Wednesday, October 24, 2001 5:11:00 PM
by Jennifer I. Oliver
|Author Jennifer I. Oliver was interviewed by Michael T. Powers, Founder of the popular e-zine "HeartTouchers." Ms. Oliver, a regular contributor to HeartTouchers, was interviewed on October 24, 2001. To see more on family pictures, visit the site below.
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 consider "work."
HT: What book are you currently reading?
None at this moment.
HT: What do you like to read?
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 rainstorm,
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 favorite story?
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 even laughter?
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 from them.
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 Multnomah Publishers.
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 at your site.)
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 jalapenos, 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 www.heartwarmers4u.com (Heartwarmers Gem) and www.ripplemaker.com.
Feel free to give me a holler at: fourears.hotmail.com!
Check out my websites at www.authorsden.com/jenniferioliver,
and http://www.heartwarmers4u.com/members/?JenniferOliver. 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.