Saturday, September 6, 2014

Interview & #BookGiveaway with Author Jacqueline Wheelock

Howdy y'all! Crystal here. I've got a great new gal to introduce to you today. Jacqueline Wheelock is a sweet southerner you'll enjoy getting to meet. She's also contributing an ebook copy of her fresh-off-the-presses novel A Most Precious Gift to one of today's commenters, so I hope you enjoy the interview and leave a comment for a chance to win.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Jacequeline.

I am the youngest of five girls. Since my three older sisters were practically adults when I was born, I like to say I grew up with four mothers (three of whom saw their mothering jobs toward me as gift-giving, fun-producing, non-disciplinary supporters). As a result of the gap between my oldest sister and me, I was born an aunt and have several nieces very close to my age. It made those years very loving and very special for me. So it’s easy to see, I think, why I’ve always been quite family oriented. But a miraculous event last year elevated my love for family to a new plateau. On October 4, 2013, after four and a half decades of marriage, my husband and I were blessed with a granddaughter, Eden Selah. I thought I knew what love was, but oh my! 


I’ve always had a love affair with music, doing amateur solos for as long as I can remember, and I’m still amazed at how a tune can put my spirit in a place my body hasn’t visited in ages. Also, I enjoy crossword puzzles, board games such as Scrabble, and an occasional season of crocheting. But when it comes down to my all-time favorite way to wind down, there’s nothing I crave more consistently than reading a good story (Surprise!).

Oh, I love music and singing too, Jacqueline. Actually, I enjoy all those things you mentioned, especially a good story. Speaking of good stories, congratulations on your new release! What is your novel about?

Thank you. Other than the birth of Eden Selah, the release of A Most Precious Gift is perhaps the most exciting moment in my memory. 

When slave girl Dinah Devereaux’s life is upended by the tragic death of her New Orleans owners, she finds herself assigned to a kitchen at a manor called Riverwood in Natchez, Mississippi. An acclaimed seamstress, Dinah has never cooked a day in her life, and until she can make her new owners aware of her sewing/designing expertise, she is bent upon developing culinary skills in order to avoid relegation to the cotton fields. But when she accidentally burns the freedom papers of Jonathan Mayfield, a mysterious and handsome free man of color, her fear of the fields temporarily becomes secondary.

A gifted cabinetmaker, Jonathan Mayfield has staked his future on a commission to furnish a bedroom at Riverwood. With the help of his cherished free status, he hopes the job will secure him not only as a skilled carpenter but as a capable businessman among the wealthy Natchez planters, a dream that has held him captive for years—until in an instant a beautiful new slave girl destroys his freedom papers along with his fragile confidence.

What happens between the two of them when they are unexpectedly assigned to work together to redecorate the room at Riverwood drives the plot, while unraveling old emotional baggage under which they both labor becomes the theme for what is able to save them.


Sounds like such an interesting read. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

I love wandering in and out of the many palatial antebellum homes in Natchez. As an African American born and reared in Mississippi, it’s impossible for me not to ponder and imagine the lives of the house slaves whose ghosts haunt my mind each time I visit one of the mansions. This particular story gets its inspiration from Melrose, one of the well-maintained homes owned by the United States National Park Service. It is perhaps my favorite dwelling among the elite circle of pre-Civil War planters known as the Natchez nabobs.

Oh, I'd so enjoy visiting some of those palatial homes. I'm sure they are a treasure-trove of history and story ideas. Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

A rather difficult question, but I think my favorite scene is the one where Jonathan, deathly ill, has a dream or out-of-body experience, if you will. Here he has the opportunity to inquire of the Lord, whom he immediately recognizes as such, about the things that are trying his soul. The constant and beautiful color changes of the Lord’s eyes identify him as the maker of all mankind, and his clear explanation of what is needed to become truly free marks a critical turning point for Jonathan who, until that moment, had always seen freedom as the papers pinned to his vest.

That sounds like a very heart-moving scene. Thanks for telling us about it. What do you plan to work on next?

Actually, I have several completed novels waiting in the wings, one of which is called A Flapper for a Day. The work is set in 1924 (thus the “flapper” reference) on a famous street in Jackson, Mississippi which was once an enclave for wealthy African Americans. I’m also considering a sequel to A Most Precious Gift based on two secondary but strong personalities in the book.

Ooo, those both sound like fun. :) 

Where can readers connect with you? Where can they buy your book?

I would love to connect with readers via any of the following: jacquelinewheelock@gmail.com; on Facebook via Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock, author; on Twitter via @JFWheelock; or via website, www.sidengo.com/jacquelinefreemanwheelock.
A Most Precious Gift can be purchased on Amazon, paperback or Kindle, or it can be ordered via the following: Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Mantle Rock Publishing.

Thanks for the info. Last but not least, apart from writing, what is your favorite creative outlet?

Other than writing, I would have to say that crocheting is my favorite creative outlet, with sporadic redecorating as a close, close second. Crochet definitely outstripped decorating last year as I crocheted numerous blankets and a special dress for Eden Selah.

I'm sure your granddaughter will come to treasure those special gifts. Thanks so much for sharing with us about yourself and your story, Jacqueline. I hope A Most Precious Gift touches the hearts of many readers.


All right y'all! Your turn. :) Do you have any questions for Jacqueline? If not, perhaps you could share with us whether you've visited old homes in the south before? Did you have a favorite or one you'd like to visit?

(Remember, commenters will be entered in a drawing for an ebook version of A Most Precious Gift. The winner will be announced in the Weekly Wind-up on Monday and must contact us to claim their prize. Thanks so much for dropping by.)

44 comments:

  1. Jacqueline, you and your husband are now in the best club known to mankind in my book....The Grandparents Club! Isn't it wonderful! Our grands have no idea how much joy they bring us, do they?

    Your book sounds amazing! Thank you for the giveaway!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. My pleasure! And as for that glorious club you mentioned, if I'd known it was going to be this much fun, I would have had the grand kids first :)!

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    2. Thanks so much for coming by, Melanie. :-)

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  2. A lovely post. A MOST PRECIOUS GIFT looks wonderful.

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    1. Thanks so much, Mary. It was definitely fun to write. In fact, Dinah and Jonathan (main characters) pretty much wrote it for me.

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    2. Thanks for dropping by, Mary. The book does sound like a good one, doesn't it?
      Jacqueline, don't you love it when the characters do that? :-)

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  3. LOVE your cover. It's beautiful and the story sounds very interesting. Would love to win this book! Great interview.

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    1. That is a lovely cover, isn't it, Caroline? Thanks so much for stopping in today. :-)

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    2. Thank you! I must say Mantle Rock Publishers and the graphic artist did a fine job, I think. So glad you love it, and I hope you (and everybody) win.

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  4. Your book sounds wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading it. When I've read books or watched movies, where the freed slave had the freedom papers, I've always felt really stressed--wondering what would happen if someone took them or destroyed them just to be mean or hateful. What recourse would that person have?
    may_dayzee(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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    1. It IS stressful to think about, isn't it? How does one cope with the critical necessity of having a set of papers attached to his/her person every time she goes to town? Thanks for pointing that out!

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    2. That would be very nerve racking, Kay. Jacqueline, I'm sure that ups the tension in your story and makes for a good read. :-)

      Thanks so much for dropping by, Kay. Hope you'll enjoy the story. :-)

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  5. I can tell you this is a wonderful book. When I first read it, I knew I wanted to publish it. It has been a pleasure working with Jacqueline, and I might add her husband Donald. She has inspired me more than I can ever tell. I keep telling her we need another book about a couple of other people, which I won't mention here. Love you, Jacqueline. Love A Most Precious Gift.

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    1. Lol! I definitely have those two people in mind, Kathy. You've been a huge blessing in our lives.

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    2. Okay now y'all got me curious. When do we get to learn about these other two people? Thanks so much for dropping by, Kathy, and wetting our curiosity. :-)

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  6. I have been an avid reader of romance novels since the 70's; sometimes reading two books simultaneously! The covers always grabbed my attention first;then I read the plot. This cover is absolutely capitivating, made more so because the antebellum house is real; located in Natchez, MS. And the young lady seem so fragile to caught in such a situation!The plot,oh my God! For her to have accidently destroyed a man's freedom papers and then have to work along side of with him! Whoa!. I just received my book yesterday from Amazon.com via Fed-Ex. It was difficult reading this blog because there is no "spoiler alert" So I just skimmed it. Thank you Jacqueline Wheelock for allowing me to step out out time into another time. Sincerely, Cynthia Ann Reeves

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    1. Cynthia,
      You certainly grasp the intent of the book. Let me know what you think. I truly hope you enjoy!

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    2. This book does hold a very hooking plot. Please stop by and let us know how you like the story, Cynthia. So glad you could drop in today. :-)

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  7. Great interview, Jacqueline. Your novel sounds terrific!

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    1. Hi Nicola! So gold you could drop in for a spell. :-)

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  8. Wonderful blog Jacqueline. I remember this story when it was a simple Christmas novella. I can't wait to read the full book. Those of you who haven't read anything by Jacqueline, take a deep breath, you're going to be blow away. She's an awesome writer.

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    1. Thanks for sharing with us, Lorraine. So glad you could stop by today.. :-)

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    2. Thanks, Lori. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the "bigger book." :)

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  9. Congratulations on your new book, Jacqueline! The cover is lovely and the storyline, fascinating. I especially enjoyed reading of how your were inspired to write the book. Winning the book would be wonderful, but if I don't, it's going onto my "want to read" list anyway!
    Thanks Crystal, for introducing us to Jacqueline. Great interview!

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    1. You're welcome, Sally. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for stopping in. :-)

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    2. Thanks so much, Sally, for the encouragement! It means an awful lot. If you're ever in Natchez, I think you'd enjoy the grandeur of the many, many antebellum mansions.

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  10. I've visited several plantation home in the Charleston, SC area. Magnolia Plantation really stand out because of the beautiful gardens!

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I've only been there once. I've always wanted to return. Now I have a new incentive. Thanks!

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  11. Hi Jaceueline,
    I am looking forward to reading your hard copy, because I feel as if I identify with the charcter.

    God Bless.
    Joyce Dukes-Wade

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    1. Thanks so much, Joyce! I'm really excited about hearing from you. Let me know what you think.

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  12. Jacqueline--we have way more in common that I thought we did--and that was a lot! :)
    But from that big family of yours to the crocheting, redecorating, and reading, Melrose being your favorite dwelling in Natchez--and the indescribable joy of being a grandmother--I can't see much we don't have in common! :) I love you girl!
    For all who have not read A Most Precious Gift, I can only tell you that it will find it's way on your keeper shelf and you will long remember the characters in this story. You'll be hounding Jacqueline for that sequel just like I am.:)

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    1. You're just a wonderful woman, Janet Lee Barton.

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  13. Hey Jacqueline!
    Great interview! I have been privileged to already read this absolutely FANTASTIC novel! Truly, a MUST read! Can't wait to read future books.

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    1. Thank you, Aaron! I can't tell you how encouraging those words are to me.

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  14. Jacqueline,

    I'll be ordering your book as soon as I leave this site. Thank you for writing about the lives of slaves. I know so little about the the hardships those people endured and the triumphs they achieved through their faith.

    Ann Guyer

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  15. Ann, I thank you so very much! I pray you are enlightened a bit by what I've tried to describe and equally heart-warmed by the two characters whose lives have been tainted by the ills of slavery but whose love for God manifests itself even in the midst of oppression.

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  16. Congratulation, Jacqueline! I can't wait to read it. And I absolutely L-O-V-E that cover!

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    1. Thanks, Ginger! I'm really pleased with the cover, too, and I hope you enjoy what's inside. :)

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    2. Congrats on winning the drawing, Virginia! Be sure to visit our Contact Us page and send us a message to claim your prize.

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  17. Hi Jacqueline, What a great interview. I hereby challenge you to a Scrabble game - but I may need a dictionary just to keep up!!

    I've read A Most Precious Gift and it is a wonderful book! I highly recommend it to those who love historical romances. You'll have a hard time putting it down.

    Please do not enter me in the drawing as I already have a copy of the book. Thanks for your blog, Crystal.

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    1. Diane,
      Thanks so much for sharing your review of A Most Precious Gift! So glad you could drop by. :)

      Crystal
      booksbybarnes.com

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  18. Jacqueline, I can't wait to read A Most Precious Gift! So proud to meet another Mississippi author. I live in the northeast part of the state. :-)

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  19. In case y'all missed the announcement on the Weekly Wind-up, the winner for Jacqueline's book is ... Virginia (Ginger) Vaughn.

    Virginia, please be sure to go to our Contact Us page and send us an email to claim your prize. Congrats!

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