Early in the writing of my third novel,Seven Wings to Glory, I reached out to watercolorist, Jenny Zovein, whose work I’d admired on Facebook. Her whimsical style appealed to me and I wondered if she could paint a few scenes to inspire me as I worked to bring the story to life. She agreed and we arranged a time to discuss the project by telephone. Each time she sent me a completed painting, I propped it up in front of my computer and felt the spirits of my characters come to life.
Author’s note: In the following passage from my novel, Johnnie Come Lately (Camel Press), the protagonist, Johnnie Kitchen, is standing at the kitchen sink reflecting on her mother who’s been missing for twenty-three years. Johnnie’s husband, Dale, spotted Mama at the war memorial the day before.
Her mind drifted to the empty bench in front of
the war memorial a few blocks to the west. She imagined a
woman, limber and lithe, making her way to the bench. Once
seated, the woman tilted her head and said something to the
soldier. Then the birds scattered and the woman rushed away,
leaving nothing behind. As if she’d never been there.
“What are you thinking so hard about?”
Startled, Johnnie turned from the window and caught Dale
gazing at her.
The cherry tomatoes were still cupped in her hands. Water
My name is Jenny Zovein. Colorado has been my home for the last 47 years. I was born in Pennsylvania in 1949. Shortly before my first birthday, my family moved to Colorado. During my childhood I lived throughout the United States in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah, California, Alabama, and Maryland. Doing a full circle brought me back to Colorado in 1969. I am retired and spend many hours doing my artwork. I started when I was a little child but only started watercolor painting in 2014.
I am the mother of two grown children. My son and his wife live in San Francisco and my daughter lives near me. They both give me inspiration to continue what I love doing.
I was fortunate to travel to Europe and visited Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, and England. This trip was a big factor in my love for art and culture.
To see more of Jenny’s work, click on the following links:
The following passage is from my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately. (Reader discretion advised).
Johnnie was about to rave on Granny’s baked beans
when Callie Ann piped up, “Hey, D.J., tell everybody what
happened this morning when you went to buy cigarettes.”
D.J. looked up from his plate. He put his fork down and
cleared his throat.
“So, I’m standing in line at the 7-Eleven. The guy in front
of me pays for his stuff and says to this young female
cashier,‘Happy Memorial Day.’ Man, I thought that chick
was going to come over the counter. She shoves the guy’s change at him and
snarls, ‘What’s so fucking happy about Memorial Day?’ ”
Before anyone could say something, D.J. picked up his
plastic fork and stabbed at a pile of baked beans. “Sorry about
the F-bomb,” he apologized. “I’m just reporting what I heard.”
Johnnie took a deep breath and reached for Brother’s head.
As usual, he was at her side, waiting for a scrap to fall. She
needed to hold onto the one member of the family who wouldn’t judge her.
Wouldn’t judge any of them.
Running her fingers through his soft fur, she said what
needed to be said.
“Well, considering that my father died in war, I have to agree
with that young lady at the 7-Eleven. There’s absolutely nothing
happy about Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the
“I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.” Jennie Haskamp, United States Marine Corp Veteran, for Washington Post.