Thursday, February 23, 2017

Homeschooling Mom and Author Frances Hoelsema

Today's Homeschool-Mom-Author is Frances Hoelsema...(FYI her book is on sale for only $2.99!)

How long have you been homeschooling? 

I’m in my third year of homeschooling. I started my oldest son with pre-school and am now doing first grade with him. Next year I will be starting pre-school with my youngest so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes with two of them.

How long have you been writing? 

I started writing in late 2012/early 2013 before I had my second child. I’ve always done small poems and things like that, but 2012/2013 was when I started writing my first novel.

What gave you the writing bug? 

Since high school I would imagine stories that I thought would be cool to read, but I never thought I could write a full-length novel myself. After getting the Kindle for Christmas one year and I began reading more and more and more, the nudge to write my own grew so loud that I could no longer ignore it.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? 

It would be my first novel, Growing Up Neighbors. Otherwise it was all essays/poems and the like.
What type of books do you write? I love to read romance so the books I currently have out have some sort of love story/romance to them. The first novel, Growing Up Neighbors, is more a general fiction/coming of age story. My second is contemporary romance and my third novel is also a contemporary romance. However, I have ideas of other genres I want to eventually get into as well.

How do you find time to write? 

I write during my kids’ down time. Occasionally I’ll write in the evening while my husband takes the kids out.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

Vocabulary! I am not good at coming up with certain words that mean the same thing as something longer I typed out. My editor is good at catching that kind of stuff. It’s probably why my books are easy to read – because my vocabulary isn’t that great.

Do your kids help with your creative process or give you ideas? 

Not directly, no. There might be events that take place, though, that might give me an idea of something I could include in a novel.

What is the single most significant thing you can tell us about your writing career? 

This is a tough question. I would have to say that I’m only getting started! I plan to continue to write, and I have a lot of great things in store so stay tuned!

Can you tell us about a character in your current work in progress? 

At the time of answering this questionnaire, I am in the process of finishing up my third novel, Long Lost Neighbors. (This book will be published by the time this interview is published, though). In Long Lost Neighbors, we have our female main character, Alison Levin. She has a really tough decision to make, one she never anticipating having to. You see, she’s engaged to a man who could give her anything and everything she could ever want. One problem. He’s glued to his work, and even more so, his phone. Never would Ali imagine she would run into an old childhood friend while on vacation. As the two of them work on catching up and getting to know one another as adults, Ali finds it very tempting to take the relationship beyond friendship. The novel showcases her struggle and also throws in some hard life situations in the midst of it.

Next Door Neighbors

Elena Montgomery, an elderly victim of fibromyalgia, has two main loves in her life: Brian, her attractive and hard-working son; and Jill Stevens, her caring friend and next door neighbor. When Brian and Jill meet for the first time, they have a chemistry that no one can deny.

Although Jill finds herself wanting to get closer to Brian, she believes she can’t. Being hurt in the past, she vows to remain single the rest of her life, thinking it’s better not to love than to love and get burned. Brian, on the other hand, wants to get to the bottom of her fears and show her that not all men are the same. He is determined to win her trust, her heart and her hand in marriage.

Through pain, passion and pursuit, will Brian be able to prove to Jill what true love is all about?

*Author Note*
Next Door Neighbors is the second in the Neighbors series, however, it is a completely standalone novel. You'll find a strong attraction between the two main characters right in the first chapter, but nothing that will make you cringe or feel guilty reading about. This novel has an underlying message of what true love is all about, and is perfect for anyone that loves a good, clean romance without all the sex.

Excerpt (First Chapter) –

Jill’s old beater car jerked to a sudden halt as soon as she entered her driveway. She quickly turned off the ignition and yanked the keys out, racing to get into her house so she could find the recipe that had been a favorite of everyone who had the privilege of tasting it. As she entered the kitchen, she eyed her stack of recipe books, not quite sure exactly which one held the sacred recipe.
Nope. Not this one, she thought as she skimmed through the first book.
Looking through the second, Jill mechanically brushed a strand of chocolate brown hair away from her eyes and tucked it behind an ear.
Come on, come on, come on! Why do I not remember which one it’s in?
She grabbed for a third book and hastily turned to the Main Dishes section.
Aha! Here we go!
Jill quickly opened her junk drawer and tore out a pen and scrap piece of paper, scribbling down the ingredients to the Biscuits and Gravy Casserole recipe she was requested to make for her neighbor that night. The list of ingredients in hand, Jill dashed back out the door and into her car. She went to turn on the ignition, only to realize she didn’t have her keys.
I guess it would help if I had my keys now wouldn’t it? Get yourself together, Jill!
Back in the house Jill ran, like a relay race against time. She grabbed the keys that were sitting on the counter next to the pile of recipe books she had flipped through. Then once again she was back out the door and into her car.
As the car rattled to life, Jill checked her mirrors and all around to make sure it was safe to back out onto the road. The coast clear, she made her move and started heading to the only grocery store in town. While driving on the aggressive side, hoping she could make up some of the time that she had lost while digging through her recipe books, she replayed the day’s earlier events in her mind.
During her first break at work she noticed two voicemail messages. The first one was from her elderly neighbor, Elena, who was simply letting Jill know that she was looking forward to having dinner brought over tonight. And, on second thought, she did have a specific request: the biscuits and gravy casserole. She ended her message by mentioning there would be a guest over who would absolutely love the dish as well.
Jill hated to admit that she almost completely forgot about bringing Elena a meal tonight. She felt guilt ridden, too, because her neighbor was having an extremely tough time lately trying to manage her fibromyalgia.
The second voicemail, the one from her peppy best friend, Amanda, also served as a reminder that they had plans to go to a movie tonight for girl’s night, and that she would be at Jill’s house by seven thirty sharp to pick her up.
Just thinking of everything she had to do yet tonight was making her head spin, and it didn’t help that she was running late because her financial meeting after work went longer than planned. Jill was growing more and more on edge with every moment that passed. Running late never sat well with Jill; it was the one thing she hated most. She took another quick glance at the time on her cell phone.
Thankfully, the Ashwin General Store was just up ahead. A little bit of shopping would allow Jill’s mind to remain distracted for a while; take the edge off her distaste for tonight’s unpunctuality.
Jill pulled in to a spot as close to the store as she could, something she normally didn’t do. She usually enjoyed parking further out, and knew there were others that could actually use a closer space. Today, however, she had to use all her time efficiently, meaning she couldn’t waste any of it by walking extra steps to get inside the store.
A friendly greeter welcomed Jill by name to the store. Being the small town that Ashwin was, everyone knew mostly everyone else, and Jill relished in the sense of familiarity. It always warmed her heart when she was greeted by name because it made her feel special, noticed even. And although she sometimes would strike up a small conversation with the greeter or others in the store, today she wasn’t allowed to. Instead, she gave a quick, friendly smile and nod to be sure that she at least acknowledged the welcome. Then grabbing a basket, Jill was on her way in search for the ingredients she needed.
Ashwin’s didn’t have as many shoppers for a Friday night like it usually did, but Jill wasn’t going to complain. She was able to get to most products effortlessly, and all in all, Jill started feeling more at ease knowing she was making up for lost time. With only a few items left on her list, she scanned each of the aisle signs to see where she could find gravy packets. She found the needed aisle and started looking for the sausage gravy packet she normally bought.
Row after row Jill scanned, but had no luck. Finally, on the very bottom was the coveted sausage gravy packet she was searching for.
Jill gave out a sigh and crouched down, something completely necessary for her taller, slender figure. She double checked the packet to make sure it was indeed the correct one, and then swiftly placed it into her basket while getting back to her standing upright position and moving onward.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Jill immediately apologized, her face turning a deep red hue as she began to look up at the man she just bumped into.
Once Jill saw the man’s full figure, she quickly gathered he wasn’t from around here unless he frequented a nearby city’s tanning salon. His darker skin tone definitely screamed from somewhere south of Ashwin though.
A beach town perhaps?
“I didn’t mean to do that,” she added.
The man gave a low chuckle, and as he put up his hands to signal no harm done, he said, “It’s okay.”
His smile, and the sparkle in his eye, captivated Jill until she realized she was probably staring at him for too long. Clearing her throat, Jill motioned in the direction she needed to go and again apologized with a smile of her own. She and her basket then rushed towards the next item she needed to check off her list.
The man just watched as she hurried away, liking the way her hips moved with each stride. Thinking of how cute she was blushing as she apologized made it near impossible for him to wipe the smile from his face.

* * *

Jill stood in front of the cashier, unconsciously tapping her credit card.
“Are you okay, Jill?” the short, red-headed cashier asked. “You’re acting all jittery.”
Startled from her daze, she replied, “Oh! Oh, yes, I’m fine. I’m just in a little hurry that’s all, Mary.”
Jill gave a little smile and then checked the conveyor belt to see what was left. To her relief, the cashier was just scanning the last product.
“Any coupons or bottle slips?”
“No, not today.”
The cashier gave Jill her total and she quickly paid with her card. At first the card reading machine didn’t accept Jill’s card, but once the friendly lady in front of her punched the numbers in manually, it was smooth sailing.
“These machines are getting so old. I keep telling the boss to buy new ones,” Mary stated like a broken record.
Jill simply gave a smile, not wanting to strike up any further conversation. All she wanted was her receipt so she could start heading home to make her famous dish that her neighbor would be having that night.
The cashier gave Jill the receipt along with some coupons, and then told her to have a good day. Jill reached over to grab the two bags that her groceries were placed in, and then immediately turned around to head out the store.
Jill’s eyes about bulged out of her head when she saw the person before her. She was finding it hard to believe that she had just bumped into the same man for the second time tonight. “Oh my goodness! I’m so, so sorry!”
“You again,” the tanned man said as he looked down at his tea-stained shirt.
Jill followed his eyes and then looked in horror as she realized what she had done. She quickly looked around for some napkins, which she found near the self-serve drinks. Jill took the few steps required to get there and grabbed a handful of napkins before she headed back. “I really am sorry. I don’t usually make it a habit to run into people,” she lightly joked.
Not thinking twice about it, she began taking the napkins she acquired and started wiping the man’s chest where the tea had spilled.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” the man began to laugh while backing away.
He noticed Jill’s face started to turn the same shade of red he saw earlier.
“Oh, right, right,” Jill said almost to herself while shaking her head. She handed him the napkins. “Here you go.”
“Thank you.”
Out of nowhere, a voice was heard over the intercom. “Clean up needed near lane twenty. Clean up needed near lane twenty.”
Thank you for that! Jill thought embarrassingly.
Jill faintly touched the man’s hand as he was finishing up and asked, “Can I get you another drink?”
Her small touch aroused his senses so that he couldn’t answer. All he could do was look into her beautiful bluish-green eyes and smile while shaking his head.
She sighed deeply and again apologized.
“Really, it’s okay,” the man finally mustered. “A little spill never killed anyone.”
Jill made sure she had both bags of groceries, and then told the man she was in a hurry and needed to go.
“Be careful out there,” he teased.
Jill gave an embarrassed laugh, and then walked as quickly away as she could. Again, the man eyed her every move.

* * *

As Jill arrived at her vehicle, she swung both bags into the seat next to her while plopping into the driver’s seat. She closed the door and sat there for a few moments, thinking about what had just happened inside the store.
I can’t believe I did that!
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
An urgent knocking on the driver’s side window startled her. She turned her head to see who it was.
Of all people, it has to be him?
Looking confused, she rolled down her window and asked, “Want another drink after all?”
“No, no, no,” the man chuckled. “You forgot this. It must have fallen out of your bag when we bumped into each other.”
Jill looked down at the man’s big, strong-looking hands to see what she had forgotten. It was the sausage gravy packet.
“Thanks! My recipe sure wouldn’t turn out the same without it.”
“Yeah, I thought you might need that,” he added.
She slowly nodded and smiled, not sure of what else to say.
“Well, I know you need to go so I won’t hold you up any longer than necessary.”
“Yeah, I do. Thanks again!”
With a small wave, the man politely said, “Have a good night then.”
“You, too.”
The man backed away and started heading towards his own vehicle as Jill rolled her window back up. She covered her face with her hands and slowly rubbed it as she took another deep breath.
Okay. Let’s get out of here.
Jill reached for her keys that were in her purse and then put them in the ignition. She quickly glanced at the time on her cell phone and was not happy with what she saw.
I’m so going to be late! Amanda’s going to kill me!
At least the drive home was uneventful. She was thankful for the light traffic she experienced, but she could have done without what the DJs, on the only radio station she could get, were talking about. Of all things, the radio talk show hosts were discussing each other’s most embarrassing moments. They were encouraging their listeners to call in with their own stories as well so story after story filled her ears on her fifteen minute ride home.
Each story she could see how it would be embarrassing, but in Jill’s eyes, no story compared to what just happened at Ashwin’s.
Why did I have to bang into him? Twice!?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jill clearly saw the image of the man in her mind: tall, strong and tan. His dark eyes were seductive and wanted to lure her in. His coffee brown hair, that covered his face and head, was neatly trimmed. She remembered his voice sounded deep and to die for.
And why, oh why, did he have to be so good looking? Jill whined to herself.
Finally she arrived home. Both bags in hand, she got out of the car and went inside. She allowed herself one more thought of this never-before-seen man before shifting gears to making the casserole and getting ready for girl’s night.
I just hope I don’t run into him again. Literally!

Book 1 in the series
Book 3 in the series

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