The Weaver’s Revenge – Clues, Batch 1

September 16, 2020

I’ve been sharing some clues about the 11th Chloe Ellefson mystery on Facebook, and I don’t want blog readers to miss the fun!

Each week in September and October I will post a photo that represents something in the the forthcoming The Weaver’s Revenge. It might be a major element, or it might be a small detail. Here are the first three.

What do you think? Stay tuned—there will be more clues to come!

My New Mystery Series!

August 14, 2020

I am excited to announce my new historical series, The Hanneke Bauer Mysteries! I have signed a three-book contract with Level Best Books.

This project has been in the works for a long time.

Twelve years ago, I completed the manuscript of the first Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Old World Murder. While my agent shopped for a publisher, I began writing a historical mystery.

I was halfway through that manuscript when Old World Murder sold. For the next decade I kept busy writing the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, children’s books for American Girl, and one nonfiction book for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

When my former publisher announced they were closing, and I had time to catch my breath, I decided to finish the half-written historical. In June, I submitted the complete manuscript to Level Best Books. The editor who read my submission made an offer—and asked for two more books featuring the same main character.

The press is owned and operated by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Verena Rose, and Harriette Sackler. These three dynamos have aided the mystery community in many ways, including serving on the board of Malice Domestic, an annual fan convention that celebrates the traditional mystery. I’ve attended Malice many times, and seen these women in action.

Equally appealing, Level Best Books’ Historia imprint is devoted entirely to historical mysteries! I’m thrilled to be working with an editor who loves history as much as I do.

The first Hanneke Bauer book, which is set in Wisconsin, will be published in November, 2021. The book’s time period and theme intrigue me, and I think they may intrigue you as well! I’ll share more insights a little later.  

Photo by Kay Klubertanz

I want to assure readers that launching the Hanneke Bauer Mysteries does not mean I’m ending the Chloe Ellefson series. In fact, I’ve already chosen a location for the Chloe 12.

So, settle in! There are all kinds of reading adventures on the horizon.

Chloe 11 Mystery is a Go

August 7, 2020

The Chloe Ellefson Mystery series will continue!

I’m delighted to report that The Weaver’s Revenge: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery will be published by Three Towers Press, an imprint of HenschelHaus Publishing.

Reaching this point has been quite a journey. My previous publisher closed (read more here) and my long-time agent and I parted ways. It’s been stressful, but as so often happens, the turmoil also gave me time to reflect about my vision for continuing the series.

What I did not want was to start a lengthy submission process to unknown editors, unfamiliar with Wisconsin, at distant companies.

That’s why I’m so delighted to have found at home at Milwaukee’s Three Towers Press.

I’ve crossed paths with publisher Kira Henschel a few times over the years. She was already familiar with the Chloe series, which was a great starting point for this project.

We’ve since discovered all sorts of connections ranging from a shared childhood love of certain books to the fact that Kira used to live about twenty miles from Old World Wisconsin. Some of her visits coincided with my time as a frontline interpreter at the historic site. We may have chatted about immigrant history back in the 1980s.

Although an exact publication date has not yet been set, I expect a Spring, 2021 release. (And when the book is available for pre-order, I will announce all the details.) I look forward to sharing some insights about The Weaver’s Revenge in the months to come.

Amazingly wonderful readers, you made this possible. Every time you purchased a book, borrowed one from the library, or recommended the series to a friend, you helped keep the series viable. Your loyalty led to a new contract, and I am truly grateful!

Authors Reading Aloud

July 18, 2020

I’m excited to announce my first Facebook Live presentation! It’s scheduled for Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 6 PM Central Time, 7 PM Eastern.

I’ll be chatting and reading aloud from my first published novel, The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry. I’ll also do my best to answer your questions.

It’s easy to connect. You can learn more, and access the program, by clicking HERE.

Although I have lived in Wisconsin for many years, I spent a lot of time roaming Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the surrounding area when I was young.

Taken on Maryland Heights, late 1970s.

Those explorations helped me understand how story and place are entwined. That foundation has guided my writing ever since.

I hope you can join me!

I’m grateful to program hosts Writers Reading Aloud and Harpers Ferry Park Association.

Kids’ Books Giveaway Winners!

July 2, 2020

Congratulations to Brenda Fay, Kimberly Krach Holder, and Gladys Roszkowski! Each won signed and personalized copies of my three History Mysteries to enjoy themselves or pass along to young readers.

Winners were chosen at random from all entries here and on my Facebook Author page. Thanks to all who entered!

Kids’ Books Giveaway!

June 30, 2020

It’s time for a Giveaway!

As the author of over two dozen children’s books, I know how important it is today that young readers are able to travel to distant times and places — while staying safe at home. 

Three lucky people will each win my three History Mystery books, originally published by American Girl.

The randomly selected winners will receive signed and personalized, softcover copies of Betrayal at Cross Creek,  Trouble at Fort La Pointe, and Whistler in the Dark.

Enter now to win! Just leave a comment below by 11:59 PM (Central US time), this Wednesday, July 1, 2020. One entry per person, please.

The winners, randomly chosen from all entries here on my blog and on my Facebook Author page, will be announced the next day.

As a child, I spent countless hours lost in books (thanks, Mom and Dad).  It’s a privilege to share that joy with young readers now.  As these difficult times continue, I hope you all can escape into engrossing stories from time to time.  Stay well, and good luck!

Symbols

June 4, 2020

Norwegian people have used symbols to express important thoughts since ancient times. Even simple carved, painted, or stitched motifs on building or folk art often had important meanings.

Fiddling With Fate:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery

Agnete Sivertsen, director of the Hardanger Folkemuseum in Utne, introduced me to the ritual use of symbols in old Norway while helping me identify an artifact handaplagg (hand cloth) to use as a prototype for one described in Fiddling With Fate, The 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery.

Hand cloths were traditionally worn during weddings in the Hardanger region. The geometric motifs stitched into this cloth are more than pretty designs. They have meaning.

After showing me the cloth, Agnete took me to the Hardanger fiddle gallery. The intricate designs embellishing many old fiddles are similar to the designs embroidered in the handaplagg.

Director Agnete Sivertsen, Hardanger Folk Museum.

My fictional handaplagg is introduced in 1838, when Gudrun stitches symbols into a handcloth for her granddaughter Lisbet to wear for her wedding.

Gudrun spread the cloth she’d been stitching over her lap. It was old, but she’d cared for it well. The linen was still crisp; the original black embroidery silk still dark and even. Her own grandmother had stitched her blessings and fears into this cloth. Most of the symbolism Gudrun understood, but she’d been young when her grandmother died.

The maker is unknown, but the handcloth is believed to date back to the 1700s.

Are there messages in the patterns that I’ve missed? Gudrun wondered, touching the old threads with a gnarled finger. Have I misinterpreted something I’m meant to pass on? Will coming generations understand what I’ve contributed?

When Chloe fictionally inherits a similar hand cloth, she takes it with her to Norway. She gradually discovers some of the meaning incorporated into her cloth—and many other types of folk art as well.

Squares like the one below represent agricultural fields; smaller stitches within represent seeds. Such motifs reflected hopes of a fertile marriage.

Detail of the handcloth pictured above. Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne, Norway.
Inked design on fiddle. Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne, Norway.

Circles and spirals were often used to symbolize male power.

Fiddle, Hardanger Folkemuseum, Utne.

Ram’s horns (the reciprocal spirals at the bottom of the mangle board shown below) were invoked to encourage male fertility.

Mangleboard, Utne Hotel, Utne.

Sun symbols summoned all that was good and warm and holy. 

Stave container, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
Tankard, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa.

Some symbols protected the family and farm. For example, crooked designs like those below may have been intended to confuse and drive away evil spirits.

Kroting (chalk painting) done during a class at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

The stitched figures below may represent the disir, spirits who guarded women and linked their families from one generation to the next throughout time.

Embroidered cloth. Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo, Norway. (My apologies for the poor image quality.)

At the end of the book, Chloe asks an expert to share her thoughts about the symbols on her handaplagg.

Sonja smiled. “I think the women in your family wanted to protect their daughters and granddaughters from evil, and to bless their lives with love and balance and holy light.” 

Love and balance and holy light, Chloe thought. Who could ask for more? 

Do any symbols appear within your own family heirlooms or ethnic heritage? Have you included any in your own handwork? Feel free to share!

* * *

Would you like to learn more about symbolism found in Norwegian folk art—up close and personal? Join me on a special tour, Folk Art, Fjords, & Fiddles: Travel To Norway With Author Kathleen Ernst.

Travel With Me To Norway!

May 17, 2020

I write about special historic places in each of my Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, and nothing makes me happier than sharing them with readers.

Well, guess what?

I’ve teamed up with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society to offer a trip to Southern Norway—the land of Chloe’s ancestors! Click the link below to see what we have in store.

When I decided on a Norwegian setting for Fiddling With Fate, the 10th volume in my Chloe Ellefson Mystery series, I chose the area that enchanted me most. Now, you can experience the Hardanger Region as well!

Important note:  Although we’re making plans for a stupendous trip, no one can predict the future in these challenging times.  We understand.  We also know that anticipating an adventure can relieve stress!  If the pandemic makes it necessary, the trip will be postponed for a year (with a possible adjustment in price), not canceled.

For more information contact:

Group Travel Directors
952-885-2133
800-747-2255 ext. 133
jtollund@gtd.org
www.gtd.org

We also have a Tour Norway With Kathleen website created just for the adventure! It’s your portal for trip information, blog posts, and much more.

I am incredibly excited about this trip. I hope you can join us!

Exciting Announcement Coming Soon!

May 10, 2020

You asked for it.  I listened. 

Intrigued? 

I’ve partnered with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society on a very special project. It might be just the thing to keep you dreaming of brighter days!

The Driftless Historium is operated by the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society.

Watch for a big announcement here on May 17—we think Syttende Mai is the perfect day to share the news!

Save The NEW Date!

May 9, 2020

Due to the pandemic, my friends at the Belgian Heritage Center and I have decided to postpone the special Chloe tour scheduled for this summer.

The NEW date is Saturday, July 10, 2021. The tour plan outlined below remains the same. We all need things to look forward to, right?

The 9th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Lacemaker’s Secret, takes place in northeast Wisconsin where early Belgian immigrants made their homes.

When readers asked for a special book-themed tour of the area, I turned to my friends at the Belgian Heritage Center in Brussels, WI.

We’ve planned a very special excursion for readers on Saturday, July 11, 2020. I hope you’ll join Mr. Ernst and me as we explore featured locations and learn about the inspiring history of one of Wisconsin’s lesser-known ethnic groups.

Activities will include:

  • Great Fire Presentation

This powerful program will be provided by Barb Chisholm, historian at the Belgian Heritage Center. The Great Fire, which happened on October 8, 1871, was devastating for southern Door County’s Belgian community. Two of Barb’s ancestors survived the fire by hiding in a well, and part of her presentation shares her great-grandmother’s experience.

  • Guided Bus Tour of Namur National Landmark Historic District

Experience Belgian culture and tradition on a narrated tour of the largest Belgian settlement in the United States. The tour will include Belgian architecture, Roadside Chapels, and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

  • The Lacemaker’s Secret Illustrated Presentation

Learn more about the stories, places, and artifacts that inspired Chloe’s—and Seraphine’s—stories.

  • Time to explore the Belgian Heritage Center’s exhibits.
  • Traditional Lunch of Booyah, Bread, & Belgian Pie.
  • Optional add-on tour of Heritage Hill State Park’s Belgian Farm (Friday)

Space will be limited, so save the date!

When the time is right I will announce registration here on my blog, in an email to those signed up for my mailing list, and on my Facebook Author Page.