Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Good Bones on Sale for 99 Cents

Still Moments Magazine Novel of the Year
on sale for 99 cents until March 1

Good Bones
by L. A. Kelley

If the living won’t get justice for the dead, who will?

No matter how challenging the case, psychologist Katherine Fleming never shirks from helping a patient confront a painful issue. Her keen powers of observation and compassionate nature have eased many troubled souls, but a homicide detective with a buried secret of his own stirs more than just clinical interest.

The first time Detective Jake Sumner spied the old house, he sensed the good bones. Little did he know the purchase of the property included an unusual tenant far from resting in peace. Can the new psychologist in town help him treat a ghostly trauma case or is his growing attraction to Katherine Fleming best left buried?  

With the aid of a mysterious white cat and a mystical mirror, Katherine and Jake join forces to solve a murder. Can they stop a killer from claiming the next victim or will their investigation only lead them six feet under?


Jake flicked on the light. Other than faded floral wallpaper, the single decoration on the walls was a large antique gilded mirror. The glass was old, dotted with hazy black splotches where the reflective silver coating had worn away. Katherine’s image was blurred and barely recognizable. She ran a finger over the window sill, and it came away covered in dust. “Your tenant is a lousy housekeeper. This room doesn’t seem as if anyone has been in here in years.”

“Yeah,” Jake murmured. “It’s not her thing.”
“I don’t understand,” said Katherine. “Where is she?” Without warning, the temperature plummeted. Katherine shivered, hugging her arms to her chest. “Why is it so cold?”
Jake’s lips pressed together in a thin, tight line, his gaze fixed on the mirror.
The lamp flicked on and off. Katherine’s pulse soared. “Detective?”
Jake glowered at the lamp, his face red with anger. He grabbed Katherine’s arm. “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have brought you here—”
The French doors slammed shut. From outside came a muted thud as the front door closed as well. Katherine shrugged off Jake’s grip. “W-what are you doing? This isn’t funny.”
“It’s not me.” He peered at the mirror. “I’m sorry, Dr. Fleming. This is a bad idea. We should go now.”
Don’t leave me.                          
“W-who said that?” Katherine turned around to face the mirror. Her eyes widened in horror as the black splotches slid toward the center of the glass. “Trick.” Katherine clutched at her shirt. “It must be a trick.”
The blotches whirled together. A misty shape formed. Arms…legs…now torso…now head…an image of a person appeared from inside the gilded frame. Facial features blurred beyond recognition, but the body was definitely female. Katherine’s legs refused to move, a scream died on her lips. Shaking, she raised a trembling arm. Instead of mimicking her movement, the reflection remained rooted in place. “T-that’s not me.”
A plaintive whisper filled the air. Help.
A blast of frigid wind whipped the curtains and knocked Katherine into Jake. With the sound of breaking glass, a vaporous arm separated from the mirror and reached toward her.
Help me…
“Out now!” Jake dragged Katherine across the room. He yanked open the parlor doors and shoved her into the foyer.
The unearthly plea followed Katherine out of the house.
Jake slammed the front door shut behind them. The muted cry faded away.

Author Bio
I write fantasy and science fiction adventures with humor, and a little romance because life is dull without them. I don’t write either sexy naughty bits or gore so your mama would approve, but do add a touch of cheeky sass so maybe she wouldn’t. The South is home; a place where the heat and humidity have driven everyone slightly mad. In my spare time I call in Bigfoot sightings to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are heartily sick of hearing from me.

Buy Links

Amazon (CA)


Barnes & Noble


Google Play

Monday, February 25, 2019

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! Getting into a Healthy Morning Routine by Nancy Gideon

I’m a morning person. Always have been. When I began my writing career with a preschooler and new baby at home then later took on a full-time job, I quickly learned the path to accomplishing anything for myself meant finding the one of least resistance. That meant snatching up those hours unused by the rest of the family. For a stay-at-home writing mother, that was easy – when the kids were at school. But during those summer months and then with the 9-to-5s, I carved out a niche no one else wanted – those hours before daybreak. With the help of my Keurig, 4:30 a.m. was my best friend.

But for me, older didn’t mean wiser - it meant less energy. My daybreak inspiration came later and later until I found myself using those precious hours on Social Media and promotion instead of using them to create. I was stressed, exhausted and mentally on empty, dragging through the days, cranky, depressed and unproductive at the keyboard. Until a critique group weekend opened my eyes to how miserable I was. Though I dabbled in New Agey things like Tarot and energies, I never fully embraced them until sitting across from a spiritual reader who took my hands and said, “You are surrounded by negative energy and you need to take your life back.” Talk about a wake-up call! The other revelation from that weekend was the key to turning that energy around – surrendering a little more of that precious time to get back a huge return – a new outlook on life, energy to spare, calm in the face of any storm, and a great night’s sleep. By starting (and ending) each day with a few minutes of mediation to get mind, body and spirit on the same page, I discovered the best five minute (and growing) investment I’ve ever made. I’m back to taking on those early to rise days by storm.

The above was underlined by a series of uplifting articles on facing the light of day (and the rest of it) with an optimism and focus. Pop over to 49 Ways to Have a Happy Morning Now and you can thumb through them at your leisure, but here are my favorite takeaways.

The Power Hour!

It’s science backed (don’t take my word for it). By adding a “power hour” to the start of your day, you can focus better, accomplish more, and zen your way to creativity. Here’s what you pack into that first eye opening 60 minutes:
  1. Wake up earlier. Start in increments (go to bed 15 minutes earlier-rise 15 minutes earlier). You need that good night’s sleep so don’t scrimp there. Give your internal compass time to recalibrate by taking baby steps.
  2. Immediately stretch (for 2 minutes). That fully body yawn and overhead reach to embrace the day gets stiffness out and loosens muscles.
  3. Meditate (10 minutes). I started with 2 minutes and am working my way up. Meditation prepares your mind and rewires the brain to increase contentment, heighten awareness, lower stress, and improve the immune system. My path is simple. Start with an Intention (something you want to bring into your life or discover i.e. “Show me what I need to know to find the inspiration to write”)–then focus on four point/ four count breathing – in deep through the nose for four counts, hold for four counts, out through the mouth for four counts, hold for four counts and repeat, concentrating on the rhythm of your body. If thoughts intrude, gently push them away and go back to focusing on your heartbeat and breaths. This is one time an empty head is good thing!You can also use mediation apps to guide your relaxation. I was amazed by how my stress faded to a lasting calm that very first day. And I started sleeping like a rock.
  4. Exercise (15 minutes). Yeah, the E-word. Do this before eating.You can go with a high impact routine or low-impact walking. Both get the blood flowing and reduce sugar cravings. Bonus points if you can throw in fresh air outside (in a few months, maybe)! Try a yoga routine, hand weights, a stationary bike – whatever gets the heart pumping and joints jiving
  5. Set your goals for the day (10 minutes). Write them down - I use a paper planner that helps me escape social media distractions.Remember to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and within a Time frame. Beginning the day with a purpose keeps you focused.
  6. Fuel up at the pump (10 minutes) with a healthy breakfast. Fiber, protein, fruits. Prime that engine for the day. It won’t run on empty.

Try an App to track your happiness – Say whaaaat? Here are a few: Happify, My Gratitude Journal, Headspace (meditation), Real Life Change (a portable life coach!), iMood Journal to measure and graph mind and body functions, Worry Watch to track and overcome anxiety, and even Daylio to emoji your way through the day.

Be consistent. Build up your successes. You don’t have to dramatically change your lifestyle overnight. Those steady, daily steps make the climb achievable (and they’re not so hard on the knees).And don’t forget to remind yourself WHY you’re making these changes so you’ll recognize them when they start showing up.

Finally, start your morning with Happy Quotes – Inspiration that gets the day going in the right positive direction. Here’s a sample:

Now, excuse me while I breathe my way into a focused day.

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Winter Eyes by Francesca Quarto

His  world was covered in a crisp, white blanket of snow.  There were no footprints, no animal tracks, no desecration of yellow to mar its pristine face.   
Thom was a trapper of sorts.  He never trapped to kill, or sell the pelts of the beautiful animals he saw around his cottage.  He was there to study them, using the non-lethal traps to get close enough  to sketch them in detail.  These renderings were sent off to a scientific journal that used them as illustrations.  The journal was published once a year, so Thom had plenty of time to amass quite a number of drawings for submission over the long winter.
This winter was different from the last one he'd spent in this small, farming community.  Most everyone here over the age of seven had a gun and hunted avidly for the sport, but mostly for the table.  This was a poor, rural town and a number of the men-folk were not long returned  from 'the war to end all wars. '
Thom knew mostly everyone by sight, forming casual friendships with several of the returned veterans.  As an impressionable twenty-year old, he was in awe of their wartime experiences, sitting for hours to listen to their stories of death and near death experiences.  He was most interested in their peculiar superstitions, some taken from home and transplanted in the mud of France, others, newly spoken, in hushed voices. 
While he knew the wild animals that roamed the area, Thom didn't have the same insight about the older men he sat with, over long winter afternoons.  A small shack on the edge of the town, served as the local pub for those thirsty for the taste of throat-biting whiskey and the companionship of other menfolk. 
The winds blew hard and cold down the empty dirt road in front of the local watering hole.  The sign, hanging from a single nail out front advertised itself as 'Winter Eyes' a stranger pub name, Thom had never heard.   
Inside, there was a roaring fire in a hearth that comprised most of the back wall, the tiny kitchenette tucked in close by.  There was no long bar running its length, but rather a few small round tables, scattered about the open room and two benches on either side.  The latter were donated by the young cleric  before he left town to serve his country, never to return to his country church. 
One of the superstitions carried from mouth to ear around town, was that he had a vision and saw himself in a trench filled with bodies.  His body was on top with a bullet hole through his left eye.
Thom asked if the pastor had been killed over there like he foresaw.  One of the older veterans answered after a deep silence overcame the group in the pub.
"He seen it all and faced his death with a cold stare of defiance, he did!  We all saw how we would fare before we were taken into the army.  It was no mystery to any here and a testimony to the bravery of those that went anyway."
"But how can that be, Macray?  No one can see their time of death."
"Well, Thom, boy.  There's more to what you can see with your natural eye, to be found, if you're of a mind.  We all decided to follow the young pastor and look with dead, winter eyes, to find what future we had left.  Step over to the fireplace young Thom and have a gander for yourself."
Thom hesitated, something inside of him shrinking back from the challenge.  But he was among friends, people with good hearts.  Soldiers of a poisonous war, most coughing their lungs up every few words.   he had to look, or they'd think him less a man than the young cleric.
He walked over to the great hearth, the orange and yellow flames dancing in a wild gypsy frenzy, in the gusts seeping through the boards of the walls.  His face became hot as he stood closer, staring into the crazed conflagration.  He blinked furiously as his eyeballs dried in the super-heated air.  He was about to turn away, ready to announce the sham they had all experienced and sadly so, when a log shifted in the fiery nest and suddenly, he saw. 
He jumped back from the bizarre scene playing out among the flames and smoke.  He saw himself, working on a sketch while lying on his bed, in his one room cottage. A shadow passed by his window, blotting out the moonlight. There were heavy, shuffling steps outside and suddenly, the flimsy cottage door was knocked off its hinges, crashing onto the floor near a few boxes and a suitcase.  A huge bear let out a blood thirsty roar and plowed into the room and straight to the petrified Thom.
"Well, Thom boy, you are pale as a fish's belly and your legs seem as rubbery as its tale.  Tell us what you seen, boy.  We're all anxious to know."
Thom flew out the door of the pub and didn't look back.  He reached his cabin and began packing his things into boxes and a large valise that he tied with a rope to secure.  It was too late in the day to try to get a lift into the next town over where the train station was located, so he tucked in for a long night.  
Meanwhile, the once young men, leaving their youth on the battle fields, were laughing at the naive boy, so afraid of looking death in the face.  Why, they'd done it themselves hundreds of times.  Macray took a stubby cigarette from the corner of his mouth.
"I'm guessing the young Thom is better off letting old man death sneak up on him.  A surprise he'll never see coming!"

Friday, February 22, 2019

Using Pinterest by Diane Burton

First, an apology to regular readers. My normal dates to blog are the 1st and 13th of the month. Lately, my memory is like a sieve. February 13th rolled around, and it didn’t even occur to me that I needed to post. Maybe I could blame the Polar Vortex for my memory loss. Anyway, here’s my make-up post.

In 2010 when I returned to writing after a long hiatus (family issues), I discovered this thing called social media and that I was supposed to use it to advance my career. I didn’t know Facebook from MySpace, Twitter from Triberr. With the help of friends, I learned to use Facebook—besides looking pictures of nieces’ and nephews’ kids. An author friend wrote my tweet. I learn best by seeing how something is done. One bit of social media, though, eluded me.


Back in the old days (pre-social media), I’d read about writers using poster boards and cutting out pictures from magazines then pinning them to the boards. Not my thing. I had too much to do getting back into the writing game. I didn’t have time to look through magazines, especially since I discontinued most of my subscriptions because I didn’t have time to read them. Someone mentioned Pinterest, that it was sort of like those poster boards. Still, I didn’t see how I would use it . . . until I read an online article or maybe a post on a Yahoo group. (Remember how I mentioned my mind is a sieve? I don’t remember. Sorry.)

That changed everything.

I could use Pinterest for my writing. I read some authors have a board titled “inspiration for” the name of a book. Why not try it? Since my first books were science fiction romances, I searched for sci-fi “pins.” Wow. That was fun. Then I discovered Pinterest sends pins (and boards) that I might be interested in, based on what I’d pinned. Double wow! I didn’t have to search.

Technically, those early pins weren’t inspirations, rather they were descriptions of my book. For instance, Switched, my first published book, takes place on a farm in Michigan. I found pins of farms, interiors and exteriors. Jessie, the heroine, is beamed aboard a starship, so I found pins of starships. The Hitchcock movie Vertigo was inspiration for one of the last scenes in the book. I grabbed the movie poster pin. More fun.

With each book, I looked for pins that represented details, loaded the cover—with a link to Amazon—and spent hours searching for more pins. Once I had all my published books and their associated pins loaded, I started on works-in-progress. Now I really had inspirations. I’m not very good at descriptions. My forte is dialogue. In fact, my first drafts look more like screenplays with dialogue and stage directions. With the pins I’d found of Victorian houses, I could better describe the house in Romance Rekindled.

Of course, I couldn’t resist personal items, like recipes (never mind I rarely cook), ideas for homes (at the time we were looking for a new house), favorite movies and books, vacation ideas, travel, etc. I was really getting into this. The more I used Pinterest the more ideas I came up with. I have a board labeled “Authors On My Blog” that include the author’s photo and a link to their last post on my blog. (This is one board I’m behind on.)

The first time an interviewer asked, if my book was made into a movie, who would play my characters, I drew a blank. I didn’t know current actors. When I visualized my characters, they were actors from the 1970s and 1980s. Okay, maybe a little later. That’s when I created the board “Possible Characters for my books.” I searched for current actors. As soon as I saw a photo of Kaylee (Jewel Straite) from Firefly, I immediately thought of Jessie in Switched. After I saw Chris Pine in Guardians of the Galaxy, I saw him as Scott, the hero in Switched, Too.

Pinterest can suck up a lot of time. No other social media does that for me. I get started then I can’t stop. LOL Hubs often reminds me of ROI (return on investment) when I spend time on certain things. I have to ask myself how am I advancing my career when I spend time on Pinterest. I see at least two things that my time on Pinterest returns to my writing career. One, I can better visualize details in my WIPs. Two, it’s advertising for my books. When readers accidentally, or on purpose, happen across my inspiration board, I hope they find the pins so intriguing they’ll buy the book. Or, if they’ve bought it, they’ll see what I see in it.

I created most of the “Inspiration For…” boards after publication. I hope readers enjoy seeing how I visualized my story. Now, as I write a new story, I really do go to Pinterest for inspiration. My newest book, coming next month, is Rescuing Mara’s Father, a middle grade science fiction adventure. I don’t have very many pins for that board yet. Working on it.

Much of what I learned in using Pinterest came from other authors. I was so intrigued by the banner at the top of Maureen L. Bonatch’s site that I asked how she created it. She told me about Pinterest for Business. I’m sure I don’t use that to the fullest capacity. Instead, I feel like the toddler just learning to walk. The key word in that last sentence is learning. Despite my mentioning a toddler, many days I feel like an old dog. Fortunately, this old dog is open to new ideas. Pinterest opened up a whole new world for me. I hope it does for you, too. If you want to see what I’ve done, here’s the link to my site: Diane Burton, Author.

Do you use Pinterest? In the comments, please share something you’ve learned and include a link to your site. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Paranormal Valentine Anthology + Excerpt

I love anthologies, don't you? They are such a fantastic way to both get several books at once, but also to discover new favorite authors. I'm always on the hunt for more fantastic reads. This month I'm part of one I'd love to share. Below is info about the anthology along with an excerpt from my book, Her Demigod Complex!

7 FREE books--each a first in series--in one great anthology! Find your new book boyfriend/valentine (and a few new favorite authors). This will go away Mar 1st, so snap it up now!

Happy Valentine's Day all month long!


Seven of the top paranormal romance authors writing today have joined together to bring you a set of first-in-series novels to help you celebrate Valentine's Day in style - with your very own paranormal Valentine.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alyssa Day:
January in Atlantis: Poseidon's Warrior Flynn's mission may be derailed by a woman who's on the run. Will the heat between them be strong enough to save the day--or burn down the world?

From Amazon Best Selling author Lisa Kessler:
Lure of Obsession: Detective Nate Malone has been marked by the gods to protect the Muse of Tragic Poetry. When a killer sets his sights on her, Nate will risk everything to protect her, and tragedy isn't part of his plan...

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Robyn Peterman:
Switching Hour: Released from the magic pokey and paroled with limited power is enough to make any witch grumpy. However, if you throw in a recently resurrected cat, a lime-green Kia and a sexy egotistical werewolf, it's enough to make a gal fly off the edge.
Not to mention a mission...with no freaking directions.
If they think I'm the right witch for the job, they've swallowed some bad brew.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Michelle M. Pillow:
The Mighty Hunter (Lords of the Abyss) The merman may have rescued her from death, but who’s going to rescue her from him? Welcome to the underwater world of Atlantes!

From International Bestselling Author Debra Dunbar:
Rogue: Sabrina had a hot sexy night with a bear shifter during her wolf pack's annual barbeque—then never heard from him again. Sent to track down a murderous rogue, she's surprised to find herself partnered with Karl—the same bear shifter that has been fueling her fantasies for the last year. Can Sabrina trust a brooding bear shifter with secrets of his own to have her back as well as hold her heart?

From USA Today Bestselling Author Renee George:
You've Got Tail: Psychic Sunny hightails it to the Missouri Ozarks to find her missing friend Chavvah, only to discover romance with her friend’s younger brother, a kidnapping conspiracy, and a town full of secrets that some will kill to protect.

From Award-Winning Author Abigail Owen:
Her Demigod Complex: As an ex-nymph, Lyleia Naiad has the unique ability to resist her boss's demigod-like charms. The man's been breaking hearts for millennia. But Castor Dioskouri shows her a different side--compassionate, dedicated, protective and loyal. And that Castor is nearly impossible to resist. Attending a werewolf mating ceremony together--where the pheromones fly, and so do clothes, inhibitions, and common sense--might be one temptation too many.


When Legendary Consultants placed Lyleia Naiad in her job as Executive Assistant to a high-powered billionaire, she was given one directive–do NOT fall in love with him. Given that he’s a demigod, a successful businessman, and handsome as sin, makes that a tall order for anyone. But as an ex-nymph, she has the unique ability to resist his god-like charms.

Or does she? More than a year later, Castor Dioskouri has managed to capture her heart, a feat no man, demigod, or god has ever managed. Given the reason she was hired, she’s kept her feelings to herself. Besides, Cas is still in love with his deceased wife from over a millennium ago, and Leia is a failed nymph who couldn’t protect her own spring.

But now, they must attend a werewolf mating ceremony together. An event where the pheromones fly, and so do clothes, inhibitions, and common sense.

Can Leia resist her heart and her boss? Or will she lose her pride, her job, and her mind trying?


“What’s the purpose of the trip?”
“We’re negotiating a new contract, and the full board of the company we’re dealing with will be present and together that weekend.”
She nodded.
Castor leaned back in his chair. “We’ll be attending a wedding, so I assume they have a block of rooms reserved. You’ll want to check that.”
She lifted her head. “Wedding?” That was a new one. They’d traveled to social situations before, mixing business with pleasure. But never a wedding.
Castor grimaced. “Pamela was supposed to go with me.”
Leia’s fingers paused on the keyboard. “Was she planning to take notes or work for you?”
He tipped his head. “No.”
“I see.”
A twinkle entered his eyes. “Problem?”
Secretly, she got a kick out of his devilish sense of humor, though not as much when directed her way. Or when she was annoyed with him in return.
She straightened her posture. “What is my role on this trip?”
“My Executive Assistant. What else?”
Now a smile tugged at his lips. She forced herself to look him directly in the eye. “Not as a date?”
“You’ll go with me to the wedding, which could be construed as my date.”
“But I’m only there as your assistant.”
He crossed his arms, his muscles straining the fine material of his navy suit. “Yes.”
“And that’s how you’ll introduce me?” While she was suspicious of the situation he was outlining, a frustrating ray of hope that he might actually want her there as his date niggled at the back of her mind.
“Of course. Why?”
She didn’t like that twinkle, which, if anything, grew brighter.  “What aren’t you telling me?”
“I’m wounded that you don’t trust me, Ms. Naiad.”
Wisely, she kept her mouth shut. Like every other god and demigod she’d met, Castor would do whatever it took to get his way.
The twinkle changed to a scowl as he stood and came around the desk. “The wedding will be under the Banes/Canis names.”
So he was not going to perjure himself by lying to her. She ducked her head to hide her twitching lips. Even when she was irritated with him, she found him charming. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Not charming. Annoying. Not that those mental instructions made any damn difference.
The names he’d shared sunk in and her head snapped up. “No.” The word punched out of her.
“I’m not going.”
Did the sky outside darken? As a son of Zeus, Castor’s emotions were sometimes reflected in the weather, but a quick check revealed blue skies outside and his next words were softly put. “Why not?”
“I don’t go to werewolf mating ceremonies.” Not after the last one. And especially not with Castor Dioskouri.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Fairs and Festivals by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Have you attended a book festival or fair lately?  You should. There are plenty of them around, and all of them come with some wonderful benefits for both readers and writers. Some of the more obvious benefits are lots of books in every genre along with authors to sign and answer questions about them. There are theme fests and genre fests and even book fests for children. Many of the larger book fairs have diverse entertainment that include such events as music, storytelling, author panels and writing workshops, and host numerous celebrities, along with interactive activities for kids of all ages.

Books aren’t the only draw for potential attendees. State parks, museums and other organizations host booths with displays and activities for adults and kids at book fests. There are musicians, dancers, characters in costume, cooking demonstrations, and exotic and traditional food, jewelry, clothing and novelty vendors.

 So what are you waiting for? Google search a book fair near you. If you’re looking for a really good one in the Tucson area, I’ll see you March 2-3 at the Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus, just me and around 135,000 or so of my favorite book fest enthusiasts.  It's supposed to be in the 70's and sunny!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's February 14th, and everyone's thoughts turn to love...and roses and chocolates.  (Where I live in SC, there is a Russell Stover outlet--oh my!!) I personally like to add a nice bottle of champagne, but I'll probably spend my lovers' night with my character in my WIP, I have eye surgery the day before.

Let's talk about this mysterious saint. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend says that Valentine was a priest, serving in third-century Rome. The Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men contended single men made better soldiers than those with families. Consequently, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realized the injustice of this edict and secretly continued performing marriages for young lovers. When this defiance was discovered, Valentine was put to death.According to another story, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first valentine greeting to a young girl with whom he'd fallen in love - possibly the jailor’s daughter who visited him while he was imprisoned. Before his death, he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” which we still use today.

Here are a few quotes you might enjoy on Valentine's Day:
"Love is like the wind. You can't see it, but you can feel it." - Nicholas Sparks

"Each time you love, love deeply as if it were forever." - Audre Lorde

"You always gain by giving love." - Reese Witherspoon

"Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along." - Rumi

"A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love." - Max Muller

Enjoy your day of love!

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of Londonfollowing his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas). Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

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