Mona Hodgson: In the Market for a Bride?

So how do you plot a Mail Order Bride story?

Wanted: A single woman who is willing to walk away from the life she knows to travel across the country or even around the world and marry a stranger. She must be willing to bear his children and take care of their home, all while causing him to grow in his affection for her.
      The Mail Order Bride plotline is typically one in which a man living in a Western country, most commonly in the Western United States, marries a woman from a depressed or oppressed country or from the male-deprived East, sight unseen. Personal advertisements for matrimony served as the link between Mail Order Brides and the men who sent for them.
     In Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier, author Chris Enss retells the stories of real women who responded to the ads of bachelors who had followed the call of land, gold, or the railway out West and found themselves in need of a wife. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is one of the most popular examples using the Mail Order Bride plotline in fiction. Papa lost his wife and placed an ad in the newspaper. Easterner Sarah Elizabeth Wheaton responded, setting her adventure in the West with the widower and his two children in motion. The classic tale began as a children’s novel and emerged as a popular Hallmark television movie.
     Yes, the Mail Order Bride plotline is most commonly seen in nonfiction recordings of history and in historical fiction, but don’t discount its usability for plotting a contemporary story. The 1993 movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” offered a twist on the classic story template. A motherless boy desperate to help his father find a new wife called into a radio show and told his father’s story of loss and loneliness. Letters flooded his father’s mailbox opening the door to a compelling and heart-warming romance.
     My historical novel, Two Brides Too Many, had been in the marketplace less than a week when I received a note from a reader who said she loves Mail Order Bride stories, and that’s what drew her to my story about two sisters who placed ads in a Colorado newspaper. What pulls us as writers and readers toward such a scenario?
     Mail Order Brides represent a stalwart breed of women who exude courage, strength, and a sense of adventure. They are women seeking a new beginning, opportunities, and financial security.  
     You begin with a gutsy woman, young or old, who has a need to be married, Two Brides Too Manybut doesn’t have any promising prospects in her current circumstances. Connect her to a possible mate through a response to some sort of advertisement. Then have fun with “what if’s.”

     The fellow placing the ad or responding to an ad may end up being the one your heroine marries, but what if he isn’t? What if he isn’t who he purported to be? Or maybe it’s her who wears a façade. Why? And where does the misleading and misgivings take your characters?

In Two Brides Too Many, two of the Sinclair sisters from Portland, Maine arrive at the depot in Cripple Creek, Colorado expecting to meet their intendeds and neither of the men show up to greet them. One eventually marries the man with whom she’d corresponded, but her sister weds another man. What if it’s a third party who initiates the ad as did the son in “Sleepless in Seattle?”   
     Play with the clash of expectations and reality. And think up twists and turns at every intersection.
     Mona Hodgson is the author of Two Brides Too Many, her debut historical novel available exclusively at Walmart Stores until May 2010.         

  You can connect with Mona at,, or

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22 thoughts on “Mona Hodgson: In the Market for a Bride?”

  1. Hi Mona! Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols. I love mail order bride stories. A woman had to be courageous to take such a step. The situation also recognizes how much women contribute to a family, and how much men needed a helping hand, not to mention female companionship (wink).

    Have a great day! I’m looking forward to your book!

  2. I have read this book what a delightful story. I would recommend it to everyone. I so enjoyed your post. Great Job!
    Merry Christmas

  3. Hi Mona,
    Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols. You hit upon one of my favorite themes. Thank you for sharing. I’ve ordered your book and look forward to reading it after the holiday rush.

  4. Hello Mona! Can’t wait to read this book. First of all, I LOVE mail-order bride stories. 2nd, I lived 10+ years in Colorado Springs and spent a ton of time in Cripple Creek and Victor where with my best friends family. I adore any story that happens close to home!!! Have a great holiday!

  5. Reading this started my own head buzzing with ‘what if’. I’ve never done a mail order bride story.
    I’ve done forced marriages, marriages of convenience and of course marriages based on True Love.
    But I think I could have fun with this. I like reading them. I’m looking forward to your book.

  6. Welcome, Mona! We’re so happy to have you blogging with us today. And what an interesting subject. I’ve often wondered if I would have the courage and wherewithal to have been a mail order bride. I think my situation would’ve had to have been very desperate. Sure would’ve taken a lot of gumption to have left what I knew for the unknown.

    Love the cover and title of your new book. Looks great! Hope you enjoy your visit and come back again soon.

  7. Welcome to the Junction, Mona. I totally love mail-order bride stories. In fact, my current release Marrying Minda is such a one…only she ends up marrying the wrong guy. (Well, of course he turns out to be Mr. Right LOL)

    I dunno if I would have had the gumption or courage to take on such a role in real life. Unless my situation was just unbearable. I will definitely be looking for your book at WM, one of my favorite haunts 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  8. I also love mail order bride stories. Not sure I would have been that brave. I shall be looking for your book soon as it sounds great and I love the cover.

  9. Hi Mona, welcome to P&P. I can’t wait to get my hands on your book. I love reading mail order bride stories. They are usually very heartwarming. I love the cover and I am going to start watching for it. I love to read authors debut books.

  10. Mona,
    As you said, the mail order bride plot line does lend itself to so many possibilities. I have Hearts West by Chris Enss as well as her Love Untamed: Romances Of The Old West. Good books. Now as then, it takes a lot of courage (or desperation) to pack up and step into the unknown of a future with a man you have never met.
    Your heroines were smart/lucky to go together (of course that was your doing;-). Have lived not far from both Portland, Maine and Cripple Creek, Co.. They are both nice areas.
    I, too, enjoy the mail order bride plot line. I look forward to reading TWO BRIDES TOO MANY. Good luck with the release. I’ll look forward to more books from you.

  11. Mona,
    Just got back from visiting your site. Didn’t realize you wrote children’s books also. Took the information on those. I am always looking for Easy Reading books for our library. It is such a good way to encourage reluctant readers or those having difficulties learning to read.
    Got the information for the reading groups also. I just started one at our library. It will be pretty much self-directed, so I’m copying information for the members to help them choose the next book.
    Have a great Christmas Holiday.

  12. Hello Mona, your book sounds intriguing. I also love mail order bride stories. I think I’d have to be pretty desperate to take such a step, especially since marriage really was forever back then. My debut book, McShannon’s Chance, is about a mail order bride. She’s a very independent gal, but of course she ends up losing her heart…fortunately to her husband,lol! Have a great Christmas!

  13. Sorry, I didn’t get to chat with you yesterday. I’m out of town taking care of my daughter who had surgery Thursday and I didn’t have connectivity. I’m loving reading your comments.

  14. I agree–WaterBrook-Random House did a fabulous job on the cover. My editor, Shannon, gets credit for the title. How fun that a couple of you know where Cripple Creek is and even lived there for a time.

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