Wednesday, November 25, 2009
What happens when you mix a woman who has a passion for helping children, with a circuit riding pastor in rural Montana - especially when they "collide" in a small town?
You end up the love story found within the pages of "Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana," the first novel created by the writing team of Tricia Goyer and Ocienna Fleiss.
Set in Lonesome Prairie, a town that existed during the 1800s, in western Montana, the book focuses on the relationship which develops when Pastor Isaac Shepherd meets up with Julia Cavanaugh, a street smart woman from New York City, who accompanies a group of orphans “out west” to their new homes.
Fleiss and Goyer decided to create a circuit-riding pastor as a key character for a variety of reasons.
“I've always thought circuit pastors were interesting,” explained Fleiss. “They sacrificed a lot to take God's Word to the frontier, and I wondered what it would be like to never be in one place for long.
“It seemed to me that it would take a strong person with a sense of adventure to be circuit preacher--great qualities for a hero.”
The pair based Isaac’s character on a real person.
“Brother Van covered hundreds of miles of territory in Montana,” Goyer said. “He'd go from house, to barn, to saloon speaking of God's love to anyone who would listen.”
The pair decided to center the book in Lonesome Prairie, at the suggestion of their publisher, Summerside Press.
After “Googling” the location, the pair discovered the town’s former site was located approximately four hours from Goyer’s home, and now primarily consists of farm land and a small lake.
“There’s not much out there about it, since [the town] doesn’t exist anymore, but that made it more fun,” Fleiss said.
“The coolest thing is that we interviewed Keith, a 91-year-old man whose parents were some of the first settlers at Lonesome Prairie,” Goyer added. “He was great! He gave us many wonderful stories--something which we tied into the book.”
Creating a Partnership
Goyer and Fleiss decided to team up, after Fleiss volunteered to read and edit/critique Goyer’s six World War II novels.
“We met at a writer’s conference and hit it off,” Goyer said. “She’d read and edit before I sent in my manuscripts, and it was a huge help to me. I knew we could work well together, and I think we do.”
Initially, the pair approached Summerside Press to write a novel, set during World War II, for the “Love Finds You” line. It was put aside, temporarily, and replaced with their first joint effort, set in Lonesome Prairie, Mont.
“I think people consider the old west as more simple time,” Goyer said. “There were no cars, planes, and automobiles. There was no TV and Internet. Yet simple doesn't mean easy. Those people had hard lives!”
The pair is currently working on their initial idea, a novel featuring a woman named living during World War II. “Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Wash.” will be a future release by Summerside Press.
Fleiss said the process of writing a book together, was different, because as an editor, she would only see Goyer’s manuscripts after the first draft was completed.
“She did all of the character creating, plot planning, research, etc. on her own,” Fleiss said. “This time we did all those things together.”
Working together, explained Goyer, allowed them collaborate beginning with the research and planning stages.
“We started writing every other chapter, but we found that a challenge, since it was hard to read the other person's mind,” Goyer said. “We changed so that Ocieanna wrote the first draft and then I worked on the second draft. I also write extra scenes that we tucked in.”
A Historical Setting
One of the key historical story lines is that Julia traveled to Montana on an orphan train.
“I found registers and photos of orphan trains that went to Montana,” Goyer said. “I'm sure those little ones got quite a culture shock--especially when they were used to New York City!”
Fleiss said people used the trains to get children out of dangerous cities.
“The children were often abandoned to the streets in the midst of all kinds of crime and poverty,” she explained. “The alternative was for the children to get jobs in the factories. They often worked for long hours, doing tedious, dangerous and damaging work, for very little pay.
“The folks who started the orphan train wanted these children to go West and live with families on farms where they could learn good values and skills.”
Beyond the Pages
Through it all, the pair hope that readers will walk away from their novel remembering one key fact – that regardless of location or circumstances, “If you belong to Christ, He is your home.”
“I hope they find a happy escape from the hard realities of life,” Fleiss added. “I hope they rejoice in a romance. I hope a desire is kindled to learn more about our dear Lord in the pages of Scripture.”
“I also hope that they will learn a little more about history and the amazing things men and women faced,” she said. “I know it has made me become more thankful about my own life!”
What I Thought
I picked up this novel, after a particularly hectic day at work. I was immediately drawn into the story, set in the late 1800s in New York City, and the open prairie of Montana.
I loved that the main guy character in the book is a pastor - and that Goyer and Fleiss created a character who was "not perfect" just because he was in the ministry. (Trust me, after four year's of seminary, I know first hand that "pastors" - myself included - are never going to be perfect, no matter how hard they try.)
I loved the passion (I could almost see it in her eyes) that Julia - the main girl character had for the young children in her care.
The characters created by Goyer and Fleiss seemed to jump off the page. This book is a fun, easy read - perfect for when you are tired of living in this century - and want to "step" back into a world without cell phones, iPods, laptops or texting. It might even make you realize what is most important - relationships with family and friends, along with a faith in God.
More About The Book
In 1890, Julia Cavanaugh travels west from New York City to unite orphans in her care with new families.
Imagine her horror when she discovers that she's to be "delivered," too--as bride to an uncouth miner! But with no return fare, Julia's options are bleak.
What does God have planned for her on the lonesome prairies of Montana?
Read An Excerpt On-Line: Click here.
Find It At Amazon: Click here.
Want To Read More "Love Finds You" Books: Click here.
It's A Contest!
The authors, Tricia and Ocieanna, have put together one humdinger of a contest for this blog tour! Enter the Fall in Love With Lonesome Prairie Contest and WIN a perty Montana Gift Basket!
To enter, simply fill out the entry form at www.triciagoyer.com/contest.html, (then tell 5 or more friends about the contest)! The winner will be announced December 14th, just in time for an old-fashioned Montana Christmas. Giddy-up!
The Winner of our ‘Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie’ giveaway will receive a fantastic Montana Gift Basket, including:
*Winter fleece throw
*Huckleberry chocolate bar
*Paula Dean candle
*Burt’s Bees gift set
*Wild Huckleberry taffy
*Montana stationary notebook
*Montana greeting card set
*Montana ball cap
*Montana refrigerator magnet
*Charlie Russell 2010 Montana Calendar
Meet the Authors
About Tricia Goyer
Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003.
Two of her books, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, are both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance.
Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana. For More Info: www.triciagoyer.com
More about Ocieanna Fleiss
Ocieanna Fleiss is a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer's historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Connect with Ocieanna on Facebook! Click here for details.
Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.