A Sparkling Vintage Life

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Stuck inside? Send your imagination on vacation with a good novel!

 

April 2020 New Releases

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


Biblical:

Claiming Canaan: Milcah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton — When the tribal elders make marriage a requirement for claiming her land, Milcah bat Zelophehad must find a betrothed straightaway. The only problem in finding a husband is that all her suitors were slain while conquering the land of Canaan. Men avoid her in order to stay alive. After praying to God to send her a bold suitor, a man from her father’s clan plummets from a tree right on top of her. Is this God answering prayer, or a foolish antic by Eli, the war-scarred brother from one of her clan’s rival families. Will settling in Canaan sort out Milcah’s troubles, or have her woes just begun? (Biblical Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Contemporary Romance:

Ryan’s Father by June Foster — The rippling influence of Ryan Reid’s less than moral mother and absent father made a mark on his soul. Yet everything changed when the young school teacher accepted Christ—almost everything. An earthquake hurls the beautiful Sandy Arrington into his life, tossing his world upside down. When God calls him to build an annex for needy teens at his church, Ryan must face the carefully guarded secret he’s held deep in his heart. Though Sandy falls in love with him, Ryan’s forbidden affections lie elsewhere, and he must depend on the Lord to see him through a struggle he always hoped he’d never have to face. Sandy’s wealthy cardiologist father and the battle Ryan is powerless to win are hurtles to their romance. Can he dig his way out to find Sandy’s love? (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)


Historical Romance:

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep — What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common? Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Spies & Sweethearts by Linda Shenton Matchett — A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives. According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away-a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.
Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey and get home? And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Devyn’s Dilemma by Susan G Mathis — 1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart. Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Life Renewed by Olivia Rae — In 1554, Lady Jane Grey, “The Nine Days’ Queen” was executed for high treason. But what if, instead of feeling the blade on her neck she secretly survived? Escaping execution, Lady Jane hides as a peasant girl in a principality in Germany. She loves the simple life and never wants to return to England. But her benefactor, a power-hungry German prince, wants to march on London and place her on the English throne again, thereby increasing his dominance in Europe. If she doesn’t agree to his plan, her beloved childhood nurse will be put to death. Desperate for help, Jane must put her trust in the mysterious spy Asher Hayes. Asher Hayes is done rounding up Protestants for “Bloody Mary” and wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and expunge the blood of many from his hands. Except Queen Mary isn’t done with him yet. She throws his father, mother, and sister into prison on false charges in order to force him to accept one last mission – find and kill Lady Jane Grey. But when Asher discovers Lady Jane isn’t a threat to the throne as he believed her to be, he faces a devastating decision – does he sacrifice his family for the woman who reigns in his heart? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press LLC)

The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Stubborn Hearts Clash on a Cattle Drive Eliza Gentry’s pursuit of marriage to the son of her family’s sworn enemy has cost her greatly. Furious at his daughter’s choices, her father sends her off with the cattle drive heading toward Fort Worth and the Barnhart ranch, but under the watchful eye of Wyatt Creed, a Pinkerton man he has hired to see to her safety. With danger at every turn—not the least of which to his heart—can Wyatt Creed keep his focus with Eliza Gentry around? Is the Chisholm Trail a place for falling in love or a place to die at the hands of cattle thieves? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:

Cooking Up A Mystery by Gail Pallotta — In this romantic mystery Laney Eskridge battles insecurities, loss and a criminal who attempts to destroy her tea house and catering business. (Cozy Mystery from Inspired [Prism Book Group])


Romantic Suspense:

Flight Risk by Cara Putman — Savannah Daniels has worked hard to establish a small law practice, and her early career gambles have paid off with a life that she loves. Jett Mason Glover has almost reached the pinnacle of the journalism ladder in Washington, DC. He just needs one breakout story to seal his destiny. When a plane crashes into the 14th Street Bridge during take-off from Reagan National, everyone thinks it’s a freak accident—until the passenger list is released and the black box is compromised. Savannah does not expect to be connected to the crash until she learns her ex-husband was piloting the plane. She must manage his estate while his name is under a fog of accusations leveled by a journalist named Jett who now claims he wants to help Savannah find the truth. As the threads untangle, Savannah begins to question what she knows and whether she’ll survive the investigation. Maybe she’s as deceived as everyone else, but someone believes she’s closer to the truth than she is. And that belief may just kill her. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Border Breach by Darlene L. Turner — When drugs are smuggled across the border, it’s their duty to stop the culprits…at any cost. Forming a joint task force, Canada border officer Kaylin Poirier and police constable Hudson Steeves have one objective: take down a drug-smuggling ring trying to sell a new lethal product. But when the smugglers come after Kaylin and Hudson, this mission becomes more than just a job. Can they live long enough to solve the case? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Only a Glimpse by LuAnn K. Edwards, Contemporary Romance
Fugitive Trail by Elizabeth Goddard , Romantic Suspense
Critical Decision by Richard L. Mabry, MD, Medical Mystery
Glacier of Secrets by J Carol Nemeth, Romantic Suspense
A Perfect Fit by Christine Schimpf, Contemporary Romance
Riven by H.L. Wegley, Romantic Suspense (Historical)

Moondrop Miracle, coming May 1, 2020!

 

I’m excited to report that my latest novel, Moondrop Miracle, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

If you’ve been struggling these days with the events of our world (and who hasn’t?), Moondrop Miracle is the kind of story that will resonate with you. It follows a young woman’s transformation from a pampered life of ease to the widespread hardship of the Great Depression. The focus, though, is not the sudden and unexpected shift of fortune, but what she does with the few resources she has left.

Here’s the full description:

Chicago, 1928. Pampered socialite Connie Shepherd lives the kind of glossy life other women read about in the society pages. Engaged to a handsome financier, she spends her days and nights in a dizzying social round. When eccentric Aunt Pearl, an amateur chemist, offers her an unusual wedding present—the formula for a home-brewed skin tonic—Connie laughs it off. But when the Great Depression flings her privileged world into chaos and rocks her marriage to the core, will Aunt Pearl’s strange gift provide the key to survival for Connie and her baby?

By turns heartbreaking and hope-filled, Moondrop Miracle tells the story of an extraordinary and unforgettable woman whose determination to succeed changes her life forever.

You can pre-order your eBook copy today. As of May 1, it will also be available in paperback and large-print editions.

12 Sparkling Vintage Ways to Tackle Tough Times


Whether it’s the COVID-19 virus, a major storm or natural disaster, or some other unwelcome development, sometimes we find ourselves forced to grapple with a situation we didn’t expect. Join Jennifer as she discusses twelve “vintage” ways our grandparents and great-grandparents survived, and even thrived, during upsetting times in their lives.

If you prefer to read instead of listen, scroll down for a transcript.

I’ve since been told that the videos of Italians singing on their balconies are fake. I still think it’s a delightful idea.

Books by Jennifer Lamont Leo:

You’re the Cream in My Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

Ain’t Misbehavin’

 

 

 

 

 

The Highlanders

 

 

 

 

 

Songbird and Other Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transcript of Episode #27: 12 Sparkling Vintage Ways to Tackle Tough Times

Hello, sparklers. Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we talk about all things vintage and celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. I’m your host, Jennifer Leo, and this is episode number 27. Today I want to talk to you about weathering a storm, whether that’s a literal, physical storm causing blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, flood conditions, loss of power, or whether it’s a pandemic like the COVID-19 that’s keeping us isolated and indoors as I record this in the late winter/early spring of 2020. Or some it’s some kind of relational or emotional storm that’s wreaking havoc in your personal life: a job loss, a relational break-up, a serious illness or accident. Whatever the case, something has rocked your world and life is not proceeding as normal, at least temporarily.

Here in rural North Idaho we’re forced to be pretty self-reliant year round. While some scoffers laugh and call us “preppers” in a sort of derogatory way, North Idahoans, for the most part, tend not to panic because we’ve already got a good supply of toilet paper, a pantry lined with canned goods, etc. This is not necessarily because we’re expecting the Apocalypse at any minute, but because we live in a remote mountain region. Storms can brew up at any time, roads can be washed out, and some of us live many miles from a town or even a highway.  This past weekend, on top of concerns about the spread of COVID-19, we experienced a major snow- and windstorm that knocked out power to thousands of local households, including ours. Falling trees damaged many houses and even injured several people as they sat in their homes. We were fortunate, as it could have been much worse, but that sort of thing is pretty typical of our neck of the woods. That said, it’s not as if we have a lock on how to do preparedness “right.” (Right in air quotes). It’s just that being prepared is more or less a normal way of life for us.

Information (and misinformation) abounds about how to prepare to hunker down during a crisis, so I’m not going to repeat all that here. It’s widely available from the CDC and other reliable sources for those who want it. What I want to share with you here are some are ways people of the past, our grandparents and great-grandparents, weathered the crises of their day. After all, they made it through the privations of two world wars, the Great Depression, and plenty of life’s ups and downs between then and now. And they didn’t have the communication or mobility access we have today. I thought they’d have a few words of wisdom to offer. Some Sparkling Vintage suggestions, if you will, for weathering any storm.

First, a disclaimer. I am not a doctor or medical professional of any sort. I’m not a theologian or a psychiatrist. I’m sharing with you some ideas from decades past that helped people conquer their fears and muddle through. So seek your own counsel, consult your own professionals, choose those ideas that work for you, and leave the rest.

12 Sparkling Vintage Ways to Tackle Tough Times

  1. People of the past leaned on their faith. If you’re a person of faith, remember that God is in control. This is not a religion podcast, and I don’t aim to make it one now. But I’ve also made no secret of the fact that I’m a Christian, and I firmly believe that, whatever the crisis, God is in control. He’s the one who created the universe and keeps it spinning. Not the governments. Not the leaders and law makers and experts, but ultimately God. That doesn’t mean that we don’t listen to the experts and the leaders. We do. But ultimately, we trust in God. Don’t be too proud to get down on your knees and ask Him for help, if you want to find peace in this topsy-turvy world. It’s what people have done for millenia to find true peace. For those of you who say you never have time to read your Bible, now’s your chance. You’ve been given a gift of time. Pick up a Bible or a Bible app on your phone. If you’re new to reading the Bible, don’t think you have to start on page one and read all the way through. You don’t. I suggest starting with the gospel of John and the book of Psalms. Just read it, and as you read, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand who God is, and who you are, and who Christ is and what he did for us. Think about the words you’re reading and what they mean.

The fact is, if we never go through tough times, we will never grow stronger. I’m reminded of the often-told story of the moth struggling to break free of his chrysalis. If you see the moth struggling and you try to help him along by opening the shell for him, his wings won’t develop normally. Turns out the process of struggling is a necessary process for his wings to strengthen. Take away the struggle and you take away the strength. So it is with us. God gives us challenges so we’ll grow in strength, depend on his strength to get us through. He also designed us to live in community, to help our neighbor and to accept help when we need it. I’ll say more about that in a minute, but my #1 suggestion is to remember that God is in control. And remind yourself, always, that God is in charge.

  1. Speaking of strength, get some exercise. People of the past didn’t need to be told to do this. They got a lot of exercise in their daily lives, performing manual labor or households chores without the abundance of labor-saving devices we enjoy today. Studies show that physical exercise burns up stress-related chemicals, helps you think more clearly, bolsters your immune system, regulates your energy, and helps you sleep better. These are all things we need during times of trouble. I’m not normally one who gets excited about exercising. I’m about as unathletic as they come. But I do like the way exercise makes me feel, so I’ll go for a walk or bounce on my rebounder or dance to some tunes. just to get the blood flowing and to lift my mood. During this time of pervasive illness, you may want to steer clear of the gym or public pool, or you may have to skip it if these facilities shut down. But there are plenty of exercises you can do at home. Go for walks or runs, or use simple at-home equipment like a rebounder or hand weights. Your own bodyweight can be effective for strength-building exercises. Look on the internet for videos demonstrating exercises you can do at home. Or do what I do–put on some music and dance around your house!
  2. Another way to build muscular strength might be to do some of those chores around the house that you’ve been meaning to do. If you live in the northwestern united states as I do, you might well be shoveling snow. If you live in a warmer climate, do the yard work and prepare the garden for spring planting. Hang laundry on a line outside the way Grandma used to. That’ll give you both exercise and sunshine. Sunshine is a powerful mood-lifter and also a natural disinfectant.
  3. Speaking of sunshine, spend time outside in nature. Our ancestors got outside a lot more than we do. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are all so good for you. In the cities, find a park to walk in. Feel the grass under your feet. Watch the clouds go by overhead. If it’s springtime where you live, watch for those first buds, for the shoots of early flowers as welcome signs of hope. if you’re headed into fall, enjoy the changing colors, the nip in the air that can be bracing and energizing. So suggestion #4 is to get outside as much as you can.
  4. Eat properly. Our bodies are designed to eat good, nourishing food, minimally processed. Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, lots of water … you don’t need me to tell you what constitutes nutritious food. In times of stress it’s tempting to hunker down with your favorite snack foods and comfort foods to make yourself feel better in the short term, but doing so will make you feel lousy in the long run and won’t help you to keep up your strength or your immune system.
  5. While we’re on the topic of food, if it’s spring where you live, think about starting your garden. That’s #6: start a garden. Digging in dirt and watching things grow is incredibly beneficial for your health and your mood. If it’s fall where you live, put up a harvest of healthy food to get you through the winter. If the skills of gardening and preserving food are unfamiliar to you, maybe use some of this forced isolation time to study up on them, maybe order in some seeds or canning equipment. Above all, be thankful for your meals, even if they are by necessity very simple or not quite to your liking. Now is not the time to be super fussy, but to be grateful for whatever food you have. Earlier generations prayed before meals as a matter of course, but many of us today have fallen out of this habit, if we ever had it to begin with. Take time to thank God for the food and also thank whoever got it for you and prepared it. And if that person is you, be thankful that you have that ability.
  6. Be a good neighbor. God didn’t design humans to be loners. Think about what living in a community means now. In these times when we’re encouraged to keep physical distance from one another to avoid spreading germs, stay connected by phone, text, Facetime, Skype. Write old-fashioned letters to one another–what a thrill to get an honest-to-goodness letter in the post! Ask those who are elderly or caring for small children if there’s some way you can help them–maybe run errands or share some of your food or supplies with them. If they need help with some task and you can safely help them without putting yourself in too close proximity or other danger, do it. At the very least, make the call, send the card, or write the letter. Often it’s a great help just to know someone is thinking about us and cares enough to contact us, especially when we live alone.
  7. Get your rest. Sleep does all sorts of wonderful things for your body, including building up your immune system. If you search online you’ll find an abundance of tips for good sleep hygiene. Of course, our ancestors didn’t have to worry about too much blue light or screens from their phones, but sleep was still sometimes an issue. I’m now going to read you a passage I found in a 1925 edition of the Camp Fire Girls handbook. It says,

“When preparing for sleep, remove all your clothing, as it has been absorbing the impurities from the skin all day, especially the clothes worn next to your skin. Hang up your day clothes or place them on a  chair where plenty of fresh air can get at them. Wear night clothes that do not bind or press against the body at any point. Tight bands and strings may impede circulation or cause disturbed sleep. We hardly need to add that you should not go to bed before you have opened one or more windows in your room. You need fresh cold air. If you are fortunate enough to have a sleeping porch, use it by all means. Be sure the bed clothing is warm and of lightweight material. Heavy weight clothing weighs the body down and does not invite refreshing sleep.” That was advice given to the Camp Fire Girls in 1925 that still holds true today. So suggestion #8 is get your rest.

  1. If you’re stuck at home, think of some creative, old-fashioned ways to amuse yourselves. Take a page from the generations before you who didn’t have TV and video games. Read books, play board games, try out some new card games. Talk to one another. Practice the art of conversation. Do puzzles. Make up stories. Go for hikes. Do crafts. Make cards for people who are housebound. If you need inspiration for things to do, read some stories or novels that are set in earlier times. What do the characters in the stories do for fun? In the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, what do the Ingalls family do for fun? What do the Waltons do for fun, if you’re familiar with that series? Maybe take a cue from them.

10: Sing! Singing is good for the heart, the soul, the mind, and even strengthens the lungs. Sing along to music videos or MP3s. Teach your kids some old favorite songs you remember from your youth. Writing in 1942 in the depths of World War II, Margery Wilson wrote, “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 for fear of disturbing someone or being conspicuous, then sing in your mind, thinking the actual words and tune. Sing new songs, old songs, hymns, national anthems, football songs, arias, swing, anything, but sing! A singing nation has heart.” Those are some wise words from Margery Wilson. Recently we’ve seen the power of singing in action in the tremendous videos of people confined to their homes in virus-ravaged Italy, singing to and with each other from their balconies. If you haven’t seen those inspiring and heart-lifting video clips, they’re worth searching for on the Internet.

  1. If you’re stuck at home, learn and practice some useful skills, especially old-fashioned ones. I’ve already mentioned gardening and food preservation like canning, but there are so many others. Learn to cook from scratch using raw ingredients. If you’re already an accomplished cook, you can still experiment with new recipes. During the pandemic we’re not eating out as much or at all, so avoid food fatigue by learning new recipes. Learn how to make yogurt or sourdough bread or cheese. Learn to sew or do woodworking or carpentry. Study a foreign language or some other topic that interests you or that will be useful to you in your work or your life. Do those things you always say you never have time to do. If you’re isolated at home during the pandemic or for any other reason, you’ve been given a gift of time: use it wisely.
  2. Clean something. This one always works for me, when I remember to do it. If your mind is out of sorts, if you’re having trouble concentrating on anything, step away from the news media and go clean or organize something. One drawer. One cabinet. One tabletop that tends to attract clutter. There’s something about putting things to rights, making them neat and clean in a tangible way, seeing them come to order right before our eyes, that untangles our thoughts as well. You don’t have to tackle a whole closet at once, or heaven forbid, a whole basement or garage. Just take it one sock drawer and one tool kit at a time. Listen to music while you work, or to an audio book or a podcast–something cheerful and uplifting. Avoid the doom and gloom. As your hands put things in order, your spirit will rise. Isn’t that what traditional spring cleaning is all about?

That’s it for today. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay warm. If you have questions, if you have some other suggestions for how to survive and even thrive through tough times, or shoot me an email at jenny@sparklingvintage life.com. I’d love to hear from you. You are not alone.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a rating and review at Google Podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. And I’ll be back soon to discuss another aspect of A Sparkling Vintage Life.

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Jennifer Lamont Leo