Jennifer Handford

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Jennifer Handford

Goodreads Author


Born
in Phoenix, The United States
Website

Twitter

Genre

Influences

Member Since
March 2012


A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Jennifer Handford now lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and three children. One of three first-place finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2010, she published her first novel, DAUGHTERS FOR A TIME, in 2012. People magazine hailed it as “a wrenching, resonant debut about infertility, cancer and adoption. Grab your hankies.” In 2014, ACTS OF CONTRITION was published. THE LIGHT OF HIDDEN FLOWERS was released in November 2015 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Midwest Book Review called it "A deftly crafted and deeply engaging story from beginning to end." Jennifer is busy at work on her fourth book, a historical piece of fiction about a grown woman searching for her biologic ...more

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Jennifer Handford I don’t usually get “writer’s block.” It’s more typical for me to succumb to a “writer’s allergy,” which means I feel almost averse to my desk and com…moreI don’t usually get “writer’s block.” It’s more typical for me to succumb to a “writer’s allergy,” which means I feel almost averse to my desk and computer—and I’ll do just about anything to avoid them. I have a similar reaction to exercise. I find writing no less strenuous than deep lunges. Getting “to the office,” or in my case, “to my desk,” is the hardest part. I believe that for a writer, “getting there” is an act of will. If I’m not all in, nothing will come to me. My mind will stall on shallow details: grocery lists, dinner plans, schedules for the kids’ activities. If I’m serious about working, I must force my mind to go deeper than my everyday surface-level thinking. Only when I “dig deep,” and inhabit this subterranean space, do I unearth a worthwhile nugget.

I do my best thinking when I’m driving. Lulled by the monotonous hum of the engine, I can assign my mind a simple task: I’ll think about a scene I’m writing, a character who is examining her feelings, or dialogue that may ricochet between characters. Although I usually can't find the exact words to convey the whole setting, the energy of a character, or the rhythm of a conversation, I can typically extract enough of the vital essence (a few details for the scene, an insight from the protagonist, a snippet of pithy dialogue) to lure me back to my computer.

In short, my advice for overcoming writer’s block is to seek solitude and assign your mind a specific task—or three. Think about X, ponder Y’s feelings, describe the setting of Z. Then take a deep breath and leave the surface world for a while to “go deep.” You might feel fatigued at all levels afterward—body, mind and soul—just as with exercise. But I’m certain you’ll also come away with something worthy.

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Jennifer Handford A high school student once asked me the same thing. I said something along the lines of my having (and appreciating) the satisfaction of seeing and ho…moreA high school student once asked me the same thing. I said something along the lines of my having (and appreciating) the satisfaction of seeing and holding the final product. And truly, there is great reward in planting a seed, caring for it and watching it grow. But the question nagged at me, because I thought there was more to it than the literal sense.

I believe the real answer is that writing is like being an archaeologist of the human heart. It’s as if I’m dusting off the bones of our human condition: my task is to find the words to express pain and grief, shame and guilt, and joy, love, and euphoria—and then to veer all the way back again to heartache and sorrow. It's an opportunity to wrestle with all the hard questions in life.

As human beings, we all have the same basic need: to be loved and accepted. I’m forever in awe of the book EAST OF EDEN because John Steinbeck so painfully describes how "The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears." He goes on to say how rejection leads to anger, and with anger there comes some sort of crime . . . and then, the guilt. According to Steinbeck, the “chart of the soul" has many paths, depending on the human spirit.

I think that's the essence of just about everything: the mystery of the heart and the soul, and the ordinary life one must live each day while making the extraordinary decisions that make his or her own path wholly unique on this earth.

Life is hard, love is hard. Writing about life and love is hard. But living life and knowing love is our reward—and writing about it is my joy.

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Average rating: 3.86 · 7,274 ratings · 562 reviews · 6 distinct worksSimilar authors
Acts of Contrition

3.69 avg rating — 1,946 ratings — published 2014 — 2 editions
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Daughters for a Time

3.90 avg rating — 3,943 ratings — published 2012 — 14 editions
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The Light of Hidden Flowers

3.99 avg rating — 1,382 ratings — published 2015 — 7 editions
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Fortune Cookies - Excerpt f...

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Töchter auf Zeit (German Ed...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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Akt der Reue (German Editio...

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More books by Jennifer Handford…

Behind the Story

Before I had my “pitch” ready, people would ask: “What’s your new book about?” In reply, I would juggle a bunch of words in the air: father, daughter, Afghanistan, India, introversion, bravery. Whoever had innocently asked the question would then look at me like maybe I didn’t know the answer myself. In fact, I hadn’t randomly drawn a bunch of words from a hat. The seeds for THE LIGHT OF HIDDEN FL Read more of this blog post »
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Published on August 17, 2015 16:33 Tags: afghanistan, bravery, daughter, eat-pray-love, father, introversion, journey, literary, vietnam, women-s-fiction

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Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins
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Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
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Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Number the Stars
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
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More of Jennifer's books…
“Maybe heartache was more normal than the absence of it.”
Jennifer Handford, Daughters for a Time

“How do you measure what’s real, what’s true? How do you stack up all that’s pure against all that’s evil?”
Jennifer Handford, Acts of Contrition

“In so many ways,” I tried to explain. “I feel repaired. The old wounds feel repaired, anyway. As if what was taken has been returned. I don’t get to be my mother’s daughter ever again. But I get to be a mother”
Jennifer Handford, Daughters for a Time

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