Nancy: Valentine’s Day Traditions

A few days ago, Michaeline gave us the best possible reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming by sharing a romantic short story with us. What I found disturbing – and admitting this could get my romance writer card pulled – is that I actually needed the reminder.

It’s safe to say it’s not a high-priority holiday in our house.

However, we sometimes enjoy a small Valentine’s Day celebration. When we remember it. And we have a few traditions on those occasions, including handmade cards and a special double chocolate dessert. No flowers (I’m allergic to nearly everything with pollen), and no dinner at a crowded restaurant (amirite, fellow introverts?). In their dating days, my daughter and now son-in-law began their tradition of celebrating every Valentine’s Day in a different city. This year’s destination: Honolulu, HI. White sand, 75°F weather, and tropical drinks. (I raised a smart kid.) Continue reading

Michaeline: A Love Story for Valentine Week

A stylish Japanese modern girl with a black bob, beautiful eyes and lips, and a stylish sheath dress. The art is titled "Tipsy".

Anna Kitt, on working holiday in New York City. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Every love story has its conflict, and weak lovers can see it. Their love is paralyzed, and eventually stillborn as they realize just how impossible it is to love this person at this time in this place. But true lovers don’t see the conflict. Love is blind, you see. The lovers are like two cats in a bag, struggling against this unsee-able confinement, but together for as long as it takes to make peace with the bag or get out. That’s why when I saw Anna for the first time, I fell in love instead of running away.

I walked into that bakery in Korea-town, looking for a little something sweet on a cold February day, and I saw her by the pain au chocolat. Black bob, perfect cat-eye liner capturing dark brown eyes, and she was elegant in something black and floofy around the hips with a red fur stole over her shoulders. I reached around to take the last piece of ganache cream cake, when she grabbed my wrist.

“I don’t think you want that, mister,” she said. “It’s mine.”

My first instinct was to back up, stuttering something like, “Of course, madam” and scurrying away but then she gave me the side-eye, and then I saw those red lips, and something funny happened in my chest, and I said, “Why don’t we share it?”

She smiled, and that funny thing in my chest turned into a raging, roaring fire. “My name is Anna,” she said.

“Ray Perez,” I said, and almost kissed her hand before remembering what century I was in.

So, that’s how we wound up sharing a little rectangle of chocolate cake while Continue reading

Jilly: Public Proposals–Swoon or Cringe?

Where do you stand on public marriage proposals?

I’m a sports fan, and I had the England v India cricket match playing in the background as I sat down to write today’s post. Normally I find cricket commentary provides the perfect background for writing, but today there was a break in the action, the cameras focused on a tense-looking young man in the crowd, and the TV presenter said “That’ll be Martin*. He’s here today with Suzanne*, and I believe he has something to say to her…” Martin went down on one knee and fished out a ring box. The giant TV screens said DECISION PENDING. Suzanne cried and kissed him. The screens switched to SHE SAID YES! The crowd went bonkers.

The whole episode made me cringe so much I turned the coverage off. Then I started wondering if I’m a grouchy curmudgeon who’s incapable of appreciating a heartfelt romantic gesture.

What do you think?

I’m not talking about a spontaneous proposal that occurs in front of other people because Circumstances. I love those, in life and literature. My problem is with a carefully orchestrated piece of showmanship set up with the intent to share a serious, potentially life-changing decision with as many strangers as possible, without the decision-maker’s knowledge or consent.

Why might you do that? The best answers I could come up with were:

  • The young man, his beloved, or both, are narcissistic exhibitionists;
  • The young man sees the public proposal as a grand gesture, a demonstration of the strength of his love;
  • The young man is afraid the object of his affections might refuse him, and he is relying on public pressure to tip the scales in his favour;
  • The young man is so thrilled and giddy at the prospect of marrying his beloved that he wants to share the moment with the whole world.

Which brings me to my next question. Generalizing here, but do you think a public proposal of marriage is something the twenty-first century bride dreams of? Continue reading

Michaeline: Wedding Stories

Five Swedish people in fashionable dress, circa 1851; person one and two are getting married, I think. There is a curious exchange of glances amongst the five, though.

(Thoughts, from left to right) “I say, Hilda, I didn’t expect you to show up!” “Oh, Frederick, you have arrived too late, and I am marrying James.” “Jimmy Boy, rraowr!” “Hilda, you cat. Stop trying to pounce on the wedding boy.” “Oh, baby, I’ll see you after the ceremony but before the cake!” image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s the middle of June, and weddings are on my mind this week. Possibly next week as well, and into July. But at any rate, today I’m thinking about weddings.

Two – no, three of my most favorite books have weddings in them. Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me and Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign both feature the “gotta find a date for the wedding” trope. Let’s take a quick look at how the wedding works in each story.

In Bet Me, Min needs a date for her sister’s wedding, and she’s just been dumped by the man she was counting on to validate her place in the party. He was going to be Min’s offering to her volcano mom, in order to appease her and divert her mother’s attention to other things. It didn’t matter very much that he was a rat . . . he was her rat, at least for a few more weeks, or so she thought. Instead, he breaks up with her, and Fate steps in to provide a shining new gift horse, eminently suitable for getting her mother off her back . . . her pack pony, at least for the next few weeks, or so she thought. Continue reading

Kay: Are Your Characters Meant for Each Other?

I’ve been making pretty good progress with my WIP, the third and final story of Phoebe’s escapades. This is the book where Phoebe marries her hero, and I want to show why she waited until book three, instead of tying the knot in book one. I’ve been writing mostly just the action scenes first and tying in some feelz afterwards, trying to connect the themes and show why Phoebe and Chase are meant to be.

In this trilogy, Chase is divorced from a marriage that he rushed into, and now he wants to rush into this one with Phoebe, too. Phoebe wants to wait. And I want readers to know that just because Phoebe wanted to wait doesn’t mean she doesn’t think Chase is the perfect guy for her. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Words of Love

I was randomly perusing the internet earlier today when I came across a site full of images of old-time Valentine cards.  They brought back memories of grammar school where we decorated brown paper lunch bags with hearts and glitter and taped them onto the front of our desks, awaiting the annual delivery of Valentine cards.  The cards came from the dime-store, in a cardboard box, and the night before Valentine’s Day was spent addressing an envelope/card for each classmate (whether we liked them or not).

The cards were often corny, like the image in this post, and the sentiments expressed were not always meant, but it was always fun to open up the little stash of cards, especially those that included a sucker or candy heart in the envelope.

Based on my latest foray to the Hallmark store, Valentine’s cards have evolved a bit over the years, but are still just as popular.  I spent a happy hour perusing the cards which ran the gamut from amusing to treacle-sweet, with a few oddities in between.  I was actually at the store to get some birthday cards, but it was fun trying to decide which of the Valentine cards my fictional characters might give one another.

It was more difficult than I thought. Continue reading

Michaeline: Healing and Dealing

Black and white film still of a patient in bed (with a Japanese jacket) entwined with his nurse.

Caring for the carer. What’s your favorite healing trope? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Well, I’m going to start off with the back story. This has been a trying week. Next Monday is a holiday – Respect for the Aged Day, and hooray for old people and hooray for a day off! But this week? About the only way I crawled through this week was by thinking, “I get next Monday off! I can rest then!”

And then yesterday, the North Koreans decided to kick off the “Thank God It’s Friday!” celebrations with a little missile launch. They were kind enough to wait until 7 a.m. this time, and I have to say, almost everyone seems much more organized about the whole thing this time around. I was (ahem) interrupted in my ablutions, but when I finally finished and could see why my phone was beeping, I calmly proceeded to the hallway, and sat down in the darkness to text my loved ones. The all-clear was quicker. The news on TV had better info to offer us than simply, “OMG! Missiles!” As a matter of fact, the commercial channels were airing happy-sappy commercials within the hour (whereas last time, I don’t remember seeing any commercials). Normalization was quickly re-established once the all-clear alert came around.

I had planned to write a stupendous blog post how things are easier the second time around, but the creeping crud that I’ve been fighting off all week has become a bad cough, and my brain is seriously fogged out. So instead, I’m going to ask you for reading recommendations.

I remember reading a lot of Harlequin romances in my junior and senior year in high school, and it was a very common trope for Continue reading