Month: January 2018

Special Feature: Paula Moldenhauer Guest Post

In honor of the release of my debut novella, I have invited each of the other authors in the collection to write a post about the inspiration for their story.  Today, I’m pleased to share a post from Paula Moldenhauer, author of At Home with Daffodils.

On a warm summer’s day my husband, two youngest sons, my dad, and I drove through Camp Gruber, stopping to swim in the creek when I swam as a child. Afterwards we drove on through the camp, coming out the other side to discover a quaint little building. Dad suggested we stop for lunch. I didn’t know then that from this experience would come the inspiration for my novella, At Home with Daffodils.

On a warm summer’s day my husband, two youngest sons, my dad, and I drove through Camp Gruber, stopping to swim in the creek when I swam as a child. Afterwards we drove on through the camp, coming out the other side to discover a quaint little building. Dad suggested we stop for lunch. I didn’t know then that from this experience would come the inspiration for my novella, At Home with Daffodils.

We ordered—and enjoyed—our home-cooked meal. Debbie Rucker, the proprietor and cook, left her stove to share the store’s history. The store was opened many years before by her grandmother, a single mom. The building was passed down to Debbie, and she opens the restaurant on weekends to keep the spirit of the Qualls community alive for the next generation.

I commented on the french fries. I hadn’t had homemade fries like that since my grandmother made them for me many years before. My husband said, “Yes. The fries were just like Grandma Eunice’s weren’t they?”

Debbie whipped toward me, “You’re Aunt Eunice’s granddaughter?” She explained that she had been married to my grandma’s nephew. Then the stories began in earnest. She said my grandparents were well-loved in the Qualls community; everyone had a story of a time Grandpa or Grandma helped them out. Then Debbie began to tell her special story. It was about her daddy and my grandpa. How I treasure this story!

You’ll read a similar version in chapter one of At Home with Daffodils. I won’t spoil it for you by sharing it here, but I find great joy in honoring my grandpa by creating a fictionalized account of the event.

I hope you enjoy A Bouquet of Brides, where you meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Watch how love helps them grow to their full potential!

To celebrate the release of A Bouquet of Brides, I’m giving away a copy of the book. Enter the drawing by signing-up for my newsletter or leaving a comment on my blog during the month of January (USA readers only). Check out my website, where I have free resources and information about the Free to Flourish writing and speaking ministry.

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Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares this message when speaking at women’s events, and it permeates her written work. Paula has published over 300 times in non-fiction markets and has a devotional book series, Soul Scents. Her first published novella, You’re a Charmer Mr. Grinch, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction. Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado. They treasure time with their growing family of adult children, spouses, and spouses-to-be. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, going barefoot, and adventuring with friends. Visit her at www.paulamoldenhauer.com

 

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Lost in the Suburbs

I’m a small-town girl, who recently moved to the suburbs.  I find myself faced with so many new decisions. How do suburb dwellers figure out where to shop?

For example, when I need something for my home, perhaps a dishtowel.  In the small, mountain town where I used to live, I would go to Walmart, buy the towel and be home within a few minutes.

Now I live within ten minutes of three Walmarts. How do I choose? I can go to the one that is near the Kickboxing gym.  Maybe I’ll workout on the way there, but then I’ll be sweaty. Although, people in animal print leggings and bedroom slippers won’t care much about my messy bun and red face.

I can go to the Walmart near Costco.  Wait! Costco is only ten minutes away, too.  The wholesale warehouse sells dishtowels.  Do I need a pack of ten?  I could give them as gifts next Christmas.

Or do I venture north to an entirely new Walmart? With a different floorplan. And different traffic patterns. I could get stuck in a left turn lane and never return.

But, wait, there are three Targets within ten minutes of my house. Target would carry a more upscale selection.   I could go to the Walmart that is nearest a Target for even more choices. Then I could spend an hour exploring the options in both stores before making a selection.

Or, I could go to one of the plethora of craft supply stores to buy a towel that I decorate myself.  Or the mall.  I live near several malls. Or a kitchen specialty store.

More often than not, I discover that all of the stores carry the same two choices. After visiting five stores and the mall, I go home to order a dishtowel online.

How can stores compete in such close proximity?  Home Depot is next to Lowes.  When I need “hardware”, where do I go?  Office Max is across the street from Staples.  PetSmart and Petco. Whole Foods and Sprouts. Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  Makes my head spin.

It took me a while to find a post office. I’m not sure the one I use is even where I would go to pick up a package or put a hold on my mail.  But, why are there so many mailboxes?  Most of them say the same thing.  Which box do I use? Why not just make one big mailbox?

And don’t get me started on restaurants.  I’m surrounded by new fast, casual chain restaurants.  Ooh, the temptation.  Eating out is one of the fastest ways to blow my budget. My husband doesn’t care what he eats and doesn’t understand the temptation.  Sometimes I sneak out to a fun little restaurant for lunch while he’s at work. He doesn’t even realize how much it costs him to live surrounded by yummy restaurants.

After a year, I’m finding my go-to stores so that I can spend less brain power on decision making.  Maybe that’s what native suburbanites do.  Just pick a store and call it good.

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Special Feature: Mary Davis Guest Post

In honor of the release of my debut novella, I have invited each of the other authors in the collection to write a post about the inspiration for their story.  Today, I’m pleased to share a post from Mary Davisauthor of Holly and Ivy.

A BOUQUET’S SWEET SCENT

“Holly & Ivy,” my #HistoricalRomance novella in A #BouquetOfBrides, takes place in 1890, in Washington State. A young woman accompanies her impetuous younger sister on her trip across the country to be a Christmas mail-order bride and is helped by a gallant stranger.

My initial idea for this collection popped into my head years before I started pulling the proposal together. The inspiration title that came to me was A Bouquet of Brides for the Bakersfield Bachelors. But coordinating so many stories by so many different authors can be quite challenging, time consuming, and confusing. So instead of having all the brides end up in the same location, I held fast to the flower theme. The collection bloomed and grew from there.

Flowers have been depicted for centuries in paintings, sculptures, music, books, tapestries, china, needlepoint, almost anywhere you can think of. Flowers have been used to honor important ceremonies and traditions, enhance environments, and of course to express feelings, especially love. Flowers mean many things to people.

My favorite flower is the carnation. I love its sweet, sweet smell and how it’s ruffly, almost lacey like. What’s your favorite flower?

Photo by Rowena Kong on Unsplash

 

In celebration of the release of “Holly & Ivy”, I’m giving away (US only) a print copy of A BOUQUET OF BRIDES Collection. To enter, subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free short story. I’ll be drawing for the book at the end of January.

Follow my blog at Mary’s Blog.

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#ChristianRomance #HistoricalRomance #Romance

MARY DAVIS is an award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She has four more titles releasing in 2018; Courting Her Amish Heart in March 2018, The Widow’s Plight in July 2018, Courting Her Secret Heart (Working Title) September 2018, & “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in MISSAdventure Brides Collection in December 2018. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-three years and two cats. She has three adult children and one incredibly adorable grandchild. Find her online at:

MaryDavisBooks.com

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When did bathrooms become art galleries?

I’m fascinated by the artwork I find in bathrooms. I’ve always considered bathrooms to be unimportant when it came to interior design. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the day when pastel colored seashell soaps graced every sink, and no one was allowed to actually use them. They would remain forever encased in glistening plastic. And, of course, fancy guest towels were completely off limits.

Some people go overboard with bathroom decoration nowadays. I’m not sure I want any of these woodland creatures watching me do my business.

Without straying too far from the seashells of my childhood, I decided to decorate with a simple waterfront theme in my own bathroom. The rest of the house is a woodsy theme. Kind of a mismatch.

 

Some businesses understand the captive audience a restroom provides. They hang advertising posters inside stall doors or near the sink. Why not turn it into a money-maker? I’ve even seen fliers about upcoming events in church bathrooms.

Other businesses extend the theme of the main floor into the washroom. But, who decided to hang a toilet paper holder so far from a toilet?

The ladies’ room in an upscale mall boasts marble (or fake marble—I can’t tell the difference) counter tops and stall dividers. Fancy stall doors reach the floor. No little kids are going to crawl under those.

I’ve seen displays of decorating prowess in individual homes as well. Makes me a little jealous. While using the washroom at a friend’s house, I noticed a framed picture of a marriage license on the wall. A marriage license? So, I looked further. Framed historic photos filled the walls. I asked her about them, because that’s a question begging to be asked.

It was her grandparents’ marriage license. Normally their wedding picture hung on the opposite wall, but she had taken it down to re-frame it. She is holding it in the picture below because I asked her to bring it down for this blog. How could she refuse? Thank you, Kim for putting up with your eccentric, blogging friend.

Other pictures of relatives hung on the walls too. I wish I could remember which relative was in the photograph below. Now that I think about it, I was sharing that bathroom with a lot of people. Maybe I should stick to woodland creatures.

I suppose it’s a nice way to show the pictures. So many people pass through that room. No one would see them in her bedroom or office. Not even in the hallway near all the bedrooms. But, lots of people see the bathroom, even if it is just to check their make-up.

I may have to re-think the way I decorate my bathrooms. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if I write a future blog about the hidden treasure of bathroom art. So much to see in the bathroom.


Special Feature: Kathleen Kovach Guest Post

In honor of the release of my debut novella, I have invited each of the other authors in the collection to write a post about the inspiration for their story.  Today, I’m pleased to share a post from Kathleen E. Kovachauthor of Periwinkle in the Park.

When I was first approached to write a story about a girl named after a flower, I had no idea that simple idea would spark into the book it became. I thought first of one of my favorite flower, the daisy. However, when I ran that idea by family members, they turned their noses up at it. And not to smell the flower! I then went with another choice, Periwinkle. Why I didn’t think of it in the first place, I don’t know. Periwinkle is not only a flower, but also my favorite color.

I ended up with a protagonist who is a naturalist from reading The Magnificent Mountain Women: Adventures in the Colorado Rockies. My heroine, Periwinkle and her sister, Sunnie (named after the sunflower,) are very loosely based on Elizabeth and Esther Burnell, sisters who came on the scene after the establishment of the park. Esther would eventually marry Enos Mills, known as “the Father of Rocky Mountain National Park.” But Elizabeth went on to become a nature tour guide once the park had been established.

I knew I wanted to write a story located in Colorado, and the aforementioned book helped me to isolate the area, the protagonist, and her occupation—a nature tour guide in the mountains.

Why Colorado? Why Estes Park? Why Rocky Mountain National Park? The answer lies in the photograph above. My grandparents were snowbirds. They worked in Estes Park in the summer and lived in Mesa, Arizona in the winter. When they were in Colorado, my parents took my sister and me to visit them every chance they could. Estes Park became my second home and the national park was my playground. Grandpa and Grandma, Milo (Mike) and Gwen Wiles, started out working at Tiny Town Cottages, sweet little cabins along the Big Thompson river. They went on to work at several other establishments over the years before they retired to Arizona permanently. I have such fond memories of my grandparents and the mountains—the two are synonymous in my mind. Gathering near the fireplace while Grandpa played his juice harp, sans his teeth. The hummingbirds at my grandmother’s feeder, every single one named. And playing on the Tiny Town grounds with the children who came through on vacation. One such family had me confused. They seemed to be talking my language, but I couldn’t get a handle on the words. Come to find out they were from Australia!

Yes, my inspiration came from as far back as when I was a little girl, falling in love with the Rocky Mountains. Who knew I would someday become a writer and create a character who also loves the mountains and gives tours with her trusty mule by her side. A mule named Daisy. I was determined to get that flower in there one way or another!

 

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Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Having grown up in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park was her playground. She lives in northeast Colorado with her husband of over four decades and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God’s peculiar people. Please visit her at www.kathleenekovach.com.

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Morning Time Warp

When my daughter was a teenager, she would say, “I’m on time when I’m in my bedroom, but when I come upstairs, I’m running late.” She suspected a time warp. I blamed her clocks.

But lately, I experience a time warp in the mornings. I have a very structured routine. Shower, dress, brush my teeth, etc. Why, on some mornings, does the routine take fifteen minutes longer than on other mornings?

Is it possible that on tired days, each movement is slower? On a good day I spend two seconds reaching for the toothbrush, and on a slow day it takes four? Or perhaps I stare into space between each activity. But I don’t think that takes an extra fifteen minutes.

When I’m running late, I try to move faster. Pump the shampoo faster. Put in earrings faster. Pull my socks on faster.

I can’t cut any activities. If I don’t wash my hair, it lays flat, like I slept on it—because I did. Without a certain amount of make-up, people think I’m sick. And, I can’t cut ‘get dressed’ from the morning routine. Although some modern fashions look like pajamas, I’m too old to pull it off.

I’m easily distracted. Perhaps that creates the warp. I need to check the weather before I dress. And, the soap container is empty. Refilling it will only take a second. Might as well change the sheets while I’m here.

A surprising number of people text or message me before I’m ready to start the day. Of course, I have to respond immediately. Mascara can wait. It only takes a minute. Right?

Does social media on my phone contribute to the rift in time? I check e-mail and Facebook while I brush my teeth and if I find something good, I finish the article before moving to the next task. I need to watch the rest of that video about puppies learning to climb the stairs.

The bathroom seems to warp time during the day as well. Ummm. Not for me. I’m . . . speaking about other people. We can shop, check our bank account, or call an Uber. All from the privacy of the toilet.

On a side note, shouldn’t all bathrooms provide special wipes to clean cell phones? We wash our hands and then pick up the phone we had in our hands before we washed them. Then we put the phone next to our face, (although actually talking on the phone has become an archaic notion). The government must have done a study on that by now.

Phones can’t be blamed for creating the time warp, but for those of us who are easily distracted, they contribute. If I’m running late, I guess I could turn off my phone and see if that closes the rift in time.

Nah. I’ll just brush my teeth and pump the shampoo double-time.


Special Feature: Pegg Thomas Guest Post

In honor of the release of my debut novella, I have invited each of the other authors in the collection to write a post about the inspiration for their story.  Today, I’m pleased to share a post from Pegg Thomas, author of In Sheep’s Clothing.

When I was invited to write for this collection, it took me a bit to come up with a story because the connection between the stories was so loose. The brides all needed a first name that was also a flower. That was it. After that, the sky was the limit … which inspired me to write about something that is near and dear to my heart.

I learned to knit at the age of nine in 4-H. That was my introduction to what we now call the fiber arts. At age sixteen I was raising and showing rabbits in 4-H when I saw my first angora rabbit. Even better, the lady holding the rabbit was spinning the fluffy rabbit’s hair on a spinning wheel. I knew I had to try this. I took lessons, learning to spin on an antique great wheel. I was hooked. I saved my money and bought my first spinning wheel later that year and my first pair of angora rabbits.

Fast forward a bunch of years when my son started 4-H. He showed rabbits and then moved up to sheep. We spent a lot of years together raising sheep, sitting in the barn freezing while awaiting the births of lambs, doctoring sick sheep, shearing sheep, showing sheep … doing all things sheep. Those were wonderful years, but like kids tend to do, he grew up and moved on. To horses. But that’s another story.

Yarrow Fenn, the heroine in In Sheep’s Clothing, is a spinner and weaver. The hero, Peter Maltby, is a journeyman at the fulling mill. Don’t know what a fulling mill was? Well … there’s a good reason to read the book! And then there is Meadowsweet, an orphan lamb who does her best to steal the story.

To celebrate the release of A Bouquet of Brides collection and my story, In Sheep’s Clothing, I’m giving away one of my signature shawls. To enter, subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll be drawing for The Meadowsweet Shawl at the end of January.

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Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

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Noooo. Not the Dentist.

I only want to have my picture taken. Where’s the photographer?

Imagine being dressed in your best finery. You open the door to the photography studio and hear an evil dentist say, “Bwaaa haaa. Sit in my chair and have some gas.”

Worse yet, imagine it is 1884 in the new state of Colorado and the dentist has a four-foot-tall drill mechanism which is powered by a foot petal.

I was perusing the January 4, 1884 Leadville Daily Herald . . . because I write historical fiction and that’s how I spend my free time. I call it research.

I noticed advertisements for two businesses both located above the post office. A photography studio and a dentist office. Whose brilliant idea was that?

The ads weren’t next to each other, as I have placed them here, but they were in the same newspaper. So, they had to be very near each other. How big could the space Over the Postoffice be?

I imagine a lot of screaming and noise from the dentist’s office. Not a civilized affair like in modern times. The dentist’s ad offers gas for painless extracting, and artificial teeth are guaranteed to fit. Doesn’t say what kind of gas. This is a time when ads for children’s cough syrup explicitly state that morphine is not an ingredient. Because it could be the active ingredient.

Perhaps the gas calmed the patient enough to ignore the giant dental drill. It could keep everything quiet.

Even without a dentist next door, a photography session could be a frightening ordeal.

No one ever smiles in old-time photos. A museum guide told me that’s because it is hard to hold a smile during the long exposure time. The person could end up with a blurry mouth or face. People were told not to smile and to hold as still as possible. Some photographers even had wire stands to hold the subject’s head still.

And who knew what a camera pointed in your direction would actually do? That camera looks like a mini-canon. Maybe I’d be better off with the dentist and his gas.

And, how much noise and commotion carried to the post office below? It could be enough to keep patrons from visiting either establishment.

In fairness, I’ll note that by 1884, Kodak cameras were available, and photography had become more common. So, the dentist might be the more frightening of the two.

I researched the dentist and photographer in the advertisements further to look for other interesting tidbits.

In 1888, the photographer was in a legal dispute with Laura LeClair. The Leadville Evening Chronical says, “he had an agreement with Laura to take pictures of her girls ‘with’ and ‘without tights,’ whatever that may mean.” And, “Miss LeClair claims that the photographs were ‘improperly taken’ and were not meritorious.”

In modern times, Judge Judy would have heard this lawsuit.  Mrs. LeClair promised it would be “spicy.”

I wonder if the dentist office was still next door during this photography session.

All of this speculation gives me an idea for a novel. Plenty of potential for conflict.


Special Feature: Donna Schlachter Guest Post

In honor of the release of my debut novella, I have invited each of the other authors in the collection to write a post about the inspiration for their story.  Today, I’m pleased to share a post from Donna Schlachter, author of A Prickly Affair.

When I was writing my Bouquet of Brides story, “A Prickly Affair”, I found myself wanting to add in several different subplots—I guess that’s the suspense/mystery writer in me. But with the limited word count, there just wasn’t the room to do that. So I kept going back to the synopsis I wrote for the proposal, which kept me on track. This was a love story I was deeply invested in for several reasons, so I wanted it to be the best it could be. It’s not your typical romance story, but then again, I’m not your typical romance writer.

To celebrate the release of A Bouquet of Brides collection and my story, A Prickly Affair, I’m giving away a free print copy (US only) of the book. To enter, subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll be drawing for the book at the end of January. If you’re already subscribed, follow my blog . And if you’ve already done both of those, feel free to follow me on Twitter or Facebook (see the links below)

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

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