Today I’m welcoming author Jennifer Slattery to Wednesday Writers. Jennifer will be showcasing her book Beyond I Do. Jennifer, could you please tell the readers about your book.
I’d love to! Beyond I Do is about a security-seeking bride who takes a challenge made by her pastor (pre-book) seriously. Her pastor tells his congregation, “If you don’t know any single mothers, anyone dealing with poverty, or any who is homeless, you need to widen your circle.” This challenge really strikes a chord within her, and she senses God is calling her to something, but she’s not sure what. So she begins to pray. Meanwhile, she has a wedding to prepare for! But as her wedding draws near, an encounter with a battered woman and her child sparks a long-forgotten dream and a hidden passion—one that could change everything, including her fiancé.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
That’s complicated. First, I didn’t think I could write a romance, and when I first sensed God nudging me in that direction, I balked. Some of my hesitation came from faulty pre-conceived notions of what a romance novel was. I assumed writing romance meant creating fluff and rainbow stories where the greatest conflict involved what party to go to or the effects of a bad hair day. But as my main character, Ainsley Meadow’s, story unfolded in my brain, I realized romance novels could contain great depth. More than that, I began to see what a powerful revelation of God’s grace romance stories can be, when the writer surrenders every word and plot line to their Creator.
So, in answer to your question, I feel God pricked my muse. J
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I’ll answer your second question first. Yep. Beyond I Do has already released and is available for purchase wherever books are sold. I just finished big picture edits for my second novel, When Dawn Breaks, which I believe releases in January. (Though I haven’t been given an official release day yet.) Now, I’m going to spend a few days catching up on things I’ve put off, followed by a hilariously fun day with some special friends, and then I’ll dig into my next novel, Freedom to Love, book two in what I’ve tentatively termed my Midwestern Romance series.
Do you write in more than one genre? If so, why?
Yes and (maybe) no. How’s that for an answer? I’m a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, so I write a great deal of Christian living articles. I’ve also pitched a nonfiction I’m very excited about, though I’m not sure where that’ll go. And my stories don’t fully fit in one genre. In many ways they could be termed women’s fiction as they include a great deal of relational conflict and character growth. But then they also include a very strong romantic thread. Yes, I’m an anomaly! Actually, I’ve coined my own genre: missional romance, which is romance with depth and a strong outreach emphasis.
Missional romance. That’s an interesting sub-genre. I’ll be interested in hearing if that catches on. So is your writing process panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear?
I’m definitely a plotter. I began as a panster and ended up with a really messed up time-line that caused a great deal of effort (and teeth-grinding frustration!) to fix. After that, I determined to begin plotting out my scenes. This also helps me ensure I have enough to carry a full novel, address each subplot equally, and create well-developed arcs. Plus, my publisher requires a chapter-by-chapter outline in proposals sent, so it helps when I have the main event and goal of each scene planned.
Along these lines, I’m very much a linear writer. I’m easily confused as it is. I can’t imagine having to go back and weave in various scenes.
Are you a procrastinator or do-it-now person?
Another interesting and complicated question! If you’d asked me pre-contract, I would’ve said I’m a do-it-now person. But deadlines change everything! When edits come in, everything else is pushed aside and I tether myself to my computer. The same thing happens during a book launch. If a radio interview or event is scheduled, I often must put some things off, like housecleaning!, until my schedule slows down. But unless I’m not feeling well (I have two chronic illnesses that can cause extreme fatigue), you’ll rarely see me twiddling my thumbs.
I understand the putting off housecleaning. That’s an issue for me, too, unless company’s coming. The garden will take precedence over housecleaning any time. It shows to the whole neighborhood. J
Next question: 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?
I had a very strange obsession with Shakespeare as a teenager, but I haven’t read or seen any of his work since. My reading now is pretty eclectic. There are few genres I don’t enjoy. Right now I’m reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is awesome! The language is fascinating! I’d love to hear a linguist’s take on the book! But I also have plenty of contemporaries waiting on my shelf and in my Kindle.
Shakespeare as a teen obsession. That’s a new one. We’re actually seeing some Shakespeare this weekend at the theatre.
So, I love going to the movies. Do you? If so, what was the most recent movie you’ve seen?
Honestly, I’d much rather stay home and read a book. The actors and actresses in my brain always do a much better job! (No offense to all the television and film talent.) Though I do go to the theater on occasion, mainly for my sweet hubby’s sake. And if a book is ever turned into a movie, I’m there. But I usually prefer the book version.
Let’s give the readers a deeper peek into you. Name three interesting things most people don’t know about you.
Oh, I wish I were interesting! I suppose that’s why I write. I can live the most fascinating and unpredictable life vicariously through my characters. 😉 Let me see… I’ve always had more in common with St. Peter than Moses. (Think foot-in-mouth syndrome.) Apparently I’m quite animated—like full body, head-bobbing and all—when I write. My hubby says this is most evident when I’m sitting on a stability ball! I’ve also been known to confuse real people with my characters. Oy! Fictional worlds are wonderful places to visit, but once one does, they can be near impossible to leave!
LOL. I can just relate to the head bobbing thing. I talk to myself when I’m writing. Hubby has learned to ignore anything I say in the office unless I call his name.
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?
Absolutely! My favorite verse, my life verse and a theme in almost every novel I write, is Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
I love how Paul refers to us as masterpieces, don’t you?
This verse reminds me that I have a calling, a special role in God’s kingdom, one God planned, for me, (and you!) before I was even born. That’s pretty exciting! And I believe our greatest joy and fulfillment is found when we discover what that role is and pursue it with everything we’ve got. J Purpose changes everything and brings joy to even the most mundane of tasks.
Thanks for visiting with me, Jennifer. If you’d like to read about how Jennifer came up with the setting for her book, click HERE to read an earlier post.
Here’s an excerpt from Jennifer’s book Beyond I Do.
Beyond I Do:
Released Sept. 2014
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?
Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.
Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Ainsley’s stomach churned as she eased into the Whispering Hills Apartments’ parking lot. Broken beer bottles and other trash littered the ground. A few tenants had draped sheets across their windows. Other windows were boarded up. One was busted in, shards of glass held in place by silver duct tape.
Please tell me this isn’t where Marie Nelson lives.
Ainsley compared the address Deborah had given her to the rusted numbers on the complex in front of her. This was the place. And from the looks of it, the very place Ainsley shouldn’t be, at least, not alone.
Her phone chimed, making her jump. She glanced at the screen. Her fiancé’s number flashed. Cutting her engine, she answered. “Hey, Richard, what’s up?” She shoved her purse and computer case under the passenger seat.
“Where are you?”
“Doing a favor for Deborah. Why, you need something?” She grabbed her pepper spray from the glove compartment.
As if she hadn’t talked about the woman countless times over the years. “Deborah. Eldridge, the one who told me about Christ.” And kept her from going completely insane or spiraling into rebellion when Ainsley’s home life fell apart. “Sometimes I wonder if you ever really listen.”
A pack of muscular and hard-faced men gathered around a navy pick-up watched her, causing her already queasy stomach to cramp. There were four of them, two dressed in black with thick chains draped across their neck. The largest was covered, neck and arms, with tattoos. She looked away, suddenly acutely aware of her shiny Honda Accord and department store garb.
Oh, Lord Jesus, please keep me safe.
“That Deborah. Right.” A keyboard clicked on the other end of the line. Richard was probably working on final edits on his book. “Now I remember. So you’re in Smithville?”
“Not exactly. More like…” She scanned her surroundings again, her gaze lingering on a used diaper decaying on the ground ten feet away. “More like… the Admiral Boulevard area.”
Richard made a choking noise, as if spewing coffee. “You’re where? Please tell me you are not in the crime center of Kansas City.”
Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Slattery/e/B00JKQ4ZTW/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.