Posts Categorized: Historical Fiction

Research Trip for The Quilted Heart: 1st Stop, Gateway Arch

Me in Arch

In March 2012, after thirteen years, I returned to St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri. This time, as a historical novelist writing for WaterBrook Multnomah, to do research for my new series, The Quilted Heart. The post Civil War mid-1860s provides the historical backdrop for my three Quilted Heart eBook novellas.

First stop: The Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion in St. Louis. Everything about the grounds and the Arch mesmorized me, but the museum…well, it was like a candy store with all my favorite sweets. Props from American history.

SL Arch in setting

The park at the Gateway Arch

Going Up inside the Gateway Arch

Going Up inside the Gateway Arch

Hubby Bob inside Gateway Arch

Hubby Bob inside Gateway Arch

SL Museum covered wagon

The Quilted Heart novellas, the Prequel to a wagon train series

Already daydreaming for the next series

Already daydreaming for the next series

Less than one year later, Dandelions on the Wind, the first of The Quilted Heart Novellas released, and is now available as an exclusive eBook.

1st of 3 Novellas in The Qilted Heart Series

Dandelions on the Wind

Bending Toward the Sun

Ripples Along the Shore

Do you have a favorite museum? Where is it?

Miss Hattie Reminisces About Saint Charles

I suppose some folks might assume I’ve always lived in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Why, they might even figure I haven’t done anything but run Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse on Golden Avenue. Truth is, I was once the age of our dear Sinclair Sisters. And younger.

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride

My hair might have grayed on me, but you can be certain my Cripple Creek adventures won’t be my last. Nor were they my first.

The days of my childhood dawned not in a mining camp or anywhere in the mountains of Colorado, but in Saint Charles on the banks of the Missouri River. Oh, you might also like to know that’s where I first met Boney Hughes. Or as the Sinclair Sisters like to call him, Mr. Boney.

Remembering those bittersweet days, I can’t help but breathe a wistful sigh.

I was but fifteen years of age, quilting with Mother and my dear friends in Mrs. Brantenberg’s circle, when talk of the caravan going west first buzzed through Saint Charles like a restless bumblebee.

The Quilted Heart and Prairie Song 2

Maren, Emilie, and Caroline may not want to hear this, but I like to think of The Quilted Heart novellas as my stories too. After all, I was there with them.

© 2014 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

A Snapshot of American History, 1860s

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863[1]

For the United States of America, the 1860s represent a time of division, devastation, rebuilding, and reconciliation. For families, and for the nation.

  • Abraham Lincoln ran for President of the United States, and was elected, 1860.
Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

  • South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union, December, 1860.
  • The Pony Express carried overland mail from April 1860 to October 1861.
  • Completion of the transcontinental telegraph, 1861.
  • Southern states officially set up the Confederated States of America, with Jefferson Davis as President, February 1861.
  • The beginnning of the conflict between the states, known as the American Civil War, began at Fort Sumter, April 1861.
  • The Homestead Act was approved, granting family farms of 160 acres to settlers, May 1862.
  • Land Grant Act approved, calling for public land sale to fund agricultual education, July 1862.
  • President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed all those enslaved were to be set free, January 1863.
  • President Lincoln was re-elected, November 1864.
  • General Robert E. Lee surrenered his army to Ulysses S. Grant, ending the four years of Civil War conflict, April, 1865.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Union General Ulysses S. Grant

Union General Ulysses S. Grant

  • President Lincoln was assassinated, April 1865.
  • Andrew Johnson became the seventeen president, April 1865.
  • The 13th Amendment was adopted, outlawing slavery, December 1865.

This is the backdrop for my next historical fiction series, The Quilted Heart, which is set in mid-1865 to mid-1866.

Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore

Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore

Dandelions on the Wind

Bending Toward the Sun

Ripples Along the Shore

Is there a time in American history that particularly interests you? Why?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Vote for Your Favorite Sinclair Sister

While I’m putting the finishing touches on my next series, I’m still celebrating the completion of my debut series: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek. 

Are you a Sinclair Sisters fan? While each of the sisters and their supporting characters sank deep into my heart, I have a favorite or two. I’m curious. What about you? Do you have a favorite Sinclair Sister? One you most identified with? Or one whose journey ministered most to you?

[polldaddy poll=6868714]

Which Sinclair sister (or sister-in-law) did you choose as your favorite? Why?

Mr. Boney: Quirky Sidekick or Guardian Angel?

Festus
Festus (Ken Curtis) and Ruth from Gunsmoke, inspiration for Mr. Boney and Sal

Festus (Ken Curtis) and Ruth from Gunsmoke, inspiration for Mr. Boney and Sal

When I ask a group of Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek fans about their favorite secondary characters in the series, Boney Hughes is always in the top two listed. I think we find Boney so likeable because he’s not only a sidekick character throughout the series, but also serves as an atypical mentor and a charming guardian angel.

A few snapshots of Mr. Boney in action:

Two Brides Too Many

His heart still racing, Morgan jumped out of the buggy and retrieved the wayward wheel. What was he thinking, leaving the comforts of Boston to head to parts unknown? Now what? Fixing this mess was a two-man job, and that was after he found the nut that had come off the hub.

“That was one wild ride there, Mister.”

Morgan looked up into a face as roughhewn as the peaks behind him.

“This here’s one time I’m thankful for Sal’s sluggish nature. Any faster, and I could’ve been in the middle of your mess.”

By the looks of things, Morgan didn’t suppose the jenny could’ve gotten riled if she’d wanted to. Picks, shovels, and whatnot hung from every inch of the rigging that weighed her down.

“I’m Boney Hughes.”

A fitting moniker for the rail-thin man who slid off the mule.

Two Brides Too Many

“Hello, little lady.”

Kat startled, and spun around. She saw the mule first, then a wiry man in grubby overalls on the other side of the animal.

“Boney’s the name. Boney Hughes.”

“Kat . . . Katherine Sinclair.”

“Well, Miss Sinclair, you look about as out of place here as udders on a bull.”

Too Rich for a Bride

Shivering from the cold water, Ida Sinclair lifted her head to wipe her face with her sleeve. A snort startled her, and she looked up into the large snout of a drooling mule.

“That’s Sal, ma’am. And we’d be right pleased to help you.”

Ida looked past the mule at a wiry man with unruly gray hair.

“Name’s Boney Hughes.” He reached out his hand, giving her a chance to grasp it. The miner gently lifted Ida out of the muddy mess then pulled a canteen from Sal’s side and removed the cork.

The Bride Wore Blue

”Don’t forget . . . Miss Vivian does have a passel of sisters.” Boney drained his coffee mug. “She could’ve met up with any one of ‘em and stopped somewhere to jaw.”

Miss Hattie stiffened and narrowed her eyes at the miner.

“Now don’t go gettin’ your feathers ruffled, Hattie,” Boney said. “Didn’t mean any disrespect. Just sayin’ that those young women could out talk a gaggle.”

Carter snickered, earning a scowl from the widow.

“Don’t encourage the old coot,” she said.

Twice a Bride

Hattie covered her mouth, but the giggle escaped anyway. Boney Hughes lay under her kitchen sink, his upper body concealed by the cupboard. His legs sprawled over her linoleum flooring.

Boney scooted out from under the sink and peered up at her. “You think me rappin’ my old knuckles on these leaky pipes is funny?”

Unable to stifle her amusement, Hattie nodded. “You look like a…” She fanned herself, trying to regain her composure while he stood. “Like a fish out of water.”

Boney’s winter-white eyebrows arched. “A big old river catfish?”

Giggling, she studied him from his wiry beard to his worn boots. “A smaller fish perhaps, but surely one with a big heart.”

Sidekick characters and mentors add compelling layers to our favorite stories.

A sidekick interacts with the main character, allowing the reader to get to know him or her and provides contrast and variety. A mentor usually serves the main character as the voice of reason, provides wisdom, plays the devil’s advocate, and provides information that will help the main character make decisions. A mentor may be an unlikely character for such a role.

Think about your favorite stories. Chances are good that sidekicks and mentors come to mind. I created Boney Hughes in the tradition of the stories I’ve loved. And I’m thrilled to say that Mr. Boney has even more “page time” in Twice a Bride.

Who are your favorite sidekick characters?

Christmas Light: A Quilted Heart Devotional

Candle Lantern

In Dandelions on the Wind, Maren Jensen has immigrated to America, her heart full of plans to send for her family and give them a better life. When her failing eyesight narrows her own prospects for a new life, darkness begins to swallow her hope, along with her vision.

Candle Lantern

As Maren lifts a glowing match to the wick of an Advent candle to commemorate the coming of the Light of the world, she surrenders her darkness to God, looking to Jesus to be her Light.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life.’”
John 8:12, KJV

In what ways has Jesus been Light in your life this past year?

© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Taste Testing Kuchen Koffee Kake

Kuchen 4

In celebration of my upcoming wagon train series, I hosted a WAGON TRAIN RECIPE CONTEST! The winning recipe will be published in my next full-length novel with WaterBrook Press!

RecipeWagon

During the month of October, entrants in the recipe contest sent in beloved old family recipes! Folks voted on the recipes, narrowing the finalists to three. Now my hubby Bob and I are preparing the top three recipes and will decide which is the tastiest. It’s going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it. 🙂

We’re preparing the three recipes and sharing the process in no particular order. The winning recipe will be announced here on Thursday, December 20, 2012!

Kuchen Koffee Kake by Natalie is one of the three finalists!

Kuchen 1

2 C. scalded milk

2 pkgs yeast dissolved in a little water
(On the road west, Anna would’ve used a starter dough in place of the yeast.)
3 1/2 C. flour
  • Mix above together & let sit for 20 minutes
Kuchen 2
  • ADD:
2/3 C. sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. shortening
  • Let rise.
  • Roll out to 1/4 inch and place in pie plates as you would a pie crust.
Kuchen 3
  • When it starts to rise, put on topping and bake immediately for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Place cooked prune halves on top of Kuchen before topping of cream.

TOPPING: Two options.

1. If sour cream is available, spread thickly over top and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Sweet cream works nicely too. If no cream is available, spread with softened butter and cinnamon.

or

2. Another topping can be made from 2 eggs beaten, with a little cream and sugar. Spread on top.
Natalie Note: Makes a most delicious Kuchen (this is from my paternal grandmother’s church cookbook, so very old).
Kuchen 4

What would you serve with this Kuchen Koffee Kake?

Taste Testing Company Potatoes

Company Potatoes 4

In celebration of my upcoming wagon train series, I hosted a WAGON TRAIN RECIPE CONTEST! The winning recipe will be published in my next full-length novel with WaterBrook Press!

RecipeWagon

During the month of October, entrants in the recipe contest sent in beloved old family recipes! Folks voted on the recipes, narrowing the finalists to three. Now my hubby Bob and I are preparing the top three recipes and will decide which is the tastiest. It’s going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it. 🙂

We’re preparing the three recipes and sharing the process in no particular order. The winning recipe will be announced here on Thursday, December 20, 2012!

Company Potatoes by Jodie and Marjorie is one of the three finalists!

Company Potatoes New 2

1 pt. greek yogurt or sour cream (Grandma’s original ingredient)

1 can cream of chicken

  • Anna in Prairie Song wouldn’t have had a can of cream of chicken soup on the trail, so she most likely would’ve used chicken broth, cream, and flour as a substitute.

1 c. chopped onion (or how much you want)

1 c. shredded cheese

1 lb. frozen cubed hashbrown potatoes

  • Bob cubed fresh Yukon Gold potatoes.

Company Potatoes 3

garlic and salt to taste (though I don’t use extra salt–soup has enough)

crushed potato chips

  • Bob crushed enough potato chips to evenly cover the top, about a cup crushed.
  • Preheat oven to 375. Spray 9×13 pan. Allow potatoes to thaw a little before attempting to mix ingredients. Combine everything except crushed chips in large mixing bowl. Spoon into baking pan and level. Spread a bit extra shredded cheese on top. Bake 45 min covered in foil, then remove foil, add chips to top, and bake 15 more min. Allow to cool a bit to set, and then cut and serve.

Company Potatoes 4

What would you serve with the Company Potatoes?

 

 

Taste Testing Grandma’s Biscuits

Biscuits 1

In celebration of my upcoming wagon train series, I hosted a WAGON TRAIN RECIPE CONTEST! The winning recipe will be published in my next full-length novel with WaterBrook Press!

RecipeWagon

During the month of October, entrants in the recipe contest sent in beloved old family recipes! Folks voted on the recipes, narrowing the finalists to three. Now my hubby Bob and I are preparing the top three recipes and will decide which is the tastiest. It’s going to be a tough job, but someone has to do it. 🙂

We’re preparing the three recipes and sharing the process in no particular order. The winning recipe will be announced here on Thursday, December 20, 2012!

Grandma’s Biscuits by Amy is one of the three finalists!

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

  • Measure dry ingredients and stir together.

Grandma's Biscuits by Amy

4 T. softened butter

  •  Cut in the softened butter.

3/4 c. milk

  • Add the milk all at once.
  • Stir rapidly for a few seconds, then turn out on a lightly floured board.
  • Knead vigorously for 30 seconds.

This was the step in which Bob broke into song: “You Kneaded Me.” (Apologies to Anne Murray.) Can’t help but love a man who likes to play with words.

  • Pat or roll to 1/2″ or 3/4″ thickness.
Bob's hand. He did the baking while I supervised (watched).

Bob’s hand. He did the baking while I supervised (watched).

  • Cut out and place onto a greased cookie sheet.

Biscuits 3

Since we didn’t have an authentic tin biscuit cutter, we used a water glass.

  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the tops begin to brown.
Grandma's Biscuits by Amy

Grandma’s Biscuits by Amy

What would you serve with these biscuits?

 

 

The Saint Charles Quilting Circle

Dandelions on the Wind

Our next adventure takes us back in time. 1865. Saint Charles, Missiouri. Some came home from the war. Many didn’t.

The women of the Saint Charles Quilting Circle waited and prayed . . . Dandelions on the Wind.

The Quilted Hearts Novella One

The Quilted Hearts Novella One

An eBook . . . February 19th!

Available now for Pre-Order.

 

 

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