Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
I have the lovely Paula Moldenhauer with me today. She’s stopped by to talk about her novella in the upcoming A Bouquet of Brides collection. It looks like another good romance collection from Barbour. Don’t forget to show Paula some love in the comments.
About the Book
At Home with Daffodils by Paula Moldenhauer (1909, Oklahoma)
The Blurb: “When her childhood sweetheart returns to town, will Dilly Douglas accept the worthy heart he offers, or will the old wound he opens keep them apart?”
Toni: Welcome, Paula! Thank you for joining me today to talk about your novella, At Home with the Daffodils. I’m super curious. Is there any significance in picking daffodils?
Paula: The collection the novella is included in, A Bouquet of Brides, boasts seven heroines named after flowers. When I decided to set my story in northeastern Oklahoma, the stomping grounds of my childhood, I immediately saw the bright, yellow flower, and Daffodil (Dilly) Grace Douglas was born. I may have connected so strongly to this image because I waited each spring with eager anticipation for the early blooming daffodils (we called them jonquils) growing up in Oklahoma. I lived in the country and not from our farm was an old home place that had been abandoned. You couldn’t see the house anymore, but each spring the field exploded with happy yellow. I loved it.
Toni: Sounds beautiful! This book is set in 1909 Oklahoma. What kind of research did you have to do to make the novella authentic?
Paula: It was actually a bit tricky. I originally planned for the story to be set earlier in history, but I requested permission from the editor at Barbour Publishing to move the story until right after statehood. I didn’t want to change my location, but the history of Oklahoma is confusing in those years before statehood. After some hours of research I decided that it would be difficult to accurately represent the complex issues of this area, which I believe belonged to the Cherokee Nation before statehood. (Although where I imagined my fiction town would have also been close to the boundaries of the Creek Nation.) I have some Cherokee and Choctaw heritage and didn’t want to dishonor my ancestors by misrepresenting anything. It’s hard to go that deep in 20,000 words, and the hours to research it adequately didn’t lend itself to short fiction.
Once I changed dates, the research was much easier. I know some history of this area from stories from my grandparents. I also know that the area didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, etc. until much later. (Actually some of that come to the community during my mother’s time!) The RMS Titanic, which sailed in 1912, was fully outfitted with modern conveniences, but most of the people in the country or smaller communities were still using outhouses, wood stoves, and kerosene lamps. A lot of my research centered on fashion. What hairstyle would Dilly have and how would she fix it? What would she wear? I wanted the men in overalls, but then I wondered when overalls came to fashion. I was relieved that they were worn by country folk in 1909.
Toni: Sounds like you did the research justice. If you could live in any decade, which would you choose and why?
Paula: Jane Austen made me fall in love with the first decade of the 19th century. After all, who wouldn’t want to meet Mr. Darcy or Captain Wentworth? But unless I was a gentleman’s daughter whose household employed others to do all that hard work, I’d probably stick with living now!
Toni: I love Jane Austen! What message do you hope readers will take away after reading your story?
Paula: Both the hero and heroine had inner struggles that went back to a need to embrace the identity of one who is fully loved and accepted by God. I think most of us would live stronger, happier, more peaceful lives if we truly grasped a new identity as God’s beloved.
There was also a scene in the story that I didn’t plan that deeply touched me as it unfolded. It reminded me that the community of God—the church—has the power to do great good in the lives of the people it embraces. The church can help us see the good in ourselves that we can ‘t see by ourselves.
Toni: What is your favorite flower and why?
Paula: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite book or a child! I love the bright, happy daffodil, the whimsical and strong sunflower, the fragrant rose. (I have eleven rose bushes, so I once thought that was my favorite flower.) I have no idea why a wimpy person is called a pansy. I’ve had pansies bloom all year in the snow in Colorado! They are amazing flowers! (My favorite is the dark purple and yellow variety.) This summer I planted gladiolus for the first time. One particular flower, it was a pink and yellow hybrid, took my breath away. For me flowers are healing. As I child I couldn’t wait to see the tiny bluets and Virginia spring beauties that started dotting the grass about February. I believe flowers are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. When I’m rich I’m going to employ a landscaper and gardener who will help me create a riot of colors from multiple varieties of flowers that rotate blooming seasons so something new is always coming!
Toni: Do you have anything in common with your heroine, Dilly Douglas?
Paula: Isn’t this where we authors get to hide behind our fiction? Ha! Considering my devotional series, Soul Scents, shares quite vulnerably about a lot of the issues I’ve worked through, I’m already exposed. Dilly struggles with perfectionism and over-reacts to her own mistakes, struggling to accept herself when imperfections arise. I’m a recovering perfectionist for sure! Dilly also gets caught in this place where her tendency to be ultra-responsible and hard-working clashes with her natural make-up that includes spontaneity, imagination, and playfulness. Let’s just say I totally get that.
Toni: Last but not least, what book is next on your TBR pile?
Paula: What am I reading next? Oh my! So many books. So little time! I’m honestly in the middle of A Bouquet of Brides right now. I hadn’t read my co-author’s stories, and I’ve got to say I’m really enjoying them. I have about five non-fiction books going too. Joyful Intentionality, and Soul Keeper are the two I’m most focused on. Both are about the spiritual journey. I thirst to discover God in new ways, so I like reading about the interior world. I’ve noticed a pattern in my fiction reading. When life gets really intense, I want to read something I can count on to be somewhat light, point me to Jesus, and give me a happy ending. When things are more stable in my life, I have margin for more complex books. I’ve been thinking I need to dig into something pretty meaty, but my husband had a heart attack last week, and I’ve been pretty raw, so it’s happy books for a while longer! I recently downloaded a collection that includes Toni Shiloh’s work, so maybe that’s next! 🙂
Toni: Thank you! I hope you enjoy. Readers, do you have any questions for Paula?
About the Author
Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares her message 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. Her most recent publication, At Home with Daffodils, is included in Barbour’s A Bouquet of Brides collection. Paula served as ACFW Colorado coordinator and was on the founding board of the first local ACFW chapter in Colorado. 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.