About Me

Penelope J. Stokes

 Writer, Editor, Seeker

It’s often been debated whether a person’s destiny lies in genetics or environment, but either way, I suppose I was destined to be a fiction writer. A Baby Boomer with an English teacher and a social worker for parents, I grew up being challenged to develop my imagination, and to seek out for myself the meaning and significance of life. I learned early both the magic and mystery of stories and the importance of people–their dreams, their hopes, their longings, their struggles.

From the age of four, when I first learned to read and discovered that words had incredible power, I dreamed of being a writer. But the fulfillment of that dream was a long time in coming. Ten years of university study, culminating in a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature, led me to a career as a college professor. I loved teaching, loved the students and the challenge and the interaction, but the longing for full-time expression of my creativity never died. Finally, after twelve years of college teaching, I left the classroom and turned my energy toward my life’s passion–writing fiction.

blue-ridge-2.jpgIn the process, I discovered another passion–the magnificent grandeur of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.


I was raised in Mississippi, and as a child I remember family vacations to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I loved the undulating layers of blue and purple and green, the rushing streams coming down over the rocks, the cool glades and misty mornings. And now I live here—in the shadow of the Blue Ridge near DuPont Forest, where rare and remarkable white squirrels chatter wisdom to me from the trees outside my office window.

White squirrel in TamaracBut scenery can only take you so far. Fiction is about people. Not just what happens to them, but about what happens in them–the spiritual, emotional, and psychological passages that lead people to an understanding of their inner selves, and of one another. That’s what I like to write about: the heart, the mind, the soul. Authenticity of character and profound spiritual transformation. I want to draw my readers into a different kind of world–one marked by purpose, significance, and hope. Most importantly, hope.

Some readers have criticized me for dealing with uncomfortable subjects in my fiction–subjects which do not lend themselves to easy answers.  The truth is, there are no easy answers in life. There are not even any easy questions.  Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that our character is determined not so much by the certainties we cling to, but by the uncertainties we are courageous enough to face.

At the end of the day, only a few things in life really matter: Love. Insight. Growth. Grace. When we’re committed to going deeper, to following the unknown path, our journey can lead us to an understanding of our own our inner being, to a connection with a power that is both within us and beyond us. And that understanding, that connection, gives meaning and purpose to our days.

7 Responses to About Me

  1. Susan McKaig says:

    Dear Penelope,

    I am just now reading The Wishing Jar. For the particular reason that it is a small hardback and the plot intrigued me, I checked it out from the Lexington Public Library system. Little did I know I would be reading about lives lived in Asheville where in 2000 I married my husband during the Belle Cher weekend so our family and friends could enjoy the event. Most locals probably leave during the event, which now has come to and end as we learned celebrating our 13th anniversary this past July. I was dubbed “The Bride of Belle Cher” in the Times wrap up that Monday in 2000 forever placing in my heart a love of The Blue Ridge Mountains. We celebrated 4 anniversaries there with me in my bride gown (purchased from Clothes Encounters in Asheville) and my husband in his groom clothes promenading through the streets, listening to the bands at the various stages, dancing whenever the spirit moves us, and buying a sentimental piece of art. Being a baby boomer myself this was of great joy to see so many smiling faces as it seems brides are still popular no matter their age.

    I will enjoy reading more of your books. Thank you for caring enough to write and publish!

    I am, as well, a writer, a journalist , a reader, and a poet. Most of all a dancer….


    Sue McKaig

  2. kerstin Hebauf says:

    Dear Penelope, I am a german lover of your books. I ask for an allowness for the following fact.
    I have read : Flaschenpost voller Träume. I liked the scene with the schoolkids and the question Was ist Segnung. I have copied (written down) a passage of this and formed in own words because I had to write a text for a christian radio ERF Evangeliumsrundfunk to be spoken. The Professor of ERFwants me to speakt it this week for the radio but we don’t want to get problems because a bit of the text is “stolen” If you wish I can send the mp3 ( if I had one) to you. If you wish i could mention that i had the idea from your book..Would it be ok?

    • P. J. Stokes says:

      Yes, Kerstin, by all means you have my permission to use the passage from my book. Thanks for contacting me, and I’m glad you are enjoying my novels.

      Penelope J. Stokes

  3. Stefy says:

    Hello miss Stokes. How is life going on?. I didn’t know how find you just by this medium. To start I’m not really good to express myself in english, but I have a virtue: I can try. So I want to tell you how much I enjoy your writting. You’re such an amazing writer (and I’m sure everyone had told you that, but anyway I wanna be part of these too). I can tell you that you got the talent and you are able to correctly transmit suitable emotions, your stories have me absorbed. How you can put sadness next to happiness… Is truly real.
    I’m 19 and I write too, in fact I read a lot, then I know modern writers of this century and just a few of them caught my attention like you do, anyway maybe it’s just an subjetive oppinion of preference, but I love to read you and I congratulate you.
    I will try to make a Dell ‘s recipe one of this day haha and you will be cordially invited.
    I hope you can send me an email, mine is: stefyourock@hotmail.com
    I would love can talk to you sometime. A big hug from Argentina!by a southern girl haha.

  4. rca122 says:

    I have ‘The Memory Book’, ‘The Wishing Jar’, and ‘The Blue Bottle Club’. Are these books related to each other? Are they a series? If so, what’s the order to read. Are your books ‘stand-alone’? Thanks! :~)

  5. Mary Anne Stoner says:

    Ms. Stokes,
    I keep a scrapbook of authors and my favorite books. The Blue Bottle Club is always the first book I recommend when someone ask me for a good book to read. I would love to include you in my scrapbook. If I send you a self addressed stamped envelope could I get an autograph? If yes please let me know where to send it. Thank you so much.

    • P. J. Stokes says:

      Mary Anne,
      Thank you so much for your kind words, and your recommendation of my work I would be pleased to send an autograph, but I am currently living in Ecuador, where I’m not able to receive physical mail. If you will send me an email address, I’d be glad to send you an autograph electronically.

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