Various Valentine’s Day Ramblings

For this month’s post I started researching the history of Valentine’s Day, but ended up traveling down various rabbit holes. Today I’m sharing that journey and my musings with you. First, I discovered there’s confusion as to which St. Valentine the day honors. Apparently, there were two men named Valentine that are possibilities. The day has roots in a Pagan festival and became an official holiday in the 1300s. Valentines weren’t sent until the 15th century and mass-produced ones came to be in the 1840s. The tradition of giving flowers started in the 17th century, with the heart-shaped chocolate boxes we see everywhere arriving in 1861. Oh, and the discovery that surprised me was those hearts with the sayings were originally lozenges! (The messages were added in 1866.)

As I scrolled down under related content I found “7 Momentous Kisses in History.” They listed the first “post-married” kisses of Kate and William, Harry and Meghan, Ross and Rachel’s kiss on Friends, and others. Most—other than the on V-J Day 1945 and the interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, didn’t seem that iconic to me. But those kisses started me thinking about about epic movie kisses. Again, I found myself disagreeing with what I found. The kiss in Gone With the Wind after Rhett Butler tells Scarlett O’Hara in she needs kissing badly was there. So was the potter’s wheel kiss in Ghost. But the other kisses didn’t seem that memorable or epic in my opinion. So I began wondering about great Western movie kisses. When I Googled that I pretty much came up with nothin’ other than The Longest Ride—a great movie by-the-way and Brokeback Mountain. With all the great Western romances written, how come there weren’t more Western romance movies? Or at least romantic movies or romantic comedies with cowboys? Boy is Hollywood missing out on a great market there.

Lastly, my thoughts wandered to asking why this day has such a focus on romantic love. Why do we do that people when it makes people who aren’t in a relationship feel as if they’re not complete or less than they should be? And why is it such a big deal to get engaged on Valentine’s Day? Instead, we should simply celebrate love in general. Love between friends, parent and child, grandparents and grandchildren, and the list is endless. Love and kindness should be showered everywhere like confetti. That’s where we should place the emphasis—on sharing love and kindness to those who most need it and to those who are central to our lives. If we did that rather than focus so much on romantic love Valentine’s Day would be more inclusive and not as painful for some. Also, can you imagine the ripple effect and the changes that could result from seeing Valentine’s Day this way.

To be entered in today’s giveaway for the Valentine’s Day t-shirt and A Cure for the Vet tell me what’s your favorite romantic movie and why it’s so wonderful. Some of my favs are The Sure ThingAn American PresidentOperation Petticoat, and Father Goose. I can’t wait to hear yours. I need some new movies to watch!

The Snowman’s Sweetheart

 

I can’t speak for other authors, but one of my favorite things about starting a new book series is developing the setting, especially if it involves a quirky small town.

When I began working on ideas for my new Winter Wishes series, I used inspiration from two very different towns, and combined them into one fictional place called Pinehill, Oregon. If Pinehill did exist, it would be high up in the mountains, just a few miles from Mount Hood and a winter playground of skiing, sledding, and the like.

 

Way back, when Captain Cavedweller and I were in the first weeks of dating, he asked me if I’d like to go to the Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho. I’d never attended the event, and it sounded like fun. Even if it hadn’t, I would have gladly gone because it meant I got to spend the day with the very cute boy who had already captured my interest.

The event features, among many things, incredible carvings created from snow. We made the hours-long drive and arrived in McCall mid-morning to discover the temperatures hovering just above the zero mark. Not only that, but we couldn’t find anywhere to park. We drove around for almost an hour trying to find anywhere to park. Finally giving up, CC drove back out of town, and we parked on the side of the road (like hundreds of other crazy people), then had to hike back into town.  It seemed like we’d parked ten miles away, although it was probably closer to a half-mile, as we trudged through the frigid temps. We finally got back into town and had such a great time looking at the snow carvings. If you’ve never seen a snow carving, Google it. They are incredible works of art!

I can’t image the talent and patience it would take to create something like this.

Or this!

The detail just boggles my mind! The use blocks of compressed snow to make the carvings and the tools are as varied as the artists.

Anyway, that freezing, fun day with CC has stayed with me all these years.

A few years ago, he came up with the idea to attend another winter festival in a town about six hours away where they would have ice carvings, sleigh rides, and a variety of winter festivities.

In theory, it sounded like a fabulous weekend getaway. In reality… boy did it get off to a rough start!

The roads were horrible getting there, the hotels were packed, and the one where we’d made a reservation somehow overbooked and didn’t have a room for us. We thought about going elsewhere, but there wasn’t a room to be had anywhere in town. The hotel finally found a room for us, next to the noisiest elevator in the northern hemisphere. From the window, we watched an inexperienced driver almost take out our pickup in the slick parking lot, and the craziness escalated from there.

That morning, it had warmed up enough to rain (pouring buckets it seemed) on top of inches of snow, creating an ankle deep mess that was akin to walking through a lake of slushies. It was impossible to take more than a few steps and not have your pants soaked, even if you had arrived with adequate boots. Every step anyone else took splattered the frigid goop everywhere. After sloshing through the slush (and watching crazy people in shorts and flip-flops make their way through the mess) for a mediocre yet overpriced dinner where we sat a rickety table by the drafty door, near enough to the restroom that it made me lose my appetite, and an accordion playing octogenarian made conversation impossible.

Once we made it back to our room where I sat shivering with my feet propped on top of the wall heater, wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into, we decided we had to figure out a way to salvage the weekend or go home.

Thankfully, that night, it froze and then snowed, creating a beautiful world of white the next morning. It made it much easier to get around, and we ended up having a lot of fun, even if the town was packed to the gills.

So that experience gave me even more inspiration for Pinehill, as well as the heroine in the first book in the series, The Snowman’s Sweetheart. It releases January 27!

Due to a bad breakup right before Christmas, Sierra Goodwin detests everything to do with the holidays and winter. Then her best friend talks her into coming to Pinehill for a girls’ weekend getaway. They have reservations at a luxury hotel, and spa appointments. Sierra intends to stay inside where it’s cozy and do nothing but relax.

What could go wrong?

Among the many things that make her wonder if she’s lost her mind agreeing to come on the trip, she runs into Kylan Snow, better known around the community of Pinehill as Mr. Snowman. He owns the local Christmas tree farm, has been in charge of the community snowman building contest for years, and is the chair of the Winter Fest.

Talk about opposites attract!

Just for fun, here’s a little excerpt from the story:

As they reached the parking garage, Sierra followed Jenn over to her parking space, only to find Rob Kohl, Jenn’s boyfriend, waiting for them in his SUV.

“Hey, Sierra!” he said, hopping out and opening the back of the vehicle. “Isn’t this great?”

Sierra scowled at Jenn, furious she’d invited her boyfriend to join them for a weekend they’d been planning for months. “What, exactly, is going on?”

“Rob got time off from work, too, and is joining us,” Jenn said, practically squealing with joy.

Sierra had visions of spending the entire trip watching Jenn and Rob making lovey-dovey eyes and kissy-faces to each other. Although they were always good to include her in activities, she often felt like an unwanted third wheel when she was around them. She certainly didn’t need to feel that way on a vacation that was supposed to be a time for her and Jenn to relax and have fun.

She tossed the interloper a blistering scowl. “I’ll stay home. You two go.” She started backing away from the vehicle.

“No! You’re going!”

 

Will a whirlwind winter romance result in a forever love?

After a Christmas Eve catastrophe that left her heart encased in ice, Sierra Goodwin detests anything to do with winter and the holiday season. To take her mind off her troubles, her best friend talks her into a weekend spa getaway to a town she’s never heard of. Her bestie’s boyfriend tags along like a bumpy third wheel, and things go from bad to worse when they arrive in town to find a winter fest in full swing. Then Sierra runs into a handsome stranger, a man everyone calls Mr. Snowman, and discovers her heart might not be a frozen fortress after all.

Kylan Snow loves his life, his Christmas tree farm, and the town of Pinehill where he was raised. There’s nothing he enjoys more than a beautiful winter afternoon spent outside in the crisp, fresh air, or time spent with friends and family. When he unexpectedly encounters a dimple-cheeked woman in need of a little hope, he has no idea one weekend with her with completely alter his world.

Will their winter wishes for a forever sweetheart come true? Find out in this sweet romance brimming with laughter, snowmen, small-town charm, and love.

Don’t miss out on this sweet winter romance full of wintery fun! Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon |  Apple |  Barnes & NobleKobo

What about you?

Have you ever attended a winter festival?

Are you a fan of winter and cold weather? Or do you prefer sunshine and warmer temperatures? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a mystery prize!

Giveaway open until 5 p.m. Pacific Time January 19, 2022

 

 

 

GRAY HAWK’S LADY — My Own Personal Story of Love and Romance

Howdy!

Ah, February — a true month of love.  At least for me.  My husband and I just celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our first kiss.  So very, very special and I hope you’ll bear with me as I tell you a little about our 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.  This is the 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 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 told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
 
But she insisted for a while (several days) 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.  I think we were both a little shy of each other.  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, so after about a week, 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, “No, 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 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.  He was divorced.  I was divorced.  We could do things together.  (Mind you, he was also very good-looking.)  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 a 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 were spinning — but in a good way. 
 
Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man?  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.  He proposed to me in March 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 this book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course this 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 one of my earrings (the night of that first kiss) fell off during the kiss — and I have pierced ears…!
 
In May of this year, we will have been married 25 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 25 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 a kiss.
 
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.
 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day–A Little Early

I know Valentine’s Day is eleven days away, but I never seem to think about the day soon enough. That means I end up running around like crazy trying to do something special. In order to keep that from happening this year and in case you need ideas, I’m sharing some Valentine’s Day facts and one of my favorite (and easy dessert) recipes for tiramisu.

  • Over 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate are sold every year.
  • Men spend about twice money as much on Valentine’s Day gifts as women.
  • Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by kids, then moms, wives and girlfriends.
  • More than one-third of men are okay not receiving anything on Valentine’s Day.
  • The only other day when more flowers are sold than Valentine’s Day is Mother’s Day.
  • Candy hearts were invented by a pharmacist and were originally medical lozenges! Not only that, but 10 new sayings are introduced every year.  
  • People prefer receiving candy over flowers.
  • Caramels are the most popular candy in a box of chocolates.
  • 40% of people prefer an “experience gift” such as concert tickets or an evening out.
  • 3 out of 10 people say they skip celebrating Valentine’s Day, though they might treat themselves to a small gift or a night out with friends.
  • It was bad luck to sign Valentine cards in Victorian times.
  • 3% of pet owners will give their pet a gift this Valentine’s Day.
  • In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystavapaiva which translates to “Friend’s Day.”

I think making Valentine’s Day about celebrating everyone we care about and appreciate in our lives is fabulous! That could prevent the holiday from being one where so many people feel excluded. This year, let’s all reach out to one person who might feel left out or despondent on Valentine’s Day—a single friend, a widow or widower immediately come to mind. I’m reminded of the song “Love is Something if You Give it Away.” For the lyrics click here. The more love we share, the more we create in this world.

Now on to dessert!

Ingredients—

8 oz. Mascarpone cheese

½ C powdered sugar

½ tsp run extract

1 C heavy whipping cream

Lady fingers

½ C coffee

2 tsp cocoa

Directions–

1. Place Mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and run extract in large bowl. Whisk by hand or with electric mixer until smooth. Don’t over mix.

2. In separate bowl, beat whip cream until stiff peaks form. (If the whip cream isn’t stiff you’ll get a runny filling.) Fold into cheese mixture until combined.

3. Place lady fingers in 8 x 8 dish. Spoon coffee over ladyfingers making sure to cover completely. Top with half the cheese mixture. Layer more ladyfingers on top of this and cover with remaining cheese mixture. (Recipe calls for 3 layers using 1/3 each time, but I only do 2 .) Sift cocoa powder over top.

4. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

5. Top with whip cream, or not. Enjoy with a friend or family!

To be entered in today’s giveaway for a valentine T-shirt and a copy of Home On the Ranch:  Colorado Rescue leave a comment about your favorite Valentine’s Day treat.

VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY FOR ROMANCE

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

We have a special guest today, so please give Caroline Clemmons a big, warm Petticoats and Pistols welcome! 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thanks to the fillies for sharing the blog with me today.

What better time for us romance readers and authors than a day to celebrate romance? In addition to Valentine cards, common expressions from a man to a woman include chocolates and red roses. I hope I get chocolate! I wouldn’t mind both, of course.

Do you remember how exciting the day was in elementary school when you exchanged Valentines with other children? The smell of library paste and red paper stuck to your fingers? Did you experience the desperation of Charlie Brown for the Little Red-Haired Girl if you were hoping a special classmate gave you a Valentine? Later, when did you get your first heart-shaped box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers? I was in the eighth grade and caught by surprise.

I’d always thought the custom of sending Valentines originated in the nineteenth century. I was wrong. Valentine greetings were exchanged as early as the 15th century and printed cards appeared in the seventeenth century. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” (Hmm, reminds me of the word “scrapbooking”.) Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas). No surprise—women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

If you remember studying his works, I don’t want to give you a headache. However, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules,” writing,

“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day

Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

<Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2&gt;

We’re more concerned with our Valentine’s Day, aren’t we? What I recommend for the day is a book, a romance of course. Kick off your shoes and curl up in a cozy spot to read. So many great writers have romances available to fit every taste.

I’m offering a free e-book of the winner’s choice to three people who leave a comment today. You can find my books listed on my Amazon Author page at: https://amazon.com/Caroline-Clemmons/e/B001K8CXZ6/

While you’re there, why not Follow me?

By the way, I have an upcoming release on February 19 for A BRIDE FOR LUKE (The Proxy Brides Book 10). Although it was considerable work, this was fun to write and I’m hoping readers will enjoy the book. Beta reader results have been very positive! It’s available for preorder now at the Universal Amazon link: http://mybook.to/Maeve. It will be in e-book and print and free in Kindle Unlimited.

Here’s a synopsis blurb:

Each is struggling to build a better life . . .

Two strong-willed people are bound to clash . . .

Danger forces them to focus on what is at stake . . .

Maeve Kelly came to America for a better life but found only signs that said No Irish Need Apply. When the cousin with whom she is staying leaves Boston, Maeve is left desperate. Her job at the laundry doesn’t pay enough for her to survive alone. Her friend suggests a way out, Maeve resists but finally accepts. What else can she do?

Sheriff Luke Sullivan is proud of his accomplishments. Known for his strong principles, he is admired and well-respected in the community. When he learns his mother and aunt have schemed to get him a proxy bride he’s furious. If he’d wanted a wife he would have found one. He respects and loves his mother and aunt and finally agrees to the marriage. Before he and his bride can adjust to one another, Luke is caught in the middle of an explosive situation between striking miners and the railroad.

Threats against Luke by each side have him fearing for the safety of his wife, mother, and aunt. He must resolve the strike to protect his family and many others. Will he succeed in time to save lives?

Enjoy an excerpt:

He pushed back from the table. “How can I keep you safe if you don’t follow orders? Do you understand?”

She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, so it’s orders you’re giving me, is it? Weel, Lucas Brady Sullivan, I take orders from no man. Do you understand?”

“Mae, you’re making something from nothing.” He tapped his chest. “I’m your husband. You promised to obey me when we wed.”

That brought her temper down a notch. She had promised and Father Patrick had lectured her on the husband being the head of the household. “Mayhap I did, but not high handed orders.”

“And what would you consider obeying? You want a written invitation to remain home? Shall I show you the other wanted poster and suggest you avoid that man? You’ve no idea what these other men look like so how would you know if they were walking down the street or shopping in the Mercantile? How can you know who’s an upstanding citizen and who’s a stranger in town? You were in front of the Mercantile when Higgins accosted you.”

She turned toward the sink, hands on her face to hide her shame. “Aye, ‘tis sorry I am. The worry of what’s going to happen has me in bits. I can’t get out of my mind the fact someone may shoot at you from an ambush.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t fret, honey. I’m doing my best to keep this situation from becoming violent. I can’t focus on my job if I’m worried about where you are and what you’re doing and who’s around you.”

She leaned her head against his broad chest. His strong heartbeat reassured her. “I see the way I was wrong. ‘Twas my mistake and I said ‘tis sorry I am.”

She looked up at him. “But, for us to have a peaceful marriage you’d best consider making requests instead of giving orders.”

ABOUT CAROLINE

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a tiny office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their three rescued indoor cats and one dog.

The books she creates in her pink cave have made her a bestselling author and won awards. She writes historical and contemporary as well as time travel and mystery. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading her friends’ books, lunching with friends, browsing antique malls, checking Facebook, and taking the occasional nap. Find her on her WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitterNewsletter.  She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

Cover Reveal, Free Gift, & Valentine Sale

Happy Valentine’s Week!!
The time for romance, gifts, and love stories.

One of my favorite experiences as an author is seeing my cover for the first time. It’s terrifying and exciting all rolled into one. Such anticipation! Well, I’m excited to reveal my next cover. Talk about romantic! The designers did such a fabulous job giving this cover an incredibly unique yet timelessly romantic feel.

The Kissing Tree is a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Nicole Deese and Amanda Dykes that spans roughly 150 years. Each of the four stories takes place in Oak Springs, Texas, centering around a particular sprawling live oak whose trunk and branches have been carved over the centuries with couples’ initials. It is the keeper of a thousand stories, and this book showcases four of them: one in the mid-1800’s, one in the late-1800’s, one during World War II, and one in present day. It releases this fall, and should be up for pre-order in just a few short weeks!

The tree we used as a model for our Kissing Tree is a real tree with it’s own romantic heritage on the Texas A&M university campus. The Century Tree. Isn’t it gorgeous? This tree is the site of many a romantic marriage proposal to this day.

Our Free Gift to You

We loved what the Bethany House designers did with the cover, and they were so kind to work with us to cook up these beautiful designs for you to use as either a wallpaper for your phone or a background image for your computer. They utilized many of those lovely cover elements—the embossed backgrounds, those lush leaves, and a Bible verse that encompasses the deepest love of all. A reminder that you are beloved and cherished!

Use these links below and the download button you’ll see near the top of the screen to claim your free gift:

Phone background/wallpaper: https://tinyurl.com/w55addw

Computer desktop background: https://tinyurl.com/tnkerxt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sale Price on Another Great Valentine Read

Since The Kissing Tree won’t be available until fall, I thought I would offer another sweet, western romance read for your Valentine reading pleasure. The first book in my Patchwork Family series, More Than Meets the Eye (ebook) is on sale for only $0.99 starting today! Love, adventure, cowboys, and a pet hog. What could be more fun?

When her family is threatened, falling in love may be her best defense.

“More Than Meets the Eye captured my heart from the start. This story is easily the best Inspirational romance I have read in years, if not the best Inspirational romance I have ever read.”  ~ All About Romance

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

If you were to give yourself a gift for Valentine’s Day this year, what would choose?

Cavedwellers and Love

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?

Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart is available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats.

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart, just answer this question:

Would you rather receive candy, flowers, dinner out, or jewelry from your sweetheart?

Wishing you all a beautiful, love-filled Valentine’s Day!

Mother of the American Valentine + A Giveaway

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.

Click here to join the party.

Not only are we chatting at the party, but from now until the end of the party, there is a HUGE giveaway going on.

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Another winner will receive a copy of each of the 16 highlighted books – all romantic reads fit for an extended Valentine escape.

And a final winner will receive this fun Jane Austen inspired book bag.

.

.

.

.

.

Click here to enter the giveaway.

Have you ever made a Valentine by hand?

What is the best Valentine’s gift you ever received?

The Very Personal Story of Gray Hawk’s Lady

Howdy!

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!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

http://www.amazon.com/Gray-Hawks-Lady-Blackfoot-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0723B3VCM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1549300185&sr=8-3&keywords=gray+hawk%27s+lady+by+karen+kay%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Back in the Corral ~ by Tanya Hanson

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!

Thank you, fillies!

AMAZON

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?