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AMISH LOVE May 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — pattyleblanc @ 8:19 pm
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What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

cindy woodsmall header_logo

 Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here ( about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.







And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

hope of refuge


Review of Rose House May 18, 2009

Filed under: Book Review — pattyleblanc @ 4:29 am
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Rose_HouseLillian lost her husband and two children in a car crash and seeks solace at the Rose House, where she feels safest and most at peace. Just as I have said about the vivid color on the cover of Rose House, so it is with Tina’s descriptions of the Rose House. I felt like I could see it in my mind and even smell and feel the roses. While visiting La Rosaleda where Rose House is, she meets an artist who changes her life forever. Lillian learns more about the story behind the crash that took her family, which leads her down an entirely different path where she has more lessons to learn. I really liked this book and enjoyed seeing a few characters who were in Ruby Among Us. It was an inspiring read.


Review of A Passion Denied May 10, 2009

Filed under: Book Review — pattyleblanc @ 4:14 am
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I was totally captivated with the characters in this story. I loved how Julie kept the interest going with the characters from the previous books so you didn’t have to wonder what happened with them. She worked them in just as much as the new characters, who were equally as cherished  or disliked as the original characters. Julie’s passion for writing a compelling story with an equal draw to the message brought forth shines through in every detail. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone, along with the first two if they have not been read. A Passion Denied is hands down a book that will keep drawing readers for years to come. The whole Daughters of Boston series is definitely worth picking up and sitting down with a good cup of tea and enjoying a relaxing read. I laughed, I cried, I screamed. I can remember the parts vividly where I cried with the characters. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you get a copy soon and dive right in.


Interview with Tina Ann Forkner


  1. How many books have you written, and what is your latest book?


 I have written two novels. The first one is Ruby Among Us and the one that released May 5th is Rose House. This is the description for Rose House: “Amid a tangle of rose blooms and thorns, widow Lillian Diamon’s private moment of grief is captured in a painting on display in a present-day, Sonoma Valley, California, art gallery. Her quest to find the artist unravels a greater mystery changing everything about her loss — and her future.”




 2.  I love the covers of both your books. The colors are so vivid. How did you come up with them? 

I only wish I had enough talent to come up with such lovely covers. Kelly Howard, a graphic artist for Waterbrook Press, came up with both of the covers. I have been amazed at not only how vivid and artistic they are, but at how well both covers encompass the feeling of the story. Kelly’s work is amazing. I noticed that she also had a hand in the cover, along with Kristopher Orr, of Cyndere’s Midnight, by Jeffrey Overstreet. It is also a stunning cover. Waterbrook artists do great work. 

3.  How does the storyline of Rose House go with Ruby Among Us? 

There is a line in the prologue of Ruby Among Us that talks about how the Rose House will become a place of hope for all that visit it. This is exactly what happens in book two. 

Rose House is set in the vineyards of the Sonoma Valley and is about Lillian’s journey through the grief of losing her family and how she finds hope again. It’s also about sisters, is a mystery and a love story, but on a bigger level, Rose House is really about God as the Master Artist in our lives, as well as about the concept of where and how we all find hope.  

4.  Is there more to come in this story or will you be moving on to a new project? 

I am not sure if we will do more books about La Rosaleda or not, but there are some threads left untied just in case. In the meantime, I have started some new projects that are women’s fiction, but not related to the first two novels. I’m really excited about those. 

5.  I hear some people have given a series name to your books. Tell us about that, and what do you think? 

Some online stores have given both books the name “La Rosaleda Series.” I don’t mind and it just tells me that they think the books complement each other even more than I set out to do. I think it does fit both books nicely since they are so closely related. I set out to write two stand-alone novels, but they are very connected. 

6.  Will a reader be lost if they pick up Rose House and haven’t yet read Ruby Among Us? 

No, not at all. You can read Rose House and never read Ruby Among Us and not be lost. I’ve already heard from several readers who did that and still loved the book. Reading “Ruby” first will just enrich Rose House for the reader. 

7.  How has becoming a published author changed your life? 

Not that much really. I still have to scrub my own toilets, taxi my kids around to activities, and pay bills. The writing life, as my friend Amanda Cabot (Author of Paper Roses) says in one of her workshops, is not the Glamorous Life. 

What I love about it is that I get to create stories and characters that touch readers. Every story needs a reader and being published gets my books out there. I love that. I love hearing feedback from readers about how my stories have touched their lives. 

8.  Thank you Tina for your time and for offering a book to give away. How can readers contact you or purchase your books? 

You are so welcome. I am so excited that Rose House is finally out to join its sister, Ruby Among Us. Both are available for readers at  their favorite local stores, and other online stores. 

Tina has agreed to give away a copy of Rose House so leave a message indicating that you would like to be entered for the drawing and also be sure to leave your email address in coded format to avoid spam such as pattyleblanc[at]123[dot]net. The drawing will be on May 15th.



Filed under: Author interview,Giveaways — pattyleblanc @ 11:47 pm
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julie-lessman-2-12Julie Lessman is a new author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her Web site at

1.This being the third book, give us a little background on the first two books and then the storyline for A Passion Denied.

 The Daughters of Boston series is what I like to call a “family-saga romance” because not only does it focus on the love relationship between the hero and heroine, but also on the romance between the mother and father and the other sibling couples throughout all three books. I suppose I’m not a “typical” romance writer—I like to keep the reader guessing as to whom the heroine ends up with, and I also like to incorporate lots of other surprises as well. So this is one series you DEFINITELY want to read in order to get the fullest impact. That said, here are the jacket blurbs for each book:

 Book 1: A Passion Most Pure:

She’s found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister.

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith’s proper Boston family apart.

 Book 2: A Passion Redeemed:

No man can resist her charms. Or so she thought.

Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. Her stunning beauty and flirtatious ways have always succeeded with men … that is, until Mitch Dennehy. Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.

 Book 3: A Passion Denied:

A Love So True, a Memory So False … and a Passion Denied

Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God.  But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him,  he refuses to act on the attraction he feels.  His past won’t let him go there.  Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.

 2.  Tell us how these stories came about.

 Four life-altering words: Gone With the Wind. When I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere (grin), but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that is the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

 Fast forward almost forty years later—I was sitting in a beauty parlor reading a Newsweek magazine July 16, 2001 cover article about Christian entertainment. It said Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and something in my spirit said, “It’s time to finish your book.” Now, I have to be honest with you—up until that moment, I had never seriously considered writing a book. But the pull was so strong, that I started writing A Passion Most Pure the next month, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 42 rejections later.

 3.  What do you have planned for the O’Connor family next?

 Oh my, you wouldn’t believe the trouble brewing in O’Connorland! There are six O’Connor children in all, four daughters and two sons, and each one will have their own story. As a matter of fact, I JUST finished Book 1 of the next series on St. Pat’s Day—pretty timely, eh, for a series about an Irish family? It is Katie’s story, the fourth daughter, which was fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression.

 Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Sean’s love interest will be … guess who? Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2, A Passion Redeemed! Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after real-life Elliot Ness. I am very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away.

4.  Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

 Oh, you mean how I USED to spend my free time? That’s easy: watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites), reading more books, gardening and hosting elaborate dinner parties a la Martha Stewart. I’m pretty driven in whatever I do (anal might be a better word). And, yes, I’ve been known to pipe guest’s initials into their twice-baked potatoes, cut napkin rings out of real lemons to hold lemon green beans, and sketch a layout for how the food would be placed on the plate. Which was fine when I was younger and had the energy to do it, but these days, sitting at my computer with a candle burning and a cup of Hazelnut Cinnamon coffee is my pastime of choice.

 5.  Are you a fulltime writer or do you have another job as well?

 I am a fulltime writer now since I quit my part-time travel writer job over a year ago, which is great time-wise, but a little scary in the payroll department, given the tight economy.

 6.  What types of books do you read and what are your two all-time favorites?

 Well, number one is no secret—Gone With the Wind. This is the book that launched my romance-writing career at the tender age of 12! J I think I may be one of the few people around who actually LOVED Scarlett O’Hara … and don’t even get me started about Rhett Butler! Another all-time favorite of mine is To Kill A Mockingbird—incredible storytelling.

Some of my Inspirational favorites are Francine Rivers, of course, particularly Redeeming Love and her Mark of the Lion series—both awesome. I absolutely love Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish trilogy, Fair is the Rose, Thorn in My Heart and Whence Comes a Prince, as well as Kathleen Morgan’s Child of the Mist and Daughter of Joy. And Kristin Heitzmann’s Diamond of the Rockies series is another favorite.

 Newer authors that I particularly like are Tamara Alexander, Maggie Brendan, Patti Lacy and absolutely anything by my Seeker buds, Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Deb Giusti, Myra Johnson, Glynna Kaye, Sandra LeeSmith, Missy Tippens, Camy Tang and Cheryl Wyatt.

 7.  What are you currently reading and what is the short list in your to be read pile?

 I am currently reading Maggie Brendan’s The Jewel of His Heart and The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams, an excellent writing book recommended by my agent. On my short TBR list? Janet Dean’s Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Cheryl Wyatt’s Ready-Made Family and Tamara Alexander’s The Inheritance.

 8. How can readers find out more about your books and where can they be purchased?

First of all, thank you so much, Patty, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find us at 


Julie’s tagline is”Passion With a Purpose”, and I heartily agree, as God’s love is woven through her stories in such a fashion that the message cannot be denied. Julie has agreed to give away a copy of “A Passion Denied”, the third installment in the Daughters of Boston series. Post a message leaving your email address coded to avoid spam such as 123[at]charter[dot]net. I have just begun reading it myself and will post my review before the drawing. The drawing will be on May 7th. I also love this poster that her husband created showing all three books. Isn’t it amazing? I am quite impressed.