Monday, December 12, 2011


Just recieved my proof copy of "His Sweet Christin" in the mail a few days ago and I've already gotten to making sure its all ready to make available. If you've already read "Into Astrid's Heart," you've met Vilmar Hansson, Astrid's cousin. Vilmar met a young handicapped girl while he was primary school and she quickly became his best friend. "His Sweet Christin" is Vilmar's story. Get to know Astrid and Gabriel even better through this new story. I hope you come to love these new - or not so new - characters once I release "His Sweet Christin" on Amazon.

Happy reading,


Philippians 1:4-6

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In case you've all been wondering, I like to play with GIMP (similar to photoshop - but I like GIMP better) and one of the things I do on my down days is wonder what my book covers would look like if I actually published them through a publishing company who assigned an artist to design them. I'm thinking that they would look an awful lot like this...

I just thought you might like to see a bit of what goes through my head regarding my books. Now, if you're wondering when you can read these books, I will tell you that His Sweet Christin will be offered by special order after the new year. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

His Sweet Christin

I just got my wisdom teeth out... ironically, they do not give me the wisdom to write novels. But with them out, I haven't gained any wisdom either.

Over the past few days, I have written very little, but I have suffered a bit of writers' block lately in the first place. A sore mouth hasn't helped. But in spite of a lack of writing ability, I have managed to get back to work on an early piece. Do you recall my "Spring Valley Girls" series? I published "Into Astrid's Heart" some time ago, and recently, I have gotten back to working on "His Sweet Christin." Forgive me that I have skipped "Lucia's Story." That manuscript is finished, but I have decided to publish it following this one because of the timeline of the stories. Lucia's Story overlaps Into Astrid's Heart as well as His Sweet Christin.

I truly hope that you enjoy His Sweet Christin one it is available on amazon. look for it by the beginning of the new year!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

North Bloomfield

We just returned from North Bloomfield, and I can't express the excitement bottled up inside my chest. We walked every inch of the town and I learned more than I could have imagined. I've been there before, but its memory has dulled in my mind. Now it seems alive and vivid.

I can still see the little winding, forested road that leads into town; slightly inclined. I can see the small Victorian style homes coming into view, and finally the park museum. Opposite the museum, I can see the large grassy lawn and the Skidmoore house with all its historic beauty. I can see the McKillican and Mobley general store and the drug store,barber shop and the King's saloon across from that. The volunteer fire house too! Right next to the drug store with the foundation of the skidmore saloon in between!

And the little road that leads down to Humbug creek... That stands out in my mind's eye. Ian takes Sonny down to the creek in my story. Although, I laugh now. The creek was a "red light" zone. The Chinese and the unscrupulous lived down that was on what I believe was "relief hill road" or something like that. Sonny and Ian would have had to walk a ways before finding a proper place to enjoy the creek.

Many buildings were dismantled when the little mining town came to it's end, but the town still holds a magic to it. It's not like other ghost towns. Bloomfield almost feels like its still alive in many ways. The buildings aren't so run-down and sad looking. I can almost imagine someone from the town's hay day walking out of one of the buildings and greeting some passer-by.

Readers: North Bloomfield is scheduled to shut down by labor day along with many other California state parks. If you don't mind, Write Gov. Brown and tell him not to! North Bloomfield is one of the few sites that tells the history of HYDRAULIC mining - a fantastic part of California history. It would be so sad to see it go and all the artifacts with it.

Happy Reading.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Nevada City

I spent the afternoon walking the inclined streets of Nevada City. Mining relics line the streets and historic buildings keep you moving forward. I kept my eyes open, searching for building that would have existed during the time period I'm writing in.

I peeked into the National hotel and took pictures of the items they had on display. It's been some time since I saw it last. My fresh eyes will better be able to describe it's "L" shaped staircase adjacent to the front entrance and the long, hallway shape to the lobby.

I took pictures of the other buildings, including the church, the Mason's building and one I believe was firehouse.

I discovered that the "Carriage House" was much too far for Allison to walk to - she would have had to send a note =)

Tomorrow we're on our way to North Bloomfield itself. I've been eating up any literature or photographs I can find of the town, but being able to stand in the middle of Main Street and ask all the questions that I long to have answered will be exciting. Allison, Ian and Evelyn are becoming more and more alive!

Happy Reading,


Monday, June 6, 2011

Allison Tisdale

Dearest Diary,

I cannot remember the date. It's quite a shame. I've been napping on and off during my travels and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. I've really lost track of time. No one else traveling with me seems to know either. Sooner or later, I'll have to solve this mystery.

I'm laughing as I write this, The stage keeps throwing its passengers about, slamming them into the sides of the interior. I'm shoulder to shoulder this a heavy set man who tends to stare at the horizon constantly, I have no fear of him seeing my writing. But as I try to write, the stage throws my hand to the left or right so that my handwriting is illegible. I shall not be able to read this very well at at later date.

When we stopped for supper at a rather run-down hotel, I found myself sketching on the corner of a piece of paper. I was trying to imagine Samuel's face. Papa always said I have quite the imagination, whereas Brenton said I amazed him on a daily basis. I'm sure they didn't mean talent. I'm not sure that I'm quite so accurate at sketching people's faces, I believe they were primarily referring to the images that seem to haunt my head and then come out through my pencil.

But now that I look down upon my sketch, I wonder just how marvelous my imagination is. Samuel said his hair is black (or at least he hinted at it). I did not shade in his hair when I drew it, I left it pale, which is absurd. Samuel is not blonde. But looking at my sketch, wouldn't he be handsome if he was? With brilliant blue eyes! Our children would be blonde then, or have dark, gold-colored hair like mine.

Daydreams will get me nowhere. I cannot change who Samuel will be when I meet him.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Spring Valley Girls

I'm not sure if you've met them yet, but some of my favorite characters, who constantly haunt my head, are apart of this series. You might have already met Astrid in my novella, "Into Astrid's Heart." But the Spring Valley Girls series includes many others... members of her family, and some friends. Learn about being Swedish in America during those early days.

As always... I have way too much fun with GIMP.

(Astrid & Lucia, Rebecka, Sari, Ingalill, Amanda, Ella, Christin and Carita)

Just an illustration mind you... to help you get a visual.

I hope you come to love my girls through their stories. They truly have personalities of their own.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A day filled with misconceptions
A hour I dare not remember
So much I do not know
and so much I care not to know
foolishness is beginning to become me
will I ever feel competence?


I love that tale that sounds the best
I like the optomistic
I'm friend to the early bird
and my affection is with the robin red breast
I do not listen to the pessimist
nor the man who frowns
who tells me things that make me sad
and spoils all that is glad.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Truth comes from the messy bits

One of the most heart-wrenching parts of my writing is discovering just how much my characters are apart of me. Every time I read back through a manuscript, I manage to find that one of my character's biggest struggles was mine... at some time or another.

Astrid (Into Astrid's Heart) struggles with rejection and acceptance. Astrid has this terrible blemish and she makes more of it than it is. She believes deep down that no one can accept her because of it. This fear worms its way into her personality. She becomes haughty and rude. She puts others up on a pedestal - holds them to higher standards - because supposedly, they can reach the heights that she believes she can't. It ruins many of her relationships. It takes the love of Gabriel to prove to her that God loves her the way she is, and others too.

Lucia (Lucia's Story) too struggles with rejection - but in a different form. Lucia fears that she'll say the wrong thing when she's around others, and that fear haunts her. It becomes so terrifying for her that she clams up and fears to speak a word to anyone - in a sense, she is mute. Her first love, Wynn proves that he wants to hear whatever she has to say, but when he's gone, and as Christopher Brandin finds a place in her heart, she faces the fear once more. She fears that she'll offend someone who isn't alive to be offended. It takes Chris's persistence and God's work on her heart to show her that she is loved and accepted - not necessarily by everyone, but by those who really matter in her life.

Vilmar Hansson (His Sweet Christin), whom I have yet to introduce, struggles with anger. He puts his faith in Christin to help him control his temper. When Christin leaves Spring Valley, Vilmar finds anger ragging within him, and he gives in to it, letting it take control of him. When Christin returns to Spring Valley, he finds himself calming, but he refuses to consult God concerning everything in his life - even his courtship. His anger has to destroy everything he's tried to attain on his own to show him that God has a part in his life that he never wanted to acknowledge. It takes Christin to show him that a perfect life is one founded in a relationship with Christ, who can defeat even the worst of habits.

Rebecka (Rebecka's Fragile Heart), you might have met her in Into Astrid's Heart, has been named "the Spring Valley Princess." She's the goody two shoes of her cousins. But as people began to point out what a good girl she is, and what a role model she is, the rebellion in Rebecka's heart begins to grow. She wants to defy everything that people expect of her. But her heart is put to the test when her rebellion gets her in trouble. Rebecka has to realize that who she is is who God made her to be, and the only way to find contentment is to thrive where God has put her, instead of trying to change.

I have to laugh, my newest character, Allison (Beyond the Water's Flow - working title) also struggles with rejection and acceptance. Allison left he home in Boston because of rumors that caused her disgrace. Now in North Bloomfield, California, she tries to make a fresh start and become a new person. In Bloomfield, she has no past that others can hold against her - she is new, whole and pure in reputation. It's not an easy task however, to keep who she was out of the new image. It keeps coming back to bite her. Allison has to learn that who she is in God's eyes is all that matters. If she keeps his commandments, then whatever others think of her doesn't matter, because God approves.

Maybe writing is how I deal with the issues in my life. Maybe as the characters, work throught their dilemnas, I find healing as well - I'm not sure. All I know, is that I have a BIG God, and he uses all different kinds of methods to teach me the things he has in store for me. Sometimes I have to learn the hard way... the messy bits of my life rising to the surface for all to see. Other times, he gently guides me to the truth.

But from what I've been told... the best writing, with the best emotions explained, comes from personal experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I've been working on developing Ian's character over the past week, and I think I want to give him a horse. All western doctors need a horse with a personality - at least, that's my opinion.

This is my horse... Flea

She's got more personality than any other horse I know, and I think I'm gonna model Ian's horse after her. Flea is an extremely spirited Arab, and put simply, you just have to love her for who she is. If she doesn't like something, she tosses her head and puts up a fight, and she loved to have her shoulders, neck and chest itched. If you're not itching the right spot, she sways back and forth. It's a rather funny sight.

It'll be interesting to see how Ian's horse turns out. Throw some horse names my way that I can use!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Put some meat on it!

A story isn't a story without some fleshing out. Allison's story is about a fourth of the way done, but I'm finding it's getting harder and harder to write. The ideas for scenes simply aren't coming to me. I have a skeletal structure for the story, but now it needs some meat on it. I can't simply outline what happens for my readers, I have to describe it for my readers and tell them exactly how it happens.

Now for a question....

If I post a sample chapter from Allison's story that gives you an idea of what's going on in her story, will you, my followers, search your minds for some scene ideas? Scenes between Allison and Evelyn, Allison and Abbie (you haven't met her yet), Allison and Ian, Evelyn and Ian, Allison and Sam, Sam and Ian, etc. I cannot promise that your ideas will be used, but they might get my creativity flowing again.

I think I just might have to dedicate this book to the people who help me out with this =)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A scene that isn't working

I am working on a scene is Allison's story. But the creative flow just isn't happening. Have you ever had the desire to write, but whatever you write just doesn't sound right?

At the moment, I'm working on a scene that takes place after an argument. The scene is awkward in itself.

While sitting down for "dinner" - meaning lunch - Evelyn asks Ian to ask the blessing over the meal. For reasons that would give away the story, I cannot explain why Ian is reluctant to do as she asks. Evelyn blows up at Ian over the issue. As the room grows deadly quiet, Ian is called away to attend to a drunk who has tipped his buggy and the lady with him. Evelyn and Allison, who sat quiet and uncomfortable throughout the entire exchange, finished their dinner in silence.

The following scene is the one that bothers me. The purpose of the scene is for Evelyn to give hint at Ian's sorry past. At the moment, I have them washing the dishes, making small talk as Evelyn sweeps the arguement under the rug. Allison is extremely uncomfortable with the way Evelyn and Ian don't resolve their arguement.

If you have any ideas for this scene, let me know =)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The littlest things

Writer's block gets me stuck often enough... and right in the middle of a manuscript too! It drives me absolutely crazy and sometimes, it seems as if there's nothing I can do about it. But after facing this problem time and again, I've begun to notice a trend.

Every time I get writer's block, I pick up a side story that has been sitting on my flash drive forgotten. After working on that side story for a week or so, something always happens to get me back on the original story, newly inspired.

Sometimes the inspiration comes from a scene in that side story, or something that happened during my day. Most often, the inpsiration hits me when I'm doing mundane things... like watering the lawn, or cleaning the bathroom, or picking up after the dogs.

Those little mundane jobs get the creative parts of my head going like nothing else. Entire scenes will play through my mind till I just can't wait to get back to the computer to write it all down. The characters speak to me during those times, exposing the things that make them tick.

Don't let writer's block get you down. Let "the boys/girls in the basement" do some work, as James Scott Bell says.

Happy Writing!

"Humbug Day" at North Bloomfield

Humbug day is exactly a month from today!

On June 11th, North Bloomfield of Malakoff Diggins State park is hosting "Humbug Day" to celebrate the town's history. they are promising food, refreshments, games, tours and of course, the blast from on of the hydraulic monitors! See one of my previous post for a video I found of this special event.

Now, don't go asking one of the park rangers about Allison while you're there (if you do attend) - they won't know what you're talking about. You can tell them that a new and aspiring author is working on a story set in North Bloomfield. But don't go asking about Allie!

It would be an event worth attending whether you're interested in learning more about this "north bloomfield" I've told you so much about, or if you just love the Gold Rush or California History.

Happy writing/reading/traveling =)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

promo cover!

At least... you can call it that. I've been playing around on GIMP for a few days, and I've come up with two possibilities for a promotional cover/poster/whatever for Allison's book.

And then there's this one. I prefer this one myself =)
Post your opinions below. If you have any ideas for something different, let me know.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As time goes by...

I started writing when I was in eight grade and it seems like such a long time ago now. My first story ever took its shape inside a half-used English notebook. The cover was purple and the pages were falling out, but it was completely filled once the story began to really get going. I never finished The Story of Cassandra Brookins, and so it remains in that tattered old notebook, but it really doesn't matter, because I started other writing projects that carried me on to where I am today.

In the eighth grade, I felt like I was an outsider in this group of people who accepted me. So I started writing to feel my miserable hours in class and during recess. Cassandra was a funny thirteen year old girl who played pranks on her older sister and laughed with her twin brother. She carried me to a place where I didn't feel so alone. Writing had caught me by the throat and wasn't about to let go.

Looking back on that first story, I see it for what I wanted it to be when I was thirteen, but I also see the horrible writing mistakes. I used the same words and adjectives over and over again. I see spelling errors and punctuation errors. The mistakes are numerous. But that's were I began.

The next school year, the feeling of being alone in a group of people lingered, and so, I sat down at my computer and tried to write other stories that could take me away. I'd start one and it wouldn't grab me the same way The Story of Cassandra Brookins had, so I'd start another. Then, Into Astrid's Heart began to formulate in my head.

I had just finished reading Lauraine Snelling's A Touch of Grace. She wrote about a Norwegian family making their home in America in a town called Blessing. I was inspired.

You see, my family has a Swedish heritage that has always held interest for me. So I began to plot out the Hansson family tree (forgive me, in Astrid's story, I spelled it Hansen, which is not the Swedish spelling of the surname). I created Great-grandparents, and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Then I saw Astrid's name, right in the middle of the family tree and I smiled. I really liked Astrid Dahlquist. Something about her intrigued me - she seemed to embody so much of me. I could see her fear of rejection and the haughty wall she built up around herself and I saw how much she acted like me.

So I gave Astrid a reason to be that way - I gave her a limp. Then I made her bossy and all these other magnified traits I had at the time. Then I began to write.

It just flowed out of my head, and as Astrid began to solve her problems, I found God working in an incredible way in my life, solving the same issues in me.

... And my writing wasn't all that bad! I had told the story of Astrid in a way I could be proud of. During the time when I kept starting all those new stories that just couldn't grab me, I had learned a lot about how to describe a scene and create dialogue between people. I also had learned about conflict and how to resolve it. Astrid's story really benefited from all the flukes I had written before.

I self-published Into Astrid's Heart in the summer of 2010, and so far, I've sold 13 copies. I know very well that the writing isn't as good as some more professional pieces of fiction, but it holds a special place in my heart, even as my talent grows, ans I look back on it and cringe at all the "was's" "had's" and "ly adverbs," it still reminds me of how far I've come and what writing has taught me and helped me deal with... as time goes by.
After Into Astrid's Heart, I began working on a story about her cousin, Lucia Hansson. Lucia's Story will undergo some editing during this summer, and should be available on by August of 2011 or sooner. the sequel to Lucia's Story, His Sweet Christin, is undergoing some major revsion as well. I cannot say when it will be available. Currently, I am working on His Sweet Christin's sequel, Rebecka's Fragile Heart as well as Allison's Tisdale's story. 

Don't be afraid when you look at your first manuscript and gasp in horror. Writing is a craft, and must be learned through practice. The more you write the better you will become. So set aside your first manuscript (don't throw it away!!!) and start working on another story. Then, after a few months... or years... pull your first manuscript out again and laugh as you compare it to what you're writing now. You'll be surprised at what you've learned. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Editing Process

Allison's story is coming along, but for this story (unlike Into Astrid's Heart) I'm doing my editing a little differently. There are two primary ways of editing a manuscript.
  • editing as you go. i.e. pausing every twenty pages or so and looking for typos and inconsistencies.
  • editing once the rough draft is fully done
Normally, I edit a manuscript once it's complete, but this time, I'm editing as I go. Both techniques have their ups and downs. Editing once it's complete, can be difficult if the story has a major plot problem and may require a lot of revision. Editing as you go can feel, not necessarily be, very time consuming.

For Seat of the Pants writers like me, editing once the manuscript is complete may seem more reasonable. We tend to write as the inspiration hits us, and we don't like stopping in the middle of a scene to go back and look for errors. But Seat of the Pants writers also have a very hard time writing good plots. If you write when the inspiration hits you, try some self discipline and edit as you go, it may be easier to correct plot problems.

For Plotters (writers who spend much of their time planning incredible, layered plots, with well developed characters) editing once you finish a manuscript may be easier, especially if the writing of the story doesn't come as easily to you.

So persevere in the editing process! Both ways can prove difficult. It's hard to take a knife to your creation. And don't be afraid to find someone who you can critique with - someone who really knows what to look for and what editors will look for. My critique partner, Esther, is simply amazing at finding the flaws in my work. It hurts at first, but their advice can be extremely helpful if you take it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Evelyn Davis

North Bloomfield, California
April 23, 1874
Dear Charles,

It took some doing, but I got my Ian over fer supper tonite. He had all these excuses bottled up in him, but none of them put me off. Felt real good to have him sitting across the table from me - like he used to when he was little. Don't ya miss having Maggie and her kids around?

Fer a while, all he could talk about was my foot. Kept asking if it was healing all right. I had to coax a bit, but I got him talking about how he was doing. I got him to talk about his health, and iffen he was lonely. But when I asked about Alistair,  Ian just frowned at me and ranted on and on about being abandoned when he needed him. His face always gits that real funny look when I talk about Alistair. His mouth turns straight as a line and his eyes git real hard. 

He don't like to believe thet God kin give free will and allow bad things to happen. 'Member how we were talking about thet afore ya left? He likes to know thet God won't force him to trust his saving grace, but he don't git how God couldn't have forced his pa to stay. He's real confused. Sometimes I wonder where my little Ian went.

He let me hug him before he trudged back over to thet combination of a clinic and a house he calls "home." Ian stood stiff in my arms, but after a while, he loosened up and hugged me back. Thet boy is so bitter he makes hisself lonely. I think he liked being hugged. I wish his ma were here. He needs her real bad.  

I cain't wait till ya git yerself back here. I miss ya, Charlie. So ya better finish up whatever ya got to finish and come on home to me. Besides, Ian needs ya too. Between you and Rory, thet boy always has a reason to keep going. But now thet Rory's gone, he needs ya.
All my love,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Allison Tisdale

April 23, 1874

Dearest Diary,

I cannot recall a time when I have gone so long without changing my clothes or a decent bath! My traveling frock is brown! (It was sage green) My cheeks are stiff and stained with dirt and tears. The others on the train don't seem to mind the soot at all, but I am not a seasoned traveler, and have yet to become used to the grime. 

I've reread Mr. Hancock's letter over and over again, hoping to see a bit more of his character in his letters. He seems to be very modest and gentlemanly. He keeps catching me off guard, however, every time I read his inquiry as to my being an eastern lady. Are the western raised women not of the same standards as those of us raised int he east?

To pass the time, I "people watch." Mamma always told me that staring is impolite, but on a train, it is almost impossible! There are such interesting characters! Only yesterday, the was a round, balding man that boarded the train. He is sleeping just now, slouched over in his seat just across the isle from me. His cheeks are as pink as I could ever have imagined on a man, and his mustache is long and untrimmed. Every time he breathes, it floats up and then back down to rest against the corners of his mouth! 

There was another lady who boarded yesterday - she's sitting in the seat behind me.She has the most ridiculous hat I have ever laid eyes on. Large plumbs of ostrich feathers cover the crown and dangle down into her face. She keeps blowing on them to get them away from her nose. I suppose they must tickle.

A young girl, about my age actually, sits in the seat across from me. She appeared to be rather normal when I first spotted her and patted the seat across from me so that she would sit - we're both traveling alone. But when she began to speak, I had to school my features. She asks the most outrageous questions!

"Do you like cats with long hair? My cat had long hair. She died shortly before I had to leave. So sad."

"Are you much older than you look? I'm told that I look much too serious for eighteen. you look like you could be twenty-five at least!"

"Do you like blue or black ink? I stained my other traveling costume with blue ink while I was in the carriage. It's useless now. I shan't be able to change clothes at all!"

I have no idea what to think of her. I don't even know if I answered any of her questions. She just rattled on and on about her own answer to the proposed question. When she finally tired of talking incessantly, her head fell back against the seat cushion and she began to snore rather loudly. I could only sigh with relief. I can only hope that my Mr. Hancock is normal enough. But then again, what is normal? I'm sure I'm not.

Till I write again,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Opinions requested

If you've been reading along, following Allison's story, you've probably been tossing ideas around in your head about where her story will go, where it will end. Will she escape her sister's hurtful actions by going to California?

By commenting on this post, I'd like to know what your ideas are. I want to to know what you think will happen to Allison and Ian - hopefully you've met Ian through some of the excerpts from his journal. Obviously, I hope that you haven't formulated some happy ending, problem solved solution for Allie. Something has to go wrong for her when she gets to North Bloomfield =)

Have fun!

List of Characters introduced thus far:
  • Allison Emilia Tisdale
  • Marilyn Tisdale 
  • Caitlyn Tisdale
  • "Papa" Tisdale
  • Ian Alistair McConnell
  • Evelyn Davis
  • Samuel Hancock

Ian McConnell

April 16, 1872

I went to check Sam's sprain today. Turns out he didn't follow my instructions and went to work the following day regardless. It's now twice the size it was when he first came in. I really had to work hard not to pull out my hair. The man is as dense as can be!

While I unbound the ankle and checked it, Sam when on and on about his bet. His friends had been jesting with him earlier in the week about eastern women. Somehow they came to the conclusion that Sam could never land one if he tried and they made a bet of it. Sam must have gained an eastern bride if he won the bet. He kept using the name Allison. That must be the poor lady's name.

Sam's ankle should be fine if he stays off it now - he can't exactly stand on it anyhow - it should be fully healed given a week. If Sam can't stay off it, I'd expect no less than two weeks recovery.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Marilyn Tisdale

My Darling Allie,

What Caitlyn has done breaks my heart, but how can I let you go? You have always been such a dear child! So sweet and loving, with a bit of spirit too. Now I've already said all that I can in hope that you will stay, but now that you are opening this letter, you are already gone.

But even as the train takes you farther and father away from me and all your troubles here in Boston, do not forget that your father and I love you and pray for you constantly, Darling Girl! Do not forget us as you make a life for yourself in California. We are bound by flesh and blood and can never be parted in that sense, but don't let us slip from your mind, even if you must banish all thoughts of Caitlyn.

The package attached to my letter contains a bottle of that cologne I like so much. I hope it is a pleasant reminder every time your wear it. Remember not to be beautiful for anyone but your husband-to-be. If it helps, remember, "least said, soon mended," "grin and bear it," and all those other things I said to you growing up.

I love you more than words can express, Allison.

All my love,


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ian McConnell

April 13, 1874

Sam came stumbling into my clinic with a rather sorry limp. He had been running up and down Main Street yelling, "I won! I won! I won my bet!" Too bad for Sam, he also stepped in a hole and sprained his ankle. It's purple and swollen because after stepping in the hole, he tried to keep running and twisted it. He was moaning like a pathetic baby when he got to my office. I checked the joint and wrapped it. He should feel better after a week, but I told him not to go to work for at least two days if he wants it to heal in a timely manner. Problem is, he's more brawn than brains. His pride always gets the better of him. I feel sorry for the poor woman on the other end of his bet. She's in for a shock.

telegram for Mr. Samuel Hancock of North Bloomfield, California

April 11, 1874
Mr. Samuel Hancock
North Bloomfield, California

I accept offer. STOP. Will start travel once I receive funds. STOP. Looking forward to meeting you. STOP. Allison Tisdale.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

to Miss Allison Tisdale from Mr. Samuel Hancock in North Bloomfield, California

March 20, 1874

Dear Miss Tisdale,

I was real happy to get your reply to my advertisement. You sound like a very nice lady. Do you think you could be happy here with me in North Bloomfield? It's an awful long way away from Boston. If life out in California would be agreeable to you, I will gladly send the money you'll need to travel west.

I am a miner here in Bloomfield for the French Company [North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Co.]. My wages are very honest, I promise you. I'm a church-going man - every Sunday. I don't lie or cheat. I can send you references if you want them. I got light brown hair, brownish colored eyes, and no beard or mustache. I'm five feet, eleven inches tall.

Because of the requirements in my advertisement, I'm sure that you are a good and upstanding lady yourself. Being clean and good. You're from the east and of good family, am I right?

Would you like to correspond some before you start traveling? I'm not sure I have much to say, but I can try my best to answer any questions you may have. If you have no qualms about coming to me soon, I can wire [telegraph] you the money.

I am looking forward to meeting you Miss Tisdale.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The National Exchange Hotel

I'm currently working on an alternate beginning for Allison's story, and I've located my setting!!! It took me a while of sorting through information filled with gaps during the year Allison would have been in the Nevada County area, but I finally found a hotel for her to stay in... the place where her California Panic begins! If I should choose my alternate beginning, you will find Allie in a muddle within her National Exchange Hotel room.

I liked the National Hotel the minute I saw it in my google search, but I couldn't find the details I needed to know if it had been in operation in 1874. But a little more searching revealed that it was! The clue I had been searching for was in a sample page from google books mentioning a flagpole that was erected in front of it in January of 1874!!!

So look for Allie at the National Hotel! Not really. She's fictional. But that's the point of Historical Fiction! Taking real places and dumping a fictional character int he middle of them.

Malakoff Monitor

Within the first twenty pages of Allison's story, Ian tells her about a "monitor." She doesn't quite understand what he is talking about, and he has to explain further. This is the "monitor" that Ian was speaking of. The Minors in Malakoff Diggins pointed these Water Canons at the hillsides to wash away the dirt and reveal the gold hidden within.

Malakoff Diggins

This is where Allison's story takes place. I hope it gives you a good mental picture. =)


 February 26, 1874

A year wished away is forever gone
A day wasted on worry can never be undone
An hour spent fussing over nonsense cannot be regained
A moment spent in silence is of more use than another spent spewing useless talk
A second of hesitation could save you a lifetime of regret

Have I thought my intentions through?
Will I regret them in some later year?
My heart pangs violently with anticipation. 
My future is before me, 
My past is behind.
The person I will become depends on me alone. 

Are the choices I have made wise?
Dear LORD, I pray that they are so!

I have cried all the tears I can and my eyes are dry - my cheeks are stiff. I saw an ad in the paper this morning. A young man in California is seeking a wife. He says she must be of good upbringing and refined. I am both. Has God sent me an answer to my prayers for relief?

I do not go outside any longer. People stare when I pass by, and I cannot bear the contempt in their glares. I told Mamma of this as well as the ad I saw. She cried for me. I think my leaving will be no different than if I die. I know Mamma loves me. When her tears subsided, she told me to write the young man.

I will do so when I finish penning my thoughts on this page. [tear smudge]


Monday, April 25, 2011

Ian Alistair McConnell

February 20, 1874

Evelyn Davis came into the clinic today believing that she had broken the second toe on her right foot. She dropped a flatiron on it. It was a bluish color when she came in and swelling badly. After a brief examination, I was able to convince her that it was not broken. A few days, maybe a week or two should have the toe feeling fine once more. I'll check with her in a few days.

Allison "Sonny" Emilia Tisdale

 February, 1874
Dearest Diary,

I'm not quite sure why Caitlyn is the way she is. We're twins. Shouldn't we be more alike than different? Caitlyn seems to be everything I'm not. She's without scruples, a liar, and O dear me! Yes! A tramp!

For years, it didn't really matter so much that we were so different. I wouldn't have been happy, but I could have lived taking the blame for her escapades. But then the trouble she got into became so much more serious. She began to drink - something a lady should never do - and flirt with men so beneath her. Caitlyn does everything she can now to bring shame to poor Papa, and I have no idea why! Why dear Caitlyn? Why?

She cut bangs, so that her hair looks like mine now. I'm not sure how anyone will be able to tell us apart.It doesn't help that I caught her with my beau last night. I'll confront her when she gets home. She's been gone all night! Oh! What has Caitlyn done now? I'm sure to be blamed since she was with my beau and she looks just like me. She's never stooped this low.

What will I do? I say now that I'll confront her, but when she comes laughing through the door, I'll freeze, completely terrified to say anything. Mamma and Papa will know I'm innocent, but what of everyone else? I'll probably run. That's what I'll do. How will I explain this to everyone? I don't want to explain to everyone. Explaining means exposing Caitlyn for the tramp she is. I still love Caitlyn. I won't do that to her - even if she would do it to me. I'll just leave and start over somewhere. I'm of marriageable age. I'll be fine. I hope. 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

North Bloomfield, California

I'd like to introduce you to the setting of my newest, nameless project (I have yet to think of a title). North Bloomfield is a ghost town of sorts in Nevada County (Northern CA). I've had the privilege of visiting the town once, and would like to do so again before I complete the manuscript.

Mrs. Evelyn Davis' home, where much of the story takes place, is a fictional place in the town, but you will find that the Mercantile/General Store, McKillican's, is a real place. It went through several name changes during the life of the town and closed around 1910 I believe - I'll have to check my research.

If you're trying to picture North Bloomfield, start with how you would imagine a mining town, faded clapboard buildings and bustling dirt streets. Now add some evergreen and deciduous trees - there is a lot of color in the fall. If you travel a few miles west, you will find Malakoff Diggins, a hydraulic mine with high pressure monitors blasting water at the hillsides. If any man gets in the way of those streams of water, he'll be blown away and badly injured.

I hope that I have given you a mental image of where I am placing Allison Tisdale and Ian McConnell. I'll tell you a bit more about my characters later. For now, all you need know, is that Allison is a naive eastern miss turn mail order bride, and Ian is a doctor who can't seen to decide who his father is. And I hope I don't confuse you too much when I throw Sonny McConnell on the scene!

North Bloomfield/Malakoff Diggins

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mt. Hermon

 Mary DeMuth
 Lauraine Snelling
 James Scott Bell
  Mona Hodgson


Mount Hermon Writers' Conference

From April 13th to the 19th, I was up at the Mount Hermon Writers' Conference. It was my first year, and never has so much information been stuffed up in my head.

I had the privilege of attending their Head Start program with Mary DeMuth. Mary was really great and gave me a lot of valuable information about writing. I you don't already know, the use of the words "was" and "had" are not encouraged in the writing business. We were also informed that "ly" adverbs indicate weak verbs. Hear that writers?! Beef up your verb vocabulary!

We had a huge discussion about plot and developing characters in most of the workshops I attended. Plot is huge in a story. It has to hook your reader and keep them from setting the story down. They have to be in constant wonder and worry as to what will happen to the character next. Will they achieve their goal? Hopes? Dreams? Don't forget that you can't drop happy people in Happy Land! It doesn't make for a very interesting story. Characters have to face some sort of opposition - not necessarily an outright Villain - someone whose goal stands in the way of the protagonist.

Many Stories are plot driven, others, are character driven. If you plan to write a character driven novel (you want this for a plot driven novel too!) you need to fully develop your characters. The reader should be fully aware of what your character wants, their inner desires, what they look like, who their friends are, what their faults are... etc. A fully developed character will draw sympathy from your reader - they will be able to relate to the character.

No boring chapters allowed! There's no such thing as an ordinary day. Each chapter must drive the plot somehow. If it can be removed from the manuscript and the story still makes sense - take it out! You'll loose your reader if you don't. And try not to give the back-story at the beginning of the novel. Leak the character's past out slowly through the novel. It creates more interest - especially for mysterious characters or those who have secrets to keep. No wrap-up endings either. End your story when the conflict is resolved.

I hope I have imparted to you some little tidbit that will help with your own writing. Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Hello followers!
My name is Emily Bergstrom, and there is absolutely nothing I'd rather spend the day doing than writing, so I guess blogging is second best. For some time, I have been writing about the fictional Hansson Family. Those stories take place during the 1850's, shortly before the civil war. The first of those stories (there are 3 so far) can be found on amazon.

My newest project is Allison Tisdale. This story takes place in the late 1870's, early 1880's in North Bloomfield California during the Gold Rush. It should be an 80,000 word project upon completion. I'll keep you posted. But as this is a new project, don't be afraid to send me any information you might have that will add interest to the story or help with my research!