Sunday, June 10, 2018

Let Love Bloom: Dancing in the Rain

Interview with Jennifer Slattery, co-author of Dancing in the Rain:

Alexis: Why did you decide to write this book with Eileen Rife?

Eileen and I had been critique partners for years prior to this book, and we’ve always worked really well together. She’s one of those treasured writers who have the love and courage to tell you the truth regarding your stories and the patience to help you make them better.

This book was her baby, and I came in on the tail end as a critique partner. We got to talking about certain elements, and I think she felt I could add something to the story and the characterization. One afternoon, she sent me an email asking if I’d like to join her in the process. I felt honored and excited; the story premise really intrigued me!

Alexis: What was your collaboration/writing process like? Share details.

Jennifer: It is a bit hard to remember all of it as this was a while ago. We let the book lie fallow for a bit as she became busy with ministry and family, and I became busy with other releases that came out on deadlines.

I can’t remember how much of the book she had finished before I stepped in, but we passed the story back and forth quite a bit, chapter by chapter. She’d make tweaks, I’d tweak her tweaks. When differences of opinions arose, I deferred to her (I think. I hope!) as this was largely her baby, but for the most part, things played out really smoothly.

If I remember correctly, I took on a lot more of Michael’s voice and she took on a lot more of Loni’s voice. So that helped.

Alexis: What inspired you to create the characters with their unique individual stories and background? Describe how you brought your vision to fruition.

Eileen has a missionary and church camp background and a heart for bringing the outsiders, like Marta, one of the characters, in. So much of this story arose from her experiences at church camp growing up. I’ve always felt called to a rougher crowd, I suppose you could say. Those from tough upbringings, maybe who struggle (or have struggled with alcohol, so I had strong opinions as to Michael’s backstory, how that might’ve affected him, and how his father might or might not have behaved.

Alexis: Loni Parker is your story’s heroine. Describe her goals/motivation/conflict.

Jennifer: I have such admiration for Loni, a woman who faces ongoing challenges and insecurities related to her blindness. She really wants to be independent and prove herself, but she also wants to remain in God’s will. Sometimes she’s confused how to merge those things, especially when her heart becomes entangled!

Michael Ackerman is your story’s hero. Describe his goals/motivation/conflict.

Jennifer: He grew up in an abusive home where he routinely saw his father beat up on his mom. He has a lot of baggage from that, and though he’s close to Christ and walking with Him, Michal still needs a lot of healing. He also has a lot of regret and shame for his past, which includes being the reason Loni lost her sight. These issues motivate his passion for kids and seeing them come to Christ and also his desire to suppress and hide his past as much as possible. 

Alexis: Why is Loni blind? What happened to her?

Jennifer: She was sideswiped by Michael’s car when he was drunk driving—the one time he drank. He’d snapped watching his father beat his mother, turned his anger on his father, then took off. Fueled by anger, suppressed and the fresh rage his father’s behavior triggered, he turned to alcohol. In that moment, in many ways, he became what he’d always hated most in his father.

Alexis: Why does Loni love music and desire to teach it to children?

Jennifer: Loni comes from a very musical family, and music is a huge part of her family’s bond with one another. When they’re together, they often play classical music, and even her service dog chimes in! Also, she feels music very deeply, even more so now that she’s blind. It speaks to her heart and brought her great comfort when she lost her sight. She wants to help children experience that same gift.

Alexis: Why is Loni struggling to find employment as a music teacher?

There are more applicants for the position than there are openings. She feels employers are overlooking her because of her blindness, though there’s no way to know if that’s true or simply her perspective based on her insecurities.

Alexis: What or who leads Loni to Camp Hope?
Jennifer: Her roommate, who’d been a camp counselor in the past, suggested Loni join her for a two-week camp experience. She felt it would help distract Loni from her disappointment regarding her unemployment.

Alexis: How did Michael change from ex-con to Director of a Christian camp?

Jennifer: He met a man from the prison fellowship whom he respected and fell in love with Jesus.

What role does your characters’ faith in God play in this story?

It’s their lifeline. Without God, Loni would’ve spiraled into a dark world of bitterness after her accident, and Michael would’ve probably turned out like his dad. Similarly, without Jesus, Michael probably would continue running from his pain and his past instead of confronting it head-on, and Loni probably would put her dreams above God’s leading, potentially missing out on her greatest mission.

If you were a counselor at Camp Hope and could spend a day with your main characters, what would you do? Why?

Go horseback riding for sure! It’d be so peaceful to ride through the trees, with the sun on my back and birds singing.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story?

That God’s forgiveness is all-encompassing, and He can turn our greatest sins and regrets into beautiful mosaics of grace.

Thanks for the interview, Jennifer! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Jennifer: I’m curious to know how many of your readers spent time at a summer camp when they were kids and what their favorite memories are.

Author Bio:
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at

She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, ( she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. 

When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. 

Connect with her on Facebook ( or Instagram (

Co-Author Bio:
Eileen Rife is a multi-published author in both fiction and nonfiction. 

She leads women's seminars, teaches creative writing, and runs Mission Manor, a respite for her missionary kids/grandkids while on furlough. 

You can visit Eileen on her website (, Amazon Author Page ( and Facebook Author Page (

Book Blurb for Dancing in the Rain:

On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. 

Unbeknownst to Loni, Michael Ackerman, the director, is an ex-con responsible for the accident that caused her blindness. When Loni warms up to camp and wants to return as a summer counselor, Michael opposes the idea, which only makes Loni want to prove herself all the more. Though she doesn’t expect to fall for the guy. Still, her need for independence and dream of teaching win out, taking her far away from her beloved Camp Hope . . . and a certain director.

Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Lonie instantly and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.

Buy Dancing in the Rain on Amazon

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  1. I haven't danced in the rain for so long, guess I'll have to do it again soon!

  2. When we were younger, we would go out and play in the rain, but I don't remember if we danced or not. But I loved to be out in the rain and splash in the puddles with a friend. Now that I'm older, I wouldn't mind walking in the rain if there is no lightning. But I prefer to just sit on our porch and watch the rain.

  3. Would enjoy winning and reading this book! Vivian Furbay jtandviv(at)q(dot)com


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