Prairie Roses Collection Four
I am so excited to have twelve awesome authors participating the this Fourth annual 2022 Prairie Roses Collection! I first organized it back in 2019 as a Mother’s Day multi-author project, commonly known as a MAP these days and readers seem to love them. They also give authors the opportunity to reach new readers and the titles a broader market reach.
The Prairie Roses are those strong and courageous women who left civilization behind to go West with t heir husbands and families to settle a new land. Even though I’ve written several covered wagon stories now, I still can’t begin to imagine all the hardships those brave ladies faced on their journeys!
This year will be my fourth story, JO—her full name is Jolene, but she goes by Jo. She’s a sixteen-year-old parchment maker and calligrapher being reared by her grandfather after a tragic incident took her parents’ and grandmother’s lives. Plus she travels a new trail as she’s persuaded her grandfather to move to New Mexico (well, it wasn’t a state back in 1850—not until 1912) for his health, so they take the Santa Fe Trail. So it was an all new and different story from the rest.
REMI, my 2019 first Prairie Rose contribution, is a twenty-three-year-old, spoiled introvert who is forced from her mother’s home and nonchalantly decides to search for the father she’s never known in California. She never dreams of the troubles ahead as she journeys with an indentured bond-servant woman as her helper on the California Trail.
In 2020, I wrote LILAH’s story. She a young teenager—a daddy’s girl—who’s lost her father and is being made to leave the only home she’s ever known by the abusive uncle who forced her mother to marry him and he’s taking them North West on the Oregon Trail. First rattle out of the box, she proposes to a man she barely knows, desperate to get out from underneath her uncle’s care.
Then sweet RUTH is my 2021 story. She’s found herself in a family way without the benefit of a husband and is fleeing shame and scorn, seeking a new life for herself and her baby girl. She is literally at the end of her ropes (and money) when the untimely death of a goat saves her. A young teen is searching for someone who has another goat or cow to milk to feed her baby brother whose mother died birthing him. Her widowed father hires Ruth as a wet nurse to go West with him on the Oregon/California Trail.
So you can see, all my stories—though they have the theme of a covered wagon journey—are each very different and unique. Researching for this series has been my almost favorite, second only to my Biblical fiction. I did mention last month that JUST JUDGMENT The Three Days Jesus Did Not Spend in the Tomb was launching on April 8th, and that has happened!
I hope you’ll try both the Prairie Roses Collection (there are a total of twelve new stories this year!) and THEN JUDGMENT! I believe you will enjoy both!
Linda Brooks Davis
The three friends in my Women of Rock Creek series—Ella, Lily, and Addie—illustrate my concept of Forever Friends. Lifelong. Strong and enduring. Faithful and true. Empathetic and selfless.
Those words describe my own Forever Friend. Let me tell you about her.
Recently my Forever Friend—Eloise Gillenwater Brown—and I enjoyed a mini-reunion of sorts. Just the 2 of us. Neither of us resembles our former selves in much of any way. Our shoulders are stooped. Toes and fingers are gnarled and bent. Once-blonde and -brunette hair is now gray. Once-upon-a-time complexions have dimmed. And—oh—the lines, sags, and bulges.
Eloise and I were born two hours apart on the same day—September 5, 1946. Soon, we’ll celebrate 76 years of life together. That’s a lot of memories with a friend who has known me and loved me since we dressed in ruffles and petticoats.
When I claim Eloise and I are forever friends, I mean I can’t remember a time when Eloise wasn’t in my life. When I revisit old memories, invariably Eloise is a part of them, even those that involved only my family members. She and I enjoy the kind of friendship that extends as far back as our memories live and encompass all parts of our lives. Even now, when my family gathers for various holidays, I think about Eloise, and she does the same. When I’ve traveled with family or alone to professional events, I’ve thought of Eloise. And she’s the first recipient of the photos I take.
A Forever Friend Makes Sweet Memories Sweeter
I can’t count the times I’ve thought or spoken these words:
- I wish Eloise were here. She’d be amazed.
- If Eloise were here, we’d have a blast.
- Eloise would so enjoy this. We would laugh a lot.
- This experience would be richer if Eloise were with me.
- Oh. I can’t wait to tell Eloise.
- If only I could revisit Great Britain, Europe, and South America with Eloise at my side.
A Forever Friend Lightens Present Loads
- Failure or heartache? I want to tell Eloise. She’ll understand.
- If only Eloise were here, I could bear this load.
- Eloise would hug me and tell me I’m everything I yearn to be.
- Eloise wouldn’t judge me.
- And she’d defend me.
A Forever Friend Makes Bitter Memories Bearable
- Eloise more than understands. She empathizes.
- Weeps with me.
- Holds my hand.
- Lifts me.
- Absorbs my pain.
One day …
On one occasion in third grade, Eloise and I argued over a nickel. We even scuffled. And one of us emerged with a deep bite mark at the base of our neck. Selfishness and anger got in the way, but soon we shooed them off. We were reunited as forever friends before the sun set. Even today, neither of us remembers who bit whom. That’s how deep our fellowship extends—to forgetting who did what to whom. Even to one another.
My friendship with Eloise goes back forever, but it won’t last forever. One day one of us will pass into glory. At that point, only memories of our friendship will remain. If I’m the one left behind, I’ll grieve. A lot. No more knowing I have a friend who remembers as far back as I, even the emotions we experienced. Like when we made mud pies—and tried them. Rode with our fathers in their pickup trucks and waved as we passed. Swam in the bay. Explored the fields. Told ghost stories under the bed covers. Celebrated at our joint Sweet Sixteen birthday party. Shared 4-H awards. Earned drivers’ licenses. Drove her red Volkswagen. Kept the other’s secrets. Stood as one another’s maids-of-honor. Changed our babies’ diapers. And as gray-haired seniors, visit about things only we remember.
“If I could sit across the porch from God, I’d thank Him for lending me you.”
Only one Forever Friend’s friendship will last forever. He’s Jesus. He’s proven his trustworthiness. His compassion and forgiveness. He makes sweet memories sweeter, lightens my present loads, and makes bitter memories bearable. Best of all, He does so perfectly and never forgets his promises. They are perfect. They will be forever. Hallelujah!
- The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11
- My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God. Job 16:20
- A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3
Do you claim Jesus as your Forever Friend? If not, I pray you’ll seek Him while there is still time.
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
~ ~ ~
Dear Lord, please continue to provide us with the assurance of your forever friendship.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~
Linda Shenton Matchett
Women in Espionage
My World War II romance Spies & Sweethearts is two years old this month! Book one in my Sisters in Service series, the story follows the exploits of high school French teacher, Emily Strealer, who joins the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) then parachutes into France to serve as a radio operator.
During my research I read numerous autobiographies and memoirs as well as the book Sisterhood of Spies by Elizabeth McIntosh. Additionally, I watched several YouTube interviews with former WWII operatives. My favorite bit of research was to get my hands on the manual for Britain’s SOE (Special Operations Executive) which was the basis for much of the OSS’s policies, procedures, and training.
The original mindset in the OSS was that women weren’t “suited to traditional spycraft,” and their “best assets” were limited to using their physical attractiveness. William Donovan, director of the organization, realized that women were more inconspicuous as spies, especially in occupied areas where men of combat age would stand out.
He was able to convince his superiors to change their philosophy and quickly began to hire women from all walks of life – a tricky process because the applicants couldn’t be told what they’d be doing during the interview. Sent abroad from London to Chunking these women performed tasks such as contacting, manipulating, and organizing resistance groups, acting as couriers, smuggling Jews, downed airmen, and other “wanted” individuals out of occupied countries, engaging in espionage, obtaining enemy codes and information, initiating rumors, forging documents, dynamiting bridges, fuel depots, and other important locations, and infiltrating enemy lines.
The work was often grueling and always dangerous. It is unknown how many women (and men) were stationed overseas because the information is still classified. As a result, the number who lost their lives during this crucial service is also a mystery. It is my hope that Spies & Sweethearts honors these brave people.
These days, because of what is going on in the world, I’m feeling especially close to my Eastern European heritage. Two of my great-grandparents are from the sub-Carpathian region that extends from southern Poland to Slovakia to Ukraine and even to Romania. Both are from ethnic minority groups. My great-grandmother was Lemko, and my great-grandfather was Rusyn. These groups originated in Russia and Ukraine but migrated in the Middle Ages. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, they were driven from their homeland by the Hungarians (as in the case of my great-grandparents) and by the Soviets and dispersed throughout the world.
As an author, one of the most fun things I get to do is to explore my heritage through my writing and to learn about other cultures along the way. I’ve written a novel set in the Netherlands, where a vast majority of my family is from. Several years later, before I knew that my great-grandmother was born in what is today Poland, I set a book there. I should have had a clue about my heritage when I noticed that most of my family’s recipes are Polish.
Last summer, I had the privilege to travel to Greece to research a WWII novel set there that’s due to release in December. I absolutely loved exploring the city of Thessaloniki and learning about the Greek culture and way of life. My twenty-something daughter loved that they stay up late and don’t get going very early in the morning. Let’s not forget about the amazing food we ate. Souvlaki. Moussaka. Baklava. Hungry yet?
One culture that I recently got to explore was the Texas Mexican culture for A Promise Engraved, which releases May 1st. I traveled to San Antonio and spent two days taking it all in. I was surprised at how Mexican the city felt compared to Houston, Dallas, or Austin. Spanish swirled around me, along with the pungent odors of chilis and cumin. The city is old, much older than the Midwestern cities I’m familiar with. I explored the Alamo and learned about those who died there—and the women and children who survived. I stood on the street corner and pictured in my mind the wall of the old mission being there, overrun my Santa Anna and his troops.
The Riverwalk was an absolute amazing experience. Even though I made this trip alone, I still enjoyed sitting on the balcony overlooking the river, the brightly lit boats floating by while I ate my fill of Tex-Mex food. Yes, I love learning about cultures through the food. The next morning, I struck out on a long walk through the city to the Historic Mexican market. When you read A Promise Engraved, you’ll see I describe the colorful square snowflake-like papers called papel picado strung across the market. That’s another thing that struck me about the city—just how colorful it was.
Maybe that’s why I love writing books that are set in different times and places all around the world. I hope when you read A Promise Engraved, that you get a sense of what San Antonio was like in 1836 and what it’s like today.
What are some books that you’ve read with really interesting settings? What place in the world that hasn’t been written about much would you like to see in a book someday?
Marguerite Martin Gray
The End—A Misnomer
As I write the end on my latest work, I breath a quick sigh of relief, catch a deep lungful of air, and realize my work is far from finished. The end? Far from it.
The misnomer only works when the project is finally published. My “baby” has a painful growth for a few months. Since I am a pen and paper writer, the first thing I do is input it into a word document. The first edit begins, from a draft to a more refined version bull of deletions, additions, corrections, and rewriting.
Another sigh. But not the real end.
I send my manuscript to an editor. My professional personal editor polishes my work adding/deleting commas, suggesting word changes, correcting syntax, giving historical comments, and general editing. After a few days, I receive the edit and enter the suggestions and corrections that are appropriate.
The end? Oh, no…
The next button I push is sent with a prayer as the work soars to my publisher. My “baby” endures three or more additional edits. Painful for here is where sentences, paragraphs, or even scenes are reworded, rejected, or revamped.
Do I ever get used to the red marks all over my pages? No, but I know it is necessary to produce a quality novel/novella. The pain is almost over.
The end arrives. Yet, it is really just the beginning of the book’s journey.
What’s the deal with Nebuchadnezzar and the exile from Jerusalem?
Did Daniel and the others go to Babylon at the same time as Ezekiel?
Why did God allow the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem and His chosen people anyway?
For many years, Judah and its kings ignored the warning of the prophets. Time and again they were sent to the nation with the same message: Repent. Turn back to God and worship Him only.
Time and again the people refused to honor the Lord’s request.
Or if kings like Hezekiah, or Josiah led reforms, it was short lived. As soon as the honorable king died, the nation would once again turn to their wicked ways.
One of the things that draws me the most to the Lord is His mercy and longsuffering. But I think I—like the nation of Judah—have grown too accustomed to His mercies being new every morning. I don’t expect my sins to have immediate consequences, because of that amazing grace.
But you see, God is not only a God of Mercy. He is also a Just Judge. He could not continue to allow His perfect law to be broken without consequence.
The Bible says Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant.
God appointed Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to overthrow Judah and the city of Jerusalem.
Shocking news for those who thought Jerusalem was off limits because it was God’s holy city with God’s chosen people.
In 607 BCE Nebuchadnezzar delegated Jehoiakim as vassal kink of Judah, and brought the brightest young men, including some of the king’s descendants, back to Babylon. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were in this round.
In 597 BCE, another exile takes place, this time the artisans and valiant warriors. 10,000 people including the then king, JehoiakiN, not to be confused with his dad, the former king JehoiakiM. Ezekiel was a part of this round.
The final raid of Judah’s residents took place after a two-year siege ending 586 BCE. This time the city was razed and everyone that was alive was taken.
Ezekiel and Daniel would have been in Babylonia (the nation, not specifically the city Babylon) at the same time, but there is no indication they crossed paths. However, in the Jewish Midrash, there is reference that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (bonus points if you know their Hebrew names😉) approached Ezekiel about the bowing before the idol thing.
It was a large province and all the Hebrews were not kept in the same location. But there were Jewish communities that thrived in Babylonia. We all know of how some of the elites actually were able to influence the kings and the nation.
You might not know why God has uprooted you from your home, your livelihood or your family, but I bet there is someone in your current situation that the Lord would want you to influence for His kingdom!