I have a special treat for my Family, Fun & Homeschooling readers today!
I know many of you are lovers of a good story, just like I am. I read the most phenomenal book earlier in the summer, and when I finished Jaded, I did something I rarely do; I emailed the author! Like me, author Varina Denman has roots in Texas…and it turns out, we have family from the same part of the state!
You’ll want to stop by again next week, because Varina is providing a SIGNED COPY (I know, I’m so excited!) for one of my readers! I’ll be sharing more about Jaded and hosting a giveaway for this incredible book then.
But first, I’d love to introduce you to Varina Denman, author and homeschooling mama! In addition to writing books, she also blogs at Varina Denman.
Tell us about being a published author! How did that come about?
It was a direct result of homeschooling my kids … sort of. During the craziness of being a stay-at-home mom, books became my escape. I would curl-up on the couch during naptime and travel to places where diapers didn’t smell, houses didn’t get dirty, and children always mastered their assignments after one brief explanation. And sometimes in those fictitious settings **gasp!** there were no kids at all. There were adults having adult conversations while they participated in adult activities, and they reminded me that I was a living, breathing adult too.
So I read a lot. Well, as much as I could squeeze into my schedule, that is. Soon, I began to wonder if I might be able to write like that too. It wasn’t until my oldest was in high school that I finally talked myself into trying it, and it’s been a learning experience ever since. And loads of fun.
Once I had the book drafted, I started researching how to get published. The FIRST THING the writer websites recommended was starting a blog, so that’s what I did. Since then, my blog and my books have undergone several facelifts, evolving as I learned more about writing and more about myself.
What are some of the themes that you see cropping up in your writing?
When I first started writing, I thought my books would fall in the genre of contemporary romance, but deeper issues kept popping-up in my stories. It turns-out my work falls solidly into the women’s fiction genre, though I add a lot of romance. I like to write about women and the unique struggles they face, and giving my characters a happy-ever-after fills my heart with hope.
My husband and I met on a blind date. Well, actually, it wasn’t completely “blind” because I had seen him from a distance, and he had seen me from the back. Our sisters set us up, so we had been thoroughly briefed, and I knew all the important stuff before we ever met. Things like: he attended worship faithfully, came from a Christian family, wanted to have a houseful of kiddos, and … was gainfully employed.
We hit it off immediately, probably because we knew so much about each other ahead of time. All my prerequisites (there was a long list) had been met, so when we started dating, the only other factor was chemistry … which worked out just fine. 🙂 We were engaged in three months and married in seven.
Four years later, we started a family, and over the next ten years, we had five children. (girl, boy, boy, girl, girl) They currently range in age from fourteen to twenty-four, and they are our pride and joy. I know writers aren’t supposed to use clichés like “pride and joy,” but it is was it is. We boast two college graduates, one US Marine, and two spunky teenagers. I’m tearing-up just writing those words.
What made you decide to homeschool?
When my oldest daughter was in first grade, my husband worked long hours, and his days-off were during the week. He was off on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but she went to school. She was home on Saturdays and Sundays, but he went to work. And to make matters worse, on the days my husband worked, he would come home after my daughter was asleep for the night. They hardly saw each other the entire year.
Homeschooling was an enormous blessing to our family right from the start. That first year, Wednesdays and Thursdays were our weekends, and we spent together-time just getting to know each other again. Since then, our schedules have changed, and our reasons for homeschooling have expanded and evolved, but the core of our choice still revolves around the fact that we want to spend time together as a family.
What does a day in your homeschool look like?
After years of juggling preschoolers, spelling tests, and piles of laundry, my current homeschool day seems quite tame. I will never take it for granted, though, and I still get exhausted as I think back over the crazy turmoil of the busy years.
Now-a-days, my youngest two are fourteen and fifteen years old, so my life has calmed. The girls are responsible for their own homework schedules, and fortunately for me, they do their work without much pushing. (Don’t even get me started on what things were like when my boys were home!) The girls make my life easy.
Typically, I start the day before they get up, shutting myself in my office for uninterrupted writing time. The girls get their breakfast, start their schoolwork, and come to me with any questions they have. When I take a break, we do our morning devotional together, then I stay downstairs with them a while, doing chores and staying close for any help they may need. (usually with math) When they settle into work that doesn’t need Momma’s input, I sneak back to my office and work a little more.
Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?
We’re fairly frugal in the Denman household, so our favorite date night is renting a movie then driving through Panda Express for take-out. Okay, maybe it’s not so much that we’re frugal as that we’re old and tired and boring, but couch movies are big fun for us. When we feel like going all-out extravagant, we head to the bargain cinema. Woot.
What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?
My girls and I have a ritual that involves manicures and pedicures while watching chick flicks. Sometimes we throw in hair-brushing, and we always we include food.
When they’re all home, it’s a loud, happy mess, and I find myself sitting in a corner chair, watching all the fun. Usually my husband is next to me, holding my hand and smiling.
Jaded tells the story of Ruthie Turner, a young woman whose family was shunned by the church. Bless her heart, Ruthie can’t stand Christians, but when a new single preacher moves to town, she’s compelled to re-examine her feelings about God and religion. Ruthie and Dodd’s relationship is strongly opposed, but eventually a string of secrets are revealed that threaten to turn the church, the town, and Ruthie’s life upside down.
You can also subscribe to Varina’s newsletter! Click on the newsletter link to connect with Varina via her newsletter, AND get a sneak peak of Jaded!
Varina Denman is a native Texan who spent her high school years in a rural Texas town, so writing the Mended Hearts series has allowed her to reminisce about her small town memories. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly-grown children and their elderly Pomeranian. Connect with Varina on her website, Varina Denman.
So…now that you’ve met Varina, be sure to stop by finchnwren next week so that you can enter to win your own copy of her award-winning book, Jaded!
And, we’ll be back with another Family, Fun & Homeschooling next week as well!