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: Twice a Bride
“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.” Unknown
We all know books make great gifts.
What makes an even better present?
A themed gift package centered around a book. In case you might like to “gift” my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books this Christmas, I decided to add to the fun and put together eight package gift ideas that would compliment the series. (more…)
Charles and Clara Tanner are headed to Cripple Creek, Colorado, this month to visit the landmarks mentioned in my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series. Sweet fans of my fiction, the couple gave me permission to share excerpts from their notes to me.
Dear Mrs. Hodgson,
What a blessing the four books on the Sinclair sisters have been to myself and my wife…. We have cried and laugh, but more than anything else we have grown closer together. As we read out loud to each other, it seemed to draw us into the story, as if we were there living in the 1890’s and experiencing exactly what the characters were experiencing. Bringing God into the story along with Bible verses made it even more believable, as well as soul searching for each of us.
My wife and I are in our 70’s and we have been Christians all of our life. It has been difficult to find good fictional reading, in fact your book about the Sinclair sisters was the first fiction book I have read as I felt I could never get any value out of them and especially a blessing. … I felt it would be a waste of time reading something that could not add value to my life, but your books gave me as well as my wife new meaning to our lives. Don’t ever stop looking to God for a way to tell the stories in your books because if they have found a way into our hearts and lives, I am sure they have done the same to others.
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.
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.
Prepare Nell Sinclair Archer’s Peanut Cabbage Salad for a luncheon.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Discussion Questions for THE SINCLAIR SISTERS OF CRIPPLE CREEK BOOKS . . .
The Bride Wore Blue
Twice a Bride
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?
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
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.
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.
My participation in the celebration included several book signing events at the Cripple Creek District Museum and The Old Homestead Museum.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
The fascinating women of the 1800s were not dissimilar to you and I, even though their circumstances varied greatly and required extra doses of pluck. They loved and lost. They laughed and cried. They tried and failed. Many tried again and were victorious. Relationships and community mattered to them. Faith played an important role in their strength and resiliency.
Mollie Kathleen Gortner was one of those women in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
In the spring of 1891, Mollie Kathleen’s son Perry left their home in Colorado Springs as a surveyor to map mining claims in Cripple Creek. All he talked about was the gold there. Wanting to see for herself what the fuss was all about, Mollie Kathleen loaded the family wagon with supplies and joined other wagons headed to Cripple Creek. She set up housekeeping in the log and canvas tent Perry had recently completed.
One day that September, Perry returned home from surveying with stories about seeing a huge herd of elk. Again, Mollie Kathleen decided to go out and see for herself. But she never made it up high enough to see the elk. When Mollie Kathleen stopped to rest, she looked downward and noticed an interesting rock formation winking at her. Pure gold laced in quartz. Having seen several prospectors in the area, Mollie Kathleen forced herself to remain calm and hid the ore sample in her clothing.
Consequently, Mrs. Mollie Kathleen Gortner became the first woman in the Cripple Creek District to discover gold and strike a claim in her own name.
Although Mollie Kathleen staked the claim and owned the mine, it was her son Perry who kept an office out at the Mollie Kathleen Mine. As soon as Mollie Kathleen would set foot on the mine site, the miners would scramble up out of the tunnels. Turns out they were a superstitious lot who refused to be caught in a one-thousand-foot vertical shaft with a woman on the grounds.
In each of the four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, readers meet at least one real-life woman from Cripple Creek history. I introduced Mary Claver Coleman, the Reverend Mother of the Sisters of Mercy, in Two Brides Too Many. In Too Rich for a Bride, business entrepreneur Mollie O’Bryan helped add layers to Ida Sinclair’s journey. Doctor Susan Anderson, known as Doc Susie, came alongside our cast of fictional characters in The Bride Wore Blue. Mollie Kathleen Gortner is the primary real-life woman in Twice a Bride. Like the women in the previous stories, Mollie Kathleen’s portrayal in the story is a fictionalization.
I begin with fact—what I can learn about the woman from research. Then starting with what I know about “her story,” I figure out where her experience might intersect with my main characters in their story.
As a secondary character in Twice a Bride, Mollie Kathleen Gortner plays a pivotal role in Trenton Van Der Veer’s adjustment as a businessman in the Cripple Creek Mining District. Mollie Kathleen also serves as an inspiration to newcomer Willow Raines Peterson, a widow in search of a fresh start.
Fun Fact: The Mollie Kathleen Mine on the outskirt of Cripple Creek, Colorado is open to the public and offers underground tours into the 1,000 foot vertical mine shaft. See what life was like for the Old West hard rock miner. A fun and educational summer stop for families. For more information on the mine and the tour season, go to: http://www.goldminetours.com/goldminetours.com/Home.html.
Have you visited a mine? Gone into an underground mine? Which one?
© 2012 Mona Hodgson, Author and Speaker