BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

GIVE AWAY - NORA INTERVIEWS JENNIFER ERIN VALENT

JENNIFER's BIO: (From Blog) It wasn't until her mid-twenties when Jennifer decided to try her hand at writing for children, but the realities of breaking into the publishing industry made it necessary for her to try other forms of writing as well. She began submitting articles to Christian women's magazines and eventually decided to try writing a novel. A few successful freelance opportunities and the encouragement of a patient industry contact kept her writing and submitting her fiction to publishers.

Her fourth novel, Fireflies In December - a departure from the romantic comedies she first penned - placed in the semifinals of the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest in 2006. After some revisions, she re-submitted the novel to the 2007 Guild contest and won the prize of publication. On the heels of seeing Fireflies In December released, Jennifer looks forward to the upcoming sequel, Cottonwood Whispers, due out September 2009. And keep an eye out for the third book in the series, Catching Moondrops, releasing in the Fall of 2010.

Jennifer's sincerest hope is to glorify the Lord by writing quality Christian fiction that will inspire, encourage, and uplift readers of all ages.

Did you come up with the titles your books? They are very unique, they stand out. If not, what were the working titles? Did you have any say so on the cover this book?

Yes, I did come up with the titles. Fireflies in December came a little late in the game, but I actually think the title came to me before I wrote the scene that points to the meaning of the title. Cottonwood Whispers came about after I'd come up with the theme and idea I wanted to communicate. Catching Moondrops was a real rabbit out of the hat because I needed a title in order to pitch the idea for a third book. I did a lot of praying and considered my basic theme to give me an idea of what direction to go in. I turned the title in before I'd ever started to write the story.

I haven't been a part of the cover creation for either book, but I have loved both of them to pieces. The designers did such a tremendous job capturing the feel and meaning of the story in one picture.

In your book Fireflies in December, you talk about a subject most people are uncomfortable to talk about. What made you want to write about this topic—racial tension in the early 1900’s? Why through the eyes of children?


It really just came from this thing I've always had about standing up against bullies, to be honest. I've often thought that if more people would step up and say no to those who try to use violence to intimdate and coerce, there wouldn't be people who intimidate and coerce. The problem is, we often aren't willing to step forward and stand firm for what's right, and I wanted to portray a family who did. But I wanted them to be real. These characters all have different emotions when it comes to their battle against evil, and they all approach it differently. The idea for racial prejudice to be the source of conflict for the book simply came about because I had come up with the characters of Jessilyn and Gemma and had set it in 1932 Virginia. There's really no other direction it could have gone at that point.

I had come up with Jessilyn before I even came up with the plot, so it was natural for me to continue the story with her even though she was thirteen. But I figured her perspective would be very real and honest, as most kids' perspectives are, and I wanted to come at it from the angle that this is a child whose innocent view of the world and the people in it is shattered very suddenly.



What was your favorite scene to write in Fireflies in December? What was your most difficult to write? Why?
Okay, you'll think I'm sick, but my favorite was the climactic scene where Jessilyn has her confrontation with Walt Blevins. It was just such an "adventure flick" kind of moment, that it actually was fun to write. The most difficult was either the death of Gemma's parents or some of the parts where the Klan harrasses the family. One was sad to write, the other ones just made me plain angry.

What was your favorite scene to write in Cottonwood Whispers? What was your most difficult to write? Why?


I really liked writing the scene between Miss Cleta and Jessilyn where Miss Cleta is talking about the "whispers". That scene holds a lot of meaning for me and brings out the theme of the story. If I told you the most difficult I would be giving away plot lines, but let's just say it was a moment when Jessilyn comes face to face with her own mortality.

How did you come up with the sequel to Fireflies in December? Did you know where you wanted to go before you even wrote the first book? Will there be a third? If so, what will you talk about in that book?
I am a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl all the way. I have no idea what the main plot lines will be when I get started on a book. I may have had ideas about where I wanted Jessilyn and Luke's relationship to go, how I wanted Gemma to interact with Jessilyn, but I never had the main plot until I got started and things started to head in that direction. The third book in the series, Catching Moondrops, will be released in the fall of 2010. It will take place three years after Cottonwood Whispers when Jessilyn is twenty, and it will readdress the racial prejudice that went mostly underground in Cottonwood Whispers. To me, the sin that lies in our hearts just simmering is so dangerous. It can eventually boil over in ugly ways, and that's what happens in Calloway County in Catching Moondrops.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you get into writing for a career?











No, I really didn't. I wanted to be a lot of other things, but never really a writer. I'd always written bits and pieces here and there for fun, but it was never more than a hobby to me. I really think this was just something the Lord had planned for me, and when the time was right, he planted the desire and ability in my heart. Plain and simple, it was meant to be! (This is Jennifer's book cover printed in other languages)

It says on your website that you were a nanny for a long time, what made you get into that and what were you duties?

I love kids! Growing up I made my spare change babysitting, so once I realized that there was actually a way to parlay that into full-time work, I jumped at the chance. The primary responsibilities for a nanny simply involve daily care for the children, including taking them to activities, preparing meals, changing diapers... you know, all the stuff kids need, nannies do it! I'm so grateful to have been a part of so many great kids' lives.

QUESTIONS I KNOW YOU WANTED TO ASK JENNIFER BUT WERE AFRAID TO SO I DID!! :D

If you had 24 hours to hang out with anyone TWO PEOPLE alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus); what two people would you pick & Why? What would you do?


The first one would be my maternal grandmother whom I never met. From what I've learned of her, I think we would have had a good deal in common, and I'd love to have a girls' day out with her. We could do some shopping, eat some good food, and maybe go to a sporting event, since I hear she enjoyed sports like I do. I can't wait to meet her in heaven!


Secondly... this is tough! Maybe Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear. I love to shop, but I never seem to find what I'm looking for. It would be great to have a day to shop with an expert who could tell me where to go and what to buy. Of course, if he'd bring along one of those $5,000 debit cards with him like he does on the show, that would be even better!

Where did you live growing up? What did you like about growing up there?


Richmond, VA. My favorite memory is the Wisteria vine that had taken over a tree in the front yard. I loved the way those purple flowers announced spring's arrival, and I loved climbing up into the tree to sit and think.

Name three jobs that you’ve had that might surprise people?

Hmm... not too much that would surprise, I don't think. But I've been a housesitter, an optometrist's assistant, and I've cleaned houses.

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why?


The 1959 version of The Diary Of Anne Frank. Even when I was young I was amazed by what horrors Hitler was able to accomplish, and Anne's story really impacted me. My writing is deeply affected by the concept of one person or a small group of people managing to intimidate and persuade a large group of people, and how that might change if more people took a stand against evil and fought for the oppressed.

Name four of your favorite books read as a child?

Oh gosh! That's tough, because I was primarily a truly devoted Nancy Drew-er. Loved them all! I honestly didn't love the classics, sad to say, but I did like to flip through Little Women every now and again. And if you want to really go back, my favorite bedtime book was called The Forest Hotel, and I wanted to hear it ALL the time. Just mention the name of it to my mother, and you'll hear a very long sigh.


You’ve been given the opportunity to us a time machine and visit any TWO events in the history of the world. Which TWO events would you pick and why?










The Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There are no other events in history that changed the world so dramatically and completely. As horrifying as it would be to witness the crucifixion, it would make certain that I never again take for granted that ultimate sacrifice and perfect example of love. But what an amazing experience it would be to see Him alive again, to go from hope in nothing to hope in everything! It transformed the lives of his apostles, and I'm sure it would do the same for me.

Name three everyday tings that you wouldn’t want to live without?

Lip balm, hand lotion and chocolate

What four websites do you visit daily?
I don't know that I visit anything daily except maybe Facebook. I go to Goodreads a lot, and I like to check out the Pittsburgh Post Gazette to see how my Penguin hockey team's doing. And I have to admit I often hop over to Amazon to check out the book rankings. Sigh...


9. Name four movies you could watch over and over again?
























I love the old screwball comedies! I've seen Arsenic and Old Lace, The More the Merrier, Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth so many times I could probably act them out for you. As it is, the quick, witty lines in them have become part of my everyday conversation.



10. If you had one free afternoon to do anything you wanted to do what would that be?

Walk on the beach, read on the beach, and nap on the beach.
(Picture with my niece and I having fun at the beach)

Also take time to enjoy my family. Pictured here I'm with my sister, mom and niece.












FINAL COMMENTS YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH??




One of the most amazing parts of becoming a published author is knowing that people are actually reading what once sat on my computer unread. So a huge thanks goes out to all of you who take the time to dog-ear one of my books. It's a thrill to create stories for you, and I hope to do it for years to come!

Jennifer

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer and letting my readers get to know you. Blessings on your writing adventures. All the best to you on your new writing projects. Remember if you’re ever in Atlanta you’ll have to stop by and speak to my book clubs that would be so much fun.

Sincerely,
Nora :D

Thanks Nora, I look forward to you stopping by again.
Jennifer


DRAWING WILL BE JANUARY 10th - You Must Leave a Comment ABOUT the Interview for your chance to win a copy of Jennifer's book.

CONGRATS Kristinia Clos.You've won a copy of Jennifers book.
THANKS to everyone for stopping by and getting to know Jennifer and her books. They are really books thhat touch your heart and make you think. She talks about tough times through the eyes of young girls. Thanks Jennifer for stopping by. Thanks to Tyndale for providing this give away.

BLESSINGS
Nora :D
****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open U.S. residents and Canadian residents only, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

29 comments:

  1. I find these books, including Fireflies in December, to be truly enlightening. They are subjects of interest for me. Please enter me.
    Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Don't enter me, Nora. I just stopped by to say that Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers are two of my absolute favorite books. They are incredible!

    Blessings
    Michelle V

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was interested in the author writing about predijuse in a child' view point. I can't wait until I get to read them. Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would so love to read these beautiful books...love the covers!
    I really enjoyed Jennifer's interview and getting to know this new-to-me author. Thank you! Please add me to your giveaway list. Thanks again.

    New Year Blessings,
    Sandee61

    Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  5. You highlighted an author who I predict is going to have a long and fulfilling career. Love Jennifer's two books. I got Cottonwood Whispers as a Christmas present. Want to pick up a copy of Fireflies too (checked it out and read it from the library). Thanks for the giveaway.

    Tabitha
    tabitha dot steinbock at gmail dot come

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loved the interview Nora and Jennifer. Would love to read all three books. Thanks Nora!

    Gail Mundy

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nora -
    Thanks for the interview! Please don't enter me in the contest; I just want to make a comment.
    I read and reviewed 'Cottonwood Whispers' on my blog, and just was so impressed by Jennifer's talent! As was Jennifer, I was also impacted by 'The Diary of Anne Frank' as a child - the book - and as a result have always had an interest in the Jewish people and the evil that man can do to man.
    Jennifer's wonderful, and I look forward to reading all of her work!

    Blessings & Happy Twenty Ten -

    Andrea
    http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I loved this interview....I, too, am a huge Pittsburgh Penguin fan...go PENS.


    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(Dot)Com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great interview Nora. Please enter me in the drawing. I haven't read any of Jennifer's books and would love to read either of them. I'm always looking for a new author to introduce to my book club ladies.

    Sheryl Barnes

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting concepts for the books. Since moving to Georgia from Illinois, I have learned alot more about the subjects of slavery and racial tension.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Her books are automatic buys that go on my keeper shelf. 'Nuff said! :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. Being someone who enjoys history, I can't wait to read this serious. I am particularly interested in the next book, the child turns 20 and continues on.

    Thank you for sharing this with me. I can't wait to read the books now.

    Catherine Kinney

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nora's interviews are so good at helping us get to know the authors better, and I appreciate that.

    I was a big Nancy Drew fan like Jennifer, although I liked the Judy Bolton series better. And then there was Cherry Ames, etc.

    I really hadn't given it much thought, but hand lotion and lip balm would definitely be on my can't-do-without list. But my 3rd item would have to be coffee! And I loved Jennifer's selection of the crucifixion and resurrection as events to visit.

    Thanks for the chance to win one of Jennifer's excellent books.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow! That Wisteria is so beautiful.

    Happy New Year
    gahome2mom/at/gmail/dot/com

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great interview, Nora and Jennifer. I think I met Jennifer a few years ago at a writers conference in Richmond Virginia. How cool to read about her books and her writing journey.

    ReplyDelete
  16. OH WOW! I loved Fireflies in December and now to hear there is a sequel!

    I love how you put together the interviews with imagery!

    Interesting that Jenneifer was a housesitter, you think those jobs only exist in film!

    Please enter me to win! Great interview!

    kristinia at lovingheartmommy dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow! Linda, Michelle, Tabitha, Andrea, Christina, Kristinia - Ladies, your words are so encouraging, you have no idea! It means so much to me to know these books are special to you.

    To all of you new readers - thank you so much for your interest in my books. I truly hope you enjoy every page!

    Sharon - How fun that we might have met! I was at the James River Writers conference maybe four or five years ago. Did I by any chance sit with you at the writer's panel?

    Karen - Let's go Pens! I'm watching them play Philly right now, but it's intermission. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Having grown up in the 60's and going to a school that was predominately black, I have a good understanding of racial issues. I would love to read your books to see how they would correspond to my memories and views. Please enter me into the drawing.

    walkinfaith4him at yahoo dot com
    LaTawnia Gray

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great interview.It is always fun to hear what authors did before they became authors. I have not read any of Jeniffer's books, but I would like to. agreatdayin2003@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jennifer, yes I believe we sat next to each other in one of the sessions at the James River Writers conference four or five years ago. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have not read any of Jennifer's books, but after your incredible interview I am putting these books on my TBR list even if I don't win. I love Clinton Kelly as well, and yes, I would go for the $5,000 makeover anyday!!
    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks so much to all you authors for having such incredible gifts and putting them to GREAT use
    Blessings!

    dleathers36(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a wonderful interview! I loved Cottonwood Whispers and I would love to go back and read Fireflies in December. Thank you very much.
    carlyberd[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've read Cottonwood Whispers and loved the way it handled racial issues. Interesting to read why the author chose to deal with those issues - because of the time period of the book - I had wondered about that as well. It makes the book all the more relevant in today's period - since it's not specifically about the issue but the way to handle it. Would enjoy winning any of Jennifer's books! (And I love the titles - and the covers.)

    Janemaritz at yahoo dot com

    We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/01/jennifer-valents-book.html

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think it is interesting that she'd like to spend time with Clinton Kelly. So often I think the same things, love to shop, but would like some help (and the cash!)

    Wendy
    ebeandebe at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I haven't read any of Jennifer's books, but after reading the interview I would love to start. Please sign me up.
    Deborah M.
    debbiejeanm[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Just got in on the tail end--so glad I did. Firelfies sounds like a great story! Sign me up. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great interview!!! I want to read that book. What a down to earth girl. Thanks for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great interview!! I really want to read her book. Thanks for sharing her story and life. What a down to earth girl!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. CONGRATS Kristinia Clos

    You've won a copy of Jennifers book.

    THANKS to everyone for stopping by and encouraging this author. It's meant so much to her and myself.

    BLESSINGS

    Sincerely,

    Nora :D

    ReplyDelete