Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Jennifer Slattery

Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?
Absolutely! I’ve been married to a wonderfully romantic man for 20 years and we have a soon-to-launch-into-adulthood teenager. We live in a lovely town located in the Omaha Metro and have grown to love Nebraska’s family and community-oriented atmosphere. We have all four seasons here, something else I’ve grown to love, and a great deal of creative in the area. I’m continually discovering new (to me) artists, musicians, and artists. It’s such fun!

Is there a story behind When Dawn Breaks?
The hero in this novel is a widowed railroader who moves to the fictional city of Willow Valley to take a position with a different railroad. Once he arrives, he forms a quick friendship with Jacqueline Dunn, the book’s heroine, and the two develop a sweet romance. He also develops increasing suspicions that things at work aren’t quite right, but uncovering this could cost him his job.

This part of the story was such fun to write as my hero is a railroader, and he helped a great deal with details, brainstorming, and post-writing fact checking. As a result, this was perhaps the most enjoyable story to write yet as the writing became incredibly romantic. (Somehow my honey brings romance into everything, just by being the sweet, attentive, lovable man he is. J )

Did you have a specific theme in mind as you wrote When Dawn Breaks? Did a theme pop out as you finished the book? Did the theme change?

The theme of this novel is allowing God to bring purpose from our chaos. Sometimes it takes a hurricane to uproot us from the mess we’ve created and set us on God’s path for our lives. This was certainly the case with Jacqueline!

Do you have favorite spiritual themes?

I find I often bring my characters to the point of surrender or a deeper level of surrender. I believe this is because this has been something God continually brings me to. Oh, how I wish I’d find maintain an attitude of surrender! Imagine the heartache and frustration I’d avoid. But sadly, I’ve found my surrender can sometimes be short-lived. Praise God, however, that He is so incredibly faithful, always drawing my heart back to where it needs to be.

What is the last thing you wrote?
I’m still writing it, actually. I’m working on a sequel to my debut novel, Beyond I Do. Book two follows the journey of Beyond I Do’s heroine’s mother. It’s tentatively titled Freedom to Love, and here’s the blurb:

Three people held back by regret but one God to help them rise above.

Sixty-one year old Angela Meadows is ready for a clean slate, to launch a career, and to embrace her new life in Christ. But self-loathing and remorse for a life forever lost hold her back. When she encounters a single mom married to an incarcerated felon and her children, Angela’s shame becomes swallowed by something greater—compassion. Her past draws her to them, but will it drive away the only man she’s truly loved?

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
A letter to my husband. J We’ve been together for 19 years, and we’ve moved numerous times. As a result, we tend to lose a fair amount on transition… like… MY WEDDING DRESS! Ugh! But somehow my husband has retained those old, silly letters I used to write, decorated with handwritten hearts and smiley faces. I didn’t realize he’d kept them, however, until a few years ago. One afternoon, while cleaning out our closet, I discovered an old wooden box. Inside I found such a treasure of measures! Old movie stubs, notes I’d sent him, cards I’d given him. I had no idea he was such a sentimental romantic, or how much all those notes meant to him. I suppose it really is the little things that keep love alive, huh?

What’s your favorite genre of writing?
I like stories with a strong romantic element that can also touch on important social issues and the believer’s call to impact our broken world for Christ.

Which of your written plots is your favorite?
Definitely the romance because I’m often reminded of my real-life hero. J

If your stories are more character driven, what events kick off a change or growth in the character?
I’d say my stories are equally plot and character driven. In this novel, the hurricane hitting Crystal Shores is definitely the catalyst for Jacqueline’s growth. She’s been wanting to reconnect with her embittered daughter but hasn’t known how. Also, she’s allowed a fear of rejection and past regrets to keep her from really fighting for her daughter. But then God says, “Nope. I’m not going to let you hide out in your status-quo lifestyle anymore.”

How much research do you have to do for the genre in which you write?
I suspect I don’t do as much research as historical writers do but every novel I’ve written has required a fair amount of research, sometimes of the oddest things. The most obvious areas I’ve had to research have been character jobs. Some less obvious questions I’ve had to answer have had to do with hurricane evacuation procedures, insurance policies and payout procedures, and railroad mechanics.

Do you have a writing system?  
I do. I usually start with a character that grips me. Often I’ll have her story in my head—her internal and external struggle, her goal, the lie she believes, and the truth God wants to give her to set her free from that lie. Then come the details, like how she lives, who she encounters and relies on, and how she gets from deception to truth. At this point, I begin plotting the story out scene by scene. Plotting helps me make sure I stay on track, have enough to carry a full story, and also that I can resolve all threads in a satisfactory manner. Once I do all that, I’m ready to dive in to the story and begin writing. J

How do you find the time to write?
I feel very lucky to be able to spend a chunk of my day writing. Though I do freelance editing, I set my own schedule and therefore am able to devote my most creative times to fiction writing.

Do you archive everything you write?
By archive do you mean save my notes? If so, I’m learning to! I create a binder (or two) with details and research notes, unwritten scenes, and notecards.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
I don’t abandon ideas. I decided long ago if I gave myself permission to quit one story, it’d be easier to quit the next, then the next, then the next, leaving me with a slew of partially written books. I also determined every story was fixable (and in need of a great deal of fixing!). With this in mind, I determined to finish everything story I start.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?
Breaking Free (tentatively titled) which I believe will release in winter of 2016. This was the first full-length, fully fictional, adult book I’d ever written, and it was when I most strongly sensed God’s call to surrender fulltime to the call of writing. I felt His presence so strongly while writing the novel, though I wasn’t sure it’d ever get published. The day before Thanksgiving, however, I received an email from my publisher letting me know they wanted to contract this novel. Needless to say, I’m overjoyed and very excited.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Science fiction. I think you have to brilliantly creative to write this genre well.

What are your five favorite words?
Grace. Surrendered obedience. Love. Transformed.

How do people react when they find out you write?
I think I’ve been doing this long enough that most of my friends and acquaintances already know this. When strangers learn this, they’re often curious and sometimes inspired to do the same. I love when that happens because I love seeing believers grab hold of their calling. J

Do you have, or have you ever had a writing mentor?
Not a writing mentor but I have a spiritual mentor who’s become quite important to me. I met her at my old church in Kansas City, yet, she’s remains such a faithful influence in my life, even post move.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book comes out in October of 2015, and it’s a story about forgiveness, healing, and deep grace. Here’s the (tentative) blurb:

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

Back Cover Blurb
As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

This book is a great resource for a book club, discussion group in women’s Bible studies, or as a ministry resource to spark conversation about practical ministry needs.

To purchase Jennifer's book:

About Jennifer:
Jennifer Slattery is an inspiring contemporary novelist whose stories of hope, love, and grace resonate with real people. Having helped with Hurricane Katrina efforts, she can write about storm refugees with credibility and authority. She also writes Christian living articles for and devotions for her personal blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud; Internet Cafe Devotions; and Takin' It to the Streets, a ministry serving Omaha Metro's working poor and homeless. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her teenage daughter and real-life hero husband, as well as serving in her church. She is the author of Beyond I Do and When Dawn Breaks.

To connect with Jennifer:
Group blog: Faithfilled Friends:
Twitter: Jenslattery

Jennifer Slattery is giving away a copy of When Dawn Breaks. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Sally Shupe said...

Jennifer! Hi! How are you doing? I love this post. Please don't enter me in the giveaway. I already have a copy. I loved the part where you found old letters from you your husband had kept. I am working on my ancestry and remembered I had letters from my dad. We had gotten back in touch after 20 years, but he died about 5 years after we found each other again. I knew I had postcards from my great-aunt when she would go on vacation to the Maine coast. These were from the mid 70s. I forgot, however, I had letters from my dad's mom! What a treasure to find those. Old valentine cards too. So, that got me to thinking, with everything online, nobody writes letters anymore or sends cards. We send emails and ecards. And there's even ebooks so nobody can put their name in them. I have a couple of books with my great grandmother's name in them. Can't wait to read more of your books, Jennifer! They touch my heart in a special way and draws me closer in my walk with God. I feel him in the pages as I read. Hope you have a great Thursday!

Marianne Barkman said...

This book sounds amazing! I would be honored to win. Thanks for the opportunity. While reading Sally comment, I remembered I have a letter from my aunt, written over fifty years ago! She wrote it as if a teddy bear had written it. Since moving, I'm not sure where the letter stayed, but need to find it!

Sally Shupe said...

Marianne, your comment made me think of a letter I wrote to my cousin when she was little. She told me she still has it. I wrote it like I was Rudolph. She loved it!

Jennifer Slattery said...

Sally, I think you should still be entered in the contest. If you win, you can always give the book to a friend or neighbor. I like having copies on hand to give to nonbelievers, whenever I feel God's nudge to do so. :) Sometimes I think we need to be creative in our evangelism efforts.

What a treasure you found in those letters! I'm so sorry you lost your dad. My dad and I are very close, he is one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I can't imagine losing him. :( :(

My mother-in-law saved letters from my husband's great aunt, and they were fascinating to read. You know, with all this talk of letters and how special they can be when discovered or read years later... I wonder if we need to be careful not to rely too heavily on e-cards and emails. Thanks for the reminder to send some actual cards to the special people in my life!

Hi, Marianne! Thanks for your kind words regarding my novel, and best of luck in the drawing. That's so awesome you found those letters!

To both of you, I hope you have a great Thursday and weekend! :)

Deanna Stevens said...

I would like to find out if she will relinquish her chance at having love again?? Enjoyed the interview :)

Jennifer Slattery said...

Hi, Deanna,

Thank you so much for taking time to engage in the conversation! Best of luck in the drawing. :) And have a wonderful weekend. (It is close enough to the weekend that I can say that, right? Now you know where my head's at. ha!)

Sm said...

I dodo enjoy novels about the early RR days. Sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Martha Sturm said...

I have recently begun volunteering again. After thinking (with my chronic fatigue) that it would be too much for me, I am finding renewed energy. It feels so good to help, and to meet those in need. The book sounds like a good fit for me.
P.S. I grew up an hour and a half east of KC.

Jennifer Slattery said...

Hi, SM! Thanks for stopping in to say hi, and best of luck in the drawing. :)

Jennifer Slattery said...

Martha, that is so awesome! I am glad God is giving you the energy to serve. I'm sorry you have CFS. I know it can be quite debilitating.

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