Posts Tagged ‘Chloe Ellefson Mystery series’

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!

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!

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!

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!

Shelter and Soar Giveaway!

April 7, 2020

This is not the spring that any of us imagined, and I fervently hope that you and yours are well. Mr. Ernst and I are fine, and grateful for the books that allow us to roam the world from home.  We hope you can do the same.

To help put books in readers’ hands, we’re happy to announce the first “Shelter and Soar” Giveaway. Three readers will get to travel with Chloe and Roelke, while staying safe at home. Each winner will receive a signed and personalized copy of the Chloe Ellefson trade paperback of their choice.Chloe10BooksGraphic600x363w

The Giveaway starts now! To enter, leave a comment below by 11:59 PM (Central US time), Wednesday, April 8, 2020.The three winners, selected randomly from all entries here and on my Facebook Author Page, will be announced here on Thursday the 9th. Good luck!

The Utne Hotel

March 31, 2020

Not many businesses claim a lineage dating back almost 300 years. The Utne Hotel, which can, is known as Norway’s oldest continuously-operating hotel.

The Utne Hotel in 2018.

In 1722 Peder Larsson Børsem was given a license to run a guesthouse in the village of Utne. The village was home to the district court, which kept travelers coming and going. A post office was established in 1826, and steamship travel in 1861. Explorers were followed by tourists.

For years boats beached right in front of the inn. This photo was taken between 1880 and 1887. (National Library of Norway/Wikimedia Commons)

The inn began modestly, with just a living room and one bedroom. Although the inn has grown, those rooms are still in use.

Women have provided much of the Utne Hotel’s hospitality over the years. From 1830 until 1900, Torbjørg Johannesdotter Utne was responsible for keeping the inn running. “Mother Utne,” as she was known, became legendary for making visitors welcome at the guesthouse.

Painting of Mother Utne by Eilif Petersen. (Photographed at the hotel.) In Fiddling With Fate‘s historical timeline, Torhild works for Mother Utne.
Gurid Aga, who ran the inn with her husband Lars from 1918 to 1956. They restored the hotel in 1930. (Photographed at the hotel.)
Hildegunn Aga Blokhus served as hostess in the 1940s. In 1956 she officially took over the hotel from her parents, and served until 1996. She thrilled guests by wearing her Hardanger folk costume and preserving food traditions. She had a fictional cameo appearance in Fiddling With Fate. (Photographed at the hotel.)

The hotel has never lost it’s reputation for warm hospitality and fine food. When I planned to have Chloe and Roelke visit Utne in Fiddling With Fate, the 9th Chloe Ellefson mystery, where else would they stay?

Photo taken between 1945 and 1960. (National Library of Norway/Wikimedia Commons)

They checked into Room 15. In the photo above, its window is just above “Utne Hotel.” As mentioned in Fiddling With Fate, a tragic legend tells of a young woman who jumped from that window after romantic heartbreak.

Room 15, Utne Hotel.
Room 15.

Roelke dubiously eyed the twin beds, pushed together to make a double. “Footboards. We’re both on the tall side for footboards.”

“Who cares, when we have the best room?” Chloe asked happily, as if the prospect of bruised toes was of no importance. “Look at this view!” She crossed to the open window and put her hands on the sill.

View from Room 15, Utne Hotel.
Today the view from Room 15 also includes the ferry dock.

Common areas include many antique pieces that have served the hotel for over a century.

Parlor, Hotel Utne.
A parlor.
Dining Room, Hotel Utne.
The dining room.
Mr. Ernst after an exhausting day of research.

My husband and I enjoyed our stay at the Utne Hotel immensely, so it wasn’t difficult to imagine Chloe’s joy at the opportunity to spend time there too!


What’s Next For Chloe Ellefson

February 6, 2020

Launching the 10th Chloe Ellefson mystery, Fiddling With Fate, was a whirlwind of fun last fall! It was a joy to meet and hear from so many readers. One question came up frequently.

What’s next for Chloe and Roelke?

Over a year ago I learned that my publisher, Midnight Ink, was shutting down. Fiddling With Fate would be the last Chloe book that they printed. The news was a shock.

Still, the announcement did give me a chance, after ten very busy years, to take a deep breath, and take stock. There were two basic questions to answer.

Did I want to keep writing the Chloe series?

For me, the choice was simple. I am not ready to say good-bye to Chloe and Roelke. There are lots more stories, historic places, and ethnic traditions to explore.

And thankfully, as many of you know, I have an amazingly supportive spouse. Mr. Ernst’s take was this:

So what if you don’t have a contract yet for Chloe 11? You didn’t have one when you wrote the first book in the series. If you want to write another Chloe mystery, you should definitely write one.

The second question was equally important.

Did readers want the series to continue, especially after the momentous development in Fiddling?

I can’t speak for all readers, of course. But as I considered options, notes like this one from Sharon B. warmed my heart.

I am currently deep into my third reading of Fiddling With Fate. Though not Norwegian, I feel a kinship to Chloe and miss her company when her stories finish. Please keep her world alive for all of us.

Right now, the only thing I can announce with certainty is that I am working on the 11th book in the series.

My ritual when starting a new book is to select a journal that feels appropriate for the project. This seemed right for Chloe 11.

It’s way too early to share many details, but Chloe 11 does involve a new historic site and ethnic group.

I’ve spent time exploring archival collections, squinting at old photos, driving back roads searching for immigrant barns, and learning about new folk arts and ethnic foodways from local experts.

I’m happy, focused on the work, and gratefully leaving the business end of things to my savvy literary agent.

So while I don’t have specific publication information to share, there will be an 11th Chloe Ellefson mystery. Thank you for your encouragement, and for hanging in there as I find my way through this transition period.

In the meantime…I want to set up another special tour at one of the settings featured in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. If you’d be interested in such a tour, which historic site or museum would be your top choice?

If you need to refresh your memory, click HERE to reach the series page on my website.

Happy reading!