Today I interviewed romance author Jaycee Weaver!
Intro: What’s your name, what do you write, where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be
Hi! Thanks for having me do this today! I’m Jaycee Weaver, writer of Christian romance and eventually Christian chick lit with a romantic lean 😊. Here are the links to all the ways you can connect with me: my Facebook fan page, my Facebook street team The Jaycee League, plus there’s my mailing list, my website and blog, Twitter @weaverjaycee, Instagram @jayceeweaver, Pinterest, GoodReads, and Amazon Author Central!
If I could be a mythological being…oh my nerd brain is on overload thinking of the fun I could have as different creatures or beings! I’d probably be an elf. Not the Keebler, North Pole, or House kind, the Middle Earth kind. Not only are they immortal, they live in such beautiful places and possess untold knowledge of the world itself, giving them a kind of magic.
If not that, then a Time Lord. Because, regeneration, duh. And a TARDIS.
1. The second book in your Everyday Love series, Whatever Comes Our Way releases on the 24th! How did the process of writing and publishing this book compare to the first one?
There’s no comparison, truly. It took me the better part of a year to write What Could Be, and once I had my trusted circle read it and edited it a few more (dozen) times, I leapt with both feet. I knew right away that independent publishing was the direction I wanted to go, and I joined several FB groups with other Christian readers and writers, started learning the basics, and went for it.
This time around, I’m a little more and a little less patient all at the same time. I’m more patient on the manuscript and methodical in my writing process but I’m less patient with myself just wanting to get it out there. Editing takes such a long time, which it should if you want a well-polished manuscript. I find that I’m also more antsy to just write, edit, and move on. I’m having to force myself to get excited about marketing it.
- You said on your website that you recently re-released the first book in the series, What Could Be, after another round of revisions. Can you share how and why that happened as well as give us a sneak peek at something that you changed?
In my blog I joke about being a recovering perfectionist. It’s been a lifelong battle to fight against the pressure, demands, anxiety, and single-minded focus that comes with being an overachiever. That’s a quality I share with my main character, Brynn. About a month and a half after I published the first edition, I wondered why my publicity efforts weren’t working as well as they should. Before I turned my focus outward and spent good money and time marketing, I went inward and re-read the manuscript. I’d had some amazingly positive reviews and testimonies, but when several people I know personally said they read it but didn’t give any feedback, insecurity roared its ugly head. I decided not to sit and spiral but to attack it head-on. I took out probably twelve pages or more of material that was just too slow and unnecessary to the storyline. I also discovered a few annoying habits that I want/need to break, so I corrected the things that bugged me from a reader’s perspective.
I can’t think of a specific rewrite, but I would LOVE to share an excerpt of my favorite scene! Josh, whose son is in the after-school program Brynn runs, has feelings for her but they’re barely becoming friends. She has a boyfriend she’s uncertain about but her integrity won’t cross lines, period. He’s offered her tickets to a gala he’s promoting but chickened out asking as a date. Because they’re just friends.
Brynn thought for a few minutes about whether or not to respond, and if so, how. She reread the text from Josh and realized her read receipts were on. She sighed, knowing there was no way to avoid replying without looking rude.
She tucked her right leg under her body and leaned against the left arm of the couch. With a roll of her tightly coiled shoulder muscles and a twist of her neck, she came up with a simple response that shouldn’t invite conversation. Because, hello, she shouldn’t be conversing with Josh outside of work. It wasn’t right.
I’m okay. Evil stomach bug kept me home. Thanks for checking on me. Sorry I never got back to you about the gala.
Her phone vibrated in her hand immediately.
Evil stomach bug? No fun. Hope you feel better soon. Brendan misses you. Says it’s not as fun without Miss Brynn.
She smiled, picturing her favorite little boy with his soft buzzed hair that came to a little widow’s peak on his forehead, his glassy inquisitive eyes absorbing the world around him with unmatched excitement about every little thing and his Tigger-like bouncing around, so full of love and affection. Her heart leapt thinking of the adorable way Brendan always threw his arms around her legs in an exuberant hug. And that dimpled little smile, so like his father’s.
His father’s. Thinking of Josh’s matching grin made her heart pound a little harder, race a little faster. Whoa, there, Brynn. Down, girl.
She tossed her phone to the other end of the couch like it was a hot potato. She could not sit here thinking about that handsome smile or the man attached to it. She could not be texting the man, acting like some silly school girl with a crush. He was the father of one of her students! She had a boyfriend, for heaven’s sake! It just wasn’t right.
Oh…but heaven help her, he was a really, really good guy, and cute too. And they were friends, kind of, right?
Her fingers slid slowly across the couch and wrapped around the phone. As if of their own will, they began typing.
Josh watched the little dots on his screen bounce. Gina had surprised him when she’d given him Brynn’s number this afternoon, insisting that he should call to confirm about the gala. When he’d asked whether she and Brynn planned to attend, Gina had looked at him blankly and he’d instantly realized that Brynn had never asked her to go. Gina had quickly recovered and given him a knowing look that unnerved him before repeating that he should call Brynn about it.
As quickly as his heart had sunk at the realization that Brynn must never have intended to go, Gina had interjected that Brynn had gotten sick Wednesday night and it probably slipped her mind. Josh wasn’t so sure, given her evasion when he’d initially mentioned it and the awkward avoidance after asking about the Lobo game.
Leaning against the kitchen counter, he glanced down at the bouncing dots again. When they stopped, he released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He’d been so nervous to text her but couldn’t help himself.
The phone buzzed in his hand.
I miss him too. I do feel better, mostly. The couch is starting to look like an ROUS lives here, though, so I need to get better soon before my mom calls the exterminator.
He laughed at the Princess Bride reference. Nice. So back to the fire swamp, then?
A swoosh sound of reply was followed by We’ve been living there quite comfortably for some time.
He chuckled aloud, unable to think of any other movie quotes that applied just then. He looked up to see Brendan skip into the room.
“Hey, dad? Is the pizza almost done? I’m starving!”
Josh pocketed the phone and answered his son. “Let’s go check, buddy. It smells done to me.”
He’d popped a frozen pizza into the oven as soon as they’d gotten home a little bit ago. He opened the oven door to a blast of hot air and a quick glimpse showed the pizza was perfectly crisp and golden. Grabbing an oven mitt, he pulled it out and set it on top of the stove.
The itch to check his phone again was almost too much, but he didn’t want to make Brynn uncomfortable or make himself sound like a moron, either. God, he silently prayed, I’m out of my depth here. I don’t know what you’re doing with Brynn or if you have a plan for her and me, but I’d sure like to know. I really, really like her. A clue, anything?
He plated a few slices for himself and one for Brendan on paper plates. Brendan hefted the gallon of milk from the fridge and plunked it on to the counter.
“Here, Dad. I got the milk out for you,” he grunted under the strain of the full carton.
“Thanks, little man. Can you grab the cups?”
“Okay. Can I have chocolate milk?”
“Not this time, bud. I think there’s some ice cream in the freezer for dessert, if we eat our green stuff.”
“Cucumbers? Those are green!” Brendan’s expressive eyes begged.
“Sure, I’ll count those. I think we have baby carrots and the little sweet peppers you like, too.”
“Mmmm. Okay, I’ll get the ranch!”
Within a few minutes, they both had a fairly decent dinner in front of them. His conscience didn’t let them eat in front of the TV very often, but it was movie night. Josh snapped a funny picture of his son shoveling in a bite of pizza. With a few taps, it was off to Brynn.
The screen lit up with her reply a few moments later. He smiled when he saw the snapshot of a cup of Dino’s ranch next to a plate empty of all but a few crumbs and a nibbled crust.
Great minds think alike, she’d written. Indeed.
He glanced up at the TV screen and laughed out loud when he saw Brendan’s choice. He sent her a pic of the TV screen, showing the opening scene to the movie Brendan had chosen.
This was all Brendan’s doing tonight, I promise. I must be raising him right. He waited for her reply, knowing she’d probably get a kick out of it.
A loud laugh burst out of her mouth, and she’d nearly choked on her pizza crust when Josh’s last text came through. She would recognize a young Fred Savage tucked into his bed anywhere. The Princess Bride had been one of her all-time favorite movies since she was a little kid, watching it with her much older cousins during many a family vacation. It was one of those rare movies that all of the cousins, both the boys and the girls, could agree on. The story was so much fun, that even with the 1980s bits the movie never really seemed to age and held a wide appeal. She had grown up wanting to be loved the way Westley loved Buttercup, and to have the kind of faith like Buttercup, her Westley would come.
What were the odds Brendan would choose the same movie they’d just been quoting? Inspired, she popped in her own copy and skipped ahead to the scene where Westley hands Buttercup the pitcher and sent a pic to Josh.
Kid has impeccable taste. I just had to follow his lead.
About an hour later, her phone chimed once again, just as Westley and Buttercup were running out of the fire swamp. She grinned when the screen lit to a picture of the hideous Rodent of Unusual Size.
Thinking of you. Hope you’re feeling better.
She laughed aloud to herself. That rational Brynn in the back of her head raised another protest about the appropriateness of this conversation and the dangerous territory she was entering, but Brynn hadn’t felt this silly and free in such a long time. She hushed the rational voice and kept typing.
Not sure if I should be offended that the ROUS prompted you to think of me.
Those three little dots sent her stomach flipping, thankfully not from the evil stomach bug this time. She waited for the little chime with anticipation.
Oh, I was already thinking of you.
The dots kept bouncing.
Uh, was he writing a novel or what? And what the heck did he mean by that? Oh, man, this was so bad.
- Whatever Comes Our Way focuses on Brynn’s best friend Gina and her relationship with youth pastor Jaydon Bennett. Why are you so passionate about Gina’s story, and why write more of a companion book over a direct sequel?
As a reader, I prefer either standalones or series with different, but recurring characters. I get tired of reading book after book of the same person and get impatient waiting for that overall story arc to resolve. I can handle trilogies, at best. Maybe that’s why I like movies better than most television shows, too. When it comes to writing, they say to write what you know, and I know what I like. Ultimately, I want to write books that I would want to read.
I’m passionate about Gina’s story because it’s a lot grittier than Brynn’s. Brynn is Miss Innocence, a little sheltered and from a happy middle-class family. She’s still relatable, and has flaws, but I wanted to do something different with Gina. Gina’s the kind of woman who has been there, seen that, and is ready to be a grown up. You kind of get that from What Could Be, but there are things even Brynn doesn’t know. Right away, she instinctively trusts Jaydon. There’s something about him that makes her feel safe, which is a total rarity for her where men are concerned. He’s not without flaws, either. Together, they are able to employ their strengths and weaknesses to help a troubled teen and her younger brother find stability and safety. Getting to know these two wrote them right into my heart.
- What scene was the hardest to write, why?
There were a lot of tough scenes to write for Whatever Comes Our Way. The prologue scene was very hard, because Gina was molested at thirteen and has a flashback during an anxiety attack. My oldest daughter is thirteen, so that was one difficulty—not projecting her sweet face and scaring myself as a mother. But also, I’m aware the statistics are high for sexual assault and I want to write from a place of sensitivity. The scene needed to be realistic enough without crossing into the trigger zone. I want my readers who have been abused in any way to be able to still read this book and understand that in the long run, it’s a story of hope and restoration and how in helping others, we find healing for ourselves, too.
- What are the characters like and why will readers love them?
Brynn, as I’ve mentioned already, is a sheltered, slightly naïve but compassionate young woman who uses lists (and lists, and lists) to keep her big goals and dreams on track. She’s a little all over the place sometimes, and readers seem to like her genuineness and quirks.
Caleb, her boyfriend, is a blander version of Brynn; logical, analytical, and hard working. Gina calls him vanilla, and not because he’s white. But don’t worry, he’s going to discover his true flavor in book three.
Josh is a single dad who struggles with his feelings for Brynn because she’s untarnished and, well, he’s not. He’s open and honest but still figuring out who he’s supposed to be now that he’s come home to Christ.
Gina’s mother’s partying lifestyle caused a lot of pain and strife, and she had to learn quickly to be independent and pull up her big girl panties. She’s working through body image issues and trying to get healthy. She’s very real, a little hard on herself, but never gives up. I love her fierce determination and compassionate heart. She refuses to let her severe anxiety win. I think readers will love her snarky observations, teasing, and complexity, too.
Jaydon grew up in the church and thought he’d married the woman of his dreams, but she was really a nightmare who left scars and guilt behind. He’s a big dude with a full beard, with a heart proportionate to his size. He’s a real guy—thoughtful, intentional, funny, with integrity and honor and a drive to protect the people in his care.
- Top three biggest lessons learned from publishing your first book?
Editing is key—both self-editing numerous times (including a read-aloud) and having experienced outside eyes look at it.
Even traditionally published authors have to keep up on social media and promotion, but if you’re independently or small-house published it’s even more crucial. For indie writers, developing relationships with other authors and readers in your genre is helpful…no, vital. It’s that Biblical concept of iron sharpening iron put into action!
It’s okay to be brutally honest, especially with yourself. If there’s something in your manuscript that isn’t working, own it and fix it, even if that means deleting ten thousand words. Being authentic and taking ownership of your career is what makes you better.
- Favorite quote from the Everyday Love series?
Oooh, that’s a hard one! I’m still on final edits in the second book, but my favorite quote from What Could Be is, “It was time to put the lists away and really trust that if she was truly a believer and not just a ‘Christian,’ she had to actually place her trust in Christ himself.” It’s such a practical truth that I need to remember often.
- What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from that I wrote little things from a young age. In college, I dabbled in short stories and inspirational non-fiction, but set that aside to raise my girls. I didn’t make a lot of time to read again until a few years ago, and once I did, the desire to write again came with it!
- Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Oh good heavens. Characters hijacking a story? Never.
Ha! That’s exactly what they do! I start out with an idea, but I’m not even kidding you—I’ll get snippets of character traits and personality quirks at the most random times. My notes app is full of stuff that pops in my head and I had to start creating different notes for each book, and now for each character! And while I’m writing, they change and grow with the story. Which…usually ends up in a very different direction than I’d originally planned to take it.
- If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please 🙂 )
I’d probably choose to spend a day with Gina. We’d have a lot of fun observing the world and keeping a running commentary going. We both like to be outdoors, so we’d probably go to the botanic gardens. She’d deliberate the plant life and how she’d plant it differently while talking cultivation tips with the landscapers, and I’d be distracted by trying to capture everything on my camera at different angles or extreme close-ups. She’d get annoyed at waiting for me, I’d tune out her random knowledge of plants that I’ll never retain, but then we’d sit over coffee and a cursed spinach salad while eyeballing the cinnamon rolls we dare not touch.
- Top three Rom-Com tropes you love?
Oooh, another good one! I’m a sucker for the hate-each-other-but-can’t-resist-each-other thing. That probably started when I was twelve and first saw Only You (which is also where my celeb crush on Robert Downey Jr. began *cue girly swoon*.
I also love the Taming of the Shrew trope. A feisty, independent woman who can’t help falling for a cocky, obnoxious guy who challenges her? Yes, please! So it goes against women’s equality a little, but…I love oxymorons, contradictions, and juxtapositions…so whatever.
A third one? That’s tough. I just love a good rom-com that has a happy ending. I love all the ways they get there. I don’t even want to watch or read one that has a bittersweet ending. I don’t want a main character to die (I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks and Veronica Roth, you talented meanies). I don’t care if it’s tragic and beautiful. It sucks and it hurts and I just can’t. Give me relentless pursuit. Give me opposites attract. I’ll even go for marriage of convenience or secret babies. Just give me happy.
- What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Best compliment?
The toughest criticism I received as an author was back in college. I wrote a children’s story about a girl who was kind of a brat, but she was lovable. The parents in my creative writing class were like, “yeah, I’d spank that kid. She’s not cute. She’s a brat.” Obviously, I wasn’t a parent yet and still idealized childrearing through my babysitter lens. I’ve been blessed so far otherwise, but probably only because I’m not all that widespread or the people who love me are too nice. I’ll try not to freak out when the criticism does come!
The best compliment I’ve gotten so far came from one of my very favorite authors, Jenn Faulk. She finished the pre-published version of my first book and said she’d read anything I write. For an avid reader and fan, I appreciate what a big compliment that is.
- What’s a favorite moment you’ve had with a fan/someone who’s read your work?
I’ll be honest, my absolute favorite moment is when my best friend Molly finishes my books. We’ll gab about the characters like they’re real people. Her excitement and how real it all feels to her is exactly the reaction I’d love to have from all my readers.
- One fun fact most people don’t know about you?
This is so hard! I’m a pretty open book about most things, and I (clearly) don’t have trouble talking about…anything. Fun fact. Okay, here’s one: I love the way mud squishes between my toes, but I have to wear gloves to garden because I don’t like dirt on my hands!
Thank you, Jaycee! What thoughtful and fun answers. If you like Christen romance, follow Jaycee’s Facebook fan page, join her Facebook street team The Jaycee League, mailing list, follow her website and blog, Twitter @weaverjaycee, Instagram @jayceeweaver, Pinterest, GoodReads, and Amazon Author Central!
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!