Monday, January 16, 2012

Interview + Giveaway with Jennifer Shaw Wolf, Debut Author of Breaking Beautiful

 Today we have with us debut author Jennifer Shaw Wolf whose book, Breaking Beautiful releases on April 24, 2012. Jennifer has joined us for an interview below:

Tell us a little about yourself and the book(s) you've written...

I’m a mom to four great kids; two teens and two grade-schoolers, and I have the most amazing husband in the world. I live in Lacey, Washington, near Olympia. I grew up in land-locked Idaho, but I love the ocean. The Washington coast is breathtaking, because of its beauty. (Also how cold it is). For me the Northern Pacific coast has a mysterious, sometimes harsh and heartbreaking beauty. I used it as a background for my story. BREAKING BEAUTIFUL is set in a fictional town by the ocean called, Pacific Cliffs, somewhere between Hoquaim and Forks.

BREAKING BEAUTIFUL is about Allie, a girl who is trying to recover from the car accident that killed her boyfriend, Trip. Allie feels very alone, she’s an Army brat who has moved around a lot so she has very few friends. She’s living in her mother’s hometown and somewhat in her mother’s shadow. She’s holding onto a terrible secret about her relationship with Trip, that threatens to condemn her and the people she loves most. To save herself, she has to find out what really happened to Trip before anyone else does, she has to decide who she can trust, and she has to have the courage to face her past.

How do you relax after a long day of writing?

Writing for me is my relaxation, especially after a long day of chasing kids, keeping the house clean, and doing the really important things, like making sure everyone has clean underwear. When I write, I get to live in a world I created, with people and places I make up, and unlike my kids they do whatever I tell them to do (usually). I’m not saying writing is easy; it isn’t, but I’d rather be writing than doing almost anything else in the world. However, when writing makes me crazy (and it often does) I clean my house (weird, I know). When I need to relax from both, like after all-night, deadline induced revision sessions, I get into a hot bath with a good book (words I did not have to come up with) and then I take a nap.

Do you outline your stories before you begin writing? How do you determine where to start?

I’m trying to be an outliner, really I am. What usually happens is an idea for a story works it’s way into my brain, and then I play it over in my head, scene by scene (unfortunately, never in order) until I’m ready to write. At that point, I write a first chapter, or maybe just a first scene, and then try to outline the entire story. I almost always know how I want the story to end, but I usually end up re-writing the outline as I go. I’m a big believer in outlines, if not always a great follower of them.

How many finished stories did you write before seeing your first book published? Do you think you'll ever go back to them and try again?

I wrote two complete novels and a whole bunch of chapters, outlines, and synopses for other ideas. I’m stubborn so I’m not ready to give up on any of them yet. The characters from the first two manuscripts I finished bug me all the time. I’m always trying to figure out what I need to do to make those manuscripts saleable or at least more workable. Lack of time and other commitments has kept me from doing a complete overhaul on any of my “drawer” (or more accurately) “hard drive” novels.

Is there a dedication at the beginning of your book? Who did you dedicate it to and why?

My book is dedicated to two people; my wonderful husband, David and Jason, the boy who I took care of as a home-health aid during my last two years of high school and my first couple of years of college. He was seven when I started working with him. Jason, like Andrew in BREAKING BEAUTIFUL has Cerebral Palsy. Jason has the most wonderful spirit, an infectious laugh, and beautiful deep brown eyes, a lot like Andrew in the book. Jason can’t walk or talk, or feed or dress himself, but during the years I spent with him, I saw what an amazing person he was. He taught me a lot about the many abilities that people with disabilities have.

If you weren't writing what do you think you'd be doing?

Sometimes I think if I weren’t writing, my life would be easy; no revision deadlines, no promotional stuff, no worrying about what the world is going to think about my story. Maybe I could spend my extra time of keeping my house spotless, taking long naps, or watching TV, but honestly, that isn’t me. If I weren’t writing I would have found something else to occupy my over-active imagination. I know I’d still need some creative outlet. Maybe I would spend more time on video production projects (which I also love), sewing (which sometime love, but don’t really have the patience for), or knitting (haven’t learned because I’m not really coordinated enough). I’ve always had stories in my brain, so even when I didn’t have time to put words on paper, I was still writing in my head. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Do you have any fun hobbies other than reading and writing? What are they?

I graduated with a degree in broadcasting, so one of my other hobbies it creating videos. I’ve done three book trailers for other people, various wedding videos, and I shoot and edit a lot of children’s productions. What I learned in college about video production has helped a lot when I put scenes together in my stories. I also love skiing with my family and miss very much the horseback riding I did when I was younger (not enough time for everything).

What was the last thing you ate? Did you enjoy it?

Macaroni and tomato juice. Yes, I enjoyed it. It might sound weird, but it’s one of those simple meals that remind me of my childhood. My mom used to make shell macaroni with tomato juice all the time and now I know why, so easy. It’s also good with ground beef or cheese mixed in.

If you could have a pet that was a mythical creature, which creature would you choose?

I’ve always wanted a flying horse like Pegasus. I’m a huge horse lover and wow, can you imagine riding a horse that could fly?

What advice would you give your teen readers about life?

One of the best sayings I ever heard was from one of my college professors, “Even when things don’t work out, they work out.” Meaning whatever happens, life will still move forward and things are almost never as bad as you think they are. Other advice would be: Love life. Enjoy being whatever age you are, but look forward to the future. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams. Be nice to other people, no matter what you think the cost is, being nice never comes back to haunt you as much as being mean.

Thank you for the interview, Jennifer! You can find more information about Breaking Beautiful, Jennifer Shaw Wolf, and enter to win some cool swag below:

Breaking Beautiful Summary:

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a tragic car accident—including her memory of the event. All she has left are the scars and a sneaking suspicion that the crash wasn’t an accident after all.  When the police reopen the investigation, it quickly turns on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around their small town. As the threats begin and the survivor’s guilt sets in, Allie’s memories collide with a dark secret about Trip she’s kept for too long. Caught somewhere between her past and her future, Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free?

Add it to Goodreads and LibraryThing

About Jennifer Shaw Wolf:

Jennifer Shaw Wolf grew up on a farm in the tiny town of Wilford, Idaho. She spent cold Idaho mornings milking cows in the dark and summers bridge jumping and cruising main street. She’s always been a writer, whether it was sewing together books to read to her little brothers or starting an underground newspaper in sixth grade. She has a degree in Broadcast Communications from Brigham Young University. Now she lives in beautiful, green, (rainy) Lacey, Washington with her husband and four kids. She loves to produce videos, ski, ride horses, and read, but really all she has time for is chasing kids and writing.

You can find her on:
Official website:

Twitter: @jenniferswolf

Youtube: jen18wolf


One winner will receive:
A signed BREAKING BEAUTIUFL bookmark
A tigerseye stone (Tigerseye has an important role in Breaking Beautiful)
A Class of 2k12 bookmark, pin and guitar pick. 

Open to US/Canada. Ends January 31, 2012. 

To enter, leave a comment below for Jennifer. Make sure to include a way to contact you in case you win. Good luck!

This post was part of my New Year's Signature Collection event.
Watch out for more guest posts,  lists, reviews of January releases, author interviews, and more throughout January.


  1. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    Although, I do have one comment/question about why the character was chosen to be an armybrat - and because of that have no friends. I was an armybrat and I attribute that to me having LOTS of friends, Just because I moved around a lot didn't mean I wasn't able to make friends. Of course, I know that's just a part of the story and that's how you wanted the character! But that's just my two sense! Just curious, this wasn't meant to be disrespectful so I hope it didn't come across that way!


  2. Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for your comment. I certainly didn't mean to be disrespectful to Army kids! I live near Ft. Lewis, Washington and have had many Army friends move in and out and have kept in touch with a lot of them. I can see where you could have many friends that way. But I can also see how someone who was unsure of themselves and took a long time to make friedns would find moving around a lot a disadvantage to making friends, esp. close friends. (I know kids in that situation, too.)

    There are other reasons that Allie has few friends, and honestly this is the first time I've called her an Army brat in an interview or pointed that out as a reason for her to feel isolated. Mostly, I wanted to show that Allie had a hard time making friends and felt isolated when she moved into a small town where everyone has known each other since birth. Maybe I should have pointed that out instead. I appreciate your insight as well as your comments and questions!


  3. So excited for you, Jennifer! Your story about Jason was lovely.

  4. This book has been on my list for a while! I can't wait until it's out:) I love the premise:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  5. Looks like an interesting premise for a book! Definitely putting it on my TBR list. I've known people that have had to move around a lot, a couple for army related reasons too. The cover design is beautiful. I must say, the class of 2012 stuff is intriguing too because I graduate HS this year :D

    I really like that quote from your professor. I definitely think I need to think that way more often!

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  6. That sounds like a really interesting book! I'm looking forward to reading it when I actually have time from school work to read it. :) I also hope you have the time to get the other 2 books off your hard drive and work on those so we can read some more from you! :)


  7. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for this great giveaway!

    mararob80 at gmail dot com

  8. The cover is pretty awesome for this book!! I can't wait to read it! :D


    - juhina

  9. Can't wait to read this one. Sounds incredible!
    Melanie.M.McCullough@gmail dot com

  10. I love the cover Jennifer, its gorgeous.

  11. Thanks everyone! Sorry for the radio silence. We had a big snowstorm and then ice storm this week! My kids have been out of school all week. We had one massive sledding party, (18 or so teens at my house) then we lost power the next day.

    The cover photo was taken by my husband. I was so thrilled that my publisher gave him the chance to take it.

  12. The cover really is great. Did you have say in it or was it just shown to you for approval?


  13. Jessica,

    Thanks for the comment. I got way more say in the cover then most authors do. Since my husband is a photographer, and the art department with my publisher knew what they wanted but couldn't find the right stock photo, they agreed to let him take the picture. I was so happy when they decided to use it.