Jen grew up in the small town of St. Clairsville, Ohio, where she spent an idyllic childhood riding her purple spider bike, ice-skating on a little pond and reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon books in her tree house.
When she's not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado.
The following is a June 2013 interview with Jen.
I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio where I had an absolutely fabulous childhood. Summers were spent at the pool, lake, or in the tree house we had in our backyard. Winters were spent sledding and ice-skating on a little pond. I ran around with a wonderful group of girls throughout high school, and oddly enough, I never really experienced that teenage angst so many teenagers have to face. I went off to college and earned a BA degree in Clothing and Textiles and after graduation, began working in retail, first in a buying office, and then moved out to manage a department store. I met my husband, Al, while living in Buffalo, NY, and we got married seven months after we met. Everyone was incredibly skeptical about our union, but we just celebrated our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary, so all their worries were apparently for naught. I stopped working after the birth of my son, Dominic, and settled down to being a mom, spending my time at pools, the zoo, and playgrounds. We moved from New York out to Denver, Colorado when my son was one, and we’ve been enjoying the warmer climate (yes, it is nice in Colorado) ever since.
What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
It never really entered my head to become a novelist, but that was due to the family I grew up in. My siblings are all rather annoyingly over-achievers, and while I was definitely the black sheep in my family, we were expected to choose a career that would lead us to success. One of my brothers is a surgeon, two other brothers are engineers, one sister is a nurse, and my other sister is an attorney and CPA. Then there was me. I was the dreamer, and I must say, my parents almost had a heart attack when I walked out of the admissions office at college and proclaimed I was majoring in fashion. Quite frankly, I think they simply accepted my decision because a few months before I decided on that particular college, I’d made the declaration I was moving to New York City to become a make-up artist. Fashion wasn’t looking so bad at that point.
I didn’t begin writing though until my son was in third grade. We’d struggled through a series about this bird (I have yet to own up to him that book number six wasn’t exactly the last book) and when I finished the last page, he made the remark that the stories I’d told him to keep him entertained in his jogger stroller when he’d been a little guy were more interesting. We decided to write our own story, and I’ve been writing ever since. I tried several different genres from middle-grade, to YA, to contemporary romance, but finally settled on historical romance because that’s what I read the most. Rejections were swift in those years, and sometimes brutal, but I finally managed to sign with an agent, and then she, very kindly, sold my books to Bethany House. Writing is definitely the perfect job for me. I get to daydream all day long, and now, when I talk to myself on the bike trail, people don’t think I’m odd because most of them know I’m an author.
A Change of Fortune, my debut novel, is the first book in a series of four – The Ladies of Distinction Series. The idea for it came to me while I was waiting for scrubbing bubbles to do their thing on one of my showers (even though I have yet to spray that stuff on and not have to get out the power washer to get the grime off the shower walls.)
Lady Eliza Sumner is an aristocrat who has lost her fortune, father, fiancé, and faith all in a relatively short period of time. She’s decides that her only option at the moment is to track down the dastardly gentleman who stole her fortune, which brings her to America. She obtains a position as a governess to disguise her true identity, and when she’s pressed into service to even out the numbers at the table during a formal dinner party her employer is giving, she meets Mr. Hamilton Beckett, one of the most sought after gentlemen in New York City. Mayhem and adventure commences immediately.
A Change of Fortune
Rollicking Debut from an Exciting New Author
Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiance, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.
Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society--all the female ones, at least--are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone.
Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence.
When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.
The second book in the series, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, just released to market on June 1, 2013. It is Miss Arabella Beckett’s story, paired with Mr. Theodore Wilder. She’s a supporter of the suffrage movement, he’s one of the most chauvinistic gentlemen in the country, and sparks begin to fly the moment he’s forced to bail her out of jail.
The third book in the series, A Talent for Trouble, comes out in October, 2013. It’s Miss Felicia Murdock’s story and Mr. Grayson Sumner’s, and it was a fun book to write.
Book four, currently untitled, comes out in 2014, and readers will finally get to learn what happens with Miss Agatha Watson and Mr. Zayne Beckett.
I also have a novella out – Gentleman of Her Dreams – and it’s available only for e-book, but it’s free. My editor suggested I write it so readers could get a glimpse of my writing style before A Change of Fortune came out. It’s a complete story, although short, and the heroine, Charlotte, does show up again in book four, but a reader doesn’t have to read the novella to catch up on her.
A Most Peculiar Circumstance
Delightful Blend of Love and Laughter in Turano's Sophomore Novel
Miss Arabella Beckett has one driving passion: to help the downtrodden women of America. Naturally, she supports the women's suffrage movement and eagerly attends rallies and lectures across the country. On her travels, she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need that goes sadly awry and lands both ladies in more trouble than they can manage. An independent sort, Arabella is loath to admit she needs help and certainly doesn't need help from an arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor.
Mr. Theodore Wilder, private investigator extraordinaire, is on a mission. A mission that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. By the time he finally tracks down Hamilton's sister, Arabella, he is in a less than pleasant mood. When the lady turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he soon finds himself at his wit's end.
When they return home to New York, circumstances force their paths to continue to cross, but the most peculiar feelings growing between them certainly can't be love. When the trouble Arabella had accidentally stirred up seems to have followed her to New York and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.
Gentleman of Her Dreams (Ladies of Distinction Novella Prequel)
[Download FREE: Amazon Kindle]
A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1)
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A Most Peculiar Circumstance (Ladies of Distinction #2)
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A Talent for Trouble (Ladies of Distinction #3)
[Pre-Order: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Charming Wit and Romance from an Author Sure to Delight Readers
Miss Felicia Murdock firmly believed her destiny was to become a minister's wife. When the minister on whom she had set her sights marries another lady, Felicia is forced to take a close look at her life and comes to a few uncomfortable conclusions. Determined that something needs to change--and soon--Felicia discovers she is finally ready to spread her wings and embrace life the way she's always wanted.
Grayson Sumner--or Lord Sefton, as he's officially known--has had more than enough of spreading his wings and only hopes to settle into the life of a normal, respectable New York gentleman. Prompted by some well-meaning friends to lift the spirits of the disappointed-in-love Miss Murdock, he is surprised to encounter a young lady who seems to have become quite adventurous and quite determined to get herself into all sorts of troublesome situations.
Intent on remaining independent, Felicia is reluctant to accept Grayson's help, especially as she finds herself developing feelings for him. However, just as Grayson decides he's had quite enough of her antics, his past comes back to haunt him and his presence in her life has endangered Felicia. Will Grayson and Felicia decide they want to spend the rest of their lives keeping one another out of trouble?
I think the most important thing about Christian Fiction is it gives readers a little bit of hope, while providing them with a clean and enjoyable story.
How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
What I hope to achieve through my stories is to allow readers a small escape from the problems of everyday life. I want them to smile as they meet my characters, and if they actually laugh out loud, well, that would simply be the best feedback I could receive.
What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist?
The support and enthusiasm of the readers has definitely surprised me the most. Receiving letters from them, or hearing from them on social media, has just been amazing. Many of those readers I’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with, and that’s been the greatest blessing of all.
How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
I didn’t start out writing for the inspirational market, but have come to believe that writing Christian fiction is exactly what God intended for me all along. From the moment I began writing A Change of Fortune, everything in my life improved. There was more laughter in the house, writing was incredibly easy, and my heart felt lighter than it had in years. My faith grew, and with each new story, it only grows stronger.
Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life?
My main goal is to see my son well-educated, but more importantly, happy. Being his mom will always be my most important job. He has one more year of high-school left and then he’s off to college, and I know I sound like the typical proud mother, but he really is turning into an exceptional young man.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a very social person, so I enjoy getting together with friends. I’d love to get together with family, but we don’t have any family members living exceptionally close to us except for my sister who lives four hours away. I also read a lot, but have to watch what I read if I’m in the midst of a first draft. If I’m reading a thriller, well, my light-hearted romances tend to get a little dark and then that nasty delete button on my keyboard has to come out. I also enjoy power walking, well, I don’t actually enjoy it all the time, but it’s the only way I can fit in a regular exercise program, and at my age, well, the pounds don’t stay off like they used to, and don’t even get me started on what a single piece of cake can do to my hips.
What would you like to say to your upcoming fans in New Zealand and around the world?
Just thank you for reading and for all of the amazing support you’ve given me so far. I love hearing from everyone and I may be reached by email, or on my author Facebook page. You may also check out my website.
Do you have any parting words?
Thank you so much for having me here today. It’s been an honor and I wish everyone all the best!
~ Jen ~
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