Jennifer Lamont Leo

A Sparkling Vintage Life

Cozy Fireside Reads for December

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Children’s:

Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)


Historical:

Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)


Historical Romance:

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)


Thriller/Suspense:

Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance

Episode 23: 9 Ways to Ease the Holiday Blues

Photo source: 123rf.com. Photographer: Ivanna Sukhorebra


Jennifer speaks from the heart to those spending the holidays alone, or experiencing the “holiday blues” for whatever reason. If you’re feeling alone–well, you’re not alone in feeling that way! Here are some practical ways to keep the holiday season from bringing you down.

If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll down to find a transcript of this episode.

Links:

The Highlanders

The “Big Snow” article in the Winter 2020 edition of Sandpoint is not available online as a single article, but can be read in the online flip-through edition of the magazine here. It’s on page 39.

Transcript of Episode 23: 9 Ways to Ease the Holiday Blues

Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we discuss all things vintage and celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. It’s November 29, 2019, as I record this, and it’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s also Black Friday, when shoppers go crazy. But not me…I’d rather stay in my warm, cozy house and talk to you!

There’s not much to report this week in writing news, just a reminder that The Highlanders novella collection is now available in both e-book and softcover versions. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I also have an article in the current issue of Sandpoint magazine, all about the Big Snow of 1969. Writing that article got me in a rather snowy mood, but there’s no snow on the ground here on this almost-Thanksgiving Day, although it’s bitter cold and windy.

At this time of year we’re bombarded over and over with the message that holidays are meant for families, the bigger the family the better, and if you’re not part of a family, or if your family is far away, the holidays aren’t really meant for you.

This, of course, is bunkum, to use a vintage term that means exactly what it sound like. Single people, widowed people, couples without children, all of us deserve to have a good holiday, and the answer isn’t automatically to attach us to a family so that we feel less weird and out of step. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve come up with nine ways to enjoy the holidays when you’re on your own, for whatever reason.

The first thing to address is your mindset. You are not the only one who’s having a solo holiday, although it can certainly feel like that sometimes. You are not “less than” or inadequate or whatever other lie you’re telling yourself. You need not have a miserable holiday. You may prefer to be with your family, but circumstances are preventing a visit this year. On the other hand, you may NOT prefer to be with your family, but have chosen to go solo or get together with friends who are not blood relations. None of this makes you strange, weird, or worthy of pity.

  1. A corollary to shifting your mindset is to watch what media you’re consuming and temper it if necessary. If you let the messages of too many Hallmark movies or too many sweet stories or songs sink in, to tell you that family is everything, that only relationships by blood or marriage count as worthwhile relationships, or that you are some kind of a loser if you’re alone on a holiday, you’ll be sunk before you start. Counteract some of those holiday specials with mysteries, thrillers, or whatever type of entertainment normally floats your boat.
  2. If you’re spending the holiday alone because you’ve lost someone close to you, give yourself time and space to grieve. Leaf through old photos. Remember the good times, the funny times, the poignant times. Let yourself have a good cry. One advantage to having a solo holiday is you don’t have to paste on a smile and a happy demeanor when you don’t feel like it. Don’t try to force yourself to have a jolly good time when you’re not feeling it. On the other hand, if you’re not feeling weepy or blue, don’t force that either.
  3. Do something for somebody else. It’s kind of a cliché, but the quickest way I’ve found to stop feeling sorry for myself is to do something kind for somebody else. When we moved to a new community and didn’t know anybody, my husband and I volunteered at a community Christmas dinner, and we did that for several years. It felt good to focus on making somebody else’s holiday special, instead of worrying about our own. Those were some of the best holidays I’ve enjoyed. You can minister in other ways, too. I used to recommend delivering cookies to places like police and fire stations where people had to work on the holiday. Sadly I no longer recommend doing this, because in this day and age officers are unlikely to eat food delivered by strangers for their own safety. But you could still deliver cards or other expressions of thanks to the people who work hard on the holidays so we can celebrate. You could also visit shut-ins or people who are too sick or too elderly to go out in cold weather, but might appreciate some cheering up. Call first to make sure a visit would be welcome and convenient for the person.
  4. Keep up some traditions. If you love certain aspects of the holidays, don’t feel you have to drop them just because you’re solo this year. If you love baking and decorating cookies, pull out the flour, sugar, and butter. My mom and I loved to bake cookies together at Christmas. Now that she’s gone, I still bake cookies using her cookie cutters, and I love reliving the memories. But I give most of them away so I don’t overdose on sugar. Maybe you love listening to certain music at the holidays, or watching certain movies, you can do so over and over if you want, without anyone plugging their ears and running out of the room at the opening notes of Buffalo Gals.
  5. Drop some traditions. Another joy of solo holidays is that no one will pressure you to keep up traditions that have grown stale or no longer have the meaning they once did. If you’d rather chew tinfoil than watch George Bailey find Zuzu’s petals one more time, you get to skip the annual showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. If making Grandma’s mince pie is no longer your thing, the Holiday Police aren’t going to show up at your door and arrest you. It’s okay. Let it go.

 

  1. Don’t over-idealize other people’s holidays, or your own past holidays. It’s easy to romanticize holidays of the past, remembering the good parts and forgetting the arguments or the boredom. All over the country, for every family that is truly living out the ideal Norman Rockwell thanksgiving, there’s probably at least one other family where that ideal is falling short. Remember that what you see on Instagram or Facebook is other people’s highlight reels, their best moments. Don’t make the mistake of thinking their whole life is like that. They just may have managed to snap a photo at a moment when everyone was smiling between arguments.
  2. If you’re on your own this holiday, take advantage of it. Set your own schedule. Sleep as much as you want. Eat when you want. Go out if you want, or stay home. Catch up on your reading, or go see a movie. You’re in charge of your domain.
  3. And finally–and this should probably be number one– Remember the purpose of the day is to give thanks to God for all of the many blessings He’s given us. If all you do today is ponder the good things in your life instead of your disappointments and discouragements, you are bound to feel better. If you’re a believer, you’re never alone, because He’s there with you. And with a lack of demands for your time and attention, you can dive deep into conversations with Him,

So that’s it–nine ways to make the most of a holiday spent solo. Maybe you can arrange things so that next year you won’t be on your own. On the other hand, maybe you’ll have such a good holiday on your own that you won’t want next year to be different. Godspeed.

Today’s grace note is a short bit of inspiration written during World War II by Margery Wilson. It’s a postscript to her book The Woman You Want to Be, titled “Adjusting Yourself to Today.” In it she encourages readers to have a positive attitude during some of the privations and straitened circumstances of the war years. I think much of her advice can be applied by those going through a season of the holiday blues as well.

Adjusting Yourself to Today
by Margery Wilson

But how to live beautifully today–on less than usual? Faced with the shortages, priorities and allotments of consumer goods, we must make life and happiness for ourselves. No longer is it to be delivered on our doorstep wrapped in cellophane.

We have more to do–and less on which to do it. Yet down in our hearts we know that we have the skill, the courage, the ingenuity, the imagination and the all-important good taste to make a very fair success of living with the materials at hand.

Take the subject of pleasure. It is entirely in what you make of it. For instance, haven’t you often heard it said that if people work as hard for a living as they do at play that they would think themselves dreadfully persecuted? If you can’t play golf, for instance [maybe because of high greens fees or overall lack of resources during the war], you still have your legs. And it is sheer willful moaning that will keep you from taking the long walks that won’t cost a penny, but will help to keep your figure in trim and your nerves and your liver in order.

Consider all your inconveniences temporary–just for the duration of the war [or the holiday season]. Skip over them as you mentally would some obstacle that is going to be removed shortly. And keep your mind’s eye on time to come.

We will be using substitutes for many erstwhile luxuries before very long. Some of us will test our skill in finding something homemade just as good. It’s surprising how often we find the substitute no sacrifice at all.

It comes as a surprise to many of us that one game is about as engrossing as another. It is the sense of contest, of pitting luck and skill against that of the others that makes a game fun. So parlor croquet, table-tennis, charades, twenty questions, rhyming contests, pitching horseshoes and potato races can be made just as amusing for sophisticates as many more expensive and less hilarious games.

Hospitality, good talk and gaiety are the stuff of social happiness. When you are really having a good time, it is not because Mrs. Hostess is laden with her famous gems, or because you are eating from priceless heirloom Venetian glass. You are happy because someone has managed to flash a light of warmth, appreciation, challenge or compliment your way. One of the most telling and touching scenes for me in Gone with the Wind was the picture of Melanie entertaining with gracious charm after the war in her bare little house with broken teacups without saucers–and no one but the feverishly grasping Scarlett noticed the lack.

We may or may not be reduced to similar straits, but even if we aren’t, we shall do as Melanie did–with seeming detachment from all materialism–rising graciously above anything, spiritually whole, and entirely ourselves.

It has never been considered the essence of elegance anyway to depend on luxurious appointments for hospitality. It’s nice to have them–but a charming host or hostess can offer the merest cracker with a natural, gracious and unaffected warmth, with all the true elegance necessary for anybody’s entertainment I have noticed that people who had to depend upon fancy trappings for their fun seldom keep their friends or win secure positions.

Singing is the soul’s expression. It cleans out the corners of the heart and doesn’t let stale emotions pile up. If you can’t sing out loud for fear of disturbing someone or being conspicuous, then sing in your mind, thinking the actual words and tune. Do so going down the street and see what it does to your posture, your walk, your spirits. Sing new songs, old songs, hymns, national anthems, football songs, arias, swing, anything–but sing! Get the neighbors in and sing. Set aside a regular evening for a songfest. A singing nation has heart!

Above all, do not drop out of normal social activities. Be determinedly hospitable. Get out the corn-popper. Have play readings–each of the neighbors reading a part. Reading aloud is being rediscovered today. Alexander Woollcott once said that almost every man has a poem in his vest pocket. And choose your own reading matter carefully. It can be an escape as well as entertainment and nourishment for the mind and soul.

An air-raid warden in London wrote that she reads mystery stories to take her mind entirely from the tragedies that occurred last night and those that may happen tonight. Another woman says that poetry helps her keep closer touch with sane beauty in the harsh duties that tire the body and weary the spirit. Still another devotes herself to historical novels packed with adventure.

The interesting thought was brought out that these tired workers hardly hear the booming of the great guns–one of them even referred to it as a “comfortingly loud barrage” that they sleep through pandemonium and hear only the tinkle of the telephone bell that calls them to duty. Isn’t this further evidence that we can train our sensibilities to register whatever we wish to register and only that?

Consider at this moment you register only the impressions you wish to recognize. It is true.

Consider that when the war is over you can have from all your experiences whatever you choose to bring with you from them. So choose now whether you are going to be embittered, drained, pessimistic and tired–or whether you are going to be disciplined, healthier, better adjusted to reality, more inspired and exalted, and full of plans for the future.

The courage and indomitable spirit of our men and women are going to win this war–and are going to leap into the after-task of making this a better world in which to live. not the least important of your contributions will be bringing to it your full measure of grace, beauty and charm.

(excerpted from “Adjusting Yourself to Today,” the postscript to the wartime edition of The Woman You Want to Be by Margery Wilson, copyright 1942 by Margery Wilson.)

 

And that’s our show for today. If you have a heart that sometimes yearns for the misty memories of yesteryear, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter at sparklingvintagelife.com. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. And tune in again next time when I’ll be back to discuss another aspect of A Sparkling Vintage Life.

It’s giveaway time! Celebrate Scotland with this sparkling Celtic cross!

Edited on Dec. 2 to add: WE HAVE A WINNER! Patricia Wilson’s name was selected at random to win the cross necklace. Congratulations, Patricia! Check your in-box for an e-mail from me.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment. Your interest means the world to me! There will be more giveaways coming up in 2020, so stay tuned! If you’re not yet subscribed to my newsletter, that’s the best way to stay informed of new posts, giveaways, and book news. Just click on the box to the right to subscribe.

Hello, Sparklers! To celebrate the release of our new historical romance collection, The Highlanders, I’m giving away this stunning Celtic cross necklace from 1928 Jewelry to one cherished reader.

Here’s how 1928’s catalog describes this gorgeous piece:

A cross created using four intertwined Celtic trinity knots (triquetra) is called a Carolingian Cross necklace. Used here, the pendant is looped in the classic lovely lines known to adorn the famous Book of Kells. Suspended from a rope style chain, this is a gorgeous way to represent your Faith.

  • Made in USA
  • Length: 16″ adjustable

It’s part of 1928’s Symbols of Faith Collection. “Symbols Of Faith is an inspirational line of faith oriented jewelry and gifts. The collection is proudly designed and made in the U.S.A. This inspirational collection offers pieces that are sure to uplift your spirit.”

If you’d like an opportunity to win this Celtic cross necklace, simply leave a comment below answering this question: What’s your favorite thing about Scottish culture? The tartans? The kilts? The bagpipes? The songs? Ewan McGregor? Haggis? 🙂

Simply name something you like (or think you would like) about Scottish culture and I’ll put your name in a drawing for the necklace. I’ll do the drawing in early December, in plenty of time for you to give it to someone as a Christmas gift, if you want to. Or just let it adorn your own swanlike neck as you cuddle up with the romantic stories in The Highlanders.

https://www.amazon.com/Highlanders-Smitten-Historical-Romance-Collection-ebook/dp/B07XPCW8H9

A Sparkling Vintage Interview with historical fiction author Naomi Musch!

Author Naomi Musch

Today I have the pleasure of visiting with Naomi Musch, author of “A Tender Siege,” one of four novellas in The Highlanders collection which releases this week!

Set during Pontiac’s War in August 1763, “A Tender Siege” tells the story of a Scotsman fighting in colonial Pennsylvania.

“I beg Ye to take me.” Wounded in battle in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers hear, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.

Welcome, Naomi!

Jennifer Lamont Leo: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?

Naomi Musch: Hi, everyone. I’m a wife to Jeff (almost 39 years), mom of five, grandma of fourteen, and farm girl from northern Wisconsin, very near Lake Superior.

JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.

NM: It’s almost embarrassing to say how long ago I started writing, because I was 10 when I decided that authorship was for me. I didn’t get my first novel published until I was in my 40s. I finally published when the e-book world opened and an independent press took a chance on me (for which I am ever grateful). I did spend a lot of time writing during those earlier years though. I published articles, newsletters, blogs, and more while my husband and I homeschooled our kids (which, in itself, took almost 30 years with their age spread). My first novel, The Green Veil, was published in 2010. I hope to re-release it along with its full 3-book series again next year.

JLL: What inspired you to write “A Tender Siege”?

NM: After my novel Mist O’er the Voyageur released last year, and I started working on a possible sequel, I fell into some really interesting historical tidbits about Pontiac’s War (on the tail of the French and Indian Wars). It got me thinking of some possibilities about a story set during that time. When I was approached about the possibility of joining three other authors in a compilation of Highlander novellas, I was told I could pick any historical era and locale that worked. Right then I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in the 1763?

NM: Pontiac’s War covered a very brief period of time, from 1763 to 1766, with the heaviest of the action taking place in the first year. Once I knew I wanted to write about the Battle so I didn’t pick the time period as much as the time period was a given, plus that’s when the Battle of Bushy Run took place.

JLL: Tell us about your research process for “A Tender Siege”.

Historical fiction writers loooove research, but it’s easy for us to run too far down bunny trails. Once I picked Pontiac’s War as my period of interest, I knew I had to select a very specific part of it for the sake of the length a novella covers. Truthfully, I usually write full-length novels, and I always find novellas a particular challenge. But I do like a challenge.

I was really drawn to an incident that happened farther north in the war, but no Highlanders fought in that battle, from what I could discover. So I had to accept that there must be a different setting. You see, I was also researching the various Highland regiments that were involved in the wars here on the American continent. The 42nd famed “Black Watch” really appealed to me (though they hadn’t received that moniker yet). Nevertheless, the 42nd were heavily involved in the Battle of Bushy Run, so that battle became my way into the story. After determining my hero would be from that regiment, I then had to learn more about his backstory, and what brought him from Scotland to fighting in the Pennsylvania wilderness. A person can get lost for weeks looking at that kind of history!

JLL: Does the story reflect some aspect of your own life and/or faith journey?

NM: I think the stories I write always reflect my faith journey in some way. Not because of experience, but more because of theme. I haven’t experienced anything similar to what my hero or heroine experience physically in “A Tender Siege,” but I have experienced the deep need to trust God with the future, despite how I feel about it, so in that way I think it resonates with me as well as others.

JLL: Are there any particular challenges you faced while writing this story?

NM: Hm…not sure my memory is good enough to recall. I think for me, time is usually the biggest factor. Writing under a deadline, which I was, kept me on task. But I usually have multiple irons in the fire—the main one being family needs. Did I say I had 14 grandchildren? ? We’re a very groupie bunch.

JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded as you write?

NM: When I’m writing a book, I’m on high alert to themes the Lord might be pointing out to me. Sometimes he does that directly through my characters, sometimes through a sermon at church or on the radio, and sometimes through my life’s own uncertainties.

Also, the Lord has taught me that what I do is not about me getting published and selling books, even though I have the obligation to market my material if it does get published. He’s taught me that often its about teaching me something. When it comes to me publishing, I know now that all I need to do is my best, and that the outcome is up to Him. That’s the spiritual battle, because sometimes I forget and stress. I’m getting better though at really letting the projects go.

JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?

NM: Oh my! I’m a book stacker! (Thank goodness for e-readers!) For fiction, I’m currently reading Danielle Thorne’s The Privateer of San Madrid. I’ve been acquainted with Danielle in the book world for some years, but this is my first time reading a book by her. She’s good! Her writing is very in-depth and eloquent. Her characters very defined and unique.

I’m also going back and forth between two non-fiction works: Discipleship Counseling by Dr. Neil T. Anderson and Extreme Grandparenting by Dr. Tim & Darcy Kimmel. There are a few different writing craft books I’m meandering through. I tend to hop around in those, from plotting to marketing to grammar.   

JLL: What’s on your music playlist?

NM: I don’t really have one. On any given day I might want to hear Mercy Me singing “Happy Dance” or the full soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans. However, when I needed some mood music during the early writing stages of A Tender Siege I listened to Scocha – Scots Wha Hae and The Lonely Grenadier quite a few times. (Thanks, Youtube.)

JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?

Podcasts: Novel Marketing; TV series- I’m currently hooked on Heartland; My favorite movies are mostly historical: Last of the Mohicans, The Count of Monte Cristo, Far and Away, and some are sweet chick flicks: Return to Me; Always. Then there are the real classics (i.e. anything with James Stewart, Gregory Peck, or Cary Grant in it.)

JLL: Interesting about Cary Grant! My husband and I just watched Notorious last night. What do you do for fun?

NM: I love to go camping. We used to rough it when the kids were growing up. Now we have a vintage camper that we repainted this fall so it looks like a Dreamsicle (orange and cream). I also adore spending time with my grandkids and teaching them things around the farm, from gardening to woods lore. Speaking of which…we used to raise beef and goats and pigs—the usual farm critters—but now my sons have taken over and turned the property into a whitetail deer farm and hunting preserve. Seeing little fawns running around every spring? Now that’s fun!

JLL: What’s the next project coming up from Naomi Musch?

NM: My agent is shopping around three possibilities: an historical romance novella set in northern Wisconsin featuring a blacksmith hero and a newly arrived Norwegian immigrant girl, another historical romance novella featuring a lumberjack—but I don’t  I’ll tell much about that one yet, also set in Wisconsin. Finally, I’m working to finish a full-length novel called Letters From the Red Arrow, a WWI romance between a non-Native teacher working in a Native American boarding school and a Native widower gone to war, who leaves his daughter behind at the school. There are perils on both fronts.

 In the meantime, I’m going to turn my attention to re-issuing my out-of-print Empire in Pine series starting with The Green Veil that I mentioned earlier. I’m excited to look at those books again after a decade.

Here’s something funny. Tonight, as I was writing my answers to this interview, a lady called me and asked me if I still had copies of books one and two to that series, because her sister had just finished book one and she needed them. Good thing I still have some!

JLL: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers that I haven’t asked?

NM: Yes! I would like to just say how much I appreciate every reader. These days the world is swamped with books. Anyone can pick up a book and put it down again ten minutes later to move onto something else. Every time a reader chooses to read one of my books, cover to cover, they’re giving me their most valuable commodity—their time. I wish every reader knew how much that means to me. <3

JLL: Where can we find you on social media?

NM: I love connecting! And I’m happy to meet with or speak to your group too. Give me a wave at:

Website: NaomiMusch.com

Amazon Author Page: Naomi Musch

FB: Naomi Musch – Author
Bookbub: Naomi Musch

Goodreads: Naomi Dawn Musch
Twitter: @NMusch
Instagram: NaomiMusch
Pinterest: Naomi Musch

Monthly Newsletter: News of the Northwoods

That’s it. Thanks, Naomi!

Naomi Musch is an award-winning author who crafts her stories from a deer farm in the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows near the families of their five adult children. She enjoys roaming around on the farm, snacking out of the garden, relaxing in her vintage camper, and loving on her passel of grandchildren. Naomi is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Wisconsin Writers’ Association, and the Lake Superior Writers. Though she has written in a variety of venues, her great love is historical fiction. She would love to connect with readers around the web at the sites listed above.

A Sparkling Vintage Interview with historical fiction author J’nell Ciesielski!

Author J’nell Ciesielski

 

I’m thrilled today to visit with J’nell Ciesielski, author of the historical-fiction novella “Night Fox” in The Highlanders collection (coming out November 15! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?)

A bit about this engaging novella: After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ beads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead. If you love Scottish heroes and suspenseful stories, you’ll love “Night Fox!”

And now to our conversation!

Jennifer Lamont Leo: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?

J’nell Ciesielski: I was born in Florida, lived in Texas and Germany for a while, but have called Virginia home now for ten years with my husband, little girl, and a lazy beagle named Daisy.

JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.

JC: About fifteen years ago when I was a junior in college was the first time I sat down to write a serious story. I threw everything in including the kitchen sink so I highly doubt that story will ever see the light of day. Once I got all those beginner mistakes out of my system, I wrote another and then another all the while studying the craft of writing, taking classes, and entering contests. 2013 I started submitting to agents and finally one saw promise in me. It was another four years before I landed my first contract.

JLL: What inspired you to write “Night Fox”?

JC: I had just finished writing an emotionally draining story and wanted to do something a little more fun set in my beloved Scotland. I’d had the idea of writing about a lady thief for a while, but could never figure out a full length novel so when the opportunity came up to write a novella I thought this idea would be perfect. A little twist on the classic Robin Hood story.

JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in 1717?

JC: My second favorite place on earth is Scotland (my first being right here in the good ol’ US of A) and I try to set as many stories there as possible with a heavy emphasis on the Jacobite era in 1745. It’s a time period that fascinates me, perhaps as hauntingly beautiful as the Highland way of life drew its dying breaths on the battlefield of Culloden. For Night Fox I wanted to focus on another less written about Jacobite era around the 1715 rebellion.

JLL: Tell us about your research process for your story.

JC: The Jacobite era is one of my favorites to write about and I’ve spent years researching it for various stories. So without trying to sound like a clever cogs, I already had a collection of head knowledge  of this time period though I did have to research a bit about the 1715 rebellion and how that would fit into the hero’s backstory, where he fought, when he would have returned home, etc.

JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?

JC: I can have anywhere from one to three books going at the same time. Not something I like doing because it’s difficult to keep them straight, but necessity often dictates. A research book on whatever I’m writing, a bookclub book, and one I’m ready for me. I just finished American Duchess by Karen Harper which is about Consuelo Vanderbilt.

JLL: Oh, I loved American Duchess! What’s on your music playlist?

JC: All kinds of stuff! Classical, rock, Scottish folk, big band, country, movie soundtracks. It just depends on my mood. I will never turn off a song by Led Zepplin or Rod Stewart 🙂

JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?

JC: Period dramas are my jam! Some of my recent favorites are: Turn, Outlander, Gran Hotel, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Last Kingdom. I could go on and on, but I’ll cut myself off here. Basically if you need series or movie recommendations, I’m your girl.

JLL: What do you do for fun?

JC: Read, travel as much as possible, and watch movies.

JLL: What’s the next project coming up from J’nell Ciesielski?

JC: The Socialite, a story of two sisters climbing the social ladder in Nazi-occupied Paris, comes out in April 2020! Spies and romance galore!

JLL: Sounds great! We’ll watch for it.

Thanks so much, J’nell!

About J’nell:

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black-and-white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle. Find out more at her website and on  Facebook and Twitter.

Cozy up to a new novel in November!

 

November 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Royally Yours by Betsy St. Amant, Ashley Clark, Liz Johnson, and Melissa Tagg — Tinsel, Vermont is known for its no-paparazzi policy and Christmas decorations that are fit for a queen. This holiday season, join four royals on a stroll through town square as they each find their Christmas wishes for a happily-ever-after…tiaras optional. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini — A young woman overcome by grief teams up with a special education teacher to bring joy to the community through a Christmas-themed tourist attraction. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Valerie’s Verdict by Hallee Bridgeman — Broken and battered, Valerie comes home and finds a lifetime of love waiting for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Family by June Foster — Grant Elliot leaves his father’s veterinarian dynasty and overambitious twin brother to practice in the small town of Homedale, California. When local baker Kate Klein brings her ailing dog into the office, Grants’s intrigued by the lab’s gorgeous owner. He wants to get to know her but can’t reveal his origins. What would she think if she knew his father’s clinics cater only to the wealthy who spoil and pamper their pets instead of practicing genuine medicine? Kate Kline inherits Aunt Ella’s Bake Shop when her aunt passes away and must make a success of the failing business or lose her father’s respect. Now California Plastics, her major account, has moved their plant to Sacramento. She’s faced with the possibility of closure and won’t accept Grant’s offer to bail her out. She doesn’t need a man’s help. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

All is Bright by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Kari Trumbo — Four of your favorite contemporary romance authors join festive forces to bring you the fourth-annual Christmas Lights Collection. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Simply Smitten by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Business brought them together but will betrayal pull them apart? Michael Pierce co-owns a start-up software development company. They are well on their way to success when Michael discovers something that changes everything. Can the beautiful economist he hired fix the mess, or are they doomed to bankruptcy? Hailey is under a lot of pressure at work. Not the least of which comes directly from her new boss. She’s dreamed of being a successful businesswoman, but now her heart wants more. Can she have love and a career, or will she have to choose? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

By All Appearances by Dawn Kinzer — An attractive special events planner from a wealthy family and a disfigured musician find their lives entangled when he is hired as a caretaker on her family’s estate. (Contemporary Romance from Mountainview Publishing)

Courting the Amish Nanny by Carrie Lighte — Embarrassed by an unrequited crush, Amish maedel Sadie Dienner needs a vacation from her life in Pennsylvania—and from romance. Until Christmas, she’s working in Maine as a nanny to Amish widower Levi Swarey’s twins. But Levi is frustratingly overprotective and they just can’t see eye to eye on anything. And the worst part? Sadie can’t seem to stop herself from losing her heart… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Meant For Her by Joy Avery Melville — Kidnapped, raped, brutally beaten, and left for dead, Candi Reynolds becomes a prisoner of fear. Faced also with the impact of the unexpected break-up with her fiancé, and an unwanted pregnancy resulting from the attacks, she believes God has forsaken her. Choosing to move back to the Michigan horse farm owned by her older brother, Dr. Cam Reynolds, Candi goes into seclusion. Dr. Patrick (Mack) MacKevon, long-time friend of Cam’s, watches from the sidelines at the farm where his horses are stabled, while Candi struggles to regain a sense of normalcy. His own big-brother tendencies develop into a much deeper emotion over the months he prays for her. Is it possible for Candi to put all of the pain and trauma behind her and renew her former relationship with the Lord? Will she allow her heart to open enough to discover authentic love, while making decisions of victory on her personal journey to joy? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser — A bestselling author, her daughter, and the perpetrator of her assassination attempt are brought together in a story about complicated choices, mental illness, forgiveness and grace. Set against the flaming hills of North Carolina and the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, When I Close My Eyes tells the story of two families, struggling with dysfunction and finding that love is stronger than death. (Contemporary from Bethany House [Baker])

A Beautiful Mess by Brenda S. Anderson — A single mother becomes guardian of her ex-husband’s love child. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)


Historical:
Wounded Heart by Colleen Hall — Orphaned Della Hughes chafes at her strict Victorian upbringing and goes west with her uncle’s family in order to find adventure and freedom. (Historical from Anaiah Press)

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller — What happens when the hoydenish youngest daughter of the Viscount Aynsley is spirited off to Scotland and meets a kindhearted gardener of the mysterious Laird of Dungally? (Historical from Kregel Publications)

The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams — One woman, five husbands and a weary rabbi at the well who knows ‘everything she ever did.’ From the olive groves of Samaria to the bloodied sand of a Roman stadium to the exquisite silks brought from the East, The Silk Merchant of Sychar weaves color into the biblical account of the woman at the well. (Historical from Rhiza Press)


Historical Romance:

The Highlanders by J’nell Cieselski, Janet S. Grunst, Jennifer Lamont Leo, and Naomi Musch — Never underestimate the heart of a Highlander in these four romantic novellas set across two centuries from 1715 to 1915. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Marisol by Elva Cobb Martin — Alone and with child, Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She is sold as an indentured servant at the Charles Town Harbor, but her ship is captured at sea by privateer Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, who is grieving his deceased wife. Ethan decides Marisol’s elegant manners make her a perfect governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old child. Her offer of help to free his sister, however, is too tempting to pass up. As is her beauty and strength of character—until he learns she is a wanted murderess. Once their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome their pasts and ignite a new beginning. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

In Black and White by MaryAnn Diorio — When graduate student Tori Pendola and Jebuni Kalitsi, a Ghanaian exchange student and heir to his tribe’s chieftaincy, fall deeply in love, they must face not only their own inner demons of rejection and guilt but also the demons of societal hatred bent on destroying their relationship. Will their love survive the cruel and bitter attacks against them? (Historical Romance from TopNotch Press)

Serving Up Love by Regina Jennings, Tracie Peterson, Jen Turano, and Karen Witemeyer — On the Menu for These Ladies? Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance! A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

While the Rain Whispered by Kim Williams — Clara Williams has a good life, but she would walk away from it if she could. She longs for adventure greater than both the confines her rural Texas town and the people she loves have to offer. Clara is certain the stories she writes for children contain more adventure than her reality. She cannot reconcile the internal frustration with her faith. When opportunity presents itself at last, Clara is faced with a choice between the life she’s known and the life she longs to know, and the men who each belong in one but not the other. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Mystery/Thriller/Suspense:

Pocket Change by Debbie Archer — When Publisher’s Clearing House winner, Mary Clare Casteel, decides to help rejuvenate her dying town, she has no idea she’ll end up solving not one but two mysterious deaths. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Dead Wrong by Vannetta Chapman — When Agatha Lapp’s brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a buggy accident, Agatha relocates to the new Amish community in Hunt Texas, nestled in the Texas Hill Country. She’s there to make a success of her brother’s dream–an Amish B&B. Agatha is friendly, efficient, and capable. She’s also a fifty-five year old widow who has learned to be independent. When she discovers Russell Dixon’s lifeless body in Cabin 3, she runs next door where retired detective Tony Vargas lives. The police determine that her guest died of natural causes, but as Agatha and Tony put together the events of the previous two days they become convinced that the police are Dead Wrong. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff — John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past. But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf–an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to do penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again. Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare. Can he keep his vow–even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, John’s life may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer. . . (Thriller/Suspense from Kregel Publications)

The Sleuth’s Conundrum by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Danger lurks and suspicions abound when a librarian, her young assistant, and a local reporter try to solve the mysteries of both a dead woman and an abandoned child. (Cozy Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Deadly Harmony by Marissa Shrock — Georgia Rae Winston’s romance has broken up. But that’s the least of her problems. Georgia and Detective Cal Perkins are through. Fine. Maybe it’s an opportunity to give charmer Hamlet Miller a chance. But there’s no time for romance when Georgia hosts her stepsister and her roommate, Quincy, during a college chorale tour—and Quincy steals Georgia’s car and disappears. When her car turns up in a cemetery with a cryptic note lying on the front seat, Georgia decides to take action. As Georgia and her stepsister dig into the mystery, they uncover Quincy’s tumultuous past. A past that points to a frightening present. They dig deeper and discover a web of deception they’re determined to untangle, if they can stay alive long enough to bring the truth to light. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

One Day Gone by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey, the chief investigator for Senator Davis Allen, enlists the help of a beautiful photographer when he returns to his hometown to investigate the disappearance of Lizzie Allen, the senator’s missing daughter. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Dangerous Christmas Memories by Sarah Hamaker — Hiding in witness protection is the only option for Priscilla Anderson after witnessing a murder. Then Lucas Langsdale shows up claiming to be her husband right when a hit man finds her. With partial amnesia, she has no memory of her marriage or the killer’s identity. Yet she will have to put her faith in Luc if they both want to live to see another day. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

What If? by Roger E. Bruner — Three teens join forces with Holyland’s outgoing president to prevent the inevitable election of a man who’s determined to wipe out the remnant of New America’s few remaining Christians. (Speculative, Independently Published)

A Sparkling Vintage Interview with historical fiction author Janet Grunst

Janet Grunst

Today I’m thrilled to welcome historical fiction author Janet Grunst to the Sparkling Vintage Life blog!  Janet’s novels, A Heart Set Free and A Heart for Freedom, are set in 1700s America. Now she’s contributed a heart-melting novella called “The Year Without Summer” to the historical romance collection The Highlanders (coming November 15; now available for preorder). Recently I was blessed to have a conversation with Janet about this intriguing story. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us for a chat!

JLL: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?

JG: I was the daughter of a career Naval officer and later married to one, so moving was a way of life. While I was born in CA and resided all over that state at various times, I’ve been blessed to live in numerous other places. Virginia has been home for many years, the last thirteen in Williamsburg. I’m a wife, mom of two sons who serve in the military, and a grandmother of eight including one set of quads.

JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.

JG: In the late ’70s, I became a stay-at-home-mom. Before long I had two columns in local papers and I began exploring writing fiction. A history buff my whole life, a pre-Revolutionary War era story was germinating in my head. Writing it was such a learning experience, not just about the craft, but about myself. After a few years of unsuccessfully trying to get it published, I had to return to full-time employment and raise my sons on my own. Dreams of writing were shelved for many years. I eventually remarried and my husband encouraged me to continue writing but the industry had vastly changed including the world of the internet. That first story, A Heart Set Free, was finally published thirty-one years after it was first written. The second book in the series, A Heart For Freedom, was published two years later.

JLL: What inspired you to write “The Year Without Summer”?

JG: I set the story in the villages in the Scottish Highlands and in northern Ireland where some of my ancestors lived.

JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in 1816?

JG: History is fascinating. At times national crises and life-changing, incidents are the result of other seemingly unrelated events. This story came together because of such inciting circumstances. 

JLL: Tell us about your research process for your story.

JG: Like most folks who write historical fiction, research is half the fun. Some times the biggest challenge is to halt the research and get back to writing. ;-}

JLL: Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life?

JG: Since I’m a seat of the pants writer it can be a bit nerve-wracking to wait and see where the characters decide to take me.

JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded as you write?

 JG: I have morning and evening quiet times as well as being involved in Community Bible Study which keeps me in the Word every day.

JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?

JG: I usually have another writer’s book to read and review.

JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?

JG: I love British dramas.

JLL: What’s the next project coming up from Janet Grunst?

JG: I’m eager for the editing process of the third and final book in the Revolutionary War series. I’m also in the process of research for another story.

JLL: That’s it! Thanks, Janet!

JG: Thank you so much, Jenny, for the visit.

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was a Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A Heart For Freedom was a Christian Indie Award winner. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, and encouragement to the reader. She’s a contributor to Colonial Quills. Learn more about Janet and her books by visiting her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Fall into a good book this month!

October 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Biblical Fiction:

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton — To keep her orphaned sisters together, Mahlah must seek what has never been granted to girls, an inheritance of God’s Promised Land. (Biblical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Contemporary Romance:

Hiding from Christmas by Alice K. Arenz — No matter how hard she tries, Maddie Kelley can’t seem to fit in at Ornamental, a company founded by her great grandfather and his best friend. Now, after yet another screw-up, she’s been sent into the “enemy’s” camp—two hours away from home for the next two months. A punishment or a blessing? Her life is turned upside down when the mundane turns unexpected, and she finally discovers where her heart truly lies. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

Practically Married by Karin Beery — Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Mikal Dawn, Toni Shiloh, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver — Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Upon a Dream: A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage. Claim My Heart: Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts. A Snow White Christmas: Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles. Christmas Ella: Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star. A Splash of Love: Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Twin Bargain by Lisa Carter — A mutually beneficial temporary arrangement…But can they keep it strictly professional? Nursing student Amber Fleming couldn’t be more stunned when ex-marine Ethan Green makes an offer: he’ll babysit her twin girls if she cares for his injured grandmother. Amber knows it’s temporary. Ethan isn’t one for roots—or their hometown. But his steadfast caring has her wanting more than friendship. And with help from Amber’s mischievous twins, can they risk becoming a forever family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman — With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sara’s Gift by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Christmas is the season of giving, but Sara isn’t sure she is up to the task. Playing secret angel in high school was fun, and now, years later, Sara has the opportunity to do it once more on a bigger scale. She enlists the help of Gabe, her long-time best friend, to come up with a deserving recipient. But something is off with Gabe—he’s more attentive than usual.
The Christmas season has put Gabe in a reflective mood. His evaluation of his life has left him lonely and wanting more. But can his heart have its desire? That’s up to Sara. Can these two long-time best friends navigate their changing relationship, or will the romance Grinch steal their Christmas joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Christmas Prayer by Myra Johnson — Searching for a new start, Pastor Shaun O’Grady can’t wait for his next foreign missionary assignment…until he begins working with Brooke Willoughby on the church’s Christmas outreach program. Even as they clash over program specifics, Shaun and Brooke are drawn to each other. Now Shaun’s not sure where he belongs: overseas for his ministry, or at home by Brooke’s side… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Amish Holiday Suitor by Carrie Lighte — Lucy Knepp has no time for heartbreaker Nick Burkholder…until a pretend courtship means she can finish her embroidery for a Christmas fund-raiser in peace. Nick’s arrangement with the too-reserved Lucy is the perfect cover while he repairs the cabin his brother damaged. But once Nick sees how vibrant Lucy really is, can he prove himself—and show their love is for all seasons? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


General/Contemporary:

Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney — Reconsidering her dream of law school, Joanna Chandler finds promise in a possible wedding planning career—especially when she meets wedding DJ Lukas Blaine. But there’s more to Luke than meets the eye. The angry young boy he’s been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke’s ward. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams–and crush her dreams at the same time. (General/Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Historical Romance:

Unwrapping Hope by Sandra Ardoin — When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give her daughter something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him. Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor’s financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince. Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling business plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller — Ingrid Chastain travels readily with her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. But after a tragic accident leaves her alone and injured, Ingrid finds rescue in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her wounds. Micah Bradley gave up his own medical career after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine as soon as she’s well enough, he has no choice but to accompany her through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The risk-laden journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Aiming for Love by Mary Connealy — Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world–a world she’s been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls’ secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away. David’s parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David’s father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Lessons on Love by Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and Carrie Fancett Pagels — Step back into the classroom alongside four new teachers who face unexpected tests. In 1840 New York, Gilda’s religious beliefs are challenged. In 1870 Kansas, Mary helps ostracized immigrant children. In 1894 Michigan, Jesse discovers an unlikely friendship. And in 1904 Virginia, Margaret wants to make controversial changes. Will these tests teach the teachers about faith and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:

The Silver Lode by Suzanne J Bratcher — A dying child and a seventy-year-old cold case draw historian Paul Russell and antiques expert Marty Greenlaw into a desperate search for the silver lode, a rich deposit of silver and gold one person considers worth murdering to keep. (Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Commitment by Kathy Harris — When Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling that someone is watching her. She’s convinced that the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening?the truth about her fiancé. (Romantic Suspense from New Hope Publishing)

Cold Pursuit by Gayla K. Hiss — A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Legacy Restored by Robin Patchen — She’s a new Christian working to take down an art thief and murderer. He’s a grieving artist who refuses to let another woman die needlessly. When their desires clash, will it lead to hostility… or fireworks? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Young Adult:

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie — Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Episode 22: Sparkling Vintage Football!


It’s football season! Listen in as Jennifer discusses vintage football etiquette for the fans in the stands, what the well-dressed football fan wore in 1943, and more.

If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll down to find a transcript of this episode.

Show Notes:

The Highlanders preorder: Kindle edition

The Highlanders preorder: print edition

 

“What it Was, Was Football” by Andy Griffith

Transcript of Episode 22: Sparkling Vintage Football!

Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we discuss all things vintage and celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. It’s September 26, 2019, as I record this. There’s not much to report this week in writing news, just a reminder that The Highlanders novella collection is now available for preorder on Amazon. I’ll put a  link in the show notes.

We’re officially a couple of days into fall, and less than three months away from Christmas. Up here in North Idaho there’s no denying now that summer’s gone. In fact, according to the forecast, we’re facing an unseasonably chilly weekend coming up. For me, it’s definitely time to pull out the soft blankets and woolly socks and hunker down with a good book and a cat on my lap. But I know for many of you, you won’t let a few skin-searing winds or freezing temperatures stop you from heading to the nearest stadium to grab a spot on the bleachers and cheer your favorite team to victory.

That’s right, it’s football season! And we’ll be taking a sparkling vintage look at football today. For those of you listening outside the United States, I’m talking about American football, those great hulking men in their pads and helmets charging each other across the field, not what the entire rest of the world calls football, which we call soccer.

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a great football fan. On Super Bowl Sunday I’m more interested in the snacks than in what happens on the TV, except, possibly, if the Chicago Bears are playing. Hometown loyalty leads me to take at least a passing interest in how the Bears are doing. Nonetheless, football and fall go together like salsa and corn chips. American football’s history goes back over 100 years. It has its roots in rugby, a game played in England and brought to these shores. Some major changes in the game are credited to Walter Camp of Yale University, who introduced such key changes as the line of scrimmage and the forward pass. The late 19th and early 20th centuries were the glory days of coaches like Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne and Pop Warner. Football’s popularity started in the colleges but quickly spread to professional teams. The predecessor of the National Football League formed in 1920, almost exactly 100 years ago.

So I did a little digging around to find out what watching football was like, back in the good old days.

First of all, perhaps you’re wondering what to wear to the big game. You may think that wearing your team’s colors is quite enough, but not if you were a lady of fashion in, say, 1943. For a taste of mid-20th-century elegance, forego the team jerseys and sweatpants and take a page from Grace Margaret Morton, who wrote a home economics text titled The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance. About “spectator sports” like football, Miss Morton recommends attiring oneself thusly:

“Good taste for any spectator sport calls for clothes which are casual and nonchalant. Textures should be sturdy and practical, without glint or sheen. The girl on a limited budget will choose coats and suits which can do double duty as street clothes by change of accessories. . . . The coat may be an all-season coat with water-repellent finish and zip-in lining, a bulky knit coat of fingertip or shorter length, or a fur-lined cloth coat. It may be fashioned from tweed, cheviot, camel hair, boucle, fleece, suede, or leather. Plaids, stripes, and plain colors are used.

The suit that is tailored of sturdy tweed or similar fabric is an excellent choice. Warm-weather suits made of hopsacking, seersucker, cotton tweed, or cotton cord are appropriate.

The dress suitable for spectator sports and campus wear may be one from wool jersey, washable flannel, cotton jersey, or corduroy. Separate skirts of denim, seersucker, hopsacking, cotton tweed, cotton cord, and linen suiting are correct when worn with matching or contrasting shirts or blouses.

The hat in keeping with this casual wear will be a fabric or felt cap, beret, cloche, or any narrow-brimmed hat. Gay wool or silk is used in scarves or hoods. Your creativity will be expressed in the manner in which you wear your scarf; find an interesting way to wear it.

The shoe is generally flat. One may choose saddle shoes, brogues, moccasins, oxfords, or ghillies. They may be made of calf, pigskin, or buckskin. Pumps with low or medium heels and made of leather, straw, or linen are also proper choices.

The glove worn for spectator sports will be of capeskin, pigskin, or cotton suede. String gloves, gloves with leather palms, or gay woolen or angora mittens are other possibilities.

The handbag that is carried may have shoulder straps. Calf, novelty fabric, or saddle leather are often thought of in relation to this type of costume.

Jewelry must be very restrained in design. Metal, wood, or leather will express a harmonious relationship to the attire for these occasions.”

So there you have it, ladies. Pigskin: it’s not just for the football anymore.

Of course, once you’re properly attired for the Big Game, it’s all for nought if you don’t know how to behave. With gridiron season upon us, let us not neglect our manners. Here are some ways to root without rudeness.

In her 1940 book This Way Please, Eleanor Boykin advised fans on how to conduct themselves  properly. She wrote:

It is unsportsmanlike for the friends of a team to try to rattle players on the other side by booing or shouting personal remarks. Hurling criticism at the referee is both useless and crude. Enthusiasm for your side is a fine thing, but don’t let it carry you to bumptiousness.

The members of a visiting team are your guests. Treat them like friendly enemies, and show them the courtesies you would like to have shown to your team on a return visit. When a player is hurt, forget sides. Give him a cheer and all the assistance he needs.

Back up your cheerleaders. Some stirring Rah! Rah’s and choruses at the right time are not an affront to the opposing team, and they put heart into the schoolmates you have chosen to arouse school spirit.

And from an article in Seventeen magazine back in 1971:

“Lots of words have been written on the subject, but good sportsmanship still depends on how you play the game, no matter what game you’re playing. Whether you cheat on an exam or on a court, it’s equally dishonest and distasteful to others. Whatever the game, follow the three “Be’s.” BE fair. BE a good loser. BE quick to congratulate winners.”

Now that you’re dressed to kill and have bowled over the opposing team with your exquisite manners, nothing beats an epic tailgate party, which takes place in the relatively neutral ground of a parking lot or nearby field. Typical picnic fare–burgers, brats, sandwiches, potato salad–is served up from the tailgates of vehicles ina  spirit of good sportsmanship. But it can be fancier. One suggested tailgate luncheon menu from an old Lexington, Virginia, cookbook included baby mint juleps, cheese lace, cold cour-cherry soup, cold fillet of beef with sour cream, rice salad, hot rolls, and banana bourbon cake with banana creme anglaise! How do your game day snacks stack up against that feast?

So the next time your favorite team hits the field, be sure to dig up your pigskin gloves and jaunty beret before you politely cheer them on in the spirit of good sportsmanship. May the best team win!

And I’ll be back in a moment with today’s grace note.

Today’s grace note is a link to a delightful recording that’s been a fall classic in my family for years. It’s called “What it Was, Was Football,” and it was recorded by Andy Griffith way back in 1953. Many of you may remember Andy Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show and later was the star of Matlock. Well, when he was just a young comedian starting out, he recorded this piece, in which he portrays a country bumpkin who accidentally stumbles across a football game, which he’s never seen before. I’ll play just a little snippet of it for you, so you can get a taste.”

“What it Was, Was Football” is currently available on YouTube. Look for a link in the shownotes at sparklingvintagelife.com/podcast under Episode 22.

And that’s our show for today. If you have a heart that sometimes yearns for the misty memories of yesteryear, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter at sparklingvintagelife.com. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. And tune in again next time when I’ll be back to discuss another aspect of A Spa

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Jennifer Lamont Leo