About the Author
Her 2010 release Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, won the 2011 Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western Fiction. Her next series, McKenna’s Daughters: Maggie’s Journey appeared on a reviewers Top Ten Books of 2011 list. It also won the 2012 Selah award for Historical Novel. The second, Mary’s Blessing, was a Selah Award finalist for Romance novel. Catherine’s Pursuit released in 2013. It was the winner of the NTRWA Carolyn Reader’s Choice Award, took second place in the CAN Golden Scroll Novel of the Year award, and won the Will Rogers Medallion bronze medallion. Her blog, A Christian Writer’s World, received the Readers Choice Blog of the Year Award from the Book Club Network.
She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs. She has been featured in articles in Christian Fiction Online Magazine, ACFW Journal, Charisma Magazine, and Christian Retailing.
In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Along Came a Writer Blogtalk radio show.
Lena has an active web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.
Official Fan Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Lena-Nelson-Dooley/42960748768?ref=ts
Blogtalk Radio: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/search/along-came-a-writer/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JPAIDE
Read an Excerpt
Olina Sandstrom stood by the railing of the North Star, her face turned away from the biting wind. A wayward curl persistently crept from her upswept hairdo and fluttered against her chilled cheeks. The wind flapped the hem of her heavy traveling suit as well, threatening to sweep her into the choppy sea. Thank goodness for the ship's railing. Even though the hard metal chilled her fingers until they were almost numb, she didn't want to let go.
The dark gray waters of the Atlantic Ocean spread from horizon to horizon. The ocean seemed to be a living thing, constantly moving and changing, never still. As waves lapped against the dark hull of the ocean liner, the deck where she stood dipped and rose in rhythm. It had taken Olina over a day to get used to the feeling. The movement unsettled more than her stomach. Never before had her foundation constantly shifted.
Oh, to be on land again, to feel safe. But would she ever feel safe again? Although Olina was excited to be on the grand adventure that would culminate in her reunion with her beloved, her heart was heavy with knowing what she had given up. Knowing what she had left behind, maybe forever.
The ocean fascinated Olina. Lars Nilsson's eyes were that shade of gray, and they were always alive with plans and new ideas. Even during storms, which had occurred more than once in the week since they had left Sweden, the ocean reminded Olina of Lars. When he was unhappy, his eyes took on that same brooding darkness. But when he was happy, they danced and flashed as the waves did when the sun sparkled across them. So day after day, Olina stood by the rail of the ship and longed for the time when she would look into those eyes again. It had been so long since she had seen them. This crossing seemed to be never ending.
"What are you looking at?" The soft voice of Johanna Nordstrom, Olina's traveling companion, penetrated Olina's concentration.
Olina gave a soft reply without looking away from the water that surrounded the ship. "The ocean."
"What do you find so interesting out there?" Johanna turned toward the churning water. Johanna had spent most of her time on the ship inside one of the salons. She told Olina that she preferred the warmth to the cold deck. Even in second class, the ship seemed luxurious to both of the young women.
Olina turned to face Johanna, one hand finally leaving the rail to swipe at a tendril that tickled her nose. "It reminds me of Lars. This voyage can't end soon enough for me. It has been so long since I saw him."
Looking out across the waves, Olina pictured Lars the last time they had been together. They had been alone in their favorite meadow. Soft green grass, dotted with tiny white flowers, spread around them. Jagged rocks broke through the ground cover farther up the slope, and the sound of the water in the fjord was a constant background melody punctuated by the calls of the birds that circled in the cerulean sky.
Lars came to tell her good-bye. When Olina started to cry, Lars pulled her into his arms. His gentle kiss brushed the hair from her temple. She didn't want to think of life without Lars. Ever since they were very young, they had known they would someday marry. Lars was an essential part of her. How could she go on without seeing him almost every day?
America was so far away. So far that she couldn't even imagine the distance. She just knew they would never see each other again. And it had taken years. Five long years.
"I'll work," Lars whispered against her coronet of braids, "and I'll save up until I can send you the money to come to America. Then we will be married. Even if it takes years, it'll be worth it." Lars placed a gentle kiss upon her willing lips before he left to meet his family at the docks.
Olina stayed in the meadow the rest of the afternoon. She relived every precious moment they had spent together. Every few minutes, she had touched the lips his tender kiss had covered for the first time, lost in the wonder of it.
"You know, Olina." Johanna's voice interrupted Olina's memories. "I haven't questioned you about your quick decision to accompany me to America. All you told me was that Lars had sent you the money for passage." Johanna patted one of Olina's icy hands. "I don't understand why none of your family came to see you off."
Olina wondered what she could tell her friend without making Fader sound bad. But Johanna deserved the truth. Without her help, Olina wouldn't be making this journey.
After turning away from the frothy water, Olina leaned on the railing, her hands still clutching it for support. "I wasn't trying to be mysterious. I just had a hard time talking about it." Thinking about it caused tears to pool in her eyes. She reached one hand into the pocket of her skirt and took out her pristine linen handkerchief to dab away the tears. "Fader didn't want me to go to America. He didn't understand. I love Lars so much, and there is no one else who can stir my heart as he does. I had to go to Lars."
Olina swallowed a sob. "Fader told me that I was old enough to make my own decision ... but if I went, he would disown me. No one in my family would ever be allowed to contact me. Tant Olga said he didn't mean it, so I waited awhile before I made my decision, hoping he would change his mind. He didn't." Olina wept so hard that she could not continue her explanation.
"He probably didn't mean it. He thought you would do what he wanted." Johanna pulled Olina into her arms and let her cry. "He'll change his mind when you get to America, and you can tell him how happy you are. If not then, at least when you and Lars have children, he'll want to know his grandchildren."
Olina was warmed by the embrace. Her mother often hugged her when she was still living at home. She hadn't realized how much she had missed it.
When Olina stopped crying, she moved from Johanna's embrace and dried her face with her handkerchief. "Tack så. A good friend you are, for sure."
The ship dipped, and Johanna grabbed the railing. "I'm sorry I didn't realize something was wrong. I was excited about going to America to be with Olaf. Even though I'm married, my mother didn't want me to travel alone."
Olina tried to smile at her friend. "You and Olaf hadn't been married long when he went to America, ja?"
"Only a few months."
"It must have been hard for you."
Johanna nodded. "It was. But your decision was a difficult one, too. I'm not sure I could have made it."
Olina studied the waves with their whitecaps. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done, choosing Lars over my family."
Gustaf Nilsson was angrier than he had been in a long time. "Gud, why did You let this happen?" When he was alone, Gustaf often talked to God. Was he ever alone today. Driving his wagon across the rolling plains in Minnesota toward Litchfield, all he could think about was taking the train to New York City.
Five years ago when his family had left New York, headed toward Minnesota, Gustaf had vowed never to set foot in that town again. It was too big for him. It was too dirty ... and too noisy ... and too crowded with people. Not at all the sort of place he wanted to be. He didn't like to be hemmed in. He needed fresh, clean air. He was a farmer. He tilled the land. And there was a Swedish settlement in Minnesota. That was why they had emigrated.
The winter before the move had been harder than usual in Sweden. With the crop failure that summer, the family finally heeded the pleas of their friends, who were already landowners in America, and sold everything they owned. God had been good to them in Minnesota. They bought a large farm, which Gustaf and Papa couldn't run alone. They had to hire several men to help them.
August, Gustaf's younger brother, had wanted to be a blacksmith. Papa thought it was a good idea, so August had moved to town. Then there was Lars, his youngest brother. Gustaf didn't want to think about Lars and what he had done. He didn't like to be this angry, but every time he thought of Lars, anger bubbled up inside him like the spring that had fed icy water to the family on their farm back in Sweden. But the anger did not cool him. It made him grow hotter and hotter. Even though the spring winds still blew, they couldn't touch the heat that was building in Gustaf.
"Fader, what am I going to do when I get there?" Gustaf looked into the wide blue sky, but the puffy white clouds didn't tell him anything. And he didn't hear the voice of God thundering the answer. Not that he expected it to. Gustaf had never heard the audible voice of God. He knew some people claimed to, but Gustaf always heard God's voice speak deep within his soul. That was where he hoped to hear something, but God was quiet today.
Why did Gustaf always have to clean up the messes Lars made? He knew he was the oldest, but that didn't mean he should have to leave the farm, where he had so many things that needed to be done, and travel to that awful place to meet that girl. Why hadn't she stayed in Sweden where she belonged? What would he do with the sturdy farm girl?
When the Nilssons had first arrived in Minnesota, the spring had been so wet that the roads were impassable. Lars had tried to go to town anyway. By the time Gustaf pulled the bogged-down wagon out of the mud, one of the axles had broken. He had taken it to town for August to fix before Papa found out. He hadn't minded that too much. Gustaf was glad August hadn't caused trouble like Lars had. One brother giving him grief was enough.
After a year, Lars decided he needed to work in town to make money to send for Olina. At first, Gustaf had been unhappy about that. So much of the time, Lars didn't complete what he was supposed to on the farm, and Gustaf was the one who finished the job. It was easier to do the whole thing himself. Besides, his sister, Gerda, helped more than Lars ever had.
Since he hardly ever finished anything he started, Gustaf had been sure that Lars would give up on the idea before he had earned enough money. That hadn't been the case. Lars took to merchandising. Before long, Mr. Braxton gave him more responsibility. Although it had taken another four years for Lars to save enough money to pay for Olina's passage, he never deviated from that plan. Then six months ago, Lars had sent Olina the money.
Soon after the letter was mailed, Mr. Braxton's brother from Denver came to Litchfield. He had been impressed with Lars's abilities, so he offered him a position in his mercantile. Lars moved to Denver. He said he would be better able to provide for a family with the increased income. The whole Nilsson family assumed that Lars had written Olina about the change in plans.
It took a long time for mail to cross half of the United States, the ocean, and part of Europe. However, Gustaf had expected to hear before now that Olina had arrived in Denver. He didn't know why it took her so long to start the journey. Yesterday, they had received two messages. A letter from Lars and a telegram from Olina to Lars. Papa had opened the telegram because he thought it might be something important.
Olina's note told them when she would be arriving on the North Star in New York City. The letter from Lars was disturbing. He had fallen in love with Mr. Braxton's daughter, and they would be married by the time the letter reached Minnesota. He said he had only thought he loved Olina. Until he met Janice, he had not known what real love was. He would write to Olina and explain things, but Gustaf knew it was too late for that. Olina was already on her way when Lars wrote the letter, if he did indeed write it.
Papa should have been the one to go to New York to meet Olina, but Mama didn't feel well. She had been extremely upset by the letter from Lars. Gustaf was sure that was the reason she felt so bad. She begged Papa to send Gustaf, so here he was.
Gustaf had half a mind to send Olina back where she came from. He would if she had enough money for the passage. He certainly didn't.
This would never have happened if Lars hadn't started working in that store. Why couldn't he love the farm as much as Gustaf did? Or if he had to work in a store, why had Lars not stayed in Litchfield with Mr. Braxton and his mercantile? Why did Lars wait to leave town until after he had sent Olina the money to come to Minnesota?
It was a good thing Gustaf's horses knew the way to town without much help from him. If they hadn't, he never would have made it to the train on time.
The seemingly never-ending journey was finally over. The ship docked at something called the Battery in New York. Such a huge place it was. So many docks. So many ships. So many people. Olina was overwhelmed. She had never heard such a din in all her life. It was so loud it was hard to distinguish one sound from another — voices speaking in many languages, which Olina couldn't understand, clanging, banging, the hooting of ships' horns, the clatter of horses' hooves on the brick streets.
"It's a good thing we came when we did." Johanna looked out over the crowd that had gathered as the ship docked. It was a constantly moving sea of humanity.
"What do you mean?" Olina took time out from trying to find Lars in the crowd to look at her friend. "What difference would another time make?"
Johanna turned toward Olina. "I was talking to one of the other passengers. She told me that there are so many people coming to America that they are building a place on an island where they will process many of the emigrants. It's called Ellis Island, and it will be open for business in a few months. It'll take longer to be processed there before you get to come ashore. I want to be with Olaf as soon as possible." Just then she spied her husband's tall frame pushing through the crowd. She raised her hand as high as she could and waved her handkerchief.
It had taken long enough to get off the ship and through Immigration — much longer than either woman wanted it to take. But now Johanna was hanging on to Olaf's arm as Olina scanned the thinning crowd for Lars. Where could he be? She had sent a telegraph message before she boarded the ship. Surely he received it. It wasn't pleasant waiting here. Of course with fewer people around, Olina wasn't overcome with the strong smell of unwashed bodies as she had been when they first stepped on shore, but there were other unpleasant odors. Garbage and human waste were too strong for the ocean breezes to cleanse. Many of the men must have been drinking in nearby taverns before they came to the wharf. Stale alcohol mingled with all the other smells. Besides, the large ships blocked many of the breezes. There was also the odor of fish and fumes from the many boats. Olina thought about covering her nose with her handkerchief as some of the other women on the dock were doing, but she didn't.
Gustaf had lost his good humor before he left home. Now it was so far away he didn't know if he would ever find it again. He was angry and frustrated. The train ride had been long and noisy. No one could sleep with all the babble from the passengers. Add to that the chugging engine and the clackity-clack of the rails. Gustaf had nursed a headache since he left Minnesota. The stuffy cars didn't help him feel any better. When he went out on the platform between cars to get a whiff of air, it wasn't fresh. Smoke from the engine, which enveloped the train itself, was no more pleasant than the unwashed bodies and bad breath inside the car. When he turned to go back inside, a cinder caught in the corner of his eye. After he removed it, tears formed in the injured eye for over an hour. For sure, he didn't want people to think he was crying.
When he had finally reached New York, it was a race against the other passengers to find a cabby who could take him to the docks. He had gotten the slowest cabby in New York City.
"Hey." Gustaf reached up and tapped the driver on the shoulder.
The driver didn't take his attention off the road. "Sir?"
"You aren't driving around and around trying to make my fare larger, are you?" Gustaf didn't try to disguise his anger.
"No, this is the most direct route to the Battery. That's where you said you was going, ain't it?" The man leaned away from a right turn, easily controlling the horses and buggy. "It's not far now."
"I'm glad." Gustaf scooted back in the seat, holding on tight. If not, he might be thrown from the buggy as it lurched and groaned its way through the traffic. "I'm meeting a young lady, and her ship should have docked over an hour ago."
"Why didn't you say so? We wouldn't want to leave a lady waiting in that mob." The man flicked the reins across the rumps of the horses, and they trotted at a much faster pace.
Excerpted from "Brides of Minnesota"
Copyright © 2002 Lena Nelson Dooley.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a good collection of stories from Barbour Publishing featuring a great author. Fun, interconnected stories that hold your attention and keep you reading. A good book to read in those times that you need light, enetertaining reading. I look forward to reading this one again. Sweet, clean reading with no bad language or embarrassing scenes. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. This is my honest opinion of the book.
This was a collection of three stories that take place in Minnesota in the late 1800s. They were sweet and faith-based. Each was well written and very detailed. My only complaint is that for novellas, it was at a pace with not enough to keep my attention so it seemed to drag. I recommend for anyone that likes these genres. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Brides of Minnesota is a book that pulls you in immediately. When the book starts on wood saying, "oh to be on land again, to feel safe." but would she ever feel safe again? What a beginning to grab you in, Isn't it? This book is exciting and delightful and downright enjoyable, Elaborate, entertaining, and fascinating. The one thing that I loved the most about this book is that it wasn't afraid to show their love for the LORD, nor should day, Amen? I really love this book and I hope when you get this book you will too. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own.