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Davis Journal

Jennifer Beckstrand, new pen name same clean romance

Jun 06, 2022 01:16PM ● By Sarah Segovia

USA Today Best-Selling Amish romance novelist Jennifer Beckstrand is well-known for her wholesome romantic comedy, but now under her new pen name Jen Spencer, she applies her strengths to a new range of genres. 

“I started a new pen name because I have discovered over the years that people either really love Amish romances or they hate them,” said Beckstrand. “Some people might say to themselves, ‘If she is an Amish romance novelist her other books wouldn’t interest me so I don’t want to read them.’ Jen Spencer is my pen name for all my other books that are not Amish.”  

She has published three books so far under her second pen name, Jen Spencer. “Dandelion Meadows – a modern romantic comedy, Jessie & James – a romance based in the 1880s and 6 kisses for Christmas – a collection of sweet, romantic Christmas stories from me and my sisters,” said Beckstrand. “I really love sweet, clean romance. It is my first love, regardless of the setting.”

Beckstrand said she plans to continue writing Amish novels. “I enjoy writing about the community and culture of the Amish because they are so family oriented and dedicated to their beliefs. There are a lot of interesting conflicts you can explore about how people navigate in the framework of the Amish community and religion. My favorite themes to write about are forgiveness, second chances, and people’s faith journey.” 

Some Amish books are very well written, but can be kind of gloomy, she said. “My books are really light hearted. They are meant to be entertaining. My goal is to leave you wanting to give yourself a big hug when you are done reading.”   

Beckstrand grew up in Orem. “I moved to Chicago for graduate school,” she said. “After I got married we moved to Texas, California, Michigan and then we moved back to Utah for my husband’s job. I enjoyed moving around, getting to know different people and live in different parts of the country.”  

She began writing her own stories after her fourth daughter was born. “I had trouble sleeping so I would stay up and write,” said Beckstrand. “When that same daughter turned 16, I finished my first book. It was a Western romance novel.”

Shortly after, she went to a writer’s conference to pitch it to an editor. “The editor told me she wasn’t interested since it didn’t have sex in it, but she connected me to a Christian books agent,” said Beckstrand. “The agent connected me with other Christian editors. One editor called me and said ‘I think you are a great writer, but Western novels aren’t selling. Amish romance novels are.’ She said that if I could get her 50 pages of a good Amish novel she could offer me a contract.” 

Beckstrand said at the time, she knew nothing about the Amish. “I decided to fly out to Pennsylvania to do research and started to write. That year on my birthday, the agent called to offer me a contract for my first book. I finished ‘Kate’s Song’ within three months and got a contract for two more books.”

All of her novels, though they aren’t necessarily Christian are sweet and innocent romance. “When people see a woman in a bonnet on the cover of a book, they know they are going to get a good clean ‘bonnet ripper.’ Some Amish don’t like that Amish books are mostly written by non-Amish, but many Amish do like that they are clean and romantic,” said Beckstrand. 

“I really love this Amish book of mine that is coming out in June. It’s laugh out loud funny. It’s about a family with five boys. Two are 9-year-old twins. Due to some health issues, their grandma and grandpa had to move in with them and they get moved out of their room and into some undesirable quarters. In order to get their room back, they decide to try to get their older brother married off, so they do all this mischievous stuff to make that happen. They may even set something on fire,” said Beckstrand. 

“My greatest accomplishment as a writer has been making the USA Today Best-Seller list in November 2020,” she said. “My main goals for the future are to make the New York Times Best-Seller list, make this new pen name successful and to just keep writing books that people love that uplift them.” 

Her advice to aspiring writers is to just keep writing. “Many people start several books because it’s always fun in the beginning, but then it gets really hard and they never finish,” said Beckstrand. “Realize that writing is hard work. A famous writer said, ‘If you just keep writing, you will be able to get something out of your writing.’ The more you do it the better you get.”

Beckstrand has written over 30 books. “Each time I write a new book, I always say that this is the worst book I have ever written,” she said. “I have a strong internal editor. After I have been away from it for a while though I feel totally different. Once it’s published and I re-read it I’m always excited and realize I really love it. You know what they say, nothing worth reading is easy to write.” l