Jennifer is a fellow Utahn, and I am so happy that she took the time to do this guest post on my blog. Thank you so much, Jennifer for taking the time out of your very busy schedule! And I hope readers will take the time to read one of Jennifer's books, because if you read one, you will definitely want to read more!
Bio: Jennifer Beckstrand writes Amish Inspirational Romance for Summerside Press and Kensington Books.
Her newest Amish romance series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, follows the escapades of two scheming Amish grandparents who try to help their grandchildren find suitable mates. Who would ever suspect two elderly Amish folks of mischief? Huckleberry Hill, the first book of the series, released earlier this year. The second book, Huckleberry Summer, comes out in June.
Jennifer has a degree in mathematics, which comes in handy when one of her six children needs help with algebra. After twenty-five years of being a chauffeur, a cook, a maid, and a nurse, she embarked on a writing career.
Share a little bit about yourself. For almost 30 years, I have been married to the same wonderful guy I fell in love with in college. I have six children. The four oldest are girls with two boys at the end. My three oldest daughters are married, and I have two grandsons. Most of my spare time revolves around my family. 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 or playing with grandchildren, I’m probably reading or doing a crossword puzzle. I also love to sing, direct musicals, and put on Shakespeare plays with my kids. And believe it or not, I love cleaning my house. (I really appreciate a clean bathroom, especially when mine are dirty.)
How did you get started writing?
About four kids into my life I suffered from chronic insomnia because I couldn’t stop wondering what I had forgotten to do that day—like hug my children or go to the bathroom. That is 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. It took me fifteen years to finish my first romance. Once I signed with an agent (and all the kids entered the public school system), it took about four months before I had a contract with a publisher for Kate’s Song. It was very exciting!
What is your writing process?
My goal is to write 10,000 words a week. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally found a process that works for me. I set the timer for one hour and write as fast as I can. This keeps me from wandering around the house, looking for food, or surrendering to a nap on the couch. Even if I am not sure what to write, I start typing. The ideas usually flow once I put in the effort to get myself into the chair. As long as my fingers are busy, I can usually stay awake, although even on good writing days my son often comes home to find his mother sprawled on the couch trying to steal a few minutes of sleep.
I have found that if I ponder and think and contemplate and stew, ideas will come (if I am awake) and a great plot or character will speak to me. The advantage of being a task-oriented, stay-at-home mother is that many of my daily jobs allow ample time for musing. I ruminate while puffing on the treadmill or running a vacuum over my carpet. I actually still do a lot of brainstorming right before I fall asleep. My best thinking is done in the shower—I’m notorious for long showers, for which I apologize to my dad. (He had six daughters, and long showers were his pet peeve.)Why do you think there is such an interest in Amish fiction right now?
A lot of people read Christian/Inspirational fiction for an uplifting, faith-building message. Many read inspirational romance because they want a romantic story without steamy love scenes. I think people read Amish specifically because they want to immerse themselves in a simpler time where faith and family are cherished values. In a world of cell phones, computers, and cable television, the idea of a less complicated existence appeals to many people. And, of course, everybody loves a happy ending.
What are your biggest distractions?
Food has always been a big distraction for me. If I can’t think of something to write, I get out of my chair to search for a Twinkie. Setting the timer on my writing has helped that problem quite a bit.
My motto as a stay-at-home mom is: “My interruptions are my work.” My family takes priority over my writing. So, when my children need me, I’m there. I have been able to manage my deadlines in such a way that I always have time for the grandkids.
Tell us about your latest book.
In Huckleberry Hill, Lia Shetler is resigned to being a spinster. So she’s helping her pretty, spoiled sister Rachel secure the perfect husband–Moses Zimmerman. But the more Lia sees of Moses’s gently teasing ways and quiet understanding, the more she wishes he could be hers alone. Now both will need the kind of miracles only faith and courage can bring to finally reach for a lifetime of happiness.
TheChristianManifesto.com calls Huckleberry Hill “…delightful, full of joy, romance, sweet wisdom and great laughter.”
My next books, Huckleberry Summer and Huckleberry Christmas come out later this year. There’s also an Amish novella that will be out just in time for Christmas.
Where can readers find you and your books?
My books are available online and wherever Christian Inspirational books are sold.
You can learn more about me and my books by going to my website at jenniferbeckstrand.com, on Facebook at Jennifer Beckstrand Fans, and on Twitter @JenniferBeckst1