My Blog Posts


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 the people, places and the past featured in my books. I also write posts as a guest on other blogs, usually about facets of my Chloe Ellefson adult mysteries. There’s a lot here - have fun exploring!


Below are excerpts and links to the 2021 posts on my Sites and Stories blog and my guest posts on other blogs. Enjoy!

Writer-in-Residence, Week 4

  Photo of view from Harpers House porch by author Kathleen Ernst. My final week at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was bittersweet. I was excited by how much I accomplished, but sad to see the experience come to an end.

The urge to dig deeper into my research while I had the chance conflicted with an equal urge to start capturing ideas on paper. The latter won.

On most days during October I spent some time working in a public spot. I enjoyed answering questions and chatting about the Artist-In-Residence program..." more>>

Posted November 5, 2021.

Writer-in-Residence, Week 3

  Photo of Dry Goods Store at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. "I can’t develop any historical novel without digging into the type of library and archival work I discussed last week. Other research approaches, however, are equally essential.

If you’re familiar with the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, you know I’m often inspired by artifacts. While exploring lesser-known events in Harpers Ferry and the vicinity, the search for material culture took me to the Jefferson County Museum in Charles Town, WV.

Most of my time, though, is spent right in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Living here during my month-long residency enables what I love most: walking the ground. There are layers upon layers of events and stories here."  more>>

Posted October 25, 2021.

Writer-in-Residence, Week 2

  Photo of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Library by author Kathleen Ernst. "My time at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is flying by, and I’m enjoying every minute.

My second week here focused primarily on research. The park library is in a great old brick building near the confluence.

Although I have identified a specific era and themes to explore, I’m also leaving lots of room for discovery." more>>

Posted October 19, 2021.

Writer-in-Residence, Week 1

  Confluence of Potomac and Shenandoah rivers at Harpers Ferry WV photo by author Kathleen Ernst. "I’m all settled in at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park for the month. 

Wondering what a writer-in-residence actually does? Curious about the park? Let me provide a peek!

The park encompasses 4,000 acres at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia." more>>

Posted October 11, 2021.

Virtual Historical Fiction Workshop

  High Street in Harpers Ferry WV photo by author Kathleen Ernst "I am happily settled in as Writer In Residence at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park!

Although I won’t be doing any in-person events during my four-week stay, I am providing an online workshop: Writing Into The Past: Crafting Historical Fiction on Wednesday, October 20 or 27, 2021, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m Eastern Time Zone. more>>

Posted October 4, 2021.

Meet Hanneke Bauer!

  The woman in this historic image inspired bestselling author Kathleen as she created her Hanneke Bauer character. "I'm so happy to introduce you to the protagonist of my new Hanneke Bauer historical mystery series! The first volume, Lies of Omission, will be published on November 30, 2021 by Level Best Books.

I’ve actually been getting to know Hanneke for a long time." more>>

Posted September 9, 2021.

Exciting Discovery

  Handmade loom reed. "After the special event at the Hanka Homestead on August 21, Mr. Ernst and I made a detour so we could visit the Oulu Cultural & Heritage Center in northern Wisconsin.

When our guides took us into the tool shed, I spotted an old handmade loom reed hanging on the wall." more>>

Posted August 30, 2021.

Folk Arts, Fjords, and Fiddles - 2022

  Still image from Chloe Ellefson Norway Tour video with Bestselling Author Kathleen Ernst. "Let’s try this again! After a pandemic-caused delay, I’m thrilled to announce new dates for the Chloe Ellefson-themed tour of Southern Norway.

When I decided on a Norwegian setting for Fiddling With Fate, the 10th volume in my Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, I chose the area that enchanted me most. In partnership with the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society, I invite you to join me in May, 2022, on a trip to the land of Chloe’s ancestors!" more>>

Posted July 14, 2021.

Logistics for the Hanka Homestead Tour

  Photo of The Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum near Baraga Michigan. "I’ve had some questions about carpooling and lodging relevant to the special Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum Tour on Saturday, August 21. This evocative historic site is the setting for the 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Weaver’s Revenge.

The Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum is located in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula." more>>

Posted July 11, 2021.

First, Second, Fortieth

  Partial front cover image of the Balancing poetry book by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst and Little Creek Press. "I’m excited to announce my first book of poetry, my second release of 2021 (with one more to come), and my fortieth book! 

If you’ve enjoyed the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries or my non-fiction A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through The Seasons, I think you’ll like this collection as well. Here’s the scoop: 

The poems in Balancing were inspired by the experiences of women who, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, sought new homes in the Upper Midwest. Few women recorded their struggles and satisfactions, but by juxtaposing research and imagination, Kathleen Ernst breathes new life into their forgotten stories.

Balancing will be released on July 1st by Little Creek Press. more>>

Posted July 2, 2021.

Widow of the Grasses

  Partial image of painting by Albert Edelfelt in the Finnish National Gallery. "That’s what some people in Finland called a woman left behind when her husband immigrated to America.

Sadly, it was not uncommon for desperate poverty to force families to separate. Some men planned to earn what was needed to send passage money to their wives. Others planned to work for a while before returning to Finland in better financial shape. Although it often took years, many families were reunited.

Some women, however, never saw their husbands again. Letters stopped coming, the promised wages never arrived, and they were left alone to wonder what had gone wrong. Effectively widowed, these women were sometimes ostracized by their neighbors, or blamed for their husbands’ departures." more>>

Posted June 18, 2021.

Hanka Homestead Event - Save The Date!

  Photo of Alan Pape helping restore the Hanka Homestead in 1983. Would you like to explore the historic site featured in my 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Weaver’s Revenge? I’m delighted to announce a special event for readers!

I invite you to join me on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum in Pelkie, Michigan.

You’ll enjoy a view of the site from Chloe’s perspective. I look forward to showing you where the action took place, and chatting about how the story developed." more>>

Posted April 8, 2021.

Available For Pre-Order!

  The Weaver's Revenge by Kathleen Ernst front cover image. "My new publisher has listed The Weaver’s Revenge, the 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, for pre-order!

If this title isn’t listed yet at your favorite independent bookstore, it should be soon. more>>

Posted April 2, 2021.

Root Looms - Part 2

  Finnish root loom at Iron County Historical Museum in Hurley WI "In my last post, I wrote about the gorgeous old root looms made by Finnish craftsmen. If you’d like to learn more about root looms and rug weaving, I highly recommend a visit to The Iron County Historical Society Museum in Hurley, Wisconsin.

In 1980 two families donated old looms to the museum, which focuses on the history of Iron County and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula." more>>

Posted March 25, 2021.

Root Looms - Part 1

  Weaver Kaarina Passila at Finnish Root Loom "Chloe was transfixed by the unique weaving apparatus dominating the space. “I love your loom!” she breathed.  Unlike other antique looms she’d seen, all crafted with straight and soulless support beams, this one gloried in knotholes and grain and flowing curves.  (From the 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Weaver’s Revenge.)

For centuries, woodworkers in Finland created what they needed with what they could acquire from local forests. Clever craftsmen considered even crooked trees..." more>>

Posted March 18, 2021.

Finnish Rag Rugs

  Photo of a Finnish woven rag rug at the National Museum of Finland. "Most Chloe Ellefson mysteries celebrate a folk art relevant for the featured ethnic group. When I chose to focus on Finnish immigrants in the 11th book, The Weaver’s Revenge, I wanted to spotlight the tradition of weaving rag rugs.

Practical weavers collected worn clothing, cut the fabric into strips, sewed the strips together, and used them as weft. Although this craft was widely practiced by people of different origins, scholars note that Finns have been most successful at maintaining the tradition." more>>

Posted March 11, 2021.

Why the Hanka Homestead?

  Photo by Kathleen Ernst of Hanka Homestead near Pelkie in Upper Peninsular of Michigan 2020 "Whenever I write a new Chloe Ellefson Mystery, I have the fun of choosing a new historic site or museum to feature in the book. The Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum in Michigran’s Upper Peninsula provides the setting for the forthcoming 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Weaver’s Revenge

Readers are often curious about how I choose settings. It’s a complicated process, so let me share some of the reasons that this site reached the top of the list." more>>

Posted February 25, 2021.

Second Writing Class Offered!

  Elegant ink pen writing on paper graphic. My first Writing Your Family Stories class filled, so I’m offering a second session. We’ll meet virtually from 6:00 – 7:30 PM on February 17 and 24.

Family stories are precious. This winter is the perfect time to capture some of them on paper! These two sessions will provide the motivation to get started, and strategies to help you enjoy the writing process." more>>

Posted January 30, 2021.

Setting Reveal - The Weaver's Revenge - (Video Posted)

  Chloe Ellefson mystery book #11 The Weavers Revenge front cover. "As series readers know, curator Chloe Ellefson visits different historic sites and museums in each mystery. There’s been a lot of speculation about the setting for the 11th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Weaver’s Revenge, which features Finnish heritage.

Over the course of the series I’ve often featured large and/or famous sites. It’s also important to shine some lamplight on lesser-known sites, where a small group of dedicated volunteers is preserving something special.

That’s what I chose to do this time. To view a video introduction to Chloe’s next destination, Michigan’s Hanka Homestead Finnish Museum..." more>>

Posted January 14, 2021.

New Online Writing Class - Registration Open

  Elegant ink pen writing on paper graphic. "I hope you and yours enjoyed a peaceful and safe new year. I also hope the new year brings brighter days for everyone.

One of the things I missed last year was the opportunity to teach writing workshops. So, I’m taking them online. My first offering is “Writing Your Family Stories,” a two-part class this January 19th and 26th. Everyone has stories to tell..." more>>

Posted January 4, 2021.