Tag Archives: Jennifer Jensen

Walking the Paths of the Past

by Kassandra Lamb and guest blogger, Jennifer Jensen

I love living history parks. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts are among my favorites. I love to learn about history by walking their dusty streets and watching folks in era-appropriate garb go about the tasks of life in times past.

So when children’s author, Jennifer Jensen, asked if she could guest post on our blog and tell us about Connor Prairie, I was thrilled.  Jen’s new release, Through the Shimmer of Time, is a time-travel adventure. Granted it’s aimed at 9-12 year olds, not our usual readership, but the story is chock full of mysteries: how did Jim get zapped back in time, who is behind the random thefts in the village, and how can Jim and Hannah prove that a suicide was really murder?

And I’ll tell you all a secret – I read this book and loved it!

Jen Jensen headshotSo here’s Jen to tell us about the park that inspired her fictional setting of the book, and provided her with a fun place to do her research.

Take it away, Jen!

First, thank you to the misterio press authors for inviting me here.  As the first guest blogger, I feel very privileged!

Conner Prairie is a fabulous living history park in Central Indiana, and my kids and I were frequent visitors.   When we started going, the 1836 Prairietown was the only area, but the park has expanded to include a Lenape Indian camp, Morgan’s Raid during the Civil War and baseball in the 1880s.

Connor House

(photo by Derek Jensen, CC BY 2.5, Wikimedia)

woman in costume making pottery

Woman making pottery (Photo by Derek Jensen, CC BY 2.5, Wikimedia Commons)

With so much history being acted out in front of us, what better place to ask “what if?”  What if you could really travel back in time instead of just talking to actors in costume?  What if a boy went exploring where he shouldn’t? What if he got accused of a crime when he arrived?  What if there was a ghost who wanted her name cleared?

When you don’t actually have a time travel machine, a living history museum can be the next best thing for research. Conner Prairie’s “1836” cabins are all historic buildings, moved onto the site from around the Midwest.  When you step onto those hand-planed boards, you know what it felt like in olden days.  The doors really were short, the stairs to an upstairs room really were narrow, and the mud really does crumble out of the chinking.

costumed woman by fireplace

(photo by Paul J. Everett, CC license via flickr.com)

storekeeper

the storekeeper (photo by Paul J Everett, CC license via flickr.com)

At Conner Prairie, the staff aren’t just in costume – they stay in character.  They have background information about their character’s personal life, his/her business and chores, and even where they moved from.  It’s fiction, but it’s all historically accurate.  If Mr. Whitaker talks about receiving goods for his store from Cincinnati, you can bet that central Indiana shops in 1836 got their stock there.

I helped make biscuits at the inn, and watched the blacksmith work the forge.  I could ask questions about a housewife’s herb garden, what she grew and how she kept pests away, but she would look blank if I asked what the modern name of something was.  I got good tips on what plants were used for which ailments, but once I had that clue I went back to modern research for details.

blacksmith's anvil

(photo by Paul J. Everett, CC license via flickr.com)

There were a few places where staff members did not have to stay in character.  One particular area, where kids could do some activities and ask questions, kept me from making a fool of myself.

In my book, Jim sleeps in the loft with the other children.  I had pictured a Little House on the Prairie loft from the television show, without thinking that Little House was set 50 years later.  But here I was, standing in an authentic cabin from the right time period.  And it turns out that to get to the loft, the kids would climb a straight-up ladder and go through a square cut in the ceiling.  The only real light in the loft was from the fireplace downstairs.  No happy children looking down on parents here!

Another tidbit: in the summer, families would remove the chinking between the logs in the loft to let some air flow through, and then re-chink when the seasons turned cooler.  Bunches of herbs were often hung to dry in the loft, and both of these tidbits made Jim’s reactions a bit richer – those shadowy shapes can be spooky!

log cabin

(photo by Paul J. Everett, CC license via flickr.com)

I still relied on historical records and books to verify and expand on the details, from food and medicine to journalistic style, but it was the hands-on research at Conner Prairie that let me capture the atmosphere for my fictional Granger Village.

If you could travel back in time, to “when” would you go?  Have you found a living history park that brings that favorite time period to life, and what sorts of mysteries can you imagine happening there?

Through the Shimmer of Time book coverThrough the Shimmer of Time

A mysterious pottery shard . . .
A haunted cabin . . .
A shadowy stranger . . .
And no way home
Present Day: Jim has a talent for getting into trouble. Grounded from his model rockets, he goes exploring where he shouldn’t and gets zapped back in time. Can he find the way back home or is he marooned in the past?
1838: Hannah’s life in her frontier village is filled with a little play and a lot of hard work. A seemingly harmless trick lures a strange, dazed boy from the old haunted cabin. Now Hannah must make a choice – and face the dangers.
Together, Jim and Hannah struggle to unmask a thief and solve a murder while they search for the key to unlock time.  It will take all their courage and wits, plus the rocket motors in Jim’s pocket, just to stay alive.

Jennifer Jensen is an award-winning writer who wouldn’t be without her computer or smart phone, but still dreams of living in the olden days. Until someone invents a working time machine, she lives in Indiana and makes do with plenty of imagination, loads of books and as much Dr. Who as the BBC will produce.

Through the Shimmer of Time is her first novel. Connect with her at her blog, through Facebook or on Twitter (@jenjensen2).

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun. Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

HERE’S A LITTLE SUNSHINE ON A FRIDAY!!

SunshineAward-ORIGINAL

The lovely Jennifer Jensen blessed me with the Sunshine Award. (She mistakenly said that I blog at Writers in the Storm. I wish I were part of that wonderful group of writers, but alas I am not.)

But I’m not giving the award back! It’s mine!

Before I answer the questions, etc. for this fun little meme I’d like to be serious for a moment. A blogger/writer friend, Susie Lindau (The Wild Ride) is always passing along positive energy. Today she needs some of ours. She’s in surgery. If you check out her latest post you’ll see why.

So a bunch of us decided to post this message: Susie Strong, we’re thinking of you! {{{HUGS}}}

Now on to spreading sunshine!

The rules of the Sunshine Award are:
•    Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog. (DONE)
•    Link to the person who nominated you. (DONE)
•    Answer the 10 questions below. (About to do so.)
•    Pass the award on to ten (or however many you want) “Sunshine inspiring” bloggers. (Thrilled to do so.)

Favorite color: It’s always been blue, any and every shade of blue. A close second is peach. In this case, other shades won’t do. It can’t be orange. It has to be peach!

picture of palomino horse

This was taken the day I bought her. Isn’t she gorgeous!

Favorite animal: Horses. I don’t ride much now but I had a small horse farm for twelve years. I had a palomino, Ardilla, who was the sweetest creature. She and I were like one when I was on her back. But she got old and eventually died, and somehow riding wasn’t the same anymore. She’s been dead for a decade and I still carry her picture in my wallet.

Favorite number: At the moment it’s five, for sure. Because I’m about to release my fifth book! Yay!

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: I live in the South now so it’s gotta be iced tea!! But I can’t quite develop a taste for sweet tea. My tea is more “not tart” tea.

Favorite alcoholic drink: Pinot Grigio, very cold, in a very large glass! (Prefer Barefoot brand; it’s got a little effervescence. A few tiny little bubbles that tingle on your tongue.)

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook, definitely. I like Kristen Lamb’s analogy (no relation to me, btw) that Twitter is a giant cocktail party. I like cocktail parties; they’re fun! But Facebook is more like one long, on-going visit with friends and family and my writer buddies.

Passions: Besides writing and psychology, my friends are my passion. I consider friendship to be the most important thing in life! I feel guilty a lot these days because my writing and helping to run misterio press take up so much time that I’m neglecting my friends.

I’m really not the right personality to be a writer. I’m working on developing my inner introvert more. 😀

Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts: Giving now. I used to love getting them too, and I still enjoy receiving gifts. But now I’m old and I have so much stuff (I’m a bit of a pack-rat) that I don’t get off like I once did on getting more stuff.

But I love to shop! Same dilemma though. Why should I buy more stuff to cram into my house? So buying gifts for others gives me a perfect excuse to shop. And I really enjoy their look of pleasure when the gift hits the mark!!

street scene in Colmar, France

A typical street in Colmar, France.

Favorite City: I’m not a big city girl. I like smaller cities. I think my favorite would be Colmar, Alsace, France. We stayed in an apartment there for a week as our home base while visiting other parts of Eastern France. It is a delightful little city!!

The Alsace region is on the border with Germany. You can really see the German influence in the architecture.

our Colmar apartment

Our Colmar apartment. It was great; much better than a hotel room.

Favorite TV Show: Criminal Minds. Hubs and I are addicted to it. He likes it because he used to work for the government. He says the way the BAU team interacts is very realistic. I like trying to figure out the psychological aspects. And I love the characters!

And now to bestow the Sunshine Award on others! Jennifer already tagged some of my favorite bloggers but here are some others I love to bits! If I duplicate anybody else’s picks, well that just means you’re extra popular, I guess. You all (the bloggers) don’t have to feel obligated to do the favorites list but I hope everybody reading this checks out these awesome blogs!

Not in any particular order:

Rhonda HopkinsWhere Reality and Fiction Collide ~ I’m particularly fond of her awesome Authors Give Back series.

Stacy Green’s Get Twisted. Her true crime posts will make the hair stand up on your neck.

Reneé A Schuls-Jacobson has the best sense of humor. Her posts always leave me howling!

K.B. Owen has an adorable blog where she chases the cozy thrill. She writes about history, mysteries, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I love her sense of humor too.

Beverly Diehl‘s Writing in the Flow.  She’s not afraid to take on some tough topics.

Amber West’s A Day Without Sushi is another great blog. She writes about a bunch of different stuff and does so very, very well.

Catie Rhodes just redid her site, Long Roads and Dark Ends, recently. It is spooky and beyond awesome!

Ginger Calem‘s Writers’ Butt Wednesdays are full of good advice, great recipes and lots of laughs.

August McLaughlin’s another blogger who’s not afraid to tackle the tough issues on Savor the Storm, and she’s a great champion of women developing healthier self-images and sexuality. (Her latest post was on female Viagra!)

Marcy Kennedy is not only a writer but she is a fantastic editor (she edited my latest book) and she writes great posts on writerly things.

Aw, gee, do I have to stop at ten? I could list about twenty more. But I’ll leave the others for these folks to tag.

What are some of your favorite things? Come on, don’t be shy. Tell us about them.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

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