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Jacqueline Sheehan

The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Foster Care

The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Foster Care

Three diverse books sharing one common thread: that’s the idea behind the DA³ Interview. All of today’s books include characters who are, or have been, part of the foster care system. First, meet the books:

DA3 Foster Care

Picture This is Jacqueline Sheehan’s follow-up to her best-selling women’s fic Lost & Found.

The foster child in this story is seeking her biological father, whom she believes is the late husband of main character Rocky Pelligrino. Healing from her loss, and in the midst of making a new life without her husband, Rocky is now faced with a mystery that could keep her tied to the past.

Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits is a debut YA. Noah is willing to make any sacrifice to reunite what’s left of his family, but what he really needs is trust. Unfortunately, that’s in short supply because the system that was supposed to protect him let him down. Classmate Echo has been betrayed, too, by her family and her own memory, so when these two have to rely on each other, some thick walls have to come down first.

In A Home for Hannah, by Patricia Davids, an ailing mother brings Miriam Kauffman back to the Amish community she left behind years ago.

She thinks she’s doing rather well at suppressing the pain and resentment that caused her to leave in the first place, but then a baby is abandoned on her doorstep.

The protagonist’s six word memoir:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: One man, one dog, and me.

KATIE MCGARRY: Echo: Scars on arms and lost memory. Noah: Scars on heart and lost parents.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Amazing how a baby changes everything.


 The heroine is…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: …a psychologist who takes a leave of absence from her job to become an Animal Control Warden.

KATIE MCGARRY: …a brilliant artist, a student, and before the accident she used to be on the dance team.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: …an ex-Amish woman [and] a critical care nurse who fosters Amish teenage runaways.


What readers will love about the hero:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I hope that readers will love Rocky’s willingness to make a complete idiot of herself in certain circumstances. She is quite impulsive and makes more than a few mistakes socially. It was completely fun to write about this aspect of an otherwise controlled psychologist.

KATIE MCGARRY: Noah is extremely loyal and unconditionally loves his younger brothers.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Sheriff Nick Bradley is a hunky, cop with a darling sense of humor.


The first kiss happens… 

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: …in a driveway.

KATIE MCGARRY: …in front of the fountain dedicated to Noah’s deceased parents.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: …in the hospital waiting room.


A scene you vividly remember writing…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I can’t tell you about the scene that I remember most vividly, because it would be a plot spoiler. But I remember all of the scenes where Rocky is shooting her bow. I step into her body, see the target, feel her/my arm pull the bow back, and release. I feel her frustration when she misses the target, and her burning muscles when she has practiced for hours.

KATIE MCGARRY: The cemetery scene between Echo and Noah. There is a paragraph in that scene that discusses scar tissue on one’s soul. To me, that moment between those two characters is the heart of the novel.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: A Home for Hannah was written a few months after my husband passed away from a brain tumor. I was at the cemetery one day when I noticed some small mementos left on other graves nearby. I went home and wrote the scene where Miriam finally goes to her brother’s grave. (He was killed in a high-speed chase after he stole a car. Nick was the officer pursuing him and she blamed Nick for her brother’s death.) As Miriam kneels beside her brother’s tombstone, she notices small silver foil stars, some new, some weathered, in the grass around the stone. Nick has quit smoking, but he chews gum. Each time he opens a stick, he folds the foil into a star and puts it in his pocket. Miriam is confronted with proof that Nick mourns her brother, too, and has been to the grave numerous times–something she has never found the courage to do.


About the foster child characters…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: One of the main characters in the book, Natalie, had lived in foster care for about 14 years. We gradually learn more and more about her background, the death of her mother, and the toll that early trauma took on her. But should we believe everything that Natalie tells us about her foster families?

KATIE MCGARRY:  Noah and his younger brothers entered the foster care system when their parents died in a house fire. Through these characters, the reader sees the extremes of the system, highlighting both the good and the bad. Noah’s experiences in the system positively and negatively reshape his personality several times throughout his life.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Miriam hears a disturbance outside mother’s farmhouse late one night. She thinks another Amish teenager is seeking her help to leave the community, but she finds a baby on the doorstep, instead, and sees a buggy driving away. Miriam’s mother has remained Amish. She believes the unknown Amish mother will return for her child and insists that they keep the child until she does. Miriam, as a nurse, has a duty to report the baby as abandoned.

Ohio is a state that has a “Safe Haven” law. If a child under one month of age is left at a hospital, a fire station or with the police, no crime is committed and the parents have relinquished all rights. The child is placed in foster care and can be adopted immediately. If a mother leaves her baby anywhere else, its child abandonment and a crime, hence Miriam and Nick’s dilemma. Does leaving a baby with a nurse constitute a Safe Haven act or not? The nearest hospital is almost 30 miles away, a very long trip in a buggy. To make matters worse, an unsigned note says the mother will be back for her child, but it isn’t safe for her to keep the baby with her now. It it’s a Safe Haven act, legally the sheriff can’t try to find the mother. If it’s not a Safe Haven act, he can search for her but when he finds her he will have to charge her with a crime.


Whether it’s from the news or personal experience, I think everyone knows stories of adoption and foster care that range from inspiring to horrifying. What would you say most influenced how you depicted foster care in your story?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: The main influence for me was working with college students. I was a psychologist at college counseling centers for nearly twenty years and worked with students who had miraculously emerged from foster care into college. The first time that I met a freshman student who told me that she didn’t know where to go over Thanksgiving break, I was baffled. The residence halls closed during Thanksgiving. She told me that because she was 18, she no longer qualified for foster care and she simply had no place to go. It was a defining moment for me. I helped her contact the advisor for international students and they swept her up into their group, but I was humbled by her sheer grit and determination. Since then, I learned that some foster homes were wonderful, some were adequate, and some were awful.

KATIE MCGARRYPushing the Limits was influenced by both the inspiring and the horrifying aspects of the system. Unfortunately, there are cracks in the system whether the cracks are caused by neglect or not enough funding or staffing. Regardless of the reason, children can suffer.

While that can be true, there are those who work with or in the system that are one thousand percent devoted to their job and to the children they serve. They become a beacon of light to children wrapped up in darkness.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: I tried to give foster care a positive spin in my story. The baby is placed in foster care, but the social worker is sympathetic and hopes to reunite the baby with her biological mother. The heroine has fostered runaway teens and understands the struggles they face.


How would one of your characters define “home” or “family”?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: Rocky is in the midst of defining family and home. Her young husband dies suddenly in Lost & Found, so she must re-define everything that she knows about home. In Picture This, she would probably say that family is a combination of those people who you are biologically related to, and those who you find along the way. She would include Cooper the dog in her family.

KATIE MCGARRY: Originally, Echo and Noah would have defined home/family as being with those they are blood-related to. As the story progresses, they both come to define home/family as being with those who love and understand them, regardless of blood.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: For the Amish, only God is more important than family. Because Miriam rejected the faith she grew up with, she was shunned. She misses that sense of having an extended and close-knit family support system. Nick and Hannah bring that sense of family back to her in a surprising way.


What’s up next?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I am already working on my next book. It is about adoption, but a very complicated form of adoption. The main character saves a Mayan child after a massacre and illegally adopts her. After that book, I just might return to my cast of characters with Rocky and Cooper.

KATIE MCGARRY: I’m currently working on revisions for Dare You To, a companion novel to Pushing the Limits. Dare You To follows the story of Beth, a secondary character from PTL. Dare You To is scheduled to be released in 2013.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: I have a Christmas book coming out called A Hope Springs Christmas. It’s the story of an Amish widow who agrees to become a matchmaker for her next door neighbor only to find the man she has known for years just might be a perfect match for her.


Your favorite book at age 10:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: This is a weird one for a ten year old. Hawaii by James Michener. I had learned that I could read anything, and there was something so powerful about reading his massive book that covers centuries.

KATIE MCGARRY: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

PATRICIA DAVIDS: It was a book called Beautiful Joe. It’s a story told from a dog’s point of view about the family that saved him from cruelty. I loved that story and cried every time I read it.

Many thanks to Jacqueline, Katie, and Patricia. We have some books to give to a commenter, so go forth and comment!


Dear Author

REVIEW: Now and Then by Jacqueline Sheehan

Note: There are going to be some spoilers later on.

Dear Ms. Sheehan,

I’m glad that your publishers have figured out how to spell your first name. On the arc I received, it is spelled without a ‘c.’ When I checked the spelling to make sure I had your first name correct, I noticed it should have a ‘c’ in it. Such things make me think your publisher doesn’t love you. I hope that isn’t the case.

Anna O’Shea has hit what she thinks is rock bottom. After three miscarriages, her husband has left her. After a trip to Ireland, she arrives home to discover that her nephew is in trouble with the law in New Jersey and her older brother has been in a terrible car accident on his way from Massachusetts to get him. After driving to get Joseph herself and falling exhausted into bed, she awakes to discover her nephew going through her still packed suitcase and opening a package given to her in Ireland by a strange woman. And then the really weird stuff starts to happen.

Anna has never given much thought to the possibilities of time travel but it’s the only explanation that makes sense after she feels like she’s been turned inside out and sucked through the ocean. She’s pretty sure Joseph was along with her but now she’s alone on a cold, rocky shoreline until a local couple rescue her. As a lawyer, Anna has been trained to weigh possibilities. Once she’s eliminated most of the ones she’s faced with, the only one that makes sense is that somehow, she’s been flung back 164 years in time.

Joseph finds himself in a strange situation as well. Wisely he keeps his mouth shut as he begins to settle into an existence totally different from his modern life. Anna and Joseph both wonder about the other but it’s Anna who actively seeks her nephew while Joseph revels in a world in which he’s finally on top of the heap. Will they ever find each other and their way back home? Or will discovering why they’ve traveled back in time force them to give up all they’ve found in the past?

After reading the back blurb and the info letter included in the arc, I still wasn’t sure if this was a traditional romance or something different so forgive me if I flipped to the end to see what would be in store for me before committing to read the book. I can stand bittersweet endings but would rather know ahead of time. Whether or not readers will like the ending for “Now and Then” will depend on if they feel that this is a romance that should come complete with a HEA.

I enjoyed discovering the two different strata of society as seen through the experiences of Anna and Joseph. And also watching as both characters were inverted from what they were used to in modern life. Anna’s been a successful lawyer with all the trappings who now finds herself living in an Irish blacksmith’s hovel among smugglers who must finesse their way through the harsh, repressive laws under which they’re forced to live. Joseph has always been on the bottom of the hierarchy in school but suddenly finds himself living the high life under the patronage of an English landowner. It’s a wonderful way to show, as you put it, the “political shennanigans” of the time.

You don’t spend much time explaining how the time travel works. Which is fine with me. I find TT books work better for me if an author just presents it as a fait accompli and then gets on with the story. The historical details are well done without being overdone. Anna and Joseph notice certain things that are especially important to them which adds a nice “fish out of water” feel to the story without bogging the narrative down with too many details.

Thank you for not forcing faux Irish brogue dialogue on me. One character mentions to Anna how Gaelic speech patterns are different from English ones and it appears that this is what you attempted to replicate at times. Though I’ll be honest and say that I wish you had done more with this. Most of the time, the Irish characters speak more like English ones than anything else.

The humor sprinkled throughout the book is delightful. The opening chapters are more wry, black humor whereas the exchanges between Donal and Anna seem a little different in ways I’m finding hard to categorize. For instance when Anna tells Donal that “I’ve never ridden much,” Donal replies, “Both the horse and I have noticed.” And then there’s the tooth extraction scene. If anyone ever told me I’d laugh myself silly to read something like this, I’d have looked at them like they were demented. I also love the list of modern terms that Anna empties herself of like a burst balloon when she reaches the point that she can’t hold them in anymore. Fucking A, Anna.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers

My first exposure to a time travel book was “Knight in Shining Armor.” I loved it, once I’d gotten past the first 50 some pages. The ending made the book for me. But when presented with such an ending, like Anna, I need to know that there’s a damn good reason for it. And you gave me a damn good reason. What’s already happened can’t and shouldn’t be changed but lifetimes of pain are over and the poison which had coursed through the lives of the O’Shea family is finally at an end. I do think that Anna comes out of the experience with slightly more than Joseph does though I am happy to see his newfound maturity and confidence.

End of spoilers

“Now and Then” is certainly different from what I normally read but different in a good way. The descriptions of nineteenth century Ireland are vivid, the people are believable, and I was totally caught up in their experiences. While I might have wanted a more romantic HEA, it’s not the book you wrote and truthfully such an ending would not have dovetailed with the reality of the upcoming Great Famine. My final grade? B

PS. loved the Irish Wolfhounds!


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.