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Archive for February, 2013

Good Monday morning, readers. Home Thoughts would like to welcome author, Jennifer Beckstrand.jennifer 4

Jennifer Beckstrand is a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency. She has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. Her first three Amish romances comprise the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available in stores and online. She recently 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. Jennifer has four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and one adorable grandson. She lives in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with her husband and two sons still left at home.

Tell us a little about your latest book, Miriam’s Quilt: 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 to 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?Miriam's Quilt Cover

Miriam’s Quilt is now available in stores and online. Miriam’s Quilt received a Four-Star review in Romantic Times Book Reviews.

For fans of Amish fiction, what are you working on now that readers can look forward to?

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. 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? And no one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

Where can readers find you? You can find me on Facebook at Jennifer Beckstrand Fans or on my website at http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/ 

In celebration of the release of Miriam’s Quilt, Book 3 in Forever After in Apple Lake, my dear sister, Allison Sharp, editor, Phd., and quilter extraordinaire, is making a small version of the quilt that Miriam makes for Seth in the book. It is wall-hanging size. The quilt is first prize in the contest.

Second prize is all three of my books in the Forever After in Apple Lake series.

Third prize is Book 3–Miriam’s Quilt.

To enter the contest, simply “like” my facebook fan page: Jennifer Beckstrand Fans. That’s it! Everyone who likes my page will be entered in the contest. If you “share” my page, your name will be entered twice. If you already like my page, you are automatically entered! Contest ends on March 8, 2013 and winners will be announced March 7.

Question to Home Thoughts readers: In Miriam’s Quilt, Seth tells Miriam, “People are always more important than what they’ve done.” How have you seen and applied this truth in your own life?

Please post a comment HERE on this blog to be entered in a drawing for Miriam’s Quilt. Drawing will be next Monday, March 4th. And don’t foget to “like” Jennifer’s Facebook page for more great chances to win. Have a great week, readers.

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Just for fun, a bunch of authors are answering questions about our latest WIPs (works-in-progress), and here are my quick quips. Be sure to click the links at the bottom to keep hopping on to see what’s next!

What is the working title of your book? A Little Bit of CharmLittle Bit of Charm, A

Where did the idea come from for the book? I read a non-fiction account about the Old Order Amish moving from Lancaster, PA due to the exorbitant price of farmland. I was intrigued by the smaller, more remote communities they were moving into and what major differences they would find. So I traveled to Maine, Missouri and Kentucky to research new districts. This final book in the New Beginnings series is set in the Blue Grass State.

What genre does your book fall under? Inspirational Amish Romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would choose Leonardo DiCaprio to play my tender-hearted horse trainer Jake Brady and the lovely Reese Witherspoon for my blond heroine caught between two worlds.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Rachel King wants nothing more than to work with horses, but when her handsome boss sweeps her off her feet, she begins to doubt everything in life, including her faith.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My book will be represented by the Seymour Agency and published by Harvest House.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It takes me four and a half months to write the first draft, but I edit as I go along. So the manuscript only needs a thorough going-over when it’s finished. The final edit takes about two weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would compare it to any books by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Kelly Irvin or Amy Clipston.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I have been fascinated by the Amish since I was a child. When I decided to write solely Christian fiction, writing about their culture was a natural choice. For this particular book, the counties of Barren, Hart and Casey, Kentucky inspired plenty of plot twists.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? One of the sub-plots involves the potential spreading of the “wild” polio virus, almost eradicated in this country, throughout a religious sect that doesn’t embrace vaccines. With the recent flu epidemic, including the deaths at least twenty children, this is a timely topic.

If you haven’t read book one of the series, Living in Harmony, is on sale for Kindles for 2.24. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Harmony-Beginnings-Series-ebook/dp/B008G5FLHS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1361391903&sr=1-1&keywords=living+in+harmony

And don’t forget to hop over to Lillian Duncan’s blog next:

here’s her link:  http://www.lillian-duncan.com/

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What a week that was!

Good Monday afternoon, readers. Goodness, I’m glad to have that last week behind me. Believe it or not, last Monday I was still exchanging Christmas gifts with an old friend I wasn’t able to see earlier, then I enjoyed my birthday, Ash Wednesday services and finally Valentine’s Day! Each day took me away from computer into the real world! I realized I have been a hermit in my office lately. There is a real world out there. On Valentine’s Day, the dear husband took me out to dinner. The restaurant was packed–so good to see our economy might finally be recovering! Here’s a little memory from a Valentine’s Day long ago. I hope your week will be filled with good friends, good food and of course…good books!

Similar to people who were born on Christmas Day, my birthday is two days before Valentine’s Day. In addition, I used to work for the largest candy manufacturer in the country, with unlimited access to chocolate. So who would ever buy me a heart-shaped box of confections? I realized early in life that this romantic holiday would never generate more than a greeting card, whether from my parents or my sweetheart. Imagine my shock when I walked into the house after a long day at work and found candles lit, supper made and a stack of wrapped gifts in the center of the table. Okay, maybe just a stack of two….but I was thrilled. Not just for new pink underwear and peach-scented candles, but for the fact my husband accomplished my least favorite chore of the day—cooking dinner. I am here to testify take-out rotisserie chicken, bagged salad, and Stove-Top stuffing has never tasted so good. That Valentine’s Day, I fell asleep knowing I was still cherished by my college sweetheart. Ever since that day, a greeting card now works magic for me…even if he uses the same card year after year.

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Good Monday morning, readers. And what a lovely morning it is in Ohio. The sun is shining, the temps are above freezing, and the snow is melting. All three make me one happy woman. Last week’s and this week’s postings are mainly aimed at fellow writers. But if you’re a reader, I’ve got some good news for you, too. Living in Harmony, Lime Award winner for 2012 for Excellence in Amish fiction is on sale for E-readers, including Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble.com, iTunes, and Kobo. The price is 2.99 or less. Links are at the bottom. This price should last until Feb. 18th as far as I know. Thanks, Harvest House, for reducing the price of book one, to celebrate the release of book two! This week Cindy Elliott has posted her review of book two, Love Comes to Paradise. You could win a free copy if you drop by Cindy’s blog and leave a comment.  One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Love Comes to Paradise next week. Here’s the link: http://www.cindyelliottfiction.com/love-comes-to-paradise-by-mary-ellis-book-giveaway

Last Monday I started talking about “writer’s block” or more specifically, some things to try if your creative energy seems to have dried up. The second problem we sometimes experience is the haven’t-I-said-all-this-before-syndrome. We’ve got our story; we’ve got our multi-dimensional characters. But we’re trotting out the same old metaphors and tired verbs. It’s time to get away to someone else’s creative work that’s not in the genre you write. Read a book by a writer whose work you admire to see how they craft a story. No time to read a full novel? Go to a movie, again one with a screenplay by someone you love. Sit back, sip your soda, munch your popcorn and enjoy. I’ve been known to utter things like: What a delightful black moment, much to my husband’s dismay. The key is getting away from yourself. Then when you return to your work-in-progress, the well will be primed with fresh creative waters. Happy writing.

Happy Valentine’s Day–don’t forget your sweethearts! Don’t forget Lent starts on Wednesday. And if you haven’t seen the movie, Lincoln, go tomorrow! It’s Honest Abe’s birthday!! Have a great week, readers and writers…Mary

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008G5FLHS/ref=as_li_tf_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008G5FLHS&linkCode=as2&tag=harvesthousep-20

Barnes and Noble: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=261457.1&type=10&tmpid=8432&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.barnesandnoble.com%252Fw%252Fliving-in-harmony-mary-ellis%252F1107956927%253Fean%253D9780736942867%2526itm%253D1%2526usri%253D9780736942867

Apple iBookstore/iTunes: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=3909&RD_PARM1=https%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fbook%2Fliving-in-harmony%2Fid547296303%3Fmt%3D11

·Kobo: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=lhOFjTQPVzI&subid=&offerid=258185.1&type=10&tmpid=9310&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kobobooks.com%2Febook%2FLiving-in-Harmony%2Fbook-iDbQramJ60eqFrgxpFYbQQ%2Fpage1.html

ChristianBook.com: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?isbn=9780736942867&event=AFF&p=1169188

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Good snowy Monday, readers. I hope you all survived Super Bowl Sunday! I, myself, enjoyed the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial and the Dorritos’ goat! Before I forget, Shannon Vannatter interviewed me on her lovely blog this week. If you drop by her blog, read the interview, and leave a comment (on HER blog, not here…) you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Love Comes to Paradise. This book has just made the CBD bestseller list and has recently been released for e-readers. here’s the link to Shannon’s blog: http://shannonvannatter.com/mary-ellis-romantic-excerpt-part-1-of-2/   Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already done so, since I’ll be giving away 10 copies of Love Comes to Paradise on March 15th.

Every writer whether our contemporaries or long gone has wrestled for hours when they can’t string seven words together into a concise sentence. We doubt ourselves, our mentors, the process we thought we’d perfected, even the quality of beans that went into our cup of java. It happens to the best of us. And it will happen to all of us eventually. There is no one-size-fits-all solution since writers are as different as that shade of navy you’re trying to match. I can only give you my humble opinion to tuck into your first aid kit on possible cures.

When the words won’t come I see two possible reasons, both of which involve turning off and moving away from your computer. How many times have we fallen asleep in our easy chairs, but tossed-and-turned in bed for hours? If you get out of bed and put the TV back on, you’ll doze off by the next commercial. Same is true about trying to force creativity in front of your laptop. Once you are seated in a lawn chair or a booth at the coffee shop, consider the first reason your well is dry: You need more story. This happens more often for seat-of-the-pants writers than plotters, but even plotters can reach a lull when the action or romantic drama needs help from a subplot to thicken the stew. Ask yourself: What can come along to blindside your characters? What’s the worst thing they fear? Make it happen. Often writers concoct a thrilling opening and know exactly how to bring their story to a tasty conclusion. They might even have some plot twists in mind, but in long novels, not even the most devout “plotter” can pre-conceive enough scenes to keep the pace moving. Go where it’s quiet, where you can roll your eyes back into your head. Suddenly story ideas will flow faster than you can jot down on your Starbucks napkin.

I’ll give you reason number two next week…until then, stay warm!!!

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