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Sweet Romance Reads: How do you celebrate accomplishments?

I’m at the Sweet Romance Reads blog and Facebook group talking about finishing my book and posting a poll about how you usually celebrate accomplishments. Check out the blog or Facebook group to weigh in!

The 12 Authors of Christmas - Julie Lessman

Captain's Log, Stardate 12.07.2007

Continuing the 12 Authors of Christmas, here’s Julie Lessman!

View the tour, including Rachel Hauck and Tricia Goyer’s authors, here.

About Julie:

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, will be in stores January 2008. Visit her Web site at www.julielessman.com.

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

We had this great, little Nativity set tucked under the Christmas tree, as if in a giant pine forest. It had lots of cows and sheep and kings, and a pretty molded-plastic angel dangling over the roof of the barn. I’d lie in front of it for hours, playing house with the figurines. It was so cool! Come Christmas morning, though, it disappeared beneath a mountain of presents that all but masked our 9-foot tree! With 13 kids in my family, that poor, little manger set would get lost in the shuffle … which, sadly enough, is sometimes still the case in today’s world.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

Our “tradition” was everybody opening gifts at once, and with 13 kids, it was a real zoo. All I remember is this wild flurry of activity with bows and paper flying and sheer present pandemonium. So when I married my husband, I was shocked to see gifts patiently handed out in a circle, then opened one by one so all could admire it. I was floored! Suddenly a 20-minute feeding frenzy became a 2-hour unforgettable experience. We’ve done it that way in our own family ever since with one addition: when all the presents are opened, we settle in before the fire and read the true Christmas story with grateful hearts.

When do you put up your tree? Describe the decorating at your house.

We decorate the weekend before Thanksgiving because that’s our host holiday and the only time my husband’s family sees our decorations. Trust me, you don’t want me to describe decorating at my house. Suffice it to say it’s a weekend my family would rather forget. ☺

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? (Feel free here to talk about choirs or other musical things you participate in during Christmas.)

Hands down, Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album. That and old movies (I watch them while I decorate) are the only things that salvage the dreaded decorating weekend.

Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

We opened our presents on Christmas Eve, so Christmas mornings were way more relaxed, beginning with a feeding-frenzy breakfast (we did everything in a frenzy, I’m afraid), then Mass, and then off to Grandma’s house to “wolf” down more food and play with cousins.

Tell us about your Christmas setting--do you have a white Christmas?

We live in Missouri, so we probably have a white Christmas about 20% of the time, if that. But it’s usually pretty cold, which I love because we build a fire and have breakfast in our jammies, which the kids have made for us since they were 12 and 7. We then have Christmas coffee and cookies while we open presents in a setting of Christmas music, twinkle lights and candles glowing everywhere.

It's Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

Last-minute wrapping while watching old movies, then getting dolled up to go to a movie with my family, then off to in-laws for dinner and presents.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

At the mall, unfortunately. I hate crowds, so I should really do the online thing for my sanity … er, what’s left of it.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

It means heightened family time and heightened focus on Jesus. But I have to admit, with all the hustle and bustle of commercialism, decorating, entertaining, functions, etc., it’s challenging to focus on the true reason for the season. But years ago, I learned a little tip. Beginning in September, my prayer partners and I start praying for a peaceful, unstressed holiday season for each of us, so that usually helps keep my perspective on track. Prayer … what a wonderful invention!

It's Christmas day… what's for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Until seven years ago, I baked 60 dozen cookies and 30 rum cakes every Christmas for cookie plates for friends and neighbors, a la Martha Stewart. Then I started writing novels, and there hasn’t been a home-baked cookie in the house since. ☺ Dinner menu? Buffet-style at my in-laws, usually with ham or brisket and all the trimmings.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

That would be the year my husband gave me a wristwatch when we were engaged. I absolutely HATED it, but couldn’t tell him because he was so darn proud of it. So I did what I usually do—I prayed that God would help me love it. I even wrote the prayer on a piece of paper, dated it, and put it in my Bible so I would be sure to pray it every day. Years later, my husband was reading my Bible and found the note. “You don’t like the watch I gave you?” he asked in shock. “I do now,” I said with a sheepish smile, and he just shook his head.

What are your plans for this season?

Well, I have my first book coming out in 25 days, so I am desperately trying to keep my focus on Jesus because bottom line, being consumed by anything else is guaranteed misery. So I’ll probably be pressing into Him all the more when reviews come in, good or bad, because I will need all the strength I can get. And I have long since learned that the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

Just that Christmas is a time for appreciating loved ones and friends, and I want you to know, Camy, how much I appreciate you as a Seeker buddy, a techno-wizard and friend. Blessed Christmas to all!

Camy here: Thanks for sharing, Julie!

For any of you guys interested in Christian romance with a little more sexual tension than the norm in CBA (because you know, most of us have either had sex or seen it on cable), keep your eyes peeled for Julie’s debut historical novel, A Passion Most Pure, which releases in January!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great interview!

BTW, Hubba hubba on the hero on your cover. LOL.
Julie Lessman said…
Thanks, Pam! And, yeah, regarding the guy on the cover, I have to admit ... I have his model head shot taped above my desk at work, and whenever I get too stressed ... I just look up, and he takes my mind off of it pretty darn quickly!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,
Julie
Rachel Hauck said…
Great interview, Julie. The book looks great.

Rachel
Julie Lessman said…
Thanks very much, Rachel ... appreciate you stopping by!

And, Camy, thanks for the plug on the book AND for the opportunity to share my Christmas memories! My husband and I got a big chuckle out of your comments. :)

Hugs,
Julie
Cheryl Wyatt said…
I loved your interview, Julie!!! It's SO great to get to know you better. Fabulous questions, Camy and this whole idea is wonderful. Provides a fascinating glimpse into some of our favorite authors.

LOVE your cover, Julie.

Hugs,
Cheryl
Ausjenny said…
I agree with the others i love these interviews.
Oh and we are a family who do the cookies for others maybe not 60 dozen but enough for the neighbours (and some dough for me to eat).
I also love the story of the watch. thats a good tip the pray each day for it.
love the cover of the book to will be looking out for it.
Thankyou for the interview Camy and Julie
Julie Lessman said…
Thanks, Cheryl, I loved yours too, but I didn't get to read it until today, my day off. I have to admit, I felt a a bit ancient reading about your Grandma Nellie's silver tinsel tree ... uh, we had one too, rotating color wheel and all.

And Ausjenny, making cookies at Christmas is a lot of fun for families ... unless, of course, you're anal like me and take 20 minutes per cookie to decorate with three different colors of icing and an artistic design befitting the Louvre. I was finally banned from the kitchen for everyone's sanity and peace of mine ... especially mine!
Ausjenny said…
Oh Julie, i do the ones you stick together so noe decorating. I dont have an artistic bone in my body or if i do its been hiding for along time.
our are make with a cookie maker and then we ice them together. we use a shortbread type recipe.
im glad you found a way to keep your sanity in tact.
Rel said…
Had to laugh, Julie about the Chrissy pressies! My hubby's family does the frenzied opening while mine do the sedate, respectful and imminently more refined one at a time approach - LOL!! Not biased am I? Great interview - thanks Julie and Camy :)
Julie Lessman said…
Thanks, Rel, for stopping by. Apparently both my husband's family and yours knew how it should really be done! :)
Unknown said…
I cannot WAIT to read this book. It's killing me that it doesn't release until January. Great interview!
Missy Tippens said…
13 kids!! Oh, my! LOL I can't imagine the chaos. I have one sister. :)

Great interview. It was fun to get to know more about you, Julie!

Missy

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