Intersection Column | Ah, for the Love of Flowers
by Lauraine Snelling
Back in my beginning writing years, I decided to write an historical novel set in the rolling hills of eastern Washington near Colfax in the 1890s. A young woman strode out of a tar-paper shack, wearing a riding skirt (a divided, midcalf skirt), boots, and a long-sleeved blouse. Her flat, broad-brimmed hat hung on a cord down her back. She carried a bridle with a carving on the headstall over to her Appaloosa mare grazing by the house. I had the picture clear in my mind. I still do. But then the questions began. When did women begin wearing divided skirts? When did bunch grass come to eastern Washington and from where? What kind of bit was she about to put in her mare’s mouth?
Where would I find the answers to my questions? This was long before Google or computers. I decided—flat stated out loud—that I was never going to write historical novels. I would write contemporary novels.
And God laughed. He knew what was coming. A bit of wisdom I have since learned . . . never tell God never.
Since then, I have written horse books for girls and a couple for adults, nonfiction, contemporary women’s fiction, but mostly historical family sagas, all in the inspirational category. I am best known for Ingeborg Bjorklund and her Blessing series. The beginning of Ingeborg’s story was the Red River of the North series, which included six titles. And readers kept asking for more until I finally finished the nineteen “Blessing” books with A Blessing to Cherish. I promised my readers they would not read of Ingeborg dying, and I kept my word. She became such an integral part of my life, I could not write her passing.
But through those years, I wrote other series, too, A Secret Refuge, set during the Civil War; Dakotah Treasures, set in Medora, North Dakota; Wild West Wind set in South Dakota; and Under Northern Skies set in northern Minnesota. Now I’m working on a series set in southeastern Nebraska, this one titled Leah’s Garden.
One item that I never realized would be part of my writing life is the story behind the story. When I am out speaking, I love to tell the story behind the story. Some of them are rather unusual, many of them tickle my funny bone, but a truth remains: readers like to hear the story behind the story.
Those who know me know of my love of flowers. I love to grow them, feed them, water them, pick and arrange them, and photograph and watercolor paint them. Ah, the colors and fragrances and gorgeous shapes. I love to give away cut flowers and starter plants. Butterfly bushes from my house are now blooming in Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana. The birds around here plant seeds in my flower beds, and I pot the plants and give them away. Some root balls are wrapped in water-soaked paper towels, stuck in a plastic bag, and tucked into a box to be shipped off. I like hand delivering them best.
Flowers and animals show up in all my books, but in Leah’s Garden, all four daughters are named after flowers: Larkspur, Delphinium, Forsythia, and Lilac. After the Civil War, they are forced to flee from their family home in Ohio and head west. They choose to leave the wagon train in Salton, Nebraska, and homestead there, honoring their mother’s dream by creating acres of gardens and nurseries that lead to a seed catalogue.
Five or so years ago, when this series was not even a dream yet, I stopped at a farm and garden store in Gresham, Oregon, with some writer friends. The racks with seed packets caught my eye. The flower packets that had been painted botanical style in watercolor were so lovely. I bought a couple for the artwork and dreamed of someday painting like that. I love watercolor painting and haven’t followed that idea, but Lilac has. She painted the seed packets and all the illustrations in the catalogues for Leah’s Garden.
You never know when an idea dropped into your subconscious might blossom into something valuable. And so goes the stories behind the stories. I wonder what other ideas will pop up when I need them.
About the Author
Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than 100 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold more than five million copies. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Learn more at www.laurainesnelling.com.
About the Book
Lilac Nielsen's dreams are coming true. The handsome, young Reverend Ethan Pritchard has finally noticed her, and her drawings are being published in a New York paper. But if anyone traces the drawings back to her, the entire Nielsen family could be in danger.
Did You Know?
Praying the Lord’s Prayer daily can be spiritually and emotionally transformational. Many people around the world from all different denominations and cultures have incorporated this prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 into their church services and private prayer times. As a result, their lives are being transformed, and here’s why.
It calms our fears. In the middle of the wreckage on September 11, 2001, many began instinctively saying the Lord’s Prayer to calm their fears. Countless stories reported remind us how the Lord’s Prayer became integral to calming fears on that tragic day. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the easiest to remember. As we lean in, claiming the words in our prayer life, our fears are calmed.
It realigns our heart with God’s heart. The Our Father prayer teaches us what’s important to God. It invites us into deeper communion with Him through six invitations: to know God as Father, to worship, to surrender, to ask audaciously, to forgive and to experience victory.
It unites our heart with other believers. The prayer reminds us that it’s not just about our personal salvation but about the collective body of Christ. God is “our” Father. We are encouraged to pray, “give us this day” as “we forgive those” and “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We are part of a global community.
The Lord’s Prayer is transformational, why not begin praying it today and experience the transformation yourself?
-Becky Harling, Our Father
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I cherish the gentle wisdom of staff who guide me toward the exact books I need most.”
-Tina Yeager, Beautiful Warrior