A Sparkling Vintage Life

Chicago

Pull Here In Case of Grinch-iness

Readers are calling this short story, “A lovely reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.” I hope it will be a blessing to you, too.

(For those of you who’ve read You’re the Cream in My Coffee and Ain’t Misbehavin, “The Christmas Robe”  features our beloved Marshall Field’s clerk, Marjorie Corrigan.)

The basic nugget of a story: Curiosity

Source: Bonner County Historical Society

Occasionally readers ask where I get my story ideas. One rich lode of ideas is studying real-life history, which I do often, both on my own and as a volunteer at a local history museum. Insatiably curious, I love digging into the past of places I’ve lived–it helps me feel more rooted and at home there. It’s a lot like snooping, but if you’re snooping through historical documents, you get to call it research. And the real-life past is an absolute  treasure trove of future story ideas for a historical fiction author.

My first two books grew out of my interested in the Chicago area, where I grew up. A new story that’s coming out next fall moves the action to the dense fir forests of northern Idaho. I’m also mulling a story around the Armistice of 1918. I collect these ideas on scraps of paper in a folder, and now and then I sift through the folder for inspiration. Not every chance idea makes it into a future story, of course, but as Grandma used to say, it’s all grist for the mill. In the meantime, I’ve learned something new, and am always the richer for it.

If you’re interested in early-20th-century history, The Winter 2019 issue of SANDPOINT magazine contains three of my articles about my current home in northern Idaho. One’s about the Armistice, the second skims over key events that shaped the region, and the third’s about Sears mail-order houses, a big deal in the early 20th century. (Maybe you or someone you know lives in one!)

You, too, might be surprised and delighted at what you can turn up by studying the history of your town or region. Start with the local library or historical society, and see where the path may lead.

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ now available for preorder

Look what’s available for preorder on Amazon!

In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Why would a strong, upstanding man want to build a future with a shallow, good-time girl like her?

Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper with no intention of settling down. She’s used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down?

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is coming out in March, but you can preorder your copy today and it will automatically appear in your e-reader or ship to your home without your giving it another thought.

The Friday Five

What I’m reading: Life in Chapel Springs by Ane Mulligan. If you like the small-town charm and warm friendships of Jan Karon’s books, give this series a try. Life in Chapel Springs is the fourth book in the series (after Chapel Springs Revival, Chapel Springs Survival, and Home to Chapel Springs), but IMO you don’t need to have read the earlier books to enjoy this latest one.

What I’m listening to: The Write from the Deep podcast by Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young. Thoughtful inspiration for creative minds and a regular reminder of why we do what we do.

What I’m grooving to: The soundtrack to Chicago.

What I’m going to: Tonight: Stamp Camp at Cocolalla Bible Camp to exercise creativity of a different sort (and maybe get started on my–gulp–Christmas cards). Tomorrow, brunch with friends to catch up on what we’re writing, reading, and learning.

What I’m working on: A Christmas-themed short story. No matter how hard we apply the brakes, the holidays will be here before we know it.

How’s your Friday going?

 

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Marshall Field’s Ornament Giveaway!

 

Update 12/19/2016: We have a winner! Slayton.amitchell, I’ll be contacting you for your mailing address, and this little soldier will be on its way to you pronto. Thanks to everyone who participated!

“Say the word ‘Christmastime’ and most people think of manger scenes and jingle bells, the glow of colored lights and the flutter of angels’ wings. But at the great Marshall Field & Company, Chicago’s premier department store, Christmastime meant all that and more, along with enough crowds, clanging, and clatter to shatter a sales clerk’s nerves. I know this because that clerk was me.” (Marjorie Corrigan in  The Christmas Robe)

 

Readers of You’re the Cream in My Coffee and The Christmas Robe know that the heroine, Marjorie, works at Chicago’s world-class department store, Marshall Field & Co., in the 1920s. While this sweet toy-soldier ornament does not date back to the 1920s (alas!), it is a genuine Marshall Field’s commemorative ornament, complete with the original gift box. It’s in excellent condition, gold-finish metal filigree with a silky cord, about 4 inches tall. And I’m giving him away to a Sparkling Vintage community member! To enter the drawing, do one of two things:

  1. If you’re not already signed up to receive my e-newsletter, sign up by entering your e-mail in the box at right. All new sign-ups between now and December 18 will be automatically entered in the drawing.
  2. If you’re already part of the e-newsletter community and you’d like a chance to win, say so in the comment section below, or drop me a line on  Facebook and I’ll add you to the drawing.

That’s it! A winner will be chosen at random on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 18, and the ornament mailed out to the winner on Dec. 19 (U.S. and Canada only, please.)

Merry Christmas!

Jennifer

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