Archive for the ‘Jen’s Jewels’ Category

Jen’s Jewels with Nina Stibbe

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014



As mothers, we always want what is best for our kids. This especially applies when searching for a suitable caregiver. Whether it’s a temporary babysitter or a full-time nanny, this specially selected person undertakes the responsibility of nurturing our children in our absence. Being able to forge a unique bond with this individual enables both parties to feel loved and respected. After all, we are in it together as one family, so to speak.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Nina Stibbe addresses this very topic in her new memoir, Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home. In a collection of unedited, original letters written to her sister, Nina shares her real-life experiences as a nanny to a prominent family in London in the 1980’s. With humorous stories of the two mischievous boys in her charge peppered with tender moments shared with their mum, she gives a brutally honest account of her unforgettable adventures.

As part of my interview, Little, Brown and Company has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a commissioning editor, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Nina: At age 15, I was somehow entered for the less academic school examinations and left school in a huff without taking any exams at all. I already had a pocket-money job cleaning in a geriatric nursing home so I extended my hours there and joined the adult world. A couple of years later many of my friends were preparing to leave our village to go to university and I came to regret my hasty decision to leave school.

I realized – a bit late – that without my end of school exams I couldn’t go into higher education – – so I answered an advertisement in a magazine to be a nanny in London, which was the next best thing and at least meant I could leave home and have an adventure.

Once settled in my nanny job I met people who inspired me to catch up on my education and study in my spare time. I did this and eventually got a place at college and got my degree.

I then applied for assorted jobs and ended up working for Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich – an American company with a London office and finally became a commissioning editor. I’ve only ever worked in educational publishing (textbooks for teachers and students) and have had no experience of literary publishing, until now.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and write a memoir about your experiences as a nanny in London.
Nina: There was no “Aha!” moment really. My book is made up of the letters I wrote to my sister between 1982 and 1887. Luckily my sister kept them and found them again years later when she moved house in 1999. She and I read many of them and found them charming and funny. They were put away again then until 2007, when Andrew O’Hagan (the British author) contacted me to ask if I’d contribute to a book of tributes to Mary-Kay Wilmers (editor of the London review of Books) who I had nannied for. I dug out one of the letters (one which offered an amusing and naïve description of Mary-Kay). Andrew included it in his collection. People liked it and it was then that I wondered about the possibility of publishing the letters as a book. So, maybe that was the “Aha!” moment.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to compile the letters? And, what was the most challenging part of the process?
Nina: I wrote the letters over a period of five years. Once Penguin, my UK publisher, got hold of them, my editor was determined to publish them unedited as far possible. I had imaged all kinds of tweaking, but no, we left them pretty much as I wrote them.

Jen: How did MK, Sam, and Will react to the news of being featured in this memoir? Did you meet any resistance?
Nina: The most challenging part of the publishing process was convincing Mary-Kay (who features significantly in the letters along with Sam and Will) to agree to the publication. At first she said “No way!” I think Sam and Will were cool with it. But Mary-Kay had serious misgivings. I’m not sure what changed her mind. Maybe me badgering her.

Jen: As a nanny back in 1982, what was your biggest challenge in terms of adjusting to minding two young boys, Will and Sam, in a busy city?
Nina: I suppose, if anything, the cooking. Not that I had to do all of it. But when it was my turn, I produced some very ropey meals. But I loved the family and being in London pretty much straight away. I came from a bustling chaotic household and so none of it felt particularly challenging.

Jen: Your relationship with each child was quite special; however, it seemed as if you and Sam shared a special bond. What brought you two together as cohorts in crime, if you will?
Nina: It might seem like that because I spent slightly more time with Sam due to him sometimes being off school and I may have mentioned him more in the letters. Actually Will was equally a partner in crime.

Jen: I was especially taken with MK’s witty repartee and hilarious comments (about your driving skills, for example) throughout the book. How did your relationship evolve over the years?
Nina: I settled in and was comfortable straight away. I got along with Mary-Kay because she was honest, straightforward and funny. There was no hierarchy or grandness. I felt like one of the family. I was an equal.

Jen: The cast of real life characters you encountered during your nanny experience was rather notable. Who among the crowd made the biggest impression on you?
Nina: There were lots of interesting people such as: Alan Bennett, Clare Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Karel Reisz, Deborah Moggach, Jonathan Miller, Stephen Frears but to be honest, I didn’t take much notice of them – in terms of their accomplishments – I just noted which of them could reverse-park a car or make a decent cup of tea or read a story to Sam when he was feeling poorly. Looking back though, it was an incredible group of people to live among.

Jen: If you could turn back the hands of time, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Nina: I might take more of an interest in the above cast of characters and all their amazing achievements as they happened.

Jen: How has the book’s publication affected your relationship with MK, Sam, and Will?
Nina: I’ve been to London more often (I now live in Cornwall, the far south west of the UK and about 5 hours from London) for literary events, so I’ve seen Mary-Kay and Sam more often. Not Will though as he lives in the US. But, they’ve been so pleased and excited about it, it’s been good.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Nina: My website is www.ninastibbe.com was created by my partner a year or so ago. I promised him I’d keep it up to date… it currently features some articles I wrote for the UK press and some reviews of Love, Nina in the UK. It’s a work in progress!

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Nina: I’m @ninastibbe on twitter. I love Twitter and tweet lots of nonsense and pictures of my family and our cockapoo, Peggy. I’m less good at facebook and only follow one person, Sam (Frears) (so that I can see pictures of him rock climbing).

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Nina: My novel, Man at the Helm, comes out next year with Little, Brown.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!
Nina: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Nina. Please stop by your local bookstore, library, or online retailer and pick up a copy of Love, Nina today. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What are the names of Nina’s two charges?

Next month, I will be chatting with Jan Elizabeth Watson about her upcoming release, What has Become of You. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Barbara O’Neal

Monday, March 17th, 2014

As a seasoned blogger, I am never more gratified than when I connect with my followers. Oftentimes, special friendships blossom simply from the exchange of ideas between two strangers with a common interest. No matter what your hobbies may be, there is no shortage of blog options available. From wine enthusiasts to specialty chefs and even high-end dog groomers, you never know what you might find on the web.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Barbara O’Neal addresses this very topic in her latest release, The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel. It’s the story of four women bloggers with varied interests and ages who come together in the beautiful Oregon wine country for a life-changing reunion. Despite their professional prowess, the Foodie Four are each at a crossroads in life. Together they unite in this unforgettable tale of friendship, love, and heartfelt emotion.

As part of my interview, Random House Publishing Group has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.

Jen: As a six-time Rita award winner, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Barbara: My goal was always to be a novelist, but my father wanted me to be sensible, so I studied mass communications with a goal of being a journalist. It was great training—I learned to write to a deadline, to write on demand, to tone done my (very baroque!) language. I worked for a newspaper for eight months as an intern and realized that was not at all what I wanted to do. Novels were—and are—my love.

Jen: Please describe for us your "Aha!" moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Barbara: There were two. When I was in the 5th grade, I read an author bio at the end of a book I’d been reading and it occurred to me that people wrote books. Like that was their job. And my thought was, very clearly: why would you do anything else?

The second was as I was finishing my internship and university degree. I tended bar to make ends meet, and one night I over heard my favorite reporter telling her friend that one day she would quit the paper and write her novels. My heart seized—and I knew I’d be her, at 40 telling my friends that if I didn’t give novels a shot right now, while I was still poor and used to it. So I talked to my husband and asked if he’d give me five years to see if I could sell a novel. He took a big gulp (we were about to NOT be poor, finally!) and said yes. I will be grateful forever.

Jen: Besides writing books in various genres, you also have a blog, www.awriterafoot.com. For my readers who may not be familiar with its content, please tell us how it evolved.
Barbara: The blog came out of my experiences as columnist, actually. I’ve always loved the simple, ordinary conversation that can evolve around women just talking about their lives, and wanted to establish a place for that. I love talking about travel and food and showing off my photos, so it was a very natural, very happy habit to develop.

I have to admit I’ve been distracted by blogging elsewhere over the past couple of years, so have neglected my own. The past year, I’ve given up all the other blogs and will be bringing everything back to A Writer Afoot.

Jen: In December 2010 your delightful novel How to Bake a Perfect Life, which I was thrilled to feature on my website, was chosen as a Target Club Pick. How did that recognition affect your career? How did you handle the pressure of such an honorable distinction?
Barbara: That was a big, big moment in my career—as it is for any writer who is lucky enough to be chosen. It brought in a lot of new readers and it was so much fun to see the book featured in stores, and I am very grateful to have had the chance.

The pressure in writing doesn’t come from the good things that happen, at least for me. It comes from the unexpected bad things. So it was so much happiness and fun. I loved it.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a book? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?
Barbara: It takes anywhere from a year to two years to write a book. Most of that is the brewing process—it seems that I have to run the movie in my head over and over and over and over again before I can write it. I’ll gather a few bits, a character, a situation, something that’s magical, a possible food and let it all brew for awhile. When it starts to shove other projects out of the way, I’ll sit down and start trying to capture it. The actual writing doesn’t take as long, probably because of all that journalism practice. I’m very methodical about the actual writing: I show up 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week and write. No internet, no email, no drama, just writing. I often get a draft done in a few months.

It does help to have all that brewing time, knowing the story before I start.

Jen: Your latest release The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel centers around four foodie bloggers on a journey of self-discovery. I absolutely devoured this book. What a gem! What inspired you to write this book?
Barbara: I am so happy to hear that you loved it. It was such a great journey for me!

The magazine Artful Blogging triggered it. I love food blogs, of course—who doesn’t these days, and for a foodie like me, they are heaven. All those photos! All that potential for great food and drink!

But I’m also a fan of the magazine, and one night as I was reading it, I started wondering what it would be like if your life really was turned upside down by a blog. It struck me that all the women in the magazine had discovered their own voices, themselves, with the blogs they created, and that’s powerful stuff. Ginny walked into my imagination shortly afterward.

Jen: Lavender Wills is the owner of Lavender Honey Farms situated in the Oregon wine country. Nearly eighty-five years old, she manages a successful organic farm. What is her motivation for bringing the ladies together?
Barbara: She’s a powerful woman, and not given to leaving life to chance. The lavender farm is her dream and her legacy and she’s not about to let it just pass into the hands of people who will not understand what it means and how it matters. She brings the other bloggers to the farm to evaluate if one of them might be right to inherit.

Jen: Ginny from Kansas is a baker who photographs her own culinary treats. Her decision to make the trip is more than just a desire to meet her fellow bloggers. How does her decision to attend affect her relationship with her husband Matthew?
Barbara: Ginny’s life was transformed when the people in her world found out she was a modestly famous, well-known blogger. She discovers that the relationships she thought were sustaining her are really containing her, and she needs to find out what she’s made of, really. Her marriage is in trouble even before she sets out, and it only becomes more strained as she travels.

Jen: Ruby, a vegan from the California Bay area who is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, arrives in her food truck ready for an adventure. How does her vivacious personality rub off on the others?
Barbara: Ruby is one of my favorite characters ever! She stole my heart with her mix of joy and longing, her yearnings and her exuberance. She is a person just bursting with the pleasure of every day living—and for a good reason. Her childhood was overshadowed by painful, extreme illness, and just being alive is a pretty good deal, even when it sucks. Even if your mother left you and your boyfriend doesn’t love you anymore.

Jen: Valerie, a wine blogger from Ohio, surprises the group by arriving with her daughter Hannah despite recently suffering a tragic loss. How does her unexpected presence bring the ladies together?
Barbara: It unites the Foodie Four—and Ginny, especially, needs her friend to be there. Ginny and Val are very close through email, but have never met because Ginny has not been brave enough to step up before. Meeting Val in person makes a big difference for her.

Plus, Val has a connection that allows them to live out a fantasy for Lavender’s birthday.

Jen: Noah, Lavender’s handsome farmhand who served 4 tours of duty in the military, is hiding from his own demons. How does the women’s arrival help him come out of his shell?
Barbara: I live in a military town and one of my friends likes to say that we need to reestablish a temple that used to be part of the ancient world. Women were trained as priestesses to help a soldier through the transition of being a man who kills to a man who loves. The priestesses would heal the returning soldiers with sex and talk, and send them home to their families whole and reconnected. Noah is reconnecting with life through the farm and all his tasks, but he needs a certain exuberant someone to shatter the last of his soldier self and bring him all the way home.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Are you active on social media? And, how would my readers go about connecting with you?
Barbara: I am active on social media. I’m on Facebook as BarbaraSamuelONeal and Twitter as barbaraoneal.

Jen: Will there be a sequel? And, are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Barbara: I’ve had a number of requests for a sequel and admit I thought there might be. Not yet, however. I’m currently working on a story about two women who come together over a mysterious little girl. Peaches and pickles and a legend that caught me by the throat…..

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved The All You Can Dream Buffet. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers.
Barbara: I’m very honored to be invited, and so thrilled you enjoyed the book!

Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy of The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What is the title of Barbara’s blog?

Next month, I will be chatting with Nina Stibbe about her upcoming release, Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Melanie Shankle

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Whether you are newly married or have been in a relationship for decades, it comes as no surprise that marriage takes work. Finding a way to blend two unique personalities under one roof can be challenging for some couples. Yet, when the stars align, there is no better feeling than the comfort of falling asleep in the arms of your soul mate. Being in a faith-based relationship filled with love and respect is truly one of life’s most cherished blessings.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melanie Shankle addresses this very topic in her latest release, The Antelope in the Living Room. This popular blogger and New York Times bestselling author of Sparkly Green Earrings is back sharing her hilarious perspective on the ups and downs of marital bliss. Through her tongue-in-cheek wisdom and hilarious advice for surviving difficult times in today’s real world, Melanie encourages the reader to embrace the joys and conflicts involved with finding your one true love.

As part of my interview, Tyndale House Publishers has generously donated five copies for you to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.             

Jen: As a New York Times bestselling author, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Melanie: I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communications.  I chose that major because it required the least amount of math classes, but it turned out to be a good choice because I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Ultimately, I took a job in financial sales right out of college (I was horrible at it.) and that eventually led me to a career in pharmaceutical sales that lasted for twelve years.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Melanie: I don’t know that I had one big “Aha!” moment as much as just little moments along the way.  The first step was when I started blogging in July of 2006.  It was totally on a whim, but I rediscovered a part of myself that had been dormant for a long time.  Writing again was the creative outlet I needed and as the blog grew I began to realize that I might have the chance to do it for a living and not just a hobby.

Jen: In 2006, you started the Big Mama Blog. For my readers who may not be familiar with its content, please tell us how it evolved.
Melanie: I originally started the blog with the sole purpose of keeping track of family memories.  My daughter Caroline was two at the time and was growing and changing so fast that I wanted a way to keep track of our lives and writing seemed like the natural way to do that.  And so the blog is truly just about our everyday life.  Or as my dad says, “It’s the Seinfeld of blogs.” Which means it’s a blog about nothing.

Jen: Please take us on a brief tour of your blog highlighting points of interest.  
Melanie: There isn’t much to highlight.  It really is just a journal of our everyday life.  However, if you’re a fashion lover, then you might enjoy Fashion Friday.  Each Friday I post ten things I’ve found that week in stores and online.  I try to make it a good mix of price points and styles.

Jen: In 2013, your first book Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn was published. How did you arrive at the premise?
Melanie: Sparkly Green Earrings is a memoir of my days of early motherhood and it seemed like the natural choice.  The whole reason that I initially began blogging was to record memories of the time in my life when I was raising a toddler and the book was a natural extension of that.  My family is the heart of my blog.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a book? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  
Melanie: It depends.  If you factor in all the time I waste on Facebook and Twitter and watching funny videos on YouTube and alphabetizing the ingredients in my pantry, then it takes me anywhere from six to eight months to write a book.  But if you take all that away and just factor in real writing time?  I would guess about three months. 

So much of my productivity depends on the day and my mood.  There are times I can write a chapter in one day and other times that a chapter takes two to three weeks.  I wish I knew why because I far prefer the former over the latter.  Ultimately the key is to make myself sit down and write something every day, even if it all ends up being terrible.  Writing is all about the discipline, which has never been one of my strong suits.

Jen: Your latest release The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life is an addictive, humorous read about your marriage. What inspired you to write this book?
Melanie: When I was writing SGE, I kept thinking of so many funny moments from my marriage that didn’t necessarily fit into a book about motherhood.  And I feel like there are so many books out there that tell us how to be better wives or how to pray for our husbands, but what about just something funny that can make women laugh about how absurd it sometimes feels to share a house and a life with a boy.

Jen: How do you manage to balance your work, marriage, and faith with such a demanding schedule?
Melanie: I don’t know that I always do it well.  My goal is always that my faith and family are my top priority and everything else falls in line behind those things.  Part of achieving that is that I really try to stay off the computer and social media when my people are around.  I write when my daughter is at school and after she goes to bed at night.  But it’s a constant push and pull to figure out how to manage it all.  Some days I get it right and other days I don’t.  The key is to give myself grace.

Jen: What has been the most essential life lesson you have learned from being in a committed relationship?
Melanie: That it’s not all about me.  I think one of the most humbling things about marriage is realizing how selfish you can be.  I always feel like Mother Theresa until things don’t go my way and then I feel that thing rise up in me where I just want things to be the way I want them.  And that doesn’t always happen when you’re sharing a life with another person.  But in the long run, the payoff is huge because being married to my husband has made me a better person than I’d be without my husband.  He sharpens me and makes me better.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Melanie: I just signed a contract for a third book.  I’m still not sure of all the details but I believe it is going to be about my journey of faith from the time I was a little girl until present day.  It will be the stories of how I’ve realized God finds us no matter where we are and draws us to him.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved The Antelope in the Living Room. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!
Melanie: Thank you!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Melanie. Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered into the contest. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)

What is the title of Melanie’s first New York Times bestselling book?

Next month, I will be chatting with six-time RITA Award winner Barbara O’Neal about her upcoming release, The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Melody Carlson

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

As the holidays come to a close, we start to prepare for the next big thing…Valentine’s Day. Whether we are in a relationship or in search of Mr. /Ms. Right, this special celebration warrants our full attention. Plain and simple, we all want to be loved. Being able to find one person and commit to a long-term relationship filled with love and respect can seem like an overwhelming proposition. Yet when the stars align, the feeling of pure contentment is priceless.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melody Carlson addresses this very topic in her latest release, Once Upon a Winter’s Heart. When Emma Burcelli’s grandfather, a true romantic, passes away, she moves back home to help her grandmother grieve. Upon her arrival, she is surprised to discover her parents’ relationship is at a crossroads. As she tries to play matchmaker, she soon realizes that perhaps it’s her own heart that needs to be mended.

As part of my interview, Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, has generously donated five copies for you to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a bestselling author with over 200 books in print, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Melody: Although I’ve always loved writing and got encouragement from teachers throughout school, I never took it seriously. I think it’s because the writing process came so easily to me. I graduated from high school a year early and when it came time to pick a college, despite a couple of full ride scholarships at private schools, I decided to attend the local community college. And a year later, at the ripe old age of eighteen, with an associate’s degree in early childhood education in hand, I went overseas to teach preschool in Papua New Guinea for a year. After that I traveled around the world and when I got home I couldn’t get motivated to return to college. I taught preschool, got married, had children, and worked at a diverse variety of other jobs. But nothing ever challenged me enough to make me want to stick with it. Except for writing. 200 plus books later, I’m still taking it seriously. And I still love it.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to pursue a career as an author.

Melody: In my early thirties, I decided to take writing seriously. I’d been writing in various capacities prior to this (newspaper, PTA newsletters, job-related…). But it was a funny incident with my twelve year old son that gave me the “push” I needed. My son was an avid reader who had devoured all the “good” books we could find and wanted to read Stephen King. I was concerned he wasn’t ready for King and took him to a bookstore to peruse the young adult shelves. What I found there (in the early 90’s) seemed dark and twisted and poorly written. I held up a book to my son and said, “I could write this badly.” Of course, it seemed silly, but I thought if the bar to get published was that low, I might be able to get over it.

Jen: Your prolific writing career includes titles in more than just one genre. Which category is your most favorite to write and why?

Melody: I know my writing diversity is a frustration to some of my publishers. I would make their lives easier if I could just pigeonhole myself into one genre and stay there. However, that is not how my mind works. I love having the freedom to write some serious issues-based novels (like Finding Alice or my TrueColors series). But I’m sure I’d get depressed if that was all I wrote. I also enjoy creating feel-good stories that simply take the reader away. I heard a quote that people read for two reasons: 1) to forget and 2) to remember. And I suppose my books are like that too. Some of my books will transport a reader to a happier place by helping them to forget about their daily stresses. Other books will remind a reader that there is pain out there and they are not alone. In answer to my “favorite” genre—it is always whichever book I’m writing at the time.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process? 

Melody: I write extremely fast. Most writers probably think I’m crazy, but it’s simply how I work. When I try to slow the writing process down, I get bored and frustrated and I drop threads out of the story. I usually complete a novel in less than two months. The most challenging part of writing is accepting and respecting that the way I work is unique to me—and that’s okay. I can admire and respect how other writers work, but I need to remain true to who I am as a writer—I am a storyteller and that’s enough.

Jen: Once Upon a Winter’s Heart is a heartwarming novel about a young woman in search of true love. How did you arrive at the premise?

Melody: To be honest, I can’t remember the initial impetus behind the storyline, but in retrospect, I can see that there’s some Dickens’ influence. My protagonist, Emma Burcelli, is a bit of a Valentine’s Day Scrooge. She’s cynical and disillusioned and when her beloved grandfather dies (the last true romantic) Emma concludes that “love is dead” as well. Naturally, it takes a wonderful guy and some Valentine’s Day “magic” (along with Dean Martin, chocolate and wine) to restore her faith in love.

Jen: When Emma Burcelli arrives home for her grandfather’s funeral, she discovers her parents’ marriage is in shambles. How does this crisis alter the dynamics of her relationship with her mother?

Melody: For starters, it helps to confirm her belief that ‘love is dead.’ But because Emma has a stronger relationship with her father, her first response is to blame her mother for their marital problems. It doesn’t help matters that her mother intrudes into Emma’s world by parking herself at Nona’s house or by taking sides with Emma’s younger sister Anne. Like many families, Emma’s has its own forms of dysfunction.

Jen: At first sight, Emma is smitten with the handsome bachelor Lane Forester. When she discovers her sister Anne has already staked her claim, Emma is deflated. Why does she allow her sister to call the shots when clearly Emma is attracted to him?

Melody: A big part of the sibling back story (that might not all show up) is that Emma has been catering to her slightly spoiled baby sister for most of her life. Emma’s personality type is more quiet and serious, the kind of person who doesn’t mind being backstage and who will sacrifice her own happiness to maintain peace. Meanwhile her gregarious younger sister loves the limelight and thrives on drama and attention. It’s a combination that’s ripe for disaster.

Jen: How does Lane’s sudden interest in Emma change her perception of the present situation?

Melody: Sweetly blindsided by love, Emma is forced to develop a bit more backbone in dealing with her baby sister. And yet Emma must remain true to herself. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk, but fun.       

Jen: How does Emma’s eagerness to reach out to her nephew Tristan serve as a way in which to connect with her beloved grandfather who recently passed away?

Melody: I love how Tristan and Emma connect so naturally—and how they serendipitously help each other through their grief. I’m sure it’s because they’ve both been loved by Poppi, they’re both similar to Poppi, and they both miss Poppi.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  

Melody: My website melodycarlson.com (designed by my son) is not terribly fancy. My son and I are both still learning as we go and we hope to add a blog to it this year. I tend to be so caught up with writing books that I neglect the website. But readers can contact me through it or sign up for monthly newsletter (I give away prizes every month!). Also, I’m available on Facebook and am trying to improve my social network skills.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Once Upon a Winter’s Heart. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in 2014!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Melody. Please stop by your favorite library branch, local bookstore, or on-line retailer and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead?

Send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of Emma’s sister in Once Upon a Winter’s Heart?

Next month, I will be chatting with New York Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle about her upcoming release, The Antelope in the Living Room. You won’t want to miss it.

Jen’s Jewels with Carly Phillips

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Being part of a divorced family can have its rewards and challenges depending on the circumstances of the separation. Oftentimes, when a parent remarries the kids are able to mesh while finding a voice of their own. However, now and then strong personalities and resentful feelings can make the blending of two families a bit difficult. Finding a harmonious balance among family members while embracing the realm of possibilities for the future is the key to happiness.   

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Carly Phillips addresses this very topic in her latest release, Dare to Love. Ian Dare has been hurt by his father’s betrayal and resents his half siblings. Along the way, he falls in love with Riley Taylor, his half brother’s best friend, which causes familial strife. Once again, Carly delivers a compelling romance with just the right balance of steamy love scenes and suspense.

As part of my interview, Carly has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Contest winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with over thirty books in print, your stellar career as a romance writer speaks for itself. What is the driving force behind your literary success?

Carly: Good fortune, hard work, fantastic readers! I seriously couldn’t explain it any better.

Jen: Your latest release, Dare to Love, is the first of a three-book self-publishing venture. Why did you choose to step away from your mainstream publisher for this project?

Carly: I have been very fortunate over the years to be published by wonderful people in New York/Traditional publishing.  Everyone I worked with has been wonderful to me – nothing about my experience there played a part in my leaving.  In the end, the decision came down to the fact that I felt I wanted to write books that I could put out quicker, were a little bit shorter, and that readers could get at a lower price point, something NY Publishing just couldn’t do.  In my heart I felt I was missing readers who wouldn’t try me as a “new to them” author at 7.99.  It’s a scary gamble, but I am loving the control over covers and pricing and content

Jen: What has been the most challenging part of the process thus far? And, the most rewarding?

Carly: The most challenging is time.  Every day, there are more things added to my To Do list/plate and I need to balance that with writing and family and life.  The most rewarding ties into that.  Every day something new (and exciting) comes up that I hadn’t thought about before. I learn something every day and I love that. So it may be more time consuming, but I’m thriving on it!

Jen: Dare to Love is by far your most steamy romance to date. How did you arrive at the premise? And, did your interest to write a romance with more explicit love scenes come from readers’ requests, or was it sparked by your own desire to test your writing chops?

Carly: I am a massive and fast reader and for the last year or so I’ve been devouring the hotter, steamier romances.  I started to see it translating to my regular writing.  I think it just was time for me to write what I wanted and was starting to come naturally. I loved writing Ian and his more dominant traits.

Jen: Ian Dare is a dominant man afraid of falling in love. Yet with one glimpse, he is captivated by the sheer beauty of Riley Taylor. Is his attraction to her purely lust, or does Riley’s association with his half-brother whom he despises makes her more appealing?

Carly: Ian sees Riley for the first time on the arm of his brother.  No doubt that sparks intrigue but I believe Ian is at heart, a better man than to go after her for those reasons.  Initially it’s lust but within a very short time there is such a deep connection and they find so much in common despite her fear of dominant men, neither can resist the other.

Jen: When Riley accepts a position in the Dare’s family business, how does her relationship change with Alex, Ian’s half-brother?

Carly: Alex wants what is best for Riley.  But Alex wanted to be the one to help her the way he has always done.  So it was inevitable that Ian’s help would hurt Alex’s pride, as she’s always turned down his offer to help her with a job, an apartment, etc.  Their relationship went through a rocky period but there is no way Alex would abandon her.  No matter what he will always be there for her.  He needed to put his pride aside and eventually he does.  Not without a major misstep along the way!

Jen: When Riley and Ian’s relationship heats up, she soon realizes his need to dominate applies to not only the boardroom, but also the bedroom. In what way does this revelation alter her view of the relationship?

Carly: Riley had an abusive childhood, directed more at her mother than her – mostly – hers was emotional until something extreme happens. When Ian’s dominant nature coincides with an angry moment, she has cause to reconsider what she’s doing with a man like him.  She has to reconcile who he is with her past.  Not an easy feat.

Jen: Ian struggles with accepting his step-siblings as members of the family due to his father’s unforgivable act of betrayal. How does his relationship with Riley cause him to reevaluate his familial situation?

Carly: Ian will do anything for Riley, including extend an olive branch to his half siblings.  It’s really a function of his feelings for her that allows him to put his pride aside, something he’s had trouble doing.  Deep down Ian has wanted a relationship with them but he couldn’t admit it to himself or get past his pride.  Until Riley.   

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and focus on your career. Due to the major advances in technology over the past ten years, the publishing business has drastically changed. As an author, how has it affected your nuts and bolts approach to writing a novel?

Carly: The nuts and bolts of writing romance haven’t changed.  My voice, what I like to write about, that’s all the same.  I keep up with reading in my genre, so I know what readers like, what they are saying about different books and authors, etc. I try to stay current and grow with each book.  The changes are to the way books get to readers, but it’s more behind the scenes.

Jen: E-books have revolutionized the way in which we read. How have they impacted your career? Which do you prefer…a book or e-book?

Carly: eBook.  I read on my iPad mini with the Kindle app.  I love my mini. I never leave home without it and I am never without a book to read!

Jen: Marketing is a vital component to an author’s success. Your presence on the web is truly remarkable. How do you balance your writing schedule with promotional obligations?

Carly: Thank you! I just … do it.  There’s no real answer except multitasking.  The web and social media is something I truly enjoy so it’s never a nuisance or a hassle.  I just have to put the writing first and prioritize.  If I do that, all the rest falls into place!         

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with my readers. As always, I wish you the best of luck with your new series. Happy holidays and happy New Year!

Carly:  Thank you, Jen. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you! I appreciate that you ask me back.  Happy holidays and happy New Year to you and your readers!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Carly Phillips. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Dare to Love today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

What is Riley’s last name?

In January 2014, I will be bringing to you my interview with bestselling author Melody Carlson. You won’t want to miss it. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

 

Jen’s Jewels with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Friday, November 15th, 2013

During the holidays, there is nothing better than gathering with family and friends. Often, this is the only time when we are able to come together due to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. From long-lost aunts and uncles to newborn babies, the entire family looks forward to spending time as one. Yet imagine what it would feel like if this year you discovered you had siblings you never knew existed. Oh, my! Rest assured this holiday season would be one you’d never forget.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Lorraine Zago Rosenthal addresses this very topic of newfound family in her latest release, New Money. Set in two of my favorite destinations, New York City and Charleston, SC, it’s the story of Southern belle Savannah Morgan who inherits an immense fortune along with two obstinate, spoiled siblings. While climbing the social ladder of corporate America, Savannah must learn how to navigate her newly inherited fame and fortune.

As part of my interview, Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsa part of your holiday reading.       

Jen: As a successful writer, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Lorraine: I was born and raised in New York City, where I went to high school at St. Francis Prep. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. I also earned a Master’s degree in English, with a concentration in American and British Literature, from Northern Kentucky University. My first novel, Other Words for Love, was published by Random House (Delacorte Press) in January 2011. My second novel, New Money, was published by St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books) in September 2013.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as an author.

Lorraine: I wanted to become a writer very early in life. I developed a love of books as soon as I learned to read, and I read fiction constantly. I was also highly influenced by my interest in film and TV. I have always enjoyed watching movies and TV series, and from a young age I studied character development, pacing, dialogue, and plot. After a while, I wanted to create my own characters and stories, so I started writing.

My desire to write began so early—in grammar school—that I wouldn’t say I actively chose it. It’s really just innate. I continued writing while I attended high school and when I was in college and graduate school at the University of South Florida. My B.A. in psychology greatly benefits my writing skills, because an understanding of the human psyche is necessary to get into the minds of characters and to portray the characters and their actions in a realistic way.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  

Lorraine: It can take between several months and a year to write a novel; however, that doesn’t include the time I spend contemplating the story and characters before I begin writing. Ari Mitchell (the main character in Other Words for Love) and her family were in my mind for a few years before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it.

In general, writing a novel is challenging. It requires a great deal of dedication, effort, and focus on the characters and their individual stories. I think that in any work of fiction, the most challenging aspect for an author is to create characters who are complex people with positive and negative traits.

Jen: New Money is an addictive, humorous read about Savannah Morgan, a plucky spitfire on a journey to find her true calling in life. How did you arrive at the premise?

Lorraine: When I was asked the same question about my first novel, I answered that it was inspired by many things—such as observation, experience, and imagination. I think this applies to all novels, including New Money.

Jen: The story takes place in both Charleston, SC and New York City. Why did you choose these particular locales?

Lorraine: I’m originally from NYC and know it well, so I enjoy writing about that setting and its subcultures, as I did in Other Words for Love. In New Money, Savannah Morgan moves from a quiet town to a chaotic city, and Manhattan vs. Charleston (North vs. South) is a contrast that sparks a lot of conflict.

Jen: When Savannah learns of an inheritance from her billionaire father she never knew, how does it change the dynamics of her relationship with her mother?

Lorraine: It causes problems between Savannah and her mother, Joan. Joan is an independent and grounded woman who rejected Savannah’s father’s money and glamorous lifestyle. So when Savannah accepts her inheritance and moves to Manhattan, Joan doesn’t approve.

Jen: Upon her initial introduction to the Stone family, Savannah stands her ground despite the frosty reception. From where does she find this inner strength? 

Lorraine: Savannah was raised by a strong mother and has suffered years of being snubbed by wealthier people. This has toughened her up, and she calls upon her inner strength to deal with the Stone family. She understandably feels anxiety and fear, but she does her best not to show it to the people who would use any signs of weakness against her. When she enters into her new life in NYC, she always tries to remember (as she tells her new siblings) that she deserves to be there just as much as they do.

Jen: Is her sister-in-law Kitty’s willingness to take Savannah under her wing merely an act of kindness, or simply a way to get back at the Stone family?

Lorraine: Her kindness is genuine, but the dose of revenge on some people is a bonus.

Jen: How does the arrival of Savannah’s best friend Tina taint her reputation in the Stone family’s eyes?

Lorraine: The Stone family has a preconceived notion of Savannah’s character, and their brief observation of Tina strengthens these inaccurate opinions.

Jen: When Savannah starts dating Alex, a debonair writer, how does this relationship change her perception of her present financial situation?

Lorraine: This relationship makes her realize that having money hasn’t solved all of her problems. In fact, it has created new ones.          

Jen: Of her two new siblings, Ned and Caroline, which one needs Savannah the most? And, who has the most to lose?

Lorraine: Certain incidents cause Ned to need Savannah’s cooperation. Without it, he has a great deal to lose.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your blog highlighting points of interest.  

Lorraine: I have been fortunate enough to participate in many features to promote New Money, including interviews with Examiner.com, Long Island Woman, USA Today, and the Gulf Coast Times. Links to all of my interviews can be found on this page of my website: http://lorraine-zago-rosenthal.blogspot.com/p/news-press-and-appearances.html

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?

Lorraine: I am definitely present in social media! Readers can visit my website: http://lorraine-zago-rosenthal.blogspot.com/ and follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lorrainezr.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Lorraine: My next novel is Independently Wealthy—which is the sequel to New Money. It will be published in fall 2014.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved New Money, especially the references to my favorite city Charleston. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Lorraine: You’re very welcome, Jen! And thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed New Money, and I hope your readers will, too!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of New Money today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

Where does the story take place?

In December, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times best-selling author Carly Phillips, author of Dare to Love. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…Happy Thanksgiving!

Jen’s jewels with Molly McAdams

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The do’s and don’ts of lying is a precarious dilemma. If we always try to tell the truth, then we are setting ourselves up for imminent failure. Despite our best intentions, it simply doesn’t work. For instance, telling Aunt Sara her new recipe is a flop on Thanksgiving Day would certainly crush the woman’s heart, not to mention cause a family rift. A little white lie never hurt anyone, right? But, what if your lie included hiding your true identity from the one you loved? Would it be possible to ever trust that person again?

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Molly McAdams addresses this very topic in her latest release, Forgiving Lies. It’s the story of Rachel Masters, a college girl scorned by love. When she meets her hot, new neighbor Kash Ryan sparks immediately ignite between these two opposite souls. Yet despite Rachel’s reluctance, she can’t help being drawn into Kash’s world, complete with a tempting tattooed body and sexy lip ring. Will this relationship prove to be another mistake, or has she finally found her one true love?     

As part of this interview, William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers has generously donated five copies for you, my readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date by visiting my website www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, Twitter @JenniferVido, and Pinterest Jennifer Vido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsa part of your fall reading adventure.       

Jen: As a bestselling author, your path to publication is a story within itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Molly: Ha ha, umm … probably not what you’re expecting? After I graduated high school, I went to a Christian college in Los Angeles; minored in Bible, started majoring in Intercultural Studies for the first year, switched to Elementary Education with an emphasis in Math for the next year, and then I moved to Texas and did a year of majoring in Psychology before I finally dropped out of college. And I was horrible at anything English related. In high school, I failed the grammar portion, and in college, I failed out of my Creative Writing class. I worked at Starbucks for a long time before going into an Administrative Assistant position with a private security company that I worked at until I left to be a full-time writer.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Molly: I’d been writing out my dreams, and expanding on them, for about a year and a half before I realized I was writing a story that I didn’t have an option in writing. It was like I had to. It was kind of like I realized these weren’t just dreams anymore, the characters and everything about them were so incredibly real to me, and I couldn’t go more than a handful of hours without pulling out a piece of paper (if I was at work) or grabbing my laptop so I could get lost in their world again. The actual moment I decided to publish my own books, was kind of a few weeks in the “what do I do now?” process. But, it was in the middle of TAKING CHANCES that I realized even if no one ever saw it, I would write as long as I had characters talking to me.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most rewarding part of the writing process?  

Molly: Anywhere from a month to four months. It just depends on what’s going on in my life at the moment, and how long I can stay attached to my laptop. Ha ha. On average, though, about two months. The most rewarding part is being able to give my characters a voice. Once their story is finished, no matter how difficult that story may have been, I sit back and I’m just happy that their story was heard. I love that feeling.

Jen: Forgiving Lies is a sizzling romantic drama about a straight-laced college student Rachel Masters and a smokin’ hot undercover cop Logan “Kash” Ryan.  How did you arrive at the premise?

Molly: Like all my books, the story started with a dream; and when I sit on these dreams, eventually one day the characters just kind of lay out most of the story for me. It’s hard to describe, I don’t sit there and decide what will happen, its like suddenly I just know, and I need to get to my laptop as soon as possible.

Jen: Candice, Rachel’s best friend and roommate, is gung-ho about the budding romance between her cousin Blake and Rachel. When things go awry, why does she refuse to believe Rachel’s side of the story or even choose to remain neutral for both parties involved?

Molly: It’s almost as if Candice lives life through rose-colored glasses. Or, maybe that’s just how she sees her cousin, Blake. Even later in the story, you’ll see Eli—Candice’s older brother—say how Blake was a guy he’d always looked up to. Same for Candice. Blake can do no wrong in people’s eyes: he’s smooth, he’s likable, he’s attractive, and very persuasive. And for a year, Rachel has been avoiding him and letting him and Candice know how much she can’t stand him. Candice already knows that Rachel is not enjoying the dates with Blake, and is trying to avoid him again, and then the next thing Candice knows, her cousin is taking care of her best friend after being attacked … and the next day her best friend is saying her cousin attacked her. Candice thinks Rachel is using this as a way to get out of dating Blake. Which, of course, seems horrible since she and Rachel are so close, but we have to remember Blake is Candice’s family.

Jen: When Rachel starts hanging out with the new neighbor Kash, how does their mutual attraction change her preconceived notions concerning his edgy, bad boy persona?

Molly: I’m not sure if it’s their mutual attraction, or if it’s just Kash. He’s funny, has a no-nonsense attitude, is still sweet … and is the only person to ever push back. Rachel keeps a lot to herself, and as a result, pushes people away. Kash doesn’t let it happen, and I think that’s just another thing that changes her original assumption of him.

Jen: Is Rachel’s involvement with Kash solely a way to get back at Candice for her unforgivable betrayal? And, how does Kash and Rachel’s romance affect the girls’ relationship?  

Molly: Definitely not, she actually stays away from a relationship with Kash for so long because of what happened with Blake, and she’s afraid to talk to Candice about her attraction to him because of what happened. Uh – it makes their relationship strained, but I can’t go into detail about that.

Jen: How does Kash’s love for Rachel cloud his judgment in terms of him performing his job? 

Molly: To be honest, it clouds his judgment in how he should handle their relationship more than it does his job. I would love to elaborate, but it will give away too much.

Jen: A question I must ask, will there be a sequel? And if so, what may you share with my readers?

Molly: There is definitely a sequel, and all I can tell you, is you’re not going to be expecting what happens in that book J It threw me for a loop even, totally not where I thought it was going.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  

Molly: www.mollysmcadams.com I have tabs for all my books that are out (or coming soon), along with the links to buy or pre-order the e-books. I have tabs for my readers, one with frequently asked questions, and another showing where I’ll be going for upcoming events. Another tab, if readers like getting sneak peeks, I have teasers for my upcoming books J

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?

Molly: Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/mollymcadams www.twitter.com/mollysmcadams are the BEST way to keep in touch with what’s going on with my books! I always keep my readers up to date as much as possible on there.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I think Forgiving Lies is a true gem. I highly recommend it to all of my Jen’s Jewels readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Molly: THANK YOU SO MUCH! I enjoyed it! Xo

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Molly McAdams. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Forgiving Lies today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to email me at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of Rachel’s best friend in Forgiving Lies?

In November, I will be bringing you my interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal, author of New Money. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…Happy Halloween!

Jen’s Jewels with Tracey Garvis Graves

Monday, September 16th, 2013

The best life lessons are those learned from unexpected detours in the road. Whether it’s losing a dream job or ending what you thought was a fairytale marriage, these painful experiences are tests of courage and strength. Oftentimes, the road less traveled becomes the path to happiness. Being able to come out on the other side more confident and self-assured makes the journey worthwhile. Misfortunes have a way of blossoming into some of life’s sweetest rewards. 

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Tracey Garvis Graves addresses this very topic in her latest release, Covet. It’s a relevant story about one loving couple in crisis. When Claire’s husband suddenly loses his job, she finds herself questioning the longevity of the marriage. What makes this novel so appealing is like many of us, the author has faced her own adversity in life. Luckily for Tracey, it has translated into a successful writing career.

As part of my interview, Dutton, a division of the Penguin Group, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Contest winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the hottest authors today.             

Jen: As a New York Times bestselling author, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Tracey: Most people are surprised to learn that I have a BA in Business Administration. I did take two elective fiction writing classes in college, which I loved, but my dad felt strongly that a business degree would always come in handy (I really couldn’t argue with that!). My professional background has primarily been in Information Technology and Mortgage recruiting.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to become a self-published author.

Tracey: It was less of an “Aha” moment and more of a, “now that all the literary agents have rejected me, self-publishing is my only remaining option,” kind of epiphany. Self-publishing had come a long way from the days of authors selling their books out of the trunks of their cars, but I still felt like I’d failed. But then I realized that I could let the manuscript of On the Island sit on my hard drive gathering dust, or I could self-publish it and let the readers decide if they liked it.

Jen: How did you make the transition from self-publishing to mainstream fiction with Dutton, a division of Penguin Books?

Tracey: On the Island slowly and steadily found its audience, and after it had been out for about 6 months it was featured in an Amazon promotion. The book really took off after that and ended up in the top 10 on Amazon (where it would stay for the next two months). Literary agents started reaching out to me and after I signed with Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, I received an offer for a two-book deal from Penguin. 

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?  

Tracey: Now that I’m writing full-time it takes me about 9 months to write a novel. The hardest part of the process is completing the first draft. Once I reach the revision stage it gets a little easier. It probably helps that the revision stage is my favorite part of the writing process.

Jen: Covet is a truly engrossing novel depicting the emotional journey of a young couple facing their first marital crisis. How did you arrive at the premise?

Tracey: My inspiration came from a real-life event. In the fall of 2008 my husband was in danger of being laid off. He was a valued employee and had been with his company for over fifteen years, but the recession was in full-swing and none of that mattered. I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time so the threat of losing our only source of income weighed heavily on my husband and me. Fortunately, he did not lose his job, but we knew many couples who weren’t so lucky. Most of my books start out as a question, and Covet was no different. I wondered, “What if my husband had lost his job? What if he wasn’t able to find another one? What effect would that have had on an otherwise strong marriage? The answers to those questions became the basis for Covet’s storyline. I just had to know what the outcome would be.

Jen: Claire and Chris are at a crossroad in their marriage when Chris loses his job and tailspins into depression.  How does this crisis alter the dynamics of their relationship?

Tracey: Men tend to internalize their feelings and withdraw when they’re under pressure. No matter how much Claire tried to help, it really didn’t ease Chris’s anxiety or lessen his stress. So much of Chris’s identity was wrapped up in his role as a provider. Once that was taken away he began to flounder within the framework of his and Claire’s relationship, which in turns caused their marriage to suffer. And as much as Claire loved her husband and wanted to be supportive, she was extremely vulnerable to an emotional affair because her needs weren’t being met at home. I think there are many, many women walking in Claire’s shoes right now.

Jen: Claire has Type 1 Diabetes, of which my thirteen-year-old niece Morgan also suffers. I applaud you for bringing this disease to light.  Why did you choose to incorporate it into the storyline?

Tracey: I really wanted to highlight that no matter how bad things get within a marriage, losing your spouse would truly be the worst thing that could happen. Claire’s health was something that she and Chris completely took for granted because Claire managed her disease very well. Incorporating Type 1 Diabetes into the storyline allowed me to really explore how important it is not to lose sight of what really matters.

Jen: When Chris finally lands a new job, Claire struggles with her marriage, her kids, and her disease due to her husband’s taxing new travel schedule. When she meets police officer Daniel, how does their sudden attraction change Claire’s perception of her present situation?  

Tracey: Claire’s friendship with the handsome and attentive Daniel made it easier for her to deal with the mundane aspects of her life, and the trials and tribulations of basically becoming a single parent due to Chris’s travel schedule. She felt less affected – and less bothered – by Chris’s absence because Daniel was there to fill his shoes.

Jen: In Claire’s neighborhood clique, each mom has personal issues of her own. Why does Claire not feel comfortable confiding in them concerning her troubles?

Tracey: In the book, Claire explains that she is worried about becoming fodder for the neighborhood gossip mill. Claire is going through a hard enough time as it is, and doesn’t want hers to be the family that everyone talks about.

Jen: How does Daniel’s eagerness to reach out to Claire serve as an avoidance of his private issues?

Tracey: It provides a nice diversion for Daniel. He doesn’t feel as strong a need to “get back in the game,” but at the same time he doesn’t have to be lonely, either.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  

Tracey: I’m actually in the process of migrating to a new website, so I guess you could say that traceygarvisgraves.com is currently “under construction.” My new website will have much more information, including an expanded FAQ section and a tab listing all of my upcoming signings and events. 

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news?

Tracey: I am! I prefer Facebook, specifically my author page. I can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest, and at www.traceygarvisgraves.com.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Tracey: I’ve just started drafting my next book, and it’s probably my most ambitious writing project so far. It’s a fast-paced, plot-driven, contemporary romance with an element of mystery. The heroine has a three-year-old son from a previous marriage so there’s a bit of a “Jerry McGuire” feel to it that I especially love. I’m really excited about writing this story. 

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Covet. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Tracey: Thank you so much for having me. I’m absolutely thrilled that you loved Chris, Claire, and Daniel’s story. Xoxo

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Tracey Garvis Graves. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Covet today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

What is the name of Claire’s husband in Covet?

In October, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…welcome to fall.

 

Jen’s Jewels with Jessica Brockmole

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

With our widespread dependence on technology, we tend to forget the comforting nostalgia of receiving a handwritten note in the mail. Whether it’s a simple thank you card or get well wish, the old adage speaks much truth. It’s the thought that counts. Certainly, a love letter is the most cherished of all, especially when distance separates loved ones. Even today, there’s nothing quite like the power of the written word.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Jessica Brockmole touches upon this very issue in her debut novel, Letters from Skye. Set in the beautiful backdrop of Scotland, this poetic love story of Elspeth Dunn spans two world wars on two continents. Recounted through letters between Elspeth and her American admirer David, it’s an unforgettable tale of love and loss. Not surprisingly, this novel has already been sold in more than twenty countries worldwide.

As part of my interview, Ballantine Books, a division of Random House Books, has generously donated five copies for you to win. So, be on the lookout for the trivia question. Winners will be randomly drawn. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your summer reading.

Jen: As a debut author, your writing career is just beginning. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Jessica: Although I’d always hoped to end up as a writer one day, my educational background is not in writing. My background does, however, speak to my fascination with language. My degrees are in linguistics and, for a time, I taught reading and writing to second language learners. When my daughter was born, I made the decision to stay at home with her, and it was then that I returned to writing.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as an author.

Jessica: This is a tricky question to answer! I’ve always been a writer (just ask my mom and the box of crayoned stories that she has tucked away). As I mentioned, I decided to try exploring writing more seriously after my daughter was born. I read books on the craft, I tried writing full-length adult novels, and I let myself make mistakes. But even then, I still saw my writing as a hobby rather than a career path. Honestly, it wasn’t until my agent sold Letters from Skye that I finally let my tongue try out the word “author”. Until that moment, despite years of learning and querying and revising, I refused to see writing as anything more than a pastime.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long did it take for you to craft this novel? And, what was the most challenging part of the writing process?

Jessica: The first draft of Letters from Skye was written in ten months, but tweaked here and there over years, as I wrote and queried other novels. Honestly, it’s hard to say what was the most challenging part of the writing process. This was the first novel that I completed, so it was written with the bliss of ignorance.

Jen: Letters from Skye is an emotional journey of a mother and daughter spanning two world wars on two continents. How did you arrive at the premise?

Jessica: In that very first draft, it was more a story about forbidden, complicated love and less a multigenerational journey. Margaret, and all of the family secrets that she uncovers, were added in subsequent drafts. It made sense to have Elspeth’s story discovered and told by someone also looking for love in wartime, and even more sense for that someone to share her story and history.

Jen: How much research was needed in order for this story to ring true with your readers? And, what was the most fascinating tidbit of information you discovered along the way?

Jessica: I try to get myself to a point where I have a confidence and a feel for the era, place, and events in my book. For me, in an epistolary novel, language is vital, and I spent much time researching words and how letter-writers then use them. I read many published collections of letters and amassed my own collection of letters, postcards, and other written material from the era. There was great variety in how people used language while writing, both in level of formality and in level of intimacy, and some did read the way I initially expected hundred-year-old letters to read. But I was surprised to learn that many wrote in a comfortable, modern-sounding style, that, had it not been on yellowed paper, could have been composed today. They were casual, they were frank, they weren’t afraid to joke or make blushing suggestions. This made my job easier, in that I could write in a format accessible to a modern audience without sacrificing accuracy.

Jen: When twenty-four-year-old Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn receives fan mail from David Graham, an American college student with a passion for poetry, how does it change her perception of the world in which she lives?

Jessica: I think it gives her a sense of just how big the world can be. Elspeth, who has not only a fear of water, but strong ties to the island she calls home, has never set foot off Skye. To know that her books of poetry have traveled further than she ever has or could hope to, is something of an awakening for her. Those letters from Illinois give her a kindred spirit, in David, but also a reason to wonder what else might be out there. They give the island-bound poet a taste of adventure.

Jen: At what point in the letter exchange do Elspeth and David realize their relationship is no longer purely innocent?

Jessica: Right around the time the war begins, they start to realize that those letters mean more than just friendship. Elspeth, lonely in her little cottage up on Skye, rereads David’s old letters and falls asleep covered in his words. David, across an ocean from the war, can’t help but worry about her. But it takes others to see and point out the clues peppering their letters before Elspeth and David are willing to admit what they are feeling.

Jen: What effect, if any, does their correspondence have on their respective personal relationships at home?

Jessica: Ah, their correspondence certainly does have an effect at home, as can be expected with a faithful exchange of confiding, searching, intimate letters. As with anything close to the heart, kept secret for so long, both the holding of the secret and the ultimate reveal have emotional repercussions on all involved, whether they knew they were involved or not.

Jen: Years later, Elspeth’s daughter Margaret falls in love with a pilot in the British Royal Air Force. How does Elspeth’s adamant disapproval of her daughter’s wartime love affair alter their mother/daughter relationship?

Jessica: Elspeth worries more than disapproves. When she sees Margaret waiting for the postman, the way she did all those years ago, when she sees Margaret tossing everything aside to rush and meet that pilot on a leave, she worries that her daughter will face the same heartache and regret that she did in that earlier war. That worry, more than anything, changes their relationship, because it puzzles Margaret. Being curious, she wants to seek out her mother’s past, the past that brought up that concern. Do Elspeth’s actions directly alter their mother/daughter relationship? Perhaps not. But they provide Margaret with the questions she needs to challenge the relationship.

Jen: When Elspeth suddenly disappears during the attack on London, how does Margaret muster up the courage to go in search of her?

Jessica: This is a great question, which really got me thinking. I’m not sure it’s courage that Margaret lacks before heading off to London at the start of the Blitz; rather I think it’s direction. Her mother has always been her bulwark, the only family member in her life. When Elspeth disappears from Edinburgh, Margaret is left with questions, questions that spark her curiosity, but also with an unacknowledged uncertainty. In searching for her mother, Margaret has a chance to discover not only her past, but also family and, through them, solidity.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

Jessica: I keep things simple on my website. A description of Letters from Skye, links to find it for sale, upcoming events, and contact information. I use social media for more up-to-the-minute news and for sharing things like links and pictures.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news.

Jessica: Yes! I post updates on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jessicabrockmoleauthor) and on Twitter (@jabrockmole). I have a lot of fun on Twitter especially and love connecting with readers, writers, and history lovers there!

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Jessica: My next novel is also set during World War One, in Scotland and in the France, as two artists in the midst of war try to recapture a lost summer of innocence that they shared years before.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Letters from Skye. I recommend this touching love story to all of my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects!

Jessica: Thank you so much for having me, Jen!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Jessica Brockmole. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Letters from Skye today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, send me the answer to the following trivia question to jensjewels@gmail.com and you’ll be entered to win!

Where is the Island of Skye located?

In September, I will be bringing to you my interview with Tracey Garvis Graves, author of Covet. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…enjoy the last days of summer!

Jen’s Jewels with Julia Heaberlin

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

In the next month or so, many families will be sending a young person off to college for the first time. Part of this process will involve packing up his or her belongings and shopping for the oh-so-perfect accessories for the dorm room. Amid the goodbye tears, the thought of newfound freedom sends these college freshmen along their way. Yet oftentimes, parents neglect to inform their children of the dangers associated with college life such as date rape. Just a five minute talk could make all the difference in the world.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Julia Heaberlin addresses this very topic in her latest release, Lie Still. It’s the story of Emily Page, a victim of college date rape. Now as an adult, she is happily married and expecting her first child. When she and her husband relocate to Clairmont, Texas, Emily is hopeful for a fresh start. However, when the queen bee of the Texan socialites is reported missing, it brings back haunting memories of a past Emily thought she had left behind.

As part of this interview, Random House Publishing has generously donated five copies for you, my readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date by visiting my website www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com, Twitter @JenniferVido, and Pinterest Jennifer Vido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your summer reading adventure.

Jen: As the acclaimed author of Playing Dead, you are known for writing intense thrillers. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Julia: I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, um, a while ago. My first job was as a copy editor/reporter at a paper in South Dakota where I worked night shifts and nearly died in various blizzards. It was hell for a Texas girl. I lived in a basement apartment managed by a very nosy 82-year-old, and grass grew out of the carpet in my bathroom. The line at work was: “Julie’s going home to mow her bathroom.” In those two years, I paid a lot of painful dues—after that I managed lifestyle and entertainment coverage at the Rochester Times-Union, The Detroit News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I also did a stint at The Dallas Morning News. Eight years ago, I quit editing and decided to pursue my dream of writing novels. But I can’t completely let go of journalism and still free-lance pieces here and there on people who particularly fascinate me.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as an author.

Julia: There really wasn’t one. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I had a profound story to tell. In my case, I needed life experience—writing, editing and peering into people’s crazy souls. Journalism taught me that good writing is not always about pretty sentences. It’s primarily about point of view and interesting content—the ability to listen and to tell a story simply and powerfully. I hired a talented writer whose unusual newspaper writing style was a prime example of this. In the job interview, he told me that his parents worked in the coal mines of Virginia and that he grew up around adults with eighth-grade educations who didn’t read much more than the daily newspaper. He thought these smart, hard-working people shouldn’t be cheated out of emotional, literary experiences and deserved stories that didn’t talk down to them. It was one of the best answers I ever got to an interview question.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?

Julia: About eight months. And then at least three more months fiddling and rewriting after my editor, husband and agent bluntly point out what parts they don’t like. The most challenging aspect of writing for me is applying my butt to the chair every day whether I feel like it or not. That, and limiting my Dr. Pepper consumption.

Jen: Lie Still is a truly engrossing psychological thriller depicting the emotional journey of Emily Page, a woman with dark secrets to hide. How did you arrive at the premise?

I wrote this book while my first novel, Playing Dead, was being pounded by rejection after rejection from New York’s major publishing houses. So I was in a bit of a dark place. At my agent’s urging to start a second book anyway, I sat down to write with nothing but a vague concept of a club of Southern women with black hearts. I was frankly surprised when my protagonist’s first words were about a date rape in college. But I rolled with it because Emily had a lot to say on the topic. I’m not one of those writers who follow an organized outline (and readers who have dipped into my books know this well!). I let the characters discover the story. I try to weave many threads so that readers are unsure of what is coming, but not so confused that they are irritated by the end of the book! I love a mystery that I can’t figure out. So that’s always a primary goal.

Jen: In terms of Emily’s husband Mike, how has their recent relocation to Clairmont, Texas affected their relationship?

Julia: Emily arrives in Clairmont vulnerable in all kinds of ways: She’s pregnant after a number of miscarriages. She’s lugging around a heavy load of secrets. She’s experiencing loss of identity after quitting a high-powered job in New York and moving to a small town in Texas. She thinks a stalker from her past has returned. And she’s been transplanted to a strange and very hot planet. She wants to rely on Mike, but there are so many reasons why she feels that she can’t.

Jen: Like any new transplant, Emily is in search of her niche among the local social circles. When Caroline, the queen bee among the wealthy Texan socialites, invites her to a cozy gathering, how does Emily’s presence cause tension among the group?

Julia: Well, she’s from New York! Many Southern girls will admit that’s an intimidation factor all on its own. Why we feel this way has to go back to the Civil War or something. But the glittery, snake-eyed women in the book are always looking out for themselves. Any intruder they consider competition—smart, pretty, sure of herself—would get the same kind of treatment.

Jen: The cast of quirky socialites brings rich drama and flair to the story. Three in particular stand out. Letty, the former beauty queen turned frumpy housewife, vehemently questions Emily’s past. What is the root of her disdain?

Julia: Isn’t jealousy and insecurity the root of most disdain? A desire to make yourself feel better, in control, when inside you are shrinking away? I don’t know a person like Letty in real life: a slightly racist ex-pageant queen on a hot dog and banana diet who carries an assault rifle in the trunk of her car. But I would like to know her and get to the root of her problems. She makes me laugh. The reasons for her insane behavior, how she redeems herself, are complicated and somewhat beyond me.

Jen: Misty leads a colorful life with an uber rich husband who is never around. Why does Emily seek out her friendship?

Julia: There is an immediate, intangible connection. A sense that something dark lives inside both of them. And Misty feels like an outsider in this town as well.

Jen: When Caroline mysteriously disappears, her trusting maid Maria confides in Emily. What sparks this peculiar pairing?

Julia: Well, Emily is at heart a nice person, who would rather hang out with the Marias of the world than the Carolines. And the worried, revengeful Maria badly needs help. I think it’s that simple.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

Julia: Besides the basic facts about my books, career and appearances, I offer links to a few personal essays and stories I’ve written (on the Who I Am page). There is also a Book Club Primer page for those interested in reading and discussing Playing Dead or Lie Still.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news.

Julia: My Facebook author page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julia-Heaberlin/122462674521360) is where I post the most recent news and go back and forth with readers. I also update my website (www.juliaheaberlin.com) regularly. I don’t blog. I tweet occasionally. If I’ve realized anything, it’s that The Book Is The Thing. I have a finite amount of creativity in me every day and a finite amount of interesting things to spout off about. If I don’t deliver a good book every single time, no one is going to want to hear what I have to say anyway.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?

Julia: Yes! My third novel for Random House is a psychological/forensic thriller called Black-Eyed Susans. It’s the story of a woman found at 16, barely alive, with a skittish memory, dumped with a pile of unidentified bones and a dead girl in a field of Texas wildflowers. The book travels back and forth in time, from the angry teen-age girl trying to regain her memory to the woman she becomes, still seeking answers. Last year, I profiled one of the world’s best forensic scientists, Rhonda Roby, an Oklahoma girl, who worked intensely and compassionately on identifying victims out of the dust at 9-11. She’s agreed to consult with me for Lie Still on the DNA science and the ugly, frustrating world of missing people. But at its heart, this will be an emotional novel full of my usual: an eccentric cast of characters with a boatload of secrets.

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Lie Still. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects, and happy summer!

Julia: Thank you for those kind words and for providing this forum! One last thing: If readers take anything of substance away from Lie Still, I hope it’s that they get their daughters to take at least a rudimentary self-defense class before going to college. Date rape is definitely not a thing of the past. There is still so much shame and confusion involved, and often no game plan when bad situations inevitably arise. We need to give our girls a game plan, and hope they never have to use it.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Julia Heaberlin. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Lie Still today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to email me at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What are the names of Emily’s two friends in Lie Still?

In August, I will be bringing you my interview with Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…happy summer!