Today we have our third Christmas author visiting from Texas. She does a bang up job introducing herself, so I'll let you read on and find out who this next author is.
Hi! My name is Jenn Faulk, and I'm a stay at home mom, pastor's wife, and unapologetic fan of chick lit. I'm a native Texan, and I love reading, running marathons, being a mom, and telling others about Jesus and what a difference He's made in my life. I have a BA in English-Creative Writing from the University of Houston and a MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I've always enjoyed writing, and a few years ago, when both of my daughters started school, I finally had the time to finish a novel I'd been working on for years. (Literally years!) I've gone on to publish twenty books since then, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend my time creating characters and stories that I hope lead people to know and love Jesus.
Jenn Faulk is a full time mom and pastor’s wife in Pasadena, Texas. She has a BA in English-Creative Writing from the University of Houston and an MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She loves talking about Jesus, running marathons, listening to her daughters’ stories, and serving alongside her husband in ministry. You can contact her through her blog www.jennfaulk.com
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
While I would technically call my "writing career" a hobby, given that it takes priority behind my work at home and at our church, I'm able to put in enough hours to consider it a full time pursuit. I write while my daughters are in school and in the rare moments they give me to have a few moments of peace for myself. It's hard to calculate how much time I spend in my stories because it honestly doesn't feel like work. It's been so much fun!
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
My novel, Christmas Surprises, revisits some of the characters from my other books. Rachel, the main character, is getting ready to host the best Christmas ever alongside her husband, Micah. Her brother, Grant, and her sister-in-law, Maddie, are on the guest list along with Jacob, Micah's cousin, his wife, Gracie, and their children. Micah's mother, Natalie, also comes, bringing an unexpected guest with her. What Rachel believes will be a Christmas to remember becomes just that as everyone has some surprises of their own, all of which come to light and threaten her plans for a perfect holiday. The story is told from Rachel, Maddie, and Natalie's perspectives and takes place over the span of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
What lead you to choose a Christmas theme?
One of my most faithful readers told me that I needed to do it! She told me how fun it would be to have a Jenn Faulk holiday book to read over Christmas, and I thought it was a great idea. The plot and the conflict all came together pretty easily (because there's always drama with a big family Christmas, right?), and it was so much fun to revisit characters from my other books.
Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?
Everything is set in the real world, in the present time, and in the great state of Texas. Because these characters have stories that I've already told in previous books, putting them together was a great next step. There are family relationships already, and there are connections between those who are distantly related, making for a big character web that will have readers recalling details from past books. The best thing about Christmas Surprises, though, is that it's a stand alone story. You can read this one without having read the others and still get the whole story.
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
Rachel is a stay at home mom who is struggling with the decision over whether or not to go back to work now that her children are in school. As she wrestles with that decision and the implications it will have on the rest of her life, she busies herself with trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone... and freaks out more than a little when everyone and their drama makes perfection an impossibility.
What stay at home mom (or any mom, honestly?) hasn't felt like that at one point or another? Rachel is one of my favorite characters, and it was so exciting to be able to write about her after she got her happily ever after in my book "Just Friends" and to revisit where she is and what God's still teaching her. A lot of the things she learns -- about how to let go of being in control and how to trust God with the future -- are things I'm learning as well in this season of my life. I've always been told to "write what you know," and so much of the inspiration behind Rachel has been me doing just that. Hi, I'm a micromanaging, slightly neurotic stay at home mom who is going to have the perfect family holiday, even if it kills us all! Merry Christmas! Been there, done that, you know? Ha ha ha, you're too funny.
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
The message behind this story and all of my stories is that Christ is sufficient, He knows us, and He will be glorified through our lives. We don't have to come to Him perfect with our lives all figured out. He will take us as we are, love us, and change us so that we can live purposeful and fulfilling lives for Him. I'm convinced that my stories aren't worth writing if a reader doesn't come away from a book more aware of Christ and more confident of His ability and His desire to work in our lives.
A very noble message.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
I've done it both ways, but I'm finding these days that I work better with an outline. I don't get very specific with it, though, because I'm a Type A person who will allow myself to get shackled to a set plan and sacrifice creativity in the long run. Generally, I come to a story and write two parts -- the first scene and the last scene. I like to write down the specifics of the conflict/conflicts. Where is the tension in the story? How is it going to be resolved? With this book, I went ahead and did an outline because it helped me to keep track of the changing perspectives and where each character was in the movement of the general storyline. Interesting. I still have an aversion to outlines, though when I did create an overly detaile done for my course work, I did appreciate it.
What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years? How much research went into it?
It's a quick little look into the Christmas holiday. The book opens up on Christmas Eve morning and closes on Christmas night. In between, the three women -- Rachel, Maddie, and Natalie -- remember past Christmases spanning back over thirty years.
Now that is what makes novel writing so awesome...hundreds of years covered in a few pages, or hours filling hundreds of pages.
How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
This is the first Christmas specific book I've written, and it's also the first time I've written from the perspectives of more than two people. However, this book reads like the rest of my books, so if you like Christian chick lit, you'll enjoy this one. Looking forward to reading it!
How have the changes in present day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
I love the freedom of being self-published! I'm able to get books out as quickly as I can write them, and while that's made me busier than I thought I could be when I started this, it's been amazing, being able to put out so many stories in such a short amount of time.
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
I'm just now beginning to figure out this whole marketing thing! I do what I can on social media and recently had a featured ad on BookBub. Apart from that, most of my marketing has been by word-of-mouth. I do a lot of giveaways, which broadens my audience, and I'm working on branching out even more. The CIR group has a wealth of knowledge, tips and experiences that they share. Be sure to look into it!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read. Read everything you can. Good, bad. Read it, and get a better sense of what works, what doesn't, what keeps you entertained, what doesn't, and what's out there. Then, write. Take chances, put your ideas out there, and keep at it, no matter what the profits are. Now that I like. Lately, I have come across some disappointing books that I have not even bothered to finish. Now I can look at it as a learning experience, taking a look at what I don't like and why it doesn't work for me.
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
I have four more books I'm working on in bits and pieces right now. All four are centered around secondary characters from past books. For those who are faithful readers of my books, the next story is about Eli Lucas. I can't wait to share it with you!
I am going to throw in my 2 cents here...I had been reading a series of books by an author I enjoyed. She started off with the telling of the story if the eldest of three brothers. The second and third books told the story of the second and third brother. So far, so good. Then, she started expaniding into characters we'd crossed in the first three books. Several books later, there was no mention of the first three characters -nothing. Not even a comment. She probably should have changed her setting to another town. I think readers want to keep in touch with the other characters, even if it is little more than a brief conversation at the supermarket. Something, anything! (And I won't get into inconsistencies...like hair color or siblings aging at different rates). OK, that's just my little rant. Done now.
Rachel Johnson is about to have the best Christmas ever. Her house will finally be full of extended family members for the holidays, and she can’t wait for all the fun Christmas surprises to begin. She’ll get more than she expected, though, when her guests arrive with their own surprises. Her brother’s marriage is a mess, her husband’s cousin and his family are
moving in with them, her mother-in-law has a secret, and the cute puppy they’ve adopted is pure evil. Surprise!
As Rachel’s plans erupt into unexpected drama, she learns that God is still at work with everyone in their lives and that He may just have a few surprises left, even for her…
Purchase Link: Amazon