Today I’m welcoming Jennifer Hallmark, who will be showcasing her work in Sweet Freedom. Jennifer will also give away a print copy of the book to one lucky United States commenter on her post. The giveaway will run from July 30 through August 5, so don’t forget to leave your email when you comment so we can contact you if you are chosen.
So, Jennifer, please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
Sweet Freedom A La Mode is a compilation of short stories (the second in the series) that celebrate freedom. From a woman longing to start again but bound by her past, to a young man who must face his fear of death; to a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities, the stories focus on moving forward.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
The concept was actually thought of by my friend Jennifer Slattery. When I asked her this question, she said, “When I look back over my walk with Christ, I’ve seen a continual theme: Him moving me toward an increased level of emotional and spiritual freedom. This, I believe, is one of the greatest blessings His followers receive, and I long to see others grab hold of that same freedom, and I believe stories–real and fictional–can inspire people to move toward that.”
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I’m glad you asked! I’m working on two different series. First, When Wedding and Weather Collide [tentative title], a southern fiction about a disabled bride’s pursuit of her dream wedding dress, is in the hands of a publisher. I’m on pins and needles as they decide whether or not…well, you know. They’ve looked at it once, asking me to make some changes and resubmit. The other is a two-book fantasy series about a young woman who overcomes fear and a broken engagement to become an encourager in the kingdom of Ecclesia.
Tell the readers how you got started writing.
I wrote poetry and stories as a child and teenager, but when I married, my artistic bent took precedence through mural painting, needlework, and cake decorating. From 1993 to 2005, writing became a hobby. In 2006, I decided to take the leap and registered for my first writing class. In the years to follow, I educated myself through local and online classes, devoured books on writing, and joined critique groups and local writing groups. I’ve written and rewritten and edited and re-edited. J
I write poetry too, and would love to take up painting, but who has the time? Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
It depends. If I’m writing my rough draft, I want it quiet; no distractions. If I’m editing or blogging, I’ll usually have some praise and worship music playing in the background.
Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
Combo. I do the majority of my work on the computer, but I keep a notebook by my bed and one in my purse for times of inspiration. I learned that I might think I can remember, but I don’t. I’ve written a lot of blog posts and articles while waiting for my bi-weekly allergy shots.
How have your reading (and writing) tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager?
As a teenager, I loved to read classic novels and mysteries and still do today. I read very little Christian fiction as a teenager, so I’m catching up now. I’ve tried to broaden my scope by reading a very wide variety of genres.
What’s the book you are reading now?
Uh, that would be books. I usually have four or five going at all times. At the moment it’s This Shadow by Jerusha Agen, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, and Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann. In the past two weeks, I’ve also finished three Inspector Alleyn mysteries by Ngaio Marsh.
Do you have an all-time favorite movie that has stuck in your mind or that you’d watch over and over?
Probably my all-time favorite is Chariots of Fire. I love the story behind the two runners in the 1924 Olympics and find Eric Liddell such an inspiring figure. I also have watched The Lord of the Rings movies umpteen times.
I love the Lord of the Rings, too. I’d freeze frame all the hobbit house scenes and inspect them item by item if I could. Can you name three interesting things most people don’t know about you?
One, I’m a huge NFL fan. I would play fantasy football, but I just can’t commit the time to it. Two, my mom had seventeen brothers and sisters. I have over 30 first cousins. Three, I’m allergic to milk. I guess that’s not as interesting as it is sad for me. No cheese.
Thirty cousins must make for some huge family reunions!
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
Wow. There are so many good scriptures and life verses. Proverbs 3:5-6 stands out for me. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” NKJV. I need this reminder daily that it’s not all up to me. I can trust God, follow Him, and He won’t let me down. Thanks so much for letting me drop by today. It’s been fun!
Sweet Freedom: a la mode
For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away.
How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities. Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand? Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom. We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.
Excerpt: Cool water lapped at my feet as I leaned back in my beach chair. Ocean stretched in front of me. Ono Island, a barrier island off the coast of Alabama, shimmered in the spring.
Tourist season hadn’t begun, and I appreciated the quiet. “Nothing is better than dipping one’s feet in the Gulf in April.” I frowned. “Unless it was dipping my feet with a good-looking man at my side. Or better yet, climbing Mt. McKinley with this same gorgeous man.” I stared into the cloudless sky. “God, what’s wrong with me? Can’t anything go the way I want?”
Another wave wet my feet. Apparently not. My mountain climbing vacation I’d scrimped and saved for had been put on hold. My sister, Angie, had decided to marry during my two-week vacation and asked me to make her wedding cake. I couldn’t do both.
At least one of us was getting married. I’d given up on any man loving me…
Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.
Sweet Freedom A La Mode