Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet Nothings, and Simple Splendidness

Or....How a Romance Writer and History Nut 
Spends Valentine's Day

So, when your Beloved clears the diary of all obligations and promises a simple but 'all day' Valentine's Day, what can a girl expect? 

Well, here's a snapshot of my special February day. Not only in honour of the shrink-wrapped, over-priced rose bouquet variety. But a day to remember the moment we went from 'single' to 'taken.' 

Our slow breakfast in a  Healesville second-hand book shop would have been perfect on its own, but my Beloved added to this, a morning walk through Maroondah Dam Reservoir and Park, with a long stop on the picnic blanket to watch the sun through the gum trees. 

And could a beautiful nature park offer a more delightful children's playground, than this all-wood (no plastic, yay!!) row of houses and dainty chapel? Yes, the symbol of the little church with bell-tower didn't escape us. So cute and very Little House on the Prairie. But it was not the only symbol we found.

A long lunch, a potter in antique shops, and old books purchased by me would have been more than enough. So would the gluten free cake and coffee stop on the way home. 

But this day was to be filled with simple tokens, and I was thrilled to discover my antique treasure, an old Australian book of poems, held a secret smattering of dried rose petals pressed between its musty pages - left there by a previous owner and fellow lover of romance, I like to imagine.

But the best surprise was a simple find at our feet. A perfect heart shaped leaf. Already golden and hinting at Autumn, it stopped us in our tracks. I thought my Beloved orgainsed this day, but I guess God wanted to play too. 

And so the leaf joined us on the road home. Pressed in the pages of a book of old love verses and faded rose petals.

Yes, he promised simple. And he delivered. 

Simple... and perfect. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alas, they say.
The love letter is no more. 
Killed by twitter, email and texts.

Hiccups with my iphone have meant I've not been able to send or receive texts all weekend. Not a huge drama, but it will be if the phone's not working properly soon. And while its most valuable function to me is that of communicating with my kids, it's also how I send quick love notes to my Beloved. And how he replies.

Don't worry. I won't share any of them here. But I have missed the three word messages which flash on the screen - and this from the man who works from home and is only one staircase away most days.

So why am I pondering romantic sweet nothings and love letters? Probably because tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Like most Aussies, I'm not so tightly bound to its traditions but it is a day I hold dear. For it is that blessed day I received my first love note, and went from 'single' to 'taken.' (And I might add, still taken - by the same man.)

23 years later, and many love notes have passed between us, but fewer and fewer of the hand written variety. Now we rely on electonic means, and the old letters are as dated as my puff sleeved wedding dress.

So if we're writing digital love notes now, what will be left for us to sift through when we're old and longing to revisit the past? Where will our love letters from today be then?

And what about the rest of you? Are all suitors laying down the pen in favour of hasty emoticons? Is 'I heart U' the best we can do now?

Biographers lament the scarcity of love letters. While journals and diaries abound, written with posterity in mind, the rare and raw emotion of the private love letter allows a secret glimpse into the yearning of only one soul to another. Think Solomon. Think of the one who pursued you. And wooed you. This is the power of words. This is how God captures our heart too.

I was surprised to discover most love letters preserved by historians, especially those written 100 years ago or more, are written by men. Whether it was 'presumptuous' for a lady to declare her love this way, or the notion that women are better at the 'keeping' of treasures, one thing remains. Paper love letters are dwindling in number and our generation may not have much to add to the stack. Even if its your private stack.

Hand written, often stained with tears or perfumed, love letters hold more than sentiment. They cradle an apology with sincerest remorse. Whisper the longing to see one much loved, yet so far away. Declare one is more than smitten, decades into a relationship.

They capture the heartbeat of the writer and reveal a vulnerability only the recipient can treasure for what it's worth. They are poems. Works of art. They are love messages intended for keeping, and if you're like me your letters may be tied with a velvet ribbon or locked in a box where only you can find them.

While there were only 10 words in my first love letter, I know each one by heart. I memorised them the day they arrived. And although I don't need that faded paper to remember how it tipped my world, I would never dream of throwing it away.

So, where do you keep your love letters?
Are they hidden or not yet written?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I've Been Asked To Be A Slave. 

So, I'm going to. Be one. At an auction, for the highest bidder.

I'm not selling all of me, only a piece of 'me'. Actually two pieces of me. The sale will take place this Saturday at the launch of a fundraiser for the redevelopment of my home church's facilities, to open our building up to those who happily crowd it now, and hopefully many new faces in the days ahead.

I won't be the only slave. Many others have offered services, their time or their worldly goods, to be added to the auction items. But how does a writer of romance turn herself into a slave? I'm glad you asked.

Here's what I've come up with for lucky bidder No.1.

A Devonshire Tea hamper for two. Delivered to your door, this will include one basket filled with freshly baked scones, home-made jams (my own - apricot and plum), and vanilla cream. Added to this, will be tea or coffee of your choice, and other mystery goodies (probably of the chocolate variety) in keeping with the afternoon tea theme and guaranteed to make your taste buds pop. As a writer of romance, I can't help but hope my basket will be bought by someone who wishes to court their true love, perhaps with a Valentine's Day picnic in mind.

For lucky bidder No.2, there is no food on offer. Sorry.

As much as I love my baking, and slaving over a hot oven, I also slave my way through words and scenes, each day. So here's my other auction item.

For the successful bidder, I offer the opportunity to name a character in my historical romance, The Everlasting. This means, you may choose your very own name to feature in my story, or if it does not suit the late 1800s, you may nominate your husband, kids or grandkids. Or you could honour your grandmother. Or pay homage to your address and immortalise your street name, if you love it that much.

Isn't that fun? YOU get to choose a name, and I give it to one of my characters. Who wouldn't want to do that? The real question is.... how many bidders will fight over it, and how high will they go to see their name within the pages of a love story?

Have you ever featured in such an auction? What would you have fun offering if you were asked to be a slave?