Over the last few years, Scrivenings Press has become a family to me. Needless to say, when a fellow Scrivenings author has a book release, we all cheer and celebrate with her/him. And today, I'm introducing you to Jenny Carlisle, whose first fiction book released last month. And y'all, it's so sweet and fun. I highly recommend it. So, read on to get to know Jenny and then keep reading to find out about her sweet story, Hope Takes the Reins.
Jenny, congratulations on your first fiction publication! What first made you want to be an author?
Thanks so much, Amy. If you had asked five year old Jenny McLeod what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have probably said, “I want to write books”, I loved reading at a very early age, and wrote stories at every opportunity. I think the first I remember was some sort of treasure hunt story. I also won an award for a poem I wrote in elementary school, and seeing my work hanging in the school hallway was the gratification I needed to really get me hooked.
Your book is set in a sweet little town in Arkansas and as soon as I started reading it, I felt I'd been there before. What made you pick that area to write about?
Crossroads is an entirely fictional town located somewhere between Little Rock and Fort Smith along the Arkansas River. The terrain is beautiful, with the timber-covered Ouachita and Ozark mountains surrounding green pastures perfect for cattle ranches. Since moving to Arkansas as a senior in high school, this particular part of the state keeps drawing me, and I always enjoy visiting or driving through. I have always lived in a small town, and the feeling of kinship and cooperation is strong. Crossroads combines memories from so many small towns, so I hope it feels familiar to many of my readers.
I know there's a lot of rodeo scenes and life included in your story. Have you ever participated in a rodeo?
From the time I was a youngster living in Southern Kansas, I have loved watching rodeo events, but I have never participated in one, and even my horseback riding experience is very limited. It’s one of those things I always wanted more of.
The family relationships in your tale are sweet but also realistic. Did you have siblings growing up? Did any stories from your past dealings with siblings sneak into the siblings in your story?
I grew up with only one sister, but was lucky to add two more sisters and two brothers when my Mom married my step-dad.
We always got along well together, so I suppose that influenced the easy way the Caldwell and Billings families interact. My husband and I also raised two boys and a girl, and the loving way they tease each other influenced me as well.
You have a military hero in your story, too. Where did that come from?
My dad was in the Air Force before I was born. He served during the Korean Conflict mostly in Saudi Arabia. Because he was not directly involved in combat, he always made a distinction between his service and the sacrifices made by those who put their lives in danger every day. I was raised with tremendous respect for those who served in any branch of the military.
With one book under your belt, if you're like me, you're itching to do more. What are you working on now?
There are more stories to be told in Crossroads! I am working on the second book in the series and a Christmas novella. Next up will be the third full-length book. My son has a friend who is a very fast reader, and she passed along this message to me- “Write Faster! I can’t wait to read the next one.” That made my heart so happy.
Yes! I love getting messages like that, too!
Final question I ask everyone: Please tell us one thing about yourself that very few people know.
My voice has been heard on Radio Free Europe- more than once. Several years ago, I told stories on a radio program called “Tales from the South”. It was broadcast from North Little Rock, Arkansas in front of a live audience, but the hostess told all of us that we were being heard by potentially millions of people all over the world! After hearing that, I had to take a really deep breath to regain my composure before launching into my story. Luckily the butterflies in my stomach behaved long enough for me to finish.
It was such a joy to participate in this interview. Thanks so much, my friend.
Thank you for joining us today, Jenny! I can't imagine being on the radio, and especially not overseas!
Keep reading to find out more about Jenny's book as well as how to keep in touch with her.
Hope Takes the Reins
O.D. Billings has problems beyond the awkward name that led him to use only initials years ago. Now that his war hero older brother has returned, their dad thinks he can turn over managing their truck dealership and start to prepare for retirement. But the hometown hero is not ready for new responsibility, and O.D. saddles up to make things right, while keeping an eye on his younger brother, who is set on being the greatest bull-rider Crossroads, Arkansas has ever seen.
Nineteen years old is very young to take on the business end of a family rodeo, but Hope Caldwell feels she has no choice after cancer takes away her mom. She is used to helping behind the scenes as her dad handles the announcing, sister Faith excels at barrel racing, and brother Junior entertains the crowd as a rodeo clown.
On the family’s first night back after the funeral, an overdressed stranger seems to be conspiring with Hope’s uncle to make a huge change to the only life she’s known since before she could braid her own pig-tails.
Will these two long-time neighbors finally realize that they don’t have to shoulder their burdens alone? Will teaming up to help each other be the right path, or will they continue to stumble over their own cowboy boots on the way to finding God’s direction for their lives?
Jenny McLeod Carlisle has been writing stories since she learned to hold a pencil. She retired from a career in Human Resources for the State of Arkansas. She was a long-time columnist for Ouachita Life magazine, and two collections of her inspirational articles have been self-published. She is past president of American Christian Fiction Writers – Arkansas Chapter and past president of Saline County Preservation, Inc. Her first fiction project, “Hope Takes the Reins” is scheduled for release from Scrivenings Press in March of 2022. She and her husband, James live in Benton, Arkansas where they worship with a very active congregation of the Church of Christ. They are the parents of three married children and eight grandchildren. She enjoys substituting a few days a week in middle school, junior high and high school classrooms.
Jenny McLeod Carlisle | Facebook
Jenny McLeod Carlisle | Facebook (author page)
Jenny McLeod Carlisle – Seeking, Waiting, Walking (jennycarlisle.com)
Jenny Carlisle (@jennycarlisle3) / Twitter
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)