Today we welcome Bestselling Author:
She has come to share with us, a little of her own writing journey
and even some of that much-needed encouragement.
Thank You Jolina!
God Bless You!
– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day.
Was “The Outcast” your first completed novel?
Oh my! I have two manuscripts in the desk drawer that will most definitely never see the light of day. My first, though fiction, highlighted my experience growing up on a Christian camp. My second novel was Southern fiction and dealt with racism and the destructive power of secrets throughout the tobacco-farming Ashinhurst family (I found the last name in an old graveyard). I dearly love both of these stories because they taught me writing discipline and gave me the confidence to know that I can actually create a novel; sometimes it’s really just a matter of sitting in a chair for a specified amount of time and putting thoughts in the word processor. Also, though I never imagine publishing these works, I have gleaned from them while working on my other manuscripts. The art of writing is never a waste of time!
– You have had an amazing rise to popularity.
Any special marketing techniques you feel may have been contributing factors?
Thank you! So kind of you to say. The only marketing tip I have that might be a little different from the norm is that I think we authors have to take social media breaks from time to time or else we risk suffering burnout. Because of this (and because I am just terribly irresponsible with technology), I don’t have a smart phone. I simply upload tweets to Hootsuite through my laptop and schedule posts to my Facebook author page. This gives me freedom to “unplug” and work on my story without being distracted. Then it’s a fun reward—rather than a drudgery—to check back in after my word count is completed and visit with my readers, who are also my friends.
– Would you mind sharing with us how many rounds of querying you went through before getting that “YES!”?
As strange as it sounds, I actually never queried my agent. We discovered each other at an author reading because of our Pennsylvania Dutch last names and struck up a conversation. I had no idea he was an agent until he asked to see the portion of the manuscript I was working on: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter set in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee, which would become my debut, The Outcast. I, of course, Googled him whenever I got home (I had to wait because I don’t have a smart phone) and about passed out. He was a very legitimate and respected agent! So I polished my manuscript for a month, sent it to him, and heard back within a few days. He wanted to read more. Therefore, I started writing up to eight hours a day, five days a week, and had the completed manuscript to him four months later. It was a wonderful, whirlwind experience—truly one of the highlights of my life!
– How much (if any) of your second book did you have completed before you signed a contract for the first?
A few months before my conference call with my publisher, Tyndale, my husband and I sat side by side at a frozen yogurt lounge with our newborn in a car seat between us and hashed out the plot for my sophomore novel, The Midwife: the story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers. But, beyond that, the story itself was just a figment of my imagination. Once I signed that two-book contract, however, I knew it was time to get to work. My daughter was twelve weeks old when I started the first draft, and during the process of defining motherhood, I found I was discovering what it meant to be the kind of mother who would sacrifice to give her child life. It was a beautiful, challenging time, and I am grateful for it.
– Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?
Yes, never, ever give up! That afternoon I met my agent, I was 12 weeks pregnant with our firstborn daughter and had reconciled in my heart that it was time to set my writing dream aside. Here, little did I know that God was just waiting for my complete surrender to His plan for my life to resurrect my lifelong dream of becoming an author! I love being able to work from home and be with our daughter (and with her sister who is due in September!) through every simple, exquisite moment. I know I am blessed.
Please join me in Thanking Jolina for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.
I truly hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!
And now for some other info about Jolina and her wonderful books
From Jolina’s website:
I was born on a hot August day in the heart of Amish country. While my family moved to Tennessee when I was only three years old, my childhood was filled with stories of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors hiding TVs from bishops and concealing permed hair beneath kapps. But this unique heritage did not interest me.
Instead, I pouted as my mother divided my waist-length hair into plaits and then forced me to change from purple overalls into a jean skirt and sneakers in preparation to visit our Plain friends—knowing, even at the tender age of six, that this combination was a fashion faux pas. Playing Hide ‘n’ Seek or Kick the Can with my Old Order Mennonite peers, however, I soon became grateful for that skirt, which helped me transition from Southern Englischer to intimate friend.
Years passed. I knew my Mennonite playmates had traded braided pigtails for kapped buns, yet on a visit to the community, I rebelled against my mother’s instructions and arrived with unbound hair. During supper, which was eaten beneath a popping kerosene bulb, the hostess came and stood behind my portion of the bench. She slid out my blue satin ribbon and plaited my hair as I stared into my bowl of grummbeer supp accented with homemade brot.
The winter of my seventeenth year, I returned to the community to visit my once-raucous playmate whose ill health had transformed her into a soft-spoken friend. The whites of her deep brown eyes had yellowed from liver complications. Her family and my own gathered around her bed, which was heaped with spinning-star quilts, and sang hymns whose Pennsylvania Dutch words I did not know, but whose meaning struck my heart with such clarity, tears slid down my cheeks.
One week later, I stood beside her grave, wearing a thick black headband to hide my newly pierced ears with the fake diamond studs that stabbed the tender skin of my neck and gave me a migraine further magnified by jaw-clenching grief. I remember how the somber community huddled around her family as if their physical presence could shield them, not only from the slashing wind and sleet, but from the reality that their dochder and schweschder’s body was about to be placed into the cold, hard ground.
I left for college that summer, almost eighteen years to the day I had been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was the first person in my immediate family to attempt a higher education. As I unpacked my flared Lucky jeans and beaded sweaters into wobbling dorm drawers, I thought I was leaving my Mennonite heritage along with a certain broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed man whose father had attended my father’s Mennonite high school.
Three years, one death, and two lifetimes’ worth of tribulations later, I realized that I had not lost the precious attributes surrounding my Plain heritage, so much as I had needed to go away in order to find myself.
In the cool autumn of 2008, I married my broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed Dutchman; thus making my last name as difficult to spell as my first. I kept wearing my Lucky jeans and layering my wrists with jewelry, but I was also drawn to a simple life, reminiscent of the one I had once tried to flee. My husband and I purchased a forty-acre valley nestled at the base of softly rolling Tennessee mountains.
Upon moving into the haus my husband built with determination and his own two hands, I began to write a fictionalized version of a story that had once been told to me. A story regarding the power of desire and the reverberating cost if that desire is left unchecked; a story that, shockingly enough, took place in an idyllic Old Order Mennonite community.
In Nashville, I was introduced to a genial, white-haired man who was as excited to hear my Dutchy last name as I had been to hear his. He had attended the same Mennonite high school as my father (and my husband’s father) and, as a literary agent, he was interested to read the portion of the story that I had completed.
He read the first twenty-five thousand words while flying home from a book festival in Brazil and wanted to read more. I continued to write as my expectant belly continued to grow. Two months after the birth of our daughter, Tyndale House accepted the manuscript, as they were as excited to promote my modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter as I had been to write it.
And so, wearing Lucky jeans (the same pair, actually), chandelier earrings, and with unkapped hair, I continue writing stories about the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage that once brought me acute embarrassment, but has now become a creative outlet with no closing doors.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. . . .
And now for a look at her books:
Have you read Jolina’s latest book: “The Midwife”?
The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .
The Past — Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy — and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.
The Present — As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda’s heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.
And her premiere novel: “The Outcast-A Modern Retelling of THE SCARLET LETTER”?
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life.
Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop. But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul.
When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.
Jolina Petersheim is a prime example of God moving us along on the path he has set for us.
While it is difficult for us to submit ourselves completely to God’s will, we must remember that He knows what is best for us and His will for us is so much better than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves.
This is one reason we have come together and created this community of friends. We need to support each other and reach out to each other and remind each other that God has a plan for every one of us! We only need to allow that plan to unfold in front of us and take the steps of faith that are so important.
God Bless You and Have a GREAT week!