March 27, 2013

Author's Notes: What Was the Inspiration for The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice?

While researching nineteenth century orphanages in Minneapolis and St. Paul for my first book, Big Stone Heart, I happened upon an article in the periodical Minnesota History entitled "With Wise and Benevolent Purpose; Poor Children and the State Public School at Owatonna, 1885-1915" by Priscilla Ferguson Clement (Spring, 1984). The State School, as it was called, was established by law, opening in 1886 with the purpose of transferring children from poorhouses and from impoverished natural families to farm homes after a period of interim institutionalization.  One of the provisions of the law was to allow indigent parents to commit their children to the School.  Once the parent or parents signed the commitment papers, the children became a ward of the state.  All relationships with the parents were severed. Although the intent was honorable, as so often happens, there were unexpected consequences.

What must it have felt like to be cast aside by their parents, abandoned, left in an institution.  How would  these children have coped with the hurt, the resentment, the anger?  Thus was born the Secret Society of Sugar and Spice: a group of girls who shared a similar fate; who banded together to save runaway girls from suffering as they had suffered; whose mission helped dull the pain by giving purpose to their lives.

March 11, 2013

New Book Now Available!!

My new book, The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice, is now available in print paperback and e-book at and and in e-book format at  Here is the back cover blurb:

 Her name is Mace.  Like the spice. And the weapon.  At sixteen, she is the leader of the Secret Society of Sugar and Spice, a group of girls who are inmates of the Home for Abandoned and Orphaned Children and whose lives are only made bearable by their mission to rescue runaways from the streets of St. Paul, Minnesota. But now, in 1883, when the Secret Society is called upon to rescue Claire Sargent, a rich privileged girl who is being abused by her stepfather, their world is turned upside down and nothing is what it seems.  When Mace’s father reappears at the Home and a gang of thugs searches for Claire, Mace, too, becomes a runaway and flees into a world where she must learn that enemies can become friends and hatred can turn into forgiveness.