Posts Tagged: Mona Hodgson

Prairie Song – In Search of a Promised Land

 

Now Available, Paperback or eBook!

Now Available, Paperback or eBook!

What would drive people from the familiar into the unknown? What would cause men to venture into a harsh wilderness, leaving their families behind? Or uprooting them?

For the Israelites, it was captivity in Egypt and the hope of freedom in a Promised Land that drove them from the prison they’d known for generations.

In the early 1840s, emigrants from the Eastern United States began traveling overland by covered wagon to escape grief, persecution, and poverty. Driven by desperation, curiosity, and greed, several hundred thousand people sold the bulk of their possessions, bid family and friends adieu, provisioned a covered wagon and took bold or timid steps toward what they hoped would be their promised land. A land of boundless opportunity. They’d heard stories of the wide open spaces, big forests, rivers and streams teeming with fish, flowers that bloomed all year, and abundant land for farming. Developing cities ripe for businesses. Gold, silver, and copper sat ready to be mined.

That is the backdrop for the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company in Prairie Song, Book 1 in my new Hearts Seeking Home Series. The women in the Saint Charles Quilting Circle—from The Quilted Heart novellas—have been devastated by the War Between the States. From the youngest to the oldest, they’ve lost brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers. Not only were their plans changed, they were crushed under the heavy weight of endings, some gradual and some abrupt. But their faith is anchored in a faithful God. Fresh starts await them on the horizon.

Carrying their friendships in their hearts, some of the women will travel west to rebuild their lives, in search of home. (more…)

Prairie Song Campfire Supper

prairie-song-food-collage-blog

Boney’s turn to cook supper. A fact that has the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company captain, Garrett Cowlishaw, and the other four trail hands sticking close to camp. All the wagons are set in their curved line, the livestock graze hobbled in the meadow, and the company’s children haul buckets of water up from the creek. Men are greasing wheels and tending hooves while the women see to their families’ needs.

Outside the company’s chuck wagon, supper boils in an iron pot suspended over the campfire. The scraping of the wooden spoon along the sides of a tin bowl says mealtime won’t be long off now. (more…)

Sinclair Sisters Fun and Yum for Book Clubs

Essential Handbook for Victorian Etiquette

Do the members of your book club or reading group enjoy reading series and spending time with an ensemble cast? If so, the four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series might be a great fit. And I’m happy to say the 1890s Colorado mining camp series lends itself well to having fun with Victorian, Old West, Mining Camp flair.

Your group might want a themed meeting after each of the books, or may choose to save the party for after they’ve read Twice a Bride, the conclusion of the series. Either way, here are some meeting ideas and resources for a Sinclair Sisters celebration.

Sinclair Sisters Four

Decorations:

Decorate with Victorian flair–quilts, hats, checker boards, irons, phonograph, phonograph records, vintage books, etc.

Decorate with a sisters’ theme in mind–plaques, gift books, portraits, pictures that celebrate sisters, etc.

Decorate with Miss Hattie’s boardinghouse in mind. Perhaps things you might find in the parlor–settee, armed chair, phonograph, oil lamps, quilts, etc.

Decorate with a mining camp theme–headlamps, candle lanterns, gold mining pans, books on mining and miners, etc.

Miss Hattie's Phonograph Records?

Miss Hattie’s Phonograph Records?

Food:

Plan a tea party and serve Miss Hattie’s Lemon Scones or Miss Hattie’s Vanilla Pound Cake and Berry Sauce.

Prepare Nell Sinclair Archer’s Peanut Cabbage Salad for a luncheon.

lemon scones

Games and Activities:

A Checker’s Tournament, a favorite Sinclair family pastime.

Anyone in the group have Victorian costumes? Maybe a time period fashion show?

Has the group read all of the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels? If so, who are the members’ favorite heroines and heroes? Why?

Choose a favorite photo from my Cripple Creek Album to Share with the group or look at the album on a screen linking to it from my website: www.monahodgson.com.

Have someone share a devotional inspired by the book or series. Or read Got Laughter? A Twice a Bride devotional.

Have someone read a list of humorous or poignant Victorian Etiquette tips. The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette is a fun resource.

Essential Handbook for Victorian Etiquette

Costumes:

Encourage everyone to wear at least one “Victorian Era” clothing item to the meeting, could be fun too. For instance: A hat or lace gloves, a shawl or cape, a brooch or cameo pendant.

Book Signing at Flying W Ranch, Colorado Springs

Book Signing at Flying W Ranch, Colorado Springs

Author Participation:

If you’re reading a Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novel, I’d be honored to “attend” your book club meeting. In person, if I live within an hour of the group or if I’m going to be visiting the area. Otherwise, we could arrange a virtual meeting and chat via Skype, FaceTime, or speaker phone. If we schedule the virtual event far enough in advance (preferably at least a month or so ahead), I’ll mail you a Book Club Packet that includes bookmarks and/or recipe cards, flyers or brochures, and signed book plates for each member of our group.

Watch the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series Book Trailer

Discussion Questions for THE SINCLAIR SISTERS OF CRIPPLE CREEK BOOKS . . .

Two Brides Too Many

Too Rich for a Bride

The Bride Wore Blue

Twice a Bride

Twice-a-Bride_980x300

I’d love to hear your ideas. Does your book club enjoy themed meetings? What kinds of things does your reading group do to celebrate a good read? 

The Role of Art in the Westward Expansion

karen_witemeyer20green1[1]

Glorifying the Wilderness Experience

So many things drove the westward expansion of the 1800s. The lure of a better life. Cheap land. Adventure. The railroad. Art.

Art?

Wait a minute. How did art drive the westward expansion?

Home in the Woods by Thomas Cole (1847)

Home in the Woods by Thomas Cole (1847)

In the mid-1800s, a new wave hit the artistic community, a desire to show nature in its most glorified state. Known as the Hudson River School, this movement focused on dramatic landscapes painted with romanticism and wonderful uses of light and detail to make the subject even more attractive than it might usually appear. It derived its name from the original locales that were painted–such places as the Hudson River Valley, Catskills, Adirondack, and the White Mountains. As the movement grew and inspired a second generation of painters, however, the landscapes they painted encompassed wilderness areas from as far away as South America and Syria. The themes of the paintings fit so perfectly with the American persona of the time—themes of discovery, exploration, and settlement. And for a growing number of east coast citizens, the appeal came in viewing untamed landscapes and idyllic nature scenes so different from the bustling cities to which they had become accustomed.

Thomas Cole is considered by most to be the father of the Hudson River School, but it was his prize pupil, Frederic Edwin Church, who became a true celebrity. Some of the finest works from the Hudson River School were painted between 1855 and 1875, and Church’s works constituted the majority. His paintings are truly stunning. I must admit that I fell in love with them myself. Here are a few of my favorites:

Niagra Falls (1857)

Niagra Falls (1857)

The Natural Bridge - Virginia (1852)

The Natural Bridge – Virginia (1852)

Twilight in the Wilderness (1860)

Twilight in the Wilderness (1860)

You really have to see larger images to do them justice.

In the 20th century, the term luminism was coined to describe this style. It is characterized by attention to detail and the hiding of brush strokes so that nothing distracts from the vision of nature being depicted. Artists in the Hudson River School for the most part believed that nature in the form of the American landscape was a manifestation of God. Therefore they painted highly realistic yet idealized renderings of what they had seen on their travels.

BHP_Stealing the Preacher_N2.indd

New!

In Stealing the Preacher, Joanna Robbins’s mother was an art teacher back east who was greatly influenced by the Hudson River School. It is her dedication to this style of art that drives her to leave her safe city life to search out her own wilderness to paint. This, of course, eventually leads her to Texas and the wild man who will become her husband. She passes her love of art on to her daughter. Joanna embraces this passion, though she finds she has a better eye for capturing people than landscapes on her canvases.

What type of art speaks to your heart? I’ve always preferred realistic landscapes that capture the glory of God’s creation. That’s probably why these paintings gripped me so completely. What about you? Do you have a painting or print in your house that you just adore? What painting would you buy if money was no object? I’d love to hear about it.

We have a winner! Candice Valdez will receive the giveaway copy of Stealing the Preacher!

MONA: Thank you, Karen, for this fabulous peek into the art that inspired folks to people the West! We appreciate the Book Giveaway too!

Karen’s Website

Karen on Facebook

A Cripple Creek Tribute

Mt Pisgah Cemetary PicMonk

Research trips for my historical fiction takes me to museums, libraries, historical societies, archives . . . and old cemeteries. Like the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Veterans Memorial Section

Established in 1892, the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery is one of Cripple Creek’s oldest sites. Mt. Pisgah remains a natural setting with native plants and wildflowers. Depending upon the time of year, you might find wild iris, goldenrod, Indian paintbrush, bluebells, even raspberries and strawberries in mid-summer.

Why visit cemeteries as part of my research?

1. To find historically accurate names.

2. To discover ethnic names for that time and place.

3. To find common nicknames.

4. To learn about the average lifespan.

5. To discover typical causes of death.

6. To learn the language and syntax used.

7. To feel immersed in history.

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

In my four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books, I used real-life women who lived in Cripple Creek in the late 1890’s, my time period for the series. Both of the historical women I featured in The Bride Wore Blue are buried atop Mt. Pisgah.

Have you visited old cemeteries? Which ones have you visited, and why?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

In the Case of Sisters . . .

In the Case of Sisters Blog

 

In the Case of Sisters BlogThen God created sisters. And He blessed me with three.

I write. So it’s pretty easy to figure how what I’m wheeling around in my brown rolling case. A laptop computer, an AlphaSmart, and a USB cord.

For Sis Cindy, it’s either a tea set or painting supplies.

For Sis Tammy, it would be an otoscope and an audiometer since she’s a hearing specialist.

For Sis Linda, the case holds her sewing machine and all things having to do with stichery and quilting. The rolling case pictured above belongs to Linda, who put her quilting chops to good use for our celebration of the Saint Charles Quilting Circle in The Quilted Heart Novellas.

Linda Making Squares 1

Linda made four Civil War Era quilt squares. Gwen M. won a square in our celebration of Dandelions on the Wind. The second square went to Karen R. in our launch party for Bending Toward the Sun.

Crafted by Mona's SIster, Linda Gansberg Smith

Crafted by Mona’s Sister, Linda Gansberg Smith

And now we’re celebrating the May 21st release of Ripples Along the Shore with another Linda Smith Quilt Square giveaway. And because this is the third and final Quilted Heart novella, I’ve added a few other quilt-inspired goodies to the prize package.

The Quilted Heart Giveaway Package

The Quilted Heart Giveaway Package

Congratulations to Robyn Conners, the winner of the Quilter’s Prize Pack! Many thanks to all who entered!

 

The Quilted Heart Novella Series, Complete May 21st!

 

If you haven’t fed your eReader with Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, or Ripples Along the Shore, you can find them wherever eBooks are sold! And they’re only $1.99 each!

 

Do you have a sister? What might we find in her rolling case (assuming she has one)?

Donkey Derby Days

Donkey Derby Sign

During my first research trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado, I met a couple of the town’s beloved residents–two donkeys that are a part of a herd of about a dozen that roam the city’s streets. When miners had to leave the area, often their donkeys were let loose. The several donkeys that roam the streets are believed to be descendants of those used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek and Victor gold camps.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every June Cripple Creek celebrates its rich, historical heritage with Donkey Derby Days. Last summer when my hubby and I set out on a Book Tour Road Trip to celebrate the release of The Bride Wore Blue, Book 3 in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, we included participation in the annual Donkey Derby Days in our book launch activities.

Donkey Derby Sign

My participation in the celebration included several book signing events at the Cripple Creek District Museum and The Old Homestead Museum.

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

The 1890s Parlour featured in The Bride Wore Blue

A parade is part of the Donkey Derby Days festivities, and the Gold Camp Victorian Society invited me to ride their float. So much fun.

Click here to learn more about the 82nd Donkey Derby Days,  June 29-30, 2013 in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Castes of Yellow

Dandelion on the Wind Pic

Dandelion Novelists Story Titles

Where do novelists find a title for a work of fiction? Anywhere, and everywhere.

For Maren Jensen’s story, I drew inspiration for my book title from a favorite poem, Castes of Yellow by Viola Jacobson Berg.

Mrs. Berg’s two books on poetic forms–Pathways for the Poet and Poet’s Treasury: Second Book of All New Patterns have served as resources I used to teach myself how to write various poetry forms. When I first started teaching poetry at writers’ conferences, I had the joy of corresponding with Viola Jacobson Berg. She didn’t expect to teach anymore and sent me some of her teaching materials, along with permission to share her poems.

Here is the poem that inspired the title for Dandelions on the Wind, the first of The Quilted Heart novellas.

        Castes of Yellow

by Viola Jacobson Berg

I’m just a humble dandelion
Blooming in the grass,
Beaming cheer to one and all,
Smiling as they pass.

But something happened yesterday
Which made my gold heart bleed;
A buttercup informed me that
I’m really just a weed.

I cried at first, but then I knew
That I was not to blame;
So I’ll enjoy the sun and rain
And blossom, just the same.

When I considered my main character for the first of the three Quilted Heart novellas, the image of a dandelion viewed as a mere weed came to mind. The life Maren knew before she immigrated to America and the life any of her friends in the Saint Charles Quilting Circle knew before the Civil War ended, leaving them all feeling like Dandelions on the Wind.

Do you have a favorite poem that might inspire a book title?

Writing Historical Fiction by the Cookbook

Cripple Creek Church History Cook Book

You’re not likely to find me flipping channels looking for the Food Network. Fact is, my hubby does most of the cooking and baking at our house. But don’t ask me to write about a new setting without a cookbook from the time period and location.

Cripple Creek Church History Cook Book
For The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, I pored over the Church History Cook Book from the First Congregational Church in Cripple Creek, Colorado. A yummy resource for time period dishes and recipes, listings of ingredients, people names from the time and place, and other juicy tidbits.
All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, now available!

All four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, now available!

Here’s a fun tip offered by Mrs. J. S. Bates: “To keep apples from turning dark when peeled, use a silver knife.”

I can hear Ida Sinclair sharing that household hint with her younger sisters in Too Rich for a Bride.

Ginger Snaps with Mrs. Ira Hart and Mrs. Theodore Hartman
1 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon ginger
1 level teaspoon soda
1 egg
Add flour to roll.
Bake in a quick oven.

Yep, I can see one of the Sinclair sisters nibbling a ginger snaps at Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, or Twice a Bride.

St. Charles Celebrating Our Heritage Cookbook

For The Quilted Heart, three eBook novellas, Celebrating Our Heritage from the St. Charles German Heritage Club provided me with tasty recipes and fun tidbits.
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

Hunter’s Schnitzel from the German Club Archives

Pork or veal cutlets
Salt
Pepper
Brown sugar
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
Cream
Cooking sherry (if desired)
Crushed garlic (if desired)
Onions (if desired)
Butter for browning

Make sure the cutlets are thin. Wash the cutlets, dry with a paper towel and rub with pepper, salt and just a little brown sugar. Cook the cutlets on both sides in real butter in an open pan until the meat is done and takes on a nice brown color. Put the schnitzels in a serving dish and keep hot. In the meat juice left in the pan, cook fresh sliced mushrooms (about one pound for 2 schnitzels) until the liquid is mostly gone, adding pepper, salt and a touch of sugar to taste (not too much sugar or the mushrooms will be spoiled). Stir in fresh cream until you get a thick sauce. Pour on top of the schnitzels and serve with potato pancakes. Another variation is to add a little cooking sherry, onions and/or garlic to the mushroom gravy (the onions and garlic are cooked together with the mushrooms; the sherry is added with the cream).

Sounds to me like a “receipt” we could find in Emilie Heinrich’s kitchen in Bending Toward the Sun, a Quilted Heart novella.

Hunger ist der beste Koch. (Hunger is the best cook.) One of the many sayings I found in the German heritage cookbook, along with fascinating bits of history.

Oregon Trail Cookbook (2)I turned to The Oregon Trail Cookbook, A Historical View of Cooking, Traveling, and Surviving on the Trail for culinary inspiration and cultural tidbits for Hearts Seeking Home, my next series. Look for Prairie Song, Book 1, to release on August 6th!
Prairie Song

“Originally called ‘The Emigrant Road’ by the early pioneers, the route commonly became known as ‘The Oregon Trail’ and later as ‘The Overland Trail.’ Regardless of its name, emigrants always referred to it as ‘the road’ and not a ‘trail.’”

Sourdough Griddle Cakes

2 c. sourdough starter
4 c. warm water
4 T. oil
1 tsp. salt
4 T. sugar
5 c. flour
2 eggs
½ c. condensed milk

2 tsp. baking soda

Mix starter, flour and warm water the night before. Reserve 2-3 cups to replenish starter. To what is left, add eggs, oil and milk; over dough and gently fold in. Let rise 3-4 minutes. Fry on hot griddle. Serve immediately.

I can almost smell the griddle cakes Caroline Milburn will cook over the coals of a campfire out on the prairie in Prairie Song.

Read the prequel to Prairie Song in Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore.

Do you have a favorite regional cookbook?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Toasted Ravioli, Fife & Drum Corps, and Daniel Boone

Me and Carol in Granary

My March 2012 research trip for The Quilted Heart novellas returned me to a setting I first discovered in 1999–a charming riverside city that stirred my imagination and captured my heart.

Toured a historical farm that would inspire the farm setting in Dandelions on the Wind.

Bob and I with Bob Sandfort on the Sandfort Family Farm

Bob and I with Bob Sandfort on the Sandfort Family Farm

Savored toasted ravioli (twice) at Little Hills Restaurant and Winery.

Toasted Ravioli

Explored the city and the surrounding areas with Carol Felzien, Director of Communication, Greater Saint Charles Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

Mona and Carol Felzien touring a granery

Mona and Carol Felzien touring a granery

Nibbled on the sweet treat that is Grandma’s Cookies on Main Street.

Grandma's Cookies, one of many fun stops on Historic Main Street

Grandma’s Cookies, one of many fun stops on Historic Main Street

Drove out to the Daniel Boone Home.

Daniel Boone's Last Home

Daniel Boone’s Last Home

Watched a Fife & Drum Corps practicing at Frontier Park.

Spent lots of time with Dorris Keeven-Franke, the archivist for the St. Charles County Historical Society.

Enjoyed sweet sleep in a bed chamber at the historic Boone’s Lick Inn.

Mona Hodgson at Boone's Lick Inn

Mona at Boone’s Lick Inn

Strolled beside the Missouri River, which plays a key role in Bending Toward the Sun and Ripples Along the Shore.

Missouri River at St. Charles

Met Vicki Erwin, the owner of Main Street Books, and we started plotting a book launch celebration!

Main Street Books

More details later, but please plan now to join me in the spring of 2014 for some historical, bookish fun in St. Charles, Missouri! I’ll be part of several events during the Lewis & Clark Heritage Days, May 18-19, 2014.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll wet your appetite for your visit to St. Charles by reading Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore–my Quilted Heart eBook Novellas, set along the Missouri River in 1865-1866, post Civil War.

Dandelions on the Wind

Bending Toward the Sun

Ripples Along the Shore

Have you ever visited the setting from a favorite book?

© 2013 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker

Get to Know Mona

Stay Connected

Direct to your email inbox, receive Mona’s latest blog posts and her monthly newsletter containing an inspirational article, helpful links, and giveaways.


Let’s Open God’s Word Together

I’d delight in opening God’s Word with your audience. Encouraging and equipping sisters makes my heart sing.

Invite me to speak >

Connect with Mona on Facebook >