Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Writing Internal Conflict in a Broken World



By Debby Giusti

A compelling story needs well-developed characters.

Writers often talk about their characters’ goals, motivation and conflict, or GMC. The goals refer to what the hero or heroine wants—something concrete, like saving Grandma’s Victorian home from foreclosure. The motivation is why he or she needs to achieve that goal. Perhaps her great-grandfather built the house for her grandmother as a wedding gift. The house is a central focal point for the small surrounding town that has fallen on hard times. If the Old Victorian can be refurbished and turned into a B&B, which was Grandma’s dream, the dying town might restore other buildings and find the wherewithal to be a viable community once again. The conflict is any external force attempting to stop the protagonist from achieving her goal. Perhaps the bank has a buyer ready to purchase the old home, and the hardhearted banker refuses to give the protagonist time to accrue the funds needed to pay off the mortgage. If the heroine is trying to save the house and the hero is the buyer interested in razing the property and building something else in its place, the story has conflict and seemingly the makings of a salable manuscript.



But one ingredient is missing from the mix…something that, in my opinion, makes or breaks a story…Internal Conflict. When a story is rejected for not being compelling (a rather abstract term, yet one editors and agents frequently use), chances are it’s because of the lack of internal conflict.

What’s keeping the protagonist from embracing life? What keeps him from falling in love? What makes her reclusive instead of free to fully accept love? Often our fictional characters, just as in real life, have buried a specific past pain and don’t realize the tremendous effect that wound plays in their lives.

Years ago in my pre-published days, I remember chatting with a fellow writer about character development. “Surely,” I bemoaned, “I can’t delve too deeply into my hero and heroine’s internal angst.” I feared piling on too much painful backstory when in reality, because of our broken world, the backstory – specifically the internal conflict – needs to be well-defined and significant.



Let’s consider some areas of dysfunction prevalent in today's broken world:

Divided families

So many issues split apart families. About 50% of all marriages end in divorce and that percentage increases among those who have married more than once. Many folks have severed relationships not only with their spouses but also with siblings and even their parents. The proverbial mother-in-law jokes ring all too true in many households where in-laws are excluded. One older couple moved to my local town to be close to their son, an only child. All too quickly, the daughter-in-law decided she didn’t like her in-laws so the older folks were never allowed access to the family. Another couple has been forbidden to see their only grandchildren who live just a few miles away. That pain of imposed separation is heartbreaking and all too common.

Within the Amish community, a baptized church member is shunned if he goes against the Ordnung, the rule by which the community lives. Shunning is not considered a punishment but, rather, is enacted for the good of the wayward member in hopes he will realize his error, ask forgiveness and return to the fold. While most of my Amish heroes and heroine are not yet baptized, I sometimes include parental disapproval and ostracism to increase the guilt the protagonist carries because of a mistake in his or her past.

Financial problems

Money issues can destroy a family. Living beyond a person’s means causes untold heartache and suffering. Overextended credit compounds the problem, and if not checked, financial struggles can lead to home foreclosure and homelessness and even bankruptcy.

My Amish Protectors series features three sisters raised in a dysfunctional home by a single-mom who struggled to make ends meet. The small family moved often as the mother searched for greener pastures and a better life that she never achieved due to her nomadic lifestyle and mishandling of money.

Addiction

Turn on the nightly news and you’re bound to hear a story about the opioid crisis or teen/young adult suicide often blamed on drugs. In addition to drug addiction, alcohol, pornography and gambling tear marriages and families apart. The person addicted finds his or her life spiraling out of control. Those around him – especially loved ones – feel caught in that spiral as well.

Methamphetamine is both easily accessible and destructive. It’s also prevalent in my part of the world. I’ve written about its ravages in a few of my books, including a November 2019 release I recently turned into my editor. I’ve also used drug related deaths and possible suicide cases, involving secondary characters, to up the suspense in a number of my stories.

Illness and Debilitation

Chronic illness, debilitation, old age and dementia are part of life. Concern about an aging parent or a sick child play into our stories. I had an Amish woman whose father needed medical care and refused to go to Englisch doctors. Another woman had miscarried her first child and feared her second pregnancy would not go to term. In Protecting Her Child, my heroine had been given up for adoption as an infant. As the story opens, she is pregnant with her murdered husband’s baby and learns she may have transmitted a life-threatening illness to her unborn infant.


While all of these situations add conflict to our stories, they are not the Internal Conflict. The Internal Conflict is a wound the main character carries often from childhood that involves a misperceived negative self-worth that the hero or heroine accepts as truth. He lives life trying to compensate or cover up that which he has erroneously accepted as fact. For the writer, it’s important to tie that wound to a specific incident in the protagonist’s past. That moment needs to be revealed in the course of the story. Often the memory of the wound is buried deeply and its revelation involves great pain, yet the wound must be revealed in order to heal.

Mistakes the protagonist has made in the past are the fruit of that character’s brokenness and are directly related to the wound. If a child overhears her father saying she will never amount to much, that child might accept the statement as truth. As she grows, the daughter might overcompensate and try to win her father’s approval or she could live life in the wrong direction and never attempt to make anything of herself. Because love is the most important need, our character may think if her earthy father doesn’t love her, her heavenly Father cannot love her as well. Yet she yearns to be loved so, as the song by Johnny Lee says, she “searches for love in all the wrong place.”

When she finds her own true love, she recalls her past mistakes and fears Mr. Right could again turn into Mr. Wrong. In the course of the story, if she can trust her heart and her love interest enough to reveal that moment in her childhood when she stumbled onto what she perceives is the truth about herself, she can see it through adult eyes and perhaps through the eyes of the man she truly loves. She might confront her father or learn about the pain he carried that kept him from truly loving anyone, even his young daughter. That realization coupled with a newfound or renewed faith in Christ and acceptance of the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy can heal her brokenness so she can accept love and embrace life to the full.

Similarly, a child might believe he is responsible for his parents’ divorce, especially if his parents called him a difficult or disruptive child. He grows up with that guilt, believing he doesn’t deserve nor could he maintain a happy marriage of his own. A child who has been abandoned, could carry that wound into adulthood and be inhibited by a fear of being abandoned again if she enters into a relationship.



Story consultant Michael Hauge talks about the wound in his workshops. Others do as well. I find it plays out in real life. If you struggle with self-worth or a feeling of inadequacy, trace that feeling back as far as possible. Can you pinpoint a memory that is still painful? Healing prayer often involves bringing that memory to mind and then seeing Jesus standing in the mix. He embraces the wounded person and reveals the truth about who she is and how much she is truly loved. In our books, healing can occur rather quickly while in real life those issues often must be prayed over many times before healing can occur. Along the same lines, the person must forgive herself for mistakes made and see those mistakes in light of that brokenness. Once we understand why we acted in a certain way, we are more prone to forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness from the Lord – and then accept that forgiveness. Another facet of this is that we all struggle with one dominant issue throughout our lives. Smaller problems tie into that deep wound. The problems we face as a child, be they low self-esteem or a feeling of inadequacy, will continue to adversely affect us, no matter our age, until we deal with that initial wound.



A lot to think about, but I hope you’ll consider your character’s inner conflict when you write your stories. The wound should be alluded to early in the story but dealt with toward the end as part of the character’s transformation. Remember your protagonist must change and grow. She becomes a different person by the end of the story. Even if she returned to her ordinary world where she lived at the beginning of the story, she would react in a different way because of that change of heart, healed brokenness or realization of the new person she has become.

Those of us who are Christian writers understand the power of prayer and the need to seek forgiveness from God. When our characters find redemption, our readers—especially those dealing with similar issues—are given hope and turn to the Lord in their brokenness. That transformation can be therapeutic as well as spiritual.

Do you create wounded characters? Have your heroes and heroines struggled with past guilt and feelings of being unworthy of forgiveness? What type of characters do you find most relatable? Can you recall stories that deal with a hero or heroine’s internal conflict and wound from the past? What did you find most compelling about those stories?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of AMISH SAFE HOUSE, the second book in the new Love Inspired Suspense Amish Witness Protection continuity!

Happy reading! Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


AMISH SAFE HOUSE
By Debby Giusti

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller!

Hiding in Plain Sight
The second thrilling Amish Witness Protection novel

After Julia Bradford’s son witnesses a gang shooting, hiding in witness protection on Abraham King’s Amish farm is the only hope the Englischer and her children have. Even as danger closes in, Julia is drawn to the community’s peaceful ways—and the ex-cop turned Amish protector. But when their location is discovered, can Abraham protect her family…and possibly have a future by her side?

Order HERE!




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Leaving Behind a Spiritual Legacy with Guest Lisa Jordan

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan


One of the greatest blessings in my life was having Christian grandparents who planted seeds of faith from the time I was very young. Growing up down the road from my grandparents’ dairy farm, many of my happy memories are filled with bottle feeding calves, the rope swing in the hay barn, swimming and camping by the creek (pronounced crick, by the way J ) that cut through their property, noisy family get-togethers, and the values of faith, family and hard work instilled by my grandparents, my mom, aunts and uncles.

However, my grandma’s sudden passing in February 1985 was a turning point in my life. She’d been my rock, my safety net, and she was gone when I needed her the most. I was so mad at God that I turned my back on Him for 13 years.

But, you see, my grandparents left behind one of the greatest gifts—a spiritual legacy. They were the real deal, y’all—(ok, so I’m not Southern, but the y’all just fits here.) Their Bibles were worn from daily use, their knees calloused from constant prayers, and they didn’t live to see all of the fruit yielded from the seeds they had planted during their many years teaching Sunday school and living out their faith. 

Despite walking away from my faith, those seeds began to bloom. Even though, I crowded them with weeds of poor choices, the roots remained strong.

Then, during a cold, ordinary Wednesday in February—fourteen years after my grandma’s death—I rededicated my life to Christ. My aching heart grieved over the mistakes I’d made and the loved ones I’d hurt as I poured my pain and anguish out to Jesus. Being the amazing Gardener that He is, He continued to prune (and still does), cutting away those dead branches bearing no fruit. Now, I strive to follow in my grandparents’ footsteps—teaching Sunday school and living out my faith in an authentic manner. And being obedient to the call God has placed on my heart—writing stories that promise hope and happily ever after. All because of the spiritual legacy that had been left behind after my grandparents passed.

When I finished my Lakeside series with Love Inspired and considered what to write next, I was inspired by my childhood and the legacy of faith my grandparents had left behind. I see it so vividly during our annual family reunions. That sparked the idea of the Holland brothers, beginning with Jake.   

The Holland family, comprised of Chuck Holland and his four sons—Jake, Tucker, Evan, and Micah, understand the pain of devastation and loss. However, as they walk through their own stories, they’re reminded there’s always hope in the heartache.

In Season of Hope, the first book in my Holland Brothers series, which releases in stores today (!!), Jake wants to pass down a legacy by creating a Fatigues to Farming program that will help veterans with disabilities learn farming in order to start their own small businesses. It’s his way of making amends and keeping a promise. Jake wants to offer hope to those who feel helpless. And in his mind, that legacy is tied to a place—his family farm. But his ex-wife’s sudden reappearance in his life...and his community...creates conflict for his plan.

Later in the story, Jake is talking with his dad about leaving behind a legacy. And Chuck tells him,  “Son, a legacy isn’t a place or a thing. A legacy happens through the people you love and the lives you change. It’s rooted in faith and integrity. Find your hope, then work like crazy to hold on to it. There’s always hope. Even in the heartache.”

When I created this series, I wanted to show how the Holland brothers’ realistic problems pave the way to finding their hope...and their faith. Faith is believing without seeing, and when we’re walking through the valley of darkness, it can be difficult to keep the faith and see the Light. No matter what challenges we’re facing, though, God is with us every step of the way, waiting to lead us through those difficult seasons. So I encourage you to hold onto the Hope no matter your season in life.

You can read the first chapter of Season of Hope here: Season of Hope chapter preview

I’m giving away one autographed copy of Season of Hope to one commenter. Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

I’m doing a Down on the Farm giveaway for my newsletter subscribers. If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can sign up here: Lisa Jordan’s Newsletter

Your Turn: How has your faith helped you to find Hope in the heartache?

His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree!
Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love?

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, Season of Hope, releases in March 2019. She is the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy, an online writing site that teaches writing craft, coaching, and building community. Happily married to her own real-life hero for thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and creating with words, stamps, fibers, and photos. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Reading as a Writer: The Great Adventure (part two)

by Jan Drexler



In their classic work, How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren spent more than four hundred pages instructing the dedicated student in four levels of reading. The work is comprehensive and fabulous. If you’ve never read this book, I recommend it.

The book also goes far beyond our purposes here, so with apologies to Adler and Van Doren, here is my own “How to Read a Book for Writers.”

In last month’s post, we talked about why we should read and what we should read. You can read that post here.

How we read can be even more important than Why or What we read. We want to learn how to write – how to tell a story other people will want to read – and the way we read can help us do that. According to Adler and Van Doren, there are four levels of reading:

1) Elementary Reading
2) Inspectional Reading
3) Analytical Reading
4) Syntopical Reading

Now let’s apply these levels to the writer. 



Elementary reading is what all of us do when we pick up a book to read for pleasure. We enjoy the story, get lost in the narrative, thrill in the settings, then put the book down with a sigh of pleasure at the end. 

Once you've learned the mechanics of reading, Elementary reading is reading for enjoyment. 😊 

But writers need to read some books for more than pleasure - we need to learn the writing craft from our reading. That's where the next three levels come in.




Inspectional reading is something I started doing when I was a beginning writer. Before I read the book, I would look at the number of pages. How many chapters were there? How many scenes did the author have in each chapter? Were the scenes a standard length, or did they vary? This is the first step in inspectional reading. 

The second step is to read through the book as quickly as you can. But don't be thrown off by this superficial reading! This first read-through acquaints you with the overall story before you begin to dig deeper. 

It’s a way of understanding how the writer structures their novel. All writers have a structure to their novels, and it becomes part of their writing “voice.” 



Analytical reading goes a bit deeper. This is the level of reading where many writers find themselves reading with an “editor’s eye.” Here, the reader is looking for the story “beats,” and learns to recognize the Call to Adventure, the Black Moment, and the Denouement. (There are many names for these major story parts – you might use different ones.) 

This is also the level where the writer/reader looks for other writing techniques such as how dialogue is handled, how to dribble in the backstory, how description adds to (or detracts from) the narrative. This is where the discerning writer/reader looks for examples of that elusive "show, don't tell" secret!

Analytical reading is important because this is how a writer begins to understand how “Story” works.

Story isn’t just an arbitrary formula or structure. Have you ever had the experience of reading a story that left you with a bad taste in your mouth? A book or movie that just “didn’t work?”

A writer needs to understand how to write a narrative that rings true. A book that speaks to your readers’ innate sense of Story. To do that, we need to be able to read analytically so we can see how the Story is played out in each work. The more we read, the more we understand how to do that. 



Syntopical reading is a lot easier than that term makes it sound! Reading syntopically just means that you read many books across the same topic. 

This kind of reading is useful when you want to target a certain publisher. Is writing for Love Inspired your dream? Read Love Inspired books! Get a subscription to their Readers Service so you don't miss a single title (click here if you're interested in subscribing)

Do you have a different dream publisher? Go to their website to see a list of their authors and new releases. Learn what kinds of books they publish and read as many as you can.

I also use syntopical reading when I’m trying to learn how a new genre works. In my inspectional reading, I discovered that each genre has its own style. So when I started writing historical novels, I read several books from that genre. As I read them analytically and compared them, I found that there are certain elements that are included in historical novels. I did the same with Amish novels and romance novels. 

As I branch out in my writing, I continue to read syntopically. When my editor asked if I would be willing to write a contemporary story, I read several contemporary romance books. When the cozy mystery bug bit me, I immersed myself in reading that genre.



None of these levels stand alone. The discerning writer/reader uses all four levels simultaneously. While we read this month's offerings from Love Inspired (syntopically), we're also learning how the books are structured (inspectionally discovering the publisher's guidelines) and how to dribble in our hero's backstory (analytically.) At the same time, we're enjoying a pleasurable read!

And you thought this would be work! Not at all. It's reading with a purpose.

You may find that you've been using these reading levels without even realizing it. Is that the case for you? Or is this concept completely new to you?

And for further discussion, what are you reading right now? Share what you're learning from it!


One commenter will win a copy of my newest release, Convenient Amish Proposal! 
(paper copy US only, e-book outside the US)


When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs—a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience…

Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart?

You can order your copy here!



And in case you missed it in the Weekend Edition, I'm excited to share my new cover with you!


As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen. 

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman's unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.

Releasing September 3rd, and available for pre-order now! Order here!





Saturday, February 16, 2019

Weekend Edition


  



If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







Monday: Missy Tippens brought us some new as well as some tried and true tools for productivity. She also brought us news of her new novella release, Her Valentine Reunion!

Wednesday: Ruthy Logan Herne was here on Wednesday, talking about history, women's rights and writing historicals... and just how much fun that is! Winner of a Kindle copy of her historical anthology "The Sewing Sisters' Society" is Ann707! I hope you love these great stories!

Thursday and Friday: Happy Valentine's Day in Seekerville! We have winners!

Missy Tippens's novella, Her Valentine Reunion: Lila.

Ruthy's $10 Amazon Gift Card goes to Laurie Wood

Audra's $10 Amazon gift card goes to Tracey Hagwood

Jan's book, Convenient Amish Proposal goes to Kim Hansen




Monday:  Jan Drexler will be sharing Part 2 of Reading as a Writer: The Great Adventure!

Tuesday: Lisa Jordan will be paying us a visit to celebrate the release of her book Season of Hope!

Wednesday:  Publishers Weekly Bestseller Debby Giusti will be our blog hostess so be sure to stop by Seekerville. Debby's talking about "Writing Internal Conflict in a Broken World." Plus, she's giving away a copy of AMISH SAFE HOUSE to one lucky winner!
  
Friday: Stop by and see what Pam Hillman is up to!










LAST CHANCE - SALE ENDS TOMORROW!
***SOFTCOVER SALE - just $5.00!***

Book 3, The Crossing at Cypress Creek, coming in June!


Also, orders of $35 or more receive free shipping, so check out all the Tyndale softcover romance fiction for just $5.00 here: https://www.tyndale.com/l/romance-fiction-5-dollar


Missy Tippens has a newly released novella! Book 3 in the Home to Dahlia, Georgia, Series. She has also put Books 1 and 2 on sale. Book 1 is only 99 cents right now!



From Romance Writers of America RITA® Award finalist author Missy Tippens comes the Home to Dahlia, Georgia, series of novellas.

Former sweethearts get a second chance in this novella-length inspirational romance (Christian romance) Book 3!

What happens on the very day Abbie Rogers makes a preemptive strike against Valentine’s Day funk by declaring herself content to be single? Why, Victor Wallis, the man who broke her heart, comes crashing back into her life, of course. Not only that, he declares himself a changed man, and he truly seems to be. She even finds herself falling for him again. But when he makes a move to take over her family’s business, Abbie’s not certain she’ll ever be able to trust the only man she’s ever loved.



AND LOOK WHAT RUTHY'S GOT AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!!! Her first full-length historical novel, due to release on February 26th for Kindle and March 5th for paperback... A beautiful prairie romance set in South Dakota where men and women strove to break ground and win hearts as they tackled the rugged task of settling raw, rural land.



THIS IS YOUR LINK TO PREORDER! 
 
How cool to see Tina Radcliffe's book featured on "The Great Love Inspired Author Search", a new Love Inspired promotion being offered to writers right now! Here's the link: 

Great Love Inspired Author Search

And congratulations to Tina!



AMISH SAFE HOUSE
By Debby Giusti
Hiding in Plain Sight
The second thrilling Amish Witness Protection novel

After Julia Bradford’s son witnesses a gang shooting, hiding in witness protection on Abraham King’s Amish farm is the only hope the Englischer and her children have. Even as danger closes in, Julia is drawn to the community’s peaceful ways—and the ex-cop turned Amish protector. But when their location is discovered, can Abraham protect her family…and possibly have a future by her side?

 Pre-order HERE!

AMISH SAFE HOUSE 
released in digital form on Friday and 
the print version will be available on Feb 5. 
Walmart should have copies on that day as well!

Check out The Suspense Zone
Featuring an interview with 
Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author 
Debby Giusti
Goes live Feb 4, 2019 and runs throughout the month. 
Enter the Suspense Zone Contest to win a copy of
AMISH SAFE HOUSE. 

Be sure to read the February issue of
for a great interview with Debby Giusti!



And Jan has a cover reveal!


This collection of Christmas novellas from Bethany House will be released September 3rd! Click Here to pre-order your copy!



"I've Interviewed 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines. Here's What I've Learned." by Benjamin Spall at the New York Times--Smarter Living blog.

How To Advance Your Plot with Careful Scene Design-5 Steps by CS Lakin at Live Write Thrive

Rants & Raves with Amanda Cabot: Compounds Sentences and Conjunctive Adverbs by Amanda Cabot at An Indie Adventure


FAQ on Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) by the National Writers Union





Thursday, February 14, 2019

Celebrating Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you wonderful Villagers! We’re so happy to share the holiday with you! Today (and tomorrow), we'll celebrate romance, friendship, and family (relatives, writer family, online family, and even our 4-legged family members!). In other words, we’re celebrating LOVE in all its forms. We’re so thankful for the love, friendship and support we have here at Seekerville. Y’all are the very best gift!

For our celebration, I asked our bloggers and others to share favorite memories of Valentine’s Day. I hope you enjoy these tributes to love!
From Erica Vetsch:
One of my favorite memories of Valentine’s Day happened several years ago. My husband brought me flowers. This is a rare occurrence ‘round here, as my husband is all about growing flowers not buying ‘dead ones.’ :)
He brought me the prettiest little bouquet of Peruvian Lilies in paper wrapping. Pink with faint brown flecks down their throats. They probably cost $5.00 at the grocery store, but it didn’t matter that it wasn’t two dozen red roses with greenery and baby’s breath.  He’d brought me flowers in the middle of the Minnesota winter.
He’s brought me flowers before and since, but the reason this time stands out is that I was feeling particularly down (winter is a tough time for me as I fight seasonal depression) and those flowers chirked me up no end. 
Not only that, they lasted for a full five weeks! I’ve never seen the like. I remember it well, because my birthday comes five weeks after Valentine’s Day, and I still had those flowers cheering me right up.
From Ruthy Logan Herne:

Romantic Valentine's Days are those things stories are made of... in other words, they haven't exactly been the reality around the farm, LOL! So instead of sitting around, I would always do something special for the kids for Valentine's Day.

I’d make cookies and put them in a decorated box, all trimmed out, just like they show on the Nestle Morsels commercial! And I'd make little cards for them, and we'd have pretend mailboxes... and we'd put cards for each other (and Daddy, of course!) in the pretend mailboxes. We didn't worry about the sweetheart aspects because I'm pretty pragmatic about the whole thing... but I did like making it a special family thing, probably because it's February and we were trapped in the house other than school or work. Doing a special Valentine's Day supper and our "post office" was a bright ray in a very long "short" month! 

photo by Missy Tippens


From Faye Wilson Walton:
Valentine's Day, 2007, we were less than a week away from getting married. Needless to say, between work, the wedding plans, and finding an apartment to live in, we barely had time to breathe. We met at a local pizza place (which, sadly, has since closed) and ate pizza. While we were enjoying being together and enjoying one of our favorite foods, I told him we should make eating pizza a tradition for Valentine's Day. Ever since then, for most Valentine's Days, we have had pizza. In fact, we even have plans to have that this week. As it happens, we have been going full throttle with our busy schedules. We're looking forward to having pizza at another local pizza place just down the road from our house and having a fun conversation.

From Mindy Obenhaus:
The first year my husband and I were married he asked me where I wanted to go for dinner. I told him he’d better make reservations, but he said, “Why? It’s only a Wednesday. It’s not like Valentines is that big a deal.”  When we got to the restaurant, there was a minimum hour wait. Same at the next restaurant. I finally told him to swing by the grocery store and I’d pick up one of the surf and turf packages they offered and cook it at home.
They were all out. We ended up buying fried chicken and eating at home. After that, I decided we would never go out on Valentine’s Day again. Instead, I’d fix the two of us a restaurant-worthy dinner at home, complete with china and crystal. I got my fancy meal and flowers and we were never disappointed again.

From Mary Connealy:
My Cowboy used to get a Valentine for me and a smaller one for each of the girls. One year, for example, before my fourth daughter was born, he bought me three roses and each of the girls one rose...for a total of half dozen. One year he bought me a large bouquet and three small bouquets for the girls. I remember one year a neighbor was babysitting for my daughters and My Cowboy was scheduled to pick them up. He took a flower to the neighbor lady. Later she told me that single rose was all she got. Her husband didn't get her anything. She said, "Your husband gave me a better Valentine than my husband." Anyway, she said it with a smile on her face and it warmed my heart that My Cowboy was spreading flowers near and far.


From Ruthy Logan Herne:
We've had one funeral home in town for as long as I can remember. It's a small town, but with about 8,000 people, that funeral home does a steady business as babies come and old folks go and every year the funeral director takes all the new widowers and widows out for a Valentine's Day lunch. They don't all come... but they're all invited. And he makes sure they're not spending that first Valentine's Day alone.



From Jan Drexler:
My favorite Valentine's memory:

Years ago, when our children ranged in age from one to ten years old, I wanted to be able to take them places (like the library) while my husband was at work. A new wagon had just come on the market from Little Tykes. I'm sure you've seen them: a seat at each end and spot in the middle for the children's feet. I had my heart set on that wagon. It was perfect. But I also knew how tight our budget was. There was no way we could afford it.

But on Valentine's Day, my husband gave me a HUGE package - you guessed it. It was my wagon!

Was it flowers? Candy? A nice dinner out? No. But it was the most romantic present he ever gave me, because he put my wants and needs first.

From Winnie Griggs:
I don't really have a memory to share per se, but I will say this.  My birthday falls on the day before Valentine's Day so it would be very easy for my hubby to do a two-for-one (as many did when I was younger), but instead he is always great about marking each day with a small gift of some sort. Always makes me feel special 

From Carrie Schmidt:
My parents always used to make fun scavenger hunts for us around the house for our Valentine's candy. They would create a rhyming clue that would point us to the next clue location. My brother (5 years younger than me) delighted in running from clue to clue but as soon as we would find the next clue, he'd hand it to me and start running toward the next clue ... before he knew where it was! LOL. I would read it and holler out to him to go to such and such an object or room. He'd beat me there and we'd start the pattern again. Then my mom would make a fun dinner with pats of butter cut out in the shape of hearts, applesauce with those red-hot hearts melted in it, some sort of entree/veggies, and dessert was usually angel food cake cut in heart shapes with strawberries and chocolate drizzle. Always a holiday I looked forward to!

From Sandy Smith:
I will submit a romantic moment memory. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day but it was when I first started dating my husband. He had invited me over to his house for a meal he had cooked. Throughout the meal, he kept pouring me more water and kept asking if I needed more. I kept telling him I was fine. Finally, I excused myself to use the restroom. When I walked into the bathroom, I saw a bouquet of red roses. I thought this guy really decorated his house well to keep roses in the bathroom. It took me a moment to realize the roses were for me and he kept giving me water in hopes I would need to use that room!


From Cindy Regnier:
The first Valentine’s Day after our third child was born, I wanted to do something special for my husband. I had a tie tack made for him with the three birthstones of our children. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was having a ring made for me with the same birthstones. I can just imagine that I-know-a-secret smile on the face of the jeweler who made both pieces on the same day! 

From Audra Harders:
Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday, hands down. Hearts and love flung across the television and the US postal system like confetting, the holiday cheer wrapping everyone with warm fuzzies. Well, at least that was the consensus at my house, LOL! From the time they were very young, my kids were convinced Valentines Day was the forgotten national holiday!! 

So, fast forward to my daughter's freshman year of college. Oh, she was a wild one and a handful to manage throughout all her growing years, but once she left for college, she discovered the consequences of her actions lay solely on her shoulders. That said, one evening she and some friends went out and had a bit too much fun. Picture 3am, back in the dorm room and my daughter's roommate on the phone to her parents wailing about the fallout of their party-ing. When roommate got off the phone, she looked at my daughter and asked her of our reaction. My daughter shrugged and said, "are you kidding me? I'm not waking my mom up at 3am on her favorite holiday to tell her I got in trouble. I'll wait until I know she's had at least 2 cups of coffee in her and has opened a cute card from my dad!" 

My daughter remains to this day, a very astute young lady, LOL.

From Missy Tippens:
Most of my favorite memories of Valentine’s Day are from childhood. I remember really looking forward to the gifts my parents (actually, my mom did the purchasing) would leave for my sister and me—usually something personal like underwear or pajamas with hearts on them or cute socks. And of course, a small heart-shaped box of chocolates! Those gifts always made me feel special.

Okay, readers, what about you? Would you like to share a memory? Let’s celebrate the many kinds of love! We will also have a surprise giveaway or two down in the comments. So leave a comment if you’d like to be entered! (Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.)

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!