Posts Tagged ‘butter in the well’

Why I wrote Butter in the Well

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Butter in the Well, historical fiction book by Linda K. HubalekTwenty years ago I wrote my first book Butter in the Well. Writing was a new adventure for me, brought on by my husband’s job transfer to another state. I was homesick and started writing about the Swedish woman who left her country and homesteaded on the Kansas prairie that later became my childhood home.

Writing this first book changed my career and, my life. I swerved off this path for a decade while raising buffalo (which could be a book in itself), but I’m back to writing stories about pioneer women again.

Recently I re-read my books to enjoy the stories and photos that brought the characters to life, for both my readers and me.

Please join me as I post special passages from Butter in the Well in my blog to relive the life of a special Swedish immigrant, Kajsa Swenson. I’ll add background tidbits, photos, and website links so you can enjoy “the story behind the story” too.

To get you started, here is the Preface from my book, Butter in the Well. (Copyright 1992 by Linda K. Hubalek)

“This book is about a Swedish emigrant woman who homesteaded Kansas land in 1868. Maja Kajsa Svensson was a young bride of one year when she, her husband, Carl Johan, and 3-month-old daughter, Anna Christina, left Sweden in 1867.

Born to Johan Magnus Andersson and Anna Lisa Mattesdotter on June 15, 1844, in Klevmarken, Sweden, she was the first in her family to marry and the first to move to America.

After receiving an encouraging letter from a friend who had moved and settled in Illinois, the Svenssons set sail for America and settled in Jacksonville, Illinois. Carl worked in his friend’s brickyard but dreamed of farming his own land. The farmland in Illinois had already been bought up, so they needed to look elsewhere. Land agents canvassing Illinois advertised the free land in Kansas, just waiting to be claimed. Although Kajsa would have preferred to stay in Illinois, she accepted Carl’s decision and packed for the trip to Kansas.

This fictionalized account describes Kajsa’s first 20 years on her Kansas farm and how the community developed into the Smoky Valley region of Saline County, Kansas. It is seen through her eyes, as though she were writing in her journal.

I interviewed relatives and neighbors who remember stories of this family and the history of this area. I walked the cemeteries to find the tombstones of Kajsa’s relatives. Some stories, dates, and name spellings have conflicted at times, but I have tried to find the truth by researching church, cemetery, and county records. Old newspapers and books have shed light on the conditions and events that took place in the communities.

The accounts of Kajsa are meant to portray life during the late 1800s in the Smoky Valley of Kansas. Some license has been taken to depict the everyday in the life of a family in this time period.

I have not found pictures of her family prior to 1881, but those of the family and farm in later years reveal much about Kajsa’s life.

Kajsa’s daughter Julia married Peter Olson’s son Joseph, and spent her married life on his family farm directly north of where she was born. “Aunt Julia”, as almost everyone in the neighborhood called her, was like a grandmother to me. I used to take her a May Day basket filled with lilac blooms picked from the bush she helped her mother plant.

But just as important as knowing Kajsa’s family, I know the farm they homesteaded, for I grew up on that very land, roamed its acres and lived in the house that Carl and Kajsa built. Living on the land has given me a depth and feel for the life of the woman portrayed in these pages.

In Kajsa’s photos, she stares me straight in the eye as if challenging me to look into her soul. Kajsa looked like a quiet, determined woman who loved her family and land. Her story ought to be told.”

Want to read more about Kajsa and her life on the Kansas prairie?
Please watch for my next blog…

Welcome Summer

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series, Planting Dreams book series

Festival in Little Sweden USA- Lindsborg, KansasIt’s felt like summer for over a month with our high temperatures and Kansas winds sweeping across the Plains, but now it’s officially here. Thunderstorms are part of the season and they have already been a mainstay this month too. Luckily we’ve had rain, but no damage in our area.

Our little community of Lindsborg, Kansas (known as Little Sweden USA) celebrated the start of summer this last weekend with our 40th annual Midsummer’s Day Festival. The Smoky Valley region of Kansas was settled by Swedish immigrants in 1869 and the heritage of the original homesteaders is still honored in our area today.

Saturday’s celebration included the raising of the maypole, dancing, food, and heritage exhibit booths. We had a heck of a storm with hail, wind, and rain the night before, but Saturday was perfect weather for the festival.

I often wondered while researching and writing both the Butter in the Well and Planting Dreams series what the Swedish immigrants thought of their first full-blown thunderstorm while out in the middle of the Kansas prairie. It’s quite a sight as the clouds mushroom in the big sky and then grows black as it barrels toward you. That’s when a dugout would have been a good place to be….

Välkommen Till Kansas sommar!

Old House Memories

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Old House and lilac bush featured in Butter in the Well book series, by Linda K. Hubalek.Last weekend (before my foot surgery) I took my annual photos of the “Old House” and the 100+ year-old lilac bush that both reside on my parents farmstead.

This house was built by Carl and Kajsa Swenson, the original homesteaders, and my parents and siblings lived in it from 1946 until my parents built a modern home on the farm in 1974. Then the old house was moved back into a shelter belt of trees and used for storage.

The lilac bush was planted by Kajsa and her daughter Julia on the northeast corner of the house, and featured on the cover of my book Looking Back. The driveway to the back of the farmstead was changed when the new house was built and the old house moved, but mom made sure that Kajsa’s lilac was spared.

Looking Back book by Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek. Book 4 in the Butter in the Well book series.The old house has deteriorated a lot this past winter, with the roof and top floor caving down into the first floor. One these days it will be gone so I wanted to take photos of one more lilac season.

Lots of good memories in that wooden structure for me and I hate to see it go, but termites and weather have just about finished its life cycle. At least it will be still be in my memories and in my Butter in the Well book series for my readers to know.

Groupon for Books

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Book series by Linda K. Hubalek

Would you like a good deal?  The first books from three of my series are being featured in a Wichita Groupon right now until March 23, 2011. You get autographed copies of Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread and Planting Dreams, the first book in each of my three pioneer women series.

Individually the books would cost $11.95 (for a total of $35.85, specially priced as a group for $32.95) but your groupon will buy the three books for $14.00 plus the cost of Kansas tax and shipping.

You can read more about it on the Groupon site, or just click on the link on my website to get the details.

And if you’d just prefer to read these endearing pioneer stories as an ebook instead, you can read them on a Kindle or Nook.

It will be interesting to see what happens the next few days with the Groupon. Wish me luck!

Word of Mouth

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Butter in the Well book by Linda K. Hubalek

Butter in the Well

I spent most of yesterday on ebook marketing- posting my book information on some of the hundreds (of thousands) of discussions and websites that I could find on the internet. It’s something that has to be done for people to learn about them, and the best way is to start the wave of “word of mouth” advertising- via the internet.

Marketing is so different now compared to when Butter in the Well, my first book, came out in 1992. Then it was all mailed press releases to reviewers, phone calls to newspapers, and personal appearances at stores and book fairs.

Now I can reach thousands of computer screens with a minimum amount of work, but it has to compete with so much content that’s also being flung into cyberspace. Which is better, marketing now or in the past?

It doesn’t matter… It’s still one person saying (or emailing or tweeting) to another, “Hey, this was a good book and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. You’ll enjoy it too.”

So please enjoy a good book, be it mine or other author’s, and pass on your recommendation. We authors put lots of hours into research, thought and writing in a book- and the main thing we want out of our time is for someone to read and enjoy (or learn) the words we put down on paper.

Have you read a good book recently? Please spread the word about it!