A Sparkling Vintage Life

Jennifer Lamont Leo

The author blog of Jennifer Lamont Leo.

The Rose Keeper, Day 9: What in the Heck is a Two-Flat?

I was well advanced in years before I realized that not everyone outside of the Chicago area understands what a “two-flat” is.  “Two-flat,” like “forest preserve” and “decent pizza,” seems to be an unfamiliar concept to much of the world. So here’s your handy primer to All Things Two-Flat.

The Chicago Tribune amusingly defined a two-flat as “a residential, two-story brick building with a common front entrance and separate residences on each floor. One floor is often reserved, reluctantly, for mother-in-law. Common source of extra income/aggravation for Chicagoans.” In other parts of the world, this sort of arrangement might be called a “duplex,” but in Chicago a duplex means two side-by-side residences connected by a common wall, while two-flats are vertical. The floor of the top unit is the ceiling of the bottom unit.

In THE ROSE KEEPER, Clara and Jerry live in a two-flat, surrounded by other two flats. Here’s an idea of what their street looks like. (The taller building is a three-flat, the others are two-flats):

Jerry, who owns the building, occupies the top floor and Clara, his tenant and friend, rents the main floor. They share a common front door and entryway. Clara’s apartment opens off the entryway, while Jerry’s is up a flight of stairs.

In addition, Jerry has built a small third apartment in the spacious basement. You see, it’s World War II, and with workers flooding in to work in nearby defense plants, the industrial town of Cicero is experiencing a housing shortage, so many homeowners are taking in boarders. When Jerry rents the basement apartment to a vivacious young factory worker and her precocious daughter, well, that’s when things really get interesting.

The units in a two- or three-flat are also connected at the back by a conglomeration of stairs and landings that technically serve as a fire escape, but are often euphemistically referred to as the “back porch.” Here’s an idea of what that looks like:

The basement apartment is only accessible through the back. There’s also a small backyard, where Clara keeps a vegetable garden, and a small one-car garage. Her beloved rosebush is in the front.

If you’re interested in learning more about the iconic–and apparently endangered–Chicago two-flat, here’s an interesting article on Curbed Chicago.

Tune in again tomorrow when I’ll share another behind-the-scenes story or fact as we count down to THE ROSE KEEPER!

 

 

 

10 Days Until THE ROSE KEEPER releases! Here’s how the cover came to be

As we count down to the highly anticipated March 15 release of THE ROSE KEEPER, I thought it would be fun to share a behind-the-scenes story or fact for each day. Today we’ll look at where the cover came from.

In the 1915 part of the story, Clara is a fresh-faced graduate of the Illinois Training School for Nurses, starting her first job at the fictional Memorial Hospital. When I looked for images of nurses from that era, I stumbled upon a wonderful image of a Red Cross nurse, not only from that decade but from that exact year–1915! She even resembled Clara in my imagination. And the image was in the public domain, being over 95 years old. So I ordered the magazine cover–yes, the real, actual, worn-and-torn magazine cover–from an Etsy shop and sent it to my designer, who worked her magic to make it cover-worthy.

I also wanted an image from the real-life Eastland disaster at the heart of the story. The Chicago History Museum came through for me, and I purchased the rights to this image from them and, again, sent it to my patient and talented cover designer to place in the background.

Finally, I wanted the cover of THE ROSE KEEPER to resemble the first book in the series, MOONDROP MIRACLE. I think the designer succeeded at doing that, using similar image placements and fonts. I think she did a great job, don’t you?

(PS: Readers have asked me whether they should read Book 1 before Book 2 in the series. I’m happy to say … no! The books are essentially standalones, tied together by theme more than story or character. So they can be read in any order.)

So that’s how the cover came to be! Stop by tomorrow when I’ll post another behind-the-scenes story.

Fresh new fiction blowing in on the March breeze!

March 2021 New Releases, including the latest from Yours Truly! Scroll down to see The Rose Keeper and many other intriguing titles releasing this spring!

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


Biblical:

Miriam’s Song by Jill Eileen Smith — In her eventful lifetime, Miriam was many things to many people: protective older sister, song leader, prophetess, leper. But between the highs and the lows, she was a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Midwives by Amy Clipston — From bestselling authors of Amish Fiction come three sweet stories about new life, hope, and romance. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Brother’s Promise by Mindy Obenhaus — He didn’t realize he wanted a family… Until he suddenly became a single dad. After his sister’s death, rancher Mick Ashford’s determined to ensure his orphaned niece, Sadie, feels at home. And accepting guidance from Christa Slocum is his first step. But just as Christa and Sadie begin to settle into Mick’s heart, Sadie’s paternal grandparents sue for custody. Now Mick must fight to keep them together…or risk losing the makeshift family he’s come to love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

General Contemporary:

Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti — While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she’s supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is nine time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun. (General Contemporary from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical:

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy — Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women. When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. (General Historical from Bethany House)

The Rose Keeper by Jennifer Lamont Leo — July 1944. Chicago nurse Clara Janacek has spent her whole life taking care of other people. Grumpy yet loveable, all she wants now is to live out her life in peace, tending her roses and protecting her heart. But beneath the gruff exterior lies a story, and when new neighbors move in and shake up her quiet world, Clara must grapple with long-buried realities. (General Historical, Independently Published)

In the Dead of the Night by JP Robinson — Leila is forced back into the shadows when the leader of a German spy ring kidnaps her child, jeopardizing Europe’s fragile bid for peace. (General Historical from Logos Publications)


Historical Romance:

Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot — Though she hopes for a quiet, uncomplicated life for herself, Dorothy Clark wants nothing more than to stir others up. Specifically, she dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers — until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly — Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name. Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn’t suffer for her foolishness. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

The Curator’s Daughter by Melanie Dobson — 1940. Hanna Tillich cherishes her work as an archaeologist for the Third Reich, searching for the Holy Grail and other artifacts to bolster evidence of a master Aryan race. But when she is reassigned to work as a museum curator in Nuremberg, then forced to marry an SS officer and adopt a young girl, Hanna begins to see behind the Nazi facade. A prayer labyrinth becomes a storehouse for Hanna’s secrets, but as she comes to love Lilly as her own daughter, she fears that what she’s hiding?and what she begins to uncover?could put them both in mortal danger. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

My Dear MISS DUPRÉ by Grace Hitchcock — Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, plans changed. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan—find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the empire. Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is expected to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus. (Historical Romance from Bethany House)

Rayne’s Redemption by Linda Shenton Matchett — Will she have to lose her identity to find true love? Twin sisters Rayne and Jessica Dalton have been swapping places their whole lives, so when Jessica dies on the eve of heading west to become a mail-order bride, Rayne decides to fill her sister’s shoes. The challenge will be faking Jessica’s faith in God. Can Rayne fool her prospective groom without losing her heart…or her soul? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Romantic Suspense/Thriller:

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn — US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He and his team are experts at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman — Just as Homeland Security Agent Addison Leigh reaches the pinnacle of her cyber investigation into a firearms smuggling ring, she’s attacked and left for dead. Her estranged husband, ICE Agent Mack Jordan, is notified that she’s at the hospital in a coma. He may have let his past military trauma ruin their short marriage, but she never gave up on their relationship, and he remains her next of kin. hen a second attempt to take her life is made, it’s clear something very sinister is going on, and Mack and Addison are in for the ride of their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House)

Abducted in Alaska by Darlene L. Turner — Saving a boy who has escaped his captors puts Canadian border patrol officer Hannah Morgan right into the path of a ruthless child-smuggling ring. Now with help from police constable Layke Jackson, she must keep the child safe. But can they rescue the other abducted children and bring down the gang…all while protecting a little boy and keeping themselves alive? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired/Harlequin)


Western:

Braced for Love by Mary Connealy — Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half-brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life. (Western from Bethany House)

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

Seasons of Love by Joan Deppa, The beautiful, western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with snow covered hills in the winter; Lake Superior, as well as inland lakes and numerous waterfalls in the summer; and colorful leaves in Autumn, are the setting for three couples who discover new adventures and enjoy the nature that surrounds them. (Contemporary Romance)

Medicine, Murder and Small Town Scandal by KC Hart, When the meanest man in Skeeterville drops dead at his mailbox, no one suspects foul play until Katy Cross stumbles across a skeleton from his past… literally. (Cozy Mystery)

Hunt for Grace by Tammy F. Kirty, Can two people find peace in the present when faced daily with their pasts? (Historical Romance)

Kate’s Quest by Seralynn Lewis, Sparks fly in this opposites attract journey when a my way or the highway soldier collides with a determined woman on a mission to find her family. (Contemporary Romance)

Starstruck in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Heartwarming, emotionally charged saga of a small Southern town’s struggle for survival and two women’s challenge to balance family and career. (General Contemporary)

Matched Hearts by Cathe Swanson, She’s looking for one date. He’s looking for “Happily Ever After.” Is it a computer error or a match made in heaven? (Contemporary Romance)

A Texas Bond by Shannon Taylor Vannatter, Learning he’s an uncle shocks Ross Lyles—but after years of handling his brother’s bombshells, at least this surprise is a blessing. A pair of five-year-old blessings Ross is determined to meet, if he can convince their aunt to give him a chance. (Contemporary Romance)

Cozy fireside reads for February

February 2021 New Releases

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


Historical Romance:

The Paris Dressmaker
by Kristy Cambron — From fashion to desperation and haute couture to the perils of humanity, The Paris Dressmaker weaves a story of two worlds colliding years apart—where satin and lace stand between life and death in the brutal underbelly of a war-torn world. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))


A Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer — A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)


A Dance in Donegal
by Jennifer Deibel — All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Vanessa’s Replacement Valentine by Linda Shenton Matchett — Engaged to be married as part of a plan to regain the wealth her family lost during the War Between the States, Vanessa Randolph finds her fiancé in the arms of another woman weeks before the wedding. Money holds no allure for her, so rather than allow her parents to set her up with another rich bachelor she decides to become a mail-order bride. Life in Green Bay, Wisconsin seems to hold all the pieces of a fresh start until she discovers her prospective groom was a Union spy and targeted her parents during one of his investigations. Is her heart safe with any man? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)


When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin — Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country—or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she’ll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary:


The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli — Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong. (General Contemporary from Tyndall House)


The Way it Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson — Can there be healing after addiction takes its toll on a family? (General Contemporary from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)


Bridges
by Deborah Raney — Facing an empty nest for the first time since the death of her husband, Dan, three years ago, Tess Everett immerses herself in volunteer work for the Winterset public parks, home of the famous covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. But when former resident J.W. McRae shows up at one of the bridges with paintbrushes and easel, sparks fly—because J.W. was once married to Tess’s late friend Char. Worse, J.W. was a deadbeat dad to Char’s son, Wynn—then a college student—who Tess and Dan took under their wings after his mom’s death. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Mystery:


Death and a Crocodile
by Lisa E. Betz — Sensible women don’t investigate murders, but Livia Aemilia might not have a choice.??Rome, 46 AD. When Livia’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She may be an amateur when it comes to hunting dangerous criminals, but she’s determined, intelligent, and not afraid to break a convention or two in pursuit of the truth. (Historical Mystery from CrossLink Publishing)

Thriller/Romance/Suspense:


Tides of Duplicity by Robin Patchen — Private investigator Fitz McCaffrey went to Belize on a case, bringing his teenage sister Shelby along with him. They have no good reason to leave the resort and hurry back to the harsh New England winter. They lost their parents, he lost his job as a cop, and they both need time to heal. Besides, when Fitz meets and spends time with the beautiful and charming Tabitha Eaton, he falls hard. But minutes after Tabby’s flight leaves, Fitz is summoned by a mobster who believes Tabby broke into the hotel safe the night before and made off with half a million dollars’ worth of jewels. The clock is ticking as Fitz scrambles to recover the jewels. If he succeeds, it’ll cost the woman he’s come to care for. If he fails, it’ll cost his sister’s life. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Glimmer in the Darkness
by Robin Patchen — Cassidy Leblanc worked hard to shake off her tragic childhood. As a foster child with a mother in prison for murder, she was an outcast in her small New Hampshire town until she met James. But she and James’s sister, whom she was babysitting, were kidnapped. She escaped, but Hallie didn’t survive, and everybody assumed Cassidy killed her. Like mother, like daughter, after all. With public opinion and the authorities united against her, young Cassidy fled. Now, a decade later, another little girl has been kidnapped, and Cassidy may be the only person who can find her. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Obsession by Patricia Bradley — Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she’s forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Ben in Charge
by Luana Ehrlich — Operation Concerned Citizen will be Ben’s first assignment as the primary officer in charge of a mission. When Titus learns it’s a simple mission with a clear objective but requires a complicated plan, he questions whether Ben will be able to handle it. When he discovers there are underlying circumstances, he questions whether he’ll be able to let Ben handle it. When the simple mission proves difficult, Titus discovers he’s not the man he thought he was, and he’s not the man he wants to be. He’s a man learning to live out his faith while living in the shadows, and sometimes those shadows aren’t shadows at all.
(Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Amish Romance:


The Heart Knows the Way Home by Christy Distler — Janna and Luke, a widower struggling to balance business and family responsibilities, reacquaint as Janna assists his grandmother and cares for his son. Her self-protective independence and his conservative principles put them at odds, but the difficulties they face draw them closer.?When long-lost friendship rekindles into unexpected love, will either be willing to make changes so they can be together? (Romance: Amish from Avodah Books)

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

Writing Home by Amy R. Anguish, As they grow closer through their written words, the miles between them seem to grow wider. Can love cross the distance and bring them home? (Contemporary Romance)

The Rancher’s Legacy by Susan Page Davis, Matt Anderson’s father and their neighbor devise a plan: Have their children marry and merge the two ranches. The only problem is, Rachel Maxwell has stated emphatically that will never happen. (Historical Romance)

A Heart’s Gift by Lena Nelson Dooley, Is a marriage of convenience the answer to their needs? (Historical Romance)

Daisy’s Decision by Hallee Bridgeman, She soon finds herself in a full-blown relationship with hearts on the line. She can’t keep her secret much longer. Daisy has a decision to make. (Contemporary Romance),

A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek by Carol McClain, Two women. Two problems. Each holds the key to the other’s freedom. (Contemporary)

The Amish Baker’s Rival by Marie E. Bast, Amish baker Mary Brenneman is furious when handsome Englischer Noah Miller opens up a bakery right across from hers. Now she must win a local baking contest just to stay in business—and beat know—it—all Noah. But somewhere along the way, Noah and Mary’s kitchen wars are quickly warming into something more. (Contemporary Romance/Amish)

Rekindled from Ashes by Cindy M. Amos, Based on the true story of the Starbuck fire of 2017 that ravaged western Kansas–and area ranchers who demonstrated vulnerable resiliency in its aftermath. Strength for the day…with eyes on the Almighty. (Contemporary Romance)

Everything’s coming up roses! Announcing a special giveaway for Reader Community members only

In my last post, I hinted at special surprises that are exclusive to subscribers of the Sparkling Vintage Life Reader Community. Well, Surprise #1 was just announced! It involves this:

and this:

And here’s a special bonus that’s exclusive to the Sparkling Vintage Reader Community. If you’re a member, and you preorder THE ROSE KEEPER by March 14, 2021, you can enter to win a signed print copy of one of my books (either THE ROSE KEEPER or another one, your choice) plus this beautiful rose brooch from The 1928 Jewelry Company.

There are just 2 simple steps to enter:

  1. Preorder your e-book copy of THE ROSE KEEPER by March 14, 2021. (Alas, applies on preorders of digital copies. If you prefer a print copy, hang tight–there’ll be another promotion coming up soon for you!)
  2. Email a copy of your receipt/Amazon order confirmation to by March 14, 2021.

That’s it! The winner will be chosen at random on release day, March 15.

If you’re not a Reader Community member, simply scroll down below and sign up!

THE ROSE KEEPER now available for preorder!

I’m thrilled to tell you that my new historical novel, THE ROSE KEEPER, is now available for preorder on Amazon!

If you order for the e-book now, it will deliver automatically to your Kindle on the release date. You won’t have to give it another thought. (There will be a print edition as well, which will come out in March.)

Meanwhile, I’ve got a couple of pre-publication surprises up my sleeve that will be exclusive to the Sparkling Vintage Reader Community, so subscribe below to be eligible!

 

 

Podcast Episode 31: Where Do We Go From Here?


As 2020 draws to a close, Jennifer discusses what the new year holds for A Sparkling Vintage Life.

If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll below to find the transcription.

 

SHOW NOTES:

A Sparkling Vintage Life website

A Sparkling Vintage Life MeWe page

 

TRANSCRIPTION FOR EPISODE 31: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. I’m your host, Jenny Leo, and this is Episode #31.

It’s a few days after Christmas 2020 as I record this, and I apologize for being silent for most of the fall. A big piece of my silence had to do with finishing my next novel, The Rose Keeper, which absorbed nearly every creative morsel of my brain for the entirety of the fall. But it’s in production now, and should be ready for release in March 2021.

And then it was the holidays, and now, here we are, just a few days shy of New Year’s Eve. It seems cliché to marvel, “Where did the time go?” but there it is.

But the other piece of my silence had a deeper, more philosophical, and frankly more troubling reason. Like all of you, I found 2020 to be an enormous challenge. While social distancing and the stay-at-home mandates that were and are being imposed by our government during the pandemic did give me plenty of time and quiet space to work on the podcast, I found myself lacking the emotional and mental bandwidth to do so. Suddenly in the face of not only the pandemic, but so much political unrest, the drama and uncertainty surrounding the presidential elections here in the U.S., so many people thrown out of work and children kept home from school and everyone’s lives completely upended, I found myself weirdly unmotivated to sit down and compose even a simple episode about some arcane aspect of table etiquette or vintage jewelry. It seemed frivolous, somehow, to keep talking about these lighthearted topics in the face of so much bad news.

And yet, I couldn’t quite let the podcast go, either. It nagged at the edges of my mind. So I’ve taken some time at year’s end to reflect on some questions. What do I want A Sparkling Vintage Life to be? And what do you, dear listener, want it to be? What is our shared vision for this podcast and this community? What on earth I can offer to you that will add value to your life, that you’ll need and want to hear?

I went back to my original plan for A Sparkling Vintage Life. Thirty episodes ago, I saw the podcast as a way to encourage women who appreciate tradition and nostalgia and wish to bring back at least some of the old-fashioned ways of doing things and preserve a way of life that is quickly vanishing. I wanted to share what I’ve learned about past ways of life. As an author of historical fiction, I do a lot of research on the past, and wanted to share the interesting tidbits, tips, and tricks I’ve picked up along the way. I wanted to suggest ways to incorporate appealing elements of the past into to a modern woman’s busy life.  I still want to do all those things.

But now I feel a renewed sense of purpose that goes even deeper than that. I believe there are forces at work, strong forces, that want to erase the past entirely and rewrite it to suit a different narrative. And to that, I need to push back.

I’ve said several times that this is not a “religious” podcast, per se, and I’m sticking to that. I’m not a biblical or theological scholar, and I’m not going to lead you in a Bible study or a sermon. And yet my daily life is so deeply intertwined with my faith in Jesus Christ that I find it quite impossible to separate the two.  My beliefs are foundational to all that I think and do. So while I’m not going to preach to you, I am going to be less shy about sharing aspects of my faith going forward. After all, no doubt I’d share these aspects in any normal, heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend. And I consider you, my loyal listeners, as good friends.

This has also never been, and will continue to never be, a political podcast. There are scads of podcasts out there that handle political topics. I want A Sparkling Vintage Life to be a sanctuary from all that, a safe place where you can come and find a quiet respite from the screeching and squawking going on outside our parlor windows. That said, I occasionally come under fire from listeners who equate all “vintage values” with things we would never accept today. For example, some proponents of vintage style draw a clear distinction between vintage style and vintage values. I understand where they’re coming from. They don’t want to promote outdated concepts that were widely accepted years ago, for example, the blatant racism of the Jim Crow era. Well, I certainly don’t want to do that, either. But to equate all things vintage with the gross injustices of the past would be equally closed-minded. Racism was wrong in the past and it’s wrong today. A Sparkling Vintage Life is about preserving and uplifting the best of the past, not everything of the past. Just as we can’t, nor would we want to, return to a world of hoop skirts, no antibiotics, and no air conditioning,  neither would we revert to denying people full legal and economic rights. Admiring a cameo pin or a pearl necklace is not the same thing as advocating for separate drinking fountains. That’s ludicrous. Instead, our goal here at A Sparkling Vintage Life is to dust off some good values that may have grown musty from disuse. Values like honor. Duty. Loyalty. These kinds of values know no color.

A true Sparkling Vintage Life is neither elitist nor divisive. In fact, we promote things like common courtesy, which is the polar opposite of elitist or divisive. Treating one other with courtesy and kindness, no matter who we are, helps establish a strong sense of community and lubricates social interactions among people of many different ethnicities. It helps us all get along. And isn’t that a worthy goal, really?

I found a paragraph in the introduction to Linda S. Lichter’s book, Simple Social Graces, that pretty much sums up how I feel about A Sparkling Vintage Life. Writing in 1998, Lichter says, “America is hurting. We are rich in goods but poor in spirit. Public life is splintered, crude, and violent. Too many private lives are a shambles of broken relationships, broken homes, and stressed-out, time-squeezed families. We search frantically for quick fixes to fill a deep internal void that we struggle to describe. The answer lies neither in sixties-style government programs nor fifties nostalgia, and certainly not in accumulating more high-tech toys. To continue buying the constantly recycled versions of these solutions is to invest in damaged goods.” Lichter goes on to look to the Victorian era to recover more viable solutions. My taste runs to a slightly more recent time period, the early 20th century roughly from World War I through World War II. But the intent is the same: to preserve and restore much of what was valuable in generations past, and to leave the rest behind.

So we’ve talked about what A Sparkling Vintage Life is not. If you’re still with me, let’s talk a minute about what it will be, heading into 2021.

A Sparkling Vintage Life is for you if:

You hunger for an earlier time when more people lived with grace and dignity.

You’re drawn to watching old movies or reading old stories because you enjoy imagining safe, civilized public spaces, stable, intact families, and simple good manners.

You long for the beauty, grace, and charm of an earlier era. You miss some of the quaint customs, traditions and rituals that others might scoff at or ridicule.

If this describes you, then you and I are kindred spirits, and I look forward to discussing many aspects of A Sparkling Vintage Life and continuing to celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era.

Happy new year.

If you enjoyed listening to this episode, I would greatly appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave a review at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. Reviews are a huge help in growing the community and helping other like-minded listeners find us. You can also leave a comment at sparklingvintage life.com, or email me directly at jenny@sparklingvintagelife.com. I also have a brand new social media page on MeWe.com, and I’d love to see you there. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

And I’m looking forward to next time when I’ll be back to discuss another aspect of A Sparkling Vintage Life.

Pssst! Got a deal for ya!

Perhaps you’ve been meaning to read Moondrop Miracle but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Or maybe you’ve wanted to gift the e-book to someone else. Well, this is a good week to jump on that, ‘cuz it’s on sale for just 99 cents on Amazon through December 31. Yippy-skippy!

Giving thanks for inspiring new fiction!

November 2020 New Releases

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


Contemporary Romance:

Snowbound in Winterberry Falls by Ann Brodeur — Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last minute vacation road trip to focus and to seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget. Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge. When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper, and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance, cost her everything she’s ever wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson — All’s fair in love and prank wars. As a live theater actress, Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The Calm I Seek by Christina Lourens — After the violent death of her husband, Rebecca Holmes is content leading a quiet life spending time with her sisters and niece. When her younger sister Hannah asks her to plan her wedding, Rebecca discovers her friends and family all think her life is empty. Determined to prove them wrong, Rebecca takes up salsa lessons where she meets the charismatic salsa teacher, Gabriel Rodriguez. Falling in love is the last thing Rebecca wanted to do, but she is inexplicably drawn to Gabriel. Just when she’s decided to give her heart to Gabriel, disaster strikes her family, and she is forced to confront her past actions. Can there be redemption for her and can she forgive those who betrayed her? (Contemporary Romance from Pheasant Hill Press)

His Christmas Wish by Allie Pleiter — All he wants for Christmas is a family… To make his little nephew happy, this bachelor will need help… After his nephew, Cole, is orphaned, Jake Sanders vows to give the little boy the best Christmas possible…except Jake doesn’t know the first thing about kids! So when Cole’s preschool teacher, Emma Mullins, offers to pitch in, Jake’s grateful for her guidance. But while Jake and Emma share an immediate connection, their blossoming love must first survive the secret she’s hiding… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Together for Good by Penelope Powell — Having lost her mother in a tragic accident, Laney Spence is no stranger to grief and loss. Despite this tragedy touching her life at such a young age, Laney has maintained her belief that God brings good out of even the most difficult circumstances. For her, that good came in the form of her older brother’s best friend, Matthew Jordan. Kind and compassionate, Matthew helped her grieve—and she’s been harboring a crush on him ever since. Years later, when tragedy shatters Matthew’s life, Laney is there for him the same way he’d been there for her all those years ago. But they’re not kids anymore. She’s a teacher with little life experience, and he’s a jaded divorce lawyer with a past he’d rather keep secret. Neither of them can ignore the attraction that blooms, though, leaving them both wondering—is attraction, history, and a shared faith in God enough to keep them together for good, or will circumstances beyond their control drive them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)


Historical Romance:

 

Rocky Mountain Revelation by Lisa J. Flickinger — Widowed at nineteen, Madeline Lamb seeks to find a new husband amongst the crew of the Rocky Mountain log drive. With a baby growing inside her, she has no choice. She signs on as cook’s helper, and it soon becomes apparent her options for a mate are limited. Madeline’s grieving heart wavers between the security an older man offers and the tender feelings a new crew member stirs. Will Matheson earned the chance to work the high-paying spring log drive. The boon ensures he can recoup the logging wages stolen by a pretty face with some fast fingers. Frustration builds when the boss pulls him from the river and assigns him the job of camp chore boy. If it wasn’t for the pretty cook’s helper, he’d take the first train home. When the dangers of the river journey prove more treacherous than anyone expects, the budding attraction between Will and Madeline is put to the test. If they survive the adventure, life as they know it will never be the same. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

A Bride for Seamus by Linda Shenton Matchett — When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Dangerous Deceptions by Evelyn M. Hill — Rachel Garrett has the ideal life in a small town, surrounded by people she trusts—until a stranger arrives and tells her that she is living a lie. Michael Sullivan’s claim that she’s been brainwashed can’t be right. Her life is perfect. But ever since he’s shown up, she’s had to deal with people attempting to manipulate, drug, or even kidnap her. Now Rachel must decide if she believes her closest friends…or the one man who makes her feel truly safe. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Forgiven Again by Gina Holder — Annie Staten, now known as Kathleen Phillips, has dreamed of pursuing a political career and following in her father’s footsteps. But Richard was a hated man during his tenure as governor and now his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter from winning the election. Ryan Whitestone has loved Annie since high school, but his heart is broken by the woman she has become. When the daughter she gave up for adoption comes back into her life, can he help Kathleen heal from her pain and remind her of who she used to be? Will Kathleen be able to forgive herself, put the past behind her, and find love again? The continuing story of No Greater Love. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Grave Christmas Secrets by Sharee Stover — Discovering buried evidence makes her a target. At a prehistoric site, forensic anthropologist Taya McGill uncovers a recently buried body days before Christmas and finds herself in a killer’s sights. Now on the run with undercover ATF agent Keegan Stryker, she must rely on him to guard her as they figure out why someone would kill to keep this murder unsolved. But can they unearth the truth before someone silences them both for good? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative:

Uncharted Freedom by Keely Brooke Keith — Naomi McIntosh is running from her family’s oppressive expectations and the loathsome man her father has demanded she marry. Renaming herself to live incognito, she takes a housekeeping job at the Inn at Falls Creek and promises God this false identity will be her last. When shepherd James Roberts goes home to the Inn at Falls Creek for his sister’s wedding, he doesn’t expect the woman who once broke his heart to be working there. No matter how much he wants to be with Naomi again, he can’t go along with her charade, especially since he is trying to persuade his father to make him the inn’s heir. Though Naomi yearns for a future with James, if she confesses her deception to everyone, her estranged fiancé will find her. And the longer James goes without telling his family the truth about Naomi—and their growing relationship—the further he jeopardizes the inheritance. But just when their relationship looks promising, the inn proves to be a poor hiding place from Naomi’s past. (Speculative Romance, Independently Published)

Thriller:

Termination Zone by Adam Blumer –In the Justice Club, you’re either all in, or you’re dead. Pianist Landon Jeffers has been hiding in Georgia’s woods to keep his loved ones safe from the Justice Club, the cybercrime network seeking to control him through his brain implant. But when his means of blocking their controlling signals is compromised and he receives word that a family member may be in danger, he is forced out of hiding. Now Landon covertly works with unexpected allies including the FBI to help shut the Justice Club down from the inside. But when he is prepped during his concert tour for a high-profile hit targeting the highest levels of the US government, the stakes have never been higher. Can he and his allies thwart the Justice Club’s mission of violence in time? Even if that means placing the woman he loves in danger? The deadline is coming. And death is certain if he fails. (Techno-Thriller Suspense, Independently Published)

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig — Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only hope that what he uncovers will heal the wounds he’s inflicted on those he loves. Iskra Todorova believes Leif is on a collision course with death and knows firsthand the irrevocable cost of that path to the soul. While trying to protect her daughter and intervene with Leif, Iskra is forced to set her sights on the man behind the evil organization ArC–Ciro Veratti. Torn apart by injuries and opposing views on how to handle Leif’s act of treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Young Adult:

Fortune’s Fall by Katherine Barger — While her classmates prepare for elite careers across America, Nyssa Ardelone trains for her secret job as the president’s dream interpreter. But when her mentor lies to the president about the prophecy in his latest dream, Nyssa must figure out why before the lie unravels. What she learns could destroy her own future. Fearful of a rumored rebellion, the president has launched a gas attack on Nyssa’s hometown, and her mentor lied about the dream to protect the survivors from more harm. When Nyssa learns her parents were injured in the attack, she flees with a stranger sent to steal the antidote—a stranger who claims to know her. Together, they race to deliver the cure as well as an interpretation of another prophetic dream only Nyssa can provide. But a devastating loss dulls her caution, and she learns too late that not everyone is trustworthy. To survive the president’s deadly pursuit, Nyssa must break every rule she’s ever followed, learning along the way that faith is the only thing that can save her. (Young Adult from Anaiah Press)

 

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

 

Methuselah Project S.O.S. by Rick Barry – In order to rescue a friend, Air Force Captain Roger Greene accepts temporary duty with the CIA–and lands in more danger than he ever imagined. (Romantic Suspense)

 

Mercy Will Follow by Sarah Hanks – Natassa is a devoted, and slightly devious, wife and mother. But when the unthinkable happens, she is forced to reexamine what she believes about life, truth, race, and the God she always thought she believed in. (Contemporary)

 

Hearts Aglow by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Jaycee Weaver – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Lighter Than Air by Linda Hoover – Elena Bishop’s father has gambled away their home, but she feels God has shown her what to do to save it in spite of interference from Justin Ramsay, her neighbor, who has an agenda of his own that doesn’t allow both of them to succeed. (Historical Romance)

 

Bag of Bones by Jackie Layton – Andi Grace Scott puts her sleuthing skills to the test when the island’s Cat Lady is found dead. (Cozy Mystery)

 

Seasoned ~ A Love Story by Jayme H. Mansfield – If you had one last chance to love, would you take it? (Contemporary Romance)

 

Verdict at the River’s Edge by Colleen K. Snyder – In a test of faith, God challenges Collin Walker to face her deepest fears for no other reason than, “Because I love you.” (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller)

 

Always and Forever by Cathe Swanson – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Ghost by Michael Jack Webb – The FBI’s youngest, most brilliant Profiler is tracking a serial killer with supernatural abilities, and the life-threatening case will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is myth, and what is something in between. (Supernatural Suspense)

 

Resisting by H. L. Wegley – Civil war has begun and a band of patriots takes on the president in a battle for the soul of America. (Romantic Suspense)

Help an author out! What would you like to read about next?

***Updated 11/1/20 to add: May I just take a moment to say I have the most thoughtful, incredible readers in the entire universe? You’ve all given me such helpful feedback and ideas about the kinds of stories you’d most like to read going forward. So a huge thank-you to each and every one of you who took the time to leave a comment.

And now the big news: WE HAVE A WINNER for the “sparkling vintage” earrings and a signed copy of Moondrop Miracle! Congratulations to Linda Gawthrop, whose name was drawn at random from all the commenters to this post who included the secret codeword “vintage.” (Linda, I’ve contacted you by e-mail to get your mailing address.)

Thanks again to every one of you. Stay tuned for more giveaways to come. And always remember to sparkle!***

I’m already in the early stages of thinking about which story I’ll write following THE ROSE KEEPER. It’s time to begin the brainstorming and research process on my next Sparkling Vintage historical novel.

Trouble is, I’ve got several story ideas floating around in my head, and I’d like YOU, my loyal readers, to help me decide! Leave a comment below and let me know what Sparkling Vintage time period or historical event you’d like me to write about. Would you like to see more stories set in the 1920s and 1930s? World War I, World War II, Classic Hollywood, the Gilded Age, the Nifty Fifties? Or perhaps some pre-20th-century time period like the Civil War or Old West?

Also, do you prefer sequels featuring characters you already know and love, or entirely new stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(P.S. If you’re a Reader Community member and you leave a comment containing the secret codeword, you’ll be entered to win a chance at the special prize I told you about in your most recent newsletter. If you’re not yet a Reader Community member and you want to be in on the fun, sign up in the box marked “Reader Community” and I’ll send you the details. Last day to enter the drawing is October 31, 2020.)

 

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