Wednesday, November 8, 2017

More BANG for Your Buck: Making Your Words Work for You!



KA-BOOM!
What’s that sound? Why, that’s the extra punch and pop a writer can infuse into their prose in a number of glorious ways. And today, I’m going to share a few of my very favorite tips I use to in“fuse” a wee bit more boom and bang into my writing.

From double entendres to onomatopoeias, writers have the opportunity to make their words work double and triple time, taking their novels from ho-hum to ho-HOT!

So, shall we get started? Ready, aim, πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯!!!!!

WAYS TO GET MORE BANG FOR 
YOUR WRITING BUCK


1.) CREATE A MOVIE IN THE READER'S MIND WITH MOTION PHRASES: With unlimited access to Netflix, Hulu, and umpteen cable offerings, today's readers are visual people, which is why it's important to create a movie in your readers' minds. I wrote a blog about this a while back called Keeping It "Reel" ... or a "Novel" Approach to Putting a Movie in Your Reader's Mind, so that explains movie mind in more detail if you are interested.



One of the easiest ways to create a movie in a reader’s mind is to take normal phrases like “she caught her breath,” “a cold chill,” or just an ordinary “blush” and ramp them up through motion phrases.


Here are a few sample sentences taken from my book A Passion Most Pure in which motion phrases hopefully help the reader see and feel the emotion in the character’s mind a little more dramatically.


Instead of “she caught her breath”: 
The oxygen swirled still in her lungs.

 πŸ”₯

Instead of “a cold chill”:  
The first time Brady mentioned her name, a cold chill slid through Collin like a slow-motion avalanche.

 πŸ”₯

Instead of “her cheeks paled”: 
Faith turned and the blood in her face coursed to her toes like a thundering waterfall.

πŸ”₯
 
Instead of a “blush”:
Heat roared to his cheeks

2.) MAKE DESCRIPTIONS DO DOUBLE AND TRIPLE DUTY: Okay, you have to write a description anyway, right? Why not make it do double duty by giving insight into the character at the same time? In the clip below from Surprised by Love, Book 3 of my Heart of San Francisco series, I tried to do just that by describing both the setting and the man in it with extra clues to his character.


He stood staring out the mahogany French doors, one palm braced to the wall, his charcoal suit coat strained against broad shoulders. Wisps of dark hair curled up on his high collar, typical for a man too consumed with obligations to take time for his barber. She noted the gray French Mossant fedora casually tossed on the cordovan loveseat as if he expected to stay and was making himself at home, also typical of the man she intended to show the door.

In the two clips below from Book 3 of my Isle of Hope series, His Steadfast Love, I used the setting to correlate with the heroine’s feelings in the first clip, and the hero’s thoughts in the second.


Just like us, she thought with a stutter of her pulse, and instantly her good mood plunged like the spring gushing over the boulders. Because thoughts like that were nothing but wild water careening out of control, as fleeting as the foamy spray that misted over the brook below. 

 πŸ”₯

He stared at the frail hand on his arm that was anything but, so translucent the blue veins looked like a road map. He stifled a grunt.
One leading straight to my demise.

3.) POUND THE NAIL HOME WITH REPETITIVE WORDS: Normally I try to never repeat the same word in a sentence, paragraph, or even on the same page if I can help it. But sometimes repetitive words can be a great tool for conveying a host of emotions. In the sample below from A Passion Redeemed, I used the word “oh” three times in a row, each conveying a different meaning, which in my humble opinion, makes the scene all the more dramatic.


Her eyes glowed. “I’m glad. I pretty much kept a constant vigil of prayer.” She focused on her hands, knotted in her lap. “Especially when I knew you were on the ship.”
He scratched his head and leaned back. “Yeah, well the ship was fine. It was nearing Boston where the problems began.”
She looked up. “What do you mean?”
“It’s a long story, but the sum of it is that I asked Charity to marry me.”
He heard her catch her breath, the shock evident in her eyes. “Oh …”
“Because I thought Rigan raped her and she was pregnant.”
“Oh.”
“But she lied.”
Kathleen swallowed hard. “Oh?”
“Yeah. So I high-tailed it out of there. But I wanted you to know that it was a close call.”
She seemed to teeter on the edge of the chair, her gaze fixed on his. “How close?”
Heat collared his neck. “Very.”

4.) Reinvent Cliches: Okay, I’ll be honest with you — I tend to be an idiom/clichΓ© kind of gal, especially while I’ve been writing my new 1880's Western series, Silver Lining Ranch because let’s face — idioms and clichΓ© just seem to work for that era.


BUT … they work sooooo much better when you can give them a little creative twist like I attempted to do in the samples below. The first two are from A Passion Redeemed, a play on “the pot calling the kettle black” and dressing up “good riddance” with humor. The third one is from Book 1 in my Silver Lining Ranch series, Love’s Silver Lining, where I use a play on the idiom “put that in your pipe and smoke it,” but tie it in to the stew the heroine is serving her patient instead.


Instead of "The pot calling the kettle black":
“Well, that’s certainly the lush calling the sot tipsy.” 

 πŸ”₯

Instead of "Good riddance":
“Then you’re going to say good riddance to a man who doesn’t have the sense that God gave a goat …

 πŸ”₯

Instead of "Put that in your pipe and smoke it":
Maggie shoved the thermometer in Aiden’s mouth, cutting him off. “And Aunt Liberty and I are not moving to any fancy ranch house, Mr. O’Shea, so you can just put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
Aiden whipped the thermometer out to glare, shaking it in her face. “For your information, missy, Sister Fred confiscated my pipe the first day, so you can just put that in your stew and stir it.”

5.) TOSS IN A GRENADE WITH Onomatopoeia: Oh, gosh, confession #2 — I absolutely LOVE onomatopoeias!! You know, those wonderful little words that imitate, resemble, or suggest the sound that it describes? Such as those in the two clips below, the first from my novella from the Heart of San Francisco series, Grace Like Rain and the second from my upcoming new novel release, For Love of Liberty, due out later this month (shameful plug here, can be pre-ordered at a discounted rate HERE. The third sample is from Book 3 of my Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied.

Ka-boom!

Patience Peabody literally jumped in the air with a squeal, as if goosed by the bolt of lightning that lit up the galley kitchen of McClare, Rupert, and Byington. Heart slamming like the waves of water that battered the window, she poured a steaming cup of coffee with shaky fingers, staring out at a sodden sky that was still two hours from dawn.(Grace Like Rain)
  
πŸ”₯
Putting the cup down, she turned away to repin a few stray curls from an alabaster neck he so craved to taste, then smoothed the skirt of her dress like he so longed to do.
Ker-splash!!
Finn blinked, completely caught off-guard by dirty water sluicing down his face onto his favorite shirt. Liberty stood there with an empty bucket in her hand and a smirk on her face while the raucous sounds of “Turkey in the Straw” boomed to the rafters. (For Love of Liberty)

 πŸ”₯

Bam, bam, bam. Woof, woof, woof. Brady moaned and flailed a hand over the side of the couch in an effort to calm Miss Hercules, who staggered up, as sleep-drugged as he. “Lay down, girl, and go back to sleep. I can’t move yet.” With a sleepy growl, Miss Hercules plunked against the couch, jarring Brady’s senses.
Boom, boom, boom! The knocks were more insistent now, and Brady stubbed his toe as he scrambled for the door. A swear word he hadn’t uttered in years leapt from his lips, causing heat to shoot up the back of his neck. Breathing hard, he unflipped the lock and hurled the door wide, gritting his teeth against the pain.
“Sweet mother of Job, is this what you look like every morning?”
Brady blinked. The motion produced a nagging ache between his eyes. “Charity. What the devil are you doing here?” (A Passion Denied)

6.) GET CREATIVE WITH ACCEPTABLE SWEAR WORDS: Okay, confession #3 I like swear words. They add drama, punch, and realism to anything we write, but obviously they are taboo in the Christian market. 

Case in point: In my new contemporary Isle of Hope series, I used words like flippin’, freakin’, and frickin’, only to accrue a number of 2- and 3-star reviews that complained about the language I used. So to safeguard my 5-star rating on each of the books in the series, I deleted all of those words and have gotten nothing but 5-star ratings since with an occasional 4-star. But … I have to admit, the very idea still ticks me off.


In my new Western series, I have a spunky suffragette from Virginia City, Nevada with an Irish temper, so I needed lots of acceptable “emotional slurs” to help create her mood and that of a Wild West town. Here are a few I came up with, but if you want the entire list, you'll find it in my Romance-ology 101 book.


He expelled a noisy breath, wishing with everything in him he could just court her the way that he wanted. “No, darlin’ because I’m pretty darn sure I’m in love with you.”
“Horse apples!” she shouted, and he grinned when she kicked the door. 

 πŸ”₯

“Horse biscuits!” He launched to his feet and loomed in to go eye to eye, knuckles white as he leaned on the table. “News flash, Miss Bell, this is not New York City with its fancy airs and la-ti-da ways. This is Virginia City, built on the backs of miners who chew, spit, and swear, and I guarantee if we hire strings, they’ll be stringing me up for defamation of their character.”

She shot up faster than one of those Roman candles they always set off on Fourth of July, with just as many sparks in her eyes. “Oh, now, there’s a valid reason to do things my way. 

                                                    πŸ”₯
 
“Horse puddles!” Liberty hissed, occupying herself with flicking paint specks on the grass while her lips jabbed into a scowl. “I just refuse to waste anymore breath on that mule of a man than necessary because he doesn’t listen anyway,” she said with glower in said mule’s direction. She attempted to sidetrack the inquisition with a sudden keen interest in their booth, squinting as she circled to assess. “Just a little more paint, I think, and we should be done, ready to mount the school bell.”

                                                    πŸ”₯
 
Her face flushed almost purple, and pleasure coursed through his veins at being able to evoke some sort of emotion from this fire-haired beauty who haunted his dreams. As a God-fearing man, he knew he shouldn’t take such pleasure in baiting one of God’s own, but holy thunder, he never could help himself where Liberty O’Shea was concerned.

7.) CREATE A MOOD WITH COMPARISONS COMMON TO THE STORY: I just LOVE creating a scene where I compare the characters to elements I’ve used in the story. For instance, in the clip below from A Hope Undaunted, both the hero and heroine absolutely adore Nehi grape soda, so there are several scenes throughout the book where Nehis are a part of the plot or humor. It just seemed natural to me, then, to utilize Nehis to describe the heroine’s mood through the eyes of the hero in a scene where’s she’s battling with her father.


     In total fascination, Luke watched a battle being waged between the most stubborn girl he’d ever seen and the man from whom she’d obviously inherited it. Time seemed to still as Katie stared her father down, every muscle strained with resistance. He could hear her shallow breathing as her chest rose and fell in indignation, and the surge of her will appeared so strong that her body seemed to shimmer with intent, ready to explode, like a warm and shaken bottle of pop. And then painfully slow, as if all combustion had seeped out from her bottled anger, she lowered to her seat, the pout on her lips as flat as a week-old glass of Nehi.

8.) USE Opposites TO DRAMATIZE A POINT:  Whoops … well, here we go, another favorite of mine. I just LOVE taking opposite components and juxtaposing them in the same sentence or paragraph for extra drama and effect. Here’s one of my favorites from A Passion Redeemed:

      How long could it possibly take to get over her sister, a woman with whom he’d barely scratched the surface? A woman who was a feast to his eyes but a drought to his soul.
      He sighed. But scratch the surface he had, whether he liked it or not. The lust had finally simmered and stewed, thickening into something he’d tasted before. Longing. Missing. Caring. He closed his eyes. Dear Lord, how long would it take this time?

And here’s another from His Steadfast Love, where I compare the ice cream the hero and heroine are eating to the hero’s thoughts and mood:


“I was wrong,” he said softly, not really realizing till now just how much. “I was being selfish and worrying about my needs more than yours, and God called me on it.”
Spoon paused in her mouth, she snuck another look, caution deepening the blue of her eyes. “How?”
How? He huffed out a sigh and settled back against the seat, scooping more ice cream into his mouth. The sweet taste of cream took an “easy” glide down his throat while his molars crunched “hard” on frozen chocolate, releasing a burst of flavor onto his tongue. Easy and hard. Not unlike his relationship with the woman beside him. 
He chewed while his gaze wandered out the front window. The chunks of peanut butter gave way, melting all the way down. “He called me on it through worrying about you. Thinking about you. Missing the friendship I know we are meant to have.”

9.) USE REALISTIC Analogies TO HELP THE READER RELATE TO THE CHARACTER: Ah, analogies … another favorite of mine! In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways writers can exercise their creativity, and I have a blast doing it whenever I can. Here are a few analogies that I created, comparing the knots in a clover necklace to the knots in the hero's stomach, the shock of a hero's statement compared to a knick on the hand that you don't feel until it starts bleeding, etc. I hope that these analogies helped the reader—and youto relate a little better and a little more dramatically as to how the hero or heroine were feeling at the moment.

     Her scent—lilac water and Pear’s soap—captured him, tangling his tongue—and his stomach—into more knots than the clover necklace Tillie had strung around neck. (A Light in the Window)

 πŸ”₯

     His statement drifted in her brain, its impact silent, slow, and deep, like a knick she didn’t know she had until she saw the blood on her hand. (A Heart Revealed)

πŸ”₯
 
     She heard his heavy sigh, and hope flickered in her heart like a dying flame awaiting a gentle breeze. (A Hope Undaunted)

 πŸ”₯

     The parlor was as dark as his mood and the foyer as empty as his patience. (A Hope Undaunted)

πŸ”₯
 
     “Why?” he asked quietly, and the word made her flinch, like a sudden shaft of light in a dark cellar where roaches and rats skittered. (A Heart Revealed)

10.) use Humor to add more bang to a volatile situation:  I really enjoy using humor in tense situations because I think it enriches the scene without de-fusing the seriousness of it. Here are a few instances where I did that and had a blast, the first from A Passion Redeemed, and the second from A Hope Undaunted.

Mitch wheeled around and slammed the phone on the receiver. The earpiece fused to his hand as if embedded in his palm. He tried to breathe. He couldn’t.
“Hello, Mitch.”
His mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out but shallow air. Ice-cold prickles of heat traveled from the crown of his head to the soles of his feat. He swallowed.
Still no air.
She shifted in the chair, a shimmer of pink satin straining against full breasts while she adjusted her form-fitting skirt. Several seconds passed and his hand was still one with the phone. With a rash of heat up his neck, he slowly removed it, sagging back in the chair.

 πŸ”₯

     Katie butted the door open and frowned, brows puckered and mouth parted in surprise. “No, it’s not all right, Lizzie.” She pushed her way in and pulled off her gloves, shoving them in her pockets. “For pity’s sake, I could be frozen to the bone outside, waiting on you to let me say hello to my niece.” 
     She started to unbutton her coat as she barged into the parlor and then stopped mid-stride, all air effectively trapped in her throat. And at that precise moment, “frozen to the bone” was only the tip of the iceberg.
     “Hi, Katie . . . it’s good to see you again.”
     Her jaw dropped like a rock. Good? To see Luke McGee standing in Lizzie’s parlor? With a baby slung over his shoulder as naturally as a sweat rag after a basketball game in the street? Katie tried to breathe. She couldn’t. To speak. Impossible—her tongue was welded to her mouth. She blinked. Good, at least something worked.

11.) Make a Scene Work for You: Every single scene should have a definite reason that moves the story forward. But I like to make a scene work extra hard if I can by accomplishing more than just moving the story forward.

For instance, in my Heart of San Francisco series, I had a scene I planned between the subordinate heroine who was a widow and the subordinate hero, the brother-in-law to whom she was once engaged before he cheated on her twenty years prior. The main reason for the scene was to advance the tension between the two by playing up the friction between their attraction for each other and the heroine’s resolve to never get involved with him again despite his persistent pursuits.

I thought to myself, why not get as much out of this scene as I can? So I put them in a family birthday dinner and dancing scene at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, the pinnacle place to be in 1902 San Francisco. Not only was The Palace Hotel a remarkable historical setting I could play up and give the reader a true glimpse of San Francisco at the turn of the century, but it gave the reader further insight into the wealthy lifestyle of the McClares, one of San Francisco’s most prestigious families.

But still I felt I could do more. So in addition to the main dancing scene between the widow aunt and her brother-in-law, I inserted a conversation between the primary heroine and her aunt, which not only allowed me to provide some very interesting back story via dialogue, but enabled me to strengthen the bond between the heroine niece and her aunt. In addition I was able to provide some spiritual insight throughout their conversation, create more of a family closeness in this family saga, deepen both the heroine’s and subordinate heroine’s insight into the plot and thereby the reader’s, plus gave me an opportunity to give the primary heroine more page time for transition since her scene was next.

So don’t just think of a scene as a way to advance the plot because it can be so much more if you make it work overtime in other areas as well such as setting, family dynamics, spiritual takeaway, and setup for future scenes.

And now, let's go out with a BANG of a giveaway!

GIVEAWAY!
Leave a comment and you're in the draw to win a character named after you in my upcoming release, For Love of Liberty AND win a signed e-copy as well. 

MORE ABOUT FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY:
WHOO-HOO ... I'VE WRITTEN A BRAND-NEW NOVEL!!! The prequel novel for my Silver Lining Ranch Series is now available for PRE-ORDER at 25% off the release-day price, so take advantage!! PRE-ORDER HERE!


ABOUT JULIE:
Nicknamed “The Kissing Queen," Julie began her love affair with romance at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. Today she writes Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, and Isle of Hope series, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. She was voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards and named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction as well as Borders Best Fiction list. 
Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.

115 comments :

  1. This is so helpful as I am editing!! Thank you so much.

    Visceral descriptions!!!!!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Tina! Glad it was timely for you, my friend. :)

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  2. Although now I want grape Nehi and a large vanilla ice cream cone.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. LOL ... I want Reese's Cup ice cream ... ;)

      But I did used to pray that the water fountain in 5th grade was grape juice, which is close enough to grape Nehi, I guess. ;) Regrettably, it never was ...

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Julie, that's priceless about your prayers for the water fountain! :)

      Delete
  3. Loving your over-the-top descriptions...they have a lot of zest to them....kind of like you Julie :-)

    Congrats on the new series, been seeing that cover on Facebook and your newsletter I get!!

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    1. Hey, Trixi, THANK YOU, my sweet friend! And, LOL, "zest" is something in long supply in the Lessman persona, whether good or bad, although considerably less than it used to be due to age. :)

      Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter, Trixi, all one or two of them throughout the year! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  4. Horse puddles!! LOL! I love it. :)

    Julie, this is a great post. I do believe it's a full writing class! I need to go back and read slowly to digest it better. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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    1. LOL, Missy, and I can guess just when you said, "horse puddles" the first time ... when you saw the length of this post, right??!! ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

      Delete
  5. I had to laugh at the horse apples, horse biscuits, and horse puddles all I can say is that horse gets around.

    Thank you for all the wisdom bestowed in this post.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. LOL ... yes, it does, and that's exactly what I thought, too! That sure is a hard-workin' horse! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  6. Great post, Julie! This is certainly a keeper for the notebook. Like Cindy, I giggled at the horse references. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jill. Can you tell I used to be a wild thing with a salty tongue back in the day before God got a hold of me??? Thank God for horses!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  7. Classic Lessman! You outdid yourself here, Julie!

    I brought coffee... and doughnuts. And I'm wishing you best of luck with this venture. Go you!!!

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    1. LOL, Ruthy -- I like that "classic Lessman"! Which can be either good or bad depending on one's preferences in reading material! ;)

      Thanks for bringing the coffee and donuts, my friend. I have really slacked off on the virtual breakfasts since I've been watching my virtual weight. ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  8. What a fun post. Your advice was entertaining and educational. Please throw my name in the drawing.

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    1. Consider yourself "thrown," Bettie, and GOOD LUCK!!

      HUGS,
      Julie

      Delete
  9. Love all the examples, Julie--showing not telling. Thank you! And I can't wait to read your new western series! :)

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    1. Thanks, Glynna! I can't wait to read it either, my friend, because that would mean I was DONE and onto the next series ... ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  10. Horse apples! Horse biscuits! Horse puddles! I'm chuckling in the early-morning dark with the hubster still snoring the other side of the room. Love this post! Thanks, Julie, lots of fun ideas. :)

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    1. LOL, Dana, I had no idea that the biscuits, apples, and puddles would get so much attention, but then swear words usually do, I guess! ;)

      Ruthy brought doughnuts and coffee, and I felt like a slacker because I didn't bring anything but apples and biscuits. 😳

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  11. What a wonderful list! Thank you so much for a lot of good information, Julie.

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    1. You are more than welcome, Glynis! Good luck in the contest!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  12. This is terrific, Julie. WAWZAH.

    And, as always, LOVE the examples. It really helps me "get" the concepts.

    Adore you and that match. HA! But of course!

    Excited to be leaving shortly (like - really shortly) for the ECPA Art of Writing Conference and Christy Awards gala tonite. Hope to see some Seekers and/or Villagers there!

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    1. KC!!! You're going to the ECPA conference and the Christys???? You lucky dawg (no pun intended!)!!! Have a blast, darlin'!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  13. Julie, this IS a keeper. I'm going to put it in a file and use it on my current WIP, which is kind of bland at the moment. The plot is good, the language is "meh." Nice if I could hit them both at the same time.
    Getting ready for my temp job, not thrilled about it but needs must. Hoping to pay some bills and buy myself some time to write full-time in January, February and March, when it's too cold here to do anything else anyway.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Aw, thanks, Kathy! And I doubt your WIP is bland, my friend. Just toss a few apples and biscuits in, and you'll spice it up! ;)

      Have a great day, especially dreaming of those cold, cold months when you get to write, write, write!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  14. Julie, I’ve always loved your writing and now I know the reasons why! As a reader, I’m amazed at the amount of detail and thought that goes into each scene and dialogue. Thanks for all of your hard work! We, your readers, love and appreciate you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Aw, Mindy (this IS Mindy, I hope?!), thank you SOOO very much for reading my books and for your sweet comment, my friend. Your support and friendship is MUCH appreciated!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  15. Love love love your writing and unique style! You know how to pack a punch and bring a message of hope! Thanks, Julie!

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    1. BLESS YOU, KATE!!! And I love, Love, LOVE wonderful readers like you who encourage authors you love, so THANK YOU!!

      HUGS AND MORE HUGS!
      Julie

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  16. JULIE, I LOVE the passion in your writing! You know to bring the heat! Congrats on your upcoming release! Blessings and ((((HUGS))))

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    1. LOL ... yes, no shortage of "heat" in my books, my friend, fortunately or unfortunately, depending which side of the review one is on, so I'll GLADLY take all those blessings and hugs, girl -- THANK YOU!!

      HUGS AND MORE HUGS AND MORE ON TOP OF THAT!!
      Julie

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  17. Julie, I get so much more out of these posts when they show examples. Yours are the best! Writing is hard. I love it when I can take an old cliche and dress it up to add a little spark to my writing.

    Another keeper...

    Add my name to the giveaway, please.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Thanks, Marcia! Would you believe I sometimes hesitate to use clips from my own writing because I think it may appear show-offy? I used to include clips from other writers' work, but it was so much extra work, I decided to just use my own. Especially since I know where they are. ;) So THANK YOU for validating that for me!

      You're in the draw, darlin', and GOOD LUCK!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  18. Morning Julie, Yes, you always give us a bang of emotion in your writing. That's why you are one of my favorite writers. I'm really happy with your list. It will be helpful when I edit my work. Thanks and have a great day.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Sandra, you already know you're one of my faves too, my friend! Glad the list was helpful, and you have a great day, too!!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

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  19. Reading your examples always gets me rethinking my phrasing, Julie--WOW!!!

    Congrats on launching your newest series!

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    1. WOW, Myra, that is a true compliment, my friend, because your writing is award-winning, so THANK YOU for the compliment!!

      And thank you for the congrats on the new series. Never thought I'd be writing a Western, but thunderation, I'm having a blast! ;) 🐴

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  20. I love books that read like a movie in my head. Now I have a better understanding why some books do and some don't! (A Passion Most Pure is one of my favorites!)

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    1. Why, THANK YOU, Ainnirbard!! Soooo appreciate your sweet comment. And I didn't know what movie mind was into I wrote that blog, realizing that when I wrote a book, I always saw it in my mind as a movie, so VOILA! MOVIE MIND! ;)

      Thanks again, my friend, and GOOD LUCK in the contest. But if you win, I hope your name is not "Ainnirbard" ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  21. Wow, Julie! Another great post. It's definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

    Congratulations on For the Love of Liberty. Beautiful cover and it sounds like another great story! Whoohoo!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie, I hope so! It's kind of an unusual premise that might not have flown with a traditional publisher, so it's fun to do it on my own. And obviously I had a good time writing it because it was supposed to be a novella, but ended up as a small novel. ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  22. So many great tips, Julie. When I'm revising, I find myself tucking in more and more of these with my handy Thesaurus by my side.

    And I loved your little "fire" imojis. Too cute! :)

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    1. Thanks, Pammy, I had a little too much fun with those fire emojis, I think, but oh well. ;)

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  23. I am so excited you have a new series! Have loved the Isle of Hope series. I enjoyed your post.
    Becky B.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Becky, SO appreciate your kind comment and support, so here's to a win!

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
      Julie

      Delete
  24. Julie, thank you for explaining so many fabulous writing tips and examples! I read through this once, but I plan to go back and read it again slowly to take notes and absorb all the expert advice. Much appreciated!

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    1. You're more than welcome, Karen -- thanks for taking the time to check it out!

      Happy absorbing, my friend!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  25. Another keeper, Julie!! I wonder how long it takes for you to research your own books and come up with this very detailed blog post. Thanks for the information! Another post to print off and keep with all my other Julie posts. I can't wait to read your new series, even though I'm not a huge fan of westerns ;).God bless!!

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    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks, Kelly! Actually, it's not too bad doing the research since I -- and I know this is going to sound crazy -- reread all of my books at least once every year or two, so when I do, I just keep track of things that I can use in a blog.

      I'm planning on putting together a proposal for my agent for an O'Connor Cousins trilogy during WWII starting with Gabe, the O'Connor's belligerent tomboy foster child, in the next month or so, so I'm rereading the series now to refresh. :)

      You know what, Kelly? I don't read a lot of Westerns either (except for Seeker books, of course), so it's a little odd that I'm writing this in the first place. But I started thinking about how much I loved Bonanza growing up and the movie McClintock with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, so I decided to write outside the box ... or outside the corral, if you will. ;)

      But I will say, I am enjoying the ride! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. A WWII novel by you? I can't tell you how excited that makes me!!!! Right now, I'm composing my own WWII spy novel. Blessings on the new series, I really hope!!!

      Delete
    3. And I can't tell you how excited that makes ME that YOU are writing one too, my friend!! God's abundant blessings on both of these books!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  26. Julie, excellent examples of making every word count! Your strong action words and vivid descriptive phrases paint pictures in readers' minds and let them see the story.

    Congrats on your new series! I'm fascinated by the history surrounding women's suffrage. Can't wait to read For Love of Liberty!

    Janet

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    1. Thanks, Janet!

      Although I'm not huge on research as I've mentioned before, I, too, am fascinated with the women's right movement during this time. In fact, I plan to have it play an active roll with a scene slated for the heroine and subordinate heroine to attend Elizabeth Cady Stanton's (one of the original Suffragettes) seventieth birthday at the home of noted suffragist Dr. Clemence Lozier, sitting next to Susan B. Anthony no less. ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Julie, the scene sounds like great fun and a lot of work to get it right! I find it appalling that women didn't get the vote until 1920.

      Janet

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  27. Julie, thanks for all these great tips. I struggle with finding more descriptive ways to write. I will definitely use this as I near the end of the first writing of my book and ready to start revising.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    Replies
    1. Glad I could help, Sandy, and you're in the draw, darlin', so GOOD LUCK!!

      Hugs,
      JULIE

      Delete
  28. Your blogs are always so interesting and insightful. Giving us a glimpse into how you write. Fascinating! Pre ordered the new book today!! Blessings

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    1. BLESS YOU, Diane!! Both for your sweet comment and the pre-order. It's a spunky story, I'll give it that. Think McClintock meets Bonanza, and you've got some head-butting going on, Western style! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  29. Can you tell us more about this Western series? This is pretty big news. No family sagas??

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    1. Uh-oh, Tina, you just HAD to ask, didn't you? ;)

      Sorry, this IS a family saga as well, just a considerably SHORTER one than my prior sagas. And, yes, I am FINALLY realizing I can put two books out a year in lieu of my one 520-page one ... ;) So for this series, think 300 pages per book if I can do it. :)

      Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Bonanza!

      Do you remember that musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but let me tell you this — it was a staple in our household growing up. All I can tell you is that Ruthy said something one day about her Westerns that struck a chord with me (and, yes, it was the Bonanza chord above!) and suddenly an idea for this series caught on fire with me like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.

      The series is called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad (lots of Irish workers — YAY!) and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built.

      Here's the blurb for book 1: A soft-hearted suffragist incurs the wrath of a bull-headed bachelor when she reforms his favorite girl at the Brass Rail Saloon.

      For Love of Liberty was supposed to be the prequel novella, but I got carried away (oh, what a surprise!), so now it's the prequel novel, which is good because I can actually charge more. ;)

      I will tell you -- and only you -- that although the prequel, For Love of Liberty, ends happily, it occurs through circumstances I'm pretty sure have never happened before in Christian romance. So when book 1, Love's Silver Lining, begins 20 years later, things aren't QUITE what they seemed in the prequel. You might say the book starts off with a "bang," so yes, more bang for your buck (or book) in this series for sure! ;)

      Thanks for asking, but I'm bet you're sorry now ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Not at all. I'm very excited about this. I don't read a lot of historicals but I do like funny historicals and westerns. And anything Austen erish!

      Delete
  30. And your prequel is 245 pages. I bet you think that's a novella. I think it's a bang for your buck.

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    1. LOL. I can't believe it came out as 245 pages on Kindle. I was thinkin' it might be more like 150-200 pages based on my calculations, so I'm thrilled because as I said before, I like being able to charge a little more and not tick anybody off. ;) Because let's face it, the 99-cent novellas just don't cut it for good royalties. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  31. Has anyone mentioned that your Liberty heroine on the cover looks like you?????

    ReplyDelete
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    1. LOL ... no, YOU are the first, my friend, but I will definitely take it!! :)

      I have been told, however, that I look like the heroine on the cover of A Hope Undaunted, so check it out. ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Tina, I thought that same thing!! I thought maybe Julie had modeled for the cover!

      Delete
  32. I love your insights, Julie! You are truly my most favorite author of all time! Can't wait for the new books!!
    Tiffany H.

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    1. Aw, Tiff, you should see me right now -- I am grinning ear to ear!! Thank you SO much, my sweet friend, for your kind words and incredible support -- MUCH appreciated!!

      You are in the draw, girlfriend, so GOOD LUCK because Tiffany Hatcher would make a GREAT name for a character. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  33. Now I know why YOU are the author and I am just a reader! Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Uh, "just a reader"???? Oh, Connie honey, there is NO SUCH THING as "just a reader." Readers are the lifeblood of the book industry and the biggest blessing any author can have, so you not "just a reader," girlfriend, you are JUST THE BEST!!

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  34. My comment disappeared!!!

    Julie, these ideas are great! Thank you for providing examples. I just printed the post off to study. I like analogies but need to have them reflect the character.

    Mega-congratulations on the new book and series! Yay!!!

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    1. Oh, Sherida, I just HATE THAT, my friend, when Blogger eats my comment. I usually always copy it before I preview it, but a few weeks ago, I was in a rush and had no business typing a gargantuan comment, but I did, and it was one of the rare times I didn't save it. As if Blogger knew it, it gobbled it up, and I almost started crying. It was rough day, what can I say? ;)

      Love you, my friend!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  35. I just finished writing a story with a gang of escaped convicts, and the characters were quite irritated with me when I censored their language. It's harder to keep them realistic if their language doesn't sound authentic. But I can't blame readers for not liking it when people swear around them. I don't appreciate myself. (But these characters definitely did!)

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    1. LOL ... that's a hoot that your characters were ticked off with you, Evelyn!! And that's a tough one, my friend, especially if it's a contemporary story, so I admire you for trying.

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  36. Fabulous post, Julie, thank you!

    Please enter me in your exciting drawing :)

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Phyllis, you are in the draw, my friend, so GOOD LUCK!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  37. Wow, Julie, your writing tips are amazing! I am simply a reader who appreciates writers who use them!!!
    Keep on keeping on for the Lord!!!!
    Love youπŸ’œ

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    1. Bless you, Charlotte -- I appreciate you taking the time to even read a post on writing, my sweet friend, so here's hoping it earns you a win. Love you too, girlfriend, so GOOD LUCK!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  38. No one else writes like you, Julie! Your descriptions are amazing...and all that action that you add to each sentence. Truly genius!

    I need to read your post again and again.

    Love your stories!

    Hugs!

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    1. WOW, Debby, you just made my day, girlfriend!! I soooo admire you and your work that your comment blesses the socks off of me, so THANK YOU and God bless you, although I know He already does!!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

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  39. Hi Julie:

    First let me congratulate you and thank you for offering your new book "For Love of Liberty" at a pre-order discount!

    I just ordered my copy.

    It's nice to see 'early adapters' be rewarded instead of finding out later that they could have got the book for free or .99 cents.

    Brava!

    Also this post has a full semester of important material. This much wisdom could have made at least five more posts.

    So generous we should all be.

    Brava Encore!

    One point: I have a technical observation to offer -- as a former advertising copy editor.

    "Be sure to always check for alternative meanings and not fall in love with the beauty of your words -- even when their cleverness is so astounding that even God wants them kept in the copy."

    K.I.C.C.K. (Keep it Crystal Clear, Kiddo)

    Or as I like to say: "KICCK each sentence."

    For example:

    Instead of “she caught her breath”:
    The oxygen swirled still in her lungs.

    I read the above to mean that her breath was both moving and also at rest (still).

    How does something swirl at rest?

    Alternate: "The swirling oxygen in her lungs came to a sudden stop."

    One more thing:

    Do you really want to use the phrase, "Nickname the kissing queen"
    in an author bio?

    To many people "the kissing queen" is going to say more about your past than your writing style!

    How about nicknamed, "The Queen of the Romantic Kiss"

    Think about it. When we were growing up, the odds were, when a noun was preceded by the phrase 'the kissing', they were talking about mononucleosis. (Far behind in second place were 'the Kissing Gouramis').

    I can't help it. I'm just an old copy guy. I always look for alternate meanings because they can really make the advertiser look silly.

    I still love ya, kid.

    Vince

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    Replies
    1. VINCE!!! I've missed you, my friend, so it's realllly good to see you!!

      Thank you for your kind comment about me offering pre-orders at a discounted rate. It really makes sense because those who pre-order are my most ardent reader friends, so they truly deserve the discount and I felt really good about doing it that way. I believe I did that for Isle of Hope, too, if I'm not mistake. And BLESS YOU for ordering a copy!!

      Yeah, this ended up being a pretty long-winded post, but you know me -- I just get carried away. :)

      Okay, NOW we go head-to-head, my friend!! ;)

      You said, "Be sure to always check for alternative meanings and not fall in love with the beauty of your words -- even when their cleverness is so astounding that even God wants them kept in the copy." K.I.C.C.K. (Keep it Crystal Clear, Kiddo)
      Or as I like to say: "KICCK each sentence."
      For example: Instead of “she caught her breath”: The oxygen swirled still in her lungs."

      You said that you read the above to mean that her breath was both moving and also at rest (still) and how does something swirl at rest?"

      Well, let me tell you what I see in my mind when I read (and when I wrote) that sentence. I see a person who catches their breath so quickly and harshly it's like a loud clap of hands, where stillness settles slowly and quietly, almost like dust in a room when an open door has been slammed.

      Your alternate has the oxygen "swirling," which is not what I meant at all, so obviously I failed to convey the movie image in mind to yours. Sigh. Win some, lose some, I guess. :)

      You also said, "Do you really want to use the phrase, "Nickname the kissing queen"
      in an author bio? To many people "the kissing queen" is going to say more about your past than your writing style! How about nicknamed, "The Queen of the Romantic Kiss" Think about it. When we were growing up, the odds were, when a noun was preceded by the phrase 'the kissing', they were talking about mononucleosis. (Far behind in second place were 'the Kissing Gouramis')."

      LOL, you are SUCH a hoot, Vince, a true original, seriously, my friend!!

      Okay, first of all, YES, I am really proud of the title "The Kissing Queen" because although it's not ultra classy or appropriate in all bio situations, I am, quite frankly, rather fond of it. And although I try to be on top of marketing as much as possible, I am at heart -- a bottom-liner who absolutely LOVES writing kisses and am very proud of the kisses I do write. So at the risk of being promotionally incorrect, I revel in that title, and am not afraid to use it. :)

      And I still love YOU, my friend, as well because you are one of a kind, Vince, and a true character (a HIGH compliment as God knows how much I love characters!), so thank you for your invaluable insight as always. :)

      HUGS AND MORE HUGS!!
      Julie

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    2. Hi Julie:

      Indeed…one of my greatest pleasures is to go 'head-to-head' with an author whose books will be still read with pleasure a hundred years from now!

      The thing about novels is that they are a performance art…with the performance having to be preformed in the mind of the reader. Stories don't exist on paper…they exist only when being read. In this way they are like sheet music…yes the music is there…but it is not music…it is only the potential for music to be created.

      The great Paganini wrote music that no one said could be played by a living human. Paganini played it in his head and on his violin and he filled concert halls for years. When other violinists hear him play they knew it could be done. Like the four minute mile finally being broken, many more runners did it once it was deemed possible.

      Now a writer can be Paganini and wait for the world to catch up with him…(Joyce is still waiting…somewhere…for the world to catch up with "Finnegan's Wake") or you can write 'Five Easy Pieces'… like poor old me, an ad guy, I have to simplify. No matter how wonderful it is in my mind when I write it, it is how it is played in other minds that will ring cash registers. (Woe is me. Does anyone still know what a cash register is? Or what it means to 'ring'? Did anyone in 1916 visualize modern movie techniques like 'slow-motion'? : )

      How about a compromise? Instead of just 'The Kissing Queen', add 'Romance's Kissing Queen'?

      Oh, if you'd only called it 'Kissing 101' as planned, you could rightfully says: "Julie Lessman: Romance's Kissing Queen…She literally wrote the book on Romantic Kissing!"

      In for a penny, in for a pound. (In for a nanometer in for a light year?)

      Vince

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    3. LOL, Vince, I might consider "Romance's Kissing Queen," but only because one of my most favorite people (and most respected marketers!) suggested it. :)

      You said: "Oh, if you'd only called it 'Kissing 101' as planned, you could rightfully says: "Julie Lessman: Romance's Kissing Queen…She literally wrote the book on Romantic Kissing!"

      LOL ... believe it or not, that's what I wanted to call it, but several friends I respect highly suggested that was a tad too blatant for the Chritian market, so I went with Romance-ology 101, which I now like. But maybe -- just maybe -- I'll do a Kiss-ology 101 with a ton of my favorite kisses and why I love them. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  40. Thanks for these tips, Julie. I have a hard time coming up with interesting, original description... or any description at all, so this post is very helpful.

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    1. Oh, Nicki, I am SO glad it was helpful, my friend! You're in the draw, so GOOD LUCK!!

      HUGS,
      JULIE

      Delete
  41. Julie, wow, what a post! Pot of Gold for the writers!
    Congratulations and Blessings!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Natalya -- SO appreciate you coming by, my friend, and here's hoping it nets you a win, so GOOD LUCK!!

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  42. Julie, thanks for the reminders of how to captivate readers who could so easily be watching Netflix instead of reading a book. Humor remains my favorite of the group.

    And on a reader fan note, I started A Heart Revealed this week and love the references to Rudy Vallee and Joan Crawford. So far I'm enjoying Emma and Sean's story very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Tanya, Netflix is a tough one to go up against, but thank God there are still WONDERFUL readers like you who still pick up a book!! And, oh, let me know if you like AHR -- it's my hubby's favorite. And if you don't? Well ... uh ... never mind! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  43. Thanks, for sharing Julie! :) I loved reading your writing tips! I love your novels so much, that I asked for the entire O'Connor series for Christmas! Can't wait to have access to them to reread whenever I want! And it will be so hard to be patient while excitedly waiting for your Western Series. (Don't think I have really read many westerns before, but I know I will love yours!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Mary, GOD BLESS YOU, you sweet thing -- sooooo appreciate your support. And let me know when you get them because I will be happy to send signed bookplates for each one, okay?

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

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  44. Excellent post, Julie! Thank you for sharing this! You gave some wonderful examples to learn from, very inspirational. ~Blessings, Sandi

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    Replies
    1. SANDI!!! Soooo good to see you here, girlfriend -- thank you for coming by!! Hope you are doing well.

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

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  45. Without a doubt, you are one of the very best at making stories come alive through your descriptive words, Julie. You "aced" For Love of Liberty - a shorter book with characters that made me laugh out loud. Though not quite as much spirituality and passion in this series as your last - there is enough to warrant the trademark of "Classic Julie Writing", the hero and heroine grabbed my heart as they have in the setting of EVERY book you've written - no matter the setting or genre. I'm not a huge Western reader, but love this series!! Readers are going to be so blessed by these spunky characters!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, Bonnie, we just have a mutual admiration society thing going on, girlfriend, which is why you like my books so much. Thanks for reading Liberty for me -- can't wait to see your feedback because yours is one of the most powerful and important opinions I get, so bring it on!! :)

      Love you!
      Julie

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    2. Thanks, Carrie -- SO appreciate you, my friend!

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  46. Great post Julie. As a visual person, I really appreciate this one. I can "see" how I can make things more interesting in my stories. Always love reading your books because you have such swoon worthy heroes. Swoon and kisses that one doesn't feel guilty reading about. 😁

    Please put my name into the draw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks, Deb! And, yeah, gotta love those legal kisses, eh? ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  47. Absolutely loved this article,Julie!! It summed up all the reasons I love your writing and recommend it to others . I've always felt you have a special way and talent with words,whether expressing a passionate love scene or someone's spiritual passion for God . I'm always willingly drawn in and always a little reluctant to reach the last page,leaving the beautiful story you've created for us. I'm so excited about your newest story, For the Love of Liberty and the Silver Lining Ranch series !! From the previews in the above article it looks like it will be another exciting Julie Lessman winner!! :) Thanks for this entertainng article Julie and the giveaway,please put my name in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LYNNE!!! Thanks SO much for coming by, darlin', and GOD BLESS YOU for your ongoing support -- SO appreciate you!! ❤️

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  48. Wow! That's quite the check list for writing a book. Congrats on your latest!

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    1. LOL, Arletta, yeah -- I'm not known for my brevity, girlfriend, so I appreciate you taking the time to check it out! You're in the draw!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  49. well, now I know why I read novels instead of writing them! Thank you for sharing all your tips. What a great article.

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    Replies
    1. LOL, Anne, you're too cute!! Thanks for reading mine and this article -- MUCH appreciated!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  50. What a fantastic article Julie! Loved it! And I can’t wait to be done with some deadlines so I can Read a bunch more Of your new releases! That can be my reward!

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    Replies
    1. CARRIE!!! SOOOOOO good to see you here, my friend, and hope all is well in Pagels Land! ;)

      Ah, deadlines ... gotta love 'em because they mean we're working, right? ;)

      Hugs and more hugs!
      Julie

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  51. Loved this, Julie!! I’ve read so many of your books, but the last one was a while ago and now I remember why I love them so much! I especially liked your creative euphemisms;-) As a mom of 3 under 5, I’m always looking for ways I can express frustration without cussing and I think “horse apples” and “holy thunder” will do the trick nicely!!! :-) and I also love that you’re here in Seekerville because you and Ruthie are two of my faves!!! ~Laurel

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    1. Oh, Laurel, I am SO sorry I missed you and you'll probably never come back to read this, but YES, we do need those salty words to add punch -- in books and out, so you go, girl! ;)

      And BLESS YOU for your kind comment, my friend -- it means more than I can say!

      HUGS!!
      Julie

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  52. You are one of my favorite authors. Thanks for these lines. Would love to see my name as a character. I never see it one anything I can buy with names.

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  53. Thanks for all the great advice!! Love your writing! ❤️

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  54. As with everything you write, I loved this! I love the spunk and realness that you create with all of these little tricks, makes it like listening to a friend instead of reading words off a page!

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