Journal Jots – Blog
Welcome to my Journal Jots blog! This is a broad mix of what’s on my mind, allowing me to feel a little bit closer to some of the most important people in my life—YOU!
From news on sales, freebies, giveaways, new releases, and excerpts from works in progress … to my thoughts on my walk with God, daily devotionals, or photos of my family, this is where you’ll find the most current glimpse into my books and my life.
I invite you to subscribe in the “subscribe” box on the right side of this page to automatically receive an email whenever I post a blog.
Till then, God bless and HAPPY READING!
Giveaway on Valentine’s Day!
Lazy, Hazy Days of … Winter?
📕 Mysti’s Book Nook!
Hey, guys, I have the honor of being the very first author on Mysti’s Book Nook, a monthly book club where you can chat with the authors all month long while you’re reading their book. And the book of mine that we are reading in March is ISLE OF HOPE: UNFAILING LOVE.
So if you’ve read it or not, come on over to join the FB site for Mysti’s Book Nook, and chat with me on what you liked or didn’t like about Isle of Hope. And if you haven’t read it, just shoot me an email at CONTACT JULIE to tell me so, and I will send a free e-copy of Isle of Hope to you so you can join in the fun.
Then at the end of the month, I will be holding a special giveaway for all those who joined in on my book club, so be sure to come on by to join the page and the fun, okay? I will chatting it up on that FB page all month. Here’s the link, and hope to see you there! MYSTI’S BOOK NOOK.
🙌🏻 We Have Winners!
A HUGE hug to everyone who voted in the Christian Romance Readers Poll for 2021! AND because of many of you, I was honored to make the list of the “Top 40 Essential Christian Romance Authors, so DOUBLE HUGS all around!
Since I’ve just finished writing a suspense romance, I was pretty excited to see the breakdown of readers’ favorite type of romance story because it seems suspense ran away with the top percentage, so good timing, Julie! Here’s the breakdown of your favorite types of romance:
I encourage you to check out the cool romance issue of Family Fiction magazine at the following link to see if your top faves made the list:
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for … here are the winners of my Romance Readers Poll, who have won their choice of any one of my indie e-books and a character named after them in my next book. So, SUPER CONGRATS to each of the following winners—I will be contacting you directly via e-mail:
☃️ Lazy, Hazy Days of … Winter? 😎
Let me start off by saying that I love snow. I mean really, realllllllly LOVE snow. I LOVE bundling up inside with my hubby in front of wood fire and writing all day and watching Hallmark movies all night. But, alas … in the six years I have lived at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, there’s been almost NO SNOW to speak of (maybe a dusting that disappear as quickly as it came), which has made me very sad. 😥
Welllllll, this year, Keith and I decided to plan a trip to Florida, and although the sunny weather is very nice, I’m one of the few people in the world who are jealous of the those who are snowed in … including Lake of the Ozarks!! Sigh. So, instead of drinking hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire, I am “enduring” the heat, thrilled to be able to share it with friends and family. Yes, it’s VERY nice, but I do miss my snow. ❄️
Anyway, I thought I would share a few sunny pix to bring a little sunshine to the cold places in our country right now, and may spring be sprung upon us all soon!
Hugs and More Hugs!
My cutie-pie grandson came to visit, and boy, is he a hoot! LOVED spending time with him!!
SO fun to spend time with my daughter and son-in-law!
What You’ll Find in This Blog Today:
Update on my New Mystery/Suspense!
What’s Next for Me?
Romance Readers’ Poll!
Giveaway on Valentine’s Day!
Sales Continue Through January!
NEW Excerpt From my New Mystery/Suspense!
A New Year, A New Book!
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!! I’m a half scene away from finishing my very first mystery/suspense, and I gotta tell you that I really, REALLY like it, which is something I don’t often say after I finish a book. Usually I end up somewhat disappointed, thinking the story or characters are not all that great, but then it grows on me as I edit.
Yep, not this one. For some reason, the more I wrote, the better I liked it, so I hope you do too! And miracles of miracles, it’s over 100 pages shorter than my other books, clocking in at about 400 pages (most of mine are in the 500+ range), so that is quite an accomplishment for this author, as you well know.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before I’m able to get The Secret of Emerald Cottage out to you because I am going to submit it to publishers first, just to see if anyone will bite. If not, I will most likely publish it myself for release this summer, so your prayers are appreciated that this will go the way God wants it to go.
What’s Next for Me?
So, what’s next for me? Well, I’ll spend a week or two editing The Secret of Emerald Cottage, then I’ll jump right into writing book 2 of The Cousins O’Connor series, A Hope and a Prayer. This will be Gabe’s cousin, Hope Dennehy’s, story, so prayers appreciated as I once again navigate the waters of WW2 and post WW2 in the continuation of the O’Connor family saga. If all goes well, I’ll have this one out for you this fall.
Romance Readers Poll!
And now I have a favor to ask! It’s that time of year for Family Fiction magazine’s annual Christian Romance Readers Poll, where you can vote for up to five of your favorite Christian authors, and I hope I’m one.
But even if I’m not, PLEASE vote to show your support for both Family Fiction magazine and Christian Fiction in general. It’s a VERY simple process, which I’ve listed below. Also, if you know anyone else who loves Christian romance, please feel free to forward this link to them as well.
And if you do vote in the Christian Romance Reader’s Poll, shoot me an email at CONTACT JULIE, and I will automatically enter you in a giveaway for your choice of any of my indie e-books and a character named after you in my next book. NOTE: You do not have to vote for me to be entered in the giveaway.
Here are the steps and the link, so thank you VERY much!
Sales Continue Through January!
I am ALSO continuing my 50% sale on two of my most recent e-books, A Wing and a Prayer AND Love’s Silver Bullet through January, so I hope you take advantage and check out the trailer/videos for each below along with the buy links on Amazon.
Arms draped over the steering wheel and chin on top, Brec glared straight ahead, watching Bree walk toward his car out of the corner of his eyes, teeth milled so tight he thought they might snap. He hadn’t been this mad since he’d been forced to take an anger-management class when he’d bashed in an opponent’s head after a game. He had to admit the class had worked wonders. He hadn’t lost his temper since. He ground his jaw.
Tip #1 in Controlling One’s Temper: Think before you speak. Oh, yeah, and Brec was thinking plenty. Like why in the deuce would a woman as smart as Bree traipse around a mostly secluded lake by herself after having a premonition of being murdered? It was just plain stupid, and Brec planned to tell her straight to her teeth.
Bree opened the car door and got in. “Hey, I’m sorry I took so long, but I wanted to offer my condolences to Pastor Dave about Greg and maybe a dig a little, but he sure didn’t want to talk.”
Yeah? Neither do I. More like scream …
Tip #2: Once you’re calm, express your anger. Yeah, that was a tough one because “calm” was nowhere in sight as Brec ground his thumb against the ignition button and slammed into gear, still so hot under the collar, he was surprised his shirt wasn’t on fire.
Placing her purse on the floor of the of his car, Bree buckled up. “Mmm … going to ice cream at Coldstone sure sounded good, so maybe we can go after shooting, what do you think?”
He grunted his assent. How ‘bout before because I sure in the deuce need something to cool me down.
Tip #3: Get some exercise. In the past, when he lost his temper, the only exercise he’d resort to was his fist, but that wasn’t an option, so he gunned the engine with pedal to the metal instead, all but peeling out of the parking lot.
“Uh, Brec, are you … okay?” Bree asked, concern tingeing her tone as she laid a tentative hand on his arm.
It took everything in him not to fling it away. “Fine.” He stared straight ahead, the burn of her gaze on his profile singeing along with the stupid collar.
“Are you sure?”
Tip #4: Take a Timeout. Good idea! Slapping his blinker on, Brec squealed to a stop on the side of the road and slammed the vehicle into PARK. He spun to face her. “No, I’m not all right, Princess. You promised you would take care of yourself,” he shouted, stunned at the depth of his fear but too angry to be stunned at how much he cared. “Yet off you went, jogging by yourself through woods around a lake where break-ins, arson, and murders have taken place. And all after a premonition about being murdered!”
“Brec,” she began in a conciliatory whisper, “Cat and Chase weren’t around that day, and you’d taken Miss Lilly into the city, so I didn’t have any choice.”
He wagged his head up and down in an exaggerated fashion, his sarcasm gaining both volume and vigor with every word ground out. “Oh, I see—no one was around to even help if you did get in trouble and scream …”
“Listen to me, Brec”—her voice rose to counter his.
“No, you listen to me, Breanna Stewart,” he shouted, jabbing a blunt thumb to his chest, “I care about you, Miss Lilly cares about you, and a whole a host of other people care about you, woman, so if don’t have the sense to think about yourself, then at least have the common courtesy to think about us!”
She blinked and then again when a glaze of moisture filled her eyes. “Brec, I … I’m so very sorry … I didn’t realize. Will you forgive me?”
Chest heaving, he stared as a single tear trailed her cheek, thinking he’d be lost if anything ever happened to her, devastated if anyone touched a single precious hair on her head. In one ragged breath, love welled in his chest and with a deep groan, he jerked her close and held on with all of his might, face buried in the soft folds of her hair. “Of course I forgive you,” he said, pressing a shaky kiss to her hair before his lips trailed to the shell of her ear, his breath warm against her skin and his. “But you have to promise to not go jogging alone again, Bree, do you hear?”
She nodded, and the heat of his anger slowly seeped out, only to be replaced by a heat of a whole other kind when his lips wandered to the lobe of her ear, touching, tasting forbidden fruit denied far too long. “I care too much about you, Bree,” he whispered, his senses roused by the scent of her perfume, the taste of her skin, “and I’d be shattered if anything happened to you …” He could hear her ragged breathing, and with a rush of longing too urgent to defy, his mouth took hers with a reverence he’d never felt for a woman before, gently fondling until her soft mew issued an invitation he couldn’t refuse.
And yet he did.
Because this friendship was too important.
And so was she.
Gently pushing her back, he cupped her face in his hands, trying hard to focus on blue eyes spanned wide instead of those wet, lush lips parted in shallow breaths. “I’m sorry, Bree—I shouldn’t have done that because we’re friends without benefits and nothing more, so I guess we both need forgiveness today.” Clearing his throat, he pulled away to buckle his belt, his smile tight as he pressed the ignition. “Am I forgiven?”
She blinked and then nodded while she inched back into her own seat, still staring as she buckled hers as well.
“Good. So, this never happened then, aye?” Yeah, right. Tell that to my heart. He forced a stern look that was painfully at odds with the love in his eyes. “So, if you don’t want this to happen again, woman”—he aimed a warning finger barely punctuated by a smile—“don’t do it again.”
Happy New Year!
And you know what? It believe it WILL be a “happy new year!
Of course, “BELIEVE” is the key word for followers of Christ, especially after such a dark year for the world with the devastation of Covid and terrific turmoil in the United States. But Jesus is the “Way, the Truth, and the Light,” and I truly believe in my spirit that the “Light of the World” is going to chase the darkness away in 2021 to a large degree.
And as far as I’m concerned, it all begins with prayer! So beginning tomorrow — SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2021, Keith and I are embarking on an AMAZING prayer journey with my daughter’s AMAZING church, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s their bi-annual 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting, and let me tell you — for me (and Keith) — it was life-changing the first year we did it. So much so, that friends and relatives now ask me to remind them when it begins in January. Thus this Journal Jot blog — to remind them and YOU of a life-changing opportunity you will not want to miss!
Begun by Pastor Chris Hodges in 2001, The Church of the Highlands has an incredible beginning that I just have to share because it shows the power of the Highland’s commitment to its annual 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting.
Twenty years ago, Pastor Chris Hodges was a youth pastor with absolutely NO desire to be a main pastor. Fortunately, God didn’t feel the same way because Chris had a dream that shook him so much, he spoke to his pastor about it. The dream went something like this: First Chris was standing on a stage staring at a sea of people and then he was driving down a highway past a huge church that seemed to go on forever. The pastor told Chris something he really didn’t want to hear — that God was calling him to start a church.
Now, not having a clue how to go about that, Chris followed his pastor’s advice and took time off to visit every city in Alabama that God laid on his heart. “You’ll know it when you reach the city God has chosen, and Chris did, because when he arrived in Birmingham, it was like the city was embedded in his heart.
The next thing he knew, Chris and his wife and five kids move to Birmingham in late December of 2001 along with a small contingent of 34 people. Now, everyone expected him to begin services on the first Sunday in January, but Chris decided he wasn’t about to start anything without God’s direction, so he and the church prayed and fasted for 21 days. As a result, The Church of the Highlands’ first service took place on the first Sunday in February of that year — not with 34 people and his family — but approximately 500 people in attendance! Today, The Highlands is the 2nd largest church in the United States with 25 campuses and a weekly attendance of approximately 60,000.
Now trust me, people, when my daughter said to me a few years back, “Hey, Mom, our church is kicking off its 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting this Sunday, and I think you would really like it,” I pretty much froze on the spot.
Why? Well, because I knew the fasting part would be hard and there were certain things I did NOT want to give up for 21 days. “Sure, babe, I’ll check the Sunday kick-off service out online,” I said, fully intending to watch for a few minutes so I could tell her I did, but then letting her know it wasn’t for me because what can I say — I was skeptical.
The pastor reeled me in like a bass on a hula grub in the first five minutes.
Wait … I have to give up what??!!
Yep, “I have to give up sweets, wine, and Amazon for 21 days,” I told Keith in shock, not a bit happy about it.
“What?” Keith stared at me wide-eyed, as if I’d just told him I was giving up writing and reading romance to embark on a career picking up trash on a highway. “Why on earth are you doing that?” he said, jaw dangling considerably. “Because God told me to,” I responded in a mournful tone, never, EVER imagining just how much my life was about to change!
That was the year following my sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing, when I told my editor I wouldn’t be pitching any books or series for a while. Since then, my love affair with God has grown by leaps and bounds, deepening more and more each year after I embark on 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting with Church of the Highlands. As a romance writer, I can now say that the greatest romance of all is the one I have found with my Father in Heaven and my Savior, bringing more joy, peace, strength, and hope than I have ever experienced in over 70 years.
Why am I telling you this? Well, again, because I feel like there may be one or two of you out there that God wants to join me in this endeavor. I meant to tell you about it sooner (duh … before the 21 Days begins tomorrow), but I didn’t, so I apologize. But, it’s not too late because you can start anytime by checking out Pastor Hodge’s kick-off Sunday service to prayerfully decide if the 21 Days is something you want to do. Pastor Chris will explain how there are all kinds of ways to fast other than food, so don’t be intimidated.
For instance, food isn’t a big deal to me, but my nightly glass of wine with dinner and not checking Amazon for reviews and stats definitely are, so that’s what I fast along with sweets and lunch. See? Not too hard, and you know what? Keith and I actually look forward to it every single year like little kids at Christmas because it’s THAT good for our souls and our lives. I know it would be for you too, so pray about it, okay? And if you’re interested, here’s the link to the Church of the Highlands kick-off service for 21 DAYS OF PRAYER & FASTING that will tell you all about it.
Before I go, I wanted to share a few fun pix with you of our rare 2020 get-togethers with our kids and grandkids. I hope you were able to spend at least some time with family to celebrate the birth of our Savior as well.
I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and holy new year!
2020 Memories for the Lessmans!
Papa and newest grand baby, Caleb!
Our little “heart baby,” Geebie, now 4 years old!
Pirate day at the Lessman’s!
Juju and Wyatt reading!
My daughter’s Christmas pic!
My son’s Christmas pic!
Keith’s and my Christmas pic!