I’m going to try to disappear into my writing cave for a bit, but if you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s an epic one.
If you’re in the area, I’m going to be on a panel about empowering heroines at the Virginia Beach Public Library Romance Reader Rendezvous on February 3. I’ll also have some books. Details are here, and I’d love to see you!
Um, it’s Valentine’s Day.
It snuck up on me in the way a holiday whose date never changes can. I’ve been writing a lot (I have about six projects in various stages), so I don’t have a special post this year. Instead, let’s revisit Valentine’s posts of years gone by.
- We have a list of my favorite love songs.
- Some handwritten love letters from my Civil War historical.
- The first chapter to the sequel to the Civil War romance that will probably remain unwritten.
- An extended epilogue to Private Politics.
Have a lovely day if you’re celebrating and a nice Tuesday if not.
ETA: oh, and Star Dust is still free if you need a Valentine’s Day read. Plus it’ll get you all excited for all the Fly Me to the Moon installments Genevieve and I are writing. Grab yours today at Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Google Play, or Kobo.
Welcome! I’m Emma, and I’m thrilled to share a bit more from Alyse and Liam’s life with you. If you didn’t read Private Politics, she’s a Manhattan princess-turned-DC fundraiser. He’s a political blogger who helped her deal with a job-related crisis, during which they fell in love. Well, he was actually already in love with her before all of that, but it took a scandal, and some romance-y, book-y things, and now they’re married.
I am going to put a trigger warning on it because it contains discussion of fertility issues and pregnancy news.
“It’s not Valentine’s yet,” you reply.
“Yes, but tomorrow I’m headed away for a romantic weekend so I’m posting for V-Day now,” I say.
Who doesn’t like early presents?
This is not widely known but the first book I published was called Brave in Heart, a historical romance set during the American Civil War. Basically no one read it. And I can’t blame you all because beyond the setting, it’s very first-book-y. But had anyone read it, I intended for it to be the first book in a series. I had, in fact, started a sequel, which I never named, except then I started writing the book that became Special Interests and that project consumed me.
However, when I started to think about what kind of Valentine’s Day extra I could publish, I started to think about the words I’d written for the Brave in Heart sequel. Most of them aren’t great…except for these.
So if you read this, know that I don’t like the chapters I wrote after this one. And between my dissatisfaction with the rest of those chapters and a marketplace that’s not terribly interested in mid-nineteenth century American historical, I probably won’t ever finish this. But as long as we’re on the same page, this is your Valentine’s present from me: a meet-cute and a one very sexy, Creole, not-quite gentleman named August Wainwright.
Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, which means that it’s time for me to write a love letter. And by that, I mean actually sit down and write one, with the pen and the paper and the envelope.
I’m not a big “nostalgize the form” kind of gal. I want nothing with Ludditism here. Once I got an e-Reader, I was happy to abandon physical books at least for pleasure reading. I can’t remember the last time I left a voicemail because it takes less time to read a text message. In general, out with the old!
But there is something about the physical experience of handwriting when it comes to the love letter that I want to maintain. The sound of the pen, the brush of the paper over your skin, the tactile event-ness speaks to what you’re trying to capture on the page. The handwritten love letter beautifully marries form and content.
When I wrote Brave in Heart, I handwrote parts of the novel out of necessity. My kids were in a grabby phase and I didn’t have full-time childcare. If I wanted to write when they were up, and sometimes I did, then handwriting was better than typing as the computer was too much fun to ignore.
But ultimately, certain scenes demanded to be handwritten, including the correspondence bridging two time gaps in the novel. I could not have typed the first drafts of those letters and generated what I did. They had to be written. What resulted is a sort of facsimile of the fictional object. Simulcra love letters.
And precisely because your beloved’s hand touches that same page you hold, his mouth wets the envelope, and so on, the love letter can be an object of veneration. Sorry, Mr. Benjamin, this is one aura I have no desire to destroy. (Frankfurt School digression: though he’d probably agree with me because there’s no mass production involved, at least if you start with blank paper and not a Hallmark card.)
A love letter is a work of art. It is a relict. It is timeless.
And now I’ve got to get to work on mine!
*If you were to try to read them, these letters contain minor BiH spoilers. Edited versions appear in Chapter 11 of that book.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t really like Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know, I read and write romance novels. Isn’t it required to like Valentine’s? Flowers and hearts and candy and poetical language and jewelry and love? What’s not to like?
The commercialism, I guess. The sense that it’s required, that it’s some sort of test for lovers to see if they get a good enough gift or a meaningful enough gift. Real romance is so much more quotidian and transformational than that.
But that’s not to say that I don’t like love songs and poems. So for Valentine’s, here are a few of my favorites.