Interview with Heart Touchers author
Jennifer Oliver (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Heart Touchers: When did you start writing?
Jennifer Oliver: About four years ago at
my office, it was suggested that we tell
our favorite Christmas story. It was then
I "found my voice" in a story called "The
Smallest Gift of All," but it wasn't until last
year, while pregnant with my last baby, that
I experienced my biggest surge of creativity
and began writing as if it had been stored up
in me all these years. That's when I wrote the
first of many stories that you've so generously
delivered to the HeartTouchers family.
HT: Why do you write?
JO: I write to touch hearts and souls. If I have
inspired one person, I have done my job. One
lady wrote me in response to one of my stories
and said, "I felt I was in the presence of God
reading your story." Indeed the highest praise
I've received to date. Because I feel the presence
of God when I write.
HT: Where do you write?
JO: I used to write during my half-hour lunch at
my office. Now that my husband has assembled
our first-ever home PC, I can write at home.
HT: Have you had any odd or strange jobs in your life?
JO: Does working for the government count as an
odd job? I worked as a cashier at Sears for one
year, then after college spent the rest of my adult
life with the government (and loving every minute
of it...no, no one is twisting my arm here). I love
doing volunteer work, which I don't happen to
HT: What book are you currently reading?
JO: None at this moment.
HT: What do you like to read?
JO: Biographies, autobiographies, heartwarming
collections, mysteries, romance.
HT: Favorite authors?
JO: Frank McCourt, Steve Goodier, and all of
the Heart Touchers and Heartwamers writers, like Roger
Dean Kiser, Joe Edwards, Joe Walker, Lynn
Lombard, Lynelle Dawson, you and Kristi, to
name just a few. I feel like I've stumbled across
a gold mine!
HT: What was your first story to be published?
JO: "Anthony's Wish" was published in the latest
Heartwarmers book this past spring.
HT: First story you remember writing?
JO: In third grade I was handed an assignment to
provide the ending to a story about Will Rogers.
I will never forget the feeling I had in doing that
assignment, the way my mind reeled with ideas
and how hard it was for my pencil to keep up with
the flow of ideas. I was hooked.
HT: Where does your inspiration come from?
JO: My husband, family, friends, and above all,
God. Being surrounded by bright, funny, positive
people has been a huge blessing in my life. There
have been times when I've been hit with a brainstorm,
and I pull over to the side of the road to jot
down ideas on the back of bank receipts and
bounced checks. Sometimes a thought kicks in
when I least expect it, and I send myself a quick
e-mail to remind me to develop it further.
HT: Of the stories you have written, what is your
JO: It would have to be "Noble Prize" (featured
at www.heartwarmers4u.com), followed closely
by the story I wrote about Roger Kiser's book,
"The Sound of Love" featured on your site. I wrote
"Noble Prize" as a surprise tribute o my husband
for Father's Day and was overwhelmed by heartfelt
responses from literally all over the world. I printed
out these responses, along with the story, and
presented it to my husband on Father's Day.
While he was reading the tribute, one of my boys
asked, "Dad, do you need a kleenex?"
HT: Hardest Story?
JO: Probably "The Slingshot" that you posted.
I've written one story about my mother that was
also hard to write, which dealt with the loss of her baby.
HT: Have anything to share about when you first
looked at your book, or the book you first had
a story published in?
JO: Awestruck. I ran my hand over the cover, not
believing my eyes. I sat there for a solid hour,
reading and re-reading my story as if in a trance,
treasuring every detail. I just couldn't believe I
could add "author" to my resume. My lifelong
dream had finally come true.
HT: Did you dream about being a writer when you
were growing up or did it just happen?
JO: Oh, how I longed to be a writer when I grew up.
I remember in Mr. Miller's fifth-grade class how
generous he was for letting the class take a break
from schoolwork from time to time so that I could read
aloud a story I'd written the night before. And the pride
I felt going to the school's library so that they could
archive my stories in the filing cabinet. Wonder if
they're still there.
HT: Did you write stuff as a child or young person that
you can now go back and look at with pride, or maybe
JO: I've saved a couple of stories that I've written, and
I can't help but laugh at the workings of a young girl's
mind. Twenty years ago, I had poetry geared toward
the deaf community published in a magazine called
"Gallaudet Today." When my first poem was published
in that magazine, I received a letter from a high school
teacher from Florida, whose class wrote me "fan"
mail. I was moved to tears by these deaf students
taking the time to write and draw pictures for me. Incredible.
HT: Who do you admire in life?
JO: My husband and my entire family. Roger Dean
Kiser. Randy Snow. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mother Teresa. Eleanor Roosevelt. Barbara Jordan.
HT: Who has influenced you most in your writing?
JO: Growing up I've had many English teachers
encourage me, most notably Mrs. Lorena Patneaude
from Andress High School in El Paso, Texas.
Thanks, Mrs. Patneaude. You are one classy lady.
HT: What has influenced you most in your writing for
good or for bad?
JO: With so much negative media attention on
violence and the like (as felt in recent world
events), I felt the need to write about the good
things in life that nurture and heal matters of
the heart and soul. I hoped to reach those
who could relate to my experiences and learn
HT: Advice for those who also write or may be just
JO: Read read read. Find your voice. Write from life.
Write from your heart. Share the love. Teach us
what you've learned yourself about life.
HT: What do you like to do when you are not writing
JO: My biggest hobby is sculpting and molding four
lives with which God has entrusted us. My husband,
Stephen, and I are antique-aholics...we love to
travel to small Texas towns in search of bargains
and architectural items. Been fixing up our
fixer-upper for eight years now (that's how long we've
been without a kitchen!). We also volunteer at the
Sunshine home where we celebrate birthdays of
kid-at-heart residents, who live on fixed incomes
and play bingo for prizes they can't buy with food
stamps. I also belong to two Fort Hood volunteer
committees: the Program for Individuals with
Disabilities Committee and the Special Emphasis
Program Committee. And just recently I became
a volunteer at my sons' elementary school.
Which is why I enjoy making friends like Mary Jo
Knuth who mailed me and my family the world's
most mouthwatering treats, like brownies,
snickerdoodles, and zucchini bread. "I just
love to bake!" she tells me.
Mary Jo, my dear friend, if you're reading this:
e-hugs to you! We love that you love to bake!
HT: Future writing plans?
JO: I'm in the middle of writing a novel-length
fictional romance. Several stories will appear
in spring 2002 in the next Heartwarmers book
as well as "Chicken Soup for the Grandparents'
Soul," "Chicken Soup for the American Soul,"
and "Stories for the Family's Heart" book from
Jennifer I. Oliver (nee Senger)
Born in Fort Richardson, Alaska, I'm an Army brat,
having been stationed in Germany, Pennsylvania,
Kentucky, and settling down in El Paso, Texas,
where my dad retired for the golfing weather. When
I was five, my parents discovered I needed hearing
aids due to a profound sensori-neural loss
(the story about my hearing loss, "A Joyful Noise,"
will be featured in the next Heartwarmers book.
It first appeared on your site Hearttouchers.com)
Ten years ago, I was laterally transferred through my
civil servant job as a computer specialist from Fort
Bliss, Texas, to the heart of Texas at Fort
Hood. I have an Associate's Degree in Computer
Science and am 30 hours away from obtaining a
bachelor's degree in Computer Science. I am
currently a webmaster for my organization. In
1997 I was honored as the Fort Hood and
Department of the Army Outstanding Employee
of the Year with a Disability at the Pentagon. In
the same year I was honored with the Jennifer
Phillips Award for Spirit and Courage.
Married the hottest thing since sliced jalepenos,
the love of my life, Stephen Oliver, on February 4,
1992, in an impromptu wedding before a
justice of the peace, aka pig farmer.
Our roommates are Cody (6), Ethan (6), Matthew
(3), and Madison (1 year).
We are blessed beyond belief to fill our house
with such beauty. They are our heart and soul\
and everything that's good in this world.
Stephen has made them his career as a full-time
househubby...and an awesome one to boot!
We have an arthritic sweet mutt named Mocha, a
gorgeous feline named Gracie, and a fish named Fishstick.
Other works of mine can be found at
Gem) and www.ripplemaker.com.
Feel free to give me a holler at: email@example.com!
Check out my websites at www.authorsden/jenniferioliver,
I created a website at http://ww.geocities.com/jenniferioliver2001
in which you can meet my family and subscribe to free inspiration
every Tuesday (in remembrance of September 11) .
EVERYTHING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO
KNOW ABOUT ME AND REGRETTED ASKING.
The other day a friend E-mailed me one of those
survey thingies that asked me to take a moment to
answer the questions and forward to other
e-friends. The idea was to enlighten others about
Here was my response:
FULL NAME: Jennifer Ilene Oliver
BIRTHPLACE: Fort Richardson, Alaska.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Killeen, Texas.
LIVING ARRANGEMENT: Country living in a
fixer-upper with Stephen (my walk on the child side)
and our four blessings, ages 1 to 6 years.
FUTURE CHILD'S NAME: Uh...are you trying to
send me to the rubber room?
HAVE YOU HAD YOUR APPENDIX AND TONSILS
REMOVED? No. As an organ donor, it is my wish
that someone benefit from them one day.
HAVE YOU EVER GONE SKINNY-DIPPING? Yep!
Never saw so many frogs make a beeline for the
shore at once.
PETS: 1 cat (Gracie), 1 dog (Mocha), 1 fish
(Fishstick), and countless half-crushed bugs
the boys bring inside for show-n-tell.
TYPE OF CAR YOU DRIVE NOW: Used.
DREAM CAR: Not used.
DO YOU EAT THE STEMS OF BROCCOLI? Excuse me.
Are we on the same planet?
DO YOU GET ALONG WITH YOUR PARENT(S)?
Yes. Especially after they send money.
FAVORITE PLACE TO CHILL: In the ice cream
section of the grocery store.
WHAT IS YOUR BAD TIME OF DAY: When one of
the boys has forgotten the meaning of "go potty."
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB YOU WANTED,
WHAT WOULD IT BE? The kind that lets me take
a nap in the afternoon.
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH: All three boys piled
on top of their daddy, wrestling and tickling each other.
EVER BEEN IN LOVE? Oh, yes. Fell in love five
times: with my husband and with each of my babies.
Oh, wait a minute. Make that six. I forgot
about the UPS man who delivers the survival kit
from the Gourmet-Chocolates-A-Month club.
Jennifer says, "Here are my nutty boys at my first and only book-signing for the Heartwarmers book." (L to R: Cody, Matthew, and Ethan).
Here is a photo of Jennifer's four blessings which was taken during Christmas 2000. Left to right with current ages: Ethan (5), Cody (6), Madison (11 months), and Matthew (3).
Would you like to read some of Jennifer's wonderful stories? Just click on the titles below!