Welcome, reader friends! Today I have author Jennifer Slattery with me talking about her recent release Dancing in the Rain, co-authored by Eileen Rife.
~ About the Book ~
On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. Unbeknown to Loni, Michael Ackerman, the director, is an ex-con responsible for the accident that caused her blindness. When Loni warms up to camp and wants to return as a summer counselor, Michael opposes the idea, which only makes Loni want to prove herself all the more. Though she doesn’t expect to fall for the guy. Still, her need for independence and dream of teaching win out, taking her far away from her beloved Camp Hope . . . and a certain director.
Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Loni instantly and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/).
~ Author Chat ~
Thanks for joining me today, Jennifer. Let’s start things off by taking a little ‘flight of fancy’. How would you finish these statements?
If I could travel anywhere in time and space, it would be to…
Hm … I actually like our present time as I’m a fan of air conditioning, Blue Bunny ice cream, and all the books I have access to on my kindle. As for location, I’d love to travel Europe with my daughter and husband! (She’s actually in Spain for a study abroad trip this summer, and we miss her terribly!)
Europe is definitely on my bucket list!
If I was an animal, I would be a…
Dolphin. (I’m answering these from Nebraska, where summers get pretty hot and humid. A quick dip in the ocean sounds marvellous!)
If I could only eat one type of fruit for the rest of my life, I would pick…
Cherries by the buckets-full!
Lol. I fond of cherries myself, but I’m not sure I need buckets full!
If I could say one thing to my younger self, it would be…
Spend more time with Jesus. Like a lot more!
If I could have one superpower, it would be…
The ability to make anyone laugh at any time, and to create a laughter that’s contagious.
What an awesome superpower! I think one of my kids had that superpower as a baby/toddler. 😉
Okay, let’s talk about Dancing in the Rain. Where did the idea for this story come from?
My co-author came up with the premise and did most of the research. I was lucky to come along for the fun part. 🙂 Writing.
Could you tell us a little bit more about how you and Eileen went about co-authoring this book? What did that process look like for the two of you?
She had a big chunk of the book done before I came along. We started as critique partners, and she asked me to join her with this project. We’d write, revise, swap chapters back and forth, revise some more. Eventually, we largely settled into characters with her voice seen heavily in Loni and mine more visible in Michael. When disagreements arose, she got final say as this was primarily her baby.
The heroine of this story, Loni Parker, is blind as a result of an accident ten years ago. What kind of things did you need to take into considering when writing a blind character?
Eileen did a great deal of research into issues relating to the sight impaired, which included things like learning about braille Bibles and talking watches. As far as writing her character—and revising, as we continued to find “oopses” in revisions—we had to view the world through sounds, scents, and touch. It was actually a great exercise as far as writing goes as I wasn’t aware of how much I rely on visual clues and descriptions when writing. But Loni’s world is so much richer!
I definitely found that when I was reading it, so revising all those “oopses” was worth it!
We’ve mentioned Loni Parker is blind, but could you tell us a little more about Loni and what makes her tick?
She has a deep love for God and music and a fierce need for independence that, in part, stems from her struggles with blindness. She feels dependent on others for so many things, she really wants to learn to stand on her own—and to prove to herself that she can. Sometimes she can be overly stubborn, and yet, I understand why. It’s almost like she’s fighting for who she was before her accident, or perhaps who she’d dreamed she would one day be.
Could you introduce us to the male lead, Michael Ackerman, and tell us a little about him?
He has a rough past and spent time in jail—because of Loni’s accident and his part in it. But his incarceration turned out to be life giving as that’s where he met Jesus and experienced life-change. Since then, he’s driven to help others find that same freedom. He tries really hard to live out the faith he preaches, but he struggles with unforgiveness. Perhaps this is why he’s so afraid of Loni’s response, should she discover he’s the man who took her sight. Michael has accepted God’s free gift of grace, but in many ways, he’s not truly living in that.
Accepting God’s grace and living in it are often two different journeys, aren’t they?
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story?
Co-authoring, I think. Eileen and I have a great deal of respect for one another and have always worked well together, but we brought different voices and ideas to the story. Sometimes that involved a good deal of back-and-forth revisions, but we also relied heavily on Jesus and His wisdom, and ultimately, He brought Dancing in the Rain to print!
I can imagine. Listening to my kids’ ‘pretend play’ gives me a new appreciation for the difficulties that could arise from co-authoring. 😊
Was there anything that surprised you during the writing of this story?
I’m not sure if anything really surprised me, but Loni’s blindness and the challenges she faced did make me think. I feel it opened my eyes to struggles people might be facing. They say one can’t truly know what someone else is dealing with unless you’ve experienced it as well, and I think that’s true. Writing and reading, however, can provide a personal experience of sorts that helps us relate to those who may be different than us.
Yes! One of the things I love about reading! 🙂
What did you enjoy most about writing this story?
Working with Eileen. She’s a wonderful, encouraging, creative woman!
What has writing this story meant to you as an author?
I think perseverance. I can’t remember when she and I began working on this book, but I want to say it was before I received my first contract in 2014. So, it’s taken four years—and many, many revisions!—to bring it to print.
Wow! It must have been satisfying to reach the end of that road!
Thanks for chatting with me today, Jennifer. 🙂
~ Giveaway ~
Jennifer is giving away one eBook copy of Dancing in the Rain to someone who comments on this post. Let us know about a time when perseverance has paid off for you, or simply tell us what interests you in this book, then click here to go to the Rafflecopter form: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bd61d44b36/? Giveaway closes 11:59pm on 29 July 2018.