Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer Love: Jennifer's story about love's healing power

Welcome Jennifer Slattery to the blog! She's written a new book called Healing LoveIt is for the women’s fiction book market and it has a strong romantic thread. This book takes place in two very different locales: Southern California and El Salvador.

Read my interview with Jennifer and find out why this story is close to her heart.

Interview with Jennifer Slattery, author of Healing Love:

Alexis: “Healing Love” is an interesting title for a book. How did you create it?

Jennifer: The title arose in part from the theme of the book, which is that God’s love, which is often shown through others, brings deep healing. It also stemmed from my core conviction and experience that God is a God of love and healing, a healing that is facilitated as we grow closer to Him and get to know Him more. 

Alexis: Brooke Endress, the heroine of your story, is a news anchor intern who has her eyes on the prize (a career as a broadcast journalist). What can you tell us about Brooke? Describe her personality, dreams and goals.

Jennifer: Brooke is a planner who is incredibly uncomfortable with unknowns and uncertainty. As a planner, she believes her life will go a certain way, and she’s determined to make that happen. She wants to sign on with one of the bigger stations but struggles with “camera fright” that results in frequent blunders she fears will hinder her career.

She also has a deep and protective love for her sister. Though they both live with her aunt and uncle and have since the death of her parents, Brooke has assumed care of her sister and, due to the pain she experienced when her parents died, holds onto her very tightly. A little too tightly. 

Alexis: Why is Brooke so passionate about Journalism? What made it her lifelong dream?

Jennifer: When she was young, she and her dad often played “anchoring.” She’d get all glamoured up in her mom’s dresses and heels (which were adorably too big on her), and she’d read stories or perform while her father recorded her. He began each recording with great fanfare. Those mock recordings are special memories for her, and now that her dad is gone, she is, in many ways, trying to relive them through her career. 

Alexis: How does Brooke’s drive to succeed in that competitive career field affect her dating/love life?

Jennifer: When she begins to fall in love with Ubaldo, she feels confused and uncertain. She wants to surrender to God fully and trust Him with her future, but she harbors distrust having lost her parents. She feels if God didn’t protect her parents then there’s no guarantee as far as she’s concerned. 

Alexis: How does Brooke’s younger sister convince her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador? In what ways does this trip affect the heroine’s journey?

Jennifer: She basically begs, though it’s Brooke’s guilt that wins out. Her aunt and uncle make it clear—if Brooke doesn’t go as a supervising adult, her sister can’t go either. Her sister, frustrated and angry, says that if her dad were alive, she’d be able to go. This statement causes Brooke to process all the losses her sister has experienced and will experience because her parents aren’t alive, and she determines to do whatever necessary to ensure the mission trip opportunity isn’t one of them.

This trip is hard for Brooke on numerous levels. First, she must take two weeks off work when, it appears, she’s just beginning to gain traction in her career. Second, she’s a bit of a germaphobe, and she’s worried about her and her sister getting sick. She’s also incredibly frightened of flying and fears the plane might crash. Then there’s her need for control and her stranglehold on her safety net.

And yet, it is only when she’s thrust into this place of uncertainty that she begins to see the root cause of her fear and heal from it. 

Alexis: What is it about the orphan children in El Salvador that tugs at Brooke’s heart? Describe the thoughts that go through her head as she spends time with the kids.

Jennifer: Having lost both her parents and feeling like an orphan herself, she relates to them on a deep level. And yet, when her world fell apart, she had her aunt and uncle to lean on, whereas these orphan children appear to have no one. This realization helps her to embrace her aunt and uncle’s love on a level she hadn’t been able to before and deepens her empathy for the orphan girls. 

Alexis: Ubaldo Chavez, the hero of this story, works as a teacher and translator in El Salvador. Why did he choose a career in helping people? Describe his background, looks, personality and life goals.

Jennifer: First, he’s incredibly handsome. I had to state that right up front. His skin is the color of a Scooters latté (says the writer with the severe coffee addiction), he’s tall, muscular, has dark hair and eyebrows, and piercing eyes the color of dark chocolate.

He grew up in a small El Salvador village with no electricity or running water and where his family had to fight daily for survival. Though his family is better off than many forced to work in plantations or making bricks, they still struggled and were at the mercy of their circumstances. His father owns a small plot of land, which he farms, and the expectation was that Ubaldo would remain to help. He chose to go to school and pursue a career in education instead.

Having risen above the poverty he grew up in, where he and his siblings were chronically ill from drinking dirty stream water, and having seen first hand the dehumanizing cycle of generational poverty, he’s determined to help his students acquire a better life. If he could just keep them in school and out of the plantations. 

As far as his personality goes, he tends to be a black and white thinker, and he’s very driven in his mission. This can lead to some false perceptions and misunderstandings, and it causes a big wedge between him and his father.

Alexis: What is it about Ubaldo that draws Brooke in and makes him hard to forget?

Jennifer: First, he’s incredibly handsome, and he’s got a strong, protective side she finds attractive. He’s also tender, compassionate, and shows his love for Jesus in his love for orphans and the impoverished. She sees Christ in him, and she finds that irresistible. He’s also got a great deal of wisdom and insight, and as they get to know one another better, she realizes he understands her deeply. 

Alexis: What is it about Brooke that Ubaldo cannot get off his mind? 

Jennifer: At first, he doesn’t like her much. He assumes she’s materialistic and has come to his country to stroke her ego and gain publicity. But then he begins to see deep compassion in her, and that steals his heart, first in how she treats a poor man selling iguanas on the side of the road and then how she loves on the orphans. As he watches her with them, with the others, and with her sister, he begins to see her differently and comes to understand her on a deeper level. 

Alexis: When Brooke falls in love with Ubaldo, how does it affect her career goals?

Jennifer: She’s torn and confused. She carries in her Bible Ephesians 2:10, which tells her she’s God’s masterpiece and that He has a plan for her. Based on this and things her father used to repeat to her and her sister when he was alive, she believes God brought her to El Salvador for a reason. But she also believes she’s meant to be a news anchor. She feels torn and begins to question her original dreams and God’s direction for her. Can she reconcile the two or will she have to give up one for the other?

Alexis: Why does Ubaldo believe that education is key to rise above poverty?

Jennifer: First, this is how he rose above it, but second, in El Salvador, this is reality. So many parents work in the coffee or sugar plantations, where they’re paid maybe a dollar a day. This isn’t enough to live on, so they’re forced to have their children as young as seven and eight work long hours in the fields with them. (And children don’t make as much.) This causes the children to miss large chunks of school or drop out completely.

However, if a child graduates, their outlook is exponentially better. More so if they learn English (which is taught in El Salvador schools). Both of these things enable them to get clerical jobs and thus allow them to break out of the otherwise near-unbreakable cycle of poverty.

Alexis: What were the challenges and joys of writing this book?

Jennifer: This was one of the most painful books I’ve written. It began when our family took a mission trip to El Salvador and we fell in love with the orphans we met. There was one in particular that tugged on my heart. Her name was Jenifer, spelled with one n, and whenever I’d see her, she’d smile and say, “Dos Jennifers!” It was the only time I’d see her smile.

She cried the day we left.

We returned to the states convinced God was calling us to move to El Salvador so that we could love on the orphans and help teach them English and skills that would help them survive once they aged out of the orphanage. But then I got really sick, and we realized God had different plans.

As I was writing, processing my own experiences, talking with our translator (from our trip), and reading articles and reports on the conditions for so many El Salvador children, my heart broke. I couldn’t get these precious little ones out of my mind.

One afternoon, I went for a long walk where I was crying and asking God why He was allowing me to learn all of these things. And a thought, clear and strong, came, as if in answer—He’d allowed me to see but a part of what He witnesses every day as those poor children, His children, endure the unspeakable and cry out to Him for help.

I realized God broke my heart so that I could reveal theirs and His for them so that each of us could prayerfully find a way to be part of life change.

Alexis: What do you want readers to treasure about Healing Love?

Jennifer: God’s deep, unyielding never-failing love and the fact that He can use our deepest hurts, when surrendered to Him, to bring healing to others.

Thanks for the interview, Jen! God bless you.

Author Bio: 
Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss. 

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at

Blurb for Healing LoveA news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn't on the agenda. 

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of "missional tourists" full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

Connect with Jennifer:
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Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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  1. God's love has healed me through teaching me how to forgive myself and others.

  2. So glad to hear that, Melissa! :) God bless you.

  3. This is a new author to me, and I would love to win this book. It sounds great. I have never had an opportunity to go on a mission trip, but our granddaughter is on one now.

    1. Hi, VanG! Jennifer Slattery writes wonderful stories! :) I discovered her books a few years ago. Praying hat your granddaughter enjoys the mission trip and returns home safely. Good luck in the book giveaway contest! :)

    2. Hi, VanG!
      Good to "meet" you! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in and say hi. Where's your granddaughter at? It's so wonderful that there are so many mission trip opportunities for the current generation!

    3. Alexis, you are such a sweetie! Thank you for the kind words! And also for having me on your site.

  4. I believe I am still in the healing process, but I am so grateful for God's love - how it has reached some of my darkest places and lifted me to the light. So glad that His love can find us and heal us wherever we are, and that nothing can separate us from it. So excited about this book. I know its message will hit home for so many.

    1. Hey PhDMama! God restores! Praying that He continues to restore you and heal your heart. Praising Him for his enduring love! :) His Light cuts through the darkness.

    2. PhDMama,

      I'm sorry you're still hurting but how awesome that God is walking beside you, brining you to deeper healing. Regarding your praise--amen! What a faithful, loving, attentive Father we have!


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