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Dorothy's Christmas Star: A Quilting Story
Bonus Episode1st December 2022 • The Quilt Fiction Podcast • Frances O'Roark Dowell
00:00:00 00:44:05


In “Dorothy’s Christmas Star,” Dorothy Johnson approves of her daughter’s friendship with a group of girls from prominent families, but then begins to worry that young Hannah has grown ashamed of where she comes from. When Dorothy is left out of an important event, she decides to take matters into her own hands — only to be surprised by the results.

Hello and happy holidays!

If you’re looking for the free pattern and story download, you’ve come to the right place! I love the star block designed by Patty Dudek especially for this year’s Christmas story, and I know you’ll love it too! 

If you want to know more about the Quilt Fiction Story Guild, you’ve also come to the right place! Just click here to find out how to become a member!

I talked about the Story Guild at the beginning of the podcast, but let’s take a minute review how much fun it’s going to be, shall we?  First of all, we get to spend time with our favorite quilters,  the ladies of the  Milton Falls Wednesday Quilting Bee! We’ve got two new members on board, Edwina Baldwin and Eula’s daughter-in-law, Elise Baker, and you know how adding new people to the mix always complicates things. Yes, dears, there are some surprises in store!

Like Friendship Album, 1933, Friendship Album, 1934: Forget-Me-Not is a work-in-progress. I’ve written ten chapters so far and hope to have at least five more chapters done before Episode One drops on New Year’s Eve. By joining the Story Guild, you’ll be supporting me as I write. That’s right. you’ll be a patron of the arts, and this artist/writer greatly appreciates it!

I’m also super excited to share chapters from another WIP, Diary of a Mad Quilter. I’ve loved creating the modern day Milton Falls and my favorite new family, the Fetzers. Beginning in January, I’ll be sharing weekly excerpts from Marnie Fetzer’s diaries. As the title suggests, there’s a lot of humor in Marnie’s story, and I  hope you’ll enjoy spending time with the newest addition to the Milton Falls quilting roster. 

If you’re here, then you’re a story lover, so you’ll be glad to know that by joining the Story Guild, you’ll get even more Milton Falls quilting stories in your inbox. I’ve got a bunch of new stories in the hopper, including a Dorothy story from 1902, and a contemporary story that features Emmeline’s granddaughters(!). Expect surprise announcements of new audio stories and e-stories for you to download, one more way of saying thanks for your support!

As I mentioned on the podcast, we’ve got special gifts for everyone who joins in December. First, we’ll mail you a set of EIGHT holiday postcards as soon as you join–take a look at the cards on the website; they’re absolutely darling! 

Second, for joining the Quilt Fiction Story Guild this month, you’ll receive a free downloadable Friendship Album, 1933 audiobook with updated chapters, a $39.95 value. Please note, Friendship Album 1933 is no longer available on the free Quilt Fiction podcast. It will be available for sale in our Etsy store in 2023, but if you join the Story Guild in December, you’ll get it for free!  

I hope you’ll consider joining the Story Guild. We’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re getting a whole lot of great stuff in return for your support! 

Finally, a little about this year’s Christmas story.

“Dorothy’s Christmas Star” is set in 1918. If you’re looking for information about everyday life in the US at the turn of the 20th century, most of what you’ll find concerns white communities. This is a problem if you’re writing fiction about a black family and want to get all the details right.  

However, I’m fortunate to live in Durham, NC, home of a historic black neighborhood known as Hayti, about which a great deal has been written. Hayti was founded as an independent community shortly after the Civil War by freed enslaved people who’d come to Durham to work in the tobacco warehouses. By the early 20th century, Hayti was a thriving city within a city, with over 200 black-owned businesses. 

Dorothy’s neighborhood of Lincoln Heights is smaller than Hayti, but Hayti gave me the blueprint for what a self-contained black community in Milton Falls might be like in 1918. Like Hayti, Lincoln Heights has its own doctors, its own schools and its own black-owned businesses. And, like Hayti, it has its own elite, members of what W.B. Dubois called “the talented tenth.”

As a white, 21st century writer, I’m especially careful when writing about Dorothy and her family. While I believe that people of different backgrounds have more in common than not, and that a good writer can write outside of her own lived experience, I also stand by the edict that “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I’ve done my best to dig deep into my research when it comes to writing about Dorothy and her family. I hope I’ve done them justice, since they’re some of my favorite people in the world.

Thanks so much for being here and for supporting Quilt Fiction and my writing. I appreciate it. 

Sending you the warmest holiday wishes and hopes for a very merry Christmas to all who observe!




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