Melinda is already at a crossroads when the “for rent” sign beckons her down a gravel road. Facing forty and downsized from a Twin Cities ad agency, Melinda is struggling to find her way forward when a phone call brings her home to rural Iowa. It’s not long before Melinda is living in a faded farmhouse, caring for a barn full of animals, and working at her family’s hardware store in the community of Prosper, whose motto is “The Great Little Town That Didn’t.” And just like the vast garden she tends under the summer sun, Melinda begins to thrive.
Melinda’s efforts at her rented farmhouse are starting to pay off: She’s learned to preserve produce, outsmart a few headstrong chickens and wrangle a flock of spoiled sheep. But even in the little town of Prosper, nothing stays the same. One member of the hardware store’s coffee group shares a startling announcement, and a trip back to the city makes Melinda realize how deep her roots now run in rural Iowa. As the months roll by and the seasons change, she must choose between the security of her old life or taking a chance on an uncertain future.
Melinda packs away her memories of city life and turns her thoughts toward the coming holidays. She has a list of ideas that will make the season perfect, and she’s checked it more than twice: Prepare her acreage and its animals for winter, host her first family Christmas dinner, and use her marketing smarts to upgrade Prosper’s charming holiday festival. But when a mysterious visitor arrives, Melinda is reminded there is more to the Christmas season than elaborate celebrations and expensive decorations. With the help of both old friends and new, Melinda discovers she is not only home for the holidays, but home at last.
Melinda assumed she would spend January relaxing by her fireplace while paging through the seed catalogs’ promises of spring. Instead, she finds herself struggling to keep the worst of winter’s threats from her door. Shoveling snow, thawing her farm’s water lines, and watching over the pregnant sheep in her barn fill her shorter days and longer nights. But as winter tightens its grip on rural Iowa, Melinda’s biggest challenges are still to come. When a series of events threatens to break her heart and shatter her hopes, will her faith be strong enough to see the season through?
As the songbirds return and the garden’s soil is turned, not everything’s coming up roses: A no-nonsense housing inspector claims Melinda’s sweet deal with Horace could come at a high cost, and her latest idea to improve life in her rural community meets with skepticism from some of the locals. When Uncle Frank makes a shocking discovery in the town’s archives, the fallout threatens to dim Prosper Hardware’s bright future. As friendships are tested and family ties begin to fray, can Melinda restore the harmony in her life?
Moving to the country’s brought Melinda a new set of skills, but does she have what it takes to fix matters of the heart? It’s hard enough to let the past go, and let a new love in. But when a mysterious box is pulled from her farmhouse’s crawlspace, she’s torn between protecting the former owner’s privacy and tracking down the woman he once loved. And as the temperature climbs, the shadow of hard times falls over Melinda’s rural community. Can she make the tough choices that will keep her dreams from turning to dust?
A Tin Train Christmas
The toy train in the catalog was everything two young boys could ask for: colorful, shiny, and the perfect vehicle for their wild imaginations. But was it meant to be theirs? As the Great Depression's shadows deepen over the Midwest, Horace and Wilbur start to worry that Santa might not stop at their farm. But with a little faith and their parents’ love, the boys just might discover the true spirit of Christmas. (Approx 12,000 words) And there's more! At the end of the story, you'll find three holiday recipes that have been handed down in the author's family.