Rose here: Many of Sherri Wilson Johnson’s writing dreams came true this past week when her debut novella “The Bridge Between Us” was released by Barbour in “The Erie Canal Brides Collection.” I’ve already read this book, and really enjoyed it.
Guest post by Sherri Wilson Johnson
In The Bridge Between Us, Susannah Higley is waiting to find out if her wax flowers have won the prize in the Orleans County Fair. If she wins, her flowers will go to New York City for the state competition. Winning the prize money in the state competition will not only allow Susannah the opportunity to sell her flowers in Manhattan businesses, but will also help her Pa’s struggling lumberyard.
Wax flowers have been popular for generations. In fact, Queen Victoria loved them so much, it is said that between 10,000 and 15,000 wax flowers were crafted for her wedding on February 10, 1840.
Susannah Higley’s mother taught her how to make wax flowers when she was a little girl, and after Mother passed, Susannah continued making them to relieve her grief and to keep her mother close to her heart.
Susannah’s wax flower kit was an ornate black metal box. Inside were patterns, brushes, tints and wax. While she enjoyed making red roses and yellow geraniums, her favorite flower was the violet.
One must have not only talent, but patience to make wax flowers. To make a violet or any flower or fruit, the first step was to melt the wax. Then the fashioning began. Taking a wooden plunger, Susannah would dip it into a small container filled with soapy water then into the melted wax and then back into the soapy water. The thin wax could then be peeled off the plunger and spread onto the flower form. Susannah would wait until the wax was set and then she would brush the purple and white tint onto the wax violet petal. She would continue to do this until she had all the petals she desired. She would make the leaves in the same fashion. Once everything was set, she would attach the petals and leaves to wires and create bouquets. To preserve her arrangements, she placed them under a glass dome and displayed them in her home, her church and at the state fair!
And now she waits to see if she has successfully caught the attention of merchants in New York City, a city she dreams of visiting one day.
Here’s a link to see some flowers and a modeling kit: https://www.kew.org/blogs/archived-blogs/wax-wonders
First page of the book:
September 28, 1859
Albion, New York
The aroma of boiled peanuts and fried dough traveled along the crisp September breeze and tickled Susannah Higley’s nose as exhilaration over the day’s events delighted her heart. She had never experienced a Wednesday like this in all her twenty-three years. Waiting for the results of the wax flower contest and hoping a blue ribbon and prize money would be hers,she stood on the three-arched, iron Main Street bridge with hundreds of other townsfolk ready for the tightrope artist from Brockport to walk across the Erie Canal.
Susannah adjusted her white crepe bonnet and stuffed in a few unruly curls then sighed. The fearless young man would do on this fall day what she could never imagine mustering the courage to do.
For months, she had lived under the shadow of abandonment. Richard had declared his love for her, but when she had refused to go to California on a quest for gold, he hopped on a train and broke her heart. Although she longed for unforgettable experiences, eloping and leaving behind her widowed father was not among them. She should have known entertaining the idea of love with a drifter who had worked his way to Albion on boats traveling the canal would not be wise.
Since Richard’s departure, Susannah had devoted her time to Pa’s sawmill as the bookkeeper, a position Mama held before her passing. Once she balanced the ledgers and completed the household chores each day, Susannah fashioned flowers from wax and dreamed of one day sharing her creations with merchants in New York City.
The black metal box containing her patterns, brushes, tints, and wax was the last gift Mama gave her. Every time she formed the red roses, yellow geraniums,and purple and white violets from wax Mama had loved so much, she felt her presence.
Winning a ribbon at the Orleans County Fair not only increased her chances of someone discovering her but would also confirm to her this pastime brought as much joy to others as it did to her. The long-awaited day was finally here.
Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and her spoiled dog Sawyer. She loves spending time with her adult children and friends or curling up with a good book or her current work-in-progress. Sherri enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter and counts the days every year until she can take another trip to the beach. You can find Sherri on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Click here to enter the drawing for a FREE print copy of the book https://sherriwilsonjohnson.com/2019/02/20/new-release-plus-a-giveaway/
Links to buy and social media:
The Erie Canal brides: https://amzn.to/2SCvWK7
Mailing List https://sherriwilsonjohnson.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=2248c9442ada9e57ca9370ddb&id=6b54f3b7cf