Q&A for The Healing Heart, by Jennifer Howard

1.  What is the title of your book?

The Healing Heart

2.  What is the genre and age rating?

It is a contemporary romantic work of fiction. It’s age range is middle teen to adult.

3.  Give a brief synopsis, using your own words.  

The Healing Heart is a fun, funny, quirky look at starting over, when it comes to love. The main character, Jamie Hansen, has spent two years mourning the loss of her husband, Paul, coming to grips with reality, and moving on. She doesn’t expect to ever find a love like that again, choosing to be grateful for what she had, while she had it. Then BAM, Conley Michaels comes onto the scene, and everything in Jamie’s little world gets a charge of electricity. Jamie soon realizes lightning can strike twice, when it comes to love. It takes a heck of a journey for her to make it to that realization, though. Take Jamie’s madcap ride and laugh right along with her!

4.  Is it part of a series? Is the series completed? What made you decide to do a series rather than an epic?

It is not part of a series. It is written from the perspective of Jamie, the gal. I have contemplated writing it from the perspective of her love interest, Conley. I definitely plan on writing an alternate ending in short story form and releasing that later this summer. It could be sort of a companion piece. Then it would be in the readers hands as to which ending they preferred.

 5.  Visually describe your main character and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.

My main character, Jamie Hansen, is a woman in her mid thirties. She has aged beautifully and is in great shape–curvy in all the right places. Her hair is a straight mousy brown stacked shorter in the back with the front sweeping her shoulders. She has blue-gray eyes, full lips, a slight dusting of freckles on her face. I never chose an actual person in real life to compare Jamie to. I wrote her a little ambiguously because I wanted any woman to be able to place herself in the character of Jamie, as she is reading. The description of her comes from Conley, as I included an excerpt at the back from his POV. He’s all man, so of course he’s going to notice the physical details! haha

 6.  What are his or her biggest faults? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?

Jamie’s only true fault, in my opinion, is her lack of self esteem. She doubts herself way too much, and eventually, she equally doubts the way Conley feels about her. This is an excerpt from a pretty big scene. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I think it proves her ‘fault’.

Excerpt:

“Conley this…this is amazing.  You are amazing.  I know you say I deserve you, but how?  How can that be true?”  He sighed and as I flung open the library doors, my eyes were full of tears, my heart full of doubt.  Looking in my rearview mirror as I drove away, Conley leaned in the open front door, sadness etched across every line of his face.  My tears started to flow, blinding me. 

7.  What are his or her best qualities? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?  

Jamie’s best qualities are her humor and her wit. She is goofy and charming. You can’t help but love her and root for her, in my opinion. Others have expressed the same sentiment to me.  Here’s an example, as she prepares for her first date with Conley:

Excerpt:

I dusted off my yoga DVD and popped it into the player.  Ten grueling minutes later, I patted myself on the back, thinking, Yay, me! There’s exercising for the next month or so under my belt!  Next up on the agenda, brunch.  I didn’t want to skip two meals, and I knew I was going to be way too keyed up for a conventional lunch.  So I indulged in an extra large bowl of organic granola, some Greek yogurt, and about a pint of fresh strawberries.  Hey now, I was still burning calories from my yoga!  I told myself I would scarf down a banana later, energy food for us ‘healthy’ people on the go!  HAHAHA!

8.  Is there a romantic interest for your MC (main character)…or maybe more than one? Would you describe it as antagonistic, angsty, steamy, romantic, and or loaded with sexual tension?

Jamie obviously still has feelings for her deceased husband, Paul.  When Conley Michaels enters the picture, the connection is instant and electric, though. It isn’t exactly antagonistic, per se. It’s more like she is trying to convince herself to stay away from him…and doing a very poor job of it! It is a romantic and steamy relationship, but not habanero-style steamy. (boo, I know, but hey, I did it for the kids and the grandmas out there…hahaha)

9.  Visually describe the romantic interest(s) and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person. 

Conley Michaels IS the actor Sasha Roiz, to me. He is scrumptious. I could eat him alive. Tall, well built, masculine, dark hair with a slight wave, but kept short, olive complexion, dreamy green eyes. I described him in EXTREME detail. haha…just as I see him in my dreams every night…kidding…(maybe) 

10.  Who is your favorite secondary character? Why? 

I love Jamie’s sister in law, Katie! She is one hot mess. She’s really funny. I like humor, especially the weird, dry, smarty pants variety. This describes Katie perfectly.

11.  Were any of your characters inspired by people you know or have known? 

My characters, with the exception of Conley, all have elements of people I know. My characters are representations of my life–people I love, conversations I’ve held, things others have said. That’s why The Healing Heart is so precious to me. (And if you’re wondering, Conley is all made up in my head…but in Sasha’s voice. #obsessed, you ask? Hmmm…)

12.  Post a short excerpt (1-2 pages max) that you think that readers will love…  

Here is Jamie, the night before her first date with Conley. You’ve gotta put yourself into context, here. This is a woman who hasn’t dated in over sixteen years. She’s excited and a mess at the same time. Just as she’s ready to change her mind, her crazy sister-in-law, Katie, comes to the rescue! Hope you enjoy!  

Excerpt: 

Was I ready for this yet or was I moving too quickly?  I knew it was just dinner, not a marriage proposal, but still, what did I even really know about Conley Michaels?  He was handsome; scratch that, drop-dead, make you want to faint, gorgeous.  He was obviously intelligent, assertive, a real go-getter.  He was confident, responsible enough to run his own business, worldly enough to brave the likes of New York City and beyond, but quaint enough to appreciate the attributes of a smaller town and make it his home.  He was funny, charming—wow, turns out I did know a lot about Conley Michaels, after all!

But what if he ran a drug cartel?  Or sweat shops in Asia?  Or what if he had a refrigerator full of heads in his basement?  He seemed so perfect, so why wasn’t he already taken?  He must have some deep psychological flaw!  Or maybe he was married!  Maybe he had a wife in every big city across this grand ol’ USA of ours!  Or maybe he was a scam artist, preying on lonely widows?  I had to cancel our date; it was the only safe option!  My imagination was running wild!

Deep down, I knew Conley wasn’t involved in any of those things.  It was the fear of the unknown that was fueling my panic, all the same.  What if this date ended in a shambles?  Where would my self esteem land then?  Could I just pick back up and start my life all over again?  Or what if it went really well?  Was I ready to explore that option?

As my mental tirade raged on, my phone rang.  No one ever called after 10 p.m. on a weeknight, so my heart began to race.  Was mom ok?  Was it Conley calling to cancel our date?  Nope—neither nor.  It was my sister-in-law.  Oops, I was supposed to have called her a week ago!  Well, a little distraction therapy was exactly what I needed right now!

“Hey Katie-bug.”

“Hey James, did you forget about me?”

“No, well, yes.  Things have been really crazy lately.  How have you been?”

“Same ol’—so spill!  What’s been so crazy that could possibly make you forget about Wednesday night girl talk?”

“Well, it’s fall insert time so work has been pretty hectic, soccer is in full swing, algebra is kinda kicking Gretchen’s tail, and I met somebody.”  I tried to slide that last part in on the coattails of my normal, mundane life.  Maybe she wouldn’t notice and I could just pretend I had never said it.  Yeah, and maybe a purple polka dotted alien would streak across my room in the next ten seconds, too.

“You…did…what?”  Her pauses were too slow and dramatic in between each word.  I knew the onslaught was coming.  “When did this happen?  What’s his name?  Is he cute?  Where did you meet?  Is he from here?  Is he older?  Ooh, younger?  Did I ask ‘is he cute’ already?”

Thankfully she had to come up for air.  To stymie any further interrogation, I quickly answered, “Last Friday…Conley Michaels…yes…Dad’s benefactor ceremony…yes…I don’t know, he seems to be around my age…no, I’m not a cougar…yes, you did, and yes, he is…again.”  Phew!

She gave an ear-splitting shriek!  “I…AM…SO…HAPPY…FOR…YOU!!  Did he ask you out?  Please tell me you said yes if he did!”

“Yes, he asked me out!”  I laughed.  “We are supposed to be meeting for dinner tomorrow night, but…”

“But what?”

“But what if he has a refrigerator full of heads in his basement?”

“Excuse me??”

And with that, I let it all go.  I told her everything, about the ceremony, how we met, about running into him (literally) again after soccer, about my decision, about mom and Gretchen’s rebuttal, about the phone call, the texts, all of this evenings crazy thoughts.  I really let her have it!  Surprisingly, for Katie especially, she really listened and let me rant and rave.  When I finished my little vent session, she quietly asked, “Are you quite finished?”

“Yes,” I spoke, a little breathless.

“James, you can’t mess this up, you just can’t!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I hope you have enjoyed this little sneaky-peek into The Healing Heart, by Jennifer Howard! 

Do you want to see more?  Yep, you know you do! Click on one of the following links to purchase a copy…

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iBooks

Do you want to know more about the brain behind the book?  Well, be sure to check out the author, Jennifer Howard…

Follow her and/or become a fan by clicking one of the following links: 

Website  ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Pinterest ** Goodreads

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