Celebrating with Heather Woodhaven


The inspiration:

I love a good challenge—a short, tangible goal that I’m working to complete with others. Women seem to love them. Money saving challenges, weight loss challenges, reading challenges… you name the topic in your life, and I imagine I could find a group challenge you could join. At the same time as I was noticing just how many challenges I’d joined, I was also in a book club. I noticed the books I liked best revolved around women that overcame their struggles with friends and a wacky trip, club, or pact.  So initially I called my story, “The Challenge.” These four moms try new experiences while trying to keep their priorities and relationships in check.



Book Club Just Got Real. 

Jeanine Phelps is tired of reading about other women who grab life and have epiphanies. She challenges her book club to live like the heroines in the books they love. 

At first, seizing the day is pure fun until it generates an upset in each of their lives: 
Jeanine’s husband is so inspired by her new vitality it triggers a bizarre mid-life crisis involving tacos. 
Paula, the model PTA soccer mom, starts fighting with her man about the family printing business until she’s drawn back to her 
secret passion. 
Kate, a single mom and teacher, can’t figure out if the rekindled friendship with the new museum creator is worth the romantic risk. 
Anne, a mother of four babies, works to hold the book club together while trying to figure out her own identity. 

When everyone wants to quit the challenge, the media’s spotlight makes it impossible. Can they rely on each other while keeping their priorities? And more importantly, is their sanity worth the chance to each become a heroine in her own life? 


Author Bio:

Heather Woodhaven earned her pilot’s license, rode a hot air balloon over the safari lands of Kenya, assisted an engineer with a medical laser in a Haitian mission, parasailed over Caribbean seas, lived through an accidental detour onto a black diamond ski trail in the Aspens and snorkeled among sting rays before becoming a mother of three and wife of one. Now Heather spends her days celebrating laughter, adding to her impressive list of embarrassing moments, and raising a family of aspiring comedians who perform nightly at her table. She channels her love for adventure into writing characters who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances–whether running for their lives or battling the insanities of life.




Once drinks were ordered, they answered the preordained book club questions included at the back of the novel. Then they got to the real nitty-gritty: what they felt about the book. Not just liked or not liked, but what emotions the story made them experience.

Jeanine loved this part of book club but suspected Paula had a timer hidden somewhere, because ten minutes later—right on cue—she took a loud sip of her mocha. Paula’s black, pixie-cut hair fit her bold personality. “What are we reading next?”

“Well…I have an idea,” Jeanine offered.

They set down their coffee and smoothie cups (Anne, still nursing, was off caffeine). Jeanine took a deep breath, work once again invading her thoughts. She shook it aside. “The thing is…most of the books we read are about strong women leading ordinary lives before they start a quilting club or a margarita club or take a trip to some unusual locale. Maybe, just for once, instead of reading a book about women having these experiences and epiphanies maybe…we, uh, actually do it.”

Three blank faces stared back at her.

“You want to start a club?” Kate scrunched her nose and flipped back her blond hair. She pointed to the book in front of her. “We’re in a club.”

Paula held up a hand. “I get what Jeanine means, but there are two problems.” She held up her index finger. Her nails were trimmed and buffed but never long or polished. “First off, none of us is rich and able to pay for these amazing experiences. And secondly, no one here has been given a fatal prognosis. Right?”

Anne and Kate swiveled their attention toward Jeanine with an intensity of expression that took Jeanine off guard. “What? No, I’m not dying.”

Paula gave a curt nod. “Okay, so that’s settled. It’s not like we have nothing to lose. We all have time and money to lose.”

“Well, I don’t get it.” Anne hugged herself like she missed her babies. “What exactly are you asking us to do?”

“What about an A-to-Z challenge? We pick something for each letter—preferably something most of us have never done—and go try it.”

“Like?” Anne prodded.

Jeanine’s gaze drifted across the shop, searching for inspiration. A woman in the far corner wore a plum skirt with a sequined belt. “Like for ‘B,’ I might get us signed up to do an intro to belly dancing. You know, just for a night.”

Paula snorted. Kate giggled.

Anne smiled demurely but said nothing, as if she were holding on to a secret.

“What?” Jeanine prompted.

“It’s interesting.” Anne leaned forward on her elbows. “Are we supposed to imagine we’re living out one of these books we read? Maybe we have to learn more about each other each time we do one of those things, like the mom and the daughters did in the book, Winter Garden?”

Kate and Paula turned their shocked expressions toward Anne. “Seriously?” Kate asked. “Listen, I’m all for trying new things, but how would we find the time, let alone the money, to do that?”

“We took over two months to read Jane Eyre,” Anne replied. “We could meet weekly, on Monday nights or the occasional Saturday. And if we pool our creativity and contacts, I bet we wouldn’t have to spend that much.” She winked at Jeanine. “I’m game.”

“What would ‘A’ be?” Paula asked, her head titled and her arms folded across her chest like an umpire.

Jeanine leaned back in her chair and released her hair from her ponytail, hoping it would free the sudden pressure in her head. She hadn’t planned this far. “I guess if we are truly doing this as a group, everyone should have a say. Right?”

Kate placed her elbows on the table, leaned forward, and rested her chin on her hands as if waiting for everyone else to answer. Paula only showed her typical stern impassiveness, but Anne—her eyes twinkled.

Jeanine grinned. “Right. Who wants to go first?”

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