Book Talk Tuesday: A Quilt For Jenna

I’m a little tired of Amish fiction so I opened A Quilt for Jenna with just a bit of trepidation.

I was immediately captivated by Jerusha’s pain and her need to quilt and flee her life and her grief. I loved the book! A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. CraigAnother reviewer said, “Amish + Quilts = reader’s delight!”

I concur.

Jerusha and Reuben fell in love but Reuben wasn’t an Amish man in good standing with the community. Then he went off to fight in World War II. He came home a changed man, determined to live by the Ordung, and return to his Amish roots. He and Jerusha marry and are happy.

A few years later, Jerush and Reuben lose their only child, Jenna. Neither Reuben nor Jerusha can find their way back to the other. Reuben blames himself forJenna’s death. So does Jerusha. Reuben has left their Amish community. Jerusha has stitched a wonderful quilt that is to be her ticket out of Apple Creek.

On Thanksgiving weekend 1950, a horrific storm blew through Ohio, capturing Jerusha and her quilt in its fury. A little girl in the back seat of another car is abandoned and left to die. The two find each other and take refuge from the storm.

Patrick Craig is equally as good at both the male and female points of view. The battle scenes at Guadalcanal are as painstakingly crafted as Jerusha’s quilting scenes.

I liked how the backstory of what happened during World War II was interwoven with the 1950’s events.

Mr. Craig accomplished what I thought was impossible: weaving a compelling Amish/quilting story into a wonderful tale of love, loss, and redemption.
I’ll definitely read the next one in the Apple Creek Dreams series!

Thursday Author Spotlight: Patrick E. Craig

I had the privilege of meeting and working with Patrick last year at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. His first book was recently released from Harvest House. I reviewed it here and really enjoyed it.

Here are a few questions (and answers) from Patrick.

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You are a man who writes Amish fiction and there are very few out there. Why Amish?

In late 2010, I read a blog by Nick Harrison, a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, whom I had met at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. Nick said for the first month of 2011 he would accept story ideas, and he liked Amish and quilting stories.

At first I thought, I’m a man and I know nothing about the Amish or quilting, but I felt compelled to go for it anyway. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God had put a wide-open door in front of me. I went for it and sent Nick a one-sheet for a story called “A Quilt For Jenna.”

What happened then?

Nick really liked the story idea and proposed that we consider it for an anthology of short stories. He asked for some sample chapters so I wrote three short ones, thinking that we were working on a short story.

So you were writing short chapters for a short story. How did it become a novel?

The 2011 Mt. Hermon Conference was coming up and I sent the chapters to Steve Laube, a literary agent, for a critique. At the conference, I met with Steve. He asked if the story could be a novel and if I could make a three-book series out of it. I took a deep breath and said that I could. I spoke with Nick, and he also encouraged me to make it into a novel.

So did you get your book deal then or later?

Much later. I left Mt. Hermon in April with a mission—to write two chapters a week and finish by August. I sent the complete manuscript to Nick and Steve on September 15th. Steve contacted me about representing me, and Nick pitched it to the editorial committee at Harvest House. Then three weeks later, I got an e-mail from Nick that said, “It’s a yes!” I signed with Steve, he negotiated the contract, and we were on the way. In a few short months I had gone from knowing nothing about the Amish or quilting to having a three-book deal with Harvest House and a top literary agent to represent me. I’m now working on the second book, “The Road Home.”

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned two things: first—if the Lord opens a door, step through it, and second—you must let the Lord put you in the way of people who can help you. Writer’s conferences are great for that, and Mt. Hermon is one of the best.

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Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career to follow Christ in 1984. He spent twenty-six years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor. He signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers for his Apple Creek Dreams series. The first book, A Quilt for Jenna, was released February 1, 2013. You can contact Patrick by email at Patrick@patrickecraig.com or on Twitter @patrickecraig.