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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"THE HEART'S JOURNEY HOME" by Jen Stephens

BOOK REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW, & BOOK GIVEAWAY & A CHANCE TO ENTER JEN'S "WHAT A DIFFERENCE YOU'VE MADE IN MY LIFE" CONTEST!

In order to be entered to win Jen's debut novel, please leave a comment after the interview.  You must leave your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  No email address, no win!  The contest to win Jen's book will end on Friday, 5/21/10 at midnight.  Winner will be announced on Saturday, 5/22/10 via email.   Good luck!
And you don't want to miss out on this book!  The info for Jen's contest is after the interview down the page.


Here is the back cover teaser:
Three years after Kate Sterling's heart was shattered by the unexpected death of her husband, she packs up what is left of her life and moves back to Harvest Bay, Ohio, with her young daughter.  She soon discovers that her sleepy hometown has changed---and that she has been given a second chance at love.  But is God leading her to a love linked to the past....or to one who will walk with her into the future?

"The Heart's Journey Home" is Jen's debut novel, and hopefully not her last!!  It is a novel showing God's grace and how He works in the lives of the faithful.  If we are patient and wait on the Lord's timing, He will renew our strength and give us the desires of our heart.  Kate's grandpa reminds me of my granddaddy!  So wise and loving!  A strong man of God, he lovingly guides Kate to rediscover her faith.  She struggles, as do a lot of us, with why a loving God would take her husband and her little girl's daddy.
I really love how Jen developed her characters.  I felt like I knew each one of them!  She tells a story in such a way that I could imagine myself there in Harvest Bay, Ohio!  This is a wonderful Christian romance that I hope everyone will take the time to read.  You won't be sorry!

Now, for my interview with Jen Stephens!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jen Stephens grew up in a small Ohio town where she developed a passion for writing at an early age. She participated in Young Authors contests in grade school, wrote her first novel in high school, and wrote dozens of poems and short stories in between. She majored in elementary education with a concentration in English and the humanities at the University of Toledo.


Jen lives in the Nashville, Tennessee, area with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She teaches third grade at a Christian school and is very active with the youth in her church. A member of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Nashville Christian Writers Association, she writes in her “spare” time. Her first novel, The Heart’s Journey Home, released in February 2010.


How long have you been writing and when was your first book published?
I’ve been writing for as long as I could put words together. My earliest memories include wanting to be an author when I grow up. I wrote my first book in junior high but that one is in the back of my closet never to see the light of day! My first published book, The Heart’s Journey Home, was released in Feb 2010.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Free time??? What’s that??? Haha! Actually, I write in my free time. I am a wife, a mama of two beautiful little girls, and I teach third grade in a wonderful Christian school. I also like to cook, I dabble in photography, and, of course, play with my girls.

What are you currently writing?
The second book in the Harvest Bay Series, The Heart’s Lullaby. It’s about two things I care deeply about – kids and our United States military.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I am most proud of my two little girls—Alison (8 years old), and Olivia (6 years old). My heart just bursts with pride as they reach every milestone. They’re both doing well in school, both LOVE reading (YES!), and they both already love the Lord (Double YES!!). In many areas of my life I feel, you know, just average, but when I look at my two girls, I know I’ve done something really, really special. I could win the Nobel Peace Prize and I would still be most proud of being their mother.

Favorite scripture and/or quote:
Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts do you normally do for each novel? Do you have a certain editing procedure that you follow?
No, I’m an editor at heart. I love going back in and making something I’ve written better. I’m maybe even addicted. I really struggle with getting the story written because I go back so often. The Heart’s Journey Home, went through about at least 2 full drafts, some scenes went through more than that. I don’t have a certain procedure, I just reread it and if there’s something that bothers me, I fix it . . . and fix it again . . . and fix it yet again!

What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I want those who read The Heart’s Journey Home to feel sense of hope above all else. I want this book to clearly illustrate Romans 8:28, that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The key words here, I believe, are “His purpose”. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives that often may not be what we expect, but is ALWAYS perfect. It’s when we put our hope and trust in Him that we can see that. I also hope that my readers come to think of my characters as friends and Harvest Bay as their favorite vacation destination.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned more about certain “rules” of writing that I’m still trying to get right. I also learned that I still had open wounds from growing up with divorced parents and the death of my daddy that I never realized I had. This book actually helped me heal and I think that’s really cool!

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
I have several, honestly. I love all of the scenes with Grandpa Clayton, one of my very favorite characters, because he was so wise in a very non-intimidating way. I love the dance scenes, so different yet so critical. I love “turning point” scenes, where little by little you see these characters growing more in the Lord and becoming reacquainted with themselves. But if I had to pick one, I think I’d pick the very last one because as I wrote it, it filled my heart with not just satisfaction but a real sense of victory for Kate, the heroine.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Ugh! I really wish non-writers understood the time that goes into writing a book, especially for an author like me who cannot write full time. I also wish they would understand that this is a ministry for me. I don’t just write because I love it, which I do. I write because I really want to touch someones heart and maybe help them to grow even just a little in their relationship with the Lord. Because so much time goes into it, if I was doing it for any other reason, I don’t think I could continue to do it.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?
My very first mentor that took me under her wing taught me about POV. As soon as she explained it to me, it was like I went from seeing in black and white to color.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Staying disciplined enough to follow a strict routine that would give me a couple hours every day to write. I just don’t have enough time with everything I do in a day to get a serious amount of writing done otherwise.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?
This is the toughest question on the list, Janet! I’m really rather boring. I don’t think I’m surprising at all! They might be interested to know I’m 100% country girl at heart. I prefer to go barefoot (even though my feet are terribly flat and have bunions). I love, and I mean LOVE, vegetables straight from the garden. In fact I have no qualms about standing there in the dirt (barefoot, of course) eating a tomato like it was an apple. Mmm! I raised and showed rabbits at the county fair for several years when I was younger and still remember how to care for them. I’d be perfectly at home living on a mini farm. Also my readers might be interested to know I have a terrible fear of flying and of tornadoes. I have recurrent nightmares of both. I’m sure Dr. Phil would have fun with that one. :o)

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I really wish I would’ve known my daddy wouldn’t be here to share this with. I would’ve tried harder to accomplish it before he went Home. I wish I would’ve known how much extra went into the marketing and networking after becoming published. I love it, but it’s just the time thing, ya know? And I wish I would’ve been prepared for the challenge of writing under a deadline. I think I’m getting the hang of it now, but it’s a little more stressful.

How do you reach new readers?
My family and friends have been so supportive and helpful in spreading the word about my book and events that have taken place. I’ve made lots of new friends who are friends of a friend or family member. I love, love, love meeting new readers so however I can reach them is what I’ll do.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Email: jen@jenstephens.net

Website: http://www.jenstephens.net/

Blog: http://www.theheartsjourneyhome.blogspot.com/

Jen is having a "What A Difference You've Made In My Life" contest which goes on until Father's Day.
All you have to do to enter is email her through her website or leave a comment on her blog telling her about someone who has made a profound difference in your life, living or passed on.  She will pick one male and one female winner and they will become a MINOR character in her next novel!  How cool is that??  And in the front of the book there will be a short bio on the 2 people who are chosen.  So, email her or leave a comment on her blog and enter for a chance to win!!


Jen, thank you so much for doing this interview!  I'm sure after reading this people are going to be very eager to read your book!  I've really enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to the future!
May God continue to bless you and use you!!

23 comments:

  1. Janet, you are such a kind and generous host! Thank you so much for having me! I hope all your readers enjoy reading this interview as much as I've enjoyed doing it . . . and, of course, I hope they enjoy The Heart's Journey Home!

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  2. Hi Jen! *waving*
    What a great interview! Sweet lady! And fantastic book!
    I look forward to discussing it in the bookclub.

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  3. Hi Janet, first time visit to your blog. Love the decor and the "As for me and my blog, we will serve the Lord."

    Jen,
    The comment that learning POV was like going from black and white to color. So true.

    Thanks for the opportunty to receive a copy of your debut novel.

    A J Hawke
    ajhawkeauthor[at]aol[dot]com

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  4. Hi Janet -

    This sounds terrific. I'd love to read it!

    Blessings -
    Andrea
    andrealschultz[at]gmail[dot]com

    http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com - would love to have you visit my blog!

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  5. That interview was great. I really want to go out and get her book to read and see what its all about. By the way, love the website. msimons0922@gmail.com

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  6. Hi, Shawna! *Waving back* Thanks for stopping by here and thank you for your wonderful support since we've met! Hi, AJ! Yes, learning POV really IS like going from back and white to color! It was my "ah ha" moment as far as writing is concerned. Andrea and Michelle, thank you so much for your kind words! I hope you get a chance to read The Heart's Journey Home one way or another. Good luck to all in the drawing! And don't forget to email me (jen@jenstephens.net) if there's someone special you'd like to nominate for the "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" contest!

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  7. I LOVE your blog, it's so pretty!! I would love to read this book, please enter me. :)

    caseymh18(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. I just want to say thanks for the nice comments on my website! I'm kinda proud of it!

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  9. This sounds like a wonderful book! Please enter my name in the drawing.

    caralynnjames at yahoo dot com

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  10. I don't have a blog yet, but enjoy all of the ones I subscribe too. I've learned so much about Christian fiction and so many new-to-me authors. I truly enjoyed Jen's interview and would love to read her debut book. Please enter my name in your giveaway. Thank you!

    Blessings,
    Sandee61

    Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

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  11. Casey, Cara, and Sandee, thank you so much for your interest in The Heart's Journey Home! Good luck in the drawing! And this is a pretty blog, isn't it??? Kinda makes mine look hum drum! :o)

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  12. Jenn, your's is not hum drum!! And thanks for the compliment!!

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  13. I enjoyed hearing more from the author and would love an opportunity to win this book.

    bnredeemed[at]gmail[dot]com

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  14. I have never read any books by this author but the interview was wonderful! I am intrigued and would love a chance to win this book! Thanks so much!

    Molly
    Mollydawn1981 AT aol DOT com

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  15. Hi, Janice;

    Thanks for the interview. It's good to know more about Jen and her book. I'm thankful for the opportunity to win her book.

    Thanks for entering me.

    Blessings

    Nora St.Laurent
    Finding Hope Through Fiction
    www.psalm517.blogspot.com

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  16. Hi, Wanda! Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview! Molly, you haven't read anything by me yet because I'm a brand new author! The Heart's Journey Home is my debut novel. It's a very special book to me, and I hope it will touch others as well! Hi, Nora! *waving* It's good to see you here! I'm so honored (not to mention flabberghasted) that The Heart's Journey Home won the ACFW book club selection. I hope everyone likes it! Good luck to all in the drawing!!!

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  17. Hi, Janice;

    Congrats!! to you Jen!! I'm excited by your win too. I look forward to reading your book and getting to know you better. Janicce, Thanks for letting me know about my email address. I thought I left it. Thanks for having the give away.

    Nora
    norafindinghope@gmail.com

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  18. First time visitor and I love your site. Great questions, too! I'm in the same boat as Jen, I'd go back & edit until I got it right. Sounds like the book was cathartic for her. That's very cool. Please enter me to win.

    ~Mimi
    mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

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  19. Thanks for the great interview. I love this page and the book sounds terrific. Please enter me in the giveaway.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

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  20. Great interview Jen. I love to find out the little things about authors and this helps me understand them and their books. Thanks for stopping by to chat.
    I have this book on my wish list and would love to win. Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  21. i would like to enter in this drawing! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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  22. Looking forward to reading this. I always love to read about how people have picked themselves back up after a tradgedy. This one sounds wonderful.

    The book discussion sounds great, this is new to me.

    Steph
    soklad@hotmail.com

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  23. A new addiction: editing!!! Gotta be a writer at heart.

    Please enter me for this great sounding book.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete

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