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.

Today, as a part of the Coffee Pot Book Club, I am happy to be hosting a stop on the book tour for Raleigh–Tudor Adventurer, by Tony Riches.

Book Title: Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer * Series: The Elizabethan Series, Book 3 * Author: Tony Riches * Publication Date: 1st May 2022 * Publisher: Preseli Press * Page Length: 332 Pages * Genre: Historical Fiction

BLURB:

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

EXCERPT:

Westminster Palace

July 1580

Sir Francis Walsingham gestured to me to sit, and returned to studying his papers. I’d never been inside Westminster Palace before, and was surprised at the plainness of his office. His desk was empty except for an inkstand and the papers in front of him. The tapestries on the walls were faded relics from another age.

His trimmed beard was tinged with grey and he dressed in black with an outdated figure-of-eight ruff. I noted the hem of his sleeve was frayed and repaired. It seemed impossible such an influential and powerful man might be short of money, and I guessed that, unlike me, he had no concern for what he wore.

His terse note summoning me to see him offered no clue as to the reason. I expected to finally account to the queen’s principal secretary for the ruin of the Falcon. I had no idea what the punishment might be, but was so deep in debt a fine would be of little consequence.

‘It seems you’ve been making quite a nuisance of yourself since your return, Master Raleigh.’

His softly spoken voice sounded more sinister than if he’d shouted and, for once, I hesitated to spring to my own defence. I’d been restless since landing at Plymouth, fallen in with the wrong company and turned to drink to forget the burden of guilt.

‘Nothing to say?’ Sir Francis raised an eyebrow. ‘I was told you are something of a poet.’

‘I’ve been unwell, sir, after contracting a fever at sea.’

He looked through his papers. ‘There is the matter of oranges, stolen from a Spanish merchant ship in Dartmouth.’

‘I swear I had no part in that, sir.’

‘The Privy Council believes you did, but I’m sure the Spanish can spare a few oranges.’

I smiled at his understatement, beginning to like him, despite my dire situation. Some members of the impoverished Falcon crew had taken the Spanish merchant ship one moonless night. They sailed her to Torbay, and sold her valuable cargo of ripe fruit before the alarm was raised.

Sir Francis turned his papers to the next page. ‘You were summoned again to the Privy Council, and sent to the Fleet prison for a week for fighting with Sir Thomas Perrot.’ His eyes narrowed. ‘You know Her Majesty’s views on duelling?’

‘It wasn’t a duel, sir. Thomas Perrot was also sentenced to the Fleet, so the Privy Council understood the fault was not entirely mine. He offended me, and I demanded his apology.’

‘Sir Thomas Perrot is well known for his ability to give offence. If I were to demand an apology from every man who offended me, I would be busy indeed.’ He read the next page and looked up at me. ‘You were then committed to Marshalsea prison for fighting in the street and wounding a man named Edward Wingfield.’ He frowned. ‘You were released from the Fleet on a good conduct bond from the Privy Council.’

My hand formed a fist at the memory. ‘I was set upon by Perrot’s friends, who lay in wait to ambush me as I walked here in Westminster. I believed they intended to murder me, sir.’

‘This was the third time you’ve been before the Privy Council in as many months.’ Sir Francis leaned forwards in his chair, fixing me with his intense stare. ‘What are we to do with you, Master Raleigh?’

I had no answer for him and sat in dejected silence, waiting to hear my punishment. I cursed my bad luck. Things could not be much worse. My reputation was destroyed, and I’d come to the Privy Council’s notice once too often, through no fault of my own.

Sir Francis smiled, for the first time. ‘You are fortunate that I see some of your redeeming qualities. You are the only commander who refused to abandon Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s expedition. I also hear you’ve proved a natural leader, and an able ship’s captain.’

My conscience urged me to point out that half of my crew failed to return, but I recalled that Simon Fernandez was Sir Francis Walsingham’s man. We’d formed an unexpected bond, and he would have given the queen’s spymaster a colourful account of my part in our voyage.

Sir Francis didn’t wait for my answer. ‘The Spanish believe Ireland is our Achilles heel and are plotting another revolt. We’re sending reinforcements, and you will have a Crown commission of the rank of captain, and an opportunity to redeem yourself.’

It sounded like an order, but my mind filled with the possibilities of a new adventure. My brother had been knighted for his service in Ireland. I could become one of Walsingham’s men, part of his network of trusted informers, put my past behind me and win my longed-for place at court.

‘I would be honoured, sir.’

He nodded. ‘A hundred men have been mustered here in London. You will take them to Cork, and report to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord Grey of Wilton.’ He spoke as if I had no choice, leaving me wondering whether this was my punishment, or a test.

PURCHASE:

Available on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: mybook.to/Raleigh

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09Z98J183

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Z98J183

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09Z98J183

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09Z98J183

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors’ podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Blog: https://tonyriches.blogspot.com/

Website: https://www.tonyriches.com/

Podcast: https://tonyriches.podbean.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyriches

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyriches.author/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tonyriches

THANKS:

Thanks for reading and congratulations, Tony on your book!

My novella, Violet’s Vow is on tour this month. On today’s stop–and with a healthy dose of imagination–my main character, flower shop owner Violet Brooks, is chatting with author Amy Walsh on her blog in her character cafe.

FOR FUN

Violet’s Closet:

In the story Violet works in her shop, visits family, does business around town, and goes on several dates. Which outfit would you choose for her to meet a gentleman for lunch? How about work?

READ AN EXCERPT

Violet stood along with her customers and said, as she walked them to the door, “I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again soon. Thank you so much for stopping in and for your business. I look forward to creating something special for your wedding, Miss Moore.”

Extending her hand, Violet shook Miss Moore’s. 

He turned and left, closing the door softly behind him, leaving a whiff of clove and bergamot behind him.

Miss Moore flashed another winning smile Violet’s way. “It is I who should thank you for your expertise. I will inform you as soon as I can about my availability. Good day.”

With a spring in her step, she walked out of the shop door, which Mr. Moore held open.

Still leaning against the door, he caught Violet’s gaze. “Forgive my saying so, but you seem the semblance of your namesake.”

He cleared his throat and dropped his gaze a second, as if repenting of speaking.

Violet did see herself as reserved and holding a quiet beauty, of a kind, which the botanical violet was said to be known for. Roger had always said so.

She took Mr. Moore’s words as a compliment—though Violet would rather have been perceived as something more exotic than the modest and humble violet—and replied simply, “Why, thank you.”

He lifted his forget-me-not eyes again and tipped his head toward her. “Not at all.” A reserved smile arched his lips. “Good day, Mrs. Brooks.”

Through the glass panes of the front window, Violet watched niece and uncle amble away from the shop, arm in arm. Not one to form attachments easily, a slight sadness picked at Violet.

It would be nice to have the cheery company of Miss Moore in the shop, she decided, and she began to hope Miss Moore’s fiancé would agree to their employment scheme.

Expelling a large breath, Violet turned and walked back to her worktable to finish the arrangement she’d been making before the Moores had walked into Fragrant Sentiments, undeniably brightening her day. She whistled as she nestled carnations next to voluptuous branches of lilacs and pictured Mr. Moore’s forget-me-not eyes. 

THANKS FOR READING!

Thanks for reading more about Violet. Just for curiosity’s sake… What kind of eyes do you find dreamy? Violet clearly has a thing for Devon Moore’s baby blues.

A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY:

For newsletter subscribers this next season, I am offering a chance to receive a packet of note cards designed by me with the theme of Violet’s Vow in mind. I will choose one winner in August. SIGN UP HERE.

It’s cover reveal day, and I’m super happy to show off this lovely lady, ON BUR OAK RIDGE, the third book in my SHELTERING TREES SERIES. Molly, one of the main characters is set against the backdrop of the view from the top of the ridge on the farm my husband and I live on.

BOOK DETAILS

“The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.Readers’ Favorite five-star review 

A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face. 

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel–seeing past Molly’s scars–draws her out of her self-protective shell. 

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding what’s his. 

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in God’s plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past?  

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical romance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love. 

“A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of life’s harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss.” 

Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series

“A beautifully written portrait of the past, and dramatic historical fiction at its best. A slow-burning romance with dual narration for a fully immersive experience. This story feels archetype, unfolding with exquisite execution.” Self-Publishing Review, five-star review

AN EXCERPT:

Samuel

I pause in my writing, sensing something or someone. I look up from my journal into the eyes of Mrs. Lund. My cheeks blush warm; she has caught me writing and thinking about her. I quickly slap my journal closed.

Her good eye focuses on me. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

I swallow, trying to settle my nerves. “Didn’t expect anyone, that’s for sure.”

She looks over the scenery, a faint, rough edge to her tone. “A good day for a stroll.”

“Yes.” I look down and notice King, the Nelsons’ pet blonde Labrador, at her heels. King, congenial to most people, has taken a special liking to Mrs. Lund. I remember my manners. “Care to sit?” I ask, and I move over on the slatted bench to make room.

Her hand flutters to her neck, wrapped in a colorful, crocheted scarf.

“I…suppose,” she answers without much certainty behind her words.

She sits on the edge of the bench, leaving some space between our legs.

What do we talk about?

I regret asking her to sit. Presently, my mind doesn’t dwell on conversing but on writing, and I can’t very well talk with her about what I’ve written in my journal. Or can I?

She releases me of the initial duty. “Did you grow up on a farm?”

She gives me the briefest of looks and focuses back on the rolling hills to the north. King slumps at her feet, unperturbed by the interruption in their walk.

“Yes. A dairy.” How much should I tell her? “You?” I ask.

She keeps her gaze straight ahead, but I notice how she nervously picks at the hemline of her blue, wool blazer. “No. My pa was a lumberjack and my ma a washerwoman. I took after my ma.”

I sense there’s more to her upbringing.

“Oh? How so?” I ask, hoping to draw her out.

I desire to know more about this mysterious woman with a

past as veiled as her face.

She sighs heavily. “I married a man like my father and got

hired on at the hotel where my mother worked.”

“And…your husband did not move to Menomonie with

you?” I inquire.

She intakes a sharp breath. Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry,” I reassure her.

“No. I am sure you are curious about my…situation.” She

turns and slants a short-lived smile at me, looking almost mischievous. “I would be.” She pauses and appears to be thinking. “To tell you the truth, I’ve not seen my husband for over five years. I believe that he’s dead. Jacob left me after…” She doesn’t continue but bows her head and clenches the fingers on her left hand into a fist. With her right she reaches for the scarred side of her face. “Well, after the accident.”

I nod, not knowing whether to keep asking questions or not. Maybe if I offer something more personal, she might be more comfortable sharing those sorts of details about her life with

me.

“I was…to take over the home farm after my father died. Even though in his will he left the place to Mother. Plans were that I would operate the farm. But, unexpectedly,” I tilt my head and navigate how to proceed, “my mother remarried, and the farm is now in her husband’s name.”

I don’t tell her that my mother’s husband is dead and that it’s my fault. That’s too heavy. Too much.

She turns a sympathetic eye my way. “I’m sorry to hear that. It must be very difficult.”

I nod and agree. “It was. Is.” I switch the heat off myself. “But what about you? Why did you move from northern Wisconsin to Menomonie? And how did you and Mabel meet?”

“Ah, well. That’s a long story.” She smiles, slow and sad. “But I don’t want to ruin this pleasant afternoon with my misfortunes.”

“Well, it should be ‘tit for tat.’ We can share the unpleasantness.”

On a whim I wink at her. She responds with a blooming blush on her smooth, ivory cheek.

“Let’s just say ill-fortune led me to Menomonie, and I met Mabel through her sister, Robin, whom I…gardened with. And Mabel has been asking me to come visit for quite some time. I finally agreed.”

Her voice sounds scratchier, and she coughs.

I offer my canteen of water to her, unscrewing the cap. “Here, take a drink.”

She takes it, and our fingers brush; hers are icy cold. I’d like to wrap them in the shelter of mine, which, I’m sure, are many degrees warmer.

“Um, thank you,” Mrs. Lund says.

She tips the canteen back, drinks, wipes her mouth, smiles, and hands it back to me. I take it, affixing the cap.

I search her good eye for the truth. “Are you glad you’ve come?” She nods like a happy child. “Yes.”

“Me too,” I tell her, and we sit in silence for a few moments,

watching a flock of blackbirds swoop and dive and land in the branches of a nearby oak.

Their cackle reaches an annoying decibel and severs the companionable link we share.

I stand, sling the canteen on my shoulder, tuck my journal in my large coat pocket, and offer my elbow to her. “Can I escort you back to the house, Mrs. Lund?”

A half-smile appears on her face. “I’d like that. Thank you. And you must call me Molly.”

THANK YOU!

Thanks for reading this excerpt from ON BUR OAK RIDGE. I hope you enjoyed it! Have a great week, and I’ll be back next week with more about my writing process for the novel.

The cover reveal and pre-order link is coming on June 1st for my next full-length novel and the third in the Sheltering Trees series: On Bur Oak Ridge. This is a sneak-peek. I also thought I’d offer an excerpt from the book today. 

Interesting fact—I set this novel on the farm my husband and I live on, and the background picture for the cover is one that I took from the top of our ridge, where in fact bur oak trees grow; thus the title. 

The story is told in two first person perspectives: Molly’s and Samuel’s. Molly is a woman carrying emotional and physical scars. She thinks love is past her, gone with her husband who abandoned her. Samuel is a man carrying some emotional wounds and grief over something that he contributed to. 

The two of them find themselves drawn to each other, recognizing and understanding the deep pain each of them have gone through. A friendship results, but could it ever become something more? 

Excerpt: 

Molly

With a low creak the front door opens, and the men walk in. I turn my back to them and move to place the boiled dinner Mabel and I made in the middle of the table. Rashly, I lift up the handle of the cast-iron pot, forgetting it’s hot. I drop the handle and it clunks against the side of the pot.

“Yow!” I can’t help uttering.

I shake my hand, trying to flap away the pain, red marks blooming on the underside of my middle fingers.

Mr. Woodson steps forward and grabs a tea towel to lift the pot to the table.

“Let me,” his low voice rumbles out.

I keep my eyes lowered as I offer him a “Thank you.”

I don’t need to say more.

Mabel holds her hand out to me, motioning with her fingers, demanding my burning hand. “Oh dear. Let me see.” I don’t resist and place my hand, palm-up, in hers.

“Oooh, that might leave a welt.” Mabel drops my hand and

steps toward the icebox. “I’ll chip off some ice to place on it. Sit down at the table.”

I obey. Lincoln steps closer to his wife.

“Should we do the same, Mae? Is supper ready?” he asks, using his pet name for Mabel, concern present in his tone.

“Surely. Take your seats. This won’t take but a minute, and then you can say the blessing,” Mabel says with confidence.

While she chips at some ice with an ice pick, we all sit, looking a bit uncomfortable. Lincoln watches me with what I imagine is genuine care.

Mr. Woodson, Samuel, folds and unfolds his fingers over the top of his plate and clears his throat several times, yet retains his thoughts and his gaze. It gives me the opportunity to study him. He wears his ash-blond hair long, but his face sports no facial hair. His eyes are wide and well-set but not shrunken. Because of his downcast gaze or the candlelight, I cannot decipher what shade they are. The oval shape of his face puts me in mind of more feminine features, but his strong brow and prominent jaw are decisively masculine. Altogether, he presents a pleasing figure.

Mr. Woodson suddenly glances up, as if he can read my thoughts.

I instantly drop my inspection of him and turn my face, so my good side is to him. My neck begins to prick and itch, and I look at Mabel, begging her to hurry up. She gathers the ice shards in a flour-sack towel, folds it several times, and hands it to me.

“There. You rest your hand on that; it should start to feel better soon. After dinner, I can put some balsam of myrrh on the burn.”

I gulp, swallowing the word “burn.”

I know about burns. I’ve lived through them. Almost died from them.

Mabel’s eyes widen, and she holds perfectly still, a fly caught in a word-web. “I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t think…”

Her eyes glisten with the brown, gold-flecked sheen of sand- polished ironstone.

“It’s…”

I want to reassure my friend that I’ve put the past behind me and that it no longer has the power to scar me. But I’m unsure. Perhaps it still does.

Thanks for reading!

Do you wonder what Molly’s story is? Why do you think the word “burn” bothers her so much?

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to work in a flower shop? Well, read on for a little bit about my time as a designer working in a local flower shop. In my upcoming novella Violet’s Vow, I drew from my experiences in writing the flower shop scenes in Violet’s shop, Fragrant Sentiments. 

My Flower Shop Days:

I greatly enjoyed working with flowers and getting to create beautiful arrangements. I especially took fulfillment in creating unique pieces for funerals. Often, I prayed as I designed them, for the families who were grieving the loss of their loved ones and for the one who had passed on. I found it a privilege to be able to bless the families in that way with something a little extra special to help them remember their loved ones.

One of the best things about working with flowers was being able to create my own designs. Although, I often had to copy designs that were on the website or in a book. It brought me joy when I had the freedom to create a designer’s choice arrangement. Maybe, the customer would select the colors they wanted, the size, or style, but I got to choose the overall elements of the arrangement and let my creativity flow. That thrilled me!

I also relished unpacking giftware. It always seemed a little like Christmas on those days. (Insert a happy face here!) 

However, working in a flower shop is not all roses, hearts, and sweet things. Anytime you work in retail, you must deal with the public, and sometimes people are downright rude and contentious. 

Another thing I didn’t care for—the feast or famine swing of daily operations. One day you could be swamped with funeral or daily orders, and the next there would be barely anything to do. To say nothing of the holiday seasons, Valentine’s Day being the largest, Mother’s Day the second largest, and thirdly prom. During those holidays and events, I put in long hours creating arrangements and corsages as fast as I could, while still making a quality product. 

When you work with a perishable product, you have a limited window in which to use that product. Most orders could only be assembled and styled the day before or the day of and kept in the cooler. The same with holiday orders. Thus, you have a lot of work grouped into short periods of time. 

I would have much rather worked on a steady, even keel than haver been caught in such a swing-like system, but I know that could not have been avoided. That’s the norm of things in a flower shop.

An excerpt from Violet’s Vow: a description of Violet’s shop

A kind of happiness brightened Violet’s heart as she quietly created, in the space she had come to cherish. With quick hands and flashes of her knife, Violet cut and arranged a mixed spring bouquet in a green, matte, glazed vase. Not thinking too intently about the design, Violet took in her shop with a smile on her face.

Rows of shining, colored and clear vases, perching on shelves in an open wardrobe, winked at her across the room. Sachets of scent and small bars of soap shaped like flowers occupied a dresser top nearby, while colorful scarves spilled out of the dresser’s drawers. In the middle of the room an old pushcart contained a lush assortment of green and blooming plants. 

Greeting cards lined a portion of one wall on narrow shelving Roger had constructed and put up. Some silk-flower arrangements in various pots adorned a round tabletop in the far corner of the room, and tiny, linen bags of hand-blended, floral teas lined a basket on an old dining chair, positioned near the counter. 

Over the last few months, Violet had tucked more merchandise into the nooks and crannies of Fragrant Sentiments, until the shop had become a pleasing blend of gift items, potted plants, and fresh flowers, and she felt a glow of pride and contentment at her labors. 

Thanks!

Thank you for reading! What do you like best about flower shops, other than the flowers, that is?

Me on our property

Once in a while, here on my blog, I like to offer a bit more about myself and my writing. If you don’t know, I grew up a dairy farmer’s daughter. I numbered six and the caboose in the train of my siblings. My oldest sibling was 18 years older than me. Though I shadowed my brother Tim—eleven years my senior—for a few years, I spent a lot of time alone as a child. 

Being an introvert, that sat okay with me. It fed my imagination in so many ways, from walking around the fields and through the woods, pretending to journey with Anne of Green Gables around Avonlea, to sleuthing with Nancy Drew and spying on my dad, without getting caught, as he worked around the farm. 

I delighted in reading and getting lost in a good book in my growing up years. My favorite place to go on our trips to town was the local library. And I treasured the books I received as gifts. Among some of my favorites were: The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Mandie books, Anne of Green Gables, and anything by Patricia St. John. What were some of your favorites?

I remember as a kid saying I wanted to be a writer some day. As the years passed that dream faded but came to life again in a very unexpected way. 

My Writing Past:

I’ve always been a journaler and took to blogging and writing poetry in my thirties, but in 2018, when I had to retire from my job as a floral designer due to disability from MS, inspiration or determination struck. Resurrecting an old computer file, in which I had started writing a book eighteen years prior, I set into seriously drafting a novel, and my first book, Ruby Moon, was born. 

My Writing Now:

These last four years, writing novels has given me something to focus on other than my declining health. The year 2021 saw a lot of change for me, as my health worsened. My writing has now slowed with my fatigue level being much higher, but I do what I can. I pray the books I’ll send off into the world this year will be inspiring, encouraging, and enjoyable, to those who come across my work for the first time or are loyal readers. 

What’s Coming Up:

Violet’s Vow releases May 6th, On Bur Oak Ridge, third in the Sheltering Trees series releases July 29th, and By Broken Birch Bay is scheduled for November of this year. 

Author Interview:

If you enjoy reading author interviews, check out my feature yesterday on the website Pranchesta: 

As always, thanks for reading! J

My latest full-length novel, Under the Weeping Willow, has been on a blog tour all week with the Coffee Pot Book Club. Each day featured about three or four blog stops, each sharing info about the book, me, and some excerpts. All of the blog stops can be found at the link below.

AN EXCERPT FROM THE BEGINNING:

Enid
June 1983

I rub my hand over my mother’s words. My throat clenches, and I hiccup, forcing back a sob. A tear lands on the lined page of the diary with a splat. The word “willow” starts to bleed with the moisture. I read through the entry once more.

April 10th, 1977
Dear Diary,

I put the silverware in the breadbox today. I don’t know why. I went to pull a loaf of bread out of the red, tin box to make a sandwich, and instead I pulled out a fork. I haven’t found the bread yet.

Yesterday, I couldn’t recall my phone number, when asked to give it over the phone to the clinic scheduler. Nothing appeared in my mind when I tried to imagine it. I could pull no number out of my magical memory hat. I had to read the number off the label under the receiver cradle. After about an hour, the number suddenly came to me, like I’d been hit with it. Did my memory go on vacation for an hour?

I have been noticing these strange things recently. It frightens me. It’s as if someone else has done these things. I don’t remember moving the bread at all. I try, but only a black hole appears in my mind when I do. That emptiness slowly sucks at me, like a vacuum. One day I fear there may be nothing left to remember.

Maybe I’m going crazy, but I swore I’d never go there again. I see the edge of the pond and feel the dangling willow branches tangle in my hair as if it were yesterday. The water pulls at me like Velcro, clinging, drawing me in. Why can I remember that from so many years ago and not where I put the bread today? I know one thing: They will not put me in an asylum for the mentally deranged. Not again.

I lift my eyes from the diary and look out the window in the sitting room. The willow tree still stands watching over the pond despite having battled several storms and suffering lost limbs. I whiled away many a summer day under its canopy of hanging branches. Mom didn’t like me playing by the willow, and she hated the pond. She was always after Uncle Hal to drain it. I never knew why.

The ink smudges as I swipe at the damp spot on the page of Mom’s diary, and I try to comprehend the words. Crazy… asylum? What could she possibly mean?

I swallow the lump in my throat and try not to be overburdened by guilt.

This was Mom’s first full week in the Dunn County Nursing Health Care Center, a glorified name for a nursing home. I hate that I had to admit her, but she’ll be safe. They won’t treat her like a crazy person. Will they? No, dementia is different. Well, Alzheimer’s the doctor called it. The staff are professionals and can care for her better.

I groan and swipe at my eyes. I can tell myself any number of things to justify my mother being tucked away like an old rag doll, but at the bottom of the justification lies the fact that I am the one who brought her there.

I sigh and close the diary, placing it back by her wingback recliner. We can’t have a repeat of this last winter. The neighbor had caught her bewildered and walking down the road in the middle of January with no coat on. She could have died.

“Enie! Where are you?”
“In here!” I shout at my husband, Clive.
I hear his footsteps and in seconds he rounds the corner of

the old farmhouse kitchen and stands in the large opening to the sitting room. I sit up straighter in Mom’s gold, velvet, upholstered recliner. Too bad there wasn’t room for her chair at the nursing home.

“Thought I’d stop by and see if you need some help.”

His solid, brown eyes hold sympathy. He leans against the wood trim accenting the doorway. His slouchy shirt and Levi’s give him a relaxed appearance. A smile warms his face. He knows how hard it’s been for me, moving Mom. I smile the best I can in return, studying his familiar, unconventionally handsome face.

Clive’s eyes are evenly spaced under contained brows of the same shade, but his face is rather full. I suppose some would call him pudgy, but I like that he’s not skin and bones. He’s stocky and thick. Reliable.

“No. Just collecting a few trinkets to add to Mom’s room to make it feel homey.”

I hide the journal in the cleft of the chair cushion. I don’t want to talk to Clive about what I’ve found. Not yet anyway. I shouldn’t even be reading her private diaries, but I can’t help it. I would have found and read them one day, after she passed. Why is now so different? She’s as good as gone. Her memories have flown away, and isn’t that all that we are—memories?

“All right then.” He steps closer and leans down, kissing me on the cheek. The stubble shading his jawline scratches me. “Hey.” His eyes sparkle at me. He hovers inches from my face. “How ’bout we hit the A&W tonight in Menomonie. We could take our food to the park and eat. Just you and me.”

He kisses the tip of my nose.

I push my brown, owl-like glasses farther up my nose and gently push him back so I can stand. “Weren’t the kids supposed to come over tonight?”

“Na, Kelly called the shop and canceled. Said the twins are sick.” “Sick? Well, why didn’t he call me?”

I wonder what has my thirteen-year-old twin grandchildren, Penny and Pamela, under the weather.

Clive stands up straight and digs in the pocket of his jeans. “Well, you were here, Enid. The phone’s been shut off. Remember?”

I sigh. “Oh, right.”

He dangles a set of keys at me. “Take the truck. I’ll grab your car and do an oil change today before I come home. Then we’ll go grab some food.”

I take the keys. “It’s a date.”
Clive kisses me again and starts to head out. “Keys in the Buick?”

“Yep.”
“See ya later.”
He whistles as he leaves. I hear the screen door slam and soon the car starts. The Skylark has a whine, which has been getting noticeably louder the last few days. Whatever it is, Clive will fix it. It’s his job. He worked at his dad’s garage before he set up his own, shortly after we married in 1945. He didn’t fight in the war due to the hearing loss in his right ear.

I watch out the window as he leaves. I can hardly believe we are in our sixth decade. It seems like yesterday we were kids, but now we have grandkids. Where does the time go?

I head back to Mom’s chair and dig out the diary. I replace it next to the stack of others in her rolltop desk. I’ll save them for another time. I’ve read all I can handle at the moment. I grab the tote of newspaper- wrapped knickknacks and head out, locking the door behind me.

An idea settles in my brain as I hop in Clive’s black ’67 Dodge with red and white pinstripes along the side. The engine rattles in a good way as it comes to life. On Monday I’m going to head to the library and look up

where there would have been a sanitarium or mental hospital around here. I don’t remember one, and I certainly don’t remember Mom being in one, so it had to be before I was born or when I was too young to remember. Places like that must keep records.

I expect my heart to lighten with a goal in mind, but the ache in my chest is as heavy and cloudy as the dust trail from the gravel driveway that I’m kicking up behind the Dodge. I cough and roll up the windows and turn onto county highway E to head into town.

Thanks for reading! J

In my upcoming historical novella, Violets Vow, I use the language of flowers as a main part of the plot. My main character Violet has a superpower; she can match flowers with people. Upon meeting someone she has the sense of their personality as it relates to flowers. She also has a secret admirer who is sending her notes and little gifts using the language of flowers. 

Have you ever read a book about the language of flowers? Received or given a floral gift in the language of flowers? If so, leave a comment telling me about it. 

A bit of history:

Interest in floriography (matching flowers with meanings) soared in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Gifts of blooms, plants, and specific floral arrangements were used to send a coded message to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society. Armed with floral dictionaries, Victorians often exchanged small “talking bouquets”, called nosegays or tussie-mussies, which could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory.

Floriography was popularized in France during 1810–1850, while in Britain it was popular during the Victorian age (roughly 1820–1880), and in the United States during 1830–1850. La Tour’s book stimulated the publishing industry especially in France, England, and the United States, but also in Belgium, Germany, and other European countries as well as in South America. Publishers from these countries produced hundreds of editions of floriography books during the 19th century.

One of the most familiar books about floriography is Routledge’s edition illustrated by Kate Greenaway, The Language of Flowers. First published in 1884, it continues to be reprinted to this day.

NOTE: Some of the history was gleaned from Wikipedia. Read the page HERE.

Thanks for reading! J

UPCOMING DATES:

May 6th, Violet’s Vow releases on Kindle and KU and in paperback.

May 7th, Violet’s Vow release party in my Facebook group, Journeying with Jenny.

It’s cover reveal time for Violet’s Vow!

I’m so happy to show you the cover for my next book, Violet’s Vow. I knew when I found these images they would be perfect to portray Violet’s story. The release date is set for May 6th, but you can preorder the ebook now. Link at the bottom of this post.

About the book: 

“Author Jenny Knipfer made the 1890s come alive; the characters all seem real and the plot so believable. It is a must-read for all romantics, Victorian-era historical fiction lovers, and anyone who just enjoys a good book!” five-star review, byTrudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite 

A springtime novella of a secret love and a passionate vow

In the late 1890s, intuitive flower shop owner Violet Brooks opens up her heart and business to the Moore family but yet has vowed to get justice for her deceased husband, Roger, whom she believed had died as a result of bucking the Moore lumber company. 

Handsome lumberbaron Devon Moore frequents Violet’s shop with his niece, Holly, who’s preparing for her upcoming wedding. Running the shop herself after her husband’s death a year prior exhausts Violet, so she hires Holly, surprising herself by hoping to have more chances for her path to cross with Devon’s.

In the meantime, a secret admirer leaves Violet messages in the language of flowers. Her heart blossoms to the sentiments within.

She’s torn between her growing attraction for Devon and her admirer, or are they one in the same?

Journalist Frankie Dermot, an old classmate and flame of Violet’s, comes back to town. Violet enlists his help in her search for the truth about Roger’s death. But when they uncover who’s really responsible for her husband’s  passing  one year prior, Violet is shocked.

Will Violet shut herself off from newfound love, or will she allow her past vow to her deceased husband to dictate her future and keep her from the man who wins her heart?

Readers of Christian historical fiction and Christian historical romance with a twist of mystery will find their hearts set aflutter by Violet’s tale of discovering romance and be inspired by her path to grace.

“Knipfer has created intriguing plots in previous books and this one is no exception. Readers are sure to enjoy this sweet historical tale filled with mystery, interesting twists and mercy.” Dawn Kinzer, inspirational author of The Daughters of Riverton series

Click the embedded link below to preorder the ebook:

THANKS FOR FOLLOWING MY WRITING JOURNEY!

Blessings, J

I’m excited to announce that I’m a few steps closer to releasing my next novella, Violet’s Vow. I set the release day for May 6th and am planning a fun book release party in my Facebook group, Journeying with Jenny. My gears move a lot slower these days, but this release gives me something positive to look forward to.

THE BLURB:

A springtime novella of a secret love and a passionate vow

In the late 1890s, intuitive flower shop owner Violet Brooks opens up her heart and business to the Moore family but yet has vowed to get justice for her deceased husband, Roger, whom she believed had died as a result of bucking the Moore lumber company. 

Handsome lumberbaron Devon Moore frequents Violet’s shop with his niece, Holly, who’s preparing for her upcoming wedding. Running the shop herself after her husband’s death a year prior exhausts Violet, so she hires Holly, surprising herself by hoping to have more chances for her path to cross with Devon’s.

In the meantime, a secret admirer leaves Violet messages in the language of flowers. Her heart blossoms to the sentiments within.

She’s torn between her growing attraction for Devon and her admirer, or are they one in the same?

Journalist Frankie Dermot, an old classmate and flame of Violet’s, comes back to town. Violet enlists his help in her search for the truth about Roger’s death. But when they uncover who’s really responsible for her husband’s  passing  one year prior, Violet is shocked.

Will Violet shut herself off from newfound love, or will she allow her past vow to her deceased husband to dictate her future and keep her from the man who wins her heart?

Readers of Christian historical fiction and Christian historical romance with a twist of mystery will find their hearts set aflutter by Violet’s tale of discovering romance and be inspired by her path to grace.

“Knipfer has created intriguing plots in previous books and this one is no exception. Readers are sure to enjoy this sweet historical tale filled with mystery, interesting twists and mercy.” Dawn Kinzer, inspirational author of The Daughters of Riverton series

~ COVER REVEAL AND PREORDER LINK COMING SOON! ~

WRITING FROM EXPERIENCE:

As the case in most of my books, I write from some semblance of experience with Violet’s Vow. Violet is a flower shop owner, and I worked as a designer in a retail flower shop for many years. Most of the shop scenes in the book were inspired by my actual experiences. I laughed out loud yesterday when reading a few of the scenes. Here’s one such scene. A tip for the wise: never go into a flower shop and order a “pretty” arrangement. You’ll never know what you’ll get, because the meaning of the word pretty has become so generic; it means something different to everyone. Use specific words to describe what you want, or if you don’t know ask the shop staff for ideas.

The painting pictured on the right is an example of the arrangement style of the day—full and often a little haphazard.

A SCENE FROM VIOLET’S VOW:

After Violet had arranged the sale flowers to her satisfaction, she went to start on the orders she had for the day. Almost done with the first order, six yellow roses in a vase with greens, Violet glanced up when the door’s bell clanged. A handsome, heavy-set woman, dressed smartly in navy blue and lavender, marched into the shop, holding a clear vase of flowers. She set it down with some force upon the counter. 

“I specifically asked for something pretty.”

Violet blinked in shock and took in the arrangement she had made yesterday. It looked the same to her, stylized and more simplistic than the usual full-blown, English-garden-style variety of arrangements. That word pretty had gotten Violet in more than one fix with an unhappy customer. Everyone had a different meaning for the word, and what was pretty to one customer might not be considered so by another.

Holding back the sigh she longed to spill out, Violet asked, “And what is it you find fault with, ma’am?”

The woman had no qualms about expelling a heave of air. “Well, anyone can see it’s much too tall and thin. It should be more…full.”

The woman flapped her hands in the air on either side of the vase. 

“I am sorry this is not to your taste. Please excuse me while I check the order.” Violet leafed through the orders from yesterday, still stacked by the register. She pulled out an order she recognized with the name Mrs. Woodford at the top. “Ah, I see you ordered a large-vase arrangement for your home in pastel shades. Is that correct?”

“Well, yes, but this is not what I wanted.” Mrs. Woodford huffed and had the audacity to roll her prominent, brown eyes. 

“And could you specify exactly what you would like?” Violet reminded herself that the customer was always right, but it rankled against her spirit, regardless. 

Mrs. Woodford pointed to the arrangement Violet had finished minutes ago.  “Like that one, there. In fact, I’ll take that one.”

Smiling with premature satisfaction, Mrs. Woodford nodded, wobbling several of the peach-colored, silk roses on her hat.

“I am sorry, but it’s not for sale.”

Mrs. Woodford narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me? You are selling flowers here in your shop, are you not?”

Violet counted under breath, using the numeric scale to calm her nerves. “You misunderstand me. This arrangement is for a special order for a funeral.”

“I see.” Mrs. Woodford’s words came out less snide, but she still looked put-out to Violet. 

An ache started to throb in Violet’s jaw from her clenching her teeth. She focused on trying to relax.

“However, I could make something similar for you. Would that be to your satisfaction?” she asked her customer.

Shrugging her well-padded shoulders, Mrs. Woodford said, “I suppose that will have to suffice.” 

Really, would it hurt some people to be more gracious?

“Will you be waiting for the arrangement, or do you want it delivered?”

Mrs. Woodford sniffed and lifted her nose in the air. “Hmm, I’m certainly not going to be carrying a large arrangement five blocks back to my home, now, am I?”

“Delivery then?” Violet double checked, losing patience by the second. 

“That is what I said.” 

God grant me patience, Violet silently prayed, but she said, “I’ll have that to you tomorrow by early afternoon.”

“Hmm, I suppose that’ll do.”

There was no pleasing the woman, it seemed.

“Same address as before?” Violet asked. 

“That’s right. My husband and I live next to the Moores. Such comings and goings on there of late—ever since Devon Moore came back.”

“Back from where?” Violet couldn’t help asking.

She searched Mrs. Woodford’s prominent eyes for what she hoped would be the truth.  “You don’t know?” Mrs. Woodford leaned toward Violet…

THANKS FOR READING!

I hope you enjoyed that little excerpt from Violet’s Vow and look forward to learning more about Violet, her shop, and her secret admirer.

J

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