Jennifer has two Amish readers who make sure her stories are authentic. No matter the setting, she hopes to pen deliriously romantic stories with captivating characters and soar-to-the-sky happy endings.
A member of RWA, Jennifer is the PAN liaison in her Utah RWA chapter. She lives in the foothills of the Wasatch Front in Utah with her husband and two children left at home. She has four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and one grandson.
The following is a March 2013 interview with Jennifer.
I got a college degree in mathematics before becoming a stay-at-home mom to my six wonderful children. My first four children are girls and I have two boys at the tail end. They keep me hopping! My husband of 28 years has been my greatest support and a constant writing inspiration. I didn’t really start my writing career until I was well into my forties.
You know how about four kids into your life you suffer from chronic insomnia because you can’t stop wondering what you forgot to do that day—like hug your child or go to the bathroom?
Anyway, that is basically how I started my writing career. One night, a few months after the birth of my fourth daughter, I lingered on my pillow unable to sleep and decided to make up a story. I started looking forward to bedtime (technically this is not true—I have always looked forward to bedtime) so I could further explore my Western romance in the still of the night.
One day, I decided to put the story on paper and fourteen years later I finished a Western historical romance, which won some writing contests. I was encouraged.
Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency showed interest in my book. After looking at the manuscript, she told me that she thought I was a good writer but that Western romances weren’t selling well. Was I interested in writing an inspirational? She told me she wanted me to try my hand at writing an Amish romance.
Six weeks later, I sent Mary Sue three synopses along with the first fifty pages of my first Amish romance. Soon thereafter, ON MY BIRTHDAY, Mary Sue called with an offer to represent me—and a charge to “hurry and finish that book.” I did.
Five months later, I signed a three-book deal with Guideposts Books [Summerside Press] for my series, Forever After in Apple Lake.
One reason people pick up Christian romance is because they don’t like all the “steamy” material that’s out there. A lot of women want an uplifting story that is more romantic than steamy.
Probably the biggest reason people like Christian fiction is because there is so much inspiration and goodness to be gleaned from these stories. They are uplifting and faith-affirming, and we all need that.
Christian fiction appeals to me as a writer because I have a certain worldview that I want to share with my readers. I would not be true to my writing process if I had to delete references to God and Jesus Christ and how faith in them shapes the lives of my characters. To the Amish, religion is a way of life. I love that about them. They live and breath their beliefs in a way that makes their faith very easy to write about.
4. How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
I love sharing my faith with readers, and I hope they feel inspired when they read my books. My goal is to write uplifting and happy endings. If my readers want to jump up and down and give themselves a big hug when they finish one of my books, then I’ve done my job.
5. What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?
There are too many to count!
I met two ladies from Texas at church one Sunday. One had finished Kate’s Song and the other was in the middle of reading it. They both raved about it and told me they had stayed up late into the night reading it because they couldn’t put it down.
Sincere compliments about my writing make me very happy.
Last fall I attended the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference and many of the writers there spoke of writing as being a “calling” for them. Before that, I had never really thought of writing as a calling. I went home wondering, “Is this what God wants me to do with my life?” I did a lot of praying and pondering. I thought about the sequence of events that got me into this business, the people I have met, and the stories I’ve been able to write. I now feel very good about saying that this is what the Lord wants me to pursue at this point in my life.
I love my Savior. It is a privilege to glorify Him through my writing.
7. Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?
My most meaningful life experiences center around my family. I strive to be a good wife and mother and to teach my children the gospel. My husband and my children are my best friends, and I want to continue to strengthen and enhance those relationships.
I love directing plays and musicals. I hope to do more of that in the future.
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Most of my spare time revolves around my children and grandchild. Being a grandma is the greatest job in the world. I attend lots of tennis matches, soccer games, and choir concerts. I am an avid reader. If you come to my house and I’m not writing, I’m probably reading or doing a crossword puzzle—those things are addictive. I also love to sing, and I dabble in scrapbooking. And believe it or not, I love cleaning my house. (I really appreciate a clean bathroom, especially when there’s no time to do it.)
My first novels are Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt, in the Forever After in Apple Lake series. They are Amish romances about three cousins who find love in the fictional town of Apple Lake, Wisconsin.
Miriam’s Quilt just came out in stores and online. If you like romance, you will love this book. Miriam’s Quilt received a Four-Star review in Romantic Times Book Reviews.
Here is a synopsis:
Miriam Bontrager has loved Ephraim Neuenschwander for as long as she can remember. As young teenagers they make a secret pact to wed when they come of age. But when Miriam’s headstrong brother is arrested and her sister is discovered with child, Ephraim decides that Miriam, with her disgraced family ties, is not worthy of him. Heartbroken and shattered, Miriam vows to never again trust her affection to anyone. But will she surrender her heart when a man of simple faith and gentle ways shows her how to love again?
Of course Seth Lambright thinks Miriam Bontrager is pretty, but she’s also too stuck-up to pay him any notice. That is, until she comes to his stable after Ephraim’s devastating rejection. Spending time with Seth’s horses gives Miriam comfort and helps her mend, but her presence nudges Seth dangerously close falling in love. Unable to ignore the way she tugs at his heart, will he risk everything to show her that there is more to love than the pain of bitter memories?
Kate’s Song (Forever After in Apple Lake #1)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Rebecca’s Rose (Forever After in Apple Lake #2)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Miriam's Quilt (Forever After in Apple Lake #3)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
10. What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?
I’m so glad you asked! I just signed with Kensington Books to write three more Amish romances. The first will be out in early 2014. These books are set in Wisconsin in a charming place called Huckleberry Hill.
The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.
11. What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?
I’m thrilled to know that readers worldwide are drawn to the simple faith of the Amish people. They truly have a unique and fascinating culture.
I love hearing from readers! Your encouragement and love keeps me going on the hard days.
12. Do you have any parting words?
Thanks for your interest in my books and the opportunity to do this interview.
You can find me on Facebook at Jennifer Beckstrand Fans or on my website at www.jenniferbeckstrand.com
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