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St. Charles: Full Circle

St. Charles Full Cirle Blue

How does an Arizona author end up setting her newest works of Historical Fiction in Missouri? Saint Charles, Missouri, to be exact?

Enter . . . a children’s book illustrator named Chris Sharp.

Long before I saw my debut novel, Two Brides Too Many, published in 2009, I was writing children’s books. Chris Sharp illustrated my first 19 children’s books, published by Concordia Publishing in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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Thanks to the editor of my first children’s books, Dawn Weinstock, I had met Chris at a CBA expo, then invited him to teach a workshop for children’s book illustrators at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico while I was the director. Somewhere along the way, I learned that Chris had an art studio in Saint Charles, Missouri. While in St. Louis in 1999 for a conference and a book signing, I decided to take advantage of having a rental car and a couple of hours one afternoon.

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I didn’t find Chris Sharp or his studio that day, but charmed by the 1800s brick buildings and cobblestone streets, the river running beside and historical richness, I knew then that I would one day write historical fiction set in Saint Charles. That opportunity presented itself with The Quilted Heart novellas and Prairie Song. In March 2012, I returned to Saint Charles on a research trip. Then, again, this month to celebrate the publication of both books.

Visit St. Charles in The Quilted Heart Omnibus and Prairie Song

Visit St. Charles in The Quilted Heart Omnibus and Prairie Song

One of my Saint Charles book launch events took me to the Foundry Art Centre. A history-rich building where railroad cars were produced. Today, the fabulous building serves as a center for performances, art education and exhibitions. as well as studio and gallery space for artists on the upper floor.

Mona Hodgson, Guest Speaker, Foundry Arts Centre

Mona Hodgson, Guest Speaker, Foundry Arts Centre

Foundry Art Centre

After my talk and book signing, Carol Felzien and Dorris Keevan-Franke took me upstairs for a stroll past the galleries and stopped in front of Studio #6. My face says it all, right?

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Unbeknownst to me, my hubby Bob had strolled by several of the studios and art galleries upstairs and stumbled upon one that featured whimsical children’s books. He stopped and the artist introduced himself.

Bob said, “I know of a Chris Sharp. ”

And wallah! Enter the Chris Sharp, who had illustrated my Desert Critter Friends Series, the I Wonder Series, and Hide and Seek, a Desert Critter Devotional.

What a fun reunion! A Saint Charles Full Circle.

How about you, do you have a full circle story to share with us?

 

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