A Heart-to-Heart with JLS

Unsplash47Pour yourself some coffee; I have hot cocoa. Fall has finally arrived in Minnesota. Let’s chat, friend.

Life is really good. I have a book in the world, and it’s hard to let your baby go! Reviews are overwhelmingly positive (so far), and that makes me so happy. People keep saying things like “Your book wrecked me” or “I’m ruined” and I think they mean it as praise– that’s how I’m taking it. That’s what my favorite books do to me too: wreck me. (I’m still recovering from The Wrath and the Dawn, which I read back in June.)

Reviews are coming in slowly, which is hard, because I want to be like, “People, I’ve been waiting for four years to hear your thoughts!” But maybe it’s better this way, spaced out. I can listen to each friend in turn.

I’ve had my first “outcry” against my book. I use quotes because it was not anything like an outcry, just a dear friend questioning some of the content of Truest and admitting he wouldn’t let his daughters read it. (Note: his daughters are currently 1.5 and 3.5, so they wouldn’t be reading the book anytime soon anyway!) But then yesterday, I talked to the chair of the psychology department at the university where I work, and she said, “I loved your book, and I can’t wait to have my daughters read it. It will be a great conversation starter.” And her words came at just the right time, to hold me together.

I’m about to start traveling for my job as a recruiter, and I can’t decide how I feel about it. This will be my thirteenth season of fall travel. Let’s hope it’s not unlucky. On the one hand, I am looking forward to being away from my desk, to meeting great teens, and to copious amounts of audiobook listening in my car (any suggestions, friends?). On the other, I don’t love being away from home, and the start of a new recruitment cycle is a little overwhelming. Admissions has changed a lot in the last year, and I’m still transitioning.

I got an extension on writing book #2 (which is currently untitled … we’re getting rid of the Mill City Heroes title), which will push back the publication to summer 2017, but it will also give me more time to make it something really special for readers. And for myself. I keep begging God to enter into the writing of it, and I believe that he will. It’s just not there yet. Which makes sense. It’s only draft two.

Writing takes a lot of faith. Let me tell you. Or at least, being a pantser does.

I’m so delighted that the fall weather is here. I’m so sick of the humidity and of feeling gross and hot all the time. I’m not ready yet for winter, but I open my arms to autumn.

Your turn. How have you been lately? Are you working on any projects you’re excited about? What are you looking forward to this fall? Tell me one fun thing in the comments, please! I want to hear from you!

Win-Win-Win, Pt. 2

win winAlmost exactly two years ago, I was undergoing a dilemma: how much religion to include in Truest. You can read about the solution I chose (using a parable) here.

Did it work?

On the one hand, you have people saying things like, “Published by HarperCollins Publishers (and not by any of their “Christian” imprints or subsidiaries), this was the most deeply and poignantly Christian YA book I’ve ever read.”


“I also loved the way that Jackie approached the topic of religion. As a teenage girl who, like West, struggles with a relationship with God, it was refreshing to hear all of these characters talk about God but not be God-like saints.”


“Loved the spiritual theme interwoven in the book. Rescue, redemption being a greater priority than perfection. Uncertainty in the midst of a certain God. Great deep stuff than teens need without being preachy. Ironically a book that will be sold in the YA section with a clearer Christian message than most of those sold in the Christian section.

On the other hand, consider such things as, “Yes, there is religion in this book, which scares a lot of people (present company included!) but it is done is wonderfully. Even though West’s father is a pastor, there is absolutely nothing being preached or forced down the reader’s throat. It’s just his occupation, and a part of their family’s identity, not their entire existence.”


“The faith aspect of Truest made me super nervous, but I thought it was handled beautifully. There’s a lot of stuff about God and belief, and pretty much all of the main characters are devout Christians. Normally, this sort of thing would have me running for the hills, but Truest doesn’t come across as preachy and most of the discussion of god is of a more theological/philosophical bent, and I love those things.”


“Personally, I really appreciated this story having the underlying discussions, thoughts, and questions about God. God wasn’t the center of the book or the story, but He certainly wasn’t kept completely separate either. And even though several of these characters have faith, they’re still imperfect people. Do I always condone or agree with the actions of the characters? No. But I really appreciated a book in today’s society where the main character wasn’t just coming out and saying they don’t believe in God, or they don’t know what to believe, or they’ve had nothing but horrible “church” experiences and thus want nothing to do with God or religion. It was refreshing and I want more. Yet, these characters don’t have it all figured out. There’s just as much that they don’t know as they do, and I think readers who might not enjoy religious aspects in their books will appreciate that these characters weren’t just trying to teach the reader a lesson about God or religion. It never felt like the story was trying to teach me as the reader a lesson but that Jackie Lea Sommers was truly just telling a story. Any lessons the characters learned were lessons for that character and not a moral trying to be taught to the reader.

So, verdict?

I don’t know. It’s not up for me to decide anyway. But I’m happy, and I feel like I was faithful to myself, my God, and my story, and that’s enough.

My Launch Party!

What an amazing day I had on Tuesday!

I drove around to local bookstores to see my book on the shelves– and to sign them!– and then the launch party was this great big audience (maybe 180 people or so) there to celebrate Truest … and me! I was so honored, so humbled.

I honestly had one of the best days of my life.

Let me post a few things below to give you the picture:

truest eir and jack

My bestie Eir!truest judy

Judy, my beloved writing mentor and friendtruest kiddos

(These are the four kiddos to whom Truest is dedicated. They own me.)truest parents

My parents!

Truest Release Day!!!

I’ve waited a long, long time for this day … and it’s finally here! My debut novel Truest comes out today!

Thank you to everyone who has bought or will buy a copy, to everyone who has requested it at the library, and to everyone who has supported me through this crazy journey to publication. I don’t deserve you.

Thank you, Jesus, for making me a writer.

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Available at
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books a Million


Better yet, buy locally!
For those of you in the Twin Cities, I recommend
Wild Rumpus
Red Balloon