Happy Summer to You & Yours

What I’ve Been Up To …

Historical Christian Romance Webinar, Win Free Edit or Character Named in Henry’s Story & Signed Paperback Copy

Coming this August … The Romance Writer’s Super Stack w/ 3-Chapter Edit

2nd Excerpt from A Dare and a Prayer


Happy Summer to You & Yours!

Can you believe summer is only days away?? But I’ll tell you what, in Lake of the Ozarks, it is full-blown, so thank you, Jesus! Eighty-degree temps and lots of sun, so the Lessmans are kicking off the season with a bang, and here’s just a quick glimpse:


What I’ve Been Up To …

As you all know, I spent January through March with my family in warmer climes, so I didn’t get much writing done, but it was soooo worth it!

Once I returned home to Lake of the Ozarks in April, I promise you I hit the ground running on Henry’s story, and let me just say that I haven’t had this much fun since writing Charity’s story, A Passion Redeemed. Maybe that’s because I see Henry as the male component of Charity, and y’all know just how much I LOVE writing about that girl! 😉

In addition to that, y’all also know how much I LOVE writing a bad-boy hero, and sweet mother of Job, that is Henry to a T (for “Trouble”)! And because he is a bad boy, I’ve had a few more opportunities to write kissing scenes, and I sure don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE to write those. That said, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at a kissing scene in an excerpt at the end of this blog, so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! 😉

I’ve also had ample opportunity to get back to nature with wonderful things like walks in the woods with my grands or even piddling with my own gardens, small though they be. The first one is my main rock garden, which has a chipmunk family living in it, and the second pic is my kitchen garden, which is right out my kitchen window and a heck of a lot better than staring at a wall! And HALLELUJAH … this is the first year I’ve been able to keep the deer from chomping my hostas by stapling almost invisible garden netting to our wooden walkways, so thank you, Jesus!!



Historical Christian Romance Free Live Webinar, Win Edit or Character Named for You in Henry’s Story & Signed Copy

Cover Photo


Hey, READERS … do you just want to join in on a Q & A with me and other authors to win a character named after you in Henry’s story and a signed paperback? Simply contact me via the CONTACT tab of my website to let me know you signed up for the free live webinar as a “Reader” and will attend, and you’ll be entered in the draw.

Hey, ASPIRING AUTHORS … do you dream of becoming a historical Christian romance author? Do you want to learn from award-winning authors of historical Christian romance? Then join me and other authors for a free live webinar that will fill you in on all the details for the upcoming Historical Christian Romance Writers Summit.

NOTE: Journal Jot subscribers who sign up for and attend the free webinar are eligible to win a 1-chapter edit from yours truly. Simply contact me via the CONTACT tab of my website to let me know.

Either way, join me for a FREE LIVE WEBINAR & Q&A on JUNE 19 AT 4 PM EST with:

  • Julie Lessman – Romance-ology 101
  • Crystal Caudill – Picking the Write Fight
  • Misty M. Beller – Finding Your Target Reader
  • Mara Eller – Take Your Romance Novel Beyond the Formula
  • Thomas Umstattd Jr. – 7 Secrets to Amazing Author Websites
  • Melissa LaShure – Host and Creator of HCRW

NOTE: Registration for the Historical Christian Romance Writers Virtual Summit opens on June 19th following the live webinar.

Plus, webinar attendees will be invited to a free critique session with an award-winning author in the historical Christian romance genre (guess who!).

Attendees will also be among the first to purchase Sara R. Turnquist’s plotting notebook. This is an incredible writing tool, sold for the first time during the HCRW webinar and summit!




2nd Chance Coming this August for the Romance Writer’s Super Stack w/ 3-Chapter Edit

Okay — it’s not often I get excited about writers’ resources, but this is one deal I wish I had had when I started out! Trust me when I say, Infostack’s ROMANCE WRITER SUPER STACK has what it takes to help you craft a page-turning romance, build heart-pounding tension, and create swoon-worthy characters.

And, to me, that shouts value. A total retail value of $1,525.89, to be exact … and all for only $49!  AND …  to sweeten the deal, I am once again offering a 3-chapter edit to anyone who buys the ROMANCE WRITER SUPER STACK, so keep your eyes peeled right here on Journal Jots for when the super stack goes on sale for the last time in August.


Sneak-Peek Excerpt from

A Dare and a Prayer

SETUP: Henry and his pilot friend Lieutenant Shane (Preacher) Kelly take the heroine, Lieutenant Amy Leigh MacArthur and her nurse friend, Lieutenant Lilly Wong, on a surprise picnic after their volunteer work at Camp Susupe. But when Preacher and Lilly decide to take a walk to pick flowers, leaving Amy alone with Henry, she’s more than a little nervous over being alone with the man she’s not only regrettably attracted to, but swore to avoid at all costs.



Amy gulped, throat convulsing as she peeked over at Henry, who was watching her with a patient smile while pouring himself more wine. “They’ll be fine, Amy,” he said softly, his rare usage of her name giving her shivers that flashed first warm and then cold.

She swallowed hard. Yes, but will I be … ?

He held the bottle out. “Need a refill?”

She shook her head so vehemently that he laughed, the sound booming through the forest.  Not much of a drinker, huh?”

“No”—her chin nudged up—“Are you?”

He studied her with a quizzical look, as if gauging his response. “Not really. Can’t drink before a mission, you know, which is most of the time; only on the rare nights we’re off, like tonight.” Ramming the cork into the bottle, he stored it back in the knapsack, then held the cup in a teasing toast. “But did more than my fair share in college, I’m afraid, which drove my parents up the wall.” He wrinkled his nose as he stared into his cup. “No question about it—I was a wild one back then.”

“But not now?”

He took a long, slow drink of his wine, watching her over the rim of his cup before setting it aside. “I can be, I guess.” Positioning the knapsack behind his head, he laid back, long legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles. “At times. But the military has a way of quashing that, you know.”

Oh, and thank God! Her fingers shook as she put her cup down, aware that being alone with Henry Dennehy while drinking alcohol on a blanket wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done. She buffed her arms as if she were cold despite the fact that the temperature was still hot, but then Henry Dennehy had that effect on her, she supposed. Cold chills that flashed into warm ones way too easily.

Striving for the same nonchalance that he seemed to own, she leaned back on her hands to take in the sunset, which had deepened to shades of fuchsia and violet. “This really was a wonderful idea,” she lied, foot twitching as she sat with legs extended and crossed at the ankle just like him.

“Was it?”

“Sure,” she said, avoiding his gaze, wishing more than anything that Preacher and Lilly would suddenly appear. She glanced at her watch.

“Then why do you seem so nervous?” His voice was soft and low, completely void of his usual tease.

“I’m not ner—OH!” With a loud squeal, she all but catapulted over to Henry, clutching to his side as she stared in horror at a tiny emerald-green frog with a bubble-like bulge on his throat, right where her hand had been. She shivered as she quickly wiped her hands on her khaki slacks. “Oh, I can’t stand to be around slimy things!”

A husky chuckle rumbled near her ear. “Well, I’ll take that as a compliment, then, Princess, since you’re practically sitting in my lap.”

Heat gorged her face when she realized she was butted up right next to him, thigh to thigh. With another tiny squeak, she tried to lunge away, only to have Henry halt her with a firm hand to her arm. “It’s okay, Amy, I’m not going to bite.” His gaze dropped to her lips and back, the twinkle in his eyes practically blinding her. “Unless, of course, you want me to …”

Shooting straight up like a German buzz bomb, Amy leapt off the blanket, causing the little frog to bolt back into the woods, much to her relief. She put a shaky palm to her chest, nearly hyperventilating.

Henry’s laughter only broiled her cheeks all the more as he slowly rose to his feet. “How ‘bout I make a deal with you, Princess. You sit in my spot, and I’ll sit over there,” he said, nodding toward a boulder about twenty feet away.” Sauntering over to the rock, he sat down and hoisted his tin cup in the air with a grin. “But I gotta tell you one thing for dead sure, Amy Leigh MacArthur. I do believe I love teasing you more than just about anything.” Eyes dancing, his gaze flicked to her lips and back with a crooked smile. “Well, almost anything …”

Ignoring his last statement, Amy buffed her arms again, glancing at the spot where Preacher and Lilly had disappeared. “They should be back by now, shouldn’t they?”

“Nope.” Henry checked his watch as he took a swig of his wine. “They’ve been gone all of ten minutes, Lieutenant, so I suggest you sit back down and finish your wine”—he scrunched his nose in tease—“might take the edge off, you know?”

Yeah, she knew. Heart racing, she sat next to the knapsack where Henry had been, as far away from the frog as she could possibly get. After all, with the frog long gone and Henry on a boulder twenty feet away, she was relatively safe, right? Expelling a wobbly breath, she reached for her cup and began to sip, a whole lot more relaxed than before. “So,” she said, finally enjoying the warmth of the wine now that both Henry and the frog were no longer a threat. “You said you drove your parents up the wall in college, and from the little I know about you, I’m guessing that included both grade school and high school as well?”

He grinned as he raised another toast with his cup. “Well, well, now, the lieutenant is finally feeling safe enough to toss a few grenades at the poor and vulnerable pilot.”

She giggled as she took another hefty swig of her wine. “‘You, Lieutenant Hotshot, are neither ‘poor’ nor ‘vulnerable’ from the tales I’ve heard. Rather, rumor is that’s a title reserved for the women you pursue.”

“Ouch.” Sucking air through a clenched smile, he scratched the front of his neck.

She laid back on the knapsack like he had, limbs finally limp without a twitch as she stretched out. “So, your parents—are you close to them?”

He stared out toward the sunset as if thinking about her question. “Yeah,” he said with a tight smile, “I am. But in different ways.”

She cocked her head, her curiosity aroused. “What do you mean?”

He laughed as he took another drink. “I mean I love them both very much, but I’m more comfortable with my dad than I am with my mother.”

She continued sipping, enjoying the warmth as it slid down her throat. “How so?”

“My dad is easy. No nonsense, no games. When he tells me to do something, I do it. Because I respect him.”

“And your mom?”

Chuckling, he shook his head. “She’s a piece of work.”

Her eyes went wide. “You don’t love her?”

He scowled. “Of course I love her—there’s nobody in the world like her.” He issued a grunt accompanied by a smile. “Thank God.”

“Then why thank God that she’s one of a kind?”

He appeared to think about the question for a few moments, eyes in a squint as he twirled the tin cup in his hands. “Because she’s got a mind like a steel trap and a bite just as bad. Which would be just fine and dandy if she let things alone, let a person live their own life.” He upended his cup, his voice veering toward sharp. “But she doesn’t.”

Amy tipped her cup straight up as well, surprised that it was all gone. “What do you mean?”

He pinned her with a pointed glare, his gaze suddenly sparked with an annoyance she hoped wasn’t directed at her. “She’s controlling. Oh, it’s all out of love, to be sure, but a man needs to find his own way, not be pushed by a woman.” He scowled. “Especially by a mother.”

She blinked several times, struggling to sit up. “But love is a powerful motivator, Henry. Can’t you overlook her pushiness to see how much she loves you?”

“No!” His vehement tone shocked her, stilled her as she stared, her pulse thudding hard.

“I am my own man, Amy,” he said, thumb bludgeoning his chest, “the only person who will decide what I do and when. Not my mother, not my father, not my sister and not my grandfather. Nobody.”

Her heart squeezed as her voice drifted out on a whisper. “Not even God?”

He observed her, his chest rising and falling with a weary sigh, as if he just realized how his answer might affect their relationship. And then, as if he’d decided, his jaw calcified. “Especially Him.”

She caught her breath, heart twisting as tears glazed her eyes. “Oh, Henry…”

He glanced at his watch. “They’ll be back soon. We better pack up.” Jumping up, he strode over to snatch up the knapsack, mouth compressed and body stiff.

Rising, she moved away, flustered that she’d obviously upset him, but even more so over his blatant anger towards God. Her heart broke all over again for this man she’d been so intent on avoiding, wishing there was some way she could help.

Tears pricking, she bent to pick up the open bag of Cheetos at the edge of the blanket …

And then … screamed like crazy! “Eeeeeeeek!!! Heart in her throat she bolted into Henry’s arms, shocking him as much at it shocked her. “An alligator!” she rasped, clinging to him with all of her might.

His arms swallowed her up, and she let him, fear disarming her as she peered over her shoulder at the animal who was easily four feet long, his snout buried deep in the Cheetos bag.

“Shhh, it’s not an alligator,” he whispered, easing her further away from the animal while his head tucked tightly against hers. “It’s a monitor lizard, Amy, and he won’t hurt you.” His low chuckle blew warm against her ear. “Although I can’t say the same for the Cheetos.”

For the first time, she didn’t laugh at his humor, too terrified to do anything but shake. “H-How d-do you know?”

“Because they’re native to the island and so friendly, some people keep them as pets.” He stroked her hair, and she closed her eyes, allowing him to cocoon her with his safety and warmth, a warmth that was suddenly in league with her own, whether from the wine, his touch, or both. She felt the callouses on his palms as his hands slipped to her neck, massaging until a fire lit within, pooling heat in her belly. His tone soothed and she pressed in, wondering why it suddenly didn’t matter that she was in Henry Dennehy’s arms. Her pulse skipped a beat when he kissed her hair—once, and then again—before those deadly fingers roamed to draw her closer.

 Her breathing grew shallow as his mouth ventured on, caressing her neck, her jaw, then luring a soft moan to her lips when he suckled the lobe of her ear. “Henry, no,” she said, her voice little more than hoarse consent when he cradled her head to nuzzle her brows, her eyes, the curve of her cheek, the shape of her jaw.

“Amy …” he whispered, fondling her lips with such tenderness, they parted in ready assent, his mouth mating with hers in gentle exploration that robbed her of any desire to say no. Pulse throbbing, she returned his kiss with such passion, his raspy groan tangled with her own, unleashing a firestorm of heat that sealed her surrender.

“Yoo-hoo, Mac—wait till you see the flowers we found,” Lilly called from somewhere in the woods, and Amy froze, her body paralyzed for one excruciating moment before she thrust Henry away. Body humming, she stumbled back, the air in her lungs so ragged, she could barely catch her breath as Lilly and Preacher emerged from the woods, mere shadows in the dusky light.

Spinning around, Amy emptied both tin cups and tossed them in the knapsack before snatching up the blanket with such speed, dust and dirt whirled in the air. She avoided Henry’s gaze as she frantically folded it, thoughts of the lizard long forgotten as the memory of Henry’s kiss obliterated all else from her mind.

“And the lettuce tree?” Lilly continued, close enough now that Amy could see the excitement on her face, “it tastes okay, I guess, but Shane found a breadfruit for me, so I brought half of it back for you. Because I swear, Mac, I bet you’ve never tasted anything so good in all your life.”

“Is that so?” A nervous giggle tripped from Amy’s lips as she all but pelted the folded blanket at Henry, ignoring the satisfied smile on his face. Against her will, her gaze snagged on the lips that had just devoured hers not mere minutes ago, and heat instantly scorched her from head to toe. Striving for composure, she faced Lilly with a weak smile and a quivering palm to her stomach.

Unfortunately, Lil, I bet I have …