Thumb Fire Desire


Thumb Fire Desire

by Carol Nickles

GENRE: Historical Romance

In the Spring of 1881, indigent seamstress Ginny Dahlke arrives in one of the earliest Polish American settlements-Parisville, Michigan. Deemed charmless and awkward by her mean-spirited sister-in-law, Ginny disparages her chance of securing love. But sought-after widowed farmer Peter Nickles is enamored by Ginny's perseverance, her pioneer spirit and, her inclusive acceptance of the indigenous peoples of Michigan. The seductiveness of a buxom heiress, a twisted story of an old-country betrothal, and the largest natural disaster in Michigan's history-The Great Thumb Fire of September 5, 1881, challenge their fledgling attraction and ultimate committal.


“Watch your step. Watch your step, please,” the steward beckoned from his place on the platform, offering his arm to leave-taking passengers. Ginny stepped down. The heel of her kid leather pump caught in the juncture of the aisle floor and the train ladder’s top step. The blankets in her arms dropped onto the backs of the descending nuns. Her valise—weighted with a treasured book collection, conveyed from her father’s study, and two pounds of beef jerky wrapped in butcher’s paper—whacked the starched veil of the woman who spoke on her behalf. The target’s knees buckled. The nun tumbled face down on the back of her traveling sister.

Ginny toppled next. Mark Twain’s bestseller, the Dahlke family Bible, and a cracked leather-bound copy of Aesop’s Fables fluttered open and sailed into the congregation of the fallen.

From behind them, platform-roosting farmers rushed to retrieve the books, the butcher paper, and the integrity of three ladies.

A man resembling her father’s daguerreotype tugged Ginny by the shoulders and plucked her from the rubble. She clasped his neck and crushed her bonnet against his cheek. “Joseph,” she whispered, kissing a prickly cheek and whiffing aromatic cedar. She sneezed.

“Ginny, so glad you made it safely, even though the very last step of the journey is a sure-as-hell chance you’re going to Purgatory.” Her brother laughed, claiming her. “I mean, Ginny, you almost killed some nuns—nuns, for God’s sake,” he whispered as he tipped his hat to the black-and-white-clad women scurrying to a waiting wagon.

About the Author:

Carol Nickles is the sixth generation of a German textile aficionado family.  In 1881, her great-great-great-grandfather founded Yale Woolen Mill—the longest-lasting of Michigan’s once twenty-nine woolen mills.  Carol earned a Master’s degree in Historic Clothing & Textiles at Michigan State University.  Her thesis is a narrative of the Yale Woolen Mill. She held faculty positions at both Utah and Michigan State universities. She lives in West Michigan and enjoys spinning a tale, weaving a story, and threading a luring hook. 

Q&A With the Author

What advice do you have for a new writer?

Be aware of confounding coincidences.  They make a great story.  In my novel, Thumb Fire Desire, there are a number of genuine, historical coincidental occurrences:  The Great Thumb Fire of 1881 is the most significant natural disaster in Michigan's history.  The Great Thumb Fire was the first national relief effort of the American Red Cross.  Twenty years prior, on a Civil War battlefield, Clara Barton, the American Red Cross founder, nursed the brother of a future U.S. Senator.  That senator, Omar Conger, assisted Ms.Barton in her efforts to establish the American Red Cross. The Great Thumb Fire of 1881 was in Senator Conger's district.  The hardest-hit area of the fire was the village of Parisville - which has the historical significance of being the first Polish-American settlement in Michigan. The only known petroglyphs in Michigan were discovered in the aftermath of The Great Thumb Fire along the banks of the Cass River. The petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings) have great spiritual significance to Michigan's indigenous peoples.  Accumulating and honoring all the cultures of the thumb of Michigan grew into the fabric of the story. Polish characters with their unique rituals, recipes, and raucous humor, and artistic, earth-inspired inspired Odawa Indians comprise the majority of the character list.  

Once you have a rough draft, find a developmental editor.  A developmental editor will review your work and make suggestions on story order, which is invaluable. You can google freelance developmental editors.  Some editors will offer a free sample of their work.  Developmental editors are worth their weight in gold and will help you get on track.

Treat your editors with the respect they deserve. Voice your appreciation and gratitude.  I can't stress that enough. Be that author everyone wants to collaborate with.  As you bud, you are building a reputation.  

The best way to learn something is to teach someone.  Be generous in suggestions. Offer free writing sessions at your library.  Mentor a senior citizen in composing a memoir.  Encourage new readers with books that will spark their interest.  Teach a non-English speaking refugee to read English.  All of us who love to write have gifts to share.  




Tik Tok:  @authornickles

Twitter:  @CarolNickles


Carol Nickles will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Whoot! Whoot! Hi everyone! Please ask me a question. What else would you like to know about The Great Thumb Fire of 1881? Do you need writing advice? Would you like to read a sequel to Thumb Fire Desire?

  2. This sounds very interesting. Ginny's exit from the train sounds like something that would happen to me. LOL

    1. I know, right, Glenda? I appreciate you stopping by the blog!

  3. This sounds ;like a great story.

  4. The characters sound fascinating. I have not heard of The Great Thumb Fire before.

  5. I enjoyed reading the Q&A and the excerpt, Thumb Fire Desire sounds like a fantastic read! Thanks for sharing it with me and have a fabulous day!

  6. Thank you for sharing your Q&A and book details, the cover is beautiful and I liked the synopsis and excerpt, Thumb Fire Desire is a must read for me and I am looking forward to it

  7. Seems like my kind of setting. Fond of the theme to this!

    1. Thanks Calvin! If you like real history, it is definitely your kind of setting. 1881 was a pretty dramatic year!

    2. Thanks Patty! I really appreciate you stopping by the blog! Have a great 4th!

  8. The book sounds fascinating. Love the cover.

  9. Thanks Pippirose. I am pleased with the cover. I think it really depicts the hot, dry summer that precedes the Great Thumb Fire. What are some of your favorite books?


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