Paula! Welcome back! You’ve had a busy month! An Advent devotion, three novellas, and now A Packaged Deal, the first book in your new Towering Pines series is releasing. Wow!
It has been busy—and wonderful—to see all of these projects come together. Thank you for inviting me back to tell you and your readers about the latest book!
You’re welcome! Tell us a bit about A Packaged Deal.
It’s the first book in a series set in a lovely little mountain town near a small ski resort. It’s the kind of place where you can snuggle up to a fireplace with your sweetheart and where friendship is served up in hearty helpings. The first story is about a young ski racer, Aspen, who gives up her dreams to raise her orphaned siblings and the handsome resort manager, Stephen, who comes to understand that a packaged deal is a wonderful thing when it means making a new family with the woman you love.
Towering Pines sounds like a wonderful place to live. Is there a real town it is patterned after?
Yes and no. I started writing this story when my middle son, Stephen (yes, couldn’t resist using his name for the hero), was in middle school. He was on Nederland Middle School’s ski team with my nephew, Caleb, who lived in the area. My sister-in-law and I would take turns driving the boys up the mountain to Eldora Mountain. While the boys skied, I sat in a coffee shop made out of railroad cars in Nederland and wrote. That year I got involved a bit with the local community—working the concession stand at high school basketball games and that sort of thing. So the idea of a small town next to a small ski resort grew from this experience. Nederland is a quirky little town. I like that. I imagine Towering Pines to have some of the elegance and history of Estes Park, the quirkiness of Ned, and the hospitality of my small town Okie roots.
What can we expect from you next?
My goal for the first few months of next year is to write the next two books in the Towering Pines Series. Book two is partially written. In it I had to mess with Chad, the ex-boyfriend who dropped Aspen when she became a full-time mom. He let Aspen down, but he changed. So could he face the same question again, in a more personal way? What if his dreams were confronted as Aspen’s were? His story is combined with Jade’s. She’s the feisty, sage barista in book one and another of my favorite characters.
Oh! And I can’t wait to write the third book in the series because Stephen and Chad’s mentor, Ol’ Mac finally gets the love he’s been pining for. (Ha! Didn’t mean to write a pun. Get it? Pining? Towering Pines!) He’s been waiting a long time for romance, and I love making my characters’ dreams come true.
So more romance? Is that the primary focus going forward?
I think I will always need to write romance. To me, romance is a reminder of the grand love story with Jesus. With Jesus there is the assurance of a happy ending. When life feels heavy, inspirational romance lifts my heart and reminds me to look to Jesus for the hope I need.
That said I didn’t intend to work on romance books this year. My plan was to dig into a fairly complex novel that has been brewing for about ten years. It has romance, but is more of a women’s fiction book. I started to work on it when I realized that most of my fiction reading was inspirational romance. I was literally devouring it on my Kindle. In my interior world God was asking me to do some deep processing and grieving. It was pretty serious stuff, so I needed lighter fare and happy endings as I worked through the things He was revealing. I decided that was probably a wiser choice for my writing season as well. I have a lot of unfinished ideas on my computer, and I picked those that called to me the most. I suspect I’ll return to the other novel when I’m done with Mac’s story. Finishing up these six books (The first three in the Tinseled Tidings novella collection and the first three in this series) feels a little like nesting—a deep clean in preparation for birthing something different.
So, who knows? But I think I will always need to write romance, so you can count on that no matter what else I do.
One more question. You mentioned that even in your fiction you’re conveying a spiritual message. Did you have a clear direction for the spiritual themes in A Packaged Deal? A Scripture you based it on?
I often do have a specific verse when I write a book, but not for this one. I think what rose to the surface as I wrote this time was how to trust God when you’ve been through hardship. I didn’t have parents die, but I’ve been through “stuff,” as we all have. This book was one of the first things I wrote after I came out of a very difficult season. My husband almost died, every one of my four children faced a significant challenges—surgery, illness, other stuff—my husband lost his business, and we almost lost our home. I had to give up my writing dreams for a season because things were just too intense. Then when we finally started to recover, I had back-to-back car accidents and spent most of the next three months in bed. When I wrote Aspen’s struggle to re-open her heart to love, I think I was connecting to how I struggled to trust Jesus’ love again. He and I had become wonderfully close, then all this bad stuff happened, and I didn’t know how to process the anger and distrust I had. (My book Soul Scents: Bloom is about this journey back to love and trust with Jesus.) I think Aspen’s journey was part of my processing.
The Good News is that God isn’t angry with us when we doubt or struggle. He doesn’t pull away when we’re mad. He is incredibly loving and patient. He lets us be real as we process emotion. He never turns away even when we’re ugly to Him. He does invite us to trust, to change, to walk in step with Him. But He’s not pushy or mean about it. Just committed, as He always is, to our better good.
Where can readers find A Packaged Deal?
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Next week Free to Flourish publishing is offering several of my books for free download on Kindle! It’s pretty exciting! There is something FREE on Kindle every day, Monday through Friday of next week! (That’s December 18 – 22) Your readers can learn what’s free when by signing up for my newsletter at:
I also put information out on my author page on Facebook:
And on my blog:
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 which releases January of 2018. 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