! I think you are keeping it real without going over the edge. SOunds like you are making a difference and capturing audiences in a postive way! There will always be others who agree and disagree with us--but God is our ultimate judge.

  54. Julie, honey, I would label you books wildly exciting. You have romance and love planted exactly where they need to be--between two people nestled within God's blessing.

    People can say, violence is violence, but the Bible places aggression in its proper place, just as it does demons, murder and child bearing.

    The term smut suggests "to taint or stain." In the Song of Solomon I see only deep love and devotion.

    Have you seen the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir? Remember the scenes where Captain Gregory is dictating his life as Lucy is busy capturing the essense of his life on paper? The book is published and no one can believe she wrote it because the experiences were so vivid and definitely not feminine?

    Lucy listened to Captain Gregory and understood his passion.


    I'd never presume to dictate what people should take away from the books they read. I can only speak for myself and I'll gladly admit your books bring me joy, humor, and irritation at times.

    And passion.

    Thank you!

  55. Julie,



    Had to laugh, wasn't even thinking about the teens today as opposed to years gone by. Heavens when I was a teenager relationships were the guy (or two)of the moment and distorted by drugs, that 70's show explains it well. (That wasn't me, but it was all around me)

    When I mentioned being treated like a teenager. I was eluding to our churches. I taught high schoolers a couple years back and the curriculum we used kept going over the don't. Don't do this, don't do that, and my whole argument was the kids get that in school too and then they send them out with condoms cause they don't think they can handle the truth.
    The church should be different.

    Why not spend the extra time on the truth. It is much more wonderful and at times scary, but it's the truth.

    If all anyone hears is how dirty or awful something is . . and how we're all a bunch of animals without the true emotional capabilities, and the church keeps telling someone don't, don't like they're afraid you're doomed to fail too then why say anything.

    I'm not an animal and I know my emotions.(most the time) I know when I want to be held or when I want to say no. And I know my body is fearfully and wonderfully made.

    When we stick with the bad then everything becomes soiled.

    We have a picture of all that is wrong with romance and love around us.

    Ya know, let's send out our children and young adults with the wrong armor to deal with life issues and wonder why STD's are on the rise.

    I actually believe some people think when you talk about sex and edgy issues it's a slap to God.

    And yet God created it in the first place.

    Had the same issue about music. My aunt said Christian Rock was of the Devil, and I told her God created it and if that music was touching lives for Christ then I wouldn't knock the fact that it's out there.

    Is there bad music? Of course, Satan wants to strip the beauty from God's design. He wants to prevert it and mar it and force feed it to you till you think that's how everyone sees it. Till you believe the lie is the truth. Love isn't out there, it doesn't last, and on and on.

    How sad that we buy into it and make ourselves less than God created us to be.

    I've probably explained this as good as mud, but you get the gist.

  56. Gosh, DEB, thank you for your kind words, but nobody falls short in my opinion, ESPECIALLY you! I've read your books, my friend, and I am not usually a short-book reader (my favorite book, Gone With the Wind is 1,000 pages, and I thought it was too short ... :)), but I always enjoy a Debby Giusti read! There are millions of women out there who would rather be shot than read a book as thick and long as mine! Women who want a great moral lesson with a great story in a nice, manageable length -- which is where wonderful Christian authors like you leave me in the dust. But the bottom line is "all things to all people for the sake of Christ." How wonderful that as authors for Christ, we can ALL reach the readers that HE ordains us to reach.

    Welcome, TERRI, and we hope you come back to the Seekers, a group blog of 15 contest winners who kept bumping heads in contests and decided to join forces with this blog. Now we are best friends who support each other AND other writers on the road to publication and beyond. Thank you, too, for your encouragement!

    Oh, GREAT POINT, AUDRA!!! You said, "People can say, violence is violence, but the Bible places aggression in its proper place, just as it does demons, murder and child bearing." The Bible certainly does NOT shy away from edgy topics, that's for sure, but uses each and every one to illustrate God's precepts.

    And I am glad that my books bring you "joy, humor, and passion" ... but "irritation"?? Must be from the stubbornness of the Irish men in my novels ... OR at least I hope that's what it's from???


  57. Julie, as someone is also scared of heights, I could hardly look at you standing on the edge of that cliff! I want to know how you did that. Was it your d/h at work again? Fabulous picture that makes a great point. Writing edgy Christian fiction does put you out there. It's given you both highs and lows. I applaud what you write! I love your books! I also love Christian fiction with all levels of passion as long as the stories and characters grip me and give me a satisfying read. That's the bottom line to me.


  58. TINA, my turn ... get off the soapbox! :) Nope, your post was crystal clear and dead-on! The Church SHOULD be different and spend the extra time on the truth of not only telling kids "Don't do it," but WHY they shouldn't do it. That God gives us precepts to live by not because He's trying to LORD it over us that He is God and wants to keep us under His thumb, but because He MADE us and LOVES us and knows what will make us happy. I liken Him to Milton Bradley -- God made the game of life and His precepts are the rules to help us win the game. Gosh, if only we would listen ...

    JANET ... grin, like I told Edna, trust me, I was standing on a rock step that leads from our front door up to the street. I am just blessed to be married to a WONDERFUL artist who can do anything with Photoshop ... including take out double chins and crow's feet under my eyes. And don't think I don't ask him to!! :)


  59. Much like the irritation I felt for Scarlett O'Hara. You've skillfully created your share of willful characters : )

    But keep bringing them on, Babe! Evoking all kinds of emotion is a good thing...

  60. Oh Julie, You know I am pro ;)

    I think more than edgy at times we could call it real. What you and several other writers are starting to write about are what happens in real life. I think this too is why your characters come alive to so many people because they feel like them! With each of your main characters, Faith, Charity, and Lizzie as women we understood what they were feeling. I mean sometimes as Christians we do go to far, or we do things we know we should not do. But at the end of those bad decisions there is always Jesus, always Redemption.

    I love reading books like yours Julie because I find myself caught up in the story that while may be a story but is also REAL. Real characters, real passion, and even better real emotion :)


  61. Pro. Pro. Pro.

    Julie it's no secret that you got my back into Historical Inspirational Fiction after I abandoned it in my teenage years because I was so over bonnets and prairies and characters who, for the life of me, I couldn't work out how they got married, let alone have children, when they seemed to have about as much chemistry as two planks of wood. So your real characters, with real chemistry, and real attraction, trying to live life God's way, were a breath of fresh air.

    Are you going to offend people with your writing? Of course you are. The same way Mel Gibson offended some people with The Passion with his "too violent" crucifixion scenes.

    Heck I love you and your writing and there were a couple of scenes in between Mitch and Charity and Colin and Faith in A Passion Denied that had me considering flagging the wedding and eloping so I can only imagine how the fifty year old woman in Texas who has sellotaped the pages of Song of Solomon together and pretend its not there would cope ;)

    And you know what? That's okay. For people like her there are plenty of inspirational romances that won't offend her sensibilities.

    And I'd like to throw my hat in for a signed copy of A Passion Denied. I just bought my sister 1&2 for her birthday but 3 hasn't made it down here yet and there's no way she's having my copy!

  62. Okay, I had to stop back by BECAUSE I JUST WON ALL THREE OF JULIE'S BOOKS!!!!! (Over on My Friend Amy Blog in her Week of Passion Contest) Seriously, I am squealing over here in Texas!
    So....you can take my name out of the hat, please. Sigh....I'm so stinkin' content now.
    FYI, Julie, I might still cyber-stalk you, but just to support ya and not try to gather up all the books. :)

  63. Thank you for having the courage to write the way you do despite what some might say. As I was telling a friend I've realized what I like about certain romances is the emotions that emerges when I read. The sign of a good book is one that can remind me of what love is about and the emotions that go with it. We were created as emotional beings so that we can connect with God and each other. So I look forward to reading your works. Hope to be blessed by the book drawing. If not, I look forward to purchasing the series. cynthiakchow@earthlink.net

  64. 63 comments already! Well, I'm just putting in a good word for writing on the edge, and your stories of people touched by your writing are wonderful. If I ever get published, I hope I'll be as good as you at coping with the edge and the bad reviews, and I'll dream of maybe one person driven to seek truth. Lovely encouraging article; thanks.

  65. Julie,

    Please don’t change the way you write. Your readers have waited a long time for your style of writing and we don’t want you to change because of those who aren’t your readers.

    Every book isn’t for everyone, maybe that reviewer wasn’t ready for your type of book.

    I’m a firm believer there are genres for ever one. We have sweet romance, Amish romance, suspense or even science fiction. Why can’t we have romance with a little passion?

    I fell in love with romances at the young age of 11, that love grew into an online magazine SORMAG. However when I became saved, I couldn’t find the books that made me sigh like the romances did. No I wasn’t looking for sex, I was looking for the stories that kept me up at night because I wanted to finish the book before I went to sleep.

    I will admit when I first decided to write inspirational I did my research and read the books I thought I wanted to write. Only they didn’t do it for me. I didn’t stay up nights lost inside the book. There was no passion between the couples. They seemed fake to me.

    Why didn’t we get the toe curling as Christian? Are we suppose to be without feelings? I didn’t want to believe that and decided to write what I wanted to read.

    Julie your books have inspired me to believe that there is hope for us writers who don’t fit into that traditional Christian book. I wished there were books like this when I became a Christian. I tell others looking for good books to try them.

    Your characters are real and ask real questions a Christian or non Christian would ask. You don’t sugarcoat it to make it seem like life is perfect. Life can be hard sometimes and sometimes you fall in love with your sister’s fiancé. You feel horrible about it but you pray God will help you get over it or if he’ll answer that secret prayer and have the fiancé fall in love with you.

    Yes your books have kept me up at night, but I’m not complaining because that’s what a good book does. Most books filled with smut you’re able to put down and move on to the next book. The only time I want to move from your books is when it says THE END and I’m waiting patiently for the next one.

    Keep doing what God asked you to do. I don’t believe he would have let your books be published if he didn’t believe in your words. Your work represent him and he doesn't believe in mess.

    A fan for life.

  66. I haven't read any of your books, so I don't know how you handle "passion" or what "edgy" means, but I assume that these are euphemisms for depictions of physical intimacy between a man and a woman. And, truly not meaning to pass judgment (again, since I haven't read them), I do wonder . . . if it's all "okay" and godly, why do we need to use euphemisms? I haven't thought about this issue before reading your post and the comments, so I need to give this some more thought, but what comes to my mind is that while sex is God's idea and His creation, does it necessarily follow that depicting it in our novels is okay, or are we accommodating a sort of voyeurism that is less than godly? It's one thing to agree that sex is a good and wholesome thing, and another thing to agree that it's therefore a proper activity for "public" viewing. Sex between me and my husband is a good and wholesome thing, but it would not be good and wholesome to invite someone into our bedroom to watch us; and really, isn't that what's happening (fictionally, of course) when sexual activity is depicted in novels -- the reader is "watching" the couple engaged in a very private activity.

    Again, I haven't thought this all the way through, but I just throw these preliminary thoughts out there for the sake of discussion. You've definitely given me some food for thought. And I imagine I'll try to track down one of your books just to see what "edgy" means!

  67. Sheesh, Julie. Do you have enough comments here? I just stopped by when I finally got a chance and it'll take hours for me to read all the comments! You now I'm a huge fan of edgy fiction. LOL! No question there. Please don't change the way you write. You'll lose fans (not me, though) because people expect that from you now. Hate to say that but it's true. :)

  68. Jules, I absolutely love your heart for your readers! I wish I was as eloquent as you are! Keep up the good work and never lose your vision!

  69. What is 'edgy'? I'm eager to hear Julie's description of it (she's so good with words), but here's my thought on what it means.

    'Edgy' authors seek to use words to evoke deep emotions, not to create graphic sex scenes. Why is this not our mother's fiction? I think it's because the Church is afraid that if they feel 'tingles in their toes' they've just lusted after someone who isn't their spouse. I think the difference is wanting a character to step off the page (or movie) and make love to me (lust--which I promptly renounce) and feeling my heart want to explode because the character's words and actions have just given me another look at my Jesus. And you know, when I'm thinking about Jesus, lust ceases to be a problem, maybe because I know He's the only Man who can meet that deep emotional/spiritual craving for heart-burning love. :)

  70. julie

    i haven't read any of your books or any "edgy" Christian romance novels for that matter BUT... i am definitely interested in checking out your books now. i do believe there is a place for your writing, especially with how prayerfully you consider your work.

    your writing is greatly needed, IMHO for this next generation of readers. they are an edgy generation who need to know that Christ isn't a stick in the mud and that having a relationship with Him doesn't mean an end to living life to the fullest.

    i believe the author's heart and reason for writing is the measure by which a book should be judged. if it's too edgy for a reader - then your book obviously wasn't created for her - it was created for that woman who needs to find the Lord in the unlikeliest of places.

    Blessings on you for staying the course. Thanks for sharing and giving me another author to explore.

  71. I am probably going to be the one non-fan of this sort of 'passion' in Christian novels on this blog and I hope that I can voice my opinion without nasty retorts or vicious replies.

    I understand your reasoning behind creating a 21st century Christian romance, something that might attract a more secular crowd. I like the concept of that. However God's idea of purity never changes with the times. Part of what is wrong with some aspects of Christianity in churches today is its willingness to bend its message so as not to offend anyone and to attract larger crowds. God's message has never been 'popular' and it has often angered and convicted those who are not Christians, it's meant to! I read your first book and found the passion to be beyond what I felt should be found in a Christian novel. I felt it could bring Christian's thoughts to places they shouldn't go.

    2 Cor 7:1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete purity because we fear God.

    That verse says it all for me. I think it is wonderful that your book has brought people to Christ, but with all due respect, God can use most anything to bring people to Christ, it may not even be something intrinsically Christian.

    In my opinion if the current Christian fiction out there isn't 'juicy' enough for Christian women, then perhaps they are buying too much into a worldly perspective of passion. Where do we stop when trying to accommodate the world? How far do we go and say it is in the name of Christ? I think that is the fine line you will have to continue to walk in future books and why I do not find your books to be appropriate Christian fiction and a trend I hope not to see more of.

    Thank you Julie for telling us all your side of the story, it was quite insightful and even if we are on two different sides of the fence I admire your heart for the Lord.
    To all fellow posters, I will not debate about my post, nor will I respond any further, it would be a round robin and I have a family and can’t spend my time doing that, nor do I think it would bring glory to God. I didn't come here for a debate. I came to tell Julie my opinion and that is all. Thank you for being open to all opinions Julie and I look forward to seeing what your future writings bring as God speaks to your heart.

  72. Dear Anonymous

    We don't ever do vicious or unkind in Seekerville. You must be thinking of some other 'Ville.

    The reason the 15 Seekers got together was because we could be real with each other. And that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. Nor do we expect our visitors to.

    Thanks for having the courage to post and guess what..you don't have to agree and you don't have to be anonymous.

    Come back again real soon. :)

  73. julie, i enjoyed reading about how you came into the world of writing. what a great story. and i love the heart you have behind your storytelling.

    i, for one, and definitely FOR edgy Christian fiction, mainly because i write my own version of it. i loved one of your latest posts on seekerville...the call 911 one! it was great to read your examples of real passion and romantic tension. just makes my toes curl and warm fuzzies flutter around. SO many women read the so-called "smutty" novels FOR THIS VERY REASON! so if you can incorporate Christian elements into a book that will feed that "addiction," then you are able to reach an entire market of women starved for these types of experiences, and do so with Christ smack-dab in the middle of it!

    what an awesome privilege and heavy responsibility you (and everyone else who writes) have! God's given you a gift, and you do it so well. i like to think each page a reader flips in one of your books sends Him a sweet breeze that is so pleasing.

    keep of the great work....and be encouraged!

  74. Hi Julie:

    The suspense was just killing me so I located and downloaded “A Passion Denied” an hour ago to read tomorrow when I act as the ‘responsible person’ for my wife who is having a medical procedure. You might find it interesting to know that your book has 3147 pages when paginated in extra large type. At that size type, I am becoming an expert on your sentence structure.

    I’ve read about 10% of the book and it’s wonderful. I’ve never read a romance that got into the dynamics of the romantic relationship and its obstacles so quickly. Since your book is so long, I expected a slow paced book full of historical descriptive passages. Was I ever wrong! “A Passion Denied” is very different from the romances I am used to reading. You have a 17 year old heroine and 30 year old hero with the story set in 1922. I don’t think I’ve read a romance set in the 1920’s. Also, I don’t remember a heroine that young in over 1000 romances read.

    While I have not got to a love scene yet, the characters sure talk about sex…a lot. And these are good Christian ladies!

    At this point I’m not sure ‘edgy’ is the best term. ‘Edgy’ makes it seem like you are on the edge of an abyss about to fall off into damnation with one false move.

    With only 10% of the book read, I would call your book ‘fiction with an attitude’! I say this because the story would have the same feistiness if it were a Harlequin Romance ( a line which I love, BTW).

    I actually believe you have an invigorating new voice that is independent of any ‘edginess’, of course, I might change my mind if I come across any torrid love scenes.

    Yes, I think that’s it.

    Think: “Fiction with an attitude.“


  75. AUDRA ... Oh, that's much better, then! Scarlett O'Hara irritation I can handle ... and dish out, apparently! :)

    CHRISTY!!! Gosh, I just LOVE when some of my favorite online friends pop up -- thank you for taking the time to stop by AND for your incredible support, friendship and prayers. By the way, I really love the "Real characters, real passion" phrase you coined ... mind if I steal it for my website???? :) (Not joking, here ...)

    KARA!!! What a birthday you had, girlfriend, and I'm SO glad!! Finaling in the TBL and the official engagement -- WOW!! Thanks for stopping by when I know how busy you are just back from being out of town. And I'm sorry that ... ahem ... the married scenes in Denied had you wanting to forego the wedding and elope, but it's all coming your way, girl, soon enough ... and it will be God's way, not the world's and He will SOOO bless the socks off of you both for honoring Him.

    And I had to laugh at your comment that you were "so over bonnets and prairies and characters who, for the life of me, I couldn't work out how they got married, let alone have children, when they seemed to have about as much chemistry as two planks of wood." Grin. I'm not into bonnets all that much either unless Mary Connealy or Janet Dean are writing about 'em, as well as few other top-notch writers I know.

    And, honey, if you want another copy of Denied for your sister, please follow Sherrinda's lead and stalk my blog giveaways (she's won 4 signed books from me in the last two weeks. I'm to the point where I'm printing off labels ahead of time with her address!! Anyway, thank you for hosting me on your blog last week AND, your encouragement and support AND your friendship. Can't wait to give you a hug at ACFW!!


  76. SHERRINDA!!!!! OMIGOSH, did you hear me squealing in Missouri???? I told you all that blog stalking would pay off, didn't I??? Gosh, I'm sending so many books to you (a total of 4!!), that the mailman is getting suspicious! :) Thanks for being so diligent on all those blog comments, and you can blog stalk me any time, my friend!

    CYNTHIA ... thank you SO much for stopping by today ... I recognize you name from Amy's Week of Pure Passion. And before you part with the cash for the books, my friend, stalk my blog interviews like Sherrinda did (the commenter right above) -- she won 4 signed books by just leaving a comment on all the blog giveaways I have listed on my website. Of course most of the blog giveaways are almost over, but there are more to come, so keep checking my website calendar, okay?

    SHEILA, thank you for your sweet comment, and keep pressing on with your writing, my friend. This Seekers blog is a really great place to pick up wonderful encouragement and tips on your journey to publication, and if you want to get more encouragement, I've written a number of Seeker blogs that will help in that department too -- check them out on my website under the "Blog" tab, if you want, okay?

    LASHAUNDA, oh my, your post made me cry for the third time today, my friend. Thank you so much for your heartfelt feelings that truly blessed me. And, oh, the line "Why didn’t we get the toe curling as Christians?" tickled me to no end. Why not, indeed! I sure want it, and apparently a number of other godly women do too. Romance is FUN ... and God wired us that way, so I for one would like a little more "toe curling" too!


  77. LAURA IN TEXAS ... Thank you SO much for having the courage to wade in to this discussion as a CON among what is obviously a lake brimming with PROS!!

    Actually, I have been hoping to connect with more CONS all day, anxious to address concerns about what "edgy" Christian fiction may mean to the market in general because honestly, your concerns concern me. Like I said in my article, we are all members of the Body of Christ, and the last thing I want to do is inflict pain on a part of the Body. Which is the main reason I wanted to write this blog today in the first place -- to explain my heart to those with concerns ... like you.

    I'd like to address your comment, point by point if I may. First of all you said, "I haven't read any of your books, so I don't know how you handle "passion" or what "edgy" means, but I assume that these are euphemisms for depictions of physical intimacy between a man and a woman."

    Well, I'm not exactly sure what constitutes "physical intimacy" for you, but the most physical intimacy that you will find in my books is a kiss. Not a French kiss, mind you, and not petting, but kissing the neck, the ear, the lips, the face, and with the married couples, the shoulders and hollow of the throat. Now with the married couples (primarily in book 3, A Passion Denied), there are a lot of bedroom scenes where marital situations are dealt with in a pretty passionate manner, where after a few kisses, a scene fades to black, like in the old-time movies. Never once do I describe any marital intimacy in any detail like you will find in most of the secular romances, in which, by the way, the couples are seldom married.

    If you have read a lot of Christian romance, then you know that in most books, "the kiss" doesn't happen until mid-book at the earliest and more often then not, at the end of the book. I actually read one novel by a top author where "the kiss" happened on the last page of the book after the hero asked the heroine to marry him, and it took place in front of seven people. Also, when a kiss is mentioned, it usually is deemed only a sentence or two, and the hero and heroine's feelings or reaction to the kiss are limited to a sentence or two of heart-fluttering or what have you.

    What differentiates my "edgy" books from a typical sweet romance I described above is that in my books, there are a lot more kisses and a lot more description of reactions. You see, I am a product of the 60's and 70's (the wild child era) who started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind. I absolutely fell in love with the romance between Rhett and Scarlett, which was chock-full of romantic tension. This is what I try to incorporate in my books as well, but ALWAYS according to God's precepts. So for me, there are a lot of love scenes throughout my novels, tense and otherwise, that usually involve at least one kiss, which I don't just devote one or two lines to, but may devote anywhere from a paragraph to a page as to how the heroine feels about the kiss, how the hero feels about the heroine, etc. I will address your next statement in my next comment below because blogger will not let me make this too long.


  78. LAURA FROM TEXAS ... Your next statement was "what comes to my mind is that while sex is God's idea and His creation, does it necessarily follow that depicting it in our novels is okay, or are we accommodating a sort of voyeurism that is less than godly? It's one thing to agree that sex is a good and wholesome thing, and another thing to agree that it's therefore a proper activity for "public" viewing.

    Have you ever watched a love scene in a movie? Observed a couple kissing in a park? Listened to a love song? Romantic love is all around us, day in and day out. It's how human beings are wired (especially women) by God, WHO, by the way, thought pretty highly of romantic love when He wrote the Song of Solomon in the Bible.

    My point is that feeling the heart-fluttering excitement of romance is natural and normal and quite frankly, a God-given gift that I personally believes parallels the intensity of God's love for each of us. In a novel, when this romantic love crosses over into graphic description of sexual intimacy (i.e. description of body parts and base actions with those body parts), then it generates lust in a human being rather than the longing for spiritual and emotional connection with a being that loves us.

    As women, we all want to be loved and cherished and made to feel that we are the most important thing to someone we love. Novels with romance foster that longing in women, and when God is placed in the center of those stories (as He is in mine), then women suddenly see and feel the critical importance of seeking romantic love according to His precepts rather than their own.

    I apologize for the length of this response, and I hope in some small way that I have satisfied your concerns. Have a blessed night, and thank you again, Laura, for your courage to pose these very important questions.


  79. MICHELLE!!! Thanks for stopping by, my friend, and sorry to be so late responding, but I was gone most of the afternoon and evening. Anyway, I guess it is a little too late to change my style, isn't it? Oh, well ... :)

    CAMY ... thanks SO much for your encouragement, my friend! And eloquent??? Thank you, but I'm pretty sure not everybody shares that opinion ... :)

    Oh, AYRIAN, BLESS YOU!!! You did a MUCH better job than me at explaining what "edgy" is to Laura. Thank you again for your eloquence and your heart.

    DEB, oh WOW, the following statement of yours REALLY blessed me: "I believe the author's heart and reason for writing is the measure by which a book should be judged. if it's too edgy for a reader - then your book obviously wasn't created for her - it was created for that woman who needs to find the Lord in the unlikeliest of places."

    Oh, my, THANK YOU!! Beautifully said and incredibly true. I was a 70's agnostic who advocated burning Bibles in hotel rooms ... I was NOT the type of woman who would have been won to Christ by a sweet, wholesome novel. Not only are my novels intended to be a realistic depiction of emotions and temptations that women face today in our amoral society, but I hope also a hook to women like I used to be -- those who had a religious upbringing, but didn't live for God.


  80. Dear Julie~

    I’ve gobbled up your post and can’t wait for tomorrow to run out and get, A Passion Most Pure.

    Thank you for your candid post!

  81. ANONYMOUS ... Thank you SO much for having the courage to present your thoughts on this very volatile subject. I not only admire you for doing so, but I totally appreciate and respect the manner in which you did it.

    Your statement that "Part of what is wrong with some aspects of Christianity in churches today is its willingness to bend its message so as not to offend anyone and to attract larger crowds" is probably true of some churchs, but I hope you are not suggesting that I am doing the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trust me, I am NOT attracting large crowds with my brand of fiction nor writing it to do so. I am purely and simply writing my heart ... a heart that is impassioned for both God and romance. From the age of 23 when I became a born-again Christian until the age of 50 when God set me free to write romance for Him, I was a romance snob ... a woman who didn't even want to legitimize romance novels, much less write one. But God knew that He had created in me a heart for passion -- passion for Him first and foremost to be presented in a forum of romantic passion, a calling I can no longer deny. So I truly believe I am following His plan for me with the style of romance that I am writing, and I do it for HIM and for me solely and not to attract a crowd.

    You also said that you "felt it could bring Christian's thoughts to places they shouldn't go." Yes, I think that could be true in some cases, and for those women, they have the choice of TONS of novels from which to choose in the Christian market that will be appropriate for them.

    Unfortunately, the Christian women who long for more romantic fare that satisfies that innate longing for romantic love that God instilled in every human being do NOT have much of a selection in the Christian market, so instead they read secular romance that does not edify them or God. And once again, the Christian market (who's very mission is to draw people to God) instead loses the opportunity to reach a huge segment of society who believe in God, but don't live for Him. What a sad thing that is to me! Let me tell you, my friend, it's especially sad when I realize that I would be one of those women who might have never been reached for God if one amazing person hadn't overstepped normal Christian bounds to draw me to HIM with the unconventional love of God.

    You also said, "I think it is wonderful that your book has brought people to Christ, but with all due respect, God can use most anything to bring people to Christ, it may not even be something intrinsically Christian."

    Yes, He can. And I am honored and thrilled that He has chosen something as insignificant as my books to draw even one person into a closer walk with Him. "Intrinsically Christian" or not in your opinion or mine, there is NOTHING insignificant about that.

    You asked, "Where do we stop when trying to accommodate the world?" And I ask, "When do we start invading the world with a message that God loves them no matter their flaws or sins? And invade we must. We can keep our Christian fiction safe and pure, feeding our ranks until they satisfied and full, but who is going to meet the world where they are with a message of God's redemption and love? It will be Christians who like Christ, were not afraid of the masses, but walked among them and loved them and showed them the way in a medium they just might listen to.

    Thank you again, my friend, for your insights and thoughts and especially for your courage and boldness to express them here today. I SO appreciate your time and your heart and totally respect your opinion and your right to defend and express it. May God's love cover the differences between us.


  82. CAROLINE ... God bless you, my friend. I sure needed your post right about now! I would love to hear what you think of A Passion Most Pure when you are done and hope you will e-mail me through my website. And if you like it, instead of buying the 2nd in the series, you might want to try winning it by leaving a comment on a number of blog giveaways I am doing in May and June. Just check my website at www.julielessman.com and click on "Julie's Calendar."


  83. Julie, you already know what your books have meant for me. I am a normal Nora Roberts/Karen Kingsbury reader, you've given me the middle ground.

    I love that your stories are REAL, real people, with real feelings, and real passion...besides where does it say, thou christian dose't not enjoy thy marital relations...

    keep on writing, and I will keep on reading!


    Thank you SO much, my friend, for stopping by to encourage me, as you always do. I thank God that that Google Alert brought us together as good friends. :)


  85. TINA, always nice to spot a Seeker face in the crowd ... thanks for dropping by again, my friend.

    Aw, JEANNIE, thanks for the sweet encouragement ... I have a feeling that's a gift of yours, and I sooo needed it right about now -- THANK YOU!! :)

    And thank you, too, for your kind comments, especially the toe curling and flutters ... you know how partial I am to those! :) And you're right -- so many women read the so-called "smutty" novels FOR THIS VERY REASON, to get the toe curling and flutters, only God's no where to be found. How sad, when He created it all for our pleasure!

    VINCE!!! You really downloaded A Passion Denied??? Grin ... gee, don't I wish everyone was that easy! Thank you VERY much for doing so, but now I'm a wee bit nervous, knowing you will be reading it tomorrow. And it really does have 3147 pages when paginated in extra large type?? Gosh, to some people, that's almost as long as the printed copy! :). Anyway, THANK YOU for your kind words ... uh, so far. I guess the verdict is still out until you finish the book.

    Saying a prayer RIGHT NOW that your wife's medical procedure goes well.


  86. Oh, man, I'm so late to this party.

    I tried bopping in yesterday but got waylaid by a work related crisis...

    And we jumped from 42 comments to 85.

    Jules, you haven't lost your touch, my friend.


    Passion stirs interest for understandable reasons. I know it piques MY interest.


    I'm passionate about God, chocolate, frappuccinos (a more recent development that's added pounds to my butt and inches to my waistline) and oh, yes...

    My husband!

    Jules, I love the responses you elicit. Good stuff.


  87. I didn't get this link until today, so I apologize for being so tardy.
    I am embarrassed to admit i have never read any of your books, Julie, but you sound like a girl after my own heart. This is the exact vision God gave me to write, and He has confirmed it over and over again through strong women of faith who read secular romance because Christians have not dared to depict realistic passion through Godly relationships. It is all about lifting Him up, and by the way your heart shows in this post, you certainly do. I am unpublished, but your success gives me courage. I will look for your books and recommend them to all of my friends who have not met you on the bookshelves. You go, girl!

    Kathleen L. Maher

  88. RUTHY!!! Did you notice how I defamed you in my post??? :) Sorry I always pick on you, but you are SO lovably snarky, that you are a sheer pleasure to tweak!

    KATHLEEN ... Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment and encourage me -- what a blessing you are! Indeed, YOU are "a girl after my own heart" as well, and I am blessed that God has given you the same vision. Don't ya get the distinct feeling He's doing something here??? :) So glad you and I are a part of it and that I could encourage YOU in your writing as well. So keep at it, girl -- I can't do this alone! :)


  89. Julie -- Thank you for your response to my post. I appreciate getting your thoughts on the questions I raised. Frankly, what you described doesn't sound that "edgy" to me (but I read Nora Roberts -- I cringe at certain scenes, but her plotting and dialog are so good. . . ). I don't disagree with anything you said about romance, and it sounds like your books are the kind I'd enjoy reading very much. I definitely will track them down and read them. Again, thank you for your graciousness in all the responses I've read here.

  90. Julie, thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. As a Christian recording artist, and too often people-pleaser, I know how incredibly scary it can be to take a step away from the norm and people's expectations. On top of that, it puts you in the frontline for some of Satan's best attacks; he knows you will feel vulnerable and alone.

    My personal opinion is that God created passion. The Song of Solomon contains much, much more descriptive language than I have read in your books. As He designed it, that is one of the joys of marriage! What about the story of Hosea? We read all about a man who married a prostitute. She kept leaving and sleeping with other men. Would anyone dare call the Word of God smut?
    I guess my point is, it's just a fact of life, at least if you've hit puberty. LOl! I think your books are wonderful, because they don't revel in lust and passion. The characters learn what it means to follow Christ. In the case of Faith, she was an inspiration because she held fast to God's direction, even though she was sometimes weak and tempted. That is real. That is life! We are all broken people, with temptations and struggles and sin. I think those that criticize you probably do so from a 'should' mentality. They are believers who dictate their lives by "I know I should do this.." or "I shouldn't feel this way..." The truth is, we feel how we feel and we cannot hide that from God. He knows every thought. The question is if we will ask Him how we should handle it.

    I heard a minister recently say that boring, 'playing it safe' people never do anything courageous for Christ. Take courage in that thought, Julie! You know from the comments you have already received, that your willingness to write about broken and real people has helped others in their walk with Christ.

    Yes, some people will hurt you...I've been there and I'm learning that it is just impossible to please everybody. Nor do I want to anymore. Now I try to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and what He speaks to my heart. So, don't worry if people sometimes don't get it. Just be faithful to God's calling. He is working it all together for your good! Much love and blessings! Tara Johnson

  91. So funny I read this today! My 15-year-old son and I were discussing this very topic of "edgy" Christian material last night as it relates to Christian and secular music.
    Let's face it, if you aren't already a Christian, you don't buy Christian books or music. In fact, you don't even go to that section of the STORE! I believe part of what God has called me to do as a writer is to share His message of love and redemption with NON-believers. That's going to be hard to do following some of the current Christian publishing rules.
    Am I willing to compromise the story God has laid on my heart for the sake of satisfying CBA (or anyone else's) guidelines?
    Debbie Macomber (who I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read) is the keynote speaker at ACFW's national conference this year. I didn't even know she was a Christian because her books aren't marketed to the Christian buyer, they're marketed to the general public.
    I suppose you could call her a "crossover" writer. And isn't that what we're supposed to do? CROSS over? Take the CROSS of Christ to the other side where the lost and dying struggle along?
    More power to you, Julie! Thanks for posting.

  92. Wow! All of the posts!!!

    First, Julie, I want to say how much I admire you for being so open in a post like this! =) And even more for being so sensitive to use your writing as GOD wants you to!!!

    And you know I love your books!

    I am sooooo glad that there is an author out there that is not afraid to "invade the world" with her writing. In today's society I see two views on intimacy that really stick out to me. On one hand, we have kids who learn about sex from the world and treat it no differently than shaking hands with someone you've just been introduced to. On the other hand, we have the "No" crowd (which I am all for!) But we keep telling "Don't, don't, don't!" so much that when they do get married they have a negative view of what intimacy is supposed to be like that we have created a new set of problems.

    So, it is soooo refreshing to finally find someone that has used her God given talent to spread the word that Hey. Passion is a good thing! Not a casual experience. Not a negative experience. But a God given gift that, if we all look a little closer at ourselves, we all want a piece of. Hey, I know I do! Because that's the way we were created.

    Julie, YOU GO GIRL!!! And keep up the great writing!!! =)

    Hugs, Ashli

    (Sorry, I have the tendency to write a book instead of a "comment!" lol)

  93. LAURA IN TEXAS ... WOW, you just made my day! Thank you SO much for your "gracious" response to my response -- I cannot express just how much it blesses me. And Nora Roberts used to be a favorite of mine as well -- she is an AMAZING writer! But being the passionate gal I am, I found that I was too distracted from her writing by her graphic love scenes (not really erotic graphic, but certainly WAY more graphic than anything in my books), so I decided to write my own passionate romance with God in the middle.

    Anyway, I am absolutely THRILLED that you plan to read my books, and I urge you to start with book 1 in the series, A Passion Most Pure, as this is definitely a series that needs to be read in order. And honestly, Laura, if you check out my website calendar at www.julielessman.com, there are lots of opportunities to win a free signed book, so that way you can try me out without spending a dime. Sound good? Hope to see you there!

    Thanks again, Laura, for taking the time to comment back.


  94. TARA!!! How are you girl?? Long time, no see -- but I thank you for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment.

    "Vulnerable and alone"? Yep, we all feel that way at times, I suppose, but I have to tell you, getting such incredible feedback from articulate and "on the edge" fellow laborers (for Christ) like you, my friend, goes a long way in shoring me up ... kind of like having that invisible Verizon team standing behind me! :)

    So "boring, 'playing it safe' people never do anything courageous for Christ," eh? Grin, well, no danger there, I guess, for EITHER of us, huh?

    Thanks again, Tara, for your wonderful comment.


  95. NIKI ... Oh, I love it!! Your statement "And isn't that what we're supposed to do? CROSS over? Take the CROSS of Christ to the other side where the lost and dying struggle along?" made me smile. YES!!! That is EXACTLY what we are supposed to do -- "cross" over!!! From your lips, to God's ear, my friend. Thanks for your great comment AND support!

    ASHLI!!!! Oh, I just LOVE seeing your sweet name pop up here, girl -- thanks for chiming in! And, grin, my daughter told me you posted this "Life on the Edge ..." link on FaceBook??? You are something else, my friend. If you keep this up, I'll have to put you on the payroll ... uh, that is, as soon as I get paid, that is! :)


  96. I'm in favor of the "edgy" Christian books because I think there's always an audience.

    I stopped reading Christian fiction for YEARS because I got sick of reading an argument where no one could say "Darn" because it was too close to "D@&%" and had to be pulled.

    I recently had someone suggest that in my Chick Lit manuscript I needed to take out the words "bra" and "tampons" because they wouldn't fly in for CBA. I was describing the bathroom!

    I completely understand if there are people who aren't comfortable reading certain things (I have a friend who won't say the word fart - weird), but why should all CBA books be written for them?

    I am a Christian. I have been for years. My hubby is a Christian, too. When I get upset it is loud and sometimes vulgar (I worked with sailors for five years and picked up a lot; God is helping me develop a larger vocabulary). When my hubby and I are intimate, it's more than a kiss and a look in his eye. But that's all I'm allowed to tell you in my novel?

    If publishers insist on using the term "edgy", so be it. At least they are letting people write and publish. I just hope more doors will open for this kind of fiction.

    Props to you for sticking with it!

  97. Haha! Julie, We're co-laborers, remember? =)

    BTW... That picture is great! I was glad that the link I posted pulled it up! They would have to photo shop me onto a cliff like that too!!!

    ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Lessman/98874268454?ref=nf )
    *Just thought I would add that link... LOL...

  98. Ha, ha! I know, Julie...long time no chat! lol I've been thinking about you so much, wondering how things are going. I ordered book #3 from Amazon last week and have been anxiously watching the mailman for my treasure. Stinkin' lazy loafer! ha, ha Oh, and I love the CROSS comment too...I'm gonna have to remember that one. Love ya!

  99. KARIN ... grin, you preach it, girl!! :) I love your statement --
    "I completely understand if there are people who aren't comfortable reading certain things (I have a friend who won't say the word fart - weird), but why should all CBA books be written for them?"

    Why, indeed? Thanks SO much for your comment! Have a blessed day.

    ASHLI, YES WE ARE!! Co-laborers, most definitely! And thanks for sending me the link -- I am SOOO Internet-illiterate about FaceBook and that stuff, that I probably would never see it unless you sent me the links!


  100. TARA!!! Just now saw your second comment. Ohhhh ... I'm sooo excited to see what you think of Denied! It is, regrettably, a bit edgier than the other two because of all the married scenarios, but I don't think it will come from Amazon in a plain, brown wrapper ... at least, I hope not ... :)

    Let me know what you think when you're done, if you get the chance, okay?


  101. Will do, Julie. BTW, I have a couple ne singles about to be released in the next few weeks. Maybe we should have a 'please review my product' swap! lol I'll email once that lazy mailman delivers my book! ;)

  102. I just called my local bookstore and reserved the last copy! I'm excited...

  103. Hey, TARA, a product swap sounds good to me, girl! :)

    CAROLINE ... oh, you are too cute!! Thank you SO much for doing that. Gosh, I hope it's worth it ... :)


  104. Boy, I wish I'd had time to read this post yesterday, and I wish I had time now to read the 103 comments that precede this one.

    Julie, I love your books. The issue you face is one that many writers face, being true to their vision. In your case, it goes deeper, to being true to what God has given uniquely to you to write.

    I could get into a whole discussion on Christianity in America and how judgmental, and sometimes hypocritical, it's become, but I'll bet someone above me touched on that. I hate to think of all Christian women as being eternally without passion. I know I'm not, and one of the things I'm passionate about is "edgy Christian fiction done right.

    Now I realize "right" is one of those judgmental words. Maybe I should have said "well". Another judgment, which brings me to my point. Not every book is for everyone.

    Take the Bible and pick ten Christians off the street. Chances are not more than two will pick the same book of the Bible as their favorite. Why? Because they are different. They have different interests. They are in different places spiritually. They may even have differing interpretations of Scripture.

    I'm glad that Christian fiction runs the spectrum from ultra pure to Godly passionate so that there's room for everyone to be entertained and to consider God from unexpected angles.

    Keep writing, Julie! Don't worry about being more careful in future books. Just write it the way God give it to you.

    And you don't have to use brown paper for mine (when I win). Just slap a big ole cover photo on the package. Maybe someone who needs to see God a little differently will borrow it...

  105. Joetta, Sarasota, FLMay 27, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    Please, please, please - DON'T change how you write!!! We need passion in our lives - your books have caused me to evaluate if my passion for God is at the same level that my passion for my hubby is... I have always enjoyed my hubby - and am soooo tired of women who complain about their husbands and their desires! After being married for 21 years (and counting!!!) I am so thankful for a godly husband who loves me - emotions and all!! And I'm thankful for a God who loves me passionately as well...and your books make me re-focus and have a desire to have the passion for God. I've also allowed my 15 year old daughter to read your books - actually- she read them first! I think it's great for her to see how the choices we make affect the rest of our life and not to get caught up in searching for that perfect guy and then being disappointed when it doesn't work out... wish I would have read your books when I was a teenager! Hang in there - you have many more readers who LOVE your books - so ignore the critics and let them read the boring, predictable books to their hearts content!! I keep telling people about your books - just let a friend borrow one this weekend! Praying that God continues to use you!

  106. The few Christian romances I've read turned me away because I found they lacked in plot, romance, sex, and even characterization. I've been waiting for an author to 'take the plunge' for a long time...often thought of doing that very same thing. I would like to be able to give my own characters a solid faith.

  107. Julie, I loved your post "Life On The Edge!" I'm PRO "edgy." I recently finished my first manuscript, which happens to be an "edgy" inspirational romance and for a while I was concern that I wouldn't be able to sell it because of some of it's content. I've been slow to send it out, afraid that I'll get one of those notes back that says something like "...too edgy for CBA." ...but now I'm thinking, why not give it a try?

    I'm a Christian, and I'm passionate. I find it hard to believe that CBA hasn't recognized that the two can go together. I kept my story real, showing that Christians are passionate by nature, but can still love God and stay in line with His Word. I'm hoping that CBA will catch on soon.

    I'm looking forward to reading your books. Maybe I'll find out that my MS is not as "edgy" as I think!

    Keep the edge!

  108. I am PRO "edgy" Christian fiction. I am so tired of reading Christian fiction with almost perfect characters. Now that I've read the Daughters of Boston series, I see that there ARE Christian writers that can make their characters a little more believable. I have also gotten some of my girl friends to read this series... and I'm talking about girls that would NEVER read Christian fiction because they automatically thought of the words "holy roller" when they thought about Christian love stories. There is nothing wrong with writing this way. It is awesome to tell a love story in which God is involved at the center and the two people involved face temptation and struggle with their emotions - their passion - like every other human. I look forward to the rest of the series. Keep up the good work!

  109. PATRICIA ... thank you SO very much for your incredible comment ... beautifully written, by the way -- you must be an author! I especially liked your take that you are "glad that Christian fiction runs the spectrum from ultra pure to Godly passionate so that there's room for everyone to be entertained and to consider God from unexpected angles."

    Oooo ... "Godly Passionate" ... there's another possible tagline I could use! And, YES, let's produce wonderful Christian fiction that can reveal God from many unexpected angles!! The Shack isn't at the top of the bestseller list for nothing, you know -- people want to explore the concept of God in a way that speaks to them. Anyway, thank you SO much for your encouraging note, and if you win, I definitely WILL slap a big cover photo of the book on top, okay??? :)

    JOETTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, sweetie, I was worried sick you thought Denied might have been too edgy because I hadn't heard from you, but I am sooo glad you liked it! And thank you SOOO much for stopping in to encourage me -- I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Hugs, to Kelsey and Charlene for me, okay?

    HEIDI ... so you've been waiting for a writer to "take the plunge," have you??? Well, grin, girl I'm sopping wet, I promise you, and I waiting for others to dive in because the water (although "hot" at times) is just fine! Thanks for stopping by.

    SHARON, I will definitely "keep the edge" because that's where I feel God is leading me (couldn't take the heights unless He was holding my hand!). Sounds like He is leading you there, too, so don't give up. And, yes, my books should give you a real good idea of parameters in the CBA because I believe I am one of the edgiest romance writers out there right now. Good luck in winning a book on this Seeker blog (winners will be announced here, so be sure to check back soon).


  110. Gosh, EMILY, I don't know how I missed you in that last group, but you must have snuck it in while I was responding to the others, girl!

    Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH for turning your girlfriends who don't read Christian fiction on to my books -- that is SO what I would love to happen!! And, grin ... "Holy Roller"?? Uh, yeah, nothing like that in my books except where Brady rolls on the ground during a fight with Cluny McGee in book 4 (Katie's story)!! :)

    Thanks for your kind words, Emily, AND your wonderful support!


  111. Oh my stars, I've brought more food, you guys must be starving!!!!

    There's pulled pork and toasted rolls, potato salad, cole slaw and a vat of sweet tea and a cooler full of Diet Coke.

    Jump in, grab some food, and have fun. I love two day conversations. You guys rock.

    And Jules, your warmth, wit and honesty draw people in. This only proves that your audience is large and growing, girlfriend.

    Nice job.

    Umm, can someone bring chocolate? I'm fresh out.


  112. Aw, Ruthy, thanks for the food and the compliment and for stopping by again. Yeah, this has been fun ... just goes to show how many edgy readers there are out there, doesn't it???


  113. Hey, this is the FIRST comment that I posted, but I had to delete it and repost it at the end because someone asked me to delete something.

    Sorry I'm late ... I'm afraid climbing that mountain wore me out! Or more like wore my husband out -- the poor guy -- he's an artist, and I sure take advantage of him, don't I?? He gets a little nervous every time my Seeker blog comes around -- wonder why??

    Anyway, GOOD MORNING, and we'll forego on my usual peach oatmeal to really splurge with cheese blintzes streuseled with raspberry or strawberry sauce and lots of fresh fruit.

    AYRIAN!!!! A woman after my own heart -- thank you for hitting the blog so early!!

    Your statement that "We have to be real about our emotions, hurts, dreams, and needs or we're going to lose this generation for Christ," pierces my heart to the core, and I couldn't agree more. "Real" is something they are desperately looking for and they will not be won by a sanitized version of morality. The morality they live with day in and day out is ANYTHING but sanitized and totally void of God's precepts. Some of us in the Church need to step out of the sanctuary and into the "highways and byways" to invite those to come to the banquet. You can't do that in the sanctuary if they don't come to you ... you go to them.

    Thanks for stopping in!


  114. Julie, FaceBook is pretty easy to use after you've seen it a few times...Warning: it can be just as addicting as blogging though! lol (And ALMOST as much fun as Seekerville!) I am lovin' this food thing!!! And did someone say chocolate??? How does an ooey-gooey chocolate chunk cookie pizza still warm with some homemade vanilla ice cream on top sound? =)

  115. ASHLI ... uh, you mean FaceBook is easy to use for a NORMAL person. Not sure I would be real good at it, but heck, I have the Blogger thing down pretty good, so maybe!

    And Ruthy is the chocolate freak in the group, but I'll betcha out of these 114 comments, we can find a few more. So in their honor (and yours), how about a Death By Chocolate cake with seven layers of chocolate from white, mousse, fudge ... uh, you get the idea.


  116. THAT WOULD SOOOOO BE THE DEATH OF MY DIET!!! LOL (Not that I wouldn't try maybe just a little piece! haha)

  117. I'm totally in for the chocolate chip pizza a la mode, Ash, and Jules, bring on the Death by Chocolate cake.

    We make those in the bakery. To die for. Seriously. And I don't trust women who don't like chocolate, so if anyone out there has aversion to cacao beans, probably best to keep it to yourself.

    Just so I don't snark on you, or something. That would be rude, and we want to treat our guests well.

    Jules, when Wendy Lawton stopped by to visit a few months back, she initiated a discussion on 'edgy' romance in CBA and brought up a good point about dealing with parameters, how every writer has to do that to some extent.

    That was an excellent point. What we see as edgy is someone else's tame in ABA, and walking the fine line is important. I know you struggle with identifying that line. It's hard as a ground-breaker. How much is too much sex, violence, cussing, anger, etc.?

    But I love that you recognize normal passionate feelings, and our inner struggles with them. And when it's okay NOT to struggle, LOL!

    And this new cover is my favorite of the three. I think it showcases the H/H relationship beautifully.

    And now I must edit.

    Love you.


  118. Oh, go for it, ASHLI ... a little taste of pretend chocolate won't hurt you ... unless you eat too much. :)

    Thanks, RUTHY, I totally agree that it's a very fine line. Problem is, I was NEVER good at the balance beam in high school! Couldn't walk a fine line if my life depended on it. But, oh well ... that's what prayer is for, right?


  119. CONGRATULATIONS to Terri Tiffany -- she is our winner of her choice of one of the books in The Daughters of Boston series.

    Thanks to ALL who entered and left their valuable comments.


  120. Hello to you Julie--I just read your excellent editorial concerning those scary high places---I too have a REAL problem with heights --I can usually go up but--oh my--somebody has to help me down---I have a confession to make--I am usually not a romantic fiction reader--I like to read non-fiction--but I am going to find a copy of your book--A PASSION MOST PURE and I am going to read it and pass it on to others.
    I have to say that I believe if God can be merciful to me and help me find my car keys--I know he can be merciful to you and help you see what to write and to stand where he has put you.

  121. I am for Christian fiction; it is needed just as much as any other fiction. Those who like it can read it and those who don't like it don't have to. We have a choice and it is nice to have something for everyone.

  122. LADEE BUG!!! Thank you SOOOO very much for taking the time to 1.) read my editorial and 2.) leave a comment -- what a blessing you are!! And I am giddy with excitement that YOU -- a person who is "not normally a romantic fiction reader" -- is going to read my book. Oh my, I would absolutely LOVE to know what you think when you are done (you can e-mail through my website at www.julielessman.com) because I have a dear ex-prayer partner who reads nothing but nonfiction, but she read my book and immediately went to a Christian bookstore to look for more romantic fiction books. So I am hoping you will feel the same way. But whether you do or not, please know that your comment today GREATLY lifted my spirits, and I pray that God blesses you as much as you have blessed me!

    Thank you again, L.B., for taking the time to encourage me.


  123. ROBYNL ... I cannot express how much your encouragement means to me. As you know, if you read the editorial, I have been struggling with discouragement lately, but seeing your comment (and those above) has blessed me more than I can say.

    I especially love what you said about edgy Inspirational romance, that "Those who like it can read it and those who don't like it don't have to. We have a choice and it is nice to have something for everyone."

    Oh, AMEN TO THAT!! Like I said in my editorial ... "one size does not fit all," and I am blessed and honored that I am able to write a style of fiction that I hope and pray will not only bring honor and glory to the God of my heart, but draw others closer to Him as well.

    Bless you, Robyn, and thank you again for taking the time to leave a comment.


  124. Oh my goodness, Julie, 123 comments! I wish I could have been here.

    Julie, I was so wow'ed by those awesome testimonials by people who have read your books! But not surprised, either. I believe your books will really minister to lots of people.

    I love your brand of edgy, Julie, because it's well-written and God-honoring. Love it.

  125. MELANIE!!!! My eyes light up when I see your name, kiddo, because you are SUCH a sweetheart!! I am SO glad God caused our paths to cross. Thank you for stopping by and lending your encouragement -- you KNOW how much that means to me!!


  126. Hi Julie,

    I'm a PRO all the way! I'm also a little afraid of heights! :)

    I have the first 2 books in your series ~ I'm hoping to get the 3rd soon. However, I have not had a chance to read them yet. They are in my TBR stack (actually multiple stacks!). *grin* After reading this blog, I'll be moving your books to the TOP of the stack, so I can read them next ~ I can hardly wait! My sister has already read them, and she loved them. ;)

    I've just recently discovered blogging ~ thanks to RENEE (steelergirl). We met on SwapTree and became fast friends. Thanks, girl!

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I'll keep them in mind as I read your books.

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  127. LORI!!!! Gosh, any friend of Steeler Girl is a friend of mine -- love that girl!!

    Thank you SO much for stopping by here to leave a comment AND for moving my books to the top of your TBR list!! Very cool. I would love to hear what you think when you finish them, especially if you like them. Uh, if you don't ... then, never mind ... :)

    Anyway, I hope you have a good weekend, too, and tell Rene hello for me!


  128. Julie,
    First, I admire the honesty in your blog and in you! You are brave to be so open and transparent and this is something that is so needed in the world today - for Christians to be transparent to the world so that God can shine through our transparency.

    I firmly believe that "Passion with a Purpose" and "edgy romance" is the way to go. Christian romance authors must reach this generation in the 21st century - not our parents' generation. And as you said, we are up against secular TV, some shows that border on pornographic, MTV, trashy lyrics, etc. If edgy romance is the way to reach my daughter's generation and those to follow, then I'm all for it!

    I may be too late, but if not, I would LOVE to be entered in the drawing.

    Can't wait to read all of your books!


  129. EDWINA ... Thank you SO much for taking the time to come by and leave a comment -- I SO appreciate your kind encouragement! And although the winner for this drawing has already been won, I am running additional blog giveaways where you can win a signed book, so please check my website calendar at www.julielessman.com. Hope to see you there!


  130. I'm definitely pro-"edgy" content. I never knew there was such a thing until I read Deeanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging. I loved it! It was the perfect blend of romance and God. It didn't go too far with the passion but didn't ignore it either. I admit I was a little uncomfortable reading her second novel and how far the characters went. After my grandmother (yes! my grandmother) talked to me about the books and said how she enjoyed them because they were true to life, I realized, maybe it was just me not finding a way to reconcile things normally found in two separate genres together in one. This is why I can't wait to read your novels, Julie! I look forward to the passion as well as the message of God. Keep writing the way you are, don't let those who have yet to understand deter you. :)

  131. AMEE ...Gosh, I just happened to check this old blog and saw your note, so I don't know if you will check back, but I wanted to thank you for your kind encouragement. I'd love to hear your feedback after you read the books, okay?


  132. I have come back! I will definitely let you know how I like your books. I won the first in a contest a week or so ago. I'll read it once it gets here. I've actually been looking for it the last couple of days thinking it may almost be here. ;)

  133. You know, I am a Amazon.com Junkie. I just LOVE romance novels and for the past year, I have discovered that Christian romance has substantially changed since last i checked!! There's a such thing as "Edgy" Christian romance? I asked myself the first time one was recommended to me by a friend. Well, I just want you to know that I am in love with this sub genre and now refuse to read anything else!!

    That being said, I just have to say that your novels are on a whole different plain than other edgy romances! I think you might be fast becoming my favorite author. I've read your first 2 books and went through every emotion in the books right along with the characters. Your descriptions are rich and the plots are so good that I often forget I don't have to feel guilty for loving it all! If this is Christian romance, than it's exponentially better than anything else out there on the market!!

    I walk away from your books not only loving a well written inspiring novel, but also with a greater understanding and appreciation for Jesus and what he does in our lives! The best part about your novels are that the Men are real with real desires! That is important to me. I am in a celibate christian relationship with a "reformed" boyfriend and your novels truly portray the emotions that go into a goodly --but sexless--relationship! I'm living the real thing every day and I just have to say that you write if Perfectly!

    So even though you're afraid of heights, I'm sure God will ensure that you never fall off the edge! A passion most pure is my Favorite book (I can relate so well and the cover is beautiful!)you've written and I look forward to reading A passion Denied in the near future!! God Bless!

  134. Hey Julie - I know you're knocking on the deadline of another writing milestone and I don't know how you have the time to read these comments let alone respond and have a life . I just wanted to say you didn't just put a crack in the proverbial glass ceiling of edgy inspirational Christian Romance ... you broke a hole big enough for not only yourself but also others to get through. I wonder how long it will be before books and characters will reflect true human frailty and past choices we've made yet still found (or re-found)and embraced God versus been on the straight and narrow path all along. I suppose some of the men in the series have shown this - but not really the women per se. Anyway... I just wanted to to say Thank You for all you do.

  135. AMEE ... gosh, I don't check this post anymore because it's an old one, but I'm glad I did today -- thanks for your response and I look forward to hearing what you think of APMP! Shoot me a line through my website, okay?

    YET ... HOLY COW, what an encouraging comment -- THANK YOU!! Like I said above, I NEVER check this blog anymore, but did because a friend told me she left a comment. Glad I did because your comment really lifted my spirits -- THANK YOU sooo much!

    Anonymous -- ohhhh ... I like that -- "a whole in the proverbial glass ceiling" ... you sound like a writer, my friend!! Thank you SO much for your sweet comment.


  136. CONGRATULATIONS to Terri Tiffany -- she is our winner of her choice of one of the books in The Daughters of Boston series.

    Thanks to ALL who entered and left their valuable comments.


  137. Wow, 136 (now 137) comments. That should say it all. This is clearly a subject people care about. I hope more people pop over from your ACFW post. Go Julie, yay!

  138. Dina, you came by -- what a sweetheart!! THANKS for your sweet comment AND your support! Hugs, Julie

  139. Julie, I've read all of the Boston sisters series -- loved them all! Have yet to read the new one about Katie. I too write what could be considered edgy fiction for young adults that deals very candidly with abstinence and "second chance virginity." It's very real life, digging deep into both issues with a strong emphasis on mentoring and accountability. I would love to post the first five pages of book #1 on this site!