With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual.
In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.
About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married.
Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret).
That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again.
Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another.
Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle!
A marriage that lost its spark. A secret journal. And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.
Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.
Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.
And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title.
Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller.
Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!
Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.
I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love?
He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.
Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?
Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.
Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.
He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?
Did you know that the American Valentine greeting card business was started by a woman in 1847? Not only that, but she ran her extremely profitable business out of her home and employed other women in assembly-line craftsmanship years before Henry Ford made the business model famous.
Esther Howland was a college-educated woman who also happened to be the daughter of a stationer and bookseller. The year she graduated from the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847, she received an English Valentine from one of her father’s associates. At this time, such cards were imported from Europe and very expensive. They would only be available for the wealthy elite. Yet, as she looked at this card, her entrepreneurial mind saw possibilities. Have you ever found something in a store with an outrageous price tag and thought, “I could make that for a fraction of the cost”? Well, Esther not only had that thought, but she created a business plan.
She asked her father to order lace paper, paper flowers, and other supplies from Europe, then she set about creating her own designs. When she had a dozen, she presented them to her brother who reluctantly agreed to take them with him on his next sales trip. She hoped to receive perhaps $200 worth of orders. She received $5,000!
She dedicated a room in her home as her manufacturing shop, recruited her friends to help, and got to work. She would create the patterns for each piece of the valentine, then pass them off to the other girls to duplicate. Each one would be in charge of a certain piece of the multi-layered card. By 1849, the assembly line had been perfected and her business was born. She began to advertise and eventually expanded into the Christmas and birthday card market as well. Her basic cards sold for five cents. Her more elaborate designs containing hidden doors, ribbon trimmings, and gilded lace would sell for as much as one dollar.
In 1870, she incorporated the New England Valentine Company, but she continued running the business out of her home until 1879 when she moved it into a factory. She even allowed customized verse. All of her cards included four lines of poetic verse. However, if you fell in love with a particular card design but didn’t care for the verse, you could purchase The New England Valentine Co.’s Valentine Verse Book and simply cut one you like better from the 131 available in the book and paste it over the verse that didn’t suit. Clever woman!
********** GIVEAWAY **********
In honor of Valentine’s Day and clever women who create romantic masterpieces, I’d like to invite you to a Facebook party and offer a chance to win one of three fantastic Valentine prizes.
Sixteen fabulous historical authors are coming together to celebrate romance on Feb 13-14. We’ll be chatting live with readers during this party, and I’d love to see you there. My time slot is
7:00 pm CST on Feb 14th.
Since we are coming up very soon on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might talk about love, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love. The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing. As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that. That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.
My own tale began with a kiss. But let me backtrack. I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California like my home. Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons. After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again. Sigh…
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own. One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date. I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date. That was in January of 1996. GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date. The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great. He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
The date was good — okay. We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me. So, I put it behind me. He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing. To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me. She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.” and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so. Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.” And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
I had no idea that she would call his brother. I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date. Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends. So I accepted.
Goodness! Little did I know what was in store. On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends. He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me. Now, this was quite some kiss. He meant it. And I became very aware of that. His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world was spinning — but in a good way. Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
Well, that was that. We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996. Our first date was February 3rd 1996. So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. Well, a lot, I’m afraid. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY. That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work. Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book. His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.
Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears…!
In May of this year, we will have been married 23 years. Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 23 years more or less have gone by now. People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile. To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows. He stole my heart with that first kiss. (I’ll knock on wood here.) As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” — it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss. Ah, sweet!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message. I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift? You bet I will. I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!
No doubt about it. I am a California beach girl. Somehow, though, the heroes in my books always seem to end up cowboys. For that “wild west” reason, the fillies here in Wildflower Junction let me be a member of the corral for almost nine years.
However, in June 2017, family matters demanded I put writing and blogging on hold. Some good stuff, like a baby granddaughter. Others, not so good, like a still-ailing mother-in-law. But the fillies assured me I’d always be welcomed back. And after twelve months of catching my breath, four amazing inspirational authors invited me last summer to participate in a Valentine anthology. It released January 11, so—here I am!
Timing was perfect. Jumping back into the writing saddle with “Heart of Hope” was a great ride. Since the keystone of each of our novellas was a recipe, nothing else would do but the directions for my late Aunt Grace’s historic banana bread. And well, that itself led to the hero having an Aunt Grace…
Of course, nowhere else would do for my setting but my beloved California. I decided to return to a place I’d used before, fictional Rancho Lorena inspired by the real-life Central Coast town of Santa Ynez, established in 1882.
It’s a favorite place to visit, and rich in history. In 1858, the Overland Coast Line stagecoach ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the Santa Ynez Valley area just about smack dab in the center. Sometimes travelers stayed on or came back, and civilization grew into a true microcosm of the American West with saloons, mercentilers, blacksmiths, and tillers of the soil. By 1887, the Pacific Coast Railroad roared through.
The valley and town likely took the name Santa Ynez from the nearby Mission of Santa Ynes, established by the Franciscans in 1804 and named for Saint Agnes of Rome.
Then and now, the near-perfect climate is ideal for raising cattle, olives, and fruit. These days, 20% of the valley’s land is cultivated for wine grapes.
This photo I took is the tree that lends its name to my hero, Akron McCrory’s, ranch, the Leanin’ Tree. I have no idea why it’s bent, but I liked the idea it somehow could have been a trail marker left by the native tribe.
The Thyme Arbor Inn, where Akron and Bree run into her sneaky ex Marshall, is inspired by this restaurant:
The California coastal oaks are one of the area’s hallmarks. I think you’ll see some in my story.
As well as these horses on Akron’s ranch.
If you want to get into the Valentine spirit early with some sweet reads filled with love and romance, food and family sprinkled with faith, please check out our anthology.
From today’s commenters, I will be pulling one name out of the Stetson to receive a digital copy of Love, Sweet Love, so don’t be a stranger. Please and thank you.
So to get you in the sweetheart mood, what do you prefer giving/getting—flowers, a mushy card, or CHOCOLATE?
And before I ride off into the sunset, I need to publicly thank Mary, Dora, Delia, and Zoe for all their hand-holding. Thank you, Mary Manners (head of the project), Dora Hiers (aka my rock), Delia Latham (who designed all our covers) and Zoe McCarthy (made this old lady want to go skiing again.)
Here’s a bit about HEART OF HOPE.
He gave Bree her first kiss, but can he give her a future? She’s back in Rancho Lorena but not to stay—until Akron steals her heart. For good this time. But his ranch is in financial trouble, and she’s a rich developer. A recipe for disaster. Until they find the missing ingredients of love, happiness, and hope when they help out together at a home for young women in need.
LIKE A DANCE by Delia Latham A former celebrity dancer with a child she adores. A successful but burnt-out therapist to Hollywood’s rich and famous. When they show up in Hummingbird Hollow at the same time, sparks fly… but can they fan the flames?
LANDING IN LOVE by Mary Manners Erin Mulvaney is comfortable in front of both crowds and cameras. It’s the tango of one-on-one relationships, especially when it comes to men, that ties up her tongue. When handsome Kyle arrives to renovate her family’s restaurant, can she conquer her fears to cover the project alongside him?
HER VALENTINE VET by Dora Hiers Veterinarian Murphy Denton doesn’t trust people. Heiress Micaela Stanford would donate her fortune to care for abandoned animals. Her generous spirit crushes his defenses. Will his dysfunctional past prevent them from a happily-ever-after?
GOOD BREAKS by Zoe M. McCarthy Life has dealt a mammography tech and an entrepreneur bad breaks and led them to a small North Carolina ski town. A new bad break introduces them. Can they share more than a love of skiing? Or is she intent only on fixing his flaws?
Ah, those wonderful love letters! Don’t we love reading them? I must admit I have an affinity for love letters because of the insights they give us into the past, and the people who lived then.
With Valentine’s Day almost here and my 39th wedding anniversary just celebrated on the 10th, love letters are something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Probably because of the time of year, but also because, as authors, we have to use letters and notes in our writing to “get the message” across that perhaps our characters might not be able to speak aloud.
My hubby is, like many men, not sentimental. He wouldn’t care if I never got him another Valentine’s Day or anniversary card, but they mean a lot to me—so we exchange them every year. I suspect that, through the years past right down to the present, most men didn’t and don’t make flowery love speeches from their hearts, or even write their innermost thoughts and feelings in cards and letters.
One of the most poignant love letters I know of is the famous letter written by Union Army Major Sullivan Ballou, just before the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 where he died at the age of 32. Married only 6 years, he left behind two small sons and his wife, Sarah. The letter he wrote to Sarah days before he was killed is one that speaks poignantly of his guilt at having to choose between his duty to country and duty to family. Ken Burns used a shortened version of the letter in his series, The Civil War—and its contents are unforgettable, and so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.
In part, it reads:
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
I had to come up with a love letter, of sorts, for my latest novel, Sabrina, part of the 4-book set entitled MAIL-ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Oh, nothing to beautiful as this letter penned by a soldier marching to his inevitable death, but a letter that had to convince Sabrina to leave her wealthy lifestyle in Philadelphia and come West to Indian Territory!
Sabrina and her three older sisters (Lola, written by Celia Yeary; Belle, written by Jacquie Rogers; Lizzy, written by Livia J. Washburn; and Sabrina, my character) have to have mail-order arrangements in order to get out of the fix they’re in with a step-father who plans to sell them to the highest bidder—and they don’t have much time to do it. When Sabrina receives two proposals on the same day, she counts her lucky stars that she’s able to compare the two letters and has a choice between the two men who have written her—something many women of the day did not have.
She’s safely with the man she’s chosen now, Cameron Fraser, but she’s remembering the day she received the letters and why she made the decision she did. Take a look:
She’d answered ads from both Cameron Fraser and David Mason. Ironically, she’d received offers from both men on the same day. That had been a blessing, as she was able to compare their responses immediately.
Mr. Mason had written one page, in sprawling wide script.
“I have need of a wife to help me raise my four children I was left with after my sainted Amelia passed on last year. Your help will be appreciated. And I will do right by you. I hope you are a willing worker and a good cook. Can you make good cornbread? That is a must in our home…”
She’d opened Mr. Mason’s letter first, and tucked it back into the envelope quickly. She’d hoped she’d managed to keep the revulsion from her face when her oldest sister, Lola, had come hurrying through the door. Lola was five years older, and Sabrina could never manage to keep a secret from her, no matter how she tried.
“Well?” Lola had asked, pinning Sabrina with “the look” that Sabrina dreaded.
“I haven’t read them,” Sabrina said defiantly.
“Bree. You know we have to get out of here—the sooner the better. We don’t have much time.”
Here’s the difference, and why she chose Cam. He wanted her for more than making cornbread!
Lola had turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. That’s how Sabrina knew her oldest sister was angry—or hurt. Maybe both.
She’d sighed, and begun to open the letter from Mr. Cameron Fraser. And before she’d read the entire first page of his two-page missive, she knew her decision was made.
Dear Miss Remington,
Thank you for your very kind response to the ad I placed for a bride. I felt out of place to do such a thing, but your answer made me glad I did so, after all.
I know that Indian Territory may seem uncivilized and wild to a well-bred lady such as yourself, who has grown up in the cultured, genteel society of the East, but I assure you, I will do everything in my power to welcome you. In no time at all, I hope you’ll come to think of the Territory as your home.
My family owns a fairly large cattle ranch in Indian Territory. I wanted to assure you that, although the ranch itself is somewhat isolated, we are close enough to Briartown to travel there frequently for supplies.
You will be safe here, Miss Remington, and cherished. You will be well-treated, and I promise you here and now, I will never raise a hand to you.
If it is your will, and I hope it will be, I am willing to be a good and loving father to any children we may have—and a good and loving husband to you.
The sky here is the bluest you’ve ever seen. The water is the freshest and coldest. And I hope you will come to love the open range as much as we Frasers do.
I await your arrival in Ft. Smith. I will meet you there, where we’ll be legally married in a civil ceremony before we travel together to the ranch. Enclosed, you will find a financial draft for your passage and travel expenses.
Cameron James Fraser
Something about the underlying feeling of the words Cam had written spoke to Sabrina. That he’d taken time to describe—even briefly—how he felt about his ranch made her know that he cared about her feelings—not just about what skills she might bring to the marriage table.
I see it, too, don’t you? He loves the land and his life, and wants her to share it with him. I wonder if women who were forced to take this route looked for these types of things—I know I would. And Sabrina is a bit of an adventurer, so going to Indian Territory would not hold her back. Adventure awaited!
Have you ever received a love letter that meant the world to you? I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and they’re tucked away in my desk and my heart! If you would like to share, we’d love to hear about your love letters—it’s that time of the year—love is in the air!
Here’s the blurb for MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS–buy link below!
Boxed set of four full length mail order bride novels.
Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…
LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?
BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?
SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?
LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.
Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link!
Americans didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day as we know it until the mid-1800s. By 1856, the practice of sending somewhat sappy cards had become so widespread that newspapers began to call the blossoming tradition a “social disease.” Conservative elements in society tried to stamp out the celebration because they considered such unvarnished expression of fondness evidence of “moral deterioration.” The February 1856 edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine included a cartoon depicting card-giving as crass and self-indulgent.
A “window” valentine, ca. 1864. Such cards were called window valentines because front flaps opened to reveal a hidden message or image.
A scant five years later, as the Civil War began, Valentine’s Day took on new significance. Cards often depicted sweethearts parting. Many incorporated flaps that opened to reveal soldiers standing in tents or couples at the altar. Some included a lock of the giver’s hair.
In addition to cards, songs of love and loss became popular with Civil War soldiers on the battlefields. At night, encamped on opposite sides of imaginary lines only hundreds of yards apart, men wearing blue and men wearing gray sang as one. Some of the songs were meant to keep sweet memories alive; many mourned happiness never to be.
The following are a few of the most popular love songs of the Civil War.
The Yellow Rose of Texas
A popular marching tune all over the Confederacy, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” dates to the state’s early colonial period. The first known transcribed version — handwritten on a piece of plain paper — appeared around the time of the Texian victory at San Jacinto in April 1836. In its original form, the song tells the story of a black man who has been separated from his sweetheart and longs to reunite with her. This YouTube video contains the modified version Texas troops actually sang during the Civil War, complete with references to “Bobby Lee” and Hood’s Texas Brigade…with one exception. By the time of the war, the phrase “sweetest rose of color” had been replaced with “little flower” in order not to imply white soldiers were pining for a mulatto woman.
“Aura Lea” (also spelled “Aura Lee”)
Most people today recognize the melody to “Aura Lea” as “Love Me Tender,” which became an instant hit when Elvis Presley sang the song during his first appearance on the big screen in the 1956 movie of the same name. The original, composed in 1861 by W. W. Fosdick (words) and George R. Poulton (music), is one of the happier songs of the era. Nevertheless, this song and “Lorena” (below) were banned in some camps because they tended to provoke desertion, especially among Confederates from 1863 forward.
The Rev. Henry D. L. Webster wrote the words to one of the most popular love songs of the Civil War in 1856 after his intended broke off their engagement. His friend Joseph Philbrick Webster composed the music. Western Writers of America listed “Lorena” as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time; an instrumental version appears in the iconic film Gone with the Wind.
Credit for the lyrics has been given to Marie Ravenal de la Costa and the melody to John Hill Hewett, though the story behind the song may be apocryphal. The version most generally accepted is that, in 1862, Miss de la Costa penned the words in the Atlanta church where she had gone to pray after receiving word of her fiancé’s death on the battlefield. She left the handwritten lyrics behind. One of the saddest songs of the period, “Somebody’s Darling” was as popular in the North as it was in its native South.
When I Saw Sweet Nellie Home
Also known as “Seeing Nellie Home” and “Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party,” the original was composed by John Fletcher (music) and Frances Kyle (words) in 1859. In 1861, Otto W. Ludwig changed the words to create the strident Union ballad “Courage, Mother, I Am Going,” about a young man who believes he won’t return from a war he is morally obligated to fight. Needless to say, Confederates sang the original. The Union version faded into obscurity after the war.
Published by Stephen Foster in 1848, “Oh! Susanna” was popular with both bluebellies and graybacks, who viewed the words through entirely different cultural lenses. This version contains the original second verse, which is controversial (and potentially offensive) because of the language.
My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night
Published by Stephen Foster in 1853, “My Old Kentucky Home” speaks of love for home and family. The song became enormously popular with both armies during the Civil War—which was odd in the case of the Confederacy, because Foster’s notes on the original handwritten sheet music clearly indicate he intended the song to be an abolitionist anthem inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (Foster was a staunch abolitionist.)
Just Before the Battle, Mother
One of the saddest Civil War favorites speaks of love not for a sweetheart, but for a young’s man’s mother. With words and music (1862) by George F. Root, “Just Before the Battle, Mother” was strictly a Union song. (The lead-in on this version, performed by the 97th Regimental String Band, is long. The words start just before the one-minute mark.)
The Picture on the Wall
A sad song more popular among the folks at home than soldiers on the battlefield (for obvious reasons), Henry Clay Work’s “The Picture on the Wall” (1864) is almost unknown today. During the Civil War, it expressed tremendous grief about the loss of both sweethearts and sons.
Annie Laurie (also spelled “Annie Lawry”)
Brought to America from Scotland around 1832, authorship of the song is unknown. By the time of the Civil War, the words had changed from the original Scottish. Because the song was so well known, it was one of the most often sung across the lines, despite — or perhaps because of — the haunting chorus: “For bonnie Annie Laurie, I’d lay me down and die.”
Composed in 1863 by Mrs. Parkhurst, the tune to “Sweet Evelina” is spritely even though the words come from the point of view of a young man fated never to marry the beautiful girl he loves. The song was incredibly popular among soldiers on both sides during the war but had all but disappeared by 1900.
Listen to the Mockingbird
Septimus Winner, using the name Alice Hawthorne, wrote the words to “Listen to the Mockingbird” in 1855 and set them to music composed by a guitarist friend. Despite the upbeat melody, the song tells the story of a man’s love for a young woman who has died. The tune was popular with both Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs. As an aside: In 1862, Winner was arrested and charged with treason after he published “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride.” The song protested Lincoln’s firing of Gen. George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Federal authorities released Winner only after he promised to destroy all remaining copies of the sheet music…but calling back the 80,000 copies that sold in the first two days after the song’s publication proved impossible. (McClellan was an exceptionally popular man.)
An excellent album called Songs of the Civil War contains renditions of some of these songs by artists including The United States Military Academy Band, Waylon Jennings, Richie Havens, Hoyt Axton, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Kathy Mattea, and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (of “Ashokan Farewell” fame). It’s available from Amazon on CD and audiocassette, as well as in MP3 format and via Amazon’s PrimeMusic.
Powerful emotion breeds enduring art of all kinds. As heart-stirring as some of the music, poetry, paintings, fiction, and other art forms of the mid-1800s, let’s hope we don’t see another such prolific period for a similar reason ever again.
And speaking of Valentine’s Day…
Prairie Rose Publications is offering a token of its love to readers all week: Fourteen free novels, anthologies, and boxed sets. Who doesn’t love free? Let me tell you something: There are a passel of hunky heroes in that herd I’d love to snuggle up to on Valentine’s Day or any other day. Fourteen more novels, boxed sets, and anthologies have been discounted to 99 cents.
Y’all can find a list of the books here. Go take look if you’re of a mind to spend some time lost in love with sigh-worthy heroes and feisty heroines.
Today is the day of love and all over the U.S. (probably the world) couples will celebrate. My husband never really liked celebrating too many things but he loved Valentine’s Day. He’d always buy me a box of candy and a card. Never gave me flowers because he had asthma. I think he chose candy because he loved it and always ate at least half of what he gave me.
There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me though. I still have one of the cards that he made by hand (including his own words) and it remains one of my most treasured possessions.
A whopping six million men (and yes women) will propose on this day. And why not? It’s the day of romance and the mating of hearts.
I’ve written a marriage proposal (and/or wedding) into every one of my books. I just love validating the way my characters feel about each other and that’s the perfect way. Love means commitment and spending the rest of your life together. I’ve written two Valentine’s stories. One was “Cupid’s Arrow” in Be My Texas Valentine anthology with Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace. We had great fun writing those stories. By the way, that’s still available online.
The other Valentine’s story was in the Hearts and Spurs anthology published by Prairie Rose. Cheryl Pierson posted about this anthology yesterday. My story’s title is THE WIDOW’S HEART.
Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when a man emerges from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.
Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe….
Cade Coltrain was a dangerous man. He’d always been someone to reckon with, but adding in the hardness that swept the length of him now he could put the fear of God in a man with only a look.
In her heart, she knew the truth. He’d become an outlaw.
But, it didn’t matter. Nothing did.
A sudden need to be held in those arms washed over her. She rested her head on the thick window pane and let the tears fall.
The loud ticking clock reminded her she had dishes to do. Raising her head, she brushed away her tears. Glancing out the window once more, she found Cade standing beside Matthew’s grave with his head bowed.
What would he say to the brother who’d married the woman Cade had cast aside when adventure called?
She prayed he’d move on soon, before she gave in to the desire that created such a powerful ache in her body.
Just to be held again, feel warm breath on her cheek; lay her palm on the hard muscles that rippled beneath the skin. Those desires were something she couldn’t put a price on. But they were the things she’d buy, if only she could.
Skye wanted to be a woman again. Someone cherished.
* * * *
Download the book and you’ll find lots of wonderful stories by Cheryl Pierson, Tracy Garrett, Phyliss Miranda, Tanya Hanson, Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal, and Jacquie Rogers.
What do you hope to get from your honey for Valentines? Candy? Roses? Or something else?
Who loves a great Valentine’s Day story? I DO! I love to read them and write them! If there is a more romantic time of year, I don’t know what it is—and it’s especially so for me, since my hubby and I got married on February 10, 1979, thirty-eight years ago!
He’s my “real-life” hero, but I do love to write fiction—ROMANTIC fiction—so I couldn’t pass up the chance to let my imagination roam and write a few Valentine’s Day stories of my own, in both contemporary and historical genres. But goodness, we can’t limit ourselves just to ONE DAY, can we? I’ll be sure and mark the stories that have a Valentine’s Day theme—the others are just wonderfully romantic stories that you won’t want to pass up.
With flowers and candy at the top of the “romantic” list, I always indulge in a guilty pleasure or two and buy myself some VERY romantic stories to lose myself in at this time of year!
Here are a few “picks” for you if you’re looking for some romantic Valentine’s Day reading…
HEARTS AND SPURS is a short story collection that features nine sensual Valentine’s Day love tales of the old west that will leave no doubt—Cupid is a cowboy, and he’s playing for keeps! How do you capture a cowboy’s heart? HEARTS AND SPURS includes stories by many of our P&P past and present “fillies” along with Livia J. Washburn, Sarah J. McNeal and Jacquie Rogers!
FOUND HEARTS by Cheryl Pierson—An enemy from the past threatens Alex Cameron’s future on the day he’s set to wed mail-order bride Evie Fremont. Can they survive their wedding day?
OPEN HEARTS by Tanya Hanson—A woman living as a man to practice the law she loves must guard her identity—and her heart—from a handsome sheriff, who discovers her secret and must decide whether to turn her in or fall in love.
THE WIDOW’S HEART by Linda Broday—Desperate and alone, Skye O’Rourke finds courage and a love she thought she’d lost when a man from her past emerges from the shimmering desert heat.
COMING HOME by Tracy Garrett—Sometimes it takes two to make dreams come true. When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family finds a woman who has lost everything…It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together, their dreams can come true.
TUMBLEWEEDS AND VALENTINES by Phyliss Miranda—The wildness of a tumbleweed and the sweetness of chocolate bring Amanda Love the love of a lifetime.
THE SECOND-BEST RANGER IN TEXAS by Kathleen Rice Adams—A washed-up Texas Ranger. A failed nun with a violent past. A love that will redeem them both. (WESTERN FICTIONEER PEACEMAKER AWARD WINNER!)
What a wonderful anthology this is, and it’s now FREE THIS WEEK for the digital edition. It’s also available in print!
For this excellent collection as well as many other FREE and .99 books, stories and anthologies Prairie Rose Publications is running a huge VALENTINE EXTRAVAGANZA! Go to the PRP WEBSITE below to see many more free Valentine’s Day special offers you won’t want to miss!
A HEART FOR A HEART is a contemporary Valentine’s Day novella you might enjoy… Kiera Leslie is all set to welcome Cory Tiger into her home as a foster child. Orphaned and with a learning disability, Cory is looking forward to living with his tutor. Until his uncle shows up… Sam Tiger returns from military duty to find his deceased brother’s son being taken in by a stranger. The boy needs his family—and Sam is it. He never expects the tutor to stand up to him and want to keep Cory. Then the worst happens—he finds himself attracted to Kiera. It’s Valentine’s Day, and Cupid’s got deadly aim!
HIDDEN TRAILS takes place right around Valentine’s Day in a blinding snowstorm.
Levi Connor has never run from anything in his life, and he doesn’t intend to start now. After killing the two bandits who’d followed him into Indian Territory, he finds himself wounded and riding through a blinding February snowstorm. With no purpose ahead of him and no past to guide him, he discovers a reason to exist—the beautiful mixed-blood girl who takes him in and heals him. Valentine Reneau lives in fear that her father will find her someday in the heart of Indian Territory and force her to return to Mississippi to take her mother’s place—in every way. She knows her time has run out when a stranger shows up on her land with two hired guns—and the devil in his plans. With some unlikely help, Valentine must try to escape the slave’s fate that her mother left behind so many years before. Will Levi kill for a woman he barely knows? The chips are down, the guns blaze, and everything finally comes clear along these HIDDEN TRAILS…but who’ll be left alive?
HIDDEN TRAILS was a finalist in the short fiction category of the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards!
No, this one is not a Valentine’s Day themed story, but it has to be one of my all-time favorite love stories. If you have not read it yet, you won’t be disappointed! It’s Penelope Williamson’s THE OUTSIDER—an oldie but a goodie!
Throughout the years on her Montana homestead, Rachel Yoder had never been afraid—the creed of the Plain People had been her strength. Then the day came when lawless men killed Rachel’s husband in an act of blind greed. Now, at her darkest hour, an outsider walks across her meadow and into her life… Johnny Cain is bloody, near death, and armed to the teeth. A man hardened by his violent past, Cain has never known a woman like Rachel—someone who offers him a chance to heal more than his physical wounds. Cain’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Rachel’s heart and confound her soul. Soon she must choose between all she holds dear—her faith, her family, perhaps her very salvation—and the man they call the Outsider.
Another excellent story by Penelope Williamson that I really enjoyed was HEART OF THE WEST…you can’t get enough of Penelope Williamson!
Here are some tales that are sexy, romantic, and wonderful!
HANNAH’S VOW by Pam Crooks
TEXAS REDEMPTION by Linda Broday
SENECA SURRENDER by Karen Kay writing as Gen Bailey
BEYOND THE FIRE by Cheryl Pierson
When Kendi Morgan witnesses an attempted murder near her home one stormy November night, she makes the only choice her heart will allow: she has to help the victim. But bringing the handsome stranger into her home traps her in the middle of a deadly drug war.
Wounded DEA agent Jackson Taylor is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear—until he falls for the beautiful woman who risks everything to save his life.
With his cover blown, Jackson knows he’s all that stands between Kendi and Benito Sanchez, a powerful drug cartel lord. Sanchez swears his vengeance, vowing to see Jackson and Kendi both dead.
Love comes fast when there may be only hours left…can it survive? Or will Jackson sacrifice his partner’s life—along with his own—in exchange for Kendi’s safety? Does a future exist for them BEYOND THE FIRE… Previously published as Temptation’s Touch.
What’s the most romantic story you ever read? Leave your answer in the comments along with your contact information for a chance to win a digital copy of HIDDEN TRAILS! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, everyone–and don’t forget to pop over to the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS blog for tons of bargains from FEB. 13-17!!
Next Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, a day of love and romance. Can you guess what the gift of choice will be this Valentine’s Day? If you guessed flowers, you’d be right, coming in first place at 1.9 billion. In second place, for a measly 1.7 billion is candy! That’s right and I’d bet most of those edible delights would be chocolate. While 38 % of us will go out to dinner, 20% will receive jewelry and 1.1 billion will be spent on greeting cards.
The Valentine Card first came about in the 1500’s and by the 1700’s people began sending lace and paper flowered cards to each other on printed cards.
But the first American Valentine’s card didn’t hit our shores until 1849 when Ester Howland of Massachusetts designed 12 beautiful cards made by hand and gave them to her brother who was a salesman. She was hoping to make a small profit of $200.OO by selling her cards and to her great surprise, her brother came back to her with orders for $5,000 worth of cards.
And Ester found herself in business. Her valentines made her famous throughout the United States and she became known as the “The Mother of the American Valentine.” She is also credited with developing the first “lift up” valentine and another design of layering lace and a three dimensional accordion effect where a bouquet of flowers can be moved by a pull down string to reveal a verse. That concept is still used today.
Ester continued making her valentine cards for the next thirty years. She sold her business in 1880 to George Whitney in order to care for her ill father.
Valentine cards have surely gone through a progression of change. Friends, family, lovers, husbands, wives and even children indulge. It’s a fun heart-filled day to enjoy and appreciate the ones we love. These days hubby and I go out to dinner to celebrate the day. Do you have a favorite way to celebrate? Candy? Cards? Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? Today I’m giving away 5 sweet reading treats– my back list EBOOK of The Billionaire’s Daddy Test to 5 lucky bloggers!. (check later tonight for a list of giveaway winners)
Wishing you a very happy sweethearts day and please keep reading as I have two new events to share with you!
Yay! Taming the Texas Cowboy is available for pre-order:
After a disaster destroyed nearly everything Maddie Brooks owned, Trey Walker offered the petite redhead shelter at 2 Hope Ranch. A veterinarian, Maddie was smart, sexy, and good with animals… Impossible to resist, yet Trey is convinced he is cursed when it comes to women.
The temporary arrangement Maddie made with Trey was supposed to be strictly business. Easy, since Maddie had tried and failed to catch the handsome cowboy’s eye for a year. She thought she was so over him…until he kissed her.
Friends, if you’re in the southern California area, SAVE THE DATE, for this fun Reader Appreciation Day. Come sit at the table I’ll be sharing with the awesome Christy Jeffries and join the conversation, play Book Bingo where you can win GREAT prizes, enjoy sweet treats and simply have a wonderful afternoon. This is how it works: You buy a $5 ticket ahead of time to reserve your spot and pick the author you want to sit with for the event. It’s like an exclusive, backstage pass to Romancelandia. Then, you will get a $5 voucher for the onsite bookstore (so really, your ticket is FREE), fun tote bags with FREE swag (Christy and I are giving away a GIRLS NIGHT IN gift bag to our readers) and books, plus a FREE raffle ticket for some amazing gift baskets. Did you catch the “free” part? It’s a Win Win for readers! To purchase your ticket go to: TICKETLEAP
Hi everyone! Well, I’m a day late for Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to show you some strange vintage Valentine’s Day cards since I did this for Easter and for Christmas. I was excited to try to find some “different” Valentine’s Day greetings as well, but oddly enough, didn’t have as much luck as with the Easter and Christmas holidays. But there are some really interesting cards here from “back in the day”, even if they’re not as strange as the Easter ones were (those took the cake)–so let’s take a look!
Here’s an odd one–two cupids setting this heart aflame! I suppose it was “burning” with desire…still, a little freaky, since there is no explanation or verse.
OK, here we have Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater professing his love to the lady in the pumpkin…I wonder if these people just wrote a verse that rhymed and then painted the picture to go with it?
But just when you think you have it figured out, there comes along a Valentine like this one, that doesn’t even pretend to rhyme or use the right number of syllables.
Ah, the smoking couple, in love. Evidently, this was a “thing” around the turn of the century, and maybe even before, because my grandparents’ engagement picture was styled like this–with my grandfather’s cigar (drawn onto the photo) swirling smoke rings into the air, and my grandmother’s picture inside one of those smoke rings at the top of the picture.
This is an odd one. Not sure what the inside sentiment is, but the picture is pretty off-putting. Who would buy this stuff?
OK, much better. I love these old fanciful scenes like this–much more romantic, and it lets your imagination take flight–which is what Valentine’s Day should do, right?
Here’s another one I just love–“one long Spoontime, Dearie!”
And last but not least, this dear little kitten…I’m not sure what he intends to do with the paintbrush, but I’m sure it’s something loving. After all, this IS for Valentine’s Day!
I hope you all enjoyed this look at some of the cards of the past, and that everyone enjoyed their Valentine’s Day yesterday!
What was the best Valentine’s Day you ever had, and why? Leave your comment and contact information for a chance to win my giveaway today!
I want to give away TWO copies of HEARTS AND SPURS, a wonderful Prairie Rose Publications anthology that was our first Valentine’s Day anthology back in 2014–but rest assured, these stories are wonderful ANY time of the year. If you just can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the Amazon link — and this book is on sale for a limited time for only .99! (Also availabe in print!)