Saturday, June 20, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Jan Elder

My Spring 2015 "Love is in the Air" blog series concludes today with an author interview of Jan Elder.

Jan's first book, a novella called Manila Marriage App, released in April and it is a pure delight! A story filled with intrigue, surprises, plot twists and clever lines awaits you because Jan promises to send one copy of her novella to the winner of the book giveaway contest!

Enter the contest by first leaving a comment and your e-mail address in the comment section below this post and then fill out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget.

Meanwhile, enjoy this author interview featuring Jan Elder.

*Words from Alexis in bold, words from Jan Elder not in bold

Alexis: Congrats on the publication of your first book, Manila Marriage App! What did it take to write it?

Jan: Tenacity! To be a bit more specific, it took a year to write, another few months to have professionally edited (a must if you’re going to attract a publisher) and another year after I received a contract before it was released (April 17, 2015.) Yep. An author learns patience very quickly. Or slowly…as the case may be.

Why did you write Manila Marriage App?

It all started in a little café in Silver Spring, Md. I was meeting with a few other ACFW members (American Christian Fiction Writers) and fellow writer, Carole T., mentioned that Pelican Book Group was searching for authors to write for their Passport to Romance series. What did I do after I hurried home? You got it. I checked it out. Pelican/White Rose publishing has a lovely website with terrific handy-dandy info all about their requirements.

Here’s an excerpt from their website at that shows the requirements for their newest series:


Take a trip and fall in love! Passport to Romance™ titles are contemporary romances set in exotic locations around the world. These stories offer the contemporary Christian reader adventure, vivacity, romance, and faith. Passport to Romance™ features chic heroines who are sparkling, confident, open for adventure—and who are a perfect match for a contemporary alpha male who has a zest for life, a thirst for God, and who likes an intelligent woman who can hold her own.

What was your inspiration for the story?

My single brother. He’d always talked about how difficult it was for a busy missionary man to find a good woman. It would be a great deal easier to just send out an application and choose a mate without all that fuss, muss, and emotion. He was kidding of course, but hey, what if he wasn’t? What if there was a man out there who would have the audacity to advertise for a wife in this day and age?

Shay Callahan is quite a name! Tell us more about your leading lady. What made her want to fill out the Manila Marriage App? What are her greatest dreams and biggest fears? What makes her tick? What makes her heart melt?

Shay was doing just fine, thank you. Just fine. Except she wasn’t. There was no joy in her life, no passion…no close walk with God. What started out as a plan to bring our hero, Timothy Flynn, to his knees, turns into a real adventure for Shay. She yearns for a real relationship where there is deep love and self-sacrifice. She’s just not sure how to get there. She may seem a bit brash, but she has a huge heart and a stifled desire to make a difference in this world. What makes her melt? A man who will love her for who she is and bring out the very best in her.

Dr. Timothy Flynn is the hero of this book who is not very likeable for the first few chapters of your book. Is that how you wanted it to read? Explain. What was your favorite part of creating this character? What did you find most challenging?

Timothy Flynn is a complicated man. To use Shay’s words, he’s a mountain of contradictions cloaked in complexity. What looks to be arrogance on the surface is merely insecurity when it comes to women. He’s sure and confident in his passion for teaching and mentoring students, but at his center, he’s a shy introvert with a fear of getting hurt. So, he approaches marriage the only way he knows how—with his brain rather than his heart.

The best part of creating his character was creative his myriad layers. Taking this seemingly egotistical man and revealing his true personality, one with a heart full of love just waiting for the right woman to share his dreams, took some doing, but I hope you see his true self by the end of the book.

Why did you choose to set your book in the Philippines?

The Pelican Passport to Romance series has over 50 exotic cities to choose from so the defining factor in writing Manila Marriage App was, of course, location, location, location. And since they were taking “open submissions” that meant I didn’t need an agent, a big plus for a new author. In addition, the extra-cool thing was that in each of the countries, the author must sprinkle in three specific items—objects that are completely different for each country. One of the three for the Philippines was a cat and I’m a cat lover from way back. Yippee! How much more perfect could it be?

According to your author bio, you are “A Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to.” How long did it take you to realize this was your niche? Share the story of finding your voice as an author.

I’ve heard many writers say there was a pivotal moment in their lives that marked the beginning of their writing career. I know that was the case for me. That joyful (not to mention traumatic) moment occurred on my 50th birthday. My ever-loving husband, Steve, surprised me with a weekend at the Ritz Carlton (yes, I can hear some of you sigh, he is a wonderful husband and I am very blessed!) After the glow from the spa facial wore off, (a facial “created for those on the go, a refreshing treatment including cleansing, mild exfoliation, a facial massage, and moisture infusion”) real life began again, but the desire to write had grown and taken hold deep down in my psyche.

Three months later, I heard about the National Novel Writing Month 
 (NaNoWriMo), an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges its participants to write 50,000 words with the goal of stimulating those creative juices and keeping writers motivated throughout the process. A group of fledgling writers were meeting at a café fifteen miles from my house, and I decided to give it a try. I only made it to 30,000 words, (okay, okay, it was actually 29,000 something, but thirty thousand sounds so much more impressive) but I was hooked.

And thus began my humble writing career.

I think your goal to write books that strengthen the reader's faith, while also “providing an entertaining and engrossing love story” is quite the goal! How do you think you accomplished that goal in your writing of Manila Marriage App?

I think it’s important that the characters in a book, especially a Christian book, grow and change throughout the story. The hero and heroine we see at the end of the novel should be very different from the people we meet on page one. When one or both of the main characters cry out to God, how does He change the direction of the story? I tried my best to achieve that goal in Manila Marriage App and as the story unfolds, I hope the reader will be pleased and surprised at the character development…and with the way Shay and Timothy discover true love.

Who is your favorite Christian author and which one of their books inspire you the most?

I’m going to go with the amazing, Mr. C.S. Lewis. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a Christmas present of The Chronicles of Narnia. I reread them every few years and they never fail to thrill me. And speaking of C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite books of all time is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanalken, a friend of C.S. Lewis’s. If you haven’t read it, check it out. It’s beautifully written and one of the best love stories of all time. I plan to reread that one again this summer.

Every creative has a muse. What or who is yours?

My husband, Steve, has been a terrific inspiration to me and he urges me on. When I first got serious about writing, he insisted on buying me a new laptop so I could write in style. He also helps me with male dialogue so my manly characters don’t sound feminine!

How does your real faith in God play into your fictional storytelling?

Writing Christian romance was a natural fit for me. I was born again at age five and everything in life centers around God for me. My goal in writing is to shine a light on a particular concept or new way of thinking that might resonate with the reader. Oh yeah, and they have to be fun. I like injecting humor in my stories to up the entertainment factor.

What’s your next work in progress? Can’t wait to read another book written by you!

I just finished writing a contemporary Christmas novella and submitted it to Pelican Book Group in April, 2015. It’s called A Semi-Precious Christmas and starts with a bang—a jewelry store heist in progress. I’m hoping that Pelican decides to publish it, in which case, it should be out this Christmas. It was a great deal of fun to write!

Describe your writing space. What makes it special to you?

I write on my laptop while sitting on the couch in my living room, feet crossed up under me, a cat or two plastered to my side. My husband is generally watching TV while playing on his computer, and we often converse back and forth concerning the show or an article he is reading. In between all of that noise, I come up with plot, characters, and dialogue. I’ve tried writing when it’s quiet, but it doesn’t work as well. Weird, huh?

Complete this sentence: If I could make the perfect cup of coffee, I would make_____________with______________because___________.

If I could make the perfect cup of coffee, I would make a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino® with skim milk, Splenda, and plenty of whipped cream because there are just some days when you need a good cup of coffee.

Thanks for the interview, Jan! Please leave a question for my readers to answer.

Jan's question: If you could visit any country in the world, what would it be, and why?
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Author bio:
Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. Pelican Book Group/White Rose is publishing her first novella, Manila Marriage App, one of many in their successful Passport to Romance series.

Besides writing romance, she enjoys the occasional hazelnut cappuccino while watching Turner Classic Movies. Always an avid reader, she devours books voraciously, both Christian and secular. She was born a cat-lover and all future books will, no doubt, feature a feline in some way or another.

Happily married for twelve years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.

Blurb for Manila Marriage App:

It all began as a lark. 

Shay Callahan’s life was just fine, thank you, but when the seemingly misogynistic missionary, Timothy Flynn, places an advertisement for a wife in a Christian magazine, she decides to give it a whirl and sends in the five-page application. Why not? After all, she’s not currently seeing anyone, and this man truly needs to be taught a lesson.

Finding out she’s Dr. Flynn’s pick of the litter, Shay hops on a plane and flies to The Philippines. The strategy is to jet in, enjoy an exciting two-week vacation, and jet out again, all at his expense. Instead, her plan backfires. The handsome missionary man is not what he seems, and the foreign land has far more to offer than she could imagine.

Embark on a tropical adventure with Shay that challenges everything she believes.
Buy Jan's book: -
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Connect with Jan Elder:
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  1. Thank you, Alexis, for having me on your very special blog. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story!

    1. You're welcome, Jan! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and answer all of my questions about your book and life as a writer! :)

    2. Alexis, did I mention your questions were really fun to answer...and hard...and did I say fun? You'd be a great investigative reporter!

  2. Sweet interview - especially the white chocolate goodie! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. My husband is a chocoholic, the darker the better. I can take it or leave it, but I LOVE white chocolate.

      Thanks for reading my interview!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Carlene. And "The Scarlet Cord" has one of the most beautiful covers I've ever seen. I hope Prism does as well with my next book.

  4. Nice. Sounds like a good book. I have missionary relatives in the Philippines.

  5. Hi Gay. Thanks for reading! Are your relatives anywhere near Manila? It's an amazing country.


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