Sparkling Vintage Fiction. Among other things.

1920s

Announcing a new Roaring Twenties Short Story: Playing for Keeps

Sparklers, I’ve been busy! Not only am I in the middle of editorial revisions to the as-yet-untitled sequel to You’re the Cream in My Coffee, but I’ve written a new Roaring Twenties Short Story. This time the story stars Helen Corrigan, Marjorie’s younger sister, who travels aboard the Northern Pacific to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to visit an old school chum. Idaho is nothing like Helen expected–and neither is Maisie. This is a sweet, tender short story of a spirited girl teetering on the brink of womanhood. If you enjoyed You’re the Cream in My Coffee, you’ll love “Playing for Keeps“–and so will your daughter and granddaughter, your kid sister and niece, and any other young (and older!) ladies you know.

And here’s more good news! For a limited time, subscribers to the Sparkling Vintage Life newsletter can read “Playing for Keeps” for free! To sign up, simply enter your e-mail in the “Subscribe” box to the right.

Talking about writing, Prohibition, and more

 

Not Peter Leavell (but the hat would be a nice touch) Photo source: nymag.com

I was very pleased to be interviewed by accomplished author (and fellow Idahoan) Peter Leavell, author of Gideon’s Call and West for the Black Hills, on behalf of American Christian Fiction Writers. He asked insightful, thoughtful questions about the 1920s, the writing process, and more. Check out the interview here.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have a book.

i-was-told-thered-be-creamYou’re the Cream in My Coffee releases today! The very kindest thing you can do for the book–and for me–is to tell your friends about it.  There’s a needle-in-a-haystack quality to new books these days, so help those people you know who might LIKE the story, to FIND the story.(Feel free to skip your uncle who proudly declares he hasn’t cracked open a book since the day he left school, or your third cousin who only reads vampire novels.)

Post a review on Amazon. And Goodreads, if that’s a site you frequent (and if you enjoy reading, you really should. It’s like the Enchanted Forest for book lovers).

Here are a couple of ways to score a free copy of the print edition:

*If you click “follow” on my Amazon author page today (9/15) , you will be entered into a random drawing for a free copy. (Look for the “follow” button under my photo on the author page. I’m telling you this because it took me a while to find it, lol.) This promotion is facilitated by Readers in the Know.

*If you comment on my blog or sign up for my e-newsletter through 9/17, you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a free copy AND a limited-edition mug.

There’s no reason not to throw your hat in the ring for both promotions.

Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you. Seriously. You are the bee’s knees!

Jennifer

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Sparkling Vintage movie: Lucky Star

lucky starI had the pleasure of watching Lucky Star on TCM the other night. It was produced in 1929, one of the last silent films to come out of Twentieth Century Fox  before the talkie era. It is a sweet, if fairly predictable, romance about two World War I vets–one a rich scallywag, the other honorable but minus the use of his legs–vying for the affections of a young farm girl played by Janet Gaynor. The girl’s widowed mother pushes her to marry Rich Scallywag and thereby lift the family out of poverty. But the girl’s heart, natch, belongs to Winsome in a Wheelchair.

Interestingly, this film was believed lost forever, but a pristine copy of it was unearthed in Amsterdam in the 1980s.

If you’re in the mood for a bit of silent spun-sugar, you can catch it on YouTube.

 

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YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE: Novel Update

My debut novel, You’re the Cream in My Coffee, is scheduled to be published exactly three months from today!

Tick … tick … tick …

For updates on the book and all sorts of other newsy tidbits (like exclusive giveaways and other goodies), sign up to get my newsletter at right. It’s free, it’s fun, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Down to Business: To rouge or not to rouge?

Photoplay-cover-flapper-applying-lipstick-1920s-221x300“To rouge or not to rouge–is it even a question nowadays? When the daughter of the most exclusive* family paints her face for her afternoon walk as did the soubrette** of former years to counteract the glare of strong footlights, one can hardly blame the business woman–often overtired and wan–for doing likewise. Yet the girl of office or shop who uses her rouge pot without conscience, her powder puff without mercy, and her charcoal pencil without discretion, and who plasters her lips with a vermilion cupid’s bow, is oftenest the one who is heard complaining because she ‘never gets a raise.’ The wise business woman will distrust the appeal of over-artificiality and if she coaxes a tinge of color into pale cheeks and touches a shiny nose with a film of powder, will know when to stop. Perhaps the best description of the competent business woman has been given by Fannie Heaslip Lea: ‘Neatly dressed, smoothly coiffed, closely hatted, as neutral as a mail-order catalogue, as harmless as her own clacking typewriter, as controlled as an electric bulb–and just about as warming.’ ” (From The Complete Book of Etiquette by Hallie Erminie Rives, 1934).

*”Exclusive” used to be a compliment in those pre-“everybody-must-be-the-same” days. Today, “inclusive” is the sought-after adjective. Interestingly, to be called “discriminating” in the olden days was also a compliment, meaning you had refined taste and good judgment. Today, the meaning of the word has shifted to something negative” “judgmental,” or worse, the ridiculous non-word that grates the ear: “judgy.”

**”Soubrette”: a coquettish maid or frivolous young women in comedies, or an actress who plays such a part (per Merriam-Webster)

Sparkling Vintage Musings: Why I wrote this novel (and an invitation)

A fun present from my agent, now hanging by my desk.

A fun present from my agent, now hanging next to my desk.

Every so often someone asks what my novel is about. But recently someone asked me why I wrote it. That was a new question for me. I needed to give it some thought since I, too, was curious why I wrote it. For me, the best way to figure out what I think about something is to write about it. So here goes.

At the risk of sounding a bit unhinged, I typed “Chapter One” when I started hearing the characters in my head, and I knew they wouldn’t leave me alone until I told their story. But of course there’s more to it than that.

In middle school I had a friend who was fascinated by the American Civil War (or the War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression, depending on where you sit. In middle school I sat in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, so connect the dots.). Anyway, my friend couldn’t get enough of reading about the war, watching movies about it, and talking about it (at least to me, her similarly nerdy friend. Let’s just say an obsession with the Civil War doesn’t win popularity points in middle school.) She knew the names of generals, the dates of battles, the words to marching songs. But when I’d ask her why she had such a deep interest in the Civil War in particular, she didn’t know why.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve long been fascinated by the early 20th century, from 1900 through World War II. I think there’s something about people of faith banding together and pulling through hard times–wars, the Great Depression–that inspires me. I’m also attracted to eras that were in many ways much harder than our own, but in other ways simpler and slower-paced. Yet at the same time, not boring.

The Roaring Twenties in particular is rich territory for fiction. The era crackled with excitement. The aftereffects of a world war and enactment of women’s suffrage shook things up like never before. The automobile gave dating couples more freedom—and subjected them to more temptation—than they’d ever experienced in their parents’ front parlor. The highly publicized Scopes trial forced many people to examine their faith: some clung more tightly to it while others abandoned it. And of course there was the inherent drama of Prohibition, the tension between the “drys” and the “wets,” and the rise of the criminal underworld. Chicago, the setting of You’re the Cream in My Coffee, was at the epicenter of it all.

Further, the era had much in common with our own. It was a time of great upheaval between the older Victorian values and way of life—largely damaged if not shattered by World War I—and the rebellious, freethinking youth culture. In You’re the Cream in My Coffee, the protagonist, Marjorie, finds herself torn between the glittering world of the “flapper” and the traditional conservative values she grew up with. This is, of course, a universal theme that resonates with Christian women today—how to live in the world but not be consumed by it, and where to draw the line.

There’s also a spiritual thread to the story. You’re the Cream in My Coffee is in no way autobiographical. Even so, like Marjorie, I’ve known heartache and have blamed God when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted. At times I’ve made poor choices, headed down thorny paths, chosen questionable companions, and just generally been my own worst enemy. But our God is a God of second chances. And third, fourth, and fifth chances. As different as we are, Marjorie and I share a story of healing and hope, and faith in the One who gives them to us.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I wrote this story. If you’re reading this post in August 2015, then know that you’ve popped in at an early stage of the journey. Recently I contracted with a publisher. I’m currently scribbling away on a revision due this fall, fixing some timeline and pacing issues and the occasional anachronistic detail (gasp! and here I tried to be so careful…). This winter we’ll be finalizing the title, planning the cover, and doing all manner of furious underwater paddling to prepare to launch in about a year.

Would you please consider coming along for the journey and being part of my crew? I’ll be putting together a sort of inner circle, a team of a limited number of people I’m calling the “Cream Team,” to help brainstorm ideas, offer feedback at various points, spread the word about the book on blogs and social media as the publication date nears, and–above all–support the whole project in prayer. In return, Cream Team members will receive sneak peeks, yet-to-be-decided (but cool! definitely cool!) gifts and perks, not to mention my undying gratitude. It’s still early days, but if you’re interested in being part of the Cream Team, e-mail me privately at jenny @ jenniferlamontleo.com (without the spaces) and let me know you’d like to help.

All I ask is that Cream Team members be active on social media in some capacity (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your own blog, whatever) and enjoy reading fiction. If you want to be supportive but you’d rather chew tinfoil than read fiction, there will be other ways to get involved. 🙂

Have a question about the novel, the writing process, the Cream Team, or anything else? Leave a comment here or e-mail me at the address above. I’d love to hear from you.

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