Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!
First, a bit about Jennifer.
I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.
I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.
My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.
There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available.
I have six Amish Romances in the works with Kensington Books. Huckleberry Hill, Huckleberry Summer, Huckleberry Christmas and An Amish Christmas Quilt – containing a novella in the Huckleberry Hill series are now available in stores and online. The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is set in northern Wisconsin Amish country.
The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.
Romantic Times gave Huckleberry Hill 4 1/2 stars and chose Huckleberry Summer as a TOP PICK.
I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and three adorable grandsons. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and one son still left at home.
Want to know why Jennifer Beckstrand writes Amish fiction? – Tweet this!
Scheduled for release in 2015:
Huckleberry Spring – Book 4
Ever since the Helmuths’ grandson, Ben, abruptly broke his engagement and moved to Florida, Emma Nelson has kept busy tending her vegetable garden and raising award-winning pumpkins. She can put her heartache aside to help Ben’s mammi with her own pumpkin patch. At least until Ben shows up to lend support to his ailing dawdi…
Gardening side by side with pretty, nurturing Emma is a sweet kind of torture for Ben. She could have her pick of suitors who can offer what he can’t, and he cares too much to burden her with his secret. Leaving once more is the only option. Yet Emma’s courage is daring him to accept the grace that flourishes here, and the love that has been calling him back to Huckleberry Hill.
Coming February 2015!
Huckleberry Harvest – Book 5
Mandy Helmuth doesn’t like Noah Mischler. Not one little bit. First he breaks her best friend’s heart, and then he has the nerve to chastise her for being a busybody. She feels quite justified in her dislike until Noah does something heroic, like save her life, and she’s forced to bestow her grudging respect even as she determines to keep her distance. But when she unwittingly stumbles into his family troubles, she catches a glimpse of the person Noah so successfully hides from others. Will Mandy be able to look past Noah’s rough and unyielding exterior to see the man she is destined to love?
Much to Noah Mischler’s annoyance, uppity Mandy Helmuth thinks she has the right to tell him how to live his life. If he weren’t helping Mandy’s grandfather install a stove and fix his roof, Noah wouldn’t be within a mile of Huckleberry Hill or that nosy girl who gives him a lecture every time she opens her mouth. But when Mandy discovers the horrible truth about his father, Noah is forced to reveal humiliating secrets that he’s never shared with anyone. He trusts her with his secrets, but can he trust her with his heart?
Coming May 2015!
Here is my interview with Jennifer:
1) Fans LOVE the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill… how did you get the idea for matchmaking grandparents? And did you plan from the beginning to write the series with such wonderful humor (Anna’s cooking, for example)?
Thank you so much! I am thrilled at the reception of my Matchmakers series. It has been so much fun to write. I don’t remember exactly how I got the idea for Anna and Felty. (Ideas float in and out of my head regularly.) There’s a little bit of a matchmaker inside of me, and I thought it would be fun to explore how a character could actually be successful at matchmaking. My kids have always resisted any attempts by me to set them up with suitable mates.
I’ve always enjoyed infusing my writing with humor. I love to laugh, and I love writing delightful characters who remind us of happy times and old friends. I won’t read a book or see a movie if I know it’s going to end sadly. I think Jane Austen was my first inspiration for that style of writing. I wanted Huckleberry Hill to be a place that readers would want to return to again and again.
2) Anna and Felty have 13 children and 64 grandchildren (not to mention the 99 greats and 1 great-great) and that’s just at the end of book #1… how many books do you plan to write in this series? Ms. Braun wrote 30+ “Cat Who” books. Could this be another such series?
There are three more books in the Huckleberry Hill series that come out next year: Huckleberry Spring, Huckleberry Harvest, and Huckleberry Hearts, and holy cow, I am so excited for all of them. After that, I am planning on leaving Huckleberry Hill but staying near Bonduel, Wisconsin for a series of books about a trio of Amish sisters. I will most likely revisit Huckleberry Hill in the future so my readers can catch up with Anna and Felty.
3) Do you use an outline for your stories? Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent or friends?
The ideas for my stories are all in my head, though I do type out character sketches and other random ideas once I know I’m going to write a specific story. I definitely use an outline so I don’t get lost but mostly so my editor knows what’s going on. An outline helps me and the editor weed out problems and plot holes before I spend all that time writing the book.
4) We read about writer retreats, conferences and the like. Is this the norm for most authors? Are they necessary for your writing? How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?
This year I didn’t go to any writer’s conferences, but I usually go to one or two a year. They’re a great place to meet fellow authors and make new friends. If you’re an aspiring author, I think writer’s conferences are the best way to meet agents and editors and get your work out there. I always come home from conferences re-energized and ready to write. I also come back with valuable writing tips and techniques.
I don’t enjoy traveling—I am definitely a homebody. I like my own bed and my own bathroom. My daughter studied in London last year, and my family pried me away from home to visit her there. I had a wonderful time. London is an amazing city. That’s one place I wouldn’t mind going again. I’m more of a “busy” traveler. I get antsy if I’m just sitting on the beach relaxing. A vacation for me needs to be filled with “doing” and “seeing.”
5) Do you find that writing under a deadline takes the fun out of writing? If so, how do you deal with that? Are there any special snacks you like to have handy, especially during stressful times?
My last book was under a pretty demanding deadline, and I let the stress take some of the fun out of the writing. A deadline always makes writing harder, but my new motto is: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Writing is hard work. Sometimes it’s okay to not love it—as long as you plow through and stick with it!
The one thing I eat regularly while at the computer is raw almonds. I love them. If I’m especially stressed, I adore fried Swiss cheese. Frying Swiss cheese makes the whole house stink, but it tastes so good. I eat while I write mostly to stay awake. It’s a busy mother’s burden. If I sit down, I often fall asleep.
6) What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with Amish Fiction?
In addition to that new Amish series about three sisters, I have a series of Western historicals that I’m eager to get out there someday. But I have plenty to keep me busy for another year or so.
How many more books are there in the Huckleberry Hill series? – Tweet this!
And on that note, Jennifer has been kind enough to give us a special treat…
“Here is a sneak peak of my latest project in the works. Another Amish romance series that’s as sweet as honey. -Jennifer Beckstrand”
The Adventures of the Honeybee Sisters
An Amish Romance Series by Jennifer Beckstrand
First of all, I must tell you how mad I am at you right now. I thought you and Aaron had more sense than to die in a buggy accident and orphan three little girls. Mamm would have said it’s God’s will. Maybe it is, but I’m not smart enough to make any sense of your death. As for Lily, Poppy, and Rose, you very well know that I have no idea how to raise them.
But I know how to love them, and that will be good enough. I’ll honor your wishes and raise them to be Amish, although ever since I got my ears pierced two decades ago, the Amish and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I’m sure we can set aside our differences to see that my nieces grow up well. It was tricky of you, knowing that I had turned my back on the Amish faith but that I would never turn my back on those three little girls.
I’ll do my best. And I solemnly promise not to let your daughters cut their hair until they’re old enough to decide for themselves, unless of course they want one of those cute pixie cuts like Audrey Hepburn. I love Audrey Hepburn.
Okay. Never mind. I was joking. Mostly.
Your Forever Sister, Elizabeth
Lily, Poppy, and Rose Christner, known as the Honeybee Sisters in their Amish community, are smart, inseparable, and all grown up. Orphaned when they were very young, the girls were raised by their eccentric Aunt Bitsy, who doesn’t behave like a proper Amish spinster, probably because she’s not Amish. The Honeybee Sisters have blossomed into rare beauties, and the boys in the community have begun to take notice. But Aunt Bitsy is determined to scare off all comers with her brusque manner and her handy shotgun. None but the most worthy will make it past Bitsy’s defenses. It’s going to be a rowdy and romantic summer—harvesting honey from their many beehives and fighting off the boys right and left.
Who are the Honeybee Sisters? – Tweet this!
Wow! I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait to read this new series. It sounds fantastic!
Thank You Jennifer and God bless you!
THANK YOU for joining me for this very special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!
Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — next month I have a very special promotion planned for several debut authors… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!
Don’t forget to click below to find out how you can enter Jennifer’s GIVEAWAY contest!
God bless you!
© Donna J. Mynatt 2014