Posts Tagged: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

Got Laughter? A Twice a Bride Devotional

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A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Book 4
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

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

The proprietor of Miss Hattie’s boardinghouse and Boney Hughes understand the gift of a merry heart.

TRUTH TO EMBRACE

Worry weights our spirit and robs us of the joy of the Lord. A joyful spirit is primed for praise and laughter.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy,  and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7

TALK IT OVER

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of laughter. Help me rest in You, so my heart will be lighter and my spirit merry. Amen

Do you know someone whose laughter is contagious? What makes it irresistible?

Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek RECIPES

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I read fiction for a variety of reasons: compelling characters, fascinating settings, appealing hypotheses, historical information, a sense of community, spiritual nourishment, encouragement, distraction, insight, entertainment.

Oh, yes, and the food. My favorite stories often feature teatime or mealtime conversations. It’s no wonder then that my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels include dialogue centered around a supper table or a tray of goodies in a parlor.

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

I thought it’d be fun to celebrate the completion of the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series with three recipes from two of our beloved Cripple Creek women: Miss Hattie, the proprietor of Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse, and Nell Sinclair Archer.

Miss Hattie’s Lemon Scones

Nell Sinclair Archer’s Peanut Cabbage Salad

Miss Hattie’s Vanilla Pound Cake with Berry Sauce

As Julia Child would’ve said, “Bon Appétit!”

Which recipe would you choose to make first?

 

If you do make one of the Sinclair Sisters Recipes, please take pictures and post them on Facebook–your page and mine at https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

 

 

 

Guest: Mark D. Ford, Artist for Two Brides Too Many Book Cover

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How much does a book cover factor into your reading choice?

It’s the first draw, right? (Forgive the artsy pun.)

Mark D. Ford, Senior Art Director
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Today’s guest isn’t an author. But as the Senior Art Director at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Mark D. Ford is a key member of my publishing team.

MONA: Mark, 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?

MARK: I was most inspired to be an artist by my father, a career Air Force officer. Although he was an administrator, he had a creative side. I loved to watch him sketch familiar cartoons. He even created a family logo and crest with our own motto: “Never Tease a Weasel.” The six of us kids were the weasels. I was the number three child–the rebellious one. Following my father’s lead, I’d draw cartoons endlessly, my favorite being Bugs Bunny. I even created my own comics.

Ironically, when it came time to choose a college path, my father directed me away from Art, toward a more serious degree—Business Administration. It may have been more about where a football scholarship would take me. With six kids in the family, I  needed the financial help to get through college. After graduating, without a clue what I wanted to do, I chose the excitment of the Air Force, and became a navigator in B-52 bombers. Six years later, unhappy with my career path, I left the Air Force to give a career in Art a chance.

About that time, I came across an article in Newsweek magazine, I believe. One of those “Top Ten Careers of the Next Decade” kind of articles. I read a profile of a guy who designed book covers for a living. I knew immediately that was it, and I enrolled in a local college for a degree in Graphic Design.

MONA: What training and/or experience brought you to your current position at WaterBrook Multnomah?

Out take from Two Brides Too Many photoshoot.

MARK: I was raising a young family, so I knocked out a degree quickly and landed my first design job at a scale manufacturing company. The scales you see in the supermarkets that weigh your fruits and veggies. I designed the scale dials, packaging, catalogs, and advertising.

MONA: Whew! What a relief to hear you were the designer for veggie scales, and not the kind doctors make us step on.

So . . . what happened next?

MARK: As soon as I could, I left there and found my first publishing job with a magazine that served the Christian marketplace. For five years, as I grew in my skillset, I watched thousands of products being pitched and presented in our magazines every month. Again, I was drawn to books. When a new publisher, WaterBrook Press moved to town, I jumped for a shot at a Designer position.

MONA: How long have you been with WaterBrook Multnomah?

Another Out Take
A box helped even out the models’ heights

MARK: I took the job offer as Senior Designer. Nine months later I became the Senior Art Director, running the Art Department. That was twelve years and several hundred books ago. Since then, we acquired another publisher, Multnomah Books, and together produce 70-100 frontlist books a year.

MONA: What is your artistic process for designing the book cover for a novel?

MARK: I enjoy the great variety of books for which we get to design covers. I would approach a nonfiction, self-help book much differently than an historical fiction title. And within fiction, a romance novel presents different challenges than a suspense thriller or YA (young adult) fantasy title.

Having said that, I still will often go to a sketch book and scrawl out a few quick ideas. Often, so sketchy only I could interpret it. Other times, I’ll do a tighter sketch to figure out placement and balance of items. But the computer is a great tool, and just as often I’ll jump in and start pulling elements together, usually in Photoshop. In either case, it’s preceded by doing some research on the book’s content, storyline, characters, etc., and coming away with some solid directions to pursue.

At WaterBrook Multnomah, we have a concepting meeting early on to meet with folks from Editorial, Marketing, and Sales. That launches our creative process. In the meeting, we discuss how to direct the book’s cover design, considering things like target audience, demographics, competition, and of course, author input!

MONA: Great answer, Mark, especially that last bit.

What mediums are used most in cover design for today’s marketplace?

An early composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: Cover design is taking place these days primarily using layout programs like Adobe InDesign, importing imagery from Photoshop and Illustrator–you can get all three by purchasing Adobe Creative Suite. Photoshop is a great tool, and original and stock photography are brought into Photoshop for touch up and manipulation. Often, multiple images are combined to bring about an overall effect that often times has to be ultra-dramatic to compete on the bookshelves. I think I counted about a dozen images that went into a recent fiction cover image I created for Liz Curtis Higgs.

MONA: What is your typical focus when thinking about the imagery for a cover? Setting? Characters? Theme?

A second composite for Two Brides Too Many

MARK: We’ve got to be accurate with the story elements on the cover. I’ll watch my wife reading one of our novels while flipping back to the cover repeatedly, and she’ll let me know if it doesn’t match the story. I often like to leave more to the imagination, having more vague imagery on the cover. But, the trend lately in Christian fiction has been to be more literal, showing a full face character, capturing a setting, and even timeframe on the cover. So, we pay a lot of attention to that as we’re developing the scene.

MONA: Mark, you designed the cover for Two Brides Too Many and worked with Kelly Howard on the cover for Too Rich for a  Bride. You’ve been involved with a lot of book covers since then, but do you recall any specifics from the design process for Two Brides Too Many?

 MARK: Working on Two Brides Too Many was a lot of fun for me. It was great to feature the local history of Cripple Creek, Colorado, just over the hill from us.

I knew I wanted to capture the feel of an Old West mining town with the Sangre de Cristo mountain range behind it. The tricky part was capturing the two sisters in a dynamic way. With this title, it seemed obvious to have the sisters both wearing wedding dresses on the cover.

Book 1
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

I had found a couple of stock photo images of brides that I “photoshopped” together on the cover. I submitted this composite and got approval to go ahead with a photoshoot. We often have to do a “preview comp” so people can see what the finished product will look like before going through the expense of a photoshoot. We found a company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, that rents 18th and 19th century costumes, and had two antique wedding dresses shipped to us for the photoshoot. Then we needed models. Through a talent agency in Denver, we found two girls who fit our character descriptions. “Kat” ended up being quite tall compared to “Nell,” which we remedied by having Nell stand on a box for the back-to-back shot.

I was a little nervous about the rental dress fitting Kat, so I brought my wife’s wedding dress as a backup. Julie, my wife, had her great-grandmother’s dress (circa 1865) completely remodeled for our wedding in 1985. We brought it along to the shoot, just in case. Turned out to be a good idea because the rental didn’t fit at all. Julie is 5’ 0” and Kat is 5’ 10.” Somehow we Julie’s dress work! As you can see from the finished product, we captured the Sinclair sisters’ personalities and attitudes. Our models did a great job.

Side note: My intention was to leave a little more to the imagination by cropping both girls just below the nose, but because their expressions were so captivating, we decided to show their full faces.

MONA: Mark, the cover choices you and the team made were spot on. Our Sinclair Sisters fans are captivated by the cover’s historical warmth and the girls’ intriguing expressions, as am I.

I’m remembering a story about one of the models and the flowers staged for the shoot.

A fun Out Take from the end of the photoshoot

MARK: We try to have fun on the set and after we shot a second option, basically a close up shot of the dress with the model holding flowers, we tried some different ideas. In one shot, we had Nell tossing the bouquet toward the camera while we tried to capture the roses mid-flight. You can only do this for a few takes before the roses begin to disintegrate. So we had a little game of pitch, shoot, and catch. Took some great shots—which we didn’t use, but we did end up using one of those dress shots for the cover of Too Rich for a Bride.

MONA: Sounds like fun.

Book genres seem subject to cycles. For instance: Not all that long ago historical fiction was a hard-sell. Not it’s “hot.” Are there also cycles in cover design?

Book 2
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series

MARK: In the twelve years I’ve been here at WaterBrook Multnomah, I have seen styles come and go. With the advent of Photoshop, it became much easier to composite images in a realistic and even hyper-realistic way. So, illustrated covers suddenly looked dated on fiction titles. I think we’ll start seeing that swing the other way soon. In Christian fiction, we’re seeing characters full face and large on the cover. I think that trend will shift in favor of more anonymous, vague characters presented on the cover.

Colors are an interesting challenge. Everybody wants a warm, inviting cover, but we can’t have a list of all orange and yellow covers. So we find ways of making blue and green feel warm.

 MONA: What advice do you have for aspiring Book Cover artists?

MARK: Take all kinds of design jobs. They all build your portfolio and experience. And they all have their unique design and creative challenges to solve. I think that’s why we design…we love the creative process.

MONA: Great counsel. Mark, 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, Mark, do you have a Bible verse that especially inspires you as an artist?

MARK: I’m an outdoors person. I like to hike, bike, run, 4-wheel. I have two cars, both are convertibles. I’m inspired by God’s creation, and I experience it everyday living in Colorado.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19: 1

Click here to read Chapter One Excerpt,

Two Brides Too Many!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DIANA G, WHO WON A COPY OF TWO BRIDES TOO MANY IN THE MIDNIGHT DRAWING!

Kat Sinclair Interviews Miss Hattie of Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Fame

Harpers Bazar

Harper’s Bazar                                                         New York

Vol. XIXI,  Saturday, May 07, 1898

Women of the West

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw, Female Western Correspondent

I count it a privilege to share the stories of fascinating women of the west with you each month. This month, I have chosen Mrs. Adams as my subject. My sisters and I, and most young women in Cripple Creek, know her as Miss Hattie, the proprietor of Miss Hattie’s Boardinghouse. I will forego my usual third-person writing style so I may interview Miss Hattie instead.

Miss Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Miss Hattie, where did you reside before coming west?

Miss Hattie: I was born in Missouri and lived in Saint Charles. In ’66, I met my late husband George, God rest his dear soul. We met on a wagon caravan coming west.

Miss Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: You are one of our country’s pioneers. You are the sole proprietor of a boardinghouse, and in the past ten years, you’ve had a definitive role in bringing classical music and culture to a wild west mining camp. To what do you give credit for your spirit of adventure?

Miss Hattie: When I would test my mother’s patience with dreams and schemes, she blamed my father; said I was just like him. From an early age, I counted it a favor. The day we received word of his death in the War Between the States, I’ve clung to that spirit of adventure as tightly as I’ve held the memory of him.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: You are the chairwoman for the Women for the Betterment of Cripple Creek. But in this time of Suffragettes and marches on main streets, you take a quieter approach to leadership and affecting change. You don’t march in the streets or stand atop a platform in the town square. Neither do you wield a megaphone or a sword.

Miss Hattie: I prefer to lead from behind an apron, a cookie tin, or a mop. I consider myself a friend to women. The best way to change our circumstance, whether it’s personal, community-wide, or across our great country, is to come along side one another.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: I’ve seen, first-hand, your style of leadership. A cup of tea and a lemon scone, a tender touch and a listening ear that tells another woman she is not alone; that she can be an overcomer…an achiever.

Miss Hattie: Thank you, dear. You always did favor the scones.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Miss Hattie, what advice would you give women wanting to make a difference in their community?

Miss Hattie: To be an effective leader, you need to know what you’re following and in whom you are placing your faith. You need to believe that ideal and that person is worthy to lead you.

Mrs. Kat Sinclair Cutshaw: Thank you for your time, Miss Hattie, and thank you for your leadership.

Miss Hattie: It’s been my priviledge. Every bit of it, dear.

~

Any Miss Hattie fans in the crowd?

You’ll be happy to know that our dear Miss Hattie is counted among the main charaters in Twice a Bride, now available for Pre-Order in time for the October 2nd release.

MORE GOOD NEWS! I have Miss Hattie’s recipe for lemon scones, and I”ll share it with you soon.

Which Sinclair Sister Are You Most Like?

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In celebration of the completion of my debut series: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek, I thought it’d be fun to hear which Sinclair Sister you identify with the most. So I created a poll. Two Brides Too Many features Kat and Nell Sinclair. Ida Sinclair stars in Too Rich for a BrideThe Bride Wore Blue shares Vivian Sinclair’s story. And Twice a Bride brings readers up to speed on the goings-on of all four Sinclair sisters.

Thanks for participating in the Sinclair Sisters poll!

[polldaddy poll=6469852]

Heroes: What We Look For in Leading Men

sinclair-sisters-group

In novels, a hero is the central male character in a fictional tale. A leading man with admirable qualities. Although the hero’s positive traits may not be obvious in the introduction, he possesses characteristics that typically will serve him and the heroine (since I write love stories). That’s not to say those strengths won’t come into play as weaknesses or obstacles at some point in the plot.

Think about your favorite story heroes from the books and movies you love. Who comes to mind? What would you list as the leading man’s admirable characteristics?

I asked the fans of my Mona Hodgson Author Page on Facebook to list three traits every hero should possess. I grouped similar responses, choosing one common term. Then I had some fun considering the key traits of the heroes that populate my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels.

 

I’ve listed the fifteen desirable traits for leading men, starting with the most mentions at the top then descending to the least poplular ones:

Courage
Honesty
Humor
Compassion
Gentleness
Integrity
Wisdom
Perseverance
Humility
Strength
Love of God
God First, Family Second
Patient
Willingness to grow with the heroine
Peaceful

The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series

Here are five characteristics you’ll find in my story heroes, along with his particular flaw or flaws:

1. A Deepening Faith in God (may start out as a seeker, but he moves forward on the continuum in his spiritual journey) as he grows in God’s Grace
2. Integrity
3. Conviction
4. Humor
5. Resourcefulness

What traits do you count most important in a story hero?

Bob’s Corner: Headframes and Cable Hoist

Bob’s Corner Glen Eyrie Bob

The pursuit of riches drew tens of thousands of colorful characters to Cripple Creek in the 1890s. The boom town provided me a canvas on which to draw my stories in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

Good news! My hubby Bob agreed to flesh out the workings of a gold mining camp in that era for us. Headframes and Cable Hoists is the first in the series of articles and videos by Bob.

AND NOW, BOB’S CORNER . . .

With a nod to Bullwinkle J. Moose, and his Bullwinkle’s Corner, I have agreed to share what I know about mining in the 1890’s with Mona’s readers. My hope is that I don’t come across as Mr. Know-It-All. (Another of Bullwinkle’s famous characters)

Today’s subject is the most visible part of hard-rock mining–the headframe and cable hoist.

When you drive through Cripple Creek, the first thing you notice on all of the hillsides are the piles of rock, looking like giant gopher holes. They are, indeed, circling holes that are dug straight down into the solid rock. A mining claim protected the owner from anyone encroaching on their ore. The claim was described as a certain surface area and down, literally to the center of the earth. If you had any hope of keeping any of the gold you recovered, you had to stay within your surface measured area.

Lawyers were kept busy protecting the claims from anyone cutting across underground and into your claim. It’s hard to believe, but a lawyer was a good thing at a time when Sam Colt’s famous invention was a more popular deterrent.

Which brings us to the headframe. In order to get men and equipment into the mine, they had to be lowered by cable. Likewise, any ore had to be lifted up and out. And some of the mines in the Cripple Creek District were more than 1000 feet deep.

Two styles of Headframe. The one in the foreground also has a cable hoist. Notice the spoked pulley at the top.

A steel structure was built over the opening, with a pulley at the top. The headframe was built tall enough to lift any elevators or ore buckets clear of the mine, and sometimes enough that a train could pull through, depositing the ore directly into the cars.

At one time, every one of the holes I mentioned had a headframe. If a mine failed to produce, the headframe was moved to the next hole. No effort was made to fill in the holes, so a night-time stroll on the hillsides is not recommended.

A cable was strung over the pulley, and down the shaft of the mine. This took a lot of cable, so it would be wound around the spool of a cable hoist. The cable hoist could be powered by electricity or steam at the time, but steam was a more reliable source of power. It would be extremely disconcerting if the local generator went out when you were at the bottom, or for that matter, anywhere along the way. More on the elevator situation in a later post.

In the video, you will see a steam cable hoist, with a description of it’s basic workings. Also, in the video, I refer to the ore buckets and elevators, and I promise I will show them to you next time. I felt it was more sensible to start at the top.

Click here for video.

What About Bob?

Glen Eyrie Bob

Bob looking dapper for a book signing at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs.

When the idea of writing for publication first flitted through my mind, my hubby Bob began encouraging me. “Well, you do like to write letters and you’re good at it,” he said. When I approached Bob about my desire to attend a writers’ conference, he began a long haul of personal sacrifice and made a way for me to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in 1988. Bob has made sure I had a space for my writing paraphernalia. First, a wall here, or a corner there. Now, I have a dedicated office.

Bob taught me how to boot my first computer, cut and paste, and how to load paper into a dot matrix printer. We’ve joked about his job description: “Everything Else.” But it’s no joke. He’s my computer tech, trouble-shooter for anything electronic, and website designer and guru. If I need business cards, flyers, posters, stickers, or address labels, I go to Bob.

I’m hearing from fans of The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books who commend me for the authenticity in my settings and time-period details. Bob is due much of the credit. One, he is a walking database. For instance, the particulars, smells, and sounds of a narrow gauge locomotive. Two, he thrives on research. Everything from hats to photographic plates, and telephone switchboards to surreys.

If you enjoy historical fiction, you no doubt thrive on history and research. Good news! Bob’s going to share his wealth of knowledge in “Bob Features” on the blog. He’s taken fun photographs of historical items that he’ll talk about. He’s even shooting videos for us. So, stay tuned!

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