Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Meet Rachel Ward in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

1- Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo 2016?

Not this year. I’ve spent the last week talking myself out of it. We are going to visit family for Thanksgiving, plus I’m finishing up revisions on a draft that I need to submit by the end of the year. I’m a little sad because it’s been successful to me in the past, but it just wasn’t in the cards this year.

2- What ignited your passion for writing?

I honestly can’t remember. I do remember writing books as a little girl and in school writing was so easy for me. I would rather write a ten page paper than do ten math problems. I have dozens of unfinished stories on my computer that I could never quite figure out. It’s just always something that I’ve done.

3- Are you excited about the return of Gilmore Girls coming to Netflix in November?

I am counting the days. I’ve been going through the first seasons for the past month or two just for fun, and when the full trailer came out I was somewhere between giddy and sobbing. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited for something that isn't actually happening to me.

4- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

My good friend Heather has been my biggest cheerleader since I started this journey. She is also a writer and we regularly send things back and forth. She was the first person I told when I got the news that Dear Jane would be published and the one that made me promise that I would celebrate properly, at least more than a bowl of ice cream.

5- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

I guess the biggest emotion that I’m hoping to evoke would be realistic hope. A major theme of the novel is that bad things happen to good people, but that it is possible to survive and thrive on the other side of it. I can’t think of a particular scene, more a specific character. In a couple of cases different characters experience the same challenges and react very differently. The contrast between the characters offers hope that even in horrible situations, all is not lost.

6- Was it easier to name your characters or your six children?

My characters. Hands down. Mostly because I was the sole decision maker. There was no compromise involved.

7- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

I can’t think of any specific traits. Maybe just Nick’s incredible singing voice.

8- Did you and your family carve pumpkins for Halloween, and can you share some pics of them?

I’m embarrassed to admit, that no. We did not carve pumpkins for Halloween. The past couple of weeks we’ve been slammed. Also, I kind of hate carving pumpkins, so I’m not too sad about it.

9- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

There are usually a couple of factors. If the book has been recommended by a trusted friend, if the book has a some thoughtful ratings, and if the blurb is intriguing. Honestly, a good blurb can work wonders.

10- What's your favorite font right now?

It’s really boring, but I really like Arial right now. It’s clean and easy to read. I’m super boring, I know.

11- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

The genre of my novel lends itself best to small press publishing, because the audience tends to be a little smaller. I do have hopes and plans for future books to go a more traditional publishing route, but for a first novel, it’s been a good way to get my feet wet.

12- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?


Annie had her license, but we shared the car, at least until I could somehow save up enough to buy my own. On the days that I needed the car for a job interview, I had to drive Annie to school. The school bus was out of the question (“I spent two years on that nasty excuse for a bus; never again!”), but why she couldn’t get one of her friends to pick her up and take her was beyond me. I yanked my bedroom door open to find her still standing there, livid.

“I. Am. Going. To. Be. Late!” she yelled in my face. I took a deep breath, using up every bit of my willpower not to slap her across the face.

“Keys,” I demanded sternly, holding my hand out to her. She threw them at me and twirled on her heel, her mousey brown braid whipping me in the face. She stomped to the garage as I pulled my coat on and counted to ten. Eighteen months of living with companions had done a world of good in the patience department. Annie’s temper was nothing compared to Sister Gale’s. And it was a breath of fresh air compared to my mother’s.

“Are you coming or not?”

I gritted my teeth and followed her to the garage.

If I hadn’t been so broke and desperate, I would have seriously considered throwing the keys back in her face, climbing back in bed for the rest of the day, and canceling the three job interviews that I had miraculously managed to secure for the day. Since I returned home from Florida three months ago, I had been taking online classes and doing everything in my power to find a job, which turned out to be almost an impossible feat. I was reduced to babysitting and taking odd jobs doing yard work and cleaning houses. My parents were kind enough to put a roof over my head and food in my mouth, but beyond that, I was on my own. I could use the car as long as I put gas in it. I could go to school as long as I paid tuition.

My dad had taken pity on me a few times, either hooking me up with someone who needed some serious house cleaning done or paying me to do some project around our house. In the last month, I had cleaned out the garage, painted the house, and totally relandscaped the backyard. I was still sporting blisters from that last one. I was desperate to find a job that didn’t require hauling manure, or really anything that kept my hands clean, as soon as possible. I was a pencil-skirt-and-heels kind of girl, not so much an overalls one.

The atmosphere in the car was chilly the entire way to school, even though the heater was working great. I finally pulled into the high school parking lot and had barely rolled to a stop before Annie was out of the car, slamming the door shut without a word. She didn’t look back once as I drove away.

“Good-bye to you too,” I muttered as I pulled back out into traffic. I drove home, belting off-key to “Make You Feel My Love” the whole way, and pulled into the driveway in a much better mood. It’s amazing what some good love songs can do for the soul that early in the morning. After a long shower with only three interruptions by my 11- and 13-year-old brothers, I was ready to take on the world, or at least Springville.


Rachel grew up reading every book she could get her hands on and spending time with her cat. At least, that was the report in every annual Christmas letter. The humiliation was enough to spur her into action, and she began writing. And she never stopped. Rachel studied English at Brigham Young University-Idaho and then wrote and blogged in between the births of her six children. She currently lives in West Jordan with her family, and while she no longer has a cat, she still reads every book she can get her hands on.

You can find me on social media as follows:

Instagram: @rachelsueward
Twitter: @rachelsueward

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