Featured Author: Shirley Jump

shirleyjumpShirley Jump is a much loved, multi-published author of contemporary romance,  women’s fiction, and young adult genres.  Shirley hails from the Midwest  and is incredibly good at combining romance,  humor and gorgeous characters in stories that delight readers.  Shirley has a new book out now, The Sweetheart Bargain,  and it’s getting great buzz and terrific reviews so I’ve asked her to join us so my readers and friends can get to know her, and more about the new release.

 

Thanks so much for having me on the blog!! I was asked recently what influenced the writing of THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN. If I had a grandma like Greta, the bourbon-swilling, matchmaking, sassy grandma who puts my hero and heroine together in the book. My grandma wasn’t Greta exactly, but she was unforgettable, and I think her spirit is in all the grandmas I create. I wrote an essay about her years ago (that got picked up by Chicken Soup, and Woman’s World) and I thought I’d share that with you today to show you the kind of influence I had as a little girl.

MARKING TIME

I’m late. Again. My fancy digital watch, with an alarm and two built-in time zones, is losing twenty minutes a day. I’ve made three trips to the store this week and every time, forgot to buy a new battery. A mom on a constant schedule, I need an accurate timepiece, so I grab the only other watch I own, a delicate silver one my grandmother left me when she died.

Nana’s watch is small, with a diamond-encircled face and a sliver of a band. It’s beautiful and petite, just like she was. I’ve always loved it, but rarely wear it. It’s the old-fashioned, battery-free kind that needs winding each night. For me, a person who has trouble remembering to feed the cats, wearing a watch requiring any degree of upkeep is a bad idea.

The first few days I wear Nana’s watch, I keep forgetting to wind it and still end up late for everything. But by week’s end, its elfin face and ticking second hand are as familiar to me as the feel of Nana’s hand in mine when I was a child.

Wearing the watch wraps me in memories of Nana. She used to take regular walks around the yard, just to see the loganberry trees in bloom. After dinner, she and Grandpa would walk me down to the 7-11 for a packet of M&M’s. We spent countless afternoons strolling downtown, window-shopping and dreaming of things to buy and adventures we’d have someday.

sweetheartbargain

Nana appreciated the value of time. Her son, Bobby, died when he was 8 in a tragic accident that left a measure of perpetual sadness reflected in Nana’s eyes. In 1976, Nana herself slipped through Death’s grasp when she had a brain tumor removed successfully. We celebrated the bicentennial of our country that year, cheering for the woman who was still here to sing silly songs and give advice on making potato salad.

Nana refused to waste a second of the extra time granted to her. She taught me piano, asked about every school day, and waded with me through boxes of photographs and memories, trying to imprint legacies on an eleven-year-old girl who couldn’t know then that time would ever feel short.

She laughed, she cried, she hugged, she kissed. She lived.

Years later, when she passed away, Nana left me the watch. In the busy-ness of my life with a husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, a job and a house, I often forget to slow down and really see the little things around me. Bread is store bought, self-scrubbing bubbles clean bathrooms, and my car is a mobile office between soccer games and Brownie troop meetings.

When Nana’s watch stopped one day — because I’d forgotten to wind it again — I was lost. The children and I were shopping, on our way to an appointment that seemed important at the time.

I stopped in the middle of Wal-Mart and looked around for a clock, muttering to myself, annoyed. The children started whining about missing some show on TV. Spying an opportunity, my son darted across the aisle to a toy and my daughter headed for some books nearby. I had melting ice cream in the cart, cranky kids and someplace I had to be. I didn’t need another frustration.

I tapped the watch with the futile hope that it would magically start again. When I did, a flash of memory slammed into me with the force of an electrical jolt. Nana, my mother, and I were strolling in the sunshine at a sidewalk sale. We bought a book for a dime, a drink from the soda fountain, and nothing else. Twenty-five years later, I still remember it as one of the best days of my life because every moment seemed to last forever.

I realized I’d been letting schedules and errands swallow those mini-moments in my own life, ruled by the ticking of a clock that weighed heavy on my shoulders. I abandoned the cart and joined my kids, bending down to see the toys at their level. I marveled at the latest Buzz Lightyear and a colorful new Harry Potter book cover. Hand in hand, the kids and I ambled through the aisles, poking at this toy, pushing the buttons on that one, dreaming of Santa and birthdays and days to come. We wandered by the pet department, made friends with a hamster and chatted with a parrot.

We arrived home much later, carrying a puddle of ice cream in the grocery bag, and one new goldfish. I’d missed my appointment, but it didn’t matter. After dinner, we explored our neighborhood on foot, hunting for squirrels and rabbits in the summer evening light. We fed the ducks at the pond, soared through the air on swings and played a rousing game of tag. When we returned home, we were exhausted but laughing. And we all had another happy memory to hang onto.

That night, while I turned the tiny knob to wind Nana’s watch, I realized why my grandmother had left me this particular piece of jewelry. Her legacy wasn’t a million-dollar home on a hill or a priceless art collection. Her gift was much simpler, one we often forget in our calendar-driven lives. She gave me the gift of time, wrapped up in a watch that needs daily attention, a continuous reminder that our days pass as fast as summer storms.

In its tiny silver face, I see Nana, and in the ticking of its second hand, I hear the running journey of my life. That’s when I turn off the phone, close the calendar and take the kids outside to greet the first daffodils of spring.

You can buy THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN in stores nationwide, and also at all online retailers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Visit Shirley’s website and her blog for more behind-the-scenes looks at her books and family!

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It’s been such a pleasure to have you join us, Shirley!  Thanks for sharing about your Nana!

Readers, do take a few minutes to visit Shirley’s website and learn more about her books.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy them immensely!  I’m kicking up the fun one more notch today by adding a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a book from Shirley’s backlist, a Starbucks drink card and more fun reader goodies.  For a chance to win, leave a comment.  Contest ends on Thursday and I’ll announce the winner on Friday.  Good luck!

92 Comments

  1. Amazing story. Definitely going to have to pick up The Sweetheart Bargain for after I finish The Good Wife. (Still hoping for a fourth book there!)

  2. I think to myself, Jane has gone through all the really good writers and will not have another one for us….and then you do! What a touching interview by Shirley! I want to run down the street in my crocs and buy her book at the local bookstore right away. Anyone with a Nana who leaves such a legacy has got me at the first page I feel sure. Thanks again Jane and best wishes Shirley in all you do.

  3. I have to admit I’m loving this cover! I’ll be checking into this one for sure. You always have the best recommendations, Jane!

  4. Sounds like Nana was a very special lady. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    I’ve been reading Shirley’s books since her debut. THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN is waiting for me on my tbr. Can’t wait to dive in!

  5. This is such a touching interview. It brought back memories of my grandmother too. I only knew her when I was young because we moved so far away. But, those early memories stick with me. This also sounds like a fabulous book to read. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Great story – as a mom of two girls, I often have to remind myself not to get too caught up in the tasks and enjoy the moment.

  7. Would love to win a book.

    I envy those who had the chance to know their grandmothers. By the time I was born, my father’s mother had been gone almost 20 years. My mother’s mother died when I was two years old. So I hope those who have the chance, appreciate their grandmothers.

  8. What a beautiful post. I was very close to my Nonna who I miss everyday. Your interview was interesting and your books wonderful.

  9. What a beautiful story! I have a watch that my Dad gave to my Mom when they were dating. I love to wear it and think about how my Mom must have felt when Dad gave it to her. The name of the watch is Embraceable. I can’t wait to read The Sweetheart Bargain.

    1. That’s so cool!! I have several of my mother’s watches–I keep meaning to wear them but then worry about breaking them. I have been wearing her rings lately, though, and it makes me feel like she’s right here with me 🙂

  10. Thank you, Shirley, for sharing those memories of your grandmother. While I was reading your sentence about going to buy M&Ms, I had a flashback to my own Gram taking me to an ice cream parlor called The Flamingo. If your book is 1/10th as awesome and moving as this interview, then it is definitely worth reading. (Sorry I haven’t read any of your books, but reading this blog does make me eager to pick up one of your books.)

  11. great memories for sure and thanks for sharing them with us.

    I’ve read you a number of years ago but not lately.

    happy Jane brought you back to my mind.

  12. I haven’t read either of your books and I’m so excited to start soon! You both sound like authors I’m really going to enjoy! Thanks for the chance to win! Crossing my fingers 😉

  13. Loved the Ida of the gift of time…
    Going through many old photos and jewelry of my mother’s as I help my dad get ready to move from his house…lots of fun memories coming back to me!
    I already have Shirley’s newest book–jumping to the head of my TBR list!

  14. I loved the story, I am so close to my Grandma and she has taught me so much, and I always remember one of her favorite sayings when I am rushing around. She always said that we have more time than money, so enjoy each moment.

  15. I love that this book is the first book in The Sweetheart Sister series. What could be better than a trilogy of books about sassy well-meaning grannies!! Would love to win this giveaway, thanks Jane and Shirley!!

  16. Love the cover especially with the dog in the background. That’s so cute.
    I’ll put Shirley’s book in,my TBR pile.

  17. What a lovely story about Nana’s watch.
    Shirley I have been a fan for a while now. i have a few of your books tucked away with my favorites. they always bring a smile to my face when I read them.

  18. I’m always looking for new authors in between releases of my favorite authors! I’m heading to Cancun next weekend with 13 other teachers and I’m so excited to read The Good Wife. I’ve been saving it to read on the beach!

  19. I’ve never heard of the Sweetheart Sisters novels but it lookis like I have a new set of sisters to read about. 🙂 Thank you for the heads up.

  20. So glad to see how many of you enjoyed Shirley’s story! Thank you for making her feel welcome.

    The winner for this contest is –

    #15 Theresa Fischer

    Send me an email, Theresa, with your mailing address, comment # and title of this blog and I’ll get the prize in the mail to you soon.

    Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

    Jane

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