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 descriptions and links to my 2014 posts on the Sites and Stories blog and guest posts on other blogs. Enjoy!


hand-drawn thank you heart "It’s been a busy year! I worked on three books in 2014. By my rough count I also provided 34 programs of one sort or another. I spent 103 days on the road—researching, writing, and meeting readers. I met Chloe readers who are kindred spirits. I also met lots of amazing girls at Caroline events." more>>

Posted December 31, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Meet Pawel

Illustration from a 19th-century article shows a packer at work. Once each barrel was filled, the lid was nailed on top and it was ready to go "In Tradition of Deceit, the 5th volume in the series, a Polish immigrant named Pawel appears in the historical plotline. Pawel lives in The Bohemian Flats neighborhood in Minneapolis. He works at the Washburn-Crosby Mill, one of the loaders who move packed barrels of flour to the rail corridor within the mill." more>>

Posted December 8, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Another Day In The Life of Chloe Ellefson

Logo of Dru's Book Musings blog by Dru Love. "My day will be spent crawling about a creepy, enormous, long-abandoned flour mill. The Washburn A Mill in Minneapolis, to be exact. It’s a long way from Old World Wisconsin, the rural farm museum where I’m employed as curator of collections." more>>

Posted December 6, 2014 to the Dru's Book Musings blog by Dru Ann Love..

Murder Most Midwestern

Minneapolis Mill City Museum "You may have heard of “Midwestern Nice.” It’s real. I’ve met lots of really nice people since moving to Wisconsin in 1982. That said, I’m finding that the Midwest provides some awesome settings for murder mysteries." more>>

Posted November 19, 2014 to the Escape With Dollycas blog.

Old-Time Cinnamon Jumbles

Photo of a heaping plate of Old-Time Cinnamon Jumbles cookies. "Like Chloe Ellefson, protagonist of my historic sites mysteries, I love to bake. Historic foodways are most fun of all. Tradition of Deceit sees Chloe visiting the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, which is all about historic baking. Since I’m an experiential kind of author, I’ve been busy in the kitchen." more>>

Posted November 12, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.


Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries, Meows blog logo. "Is it ever acceptable to keep a big secret from the one you love? Most of us, I suspect, have confronted that question—which made it perfect to explore in my latest mystery, Tradition of Deceit. As one reviewer noted, “In Ernst’s exciting fifth Chloe Ellefson mystery... everybody has secrets.” (Publisher’s Weekly)." more>>

Posted November 10, 2014 to Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries, Meows blog.

It's All About Power

Buried Under Books blog logo. "As a reader, I need to make a personal connection with a character before I want to share their journey. As a writer, I’ve thought a lot about what makes that happen. Often a human emotion creates the bond. We all know what joy and grief feel like, and when we sense that a character experiences those things in the same way we do, a link is forged." more>>

Posted November 4, 2014 to Lelia Taylor's Buried Under Books blog.

Plot or Place?

Lori's Reading Corner blog logo. "What comes first when planning a new Chloe mystery—plot, or place? The answer, is…neither.  Character development comes first. Although each volume can easily be read as a stand-alone, the series does have an arc. Chloe and Roelke McKenna, a police officer, grow and change in each book—both as individuals, and (now) as a couple. So as I consider the setting for each book..." more>>

Posted October 23, 2014 to Lori's Reading Corner blog.

From Handwork to Hobbies

Killer Hobbies blog logo.  "During my tenure as a curator at Old World Wisconsin, a huge outdoor museum owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, I spent a lot of time learning about the activities that kept 19th-century women busy..." more>>

Posted September 25, 2014 to the Killer Hobbies blog.

Why Milwaukee's Old South Side?

Color photo of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko in Kosciuszko Park on Lincoln Avenue in Milwaukee's Old South Side neighborhood. "If you’ve read any of the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries, you’ve already met Officer Roelke McKenna. Based on reader mail, he’s a popular guy. Well, in Tradition of Deceit, Roelke gets his fair share of page time." more>>

Posted September 24, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Polish Heritage

Folk dress from the Lowicz region, by Irena Czarnecka; card printed in Poland "In previous Chloe books I’ve featured Norwegian, Swiss, and Danish culture. When I began conceptualizing Tradition of Deceit, the 5th Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery, I knew I wanted to celebrate a different ethnic group." more>>

Posted September 18, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Rocco Interviews Kathleen

Rocco the Cat, 'author' of the Cats, Books, and ...More Cats blog  "Meow! I interview author Kathleen Ernst! Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst's thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott." more>>

Posted September 12, 2014 to the Cats, Books, and...More Cats blog.

Why The Mill City Museum?

Mill City Museum sign in Minneapolis, Minnesota  "In Tradition of Deceit, Chloe visits a friend in Minneapolis to help with a proposal to turn a long-abandoned flour mill into a museum. The mystery is set in 1983, when such discussions and plans were underway. The visionaries were ultimately successful, and the Minnesota Historical Society opened the  Mill City Museum in 2003. So why did I choose to feature the Mill City Museum in the fifth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites Mystery?" more>>

Posted September 7, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

It's Up To You!

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst reading as a child.  "I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember. When I was nine or ten, I decided that if reading books was so much fun, writing my own stories would be even better. In a few months my 30th title will be published! People often ask if..." more>>

Posted August 21, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Time Travel

Author Kathleen Ernst as a child at Williamsburg Virginia.  "If you’ve read the original Caroline stories, have you ever wished you could actually meet her? When I was writing the first seven Caroline books, I often wished I could get a real peek at Sackets Harbor as it was during the War of 1812. Well, that’s the idea that inspired American Girl to create a new kind of adventure for..." more>>

Posted August 10, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Welcome to America

Citizenship ceremony at genesee country village and museum on the fourth of july 2013.  "Scott and I spent Independence Day at Genesee Country Village and Museum in New York last year. Having celebrated the 4th of July in 1876 style at Old World Wisconsin for 12 seasons, I was eager to see how another large historic site interpreted the holiday. The first special event of the day, however was not an historic reenactment or period activity. It was a citizenship ceremony..." more>>

Posted July 3, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

A New Look -- And A New Book! -- For Caroline

Book cover of Catch the Wind: My Journey With Caroline written by Kathleen Ernst and published by American Girl. "As some readers know, American Girl is giving the Caroline books, and books about their other historical characters, a new look. Here’s the scoop. A company spokesperson explains the update..." more>>

Posted June 17, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

About Those Trailers...

Black & White photo of Wisconsin State Historical Society Historymobile.  "Readers sometimes wonder if I exaggerated the artifact storage conditions when I wrote Old World Murder. Well, here is one of the trailers Chloe discovers when she begins her job. (When collections care was tacked onto my job as curator of interpretation at Old World Wisconsin in the 1980s, this is what I inherited.)" more>>

Posted June 12, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Old World Wisconsin In Chloe's Day

Photo of Four Mile Inn at Old World Wisconsin in 1980.  "I sometimes forget how much Old World Wisconsin has changed in the past few decades, so I thought it would be fun to share some photos of the site in the early years. The site opened in 1976, with far fewer buildings than guests see today." more>>

Posted May 19, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Special Events for American Girl Fans

Photo of the American Girl Place store in New York City, New York.  "I’ve got some great events scheduled for American Girl fans in the coming months, and I’d love to see you..." more>>

Posted April 28, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Chip Carving

Photo of chip carved candle holder and candle.  "I knew Roelke McKenna needed to accompany Chloe and Mom to Decorah in Heritage of Darkness. Signing him up for a woodworking class wasn’t hard, either; I’d already established in an earlier book that he enjoying carving. The question was: what style of carving should he pursue?..." more>>

Posted April 22, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Pioneer Woman

Ponca City Oklahoma 27-foot tall bronze statue "Confident" sculpted by Bryant Baker installed 1930.  "What image does the phrase “pioneer woman,” evoke for you? That was the question posed in 1926 by E. W. Marland, a wealthy oil guy in Oklahoma, when he hired seventeen prominent sculptors to create three-foot statues depicting a quintessential Pioneer Woman settling the American West. From those, a winning design would be chosen and..."  more>>

Posted March 29, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Seneca Falls

Statues of women suffraget leaders in the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York.  "The Seneca Falls Convention—the first open women’s rights convention in the US—was held July 19-20, 1848. Organizers wanted to discuss “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.” The meeting launched the women’s right movement."  more>>

Posted March 20, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Brick Bakeovens

Author Kathleen Ernst working as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin circa 1983.  "After I posted instructions for making sourdough bread starter from scratch—just as Caroline Abbott might have done—several readers asked about the type of oven Caroline would have used. She and Grandmother used a brick bake oven. Women used..."  more>>

Posted March 11, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Baking Bread With Caroline

Photo of sourdough bread-making ingredients. 

"When I was a kid, I read about a girl in colonial times whose family had kept a crock of sourdough going from generation to generation. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of making bread with sourdough starter ever since. Our great-great-grandmothers used..."  more>>

Posted March 9, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Pioneer Winter

Photo by author Kathleen Ernst of 1853 Fern Hollow Cabin in NE Iowa, owned by Liz Rog and Daniel Rotto.  "I’ve been reading a lot about winter lately. While working on a book project for the Wisconsin Historical Society, I’ve dug out a lot of primary accounts from European and Yankee immigrants settling in the Upper Midwest in the 1800s. Not surprisingly..."  more>>

Posted March 2, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Norwegian Shingles

rosemaled wooden shingles Norske Museum Norway illinois  "One of the many wonderful things about taking a folkart class at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is meeting fellow students. Last summer I met Lynn Sove Maxson, who told me about a wonderful project. Lynn is an active volunteer at the Norsk Museum in Norway, Illinois. The community, founded in 1834, marks the first permanent Norwegian settlement in North America."  more>>

Posted February , 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Winter in Mineral Point

Color photo of a stone cottage at Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  "Mineral Point, in southwestern Wisconsin, is one of my favorite towns. A lead mining boom attracted early prospectors. In 1829, the population of Mineral Point was greater than Milwaukee and Chicago combined! In the 1830s, experienced miners from Cornwall arrived and settled in. I’ve traveled to Mineral Point many times to visit Pendarvis, a state historic site that preserves the homes of several Cornish immigrants. But until recently..."  more>>

Posted February 6, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

An 1812 Gunboat

Exhibit artwork by David Kanietakeron and Peter Rindlisbacher.  "When I began planning the Caroline Abbott books for American Girl, I quickly decided to make Caroline’s father a shipbuilder. The war in the Great Lakes was largely a naval war, and I wanted Caroline and her family to be part of it. There was a large and well documented naval shipyard in Sackets Harbor, New York. Builders there worked on huge ships like the Oneida. I squeezed the fictional Abbott’s Shipyard just down the shore from..."  more>>

Posted January 20, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.

Postcard From Angela

Color photo of woven Hardanger heart hanging in author Kathleen Ernst's kitchen window.
"I received an amazingly wonderful gift a week or so ago when a postcard arrived in the mail. The postcard itself was from a copy of Midnight in Lonesome Hollow, one of my Kit mysteries from American Girl. It was forwarded to me from the publisher. I’d really, really like to write back to Angela, and tell her how much her words mean to me. Unfortunately, no return address was included. So this seems like a good time and place to..."  more>>

Posted January 1, 2014 to Kathleen's Sites and Stories blog.