featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

#TRAVEL TO THE BERKSHIRES WITH GUEST AUTHOR LESLIE WHEELER

Leslie Wheeler’s mystery fiction includes three novels in her Living History Mystery Series, and short stories that have appeared in several anthologies. Rattlesnake Hill is the first book in a new series of Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries. Learn more about Leslie and her books at her website.  

Location, Location!
Location is important in books, as well as real estate and movies. For me, setting, rather than character, is where a book begins. I choose settings that interest me or that I love because I know I’m going to spend a lot of time there.

For my current book, Rattlesnake Hill, the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts was an obvious choice. I not only love the area but know it well, having lived there for many years. But which Berkshires? The one that draws tourists and wealthy weekenders in the summer for numerous cultural attractions, as well as chi-chi shops and restaurants, and again in the fall for brilliant foliage? Or the Berkshires of small towns and villages off the beaten track, where people whose families have been there for generations eke out of lives, not necessarily of “quiet desperation,” but sometimes close to it?

 I chose the latter. As a resident of a small backwater town myself, it’s the Berkshires I know best. As my main character, Kathryn Stinson, herself a city dweller as I was and still partly am, describes the difference between these two Berkshires:

“Main Street [of Stockbridge] was decked out with boughs of holly, pine wreaths, and Christmas lights in readiness for another holiday a la Norman Rockwell . . . Even on a weeknight in December, visitors strolled along the sidewalk or sat, bundled in fur and down, on the porch of the Red Lion Inn, sipping hot chocolate and hot buttered rum.

 But it was the other Berkshires she was traveling to—the Berkshires of lonely towns perched high on hills, of narrow back roads whose winding darkness come nightfall never ceased to amaze an urban dweller like her. She’d been away less than a day, but already she’d half forgotten what it was like to turn off the main thoroughfare and plunge into a world of blackness, broken only by the lights of an occasional house, or if the sky was clear like this evening, a crescent moon and a pinprick pattern of stars. Past experience had taught her to drive these roads with care, because you never knew when a deer might dart out, or when rounding a bend, you might find yourself on a collision course with a wrong-sided vehicle.”

Of course, setting isn’t just about place; it’s about the time—centuries, years, months, days. Rattlesnake Hill is set in the present, with forays into the past, and despite the Christmas holiday references above, the novel actually begins in November, a dark time of dwindling light when the foliage is gone and with it the tourists. I chose this month, because I wanted to focus on the tension between my main character and the locals, who are suspicious of her. As one local, who especially resents her presence, puts it, “Nobody moved here in this off-season time before the last of the foliage and the first snowfall.”

Which brings me back to another important element of setting: people. Small towns in rural areas are places where everyone knows everyone else’s business, and strangers are not readily welcomed. Kathryn Stinson discovers this when she starts asking questions about an event in the distant past. And when she seeks answers to a more recent mystery: the murder of a woman who once occupied the house she’s renting, her neighbors become openly hostile.

So why does she stay? In part because she’s stubborn and is determined unlock the secrets the locals are withholding from her. But another part has to do with the area’s great natural beauty. From her very first view of the landscape outside the house she rents, Kathryn is enchanted by its loveliness.

Throughout the novel, Kathryn finds peace but also draws inner strength from her surroundings. It’s why I’ve stayed in the Berkshires, too.

Rattlesnake Hill
A Berkshire Hiltown Mystery

It’s November in the Berkshires, a dreary time of dwindling light when the tourists have fled along with the last gasp of fall foliage. So when a stranger shows up in the sleepy hilltown of New Nottingham and starts asking questions, the locals don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.

 Bostonian Kathryn Stinson is on a deeply personal quest to solve a family mystery: the identity of a nameless beauty in an old photograph an ancestor brought with him to California over a century ago. But, as Kathryn quickly discovers, the hills possess a host of dark secrets – both ancient and new – that can only be revealed at the price of danger and even death.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH POSTMISTRESS AND AMATEUR SLEUTH JEAN FLOWERS

Small town postmistress and amateur sleuth Cassie Miller, star of the Postmistress Mysteries by Jean Flowers, sits down with us today for an interview.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I was happy in Boston, working at the main post office, engaged to a great guy (until my author turned him into a jerk who texted me our breakup).

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I'm a dependable worker.

What do you like least about yourself?
I'm a pushover for whoever's nice to me.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Solve three murders, putting my life in danger!

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
See above, putting my life in danger. Also see above, turning my fiancé into a jerk.

What is your greatest fear?
Ending up alone and unloved.

What makes you happy?
Reading about postal history and trivia, like the fact that at one time you could mail children!

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I'd probably stay in Boston because there's more going on after sundown.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
My friend Linda, because she bugs me about returning to Boston. And it bothers me because I'm still not sure I did the right thing moving away from the city.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
My friend Sunni, the chief of police because she has the most interesting job, most of the time.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Jean Flowers is really Camille Minichino. I think. She may be in witness protection because she has two other names, too – Margaret Grace and Ada Madison. They all hang out at www.minichino.com and blog every Thursday at www.minichino.com/wordpress. Sign up for her monthly newsletter. She always has a puzzle or riddle and constantly declutters by turning everything into swag for her readers.

What's next for you?
I don't know exactly what Jean Flowers has in mind for me, but after writing 25 novels in 20 years, she's having a great time with shorter pieces. I may appear in a novella soon.

The Magnesium Murder
In this novella addition to the Periodic Table Mysteries, freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent is summoned to prepare the body of a young woman—a bride-to-be, and a suspected murder victim. Anastasia is pressed into service by her mortuary employer to investigate the suspicious death. Anastasia overcomes her own personal stress of moving in with her boyfriend, to follow the trail that leads to justice.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--SPICE UP YOUR HOME AND BODY WITH CINNAMON

Two weeks ago I wrote about various clever ideas for using orange peelsToday I have some suggestions for spicing up your life with cinnamon, a very versatile spice that’s not just for baking snickerdoodles and apple pie.

Just as orange peel can be used as a natural insect repellant, cinnamon, combined with a couple of other spices, can be used as a natural moth repellant.

Natural Moth Repellant
You’ll need small sachet bags (available at craft stores), 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup whole cloves,1/2 cup black peppercorns.

Mix cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns together. Fill sachet bags. Hang bags in closet or place in dresser drawers.

Natural Athlete’s Foot Soother
Did you know cinnamon is an antimicrobial? If you’re plagued with athlete’s foot, boil ten sticks in a quart of water. Allow to cool. Soak your feet for twenty minutes. Dry completely.

Natural Hair Therapy
Cinnamon also increases blood flow. Some people believe it helps stimulate hair growth. To give your hair a boost, mix together 1/4 cup honey with 1/4 cup cinnamon. Apply to your scalp and allow to sit for fifteen minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Natural Furniture and Floor Repair
You can use cinnamon to hide scuffs in wooden floors and furniture. Just use a cotton swab to rub some ground cinnamon into the scratch marks.

Monday, February 19, 2018

ANASTASIA'S THOUGHTS ON PRESIDENTS' DAY

Today is Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday meant to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, which is actually February 22nd, and all the other U.S. presidents. Why, you might ask, have I chosen to illustrate this post with the cover of a biography of Alexander Hamilton, a man who was never president of the United States?

I do so because I’m currently reading the book, and although we’ve never published book reviews on the blog and don’t intend to start now, I wanted to talk about Presidents’ Day in terms of what I’ve learned from this book, given that many of the men involved--Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe--did become future presidents.

Back in the Stone Age, when I studied American history, I thought I was receiving an excellent education. I took Advanced Placement U.S. History at a high school with a reputation for being one of the best in the state of New Jersey. It wasn’t until I began reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton that I realized how little I actually knew about the men who founded our nation.

I, and I’m sure many other students of my generation, as well as previous generations, were taught that the Founding Fathers were high-minded patriots who worked together toward a common goal--independence. We were taught to respect these men. They were icons. Subsequent presidents are often compared to them and more often than not, fall short of these great men. How often have you heard people lament, where are the great leaders of today?

Yes, we knew these men had their differences, the biggest being the states rights vs. federal rights argument, and of course there was the slavery issue, which pitted the colonies of the south against the colonies of the north. But we were taught that these men put personal feelings aside to work on compromises to unify the colonies and create a great nation.

What we were never taught (and maybe what high school students today are still not taught) is that these men were just as human and just as flawed as any politicians who have followed. Yes, they reached compromise but not without intense animosity and hostility that led to broadside screeds, Machiavellian maneuverings, and constant backstabbing. Fake news? It’s been around from the very beginning, and you’d be surprised by some of the biggest perpetrators.

The book, which is documented up the wazoo with footnotes referencing actual writings from the people involved, is 800+ pages long. I’m only a little more than halfway finished, given my crazy life. If you know anything about me, you know I barely have time to brush my hair, let alone carve out a few minutes of “me” time now and then. I’m juggling two teenage kids, a communist mother-in-law, a boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and all those dead bodies—not to mention debt greater than the GNP of your average Third World country. Still, I’ve managed to get in a chapter or two once or twice a week.

I don’t believe in using this blog as a political platform. I believe we are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs. It’s what makes our nation great. I have friends who believe what I believe and friends who have opposite beliefs. I respect their views and don’t let our differences compromise our friendship. However, no matter on which side of the aisle you find yourself aligned, I think we all agree that we’re living in a time of political turmoil. Many would say it’s unprecedented.

Or is it?

What I’m learning from this book is that today’s political turmoil is anything but unprecedented in the history of our nation. That insight has put quite a bit of our current political climate into perspective for me, giving me hope that eventually, as has often happened in the past, our better angels will prevail. And that's why I wanted to talk about this book on Presidents’ Day.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

#BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--OOPS! HEROINE ACCIDENTALLY ELOPES WITH WRONG MAN!

Today we sit down with Katherine, niece of Earl Quamby, from author Beverley Oakley’s The Accidental Elopement.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

Believe me, I had my life all mapped out. The pinnacle of my ambition was to make the most illustrious marriage possible during my London season. I was beautiful, from a well-connected family (if you disregard my mother’s pre-marriage scandals) and I had three suitors. Then my author threw me together with my childhood friend, Jack – a boy from the foundling home – and we fell madly in love.

I was furious that she should do that to me – for about five seconds – because truly, I was prepared to cross shark-infested waters to be with Jack. In fact, I nearly did (well, not shark-infested but raging seas). Unfortunately, I got into the wrong carriage. The one that wasn’t taking me to those raging seas I was prepared to cross. And that’s when my life took a very dark turn.

Excuse me if I don’t go into the details right now. The trauma is still quite fresh in my mind.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I shouldn’t need to tell you that a well brought-up young lady doesn’t advertise her good qualities which should be evident to all her eligible suitors. However, if there’s one thing I secretly like about myself, it’s my love of adventure. I was so lucky to have been able to climb trees with Jack and join him on adventures when we were seven. This was when Jack would be brought over from the foundling home to be a playmate for my cousin, George. But it was Jack and I who found some mischief to get into – and Jack always defended me and took the blame – even if it was my fault. Sorry…I didn’t mean to get tearful but I do miss Jack. Or rather, the fact that he is lost to me and…the fact we’re doomed to be apart.

What do you like least about yourself?
My impulsiveness. Oh, yes, definitely that! If I hadn’t been so foolish and impulsive, I never would have made the biggest, most terrible mistake of my life. I never would have…I’m so embarrassed to admit it because who would do such a thing? Who would accidentally elope with the wrong person?

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Strangest? Or do you mean most terrible? Because, there’s no getting around the fact that my author utterly ruined my life! That carriage I got into? How was I supposed to know it had been sent by someone other than whom I assumed had sent it?

But I can’t blame anyone other than myself. All this happened seven years ago and I’m not the feather-brained, impulsive debutante I was then. I’m older and wiser – lonelier, too, though I deserve it. But I have a beautiful seven-year-old daughter and she’s my treasure.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I argued about the fact that I thought it wasn’t that Jack and I couldn’t be together again after we’d been apart for seven years. After all, I was widowed and Jack was not yet married. But my author said honour had to prevail. She said it was one thing that I’d only just been widowed but quite another that Jack was honour-bound to marry the daughter of his dying mentor whom he’d promised, in the West Indies, he would protect. He’d just brought Odette back from across the seas so how could I expect he’d leave her to marry me? Even though I knew Jack loved me?

I suppose I can’t blame him. I was the impulsive one. I brought all my troubles upon myself. It’s hardly any wonder Jack thought I had forsaken him.

But I did ask my author if I couldn’t just tell him everything about what had happened and how I felt about him. She said I could but only if I wanted to put him in the impossible position of choosing between his heart and his honourable soul. I’m still trying to find a way to get around that one.

What is your greatest fear?
That Jack will never know how much I love him. And that he will never learn my secret. I want him to know it – yet I know it would destroy him.

What makes you happy?
Being with my child makes me happy. I lead a quiet life after my late husband ruined my reputation and gambled away our worldly goods so I take pleasure in simple things.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I would rewrite the end because I think Jack deserves to be happy but I think I do, too. And we can only be happy together. But Jack is about to marry and then he will be lost to me forever.

My author found me in tears this morning. She told me my story isn’t finished yet but I don’t believe her. Jack is marrying so soon. It’s set in stone. His bride-to-be is sweet and worthy and her father is dying. My aunt thinks she has a plan to make her fall in love with someone else, but it won’t work.

I must accept that Jack and I are doomed to be forever apart.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
My cousin George, for sure! He was spoiled and whiney when we were children and he hadn’t changed much when we were eighteen which is when he suddenly decided he wanted to marry me – even though he knew Jack and I were soul mates.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Odette, Jack’s betrothed. Because she is the one who will have Jack for the rest of her dying days. But she won’t have his heart. I thought I would take comfort from that but I can’t. I don’t want her to suffer as much as I have for the truth is that she’s a good person. Better woman than I am. It’s just that Jack loves me. And I love him.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’. She writes historical romances laced with scandal and intrigue and Africa-set romantic suspense as Beverley Eikli. You can read more at www.beverleyoakley.com.

What's next for you, the author?
She’ll be writing book three in her Fair Cyprians of London series. Each story features a courtesan at Madame Chambon’s elite Soho establishment. Keeping Faith, like the other stories in the series, is based on fictionalized versions of the interviews of the ‘fallen women’ nineteenth century journalist Henry Mayhew included in his study of Victorian vice, London’s Underworld. Sacrificing Charity is about a courtesan who’s been groomed by her protector to be her ‘beautiful weapon’. It highlights hypocrisy and has at its heart a revenge and redemption theme.

The Accidental Elopement
Today we sit down with Katherine, niece of Earl Quamby, from author Beverley Oakley’s The Accidental Elopement.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

Believe me, I had my life all mapped out. The pinnacle of my ambition was to make the most illustrious marriage possible during my London season. I was beautiful, from a well-connected family (if you disregard my mother’s pre-marriage scandals) and I had three suitors. Then my author threw me together with my childhood friend, Jack – a boy from the foundling home – and we fell madly in love.

I was furious that she should do that to me – for about five seconds – because truly, I was prepared to cross shark-infested waters to be with Jack. In fact, I nearly did (well, not shark-infested but raging seas). Unfortunately, I got into the wrong carriage. The one that wasn’t taking me to those raging seas I was prepared to cross. And that’s when my life took a very dark turn.

Excuse me if I don’t go into the details right now. The trauma is still quite fresh in my mind.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I shouldn’t need to tell you that a well brought-up young lady doesn’t advertise her good qualities which should be evident to all her eligible suitors. However, if there’s one thing I secretly like about myself, it’s my love of adventure. I was so lucky to have been able to climb trees with Jack and join him on adventures when we were seven. This was when Jack would be brought over from the foundling home to be a playmate for my cousin, George. But it was Jack and I who found some mischief to get into – and Jack always defended me and took the blame – even if it was my fault. Sorry…I didn’t mean to get tearful but I do miss Jack. Or rather, the fact that he is lost to me and…the fact we’re doomed to be apart.

What do you like least about yourself?
My impulsiveness. Oh, yes, definitely that! If I hadn’t been so foolish and impulsive, I never would have made the biggest, most terrible mistake of my life. I never would have…I’m so embarrassed to admit it because who would do such a thing? Who would accidentally elope with the wrong person?

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Strangest? Or do you mean most terrible? Because, there’s no getting around the fact that my author utterly ruined my life! That carriage I got into? How was I supposed to know it had been sent by someone other than whom I assumed had sent it?

But I can’t blame anyone other than myself. All this happened seven years ago and I’m not the feather-brained, impulsive debutante I was then. I’m older and wiser – lonelier, too, though I deserve it. But I have a beautiful seven-year-old daughter and she’s my treasure.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I argued about the fact that I thought it wasn’t that Jack and I couldn’t be together again after we’d been apart for seven years. After all, I was widowed and Jack was not yet married. But my author said honour had to prevail. She said it was one thing that I’d only just been widowed but quite another that Jack was honour-bound to marry the daughter of his dying mentor whom he’d promised, in the West Indies, he would protect. He’d just brought Odette back from across the seas so how could I expect he’d leave her to marry me? Even though I knew Jack loved me?

I suppose I can’t blame him. I was the impulsive one. I brought all my troubles upon myself. It’s hardly any wonder Jack thought I had forsaken him.

But I did ask my author if I couldn’t just tell him everything about what had happened and how I felt about him. She said I could but only if I wanted to put him in the impossible position of choosing between his heart and his honourable soul. I’m still trying to find a way to get around that one.

What is your greatest fear?
That Jack will never know how much I love him. And that he will never learn my secret. I want him to know it – yet I know it would destroy him.

What makes you happy?
Being with my child makes me happy. I lead a quiet life after my late husband ruined my reputation and gambled away our worldly goods so I take pleasure in simple things.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I would rewrite the end because I think Jack deserves to be happy but I think I do, too. And we can only be happy together. But Jack is about to marry and then he will be lost to me forever.

My author found me in tears this morning. She told me my story isn’t finished yet but I don’t believe her. Jack is marrying so soon. It’s set in stone. His bride-to-be is sweet and worthy and her father is dying. My aunt thinks she has a plan to make her fall in love with someone else, but it won’t work.

I must accept that Jack and I are doomed to be forever apart.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
My cousin George, for sure! He was spoiled and whiney when we were children and he hadn’t changed much when we were eighteen which is when he suddenly decided he wanted to marry me – even though he knew Jack and I were soul mates.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Odette, Jack’s betrothed. Because she is the one who will have Jack for the rest of her dying days. But she won’t have his heart. I thought I would take comfort from that but I can’t. I don’t want her to suffer as much as I have for the truth is that she’s a good person. Better woman than I am. It’s just that Jack loves me. And I love him.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’. She writes historical romances laced with scandal and intrigue and Africa-set romantic suspense as Beverley Eikli. You can read more at her website.

What's next for you, the author?
She’ll be writing book three in her Fair Cyprians of London series. Each story features a courtesan at Madame Chambon’s elite Soho establishment. Keeping Faith, like the other stories in the series, is based on fictionalized versions of the interviews of the ‘fallen women’ nineteenth century journalist Henry Mayhew included in his study of Victorian vice, London’s Underworld. Sacrificing Charity is about a courtesan who’s been groomed by her protector to be her ‘beautiful weapon’. It highlights hypocrisy and has at its heart a revenge and redemption theme.

The Accidental Elopement
Book 4 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwell series

A seven-year secret. A tragic misunderstanding. Can love outwit fate in this tale of misadventure and thwarted dreams?

Earl Quamby’s niece, Katherine, and Jack, a foundling home lad adopted by a local family, have been loyal friends for as long as they can remember. 

As Jack is about to leave England to make his fortune and Katherine is being courted by two eligible suitors, they unexpectedly realise their friendship has blossomed into passionate love. A love, they are warned, that has no future.

Despite a brave attempt to defy the forces keeping them apart, tragedy results and the pair is separated.

When chance throws them together seven years later, Katherine, newly widowed, is being pressured into a marriage not of her choosing to avoid scandal and Jack feels he must honour his pledge to the worthy Odette whom he met in India and whose father is dying.

Katherine knows that revealing a long-held secret may win Jack to her but she also knows conflicting obligations from past and present may tear him apart.

Can master matchmakers, Fanny, Antoinette and Bertram Brightwell, outwit fate in its latest attempt to keep these star-crossed lovers apart and deliver them the happiness they deserve?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

GUEST AUTHOR DONNA SCHLACHTER ON THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

Donna Schlachter writes historical suspense under her own name and contemporary suspense under her Leeann Betts alter ego. Donna also teaches writing classes and courses and is a ghostwriter and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about her and her books at her website where you can receive a free book by signing up for her newsletter. Today Donna joins us to discuss how she came up with the idea for Train Ride to Heartbreak, the novella she contributed to The Mail-Order Brides Collection.

The idea for this story came from a love of a movie and a friend with a great story to share.

The movie was The Fugitive, both the original series pilot and the more recent remake. I loved the idea of a train ride leading to a second chance.

My friend had recently taken a train ride from Denver to San Francisco, and she shared several delightful stories. I wondered if a train ride might be like a cruise in that it would provide an insulated environment where the travelers might do something they’d never done before. If so, this was perfect fodder for a romance, much like the old TV show, The Love Boat.

And then I saw Murder on the Orient Express, and as a lover of anything Agatha Christie, decided to incorporate a few of the details in my story.

The result? A chance meeting, two characters with integrity, and a way for God to reach both of them.

The Mail-Order Brides Collection
What kind of woman would answer an advertisement and marry a stranger?

Escape into the history of the American West along with nine couples whose relationships begin with advertisements for mail-order brides. Placing their dreams for new beginnings in the hands of a stranger, will each bride be disappointed, or will some find true love?

Train Ride to Heartbreak

1895, Train to California
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

October 1895
Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, John and Mary commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

Ever wonder how Valentine’s Day began? One theory is that Bishop Valentine performed secret weddings against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, who forbade Roman men from marrying during wartime. The bishop was jailed for disobeying the emperor. While in prison, he wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “from your Valentine.” The bishop was executed and eventually elevated to sainthood, and the rest is history—or myth.

However, one has to wonder if this might be the reason that in Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card.

Ever wonder why people sign Valentine’s Day cards with a series of X’s to indicate kisses? Back in medieval times most people were illiterate. They signed their names with an X in front of a witness, then kissed the X as a sign of their sincerity. Perhaps this is also the origin of the expression “sealed with a kiss.”

Another romantic expression, “wearing your heart on your sleeve”, also harkens back to Valentine’s Day during medieval times. Young men and women would draw names from a bowl to choose their Valentine. The name would be pinned to their sleeves for a week for everyone to see.

If you find Valentine’s Day depressing due to your single status, you can celebrate Singles Awareness Day instead. Or become an honorary citizen of Finland for the day and celebrate Ystävänpäivä, which is Friend’s Day and is all about celebrating friendships.

And what about all those red roses that are given on Valentine’s Day? Why did the red rose become synonymous with romance? It probably has something to do with the red rose being the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

To all our readers, Happy Valentine’s Day—or Singles Awareness Day or Ystävänpäivä!