Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tips to Treasure - Scenes with Julie Lessman

If you've never heard of Julie Lessman let me just forward you to her website at . Her passion-packed-tight-tension novels inspire a heatwave of fury, fascination, and faith. AND since she's been so wonderful to provide you guys with some tasty excerpts from her work, I'm going to let her get on with her tips for today.

Leave a comment and have your name placed into a drawing to win her newest novel, Love at Any Cost.

What has been one of your favorite scenes to read?

 Well, there’s only been one scene in my life from another author’s book that literally pounded my heart so hard, I thought I was having an atrial fibrillation attack, seriously. And that scene was from Laura Frantz’s latest release, Love’s Reckoning. I contacted Laura and she graciously allowed me to provide the clip here. It takes place in a ballroom where the hero and the heroine who were once madly in love and parted on bittersweet terms, see each other for the first time in years.

A momentary hush in the large room made them turn. Another arrival?

“Ah, at last.” Judge O’Hara’s resonant voice overrode the conversations swirling around them as he glanced toward the parlor door. Isabel was threading her way toward them through the press of guests, a man following. “Stephen, Miss Lee, allow me to introduce my good friend and business partner.”

Isabel stepped into their circle, transformed, beaming. The tall figure at her side became clear, and Eden’s composure collapsed. She went completely still. The fan she held fluttered to a stop.


“My apologies for arriving late. Business, ye ken.” His rustic Scots speech had mellowed to a more refined lilt, smooth and self-effacing. He was looking at Stephen Elliot, extending a hand. He hadn’t yet seen her, and Eden felt an overwhelming urge to pull back—disappear. Stephen shook his hand heartily, inquiring after some business matter, to which Silas answered thoughtfully.

Dumbstruck, Eden drank in every freshly shaven, tailored inch of him. Clad in rich, charcoal broadcloth, he looked the equal of any man she’d seen in Philadelphia. His ivory cravat set off his deeply tanned face and turned his gaze a keen, unforgettable green.

Her heart was pounding beneath her stays, as loud as the clock chiming nine across the room. When Silas turned from Stephen to her, she met his eyes reluctantly. His handsome, composed features went slack. He looked . . . stricken. Speechless, he shot a questioning glance at Stephen before returning to her. Did he think Stephen was her husband?

“Mr. Ballantyne, permit me to introduce Miss Eden Lee, assistant director of the Philadelphia Foundling Hospital.” Stephen’s warm voice reached out to her, jarring her into coherency.

Her voice came out a whisper. “Good evening, Mr. Ballantyne.”

“Miss Lee.”

What has been one of your favorite scenes to write?

A scene that comes to mind is from my new book Love at Any Cost between the widowed matriarch of the family Caitlyn McClare and her rogue brother-in-law Logan McClare (subordinate love story in book) with whom she was once in love. Engaged to Logan at a very young age, Cait broke the engagement when she discovered Logan’s infidelity, resulting in her marrying Logan’s brother instead. Now, twenty-seven years down the road, Cait is a widow and Logan is determined to win her back, so the romantic tension between these two was and is SO fun to write, such as in this scene where Logan gives her back his brother’s ring, even though it belongs to him as the McClare heir.

She pulled away and swiped at her eyes, her lips quivering into a smile. “You must think I’m crazy, but I’m just so very grateful . . .” Peering up, she gently braced his jaw with her palm, eyes shimmering with gratitude. “I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more than right this moment, Logan McClare. Thank you.”

He stopped breathing when she pressed a kiss to his cheek, and almost by accident, he turned into her touch, their lips so close he could smell the hint of hot chocolate they’d enjoyed around the fire. They froze in the same split second of time, and his pulse thudded slow and hard as he waited for her to pull away. Only she didn’t, and heat scorched his body.

“Cait,” he whispered, barely believing her lips nearly grazed his. He waited, not willing to push for fear she would retreat, but when her eyelids flickered closed, his fate was sealed. “So help me, Cait, I love you,” he rasped, quickly caressing her lips before she could pull away. The moment his mouth took hers, he was a man hopelessly lost, bewitched by her spell. She jolted in his arms as if suddenly realizing her folly, but he refused to relent, his grip at the nape of her neck strong and sure, allowing him a taste of the sweetest lips he’d ever known. A groan trapped in his throat, and he devoured her, delving deeper with a passion stoked by almost twenty-six years of denial and longing. “God help me, Cait,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he nuzzled her ear, “I need you in my life.”

He felt it the moment the winds shifted, pulse skyrocketing when her blanket dropped to the ground and she melded in his arms. His mouth explored with a vengeance, the frenzied beat of her heart throbbing beneath his lips as he grazed the hollow of her throat. He skimmed up to suckle the lobe of her ear, and his heart swelled with joy when a soft moan escaped her lips. Blood pounding in his veins, he wove fingers into her hair to cradle her face. “Marry me, Cait, please!”

Her eyelids fluttered open to reveal a glaze of desire so strong, his mouth descended again, dominant and possessive until her lips surrendered to his. “Marry me,” he repeated, his kiss gentling to playful nips meant to coax and tease. “I need you, Cait . . . and I want you.”

In the space of a painful heartbeat, she hurled him away, breasts heaving and eyes wild. “You’re a devil, Logan McClare, always lusting after what you can’t have!”

Sleet slithered through his veins. “No, Cait, it’s not true—I want you because I love you.”

He reached for her, and she thrust back, fury welling in her eyes. “You want me because you can’t have me. And once you had me, you would just throw me away again, returning to your old habits of carousing with women all hours of the night.”

“You’re wrong—let me prove it, please. Marry me.”

She shook her head, an auburn curl quivering against her neck. Her tone trembled with a violence that stunned. “I-don’t-want-you, and I-don’t-need-you, do you hear?”

His anger surged, but he tamped it down with a clamp of his jaw, his words as hard as hers. “Really, Cait? Why don’t you tell that to the woman whose body just responded to mine?”

The lightning force of her slap shifted his jaw clean to the right, the sound of it like a crack of thunder. “How dare you?” she whispered, tears streaming her cheeks. “You forced yourself on me in your usual callous way, and if you ever do so again, it will be the last time you step foot in my house, is that clear?” He didn’t answer, and she took a step forward, her jaw engaged once again. “I said, is-that-clear?”

Gritting his teeth, he turned away. He sucked in a harsh breath and released it again, fighting to keep his temper under control, the only control he apparently possessed with the woman before him. Well, she might hold all the cards and he might lose this hand, but he would not lose the game. With a heavy blast of air, he turned—and stopped—all anger fading at what he’d reduced her to. A quivering mass of tears. God, forgive me . . . He studied her with sorrow in his eyes. “Yes,” he whispered, all of his emotion finally spent, “it’s clear.” She started for the door and he stopped her with a gentle hand. “Forgive me, Cait—I never meant to hurt you. Not then, not now.”

She nodded stiffly and started to leave.

“Cait?” She turned at the door. He plunged his hands in his pockets, no longer a man of the world, but a little boy whose heart was on the line. “I love you, and deep down inside, I think you know that, know I would never cheat on you again.” He stared, his eyes naked with the truth for the very first time. “That said, I need to know why? What else are you afraid of?”

She must have sensed his honesty because the hard plain of her face ebbed into a look of such sorrow, it plucked at his heart. Her voice was gentle and low once again, the Caitlyn he was privileged to love. “I love you as family, Logan, but I can never be ‘in love’ with you again.”

The words stabbed. “Why?” he whispered, his voice no more than a croak.

Her bodice quivered with a burdensome sigh. “Because I don’t trust you.”

“Why? I swear to you Cait—I will be faithful.”

“No, Logan, you can’t. A man of your habit and ilk can’t be faithful without God.”

“Let me prove it. I can do this.”

“Maybe. But I can’t. I refuse to fall in love with a man who doesn’t share my faith.”

He took a step forward, his eyes intense. “I believe in God, Cait.”

“No, Logan, you believe in yourself first, God after. There’s a difference.”

His jaw sagged in disbelief. “You’re attracted to me and love me, yet you turn me away because my faith isn’t up to snuff?” Fury boiled in his veins, trumping his passion. He chilled her with a look so cold, he saw her shiver. “Even if it means your precious Vigilance Committee?”

The blood leeched from her face. “You wouldn’t,” she whispered, her words laced with shock. “Y-you agreed, and it’s the decent thing to do.”

He moved in, fists clenched and a nerve twitching in his cheek. “No, Cait, the decent thing to do is to forgive the past and admit you’re in love with me.”

Her legs faltered before steel appeared to fuse in her spine. “That’s your price, then?”

He stared, his jaw as rigid as his pride. She loved him, she wanted him, but she wouldn’t have him because of God? Outrage like he’d never known singed his very soul. “It is.”

She winced as if she’d been struck, pain contorting her face while she listed against the wrought-iron chaise. Firelight flickered across her beautiful features, illuminating myriad feelings that tore at his heart. Shock, fear, fury, resolve . . . and sorrow. The same sorrow he saw in himself, a man of missed opportunities. The flames spit and popped behind him, as if portending a fiery future that would ravage both him and the woman he loved.

He watched as the anger slowly siphoned from her body, softening her features, welling her eyes, and he was reminded once again what a rare woman she was. Prone to gentleness rather than anger, giving rather than taking, others rather than self. Despite the fact he would rob her of something so dear, her eyes bore no retribution or blame, only a sadness that seemed to personify Caitlyn McClare where he was concerned.

“Then it’s too high,” she whispered, the trace of a tear glazing her cheek as she placed his ring on the chaise. She turned away, her voice a broken whisper that prophesied their doom. “Even for my precious Vigilance Committee.”

What are some key elements to writing a powerful scene:

Well, being a bona-fide CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), I would have to say the most important components for me are TENSION-TENSION-TENSION!! I’ll take it anyway I can get it — romantically, spiritually or relationally, but take me on a roller-coaster ride and make me beg for mercy—please!! J  Ways I like doing that are having lots of ups and downs in a single scene where I take both the characters—and the readers, I hope—on an emotional roller-coaster such as in the scene above from Love at Any Cost

Even in interviews she PACKS a punch! Thanks for sharing with us today, Julie. I'm so tempted to put up my Cassie McClare look-alike shot :-)

Do you have a scene you've read or written lately in which you savored the moment? Share!


Faithful Acres Books ~ Linda Marie Finn said...

I have not written my own book yet, but I do love Julies books and hope to read that one soon.
Linda Marie Finn

Paula Moldenhauer said...

Great post today. Thank you both for sharing!
Paula Moldenhauer

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love Julie and her books! And yep...they've got tension, tension, tension.

I just finished Laura's "Courting Morrow Little." Whew. Plenty of tension and...ahem, that one. ;)

Catherine West said...

I love tension! I'm always working to improve on it though, sometimes it's too tempting to just bring my characters together right away, but that's no fun, right?! I love Julie's writing! Great interview. Here's a little snippet from one of my yet to be published books, Reprisal.

He folded her against him and held her tight, like he could squeeze out all the pain. Like he could solve all the mysteries from the past that were hidden away somewhere, waiting for the opportune moment to strike, banish all the apparitions who waited until the sun went down to come out and waltz across the dusty floor of her memory.
“Don’t be afraid, Lynnie.” His words hummed in her ear, comforted her. “You don’t have to go through this by yourself. I’m here. I want to help you.”
She pulled back and took in the sincerity in his eyes. “Why?”
Nick’s smile hinted at things she didn’t dare hope were real. “I just do. Will you let me?”
“Yes.” A feeling she recognized settled over her and she felt a sweet sensation pooling in the pit of her stomach.
She’d been in this place before, wrapped in his arms, wishing for the impossible. It had happened then, once, on that night so many years ago.
It wasn’t likely to happen twice.
Something—confusion, temptation—she didn’t know what, took a walk across his face. A sigh slipped from his lips. He ran the back of his hand down her cheek, cupped her chin and brought his face inches from hers. And as insane as it was, Lynette swore he was about to kiss her.

Pepper said...

Oh boy! The party is STARTING!
Of course it would if Julie Lessman's involved :-)

Nice blurb, Catherine! Lots of tension there!

Pepper said...

Julie's books are pretty power-punched, aren't they?
GREAT tension, of course!

Pepper said...

Courting Morrow is my FAVORITE Laura Frantz book! Oh my, bestill my heart!
She and Julie certainly cause me to need to read with a glass of ice-water nearby...or a fan :-)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Good morning! Hi Pepper, Hi Julie!

Love both of those scenes Julie included.

Love at Any Cost is next on my reading list. Can't wait to dive in!

And Cathy, wonderful bit of story to tease us with!


bonnie said...

The more tension, the better the story! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

Cyndi said...

Great interview! Yes, Julie's books have plenty of tension and she resolves it quite nicely. :) Definitely on my TBR list!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I loved this! I'm hanging my head as I admit I've read no books YET by Laura or Julie. I'm working on that though.

I loved the tension in the scenes. Building tension is one thing I'm working to improve in my own writing.

Thanks Pepper and Julie!

Julie Lessman said...

LINDA!!! SO nice to see you here, my friend, and goodness -- you are SO due for a win!!

This is Pepper's giveaway (the sweet girl), so the book won't be signed, but if you contact me through my website with your address, I will send you a signed bookplate for it, okay?

Good luck!!


Julie Lessman said...

PAULA ... thanks for coming by for a little "tension"! ;)

Here's to a win!


Julie Lessman said...

LOL, LINDSAY ... yep, "tension, tension, tension" is pert near my middle name, but keep in mind that I put all that tension in my books so I don't have to put it in my marriage, so it's really an act of kindness to my hubby. :)

And, OH MY ... ALL of Laura's books have that wonderful tension and heat, which is why Laura is one of my top fave authors to read! :)


Julie Lessman said...

CATH, you little temptress, you, teasing us with SUCH a great clip!! And I LOVE the title, so can't wait to see it in print, my friend. :)

Thanks SO much for coming by!


Julie Lessman said...

SUZI-Q!!! Cannot WAIT to see what you think of LAAC, my friend, so be sure to let me know, okay?

And by the way, I'm waiting for good news, girlfriend, so do keep me posted, eh??


Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE SAID: "The more tension, the better the story!"

LOL ... oh, honey, we just HAVE to get one of my books into your hot little hands, you sweet thing, because if you like tension, then my books should be your cup of T (ie. as in "tension"). I'm pretty sure you haven't read any of mine yet, right? But I do hope you have downloaded A Hope Undaunted free, my friend, because it won't be free much longer. :|

Good luck and hugs!!

Julie Lessman said...

CYNDI ... thanks SO much, my friend, and here's hoping your comment nets you a win because I'm excited to see what you think of LAAC. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

Julie Lessman said...

JEANNE!!! Hey, girl, don't hang your head, just head on over to Amazon and download FOR FREE my favorite book of those I've written -- A Hope Undaunted.

Then for those who have not read my books yet, I always suggest they browse the EXCERPTS page of my website where I have posted my favorite romantic AND spiritual scenes from each of my books. THAT will give you a REAL good idea of my style of "passion with a purpose" writing, okay, although today's excerpt gives you a peek.:)
Here's the link and good luck in the contest!



Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Sigh... I love this post. And darn it Julie, I'm supposed to be writing this week. Now all I wanna do is go out and get those books.

Okay, I'll be brave like the Fabulous Cathy West. Here's my scene.

“Alright, babe. Let’s go find something that will impress Declan Whyte.” He nodded, throwing her with his light, unaffected tone.

Shaking away her reaction to his touch, she scrambled for another explanation as she pulled herself from the floor. Had she hit her head on something recently? Everything felt a little unbalanced. “Why, babe?”

Finn found his feet and shrugged. “I dunno. Sweetie didn’t seem to fit.” He grinned in response to her playful sneer. “Why, muffin?”

A wide grin escaped from her lips. “I thought it was embarrassing. It was either that or ‘cuddle monkey’. I might save that one for a larger audience.”

His head flew back with an exaggerated laugh as she followed him up the stairs.

He hadn’t seemed that way in high school, but for the past few years she’d known Finn to be a bit of a ladies man. She wasn’t sure how far that went, exactly, but he dated a lot of—let’s call it—flashy, women.

Entering his bedroom—seeing it as other women did—felt disturbing, and oddly intriguing. “So this is where the magic happens.” Did I say that out loud?

Too busy absorbing the simple, masculine décor and dark wood furnishings, she neglected to sense his halt. “Umph.” Joselyn collided into his back, steadied herself by grabbing his waist.

Her hands didn’t retract quick enough for her liking. And when he swiveled to face her, a burst of fiery heat scalded her cheeks.

Quirking a dangerous eyebrow over those eyes, an emerald starburst inside a deep blue ring, he said, “Care for a preview?” A sly smirk teased one side of his mouth.

Her pulse exploded in her chest. She prayed he hadn’t noticed the disturbance. “Easy, Casanova. You might wanna save that line for someone who actually likes you.”

Unrelenting he inched forward until they were almost nose-to-nose, his fresh scent toying with her waning resolve.

“Oh, come on now, Joss. You like me a little. Admit it.” His eyes twinkled with a gleam of mischief. Pure, liquid blue temptation.

“So this is what your game looks like? A predatory saunter, a little hitch in your eyebrow, a come-hither smile and I’m supposed to swoon like all the rest of ’em? Please.”

Managing to tamp down a nervous flutter from the potency of their charged proximity, she unleashed an arrogant smile of her own, leaned in to his ear. She left the faintest trace of her skin on his, intent on beating him at his own game. “You’re gonna have to work a lot harder than that, honey.” She almost didn’t recognize the sultry whisper of the voice leaving her lips. Or maybe it had something to do with the way they grazed his ear when she spoke her sarcastic sweet nothings.

Their last few encounters, she’d given in; called a truce. He’d yet to relinquish his stubborn control, and all she seemed to be doing was folding.

Calling his bluff, she held her ground. Fire ants seemed to crawl up her back when he snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her against him, his mouth hovering just above hers. She stopped breathing.

His husky, whispering lips called her bluff right back. “You’re messing with fire, Joselyn.”

She shivered, hating how much she liked the foreign feeling of being held, even by Finn Carson. “Good thing I’m cold as ice, right Finn?”

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Wow, sorry, that didn't seem very long when I cropped it from an actual page. Good gravy, sorry about that!

Lynda E. said...

Great interview--I'm looking forward to reading this new novel, especially with the taste you've already given us!

Marissa said...

I agree with Julie-that scene in Love's Reckoning just tore my heart out!! I love reading emotional scenes!

Can't wait to read Julie's new book!


karenk said...

Julie...I love this post...You always put a smile on my face.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

ps: can't wait to hear about your daughter's wedding :)

Julie Lessman said...

WHEW, AMY LEIGH ... take it easy on an old gal, will you?? Deep breath, deep breath ... that was HOT, young lady -- GOOD JOB!!

And do you know my daughter's name is Amy Leigh too? Named after Vivian Leigh from Gone With the Wind, of course! ;) GREAT NAME!!

Good luck in the contest, sweetie. :)


Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, LYNDA -- here's hoping this nets you a win, girlfriend!!


Julie Lessman said...

MARISSA ... YES!! That scene from Love's Reckoning raced my heart SO much, I was shocked!! Laura is absolutely FABULOUS, which is why Love's Reckoning is up for a Christy award. :)

Good luck, sweetie!


Julie Lessman said...

Hey, KAREN, thanks, my friend!! You always put a smile on my face too. :)

And I hope to post pics on my Journal Jot this week, but I may get it up Saturday instead of Friday, but do check back 'cause they are BEAUTIFUL!!


TaMara Coker said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing some pretty powerful moments. :)

Melody said...

I love Julies books because they have passion and realism. Christians have those same emotions as anyone else, just have to let God help reign them in!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, TAMARA ... Pepper ALWAYS comes up with the most WONDERFUL ideas for blogs, which is a total testimony to her creativity and insight. :)

Good luck in the draw, my friend!


Julie Lessman said...

MEL!!! Soooo good to see you here, girl -- hope the mission trip is going well AND that you are able to get in some really great reading.

Thanks for reading my books, my friend -- we have a lot in common in appreciating passion and realism in our novels, especially when it comes for living for God.

Hugs and good luck!!


Laura Frantz said...

LOVE this post - so honored to be here with Julie and everyone. Sorry I'm late as I'm in Scotland counting Silas's sheep;) Wonderful to read the excerpts shared - WOW! So well done. This is such a fitting post for Julie to host as she knows tension and passion to a T\P!

Bless you all!