Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Pioneer Life

Debra reflects that she would have made a terrible pioneer.

With yesterday being a holiday here in the States (Presidents' Day), you'd think I would have gotten around to posting in a timely manner. Nope. I ran around and took care of some errands and shopping, and by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was sit on the porch with a book and read. Now granted, we're having unseasonably warm weather around these parts, so it's not often that I get to read a book outdoors in February. But still, I'd been busy all day and I just wanted to put my feet up and relax.

Ironically I'm re-reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I read them all (probably several times) when I was a girl, and I reread them about ten years ago after I visited her home in Mansfield MO. I read Little House in the Big Woods to my kids at school every year, but this year I also revisited These Happy Golden Years as we recently hosted a book discussion at the Historical Society in our newly restored original one-room schoolhouse.
The restoration of our community's original school has been on-going for the past 15 years. We raised money to relocate the building to our campus back in 2009 and have been working ever since then to raise the money to restore it. A couple weeks ago, just in time for our village's 100th birthday, the job was complete. Now we can hold events and activities there. It's quite wonderful. I'm a big history buff, and to have something like this literally in my backyard (I live right behind the Historical Society campus) is a dream come true. When I walked into the building last week to set up for the event, I had tears in my eyes. It's just all kinds of wonderful.
For the event, we had 11 boys and girls come to discuss the book. We chatted about the book, made butter while we talked, ate lunch (ham sandwiches, apples, corn muffins, and stick candy) out of tin pails just like Laura used to, and then did a make and take craft based on the book. We chose that particular book in the series because it's about Laura going away to teach for the first time in a one-room schoolhouse of the day, so we thought it was the prefect tie-in for the inaugural event in our own schoolhouse.
It was a truly wonderful day, and as excited as the kids were, I think myself and my co-leader were even more giddy.

But I digress. The reason I found it ironic to be reading that particular series when all I wanted to do was rest and relax was because those pioneers never sat still. From sun up to sun down they worked: building houses, plowing, farming, taking care of the animals, cooking, doing laundry, doing dishes, sewing...just reading about all of it page after page makes me tired. Don't get me wrong...I work hard, too. With the balmy weather I took some time on Sunday to clean up leaves in the yard I hadn't gotten to in the fall and to remove some landscaping rocks from next to the front porch. But I always take time each and every day to read (at least for an hour before I go to bed each night) and if I'm really lucky, sit and watch a bit of tv with the hubby after dinner. I need my relaxing time. I love to sleep in. Go to bed early. Take time to just take a break.

So I could never be a pioneer. I don't have a strong enough work ethic, that's for sure. But it is amazing to think about those people of the past, and the work they did to build and grow our country.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Love and Hearts

As it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, the shops are full of cards with hearts, and heart-shaped balloons, cakes, chocolates, jewellery etc – because, of course, the heart is linked to love, and St. Valentine is the patron saint of love.

Throughout the ages, poetry and literature have concentrated on the heart as the centre of emotion, and there’s no doubt that the heart reacts to our feelings and reactions – it can thump, pound or thud, with emotions like shock, tension, fear, anticipation, excitement.

My characters’ hearts do all that, and more. I’ve learnt to be more restrained about their hearts after discovering (while editing one novel) that my heroine’s heart had not only thumped, pounded and thudded, but also jerked, jolted, jumped, and leapt (can the heart actually do those things?), and her heartbeat had accelerated, quickened, raced, skipped, missed a beat and done so many different things that she was in danger of an imminent heart attack.

And what about ‘heartache’ and ‘heartbreak’? Does the heart really ache? Can it actually break? The answer is probably no, but everyone knows what those words represent. In fact, a doctor actually gave Chief Joseph’s cause of death as being ‘of a broken heart’.

In the culture of all ages, the heart is everywhere, from the Roman poet Catullus with his heart ‘hardened’ (problem with his arteries?) to J.K.Rowling’s ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ (what??)

I’d actually contend that our emotions, feelings, and reactions come from our minds, but in romance novels, the heart continues be synonymous with love.

So I’ll leave you with a few quotations about hearts:

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” (Blaise Pascal)

“A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.” (Rupert Brooke)

“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

“The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” (Audrey Hepburn)

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” (Helen Keller)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Love

Jennifer talks about love...

February is the month of love.

Okay, maybe not. But with the push every holiday gets, Valentine’s Day takes on a huge role in stores—flower shops, chocolate and candy stores, jewelry stores and any other store that can come up with something suitable for your sweetie.

As a romance author, it takes on special significance, too. Because everything I write has to do with love. In my stories, love overcomes everything—horrible parents, rough backgrounds, difficult career decisions, physical and mental and emotional scars. No matter what happens, ultimately, love wins.

In books, love is often demonstrated with grand gestures. But in real life, love is often the simple, almost unnoticed, things. It could be a tone of voice or a touch. But it doesn’t even have to be romantic. This year, my husband is away for Valentine’s Day, so we won’t be celebrating. But he shows me his love all the time in things he does for me and by the support he offers me.

As a writer, I try to remember that when I show how my characters express their love for each other. It’s not always the “I love you” moment. Sometimes it’s more subtle than that. However their love is demonstrated, by the end of the book, the hero and heroine go off to live their “happily ever after.”

So, for those of you who write, remember the big and small “love moments.” And for those of you who read, I wish you your very own “happily ever after,” however that may be expressed.

Happy Valentine’s Day!