When you use your dollars to purchase books, movies, or any other form of entertainment you influence the world. Do you check your social media to see how many friends liked your friend’s night out silly selfie or social media posts? Well, guess what? So does big business, entertainment, and authors. Our purchases of clean and inspirational work coupled with well-told stories and inspirational books can create change.
Meet Authors committed to writing clean or inspirational books!
World Changer! D. Greg Scott #WaitByTheGate #ChooseLight
Thursdays, I like to feature authors committed to writing clean or inspirational books like D. Greg Scott, author of Virus Bomb, Published by Morgan-James Publishing, New York, New York. Scott not only writes clean novels, he also writes completely plausible novels that will keep you up way past your bedtime, according to reviews. He has a wonderful wit and donates his time and talents to support veterans. When I asked him why he writes clean novels, his response made me laugh right out loud.
“I’m a Christian, and that means everything I do should represent God. I mostly don’t get it right, but I keep trying. Early drafts of ‘Virus Bomb’ had a few PG13 rated words. At the urging of a friend, I took them all out. Turned out, that made it a stronger story. That experience taught me, I can write entertaining fiction and take on tough subjects without resorting to profanity. Jerry Jenkins is also an influence. If he can write the whole Left Behind book series featuring a human indwelt with Satan himself without profanity, then I should emulate what he did.”
About Virus Bomb
What would happen if a nation-state really did launch a serious cyberattack against the United States, perhaps as part of something larger?
Jerry Barkley is a Minnesota IT contractor just trying to earn a living for his family, and he’s about to find out. He’s no superhero. He never worked for the government. He knows nothing about International espionage. And, so nobody believes his warnings when he uncovers the largest cyberattack in history. Somebody is gathering data to plan a series of bombings and a biological attack and trying to pin blame on a terrorist group. And the FBI thinks Jerry is part of it.
Hundreds are already dead. Thousands more could die, first from Ebola and then potentially from war with the wrong enemy. If he doesn’t act, who will? Up against willful ignorance, a hostile law-enforcement bureaucracy, and armed with nothing but IT skills and quick wits, Jerry must leave his keyboard comfort zone and go face-to-face with elite foreign agents and shut this attack down.
Real superheroes are ordinary people who step up when called.
“Just one more question. Would you do it again?”
Jerry took a deep breath. The counselor, paid for by a grateful Uncle Sam, had said to expect PTSD reactions. Another tear formed in his eye. He wiped it with a sleeve. I’m an IT guy, not a war veteran. He lifted his head and looked out at the audience. “I hope I never have to do it again.”
About the Author, D. Greg Scott
Greg Scott is the author of Bullseye Breach: Anatomy of an Electronic Break-In and Virus Bomb. Both novels feature a middle-aged bald guy with no superpowers who finds a way to save the day without forcing readers to suspend disbelief. He spends lots of late nights in front of a computer screen researching ways to poison GPS signals, hijack trucks, build cell phone bombs, and blow stuff up. Some of his friends have suggested he might be on a government watchlist. If so, he encourages the dedicated professionals watching him to buy copies of his books for everyone in their departments before it’s too late.
I highly recommend a visit to Scott’s website. Not only is it inspiring and entertaining, but Scott also shares free tips for internet safety. Not just tips for parents and kids-tips for professionals and free advice that should be heeded by anyone participating in a Presidential Election.
Learn tons on D. Greg Scott, Authors website
All you young people! D. Greg Scott is on Instagram
Check out D. Greg Scott’s new author Facebook Page! Here’s your chance to be a top fan
Tweet Scott on Twitter
World Changer! Molly McNamara Carter #WaitByTheGate #ChooseLight
Every Thursday, I like to feature authors like Molly McNamara Carter, who commit to write clean or inspirational books. Molly has authored two colorful books for the littlest members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Guess Who’s in the Book of Mormon and Guess Who’s the Latter Day Prophet. I asked Molly why she is committed to writing clean and inspiring books. She said:
“Books have played a huge role in my life. I have laughed, cried, learned and explored through their pages. Because of this, my dream has always been to contribute my writing to the world of books. I believe in looking for light in many different areas and know that good, clean books can bless our lives in so many ways!”
Molly’s stories can share important gospel principles with the smallest readers. I asked Molly what she though readers should know about her stories. She said, “I love the true heroes shared in these books. They have accomplished things that are real and have changed the world because of their goodness. They were also real people just like us, and had to work hard, learn and grow and struggle, just like we do. ”
More about Molly McNamara Carter
Molly has been writing stories since she learned to read them. Born in upstate New York, she has lived in two countries and six US states. She earned her BA in English at Brigham Young University. She loves reading, writing, traveling, being outside and exploring new places with her favorite people. She is the author of three children’s picture books I Spy Alligators Underneath My Bed, Guess Who’s In the Book of Mormon, Guess Who’s the Latter-Day Prophet and has had her poetry published in On Course Magazine. She currently lives nestled in the pines in Arizona with her husband and three amazing children.
Guess Who’s in the Book of Mormon
Learn all about the prophets and heroes in the Book of Mormon! This colorful picture book uses a simple question-and-answer format to help children discover who built a boat, who saved the king’s sheep, and who climbed up on a wall to tell the people to repent. An easy-to-read introduction to scripture stories that’s fun for the whole family!
Guess Who’s the Latter Day Prophet
Guess who saw a vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as a boy? Or who used to work on a farm and sang while milking cows? And who built more than seventy temples as President of the Church? This cute picture book uses fun illustrations and famous stories to introduce children to latter-day prophets. Meet the men who have guided the Church in this final dispensation.
You can find Molly’s book at Deseret Book, online at Barnes and Noble, and on Amazon.
Check out Molly McNamara Carter’s website, and you just might find I Spy Alligators Underneath My Bed, another book by Molly!
Connect with Molly McNamara Carter on Instagram
Check out Molly on Facebook
And for all you serious readers – Molly McNamara Carter is on Goodreads!
#WaitByTheGate with us and #ChooseLight
World Changer! Ava S. Quill #WaitByTheGate #ChooseLight
Every Thursday, I like to feature authors like the fascinating Ava S. Quill, who chooses light and commits to creating only clean or inspirational books. Ava is the author of, Love Is a Wistful Song, a fun clean young adult romance. Ava’s book is creative and intriguing. I asked Ava why she writes clean books. She said:
“As I was trying to find more fun but clean romance to read as a young adult, I was really struggling to find content that would help me live in harmony with my religious beliefs (chastity). And that is how, at least, this story started. I wanted to write an exciting, romantic story that a girl of any age could read.”
Doesn’t that make you wonder just how young Ava is? Just who is Miss Quill? Or is she a Mrs? I did a little Instagram stalking and was enchanted by her posts. I highly suggest wandering through her social media artwork.
A little bit about Ava S. Quill, Author
Before Ava decided to give this whole “writing thing” a serious go, she moved across the ocean, started a family, and got a degree in web design. In her “spare” time, she’s also tackling a bass guitar. Because… Why not?
Love Is a Wistful Song
Music-obsessed Aryen dreams of attending a prestigious conservatory and, sometimes, about her childhood friend Ryan. But when her dream to study with the masters comes true, it demands a high price—Aryen must agree to an arranged marriage with Ryan’s popular cousin Blaine. When she protests the arrangement, her grandfather threatens to destroy Ryan’s already challenging prospects, forcing Aryen to choose whether to pursue her feelings and sacrifice her lifelong dream or give up Ryan in order to protect him.
Find Love is a Wistful Song on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited
Learn more about the interesting Ava S. Quill on her website
Follow Ava S. Quill on Facebook
Check out Ava S. Quill on Instagram
Tweet Ava on Twitter
And for all you serious readers – Find Ava S. Quill on Goodreads!
Every Thursday, I like to feature authors like Aspen Hadley, who choose light and are committed to creating clean or inspirational books. Aspen is the author of two romantic comedies. She recently released Blind Dates, Bridesmaids, and Other Disasters. She released, Simply Starstruck, in 2018. Both books have 5-star reviews on Amazon. I asked Aspen why she is committed to writing clean fiction. She said:
“I want to write books that make people happy and that give readers a fun break from life. I’m committed to writing clean, uplifting novels that I can share with my daughters, my mom, my grandma and my friends. Life has enough of the dark and depressing, I want to bring more light and happiness to the world.
I love books! I read more than I write. Stories and words have so much power, and I think it’s important to use them for good. “
Aspen Hadley loves nothing more than a great story. Aspen writes what she wants to read: clean, sassy, romantic comedy novels that give you a break from real life and leave you feeling happy.
Outside of writing, Aspen’s number one hobby is reading. Number two is sneaking chocolate into and out of her private stash without being caught. Other favorite things include: playing the piano, listening to classic rock, telling jokes around the dinner table, eating ice cream, traveling, a good case of the giggles, and riding on ATVs over the many trails in her home state of Utah.
Aspen shares her life with a patient husband, 4 hilarious children, and 1 grumpy dog in a quiet suburb next to her beloved mountains.
All about, Blind Dates, Bridesmaids, and Other Disasters
On the surface, Rachel Stevens’s life looks perfect.
One great job, two awesome roommates, and a supportive family. But when her roommate Hannah announces her engagement, Rachel sees eternal singleness and innumerable cats in her future. When the bride-to-be issues a challenge–go on six blind dates and before the “I do’s” –Rachel isn’t convinced her imagined future is that bad in comparison. The dates are predictably horrible and the situation further complicated by the return of James, Rachel’s first, long-lost love. James says he is over her . . . but is Rachel over him?
Simply Starstruck – The details!
It’s been two years since Kate Evans unexpectedly lost her husband and one year since her aunt Cassandra stepped in and moved Kate and her son back to Colorado to start a new life.
Just when Kate is starting to get comfortable in her new reality, three very different men enter her life. Alec is young, easygoing, and up for anything. Nate is a divorced dad who is steady, reliable, and everything Kate should want. Jess is quite literally the boy next door, not to mention a real-life movie star straight from every girl’s dreams.
Is she really ready to jump into the dating scene again? Or does she stay in the same safe place free from heartache? In between braving water slides to cheating at croquet, Kate is forced to confront things she’d rather leave buried, along with the possibility of a new love that is exactly what she needs.
Here is where you can find out more about Aspen Hadley and her books:
Aspen Hadley’s books can be found:
Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Barnes & Noble, Target (online) AND…
And for the more serious reader with a refined taste- Aspen Hadley on Goodreads
Let Aspen know why you read clean fiction and thank her for choosing light!
World Changer! Shawn Pollock #WaitbytheGate #Chooselight
Shawn Pollock has done both with his debut novel, The Road to Freedom. I asked Shawn why he is committed to writing clean books and his reply made me smile. He includes a great quote from one of America’s best selling and revered authors. He said:
“I see no need for wall-to-wall profanity or smut to make a story good and compelling. I can’t imagine anyone finishing a book and saying, “It was good but they could have cussed more.” I also want to have characters come out better than they were in the end; after all, isn’t that what we all want to accomplish in life? Better to tell people it can be done, than try to be edgy and depressing. I take a lot of my own inspiration to be a clean writer from Louis L’Amour, who said, “I’ve written all these stories without any pornography, without an obscenity…I can make them real without that. I think much of that kind of writing is a cover-up for lack of real skill.”
I sincerely agree with Shawn. I haven’t wished for more cussing. In fact, I have returned books to stores, after only reading one or two pages, for content that wasn’t disclosed on the cover and got very old, very fast. Isn’t Louis L’Amour’s quote spot on? It took skill to write about war the way Shawn did.
Shawn Pollock grew up in Cache Valley, Utah, served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan, and graduated from Utah State University with degrees in Professional Writing and Instructional Technology. He works as an instructional designer in the software industry. His short story, “Hats,” won first place in The New Era magazine’s fiction contest. Any time not devoted to work and family goes to cooking, reading, and participating in the League of Utah Writers. The Road to Freedom is his debut novel.
The Road to Freedom by Shawn Pollock
In 1945, World War II is ending but not in Germany’s favor. Hans Kohler is a young Mormon German who knows more about farming than being a soldier. A worn copy of the Book of Mormon is the only thing that brings him comfort.
Captain Christoph Meier seems to be the perfect German soldier. His pristine Aryan features and strong family ties to the Nazi Party should have placed him at a far better post than this unit. Instead, he’s leading broken veterans and inexperienced greenies.
When the Russians attack their unit, Meier and Kohler are trapped behind enemy lines. To get past snipers, the Nazi SS, and the Russian Army, they need to use all of their skills, including believing that God wants them to survive.
I’ve read Shawn’s novel. Who knew you could write about war, and do it in a way that draws the reader in, inspires, and uplifts, without focusing on the gore? In true Louis L’Amour style, Shawn does it all without obscenity.
Find the Road to Freedom at Deseret Book, Barnes & Noble
Get to know Shawn Pollock on Facebook
And all you serious readers can find Shawn Pollock on Goodreads!
Sandra Meaders is dedicated to authoring books that are clean and inspirational. As a member of my faith, she authored a children’s book that features all the characters of the Book of Mormon, teaches children their colors, and is great fun! Sandra also features free printable packets, like J is for Jesus on her website.
Sandra Meaders studied English and minored in Creative Writing and History at Southern Virginia University and earned her master’s degree in Literature from the University of Akron. Currently, Sandra is raising three children, managing a blog, and doing freelance editing on the side. Lehi, Lehi, What Do You See? is her debut children’s book.
In case you hadn’t guessed, we are Christians and a members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Next weekend is special for Sandra and church members all over the world. We call it Cinnamon Roll Sunday at my house, but it is known worldwide as General Conference. We meet together around computers and televisions to be inspired and get the latest news.
I asked Sandra why she chooses to write clean and inspirational books and, as a creative mom, what she does for General Conference weekend.
“I write clean books that I would want my children to read. They are my inspiration. A lot of the children’s books on the Book of Mormon that we owned were too wordy for preschoolers, so I wrote one that would be fun for my kids and I hope that others think so too.
My 3-year-old and 5-year-old love General Conference so they don’t usually look at books during conference. We use a general conference board for little kids. You can see ours here:
Complete Directions for making your own board: https://tiffkeetch.blogspot.com/2012/06/our-general-conference-center.html.
Sandra’s Debut Book!
Journey through the Book of Mormon with beloved characters like Lehi, Nephi, Ammon, and Captain Moroni. From Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem to Moroni’s golden plates, this engaging, rhyming book introduces children to the major stories of the Book of Mormon. Help your children develop a love for the scriptures from a young age with this adorable board book.
Check out Sandra’s Blog for free printables and “learning time” activity ideas for preschoolers.
Find Sandra’s book Lehi, Lehi, What Do You See? on Cedar Fort
You can also find Sandra’s book at Deseret Book and Seagull Books (in-store).
Follow Sandra Meaders on Facebook
And serious readers can follow Sandra Meaders on Goodreads
World Changer! Cherri Brooks #WaitByTheGate #ChooseLight
Each week I feature authors who are committed to writing clean or inspirational books. This week’s spotlight is on Cherri Brooks who authored a book on a tough, but valuable subject, Teaching Children about Sex Using the Temple as Your Guide. But wait! Cherri isn’t just for members of The Church of Jesus Christ, her website and Facebook page are a wealth of information. Some of Cherri’s articles include a Pornography Prevention Program and Confessions of a Public School Parent.
When I asked the author, Cherri Brooks why she was committed to writing only clean or inspirational books, she said:
“I’m committed to clean writing because so many amazing stories can be told without the use of offensive language or inappropriate scenes. You don’t need that kind of thing to engage a reader. Also, since I write non-fiction, giving parents and children research-based and fact-driven information through the lens of morality gives them appropriate resources to turn to for information about a topic. Not everyone believes in the same type of morality and integrity, so it’s important for many books and resources to be written, which allows an individual to be able to find something they are comfortable reading.”
I personally know the importance of Cherri’s book due to a personal, and hilarious, experience. My mother and I have laughed about this moment for years. My mother was conservative and busy raising a large family. I guess time got away from her. On my wedding day, as I sat in my gown, my mother finally offered to have, “the talk,” with me. Mortified, I immediately excused her from having to say the word sex out loud. I promised her that I had learned all I needed to know from kids at school. The first and last lie I ever told my mother.
Although we both laugh about the incident, it led me to be committed as a parent to be able to talk to my children about anything, including how to make wise decisions. And we do. The challenge then became, how to give them the best information. After all, little minds can be like little computers. Quality in, quality out. Garbage in, garbage out.
When It’s time for the talk, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Cherri’s book is here to help. Cherri Brooks grew up with an aspiration to be an author. She found her passion for parenting and healthy sexuality through her education at Utah State University, where she earned her BS and MS in Family and Human Development. She also taught courses at South Dakota State University in Marriage and Family Relations and Parenting. She loves talking with parents about raising sexually healthy children and teaching workshops as well. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and lives in Rexburg, Idaho with her fabulously supportive husband and three children.
World Changer! Deb Goodman #1 on Amazon! #WaitbytheGate #Chooselight
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
This Thursday’s world changer, Deb Goodman, is more than a prolific author of fun and romantic novels. She also writes articles, edits for authors like me and is a regular member of our Storymakers Critique group!
AND her latest book was the #1 Amazon medical romance novel!
I asked Deb why she is committed to writing only sweet, and clean fiction. She said,
“I want to be sure my books reflect God’s love for his children. I wouldn’t ever want to write something that I’d be uncomfortable having my kids or grandparents read. I don’t think I could write something that goes against my core beliefs.”
Deb graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s in English. She, her husband and four children live in Utah. They like to watch movies and football together, bake treats on Sundays, and do slightly insulting, pretend voices for their little shorkie, Mavis. She’s published five clean and fun novels and is working on more. She loves the indie author community!
Deb’s recent release, the Billionaire Doctor, is laced with Deb’s brand of humor and will not disappoint romance lovers. The reviews are in and they are five stars wonderful.
The Billionaire Doctor
Billionaire doctor, Owen Montgomery, can fix any medical emergency, but he can’t fix his disastrous relationships.
After a failed engagement, an argument with his grandfather, and a promise to his sister, Owen finds himself face-to-face with Natasha, a beautiful former schoolteacher. But he has to ignore his feelings for her—he doesn’t trust himself in love anymore. Besides, he’s immersed in saving the struggling county hospital—his last big work before he’s forced to leave the medical profession behind.
Natasha Campos quit her job to open a learning center, only to find that running her own business isn’t as easy as running a classroom. When Owen brings his niece in for tutoring and he and Natasha work at a business fair together, they discover their feelings are deepening. But soon, Natasha’s instinct to run when things get hard is affecting not only her learning center, but her relationship with Owen, as well.
Will they set aside each other’s pasts and grow in love? Or will the expectations of others come between them?
Check out her Billionaire’s of Gramercy Series
“I want people to have a place to escape to, a place they can feel happy and comfortable in, a place where you can bring your mom, grandma and daughter and never feel ashamed. This is why I am dedicated to making and promoting clean content.” Valerie Loveless
Valerie has a love for happy endings and bright comedy. A native to the California high desert, she now considers Utah her home where she lives with her husband, three children and two chihuahuas. Growing up in a family of seven kids, Valerie learned to embrace her unique creativity and way of looking at the world and hopes it will enrich other’s lives. In 2015 she published two children’s books, Singing Not so Sweetly and Anabelle Loves Babies. She believes writing is the ultimate end-all for creative pursuits because there are no limits to what you can create. A picture may say a thousand words but a novel is usually around seventy-thousand. Her first novel is a romance/ adventure.
“What if I told you there is a way that we could all be happy? That if I were to propose to you, your father couldn’t deny us?” “What is it, John? Tell me!” Just then the basket hit the water and the sea began to stream in through the spaces between the reeds. This was the end. The year is 1887, and the small community of Pleasant View is abuzz over Penelope Pottifer’s serialized romances in the local paper. Since the release of the first volume, the thrilling story has captured the hearts and minds of the entire town— and several towns over!
Each successive edition of the Pleasant View Gazette spins a breathtaking tale of kidnappers, pirates, and forbidden love. Between volumes, however, Pleasant View resident Mary Clarence, the story’s toughest critic, hears a rumor that Penelope Pottifer is not, in fact, the author’s real name. Determined to uncover the mystery, Mary drags her friend Elizabeth Black into a hunt for the elusive author’s true identity. But fiction and reality seem to entwine when along the way, Mary and Liz discover unexpected truths, exciting adventures, and dramatic romances of their own.
Enduring Promises of the Heart can be found on Amazon and at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, and can be ordered anywhere books are sold.
Because together, what we read and the entertainment we choose matters, learn more about this world changer, Valerie Loveless, committed to wait by the gate with us and choose light!
Julie L. Spencer
I met Julie L. Spencer through a critique group formed by Storymakers. A professional editor told me my next novel, Finding Hope, is better than my first. I credit Julie’s honesty. She lectures with love regularly. She believes what we write matters, and she pours her heart and soul into her stories. She is a prolific author who writes clean romance novels for young adults and adults.
Recently Julie’s book Meet me at Half Court from her All’s Fair in Love and Sports Series was number one on Amazon for an extended period. Running to Running to You is my favorite book from Julie’s All’s Fair in Love and Sports Series. Not only is it about kids doing my favorite thing, running, it takes place on the shores of beautiful lake.
Julie just released the next book in the series, Pass me the Ball, just in time for football season. As the mother of a girl who played football in high school, I am loving this read.
Pass me the Ball by Julie L. Spencer
“It’s Jonnie’s senior year, and her dream is to be the best wide receiver on the Buccaneers’ football team. But when she walks onto the field, the guys aren’t looking at her like they used to—especially her best friend and captain of the team, Skyler.
Skyler’s floored when he sees his best friend Jonnie after being gone all summer. Growing up, she was the tomboy he chased around the playground, but now? He’s got a different game in mind.
Football is easy. Falling in love with the wide receiver? Things couldn’t be more complicated.”
But that isn’t all. Not only is Julie a great person committed to writing clean entertainment for youth, she is a brilliant scientist and mom. Get to know more about her. Watch:
I have really enjoyed reading Julie’s Buxton Peak Series, Listening to her audiobook, Pass me the Ball, and the Chapter A Day or works in progress delivered to my email for free! Julie writes about the real day-to-day struggles of being a teen in today’s world with taste. Her books are clean and safe for youth. As an adult I find her work has layers that keep my attention. For example, in Running to You, the main character’s relationship with her mother during trials, and the mother’s respect for the daughter, will stay with me for years to come.
Watch this page for more authors dedicated to writing clean entertainment for you and your family! Let me know what you think. And if you are an author, let’s chat! #waitbythegate #lighttheworldwithbooks #Chooselight
Learn more about Julie L. Spencer and how to get her free Chapter a Day: Julie L. Spencer
About the Story:
She thought reaching the Promised Land would mean an end to her problems, but it was only the beginning. With her loved ones divided and her people in danger, Hannah’s faith is now faltering more with each passing day. Can she find the courage to stand by her convictions? Or will the conflicts from their past lead the Nephite people into a war against their own family?
The men moved close and carefully picked up the young man, who, such a short time before, had been full of life and promise.It was a saddened group who began to make their way back to the village.Nephi had risen to his feet and was staring off into the trees.Hannah paused beside him. “Is that all there is to this life, Brother Nephi?Pain and suffering?”He looked at her. “There is pain, yes, Sister Hannah. And suffering to be sure.It is sad that we need the opposition to remind us of our duty. To turn our hearts to our God.” He sighed. “But much of our suffering is brought on by the choices of men. The evil choices of men.
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About the author: Diane Stringam Tolley
Raised on a ranch on the great Canadian prairies, where normal life included–but was not limited to–a loaded civil war cannon used as a counterweight on the garage door, and at least one headless chicken, Diane Stringam Tolley has been penning stories since Mrs. Hainsworth’s grade six class. Her working life as a journalist was spent writing other peoples articles and stories. Now, in retirement, she writes her own. A House Divided is her 11th novel.
A House Divided is easy to pick up and hard to put down. It starts with a surprising hook and the action keeps going until the end. But the story has deeper meanings which I found uplifting. The story is based on characters found in the Book of Mormon. There is LDS content, which I find clean and enjoyable. Although there are battle scenes and action, they are all tastefully well done.
A House Divided is the second in a series, and a Whitney Nominee which is listed as Christian, historical, and a romance. The first book in the series is Daughter of Ishmael: Promised Land, Broken Heart. Although the reader’s experience would be enhanced by reading both books, A House Divided is well written and can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Diane has a gift for keeping the story moving at a fast-pace while creating believable characters and complicated relationships. Although the main character, Hannah, faces insurmountable odds the reader learns the power of faith, how a Prophet leads his people, and why obedience, love, and forgiveness lead to unexpected miracles. Diane does a skillful job of creating a fascinating picture of the past that drew me in.
I enjoyed the story of survival and the interactions between the characters. There are some priceless quotes, which I will let you find, rather than spoil the wonder of Diane’s beautiful thoughts. I always want more romance, but the story was inspiring and I sincerely enjoyed this Sunday afternoon read. I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.
1-Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Raised in a large family of storytellers, I caught the bug like one would a cold. One learned to participate out of self-defense. And living on a Boer War era ranch provided no end of grist to my storytelling mill.
2-Who are some of your favorite authors? Do these authors inspire your own writing?
One of my favorites is Madeleine Brent. Her stories always featured strong female leads—each with a unique ability that eventually ‘saves the day’. Because of her, the women in my books are strong without being hard. An important difference.
3-What inspired you to start writing biblical fiction?
I love the scriptures. The stories are unparalleled still, even with the plethora (real word) of works that are published every. Single. Day. But because the scriptures are told largely from a male point of view, I always wondered what the women were doing. I love a background story and there is no one more ‘background’ than the women behind these great men of the scriptures.
4-When you are not writing, what other “hats” do you wear?
Oh, golly. Wife. Mom. Grandma. Seminary teacher. Playwright. (Also children’s theatre director and/or referee.) Writing mentor. Blogger. Promoter (more wishful than actual at the moment). Musician. Biking companion/confidante. And chief-cook-and-bottle-washer. (Gotta wash those bottles!)
5-What inspired the idea for A House Divided?
Have you ever wondered if anyone regretted their decisions? I mean the major, life-changing-and-not-for-the-better decisions? I pictured the wife of Lemuel and wondered if she ever had regrets about her husband’s (and by association—her) decisions to follow Laman. Did she sit by a fire in her later life, watching her children dance about it painted in blood, and have regrets? Or imagine might-have-beens? A House Divided was Hannah’s chance to make the different decisions later in life. Still not easy. But right.
6-What do you want readers to take away from reading A House Divided?
I want readers to know that making the major, good decisions is seldom (almost never) easy. That great sacrifice comes first. And even after one sacrifices, the rewards don’t always look like you pictured. But are always—ALWAYS—worth it.
7-What is your current WIP? What can you tell us about it?
I’ve just finished working on the story of God’s Tree. A take-off on the Tree of Life.
If it was discovered by a small boy.
And if he had the faith—and courage—to do something about it.
Learn more here:
Buy A House Divided on AMAZON
After reading a book by Jennifer Beckstrand, I begged her to let me share with you! Several authors and I have been talking about the joys of good, clean entertainment. Jennifer writes Amish romances! I just finished my first, and I am about to devour another.
Sweet as Honey,” is not only a sweet read, it is a reflection of the author. This summer I lost my younger sister Stacy to cancer. During the very tender moments of mourning, I met Jennifer Beckstrand. She was a friend of my sisters. Jennifer was as kind as the characters in her book and so I couldn’t wait to see what her books, or an Amish romance, was all about.
Jennifer’s book had some unexpected twists for an Amish romance. I started to read with preconceived notions about the Amish community. I felt I was pretty educated, but by the end of the book, I realized Jennifer had written a story about love, the typical challenges of choosing who to spend your life with, a little bit of danger and deception all set in an Amish community. The story was not the religion, but the religion enriched the story. I had a lot to learn about the Amish community.
The main characters in “Sweet as Honey,” are three Amish sisters raised by Aunt Bitsy, who doesn’t conform to all Amish traditions.In the story, Lily, one of the Honeybee ‘Schwesters’ or sisters is pursued by two young men.
It is little things in the story like Aunt Bitsy’s quirks that give it appeal and actually make it more plausible. The characters in Jennifer’s books are believable, easy to connect with and like all human beings, flawed. Their flaws made them charming and made me want to see them succeed.
Without spoiling anything, Jennifer did a great job of gradually giving us more and more reason to cheer on one suitor over another. There is intrigue, and little hints as to the true nature of the young men all through the story. As someone who has worked in social service and listened to countless women, I found her story to be both credible and well crafted. She did a great job of introducing a true villain and a loveable human hero.
One of the delightful parts of the story is the details surrounding honey bees and the fun recipes in the back of the book. I am sure I gained 5 pounds just reading about all the yummy food and healthy meals eaten in this book. It is clearly well researched. Amish terminology is sprinkled throughout, as well as traditions, in a way that kept me enthralled.
I not only recommend Jennifer’s books as good entertainment; I have already started another in the series. Jennifer’s book was clean and rated G, as in good for any great girl over age 14. If it has swearing in it, it is in the language spoken by the Amish community and didn’t translate as a problem for me. There is a little violence where a mouse is concerned, but not to worry, no actual mouse was harmed in the making of this book.
Jennifer allowed me to interview her. Enjoy reading about the very interesting author who chose to write clean romance novels set in the Amish community. While you do that, I am going to mix up a batch of her Honey Cookies!
Jennifer Beckstrand’s Interview
- I really enjoyed reading “Sweet as Honey.” I also enjoyed reading about you on your blog and finding out you have 6 children. Because I have 6 children, I feel qualified to ask with such a full life what inspires you when you write about young love?
I’ve never really thought about it that way, but you’re right. I love writing about young love. The wonder of finding that person who makes you feel complete, makes you wildly happy, has always been very satisfying to write about. I certainly have lots of inspiration around me as my oldest daughter is thirty-one, and my youngest son is twenty. Three of my children are still unmarried, and for several years, dating and romance have surrounded me. And of course, I still remember the thrill of meeting my husband and falling in love so completely. There’s nothing like that feeling.
- I gained a great respect for your ability to use Amish terms and write about a people living a unique lifestyle in our present day and age. If you spent time with the Amish community doing research, what was your favorite experience or memory?
I have done a great deal of research in Amish communities in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I love meeting the people and hearing their stories. My favorite memory comes from my first visit to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We had dinner with an Amish family, and they were so gracious and kind, willing to answer all my questions and let me into their lives. I was struck by how “normal” they were. They had hopes and dream for their children, they loved being with family, and they worked hard to make a living off the land—real “salt-of-the-earth” kind of people. The experience gave me a springboard for all my books because I discovered that at the heart of things, Amish or Englisch, we are much more alike than we are different. I strive to make my characters believable human beings facing human problems in the context of their Amish beliefs.
- In a world filled with graphic entertainment, why do you choose to write clean romance novels? Have you been pressured to change?
The only time I felt pressure to put steamy content in my books was when I was first getting started and people kept telling me that readers won’t buy romance novels that don’t have sex in them. As I have discovered, that isn’t true at all. Many readers want sweet, inspirational romances that elevate the notion of love. I don’t feel good about putting sex in my novels—I never want to feel ashamed to let anyone read my books. This is not to say anything against any other writer. It’s just how I have chosen to share my stories.
- In your book, you mention food a few times. In fact, I am sure I gained ten pounds just reading it! I was overjoyed to find recipes at the end of the book. Can you tell us something about the recipes? Where did they come from? Have you tried them all?
Oh, yes! The recipes I put in Sweet as Honey are some of my personal favorites, some I have made for my own family for years. I make the granola when we have lots of houseguests because it is a delicious, nutritious, and easy breakfast for lots of people. The honey curry chicken was one of our family’s favorites when I had little kids. It was something everyone—surprisingly—would eat. I love food, and I wanted to make it a big part of my Honeybee Sisters books. Nothing brings people together like a good meal.
- Aunt Bitsy plays a very wise, protective and caring part of the story. She is devoted to her 3 nieces. You chose to give Aunt Bitsy a great deal of character. Is she based on anyone you know?
When I was a little girl, our family lived just down the street from my dad’s oldest sibling, Beatrice. Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Max were fruit farmers. They had five children including a little caboose who was just a few months older than I was. My cousin Christine and I were inseparable. I spent hours at her house and she spent hours at mine playing dress up, jacks, hopscotch, and our favorite game: beauty pageant. My mother’s mother died very young, and Aunt Beatrice was a second mother to my mom. She was an amazing cook, though as a six-year-old, I never appreciated any food that had green things in it. Aunt Beatrice had a heart of gold. She would have done anything for anybody, but she was also a no-nonsense, strong woman who lived a full and wonderful life. Aendi Bitsy is loosely based on my Aunt Beatrice—although, to my knowledge, Aunt Beatrice never colored her hair urine yellow.
- If you could give a young woman advice about finding and keeping love, what would you say?
I’m a big believer in finding someone who behaves the same in public as in private. I always told my girls to watch how any boy treats his mother and the other women in his life. If he’s kind and respectful and loving to them, he will treat his wife with that same respect. I also think that humility is an important trait to look for. If your partner is willing to see where they could improve and if you are also willing, your marriage will be that much stronger. The other quality I believe is essential in a mate is hard work. If the person you marry is willing to work hard, you’ll get through just about anything.
- This book is part of a set. Where can readers find the other books in the set? Do you have more planned?
To find out more about my books, go to jenniferbeckstrand.com. You’ll find information about me and my books plus my dad’s blog about farming and my sister’s blog on quilting and raising chickens (she has a very interesting life). You’ll also find lots of recipes, Amish and Englisch.
The Honeybee Sisters series is set in the fictional town of Bienenstock, Wisconsin. Aunt Bitsy’s love story comes out on September 26 as part of a novella collection called “An Amish Christmas Candle.” It’s quite romantic and quite hilarious. An Amish widower thinks he’s going to turn Aunt Bitsy into a well-behaved, proper Amish wife. He’s got another thing coming!
I just signed a contract for three more books in the Honeybee Sisters series about a family of five brothers. The two youngest brothers are tired of sharing a bedroom and hatch a plan to get their oldest three brothers married off and out of the house. The first of those books is scheduled for release early in 2019.
That seems pretty far away, but never fear, there’s lots of Huckleberry Hill romance between now and then.
You can also find out about my Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series on my website. Anna and Felty Helmuth are well into their eighties when they decide that their grandchildren need help finding spouses. Anna knits pot holders and cooks strange dishes like banana jalapeno bread and asparagus raisin casserole. Felty likes to play the license plate game and makes up lyrics to songs when he can’t remember the words. This unlikely pair of matchmakers will leave you laughing and renew your faith in the power of love. My next Huckleberry Hill romance, A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill, comes out in December of 2017.
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