Jenny Knipfer–Author

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

I’ve been talking about my books a lot, here on the blog, but I thought I’d give you a more personal taste of my daily routine as an author and someone living with a chronic disease—MS. My days unfold pretty much this way:

  • 3:30-4:30 am Wake up and babysit my aching back with various topical treatments and a heating pad. I often pray during this time and sometimes fall back to sleep. (I don’t sleep very long in one chunk of time because of pain. Gone are the days of eight hours of sleep.)
  • 6:30 am Eat breakfast, take a shower, and get ready
  • 9:30 am Check on social media and do my daily schedule of posting
  • 11:00 am Blog, if it’s Monday, Wednesday, or I have a feature with the Coffeepot Book Club and check emails
  • Noon LUNCH!
  • 12-1:30 Break time. I rest in the chair with Ruby and watch a movie or TV series. Right now we are watching old classic movies on Tubi.
  • 1:30 -2:00 GOLF CART RIDE WITH RUBY!, weather permitting.
  • 2-4:30 Writing, editing, research, or some other related author task
  • 5:00 – 7:30 supper and time with the hubby
  • 7:30-8:30 more time on social media
  • 8:30-10:30 getting ready for bed and reading

And there’s a glimpse into my life as an author. Not too glamorous, but it keeps me busy and my mind off of how cruddy I feel. I recently got some MRI’s done that show the progression of my disease. I have an area in my spinal cord, at the base of my neck, where it is sunken in. It looks like it has been squashed, but not by any bone misalignment. No, it’s an area the my white blood cells creeped into and waged an all-out war on. My bundle of nerves in that area has decreased by 75%. Most of them are dead. No wonder my body doesn’t work right!

I have come to grips with my increasing disability, but the pain I’m experienced due to muscle cramps and spasms in my back and legs is wearing me down. I’ve tried six different medications, none of which helped and most of which left me feeling horrible. I’m a firm believer in alternative medicine and have pretty much tried every treatment and therapy in that realm too. The result fo these failed attempts to control my pain has left me feeling rather despondent at times and wondering how I am going to face tomorrow and the day after that. And the day after that…

I pray lots of little prayers throughout the day, asking God for help to manage and cope. I have to keep believing that His eye his in this little sparrow. He keeps giving me the strength to do so, so bring on the tomorrows, come what may.

Miss Ruby, my companion and writing buddy

One of my favorite times of my day is my golf cart ramble time with Ruby. Here’s some pictures of wildflowers we saw on our rambles this summer.

Thank you,

Thanks for reading and catching a glimpse into my life. Blessings, J

At its core, Under the Weeping Willow is about a mother and a daughter and the secret shaping their rocky relationship. 

Inspiration:

My first inspiration and challenge for writing Under the Weeping Willow sprung from a question: what would it be like, as a daughter, to have a strained relationship with my mother? And what would be the driving force behind it? My imagination and my college courses in psychology helped me out here. Having a very close relationship with my mom, I didn’t have experience to draw from but created a scenario where a strained mother/daughter relationship was a reality. That and the fact of knowing that many of our biggest obstacles in life come from the past. And in Robin and Enid’s case, the secret between them.

Why the subject matter is significant to me:

I’ve lived with depression on and off since my early twenties. I’ve been grateful for the many ways depression can be treated in these modern days, but it always made me wonder. What if I had lived 100 years ago? What would have happened to me, and would I have made it through the many valleys I have walked through. 

So writing a novel with a main character who deals with depression came natural to me. Although, I never suffered from postpartum depression, I had a good grasp on the basics of depression when crafting my character, Robin. 

Alzheimer’s:

Enid, the daughter, and her story picks up when she’s in her sixties and having to put her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home. Enid uncovers her mother’s journals and begins to read them, finding out things about her mother, Robin, that she never knew. This knowledge helps her process through their past, leaving hope for reconciliation before it’s too late. 

My dad passed from Alzheimer’s in 2010, so I write from some experience here as well. I can honestly say that the biggest test of my faith at that time came from watching my father plummet down the rabbit hole of forgetfulness and loss that Alzheimer’s brings. I think many children of parents suffering with this disease walk a similar path. It’s my hope that Enid’s story will touch and encourage someone who might be traveling down that very road. 

🌸What was the last novel you read where the main characters’ trials or journey mirrored something you had gone through or are going through in life?

An Excerpt from Under the Weeping Willow:

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?

Thank you for reading!!! J

Who’s thinking of Christmas in August? I am. 🙂 My first novella, Holly’s Homecoming, in my Botanical Seasons novella series releases November 4th, and I’m excited to share this sweet Christmastime read with you.

HOW I GOT THE NOTION TO WRITE A CHRISTMAS NOVELLA:

I read a Christmas novella last year and realized how much I liked it, being short and sweet. I did a little research and noticed that quite a few authors are publishing novellas and often use them as a marketing tool to gain new readers. So a week or so before Christmas last year, I decided to write one, and I am pleased with how the story turned out. And because I enjoy writing series, I wrote another novella, finishing it a few weeks ago. It’s my hope that readers will be drawn to these easy-to-read, inspirational stories.

Holly’s Homecoming SYNOPSIS:

A Christmastime Novella of Restoration and Sweet Romance

It’s the end of 1897 and Christmas approaches. It’s been years since Holly Moore has seen her father, a well-known lumber baron, but she has heard he’s come back home to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Having lived with her aunt and uncle since the age of ten, Holly holds mixed feelings about seeing the man who once abandoned her.  

When the opportunity comes for Holly to slip into the household of Grapevine Lodge—her childhood home and the seat of the Moore Lumber fortune—virtually unnoticed, she takes it. 

While at Grapevine Lodge, Holly encounters Matthew Peterson, the son of a business associate of her father’s. She quickly develops a friendship with Matthew, but when she finds out just who he really is and what he’s come to the lodge for, Holly questions their relationship. 

Will Holly’s father recognize her? Can she move past all that has kept her and her father apart and finally be able to truly come home? Can Holly keep her feelings for Matthew and still step into her role as the heiress to a lumber fortune?

Find out in this short and sweet, Christmas-themed novella with a surprise twist. Readers of Christian historical fiction, Christian or clean romance, and Christmas fiction will experience a heart-warming story of all that makes Christmastime magical. 

AN EXCERPT:

Chippewa Falls, WI

December 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, which held a few changes of clothes and toiletries. She had come prepared to stay in town, whether it be at the hotel or at her childhood home. It all depended on if Father welcomed her or not. She 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 Chippewa Falls lumber baron, had returned. And then there was the fact that she hadn’t told Aunt Nel everything about her trip into town.

Holly had left a note, saying not to expect her back, that she had gone to town for an interview and would stay at the hotel for the night, which was true, mostly. Nel would be furious if she knew Holly had planned to go to Grapevine Lodge first before her job interview for a position as a companion to an elderly woman. If Aunt Nel knew the truth, she would certainly stop her; Holly had no doubt about that. Why Aunt Nel detested Father, Holly couldn’t be sure. 

“That man, 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, a petite, pointy nose, 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 the crispest image Holly held of her mother, really. All she recalled in vivid detail. They’d been to the river’s shore on that bright, sunny summer day—Mother, Father, and her. Holly had been only nine, 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 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 had 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, kissed her lightly on the cheek, and then had left. 

Holly shook her head clear of the memories, too long past now and walked on, her boots leaving fresh prints in the new-fallen snow. With each step, a protesting squeak, like a bite into a fresh cheese curd, emanated from the pressure of her foot upon the blanket of precipitation. She gazed up. The trees over the drive were old and the long-armed, tangled branches wove a sort of canopy overhead. But whether sheltering or foreboding, Holly couldn’t discern. 

A QUESTION:

Have you ever read a Christmas novella? If so, what did you enjoy about it the most?

THANKS FOR READING!

As always, thank you for following and reading my blog.

Blessings, J

P.S.

Check out my events page for book tour and giveaway info for In a Grove of Maples, this week.

All this week, my inspirational historical novel, In a Grove of Maples, is on tour with Just Read Tours. I am offering a special giveaway at the tour stops for those who signup to follow me on a social media platform. Today A Modern Day Fairy Tale featured a guest blog from me about faith and fiction and the importance of keeping God at the center.

Read an excerpt from that post:

The thought of writing a novel that didn’t center on God sounds impossible for me. It’s an integral part of who I am as a person, to always be pointing to Someone greater than myself. God has helped me through my darkest days and enlightened my path, and I can’t fathom living one day without Him. In whatever I do in life, I always want to be exalting God for all He’s done for me and helping others see how He longs to come alongside them.

As a teen, reading the novels of George MacDonald and Grace Livingston Hill led me to see how pairing fiction with spiritual truth can result in an enjoyable read but also one that means more than mere entertainment. If I wrote only to entertain my readers, I wouldn’t be writing. For me, writing my novels is about the larger message of hope found in deep valleys, overcoming difficult circumstances, or finding God in the midst of trials.

With wisdom Jesus often taught in story form, and I think that truth is more palatable and relatable in a story. To weave this truth in, I first define my main character, what the character wants or needs, and what or who keeps them from it. I determine how they will grow in the process and how God will be actively moving in their story to reveal Himself to the main characters. That’s not to say I have it all planned out before I start writing, but I have a premise and a direction.

Read More:

To read the rest of post, visit A Modern Day Fairytale Blog. Visit the main tour link below to see the other stops today and what’s ahead the rest of the week.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO PREORDER ON KINDLE

It’s Christmas in August! My Christmastime novella, Holly’s Homecoming, is now on preorder for only $1.99. Click on the image to preorder.

Synopsis:

A CHRISTMAS NOVELLA OF RESTORATION AND SWEET ROMANCE

It’s the end of 1897 and Christmas approaches. It’s been years since Holly Moore has seen her father, a well-known lumber baron, but she has heard he’s come back home to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Having lived with her aunt and uncle since the age of ten, Holly holds mixed feelings about seeing the man who once abandoned her.

When the opportunity comes for Holly to slip into the household of Grapevine Lodge—her childhood home and the seat of the Moore Lumber fortune—virtually unnoticed, she takes it.

While at Grapevine Lodge, Holly encounters Matthew Peterson, the son of a business associate of her father’s. She quickly develops a friendship with Matthew, but when she finds out just who he really is and what he’s come to the lodge for, Holly questions their relationship.

Will Holly’s father recognize her? Can she move past all that has kept her and her father apart and finally be able to truly come home? Can Holly keep her feelings for Matthew and still step into her role as the heiress to a lumber fortune?

Find out in this short and sweet, Christmas-themed novella with a surprise twist. Readers of Christian historical fiction, Christian or clean romance, and Christmas fiction will experience a heart-warming story of all that makes Christmastime magical.

Thanks for reading!

Blessings on your week. 🙂 J

I’m super exciting to reveal this beautiful cover for my next novel, Under the Weeping Willow, in my inspirational historical fiction series, Sheltering Trees. This novel’s plot revolves around the relationship of a mother and daughter. Told in a spilt-timeline in 1918 and 1985, Under the Weeping Willow reveals the story of Robin and her daughter, Enid, their relationship threatened by a deep secret.

A bit of inside info about the cover:

I looked for quite a while to find the right images for the cover of this book, but could not find anything that worked. I deliberated between having mother and daughter on the cover but came to the conclusion an expectant mother might be best. So, I started searching for those images from around the 1920’s, but they were always dressed too fancy for the little farm gal that Robin is.

After praying about it, I got the inspiration to ask my brother-in-law, Craig if he’d be willing to do a photo shoot for me. He agreed, and I asked his daughter to be the model. She agreed as well. Next, I found the right clothes, but come photo shoot day, we weren’t settled on a location.

I told Craig about our neighbor’s farm with the pond and willow trees out front and how I had imaged the book to be set there. Being the confident man that he is, he went and talked with them (I had never met them), explaining our situation, and they agreed to let us do the shoot on their farm. It was such a wonderful answer to prayer. And how many authors can say they were able to create a book cover from the exact place they imagined the book to be set? Not many I bet!

Book Synopsis:

A historical novel about a mother and daughter and the secret shaping their rocky relationship

1918:

Just as Robin Holcomb settles into married life with her husband, Willis, on his aunt and uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, WWI calls Willis away. With an unknown future and a child on the way, Robin makes the best of life among people she barely knows.

After the birth of her child, Robin struggles with depression and battles to overcome her inner demons before despair and hopelessness drive her to attempt to take her own life. Will Robin survive her dive into postpartum depression, let alone see Willis again?

1985:

Enid Fenton clears out her Mother’s house and puts the family farm up for sale, trying to not be consumed by guilt for installing her mother into the county nursing home. 

Reading through some of her mother’s diary entries, Enid uncovers a secret that helps her make sense of the unnamed point of division that has always soured their relationship. 

Can Enid reconcile with her mother before the ravages of Alzheimer’s claim her?

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction will be moved as this novel takes them from the depths of a person’s psyche and grief to the pinnacle of long-hoped-for peace. 

 “A heart-rending, emotionally packed love story between a mother and daughter, Under the Weeping Willow is a journey of loss and brokenness coupled with forgiveness and healing. This time-split novel captured my heart and didn’t release it until the final page. Beautiful and haunting, Robin and Enid’s story swept me to another era. These characters lived, and I loved watching them find their way to each other. Keep the tissues handy. You don’t want to miss this story!” ~Candace West, Selah award finalist and author of the Valley Creek Redemption series

Thanks for reading:

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post and connect with me. Next time, I’ll share about my Christmas novella and how you can read it for free.

Blessings, J

TAKING A BREAK:

We all need a break, from time to time, and I have been badly in need of one. I took last week off and gave myself a staycation/writing hiatus. It was perfect, all except for last Monday. That was the mother of all Mondays. Everything that could go wrong did. Coupled with my frustration over my recent health struggles and a very negative review for one of my books, the day amounted to a total downer. I may have yelled and thrown a few things. 

On Tuesday, I texted my friend and neighbor to see if she wanted to pick me up for a little retail therapy. I’ve had a merchandise card for Maurices with $90.00 on it, eating a hole in my wallet. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been shopping in an actual store, so far this year. I do most of my shopping online, but I figured time with my friend and the treat of shopping would do me a world of good, and it did. 

She pushed me around in my wheelchair, and we browsed the racks and even tried some clothes on, which I rarely do anymore. I scored with a few cute tops and a stack of stretch pants, each half off. After, we went to Caribou. My friend ordered hot chocolate, and I ordered my usual, a medium decaf latte with coconut or almond milk and vanilla syrup. And we chatted about everything. I enjoyed our time together so much, a much-needed balm to my soul. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, I kicked it into high gear and finished writing my current project, a novella, the second book, Violet’s Vow, in my upcoming Botanical Seasons novella series. It felt so good to have time to write and not think about creating content for social media posts. Each day with favorable weather, I sat on my rocking bench on the deck and simply enjoyed the quiet, leaning my heart toward simple prayers of gratitude and direction. 

On Friday, I did a few more book related tasks, the result of which I’ll share with you on my Wednesday blog post. HINT: it involves two new novels! 

Saturday, it rained ALL day, which trapped my hubby in the house with me. (Insert gleeful laughter. 😀) He usually putters around outside most of the time on Saturdays, and I hardly get to see him. But last Saturday, we watched a couple of movies, played a Scrabble game—which of course he won—, ate a few meals together, and in general spent quality time with one another. It was a great way to bring the week to a close. 

REPRIORITIZING:

Yesterday, I reprioritized. I came to the conclusion that I need to enjoy my days and not be over burdened with so many author tasks, blogging, social media interaction, and marketing platforms. I don’t have the energy to be cranking out content on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, my blog, my Anchor podcast channel, Instagram, and Twitter every day or even every week. I gave myself permission to take it back a notch and relax a little more. If it means I sell a few less books and make a few less connections, so be it. My quality of life is slipping away, and I want to enjoy what I can before I can’t do anything anymore. 

A few weeks ago, I saw a Multiple Sclerosis specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He ordered new MRI scans for me, which showed more damage in my spinal cord and a large area around the base of my neck that has sunken in. In that area the axons, the inner core of the nerves, have been ravaged by my own white blood cells and as a result, my nerve function has decreased and will continue to do so. There is no medical help for the stage I am at. And the specialist could not provide a viable solution for the strange, painful episodes I am having. 

I believe these facts resided at the core of the poor start to my week. I’ve been a little angry at facing the reality that it’s downhill all the way from here. It is one thing to think about my decline and process it, still having faith, but to see the actual evidence on the scans, is quite another. But throughout this health battle of the last seven years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel, to be angry or sad. More danger results from bottling up emotions and the cycle of grieving than allowing myself to feel, just as long as I don’t get stuck in those emotional spots. 

All in all, I had a great week off and feel refreshed, ready to tackle the next phase of publishing for my upcoming books.

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK? WHAT WAS A HIGHLIGHT?

As a part of the Coffeepot Book Club, I am happy to feature The Landscape of a Marriage, today. I have not read this book yet, but it sounds interesting!

Book Title: Landscape of a Marriage * Author: Gail Ward Olmsted * Publication Date: July 29, 2021 * Publisher: Black Rose Writing * Page Length: 314 Pages * Genre: Historical Fiction

BLURB:

A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose. A shared vision transforms the American landscape forever.

New York, 1858: Mary, a young widow with three children, agrees to marry her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted, who is acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer”. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience and sets out to win her husband’s love. Beginning with Central Park in New York City, Mary joins Fred on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space.

Over the next 40 years, Fred is inspired to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces with Mary at his side. Based upon real people and true events, this is the story of Mary’s journey and personal growth and the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man. 

GUEST POST: The Evolution of Marriage 

The institution of marriage has undergone a radical transformation, and if it is to survive, the changes will continue. Although nearly 50% of marriages currently end  in divorce, that percentage has actually dropped due, in part, to the overall decline in the rate of marriage; currently the lowest in the past century in the U.S. It makes sense that as the likelihood of marriage decreases, the chance of divorce also drops as we can assume that those who are getting married actually want to marry as opposed to feeling that society expects them to. The practice of marriage is by no means an outdated one, but the parameters have clearly changed. 

Let’s look at the 5 W’s of marriage- What? Who? When? Why? Where?

What is Marriage?

Just what is marriage anyway? The basis for marriage can vary from a legal agreement binding two parties together, an economic union offering financial advantages such as tax breaks or savings on health insurance, a religious sacrament, a romantic notion that two will grow as one, a cultural institution accepted and encouraged by society or all of the above.

While most couples profess to marrying for love, loveless marriages (i.e. the parties enter into marriage with no expectation of passion or romantic love) do still exist, but they are not very common. Until the end of the 18th century, though, love and marriage were mutually exclusive. Marriage was important as a political and economic institution — the upper classes saw marriage as a way to secure political alliances. For everyone else, marriage provided a foundation on which to build a family and allow for a division of labor, i.e. men were the hunters and gatherers and women raised the children and tended the hearth at home. It was not until the early 1900s that the importance or even the existence of romantic love, passion and sexual attraction became part of the marriage equation. 

In my latest novel- Landscape of a Marriage, the marriage in the title refers to the union of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his late brother’s widow Mary. For over 40 years, the two struggled, celebrated, grieved and eventually persevered through a number of professional and personal challenges. But despite the love and passion that developed from their union, Fred and Mary’s marriage was levirate, which is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man must marry his brother’s widow. Levirate marriage was common among societies with a strong clan structure in which marriage outside the clan was forbidden. The term levirate is derived from the Latin levir, which translates to ‘husband’s brother’. 

Levirate marriage protected the widow and her children, ensuring for the provision of a male provider and protector. The practice of levirate marriage is strongly associated with patriarchal societies. The practice was extremely important in ancient times and remains so today in parts of the world. Vibbum, a form of levirate marriage, is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, whereby the brother of a man who dies without children is encouraged to marry the widow. Islamic law does not prohibit a man from marrying his brother’s widow but requires the woman’s consent. 

Regardless of the purpose of marriage, a sanctioned union between two willing parties continues to be a common practice around the world

Who is Getting Married? 

As the definition of marriage continues to change, it is no longer reasonable to assume that marriage vows are being taken by a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 U.S. states and many countries across the globe. And on the subject of race, in 2015 one in six newlyweds married to a person of a different race or ethnicity. Someone needs to tell the company that makes those miniature figures for the tops of wedding cakes to get with the times!

The dated notion of the ‘blushing bride’ or the fumbling groom is negated because many marriages today involve at least one partner who has taken a walk down the aisle more than once. Second and third marriages are quite common and if nothing else, represent the romantic optimism that a ‘happy ever after’ is on the horizon. 

Relationships between the two people getting married have changed as well. Dating — as opposed to courtship — became customary only in the past 100 years. In the 1970s “free love” — or sex without commitment — became quite common. Regardless of whether pre-marital sexual relationships were occurring back in the day, they were not being discussed as openly as today. With the relatively new phenomenon of romantic relationships as part of the marriage equation, it’s not surprising that marriages would also be susceptible to change. 

When are People Getting Married?

The average ages of those entering into matrimony have changed dramatically over the years. Although much of the shift can be attributed to an increase in expected life spans, the median age of first marriages even in modern times has fluctuated significantly. In the 1920s-50s, women walked down the aisle for the first time at the age of 21, with men 2-3 years older. Perhaps as a result of World War II, ages dropped slightly in the 1950s and 60s to 20 and 23, respectively. Average ages crept up, roughly one year per decade to today’s average ages of 27 for women and 29 for men. The availability of effective contraception, the safety attributed to pregnancy for ‘older’ women and the growing incidence of women pursuing professional goals and delaying marriage and childbearing undoubtedly contribute to this shift.

Why Get Married?

Other than celebrating love and wanting to make a lifelong commitment in front of friends and family, it appears the most common reasons for a couple to get married are the perceived financial benefits. The idea of a shotgun wedding where the reluctant groom is forced at gunpoint to marry his pregnant partner is a cliché that is rapidly becoming outdated. Although unplanned pregnancies still occur despite modern advances in contraception, it is increasingly unlikely that they will cause an unplanned marriage. Single women give birth at increasingly high rates, with little of the societal or family disapproval that would have been the norm just 20 years earlier. But while children and the raising of a family are often the root cause of a marriage, many couples today plan to remain childless and decide to marry for a myriad of other reasons. 

Economics plays a significant role in marriage. Marriage rates tend to decrease during times of economic uncertainty; rates dropped 22% during the Great Depression. Today, couples may be trapped in a marriage because of financial constraints. Divorce can be expensive and the costs of maintaining separate households, childcare and medical benefits complicate the process of separation and divorce. Also, many postpone marriage until they can afford to purchase a home to house the children that are expected. The type of weddings and accompanying celebration are more frequently being scaled down. It is not uncommon for even well-heeled marriage celebrants to save on the costs of a lavish wedding in favor of a larger down payment on a house or to fund future travels. 

Where Do Weddings Take Place?

Traditionally, weddings take place in a house of worship or a city hall with a reception held at a nearby venue. The location is where one or both of the marriage celebrants grew up or where the couple currently lives. ‘Destination’ weddings where the guests and members of the wedding party travel to a location that is considered a vacation or a dream spot are popular, especially among couples who are more settled financially. These celebrations often occur in tropical locations like the Caribbean or Mexico. Couples have exchanged vows on the beach, on mountaintops, on water skis and while jumping out of planes. For those short on time, drive-through wedding chapels are available in Las Vegas. During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, many weddings were held on Zoom and shared on social media. 

On a personal note, I am a huge fan of marriage. I never turn down an invitation to a wedding and I always tear up when the couple recites their vows. My husband, Deane and I married (for love) in 1984 in a historic inn famous for their popovers. It is now the site of a well-known fast-food restaurant, so we may celebrate our next anniversary with chili cheese dogs and watermelon lime slushes. 

Long live marriage in whatever shape or form suits you and the one you love!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levirate_marriage#:~:text=Levirate%20marriage%20is%20a%20type,outside%20the%20clan)%20is%20forbidden.

http://www.ius.bg.ac.rs/studenti/iustoria_radovi/Tran%C5%BE%C3%ADk,%20Jan%20-%20Levirate%20marriage%20through%20the%20ages.pdf

https://www.thelist.com/132979/how-marriages-have-changed-over-the-last-100-years/

PURCHASE:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1684337216

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1684337216

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1684337216

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1684337216

Publisher: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/landscapeofamarriage

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: www.GailOlmsted.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gwolmsted

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gailolmstedauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gwolmsted/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gail-ward-olmsted

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted

Goodreads: 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8158738.Gail_Ward_Olmsted

Thank you!

Thank you for reading. Best wishes with your book, Gail!

Are you married? What’s your take on marriage?

I’ve been married 28 years and am blessed every day by the kind, generous man that my husband is. Marriage has certainly had its challenges but also its joys and is so worth the risk!

Book Title: ‘Tho I Be Mute * Author: Heather Miller * Publication Date: 13th July 2021 * Publisher: Defiance Press and Publishing * Page Length: 340 Pages * Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

I have not read ‘Tho I Be Mute yet but would like to. It sounds interesting, especially with its Native American vein! If you’ve read my books, you’ll know that plays a part in my series, By the Light of the Moon. So today, as a part of the Coffeepot Book Club, I am happy to feature this historical fiction romance novel.

Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.

Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.

Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.

Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

Buy Links:

Universal Amazon Link: https://books2read.com/u/mV6p5r

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Author Guest Post:

As a teacher, I discovered the art of creative writing while seeking new material for innovative teaching. I enrolled at a local university and took a “Researched Fiction” course to refuel my curriculum and instruction. When the professor wrote “What is a novel?” on the whiteboard during the class’ first meeting, I rolled my eyes, assuming I would learn nothing from her or the twenty-something English graduate students surrounding the conference table. However, at the second class, on a field trip to Special Collections, my paradigm shifted from learning more about what others had written to what I could craft myself,

Special Collections Libraries spawn a unique exhilaration for historical novelists. They are the places of primary sources: actual words and authentic voices articulated from dusty, cradled books and microfiche newspapers long out of print. While classic works of fiction provide culture and social commentary, cursive signatures on deeds and treaties, pen-named arguments in ‘letters to the editor’ allow modern pursuers to hear history’s voices. Historical fiction creative writers seek mastery in the art of hearing voices. This genre’s authors become weavers of forgotten words, crafters who collate volumes of research to stories following time’s winners and losers, the oppressor and the oppressed, the built and the burnt. It is an honor to breathe life into history’s words again. 

When beginning the Researched Fiction course work, I found myself inspired by the single-chaptered, Tiresias-like archetype from the denouement of Charles Frazier’s Odyssey allegory, Cold Mountain—the medicine woman who resides alone on a mountainside, providing spiritual aid to the hero who happenstances to cross her path. My curiosity about her elicited subsequent questions: How did she learn the skills medicinal skills she offered to the hero? How did she gain her astute philosophy of living while so remaining isolated? What spawned her retreat from society? Where was her family? Answers led me to the Ridge family discovered among the pages of Cherokee history in Special Collections libraries. Voices, ever-alive, spoke from the pages of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, treaties signed with ink and quill expunging the tragedy endured through Cherokee removal.

My debut novel, ‘Tho I Be Mute, began. Two and a half years later, I’ve read more than I ever have in my life and written more than I ever thought I could.

Author Bio: Heather Miller

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://heathermillerauthor.com/home/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HMHFR

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

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-miller-896627208/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hmillerauthor/

Pinterest: https://pin.it/26kOsvl

Thank You:

Thanks, Heather for your post and blessings on your book!

Friends, what’s on your reading shelf? Are you a part of an in-person or online bookclub?

On Thursdays on social media, I’ve been sharing a quote from my newly released inspirational historical fiction novel, In a Grove of Maples. Today, I thought I’d give my blog followers a glimpse into my Thursday excerpts. This excerpt comes from chapter eight. I open the chapter with this literary quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose.” It sums up the chapter well. 

In all honesty when writing Beryl and Edward’s story, I wanted to knock their heads together and say, “Grow up!” They misunderstand each other and simply can’t see life from the other’s perspective, but this can happen to newlyweds or at the beginning of a romantic relationship. I wanted to explore how that would look in this novel, and so far, most readers have commented how I’ve hit the newlywed nail on the head and said they can relate to Beryl or Edward. That makes my heart happy. As an author, it’s important to create relatable characters, dealing with real life issues readers can comprehend. 

Here’s an excerpt, based on the quote in the graphic…

Beryl walked toward home, stepping through the harvested rows of corn to get to the end. The rustle of dry stalks faded as she neared the cabin.

 An image of their future home sprouted again in her mind. Beryl made her way over to the trees which held her dream. One maple at the center of the arc dominated the others, like a teacher among students. Beryl lowered herself to sit in the pile of fallen leaves at its base. A musty, earthy smell met her nose as she sat. It was the smell of death and life together. A sudden twinge and a kick from the babe inside her made her rub the side of her misshapen belly. 

How will I manage by myself? Who will attend me when I give birth? 

Beryl feared being alone. She knew she needed to love Edward as best as she could, but ever since she had found out about him going up north for work, a fear had grown in her. She couldn’t rise above it. 

She picked up a handful of leaves. Some crumbled with her touch; others were pliable. In Beryl’s mind, the sensation became a manifestation of what the future might hold.

Will our separation cause us to die and crumble, or will Edward and I retain life in our marriage, keeping love alive?

Deep down, Beryl knew love to be a choice, but she didn’t know if she could love and be afraid at the same time. The fear made her angry at Edward—angry for leading her here to Wisconsin and then abandoning her to fend for herself. 

She leaned her head back against the sturdy trunk and listened to the wind and the distant honk of migrating geese. She stayed that way for some moments and relaxed. Beryl had almost nodded off when the rustle of leaves and the bark of a dog forced her eyes open…

An Excerpt Gallery

Thanks for reading! 

Have you ever read a novel that centers on a newlywed couple and their relationship issues? If so, tell me about it.

No part of this graphic may be used without permission from Jenny.

Today, I’d like to share a little Wisconsin lumbering history with you that I wrote into my latest historical novel, In a Grove of Maples, inspired by my grandparents. In a portion of the story Edward Massart leaves his wife, Beryl, to head up to northern Wisconsin to be a teamster—a man handling a team of horses, pulling a sled of felled trees—at a lumber camp. 

From school and just growing up in an area not far from where lumber camps once operated, I knew much of the historical information I used for In a Grove of Maples but did brush up on some terminology, different jobs at the camps, and details about specific camps. 

In particular I researched the lumber camp at Morse, WI. I have been to Morse numerous times to stay at a cabin my sister and her husband own in the tiny town. Morse is mainly a collection of a few old, small homes and not the thriving lumber town it once was. At its height, it shipped out thirty train cars of lumber per week to Ashland, WI.

🍁Learn more about the history of Morse, Wisconsin here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_(community),_Wisconsin

🍁I found the book, Ghosts of the Forest: Vanished Lumber Towns of Wisconsin, by Randall Eugene Rohe very helpful in my research on lumbering in northern Wisconsin. 

I loved learning more about the camp at Morse and imagining my grandfather working in such a spot, which he very well might have. For many years, he spent the winters up north at a logging camp, working as a teamster. The graphic banner above contains a picture of my grandfather with his team of horses, Sal and Sam, and my dad. I’m not certain that these are the horses Grandpa took up north to the logging camp or not, but they could have been, as horses have long lives. The photo was probably taken 18 to 20 years after they purchased the farm. Next to their photo is one of a lumber camp and would have been typical of the sleds of logs my grandfather would have managed, along with his horses.

Photos of the inside of a bunkhouse at a lumber camp where the men stayed and of a cookshack, where the meals were served. 

🍁Interesting fact: my grandfather made $.50 a day, but the horses made $1.00 a day. 

🍁Have you ever visited a historical logging camp?

🍁Interesting fact: There was no talking allowed in the cookshack. Talking often led to brawling with the many different nationalities of men represented. 

In the story, I weave in the many different jobs done at the camps, like the jacks, barkers, and the road monkeys and also a bit of a mystery. Someone at the camp places a target on Edward’s back. Will he survive the attempt on his life? Read to find out!

Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed this taste of Wisconsin’s lumber history. Thank you for reading, J

%d bloggers like this: