Nice article in the “Annandale Advocate”

My reporter sent me the write up because I’d need a subscription to be able to see the real thing.

Here is the story in its entirety :

“Author tells the story of strong, pioneer woman”

By Britta Jenson

Staff Writer


Writers write where their heart is. That is exactly what Clearwater native Cynthia Frank-Stupnik has done, many times over. From what started as a quest in personal research of her family history, became a pursuit in chronicling the incredible women who founded Clearwater. 

Frank-Stupnik discovered her passion for the history of pioneer women while getting her master’s degree in English, developing her thesis on the tenacious women who helped settle the American West. The strength these women exhibited and adaptability during hard times is also the focus of Stupnik’s most recent publication, “Pins and Needles: A Novel of Minnesota’s Main Street Women.”

One for the books

The novel follows non-fiction protagonist Maude Porter, a daughter of the Clearwater village founders. She keeps not just a millinery shop, but an eye on the town from her second story window. Porter’s concern for the undereducated and overworked women around her grows as women’s suffrage and arguments for equal rights become more prevalent in her turn-of-the-century town. Prohibition is just the start of a tumultuous struggle to end the violence in her community. “She (Porter) was an important character in Clearwater. Her story needed to be told,” Frank-Stupnik said.

Porter was born in 1862 to early settlers, her mother a pioneer and her father a fur trader and shoemaker in the Clearwater area. She was one of the first children to be born in Wright County. Porter worked as a hatmaker, never married, and lived in Clearwater all her life. 

She later became a supporter of women’s suffrage and of the Christian Women’s Temperance Union, trying to warn her town of the dangers of alcohol and get women the right to vote. 

Inspired, Frank-Stupnik decided to preserve Porter’s legacy and Clearwater’s history in her novel.

Frank-Stupnik herself, as a child, was lucky enough to have seen Porter at both the Clearwater Centennial in 1955 and again at the Clearwater-Clear Lake bridge opening in 1960. Porter, being the oldest Clearwater resident, had the honor of cutting the ribbon at the ceremony. When she died at the age of 103 in 1965, she was Wright County’s oldest citizen.

A positive impact

Stupnik anticipates her novel’s positive impact on its readers. “My hope is for people to become interested in history, women’s history, and in the founding of the Clearwater community. To know strength, not just in history, but her story.”  

Now a retired English professor, Frank-Stupnik considers herself not just a novelist but a poet, researcher, and teacher. “I never sit too long. I’m always writing, reading, researching,” she said.

She received the Women in United Methodist History Research Grant from the United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History for her work on the Reverend Mary MacNicholl, who was the first Methodist ordained woman in Minnesota.

Keeping her role models alive in her books is Frank-Stupnik’s way of documenting Clearwater’s history for the inspiration of future generations in an engaging and impactful way. “My heart is out here, by the Mississippi River … my veins are attached to this area,” she said. 

“I love its history. It is my hometown … The stuff I write about is the stuff I love.”

  •  “Pins and Needles” is the second in a series about Clearwater’s Main Street women. Frank-Stupnik’s first novel in the series “Scruples & Drams” follows Minnesota pioneer, and Stupnik ’s childhood hero, Jennie Phillips.

Phillip’s story recounts the factual unsolved murder of a young girl in Lynden Township and the problem of dangerous medicines commonly used in 1895. The ethical dilemma posed to Jennie Philips and the safety and health of the women in her town sets the stage for an important story in the history of Minnesota women. 

  •  Frank-Stupnik is working on her next book in the series, but not revealing any details yet. She is also the author of “Around Clearwater,” a collection of early historical documents, photos, and memories of Clearwater when it was just a budding village. It was published by Arcadia in 2016. Learn more about Cynthia Frank-Stupnik at Her books are sold on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and on her website.

Below is an excerpt from the first chapter Frank-Stupnik’s most recent book:

‘Termination Points’

Maude drove down the middle of Main Street. It was still dark outside, no moon to guide her way.  The only light came from the fresh snow her horse and sleigh glided over, paving a fresh pathway.  As her horse Rosemary cantered past her friend Jennie Phillips’s home, Maude saw some light in the windows from oil lamps.  It seemed odd, even for Jennie who was an early riser, for the whole house to be awake already.  It was only a little after four in the morning. 

Rosemary knew where to take Maude, right to George Boutwell’s Hardware Store where she had been renting the upstairs for a hat shop for a few years.  When she stepped down from the sleigh, she sank into knee-deep snow.  After tying Rosemary to the post, she plodded in and out of the white stuff, creating deep pockets as she made her way to the side of the building.

Maude stopped. Large boot prints led from Pat Quinn’s Saloon across the street to the outside stairway. She looked up to see each snowy step mashed flat.  Maude cupped her hands and looked into the hardware store window.  She saw no light.  She doubted George would be around.  It was early Sunday, church day, and he seldom worked or opened the store on the Sabbath. Neither were these his footsteps leading from the saloon and up the steps. Now, which of Pat Quinn’s drunks was up to no good this time?

Step-by-slippery step, holding tightly to the railing, Maude climbed the staircase. As she neared the top, she saw more mashed snow on the landing. Two snowy boot prints on the bottom half of the door proved to her someone had tried kicking it open. 

Scared and angry, Maude wondered if she should enter and lock herself in or hop back in her buggy and return home.  No matter what decision she made, she would be easy prey. Whoever tried to break in could be watching her right now.  Unlocking, she slowly opened into the darkness. After reaching for a match on the shelf, Maude’s hands shook as she lit the hanging oil lamp.  Shivering from cold and fear, she sighed in relief when she saw no other snowy footprints on the rug besides her own.  She closed the door, bolting it behind her.  

After she rolled up a newspaper, Maude splayed thin pieces of wood into the stove. Soon a small flame swayed and snapped.  Once it got roaring, she put a heavier chunk on top and slid the teakettle onto the burner.  It would take a while for the ice to melt and come to a boil.  

If anyone were watching for her, he’d know she was here; the horse and buggy standing outside, and the burning lamp were sure-tale signs.  Regardless, Maude did not feel comfortable riding back home alone.  As she waited for the room to warm up, she huddled in her coat nervously sitting on the edge of the chair and reaching for the little heat she could feel from the stove.  



Upcoming events

  • I’ll be joining this group again at the Clearwater, Minnesota, Lions Park Pavilion on November 10 from 10-3.  I’ll be bringing all my books and offering some great deals.  They make awesome birthday, Christmas, and Hanukkah gifts.  Krista says I’ll be in the first room you enter…easy to find me.   
  • I have a couple upcoming private book club visits.
  • Unfortunately,  no major snow bird trips this year as, ugh, I have a visit at the St. Cloud Hospital with my orthopedic surgeon for knee replacement.  That will put me out of commission over the holidays and for a few weeks after.
  • I’ll return for a major speaking event with the St. Cloud League of Women Voters.  I’ll bring Jennie Phillips and Maude Porter to life  as I discuss their need for suffrage.  Throughout these suspense novels, both protagonists in Pins & Needles and Scruples & Drams  express this need for women’s vote.

During my convalescence, I can always mail books though if you miss seeing me at any of my upcoming events.

Don’t forget to vote November 6.

They were the darling hits of the “Pins & Needles” book launch

The clouds opened, and the day started with bright sunshine, illuminating golden oak and red and orange maple.   When we entered the Friendship Hall of the United Methodist Church in Clearwater, Minnesota, the kitchen workers were already there, mixing up chicken salad and cheese and bagel dips.   My sister, friend, and I put final touches on the tables we had decorated the day before.  This included hats, hats, hats.  Soon part of our family arrived, and the granddaughters started to practice their modeling opportunities.  My daughter-in-law and sister took some pretty awesome pictures of the afternoon.  The program went well, the granddaughters, and Grandpa, seemed to get into the act. I saw friends I hadn’t seen for quite awhile.  Food, friends, family, and fellowship–what more could I ever ask for?  Oh, yes, I signed many books, hugged, laughed, and loved.

And the “short style show”–

Pins & Needles, A Novel of Minnesota’s Main Street Women, will be available on soon.  Otherwise, you can buy from me for $25.00 plus tax and s/h.  You can purchase any of my books from me at

Send me a note and I’ll come and talk to your book clubs or other events and talk about my writing novels of Main Street Women, those strong women with vision who helped shape our country.

my personal email is …


No hurricanes, no snow, just food, feathers, fur, flowers, and fun

Pins & Needles will be available for sale in three days at its book launch in the historic part of Clearwater, Minnesota, downtown at the United Methodist Church on Main Street. (Thank you, Clearwater History Club for the lovely link you started.)

This is the tentative schedule…


From 12:30 or so until 1ish–music by son #1 and his wonderful guitar, food, and conversation

1:00–Introductions by son #2 and my blather for a few minutes, some hardy conversation about Maude Porter and Clearwater, a short style show, contest for prizes, and the cutting of the cake!

2:00’ish –book signing

3:00’ish walking-talking tour of my books described in historic Clearwater

Want a better chance on winning a prize at the book launch of Pins & Needles?  A Google search for the United States and world period of 1909-1910 might help. Also, check out one of my blogs  on my webpage, 

  1. What were some of the issues of the day and the future?
  2. What does WCTU stand for?What does the Edwardian period in clothing trends stand for?
  3. What does this mean for women’s styles?
  4. And most of all, what were the latest inventions or trends to hit the world and Clearwater?
  5. Which amendments were ratified before or around 1920 that changed the country?  (A hint:  one was reversed in the 1930’s.)    ……………………………………………………………
  6. For those from the Clearwater area and/or have read my history, memoir, and Scruples & Drams, name some of the founders of Clearwater.
  7. The protagonist of Pins & Needles, Maude Porter,  was the child of a husband and wife team of founders.  Name one thing for which each person was known around the village.  There are a number of them ….
  8. One founder was a brother to a famous Minneapolis founder.

I hope to see you there for this fun and frolicking day to celebrate the Pins & Needles launch into the world.

Fur, feather, flowers, fun, and other falderal

BOOKS arrived–what a joy to hold in my hand the symbol of all my hard work–researching, writing, editing, editing, more editing, and many, manty rewrites.  Thank you to all my friends and relatives for your input.

I’ve had a few calls and questions about what to wear.  Feel free to wear hats and costume that represent the 1909-10, Edwardian era.  Hats are shoulder width, but here is a link to see other styles

Remember! Costumes and hats are optional.  Feel free if you want to represent the era.  Maude Porter,  the novel’s protagonist, and Clearwater’s leading citizen would be overjoyed that we were honoring her. We will have a short style show.

Check list:

  1. Hats are nearly finished and hanging around the house. Here is another sample. Granddaughters are coming to create theirs this weekend–with Grandma’s help.
  2. Invitations and posters sent and placed.  (Feel free to give me some clues to place or send a few more).
  3. Food and cake ordered.
  4. Sister Becky has prepared a story line of pictures–they are adorable.Doesn’t this entice you to want to read the latest novel in the Minnesota Main Street Women series?
  5. “” and others have items of historic ephemera for display.
  6. A few more Sundries to make–special requests?? I have Jennie’s rose cream, bath salts, facial scrub, and body cream to blend up yet–
  7. Cleaning up MY messes next week so company has a clean place to sit around the house–also trying to organize so I can take a couple loads down to the church Friday, the 12th.
  8. Gifts bags for door prizes are getting pulled together…surprise, surprise, surprise. 
  9. Son Todd is practicing songs for the 12:30 time for meet, greet, eat.  We hope to start on time at 1.  I hope to cut the cake at 2:00 so stay for a slice!

What am I forgetting?

See you next week.