Posts Tagged: WaterBrook Press

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…)

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? 

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

Women in History: Mary Claver Coleman

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.

Research Trip for The Quilted Heart: 1st Stop, Gateway Arch

Me in Arch

In March 2012, after thirteen years, I returned to St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri. This time, as a historical novelist writing for WaterBrook Multnomah, to do research for my new series, The Quilted Heart. The post Civil War mid-1860s provides the historical backdrop for my three Quilted Heart eBook novellas.

First stop: The Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion in St. Louis. Everything about the grounds and the Arch mesmorized me, but the museum…well, it was like a candy store with all my favorite sweets. Props from American history.

SL Arch in setting

The park at the Gateway Arch

Going Up inside the Gateway Arch

Going Up inside the Gateway Arch

Hubby Bob inside Gateway Arch

Hubby Bob inside Gateway Arch

SL Museum covered wagon

The Quilted Heart novellas, the Prequel to a wagon train series

Already daydreaming for the next series

Already daydreaming for the next series

Less than one year later, Dandelions on the Wind, the first of The Quilted Heart Novellas released, and is now available as an exclusive eBook.

1st of 3 Novellas in The Qilted Heart Series

Dandelions on the Wind

Bending Toward the Sun

Ripples Along the Shore

Do you have a favorite museum? Where is it?

Bob’s Corner: No E-Reader, No Problem

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

Bob Hodgson, resident techie, chief cook, and dapper driver for book signings.

Howdy from Bob’s corner!

TODAY is Release Day for Dandelions on the Wind, the first novella in Mona’s new series, The Quilted Heart. The three mid-1860s stories are available this spring exlusively in e-Book format, but you don’t need a fancy schmancy handheld e-Reader to read Dandelions on the Wind.

Since you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you already have a computer, iPod/iPad/iPhone, Android tablet, or smart phone. That means you have the ability to install a free app that will allow you to enjoy the new series (and all of Mona’s historical fiction) on your device.

The app that seems the universal choice is the Kindle app, available from the Amazon.com website. All compatible platforms are listed on the site, including those with a fruit logo, but keep reading for an important caveat.

If you have a PC or Android, you can purchase the books in Amazon/Kindle, then read it on any device with the Kindle app installed.

If you own a Mac and iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can and should install the iBook app from Apple. Keep in mind that if you use an Apple product, they do not allow what are referred to as in-app purchases. So, with a Kindle app, you can read the book, but you will have to purchase it on some other device. You would be ahead to keep it all in-house.

E-Books are not transferable between different brands of e-Readers. My advice is to go with the strongest brand for you, so you don’t have to re-purchase your books if you change readers.  Kindle and iBooks both allow you to read your books on any of your compatible devices. Start on your desktop, and continue on your handheld.

There are other readers available. If you plan on purchasing one of them, you would want to go to their website and see about downloadable readers for your current device. Then, when you buy that reader in the future, you will be able to transfer the books to your device.

I hope I have not confused the matter in my “simple” explanation. If you have any further questions, go to the website of your device or operating system. They get paid to make it complicated.

CLICK HERE to read and excerpt from Dandelions on the Wind and to order from your favorite eBookseller.

Good reading!

The bob

The Quilted Heart Novellas

The Quilted Heart Novellas

Miss Hattie Reminisces About Saint Charles

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.

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

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.

The Quilted Heart and Prairie Song 2

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

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