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Interview with Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers. Jennifer is a freelance writer, speaker, and is an active member of her church. This multi-talented lady’s recent novel, Intertwined, released in October.

Jennifer after reading your bio on your website, I have to ask—how do you do it? You’re involved in a variety of activities. Can you tell us a little about how you manage your time to produce such wonderful blog posts and your latest book releases? What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
The biggest factor in my productivity level is that I don’t work outside the home, and I’m incredibly grateful that God, through my husband, has made this possible. Most of my day, therefore, is spent on writing and speaking related tasks. In addition, I don’t watch television. Instead, I read to relax, alternating between fiction and non. This way, I’m feeding my brain even in my downtime.

I also tend to pull pretty long hours. It’s not uncommon for me to jump on my computer by eight am and still be on it at eight pm (with breaks for family dinners and walks with my hubby, of course!). In addition, I usually work Monday through Friday and half of Saturday. But because I truly love what I do, this fills me up and refuels me rather than wearing me out. All that being said, I fiercely guard my Sabbath, which I honor on Sunday.

Your books are described as “missional romance stories.” Tell us what this means and about the role of your characters in these stories? Especially in your latest release, Intertwined.
I’d love to. My publisher’s acquisitions editor wrote a great article on what this means for them as a publisher. You can check that out here. But in a nutshell, through my characters’ journeys, I encourage readers to surrender to God’s plan for them, because I believe we all have a call, and I believe our greatest joy and fulfillment is found in embracing the unique call God created us to pursue.

Do any of your stories reflect your personal past experiences? If so, how were you able to bring those experiences into the lives of your characters? If not, how do you research the settings in your stories?
This novel in particular contained numerous elements I’m not hugely familiar with, the biggest being my main character’s job. I have zero medical knowledge, so when an organ procurement coordinator and friend suggested I write a story on organ donation, I immediately said no. But then one morning my heroine’s story began to unfold in my mind.

I’ve been writing with Christ long enough to know that was from Him, so I surrendered. But I knew I could never write such a story on my own, so I called my friend and strong-armed her into helping me. (Sending a shout-out to this amazing woman, Ami Koelliker) A lot! We met for hours upon hours so that she could teach me the ins and outs of donation. She gave me feedback on my plot ideas and read through the manuscript three times, suggesting changes each time.

I also visited hospitals, talked to hospital personnel and chaplains, and talked with and interviewed single moms. One of my most memorable interviews was done by phone. I’d read an article about a restaurant owner whose business had been devastated by a fire. (The hero in Intertwined, a restaurant owner, experiences a similar catastrophe.) I found this business owner’s email and set up a time to talk by phone. He was from New York. He taught me about the process he went through in regard to working with insurance and also shared something amazing that found its way into my story. ;)

If you could spend the day with a famous author, whom would you choose? And why?
I’ve been so blessed to have met so many wonderful writers, either in person or online. One of my favorites is Eva Marie Everson because she has such a heart for others. She has to be insanely busy, with all she does and manages in a given month, but even so, she always has time for others, and she treats everyone as if they’re amazing and important.

I also love Deb Raney for the same reasons. I’ve only met her in person once, but I’ve interacted with her via email a few times. She’s always so quick to offer help to newbie writers like me. I could learn so much from both women. God’s granted them both incredible success, and yet, they live so humbly and others- focused.

What one bit of advice can you give to new writers?
Never. Give. Up. Stay focused on obedience and pursuing surrender-based excellence, meaning, do the very best you can in everything you do, use your gifts to their fullest and do all you can to develop them, and leave the results to God.

Briefly describe one of your typical writing days.
Oh, my. There’s no typical. I usually wake up at 5:30 and begin with coffee and Bible reading. This is something I don’t rush, and it’s not uncommon for me to be reading, praying, and journaling for an hour and a half or more. My time with Christ is the foundation and provides the direction for all I do.

When in the middle of a book launch, I try to be showered and on my computer by eight am. Because it takes a while for my muse to wake up, I normally start with edits, visiting blog tour locations that have gone live, and social media.

Then, if I don’t have any additional blog posts to write, I’ll do free-fiction writing, or, if I’m on a substantive edit deadline, I’ll work on that. Sometime around 2, I try to pull away to listen to praise music and pray, centering my heart in Christ and His will. Many times I’ll do this while walking or folding laundry. (I pray best when moving!)

I’ll do household stuff early in the morning or from 3-4, then I work on freelance articles or whatever until 4:30. At this time, my husband comes home, and I either cook dinner while chatting with him or I’ll join him for a leisurely walk. I usually block the next hour for dinner, and then after dinner, I’m back on my computer writing, editing, or whatever until around 8 or 8:30. Then I read until I fall asleep, around 9:30 or 10.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I hope and pray God is the initiator and perfecter of all I do. My daily prayer is that God’s love, grace, and truth would permeate everything I write and that, at each moment, His will would overpower and replace mine.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?
Read! And spend time with my husband, daughter, and close friends. And I love, love, love to serve in my local church. It’s incredibly exciting to me to be part of what God is doing in my community.

Are there any new (to you) authors that have grasped your interest?
Oh, my, I’m always finding new authors! I recently read Shellie Arnold’s debut women’s fiction titled The Spindle Chair. It was awesome and very thought-provoking. For nonfiction, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder.

Plotter, Pantser, or Planser?
Plotter who often meanders toward a pantser, so I guess that’d be planser.

Finish this statement: My favorite part of the writing experience is:
The rough draft stage. I absolutely love losing myself in my stories!

Pride and Prejudice or Gone with the Wind? Both???
eReader or Paper Book? I read both but prefer paperback.
C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkein? Again, both? Brilliant writing is brilliant writing. How can one choose a better of the two?
Latte or Cappuccino? I’m beginning to sound repetitive, but both. I’m a coffee addict, so I’ll take anything hot with a bite and some sweet.
Laptop or Desktop? Finally I can be decisive! Laptop. I have two that I use simultaneously.
PC or Mac? I use both—one of my computers is an Acer, the other a Mac.
Debbie Macomber or Karen Kingsbury? How can I choose between such great authors? Again, I’ll have to say both.
Math or English? (sheepish smile) Again, both, though I never went higher than college trig and statistics. Not sure I could’ve swung calc.
Summer, Spring, Winter, or Fall? I love every season and love living in an area with all four distinct seasons.
While writing: Music or Silence? Silence.
Coffee or Tea? I drink both regularly but tend to have coffee by IV.
Vacation: Mountains or Beach? Again, both. I’d love to be stranded in a mountain cabin with nothing but my husband, books, my computer, and my Bible. But I also love kayaking in the ocean, snorkeling, and I’d love to learn to surf.

Any parting words?
Thanks for having me and showing me, through your questions, how wishy-washy I am. Must choose favorites. Must have favorites. Must try more fun things and visit more great places to figure out what my favorites are!

Thanks for sharing with us, Jennifer!

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