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Interview With Nancy Jo Jenkins

1) Introduce yourself to us. Name, info on your family, number of books authored, etc...

Hi. I’m Nancy Jo Jenkins and I’m married to David. I go by Nancy Jo. Together we have a combined family of five adult children and ten grandchildren.

Coldwater Revival is my first completed book, and my first book to be published.

2) Tell us a little bit about your road to publication.

I began writing about 5-6 years ago. I didn’t know much about writing, but I didn’t know how true that was until I attended my first writing conference. I had a paid critique with Lauraine Snelling. She asked me whose POV I was writing in, and I hadn’t the foggiest idea what she was talking about. Needless to say, I’ve been attending workshops, conferences and retreats ever since that time. I have a very willing spirit when it comes to writing. I WANT to learn everything I can about writing, publishing, promoting my book, and becoming the writer God intends me to be.

3) Do you write full time? If yes, can you give us a glimpse into your daily writing life? If not, what is your day job?

I try to write every day, but that’s not always possible. A typical day for me is to begin writing after I’ve had my quiet time, and after I’ve done a few chores. So I usually begin around 10:30am and write until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I’m retired, so I don’t have to worry about work, but there are many other obligations and responsibilities that take up a great deal of my time.

4) What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

Self-doubt, procrastination, and shyness are things that kept me from giving writing the all-out effort it takes to get published. But God has blessed me graciously by allowing my first completed novel to be contracted and published. At the same time I received my publisher’s contract, I also signed on with Steve Laube, and excellent and brilliant literary agent.

5) What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

In April 2004, while attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers conference, Jeff Dunn, acquisitions editor for RiverOak, read my proposal for Coldwater Revival, and asked me to send him the rest of the book. Steve Laube also read my proposal and asked me to send him all I’d written.

Having both and editor and an agent ask for my work was a beautiful, unforgettable highlight for me. Both men called me a few weeks later and offered me a contract.

6) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

Francine Rivers is a great inspiration for me, along with so many other great authors. Too many to try to name. But God is my true inspiration. He is the One who puts stories in my heart, and He is the One who teaches me how to write them. As our Lord said, “My Father tells me what to say and how to say it.” (paraphrased).

7) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

I know my basic story – beginning, middle, and ending – before I write the first sentence. But my story evolves as I write, and changes in ways I could never have imagined. In that way I am a seat-of-the-pants writer; always ready to go in a new direction if one of my characters leads me there.

8) I’m notorious for *snacking* while I write! Do you have any favorite munchies you wouldn’t mind us knowing about?

Yes, I am a “muncher” also. I have my sticky computer keyboard to prove it. Sometimes, I even eat my lunch while writing. I’d have to say that half of an avocado, filled with picante sauce and eaten with chips or a spoon, is my most favorite snack.

9) How do you strike an agreeable “balance” between your writing time and other responsibilities?

I can tell that sometimes my friends and family wish I wouldn’t spend so much time writing. So I try to be available for lunch-outs with my friends, and to help my daughter by picking up my granddaughter after school sometimes. I love being with my grandchildren, so it’s a fun getaway for me. I don’t keep my house as clean as I did before writing became a way of life for me. Now I’m finding it easier and easier to “overlook” the dust that piles up, not to mention the loads of wash that pile up ever so quickly.

10) Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

Eighteen-year-old Emma Grace Falin is my favorite character. Like most other writers, I have made my heroine a composite of personalities; bad enough to be realistic; good enough to make her believable and interesting.

I absolutely LOVE Emma Grace. She has so much love in her heart for her family, her animals, and of course, the man she falls in love with. Yet she has such a great burden to carry, a great trial to face, and a very difficult journey to travel in order to find peace and joy.

11) How do you deal with publisher rejections? Crawl in bed under the covers for an entire day? Indulge in double-fudge chocolate? Or just brush it off?

I hurt with a very deep hurt when rejection comes my way. In other words, I take it very personally, though I’ve been taught not to. Lauraine Snelling once told me that authors have to grow a very thick skin. I try to remember that when I face rejection of any kind.

12) Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

In ten years I hope to still be writing books, and to have those books published. I’d like to add to my repertoire some children’s books, and some of the Christian songs I have written. Like every author, I’d like to see all of them published.

13) These have been fairly standard questions. What is one thing you’d like to share with up-and-coming writers that they may not even know to ask yet?

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of joining and being part of a group of writers so that we can ALL learn from each other. ACFW has been a blessing beyond imagining for me. I have met so many wonderful people, and I have found God’s love flowing through this family of Christian writers, publicists, agents, editors and publishers. ACFW is a family – a family who willingly shares with each other, cares for one another, and helps those in need. ACFW is an example for all of us about the way God wants His true family to treat each other.

14) Tell us a bit about your debut novel, Coldwater Revival.

In 1933, three weeks before Emma Grace Falin is to marry Gavin O’Donnell, she heads home to Two Toe Creek to confront her past. She knows if she fails to reconcile with the death of her younger brother she cannot offer her full heart to the deserving Gavin. Five years may have passed since the incident that shaped her, but Emma still mourns the loss and feels guilty for causing it. She has even shunned God.

Five years ago her family also devastated by the death, cannot cope with Emma, who wants to die. They send her to Galveston praying her grandmother will help her heal. There she meets Tate, who has suffered the loss of loved ones, but still believes snugly in the Lord and lives life to the fullest. Tate knows he loves Grace, but hides his feelings from her as he knows she is not ready for a relationship. Now she is engaged to someone else, but he trusts that God will show both of them the way.

Besides a strong look at the healing process, this deep inspirational tale provides a powerful sense of time and locale as the audience obtains a taste of Texas during the Depression.

Emma is a wonderful protagonist as she holds the historical drama together with her first person account of the past and present. The support cast, predominantly seen through their respective relationships with Emma, augments the audience’s understanding that the lead character lacks confidence in her self, her family, and the Lord as she struggles to understand why bad things happen to good people.

I’m in the proposal stage of writing my next book. My story takes place in the early 1900’s. Some of the tentative titles are:

The Hills of Gavilan
On Top of the Clouds
From This Moment On

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