Jenny Knipfer–Author

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 finally got around to taking a nice photo of my latest book, Harvest Moon. Each item in the picture represents some element in the story. Let me tell you about it. 

Black Feathers:

My main character in Harvest Moon, an Ojibwe women named Maang-ikwe “Loon Woman” takes a young crow from a nest and makes him her pet. She names him Waabi, and he becomes a good friend to her, someone she can tell her secrets to. 

True story: when they were young, one of my sisters and brothers each had a pet crow, and I remember them both. They were very smart birds and could do all kinds of tricks. 

Bottle of Indian Corn:

Something significant in the story happens in a field of corn, and in the book one of the stories I tell, based on an Ojibwe legend, is about corn. 

Deer Antler:

Historically, the Ojibwe and many native peoples harvested deer for food, clothing, and used bones and antlers for many things like utensils, tools, and buttons. In Harvest Moon, Maang-ikwe has a favorite deerhide dress she likes to wear. 

The antler pictured is a shed Whitetail Deer antler that one of my brothers found.

Medicine Pouch:

The pouch pictured is a real, handmade medicine pouch that I ordered from a shop owner on Etsy. It is similar to the kind I imagine Maang-ikwe uses. She learns the art of herbal healing from the tribe’s medicine woman, Wiineta, an old crone of a woman but wise in her perception and knowledge. In her faith as a Christian, Maang-ikwe must filter the knowledge she gains through her understanding of God, the ultimate healer. 

Green Leaves:

These represent the leaves of the many plants Maang-ikwe learns to harvest for medicine and food. 

At the heart, Harvest Moon tells a tale of finding grace and blessing amongst the hardships of life. I like to write novels that offer not only a glimpse into the past but leave the reader with a renewed sense of hope for the future.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for reading about the story of the picture of Harvest Moon!

What are you currently reading? Do you enjoy novels about Native Americans?

I am pleased to be a blog hostess for A Painter in Penang –Penang Series, Book 3, by Clare Flynn–through The Coffee Pot Book Club. Here are some details about the book and the author, and following will be my review.

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine goes through testing experiences – confronting heartache, a shocking past secret and danger. Throughout it all, the one constant in her life is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

*Publication Date: 6th October 2020 *Publisher: Cranbrook Press *Page Length: 362 Pages *Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Author:

Clare Flynn is the author of twelve historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer. 

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, Novelists Inc (NINC), ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, where she serves on the committee as the Member Services Officer. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. She continues to travel as widely and as far as possible all over the world.

My Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In the late 1940’s, sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington, with the permission of her step mother, transplants herself back to the country she loves—Penang. As she travels, Jasmine’s path crosses that of fellow traveler, Howard Baxter, also destined for Penang to work on a rubber plantation. Howard quickly becomes smitten with Jasmine, though she wants nothing to do with him. 

Living with friends of her family, the Hyde-Underwoods, Jasmine relaxes in the tropical atmosphere she loves. Social events throw her together with Howard, but will she keep up her uninterested facade or fall to his honest charm?

Political tensions rise as Penang is caught in a communist uprising. A native man, Bintang, serving the Hyde-Underwoods poses for Jasmine, while she paints. She thinks of him as a kind of friend but will Bintang think the same of her, or will the past crimes against his family by whites cause him to join forces with the enemy? 

Will her heart for Penang be enough to keep Jasmine with the Hyde-Underwoods, or will she travel out of the chaos of the political hotbed of Penang to safety?

Readers of coming of age and historical fiction will enjoy this well-painted, story portrait of an island country and a girl who holds Penang in her heart. 

The likable but flawed characters kept me interested in the story. I have a fondness for learning about new places and time periods, and Flynn successfully painted tropical Penang through her descriptions and setting. 

The ending dropped off a little for me. I would have liked to have had more of a completion of Jasmine’s story in an epilogue. One editorial choice I didn’t care for was the use of single quotation marks instead of double for dialogue. I think this makes a book more difficult to read.

Overall, A Painter in Penang was a pleasure to read and an engaging story with well-done dialogue. I thank the author for a complimentary copy of the book for me to read and review. 

Connect with Clare:

THANKS FOR READING! J

This photo was taken by my husband on a frosty morning in our back yard.

With a new year in mind, I recently wrote a poem in simile form about hope, how I see it and what it means to me.

Hope: a poem in simile

Hope is ….

obtuse, ethereal, and misty

but also 

a life preserver, 

an anchor in life’s storms, 

and a star to set our course by.

Hope is . . .

a ghost of a whisper, 

a plea in the dark, 

and a dream of a dream

but also

real, a light, and essential.

Hope is . . .

evasive, slippery, and demanding 

but also

can be captured, if one is careful, 

held to, if one has faith, 

and governed, if one has courage.

Hope is . . .

sometimes more than I deserve, 

an unlikely wish for freedom in the dungeons of life, 

and a pedestal, too far above me

but also 

universal, fathomable, and attainable.

Hope is . . .

a prayer when all appears lost, 

how we place one foot in front of the other, 

and the nourishment of our spirits

but also

invisible, weighty, and insatiable. 

Hope is . . . 

a huntress, stalking the future, 

an exhausting cycle, 

crushing in its loss

but also

meat, breath, and life to our souls.

Hope is . . . 

Jenny Knipfer (c) 2021

How do you see hope?

Thanks for reading and many blessings in the new year! J

When you open my books, you won’t find perfect, sinless characters. You’ll find those who are living amidst harsh circumstances or who face the temptation to walk an easier and perhaps more pleasurable path than what they have vowed to travel. I’ve grafted some of the deemed “seven deadly sins” in my work (Shocker, I know!) because we all face things in our life like greed and lust. 

In the words of the Bible, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Christian or faithless, we all have huge life issues to traverse. I write those issues into my books, hoping to help encourage someone who may have gone or is going through similar hardships or scenarios. 

Some characters in my books act rather Godless, because, in fact, they don’t know Him or don’t know Him yet. Often they are the “bad guy”, the antagonist, but sometimes that line is blurred. As in the novel I’m currently writing—By Broken Birch Bay, a mystery, in which even I won’t know who the killer will be until the end. 

Before I started my current work in progress, I asked myself the question: “Would anyone be able to kill someone—despite their moral beliefs or not—when presented with a situation that left them little alternative. I surmise someone has actually lived through this, because the more I live the more I realize that the old saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” is correct. 

An idea for my book cover…

Here’s my opening to my mystery novel:  

August  10th, 1925

For posterity, 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. 

Do you enjoy reading clean or cozy mysteries? If so, what kind?

Thanks for reading! J

FAMILY:

Ask people what ranks high on their list of thanks, and likely it will be family. I have a wooden plaque in my kitchen with the words “Family is Forever” on it. I love my family and am so grateful for each member. We’ve been through the good, bad, and the ugly together, and I wouldn’t trade one day of the journey. Maybe you can say the same.

I wanted to work this sort of family importance into my novels, and I hope readers will get a sense of that. In my book, Silver Moon, family plays a big role in keeping the spirits of the fictional community of Webaashi Bay, Ontario going during WW1.

Oshki Cota, a young man from the Canadian town, fighting in the trenches on the Western Front, writes home to his wife and family, and the letters he receives back give him hope to keep fighting and hoping that he can return to his loved ones.

Mauve, Oshki’s wife, leans on her husband’s family as a young mother and the trials of depression and illness come calling. Her faith is strengthened by her in-laws, as they gather together to surrender Oshki to God in prayer, trusting in His love for Oshki to lead him through unknown valleys.

Luis Wilson, my main character, acting as a spy in France, is bolstered by the love and support of his family after surviving an auspicious day, fighting in Flanders with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

Rose, a nurse working in a hospital receiving wounded men, makes an unusual bond with the parents of her once-intended fiancé. She blooms in her faith from their love and support.

FRIENDS:

Jimmy Smith, another man from Webaashi Bay, receives letters from Lily Parsons, an old schoolmate, who he once picked on in school. Over letters of friendship, they fall in love, and Lily’s words become an anchor for Jimmy in a sea of destruction.

The women of Webaashi Bay unite and do what they can to further the wartime effort and tame tensions rising at home. They form a group, meeting and talking about such things as: how to make meat and dairy rations go further, how to make new clothes from old ones, and how to can and preserve food.

Natalie Herman, the local café owner, accused of being a German spy by her neighbor, must defend herself to the local constabulary. Lionhearted Lily stands by her friend and challenges the town to do the same.

FAITH:

I can’t write a story without pouring my faith through my characters. My faith in God and the salvation of His Son, Jesus, is integral to who I am as a person and as an author. I’ve lived through some dark days, and I know that God was with me in the midst of those. And He will continue to be in the future. Although, I have not lived through a physical war, I’ve lived through a mental and spiritual one, and I battle with my health every day. I hope my writing reflects the deep places I have been to in the voices of my characters and their experiences.

TIME TOGETHER:

During our current health crisis around the world, we’ve come to realize just how important time together is as family and friends. We cherish the times and opportunities when we can see our loved ones.

Participating in or hosting tea parties has always been an activity I liked to do with friends and family. In Silver Moon, I have several scenes including friends, family, and tea—imagine that. In the back of the book, I included my own recipe for a lovely tea. Let’s have a cup together, shall we?

Thank you for reading! The very best of blessings to you,

Jenny

Autumn Comfort Tea

This is a recipe for a hand-blended tea from ingredients that I grew, except the spices.
It’s simple, light, and comforting.

Ingredients:
1 and 1⁄2 T. dried apple 2 t. dried sage
2 t. dried mint
1 t. dried chamomile
2 T. cinnamon bark chips 1⁄2 t. crushed clove buds

Instructions:
Chop dried ingredients separately before measuring. After chopping mix together well.
Store in airtight container away from light.
Use 1 t. per 8oz of boiling water.
Steep for 4-5 min. in an infuser.
~
Enjoy!

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following my blog or subscribing. I am most appreciative for you. I wish you every blessing with friends and family this Christmas. Though your traditions maybe have to be altered due to COVID, you can still make it a wonderful Christmas. The Reason we celebrate hasn’t changed, and we can all take joy in that.

Coming up in 2021:

I have two blog posts per month through April featuring authors and their books. I am super happy to be making connections with other authors in the Historical Fiction and Christian Historical Fiction genres. Most will be review posts and interviews, so that means I have a lot of READING to do!

Thankfully, I finished my first draft of the Christmas Novella, Holly’s Homecoming, I am writing and will have some time to read again. I will pick up with my writing where I left off in my Sheltering Trees series.

Speaking of Sheltering Trees, I am thrilled to be working with a cover designer for my first book in the series inspired by my grandparents: In a Grove of Maples. Read the synopsis HERE. I should have a cover to reveal sometime in March or April.

Join Journeying with Jenny:

I would love to have you join me in my reader and author group, Journeying with Jenny, that I am building on Facebook. As a member of the group, you will have first dibs on giveaways, opportunities to read my books for free, be able to partake in my writing process, have some fun :), and if you are an author of clean fiction, be a part of several group multi-author parties that I plan to host. PLEASE join me on my writing journey.

Have a Merry Christmas!

That’s all for now friends, but I’ll be back in January. Have a great holiday!

Blessings, J

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This month I had planned to read a few Christmas-themed books. I loved both of these and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Mr. Dickens and His Christmas Carol, by Samantha Silva

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charles Dickens sets out to pen a Christmas novella by his publisher’s demand. However, his money and family troubles taint his creativity, and he drafts his main character, Scrooge, into a dark, grievous skinflint who only opens to improvement on the last page. 

By a power beyond him, Dickens’s Christmas tale is pilfered and plagiarized, infuriating him. He suspects the mysterious Eleanor LoveJoy—who he develops a strange association with—of stealing his work, but the fault lies a little closer to home. Dickens’s wife and family retreat to Scotland, leaving him to settle his spirit. He takes refuge in a nearby hotel, which he’s used before for writing. 

Cleared of any guilt, Eleanor and her son Timothy help Dickens recreate his tale but with a gentler filter to Mr. Scrooge, the old miser. The characters become alive to Dickens as he draws from the inspiration of the people and times around him. Weaving a more substantial ribbon of hope through his plot, Dickens finishes and reads his masterpiece to Timothy. 

But where has the ethereal Miss Lovejoy gone? And what will happen to Timothy? Will Dickens ever see his family and children again? 

Readers of Charles Dickens’s classic stories and historical fiction with relish this behind the scenes drama of Dickens creating his Christmas iconic classic, A Christmas Carol. 

I deliciously sunk my teeth into this one. I savored every page. A few moments of doubt arose in me during Miss Lovejoy’s entanglement with Dickens, but her story fit perfectly in the end. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol was a delightful, Christmastime read that added much to my fondness for the classic story. 

Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale, by Amanda Dykes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Aria St. John, the daughter of a famous composer, learns early what loss means. Her deep-rooted gift is uprooted by a tragic accident. But she’s not the only one who bears the scars.

James Shaw blames himself for the silence that now reigns in the St. John house on the Isle of Espoir. Friends once, can Aria and James put the past behind them for a future they both desire?

Bespoke holds a deep message of forging a new path through tragic circumstances. Though a short novella, this beautifully wrought, Christmastime story full of meaning delves heavily in the heart of forgiveness and hope. 

Fans of Christmas romance, Christian fiction, and historical fiction, will be enraptured by this sweet but deep tale of hope. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and look forward to reading another story by Dykes. 

What are you reading?

Have you read any Christmasy books this month? If so, tell me about them.

Happy Reading! J

I have always wanted to write a Christmas Novella, and this year I am determined that I will. In fact, I hope to write it over the next few weeks. I won’t publish it until next November, though. But I am excited about it and okay with setting my current writing project, On Bur Oak Ridge, my fourth novel in my upcoming Sheltering Trees series, aside for a little while. I thought you might enjoy the opening to my novella, which I wrote last night. *Keep in mind a professional editor has not looked at this work, so you may find a few mistakes.*

Holly’s Homecoming: a Christmas Novella

Chippewa Falls, WI

1890

Ahead, shrouded in a winter mist, the road home ended, past which Holly hadn’t been in over ten years. She stood as still and frosty as the morning, peering into the unknown of what awaited her. 

Holly gulped, gripping the handle on her rose-patterned carpetbag tighter, swallowed, and willed her black-booted feet to move. 

This is a mistake. 

She could tell herself that all day, but she had to know, had to find out if the rumor she’d heard from Mr. Grady, their neighbor, was true—that her father, the lumber baron, had returned. And then there was the fact that she hadn’t even told Aunt Nel where she’d gone. Nel would be furious if she knew. 

“That brother of mine, a scallywag and a poor excuse for a father to boot. To say nothing of what he did to Eliza.” Holly had heard it over and over throughout the years she had lived with Aunt Nel and Uncle Harland—Har for short. 

Vague memories drifted to Holly sometimes of her mother, Eliza Moore. Holly closed her eyes. There it was, imprinted on her mind, a faint image and the smell of lilacs like a reoccurring dream: an alabaster cheek with the barest bloom of tulip pink brushing the curve, those deep-brown eyes, so warm, dark ringlets of hair, and a thin but pretty smile, exposing a bright, white flash of teeth. And then the laugh, tinkling and merry. Aunt Nel said Holly looked like her mother, and Holly supposed she did.

That was all Holly held of her mother, really. All she recalled. They’d been to the river’s shore on that bright, sunny summer day, Mother, Father, and her. Holly had been only five, she thought, but who knew if what she remembered was a dream or reality. Or perhaps a little of both. 

Father’s sturdy face, edged in frosted dark hair clung more clearly to her memory but not a happy one. An overpowering sense of sadness accompanied her thoughts of him. When she sorted through the internal portraits she retained of him, his crisp blue eyes stuck with her, radiating a quiet pain. But his stiffness had been what she’d felt the day they parted and he had left her with Nel and Har on their farm. The one hand he had placed on her shoulder had pressed down firmly, almost finally. He had whispered goodbye and then was gone. 

Holly shook her head clear of the memories, too long past now and walked on, her boots leaving fresh prints in the new-fallen, crunchy snow. She gazed up. the trees over the drive were old and the long-armed, tangled branches wove a sort of canopy overhead. But whether it was sheltering or foreboding, Holly couldn’t discern. 

Mr. Grady had dropped her off at the end of the drive to Grapevine Lodge just a few minutes ago. Holly heard the bells on the sleigh still jingling in the distance. Holly had timed her plan to coincide with Mr. Grady’s milk pickup, and she knew he’d never refuse her a favor. 

Now as she walked, with each few feet closer, the imposing structure of the lodge became clearer. It’s high peaked beams, white lattice woodworking, and leaded window panes didn’t look that familiar to Holly. But something about the boxwood hedge brought back a memory of her running along it, her chestnut hair fluttering behind her with her hand brushing the edge of the green hedge as she went. Holly reached out and touched the greenish boxwood, frosted with snow.

“Mornin’ to ya, Miss, but we have no need of peddlers here.” 

Holly turned to look where the chilly voice had come from. She spied a middle-aged woman in a stiff looking black dress, white apron, and cap. Standing on a stoop a ways down the lodge, the woman beat a small rag-rug into submission. Dust floated up and caught the filtered sun’s rays like fools’ gold, until she stopped and focused on Holly.

“Oh, no; I’m . . . I’m not a peddler.” Holly held a red wool, mittened hand to her throat. “I’m here to see . . . well, that is to say . . .” Holly coughed and swallowed, her throat sandpapery. The words that she had practiced saying seemed so clear to her an hour ago but now died on her tongue. 

The woman leaned the wire beater up against the cedar siding and stood with her hands on her hips. “Well, spit it out,” she demanded.

“I’ve come to see . . .” but Holly couldn’t finish.

“Ah, you’ve come about that position, I suppose.” With a bracing look, the woman frowned and eyed her up and down. “Well, I expect you’ll do and will be as good as any as we’ll get around here, though you do look a mite small.” She nodded her head, opening the heavy-looking side door. “This a’ way; don’t dawdle.” The woman gestured with an impatient flick of her hand toward the door she held open. 

“Yes, yes, of course.” Holly gave her a tight smile and stepped down the brick walkway and through the open doorway. 

This could play in my favor, Holly surmised. She’d been worried about whether Father would recognize her or not. Holly was terrified that he wouldn’t, but then worse—he would and wouldn’t want to see her, talk to her. 

“Haven’t had a proper housemaid since before Mr. Moore left. Been only me and old Thomas watching over the place for those renting. I’m Mrs. Porter.” She didn’t extend her hand in greeting but instead held the door open wider for Holly. Mrs. Porter continued and slid one hand down her apron. “I’ll get a uniform for you then inform you of your duties.” 

A housemaid? It might just be the perfect way to introduce myself slowly to Grapevine Lodge again and to Father

But she wouldn’t want to worry Aunt Nel and Uncle Har. She’d send them a note, vaguely saying she’d obtained a job in town as a maid. At least she wouldn’t be lying.

Holly smiled, nodded, and said, “Thank you, kindly.” She walked through the open doorway, and Mrs. Porter followed, closing the door behind them and closing in Holly’s dream of coming home, though not in the way she’d expected.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my work in progress.

I recently read a sweet Christmas novella by Amanda Dykes, entitled—Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale. Right not it’s free on Kindle.

Are you reading any Christmas novellas or novels right now? If you are, let me know what they are in the comments.

Blessings, J

I have had All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr on my “to be read” book shelf for almost a year. I finally finished this one up last month and enjoyed it.

MY REVIEW:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Young, blind Marie-Laure learns to function without her father when he is arrested for hiding a precious blue diamond that the Nazi’s seek. She and her recluse of an uncle become embroiled in the sending of secret missives into the night. 

Orphaned pre-teen Werner Pfenning grows up fast when his technical skills are put to use by the Third Reich. Surviving his training, he’s hunting those in France who are engaged in the resistance.

Beautifully written with an old-fashioned storytelling feel, All the Light We Cannot See left me immersed in the setting and time. 

I appreciated the perspective of Marie and don’t think I’ve ever read a novel written partly from a blind person’s point of view. Drawn to description, I found theses parts of the story come alive with other senses we miss some times in literature. 

The ending left me wanting more. I can’t reveal to much or I’ll spoil it for you, but one of the character’s stories did not end with satisfaction for me. 

NOTE: For those sensitive to violence or course language, readers will find some instances of this within the story.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

What was the last historical fiction book you read?

HAPPY READING! J

As always, thank you for reading my Wednesday book blog posts. May you have a good book, a comfy chair, and a warm drink in hand. 🙂

I recently connected with author Jennifer Lynn Cary on Instagram. Jennifer had asked me to review one of her latest books, Relentless Joy and I gladly accepted.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

MY REVIEW:

Second Lieutenant James Salem’s heart melts with the first glimpse and sound from singer, Valerie Beauregard, at the officers’ club at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1928. He falls in love and pursues Valerie but finds out that she’s a minor with a controlling uncle as a parent figure. Jimmy tells himself to be content with friendship with Val, but his heart yearns for her. However, their paths divide when Val and her Uncle skip town. 

After four years, Jimmy spies Val on a ballroom dance floor, but she denies that she knows him. In the midst of taking a special assignment for the army on the Anacostia Flats, Jimmy and his friend, Ernie, see the need from army vets, protesting the army’s neglect. Val and her uncle are caught up in the dispute. Her uncle passes unexpectedly, and she’s left alone with little hope and no future. 

But Jimmy comes to the rescue, professing his love for Val once more. Will Val accept his proposal, or will the loss of her one link with family be too much for her? Will Val and Jimmy make a life together and discover what joy truly is? 

In a new town with folks she barely knows, Val grows in her faith and becomes grateful for the bonds she establishes there. She keeps a secret from Jimmy for good reason but ends up regretting that decision. Can Jimmy look beyond her negligence, seeing Val’s heart and how much she loves him?

Fans of strongly messaged, Christian historical fiction will enjoy this heartwarming story of love, faith, and family. Cary does an excellent job of casting real characters, who could easily walk off the pages of the book. Told with skill, the story of Relentless Joy will bless you as you read Val and Jimmy’s romance and faith discovery. 

MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER:

When did you start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I typed my first story on my mother’s typewriter while in the third grade. But back in the 90s I returned to college to finish my teaching degree.

Ten years later, I felt God tap me on the shoulder and remind me I needed to write something if I was ever going to have a book signing.  That produced my first novel, which ended up with a vanity press. I finally got the rights back and rewrote it, plus added a sequel but then they ended up on my closet shelf.

In January 2018 when Ken Burns released his documentary on Viet Nam. I remembered so much, and it got in my head. So the next time I prayed, God told me I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. He brought to mind the documentary and my current Bible study in the book of Ruth. I suddenly saw it all come together. That became Relentless Heart which I completed that November.

About that time, I reconnected with a former critique partner who’d gone on to edit for Zondervan before starting her own company. She came for a visit in June of 2019 and we came up with a plan. We’d start with revising those books on the shelf and I would write a third to make the trilogy—The Crockett Chronicles. Then we’d launch Relentless Heart. I’ve been writing almost daily since.   

What prompted you to pursue publication?

I felt God’s call to do that. He gives me the stories, it’s the way I share His gift. It’s never been about the money though I’m not going to reject payment. But the first reason is to share His stories.

What do you love most about writing?

Somewhere in each book there are moments when I write something that’s not in my plans. I have no idea why, but I put it in. Then later, I need something and there it is. For instance, in my book The Traveling Prayer Shawl that releases next March, there’s a scene where I needed a reason for someone to speak with my main character. So I had her cousin drop her Visa card and this guy returns it. One thing leads to another and she sticks the card in her pocket.

A few scenes later, she needs to find help for her cousin. She finds the card in her pocket, reminds her of that guy and she takes a chance and calls him. I hadn’t planned to make the person who found the card a reoccurring character, but now I had a reason to pull him into the story and he became important. All because I had a supporting character drop her Visa. That’s the stuff I love, the surprises.

Your novel, Relentless Joy, is partly set on military bases. Do you have a special connection to the military?

Not directly. But I have a great source. One of my best friends is married to a retired officer and her son is retired military. I can run questions past them, and they’ve been good about helping. The husband was stationed in North Carolina and explained how the air base was so close. He also gave me the idea for the paper they wrote that brought Jimmy and Ernie to DC.

I also had an uncle who served in Viet Nam and was a translator. He read through Relentless Heart and checked for correctness too.

One of your main characters, Valerie, meets Cole Porter. Why did you choose to include this iconic man of music in your book?

First, my dad was born in Peru, Indiana so I grew up knowing that Cole Porter was from there. Daddy was proud of that. Music was always important in our home and I even got to be in a Cole Porter musical in high school.

But my last trip to Indiana, we took a spin around Peru with my cousin and she pointed out Cole Porter’s mother’s house. It had been a museum but is now in need of repair (or was on my last visit). It was an easy way to thank the man for the songs and though I have no proof he was actually in Peru at that time in my story, it was quite logical as he was known to do that sort of thing.

My grandmother’s aunt and uncle were also musicians in Peru and lived close to Mrs. Porter who was famous for her garden parties. It not only could’ve happened, but my relatives might have played at one or two.

What would you like readers to take away from Relentless Joy? 

This year has been so difficult, but God never told us we’d be without problems. Jesus even said in this world we would have difficulties. But then He gave us hope. When our hope is in Him, we have joy no matter what is going on around us. Relentless joy isn’t dependent on our situation; it is there for us no matter the situation. That’s what I hope readers will take away.

“Relentless joy isn’t dependent on our situation; it is there for us no matter the situation.”

Jennifer Lynn Cary

What are your two most favorite fiction books, contemporary and classic? 

  1. My first is actually a series—the classic. I can read The Chronicles of Narnia over and over. I love the characters, the adventure, the deep truths, the writing.
  2. The second is a more recent book (contemporary) and this is the variable of the group (next year it could be different). I fell in love with A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. I read that and decided I want to write like her when I grow up

Tell us about your newly released, Christmas novella.

I’m so glad you asked. Silver Bell Christmas is Melanie’s story. Melanie (a.k.a. Mil in Relentless Heart) is the Naomi figure from the book of Ruth. Though she is in all three of the previous Relentless books, I felt like she had more healing to do. Having lost a child, I know it takes time, and things can nail you out of the blue.

But as the story take place, she figures she’s had two years to heal so why was she still vulnerable to getting blindsided with phrases or photos or events? I’d also wanted to do a Christmas novella and it seemed like a perfect blend. In this book Melanie really does learn about living again and has another chance at love. But does she want it? After twenty-five years of marriage to a good man, why try for more?

And Ben Carpenter, who we first meet in Wedding Bell Blues, has been alone for a long time. He’s not looking either. But there’s something about that Melanie Wheaten. I had fun writing from a more mature POV and I think you’ll enjoy not only seeing how sparks can still fly, but how the whole Relentless Series is wrapped up, including an epilogue with 2068 future president, David Joshua Salem, and the tenacious journalist Natalia Alaniz.

What are you currently writing? 

I am furiously writing (4000 words per day) the third book of my new trilogy—The Weather Girls. Do you remember the songs from the 60s—”Sunny,” “Stormy,” and “Windy?” Well, I turned them into sisters, set it in 1970 and gave it a bit of a romcom flavor.

My goal is to release Sunny in May of next year followed by Stormy in July and Windy in September. I’m having a blast with the words and fashions and music. Each book begins with a prologue where their father holds them while looking out the window at the weather. That’s his inspiration for naming each girl. Oh, and their last name is Day. Yup, Sunny Day, Stormy Day, and Windy Day.

So when they all end up returning home to Gramma’s about the same time and start a new business, it only makes sense to call it The Weather Girls Wedding Shoppe and Venue. This has been so fun. I’m hoping that if I enjoy it this much, the readers will too.

List several titles that you carry or adjectives, describing yourself. 

Child of God, Wife, Mother, Granmma (Mimi), author, and Retired Teacher.

Thanks so much, Jenny!

THANK YOU:

Thanks so much, Jennifer for being a guest author on my blog. It was my pleasure to host you. I wish you all the best with your books and your upcoming weather series! I hope I can host you again in the future.

Thank you, followers and subscribers, for reading! If you enjoy Christian fiction, I know you will love Jennifer’s books.

HAPPY READING! J

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