What Inspired Me to Write Captured by Love | Behind the Scenes with Jody Hedlund

(All I gotta say to introduce this post is I AM SO EXCITED!! You can check out my review of Captured by Love here. I’m such a fan of Jody Hedlund and her books, so having the opportunity to be a part of her blog tour is wonderful! I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! Be sure to hit all the other stops for the rest of the tour too. You can find them here!)

Behind the Scenes of Captured By Love
What Inspired Me to Write the Book

Captured by Love is another book set in my home state of Michigan. It’s actually Book 3 in the Michigan Brides Collection.

The first Michigan book I wrote was set in the 1870′s lumber era in the central part of the state (Unending Devotion). Then my second Michigan book took place in the 1870′s among a farming German immigrant community that lived in the Thumb (A Noble Groom).

As I began to plot out where I could set a third Michigan story, I wanted to find someplace unique and different from what I’d already done in terms of the era and the location. I also was looking for a “real” story, event, or person that might inspire a story.

In the course of my research, I scoured numerous biographies of women who lived in Michigan and influenced the history of the state. One of those women was Agatha de LaVigne who lived on Mackinac Island during the fur-trading era. Not much is known about her early background other than that her father was a French fur-trader and that she was Catholic, illiterate, and had a sister named Theresa.

Later Agatha married an independent fur trader and they raised four children together. Agatha is best remembered for her kindness and care to the poor and disadvantaged. She is known to have fed elderly residents from her kitchen. She died in 1873 and is buried at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Mackinac Island.

Immediately, Agatha’s story sparked my imagination. Even though I didn’t base my entire story around her, I did make the heroine of Captured by Love a compassionate young woman who helps others. Like Agatha, I made my heroine Catholic, illiterate, with a sister named Therese and a fur-trading father. And of course, it seemed only natural to set the story on Mackinac Island where Agatha had lived.

Today, Mackinac Island, is a very popular tourist destination in Michigan. People from all over the Midwest (and country) flock to the tiny northern island during the summer to enjoy the mild weather, beautiful rock formations, bicycling, horse-drawn carriage rides, historical sites, and of course, the fudge!

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Mackinac Island // Photo courtesy of Jody Hedlund

I knew there would be many eras of Mackinac’s history that I could develop into a good story. I even considered setting the book during the era when fudge was brought to the island and developed.

As I continued to research the island and Agatha’s story, I kept coming back to the dangerous fur-trading days when the island was overrun by voyageurs, soldiers, and Indians.

I was especially fascinated by the stories I read of the deprivation and difficulties during the War of 1812, when the island was taken over the by the British. It was an especially turbulent time for the island residents because they faced starvation-like conditions, isolation from other Americans, impending battles, and even deportation for not cooperating with the British.

All of the danger and action was exactly the kind of fodder I like for stories. So it was an easy choice for me to pick Mackinac Island during the War of 1812 as the focal point of Captured by Love. Very few stories are set in that era, so I hope with all the danger and drama that readers will find it not only entertaining but also love learning about such an exciting time in American history.

What about you? Have you ever read any books set in the early 1800′s? Or is that a new era to you? What is your favorite time period for historical fiction?

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Be sure to connect with Jody if you haven’t already!

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Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling books, The Preacher’s Bride, Unending Devotion, and A Noble Groom. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children.

Game of Mugs: House Blends | Guest Post

(Today I’m excited to have Brandon Spencer guest post! He’s a coffee fan and since I’d rather fight dragons than drink coffee, he’s sharing about his love of coffee and this little show called Game of Thrones. Have you heard of it? I don’t watch it (I got enough on my hands with The Walking Dead people!), but I know a lot of people who love it! So enjoy!)

Since the end of Game of Thrones’ third season, I couldn’t stand the wait so I picked up the books and starting blazing through them before the new season premier. Somewhere between the siege of King’s Landing and the Red Wedding I noticed no one in Westeros drinks coffee. No wonder they’re so glum all the time. In the interest of spicing things up, but stopping short of fan fiction, I have narrowed down the coffee habits of the major houses, along with some other notables.

Game of Mugs

Stark – Lattes feel sophisticated and so many people love them. They’re easy to like and feel sophisticated. So are Ned and Robb. But, when all you’re doing is waiting for Winter, you can get bored. And when you’re bored, you begin to practice your latte art. When you practice your latte art, you decide to show the king your creation. And when you do that, he lops off the foam head, and puts Ice in it.

Lannister – In addition to their debts, the Lannisters always pay for the most expensive coffee out there. The sweetness of a Geisha coffee reminds Tyrion of the Dornish wines he loves so very much. But in reality none of them actually drink coffee. But it’s expensive and they just want people to know they have it.

Targaryen – This ancient house prefers the old, rustic taste of Yemeni coffee and it’s earthiness is accentuated by dragon flame. Daenerys’ Dothraki clan would try it but they insist that if they were meant to drink the poison sea in a cup, horses would have invented coffee.

Greyjoy – They don’t brew coffee. Instead they pay the iron price for their caffeination. In the harsh weather of the Iron Islands, they simply chew up the grounds and swallow them. They don’t enjoy it, but the Drowned god demands it.

Frey – Walder Frey invites you over for a party; says he has coffee. He’s had that exact same coffee sitting in the same pot for years. You secretly bring your own and even though he knows you brought it, he continues to spend the whole night trying to pawn off his lukewarm sludge. Until the band plays and he knocks your mug out of your hand, spilling your fresh, hot coffee all over the ground.

Baratheon – Off-Brand Dark Roast. They prefer the taste is overwhelming, simple and straightforward and ultimately leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Robert likes his with pork. Renly prefers a fair amount of sugar and cream. And Stannis’s cup is dark and full of terrors.

Honorable Mentions:
Tully – They prefer a straightforward house blend. Nondescript in every way, but does everything that’s expected.
Davos – Instant Coffee Powder. One minute it’s water, the next it’s coffee. Either way, no one respects it.
Lysa Arryn – Double shots of espresso. Lots of em. How else did she end up so frantic and jittery?
Petyr Baelish – Americano: Wants a seat at the big kid’s table, but still a bit watered down.
Lord Varys – Starbucks Pike Place Roast: No matter where you go, it’s always right there.
Castle Black – Boilerplate coffee. Heated down to a sludge. Because you can’t make fires while out hunting the King Beyond the Wall.

Brandon Spencer nano-roasts magical coffee at Caneland Coffee, a recent coffee startup. His long-term objective is to partner with farmers and non-profits in coffee growing regions to assist some of the great work being down around the globe while also providing tasty, ethically sourced coffee in the US. You can order online at www.canelandcoffee.com or check them out on social media.

Thanks so much Brandon! Do y’all watch the show? You can find out more about Brandon and his coffee company, Caneland Coffee on their website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!

Giving Coffee A Chance | Guest Post by Denise Dykstra

Y’all. Today is the day I have my first ever guest post and I’m beyond excited! You see, it all started when I wanted to have some coffee-related posts on my blog (since I’ve had one beverage related post and I figure that needs to change in 2014), but I hate coffee, so that makes writing a post about coffee a little awkward, but as the Beatles have taught me I can do anything with a little help from my friends!

So please welcome Denise Dykstra from Life With Four Boys…Coffee Please on the blog today! She know’s a thing or two about coffee :).

I love coffee. A lot.

My blog is called Life With Four Boys…Coffee Please and I help with the ministry Praise and Coffee. Coffee is sort of an essential part of me.

My tastes in coffee have evolved over the years and I am sure it will continue to evolve. It’s as if I am on a life long coffee journey. When I was in high school, I began drinking coffee mixed with cocoa. My husband and I spent Sundays our first year of marriage in a coffee shop playing checkers and drinking mochas. When our first of four boys were born, I couldn’t stand coffee. Couldn’t even handle the smell. When our second son was born, my love of coffee returned and has only strengthened over the years.

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My husband drinks Folgers coffee every day. In his to go cup is a mix of sugar and Folger’s mocha cappuccino mix. Once the coffee is poured and mixed, he tops it off with half and half or chocolate milk.

My husband used to bring me mug of coffee every morning but he tells me that my coffee is too complicated to make anymore.

He is right.

I have enjoyed my coffee heavy with flavored cream. Then my mom picked up some coffee for me from a little coffee shop. Once I had finished the two-pound bag of fresh roasted beans I could not go back.

Instructions to make my coffee sound like this… “Grind the beans but not too fine. You want some grit in it so that it isn’t so fine it floats in the coffee. Pour about this much in the French press. How much? I don’t know, I just guesstimate. Pour in the water. Not boiling, that ruins it, but close to boiling. Press down the press. Pour into the cup to, oh, about here and then top with half and half. No, sugar would ruin the smokiness of the beans.”

I have become a coffee snob.

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So every morning he pours his pot of coffee and I press my coffee. It works well for us.

The one thing we do agree on is that coffee simply must be strong. Very strong.

I know there are coffee roasting shops all over the country. When you find one, visit it. They are thrilled to explain all the coffee’s, the blends, how to find the right flavor for you. I appreciate knowing my coffee addiction supports a little coffee shop called Water Street Coffee in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

There is something comforting about a warm cup of coffee. The way it greets you first thing in the morning. The way your hands wrap around a mug on a cold day. The soothing taste as you lose yourself in a good book. The various shops all around the country where you meet up with friends and share life together.

Give coffee a chance. Experiment with the various roasts (right now I am drinking Sumatra, in the summer I often choose a light “blonde” roast) and mixes until you find one that works well with you. Some of you don’t like coffee (Jamie!) and that’s fine. It means more coffee for me.

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Denise Dykstra is a coffee drinking mama who blogs over at Life With Four Boys…Coffee Please any chance she can get when she isn’t helping her truck driving husband on their hobby farm, cooking up something to feed her ravenous four boys or working part time as Librarian Assistant. You can keep up with Denise on Facebook (Life With Four Boys, Coffee Please!) or twitter (@life4boys).