Jenny Knipfer Author

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

A Canadian sunset with a peony blossom layered over the top

While most writers I know are writing furiously for National November Writing Month, I am taking a break—a thankful break. After writing five novels in less than a year and a half, I think I might be due for one. I published two of the five manuscripts—Ruby Moon and Blue Moon. The other three await exposure to an editor’s eyes and the publishing process. 

When I delved into this journey of self-publishing, I knew it would be a lot of work, but I had no clue how exhausting some portions of the job could be. Marketing has put a good-sized dent in my rear end. I don’t have a publisher to help get my books into bookstores and libraries or into the hands of readers. I am the only lonely with the responsibility of pedaling my work. Since I’m buried in pages of books in my genre online, getting sales on Amazon requires advertising, which I am still trying to figure out. 

The bottom line is: I’m tired. I dislike selling anything. When I thought about being an author, I didn’t fully factor in the aspect of selling my work. It tastes bitter to me, like I’m selling myself, and in a way I suppose I am. My words are printed on the pages. Well, needless to say, weeks ago the frustrations were building up. I needed to redirect my mind and energy before I fizzled out like a spent firecracker. 

This season of thanksgiving helped me do that. This month I wanted to focus on being thankful instead of grumbling and complaining about my uphill author battles, so I challenged myself to post about something I’m grateful for on Facebook and Instagram each day. I wake up eager each morning to share my thankful posts. Counting your blessings really does change your attitude. 

Today is day fifteen, and today I am thankful for you: dear reader, follower, or friend. Thank you for following my journey, for encouraging and inspiring me, and most of all—thank you for reading. I hope you will always find my posts and stories up-lifting. I’ve accomplished my goal if I’ve left your life a little lighter, brighter, or clearer after reading my words. 

Blessings, J

To see my posts and follow the rest of my thankful journey, find me on Facebook or Instagram.

I recently read Christian Fiction Off the Beaten Path, and I follow JPC Allen–one of the authors featured in this anthology–on Facebook and Instagram. I enjoyed her story and asked her to do a guest blog for me, my first so far. Thank you, JPC, for being my first guest blogger! The following is her post about the story behind A Rose From the Ashes . . .

I couldn’t have heard that right.

Last December I was talking to author and editor Michelle L. Levigne at the Faith and Fellowship Book Festival in Etna, Ohio. Michelle is also the co-founder of Mt. Zion Ridge Press. That afternoon, she said the deadline for submitting short stories for the press’s Christmas anthology was December 15. I’d had a short story accepted for another anthology from Mt. Zion Ridge and assumed the deadline would be in January.

It was December 1. I had less than two weeks to come up with a 5,000-word short story that actually made sense while getting ready for Christmas, teaching Sunday school, and preparing for a visit from my in-laws. And I don’t handle stress well. Or in some cases, at all.

I’d heard about the anthology about a week before and had an idea simmering, but I hadn’t put a single word on paper. Despite the odds stacked against me, I told my husband I wanted to go for it. As much as I hated the stress, the challenge of the assignment stirred my determination.

So on Monday morning, after running my kids to school, I sat down and wrote fourteen completely worthless pages. Something wasn’t working. I was playing it safe. I had the wrong main character, and I was shying away from big emotions.

Because my short story involves a twenty-year-old cold case, I wrote out that part of the story like a book report to see if the mystery held together. Then I told my husband that whole story to see if he thought it held together. By the way, every writer should have an engineer to bounce ideas off of. If you can’t marry one, like I did, try to acquire one as a friend. My husband applies a logic to my plots that is refreshing and invaluable. When he told me the story made sense, my confidence got a terrific boost.

On Tuesday morning, I started over. Over the next eleven days, I wrote like I never had before. I couldn’t wait to get at it every morning. I couldn’t sleep well. The alarm would go off for my husband to go to work, and I couldn’t fall back asleep for an extra hour because the story was running through my head. After suffering from insomnia for years, this inability to catch another hour of sleep would have worried me. But I didn’t care because I was so caught up in my story.

The energy I had to write spilled over into the rest of my life. I got the house cleaned for my in-laws, prepared my Sunday school lessons, and decorated and planned Christmas activities with my kids and still felt like I could work in a marathon if I had to.

That’s when it hit me that all this energy and creativity was coming from the Holy Spirit. I’d been writing for years and had never experienced anything like this.

I wrote 10,000-word YA Christmas mystery “A Rose from the Ashes”, which was accepted and published in October in Christmas fiction off the beaten path. But the publication pales in comparison to what I learned about God during those two weeks.

He loves being creative. It is a joy to Him. And He loves being generous with His creativity. This mystery was His. For some reason, He wanted to filter it through me. I felt a wonderful responsibility to write it the way He wanted it. I’d come up with cute expressions or catchy dialogue, but if it didn’t serve the story, I cut it out. The story was finely balanced, and I didn’t want to wreck it. I was thrilled to be the junior partner in the process.

Eventually the feelings faded, but not the memories of the most joyful writing experience and Christmas I’ve ever had. In those two weeks, I learned so much about God. To know my Heavenly Father better was worth any stress, any work, any sleeplessness, anything. I can’t wait to see what project He has in mind next.

I’m holding a book giveaway on my site! Click here for details.

Christmas fiction off the beaten path

Not your Granny’s Christmas stories …

Step off the beaten path and enjoy six stories that look beyond the expected, the traditional, the tried-and-true.

Inspired by the song, “Mary Did You Know?” – a mother’s memories of events leading up to and following that one holy night. MARY DID YOU KNOW? By Patricia Meredith

A young woman seeking her own identity searches for the man who tried to kill her and her mother on Christmas Eve twenty years before. A ROSE FROM THE ASHES. By JPC Allen

Princess, tower, sorceress, dragon, brave knight, clever peasant – combine these ingredients into a Christmas-time story that isn’t quite what you’d expect. RETURN TO CALLIDORA. By Laurie Lucking

Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family. NOT THIS YEAR. By Sandra Merville Hart

Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life – and the echoes from that day continued to the present. THOSE WHO STAYED. By Ronnell Kay Gibson

A community of refugees, a brutal winter, a doorway to another world – a touch of magic creating holiday joy for others leads to a Christmas wish fulfilled. CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS. By Michelle L. Levigne

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BIO

JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. She has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops, encouraging tweens, teens, and adults to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.

Tis the season to be thankful. In my book club yesterday, we talked about the importance of being grateful and what a difference it can make in our lives. Basically, thankfulness boils down to a choice, a decision to count your blessings instead of the pain. When you make a conscious effort to be grateful, sometimes even the pain becomes a blessing. 

Far better minds than I have talked about the importance of gratefulness. The Apostle Paul often commended the early Christian churches to give thanks. I Thessalonians 5:17,18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.” Thankfulness is a recurring theme in the Bible. Even before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he gave thanks at the last supper when he knew what was to come.

Ann Voskamp, a present day author, comes to mind when I think about gratitude. I like this quote from her book, One Thousand Gifts, “…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. If you’ve never read her book, I highly recommend it. You can read more about Ann on her website

I speak from a place of experience when it comes to choosing gratitude. I look back on some difficult days of pain in my past with my journey with MS. It would have been easier to give in to the pain and fear, but I had to learn to choose to be grateful. Choosing gratitude becomes a habit that gives us daily opportunities to pattern out life after something more than anger and fear.

At times, it is still a challenge to embrace gratitude. I am presented about one hundred times a day with situations in which I can no longer function like I used to be able to. It’s so tempting to give into frustration, but I’ve learned that only feeds unrest in my soul and makes me angry. If I focus on being grateful for what I can still do, then peace takes up residence instead of angst.

Gratitude comes easy when your life rolls along fairly uninterrupted by sorrow and suffering, but like Much Afraid in Hannah Hurnard’s tale, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, sorrow and suffering were her best companions. They led her to a place of perspective where joy and peace were replaced with her previous companions. 

I see gratitude as that point of perspective. It helps you look through the valley to the figurative mountain we all wish to summit. Choosing gratitude doesn’t discount the valley experience, it legitimizes it as a part of the journey, in which we become grateful even for the echoey, windy, and shadowy places of the valley. 

Blessings, J.

Follow along with me this month on Facebook or Instagram as I strive to post daily about what I am grateful for.

Our local fishing hole earlier in the season

Have you ever seen a person spin plates? I have. It is certainly a feat. One that I don’t think I could achieve. Yet inwardly, I do just that. In this new season of being an independent author, I find myself wondering how to balance life with the various hats that I wear. I imagine the hats like plates spinning on a pole. I am afraid that one or more will crash, or I will. 

Living with MS has taught me to: take frequent breaks, not push myself, and practice techniques which help me to keep stress at bay. I have crept away from my calm center this last year, and instead of decluttering my inward space, I have filled it with spinning plates.

I continue to learn more about being an independent author and pick up helpful tips here and there. I tally some away as “to do’s”, and I add another plate to the spinning hoard. A sound of panic echoes in my head like the scrape of a match against a striking strip. My list of things I need to accomplish daily out-weights my energy level, and I find myself asking how I am going to do it all. 

On the weekends, I usually take a break from writing and spend my time on some other crafts and being with my family. I had the pleasure of going fishing with my oldest son on Saturday. We went to a local backwater slough of the Red Cedar River. I didn’t fish but sat in a camp chair with a blanket tucked around me, watching my son fish and enjoying the scenery. The crisp fall air, the call of birds, the motion of the water, and the cast and plunk of my son’s bait all served to slow the spinning plates in my head.

I began to relax and noticed most of the leaves were off the trees, but the stubborn oaks held their burnt orange crunchy leaves, like a testament of strength. In the distance an eagle screeched at some crows mid-flight, and fish swirled in spots, causing round ripples, as if I had thrown stones in the water. Leaf boats floated lazily by unperturbed by the current or their course, and as I watched, I became less concerned with directing my own course. 

By the time we left, the surface of the water, once rippling in constant motion, had turned glassy and smooth. Calm. It was a physical picture of the calm my spirit experienced. I had arrived with so many agendas and left with only one—being me and doing it without the spinning plates. First and foremost I am a: child of God, wife, mom, grandma, and then a writer. 

I will do what I can, at a pace I can tolerate, and that will have to be enough. 

Blessings,

J

Click on graphic to purchase

I remember turning points in my life when I take a look back. They are times when my path altered direction. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

This is the turning point in my new book, Blue Moon. It’s the moment my character picks up something she shouldn’t and changes the course of the future . . .

Vanessa sat on her bed and plotted. She mentally accounted for her grievances. It galled Vanessa that Luis could not call her Mama.

She’d come to terms with her lot in life as ‘auntie,’ but M. Bellevue had shown up last August, and every day since, something in her had grown.

In the recesses of Vanessa’s mind, she didn’t know what to call the little seed making her sour. She did realize, however, it had been planted long before she’d given birth to Luis, and her empty arms had caused her anguish. It had started when Felix had entered Valerie’s universe, and Renault had left Vanessa’s. She remembered the night she’d met Renault, and Valerie had met Felix. How fitting that she and her sister would meet the men they fell in love with on the same day.

Vanessa remembered how they’d whispered and giggled like girls, lying in the same bed. They’d shared their hearts and disclosed how the two men had caught their attention . . .

After the gala ball, Vanessa lay in her shift next to her sister on the bed in her room. “He is very handsome. I thought him conceited at first, but now I am not sure. I find conceited men talk more about themselves than they do anything else, and I didn’t catch him expounding on his qualities. In fact, what he talked about most was me.” Vanessa turned her head to see her sister. She blushed and smiled as she disclosed her heart. They both giggled like girls. The sisters lay shoulder to shoulder on Vanessa’s bed. Vanessa grasped Valerie’s hand and urged her, “Tell me about your man.”

“Oh, all right,” Valerie shyly conceded. “He is tall, kind, handsome of course.”


“Of course, and . . .” Vanessa affirmed and waited for more description.

“His eyes are blue with a ring of hazel around the edges, but his mustache is my favorite feature. On some men, mustaches sit on their lips like furry caterpillars, but on Felix, it is ‘the piece de la résistance’.” I cannot imagine him without it. It tickled when he kissed me, deliciously so.”

“Valerie! You let him kiss you, and you just met? How shocked I am!” Vanessa feigned disapproval but confessed, “Renault kissed me too, although, I can’t say his mustache tickled so much.” They dissolved in more giggles and turned a bit serious.

“What do you think of him, Val?”

“Handsome for sure, and he treated you like a queen. I can picture him with you. Can you picture Felix with me?”

Vanessa thought a few seconds. “You . . . I don’t know . . . click together. You fit together as if you have always been. Sounds strange, I suppose.”

“No, it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking.”

The sisters grew tired and drifted off to sleep, dreaming their own dreams with their own handsome men.

That next week, they both had been busy with their beaus and spent every available moment with them. However, at the end of the week Felix had proposed and Renault had left. Vanessa had held out hope of his return for a couple of months as they corresponded, but her hope died with his last letter to her . . .

I wrote this simple rhyming poem many years ago, but the sentiments it expresses are still the same to me. I hope you enjoy it.

Autumn To Me

Cool crisp perfect
Colored hat glorious
Misty morning marvelous

Dead leaf crunch
Corn, buffet brunch

Bird song quiet
Tree top song, windy
Sweater skin lovely

Gloves that match
Pumpkin, gourd patch

Huge hydrangeas
Hot, steamy tea mugs
Apple cider jugs

School bus time
Deep, dangling chime

Sky raining leaves
Fuzzy seeded pod
Long, fly fishing rod

Woodsy walk
Grandfather clock

High haystacks
Bon fire a’ burning
Bright season turning

Rose hips red
Early to bed

Windows locked shut
Snuggly blanket warm
Winter coming storm

I am not an outspoken person about my faith or otherwise. What I choose and how I live my life are my biggest testimonies. However, just because I happen to say less does not mean that I am ashamed to tell you what I believe. 

I’ve been thinking about strength lately. My body seems to be getting weaker all the time. My muscles don’t function right, or well most of the time. My appendages and middle fluctuate from stiff as a poker to mushy as jello. It’s like stepping out across a cavern on a suspended bridge each day not knowing if it will hold. The fact of the matter is: my physical body is weakening. But something strange has happened over the years. As my outer strength has waned, my inner strength has flourished. 

Where does my inner strength come from? Is it something I sought from within or from an outer force? Does strength just happen, or is it built? What does inner strength look like? How do I define it? How do you?

As people, we abhor weakness. We shy from it. It embarrasses us and causes us pain. We are taught to desire strength, whether it be physically or mentally. Strength usually equates to power of some sort—the power to lead, to be independent, or to control others.

But this is not how God defines strength. He says, “When you are weak, you are strong.” At least when living lives which are surrendered to him. He can take the youngest, smallest, defected, or most insignificant weak (inside or out) person and fortify them with strength. He did it over and over in the stories of the Bible. God seems to take special delight in working through those who fall in the “less than” category to help achieve mighty things. I think of Moses, David, Gideon, Esther, Samuel, a babe in a manger ect. . . . The list goes on. 

What is the purpose of strength? Do we aim to become strong simply for our own gain? In God’s economy strength is used not only to better our own lives but to raise others up as well. 

I believe inner strength is built on faith or perhaps a result of it. Like physical work strengthens muscles, so does our faith exercises our strength. We grow stronger when we trust and believe. Like an arch is strong because it spreads the tension of weight outward, so are we. 

We bend and often break under the direct pressure of our various burdens. Christ’s presence in our life acts as the arch. He bears our weakness, making us more pliable, teachable, and thus stronger.

I think of this verse as I close. 2 Cor. 12:9 – My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I remind myself of this often. The promise of these words helps me live in this weak body of mine. Knowing that I don’t have to be strong in my merit alone frees me from fear, sorrow, and anger over my physical condition. (Not to say that my condition doesn’t figuratively trip me up sometimes.) This strengthens my faith, believing that God can use even the weak things of my life for some greater purpose. Praise be to God that he specializes in empowering weak things. 

Blessings, J

Purchase on Amazon

Family and forgiveness go together. Or not. When writing my second novel, Blue Moon, I dwelled on what it would be like to forgive a family member for stealing. Not just any common theft of personal property but something deeper—a child and an identity. 

I can attest to hurts which can arise in a family. Some acts and words seem unforgivable but family is family. I think it is easier to forgive family for causing hurt than a friend. To me family is everything. 

As I thought about difficult family dynamics to overcome, the tale of identical twin sisters, Vanessa and Valerie, came out on the screen. Forgiveness transcribed itself on the page as the color blue. Interspersed with their drama, romance, and various crisis, their tale grew from something rare, as rare as a blue moon . . . 

To read more about Vanessa and Valerie’s tale, find the back cover synopsis here.

Watch a brief intro video about Blue Moon on my home page.

Purchase Blue Moon here. 

Thanks for reading!

Blessings, J

I saw the leaves fall today

I peered up

Down they came

Burnt sienna cigar twirls

Dancing in the crisp air

Against a morning glory blue sky

A million fairy wings

Flitting like silent insects

In the stillness

Against the background of a crow chorus

Leaves raining

Like a curtain of confetti

Littering the grass

Spread by the fingers of God

Leaves

On a magically magnetic course

Destined for the earth

The journey of death

The story of the ages

Made beautiful by the promise of spring

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.

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