Jenny Knipfer Author

Jenny shares her books, inspiration, and thoughts on life and writing.

Ruby the dog

I tell myself, “Some days it’s okay to grieve.” I can’t hold my sadness back every day. Heck, most days sadness doesn’t register on my emotional barometer. But when too many moments string themselves together—in which I’m brutally reminded of no longer being able to do what I once did—and hit me, I fall. Into grieving. Into sadness. It’s a process that I don’t know if I’ll ever be done with. 

Today the sun peeks through the clouds, and the wind sashays the trees to a light howling whine. This is the kind of day I’d like to go for a walk with Ruby, my doggie companion. I envision rounding the curve of the walking trail where the earth meets the sky and imagined, magical possibilities await me. When we would crest the hill, the usual panoramic view appeared, and the wind against my face always felt like a kiss from God. 

I must remember and imagine this scene now, because my legs can’t take me there anymore. Some days I barely manage to totter around the house. 

I allow myself to mourn, but not for long. I must live life. I choose not to heavily dwell on what has been lost. How do I turn it around? One word: gratitude.

I count my blessings for what I can still experience. I can see the clouds and trees and the evidence of the wind upon them. I can feel the windy kiss on my cheek even if I’m only sitting on the deck in a chair. I can hear the sound of the wind through the tree branches, howling a low whine like a ghosts wail. I can imagine making it up the hill, Ruby ahead of me pulling on the leash.

Gratitude makes even the grieving days manageable. Whatever grief you might be experiencing or remembering today, I hope you can form it into gratitude instead.

Blessings, J.

I haven’t shared much about my books here on my blog, but I thought today I would share the first couple of pages with you. Blue Moon is the second in the series: By the Light of the Moon. It follows the story of Vanessa and Valerie, identical twin sisters. At the core, it is a tale about forgiveness and what unites and divides them as sisters.

June 7th, 1895
A half hour before midnight
Tamarack Grove
Toronto, Ontario


“Come. We must be quiet.” I motion to the lad as I kneel next to his bed.


“Is this part of our game?” Luis looks up at me. His sleepy eyes appear to hold doubt that his auntie wants to play at this hour.

Oui, but we must be quiet. Yes? Juliet, Maman, and Papa will not understand.” I’m clothed in a plain, black gown, and a black, netted cap confines my dark hair. The full moon shines through the nursery window. Luis searches my face for a moment and seems satisfied with what he sees in the reflection of my eyes. He quickly rises and does my bidding.

The large estate of his home offers unlimited fodder for outdoor games of all types. All his favorite games involve adventure. We’ve been reading Treasure Island together, and I often encourage his playfulness. I hope he goes along with my charade, a secret, promised excursion.

“Where are we going?” Luis asks as he pulls on his trousers, with excitement in his voice. He tears off his nightshirt and yanks on the shirt and sweater I offer him. His pupils widen in the dim light as he questions me.

“Don’t forget your shoes.” I hold up a pair of stylish, black leather boots to the boy before me. Luis snatches the boots, steps into them, and trusses up his feet with their laces.

“Now what?” he demands.


I grab the carpet bag at my feet, which contains some of his clothes I had packed earlier in the day and hidden under his bed. I pluck his still warm stuffed elephant out of his cozy nest of sleep and add it to the stash. Luis should be past the age for stuffed toys, but he still loves Elephant. I encase Luis’s warm hand in my cool, clammy one and proclaim, “Now our adventure begins.”

I lead him with whispers and light steps out of his room through the hall, down the stairs and out the library window, which I’ve left open. He follows me. I’ll keep up the pretense until we are safely stowed away on the train tomorrow morning, which will take us to Lake Huron’s shore. There, a steamer awaits to take us to our inheritance across two Great Lakes.

When far enough away, I will tell Luis. I hope his ten-year- old heart can forgive me.

Chapter One

March 7th, 1885
Ten years prior
Provence, France


“Vanessa . . .? Vanessa, please.” Valerie spoke the words with a pleading tone. “Don’t you want to look?” Valerie—Vanessa’s identical twin—touched Vanessa’s shoulder with a light hand.

If Vanessa had a dollar for every time people had told her and her sister how identical they truly were, she’d be rich. Valerie’s dark, wavy hair mirrored Vanessa’s, and Vanessa’s dark chocolate eyes matched the exact shade of Valerie’s.

Vanessa brought a hand up to her face and ran her fingers over the contours there. “You and Valerie were sculpted from the same lump of clay.” How many times had Vanessa heard her maman say those words? Too many. Vanessa sighed.

Vanessa knew no way of separating herself from her sister, at least physically. When she looked in the mirror, she saw Valerie. Even their temperaments were alike—pliable but with an inner, stubborn backbone, cheerful but never giddy, and caring but with reserve. As children, they had the same favorite toys, stories, and clothes.

Why can’t I have just one thing I claim to be mine? But now Valerie has him too. Vanessa closed her eyes and shut out the cracked wall with the chipped, butter-yellow paint, the peaceful room, and the morning sun. She tried to imagine a different world, one where she could have what was hers, but that world did not exist.

The bond tying her and Valerie together had almost eroded. Vanessa remembered how emotionally connected they once were. When sadness or cheer touched Vanessa, inevitably Valerie experienced the same, even if they were not together. Some special frequency irrevocably linked their emotions. The frequency had a rift in it now, for Valerie didn’t know the searing grief Vanessa knew—the pain of handing over her child to Valerie and relinquishing her right as his mother.

This thing called motherhood made them unique, made them individuals. Vanessa and Valerie were identical in every way, except one. Valerie had been deemed barren, and Vanessa fruitful.

But which one of us bears the curse and which the blessing? Oh, Vanessa knew; she bore the curse, at least according to her papa . . .

This week I have multiple roles to play, engagements to line up, sewing projects to finish, social book promotions to post, books—yes plural— to read, a notebook sheet full of author chores to do, meals to cook, laundry to do, and the list goes on.

So . . . my post is short today. I’ll open your day with a haiku. 

Petals red yellow

Summer’s brightness in a bloom

Cheering, feeding life

Blessings, J

When I write I commit a cardinal writing sin . . ., apparently. I use adverbs. Shocking, I know. I like them, particularly the ones ending in ‘ly’. Let me explain . . .

I design jewelry, flower arrangements, quilts, bags/pouches, and I use words to write stories. In all of these creative avenues, it’s like seeing a sculpture and calling it forth from lone components to craft something unique. When I design I’ve found this philosophy to be true—art is in the details. It’s a little flourish here or there, making a certain work stick out from the crowd. That’s why I include adverbs in my written work. They act as a flare, giving a word more illumination. 

What exactly is an adverb? I found this definition online: a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).

Some critics say adverbs weaken your work. They say, “Choose a strong verb instead.” I agree meaty verbs should be used. But give me a well-placed old fashioned adverb, and you’ve handed me a richer way to experience what I read. 

For instance take these paragraphs, which I pulled out of my current work in progress set in rural WI in the 1890’s. In this scene one of the main characters, Beryl Massart, visits the general store in town . . . 

—“So you’re the ones that dun bought ol’ Oliver’s place.” An ancient looking man with gold wire rimmed glasses set midway upon his crooked nose looked up at Beryl with rheumy eyes. He said the word ‘old’ contemptuously, as if he were a young man. Stepping closer, he squinted at her. Beryl took a step back. Her rump bumped against a barrel of flour preventing retreat.

“Had the sweetwater disease he did.” The man shook his head in a slow sorrowful way. “Good man. Good family. They had to move back to Illinois to her folks after his passin’.” He pushed his glasses higher up his nose and blinked. “Heard o’ the Massart name roundabouts.”

Beryl still hadn’t spoken a word. It flabbergasted her how the strange man seemed to know her and Edward. 

“Grandfather.” A young woman appearing similar in age to Beryl approached them with a quick step, her blue eyes bright. “I think you’ve caught Mme. Massart at a disadvantage.” She reached up and patted her raven hair, which plumed out plumply from beneath a wine colored hat; the thinly striped shirtwaist she wore matched. The tone of her skin shone with an iridescent, alabaster sheen, opaque enough for Beryl to see the delicate blue network of lacy veins in her wrist.—

I could get by without the healthy amount of adverbs in that portion of my manuscript, but to me they add more detail and paint a richer picture. Someone else may say they encumber the story, and that could be true. Too much of a good thing can be burdensome. I think the use or not of adverbs boils down to personal taste. I enjoy a dense chewy story that uses all the parts of speech. It’s like digesting a well-balanced meal. 

So here’s to adverbs. Love or hate ’em. 

Blessings,

J

I never thought I would say this, but I miss helping my father grow vegetables in the garden. I’ve tried my hand at veggies patches over the years, but they could not hold a candle to what my father could muster. Frustration rose in me as weeds took over my attempts at gardening. I tallied some semi-successes now and then. Those related to how well the tiller operated or not, and whether I tolerated the heat, bugs, and a bent back or sore knees. 

Flower gardening, however, I found much more to my liking. I edged the perimeter of our house with a thick skirt of perennials: hostas, lambs ear, lilies of the valley, coral bells, coneflowers, sedum, iris, peonies, astilbe, and more. They came back year after year and generally required less of a commitment in the hot summer sun. Granted you can’t make a meal of flowers. 

Now–even if I wanted to–I can’t be out in the hot sun or bend over and weed a vegetable patch. I have deck boxes which I fill with plants with the help of my family. They are easy to tend and are a way for me to watch something grow and enjoy a small taste of homegrown veg. This year I have herbs, a few vegetables, colorful foliage plants, and flowers. For me gardening traditionally is a thing of the past, but some days I long to trudge through the dirt and clean the weeds out of a row of cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, peas, or beans and have the sense that I accomplished something valuable. Growing vegetables and fruits for consumption fulfills one of life’s basic needs: food.

Another Valuable Life Lesson

Growing food can mean more than having something to eat. On the farm as a family, we grew cucumbers to take to the local pickling factory in the summertime. This was not a small patch but acres, which we picked by hand. I had a perpetual sore back from my bent position, and in the gap between my shirt and shorts, I had a permanent burn/tan line. This gave us extra money to purchase necessities but also have some spending money for fun items we wanted.

I think one year my siblings bought their first snowmobile from the money they made from picking “pickles”. Another year when it was just my father and me out in the field picking a much smaller planted area, I used my share of the money to purchase school clothes. Out of the Sears catalog I picked one particle outfit: a cotton candy pink, name-brand button down shirt, a gray and pink Argyle vest, and a pair of Guess jeans. I didn’t usually have the luxury of purchasing trendy, name-brand clothing. I remember wearing that outfit and others with pride, because I’d earned the money myself. As a middle-schooler I learned the end result of hard work.

In addition to growing and tending acres of cucumbers on our farm, our vegetable patch was significant. Rows of corn, peas, beans, carrots, lettuce, radish, onions, cabbage, rutabaga, tomatoes, and spinach had to be weeded, plus all the veggies and fruits planted in small mounds of dirt, like summer and winter squash, potatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe. Dad planted stands of raspberries and beds of strawberries too.

I miss sitting down to eat a meal wholly consisting of the food I helped grow. Even most of the bread I ate as a kid came from wheat my dad grew. I remember store bought food on our table too, probably more than my siblings do, being the youngest, but most of our meals were made from scratch with whole, homegrown foods. 

My parents blessed me to give me that kind upbringing—knowing the taste of one’s labor. It made me the person I am today, being willing to work hard for what I need, what I want. I thank my dad, for teaching me some valuable lessons through the veg patch. I’ll always grow and tend some kinds of plants in memory of him for all things he helped grow in my life.

I see that kind of work ethic in my own children. You always breathe a sigh of relief as a parent when something positive you’ve been taught leaks through into your kid’s choices. I hope I also inspire positive growth in the other lives around me from the lessons I gleaned. The real lesson that my folks taught me—love’s labor is always worth it. 

Blessings,

J

I have four novels in various stages of editing, but my current writing project occupies my evenings, when I write. The story springs from my heart and mind. I imagine a historical fiction series loosely based on my grandparent’s life, and what it was like for them to farmstead in Wisconsin.

The series names will all have trees in the titles. The first will be- In a Grove of Maples. I’m writing in first and third person (my usual style), but this time I’m limiting perspectives to only two people, Beryl and Edward, whose relationship will face physical and emotional trials. They will have to figure out what it really means to love someone.

I found this poem that I wrote years ago when I dug through some old files in my computer. I think it the perfect piece to preface Beryl and Edward’s love story.

The Heart of the Matter

The heart of the matter
that keeps us together
humble love
that is more about you than me

A mutual stretching of arms
that protects in life’s storms
light house love
that watches out for each other

The breath of an artist
that bends hot glass
shaping love
that uses the flame to form beauty

An eye in the darkness
that sees through life’s stresses
hopeful love
that gives faith in the midst of uncertainty

The steady spin of the day
that moves us on our way
lasting love
that is as sure as the dawn

I wrote this poem years ago when I felt separated by my own inhibitions from the world I lived in. I struggled to try to see past what kept me secluded. This poem was an honest attempt to describe my thoughts.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same place at one time or another. Perhaps you wondered just how well you fit into the world around you. I’m here to tell you to be brave. Open whatever door maybe restraining and live to the fullest. Aim for something you’ve always wanted to do. Check off a bucket list item. Try a new hobby. Join that group. Write the story. You can do it! Live past what holds you down.

Blessings,

J

Screen Door Life

I see

      Through the screen door

A world separate 

But still breathing

      The same air

      The same scent

I feel

       The wind upon my thoughts

Bringing rain

Drops of water

Filling the small checked squares

Like a million tiny windows

Windows

A door

         Framing a place

        I can see

                     Hear

                           And sense

But not fully experience

A screen door life

                      Looking through things

                     Instead of being in them

Take courage

                  Swing the door open

                  Step through

And live

We all like a good ending. In books. In life. But what defines good to you? To me? I think the ending of the book is more important than the beginning. Granted the start of a book has to pull me in as a reader, but if the story doesn’t wrap up neatly, I call it a loss. I can think of a number of books and movies which left me wondering why I wasted hours of my time engrossed in them. 

I currently ponder good endings because I approach the last chapter of my work in progress. It’s not your typical guy gets girl, or vise versa, ending. Much heartache emerged on the page. I cried for my main character while writing her story. I can’t end the book without hope, however, without her finding meaning. I don’t expect a Cinderella ending. In real life you don’t always get to be with the person you fall in love with. Maybe you never had a person to fall in love with. Perhaps sickness comes to call on you or your loved ones. Tragedy may strike and you lose your house, job, friends, children, or spouse. 

For me a good ending requires completion. No loose ends should dangle like tails of yarn on a crocheted blanket waiting to be tucked into the weave of the pattern. Have the characters grown? Did they find what they sought? Have they come to some conclusions? 

Of course I’d like my characters to be happy. Again what defines happiness? The fulfillment of our desires? Maybe. I propose it’s more than that. I see happiness and purpose cohabiting. How do you know what your purpose is? It’s a big question, which leads to another . . . What do you believe? 

Are we here on this planet to live for ourselves? Are we here to carry out some duty or job? Are we here by divine appointment or by accident? If you are human, I guarantee you’ve asked or will ask the question, “Why am I here?” We all must struggle to answer that. 

For me it comes down to this—I’m here because my parents chose to trust in God. I was supposed to be born “a vegetable,” at least according to my mother’s doctor, who advised my mother (for medical reasons) to have an abortion while pregnant with me. My life was threatened to be squelched before I’d even drawn a breath, my character written off before I even entered a scene. I began questionable and rocky, but good news! I’m not an eggplant reclining on a bed somewhere. I’m a functioning—with interruptions from MS at times—person with creativity, spirit, and a lot to give. 

When I think of my purpose, I think of creating, of giving. I must create, or I will die. In my creating I hope to bless, inspire, and encourage others along the way. It’s why I blog. It’s why I work hard to publish and market my novels. I want to pass on the light and hope I’ve been given.

As I write this, I remember a wonderful lady who recently passed on. She touched so many lives by her kindness and helping hands. I don’t know how her story started, but I know how it ended—well. She watered a garden of souls by her generous spirit, and in turn, each of those have watered others. 

I firmly believe it doesn’t really matter how you start life, but you’ll be remembered by how you end. It’s the good or not which defines us. I’m inspired now to finish my latest tale. I know what drives my character and what she believes her purpose is.

This verse from Ecclesiastes 7:1 states, “A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”

Here’s to good endings. 

J

Today I’m shouting out for a helping hand. Being an indie author challenges me more than I imagined it would. I don’t have an agent, publisher, or publicist to do some of the work for me. It all falls on my shoulders. At times it’s a heavy load. I’m still glad I chose this route, though. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself kind of person. I enjoy the many different aspects, from design to PR, but it wears me out. 

The many insights I have gleaned these last few months have cleared the field considerably. I have a better vision for where I want to be as an author and a little more direction on how to get there. I hope to publish my second novel soon, and I’ve learned a few things this time around. One being the need for advanced readers and a launch team. 

Thus my plea today. Would you consider joining my launch team? This is for you if:

  1. You read historical Christian fiction.
  2. You’re looking for a book out of the ordinary. 
  3. You like to post on social media about what you’re reading. 
  4. You like to get free books. 
  5. You like to share what you’re reading with others. 

As a part of my launch team you will receive: a free proof copy of Blue Moon, free promo materials to pass out to friends, family, co-workers etc., and a free handmade gift.

What I’m asking to receive from my launch team:  your opinion and eye for holes and flaws, reviews on Goodreads, Facebook, and Amazon, and posts on your social media platforms about Blue Moon. 

Read the synopsis here. Listen to the prologue here. If interested, use the contact tab and send me a message. I hope to hear from you!

Near Gooseberry Falls in MN

My heartbeat throbs in my left ear as if I’m hearing it’s pulse underwater, coughing ravages my throat raw, and I imagine my head as a ginormous stuffed mushroom. The slick taste of menthol cough drops coat my tongue. All this from—a summer cold. 

I rarely get a cold, but when I do, it debilitates me. My other health conditions usually become exaggerated. My fatigue worsens. A chronic state of serious snail sluggishness becomes my norm for a while. 

I used to get so upset with my weak body and its failings, but now I have learned to slow down when illness comes calling. I was always the type of person—the mom—who would push through how crappy I felt to accomplish my everyday tasks and take care of everyone else. Now I do not have that luxury. When my body says, “You must rest,” I rest. 

The chores will still be there tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after that. If I don’t listen, I pay for it. I can no longer push through the pain and fatigue of illness. When I have, I’ve had my feet knocked out from under me. You know the feeling of getting the wind knocked out of you? Well, that’s pretty much what happens when I don’t listen to the whispered caution in my ear . . .  “Go rest, or you’ll regret it.” “Put your feet up, and sit in the recliner for a while.” Or my favorite which comes after my disobedience, “I told you so, you fool.”

Sigh . . . I have a long list of projects I need to accomplish this week, connections I need to make to get my novel, Ruby Moon, out there in my corner of the world, but I have a fairly clear idea that those will have to be set aside. 

I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. (Thank God.) We have an inner voice for a reason. I believe we have all manner of inner voices vying for our attention. Some of which are prone to lead us astray, but I’m talking about the one which cautions us. It may be prompted by:  the voice of God, our past experience come to speak its mind, or what we call our conscience voice or reason. Whatever it may be, I’ve learned to attune my ears to it. 

Do you listen to your inner voice of caution? What does it caution you about? For me it’s usually something health related. A few times it’s been relationship based. Ya, I won’t go into that one. It’s for another post. When I refuse to listen to my inner CAUTION voice shouting, things go awry. In fact I can’t think of one time life worked out better when I chose not to listen. Can you? 

I think I’ll sit in my chair and do a mediation exercise today with the picture of the waterfalls in my mind. I’ve gotten out of the practice, and it will foster an atmosphere for healing to begin.  Because really, doesn’t all healing begin in the mind? 

Blessings, J

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