Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I’VE GOT RHYTHM … But Not in my Feet! (And Book Giveaway!)

I got rhythm,

I got music,

I got my man,

Who could ask for

anything more?

I’ve Got Rhythm

by George and Ira Gershwin

Rhythm? Not on my life. Music? Sometimes. My man? Most definitely. Anything more? Uh, let’s not go there … Because when it comes to “rhythm,” I simply don’t have it. At least not on the dance floor, which I try to avoid at all costs unless I simply cannot, such as in the mother-son dance at my son’s wedding in the picture above, which actually turned out to be one of the best dances of my life. Keep in mind I said “best”—not good!

Rhythm—that easy, breezy sway of a favorite song, those clean, beautiful lines of an athlete in motion, the miracle of a heartbeat—thump, thump … thump, thump. MacMillan Dictionary gives one definition for rhythm as this: a pattern in a work of art that makes it beautiful.

Ah, yes. Beauty in motion, like Dancing With the Stars. Remember the scene in the movie Hitch where Kevin James shows Will Smith his dance moves? And Will Smith slaps him across the face and says, “Get out”? Yep, that was me. I was so bad that once a guy who liked me ended up asking my friend out instead. The reason? He said she could dance and I couldn’t. Sigh … another one bites the dust. Which actually turned out to be a good thing because he ended up being a not so great guy, unlike the guy I eventually married who is beyond great. And, lucky for me … hates to fast dance!

So … tone deaf, lead feet and the athletic prowess of a tree stump … and yet, I have rhythm. Oh, not the graceful, hypnotic kind you see in a ballroom or on an Olympic track, but rhythm that flows through my fingers onto a keyboard, compelling me to exude that cadence, that feel, that flow which—hopefully—will whisk a reader away like a river of words, from turbulent whitewater emotions or the playful tease of a babbling brook, to the serenity of a mirror lake.

Blame it on the fact that I used to write poetry or my over-the-top love of drama, but to me, rhythm is essential in a story, the difference between point-blank newspaper copy and a lyrical prose that is beautiful to the ear and the eye. Each of us has an innate rhythm of our own, something I first discovered in the editing phase of my first book, A Passion Most Pure. You see, I had this excellent copy editor, but unfortunately our rhythms were nothing alike. I will never forget reading her revisions, which she hadn’t track-changed, and over and over again when I’d come to a sentence she rewrote, I’d think, sweet heaven, did I really write that??? It was an awful, shivery feeling that literally felt like fingernails on a blackboard. Neither of us were wrong, of course—our styles were simply not in sync. Fortunately for me, however, my editor allowed my rhythm to prevail.

So, what do I mean by “rhythm” in a story and how do I go about infusing it? It’s a very hard thing to actually show, but I’m going to give it my best shot. In my opinion, it’s the way a paragraph or sentence flows, pulling the reader along with a pleasant cadence, almost like poetry. For me, it’s not enough to just tell a story. As wordsmiths, we should try to make it sound beautiful too, no matter the rhythm. Don’t forget that everyone’s rhythm is different, so what I might like in my writing style—a more literary, almost poetic style—may not appeal to you, but even with different styles, a sense of flow always enhances the writing.

Sometimes this can be accomplished by editing a sentence down … and sometimes by beefing it up. Either way you do it, always remember the sound, the flow of the sentence is important, so be sure to read it out loud. If it does not flow or if one word or phrase sounds like fingernails on the blackboard, EDIT FOR RHYTHM!

In the following examples, I edited for rhythm, sometimes deleting words, changing them or adding words, depending on what sounded best to my ears in conjunction with the sentences before and after. The second version is the final version with the rhythm I preferred, so it will be interesting to see which you like better. Keep in mind that there are LOTS of ways to add rhythm, but here are just a few I found while editing my next book, A Trust Restored.


1.) Eliminate unnecessary pronouns. I have no problem whatsoever sacrificing pronouns on the altar of rhythm! For instance, in this first example below from A Trust Restored, by eliminating the final pronoun “her” in the second sentence, it improves the flow of the sentence, at least in my opinion and is not necessary for clarity. I tend to eliminate pronouns a lot, as you will see in the rest of the examples, but there are times when the rhythm is better with them. Again, it all depends on the flow of the sentence and the one before and after.

With an ache in her chest, she entered the bathroom and turned on the light, closing the door behind her.

With an ache in her chest, she entered the bathroom and turned on the light, closing the door behind.

“Patrick, no …” Marcy sagged against the counter, her stomach roiling.

“Patrick, no …” Marcy sagged against the counter, stomach roiling.

Uh-oh,” Charity said, sucking air through her teeth. “And I thought Henry was in trouble.”

Uh-oh,” Charity said, sucking air through teeth. “And I thought Henry was in trouble.”

The air seized in Marcy’s throat when he winced, his hand clutching his chest.

The air seized in Marcy’s throat when he winced, hand clutching his chest.

Her hands shook as she entered the bathroom and turned on the light, her mind racing for a solution.

Her hands shook as she entered the bathroom and turned on the light, mind racing for a solution.

2.) Eliminate unnecessary prepositional phrases or conjunctions. Too often I clog up sentences with prepositional phrases that are already understood, so I will go back and edit for a cleaner, simpler flow to enhance the rhythm such as in these underlined examples from A Trust Restored.

Blood pounding in her ears, her gaze darted down the hall to Gabe’s closed door, her breath stilled in her lungs as she strained hard to listen.

Blood pounding in her ears, her gaze darted to Gabe’s closed door, her breath stilled as she strained to listen.

He drew her close, stroking her hair with the palm of his hand.

He drew her close, stroking her hair with his hand.

He drew her close, stroking her hair.

“I’ve missed you, Elizabeth,” he whispered, gently sweeping her hair back so he could nuzzle the soft curve of her neck.

“I’ve missed you, Elizabeth,” he whispered, gently sweeping her hair to nuzzle the curve of her neck.

3.) Add words or syllables to enhance the lilt and rhythm of a sentence. As an author of 500-page books, I am NOT adverse to adding words or syllables to get the feel and flow that I want, such as in these examples where I actually expanded the sentences with the underlined words because to me, they just have more of a lilt.

In natural reflex, Gabe’s legs ceased kicking while her freckles scrunched in a scowl before her brown eyes met his.

In natural reflex, Gabe’s legs ceased kicking while an abundance of freckles scrunched in a scowl when her brown eyes connected with his.

She glanced up at her daughters. “Thank you, both,” she said softly before hurrying upstairs.

She glanced up at her daughters. “Thank you, both,” she said softly before hurrying to head up the stairs.

Father Mac took swift possession, gaze pinned to the basket. He rose up on the balls of well-worn Keds and cut loose with a three-pointer that clipped the backboard.

Father Mac took swift possession, gaze pinned to the basket. He rose up on the balls of his Keds and sailed a three-pointer that clipped the back of the board.

“I’ll tell him, Lord, I promise,” she whispered, slipping her sweater over her shoulders on her way out.

“I’ll tell him, Lord, I promise,” she whispered, slipping her sweater over her shoulders on her way out the door.

Heat climbed his neck as he averted his eyes, snatching the letters to scrawl his signature on each one.

Heat climbed his neck as he averted his eyes, snatching the letters to scrawl his signature at the bottom of each one.

He bent to give her a soft kiss full on the mouth, cupping her face.

He bent to give her a soft kiss full on the mouth, cupping her face with his hand.

She pushed her unfinished burger away, the anger in her tone matching her eyes. “He-was-consoling-me, you dimwit, and at least he’s man enough to take a chance on a girl he likes.”

She pushed her burger away, the anger in her tone matching her eyes. “He-was-consoling-me, you dimwit, and at least he’s man enough to take a chance on a girl that he likes.”

4.) Eliminate unnecessary phrasing that is already understood. I suspect most writers gorge a sentence with words initially in an effort to get their point across, but it’s shocking to me how many of the phrases I use are not even necessary for clarity OR rhythm. Here’s an example from my September release, A Heart Revealed where I deleted the underlined words from the final version because they are already understood and don’t enhance the flow, especially since this is a tense scene that calls for shorter, snappier wording.

With a harsh gasp of air, she flew across the room and slammed the door shut before he could go, chest heaving and her body blocking his way. “No need to duke it out at the gym, McGee,” she snapped, “I’m more than willing to give you a good fight right here.”

With a harsh gasp, she flew across the room and slammed the door, chest heaving as she blocked his way. “No need to duke it out at the gym, McGee,” she snapped, “I’ll give you a good fight right here.”

He settled in with a broad grin. “No problem, Mrs. McGee,” he whispered, his mouth playing with hers. “Depend on me to work you hard till you shine. But just to make sure …” Skimming her jaw with little kisses, he worked his way down to her shoulders, dislodging the strap of her gown with his teeth. “Maybe we better begin tonight …

He settled in with a broad grin. “No problem, Mrs. McGee,” he whispered, his mouth playing with hers. “I’ll work you hard till you shine. But just to make sure …” Lips skimming her jaw, he eased his way down, dislodging the strap of her gown with his teeth. “We better begin tonight …

5.) Condensing words when their meaning is understood. Soooooo many times in a sentence, I will condense a word for sheer rhythm if it’s meaning is clear in the abbreviated version such as this sentence from A Trust Restored.

“Yes …” Lizzie said, her voice trailing off to a whisper, “and to our house ...”

“Yes …” Lizzie said, voice trailing to a whisper, “and to our house ...”

6.) Add alliteration here and there. For instance, My Fair Lady is one of my favorite musicals, and one of the lines I always remember is a quote from Alfred P. Doolittle where he says, “"I'm willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you. I'm waiting to tell you." So I LOVE it when I see an occasional alliteration in a novel because it SO lends to the rhythm of the piece, but, of course, you must never OVERDO! Here’s one I found in A Trust Restored.

She chewed on the edge of her lip, fingers fiddling with the tail of her sash. “I … can’t,” she whispered, afraid to go down, afraid to be near him, afraid of what might happen if she did.

So … how do YOU add rhythm to your sentences? Put on your dancin’ shoes and show me your moves! Or what do you like to see as far as rhythm? Can you give an example of rhythm in your writing or someone else’s? Leave a comment and I will enter you in a contest for a signed copy of any of my books, including my newest release due out August 15 on and September first everywhere else, A Heart Revealed.

Good luck and ... break a leg!




  1. Okay, this is a first -- me being the first comment, so this could be a good day!!


    I'm beating Helen to the coffee today, and our selections are cinnamon hazelnut, of course, Southern pecan, and in honor of Sandra -- chocolate velvet!! Our selection of teas range from peach to cranberry pomegranete to orange passionfruit. On the sideboard we have maple French toast casserole and cheddar bacon quiche, along with Denver hash browns, sausage links and thick slices of maple-cured ham. So dig in, all, 'cause you're gonna need energy for some fancy footwork on that manuscript!!


  2. Hi, Julie. Thanks. The comments were on ZERO when I clicked to leave one so you only beat me by a second.

    There is a real rhythm to comedy. You can't exactly just say funny lines. Comedy has to be set up. The straight man has to say something for the comic line to react to. Comedy takes work. I go over and over and over a scene, pulling out bits of irony, sarcasm, wit. I just started working today on an old novel, because I love to run through them occasionally and see what I can do with the unsold manuscripts on my computer....and I am way ahead of schedule. In one of those times when I set a manuscript aside and let myself forget what I MEANT to say and then go back and read what I really said.
    So, I'm working through an old manuscript and I've been playing with the first chapter for about three days. There's an explosion, hard to get all that noise and chaos, smells, flying debris, whizzing shrapnel, fire. Tons of rhythm to an action scene, too. Keep it fast, don't slow down the pace, yet get all the senses in there, all the pain and reactions, no backstory at this point.

    But the comedy has to be there too. It's necessary as a break from the mayhem because the reader needs to catch a breath. Anyway, I've been working over this first line. I've got a half a page to set everything up before the bomb explodes.
    So my opening line has changed ten times and I'm not sure I'm set on it but I think it's funny so I'm leaving it for now to go on to chapter two.

    I just say that so you'll know I worked HARD on this, and it's got a rhthym to it.

    Leon Bagwell in danger?
    From the fashion police maybe.

  3. Now I read it, the line, on my last comment and I don't think it's all that great.

    Back to the drawing board. No, maybe I'll go on and come back later. At some point you've GOT to go on.

  4. CONGRATS LADIES!!!! I am a huge fan of y'all!
    And Julie Thanks for the hints! I hope to one day have something published and I will keep these in mind!

  5. Those are some great hints!!! I will be re-reading them later and learning from you! Your books are some of the best! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

  6. Oh, and I have to say.....those teas sound delicious!!! Orange passionfruit???

  7. Another keeper/printer offer for my files. Excellent Julie!!!!!!!!! and !!!!!!!! for good measure.


    Thanks for the goodies. Miles to go before I sleep...

    OH WAIT - Congrats to MARY and RUTHY and Friends of Seekerville too. YEE HAH! This is so exciting!

  8. Mary, Ruthy, and all Big Congratulations coming your way!

    Julie, I can't decide which coffee to drink. I think I'll go with the cinnamon hazelnut.

    Here's a phrase I never thought to read in CBA romance..."dislodging the strap of her gown with his teeth"
    I'm breaking out in a sweat here! It's amazing what Julie Lessman can do with a kissing scene. I wanna be just like you when I grow up.

  9. I don't exactly have rhythm either (and I find that word terribly difficult to spell) but took ballroom lessons with hubby for two years--you will learn a lot about the strength of your marriage through ballroom lessons, let me tell ya.

    I do all the getting rid of weasel words, telling words, passive sentences, too many of the same pronouns bunched together, etc. all in one sweep--whittling it down to the bare bones of "good writing," but then I do a final sweep after I think I am all done editing of reading aloud. That's when I just listen for that clunky sound or wait for me to trip over my own words. That's my rhythm check. Even if it's putting that weasel word back in if I can't think of another way to fix it, I want to make it sound nice.

  10. Congratulations to all you wonderful ladies who finaled in the Carol Awards! : )

    This is a fantastic post, Julie! Now I know why it is that I LOVE your writing so much -- it's that magnificent, lyrical prose, and all of that RHYTHM! :D

    When I hear the words, "lyrical prose," I think of Laura Frantz. As I read The Frontiersman's Daughter, that was exactly what came to mind. When you said, "In my opinion, it’s the way a paragraph or sentence flows, pulling the reader along with a pleasant cadence, almost like poetry." That's exactly what she does.

    Here's an example from The Frontiersman's Daughter (page 341): "The snow was swirling now, the lovely flakes like lace upon his blue coat. Though her expression grew firm, almost resigned, tears continued to make their way down her chin."

    Or how about this one, page 359: "She shut her eyes, unable to look at him any longer. His hands moved up her bare arms, then lay warm against her shoulders and neck, his fingers entwined in her tumbled hair. She leaned into him, breathless with longing, her palms flat against his chest." Yes, indeed, I think there's some rhythm there. ;-)

    Thanks for a chance to win a book! I have a close friend who I introduced to your books a few months back, and she loves them! She's eagerly awaiting AHR, and I'd love to win a copy for her.

    Sweet Blessings,
    scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

  11. And I'm with Andrea -- somebody get me a fan! "dislodging the strap of her gown with his teeth." Whoa, baby!! ;o)

  12. Thank you, Jules!

    And congrats to all the other finalists, too.

    Hey, this rhythm thing: I'm a HUGE fan. From scene to scene I play with rhythm, timing, action/reaction. If it's a heart-wrenching or gut-clenching scene, I slooooooow the rhythm down by using single word sentences. Tiny thoughts. Internal smacks-upside-the-head from Holy Spirit or conscience... that feeds my angst or soothes the ravaged soul, one way or another.

    And then the funny reparte has to be fast. Quick. Back and forth, think Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until a comment from one side or another creates poignancy....

    And that starts a new action/reaction.

    Here's a quick scene snip from Mended Hearts, September's release. Jeff and Hannah have been thrust together by fate and his grandmother's penchant for getting things done, and right now procuring funds for the little Jamison library is at the top of Helen Walker's list.

    He stood as she approached the table, the hostess smiling as she indicated a chair. Jeff pulled the chair out for Hannah, waited until she was comfortably seated, then sat in the chair adjacent.

    “You had to choose that one, didn’t you?” She met his gaze with a quiet look of challenge, then swept the chair opposite hers a glance. “Being across from me wasn’t close enough? Or intimidating enough?”

    “I intimidate you?” Jeff unfolded his napkin, brow drawn, but not too much, just enough to let her know he could quirk a grin quickly. “Thanks, I’ll remember that.”

    “Annoyed, possibly,” she corrected, looking more sure of herself. “Intimidated? No.”

    “Good to know, although I was starting to feel pretty good about myself. I’ve been trying to intimidate my sister for years. No go.”

    “And yet, still you try.”

    He grinned, agreeable. “A brother’s job."

  13. Great post, Julie! Love the picture of your hunk of a son and his gorgeous mom! And your examples on improving the rhythm of a sentence.

    I actually love to fast dance. On a crowded dance floor of course. Who can tell I have two left feet? :-)

    Congratulations to Mary and Ruthy, Mel, Laura and Vickie on the Carol final!!!

    Thanks for breakfast, Julie. Off to find rhythm with my wip.


  14. One month! I can't WAIT! Will it be released then as an ebook as well?

    Excellent picture!

    As far as rhythm and dancing. I don't know how to dance! I will be attending my first Marine Corps ball this fall and told my husband he had to at least teach me how to dance a little.

  15. Oh wow, Jules - can I send you all my manuscripts and you just rewrite them?
    I think it's a great plan.

    And this post was perfectly timed. I just finished editing a dance scene last night and my poor heroine can't dance. Problem is - I had to recheck my rhythmm too. Way too many prepositional phrases and unnecessary words.

    Thanks for the post - and CONGRATS again to all the CArol Award winners. SOOOO happy for you Mary, Ruthy, Melanie, and Laura Frantz. Yipee!!

  16. good morning! wow what a breakfast! I'm trying to wake up - got day shift again today and tomorrow - but started off reading 'got my man' and then saw the picture and thought 'whoa looks like she got herself a young one - you go girl!' then read it was your son LOL - hee hee sorry...

    congrats Ruthy and Mary! I'll have to remember what month it is and be on the lookout for Mended Hearts - I keep losing track of time.


  17. Congrats to the finalists.
    good to see how a Seeker ticks. Thanks Julie

  18. This was incredibly helpful! I love having examples to show me what to do, what to look for. Thank you so much!

    p.s. Please do NOT enter me into the contest. I would be so embarrassed to win...again. I am PURCHASING this next one. :)

  19. Oooh, can I give an example (then you can fix it ;-)

    Plus - it has to do with dancing!

    Voices murmured into a quiet hum with music from a string quartet, crystal and silver tingled like Christmas bells, and a cool cinnamon breeze whispered from the dance floor to cool her warm cheeks. Couples glided in elegant rhythm with the music, but the couple in the middle of the room caught her attention.

    Wes danced with the perfect woman. A Scarlet O’Hara look-alike wearing...a red towel?

    Vivian Barry in the flesh – enough visible, wrinkle-free flesh to model for Victoria’s Secret. Eisley stood up straighter and sucked in her stomach. No use.

  20. Congratulations, ladies, on finaling! So fun to see your names there! =]

    Julie, excellent post and so very helpful! Thank you. All those little changes make a huge difference in the rhythm, and explains why I reread lines simply to enjoy them. =]

    This gives us something solid to look for as we edit. Thanks!

  21. HUGE CONGRATS to all the Carol finalists--and best of luck in the final round! It's fabulous that all you talented folks are getting the recognition you deserve.

    Seekers rock!

  22. Good morning, Julie! I always love your examples! Rhythm in your writing is so very important. I find reading my story aloud so I can hear how it sounds really helps.

    And what great pic of you and your son! :)

    AND CONGRATS to Ruthy & Mary and all the Friends of Seekerville who finaled in the Carol Award!

  23. Julie, Yumm, the chocolate velvet is perfect but I might have to try southern pecan later. Sounds like it might have rhythm. smile And I love maple cured ham. Thanks for the goodies.

    Loved all your examples. It so helps to see the differences and changes. You and Mary are good at doing that.

    Speaking of Mary, congrats to all of you finalists. How marvelous and are we really surprised??? You are such great novelists.

    Julie, I love the photo of you and your son. What a treasure.

  24. GREAT post, Julie!

    And I must say,that picture is awesome! Your son is a cutie!

  25. Julie, you do know how to present a post just when I need the wisdom of your words the most.

    I am the queen of over-writing on my first draft. My CP once asked, "who are you trying to convince in this scene? Your characters or yourself?" LOL! I think I throw in every possible way to say the same thing, leaving the words to ferment and rise to the top so when I come back to edit I can pare down a half-page paragragh to one sentence.

    LOL! The good Lord blessed me with sooooo many more words than the average folk.

    Loved your examples, Julie. Giving us a peek into the Julie Lessman mind is a dangerous undertaking, but I'm so thankful for it!!

  26. Oh, I forgot your original premise for the post. Rhythm? Have I got rhythm?

    LOL! There's a reason my family only lets me sing and dance between 10:00 and 10:10 am each day. Tone deaf and two left feet. I miss my slot most of the time, but when I glance up at the clock on a Saturday and realize my time is at hand, my family cringes and runs.

    Heh, heh, heh. Heck of a way to clear a kitchen for some peace and quiet : )

  27. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY, to Mary and Ruthy for finalling in the Carol!

    And all our Seekervillians - Melanie, Laura, Vickie - for adding to the joy of our celebration in St Louis!!

  28. I always learn from Julie's jam packed post. Such a little thing and so full of information!

    Beautiful picture as well.

    But I admit as well, I have the hardest time with rhythm and rhyme.

  29. Hey, Julie!!! I am going to come back and read this carefully later, but right now I just wanted to check in and say, your son is a doll! What a cute guy! He's a lucky boy to have you for a mother. :-)

    And you're so sweet to congratulate me in your comments. Girl, I am going to miss getting to see you this year! BOO! HOO!

    Now I'm off to do battle to try to get my website back, my website that disappeared mysteriously last week--DIS A PEARED! For no apparent reason. Don't get me started.


    LOVE the new line:
    Leon Bagwell in danger?
    From the fashion police maybe.

    And I'm guessing this is a contemp.??? Soooo fun to see you expand into another genre as Mary Nealy, girl!! Cannot WAIT for Ten Plagues!!

    Humor is one of the trickiest rhythms to write, especially when something serious is going on at the same time, as in this scene from A Heart Revealed where Charity is desperately worried about Emma and trying to pump Sean for info. The way I paced the rhythm was to have Sean deadly serious with short, terse responses while Charity badgers him with longer, dryer, hopefully humorous lines.

    She tapped her foot on the leafy pavement. “Something’s up, Sean, I can feel it in my bones, and so help me I will badger you all the way home if you don’t spill it now.”

    His frustration blasted out in a cloud of smoke. “I can’t tell you, Charity, I promised.”

    “Oh, fiddle, that’s an easy fix. I’ll just ask the questions, and you give me that stone-face look of yours that will tell me everything I need to know.”

    “But that’s not right.”

    “Sure it is,” she said, dismissing his concern with a wave of her hand. “I do it with Mitch all the time.” Head cocked, she chewed on her lip. “Okay, it’s something that happened at work, but it has to be personal because Emma’s steady as a rock in all business matters, right?”

    He stared, trying not to blink.

    “Okay, good, a personal situation at work that involves a person other than you.”

    His jaw dropped. “I never said that.”

    “Sure you did, when you did that pinching thing with your nose as a stall tactic.”

    He crossed his arms to his chest, emotional battlement to ward off the enemy.

    “Now ... let’s see,” she said, finger to her chin. “Somebody upset Emma pretty badly, which means it has to be someone who doesn’t work at the store.”

    “Why?” he asked in exasperation, his patience as thin as his energy.

    Charity blinked. “Why? Because the woman who bolted up my steps was as pale as death,” she said, enunciating slowly as if explaining something to Henry. “Which means it has to be someone she feels threatened by, and that rules out everyone at Dennehy’s.”

    His lips compressed.

    She gave him a quick nod and started to pace, head down and arms folded. “Okay, so it has to be an outsider she’s afraid of and probably a man.” She halted mid-stride, eyes spanning wide. “Wait, it’s not that bum who followed her home last month, is it? You know, the disgruntled customer?”

    Swallowing his discomfort, he gave her a blank stare, facial muscles relaxing.

    She blew out a sigh of relief. “Oh, good. For a second there, I was worried.”

    “How the devil do you do that?” he said in a choke, lips parted in shock.

    She tapped a finger to her head. “Stone face, remember?” Her mouth flattened. “ It’s a gift—honed to perfection by Mitch Dennehy.”


  31. Julie, I think you are one of the best writers. I absolutely love reading your books and can't wait until 'A Heart Revealed' is released. Great post!

  32. ANDI!!! WHOO-HOO, you've got your wedding picture as your comment pic -- VERY cool!! And once again, SUPER CONGRATS on tying the knot, girlfriend!!

    Whenever you decide to start down that road to publication, Andi, be sure to check out the Seeker archives because we've got FOUR YEARS of lessons from the School of Hard Knocks, okay?

    Aw, MARTHA, thank you SO much for your sweet words!! Kind of makes me wish you had been a Carol Award judge, you know?? :)

    Oh, and MARTHA, the tea is actually Lipton orange, passion fruit and jasmine green tea, in your grocers. Go for it! :)


  33. Love this: Rythm: a pattern in a work of art that makes it beautiful. ~ MacMillan Dictionary. I tweeted it. :D

  34. Thanks, KC, and what the heck are you doing up at 2:00 AM, girl??!! I mean, Seekerville's good, but NOTHING that's good to keep me up ... almost! Have a read a book or two that have managed ... :)

    LOL, ANDREA said: "Here's a phrase I never thought to read in CBA romance...'dislodging the strap of her gown with his teeth' ... I wanna be just like you when I grow up." What? Old and juvenile??? It IS a lot more fun than being old and mature, I suppose ... :)

    Oh, MELISSA, me too!!! Rhythm and "friends" or "friendship" are the three words that I ALWAYS seem to mispell before I get them right. In the case of the word "rhythm," I think it's "rhythm's" way of making us sloooooow down and concentrate on how to say it and spell it, you know? Just like in writing!! And it sounds to me like you have "rhythm" down real good, girl!!


  35. MICHELLE!!! Oh, AMEN to that, sweetie -- Laura Frantz's The Frontiersman's Daughter literally blew me away as a debut novel, and was up for a Carol Award last year and NOW her 2nd book, Courting Morrow Little, is too, and SO justifiably so!! And thank you SO much, my friend, for introducing your friend to my books -- MUCH appreciated!! But I wouldn't get the fan out for the next book, A Heart Revealed, because it is the least romantically passionate of all my books primarily because Emma is married and Sean and Emma's love is forbidden, obviously. Of course, there is Katie and Luke's honeymoon phase ... :)

    RUTHY!!! SUPER CONGRATS, girl, on the Carol final, and I have to say that when I think "rhythm," you are definitely one of the authors who comes to mind!! Your example from Mended Hearts below is excellent, as usual, my friend!

    JANET ... you know, I just pegged you for a good dancer, Janeto, I guess because you are always the image of class and ease that I figured somebody who looks as good as you in pics and in person just HAS to be good on the dance floor, too, right? So I am not buying the "two left feet" comment, darlin'! But thanks for trying to make me feel better ... :)


  36. Another excellent post, Julie! I always get so much from your blogs.

    Getting rid of prepositional phrases and all those small words that only take up room is something to which I can definitely relate. (This sentence is proof.) :o)

    I agree with you and Mary. Comedy is an area where rhythm is SO important. These are usually the scenes I redo the most to get just the right timing.

    Major Congrats to all who finaled in the Carol Awards!!


  37. MELISSA ... YES, ONE MONTH (approximately) till A Heart Revealed hits the shelves, and as far as I know it should be on e-book immediately. They had problems last year with A Hope Undaunted, getting it on e-book, so that didn't happen for several months, but I am praying that won't be the case with AHR. And you can't dance??? Well, that doesn't mean you don't have rhythm, girl, so you have that hubby of yours teach you and then go CRAZY at the Marine Corps ball, okay?

    PEP!!! Gosh, girlfriend, I have enough problems editing my own mass of misteps, much less taking on someone else's!!! Besides, I've read your stuff, girl, and you are a true twinkle toes with words, as evidenced by the two finals in the Genesis, sweetie!! And how funny that you just finished a dancing scene last night!!

    SUSANNAH SAID: " ... started off reading 'got my man' and then saw the picture and thought 'whoa looks like she got herself a young one - you go girl!'"

    LOL!! Yeah, I write about young hunks, but my tastes run a littttttle bit older, thank you very much ... and is narrowed down to one hunk, thank God!! :)


  38. YIKES...I'm still blushing at the whole dislodging the strap of her gown with HIS TEETH.


    Great post with wonderful tips, Julie!

  39. Julie I remember that scene from with Charity and Sean. Really funny, really well done.

  40. I need to go find a scene with rhythm and post it. Maybe after just a bit more caffeine.

    ps I stared at my desk yesterday for a while, considering taking a picture. Couldn't stand to.

  41. Ohh yeah - congrats to Mary and Ruthie!!

    And this is a FABULICIOUS post, Julie. So want to develop that rhythm. Thanks for the pointers!

  42. JENNY!!! "Good to see how a Seeker ticks"??? Sweet heavens, don't judge other Seekers by my clock ... I've always been a couple minutes off and quite alarm-ing as well!! :)

    And, everybody, as a plug here, I will be on Ausjenny's blog with a giveaway July 28-Aug. 4, so be sure to check out my website calendar. I had planned to do TONS of blog interview/giveaways for A Heart Revealed, but my publisher has insisted on handling/monitoring all interviews to give me more time to write because my new contract calls for books every nine months instead of every twelve, so I am doing WAY less interviews than I intended. SO ... if you're looking to try and win a signed copy of my newest release, A Heart Revealed or any other of my books, you may want to check out my website calendar NOW because regrettably, there will not be many.

    SHERRINDA!!! You're actually going to BUY one of my books??? I'll believe it when I see it, sweetie! :)

    PEP!!! Oooooo, you had me at Scarlett O'Hara, girl ... actually before!! LOVE it!! The only thing I would suggest is changing the first "cool" in the following lines to "soft," because it lends a certain alliterative rhythm and avoids repetition of a word:

    Voices murmured into a quiet hum with music from a string quartet, crystal and silver tingled like Christmas bells, and a SOFT cinnamon breeze whispered from the dance floor to cool her warm cheeks.

    Also in this sentence, replace the second "flesh" with skin. Otherwise, it's AWESOME!!

    Vivian Barry in the flesh – enough visible, wrinkle-free SKIN to model for Victoria’s Secret.


  43. PATTY!!! You're more than welcome, my friend -- I'm just glad the differences between the rhythms in the various examples were obvious!! Wasn't sure if they would be, although to me, it's SOOO in my face when the rhythm isn't right. :)

    ANDREA ... I would have to agree -- SEEKERS ROCK!!! Of course, I wish more of us had "rocked" in the Carols, but there's always next year, right??? We're shooting for ALL Seekers in a Carol eventually -- world domination, don't you know!! :)

    Thanks, GLYNNA ... my son is a very handsome man, inside AND out, I'm happy to say!! I'm very proud of him. And you are ANOTHER great example of an author with rhythm, my friend!!


  44. SANDRA ... oh, you HAVE to try the Southern Pecan, sweetie, because it is to die for!!! Thanks for your kind words, my friend, and I cannot WAIT to dive in to your new release, PRICE OF VICTORY, just released!!!

    Thanks, KATIE -- my son is a "cutie," I do agree. And the best part? He didn't even know it throughout college, as humble as they come!!

    AUDRA!!! "Queen of over-writing on my first draft"??? Uh, I bet I could give you a run for your money, sweetie -- A Passion Most Pure was originally 700-something pages long ... :)

    And your comment that "giving us a peek into the Julie Lessman mind is a dangerous undertaking ..."??? Honey, you don't even know the half of it ... but you will, come September when you stay with me, you poor, unsuspecting girl!! ;) No backing out now ...


  45. AUDRA ... "Tone deaf and two left feet," eh? GREAT!!! Then we can sit around the firepit on Wed. night before the conference and drive the other Seekers crazy ... :)

    TINA SAID: "Such a little thing and so full of information!" TRANSLATION:
    "Such a little thing to be so full of it ..." :)

    Thanks, MEL, but BUMMER about your website, girl!! Am asking everyone here to say a quick prayer for you that you get it all straightened out SOON!!


  46. MEGAN!!! You are SUCH a sweetheart to say such nice things -- but you didn't leave an address as to where I should send the check ... :)

    Hey, LINNETTE -- I know!! Even the definition is beautiful!!

    Thanks SO much, KIRSTEN! Writing books is definitely not for sissies, eh?


  47. JESSICA ... LOL!!! Yeah, I do so love coming up with new ways for those married couples to celebrate the joy of marriage, don't I, though??? :) BUT ... the purists in the group will be happy to know that I am toning WAY down on the passion in my next series because guess what?? NO MARRIED COUPLES!!!

    Thanks, MARE, and yeah, I have posted that scene before because gosh darn, I just LOVE it!! :) And TAKE THE PICTURE ... THEN POST A SCENE!!!

    Gracias, JOANNE!!! And we'll have to do a post one day on everyone posting their own type of rhythm because I would love to see some.

    WHEW ... just got through comments and now off to read/exercise and pray ... for more rhythm!!! :)


  48. I did not say that!!!

    I'll have you know I print your posts and use them for writing, young lady.

    Especially your one on sexual tension.


  49. Jessica Nelson, you have a new photo. You look LOVELY Ms Debut Author.

  50. I hope you're back from your break soon, Julie, because I'm sure there are plenty of comments yet to come!

    First of all: Congrats to the Carol finalists!!!Woo Hoo!!!

    Okay, question time (for anyone, not just Julie):

    1)Do you find that the rhythm just comes naturally, or is it something that you have to work on until the passage sounds right? (BTW, Mary, I think you have that first line pegged).

    2) How about in dialogue? Do you use rhythm to give your characters different voices?

    It seems that rhythm is like voice - something that you can see once the words are written, but elusive until they're down on paper.

    Back to work - thanks for breakfast!

    Please put me in for the drawing!

  51. I found a cut from the beginning of the 2nd chapter of Over the Edge, book #3 in the Kincaid Brides Series.

    Due out August 2012.

    The first chapter is a stage coach robbery and shootout and crazy, fun action starring the heroine.

    Then our hero, crazy man Seth Kincaid comes to save the day after the woman has already saved the day herself.
    BTW, the woman had come specifically looking for Seth Kincaid...and she's killing mad.
    The scene has a nice rhythm to it.
    (the word rhythm is ridiculously hard to spell!)

    Chapter Two
    Seth saw the stagecoach driver lying halfway in the bushes on the downhill side of the stage. He’d ridden right past him. Seth wheeled around to go help.

    A bullet whizzed out the window of the stage and missed him by little more than a foot. Seth drew his six-gun.

    “Seth Kincaid you get back here and let me shoot you, you low-down skunk.”

    A woman.

    A woman who knew his name.

    A woman who knew his name and wanted to kill him.

    He’d never had much luck with women.

  52. And I have ALREADY READ JULIE'S BOOK!!!!!!!!!
    (neener, neener, neener!)

    So I don't remember that scene from before on Seekerville. I remember it from the book...which I loved btw.

    And I'm already crazed for the last book in the series. I love those O'Connors.

  53. My brain's in slow gear today, and can't seem to come up with good examples. I did find it extremely helpful to see how you go back and edit things Julie.

    Jodie Wolfe

  54. Julie,

    I read your post and then went back to read the work I did on my WIP yesterday. Ack! Rhythm is a sticking point with me.

    Strangely enough, I was a music major in college. So, I definitely have rhythm. Why not with the writing? At least I don't see it in the fiction. Maybe it's overwriting like Audra (?) said.

    What does a writer with two left feet on the page do? By the way, when you read for rhythm, does it matter if it's from the printed page? Sometimes I think writing--and reading-- on the computer encourages disjointed writing. I don't know. Just calling it a "novel" inhibits my normal voice, such that it is. Help!

    Do you have trouble with flow more with different POV's? Is first-person less rhythmic?

    Not that you have any rhythm trouble on the page at all, Julie.

    You've given me something to think about to bring the music to the page.

    Here's an excerpt I love from "Winter's End" by Seeker-Villain :) Ruth Logan Herne

    Kayla glanced up at the disgruntled man nearby. A big guy, about six feet and one-eighty, she wondered if he meant to intimidate her. If so, he was doing a good job. She hoisted her work case, determined to make nice. "Would you like to talk first, or introduce me to your father?"

    His facial shadows deepened. A muscle in his right cheek twitched. He worked his jaw, then grimaced. "Dad's through here."

    This next phrase is in parenthesis(?)
    Thank you, Mr. Congeniality.

    Too funny! Great rhythm.

    And from Wanted: A Family by good friend and shapely-armed Janet Dean

    He strapped on a pouch of nails and stuck the hammer under his belt, then leaned the ladder against the back of the house, making adjustments until it centered to suit him. ...As he clomped up the incline, she held her breath and then slowly released it, noticing his confidence and agility.

    parenthesis on one word "And" the way his back muscles rippled through his shirt.

    I'd love to win the book, Julie. AND send some of your rhythm along with it.

    cathy underscore at yahoo dot com

  55. “Seth Kincaid you get back here and let me shoot you, you low-down skunk.”

    A woman.

    A woman who knew his name.

    A woman who knew his name and wanted to kill him.

    He’d never had much luck with women."

    Love it, Mary!!!

  56. In the midst of chasing my rambunctious two year old son while saying, "don't hit your sister!", it's so nice to see you and your son smiling and so happy :). Great lesson in rhythm and writing, Julie. Honestly, I don't think I ever knew all that went into the art of writing before I tried to start doing it! It's one thing that's attracted me to's mentally stimulating and challenges me in ways that I haven't been challenged in a while. I love being a stay at home mom, but sometimes my brain feels a little mushy. Thanks for the brain sharpener! :) I'd love a chance to win another one of your books! Blessings~Stacey

  57. Congratulations on the Carol finals you guys! I thought that contest was wayyy too big to enter... :D
    I LOVED this post! Such great information. Going to print and read through again later!

  58. I think one of the most common word for me to delete is "down." It's one of those unnecessary that are understood in context.

    Ezra sat down.

    You can just say "Ezra sat," and everyone knows he went in a downward direction.

    Thanks so much for the tips! I love those:)

  59. TINA!!! Gosh, that blesses the socks off of me, that you print some of my stuff off to keep -- BLESS YOU, my friend!! I pretty much feel the same way about your blogs, girlfriend, God's truth!!

    And, JESSICA, Tina is right -- the new pic is GORGEOUS and VERY appropriate for a new author!!

    JAN ... OOOOO, good questions, girlfriend, and I can't wait to see other people's responses, but here's mine:

    1.) YES AND NO. Yes, I think everyone has a natural rhythm that flows in their writing that may even reflect their personality. For example, I like tense, dramatic, edgy romantic writing, which pretty much conveys my passionate personality, so I believe to a large degree, that is naturally reflected in my writing. In Ruthy's case, she tends toward dry humor, which is definitely reflected in her writing as well, as is Mary's natural humor in hers. BUT ... that said, there's a craft to everything and we are ALL constantly growing in that craft, so we do have to work on fine-tuning everything, not just rhythm.

    I'll continue in my next comment ...



    2.) Yes, yes, a 1000 times yes!!! I DO use rhythm to give my characters different voices, most definitely. For instance, Mitch Dennehy is a gruff, no-nonsense, monosyllable-type of speaker, so if I ever have him being too verbose, his rhythm is broken and pulls the reader out of his character, in my opinion.

    And like Ruthy implied, the right rhythm with dialogue in a taut scene can really help convey the tension you want, such as in the brief interlude below from A Passion Denied that I've shared before, which deals with an argument between the O'Connor parents, Marcy and Patrick. The "rhythm," if you will, is the fast, staccato pace of the dialogue ... boom, boom, boom ...:

    She pressed back against the headboard, alarmed at the brutal look in his eyes. “That’s a lie! I have never been unfaithful.”

    “Not physically, I’m sure.” His look pierced her to the core. “At least, not until tonight.”

    Fear paralyzed her. “I fought him off, Patrick, I swear I did. He’s a liar.”

    “Funny, he said the same about you.”

    He took a step forward, and she cowered back. Her husband had never laid a cruel hand on her. But this man was not her husband. “Patrick, you’re tired, and you’ve been drinking. Come to bed, and we’ll discuss it in the morning.”

    “Did you kiss him?”

    “No, of course not!”

    “Did he kiss you?”

    She gasped for breath.

    He gripped her arm and shook her. “Answer me!”


    His eyes glittered like ice. “Well, Mrs. O’Connor, and how do I compare?”


    As you can see from this short clip of Mary's, Mary is a MASTER at rhythm and humor and pace, utilizing a form of alliteration to neatly tie it all up. SO FABULOUS, I'm going to repeat it right here:

    A woman.

    A woman who knew his name.

    A woman who knew his name and wanted to kill him.

    He’d never had much luck with women.

    "And I have ALREADY READ JULIE'S BOOK!!!!!!!!!
    (neener, neener, neener!)"

    AND endorsed it, I might add, for which I am MOST grateful!!! Nothing like the Connealy name in one's book, let me tell you!!

    Thanks, Mare! We definitely have a Mutual Admiration Society going on, girl!!


  62. Jules,
    LOVE the example of Sean & Charity.
    Oh my goodnes - in stitches!!!

    (I'm humming Someday I'll Write Like Julie - to the tune of Someday My Prince Will Come)

    Bout the same, really ;-)


  63. Oh, and thanks for the tips to my little example, Jules.

    Love the suggestions.

  64. JODIE!!! I am SO glad it helped you because I wasn't really sure how noticeable it would be, like I said before. But to me, it is VERY noticeable ... but then I tend to be a wee bit anal about rhythm. Uh, ya think???

    CATHY ... GREAT examples from Ruthy and Janet, both masters of rhythm, in my opinion!!

    You asked "What does a writer with two left feet on the page do?

    MY ANSWER??? PRAY for the Holy Spirit leading and then read it out loud, and if you can have somebody read it out loud for you while you close your eyes to listen, maybe that would help too. But ... it has to be a good reader or at least someone you read the lines to first so they know where the inflections should be.

    YOU ASKED: By the way, when you read for rhythm, does it matter if it's from the printed page? Sometimes I think writing--and reading-- on the computer encourages disjointed writing ...

    MY ANSWER: Yes, I actually DO think it matters if it's printed out or just on the computer. I always edit first on the computer (including reading out loud), then I print it off to read it for rhythm (also out loud), and WOW, sometimes there's a BIG difference and I think, "did I reallly write it like that????" Reading out loud is CRUCIAL, in my opinion, when it comes to rhythm.

    YOU ASKED: Do you have trouble with flow more with different POV's? Is first-person less rhythmic?

    I don't know about 1st-person being less rhythmic because I don't write 1st person, but I wouldn't think so. I imagine ANY type of fiction has a sense of rhythm, don't you?

    As far as having trouble with flow with different POVs? Well, I never had before, at least not in the O'Connor saga, BUT ... I just started writing on The Cousins McClare yesterday, and OH, BOY!! My publisher requested that I change the proposed era of the early 30s to the early 1900s instead, and WHOA, BABY, am I having trouble with rhythm because I'm not used to the vernacular or formal speech of the Victorian or Edwardian eras. Consequently, it's been very challenging for me, to say the least. Especially since I am a very casual speaker/writer, so naturally my dialogue reflects that, which doesn't always fit in the more conservative eras, I'm finding. So I am having to work extra hard on the rhythm that came so naturally for me with the O'Connors. Sigh. We NEVER stop learning, do we??!!


  65. I've found that when I print my story off and do revisions from the printed page, I do much better. Still takes an excessive amount of work.

  66. LINNETTE, I don't really consider myself funny either, but when writing the humorous character, it just seems to flow out, so maybe I am. But I do think most writers probably experience that ability to rise to the occasion when humor is called for, although some better than others, naturally.

    :), STACEY ... I've been there, and someday you will be dancing with your son at his wedding, wondering, "where did the time go?" And join the club as far as not realizing ALL that goes in to writing!! Every single one of us has had to learn that lesson in the School of Hard Knocks, trust me!! Good luck in the contest, sweetie.

    Thanks, VIRGINIA--MUCH appreciated! Good luck int the contest, sweetie. :)


  67. btw. I've been meaning to write this everytime I stop in. Your son is a doll. :)

  68. This so cements what I have been learning from Margie Lawson in her classes and I LOVE alleterations and (what are those 50 odd ones I learned a month or so ago..) I'm terrible with remembering the name, but do a pretty good job on implmenting the work.

    GREAT post, Julie! I loved how you broke it down, thanks. :)

    (I would like to be entered, please. :)

  69. KRISTIN -- EXCELLENT example, sweetie!! Mind if I steal it?? :)

    GRIN ... You're welcome PEPPER!! And I know what you mean about the humming. No matter how much or how loud I hum "Someday I'll look like Pepper," it will never be. Sigh.

    LINNETTE!!! Did you delete your comment, you little stinker?? Because you NEVER have to worry about disagreeing with me, kiddo. Keep in mind that I was a 45-time rejected unpubbed just three years ago, so I am far, FAR from being an expert, trust me!!! But I have a big mouth and I'm honest, so I try to share what I've learned as far as what works for me.

    I almost agree with you on your comment regarding the deletion of "her" in the Charity sentence, and to be honest, I reread that sucker TONS of times to try to get it right. What actually put me over the edge in deleting it, however, was the fact that on my final pass through a ms., I try to cut widows like crazy (one or two words on a line), so I can shorten my docs to avoid my editor having a stroke, which is what I did with that sentence. Deleting the "her" made it one sentence on the line, and I actually kind of liked it, especially with the lines before and after, as follows, so see if you like it any better totally intact:

    "So when Michael called last week out of the blue, I …” Lizzie swallowed hard and peered up, brows sloped in worry. “Well, I …I’m afraid I invited him down for a visit.”
    “To Boston?” Faith said, her voice climbing several octaves.
    “Yes …” Lizzie said, voice trailing off to a whisper, “and to our house ...” She gulped. “To stay.”
    “Uh-oh,” Charity said, sucking air through teeth. “And I thought Henry was in trouble.”
    A weak moan parted from Lizzie’s lips. “I know—Brady will be furious when I tell him, I just know it, especially as crabby as he’s been lately. Which is why I need prayer—Michael will be here in three weeks.”


  70. Loved this post.

    The post and the comments is a course in writing in and of itself!

    Julie, you are an amazing, and brilliant writer!

    Who cares if you can't dance?

  71. Aw, MARE, thanks -- he is a real doll, for sure, both inside and out, like I said before.

    CASEY!!! WOW, what a compliment, that something I said actually "cements" what Margie Lawson said -- that woman is INCREDIBLE on this stuff, and I SOOO need to relisten to her tapes!!! And what I know on the subject is like a speck of frost compared to Margie's 2-ton iceberg!!


  72. Julie, you dance with words!

    I agree with Pam - the comments today have been just as valuable as the original post. How am I going to print it all off? (especially when Linette deletes her comments!)

    Thanks for answering our questions so completely -

    We have a chilly 67 degrees and rainy here in the Black Hills today. Anyone want to join me for some Vegetable Beef soup for lunch?

  73. Help!

    4,000 - her
    2,00 - she
    650 - Beth

    Any suggestions?

  74. She is brilliant, that is for sure! But then, so are you. ;)

  75. Adding my congrats to our Carol finalists!!! We're so proud of all of you!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

    Great post, Julie! Your son is a handsome guy--of course, he would be! Such a special day and special picture.

    John Updike said he writes and rewrites until he hears the music. I love that. There is a music to prose when it's well written.

    I rewrite the suspense portions of my stories many times in order to enhance the impact of the action or dialogue. Sometimes I'll draw that section of the scene out a bit longer to increase the reader's anticpation.

    When I hear the cadence or rhythm of the story, I know I'm on target.

    Julie, you are an amazing, and brilliant writer! Who cares if you can't dance?"

    And THIS, my friends, is only one of the many, MANY reasons I love Pam Hillman!!



    JAN SAID: "Julie, you dance with words!"

    Okay, that is just plain beautiful!! And, yes,it brought tears to my eyes!! Uh, do you think you could shoot a quick e-mail to the Carol Awards committee???? Just joking with a little vent of humor! ;)

    Soooo glad the blog and comments today have been helpful -- they have been to me as well! And a "chilly 67 degrees"??? YIKES, we've had temps in the 90s all week, but it just rained, so now it's dipped to 85 ... :) Either way, the vegetable beef soup sounds REAL good!!

    4,000 - her
    2,00 - she
    650 - Beth
    Any suggestions?

    LOL!! Yeah, don't spend any energy worrying about the numbers on words like that, sweetie, seriously. "Her," "she," and the characters names are going to be profuse in any novel, so let rhythm be your guide -- use the word when you need to if the rhythm is right, period. As far as repetition with other less common words (i.e. like "malaise" in my first book), keep them to a minimum for sure and try to avoid repeating a word in the same paragraph or sentence if you can and even on the same page if it can be helped.


  77. Aw, CASE, you are WAY too good to me, you know that?? BIG HUGS!!

    DEBBY!!! WOW, what a GREAT quote, which bears repeating:

    "John Updike said he writes and rewrites until he hears the music. I love that. There is a music to prose when it's well written."

    And I LOVE what you said about "When I hear the cadence or rhythm of the story, I know I'm on target."

    AMEN TO THAT!!! I actually get a little tingle when that happens ... but then I'm a touchy/feely/tingly type of gal ... :)


  78. I have to tell you, though, one reason I counted was because someone told me I have "she" a lot in my wip. Then, to read the way you cut pronouns... But, I'll take you advice and look for rhthym instead of fussing over how many times I use those pronouns. :D

  79. Julie, thanks for this chance to revisit some of my favorite fictional characters through this dialogue! The editor in me agreed with all your changes except the one where you added in "heading down". I guess that is because I have had to make myself cut that phrase in my own work, but I do love what you said about cadence and alliteration. And I love your books, so I will bow to your expertise. If I win, you can reach me at crmcc at setel dot com

  80. Hey Julie-
    Absolutely! Steal away.
    I don't know how many times my crit partners have crossed out my "downs." I think I've finally got it!!

    Have a fantastic day:)

  81. Julie, I loved your examples. You're wonderful at rhythm. Just love your books!!! But you already know that. :-)

    I don't know if or how I create rhythm, I just know when I see something my editor has changed or inserted, because it just doesn't sound like something I would write! So I usually tweak it to sound the way I want it to. She knows I'm going to do this and even suggests, sometimes, that I do.

    I totally freaked out when the copy editor for The Healer's Apprentice added about a million semi-colons and colons to the final edit of my book. Talk about spazzing! Because I just didn't want them in there. It wasn't a semi-colon and colon kind of book! And I was so purposeful about every em dash and period and comma that, to see them all changed to semi-colons and colons, shot my blood pressure up about 50 points! LOL!!! My long-suffering and wonderful editor took them all out for me, bless her heart. At least, I think she took almost all of them out. I found a semi-colon on page 25 or something like that and just never read the rest of my book. I don't want to have a stroke. I have two kids I need to finish raising!

  82. Speaking of having a stroke, it's been such a stressful day, trying to get my website back. Please pray for me, not only that I won't have a stroke, but that I will get my website back. A writer needs a website when they have a book coming out in four months! Ai yi yi, what a nightmare.

  83. Wow, what a handsome son, Julie.....great picture of you two!! Please enter me for your book......can't wait to read it!! And congrats to Mary and Ruthie....both great writers and great ladies. I have not read Melanie, Laura or Vickie, but want to say congrats to them, too!

  84. Couldn't let the day go by without popping in to say HI!!

    Wonderful post, Julie. I so agree about rhythm. And, yes I agree Mary - I cannot spell that word! (Had to cheat and look at Julie's!) LOL.

    Congrats to the amazing Carol finalists!! Wishing you all the best of luck!

    Okay, have to compliment Ruthy right now. I just finished "Hometown Hearts" (hope that's the right title) and LOVED it. By far my favourite of all your books, Ruthy!! I think it reminded me a bit of "You Got Mail" - one of my favs!

    OOPs. Gotta go get the boy child out to soccer!


    PS. No draw for me 'cause I've already WON a copy!!! Yay!




    (You were so close, Susan!!!)


  86. Julie, I've been humming Gershwin tunes all day, thanks to you! Love Gershwin....

  87. Awesome tips, Julie! Rhythm is one of the first things I noticed when I read your books. So when you speak, I will listen. :)

  88. LINNETTE -- you are more than welcome, sweetie! And here's a little tip that I do regarding "shes" in a novel. I try to never start a sentence twice with the same pronoun in one paragraph. Just a rule of thumb I have. Too many sentences beginning with the same word in a row is not good, as far as I am concerned so I avoid it like the plague.

    Hey, ROSE, thank you SO much for your kind words, but don't bow to me, sweetie, 'cause like I said I'm a pretty new author myself, so I'm learning as I go too. It really boils down to what works for YOU as far as rhythm, seriously. Good luck in the contest, my friend!

    KRISTEN ... all I can say is THANK GOD FOR CRIT PARTNERS!!! :)

    MELANIE!!! OMIGOSH ... ironically, MY copy editor told me to AVOID colons and semi-colons!!! I almost NEVER use them because she always takes them out!! Just goes to show that opinions are like noses -- everybody has one, and what works for one person, may not another. Good for you for sticking to your guns, girl!! And, YES, I am keeping you in prayer about your website -- that's a nightmare!! But nothing is too difficult for God, sweetie.


  89. Thanks, JACKIE, you sweetheart, you!! And consider yourself entered, my friend, and GOOD LUCK!!

    Bless you, SUE MASON, for stopping by to say "hey" and make me jealous that you've read Ruthy's latest!! Gotta get that one ordered for sure!!

    RUTHY has Sue on the "Ruthy Fav Column," and Julie does too!!! Definitely a great gal, eh, Ruthy??

    Ooops ... sorry, JAN!!! Today wasn't so bad for me, but boy, when I did the blog on the lyrics "A "Kiss is Just A Kiss," I was humming that sucker for weeks!! :)


  90. I love this, Julie! You may not have rhythm when it comes to dancing but you certainly do with words. I agree all writers have their own rhythms which are really hard to change. It's your own style, just the way the words flow.

  91. It doesn't matter you can't dance, Julie. You sure have the rhythm in your writing that we all love. I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the O'Conner saga. You keep enticing us with tidbits from the story!
    I would love to be entered to win one of your books.

  92. Aw, SARAH, I may be emotional because it's the end of the day, but your comment brought tears to my eyes -- THANK YOU, sweetie!!

    CARA ... Thank God I'm better on the computer than I am on the dance floor or I'd starve!! Wait ... I'd starve anyway if it wasn't for my hubby! :)


  93. Thanks, PAM, that means A LOT to me because it's not fancy footwork on the dance floor I'm looking for, but fancy finger work on the keys!! Thanks for your support, my friend, and good luck in the contest. :)


  94. Oh Jules,
    Don't you just love Big Band and Jazz.
    Talk about humming, and dancing, and kissing...

    Time to turn on some music while I write about vampires and explosives.
    What a life!!

  95. I'm late commenting, but just had to say great post Julie! And great photo of you and your son!

  96. PEPPER!!! Vampires and explosives??? You're starting to sound a lot like Mary, girl!! Better be careful or you're going to find yourself published and on the bestseller list!! :)


  97. EVA!!! Thank you, sweetie, for coming by and for the sweet words!! Good luck in the contest!!


  98. Sorry I didn't make it to Seekerville yesterday, Julie, but as usual you have posted a GREAT teaching blog!

    This is the kind of stuff I do unconsciously, and I can see why you'd wince every time you read your copy editor's changes. That would have made me absolutely CRAZY!!! Rhythm is definitely a huge factor in personalizing our writing voice, and we don't like to have it messed with!

  99. AMEN TO THAT, MYRA!!!Glad I'm not alone in cringing when a copy editor messes with my rhythm!! Hate to be the only anal person out there ... :)


  100. sorry that this comment is a day late, julie....i love the picture of you dancing w/ your son. precious. i enjoyed reading your are the best :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  101. Excellent post, Julie. Thank you for giving the great examples.

  102. Thanks, KAREN, both for your sweet comment AND for taking the time to come by! Good luck in the contest, sweetie.

    Hey, CARRIE, thank you!! Appreciate you swinging by and commenting. Hope all is well.


  103. Great tips! I don't have rhythm dancing either! HaHa That breakfast of Julie's sure sounds good!

  104. Well, I'm a poet and rhythm and rhyme come quite natural to me. I need work in building rhythm in my wip though....lots of work. Thank you for the tips!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  105. Hi Julie,
    First, many congratulations to all of the Carol Award Finalists! Well-deserved by all!!

    Second, when you and Helen and anyone else serves such scrumptious sounding dishes (maple french toast casserole, cheddar bacon quiche, etc) we need the recipes so that we may create these delightful, delicious delicacies for our family.

    Last and certainly not least, fantastic, helpful article!

  106. Thanks, PATSY!! And it's nice of you to let me know you have two left feet on the dance floor, too. Misery loves company, as we all know! Good luck in the contest, sweetie!

    CINDY ... then I'm guessing it ALSO comes naturally to you in your WIP, but you just haven't thought about it a lot before. Read it out loud and just see if I'm not right!


  107. EDWINA!!! It's SO very nice to "see" you here, my friend -- I don't think I've seen you around much, have I? And you are right about the recipes -- that's a GREAT idea!! I actually made those recipes up, but I do have a blueberry French Toast caserole and several great quiches, so I will be sure to try and include some next time, okay? Hope all is well.


  108. Cool post, Julie. This isn't a topic I've heard discussed before. :)


  109. Hey, Annie, thanks for coming by, my friend -- are you going to be at ACFW, I hope???


  110. I am not a great dancer, but when dancing with my husband, I look like a pro, and thats all that counts to me!

  111. RBOOTH!!! You are ABSOLUTELY right, and when I slow-dance snuggle with my hubby on the dance floor, my shoes are off, my head's on his chest with eyes closed and I'm clutching his waist (he's tall!!) like a python. I'm sure I look pretty stupid, but like you, it doesn't matter a whole lot at the time ... :)


  112. Thank you for your posting. I know that in my writing it can be very wordy at times. You've given me some things to think about when I go back and revise my work. Thanks for the great examples for each type of sentence.

  113. CYNTHIA ... you are MORE than welcome, sweetie -- we newbies have to stick together, you know?