The Writing Process Blog Hop

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog, Butter in the Well book series, Kansas Quilter book series, Planting Dreams book series, western romance

Thanks to Terry Odell for invit­ing me to join in the Writ­ing Process Blog Tour, where writ­ers share their writ­ing processes. We were given four ques­tions to answer, so here are my responses.

What am I working on? Patching Home by Linda K. Hubalek

I’m working on Patching Home, the second book of the Kansas Quilter series, which is about my great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt’s trip to the Indian Territory. This will be my twelfth book about pioneer women who homesteaded in Kansas. All my books so far have been based on my ancestors, their original homesteads, and the communities that grew around them. And I’m also putting together the outline for an eight book western romance series, set in 1873 around the Ellsworth, Kansas area, a real cow town back in the cattle drive days. I wrote a short story, The Perfect Homestead Bride for the anthology book, Lassoing a Groom, and I’ll be expanding the theme, only with fictional characters this time instead of real people like past books. Although this anthology is full of lighthearted sweet romance stories, my western series be more in tune with the actual real-life drama pioneer women went through to find a husband and a safe home.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek. Published by Butterfield Books Inc.My first dozen books were based on real people—most of them my direct ancestors—with added real and fiction stories to fill out the time frame these people lived in. My Butter in the Well series was written in the form or diary entries to tell the story of the Swedish immigrant woman that homesteaded the farm I actually grew up on. The Planting Dreams series told of my paternal ancestors’ journey and homesteading days. My Trail of Thread series, written in the form of letters written back to family, tells the story of my maternal ancestors’ wagon train trip to Kansas. The book series continue telling the Bleeding Kansas and Civil War stories that rocked the state and the nation in Thimble of Soil and Stitch of Courage. I’m sure other writers have done similar themes, but my books also include photos of the families and township maps of where they lived.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always been curious about my Swedish ancestors, but I wanted to know more about them than just their birth and death dates. Why did they travel all the way from Sweden to the middle of the Kansas prairie? What did they think of the open plains when they first saw it? I wanted to learn about the actual person’s life, or dream of what it was like before my time. When I researched my next series I wanted to learn and tell how Kansans (and my relatives) were drawn into the Civil War even though all they wanted to do is build a new home for their families. I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, even though my formal education wasn’t for writing. I guess I’m tying my agriculture degree with stories of pioneer women to fulfill the need of both writing and farming.

How does my writing process work?

Trail of Thread by Linda K. HubalekI have over twenty years of research material stashed in the basement, so I go through boxes and pull out files that I want to concentrate on. I put them in my desk drawer so I can easily look up facts and dates I want to add to the book I’m currently writing. Outlines scribbled on note pads become outlines typed up into a word document. Then I add more thoughts and facts, expanding the story line until they become scenes. Sometimes I know exactly where the story is going, and other times a scene might be moved into another book. And facts I find later may cause a story to change, mainly because my books were based on real people whose descendants are now reading the stories of their family, and I want the facts correct for them. I edit each time I read a section, but I like to wait a week or two between the second and third edit because by then I have moved on to other scenes and thoughts. When I read older work later I’m seeing it with a fresh mind again. All books are edited by a professional editor, and then I read them again before formatting  them into both digital and printed versions.  The books are published under Butterfield Books Inc.

Thank you, Terry Odell for including me in this blog tour. I appreciate the chance to connect with both current and future readers through this tour. Click­ing the link in Terry’s name will take you back to her stop on the tour, and you can go back or forward to read other author’s questions. Every author’s responses are unique, so please take a moment to read and enjoy them.

Happy 153rd Birthday, Kansas!

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Today in 1861 Kansas finally become a state, after trying to get statehood for several years.

Stitch of Courage Audio BookHere’s an excerpt from my book Stitch of Courage to give you a feel of what the people felt when they heard the Territory of Kansas had become a state. I wrote this excerpt after reading accounts of that day from the Lawrence newspaper.

January 29, 1861

Covering my ears for what seems the hundredth time, I brace myself for the latest firing of Old Sacramento. Mounted on top of Mount Oread, the cannon echoes throughout the territory. Smoke hangs in the frigid air, slowly dissipating over the area, mixing in with the constant pealing of the church bells. We have had two weeks of heavy snows, but townspeople and country folk alike now ignore the cold and surge the street corners, hugging, laughing, and crying for our good fortune. Hundreds crowd around the bonfires in the snow-covered town, braving the blistering January weather to celebrate the news.

Delivered to Leavenworth by telegraph from Washington, D.C., then by rider to Lawrence, the long-awaited news that Kansas has been admitted to statehood invited the neighborhood to commence a loud celebration at nine o’clock tonight.

The turmoil of the territory is over! Kansas has finally been added to the stars of the Union flag today after seven long years of difficulty and struggle. Our state may be the most poverty stricken state ever to enter the Union, but we’re here today to see it happen. Even if 30,000 people abandoned the state last year because of the drought, others stayed on because they knew the times would get better.

This is a major victory over slavery, the South, and Missouri. The ruins of the fort are visible on top of Mount Oread where the battles for righteousness were fought. They tried to make Kansas a proslavery state, but freedom was ultimately won!

But among the cheering tonight I have overheard groups talking about the discord in the South. While we have fought so hard to enter the Union, there are Southern states leaving it. Until I moved to Kansas and witnessed the territory’s activities, I didn’t understand the feelings and passions that stirred my Kennedy family to get involved in what I viewed as politics. Witnessing the situation and getting older, I realize they were drawn to their actions out of necessity.

When I arrived in the territory in 1858, most of the fighting was over between the proslavers and free-state people. It was the Washington politicians that held up the final admittance to statehood.

My aunt, Margaret Kennedy, eight of her children, and their families and relatives traveled to the Kansas Territory in 1855. My brother, William James, trailed along, got work in a sawmill in Lawrence, and married fellow his traveler Lucinda Shields. Their moving to the new territory put them in the line of danger that threatened their lives and livelihood. Being strong Union patriots, they fought for the free-state issues and, luckily, survived the skirmishes.  (Stitch of Courage © by Linda K. Hubalek)

 I’m glad things worked out 153 years ago, because our prairie state is still a great place to live.
Happy Birthday, Kansas!

 

The Voice of Stitch of Courage

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Maggie Kennedy Pieratt, featured in the book Stitch of Courage by Linda K. Hubalek.

Maggie Kennedy Pieratt

Professional narrator Heather Farrar used her special voice to portray teenager Maggie Kennedy in the audio recording of my book Stitch of Courage. It was so much fun working on this project, and Heather did an excellent job of narrating this story.

My ancestors homesteaded in Kansas in 1854, during the Bleeding Kansas and Civil War era and I wrote their stories in  Stitch of Courage.  The story line is written as Maggie (my great great grandmother) writes to her sister Caroline, describing what was going on during that time frame.

Heather did an excellent job of narrating this story. It’s very rewarding to hear my ancestor come alive through this audiobook. Listening to “Maggie” (through Heather’s voice) made me feel like I was listening to her in person.

When I asked Heather for a quote for a press release, she said, “There are few chances in a narrator’s life when they are given the opportunity to step into the shoes of history through such a vivid character written as Maggie Kennedy. Voicing Maggie from a somewhat naïve’ fifteen year old girl from Ohio, to a matured young woman settled in the new state of Kansas during the Civil War, was not only a privilege, but a pleasure with Linda K. Hubalek’s brilliant and historically engaging writing. ”

Stitch of Courage Audio BookWant to hear a sample of Stitch of Courage now? Just click on this link, then look for the “Listen” button (below the book cover) to “hear” Maggie, my great great grandmother.

Robert Pieratt- Civil War Soldier

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Robert Pieratt, Civil War soldier, 1862.

Robert Pieratt, Civil War soldier, 1862.

Today I’m going through old photos that I’ll include in my next book. These are pictures I took in 2002 with my camera, of old portraits that were in my great uncle’s chest of family history.  Now—eleven years later— I’m scanning, cropping and figuring out where to put in my book, The Kansas Quilter.

As I sort them by family, and study the photos with a magnifying glass, I’m finding clues to my ancestors’ pasts.

For example here’s a photo of Robert Pieratt, probably taken when he enlisted in 1862. He died on Feb. 19, 1863—at the age of 17.

Here’s how I wrote his death in the letter, Feb. 26, 1863 in Stitch of Courage.

“Robert died at Fort Scott on February 19. He had the measles, then succumbed to pneumonia. We barely knew he was sick until Mr. Pieratt got word that he was dead and buried. I curse this war! If it hadn’t been for the Secession, Robert would have been home, alive and well. I can’t stand to think what conditions Robert lived in and must have died in without his family around him in his last hours. In my mind I picture him lying in a spindly cot without enough blankets, no one to bathe his fevered brow, all alone. Did he still have my quilt with him? Did he lose it, or wasn’t it thick enough to keep him warm and safe? Questions keep haunting me, along with his friendly face. I saw it only two months ago!”

(Excerpt from Stitch of Courage © Linda K. Hubalek)

Now look at the photo again and think how bittersweet it would be to have a picture of your son as he’s ready to go to war, and then to hear you’ll never see him again.

And then there’s more in this letter in Stitch of Courage, and you realize…

“The word of Robert’s passing came after his stepmother, Nancy, died of bronchitis on the 20th. She hadn’t been well for the last month but turned worse quickly at the end. The Pieratt children have lost two mothers. I feel their pain as I relive my own loss. Life can be so hard on children. “

The father, John Pieratt (from Trail of Thread) lost a son on the 19th and his wife on the 20th.

These are the emotions I try to portray for my books, because they were real—especially when you find an old photo like this one and know the story behind it…

The Woman’s Role in the Birth of Kansas

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Kansas State Flag

Kansas State Flag

As the state of Kansas celebrates their 152nd birthday this week, one wonders why people decided to venture out into the open prairie of the Great Plains in the first place.

The answer was free land with the 1854 opening of the Territory of Kansas and Nebraska. A surge of settlers took that opportunity to move in, stake out land claims, and build brand new towns.

What role did the woman of the family have in the decision to move, and in the building of a new life out in the middle of nowhere?

While researching for my Trail of Thread book series, I was plagued with the questions the women would be asking of themselves and their husbands about the reason for the move, and how to prepare for it.

What were these women’s feelings when they were told they were moving to an open wilderness without family or towns nearby? How could they decide what to pack and what they must leave behind? At what point did these pioneer women feel they were making progress in starting a new state?

Unfortunately, after the early homesteaders settled in the new territory, the clashes between the free-state and proslavery forces made life hard for all. While the men were out fighting for their picked cause, the women were left at home to build and defend their new homesteads.

Even though women didn’t have a vote in what was going to happen to their state, it was often the women that were holding the state together and talking care of the farms- establishing the state and its future.

So, as the 34th state looks back on its history and ahead to its future, we say thanks to the pioneer women that made Kansas a state.

Review from Melissa’s Lilac Lane Blog

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series

Linda K. Hubalek’s second book in the Trail of Thread series is just as delightful as the first. Join Margaret Ralston Kennedy as she decides to give up a good life in Ohio to join her children in Kansas. You will find her facing droughts, freezing temperatures (it says -40 at one point!), and political upheaval. I really appreciated how strong pioneer women really were. To think of living in a drafty log cabin where you woke up with frost or ice on yourself every morning!

The book addresses Bloody Kansas as our state was torn between slavery and freedom in the mid 1850s. You will recognize characters such as John Brown. By the end of the book, we are on the verge of Civil War.

Thimble of Soil by Linda K. Hubalek.

There is also tons about starting a new household, gardening and of course quilting. I especially enjoyed a newspaper article included at the end of the book documenting Margaret who lived to be 87 years old.

I was touched by how frequently people were killed by plagues and yet, life went on. These women were tough, hardy pioneers who were thrown into a situation where they had to protect their families from raids and cold alike. And yet they stood for what they believed in.

Once again in the form of letters, it is a tale of survival, and you will enjoy it. For more information or to order the book, please visit Hubalek’s website at http://lindahubalek.com.

Reviewed by Melissa Stramel,
(Pattern Designer- enjoy her Etsy Site too!)

 

Why were these Quilts kept?

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Double Wedding Band quilt owned by author Linda HubalekWe had a warm sunny day this week, so I pulled out a tub of quilts I inherited from Lois, my mother-in-law. They had been stored in a cedar chest, made as a high school project by her future husband back in about 1925.

I spread a white tablecloth on the driveway and unfolded the first quilt. The double wedding band quilt is a beautiful display of color, stitching, and handwork. The intricate machine stitching alone had to take days to do. The quilt is a real work of art, in perfect shape, probably rarely used except as a display on the bed for when company came. It could have been a wedding present.

The second quilt I spread out was almost past the “thread bare” stage, faded from years of use and washings. Scraps of fabric, with no color scheme, just made from what was available. I’m sure it dates back to at least my mother-in-law’s days of growing up in the 1920s- 1930s. Researching the pattern, I’d say it is a Double Quartet quilt block pattern featured in Capper’s Weekly in 1927.

Double Quartet Antique Quilt owned by author Linda HubalekThey are both machine stitched, with no signature or date on either quilt.

Lois was a very practical, organized woman, and never seemed attached to mementos from the past. She only kept and used what she needed. So now looking at this old worn out quilt, I wonder who made it, and why did she keep it.

I’m guessing the first quilt was kept because it was a gift, and a treasure due to the workmanship. The second quilt though, even plain and worn out, must have had very special memories attached to it.

My writer’s imagination flashes through many scenarios. Was it on Lois’ bed when growing up or on her sister Helen’s bed who died when the girl was a teenager? Made by a grandmother and used by the grandfather that lived with her family. Or, was it just an old quilt used as a picnic blanket in their first car?

I’ll never know the history of these quilts since the previous owner is now gone. I’m just guessing they were kept for some special reason besides for display and warmth.

Maybe I’ll honor these quilts with new “memories” in one of my future books like I did in the Trail of Thread series …

Pick a Trail of Thread for your Christmas Gift

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Need to finish your Christmas shopping? Or maybe start your shopping?

Trail of Thread (Trail of Thread Series)I heard from one reader that bought a Kindle as a gift, and was downloading books for the recipient to read right away. She had downloaded my TRAIL OF THREAD series and read them before she wrapped the Kindle in Christmas paper! Smart gal!

Remember you can “gift” an ebook to someone by just hitting the “give as a gift” button on the right side of the screen when ordering through Amazon.com. The receiver will get an email notifying them that they have a book to download onto their Kindle.

I like to read paperbacks, but ebooks are very popular so I give both as gifts.

Here’s my pioneer series that has a quilting theme to it for your quilting friends (or yourself if you get a Kindle or Nook for Christmas).

The TRAIL OF THREAD series, written in the form of letters the women have written back home to loved ones, show the thoughts, and process them went through to provide a better life not only their families, but also the state and nation during the troubling times of the Civil War.

In the first book, TRAIL OF THREAD, Deborah and John Pieratt left Kentucky in 1854 when the Territory of Kansas opened to homesteaders. They were part of the thousands of families that packed wagons and headed west for the promise of a new life. This progression leads them to own land for their family of six young children.

THIMBLE OF SOIL, the second book in the series, features Margaret Ralston Kennedy. She was a widow who moved with eight of her thirteen children from Ohio to the Territory Kansas in 1855. She was dedicated to the cause of the North, and helped with the Underground Railroad in both Ohio and Kansas. Margaret’s progression of moving fleeing slaves gave them a change for a safe free life.

Orphaned Maggie Kennedy (my great-great grandmother), portrayed in STITCH OF COURAGE, the last book in the series, traveled to Kansas looking for her brothers as the states fought out the history of the Civil War. While this might seem as a step backwards due to the times, it leads her to marriage and a family of her own.

Sound like a book series someone you know would like? Maybe this idea will finish your holiday shopping!

Kansas Quilter died 40 Years ago

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog, Kansas Quilter book series

Wedding photo for Ira and Kizzie Pieratt

Ira and Kizzie Pieratt

I thought of my great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt several times yesterday. It had been 40 years since she died. Besides my having a good memory for event dates, I’ve been working on the Kansas Quilter book series about her life and the quilts she made. I watched the calendar as her death date approached.

She and husband Ira were married 70 years, and she lived another seven years after he died. My husband and I have been married 35 years this month­—half the amount that my great grandparents were married.

Kizzie and Ira were pioneer children. First generation to be born to my Kansas homesteading ancestors featured in my Trail of Thread book series.

I think of all the changes I’ve seen in my life span, and then compare it to theirs. Huge inventions—electricity, telephones, cars, and airplanes, and so much more—were invented during their lifetime.

Although Kizzie’s been gone for several decades, I still have items we both touched and used…including her quilts she hand stitched decades ago.

Electricity may have changed how we can make quilts, but quilting is still done the same way—with our hands, while thinking of who may touch the quilt in future generations.

Thimble of Soil Quilt

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Quilt made by Margie Lock, featuring quilt blocks from the book, Thimble of Soil by Linda K. HubalekI must admit…
I love hearing from people that have read my books, and how the real pioneer women portrayed in my historical fiction series have touched their lives.

My Trail of Thread series also brought quilters into my reading circle, inspiring them to use the quilt blocks featured in the back of the books for block-of-the-month, quilting clubs, and personal quilt projects.

This month a special reader found me through the internet, wanting to show me a quilt she made featuring quilt blocks from the Trail of Thread series. Margie’s mother gave her my book Thimble of Soil because Margaret Ralston Kennedy, the main character in this book, was actually her own great, great, great grandmother.

Margie picked out twenty patterns, made the blocks using material that looked old-fashioned and hand-stitched the quilt featured with this blog. She embroidered the quilt pattern underneath each design, and a signature plate on the back.

What a great way to commemorate her ancestor, and to have a quilt she has handmade to pass down to her own descendants.

Quilt made by Margie Lock, featuring quilt blocks from the book, Thimble of Soil by Linda K. HubalekAnother plus from her email—I found a cousin from my Kennedy family tree because our great, great, great grandfathers (Michael and Hugh Kennedy) were brothers!

So please email me a note if you have enjoyed reading my books. It keeps me writing, knowing I have touched your hearts with stories and memories about special pioneering women.

Many thanks from the Kansas prairie, Margie…where both of our ancestors lived!

Linda K. Hubalek