March is National Women’s History Month. Today, I’m celebrating the legacy of women in American History with a look at educator, Mary Easton Sibley. (more…)
Posts Tagged: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series
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.
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.
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
March is National Women of History Month. To join in the celebration, I’ve chosen to feature one of the “real life” women from my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series in today’s post.
Mary Claver Coleman was one of those wonderful finds during my research for Two Brides Too Many My hero was a new doctor coming to Cripple Creek from Boston.
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?
Which Sinclair sister (or sister-in-law) did you choose as your favorite? Why?
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:
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.
“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.”
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.
”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.
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?
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.
An eBook . . . February 19th!
The folks who write the enticing blurbs about a story for a book cover or a front page receive ARC’s (Advance Reader Copies) from a publisher to read ahead of a book’s release.
What a blessing it was to have so many well-respected authors read The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series and offer endorsements! Gargantuan Thank You’s to each one of the authors listed below for reading the stories. And, of course, I’m thrilled they enjoyed the books!
“Spunky sisters, mail-order brides, a mining town full of men…but where are the right ones! I was captivated from the first page!” ~Lauraine Snelling, author of The Red River Series and Daughters of Blessing
“A beautiful tale! Intriguing. Inviting. Inspiring.” ~Cindy Woodsmall, best-selling author of When the Soul Mends, The Bridge of Peace, and The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
“Mona Hodgson has done it again. With deft storytelling and characters that leap off the page, Too Rich for a Bride is a book I won’t soon forget.” ~Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper and Anna Finch and the Hired Gun
“Two Brides Too Many is one good book! Mona Hodgson sweeps the reader away with Sinclair sisters Nell and Kat an dnestles them in the majesty of Colorado, where a cast of characters eagerly await, to create a home. Hodgson leaves a tasty trail of breadcrumbs ready to lead us into the next story. Two more sisters…I can’t wait!” ~Allison Pittman, author of The Bridegrooms and Lilies in Moonlight
“Strong characters play out an intricately crafted story across a rich tapestry of setting. Not your usual mail-order bride story, and I loved the twists and turns. A real page-turner.” ~Lena Nelson Dooley, award-winning author of Wild Prairie Roses and Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico
“This is a story that lets us stand on the cusp of a great societal shift–the entrance of women into the business world…. Cripple Creek’s cast of colorful characters plays host to a new romance, as well as pulling back the curtain on a local family tragedy. This sequel revisits the characters we’ve already come to love and creates a complementary depth to an entertaining new tale.” ~Allison Pittman, author of Stealing Home and The Bridegrooms
“I love recommending this series when readers ask me who I read and what books I can rave about.” ~Lauraine Snelling, best-selling author of Valley of Dreams and the Blessing series
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOUR WHO WON A SINCLAIR SISTERS OF CRIPPLE CREEK NOVEL–Susan M, Linda M, GodBLessAmerica2, and Jasmine A!
- Do you read book endorsements? Do endorsements influence you to purchase a book?
Can’t believe I’d forgotten #8 when I first made this list!
We all know books make great gifts. What makes an even better present? A themed gift package centered around a book. Since I’ve heard from a few folks who are gifting my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books this Christmas, I decided to add to the fun and put together seven gift package ideas that would compliment the series.
- A Checkers Game, a Sinclair Sisters favorite. I used a checkers tournament to first introduce the four Sinclair sisters in Two Brides Too Many.
- A Family Bible–like the one the Sinclair Family has, with pages for Family Records. Or simply a Bible that you can personalize for your sister, mom, daughter, or aunt. The Family Bible played a key role in Vivian Sinclair’s story in The Bride Wore Blue.
- First Congregational Church Cook Book with recipes from Cripple Creek folks at the time of the Sinclair Sisters series. Also, the First Congregational Church was Miss Hattie’s home church in Cripple Creek and where Tucker Raines from Too Rich for a Bride pastored.
- A camera (even just a good disposable one) in honor of Trenton Van Der Ver, the hero photographer in Twice a Bride.
- A journal, giving a nod to Kat Sinclair, who by the end of Two Brides Too Many has her first job as a “real” writer.
- A tin or box of tea. Peppermint was a Sinclair Sisters favorite, featured in Too RIch for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and in Twice a Bride. Camomille tea scented the parlor in Two Brides Too Many. Ginger tea was served in The Bride Wore Blue.
A copy of Harper’s Bazar, the magazine Kat Sinclair Cutshaw was writing for in Too Rich for a Bride. I had fun finding my copies of the magazine in antique stores and thrift shops.
- Fudge. Pecan fudge was a big deal in Cripple Creek in Twice a Bride.
You can purchase or order any of the four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels from your favorite bookseller, but here are some links, for your convenience.
What have you paired with a book in a gift package? Which book? What gift?
© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker
Many of my closest friends are liars.
Those friends may prefer the title storyteller extraordinaire. Tale-weavers. And whether the literary yarn they spin is set in an actual place or based upon real life events and historical characters, like me, they are authors of fiction.
As novelists, we have chosen to write fiction, not fact. But even so, is the story we weave truly and completely made up?
Not the best stories. All compelling fiction resonates with readers. Why?
The best stories are rich in truth.
In writing each of my historical novels, I try to create an honest story world, premise, and character journeys that provide a platform for emotional and spiritual truth that deepens the realness of my fiction. While I’m not telling my story in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books, part of the authenticity comes at the points in which my life experiences—physical, spiritual, emotional, relational—intersect with my characters’ experiences.
Celebrating the completion of my debut series with the October release of Twice a Bride, I thought I’d offer you insight into a few of those intersections.
- Like Ida, Kat, Nell, and Vivian Sinclair in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride, I am one of four sisters.
- One of the sisters is a writer who, like me, began her career writing for a periodical.
- I buried my father twenty-one years ago. Like me, one of my characters in Twice a Bride stands at a crossroads beside her father’s grave.
- Our beloved Miss Hattie shares many of the amiable, mentoring characteristics of my dear friend and prayer partner, June Adams.
- A character in Too Rich for a Bride was institutionalized with melancholia. Although the circumstances varied greatly, the grandmother my husband never knew was hospitalized with melancholia in the early 1900’s.
- Like Deputy Carter Alwyn in The Bride Wore Blue, both my hubby and my father served in law enforcement and shared his compassionate and courageous stand for justice.
- Before giving birth to my two daughters, I suffered two miscarriages. The circumstances and dynamics are not the same, but many of the emotions are, when one of the characters in Twice a Bride shares that experience.
- Boney Hughes serves the series as a quirky sidekick and an unlikely mentor. Or is he a guardian angel? Mr. Boney shares many of my father’s Johnny-on-the-spot traits.
- Like Willow in Twice a Bride, several of my family members have experienced a second chance for love and romance.
Even though my Cripple Creek tales weren’t formed in actual reality, my hope is that the setting and characters, action and themes, and my emotional investment as the writer, offer a tapestry of honesty that can make a work of fiction feel more real, at times, than life itself.
Thank you for joining me here. I so appreciate your interest in my historical fiction with WaterBrook Multnomah.
What do you enjoy most about reading fiction?
All four of the Sinclair Sisters novels are also available for eReaders?
You’ve been raving about the covers for The Bride Wore Blue and Twice a Bride, and rightly so.
Do I have a fun surprise for you!
Today’s guest isn’t an author. But as a Senior Designer at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Kelly Howard is a key member of my publishing team.
MONA: Kelly, thanks so much for joining us on Hindsight today. We’d like to hear about your journey as an artist. Who most influenced your pursuit of art?
KELLY: I was born in Buena Park, California as the second child in a family of four children. When I was four years old, my parents became missionaries to Taiwan. I lived there for seven years. While I was in the seventh grade, my mother was diagnosed with cance. We stayed in California while she sought treatment. Unfortunately, she passed away in my fourteenth year.
I spent a lot of my life in transition. We moved a lot and my interests changed as often as my circumstances did. As a child, my creative talents were mostly apparent in music. As soon as I was big enough to hop up on a piano seat, I could just play. My mother, who also played, was key in setting me up with lessons and finding places for me to play. When she passed away, I lost the motivation to keep working at music.
MONA: You definitely have many life experiences that feed into your art.
KELLY: I took my first art class in high school. The teacher saw talent and encouraged me to continue. I focused on fine art and even won a scholarship to an art school in Georgia. However, the tuition was ten times the amount of the scholarship, and seemed far too steep for a career in Fine Art. At the time, Commercial Art seemed too boxed in and intimidating. Ironically, I decided to become a hairstylist instead.
MONA: Yay for perceptive art teachers! Somehow it’s encouraging to hear about the circuitous routes other people have taken on their personal journeys.
KELLY: After about eight years as a hairstylist, I’d had enough of standing on my feet for long hours, working for people who expected miracles (My scissors did not have magical properties), and not using my artistic abilities to their full potential.
In search of something different, I went to Pikes Peak Community College and took the assessment tests that determined what type of Career would be good for me. According to the results, I should either be a graphic designer or a lab technician. I am notoriously clumsy and not very detail oriented. Clearly, Design was the better choice.
MONA: Wow, graphic designer or a lab technician? Those seem like polar opposites.
What education and training experience brought you to your current position at WaterBrook Multnomah?
KELLY: I did a year at Pikes Peak Community College then landed a job with a photographer working as his sales associate and photo retouch specialist.
When I had progressed as far as I could at the photography studio, I took a job with WaterBrook as the administrative assistant to the Production and Art departments in hopes that it might turn into a design position in the future. The job was not creative at first but it was a foot in the door.
MONA: You’ve worked at WaterBrook Multnomah for eight years. How did you adanve from Administrative Assistant to Senior Designer?
KELLY: Mark Ford, my supervisor on the Art side, recognized my interest and talent for design. He encouraged me to try all aspects of the cover design process. He taught me everything I know. After designing my first cover, I was hooked.
Mark was very honest with me and told me that if I ever wanted the official title of Designer, I would need a degree. So I went back to school. This time I went to Colorado Technical University and received an Associates degree in Visual Communications.
I worked for about three years for both departments at WaterBrook as an assistant, went to night school full-time, and took on almost a full load of design projects. I even did my internship at Waterbrook with Mark Ford overseeing the process. When I turned in my portfolio, the Director of the Visual Communications Department was so impressed that she kept it to show as an example. I was lucky. Not many students are able to find on the job training with actual published projects, and with someone willing to mentor.
In 2006, we acquired Multnomah. In that year, I was promoted to designer full time under Mark Ford.
MONA: What is the mental and artistic process for designing the book cover for a novel?
KELLY: We work a lot as a team here. We often joke that our covers are designed by a committee. I think that we balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We brainstorm a lot before we start our own individual processes. In our team of three, I am the only female. Because, I have an inside track to the female mind, I often work on a lot of the women’s fiction.
I start each project differently. Sometimes listing ideas on paper, sketching, or just searching online for images. But perhaps uniquely, I work from a place of emotion rather than from a specific starting point. When I played piano as a kid, I never knew exactly what I was going to play or how it would sound. My fingers moved on the keyboard based on what I was feeling. I design very much the same way. I am never sure where the notes will go. I just start playing until it comes together in something recognizable as a melody.
MONA: Wow…loved that imageery. You’re an artist, and a poet!
Kelly, what mediums are used most in cover design for today’s marketplace?
KELLY: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Quark are the key programs we work with. I also often use a Wacom tablet so that I can draw with a pen rather than a mouse. This helps me create more illustrative looks. And of late, I have been doing my own photography.
MONA: What is your typical focus when thinking about the imagery for a cover?
KELLY: The setting, character, and theme all work together to create a mood, so I don’t always focus on just one aspect. I often have just a feeling in mind, and I start searching and playing around until I see the mood I am looking for. I sometimes find stock photos that inspire me or will work for a portion of the whole image. Other times I focus on the character and the mood I want her to portray. I often prefer to photograph a model myself because when I am looking through the lens, I often find what I am looking for. It can be hard for me to explain to someone else what that is.
MONA: Kelly, you designed the covers for The Bride Wore Blue and Twice a Bride. What can you tell us about the design process for The Bride Wore Blue and/or Twice a Bride?
KELLY: For these covers, I found great images already created. One from a photographer in London (The Bride Wore Blue) and the other was a stock photo (Twice a Bride).
Both images were not exactly right, so I did a lot of manipulation in Photoshop. I used my Wacom tablet and painted on top of the photos to blend and paint the entire images to give them an illustrative quality. I often combine several elements into one finished cover. Twice a Bride had at least four images that I collaged, and then painted. See the before pieces attached.
MONA: What advice do you have for aspiring graphic designers and book cover artists?
KELLY: Be passionate and always keep searching. When you seek, the doors will eventually open but you have to keep looking.
MONA: Kelly, we so appreciate the time you’ve taken to give us a glimpse into your world of book cover design. Regardless of how well-written a book might be, a weak cover can keep it on shelves or warehouses. The careful work you do is critical. Thank you!
In closing, do you have a Bible verse that especially inspires you as an artist?
KELLY: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
Things have never turned out as I planned, but every road I have been down has led me to a unique place where God has been able to use my talents. Each experience has taught me something new that I have been able to use on the next path.
What intrigued you most in Kelly’s journey or in learning about the design process for book covers?