And a Valentine”s History Lesson you”ll never forget

(no matter how hard you try)

I”ve got my authors copies of Swept Away!!

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy.

Swept Away

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn”t all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they”ve ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she”s rescued by Luke Stone…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn”t make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can”t just abandon Ruthy, so she”ll have to come along.

His friends–a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers–take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that”s rather rude–he”s the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.

Which I used once before but you need to learn this so let”s review
The title of my lesson is:


This is Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love and her son, Cupid, the Roman God of Love (Same last name? Who was the father? Already a scandal?)
I did a lot of reading about Cupid…
(translated to English…”that”s four hours of my life I”m never gettin” back.)
With it in mind to talk about Cupid on Valentine”s Day Week.
I actually started out to talk about St. Valentine. Except, well, the information is shady about the real St. Valentine, mostly I got, there were three Catholic priests named St. Valentine
(well, I suppose they were actually named just Valentine. The Saint came later, right?)
and they all died hideous deaths as martyrs,
soooo NOT the warm and romantic blog I

had in mind.

So, the St. Valentine guys had a feast day which was on February 14th.
Also on February 14th (so the legend goes) birds picked their mates which somehow got mixed up with the god of love, namely Cupid.
(hang in there, I know how boring backstory can be)
So St. Valentine”s Day became connected to this pagan holiday which was for the birds. (okay, you KNOW I had to say that)
The birds

mating is actually immortalized in a Chaucer Poem

called Parlement in Foules (Fowls??)
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
(choose his MATE? maybe?)
Not MY typos, complain to Chauer.
Cupid is sometimes young,
There are BEES on that kid…what sadist painted that?
(I checked, Lucas Cranach the Elder about 1525-
I suppose it”s too late to file charges now)
Sometimes Cupid is dang near girly, (why, oh why doesn”t Dan Brown write a DaVinci Code about the “cover-up” about Cupid being a girl??? Huh???–Nooooooooo he”s gotta go for Jesus being married. Well, fine, my next book is being outlined right now! Miss Cupid!)
But, boy or girl, child or adult, Cupid is all the time Nekkid.
What? Was there a colored paint shortage?
Flesh tones were on sale?
An artist had to make do?
I”ll encapsulate four hours of reading here.
Psyche…no, that”s a person, not a mental illness…was pretty but conceited.
Venus…also conceited…sent her son Cupid to MESS HER UP.
Cupid fell in love instead.
Venus did some payback on poor old conceited Psyche
but Psyche was so beautiful that people kept rescuing her. (BEEN THERE)

Finally Venus got control of her jealousy,

Psyche got over herself

(and put some clothes on, thank the Good Lord)

Cupid got the girl.

My gosh it”s just like one of my romance novels…

only with wings instead of a Stetson.

The end, cue the Godiva Chocolates, the Hallmark card industry
and bring on

This, well, this is just disturbing, I”d need a paint roller and a gallon of Little Dutch Boy to get clothes on all these people.
I”m sorry, I just don”t like people running around nekkid.
I never do it myself and don”t see why anyone else should get to.
I know, it”s art. I”ve got a friend who”s an artist.
She”s talked me through it.
The reasons for nudes, the ART of it all.

Not buying it. Put some clothes on for heaven”s sake.

And that is the story of Valentine”s Day,

minus the slow agonizing death and graphic dismemberment

of some Catholic Priests.

Enjoy your chocolates and hope and pray the roses don”t attract bees.


Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day …

I had so much fun with my last blog about Valentine’s customs and traditions that I thought it’d be enjoyable to look at some of the interesting facts surrounding the holiday.

The first one I found made me feel so much better about the times I’ve bought the cute little candy “conversation hearts” on sale after the holiday, saved them, and given them to my girls and now my grandchildren the following year. I figured they are already hard, so could they get any harder?  Well, I got my answer … they have a shelf life of five years.  Don’t know about you guys, but I do feel better about my frugality.

Then I found out something that made me feel not so good about my deception. They introduce about ten new candy “conversation heart” sayings each year. Recent additions have included “Yeah Right,” “Puppy Love,” and “Call Home.”

I love chocolate, but then who doesn’t?  Richard Cadbury produced the first box of Valentine chocolates in the late 1800’s.

Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends. In fact, it is the only day of the year many single women will reveal their crush on a man by giving him chocolate. The men don’t return the favor until White Day, a type of “answer day” to Valentine’s Day, which is on March 14th.

The symbol of the ribbon, which often adorns modern-day Valentines, is rooted in the Middle Ages. When knights competed in tournaments, their sweethearts often gave them ribbons for good luck.

The rose has historically been a symbol of love, and on Valentine’s Day, nearly 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S.  The red rose was the flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The most popular flower is a single red rose surrounded with baby’s breath.

Different colored roses have special meanings. Red means love, yellow means friendship, and pink means friendship or sweetheart. Red carnations mean admiration, white carnations mean pure love, red chrysanthemums mean love, forget-me-nots mean true love, primrose means young love, and larkspur means an open heart.

In 2010, 25% of adults bought flowers or plants as a Valentine’s gift. Of these, 60% were men and 40% were women. Men mainly bought flowers for romantic reasons, while women bought flowers for their mothers and friends as well as their sweethearts.

A True Love Knot, or Endless Knot of Love, was a very popular Valentine in England and the U.S. in the seventeenth century. As their name implies, these Valentines were drawn as a knot and could be read from any line and still make sense.

According to Welsh tradition, a child born on Valentine’s Day would have many lovers. A calf born on Valentine’s Day, however, would be of no use for breeding purposes. If hens were to hatch eggs on Valentine’s Day, they would all turn out rotten.

Some events that happened on Valentine’s Day, as well as famous people born include John Barrymore (1882), Jimmy Hoffa (1913), Jack Benny (1894), Carl Bernstein (1944), Renée Fleming (1959), and Florence Henderson (1934).

Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14th.  On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss. Oregon and Arizona were admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk became the first president photographed while in office (1848),UPS (United Parcel Service) was formed (1919), the League of Women Voters was established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971), the U.S. performed a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site (1976), and Voyager I took a picture of the entire solar system (1990).

Americans spend around $277 million on Valentine cards every year, second only to Christmas. Approximately one billion Valentine’s are sent each year around the world. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, and wives. Children between the ages of 6-10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine cards a year.

The first American Valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton, and Esther Howland (1828-1904) was the first person to create Valentines to sell in the United States. She first patented a lacy Valentine in 1844—and by 1860 her factory was selling thousands of valentines, earning over $100,000.

Each year 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado, to get a special heart stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day. By the way, my mother and father were married in Loveland in August of 1945. There is also a Valentine, Texas, but not for any romantic reason. The first train to arrive there happened to do so on February 14th… it’s just one of our Texas things.

A common symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid (“desire”), the Roman god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant, though now he is commonly presented as a pudgy baby. This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children.

Valentine Writers” were booklets written in 1823 by Peter Quizumall to help those who couldn’t think up Valentine verses on their own.

Picking out my favorite piece of information was easy.  If anyone wants to know if I’ve given them this year’s box of conversation hearts or one I picked up on sale the year before, they’ll have to read each one and compare them to a newly purchased box.  Okay, if they have “Right on Man”, “Flower Power”, “Peace” or “Make Love, Not War” then I’d strongly suggest you not eat them.

May each of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  I will give away a copy of fellow filly, Linda Broday’s and my newest anthology Be My Texas Valentine to one lucky commenter today.

Valentine’s Customs Around the World

When I began writing Be My Texas Valentine I decided not to do the typical boy meets girl on Valentine’s Day story. I wanted something different, so decided to use the facts around the railroad coming to the Texas Panhandle coupled with a true story that took place at the second town established in the Panhandle, Old Tascosa. As the story went, the men wanted to add gravel to the town’s dusty streets to entice the merchants to come to Tascosa thus making certain the railroad didn’t bypass the town. There was a need for an organ at the church, so an oyster supper was held at the Exchange Hotel. I took my creative liberties to determine that the women wanted the organ and the men being merchants wanted the gravel streets.

Oh by the way, for those who don’t know, the coast of Texas is about a fourteen hour drive today, so the “oysters” no doubt were mountain oysters (calf fries to some) but that could only take place during “cutting season”. Since my story was to take place in February, I had to change the type of benefit; thus, a boxed supper for the women and a BBQ and beer for the men.

That was the birth of Loving Miss Laurel, but lot of things changed as I galloped along with the novella. I decided the women of Farley Springs wanted a library, while the mayor and the other men thought paved streets were needed. My visionary mayor had a lot of surprises thrown at him … the first being his childhood sweetheart showing up from back East and then she got bamboozled into helping the women make sure the money raised was for the library.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it’d be fun to look at its history and customs; and man oh man, did I ever find a lot of interesting things to share with you all today. We all know that most of the Western countries celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, and most of the U.S. customs; so I’m going to go back a few centuries, oh let’s say as far back as the 17th Century and look at some.

In Europe, people celebrate in many ways. In some areas of England, people bake valentine buns with caraway seeds, plums, or raisins. People in Italy hold a Valentine’s Day feast.

In Britain and Italy, some unmarried women get up before sunrise on Valentine’s Day. They stand by the window watching for a man to pass. They believe that the first man they see, or someone who looks like him, will marry them within a year. William Shakespeare, the English playwright, mentions this belief in Hamlet (1603). Ophelia, a woman in the play, sings: Good morrow! ‘Tis St. Valentine’s Day All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your valentine!

In Denmark, people send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their friends. Danish men also send a type of valentine called a gaekkebrev (joking letter). The sender writes a rhyme but does not sign his name. Instead, he signs the valentine with dots, one dot for each letter of his name. If the woman who gets it guesses his name, he rewards her with an Easter egg on Easter.

Many Valentine’s Day customs involved ways that single women could learn who their future husbands would be. Englishwomen of the 1700’s wrote men’s names on scraps of paper, rolled each in a little piece of clay, and dropped them all into water. The first paper that rose to the surface supposedly had the name of a woman’s true love. Also in the 1700’s, unmarried women pinned five bay leaves to their pillows on the eve of Valentine’s Day. And, one description of Valentine’s Day during the 1700’s tells how groups of friends met to draw names. For several days, each man wore his valentine’s name on his sleeve. The saying wearing his heart on his sleeve probably came from this practice.

The earliest records of Valentine’s Day in English tell that birds chose their mates on that day. Shakespeare also mentioned this belief in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A character in the play discovers two lovers in the woods and asks, “St. Valentine is past; Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?” Of interest, DeWanna’s story in our anthology is entitled Sweet Talk and has love birds in it.

One of the oldest customs was the practice of writing women’s names on slips of paper and drawing them from a jar. The woman whose name was drawn by a man became his valentine, and he paid special attention to her.

Many men gave gifts to their valentines. In some areas, a young man gave his valentine a pair of gloves. Wealthy men gave fancy balls to honor their valentines. The custom of sending romantic messages gradually replaced that of giving gifts.

In the 1700’s and 1800’s, many stores sold handbooks called valentine writers. These books included verses to copy and various suggestions about writing valentines.

Do you have a favorite custom you share with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day? To celebrate the upcoming holiday, I will give one lucky commenter an autographed copy of Be My Texas Valentine.