I started my blog, Sites and Stories, to celebrate historic sites - the stories they tell, the stories they inspire. My posts often provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of places and themes featured in my books. I also write occasionally as a guest on other blogs, usually about facets of my Chloe Ellefson adult mystery books published by Midnight Ink. There’s a lot here - have fun exploring!

My Blog Posts

kathleen ernst, sophie the cat, writing, undisclosed location

Below are excerpts and links to the 2017 posts on my Sites and Stories blog and my guest posts on other blogs. Enjoy!

Why Mining For Justice?

Color photo of modern sign for the Wisconsin Historical Society Pendarvis Historic Site. "I have more story ideas banging around in my head than I’ll ever find time to explore. My files about possible historic sites and museums to explore in a Chloe Ellefson mystery are ever-growing. So why did the Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point, WI, rise to the top of the list?" more>>

Posted August 10, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

Chapter A Day

Image of Jim Fleming of the Chapter A Day program on Wisconsin Public Radio "I am delighted to report that the 7th Chloe Ellefson mystery, A Memory of Muskets, was chosen to be shared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s beloved Chapter A Day program. Or as my husband put it, “Holy toboggans! Chloe’s latest adventure is on the radio!” more>>

Posted August 4, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

Beat Stress. Bake.

Color photo of a dish of Plum Flan made by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, using an old Bavarian recipe. Source: Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collection. Chloe Ellefson writes: "I have a maniacal boss, a rewarding but demanding job as curator at a living history museum, and a complicated relationship with a man I adore but don't always understand. I've had lots of practice managing stress. My stress level has inched a bit higher recently. In the middle of trying to plan a special event about the role German immigrants played in the Civil War, a reenactor turned up dead. On site." more>>

Posted July 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog.

Wisconsin's Civil War Draft

American Civil War reenactor Larry Hackney at the Four Mile Inn, at Old World Wisconsin, during a reenactment of the military draft.  Note the lottery wheel on the table. Photographer unknown, taken circa mid-1980s. "The 7th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets, features the challenges faced by newly-arrived immigrants during the Civil War. Two plotlines show how German-born immigrants struggled in the 1860s and how a living history site like Old World Wisconsin can interpret those struggles a century and more later. One challenge that divided Wisconsin’s German-American community was the announcement of a draft in 1862." more>>

Posted June 29, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

A Sampler for Rosina

This sampler was made in 1878 Mrs. Paul Weigel, Sr., the former Anna Franzel, made this sampler in 1878 while working in Milwaukee, now in the collection of the North Wood County Historical Society. Used with permission. Photo by Kathleen Ernst. "Historical objects play an important role in all of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Often, finding an intriguing artifact in a museum collection inspires me to weave it into a story. Less commonly I go looking for an artifact to fill a specific fictional need. That was the case when I decided that Rosina, a fictional German immigrant..." more>> 

Posted June 22, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

Should I Take A Chance?

The German Schultz Farm at Old World Wisconsin, featured in the Chloe Ellefson mystery A Memory of Muskets by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. Photo circa 2015 by the author. Officer Roelke McKenna writes "I finally got to meet Chloe's boss Ralph Petty the other day. I've been hearing about Petty Atrocities for over a year, and she's right about one thing:  Petty is a complete jerk." more>>

Posted June 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog.

Telling Everyone's Stories

Three Revoluntunary War-era reenactors at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

"I have been visiting Williamsburg for 50 years. When I was a kid, most of the stories told were about the white men who struggled and took enormous risks in their effort to create an independent country. What our Founding Fathers did was amazing and important. But there are other stories to tell, too." more>>

Posted June 15, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

Rosina's Cabin

Henry & Barbara Gotten 1855 log cabin, one mile west of the Village of Eagle, Wisconsin. 
“The Old Roelke place” featured in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries is a fictional farm set near Palmyra, Wisconsin. The original cabin on the property plays a key role in the 7th mystery, A Memory of Muskets. I based the cabin on the one built in the 1850s by..." more>>

Posted May 26, 2017 on the Sites And Stories blog.

Happy Constitution Day!

The Norwegian national flag. Source: Wiipedia. Chloe Ellefson writes . . . "If you have a drop of Norwegian blood, you know what May 17th is:  Syttende Mai, or Constitution Day. Since both of my parents are directly descended from immigrants from Norway, I have a whole lot of Norwegian blood. And in my family, Syttende Mai is a big deal." more>>

Posted May 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog.

Chloe’s Book Club: The First Four Years

Partial image of front cover art by Garth Williams of The First Four Years book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. "The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a book I sort of wish I’d never read. This book was not originally published as part of the Little House series. The manuscript, in penciled draft, was discovered after Laura’s death in 1957. Roger MacBride, a Laura scholar and close friend of Rose Wilder Lane, wrote..." more>>

Posted May 15, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

A Lingering Presence

Black & white photo of the Gotten Cabin, near Eagle, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Meeker. Chloe Ellefson writes . . . "Not long ago my guy, Roelke McKenna, showed me his old family farm and invited me to move in. I've never seen him happier. Buying the farm was a huge step for him. Reaching this stage in our relationship was a huge step for us. Knowing I need a certain amount of personal space, Roelke suggested I use the original cabin on the property as my retreat, somewhere to read or paint or whatever. I adored the idea, until..." more>>

Posted April 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog.

Chloe's Book Club: These Happy Golden Years

Partial front book cover image of These Happy Golden Years, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustration by Garth Williams. "The cover of Happy Golden Years reveals the ending, but the book doesn’t begin happily. Instead, Pa is driving Laura across the prairie on a bitterly cold day. Only yesterday she was a school girl; now she was a school teacher. This had happened so suddenly. I remember reading this as a child and being astonished that a fifteen-year-old..." more>>

Posted April 10, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Heirloom Gardening

Partial image of Seed Savers Exchange 2017 catalogue front cover. Chloe Ellefson writes . . . "I really didn't know much about the importance of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and flowers until I started working at a large living history museum, Old World Wisconsin. What I've discovered is that botanists believe we've lost over 90% of our genetic diversity in the last century or so." more>>

Posted March 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog.

Flax To Linen

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst of Chloe Ellefson mystery books spinning flax as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin in 1982. Photographer unknown. "I like to include folk art or craft in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, and A Memory of Muskets is no exception. Rosina, the main character in the historical thread, is a newly-arrived German immigrant with little time for purely decorative handwork, so I decided to feature the process of creating linen." more>>

Posted March 15, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

A Revolutionary Giveaway - Winners!

"Congratulations to Chris Swoboda!  Chris’s name came out of the hat as a winner in my Revolutionary Giveaway. The other six winners entered via my Facebook Author Page." more>>

Posted March 9, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

A Revolutionary Giveaway

Enter Giveaway Now Revolutionary Books Giveaway graphic by Scott Meeker. "Did you know I’ve written two American Girl books set during the Revolutionary War? In addition to Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey With Felicity, I wrote a mystery called Betrayal at Cross Creek. I’m celebrating by giving away seven sets of both books, signed and personalized. To enter..." more>>

Posted March 7, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Chloe's Book Club: Little Town on the Prairie

Partial image of front book cover of Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustration by Garth Williams.

"As a child, this was not one of my favorites—probably because Laura was growing up faster than I was. I’ve found the book much more satisfying as an adult. One of the most poignant moments for me comes on page..." more>>

Posted February 28, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Colonial Girls At Work

Hand made iron bound wooden wagon wheel produced at Colonial Williamsburg historic site in Virginia. Photo by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. "While doing research for Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey With Felicity, I discovered that a few girls in colonial Williamsburg may have been doing work I once thought was open only to boys. Cool!" more>>

Posted February 23, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Bringing Laura Ingalls Wilder's Stories to Life in Quilts - Part 2

Photo of (L-R) authors Kathleen Ernst and Linda Halpin holding Linda's quilt of Laura Ingalls Wilder patterns at the sight of the Ingalls family dugout home on Plum Creek, near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. By Linda Halpin. "It turns out my connection to Laura wasn’t done. Many years after Quilting With Laura was published, I met Kathleen Ernst in one of my classes. Kathleen had written several books for..." more>>

Posted February 21, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Gunpowder and Tea Cakes

Image of a horse-drawn carriage at historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Photo by Kathleen Ernst. "Gunpowder and Tea Cakes is my first book about Felicity Merriman, the American Girl character who lives during the Revolutionary War. It also features a modern girl who travels back in time and meets Felicity in her home town of Williamsburg, Virginia." more>>

Posted February 16, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Bringing Laura Ingalls Wilder's Stories to Life in Quilts - Part 1

Photo of author and quilter Linda Halpin at the reproduction Wilder cabin near Pepin, Wisconsin, holding a quilt she made. Photographer unknown. By Linda Halpin. "Like many, my adventure with Laura started in grade school when I was captivated by her stories. This was long before television brought her to life. She lived in my head, made real by her story telling. As a child, I too began sewing..." more>>

Posted February 14, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Bday Giveaway Winners

Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th Birthday Gratitude Giveaway graphic by Scott Meeker. "Congratulations to Jennifer Motl! Jennifer won a personalized copy of Death on the Prairie:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery. (All of the other winners came from my Facebook page, where we had over a thousand entries!) Thanks to all who entered!"

Posted February 9, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th Bday Gratitude Giveaway

Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th Birthday Gratitude Giveaway graphic by Scott Meeker. "Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on this date in a log cabin in the ‘big woods’ near Pepin, WI. Laura’s beloved Little House books were some of the earliest I read as a child, and certainly influenced my career. In gratitude, I’m giving away 15 personalized copies of my Laura-related Chloe Ellefson mystery, Death on the Prairie. To enter the giveaway..." more>>

Posted February 7, 2017, on the Sites and Stories blog.

Chloe's Book Club Returns

Partial front cover image of Little Town on the Prairie, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams. "I enjoyed discussing the Little House books with readers after Death on the Prairie:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery was published last year. I’ve had some requests to pick up where we left off. What better time to start than Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 150th birthday month? Dust off your copy of Little Town on the Prairie, and in a few weeks..." more>>

Posted February 6, 2017 to the Sites and Stories blog.

Chloe 8 Reveal!

Partial image of the front book cover of the 8th Chloe Ellefson mystery, Mining for Justice, written by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, from publisher Midnight Ink Books. "I am delighted to share the news that I hit “Send” last night, turning in the manuscript for the 8th Chloe Ellefson mystery, Mining For Justice. Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s early Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point." more>>

Posted January 30, 2017 on the Sites and Stories blog.

A Cold Place to Sleep

Photo by Scott Meeker of the turnhead distributor in the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chloe Ellefson writes . . . "Maybe it's my Scandinavian blood, but for the most part, I enjoy winter. Still, when the temps dip below zero, I like nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire. I hope I never take such pleasures for granted. An experience I had last winter taught me a lot about simple blessings. The Minnesota Historical Society was developing plans to turn an abandoned industrial flour mill in Minneapolis into a museum." more>>

Posted January 17, 2017 on the Killer Characters blog