Jenny Knipfer–Author

Best-selling Christian historical fiction author, Jenny Knipfer, shares her books, inspiration, thoughts on life and writing, and book reviews. Purchase Jenny's books, read her blog, or listen to encouraging podcasts, highlighting the life of a writer.

I recently finished The Green Dress and thought I’d share my review with you. Busy with writing and writerly tasks, I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, but I squeeze it in here and there, usually at night.

The Green Dress

By Liz Tolsma 

Accepted into the fold of the Robinson family in 1882, Harriet Peters later grieves the lost of her best friend, Lizzy Robinson, who dies a quick, painful death. 

But Lizzy was not first in her family to pass from unexplained circumstances. Her father went before her, and when a sibling of Lizzy’s dies with similar symptoms, Harriet puts her trust in Dr. Michael Wheaton. Together they look for answers. But will they find the answers before another Robinson dies? 

Is the culprit some strange disease afflicting only the Robinson family, or is it something much more sinister? 

Told in an easy to read fashion, The Green Dress is based on a true story, strange but true. 

My thoughts: 

I enjoyed the book, but by the second chapter I had it figured out. I wish more effort would have been used to hide where the story was going. 

I tend to like books that are poetic in nature or contain wit. I can’t complain about the author’s solid writing style, but nothing endeared me to it either. 

What are you reading?

Have you read of these books in the true colors series? What are you currently reading? What’s next on your list?

Happy Reading! J

I finished this lovely book, recently. I enjoyed it, though the timeline was tricky to follow at first. My review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Paris Dressmaker, by Kristi Cambron

In the midst of WWII, Lila’s role as a dressmaker morphs into unexpected territory, as she designs gowns for mistresses of the Nazi regime in Paris. However, a loyal Parisienne, Lila uses her skills to do what she can to further the resistance effort, and in while doing so becomes entangled with her pre-war love, Rene. 

Forced to catalog stolen artwork by the Nazis, Sandrine does what she can to protect pieces doomed for destruction. She refuses the attentions of a Nazi officer and endures the scoffing and rejection of her neighbors, who deem her a Nazi collaborator. With hope in her heart that her husband, Christian, still lives, Sandrine presses on.

Will Lila get caught for her part in the resistance work? Will she and Rene rekindle their romance? Will Sandrine fall prey to the officer who wants her? Ultimately, how will the lives of Lila and Sandrine cross? 

Find out in this richly told and detailed depiction of French resistance workers in unusual roles. With a dove-tailed timeline and atmospheric scenes, Cambron crafts an intriguing story of women, fighting in the war for their freedom by doing what they can.

Readers of Christian historical fiction, historical fiction, and women’s fiction will savor traveling back in time to war-torn Paris.

What are you reading?

I’m so thrilled to reveal the gorgeous cover for my next book, In a Grove of Maples, which is the first in a new series of books entitled: Sheltering Trees. The book is historical fiction with an inspirational theme and is inspired by the lives of my grandparents as Wisconsin farmers in the late 1890’s.

I don’t know much about their story, but I do know they purchased the farm I grew up on, about ten miles west of Oconto, Wisconsin in 1897. My brothers recall hearing of a log house, barn, and small outbuilding being on the property at the time of sale. I know my grandparents had French Canadian and Belgian heritage. I imagine they came from Canada to purchase the farm, but I don’t know how they met.

My grandfather went up north to a Wisconsin lumber camp in the wintertime. He had the job of being a teamster, using his own horses to help haul the felled trees, and I imagine his life at the camp may have played out in similar fashion to one of my main character’s, Edward’s. My Dad always spoke very highly of his mother, and I hope a little of her character shines forth in my character, Beryl. I did not use my grandparents’ real names but details about the town, setting, and some events are based on real locations and events. Much was left to my imagination, and I hope I created a worthy fictionalized story of what their lives may have been like.

Description and reviews of In a Grove of Maples:

… a heartfelt tale of the struggles of married life on a nineteenth-century farm. Edward and Beryl are both relatable and sympathetic. Knipfer expertly captures the emotion and stress of their lives and relationship. It’s a touching and realistic portrayal of love, loss, and friendship.” Heather Stockard for Readers’ Favorite five-star review

A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF THE PERILS OF NEWLYWED LIFE ANDF ALL THAT COMES TO DIVIDE LOVERS

In 1897 newly married Beryl and Edward Massart travel more than one thousand miles from Quebec to farm a plot of land in Wisconsin that they bought sight-unseen. An almost magical grove of maples on their property inspires them to dream of a real home built within the grove, not the tiny log cabin they’ve come to live in. 

Misunderstandings and tempers get the better of them when difficulties and troubles arise. Just months after they wed, Edward leaves pregnant Beryl in the midst of the coming winter to tend the farm and animals while he goes to be a teamster at a northern Wisconsin logging camp. 

Will Beryl and Edward walk into the future together to build their house of dreams in the grove of maples, or will their plans topple like a house of sticks when the winds of misunderstanding and disaster strike?

Readers of Christian historical fiction, Historical fiction, Women’s fiction, and Christian historical romance will be endeared to this slice of late 19th century farm life. 

“In a Grove of Maples presents a fascinating look at what life was like for a young couple starting out on their own and how necessary it was to have friends and neighbors that you could call on for help. Even though the book is set in the late 19th century, the struggles Edward and Beryl have in their marriage are things many people deal with today.” — Kristine Zimmerman for Readers’ Favorite five-star review

“Dramatic character development and lavish descriptive language make Knipfer’s prose shine, and carry this emotionally stirring plot from start to finish. The storytelling is casual but unmistakably aged, and the research into this particular time period is remarkable, while the variation in narrative format keeps the story engaging throughout.” — Self-Publishing Review four and a half-star review

Thanks for taking the time to read what I am up to. Blessings, J

Today as a part of The Coffeepot Bookclub, I am happy to feature Ropewalk: Rebellion. Love. Survival.

Book Title: Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival * Series: The Ropewalk series * Author: H D Coulter * Publication Date: 23rd November 2020 * Publisher: Independently Published * Page Length: 243 Pages * Genre: Historical Fiction

BLURB:

The North of England, 1831.

The working class are gathering. Rebellion is stirring, and the people are divided.

Beatrice Lightfoot, a young woman fighting her own personal rebellion, is looking for an opportunity to change her luck. When she gains the attention of the enigmatic Captain Hanley, he offers her a tantalising deal to attend the May Day dance. She accepts, unaware of the true price of her own free will.

Her subsequent entanglement with Joshua Mason, the son of a local merchant, draws all three into a destructive and dangerous relationship, which threatens to drag Beatrice, and all she knows into darkness.

Now, Beatrice must choose between rebellion, love and survival before all is lost, and the Northern uprising changes her world forever.

Author Bio:

Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets.

As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn’t until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story.

PURCHASE:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08MKZW4S5

Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/bxjlQd

NOTE:  Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival. is going to be on promotion during the tour at 0.99 and signed copies of the paperbacks will be available on Hayley’s website – https://hdcoulter.com/

PREORDER:

Book 2, Saving Grace; Deception. Obsession. Redemption.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YWBZRQY

Universal Link to other bookshops: https://books2read.com/u/38QrBV

EXCERPT:

Chapter 4

Bent over the old wooden table, Bea sprinkled out a second dusting of flour before pulling and stretching the stringy wholemeal dough to make the bread for the evening meal. The house was quiet; her brothers were out working with her Da, and her eldest sister Beth was a housemaid over on Southergate. Holly and Rowan sat playing with their wooden toys by the fire as Bea placed the dough in a bowl in front of the grate, covered it with a cloth and allowed it to prove. She made a start on the rabbit stew with the animal she caught yesterday in one of her Da’s traps. She peeled the potatoes and chopped the cabbages she had dug out of the small vegetable patch earlier that morning, finishing with a handful of the dried thyme and rosemary which hung in bunches over the hearth, throwing them in to the pot.   

With the stew bubbling away above the fire, Bea placed the bread in the small oven inset to the right of the grate. The front door rattled open, abruptly disturbing the peace, as Mrs Lightfoot strutted into the seat in front of the fire.

“Come on girls, move out the way.” She kept nudging them until she could sit down. They looked up at Bea, who gestured with her eyes for them to play at the other end of the table.

“How is Mrs Dent faring?” Bea asked politely. Mrs Dent had a nasty turn at the same time every morning, roughly about the time Mr Lightfoot left for work.

“Oh, she is just fine now,” her mother remarked with no interest.

“How’s dinner comin’ by? Anythin’ else you need to do? Your father and brothers will be home soon.”

Bea continued in silence, turning her back on her Mam and smiling towards the girls. This seemed to vex her Mam once more. She raised her voice a notch higher.

“Your Father can’t be expected to always. . .”

A knock echoed across the room, putting a stop to her complaint. Bea let out the breath she had been holding in. Like a Greek player with two masks, Mrs Lightfoot quickly substituted her frown for a large smile. She stood up and smoothed down her dress, rushing hastily to the door.

“Good day, Captain Hanley! Please, come in!”

Without thinking, Bea ducked down and hid by the girls behind the kitchen table. She couldn’t imagine what he had come for; it had been a week since their last encounter and the awkwardness she had felt then suddenly came flooding back.

“Good day, Mrs Lightfoot, forgive the intrusion,” he greeted her as he stepped into the room, scanning his surroundings quickly.

“Tea?” Her Mam grabbed a grimy tin from the top shelf of the dresser and dusted off the small china teapot given to her as a wedding gift. She hovered over the precious leaves, counting out each spoonful.

“Please.” He took off his hat and placed it on the table alongside a large paper parcel.

“If you don’t mind me being so bold, Captain Hanley, what do you have there?” She offered the Captain a beaming smile, attempting to convince him it was meant for her. With relief, Bea realised, her Mam had no intention of making her presence known.  

“Is Miss Beatrice around?” he enquired, ignoring Mrs Lightfoot’s question.

Mrs Lightfoot paused. So did Bea, mid-breath. Holly looked down at her sister with a delighted smile and bellowed, “Here, Bea is HERE!” She covered her mouth for a second, and then descended into a fit of giggles. Bea’s cheeks became hot, feeling like a child herself, caught hiding with the young ones. Rowan joined in with Holly’s laughter. Bea stood up slowly, keeping her eyes low.

“Good day Miss Beatrice, I have brought you a little something, which I hope you will like.” Hanley smiled, indicating the parcel.

“I… thank you…?” She hesitated, unsure how to receive such a gift, or if she should receive it at all. She stepped out from behind the security of her sisters and moved towards the Captain.

“Please – open it.” His voice held a hint of pride.

The brown wrapping paper was closed with a golden ribbon. Without thinking, she stroked the satin material with her fingers, tugging at the tails, and in doing so, sealed her acceptance. The ribbon fell away gracefully on to the table, and the paper cracked as it gave way to yards and yards of stunning silk cloth which glowed like her beloved early dawns down at the harbour. A couple of seconds passed, and no one uttered a word.

“Do you like it?” Hanley knew it had already worked its magic.

“Thank you, Captain, it is beautiful. . . but I cannot accept this”. She folded the brown paper back over, concealing the temptation inside.

“Now Miss Lightfoot, it is merely a simple gift – I came across it through a friend, for half the selling price, and thought you could make good use of it with the dance coming up.”

He opened it up again, luring her in. She did not recognise it from Johnson’s, she was certain of that. So where had he obtained it? From his connections with the smugglers, being a sailor? He might be a smuggler himself, for all she knew. Regardless, it must have cost him a shilling a yard, if not more, even at half the price. There must be at least twenty yards sat on the kitchen table. She felt a reckless tightness in her chest. The sound of his voice brought her back into the room.

“Will you do me the honour of accepting it?” His soft voice was low and clear.

“Sir – Captain – it is too much; I’ve done nothing to deserve…” Her heart was a marching drum in her chest. She had never, would never, be able to afford such a quantity of beautiful fabric in her life. It would give her the dress she wanted, allow her to attend the May Day ball which would please Alice – and herself, if she was honest. But what would she owe him in return?

“Forgive me, but I saw how you looked at the fabrics in Johnson’s, the other day,” he looked at her in a way that made her feel they were the only two in the room, “and by coincidence I came across this similar silk at a lower price only hours later. It was meant for you.” 

Bea felt the words pulling her in. His hand slowly crept towards hers across the oak boards.

“Isn’t that lovely Beatrice?” Mrs Lightfoot exclaimed in a shrill voice, breaking the spell. “You didn’t tell me you saw Captain Hanley the other day? And to think, ‘e has bought you such a lovely gift!” Bea pulled back her hand and took a step away from the parcel, looking at the door. She wanted to escape, to bring this ordeal to an end.

“What if we perform a simple exchange?” He felt her attention return to him. “If you accept this small gift, in return I ask for the first two dances at the May Day Ball?” Bea’s eyes widened, and she looked at him earnestly, inspecting as best she could the meaning in his words, the truth behind the smile. She knew the implications if she said yes. 

Glancing at her mother, she saw an unpleasant look on her face, a mixture of frustration, envy and resentment, her hands twisting her apron into a funnel, like a dishcloth. Bea’s finger graced the top of the fabric. It reminded her of the creaminess of a rose petal. She would be a golden rose. It would make her beautiful. The equal to any of the other ladies, for one night only, to know what it was like to have opportunities. Her heart cried out for her to say yes; for the price of the first two dances, how could she refuse.

“Captain, I will accept your offer.”

Hanley looked triumphant. “I am pleased to hear this. I look forward to seeing the dress you create from the silk, and to have the honour of the first two dances.” He made his way without ceremony to the door. 

“Thank you…” Bea nodded her head at no one in particular, dazed.

A wide smile filled his face, and he gave Bea a deep bow. Turning on his heels, he faced Mrs Lightfoot.

“Thank you for the hospitality, as always, ma’am,” and tilted his head with a curt nod. In two steps he was out of the door, leaving behind a chipped cup full of untouched tea, and a silent kitchen.

Ropewalk: Rebellion. Love. Survival.

Copyright: ©H D Coulter

CONNECT WITH H D COULTER:

Website: https://hdcoulter.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coulter_hd

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hd.coulter/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hdcoulter

HAPPY READING!

What good historical fiction books have you read recently?

Sometimes writing presents more of a challenge than at other times. I’ve not found writer’s block an issue, but at times a project tires me. I don’t want to think any more about it or write another word.

A few weeks ago I wrote the last chapter in my fourth book in my upcoming series, Sheltering Trees. It thrilled me to write those two little words—the end. But I celebrated prematurely. Going back over it in a final edit as a whole, I realized the word count needed to increase. My other books in the series are between 165,000 and 100,000 words. By Broken Birch Bay tallied at around 153,000—too short.

Insert a frowny face here. I moaned and tried to justify it being shorter, but in the end I gritted my teeth and “put my big girl panties on”—as my friend, Kris, would say—and sat down to start the hard work of seeing where I could add to the story. 

Now, I’m going through the book, chapter by chapter. What I plan to work on:

  • Fill in the details: Think of first drafts as a skeleton. The connecting tissue gets added more fully in second and third pass-throughs.
  • Expand scenes: I look for scenes that may need a little more happening. Maybe I have a hole or forgot to say something needed in the storyline.
  • Define characters and settings: Each character should be introduced with a good character sketch of outward traits. I look for any gaps or unfulfilled descriptions. I reveal the inward traits as the story progresses.
  • Engage the five scenes: Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch need to be an integral part of each scene. I ask myself as I write: what are the characters experiencing? I write these much needed engaging descriptions into the story.
  • Ramp up the drama: A good story is all about the drama and the conflict and how that gets resolved. I look for places I can add a little more strife between characters. I play the devil’s advocate, so to speak. But don’t worry; most of these things get ironed out in the end.
  • Hone the characters actions: I recheck the actions of characters and make sure they match what’s going on in the scene and tag the dialogue with actions, when possible.

For me, this is the hard part of writing, the tough, trench war of words, in crafting and molding a novel into what it needs to be. The unfolding draft of a novel comes easy for me. I simply have to listen, but the revisions, additions, and editing make up the grueling work. Although, in this too I can find enjoyment when everything is drawn in a more cohesive circle. Besides the beast of marketing, this is where I roll up my sleeves and have to psych myself up for the job ahead.

So here I sit, at my dining room table, which serves as my desk, adding the finishing touches to my latest novel. Writing on the computer is difficult for me. My fingers don’t work correctly, and I often press the wrong keys, which means I spend a lot of time hitting the backspace button and retyping. When my hands get more numb and tired, I resort to typing with one or two fingers. This is why I write on my iPad and only edit on my computer. It’s much easier for me. Also, I switch between typing and voice to text.

But sadly, sitting in a desk chair for any length of time gives me back spasms, and in general I get stiff and sore. Many reasons exist for me to dread this current phase of being an author, but I don’t want to engage in the task ahead of me with a grumpy attitude. I plan to give what I can, pray for grace and patience, and believe the book will get to where it needs to be, if I put in the effort. 

All that to say—writing is hard, lonely work, but I do it because I believe I have inspiring, entertaining, and well-crafted stories to share with my readers. 

Thank you for reading my thoughts here and being a part of my writing journey. 

The opening segment from my current project, By Broken Birch Bay, a historical mystery of family, romance, and hidden deception:

May 15th, 1925

I pen my story here of how it happened—who killed who and why.

Let me tell you something from one who has been there: you’re capable of killing. Everyone is. I can hear your thoughts— “I would never. No! Not me.” But you’re wrong. You don’t know what lengths you’ll go to until you must. Never think yourself too good, too righteous for such a sin. Wasn’t it Jesus who said that if you so much as hate a person, you commit murder in your heart? 

Then I’ve done it—murdered someone. More than once. In my heart. But did I in reality? I recall nothing but the stillness of the air and the ringing in my ears—buzzing as if my head were a live hive of bees. Then those two pale faces, witnesses to my crime and that unmoving form, just lying there, splayed out like a bird who’s crashed into the window. 

I saw a little sparrow, the day before, die that way. One second he flitted and dove. The next he lay on his side, on the concrete step, wings extended slightly, feet curled under, and his beady eye closed. And when do birds ever have their eyes closed? 

But those eyes, surprised, spent, drained of that unexplainable light that’s present when the spirit still dwells in the body. Only emptiness stared back at me. That image will haunt me till my dying day. 

Blog Tour and Giveaway March 29th-April 2nd:

Check out my Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY I have running this week with Just Reads Tours.

Facebook:

I’m excited to feature my first multi-author Facebook event on April 10th and 11th. I have 12 other authors as presenters and an artist/writer friend who will be sharing about their work, and we’ll all be giving away two prizes. That’s more than 25 giveaways! 

If you’d like to join the fun and win some free books and prizes, join my Facebook group, Journeying With Jenny. We’d love to have you for the party, but I’m hoping that guests will want to stick around and enjoy the daily posts featuring a schedule of: 

  • Monday Memes
  • To Inspire Tuesday
  • What Are You Reading? Wednesday
  • Thankful Thursday
  • Friday Fun
  • Saturday Share
  • Sunday ‘Son’rise

I hope to see you there! J

I don’t have a review to share today. I’m a little behind on my reading, but I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading. In my Facebook group, Journeying with Jenny, we share what we are reading on Wednesdays. If you’re on Facebook, please join us! The Paris Dressmaker is a lovely historical fiction book, but keeping track of the three timelines is a bit of a challenge.

From the Back Cover:

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquartersBut when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

What are you reading?

The Violets of March is the second book I’ve read by author, Sarah Jio. I really enjoyed this one as much as the last.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review:

The Violets of March, by Sarah Jio

Emily Wilson, an author of a bestselling novel, lacks inspiration. It’s been years since she’s released her last book. That and the ravages of a marriage on the rocks propels Emily to seek calmer shores. 

She visits her Aunt Bea in a old family home on Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington. While there she reconnects with an old flame and throws sparks with Jack, who has his secrets. 

A red velvet diary turns up, and Emily is drawn into the drama of Esther and her entries. But is it fact or fiction? And will it lead her to unravel a family mystery that has plagued her for years? Will the island relinquish its secrets and give Emily the healing and inspiration she needs to be able to write her next bestseller?

With relatable characters, a healthy amount of mystery, and a plot twist only Jio can deliver, The Violets of March exemplifies a short, modern classic, worthy of praise, a haunting and beautifully rendered work of fiction. 

Readers of historical fiction, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, and literary fiction will find themselves caught up in Emily and Esther’s stories and how the past and the present collide. 

Have you read any of Sarah’s book? What are you reading right now?

Happy Reading! J

Today, I am a guest blogger on Vivian MacKade’s blog through my blog tour for Harvest Moon with the Coffeepot Book Club. Here is an excerpt from my post:

I set Harvest Moon during a changing time—the 1860’s through the 80’s—for native populations in Canada and the US and highlighted the historical aspects of reservation life, enforced education, religious missions, and traditional parts of the Ojibwe (pronounced: Oh-jib-way) culture like ricing, medicine, and music. 

Reservation Life and Enforced Education: 

In Ontario before The Indian Act, reservations were mainly set up on a treaty basis, allowing some freedoms of First Nation Peoples (how Canada refers to native, Métis, or Inuit persons) but were prone to defraudment and removal of titles and rights. 

Both my main characters, Maang-ikwe, “Loon Woman”, and Niin-mawin, “She Cries for Him”, must learn from white teachers instead of their own tribal leaders and teachers. Maang-ikwe attends a Jesuit mission school located on the reservation and is able to stay with her family, but in 1876 Canada set into law The Indian Act. 

Niin-mawin, who attends school after this date is removed physically and geographically from his family and must learn to survive boarding school life. Historically many of the First Nation children were neglected or ill-treated at such facilities, as my character experiences. 

The Indian Act, which is defined on The Canadian Encyclopedia as “a number of colonial laws that aimed to eliminate First Nations culture in favor of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society.” Part of implementing this law was removing native children from their homes, where they would be taught the traditions of their people, and establishing them in boarding schools to teach them “white” ways and eradicate their culture. 

These circumstances became a sad and difficult part of the characters’ stories in Harvest Moon, but not one without hope. 

To read the full post on my research and history of the time period, click on the button below.

The full cover reveal for In a Grove of Maples is approaching on April 1st! Stay tuned for more about this first book in my new series: Sheltering Trees.

This is from one review I received back so far:

“In a Grove of Maples: Sheltering Trees by Jenny Knipfer is a heartfelt tale of the struggles of married life on a nineteenth-century farm. Edward and Beryl are both relatable and sympathetic. Knipfer expertly captures the emotion and stress of their lives and relationship. It’s a touching and realistic portrayal of love, loss, and friendship.”

Heather Stockard for READERS’ FAVORITE

Thanks for reading! Blessings on the start of your week, J

While active in a Christian Readers Facebook group, I asked for reading recommendations with humor, and someone recommended this mystery series by New York Times bestselling author, Lorena McCourtney. I loved this book! I connected with Lorena on Facebook, and she agreed to do an interview with me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review: Invisible, By Lorena McCourtney 

Retired Ivy Malone wonders if her age has made her invisible. Feeling washed out and with a risk of fading into the background, Ivy takes up sleuthing, trying to find out who has been pulling over gravestones at a local cemetery. 

In the meantime the mysterious disappearance of her young neighbor, Kendra, has Ivy scouring out clues of her whereabouts. Ivy gains the confidence of a young man in the police department and feeds him what she’s discovered. When a body is uncovered, the danger deepens.

Missing her deceased best friend, Ivy doesn’t protest too much at her friend, Magnolia’s, affinity for pairing Ivy with eligible bachelors. But Ivy doesn’t let any budding friendships deter her from her endeavors to seek out the truth about Kendra. 

Despite the invasion of her privacy and the destruction of her property, gutsy, determined Ivy doesn’t give up and plays her hand until the very end to reveal the grave desecrators and the killer in one swoop.

With dry wit and aplomb, McCourtney skillfully crafts a likable and believable character in Ivy Malone. She grafts Christian faith with mystery in this seamless, entertaining and often humorous read. 

Readers of mysteries, Christian mysteries, and Christian fiction will be delighted and entertained by the capers of Ivy Malone, LOL—“Little Old Lady.” 

My Interview with Lorena:

What started you on the road to writing mysteries? 

I’d already written quite a few romances, both secular and Christian. I put in a murder in one simply as part of the romance plot, and afterward I realized I really liked doing that. I liked the challenge of writing something more than the ups and downs of a romance relationship, and so I changed from making romance the central part of a story to making a mystery the main story. I like reading mysteries too! But I still usually have a little romance in there.

I’ve now had in total fifty books published.

Why did you decide to write Christian mysteries? 

I was already writing the Christian romances, so when I decided to write mysteries it was a natural step to make them Christian mysteries.I want all my books to be entertaining, but adding the faith-based element gives the books – hopefully! – a “take away” value as well.

Please describe your process for writing a mystery. Do you plot it out, knowing what happens prior to writing, or do you go with the flow? Or a little of both?

It’s a little of both. Long ago, when I first started writing, I plotted everything out ahead of time. But I usually found myself deviating from the outline, so now I start with an idea and see where it takes me, what ideas occur to me as I get farther into the book.

In my latest book, “That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles,” (Book#4, The Mac ‘n’ Ivy Mysteries) I started with the idea, what if someone took this saying literally and started thinking a crumbled cookie could really predict the future. A little like some people believe in using tea leaves to tell the future.

Then I had to think, how would Ivy and Mac get involved with this? And, since these are murder mysteries, who’s going to get murdered? Who did it? But I didn’t have all these twists planned ahead of time.

Are you anything like your main character, Ivy Malone?

I never use a complete real-life person as a fictional character, myself included, but I put bits and pieces of various people, including myself, in my characters. I suppose Ivy has more of me in her than any other character I’ve written. Ivy and I are both LOLs (little old ladies) with a feeling that we’ve kind of aged into invisibility. But we’ve both also found that “invisibility” can sometimes be a handy asset.

Ivy, however, is considerably more adventurous than I am and uses her “invisibility” in sleuthing. She does tend to run into dead bodies and killers, which I do not!

Ivy first discovered her “invisibility” in the Ivy Malone Mysteries series (five books, beginning with “Invisible”) and now has advanced into the Mac ‘n’ Ivy Mysteries.

What do you enjoying doing when not writing?

Reading, of course! Isn’t that high on every writer’s list of favorite activities. Lots of times I’ll use it as my reward: get the vacuuming done and then I can read for a while. Although sometimes I read first and then – maybe – do the vacuuming.  I don’t watch much television.

I also like walking for exercise. I’ve never been particularly athletic, but walking doesn’t take much in the way of talent. I’ve always thought that, when the talents were being handed out, that I must have been off reading a book. Because I am very short on talents other than writing/writing. No athletic talent. No musical talent. No artistic talent. Writing is it!

Who’s your favorite author? Favorite book? 

Oh my – I read so many different authors that I can’t really choose one as a favorite. Same with favorite book. However, even with books I’ve really enjoyed, I rarely re-read one. For me, the big pull in reading is – What’s going to happen next? How is this going to end? Because I already know the answers to these questions, I tend to move along to the next book rather than re-reading an earlier one.

I also tend to leave more books unfinished than I used to. When I was younger, I felt obliged, once I’d started a book, to finish reading it. Now I give a book a few chapters, and if it hasn’t captured my interest by then, or if I find something really objectionable in the content, I hit the delete button. (That’s because I tend to read more on my e-reader than in print these days.)

What tips would you offer aspiring authors?

In one word, it would have to be persistence. I guess there are some writers who write a book, hit it big, and then continue with more best-sellers. But not many. I kind of adhere to the old adage, If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

On a more specific basis, I think studying what you’re reading can be useful. If you like a book, why? The characters – are they memorable? The plot – you just  have to keep reading to see what happens? And then study how the author accomplished this.

How would you describe yourself, using five to ten adjectives?

  • Christian
  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Writer
  • Persistent
  • Animal Lover

Thank you!

Thank you so much, Lorena for taking the time to connect with me and answer my questions! It has been a pleasure getting to know more about you! And thank you, Dear Readers and Followers for stopping by my blog to read this interview with Lorena.

It’s been a while since I sat down and let a poem come to me, so last night I focused on what gaining contentment looks like to me. Here is the product of my effort…

Contentment: a poem

I picture contentment

with open arms,

a soft blanket gathering of 

safety, peace, and love, 

a warm stream 

gushing nothing but comfort,

but that’s not the way it is.

****

It’s more like a treasure hunt,

finding the gems amidst the fake,

among the thorns, and 

alongside the ordinary. 

A reflected smile, 

a velvety rose petal,

the slant of the morning sun

through the leaded glass window, 

making rainbows 

where none existed seconds before. 

****

Always looking,

always searching,

soothing my soul

with the beauty 

of simple things

I can be grateful for.

****

Contentment 

doesn’t fall in my lap,

like manna from above;

no, I build it, brick by brick,

room by room,

and thought by thought.

Until one day it shelters me

and feeds my spirit.

****

A nest, a mansion, 

a cloud, an embrace,

a flower, those puppy kisses—

these are my building blocks,

my simple tools,

to construct a life of being content,

satisfied

rather than one of greedy fear, 

of not having

or being enough.

Jenny Knipfer (c) 2021

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for taking a few minuets to read my poem. I hope it spoke to you. If if did, please leave a comment.

Also, my book, Harvest Moon, is on a blog tour. This week’s stop is at The Whispering Bookworm, where you see details of the tour and can read a brief interview with me about the book.

Blessings, J

%d bloggers like this: