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Review by Suze
Tess and Barrett were high school sweethearts. They've been married for over twenty years and have four kids. They have a large and busy family. While Tess and Barrett are still as much in love with one another as they used to be when they first met, they are struggling. There isn't much time for them to be together, they aren't going on dates like they used to, they don't surprise each other anymore and they hardly have the chance to give each other physical attention. Because of this they're out of sync and something needs to be done before their problems become unsolvable, but what can they do when they can hardly ever find the time to be on their own without any interference?
Tess and Barrett love their kids and they are a happy family, but lately they're only a mother and father and not two people who are having a close relationship. Something has to be done or Tess and Barrett might lose everything they hold dear. They're very much in love, but they need to get the chance to show it to each other. Will there be a solution to their problems and if so, will they manage to save the special bond they have?
From the Ground Up is a beautiful romantic story. I'm a big fan of books about true love and this is definitely a great one. Tess and Barrett are both kindhearted and supportive. They're taking care of the people they love, they are always there for anyone who needs their help and they throw amazing parties. They are sweet and loving parents and their children have a safe, warm and welcoming home. Due to all of their duties Tess and Barrett can't find a way to connect any longer and my heart ached for them, because they're obviously missing their alone time. I enjoyed reading about their deep feelings for each other. I liked how much they admire one another and kept hoping they would find the way back to their once so strong and healthy relationship.
From the Ground Up is a story about two people who are already in love. It's incredibly romantic that Tess and Barrett are so sure about what's in their heart. They are true soul mates. As they are also doting and dutiful parents, attentive and good friends and hardworking business owners it's tough to find the time to invest in their marriage. Every relationship needs work and plenty of nurturing and I loved that Jennifer van Wyk has chosen this topic for her story. It's interesting, thought-provoking and fantastic to read about. From the Ground Up moved me to tears and put a big smile on my face at the same time. I absolutely loved this terrific romantic story.
If you love beautiful romance with plenty of emotional layers you should definitely read From the Ground Up.
1) Could you give our readers four interesting facts about you?
Oh goodness. I always feel so much pressure at this question because it makes me feel very... um, uninteresting? Is that a word? LOL OK - Well, I get super uncomfortable in awkward situations and tend to laugh. Which just adds to the lack of comfort level. I even laughed at a wake one time. So embarrassing.
I always told my parents growing up that I would never marry a farmer and God totally laughed because my husband is ... you guessed it... a farmer.
When I went into labor with my third baby I was at work in meetings. I sat there writing down times on a little notebook when my manager looked over and saw. I got yelled at but stayed at work. It was barely labor. I figured, eh, I've been through this a few times so I totally got this. That night I did the same. Finally my husband said he was making me tap out and told me to get in the car or he'd carry me there. Turns out, it was good I listened. I got to the hospital at 9 1/2 centimeters, only to have her get stuck in the pelvic bone. After two hours of pushing, sans ANY medication (OUCH), my dr told me I had one more shot or he was going in. I cursed but got her out on my own.
And lastly, oh seriously. Now I feel even LESS interesting! A few years ago my son bet me that I couldn't wakeboard anymore (kind of like snowboarding but behind a boat) and I totally proved him wrong.
2) Can you describe Tess & Barrett in six words each?
Oh man! I love them both so much I could use WAY more than six words! Here's my best shot:
Barrett: Hot Dad (I'm counting that as one, thank you very much); Funny; Kind; Protector; Sexy; Swoony
Tess: Generous; Sweet; Goofy; Loving; Nurturer; Beautiful (inside and out)
3) You write about high school sweethearts who form a bond for life, what inspired you to write about this wonderful theme?
Well, for one, I married my high school sweetheart. I met him when I was just 16 years old at my brother's New Year's Eve party. He was 18, almost 19 and just out of high school. I think there's something to be said about first loves and how timeless it is. And I love knowing I found my one and only early on.
4) What does true love mean to you?
So many things! First and foremost and truly loving the other person. True love isn't about their looks or what they do for you. If they're your true love, you love them through ANYTHING. Whether you have lots or little money. It's when one of you gets sick or loses his or her job or are just having A DAY - you know what I mean. We all have them. And when I have them - my husband knows exactly what to do or say to get me out of it, even if just only for a moment. That is what true love means to me. Someone understanding you inside and out and loving those little things that make up you. It's not about whether or not you agree on everything or have to be by each other's side at every moment. True love is that bone deep, unconditional feeling of pure and utter EVERYTHING. My husband doesn't spoil me rotten, he doesn't kiss my butt and I don't kiss his. We just get each other. We know what we need each day.
5) From the Ground Up is about two people who are already very much in love, but have to find their way back to each other, how did you get the idea to write about this?
Hmmmm probably because we went through it! LOL - especially the daughter sleeping in the bed part. But honestly? A lot of it was because I've been in this book world for a long time now and I was seeing a lot of jealousy happening. A lot of readers would get this idea in their head about who their husband or boyfriend should be, rather than embracing who they are and what made them fall in love with him in the first place. It's SO easy to see the grass being greener on the other side but guess what? All those models we see on book covers or hot dads you see on FB or IG or wherever, all those book boyfriends - even though they're fictitious - they are all still human. They make mistakes. They do gross things or don't run to the grocery store for tampons or don't put their dishes away in the dishwasher. And we, as readers, can easily get wrapped up in this image of what these perfect men are like and forget that we have an amazingly awesome one sitting next to us, supporting us through thick and thin. I have been writing for years now and I remember reading a book by an author who I love but it all felt so unrealistic, the hero so far fetched, and I was like "I can't take it anymore! I need real!" So I sat down at my computer and started writing something that felt real to me.
6) What’s the most romantic thing you can think of?
Okay first I have to be honest. Some of the romantic stuff makes me twitchy. It all goes back to the whole I laugh in uncomfortable situations thing. But, ever since my husband and I were first married, he would surprise me by bringing in lilac stems from one of our big lilac bushes. I would wake up and there would be a few cut stems in a mason jar on the kitchen counter. When we built our home a few years later I was so sad to leave the bush behind. A couple years after we were settled, he took our kids to a local greenhouse and bought me a new bush for Mother's Day. To me? That's enormously romantic. I cried. And then cried harder when it first started blooming and he brought in a few stems. And to add to it, I never told him I missed it. He just new. (Also, this goes back to the true love thing )
7) What does your writing process look like?
Sit down and hope for the best. Ha! Seriously. So with FTGU I wrote very much in order. I didn't have a single idea in my head as to how the story had to play out. About 1/3 of the way through I sent it to two author friends and asked them to rip it apart, tell me what I was doing wrong/right, etc. After that I just kept plugging along. With A Better Place, which is releasing in a few months, I was a hot mess, man. I wrote so out of order and my poor editor! LOL She was like this is insane, girl! Ha! Oh and music. I love listening to music while I write. Sometimes it absolutely has to be part of the theme and others it's just tunes I jam to. I also have to have either iced tea or iced water with me and sometimes I'll snack. Jalapeño Tostitos are my weakness. Ridiculous as that sounds.
8) Is there any advice you have for couples who find themselves in the same situation as Tess and Barrett?
Like I said in my acknowledgements, a VERY wise friend of ours once told us that you have to really fight, dig deep and never give up. To never stop dating. One of our favorite - and I mean FAVORITE - dates is when one of our parents have the kids overnight, and we STAY HOME. Crazy, right? And it doesn't happen often. First of all, our kids are getting older and their schedules keep us busy, and second of all we truly LOVE having them around (usually LOL). But honestly. Why would we want to be bothered with sitting in a restaurant for hours when there's NO ONE in our home? That's just plain senseless to us. We basically shut everyone out, close the blinds, and enjoy being together. We try to do this at least a few times a year and it's the best, least expensive way to reconnect.
9) What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up. Sounds simple but it isn't because this industry isn't easy. But the second best piece of advice would be to listen to people. You don't know everything. For ANY author to believe they can plunk out a story without getting advice or help from others is silliness. It truly takes a team.
10) What are your plans for the future?
Like I mentioned, A Better Place, which is James's story (he was introduced in From the Ground Up) is coming in probably early July. I don't have an exact release date but early reviews are coming in and readers are LOVING his story. It was a hard one to write but I am so proud of the way it turned out. And then Feels Like Home is what I'm working on right now. It's Andy's (another one introduced in FTGU) story. I am not sure on if it will release in 2017 or early 2018. I also have a small secret project I'm finishing up. All the kids in FTGU will eventually get their stories as well. I've had everyone asking about Grady, Barrett and Tess's second son, and have some ideas for his story. He'll come right after Andy's. Long story short - I have a TON of ideas and don't plan to stop writing any time soon.
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