Monday, July 7, 2014

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Jake Smith, Part 1

I am delighted to have debut author, Jake Smith, with us today! From the first time I saw the cover of Wish, as Jake can tell you, I was drawn to this novel. Some describe it as "fiction with a mission" - and it is definitely that - but it is also an incredibly moving story of family, of caring and sacrifice, and of people coming together to help in time of great need. (See my review here).

Jake is graciously giving a copy of Wish to one of you, the details of which are at the end of this post. Now enjoy learning about Jake and this wonderful book . . .

Q:  Tell us a little about yourself and how your first novel came to be published, Jake.

        I’m the associate publications director at a multi-faceted company in northern Michigan, where I’m also the editor for Just Labs magazine, and managing editor for The Pointing Dog Journal and The Retriever Journal. Writing fiction, however, has long been a passion of mine, and it’s been a lifelong goal to be a published novelist.
        Unfortunately, Wish began by following the same course as several other novels I had written previously — lots of research, outlining, writing, agent-querying, and, ultimately, rejection. I believe Wish received 55 agent rejections. I actually had it shelved on my computer for almost a year before “dusting” it off to enter into a contest.
        In the process of getting it ready for that, a friend said she might know someone who could offer some advice. He liked the synopsis and first three chapters and passed them on to a few people he knew. That evening, an agent — Jeff Kleinman with Folio Literary Management — called me to request the rest of the novel. So, from a few years of writing and stacking up the rejections to a whirlwind 24 hours… and I had an agent. After two big revisions over the next two and a half months, Jeff blasted it out to the publishing world, and we landed with Tyndale House Publishers.

Q:  On your website, I loved what you wrote about the meaning of pens, especially the pen your father gave you upon college graduation. Please share a little about that here, what pens mean to you, etc.

When I graduated college, my dad, a very well-known outdoor writer, gave me a really nice fountain pen, saying, “From one writer to another.” But I must confess, even through a few nonfiction books that have been published and hundreds of magazine articles, I never truly felt like a writer, not until I could sell some of my fiction. That pen sort of became my talisman — just before I start writing any kind of fiction, I hold it tightly, say a small prayer for an open mind and active imagination, and then place it on my computer. That was the same pen I used to sign the publishing contract for Wish.

Q:  Tell us about Wish, your debut novel that we are featuring today.

Wish is the story of a down-and-out assistant high school baseball coach who has to try to play in one major league baseball game in order to make his dying nine-year-old son’s wish come true. It’s not just a father and son story, though, but rather one about a family working together, being one another’s strength, and, believing in the impossible, especially when you realize that sometimes, you are being called to use your gifts to make someone’s wish come true or be their answered prayer.

Q:  Describe Wish in five adjectives.

Here are some that people have put in their reviews: inspiring, heart-breaking, heartwarming, memorable, tear-jerker.

Q:  Where did your inspiration for this story come from? Do any of your novel's themes - childhood cancer, the world of baseball, etc. - come from personal experience or is it all the result of inspiration and research?

I do not have any personal experience with cancer; that is the product of a worrisome parent’s overactive imagination. However, I have had parents who have dealt with it say that I captured it very accurately — one father said it gave him many painful flashbacks. He and others served as touching sources of inspiration, and it’s been my greatest honor to have them tell me that I did justice to their struggle. I do not have any professional baseball experience, but I have extensive experience on the field as a player and coach and teaching my own children. And we are crazy Detroit Tigers fans.

Q:  What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

        I hope people realize that they carry inside themselves the power to make a difference. That could be as a bone marrow match, or it could be through supporting the care of patients and families by supporting the hospitals in their area. Not everyone will be called to donate (I’ve been on the registry for a dozen years and never been called) and not everyone will be able to even join the registry in the first place. Hospitals can use a multitude of items to help their patients and families, even gift cards of gas and restaurants in case families have to travel.
        But, really, as a “take-away message” for Wish, it’s that we are all called, every day, to use the gifts we have been given in order to help others. I truly believe that God answers His prayers and performs His miracles through those around us, and sometimes, He is calling us to be a miracle or an answered prayer — or a wish come true — for someone else.

Q:  What compels you to write and how does that connect with the message you want to convey through Wish?

I’ve always loved exploring my imagination and creating things. What compels me to write, though… that comes from that feeling I get when I’ve just read a truly wonderful book or watched a powerful movie. For days, I can’t stop thinking about the story or the characters, like I was some small part of their lives, that their moments were my moments. I’ve always wanted to create that same feeling in others with one of my stories. And now, to see that one of my stories is motivating people to make a difference in the lives of others… that’s an amazing feeling.


End of Part 1 . . .

Leave a comment on Part 2 of this interview for a second entry.

To enter the drawing for Wish, simply answer the following question and leave your e-mail in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.

Entry question + e-mail address:
If you could make a wish for a loved one, what would it be?

Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!

  • E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
  • Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, July 13. No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen by and contacted by e-mail by Tuesday, July 15. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: US and Canadian addresses, 18 and older


  1. That he would see God's hand in his life & that he would live, moment-to-moment, with the realization that God IS part of his every moment.

    1. That's a great wish/prayer, Jojo. Thanks for visiting today - and please be sure to leave your e-mail address to be entered in the drawing.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful interview Jake and Carole!!

    "Wish" sounds like such a powerful, emotional story - I would love to read it!!

    Like Jojo - my wish is that a family member would accept/acknowledge Christ in his life!!


    I shared the post on FB!!

    1. Bonnie, I'm pretty sure this is a story you would enjoy. And I pray that your "wish" will come true for your loved one.

  3. I would wish for a person I love to find true happiness in the Lord. Thanks for sharing this book and author. Sounds like such an incredible story!! And I sure love reading those. You're still the best at reviews!! I went back and read it too!!

    1. Amy, you are so sweet and such an encourager! I hope you get to read Jake's book soon, for I think you would be moved by it.

  4. Oops forgot the email :-( amylsmith at bledsoe dot net

  5. I wish...peace, health, happiness

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  6. My wish would be for my husband. I would wish that he could have a wonderful reunion with his two daughters. That all differences would be set aside and love would take over.


    1. Judy, this question was Jake's suggestion and I am so glad he thought of it! I'm praying specifically for your husband and his daughters, for the healing of that broken relationship.

  7. I would wish that my mother's husband would agree to move from Vermont to Idaho where we are. They would be so happy here and it would be awesome to have them close. Thanks for the giveaway!



  8. There are so many things to wish for and probably my greatest wish at this moment would be that my parents health would improve to the point that they could enjoy their retirement years.

    Thank you for the giveaway and the opportunity to throw my hat into the drawing.

    I agree with Jake that there is something we can all do by using the gifts God gave us to minister to, encourage, uplift, assist the people we encounter in our lives - to be an answer to prayer or a wish. Some would say they are not gifted and others I think often feel they need to do something "very well" to be able to make a difference, but often times the people God picked to do His work were rarely experts or fully equipped, but He knew what they were capable of and so he placed a calling in their hearts and sent them forth to touch the people they encountered. I truly believe God can work in each one of us in ways we never dreamed if we are open to His leading and we are plugged into Him. :)

    Thank you for the interview with Jake and thank you Jake for sharing about your book - "Wish."



  9. I wish for my daughter that as she grows she always knows how loved she is by her Creator and her family!

    I really enjoyed hearing the story about the pen! What a meaningful time signing the book contract! kosterbind (at) gmail (dot) com

  10. What a great sounding book. jnut1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  11. My wish would be for a cousin of mine. She is going through a lot of illness and pain. My wish for healing and salvation. Donna d[dot]brookmyer[at]yahoo[dot]com

  12. My wish is that they would feel the forgiveness that Jesus has paid for and be able to forgive others. fishingjan(at)aol(dot)com

  13. I would wish for my eighty-one year old mother not to suffer the effects of diabetes another moment.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  14. Very nice interview. This book sounds like it is just wonderful.
    Sonja dot Nishimoto at gmail dot com

  15. My wish is for my two sons who are alcoholics to come to know and accept God as their Lord and Savior

    1. Vivian, I join you in that wish/prayer for your sons. And please be sure to leave your e-mail in order to be entered in the drawing. Thanks for visiting today!

    2. Thanks for prayers
      I have read this book and loved it. Is one I will read again

  16. My wish is for our two children to be happy!

  17. Congratulations to Melanie Backus, the winner of Wish! I hope you will find this story as touching as I did.

    Jake, it has been a delight to have you with us. You really minister through your writing. We all pray that God will place the stories on your heart that He desires you to write. And we hope you will come back!

  18. Thanks so much everyone for the fun time and the great comments, on both parts! And thank you, Carole, for your interest in Wish and for your kind comments here at the end. I've begun "Book #2," and while terrifying, your words will certainly bring some comfort during the process.