Saturday, February 14, 2009


I love Valentine's Day! I don't like it because of the romance or the promise of getting a giant box of chocolates. I love it, because it's a holiday totally devoted to LOVE. Of course, that's not to say that I haven't bristled at the notion of getting yet another white stuffed teddy bear holding a red heart that says: I Love You Beary Much , but overall I, for as long as I can remember, have loved Valentine's Day.

I know the big complaint about this holiday is that it is the commercialized product of the card and chocolate companies, but I guess I've always felt that there could be worse holidays out there than one that celebrates love. I think people have fallen into the trap of thinking that Valentine's Day is only a day for people in relationships. I've never thought of it this way. To me, Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate the people in your life whom you love. That could be your grandparents, parents, siblings, husband, wife, children, or dog. And yes, I know that we don't need a special day to tell people we love them, but the sad fact is that most of the time people are too busy with their lives to remember to utter those three simple words. Sure I remember to tell my husband and kids that I love them before they leave for work and school, or before we go to bed at night, but the words almost become like an over used mantra. Over time they begin to sound as common place as "Please pass the butter" or "Remember to take out the garbage." It's not that the words are not important, it's just that you don't typically think about the actual meaning of them when you say them.

So that is why I love Valentine's Day. I love it, because it is the one time each year when people are forced to stop and think about the people in their lives that they love. They are forced to think about what the words "I love you" really means. Maybe I'm being a touch naive, but I honestly don't think love, commercialized or not, is a bad thing to celebrate.

Of course, I may also be a little biased, because my birthday is Valentine's Day. How can you hate a holiday you were born on? So Happy Valentine's Day to all you out there. XOXOXOX

P.S. Please stop by and check out my 1950s blog at

I also just did an interview with a wonderful writer named Marita Dachsel. The interview is about writing and motherhood. Check it out at:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Romance Karaoke

First off... an apology. I have been a little... missing in action of late. You may have noticed. I was conspicuously absent in my posting duties of last week - but I have a really good reason! There was no wi-fi in the desert. And I was in the desert for much longer than I had planned on being. Last Thursday, John and I flew to LA. It was a friend's 40th birthday and, to celebrate, a bunch of folk were getting together and piling onto one of those ridiculous behemoth limo-bus thingies and driving across the desert to party in Vegas. Woo Hoo! Count me it! Sounds like fun! Right up until the part where the bus breaks down and strands us all in the middle of the (Freaking Cold With Driving Rain and Gale Force Winds) desert. For hours.

So. No posting for me. But dang if my cowboy boots didn't get soaking wet...

Right then. This week, I am not in the desert. I'm right here talkin' about luuuurve! And romance. Or a somewhat reasonable facscimile thereof. Which is sort what Valentines Day can seem to a lot of people, I think.

Now... I know a lot of people despise Feb 14. Some people rebel against the commercialization of love. Some are offended by the "couples only" bias. For others, it just brings back all those painful childhood memories of never getting as many Valentines in your little construction-paper mailbox (that you slaved over in art class) as the cleary untalented but naturally curly-haired girl who sat in front of you... er... not that that ever happend to me. Heh.

Now, me, I don't have anything against the occasion. Although I do find it a bit curious. I find that, in a lot of cases (not with everyone, certainly) the same thing happens with Valentine's Day as with St. Patrick's Day or New Year's Eve. Everybody tries too hard.

Last year my boyfriend and I went out for a nice dinner at this old world-style steakhouse. It's a lovely resturant. But here's the thing - we go there fairly often. The head waiter knows our names. And he was ridiculously pleased to see us. Because the place was packed with non-regulars. Some of them *koff*annoying-loud-guy-at-the-next-table*koff* were sort of... showing off. If you know what I mean. These were people that didn't know and love this resturant already for what it was and were trying too hard to impress their dates. "Amateur Night" the waiter called it with a gently sardonic grin. Is that like Romance Karaoke? I thought. Although, I must admit, I can sort of see his point.

I mean - why all the fuss for just that one night? After all, shouldn't love be a year-round kind of thing?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shakespeare in Love

To me, thoughtful things are romantic. Not flowers or candy, both of which are okay, but don’t really wow me. The most romantic “gift” my husband ever gave me was a poem, a Shakespearian sonnet that he wrote inside of a card. And not just any sonnet, but one that actually had meaning at that point in our lives.

15 years ago, my husband (who was then my high school boyfriend) left to go to college. I’m two years younger, and was still only a junior in high school. Right before he left, he gave me that card, with the poem written inside. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

My husband (then, my 18-year-old boyfriend) was not much of a reader. I knew he had to really think outside of his normal comfort realm to find any poems, much less Shakespeare, and then he had to actually sit down and read until he found one that meant something. This was his way of saying that he wanted us to stay together, even though he was moving 200 miles away. And what could be more romantic than that?

We did stay together (not just because of this poem, of course!) But I never forgot this one sonnet. Years later, we even put it in our wedding program.

And then I sat down to write The September Sisters, which is, in many ways a love story. The main character, Abby, meets her neighbor’s grandson, Tommy, and as the two of them try to reconcile the disappearance of Abby’s sister, their love blossoms. I don’t want to give away anything here, so I’ll just say I got to a point in writing the book where I needed a love poem, and I immediately thought of this one.

So as you read The September Sisters, you’ll see the meaning this poem has for Abby, but now you’ll also know the meaning this poem has for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yeah, yeah, yeah . . .

I have a confession, also. I downright dread Valentine's Day. But that's only because I'm currently single. Those of us who are without a significant other are bombarded with reminders about this "holiday" everywhere we go. I looked for a birthday card yesterday and almost gave up due to the larger-than-life presence of Valentine cards in the card section of Walgreens. Sheesh. How can a single person not notice the barrage of newspaper ads around this time of year each promising the best romantic evening in town. Or the heart-shaped mylar balloons over-taking the floral sections of the grocery stores. Red this, pink that. OK. I get it.


I am a heckuva romantic at heart. I love love. In fact, I dream of writing a classic love story - every word by unrequited word. The Bridges of Madison County of the new millennium perhaps, or another Anna Karenina. The Thorn Birds, The Notebook, Wuthering Heights - ahhhh it's nice to at least fantasize about greatness!

There's a touch of romance in my upcoming novel, Whistlin' Dixie In A Nor'easter. In fact, my favorite scene in the book involves a long-awaited slow dance that gets interrupted after only two turns. My forthcoming sequel to Dixie will have much more romance. It's aching to come out of me and I can't wait to find out what happens to my main character, Leelee. Her love life is out of sorts for sure and book two will bring even more conflict.

But what's love without conflict anyway? At least in this Novel Girl's experience.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shhhh...Don't Tell Anyone

I have a confession: I sort of hate Valentine's Day.

OK, well hate is kind of a strong word, so...nevermind, I'll stick with hate.

I guess it all stems from the fact that I would never describe myself as a romantic. Sure, I appreciate romantic gestures like flowers, but I also appreciate things like my husband doing the laundry and taking out the trash, too. So, Valentine's Day has always just seemed like a lot of pressure for a couple who is just as happy sharing a cheeseburger, fries and a few beers as a romantic ten-course meal.

Another example? For our wedding anniversary last year, my husband and I celebrated by going to a Cubs game. And I gotta say, it was the greatest of celebrations. Us, 40,000 screaming fans, hot dogs, peanuts and a few cold ones. My idea of a great summer day!

So I guess the moral in all of this is that love and romance can be whatever you want it to be. I my opinion, it doesn't always have to be balloons, candelight, and heart-shaped cookies. It can simply be coming home to a clean house, a good movie, a nice bottle of wine and sweatpants.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What is Romance to Me?

They say "love makes the world go round," and seeing as I'm a hopeless romantic as well as a romance writer, I have to agree. We were just talking about our favorite movies last week, and while I stand by my choice of Disney's Enchanted, another favorite of mine is the movie Love Actually. It touches on what love means in many different types of know, the kind that actually make up real life?

For me, my definition of love and romance has changed as I've grown up into the 30-something woman I am now. When I was younger, I was all about the "displays" of romance. Evenings out, romantic dinners over the softly glowing light of candles, grand gestures of love from my signifcant other, etc. Now, well...I'm not going to lie and say I don't like any of those things anymore, because of course I do...but love and romance means something different to me today.

I have four children, and let me tell you--there's little that can compete with that type of love (as all you parents out there already know). With my parents, brother, and other family members yet another type of love exists. And I can say the same for the love I feel for my amazing friends. We have pets, too! And yep, they also take up a corner of my heart.

And then there's my husband. This man supports me day in and day out, he takes my bad moods when I have them (and usually tries to make them go away), he's funny and makes me laugh often, and while we don't have very many romantic nights out...there's another type of romance at play here--the day in and the day out.

Little things like bringing me my coffee in the morning without my having to ask, buying me a favorite treat from the grocery store when he knows I'm in a funk, a quick hug in passing -- for no real reason at all, are all romantic to me. And then there's the big things...the very big things that mean more than a bouquet of flowers ever will.

When you get married, you vow to be there for each other through sickness and health. We're all used to hearing this whenever we go to a wedding. It's supposed to be there, because it makes sense, after all. I've talked about this before, but a little over a year ago, I became very ill. The details of which I don't want to go into here, but suffice it to say I was in the hospital for two months. My husband visited me every single day while taking care of our four kids, keeping the house together, doing the shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc.

And then, when I came home, he was there for everything I needed to get myself back to ...well, myself. He had to do a lot of things that were difficult (to say the least), but never did I feel anything but his support, his love, and his happiness that I was home again. So even if he never brings me another bouquet of flowers, or takes me out to a candle-lit dinner, or any of those other "romantic" gestures, I'm a happy girl. Because when push came to shove, he stood there solidly by my side, loving me and taking care of me.

Really, what's more romantic than that?

Happy Valentine's Week everyone! May you look around and appreciate the love and romance in your life, even if it's not made up of grand gestures. :)

Also! Week two of my celebration for my debut release, A Taste of Magic continues over at my personal blog. This week, Holly Jacobs is my guest, and we're giving away FOUR autographed copies of one of her titles. Stop by, read her words about love and romance, and enter to win!