A Sparkling Vintage Life

World War II

Sparkling Vintage Reads and Giveaway!: An Interview with Sarah Sundin

Anchor in the StormOne of my very favorite historical eras to read about is World War II, a naturally dramatic time period that lends itself to engaging stories. With eight novels set in that time period, Sarah Sundin has become a master of the genre. Her latest book, Anchor in the Storm, has just released from Revell to widespread acclaim. Publishers Weekly said, “Sundin, exhibiting her usual flair for 1940s history and setting, will delight WWII buffs.” Booklist called it “an optimal hybrid of 1940s crime and romance” And RT (Romantic Times) Book Review gave it four stars, saying, “Full of exciting intrigue . . . just the right amount of romance to balance out the drama.”

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Here’s the scoop: For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection?

If you’d like to enter to win a free copy of Anchor in the Storm, simply post a comment below or send an e-mail to jenny (at) jenniferlamontleo.com. The winner will be drawn at random on Monday, May 9, 2016, and I’ll notify the winner.

Jennifer Lamont Leo: Welcome, Sarah. Anchor in the Storm is the second release in your Waves of Freedom series, set during World War II.* What has intrigued you about this time in history?

Sarah Sundin: The World War II era has always fascinated me—and not just because of the swinging music, cute dresses, and men in uniform. It was a time when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and when women tried exciting new roles. The war highlighted the darkest nature of humanity, but it also brought out the best. It’s an era full of drama, daring, and romance—perfect for a novel.

JLL: What sparked your imagination for this particular story?

SS: My husband and I are both pharmacists. A few years ago he made a transition from medical research to community pharmacy, and he was stunned at the extent of the narcotic abuse epidemic that’s now making the news. He cracked down on shady prescriptions, and my novelist’s brain began to churn. What if he angered someone big in the illegal drug community? But what if it happened in World War II? And the pharmacist was a woman? And I gave her a physical disability to make things even more interesting…?

JLL: Tell us a bit about your research process for Anchor in the Storm. Do you have any favorite resources for World War II research?

SS: For starters, I had to research life in the US Navy, the U-boat war off America’s East Coast, pharmacy practice, and Boston during World War II. My favorite resource for WWII military research is the HyperWar website, which contains hundreds of documents—manuals, official histories, and more. For researching the Battle of the Atlantic, I’ve been a frequent visitor at uboat.net, an extraordinarily thorough and well-researched site. For Lillian’s story, my favorite resource was a book called Pharmacy in World War II by Dennis Worthen.

JLL: What do you most hope readers will take away from Anchor in the Storm?

SS: Both Arch and Lillian have placed their identity and security in their careers. But when those careers are threatened, so is that identity, that security. I hope readers will learn along with Arch and Lillian that our true identity rests in Christ alone, and that the Lord is our security. That’s the “hope we have as an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).

JLL: Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life these days?

SS: My family is going through a lot of change. Our oldest son graduated from college and got a Real Job, our daughter got married—and they’re all living a full day’s drive away. Our youngest son graduates from high school next month and ships out to Navy boot camp this summer. These are all happy and wonderful things, but change is…change. And deadlines are deadlines.

JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded during the writing and publishing process?

SS: God has a way of keeping me grounded and bonking me on the head any time that head threatens to get swollen. I can count on it—and I’m glad of it. He’s also placed wonderful, godly friends in my life who know me as “Sarah,” not as “Sarah Sundin, Author.” They slap me upside the head when I get whiny or fretful or just plain annoying. With all the head-bonking and head-slapping, I should have a concussion by now.

JLL: What are you reading these days?

SS:  Funny you should ask, because I recently finished a charming, sparkling novel called You’re the Cream in My Coffee, by a certain Jennifer Lamont Leo (shameless plug intended).

JLL: You are too kind. 🙂 🙂 🙂

SS: And I just started reading another debut novel called Close to You, by Kara Isaac—it’s about a woman who conducts Tolkien tours in New Zealand and a man who’s stuck on a tour against his will. Great fun!

JLL: What’s on your music playlist?

SS: An awful lot of big band music! Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Artie Shaw. I love it, and it puts me “In the Mood” to write my stories. Now it’s your turn to slap me.

JLL: What’s the next book project coming up for you?

SS: The third book in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn, is going through edits right now, and I’m starting work on my new series about three estranged brothers who fight on D-Day from the sea, the air, and the ground.

JLL: Thank you so much, Sarah. Anchors in the Storm is a marvelous story.

SS: Thank you so much for hosting me today!

*(Breaking news: The first book in the series, Through Waters Deep, has just been named a finalist in the prestigious INSPY Awards for faith-driven fiction!)

About Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. http://www.sarahsundin.com

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

We have a winner!

The randomly-chosen winner of a copy of Jan Cline‘s heart-stirring new novel EMANCIPATED HEART is Violetta Davis! Congratulations, Violetta. Check your e-mail for a note from me (Jennifer).

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! I hope you will continue to visit this blog, where we talk about Sparkling Vintage Fiction…among other things. 🙂

emancipated heart

Hana Kato and her family are nearing the end of their confinement in a WWII Japanese American internment camp. Her beloved Papa has been taken to prison, and Hana works hard to keep the family together until he can join them in preparation for their release. Surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, and years of enduring difficult living conditions has tested Hana’s faith and trust. Although she stays strong through trials and tragedy, her resolve is weakened as she fights her affections for two men. Will she choose the rebel Japanese young man? Or will the bright Caucasian doctor she works with win her love? Emancipated Heart will hold your attention with a setting of an interesting era in American history, and a lesson in true loyalty, love and forgiveness, told through a Christian worldview.

Sparkling Vintage Read with Giveaway!: EMANCIPATED HEART by Jan Cline

emancipated heartThe other day I wrote about a fun “Forties Frolic” event set at a USO during World War II. This event focused on the positive aspects of life on the homefront during the war: the determined efforts to support the men in uniform, the camaraderie of a community pulling together during difficult times, and even the cheerful Big Band music that lifted the spirits and soothed the heart.

But despite these nostalgic aspects, the reality is that war is hell, and even on the homefront there was a darker side. One of the more shameful blots on U.S. history is the internment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps for the duration of the war.

Jan Cline

Jan Cline

Pacific Northwest author Jan Cline has just released a novel whose story revolves around one such internment camp in Wyoming.  Emancipated Heart follows one family through the trials of life behind barbed wire. “Considering the current events in our country, this book will remind us how easily history repeats itself, and how God calls us to act humanely in all situations,” Jan explains.  “The topic of internment is not well taught in history books. Emancipated Heart will inform and educate, all while providing an entertaining, enjoyable read for anyone, especially history lovers.”

I asked Jan to tell us about Emancipated Heart and the writing life, and she graciously agreed. Better still, she’s going to send a copy of Emancipated Heart to a lucky winner! Simply post a comment below or e-mail me privately at jenny (at) jenniferlamontleo.com to be entered in a Rafflecopter drawing for a copy of Emancipated Heart. I’ll hold the drawing on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, and will notify the winner.

Let’s give a warm Sparkling Vintage welcome to Jan Cline!

Jennifer Lamont Leo: First, the basics. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? Husband, kids, pets…?

Jan Cline: I grew up in central California and moved to Washington State in Jr. High. Been here ever since with my hubby of 43 years. We have 3 children and 8 grandchildren – most live nearby but some are across the U.S. We have a Yorkie named Cooper who rules the house and pretty much runs our life!

JLL: Tell us about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.

I’ve been writing since childhood, and started writing devotionals as an adult and some other non-fiction pieces for magazines and other publications. I always thought I would forever be a non-fiction writer. But a friend dared me to write fiction and I gave it a try. After completing my first “novel” I was hooked. Of course it was terrible, but it got me started on the road to learning how to write fiction.

JLL: How did you get inspired to write Emancipated Heart?

JC: I was researching for another story I planned to write and happened on information about the Japanese American’s plight during WWII. I was fascinated and knew I had to write about it.

JLL: Tell us about your research process for Emancipated Heart.

JC: I LOVE to research and I did extensive reading on the topic, and found several documentaries with personal interviews. I decided to visit the Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming to see for myself what it might have been like. They have a wonderful interpretive center there and it captured my imagination. I visited Japantown and Chinatown in the Seattle area and read and viewed everything I could get my hands on. Most Japanese who were interned are not willing to talk too much about their experience, so I didn’t have the opportunity to speak personally with many who were interned. I returned to Heart Mountain when the manuscript was done and was even more moved – Heart Mt. is what I modeled my story after.

JLL: Did writing Emancipated Heart reflect your own life and/or faith journey in any way? If so, discuss.

JC: I think the theme of freedom is one we can all relate to – especially as it concerns the message of Christianity. And I think we have all been treated unfairly at some time. I remember as a young girl being looked down upon for being poor, and that’s just a very small experience with prejudice. I discovered the Japanese American people of that time were far more dignified that I would have been under those circumstances. I was encouraged in my own faith, just by the mere perseverance of these people.

JLL: What 2 or 3 people have had the greatest influence on your writing thus far, and why?

JC: I have been coached by Susan May Warren, who always encouraged me in my writing. She has been an inspiration to me. My friends in the business like James L. Rubart, Mick Silva, Tracie Peterson, and others, have been faithful to encourage and inspire me by their creative and spiritual walks. I have been blessed that way.

JLL: Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life?

JC: I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about 8 years ago, and I find it difficult to keep up with life and writing sometimes. The challenges of chronic pain is something I have to deal with daily, but writing is a good escape, when I’m able. Being disciplined is always an issue for me, so I’m trying hard to do better now.

JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded?

JC: Writing and being accountable to the message God has asked me to share is a way for me to stay dependent on Him. I know that without Him I would write only for self-glory, and I would surely fail.

JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?

JC: I am a slow reader, so I don’t get as much read in a year as I would like. Some of my favorite authors are Charles Martin, James L. Rubart, Susan May Warren, and Lynn Austen. I also enjoy reading non-fiction – especially by Ravi Zacharis and other great spiritual leaders.

JLL: What’s on your music playlist?

JC: I love listening to movie soundtracks. I have several different playlists to listen to depending on what I’m writing.

JLL: Are there any can’t-miss TV series, blogs, podcasts, vlogs, etc., that you’d recommend?

JC: For podcasts, I recommend Author Media and Write from the Deep. Blogs – I have a million I love, but the key ones I’m following right now are Jane Friedman, Chip MacGregor, My Book Therapy. TV series? Anything Alaska!

JLL: What do you do for fun?

We own a cabin up at Twin Lakes, Idaho, and we spend a lot of time there. Also love to golf, spend time with grandchildren, and I’m a craft addict for sure. We love to travel, and have been to many wonderful places around the world.

JLL: What’s the next project coming up next from Jan Cline, Author?

JC: I’m working on what I hope will be a series of women’s fiction set in the depression days up through WWII. I also peck away at a Christmas novella I hope to have out this Christmas season. I will keep doing all the promo and marketing for Emancipated Heart as well. I’d love for readers to pick up a copy and also help spread the word, AND write Amazon reviews for all the books they read!

JLL: Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

JC: Visit my website, jancline.net, sign up for my newsletter/blog, and receive a free download of a booklet I wrote titled “What to Do While You’re Waiting to Be Published.”

JLL: Thanks for chatting with us today, Jan.

JC: Thanks so much, Jenny, for this opportunity to share with your readers. It’s been a treat!

Jan Cline is an author and speaker from the Pacific Northwest. She has been involved with the writing/publishing community for several years, and was the founder and director of the Inland NW Christian Writers conference for 5 years. She teaches at writer’s conferences and speaks for women’s groups in the Northwest.

Jan enjoys golf, attending her grandchildren’s sports activities, and loves to bake – proud to be called the queen of cheesecakes by her friends and family. She also indulges heavily in crafts such as quilting, painting, and scrapbooking. When she needs a break from a hectic life, she and her husband of 40+ years escape to their cabin on a northern Idaho lake.


A Sparkling Vintage Event: The Forties Frolic! Recap

forties frolic posterThis past weekend was the “Forties Frolic” fund-raiser for the Bonner County History Museum. It’s the main reason I’ve been so quiet on this blog recently, as it took up a lot of my writerly time and energy–but it was totally worth it!

The whole evening was a delight: live Big Band music, delicious food inspired by recipes from the era, vintage-wearing revelers, and World War II-era decorations in a historic building that actually was our local USO during the 1940s, serving the sailors stationed at nearby Farragut Naval Training Station, as well as servicemen and -women passing through Sandpoint on their way hither and yon.

history mystery radio show

Photo: Jill Murray

My contribution to the evening was to write, direct, and act in the “History Mystery” drama portion. Set up as a radio station “broadcasting live from the USO on radio station K. L. U. K., the fifty-watt blowtorch of North Idaho,” the drama featured a radio cast of eight, plus five “USO hostesses,” a Civil Defense director, a visiting movie star, and her long-suffering assistant. The evening alternated between music and dancing and the History Mystery. In the end, guests voted on which character they thought committed the crime (a stolen necklace) and one lucky winner won three cans of Spam and a bottle of wine. (There were much more appealing raffle prizes, too, donated by generous sponsors.)

north bound band

North Bound,, featuring Kelly Dragoo (photo by Jill Murray)

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m so proud of the actors, the cooks, the servers, the musicians, the sponsors, and everyone who put in 110% to make the event a success, including all the people who came out to support the museum. Because it’s always fun to think up fresh and creative ways to share the history of our region. And because it was the “perfect storm” of fabulousness for this history- and theater- and vintage-loving writer to combine all her favorite things into one tidy bundle. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled Sparkling Vintage Life!

Down to Business: Top Secret Rosies and some random thoughts on work/life balance

top secret rosiesMy husband and I watched a fascinating documentary last night via Netflix. Top Secret Rosies tells the story of the highly talented and dedicated women who worked as “computers” for the U. S. government during World War II (at the time, the term “computer” referred not to the machine, but to the person doing the computing). Civilians all, these women used their well-educated mathematical minds in ballistics research for the military to increase the accuracy of weapons’  trajectories–in other words, to increase the likelihood that the torpedo or rocket would hit its target, no matter what weather or other atmospheric conditions prevailed.

This was fascinating stuff. I will set aside (temporarily) my personal feelings about things like carpet bombing and Hiroshima. I will also set aside (temporarily) my complete and utter awe of people who function easily in the world of higher mathematics, when the simplest calculations make my brain fog over like London in a Dickens novel. My focus here is on the women and the work the did, and the fact that they did it.

As I trawl around the blogosphere, I find a couple of common fallacies about women and work. Depending on the blogger’s personal and political ideology, it usually goes something like this:

“Before 1965, women were chained within their kitchens. The rare woman who sought a career outside the home was treated as a social pariah and blocked at every turn as she bravely trampled down barriers so that future generations of women would not be chained to their kitchens.”

or, at the other extreme,

“Before 1965, women sang joyfully within their kitchens. The rare woman who was forced by circumstances to work outside the home was an object of pity. If she worked because she (gasp) liked it, her family suffered for her selfishness, or she had to forgo family life altogether and return every night to a lonely supper of crackers and canned soup, which is exactly what she deserved.”

The first group attacks the second group by questioning their values. mocking all things domestic and calling women who pursue them all sorts of ugly names.

The second group attacks the first group by questioning their values, mocking all things industrial, and calling women who pursue them all sorts of ugly names.

Ladies, can we stop all this? Just stop.

Now, there will always be exceptional women like those portrayed in Top Secret Rosies. No one’s suggesting that their lives are typical of every woman. After all, if they weren’t extraordinary, why would someone make a documentary about them? In Top Secret Rosies, most of the “women computers” eventually married and had children. Mind you, not necessarily during wartime, when they were working ’round-the-clock on secret government projects. But within their lifetimes, there was room for both public and domestic lives. Let’s just say they did their part to contribute to the postwar Baby Boom. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

The point of this post is that most women’s lives are, and always have been, an ebb and flow of varying responsibilities, even in the “bad old days” when they were “forbidden” to work, or in the “good old days” when they were “protected” from it.

When I worked full-time away from home, I was still a homemaker, in that I had a home to care for and a mouth to feed, even when it was just my own. Now that I’m at home most of the time, I’m still a businesswoman in that I have clients to serve, meetings to attend, and [sometimes infuriating] software to master. This is the case with most women I know. So why do we feel we have to choose a side and dig in our heels about it?

Just this morning I was reading in the Bible about Lydia, the “seller of purple cloth” who supported the apostle Paul’s ministry out of her abundant resources. Lydia may have been exceptional for her time. She may have been a single woman without children, or a widow with grown children (for everything there is a season), which would explain the freedom to travel around that was unusual for a female in her culture. But in the end, the important thing was not whether she was a businesswoman or a homemaker, or a bit of both. The important thing was that she followed Jesus Christ. That’s what she’s remembered for.

No matter what else I may or may not do in life, no matter what “season” I find myself, I hope the same will be said about me.


Sparkling Vintage Fiction: In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

in perfect time coverProlific author Sarah Sundin has earned a well-deserved reputation for writing compelling inspirational stories set during World War II. Her latest book, In Perfect Time, is no exception.

In Perfect Time , the third book in the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores), captures all the flavor and energy of World War II. Details of this compelling historical period are so vivid, you can almost hear Tommy Dorsey’s band warming up in the background.

Pretty, flirtatious flight nurse Kay Jobson has one goal in mind: to become an Army Air Force Chief Nurse, which would require additional training. The trouble is, Kay’s supervisors think she’s not serious about her career, due to the fact that she’s out on the town practically every night with a different fellow. Little do they know that her carefree, devil-may-care exterior masks a deeply wounded heart. But whatever you do, don’t talk to Kay about religion–she doesn’t want to hear it.

Only one man can see past Kay’s glamorous appearance to glimpse the hurting child inside. Lieutenant Roger Cooper experienced a rather colorful past of his own, and he recognizes Kay’s pain for what it is. Seemingly inoculated to the feminine charms that other men fall for, Roger understands that while “religion” in the wrong hands can cause great harm, “religion” has little to do with genuine faith. Will he be able to make Kay see it, too?

And, hey, flyboy…are you really so steel-hearted against Kay’s allure as you have led everyone to believe? Hmm. Read In Perfect Time and find out!

UPDATE: Visit Sarah’s Facebook page to enter to win a Kindle HDX (contest runs until 8/24)!

Also, Sarah’s giving away a free copy of In Perfect Time on the “Inspired by Life and Fiction” blog. Only those in the U.S. are eligible to win. To enter, visit the blog “Inspired by Life and Fiction” and leave a comment on Sarah’s post.  Check back on that post next Saturday (8/23) to see if you won!

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.


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