The Miner's Lady is the 3rd book in the Land of Shining Water - a 3 book set of independent stories located in late 1890's Minnesota.
I had a lot of fun researching for this book and learning about iron mining. Minnesotans are very proud of their history and seemed pleased to share information.'
I was blessed also to find a book that had actual newspaper accounts for the years of activities in Ely, MN where my story is set. That made it so much fun because then I could have my characters comment on things that were happening around the town.
Ely wasn't a town for the faint of heart. Iron Mining brought tough men and tough living. Murder was often the norm and not the exception. Amidst this you had immigrant families who were doing their best to find the "American Dream" in the Iron Range country.
Minnesota was blessed to have some of the very best iron ore - called Bessemer. Bessemer ore was rich and required very little processing which saved money. It's a fascinating place that I would enjoy writing more about.
I also enjoyed having my characters involved with lacemaking. The main character Chantilly Rosa - usually called Chantel - was named after the Chantilly lace her mother would make. In real life - I named this character for a sweet young girl I met at church. I thought having these women make such delicate and beautiful lace, in the middle of this rough, dirty setting made an interesting contrast of lovely and ugly.
Here's a couple of neat samples of the prized lace.
It was said that no fashionable lady in the late 1800's would be without either a black or white Chantilly shawl. Isn't this one gorgeous?
Chantilly lace is bobbin lace that was originally made in Chantilly, France. It was most often made with black silk thread and utilized for mourning, but by the 1900's white and ivory were equally as popular, with the white and ivory being used for weddings. These days you can get all sorts of colors, but mostly machine made rather than hand made. And that makes sense given the complexity of bobbin lace making. Just look at what you have to deal with.
You'll see in the story that Chantel often tats lace and while I took lessons to learn how to tat - I don't think I'm up to learning bobbin lace making.
In and throughout this series I've mentioned how each of the books focused on a particular group of settlers. In the case of this book, I focused on the Italians and gave a sort of Romeo and Juliette story. I also touched on the Finnish folk who helped to settle this area. It would be fun to write a story focused on them! Maybe later.
I had fun experimenting with Italian recipes and cultural traditions and wove those into the story for flavoring. The entire writing experience was a great deal of fun and I want to share this book with Five Lucky Winners, as well as a beautiful bookmark of the book's cover laminated with a piece of antique Chantilly lace on the back! Respond to this blog and let me know your email address and that you want to be entered into the contest. Winner will be announced on my September 20th blog so mark your calendars and check in at traciepeterson.com and click Journal or watch for the entry at facebook.
Oh and be sure to check out www.FallIntoLoveContest.com and enter for some incredible prizes.
God Bless You!