Guest author Jennifer AlLee ~ The Pastor's Wife ~ GIVEAWAY

Today, we're visiting with a writer friend of mine, Jennifer AlLee. She's got a great new book out and I thought you'd like to hear about it ~ The Pastor's Wife. So before you settle in, grab your favorite little treat to nibble on and, of course, a cuppa and let's visit with Jennifer.

Jennifer, please give us a little preview of The Pastor’s Wife.
Maura Sullivan never thought she’d see Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind; a husband that ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she ever loved.

Nick Shepherd had put the past behind him. At least he thought he had, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick discovers his feeling for her never died. Now, he must face the mistakes he made and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.

As God works in both their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more thing to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s the thing that finally drove her to leave six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve managed to rebuild.

What made you want to write this book?
I served as a church secretary for many years which definitely gave me a unique perspective on the lives of a pastoral family. I worked at two different churches. One was a large denominational church, the other much smaller and non-denominational. But the lives of the pastors were quite similar. There’s always another meeting to go to, or one more person that needs counseling. People feel very possessive about their pastors. This usually manifests itself in positive ways, but sometimes it crosses a line. You have to watch out for that. And the pastoral family faces challenges no one really thinks about. They basically live in a glass house and are expected to be active members of every church activity, whether they’re interested in it or not.

When I was working on the original concept for this novel, I thought about the pastors’ wives I’ve known over the years. They’ve handled themselves with amazing grace under pressure. But what if another woman couldn’t? What if a young woman thinks she knows what she’s getting into, but the reality of losing who she is and becoming a “pastor’s wife” is more than she can handle? What if some other tragedy pushes her over the edge? Would she run? And what would happen if she had to return to the scene of her heartbreak years later? All those questions eventually became The Pastor’s Wife.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve always wanted to be something creative. I went through stages where I wanted to be a photographer, a singer, an actress… but I’ve always been writing. I was that kid in school who wrote a novella when the assignment was only to write a short story. I wrote my first novel during my senior year in high school and finished the second one in college. Neither one were very good, but they were good learning experiences. And I still have both of them packed away in a box.

Beside The Pastor’s Wife, what else have you published?

Early in my writing journey, I sold a few short stories. Later on, I had the honor of being recommended for a project at Concordia Publishing House. My pastor at the time writes for them and he thought I’d be good for a book of skits they were putting together. I did that, which led to other projects including writing for their My Devotions series. To date, I’ve written over 100 devotions. My first published book is The Love of His Brother, a contemporary inspirational romance for Five Star. You can read more about it on my website.

What’s your writing process like?
When I started out, I was a 100% seat-of-the-pants writer. That means I’d sit down at the computer with just an idea in my head and let it all unfold from there. But over the last few years, I’ve become a little more strategic in my approach. When you submit a proposal to an editor, you have to provide a synopsis of the entire book, from beginning to end, whether you’ve finished writing it or not. While I used to hate it, I’ve now come to appreciate the process. It forces me to think things through so that when I do sit down to write, I don’t spend as much time wondering what comes next. But I'm still quite fluid. If the story changes course in midstream, I go with it.

How do you come up with your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere! The hard part is knowing which ones will become great books. I tend to start with something I’m familiar with. In my first novel, The Love of His Brother, I set the story in Montana because, at the time, it was the only state I’d been to other than California. With The Pastor’s Wife, I started with my knowledge of ministerial families and church operations. So I start with a nugget of familiarity and then I start pushing it around, asking “what if this happened?” The questions layer one on top of the other, and pretty soon I’ve got a plot.

Authors sometimes say their characters take over the story. Have you ever had that happen to you?
Oh yeah. I love it when that happens! It makes me feel like God’s got a firm hold on the reins and He’s steering me in the right direction. In The Love of His Brother, I had a group of four teenagers in a mall. They were only supposed to be in that one scene, but they kept popping back into the story. They went from being mere walk-through characters to being important supporting players who deepened the story.

What advice do you have for new authors?
From a craft standpoint, there are two things you can do to become a better writer: read and write. Read books about the craft of writing and read other books in your genre. But don’t stop there. If you write sweet romances, stretch yourself and pick up a thriller. If you write historicals, try out a sci-fi or fantasy novel. Great writing is great writing, regardless of the subject matter. You can learn a lot by reading broadly.

For personal well-being, I would encourage every writer, no matter what stage you’re at, to have a support system. This includes belonging to a writer’s organization. I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, which has been a huge blessing to me. Through it, I’ve cultivated friendships with other writers, including my best friend who is also my critique buddy. It’s great if your family supports your writing, but trust me, you need to have people you can go to who “get” you. 
You have a unique last name. Why is it spelled with a capital letter in the middle?
AlLee is my married name, so it’s really all my husband’s fault. The origin is French, and it’s morphed quite a bit over the years. Part of the family spells it like I do. Another part uses two lowercase “el”s. And a third rebel faction spells it with the capital “el” and an accent mark. I know it can be quite confusing. But it sure looks nice on a book cover when they get it right!

You grew up in Hollywood. How did that happen?
My grandparents met on the vaudeville circuit. Grandma was a dancer and my grandfather was a concert violinist from Hungary: Duci deKerekjarto (how’s that for a last name?) Duci immigrated to make his mark in Hollywood, which is how our family ended up there. He remained friends with another Hungarian performer, a Shakespearean actor named Bela Lugosi. (Yes, the original Dracula.) Bela died before I was born, but my mom remembers sitting on his lap and calling him Uncle Bela.

My own minor brush with fame came on the day I was born. Michael Landon Jr. and I were in the same hospital nursery in neighboring basinets. My Aunt Karen nearly passed out when she realized proud father Michael Sr. was standing at the window next to her!


He loves me . . . he loves me not . . .
Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married soon-to-be pastor Nick Shepherd. But when “the other woman” in her marriage turned out to be her husband's congregation, she ran. Six years later, she’s back in the small community of Granger, Ohio, for the reading of a will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries. Now Maura must face the husband – and the congregation – she left behind.


What famous theatre is across the street 
from Jennifer's childhood home?

For a chance to win a copy of The Pastor's Wife
answer the question above in the comment area

To find the answer, visit Jennifer's website.


Anonymous said...

this book is on my 'wish list.'

the answer is: the pantages theatre


Megan DiMaria said...

I'd love to win The Pastor's Wife. Jen lived across the street from the Pantages Theatre.

mdimaria 3 at comcast dot net.

aimymichelle said...

the pantages theatre


Julia said...

The pantages theatre


Sandee61 said...

Pantages Theatre is my answer. Please enter me in your giveaway for this great sounding book. I enjoyed the interview.



ladijo said...

It was interesting reading about Jennifer. She lived kitty-corner from the Pantages Theatre. Please enter me in drawing.


Tina Dee Books said...

Jennifer has had an interest life, hasn't she?

I love how she was nursery-mates with Michael Landon Jr.

He's now a producer of Christian/family movies, I think he produced a few movies of Janette Oakley's (forgive any incorrect spelling please) and also of one, at least--if I remember correctly, Beverly Lewis's books into a movie.

Wouldn't that be fun if he ended up producing one of Jennifer's books into a movie? Talk about full circle!

Wendy said...

The Pantages Theater

Buukluvr81 said...

The answer to the question for this wonderful giveaway is The Pantages Theater.

Mollydawn1981 AT aol DOT com

diane said...

hi tina what a great give away. the answer is the "pantages theatre" i'm not sure if did this correctly but please enter my name into the hat. it would be such a sweet read. so nice of you to do this. thanks again


Casey said...

I love your blog, so pretty and welcoming!

The Theatre is: Pantages Theatre!

Please enter me, this book looks good. :)


Jennifer AlLee said...

Good Morning, Ladies! Great to see you all here.

Tina, I've often thought how interesting it is that Michael Jr. and I ended up working in the Christian entertainment industry (although he's in the middle of the circle and I'm bouncing around the edges!) It would be an honor to have him turn my book into a movie. And it would give my mom a new story to tell :+}

Carole said...

The answer is the Pantages Theatre, but I've never heard of it! LOL!

Jennifer, I was also a church secretary for many years, which is probably why I'm eager to read your book and appreciate the chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Patty said...

The Pantages Theatre. Jennnifer you sure have a lot of good stories in your family. I would love to win a copy of The Pastor's Wife. It sounds like a great story.


Merry said...

The Pastor's Wife strikes a cord with me and I'd love a chance to win it.
-The Pantages Theater


Ginny H. said...

Please enter me in the drawing. Oh, the answer is the Pantages Theater.

I have a lot of Bela Lugosi's movies. That was a cool bit of information to learn about Jennifer.

Tina, as always, thanks for a great interview.

Ginny H. said...

BTW. I signed up for Jennifer's eNewsletter. I'm looking forward to following her. ;)

Jennifer AlLee said...

Carole, so great to meet another former church secretary! It's a profession quite unlike the public perception, don't you think?

Ginny, thanks so much for signing up for my newsletter. The next edition will be out late March or early April.

A J Hawke said...

The Pastor's Wife has just moved to the top of my want list. With three brothers, two nephews, and a great-nephew, all ministers, I've been surrounded all my life by the wives of ministers. They are some of God's great spiritual warriors.

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book.
The answer to the question: Pantages Theatre.

Blessings on you and your writing,
A J Hawke

Loren said...

I'm sorry I forgot...
my email is

Loren said...

This book sounds fabulous as well as her Love of His Brother book

I would love to enter your giveaway!

The answer is Pantages Theatre

Thank you for the opportunity

ppreacherswife said...

The answer is the Pantages Theatre.

ppreacherswife at gmail dot com

rubynreba said...

Carman sent me! Jennifer lived across from the Pantages Theatre. This books looks very good.

Cindy W. said...

Jennifer lived across from the Pantages Theater. I would love to win a copy of The Pastor's Wife. I'm a pastor's wife too!

God bless you,
Cindy Woolard


Edna said...

I just love to read books

Please enter me


tweezle said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. This looks like a great read. I'd love to win!

My answer is the Pantages Theater.

Thanks for the chance.
tweezle at gmail dot com

Vicki said...

The answer is: Pantages Theatre

I'd love to win this book!

Jess said...

The answer is: the Pantages Theatre

I would love to win a copy of The Pastor's Wife, i started reading an excerpt and am ready to read the whole thing.

Thanks for hosting this.


Lucie said...

I have been trying and trying to win this book, I loved the interview and found Jennifer to be very intriguing and cannot wait to read this book! I used to be the secretary at my church and find the topic very interesting as well.

The theatre was "kitty corner" across from the Pantages Theatre

Thank you :-)


LucieInCA at aol dot com

Ashley (Ibreath2read) said...

Fun interviw!
This book looks great! I would love to enter this giveaway!
Love Ya,

Thanks Carman for sending me!

nmetzler said...

What a fun interview! I love hearing about Author's lives...

The answer to your question is the Pantages Theatre.

natashasiegrist at hotmail dot com