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.

Chloe Ellefson Shelter and Soar Giveaway Winners!

May 7, 2020

Congratulations to Kathy Geisler Blaszczak, Claudia D. Says, and John Sutton! Each won a signed and personalized copy of Fiddling With Fate.

Thanks to all who entered! And…stay tuned for more fun.

Chloe Ellefson Shelter and Soar Giveaway!

May 5, 2020

It’s time for another Giveaway! This time, in celebration of completing my Hardanger Lullaby video, Mr. Ernst and I decided to offer three signed and personalized copies of the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Fiddling With Fate.

Three winners will receive a signed and personalized Fiddling With Fate trade paperback — which has now, thanks to you, been ranked in the top 1% of US print book sales for 175 days!

Enter now to win by leaving a comment below before 11:59 PM (Central US time), this Wednesday, May 6, 2020. One entry per person, please.

The randomly selected winners will be announced the next day here and on my Facebook Author Page.

Be safe, and happy reading!

Hardanger Lullaby

April 29, 2020

On my first trip to Norway, I experienced something special while visiting the Hardanger Folkemuseum’s open-air area.

Our guide, Maria Folkedal, took us into Tveismestova. I found the old farm so compelling that I used a fictionalized version in Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery.

Maria made it easy to imagine living in the building centuries ago.

Tveismestova, Hardanger Folkemuseum. Experts believe the structure is at least 700-800 years old.

Then she sang a lullaby that area mothers have used to soothe their babies for just as long.

It was a magical moment. Now, you can experience it too! Just follow this link to my YouTube channel.

Fiddling With Fate is about mothers and daughters, and Maria’s gift of song offered a new aspect of that theme. How could I not incorporate this experience into the book? Here’s Chloe’s take:

“I’d like to share with you a different aspect to life in the old days on the fjord,” the guide said. “Music has always been incredibly important to Hardanger people. This is a lullaby that local women have sung to their babies for hundreds of years.”

She began to sing. The lullaby, offered in a clear soprano voice, was hauntingly beautiful … and familiar. Chloe closed her eyes, taking it in. Had Amalie Sveinsdatter sung this to baby Marit? Perhaps the lullaby was somehow imprinted in Mom, Chloe thought, and got passed down to me.

Maria singing the lullaby in Tveismestova, August, 2015. (Sorry for the poor quality – it was dark!)

I’m grateful to Maria for sharing her talents, and so happy to share her song with you as well. Enjoy!

Caroline Shelter and Soar Giveaway Winners

April 23, 2020

Congratulations to Shauna Zehr Dupee, Molly McKnight, and Marge Michulsky! Each won copies of Captain of the Ship and Facing the Enemy, signed and personalized, in the Shelter and Soar Giveaway.

Winners were chosen at random from all entries here and on my Facebook Author Page.

Thanks to all who entered! We’ll have another Giveaway soon, so stay tuned.

And if you’d like to learn more about Caroline’s world, plan a visit to Sackets Harbor, NY! It’s Caroline’s home town–and a charming place to visit! Be sure to explore Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site if you’re able to go. The staff is busy working on bringing exhibits outdoors!