Hey lovely readers- today, Jolina Petersheim is back today at Traveling With T talking about her newest book, THE MIDWIFE. You might remember Jolina last year from THE OUTCAST– a book that Traveling With T really enjoyed. In the coming weeks, look for a review of THE MIDWIFE- which early praise indicates might even be better than THE OUTCAST! Continue reading
The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
Rachel, a young Mennoite woman, has a secret. The secret is shared by another person whose identity she wishes to never reveal because this secret would destroy all that she knows in life. Rachel has a little boy, Eli, and in the community she lives in- having a child out of wedlock is a sin. Compounding her sin and the disapproval she gets from the community is the fact that she refuses to reveal the father, the co-conspirator in her sin. Rachel knows it’s wrong to keep secrets- but this is one secret she’ll not willingly reveal.
Leah, Rachel’s twin, does everything in her power to keep her husband, Tobias the bishop, from banishing Rachel to a place outside the community. Leah’s sick and needs her sister- wants her sister to be with her. Tobias, though, is an unforgiving man- and he makes sure that Rachel knows she is no longer welcome in his house. Tobias knows about secrets as well- and knows that threatening Rachel about revealing her secret will be the fastest way to get what he wants- which is Rachel far away from his angelic wife, Leah.
Judah, Tobias’s younger brother, has loved Rachel since they were kids. He taught her about reading and shared books with her- they had a made-up language where Judah would confide his desire to experience a different world than Cooper Creek. As the community shuns Rachel for her sin, Judah does the opposite. He wants to marry Rachel, to love and cherish her- to be a father to her baby, Eli. Judah does not care that she refuses to reveal her partner in sin- he knows that life without Rachel would not be the life he wishes to live. Rachel, though, is hesitant. Loving Judah, marrying him is not something she’s ready for. Rachel can’t understand that while love from other me in her life has come with strings- Judah loves her for her- no strings.
When Eli gets sick, Rachel worries that her boy is being punished for her sin. As Eli gets sicker, the secret that Rachel has been trying to hide, to protect her sister- becomes important for Eli’s health. However some secrets are so deep in a community and held by people of upstanding background they will do anything, anything to keep it hidden.
Traveling With T’s Thoughts:
Jolina Petersheim’s debut, The Outcast, is a compelling story. A fallen woman who will bear the brunt of shame of the community to keep her twin from pain. A man, a bishop, with secrets of his own. An unrequited love. Jolina weaves these pieces of the storyline- moving from perspective of each character to create a story that is worth reading and an interesting look in the Amish/Mennoite lifestyle. The plot flows and the reader wants to know what happens next. Recommended for book clubs!
Can you believe that next week is Labor Day Weekend? Where, oh where did my summer go?!
1. Deep South Magazine and their #literaryfriday is hot, hot, hot: Giveaway of Lookaway, Lookaway By Wilton Barnhardt, Decatur Book Festival news, Southern Festival of Books, and much more!
PS: Plus a mention of an interview I did with Katherine Center, author of The Lost Husband, that just happened to make Deep South Mag’s Summer Reading List 2013!
2. Several #giveaways to list this week:
Linus’s Blanket is giving away a copy of The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes! (this giveaway ends TODAY!)
Always With A Book is giving away Three Little Words by Susan Mallery!
Traveling With T is giving away The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim!
Traveling With T is giving away The Lost Husband by Katherine Center!
**Just added: The Book Wheel is giving away Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra. This giveaway ends in 2 days!
3. Another Blogger Made Of AWESOME was featured this week on Traveling With T! Katherine @ Story Matters has quite a story and a nostalgic #literaryconfession!
4. #ctbs is still going on- so far, I’ve read 4 books from my shelf (a far less admirable goal than I’d hoped- but this last week of August might turn things around!)
5. My #fridayreads Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand- what are you reading for #fridayreads?
7. I reviewed Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall this week on Traveling With T!
Author Spotlight: Jolina Petersheim
What are some of your favorite books?
Les Miserables, The Alchemist, Little Women, For Whom the Bell Tolls, I Capture the Castle, The Orchardist, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Into the Free, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, The Flight of Gemma Hardy—and anything by Fannie Flagg. (She makes me laugh so much, I want her to be my neighbor in heaven.)
Is there a book character that you would love to be best friends with? Why?
Anne of Green Gables, without a doubt. She and I both speak without thinking; hence, we are always getting into scrapes.
Do you have a #literaryconfessions?
Though I was an English major, I do not really care for The Great Gatsby. My best friend and I still went to see the Baz Luhrmann version in the theatre. Watching it made me feel like I was on something, and the strongest thing I’ve ever been on was Midol.
Do you have a #literarycrush?
Dark, brooding Mr. Rochester with his secrets! Actually, now that I think about it, Tobias King in The Outcast shares some of his harsher mannerisms.
What books are you looking forward to reading 2013?
The Firebird, Serena, Children of the Jacaranda Tree, And the Mountains Echoed, When Mountains Move, The Art of Fielding, The Fault in Our Stars, Shine, Shine, Shine, The Burgess Boys, Mudbound. It goes on and on. I could be a hermit for the rest of my life and not read all the ones I have on my list.
What book was the best book you read last year?
The Orchardist. I want to kidnap Amanda Coplin’s muse.
Jolina, when you are not writing- what other activities do you like to take part in?
I enjoy hiking with my one-year-old daughter strapped on my back and our Akita dog, Kashi, for protection against wild boar—though I’ve only seen one up close. I enjoy cooking new things but hate following recipes. I love traveling, creek-walking, photography, and thrift-store shopping for treasures, like hardbacked books with deckled pages or too small Italian shoes. I am a people watcher and nothing fills me with more joy than listening to stories and making new friends.
*Special thanks to Jolina Petersheim for agreeing to this author spotlight!
The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim is a book that many people are talking about. Jolina has been working the social media angle and had some great author blogger/support. But, even more than that, the book is a good read!
Several weeks ago, one blogger from She Reads mentioned this book as part of The Blog Network Recommends. I made a note to check it out- next thing I knew, The Outcast was being mentioned here, there and everywhere! Without Katherine mentioning it first, though, I don’t know if the book would have moved as quickly to the top of my TBR list!
During this time, Jolina and I began chatting on social media- and she agreed to be interviewed (plus a giveaway!) Seeing Jolina and her pictures of going on a book tour with The Outcast are a treat- you can just tell from the smile on her face that she is a lovely person- and someone fun to visit with!
Interview with Jolina Petersheim
Jolina- thank you for coming to Traveling With T to be interviewed!
Thank you, Tamara, for having me here. I’ve loved getting to know you through social media, and I hope that our paths cross in person soon!
The Outcast is a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter. Why did you choose to write a modern retelling of a classic? Do you hope that one day schools will be required to read both The Scarlet Letter and The Outcast to compare and contrast the storylines?
Nathaniel Hawthorne might haunt me if he thinks I’m trying to compare The Outcast to his classic! J However, I was so honored when a teacher told me that she will be teaching The Outcast alongside The Scarlet Letter. Knowing students will be studying (and reading!) my work is a dream come true.
Secrets run deep in The Outcast. What is your personal thought on secrets?
I believe secrets hold the power to tear relationships apart, but – once revealed – God also holds the power to mend them. Redemption after devastation is The Outcast’s main theme; Rachel’s illegitimate child’s illness is just the catalyst that sets everything into motion.
What is one thing readers should know about The Outcast to convince them to add it to their reading list?
Four years ago, a family member told a true story about the power of desire that was left unchecked and how it trickled down through an Old Order Mennonite family, not only affecting that generation, but the generations to come. We were all sitting around the kitchen, and after the person finished speaking, I gasped, “That’s a book!” But I did nothing about it. At the time, I was writing Southern fiction and did not want to surrender to “Amish fiction”—a genre my father always told me I should write.
However, a few years later, I was on the London Underground when a tall, stoop-shouldered man in a black suit stepped on board. My best friend and I recognized him as the person who was friends with the woman who was allowing us to stay in her flat. On the subway, this unsung poet and prophet spoke into my best friend’s life. Then later, on the double decker bus, he spoke into mine. He told me I would give up the manuscript I was currently working on and begin writing again. I didn’t know I would listen, but when I came home, I could not hear anything else. I put my current manuscript in a drawer and began writing a fictionalized version of the story that had been told to me. The unsung prophet of the London Underground is mentioned in the acknowledgements section of The Outcast.
When writing, Jolina, was there a writing schedule? Writing room? Did you use an outline or notecards to help in writing?
My husband and I welcomed a bouncing baby girl into our lives sixteen months ago. She is precious and feisty and, for a long while, did not want to sleep! This made it difficult to have a writing schedule, so as soon as her eyes would flutter closed, I’d grab the baby monitor and go tearing out on the front porch—typing as fast as I could for as long as she didn’t brutz from her crib.
Thankfully, she started settling down at ten months. Once she was sleeping through the night, I would write while she was napping and write after my husband and daughter went to sleep.
So, here’s my writing “schedule”:
6:30-7:00 – Baby A gets up, my husband feeds her breakfast.
7 – Mom (me) comes stumbling out and grabs a bagel.
7:30 – Hubby leaves for work.
7:30-8 – Finish breakfast, morning reading, clean up kitchen, get dressed (maybe).
8 – 9 Play with Baby A, then try to do some social media. Sometimes she hits enter before I’ve finished an email. (I apologize in advance to anyone who receives gobbledygook that looks like this: hlljakljfksjfklaj.)
9-10 Sweep floors and do laundry while listening to an audiobook. (Baby A loves to help me “fold” clothes.)
10 – Baby A goes to sleep. I grab baby monitor and lunge outside with laptop to write.
10:30 – Tie Kashi (our Akita puppy) up, because she’s licking my laptop screen.
11:15 – Watch neighbor’s mules come galloping down our lane, where they’ve broken down their fence –again.
11:30 – Stop writing to talk to farmer who is eyeing up our field for hay.
12 – Finish writing a paragraph. Baby A awakens from her crib.
12-4 Lunch, more emails, more cleaning, go outside to weed small raised-bed garden. Tie Kashi up who is trying to eat radishes. Husband home!
4-5 Walk up our neighbor’s long lane with Baby A strapped to my back. The lane cuts into the mountains and runs parallel with a dry creek bed that leads to a Buddhist temple (the Dalai Lama visited once!). I started walking there when loggers ran me off the road and almost killed my dog.
5-7 Supper, clean up kitchen, play with Baby A; my dear husband usually puts her to bed.
7-9 Quiet time with Hubby. We chat about our day, and sometimes we watch BBC’s Call The Midwife, which I count as research for my next book. He won’t admit it, but he secretly loves the show as much as I do. I would love to become a doula (birthing assistant) one day.
9-11 – Write, write, write! I adore these hours that somehow feel stolen and wonderful!
Katherine Scott Jones, a fellow She Reads blogger, recommended The Outcast in an article posted to She Reads called The Blog Network Recommends. Without Katherine’s recommendation, I’m not sure if I would have known about this book. How had word of mouth helped the sales of The Outcast?
Don’t you just adore Katherine Scott Jones? She will always have a special place in my heart because she was the first book reviewer to contact me just to say how much she enjoyed The Outcast. Though we live on opposite sides of the nation, I feel like we are truly friends. I cannot wait to read her words one day!
So, yes! Word of mouth has been wonderful. I am an extrovert who lives in the sticks; therefore, getting to meet readers, reviewers, and booksellers (even just through social media) has been a delightful part of this publishing experience. Thank you all!
What are you working on next, Jolina?
The Midwife, which is slated to release next summer. I still have a lot of work left on this story. (I’ve sent it to my publisher, but haven’t started edits.) But I am just as excited about its premise as I was about The Outcast’s! In the winter of 1995, a graduate student named Beth Sizemore becomes the gestational surrogate for a wealthy family in the research university where she attends. However, four months into the pregnancy, there appears to be chromosomal abnormality. Fearing the parents with terminate the pregnancy, Beth flees to a home for unwed mothers called Hopen Haus, which is located in an Old Order Mennonite community. She delivers the child, who is healthy, and focuses on her work as an assistant to the midwife. When the parents find out the child is alive and well, they come and take her back. From here, The Midwife expounds on what it truly means to be a mother: genetics or love.
Special thanks to Jolina Petersheim for agreeing to be interviewed!
Jolina Petersheim, author of The Outcast, is working hard on her 2nd book, raising an adorable baby girl, and keeping Kashi (her pup) from licking the computer screen while working. To buy The Outcast, visit here. To find out more about Jolina- visit Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter pages.
Giveaway! To win a copy of Jolina Petersheim’s The Outcast– just comment on this post. Include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT). Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!) Giveaway begins August 19th and ends August 26th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified on August 27th.
Mashup, Mashup, Mashup!
1. Leah’s Thoughts is giving away a copy of The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim. Jolina is adorable on Twitter- she’s so excited about her novel!
2. Amy Sue Nathan is featuring Mia March today on her website (wonder what those 2 smart and wonderful women are talking about?!) Come find out and read Mia’s post: Author Mia March Edits As She Writes, Loves Women’s Fiction, And Celebrates Her Kinship With Authors
3. Book-Alicious Mama is still in Week 1 of discussing The Painted Girls! Come, join my adorable Book Lovers Unite co-host, and let’s chat about The Painted Girls!
4. Deep South Magazine is chatting with Susan Rebecca White, author of A PLACE AT THE TABLE, Fri, July 19th 2-3pm EST. Use #southernlit to join in! Can’t wait? Here is my interview with Susan Rebecca White!
5. For more #giveaway information- check out my Wednesday Mashup!