Meet Julie Lessman

It’s our pleasure to welcome Julie Lessman, “The Kissing Queen” of CBA, to the Lightning Blog. In honor of all things that SPARK this February, she’s offering a fantastic giveaway for five lucky readers, and if you ever hoped Gone With the Wind had a different ending, well, she’s your gal. Get your digital copy of SPARK (we’ve rebranded Splickety Love!) right here.

Who is your favorite character in all of literature and why?

Okay, here’s a shocker for you—Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind.

I know, I know, most people think I’m crazy when I say that, but Scarlett was definitely one of a kind. I mean, seriously, how many heroines do you know who were as selfish as she was, yet carried people’s interest in a novel over 1,000 pages long, won a Pulitzer Prize, and made over $400 million as a movie, which when adjusted for inflation is the highest grossing film of all time?

Yeah, I thought so.

When I first read Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve, I was so swept away by the romantic tension between Scarlett and Rhett, that I actually wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what today is my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Scarlett was not exactly a role model, I know, but I loved her strength, her confidence, her inability to be false or phony … and I especially loved the pull she had over Rhett whether he liked it or not. That’s what true romance is—a man who will cherish you and love you no matter your failings.

What story has inspired your writing the most?

Uh-oh. At the risk of being redundant, I have to say … Gone With the Wind, the novel that kicked off my romance-writing career at the tender age of 12! I was so hooked on romance after reading that novel that when I was in high school, I actually dressed up as a nun to go to a free re-released showing of GWTW for the local religious and clergy. One of my friends had a sister in the convent, so she loaned us novice habits and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most fun times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! Whew, we got into trouble … but it was soooo worth it!

It was almost forty years before God inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him! It happened in a beauty shop where I was reading a Newsweek 2001 cover article about Christian books, movies and music. It said they were on the threshold of exploding, and my heart jumped. Something in my spirit said, “It’s time to write your book,” and the pull was SO strong, that I started writing A Passion Most Pure one month later. From the moment that I wrote the first line, all roadblocks were gone, and I was off and running into the world of a very close-knit and very passionate Irish family called the O’Connors during the tumult of WWI.

What classic are you ashamed to admit you haven’t read?

Uh … afraid to say for fear I’ll find tomatoes splattered on my windows, but … ahemPride & Prejudice. However, in my defense, I did see the movie with Keira Knightly at least fifteen times, so hopefully that will vindicate me.

If you were a teacher, what classic work would get you most excited to share with your students?

You have to ask? Gone With the Wind, hands-down, because it gives such a vivid and PG-rated view of the worst time in American history—the Civil War. Second would be To Kill a Mockingbird because it and GWTW were my favorite books as a child.

What are your writing quirks?

I don’t suppose it gets much quirkier than writing on a veranda overlooking a lake with my feet up on a chaise three quarters of the year—in Missouri. I’ve been out there writing in as low as 39 degrees in the dark of night with a heater, or as hot as 100 degrees with a fan.

Of course, a cup of hazelnut decaf with Half ‘n Half is a MUST in the winter or peach iced tea in the summer, a box of Kleenex (for the soggy scenes I write), a mirror handy for those facial expressions I’m trying to capture, and … ta-da! … lip gloss! That would definitely qualify as one of my staunchest quirks—lipstick and lip gloss. I bet I apply one or the other 20 times a day because I wear it everywhere I go, even to bed! 🙂

Tell us about your writing goals for 2017.

I am finishing up my Isle of Hope contemporary series with book 3, His Steadfast Love, due out late summer, early fall. Book 1 in that series, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love, is a double love story loosely based on my own dysfunctional relationship with my estranged father. I’m happy to say that Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love is an award-winning novel that made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015 AND currently has a solid five-star rating on Amazon with 194 reviews. Here’s the jacket blurb:

Can a wild girl gone good rebuild bridges with a good boy gone bad?

She’s the girlfriend serving up temptation. He’s the pastor’s kid bent on serving God. Till tragedy separates them for eight long years. Now she’s a woman of faith, back to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she betrayed. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?

The good news for your readers is the prequel novella to the Isle of Hope series, A Glimmer of Hope, has just been revised and is currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Here’s the jacket blurb:

She’s bent on fun. He’s bent on faith.

 Jack O’Bryen kissed the tomboy next door and knew he’d love her foreverthe perfect wife for a would-be pastor. Lacey Carmichael dreamed of marrying the only boy who filled the void of her father’s rejection. But when Lacey goes astray while Jack’s away at seminary, is there even a glimmer of hope for a future together?

My latest release, book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, also has a five-star rating on Amazon, and here’s that blurb:

He sets hearts on fire. She’s been burned by love. Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

Finally, I hope to rerelease three separate Christmas novellas in 2017 that were originally part of anthologies, plus a prequel novella to kick off a Western Historical series I am writing. It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch series, and it’s the fun and family-oriented story of two suffragists from New York who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers and their family in Virginia City, Nevada in the late 1800s. This is the “Wild West,” so think “Bonanza meets McClintock” with lots of fireworks going on between two couples during the fascinating era of the transcontinental railroad and the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. Here’s the blurb:

A Match Made in Heaven? Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer? 

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking to give women the vote. He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking to give her a piece of his mind. But when things heat up, they just may give each other a piece of their hearts.

Thank you SO much for hosting me on your blog—it’s been fun! I love to hear from readers, so they can find and contact me at, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest or by signing up for my newsletter or my Journal Jots blog. I am also part of a group blog called Seekerville that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond. Although Seekerville has been listed on Writers Digest 2013, 2014, and 2015 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” it is also a blog devoted to readers as well. Oh, and readers can also check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website.

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Meet the Author

A lover of all things Irish, Julie Lessman enjoys writing Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. Award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 romance author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Winner of 18 RWA awards, Julie made Booklist’s 2010 Top Inspirational Fiction and Family Fiction’s Top Novels of 2014 and 2015. Contact Julie or read excerpts at:


Posted in Uncategorized

His Name is Romeo :: Flash Fiction

His name is Romeo. No, really, it’s literally Romeo. I have to say that because my name is Julie and, well…you know. But I don’t care if his name was Ralph, wouldn’t matter. I’ve got it bad for him, really bad.

I think it’s his eyes. Big, green orbs with flecks of brown, they pierce right through me.

Sometimes, when I’m sitting by the window overlooking Montague Boulevard reading a book, I feel his stare from across the room. I try not to look, I want to be aloof as he often is; but I swear, I can’t resist. So, I tilt my head slightly, pretending to glance at a passing car outside. Instead, I spy his unmistakable gaze in my direction. What can I say?

I melt.

Something stirs within me, I catch my breath. The book is discarded as I open my arms begging him to come. I don’t speak, don’t need to. Romeo knows my heart beats for him alone.

My god, I think I’d kill myself if I couldn’t have him.

That’s what makes it so maddening! Thoughts of his other midnight passions torture me.

When he doesn’t come home, and that’s more often than I care to admit, I go crazy wondering who he’s with. I say to myself that this time when he comes back I won’t let him in. “Go to your other loves!” I want to scream. “You can’t toy with me this way! Who do you think you are?”

Toy with me? Of course he can. Romeo knows exactly who he is. He is my king and I am his concubine, bound to him by an invisible chain that links my soul to his. I don’t like it. I want to hate him. But Lord have mercy, I can’t.

What’s that?! A knock, a thump at the door? It’s Romeo, my Romeo!

He is my king and I am his concubine, bound to him by an invisible chain that links my soul to his.

I squint at the clock on the table by the bed. Two a.m. This night is no different from the others. He knows I’m going to let him in. I leap from fretful slumbers, pausing to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The light from Capuletti’s Market on the corner casts a sultry red light into the room. My hair is a mess.

“He likes it that way,” I lie to myself. A pinch of my cheeks punishes away sleeplessness. I wonder if he’ll notice I’ve been crying. Of course he will. He’s no fool.

I dash through the living room, this time avoiding the table in front of the couch.

“I’m coming Romeo,” I call out. “I’m coming.”

That it’s so late, and I live in a dicey part of the city doesn’t occur to me. My darling has come home. Besides, if on the other side of that door is someone out to do me harm, so be it! At least the blessed misery of this insane love will end.

“Oh Romeo…Romeo…” I cry. Quickly the dead bolt is pushed back. It unlocks easily.

But my shaking hands and twitching fingers fumble with the chain. I curse; it’s taking too long.

What if he gets bored? What if he leaves? At last unfettered, the chain clatters loose, marring the paint on the door as it falls. My hand is on the knob now, just one lock remains. A simple twist to the left is all that stands between me and my obsession. I can see him standing there. That broad chest, covered with a pelt of fur; I’m a sucker for a hairy chest. The tilt of his head, the long legs…I just want to get lost in his embrace again. I am so close to bliss…but…

I hesitate. Exhaling deeply, something unfamiliar addles me. Is it frustration…anger? I don’t rightly know.

But suddenly I hear myself say, “No, Romeo.” Then it dawns on me; I’m weary of his antics. A minute passes, maybe two. Romeo calls out, but for the first time I ignore him. Instead, with chin up, I relock the door and begin gathering the fragile pieces of my battered dignity. “Not this time,” I say to my love. “Tonight, you stay outside.”

Stupid cat.


For more great Literary Reimaginings check out the latest issue of Spark! Want to read for FREE? Subscribe to the Splickety newsletter. Should be right there in your sidebar.

Meet the Author

David Walton is a pastor, poet and playwright. As pastor, he has proclaimed the Word of God in local congregations for over 20 years. He has also been a featured speaker at retreats, workshops and conferences in Virginia and in Florida.

In terms of poetry, David describes himself as a “situational poet.” By this, is meant he writes poetry for specific occasions. Utilizing both free verse as well as rhyming prose his work has been described as “lyrical” and containing a certain “musicality.”

As a playwright, David has written, directed and produced numerous faith-themed stage plays. His library includes short skits and full-length dramas for both adults and children. Also, his first novel, entitled When It Snows in Miami, will be published in fall, 2017.

Find him on Instagram and Twitter.

Posted in Flash Fiction

The Thrill of Flash Fiction :: Writer Wednesday with DiAnn Mills

Writing flash fiction is like taking a glimpse at the night sky and seeing a falling star. We don’t need a special map, a course in astronomy, or hours spent waiting for the attraction. It simply happened, and we are entertained in a flash.

Flash fiction is a burst of story that has a beginning, middle, and ending.

And the reader can almost hold her breath while reading it. Of course the writer would rather the reader gasp and cheer and cry and be utterly thrilled because the bolt of delight is filled with powerful emotions.

Much like a novel with a lovable character who has a problem to solve.

But flash fiction has one huge advantage. It’s a short spark of creation, similar to a scene in a novel that the reader never wants to forget.

What does every scene in a novel and flash fiction need?

A goal

A sympathetic character who is in desperate need to solve a problem or answer a question. From the first sentence, the reader is on the character’s side.

A conflict

Remember that problem? It wasn’t as easy as our character thought. Stuff, not fun stuff, keeps getting in the way of success. The character is determined and refuses to give up.

A high stake

The character learns something new and it makes moving forward nearly impossible. Everything changes and it’s hard.

A climax

The story reaches a suspenseful peak where the character must use everything she’s learned to overcome the biggest hurdle of all.

A resolution

The character met our expectations. Breathing time, and the reader is still applauding the character.

For a Splickety story, all the writer needs is an incredible imagination, great skills, and 1000 words. Here are the guidelines.

What’s stopping you?


It’s not too late to learn the secrets of publishing flash fiction and more–from industry experts like Splickety’s own Editor-in-Chief, Ben Wolf, Havok Associate Editor, Kristen Stieffel, and Web Content Editor, Lindsey Brackett, as well as Dennis Hensley, writer, keynote speaker, and friend to Splickety. Join us for the Florida Christian Writers Conference February 22-26, 2017 at the Lake Yale Conference Center!


Meet the Author

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at












Posted in Featured Authors, Uncategorized, Writer Wisdom Tagged with: , , , ,