A Sparkling Vintage Life


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 It’s a lot like snooping, but if you’re snooping through historical documents, you get to call it research.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.

Join us for THE BLUE CASTLE by Lucy Maud Montgomery

In June the Facebook group The Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle is reading and discussing The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery. Less well known than her Anne of Green Gables series, The Blue Castle is no less a delight. Set in fictional Deerwood, Ontario (modeled after Bala, Ontario) it’s one of the few books Montgomery set outside of Prince Edward Island, and also one of the few she wrote for adults.

If you’re a lady who enjoys fiction written and/or set in the early 20th century, The Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle may be exactly your cup of raspberry cordial! Do stop in for a visit.

And the winner is …

… Brooke Bumgardner! Yea, Brooke! I’ll be contacting you privately to get your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone for entering the “Time in a Bottle” giveaway and for leaving such nice comments. You’ve confirmed my suspicions that my readers are a kind and generous bunch. 😉 I’ll definitely do this giveaway again, since it seems to be a popular one!



A very special giveaway for my very special readers: 1920 Fragrance from Besame Cosmetics

And the winner is … {drumroll}…Brooke Bumgardner! Yea, Brooke! I’ll be contacting you privately to get your mailing address.  Thanks to everyone for entering and for leaving such nice comments. I’ll definitely do this giveaway again, since it seems to be a popular one! jll

Who says you can’t put time in a bottle? Catch a whiff of the Roaring Twenties. Read on to learn how.

Jennifer Lamont Leo’s Reader Community recently passed the 2000-subscriber mark! To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a half-ounce bottle of 1920 Fragrance from Besame Cosmetics.

1920 is part of Besame’s brilliant Decades of Fragrance Collection which also features 1910, 1930, 1940, 1950, and 1960.  The company describes the collection as “an olfactory picture of a decade of time, using familiar ingredients from each period to create an impression in your mind of a time gone by. Each perfume extract is meticulously crafted from precious essential oils and natural alcohol.”

Specifically, 1920 contains top notes of mandarin, juniper berry, and galbanum; heart notes of jasmine, violet, muguet, and suede; and base notes of cocoa, myrrh, amber, and musk, all packaged in a beautiful glass vial with rollerball applicator.

This giveaway is open only to subscribers of my Reader Community. If you’re not subscribed already, you can do so over on the right. Then come back here and leave a comment about why you’d like to win a bottle of 1920. One winner will be drawn at random on Mothers Day, May 13, 2018, from among subscribers who leave a comment (to make sure it goes to someone who truly wants it).

I’m sorry to say that, due to international shipping regulations, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.


R is for Roses

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”
–Emma Goldman

You won’t see many quotes from anarchist political agitator Emma Goldman on this blog, but on this point, I have to agree.

N is for Nail Polish

Matching nail polish to lipstick color is a trend that has gone in and out of fashion.

Continuing our cosmetics trifecta that began with lipstick and mascara, let’s look today at nail polish.

According to this fun and informative article, nail polish originated in China around 3000 B.C. and was also used by the ancient Egyptians. These early polishes were made up of natural ingredients including beeswax and vegetable dyes. The modern nail polish we know and love has its origin shortly before the First World War–surprisingly, in the development of durable, shiny paint for the newfangled automobiles. At first nail polish was colorless and would have given the nails a shiny, buffed appearance in keeping with the cosmetics-free look considered most appropriate for women outside of the stage or bordello.

In 1932 Revlon introduced the first colored nail enamel, in a slightly racier cream color. By 1934 red was available, but was associated with “fast” women the way eye makeup had been just a few years earlier. Technicolor movies gave a major boost to red nail polish in the public eye, since the vivid color was now visible on the silver screen on stars like Rita Hayworth.

In the 1940s, Rita Hayworth gave a big boost to the popularity of red nail polish.

Colored nail polishes are enormously fun, and useful as well. Colored polish matched closely to your shoe color can help disguise a scuff or scratch in the material. You can even use colored polish to color-code things like keys.

But clear polish can be more useful than colored. Did you know that painting a little clear nail polish directly on pantyhose will help stop a run in its tracks? Or that clear nail polish painted on a metal ring or earring can prevent tarnish? Or that painting it on the end of a piece of thread will make threading it through a needle a less ornery task?

I’ll admit, I like the way nail polish looks, but I seldom wear it myself, except on my toes in summer. Why? Because I work with my hands a lot and hate dealing with chips. Clear or pale polish helps mitigate that somewhat. Maybe this summer I’ll make a greater effort to keep my nails polished and pretty. Do you wear polish? If so, what’s your favorite color?

L is for Lipstick

When I first posted about matching lipsticks to car paint, I was driving a dark blue Dodge Stratus. As I am not a vampire, dark blue lipstick did not find its way into my makeup case at the time.

Fast forward to today, when I’m driving a dark red Subaru Outback. At last the possibility of finding a lipstick in Subaru Red exists.


In case you’re curious, I’ve written about my current favorite lipsticks here.

G is for Genteel

From the dusty archive of antique descriptions we don’t hear much anymore:

Genteel (jen-teel)/adj. From the Middle French gentil = gentle. a: Having an aristocratic quality or flavor; stylish. b: of or relating to the gentry or upper class  c: elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape

It all sounds very Downton Abbey. Is “genteel” a word you ever find occasion to use? Do you know anyone personally who fits the description?


A couple of Sparkling Vintage updates…

Hey hey, Sparklers. Just a quick note that I’m today’s guest-poster over on the Seriously Write blog (which, by the way, is a captivating place to hang out whether you’re a writer OR a reader. If you enjoy words, language, and story, they’ve got you covered). Today’s post is about about dialogue and dialect–how to make it historically and regionally accurate without frustrating your reader with too much phonetic rigmarole.

Also, Ain’t Misbehavin’ goes on sale one week from yesterday! Squee! Hop over and pre-order your copy today.

Over and out!