Episode #2 – Jennifer Beckstrand

00:00 / 00:31:15

Join us in this week’s episode of Buggy Talk, as Jennifer Beckstrand introduces us to the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection. In this collection of Christmas love stories, fourteen Amish fiction authors come together to create a Christmas book you won’t want to miss.

You’re listing to Buggy Talk, where some of your favorite authors, friends, and guests explore the simpler side of life. Here’s your host Amish fiction author Tracy Fredrychowski. 

The following transcript is a shortened version of the original recording.

Tracy: Hey there. Welcome to another episode of Buggy Talk. I’m your host, Tracy Fredrychowski. Each week I’ll bring you the story behind the stories along with the storytellers. This week’s episode, we have award-winning Amish fiction author, Jennifer Beckstrand. Hello Jennifer. 

Jennifer: Hello, Tracy. Thank you for having me on today. 

Tracy:  Well, thank you so much for joining us. We have so many exciting things to chat about. One being the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection. I have to say as being one of the authors involved in this project; I’m pretty excited.

Tracy:  What inspired you to head up this project? 

Jennifer:  Well, you know, it’s been a lot of years that I have wanted to do a collection with several different Amish authors. I have been thinking about it for a very long time. And last year I was on a call with Jennifer Spredemann, and she mentioned that she wanted to do it and we talked about it for a few minutes, and then we kind of let it go. And then I don’t know what happened, something clicked in my head just a few months ago, and I thought, I want to do this, and I want to do something for Christmas. So, I contacted Jennifer Spredeman and said, do you want to do this? Let’s do it. And she said yes. And then we brought Rachel Good on board. And so the three of us have kind of headed up this collection, and we’re just so excited about it. It’s going to be a fun thing. And I am glad about the authors that are, contributing and participating with us. It’s just going to be an enjoyable collection of Christmas stories. 

Tracy:  Can you tell us how you decided which authors you were going to include? 

Jennifer:  Well, I made a list, and Jennifer Spredemann made a list, and Rachel made a list, and we started going down our list and ask can people. We definitely wanted a variety. We wanted some, some people who are new to Amish fiction and others who’ve been writing for a lot of years. It’s exciting to see all these authors come together, the different experiences they have, but also just how excited and willing they all are to do this.

Tracy: Can you share with us who are all going to be part of this? 

Jennifer:  Yes. So the authors that we have involved are me, Jennifer Beckstrand, Kathleen Fuller, Lenora Worth, Adina Senft, Laura Bradford, Jennifer Beckstrand, Jennifer (J.E.B.) Spredemann, Rachel J. Good, Laura V. Hilton, Mary Alford, Loree Lough, Dana R. Lynn, Susan Simpson, Tracy Fredrychowski, Ashley Emma. Serina Miller and Laura Bradford. That is quite a list. I’m excited about the different voices that we’re going to get in the collection. I 

Tracy: So tell us when can we expect this collection to be released?

Jennifer:  So it will be released on November 10th, and right now, it’s available on preorder. So anybody can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and preorder it. It’s only 99 cents, so it’s going to pack a lot of punch for 99 cents. It will be released November 10th, and then for a week it will be 99 cents and then November 16th the price goes up. So it’s an excellent idea to get it now so that you can lock in that low price. 

Tracy: So I don’t want you to give too much of a spoiler away with your story, but do you have a title, or can you tell us anything about, um, any of the characters you’re thinking about writing about? 

Jennifer:   I think I’m going to call it a Peanut Butter Christmas because the Petersheim Brothers make peanut butter. That’s one of the things they do to earn money, and they’re called the peanut butter brothers. And anyway, so that’s, I think that’s kind of, that’s the working title at this point. So it’s going to be fun. 

Tracy:   I have to ask you, have you always wanted to be a writer?

Jennifer:   You know, that is such a good question. I have always just adored reading. When I was a teenager, I found Jane Austin, and it changed my life. Sometimes when I read a book, I think, I hate the way that ended.  Or, I could do a better job than that, but I, I never really thought, oh, I want to be a writer. When my fourth daughter was born, I just had so much trouble sleeping. I don’t know why, but I would lay awake at night. And then I thought, well, while I’m here, just, you know, staring at the ceiling, I should maybe come up with a story. So I was coming up with stories that I thought would make excellent romance novels. So there was one story. It was a historical Western, and it kept brewing in my head. And so I started writing it, and it was a very long process. By about the time my fourth child turned 16, I had finished this book, and it was good. 

I thought it was really good. So I pitched it to an editor. I was at a writer’s conference, and I pitched this book to this editor, and she wasn’t interested because it didn’t have sex in it. She gave me the names of a couple of agents who were more interested in Christian fiction. So I contacted Mary Sue Seymour. She read the book and called me, and she said, I think you’re a really good writer. She said, would you like to try writing Amish romance? This is how I got into Amish romance.

Tracy:  What are you working on right now other than the Amish Christmas miracles? What are you, what are you working on right now at this present time? 

Jennifer:    So I’m in the middle of a contract. Three of the books are set in Colorado. It’s a new series with Colorado Amish. It’s called the Amish Quilt Maker. And the first book is called the Amish Quilt Makers Unexpected Baby. It’s a very long title. Yeah. And I’ve finished that book. The second book is called the Amish Quilt Makers Unruly In-Law. Again, a long title. I don’t know; it’s just a fun title. That’s the book I am currently working on. And then the third book, I don’t have a title for yet. So, but that’s what I’m working on. And then the fourth book in the contract is, Anna and Felty, of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill’s story. It’s their love story set in the 1950s, and I am over the moon excited about this one. Everybody has been asking for their story, and they’re finally going to get it, though. That’s currently what I’m working on. And the first Amish Quilt Maker book comes out March of 2021. 

Tracy:  So you’ve done a lot of reading in the past, I’m sure. So tell us who your favorite author is and why.

Jennifer: Well, it would have to be Jane Austin. Mmm. I think she’s a lot of people’s favorite authors, but she, so I love her characters.  Her characters are so well-drawn, and she just is so delightful. Just puts in something funny that is so true, but makes you laugh. So that’s why I put a lot of humor in my books.

Tracy: Are you reading anything right at the moment?

Jennifer:  I usually read what my book club is reading, but I just finished a very poignant heart-wrenching book called A Mother’s Reckoning. And it was written by Sue Klebold, who is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters.

Tracy: I know that you have six children, and I know you have a bunch of grandchildren. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? And I bet some of it includes those grandbabies. 

Jennifer:    Yes, it does. I love spending time with my grandchildren—something else I love to do. Our family is very musical. We love to sing, and it’s been a real blessing to all of my children can carry a tune. We’ve done a lot of singing together.

Another thing that I love is theater and Ito direct plays. I’ve directed a lot of plays at the elementary school and the junior high.  And I recently finished directing a Christmas play at the community theater here. I decided that directing and writing are perfect. They meld really well together because, as a writer, what I’m doing is directing people. So those are, those are kind of my hobbies and crossword puzzles.

Tracy: I love finding out these little tidbits about people; it puts you in a new light. Okay, let’s finish up by just having a little bit of fun. I have to ask, would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter? 

Jennifer:    Well, of course, endless summer. I hate to be cold, and I feel like I’m always cold, so I would love to sit in my garden and just do some weeding while I just soak up the sun

Tracy: We have to know, do you enjoy a paperback or an ebook?

Jennifer: It has to be a paperback. I do have a Kindle reader, but I just rarely, rarely use it. I really love having a book in my hand, which is interesting. You know, the Amish Christmas Miracles, we will bring it out in paperback, but it’ll be pretty expensive cause it’s a long book.   But there are a lot of people who just want a paperback, and I understand that

Tracy: Do you have a library of books? How many books do you own?

Jennifer: You know, I have a ton of books. About two years ago, I read that book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.   In the book, the author said, “A book wants to be read.” So, if you have a lot of books on your shelf, you should get rid of them and give them to, you know, to a bookseller or someone who, you know, so that they, so the books can be read. So probably two years ago I gave away, it was at least eight boxes of books. Those books deserved to be read.

Tracy: Do you have a motto that you live by?

Jennifer: You know, I, there have been so many different things, but there is something that hangs on my garage door that I look at every day, and it says, “Be a better disciple of the Savior today.”

And that’s, what I try to do and man, I sometimes I fail at it, but I want to be a better disciple of Jesus. That’s my, that’s my goal in everything I do. And again, I wish I were better at it, but you know, I don’t, we all and don’t we all?

Tracy: Well, Jennifer, I just want to thank you for spending time with us this week. I look forward to reading all the stories in the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection that we all have a part of. Good luck with all your new projects. 

Tracy:    Next week, we’ll have award-winning author Muarry Pura on talking about the Amish Menorah and Other Stories that he’s written with the Men of Amish fiction. See you next week on the Buggy Talk Podcast.