Monday, June 14, 2010

Author of Note: Jennifer AlLee

Welcome to The Bookshelf, Jennifer! We’ll be talking about your writing journey, and I also have a few just-for-fun questions. First, however, I’d like you to tell us a little about you as the everyday lady next door.

The most important things in my life are my faith and my family. By nature, I'm an introvert, but once I get to know people and we become friends, they can't get rid of me! I love to hang out, play games and laugh. I'm also a pop-culture buff and enjoy movies, TV, live theater, and learning useless bits of entertainment trivia.
Sounds like you have your priorities right where they belong. Would you share a little with us about how you got started as a writer? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I’ve always wanted to be something creative. I went through stages where I wanted to be a photographer, a singer, an actress… but I’ve always been a writer. I was that kid in school who wrote a novella when the assignment was only to write a short story. I wrote my first novel during my senior year in high school and finished the second one in college. Neither one were very good, but they were good learning experiences. (And I still have both of them packed away in a box.) Ultimately, the act of creating characters from scratch and taking a journey with them is the most fun and fulfilling thing I know. It can also be the most frustrating. But it's a gift from God, and I'm grateful everyday that I get to do the thing I love and share it with others.

Yes, it definitely is a gift. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

For me, ideas are floating around everywhere, kind of like dandelion fluff. Sometimes my own personal experience is the starting point. Or a magazine article or TV news item will have a little nugget in it that makes me think, "Hmmm, what if..." And then there's my own twisted brain which takes off on tangents all by itself. No matter where the idea comes from, I've found it's imperative that I write them all down. I've got a notebook by my bed and a smaller one in my purse. In a pinch, a napkin or the back of a receipt will do. Now, if only I had time to turn all these ideas into really awesome novels...
(Sigh) Time is so relentless, isn’t it? What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?

Join a writer's group. For years, I wrote in relative solitude. It was a lonely, frustrating way to work. Then I stumbled across a link for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) on another author's website. Joining that group was like stepping out of a dark closet into a brightly lit arena. A whole new world opened up to me, one of support, learning, and amazing professional and personal relationships. I absolutely would not be where I am today had I not joined ACFW. And I'm not getting paid to say that, either :+}

As an ACFW member myself, I completely, wholeheartedly agree. They have been and continue to be a blessing to me, as well. Jennifer, give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

Let go of perfection. I used to agonize over writing the perfect first draft, to the point that I paralyzed myself into not writing anything. I've found so much freedom in allowing first drafts to be big, sloppy messes. It's in the editing that the real artistry and fine-tuning comes in.
Shushing that inner editor seems to be a problem for many writers—myself included. Tell us about your newest release, and what inspired you to write it.

I served as a church secretary for many years, which gave me a unique perspective on the lives of a pastoral family. When I was working on the original concept for my novel, I thought about the pastors’ wives I’ve known over the years. They’ve handled themselves with amazing grace under pressure. But what if another woman couldn’t? What if a young woman thinks she knows what she’s getting into, but the reality of losing who she is and putting on the label of “the pastor’s wife” is more than she can handle? What if some other tragedy pushes her over the edge? Would she run? And what would happen if she had to return to the scene of her heartbreak years later? All those questions eventually became my newest release, The Pastor’s Wife.

I truly enjoyed the story that came of all those questions. J What can we expect from you next?

My next novel from Abingdon Press, The Mother Road, comes out in 2012. Let me tell you a little bit about it... Natalie Marino has spent half her life telling women how to live happily ever after. But within the course of a week, she is dumped by her husband, receives an urgent call home from her father, and discovers her estranged sister is pregnant. A road trip on Route 66 may not help, but it sure couldn't hurt. Or so Natalie thinks, until her sister's boyfriend starts stalking them. Will their trip down the mother road bring the two sisters closer together, or turn out to be the biggest wrong turn yet?

Ooohhh, sounds exciting! Now for those off-the-cuff questions I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?
As a huge LOST fan, I'd love to sit down with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and pick their brains for hours, maybe days, on end. I know that's two people and more than one question, but being able to do that would really make me happy!

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you do that, Jennifer. I’m a LOST fan too. What books are on your bedside table right now?

I've always got a big, wobbly stack of books by the bed, both fiction and non. Here's an example of what's at the top right now: Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer, Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart, and Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist. So many great authors, so little reading time!
What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

Transportation. I'd love to be able to think about a place and just be there. This is a result of one long car trip too many.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

Misuse of apostrophes! I recently saw a flyer for advertising services that read, "You're name here." And there's a disclaimer that runs on one of our local TV stations that says, "The views expressed in the preceding program do not reflect those of this station or it's affiliates." ACK!
ACK indeed! I hate that one, myself. Anything public—such as the places you mentioned—should be as grammatically perfect as possible. I’m just sayin’…

Thank you, Jennifer, for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile. Where can readers find your books?

My new novel, The Pastor's Wife, is available at bookstores and online at places like Amazon. You can find out more about it by visiting my website:

About Jennifer AlLee:
As a child, Jennifer AlLee lived above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California, which may explain her unique outlook on life. Her publishing credits include The Love of His Brother, a contemporary romance from Five Star Publishing (November 2007) as well as skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to Concordia Publishing House’s popular My Devotions series. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, released February 2010 from Abingdon Press. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as the Nevada Area Coordinator. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and teenage son.

Contact Jennifer in Cyberspace:
Twitter -

NOTE: Jennifer has generously offered to give a copy of The Pastor’s Wife to someone who comments on either her interview or my review of her book in this edition. Be sure to leave your contact information along with your comment. I’ll need to be able to contact the lucky winner.


LuAnn said...

I agree that mistakes in apostrophes can really take away from what the author is saying. Severe spelling mistakes is another grammatical error that drives me nuts when I'm reading!

Delia Latham said...

I'm with you, LuAnn!