With Gladness: The Modern Era

with-gladness-coverWhere do we even begin to describe our modern holiday celebrations? Do we take a rosy image, ironic portrait, or cynical tone?

With no offense to anyone’s preferred ways of celebrating (and I know I’ll miss mentioning some clever and creative ideas), this blog post will attempt to leave a simplified record of Christmas in the 2010s. Please chime in with your own observations and traditions in the comment section. After all this is history that we are attempting to record as its happening.

The last short story in With Gladness is set in the current, modern era. While it features a “typical” American home setting, the story also looks back to a Christmas event in 1968 through Grandpa’s story. Continue reading

With Gladness: Vietnam Conflict

with-gladness-coverThere’s a lot of irony in that title, isn’t there? Gladness and joy usually aren’t the terms we associate with the Vietnam Conflict. Why did I even put a story with that setting in the Christmas story collection? I try to write realistically in my historical fiction. That involves research (especially in the bigger novels where there are lots of details). It also involves avoiding the cliché – at least attempting.

It might be cliché to have every Christmas story ending happily. I believe in satisfactory endings, but it doesn’t always have to be sunshine and roses. (In An Unbroken Circle, it’s evergreens and baby’s breath flowers – lots of symbolism in that choice.)

I didn’t start writing this blog post to justify my story plot choices. You’ll either like it or you’ll move on to the last story. This article will attempt to share some history on the Vietnam Conflict. Believe me, it’s a topic that can’t be fully covered even in a 500 page non-fiction book, but we’ll try to let our simplified 800 word blog post give you a little more insight to the setting of the short story. Continue reading

With Gladness: World War II Christmases

with-gladness-coverChristmas and other holidays in the 1940’s seem not as “far distant” as other historical eras. I think this is because I’ve heard so many stories from my grandparents and great-aunt about their war time holiday celebrations.

When I originally planned the World War II era story for With Gladness, I intended to base it off a Christmas play we had done years before and the setting would’ve been Battle of the Bulge. However, there were flaws in that story plot, and I eventually decided to scrap the idea. Having experienced moments of waiting for news from family and acquaintances in the military, I decided the home front setting might be better and more familiar for writing. If the theory is true that writing is good if it makes the author cry, then “Stars In The Window” should be one of the best the collection.

Now, without further jabbering, here are a few historical background facts or highlights from the tale. Continue reading

With Gladness: The Dust Bowl

with-gladness-coverOne of the best things about writing is finding the right setting for a story. In my opinion, the more challenge in the historical setting, the better emphasis on character change and struggle. An especially difficult and challenging time in the America history was the Great Depression (1929-1941). The states affected by the Dust Bowl were particularly hard-hit.

In the midst of this dirt and difficulty, I found a perfect setting for the short story “Song of Hope.” I’d read about the Dust Bowl and Depression; I’d heard stories from my grandfather who spent the earliest years of his life in the dust destroyed region of northern Texas. Listening to his stories and reading other accounts, I realized the amazing courage and hope those families had to stay (or move). I hope some of those challenges and successes are well-presented in With Gladness: A Christmas Story Collection. Continue reading

With Gladness: The Gilded Age

with-gladness-coverVictorian Christmas. The style, decorations, and ideals from the late Victorian era continue to influence holiday decorating and traditions. It’s the “classic” era when Christmas becomes a holiday and month long whirl of happiness.

However, “Victorian Era” is really a British term. The “late Victorian era” is the Gilded Age in American history. So, with its proper name, I’ve introduced some features of the holiday era in the story “Curses or Blessings” in With Gladness.

Today, we present some historical background to the story and invite you to explore this era of opulence and poverty. Continue reading