Today has been awesome and I hope you’ve enjoyed all the partying going on at The Mustard Seed! You truly make this blog special and I want to thank you all for your visit. 

JoAnn, what keeps you writing romance…will you ever switch to another genre?

JoAnn Carter: When I was a teen, I really didn't enjoy reading. That is until my mom brought home a "Heart Song Presents" book. After that, I was hooked. I loved the stories where the characters grew not only closer to each other, but to God as well. It's is for that very reason I write romance too. I want to encourage young girls and women like I was -- by reading a character's journey of faith and love.

One of the first authors I started reading as a teen was Janette Oke. Loved her books. Got me interested in reading and learning to write. Elaine, in your books, any fun date scenes you’d like to tell us about?

Elaine Cantrell: In Purple Heart my hero took this girl he worked with fishing.  She wore clothes more suited to a party than a fishing trip, fished without a license and made the hero’s fish get confiscated, hooked my hero’s shoulder with her hook, and pushed him out of the boat.  Their breakup cleared the way for Jenna my heroine.  Purple Heart has been reduced in price to .99 if you’d like to read it.  It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and is available from the publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

Sounds like a fun book! Grace, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say? 

Grace Greene: Have forgiving hearts.

So important to a thriving marriage. Bitterness only weighs down the heart. Meg, if you have children, have you set an age for when they can start dating?

Meg Mims: I told my daughter that “young love” can be tricky – set your sights on college, when she could explore more of the world and who she is. She took my advice, but saw a lot of her friends getting hurt during Jr. and Sr. High.

That’s good that she took your advice. Kendra, are you are you an emotional person or not so much…what about your significant other?

Kendra James: I am very emotional. I love touching, giving and receiving hugs. I find as I am getting older, I have teary eyes more and more, not only with the bad things but also with the good things. I work with children with emotional and mental problems and often when I see them make gains in their emotional reactions and behaviors, my eyes just seem to well up. Whenever we have an event in our small school such as Remembrance Day or graduation and the kids are doing their part in the program, I always have to make sure that I stuff my pockets with Kleenex.

I can relate to being emotional. Was told once by someone close to me that I should stop being that way—but I’m thankful that my husband accepts me for who I am, emotionally charged and all! Elaine, in your books, what’s your favorite part of writing romantic scenes?

Elaine Cooper: I’d say the emotions that lead up to that first kiss. The increasing drum beat in their hearts, the whiff of perfume, the nervousness, the occasional touch of a finger sweeping across the hand, the longing looks…the long, painful anticipation that makes a reader cry, “So KISS her already!” LOL

Love that journey when I’m reading and writing romance novels. 

You described that journey so well! Lyn, if you’re a romantic, do you think you’ll always be one?

Lyn Sofras: Just before I was married, I met an aunt who had left England over a quarter of a century earlier. She was happily married with grown up children. But one night she confided in me that as a girl, she had believed herself in love with someone else and in all these years had never forgotten him. She wondered constantly what would happen if she dared try to make contact with him again when she returned to England. At the time I couldn’t believe people of my parents’ generation still harboured such romantic thoughts, but as time passes, I realise more and more that such thoughts don’t disappear. So yes, once a romantic, always a romantic!

I think you’ve got that right! JoAnn, do you enjoy watching chick flicks / romantic comedies and dramas?

JoAnn Durgin: Sure do. I’d much rather a romantic comedy, no matter how dumb, over anything gritty. I love a good, emotional drama as long as it involves some aspect of romance. Interestingly enough, two of my very favorite all-time movie “romances” are ones where the guy and girl don’t end up together, but it’s fitting and for the right reasons –Witness and Roman Holiday. And who can resist Lady and the Tramp or Beauty and the Beast?

My favorite movies are romances, both comedy and drama, and I don’t mind an action flick (which my husband loves to watch), as long as there is some element of romance…which, of course, there isn’t always. Though, my hubby just surprised me the other day and took me to see The Vow. Good movie, but anti-climactic ending. Speaking of Beauty and the Beast, that’s one of my favorite fairy tales. Did anyone see this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time where they showed their interpretation of that fairy tale?
JoAnn, in your books, are there any fun date scenes you’d like to tell us about?

JoAnn Durgin: One first date scene with Josh Grant in Twin Hearts is particularly memorable for more than the obvious reasons. Sam and Lexa’s first official date in Awakening is likewise memorable, but Sam doesn’t expect what happens when Lexa runs away from him. I have one in my upcoming, stand-alone novel, Catching Serenity, where Jackson takes Serenity in a horse-drawn carriage to a children’s amusement park. He gives her a tiara and treats her like royalty. She ends up giving a little girl the tiara, but Jackson makes her feel incredibly special, something she really needs.

Sounds like a fun date! Lyn, can you describe the first date you ever went on?

Lyn Sofras: Yes I can. I was about 15 and a boy from school asked me out (via his friends of course). We went to a local youth club in the church hall, which was having a film night – only the film was some terrible home video the vicar had shot on holiday! (Someone had made off with the film that was scheduled). One by one the other kids crept out. But the boy and I (being well-brought up, of course) remained behind, asking polite questions. We even helped him put the chairs away afterwards. What a date! We held hands walking home and he gave me a very chaste kiss. I decided to wait a couple of years before dating again!

What a memorable date! Elaine, what was the most romantic thing one of your characters did for his/her love interest?

Elaine Cooper: In The Promise of Deer Run, Nathaniel held his wife Sarah closely and sang a song of comfort after she shared a painful incident from her childhood. He did not speak as she told him the excruciating details, but she felt his tears slide onto her face while she spoke.

Definitely a very emotionally intimate and romantic moment for your characters. 

Kendra, in your books, any fun date scenes you’d like to tell us about?

Kendra James: In Ghostly Justice, due out with Black Opal Books this year, Dari’s first date is for hamburgers and a movie but they stop by the cemetery to find Amanda, the ghost’s grave site. Doesn’t traipsing around a cemetery sound like a fun date.

Yikes…not a fun date for the faint of heart but sounds like it made for a great scene for your characters. Meg, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?

Meg Mims: When I first saw him – it was a “ding ding, here he is” kind of thing. LOL
Elaine, do you believe in being married to your best friend for a love that will last?

Elaine Cantrell: Yes, I do, but only if you love the friend.  I had a close male friend in college whom most people thought I was engaged to, but that little spark of attraction wasn’t there for us.  He was a great friend, but I didn’t love him romantically.  I think love changes as people grow older.  The earth may not move under your feet when you see him, but it may warm you heart when you do.  Love may grow and change just as we do, but it’s still love.  In fact, I love my husband even more now than we first got married.

Thank you for sharing that—so true--love may grow and change just as we do, but it’s still love. JoAnn, what was your most favorite date ever?

JoAnn Carter: Hmm, there's a few close runner's up. I think my favorite date was one evening when our children were small, and the budget tight, I asked a friend who had a home with an awesome view of the mountains, if we could use her house one evening for a candle lit dinner. She graciously agreed. The afternoon of our "date" the boys and I went over to decorate with candles, flowers and a pretty tablecloth. They got a kick out of helping me prepare for a special night for their daddy. Glenn, my husband had no clue what I was up to when I told him I was stealing him away after work for a few hours. The night was a night to remember. There was the most gorgeous sunset I ever saw. We played games, listened to soft music, and enjoyed a romantic dinner surrounded by the beauty of God's creation.

Very nice…sounds so romantic and must make for great memories.

Well, ladies, we’ve come to the end of our chat. I want to thank you all again for such an enjoyable time during our Valentine’s Day party. Let’s end the day with some chatting with our guests. 

What was your most memorable date? 

Don’t forget to comment for a chance to enter and win in our giveaway. All winners will be contacted tomorrow. Thanks again for stopping by The Mustard Seed. I appreciate all of you and Happy Valentine’s Day! 

So glad you’re hanging out with us all day. Hope, you’re enjoying the chat as much as we are. 

JoAnn, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say?

JoAnn Carter: 1. Communication. 2. Give up the idea of independence and embrace the concept of "one-flesh" in your attitude and in the decisions you make. It will save a ton of grief. 3. Value and protect your time together. Life gets busy and sometimes it's hard to find the time, but it's important. If you let it go for too long, it's like you're just two ships passing in the night. This is a fatal recipe for keeping love alive in your marriage.

Elaine, is there a negative aspect to love? 

Elaine Cantrell: That’s an interesting question. If you give your heart to someone, you run the risk of having it dragged through the mud. You’ve given a hostage to fate and the integrity of another person. If you chose your loved one wisely, no problem, but if you chose poorly I can see why you might regret giving your heart away. I read an advice column not long ago where a woman said she regretted loving her husband so much. He had died, and she felt miserable and bitter about it. She said life without him wasn’t worth living. I understand where she’s coming from, but as long as you’re still alive I think you have the possibility of happiness and fulfillment in front of you.

Thank you for sharing. Grace, how do you deal with tension / arguments with your significant other? 

Grace Greene: Neither of us likes to argue and it feels like the end of world. We can both be stubborn and hot-headed (although my husband will say he is not) but we are also forgiving. Sometimes it just takes us a while to manage the forgiving. One rule is that we NEVER get mean when we argue. Remember, you may forgive, but you can't totally forget.

Good advice we all should heed. Meg, do you dislike Valentine’s Day or do you look forward to it?

Meg Mims: It’s all about the CHOCOLATE! Love having it on hand, along with chocolate drizzled shortbread cookies.

Love chocolate, my favorite! Kendra, if you have children, have you set an age for when they can start dating?

Kendra James: Not really for dating but I did tell them they couldn’t get married until they were twenty-four. They listened (that’s a first). I have three children and only one is married and she waited until she was thirty-two. The other two are older and have so far have avoided saying “I do.” Though they have had significant others in their live, some more significant than others, LOL.

Elaine, are you a romantic and why?

Elaine Cooper: Oh yes! SIGH I love true romance that sweeps you up not just in the kisses but in the connection between the lovers’ hearts. Romantic comedies are fun, but unless they have a serious side that makes me sympathize with the characters, it’s hard to feel the sparks. A great example of a wonderful movie is “While You were Sleeping.”

One of my favorite romantic movies…seen it a bunch of times. Lyn, do you enjoy watching chick flicks / romantic comedies and dramas?

Lyn Sofras: Absolutely! What woman doesn’t? And the more sentimental, the more I enjoy them. I want to laugh and cry and feel like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster.  And, of course, at the end of it, I need to feel that warm glow of contentment.

My sentiments exactly! 

JoAnn, is your husband a romantic and why do you think so?

He’s not romantic in that he reads me poetry and feeds me grapes, on a blanket in the park. The week leading up to his Valentine’s Day proposal, Jim stopped by my office every day and dropped off a gift. Each day, the gift got a little bigger, more expensive or more significant. I knew he was leading up to something, especially considering the time seemed appropriate to make a lasting commitment, and it was Valentine’s Day that Saturday. When he asked me to go to Monterey and Carmel for that Saturday, I knew it. But it didn’t make it any less special. It was truly a dream day. Now, after almost 25 years of marriage, it’s the little things that count. The whispers, the looks, the unexpected kisses, and I adore how he brews and makes me a cup of coffee every morning. Gestures like that show his devotion and love more than anything else, although a single, long-stemmed yellow rose and a card on a day other than Valentine’s Day or my birthday is pretty special, too. Now that’s romantic!

Sounds like you have quite a guy! Romance is great, but like you said, gestures that show devotion are truly special. So, JoAnn, When did you experience your first kiss?

On my first date when I was about 16. It was a sweet and very appropriate little peck. The most significant kiss? When Jim kissed me for the first time. He might kill me for revealing this (but it’s not like I haven’t mentioned it before on a certain guest blog post), but as handsome as my husband is, he’d dated a lot but never kissed a girl in a romantic way. I’d kissed a lot of toads, but found that so incredibly sweet. Hard to believe, but he was the most sincere man and godly man I’d ever met. Jim told me it was a pledge he’d made to himself and the Lord, and he just knew the first girl he kissed first would be the girl he’d marry. When he kissed me that first time, I was truly the happiest girl in the world.

Very sweet and romantic and you must have felt so special that he waited for you. Lyn, in your books, what’s your favorite part of writing romantic scenes? 

Lyn Sofras: I hope it doesn’t make me sound cruel, but I do like to put my H & H through the emotional mangle so that they believe all is lost between them and then give them that glimmer of hope just when all else seems lost. In ‘The Apple Tree’ for example, it happens towards the end of the novel when Jules is tending her parents’ grave and Nicholas appears beside her. She wants him so badly and, of course, he wants her, but both of them believe the other one has moved on with their lives and neither of them can say what is really on their minds, so they look for those tiny verbal clues…

I understand putting your characters through that. When they get on the other side and end up with each other, it makes their love that much sweeter. Elaine, do you enjoy watching chick flicks / romantic comedies and dramas?

Elaine Cooper: Oh yes. And for a great serious romance, I’d have to say that Daniel Day Lewis and Madeline Stowe are SO romantic in “Last of the Mohicans!”

Saw that movie and loved it! By the way, has anyone seen Madeline Stowe in the new ABC show, Revenge? Absolutely loving her performance. Kendra, what was the worst date you’ve been on? 

Kendra James: I had a boyfriend who was so afraid of me getting too close to him that he kept breaking off for a bit and then wanting to come back. Remember that ‘your eyes meet across a crowded room and you are drawn like a magnet, well that was him. For my birthday he was ‘off again’ but couldn’t miss my birthday so he was taking me to a wonderful restaurant outside of town for lunch. He neglected to check when it opened which was two hours after we got there. We couldn’t wait as he had another date with a ‘friend’ for supper. That sucked.

Wow, I can see how that classified as a worst date scenario. 

Meg, have you written any scenes set on Valentine’s Day?

Meg Mims: My Valentine’s Day novella, The Key to Love, will be released in February 2012!

Congrats…how exciting! Grace, in your opinion, what are the ingredients for a successful marriage? 

Grace Greene: The most important ingredient is a forgiving heart and respect. Without those, love can't survive beyond the physical attraction.

So true. Elaine, what’s the best lesson on love you’ve taught your children, or grandchildren or nieces and nephews?

Elaine Cantrell: I believe that everyone messes up every now and then and deserves a second chance.

I completely agree. I’ve been given countless second chances and believe that’s so vital to successful relationships. JoAnn, are you a romantic and why or why not?

JoAnn Carter: I guess in a way I am a romantic. For example, last year for the whole month of Feb., I sent my husband a different e-card each day telling him that I love him. On the flip side though, I'm very practical minded which sometimes can really put a damper on romance.

We must be kindred spirits because I am the same way when it comes to romance. I enjoy being romantic and receiving romance, but it’s not the sum total of my relationship with my husband. My practical nature comes into play many times as well.

Time to take another break and chat with our guests—who is a romantic and who is more practical when it comes to romance?
Hope you can hang out and chat for a bit and enter for a chance to win in our giveaways. We have one more chat coming up at 7:30 tonight. See you then!

Welcome back to part four of our Valentine’s Day blog party. If you are just joining us, I am chatting with a group of awesome authors. Check back on today’s post, part one, for links and bios for all the authors. 

JoAnn, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?

JoAnn Carter: That's an interesting question. When my husband asked me to marry him, I actually talked to my father about this very thing. You see, I never had an earth shattering experience of being head over heels "in love." I wondered if I was missing something. Hollywood made it look so different. My father in his wisdom (and understanding of me and how I think) asked if I'd want to live my life without Glenn. I knew for sure that I didn't. My dad smiled and said, "Then he's the one for you."

Your father was definitely a very wise man—such sage advice. Elaine, can you share with us when you first knew you were in love with your husband?

Elaine Cantrell: The first time I met my husband it was like a lightning strike.  I was engaged to another guy at the time, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that my future was tied to the man I’d just met.  We were college students at the time, and I saw him on campus a few times during the school year.  Each time that sense of destiny grew stronger.  The following spring I broke my engagement, making sure a certain young man knew about it.  He asked me out, and we got married two years later.

So glad you followed your heart! Grace, do you fall head over heels in love or have your romances move more slowly emotionally?

Grace Greene: The romances in my stories have moved slowly on an emotional level, but usually following an initial instant attraction. The 'head over heels' feeling is often one-sided in the beginning.  I do believe in love at first sight and falling in love ‘head over heels’; however, instant passion requires nurturing or it won't flourish - and that's how true love grows in my novels. Sometimes new sweethearts rush the love expecting it to grow without effort, but love requires careful tending or it will burn itself out. You'll see all of these types of love in BEACH RENTAL. In KINCAID'S HOPE, there's a twist on that approach to love: feelings of love may diminish due to lack of care over time; however, true love - like that of soul mates - will never fully extinguish and the slow-burning embers will always be susceptible to re-igniting.

Love your description slow-burning embers…susceptible to re-igniting. Very true that love requires nurturing and people don’t always realize that when they enter into a relationship. Meg, any advice for newly married couples on how to handle the emotional ups and downs of marriage?

Meg Mims: Be flexible. Laugh at yourself first. Share something every day with each other. Remember “this too shall pass.” Also that children will change *everything* so give your marriage a foundation before starting a family.

True, flexibility is so vital to a strong marriage.

Kendra, what was the most romantic thing one of your characters did for his/her love interest?

Kendra James: In Missing Clayton, to come out later this year with Black Opal Books, Steve stays with Jenny after she finds out her son is missing, and later in the book, he risks his life to save her from her child’s kidnapper. That real love.

Definitely real love! Elaine, what does love mean to you?

Elaine Cooper: Eros is the love in a romance novel—that wonderful first kiss that gives a promise of better things to come! Phileo is love that looks out for your brother or sister—a giving love to others. Agape is the pure love that Christ teaches us to give, whether or not others return it to us. Unconditional love that Christ taught us by example.

Couldn’t have explained it better! Lyn, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?

Lyn Sofras: Oh this is going to sound so corny!  We met when he was a junior hospital doctor at the hospital in which I also worked and though he professed ‘love at first sight’ for me, I have to be honest and say I wasn’t that interested in him at first…until one day, I happened to walk into one of the wards where he was attending to a patient.  I seemed suddenly to see him in a new light.  Yup, as I said, it’s as corny as it comes, but I fell in love with his bedside manner!

I can understand that. My husband “fell in love” with me first and I thought of him as just John, my good friend until one day the spark came for me when it hit me how much of a kind, genuine man he was. Thanks for sharing, Lyn.
JoAnn, have you ever given someone a selfless gift?

JoAnn Durgin: I have, but I’d like to tell you one that stands out in my mind that was given to me. It’s not a gift from my husband, and I’m sure he won’t mind I share it. I was dating a chemical engineering student and visited him on the Washington University campus outside St. Louis. There’s a tunnel in the middle of the campus, and it’s encouraged that the students paint graffiti on its walls. When I visited Mark, he seemed anxious and antsy and asked me to take a walk. I thought, “Oh, no, I’ve come all this way (by plane), and he’s breaking up with me right off the bat.” He walked me to the middle of campus and into the tunnel and breathed a huge sigh of relief as he pointed to the wall. “Good. It’s still here.” My conservative, quiet, thoughtful boyfriend had actually spray-painted on the wall, “JoAnn, I’m so glad you’re here.” I couldn’t believe he’d done it, and it touched me deeply.

Such a sweet, romantic thing for him to do! Can you share some more on what was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your lifetime about love?

JoAnn Durgin: It’s true that in order to receive love, you have to be able to give love.

Couldn’t agree more. Now to JoAnn Carter, has your love with your husband grown stronger with the years?

JoAnn Carter: When I look back over the whole of the 19 years I can say, yes! I love my husband more now than ever. However, there are ups and downs we all face. Some days are downright hard to the point where you're almost willing to throw in the towel. Honestly, without God, and the commitment I made to Glenn before Him, my life might look a lot different right now.

Agreed that’s what it’s all about—making a commitment to love and sticking to it even when times get tough.

Elaine, has your love with your husband grown stronger with the years?

Elaine Cantrell: I think true love always grows stronger. I’ve been married for a long time now, and I can truthfully say I love him more today than I did on our wedding day. During the Christmas season he was working away from home, and one Friday we arranged to meet at a shopping mall to do some Christmas shopping. I saw him before he saw me.  My heart leaped. He turned and smiled at me, and all at once I felt like I’d already gotten my Christmas gift.

Heart leaping feelings for your significant other are so wonderful and special. Grace, do you believe in being married to your best friend for a love that will last? 

Grace Greene: Friendship is an important component to marriage and to love, but only in union that also has romantic love. Without the romantic love, there's a huge gap that will be filled, sooner or later, by someone who comes along outside of the 'friendly' marriage.

Very true—you need romance and that strong bond of friendship to make a marriage work. Meg, are you are you an emotional person or not so much…what about your significant other?

Meg Mims: I am easy to laugh, easy to lose my temper, a “git ‘er done” type. Hub is easy to laugh, but locks up anger and simmers it, plus he’s more of a perfectionist. We’ve had ups/down over 30 years, but we’re committed to each other. That’s the key.

Yes, commitment is key! Kendra, if you’re romantic and your significant other isn’t, how do you deal with that?

Kendra James: Hug the hell out of him. I love hugs and some people though they may pretend not to like them, learn to accept and enjoy them.

That’s been true for me. I’m not a huggy person, but my husband is and I, too, have learned to appreciate hugs. Elaine, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?

Elaine Cooper: It was quite nearly love at first sight! I obviously did not have the deep, abiding love that grows from a relationship, but there was an instant connection, as if I knew that he was “The One.” It still makes me smile after almost 37 years.

Finding the one is such a blessing to be cherished! Lynn, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say?

Lyn Sofras: Be tolerant, respect each other and always communicate honestly and openly.  You are a united team against the world and nothing and no one should come between you.

That’s true. You need to be a team and not allow outside influences to penetrate the foundation and create cracks. JoAnn, what’s the best lesson on love you’ve taught your children?

JoAnn Durgin: Love the Lord your God, first and foremost. Always look to Him for the right “guidelines” in life and love. Don’t give love away, don’t offer it too freely, don’t withhold it when it’s appropriate, don’t squander it, but also don’t shy away from it. Love is one of the most precious gifts the Lord gives us. It’s priceless, so treat it like the treasure and special gift it is. Another one of the invaluable lessons is how you live your life. Jim and I have tried to model a Christian marriage, and I trust our children have learned from us – both from our mistakes as well as our triumphs. They’re good kids, and we’re so blessed.

Thank you for sharing such good advice! Ladies, I’m having a blast and can’t thank you enough for chatting with me today. Let’s take another break and chat with our guests.

What advice would you share with a newlywed couple on how to build a strong and healthy marriage?

Is everyone ready…we’re back for part three of our party. Are you having fun yet?

Well start with JoAnn. Do you dislike Valentine’s Day or do you look forward to it?

JoAnn Carter: I look forward to it. I know this may sound weird, but it makes me think of my dad. You see, growing up, Valentine's Day was the one day that my father would give me something special. Nothing big, just a candy bar or something like that, but looking back, I can't tell you how much I treasure those moments. Dad was never one to say with words, "I love you", but his thoughtful act told me just that.

Don’t think that’s weird—it’s very sweet and such special memories of your father. Elaine, have you written and scenes set on Valentine’s Day? 

Elaine Cantrell: I wrote a short story set on Valentine’s Day a few years ago.  It’s called Pink Pearls and is available as a free read on my website.  Elaine's Website

Grace, has your love with your husband grown stronger with the years? 

Grace Greene: We've been married forever. You can’t do that without having good and bad times. Yes, our love is stronger now and so is our friendship. There's no one I'd rather hang out with and he's my biggest supporter.

I agree with those sentiments. My hubby is my best friend and also my biggest supporter too. Meg, in your books, what’s your favorite part of writing romantic scenes?

Meg Mims: The first meeting, where conflict ought to come into play – otherwise, it’s too much of a given that love is easy. Because it’s not!

Kendra, can you tell us when you experienced your first kiss?  

Kendra James: My first kiss was when I was fifteen from an older (twenty-one year old, college-cut, gorgeous hunk) man who worked where I did and drove a red convertible. It was one of those ‘your eyes meet across a crowded room’ things. He showed me the pent house boiler room where he did maintenance and gave me the kiss that tingled to my toes. He asked me out on a date but didn’t show. I was very young looking and I think he was afraid when he showed up at my door he would be met with a very irate father.  I went on holiday and when I came back he was no longer there. I still wonder about him and what might have been.

Very mysterious—I think I’d wonder too about what might have been. 

Elaine, have you written any scenes set on Valentine’s Day?

Elaine Cooper: No, I write Historical Fiction set in Colonial America and that particular holiday was not a big one back then. No Hallmark stores in the village! LOL!

Does anyone know the origin of Valentine’s Day?

Lyn Sofras: I know Saint Valentine was a Christian martyr and the day commemorates him, but I think it’s also part of a Roman festival – a sort of mass blind date or dating lottery where shepherds and shepherdesses were matched at random to celebrate the two day festival.

Thanks, Lyn. So, JoAnn, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say?

JoAnn Durgin: Two words: date night. Make time for each other on a regular basis. Don’t let anything keep you from going out, just the two of you. It’s so important. Go someplace romantic, too, and make it a real date. Talk to each other. Nothing is sadder than seeing all those old married couples sitting at a table together in a restaurant and not talking.

Great advice. My husband and I started having date nights once a month since we got married. It definitely helps to keep the spark alive. Now back to our other JoAnn. What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?

JoAnn Carter: Valentine's Day means an opportunity to tell and express in creative ways, to the folks in my life, how much I love them.

If you could receive anything on Valentine’s Day, what would the best gift be?

JoAnn Carter: The best gift is simple really – spending time together.

I like that. I’m easy to please too. I don’t need gifts, just to spend time together. Elaine, if you could receive anything on Valentine’s Day, what would the best gift be? 

Elaine Cantrell: I’m assuming you mean a tangible gift, not something like world peace or feeding the hungry, so I’d love to get a blue diamond.  I didn’t know about blue diamonds until a few months ago, but they are beyond beautiful. If you’ve never seen one, go to a jewelry store and take a look. If the gift could be intangible, I’d wish that nobody ever went hungry or abused children and animals.

Hmm, I never saw a blue diamond before. I’ll have to add that to my wish list! Although, back to the intangible, thank you for sharing your wish. 

Grace, is your husband or significant other a romantic and why do you think so? 

Grace Greene: My husband is a romantic. He always remembers important dates like birthdays, anniversaries and the day we met.

Sounds like my hubby. He’s good with remembering those special dates also. Looks like you have a special guy! Meg, can you describe the first date you ever went on?

Meg Mims: The first “official” date I had with my husband – Star Wars. We were so lost in the story, we kind of lost track of “it’s a date, we should whisper/hold hands, etc.” LOL

Kendra, are you a romantic and why or why not? 

Kendra James: Of course. I’m still waiting for another soul mate to come in to my life and sweep me off my feet. He will be a gourmet cook, with a great sense of humor, and we will spend time reading and exploring the globe, plus other things.

I love your soul mate’s characteristics…they sound nice! Elaine, what does Valentine’s Day mean to you?

Elaine Cooper: It means a day to remind EVERYONE how much I love them— from my Mom to my grandbabies to my husband!

Great perspective! Lyn, what does love mean to you?

Lyn Sofras: Love is an emotion so physical and powerful that it can be quite painful. It consumes your every waking moment so that you actually feel your sole existence is for one person only, while the rest of life fades around you in a gentle blur. You know your life has been made indescribably richer when you have it and that, should it be taken from you, existence will be meaningless. Someone described it as “friendship set on fire”, which I quite like. And like a good fire, the flames should settle to warm and satisfying glowing embers as it mellows.

Absolutely love that description: friendship set on fire! JoAnn, how did you meet your significant other?

JoAnn Durgin: On a blind date, believe it or not. Jim was attending Dallas Seminary at the time, and (in a very long but wonderful story), we met through mutual friends. I learned later that the couple who introduced us (he went to Seminary with Jim) actually prayed for the “right guy” for me, and they both came up Jim! He’d sworn off blind dates a few weeks before after a date with a runner-up to Miss Texas. Wow, talk about intimidation. But we hit it off immediately, and talked for hours on end that night. Even though there was a strong mutual attraction, we were friends first for quite a while, and that’s always a very good way to start a lasting love relationship.

Totally agree…being friends first makes for a strong and lasting foundation. My hubby was my good friend for a few years before we started dating. Time for another break…let’s chat with our guests.

What do you all think about the meaning of true love? Don’t forget to comment to be entered to win in the giveaway!

Well, we are back for part two of our Valentine's Day Blog party. Thanks again for coming back to join in the fun! 

We have three JoAnn’s here at this party, so let’s get the discussion started with JoAnn Carter. Did you ever plan a special Valentine’s Date for your significant other?

JoAnn Carter: This wasn't a special "date" but rather something fun I did for my husband one Valentine's day... I snuck into his office at work after hours and plastered it with "I love you" notes, hearts, candies, and love little gifts. It not only made him smile, but I really enjoyed doing for him.

Very sweet, sounds like something I would have done. We have two Elaine’s among us as well. Elaine Cantrell, what was your favorite Valentine’s Day ever?

Elaine Cantrell: It happened not long after we got married.  I was in a fever of impatience to get downtown, I can’t remember why, but my husband kept procrastinating.  Finally, I got impatient so we left to do whatever it was.  When we got back, I had a beautiful, huge pot of daffodils sitting on the porch.  He had ordered them for me and wanted me to be there to get them.  I felt so bad that I’d insisted on leaving, but I made it up to him by cooking him a lovely Valentine dinner.

How nice…glad you have a romantic hubby! Let’s turn to the topic of love. Grace, what does love mean to you? 

Grace Greene: That is the exact question that Michael asks Beth in KINCAID'S HOPE. People see love in different ways and apply it differently. Love is that heady, heart-pumping feeling - the all-consuming emotional and physical sensation. Love is the comfort and camaraderie of friendship that trusts, forgives and accepts each other despite flaws. Love is what makes us want to rise about our flaws. Romantic love should be all of that. For some, love is an unsatisfying obligation - especially if the love is not returned. For others, love is terrifying. It is an exposure of their weakness and vulnerability as they open themselves to potential hurt. Or fear that they will fail to keep the commitment.

Great answer. Meg, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say?

Meg Mims: LAUGH together. It’s far more important than anything else.

So very true. Laughter is the best medicine and can help you through many bumps along the way. Kendra, what does love mean to you?

Kendra James: Spiritual love of people, caring for all mankind, forgiveness, being nonjudgmental, accepting of differences, wanting to protect our loved ones. And one can’t discount lust and having a man in your life that as the saying goes: ‘Your eyes meet across a crowded room.”

Thank you for sharing, Kendra.

So Elaine Cooper, what was your favorite Valentine’s Day ever?

Elaine Cooper: I was working as a nurse and my husband had hired a trio of singers to come and sing two love songs to me at work. It was SO romantic. I felt SO loved. 

Yes, that definitely qualifies as romantic. He’s a keeper! Lyn, what was your favorite Valentine’s Day ever?

Lyn Sofras: I think it has to be when I was just 17 and received 17 Valentine cards – for eight of which I never discovered the senders, but that made me feel very special.  I did receive more cards than that when I was 20, but the majority of those came from one person!  As nice as that was, it just wasn’t quite the same as having eight mystery admirers!

Eight mystery admirers…sounds like the makings of a great romance novel! Very mysterious, yet romantic at the same time. JoAnn, what was your favorite Valentine’s Day ever?

JoAnn Durgin: Hands down, the Valentine’s Day I got engaged on the beach in Monterey, CA. We’d had lunch at the famous Pebble Beach Country Club overlooking the bay with my boss and his wife (they were married there), and it was one of the most perfect days of my life.

Sounds like you had a very beautiful, memorable day and start to your lives together. JoAnn, I just have to ask when did you first know you were in love with your husband?

JoAnn Durgin: When I pushed him aside for a few months and knew he was leaving Dallas. In a string of events that only the Lord could orchestrate, He showed us we belonged together. It’s truly an amazing story, and one I need to fictionalize based on true events one of these days. It involves a job loss, a Caribbean cruise, a surgery, and a cross-country move.

Yes, I hope one day you do fictionalize your love story! Lyn, have you seen any Valentine’s Day movies…any favorites?

Lyn Sofras: Yes lots, but the film that really sticks in my mind isn’t a Valentine’s Day movie at all.  It’s that scene towards the end of ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ where Annie sees the red heart on the side of the Empire State Building and knows it’s a sign to follow her own heart.  And of course, when she gets there…well, everyone knows that movie!

Love that movie!

Elaine, have you seen any Valentine’s Day movies…any favorites?

Elaine Cooper: I love the one where Christian Slater is the flower delivery guy on Valentine’s Day. I don’t remember the details but it was purely fun and cute!

Yes, very romantic. I saw that one…I think it was called Bed of Roses. Kendra, what’s the best lesson on love you’ve taught your children, or grandchildren or nieces and nephews?   

Kendra James: I think respect, and acceptance of all people no matter their religion, race or sexual preference. I grew up in a family that liked discussions bordering on arguments. My dad would say something to set my mother off and sit back and enjoy the results. I hated the arguing and worked hard to keep that out of my life when I married and had children. I’m pleased to say that my children have grown to be kind, considerate, respectful adults. My granddaughter, at nine, is following that trend. She is a very sweet girl who can be counted on to draw out the loners wherever she goes.

Thank you for sharing that. I know the feeling and have been around family members in my own life who enjoy instigating fights—not very pleasant. It’s great that you took a different, more loving route with your family. Meg, do you enjoy watching chick flicks / romantic comedies and dramas?

Meg Mims: YES, I do – Leap Year, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping are a few modern examples, plus Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic & Old Lace, Father Goose, Operation Petticoat, The Philadelphia Story, Pat & Mike, Sabrina, even The African Queen. I’m a sucker for unusual matches – people you’d never think would get together!

Loved Leap Year and Hope Floats. Grace, what was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your lifetime about love? 

Grace Greene: Love must come with a healthy ability to forgive. People are too imperfect to be able to have a lasting relationship without forgiveness.

How very true! If we aren’t able to forgive, we’re the only one living in a prison, not the person we won’t forgive. Elaine, as a child, did you give out Valentine’s to your friends?

Elaine Cantrell: I sure did. Our teachers had us bring shoe boxes to school, and we decorated them with paper doily’s, red construction paper hearts, cutouts from old valentines, and glitter. Then, on Valentine’s Day we put valentines for our classmates in the boxes.

Sounds like a very happy memory! JoAnn, what was the most selfless gift a person has ever given you because of love?

JoAnn Durgin: When Jim and I went to pick up my engagement ring at a store in California, we were overwhelmed in the most wonderful way imaginable. Let me tell you why. He’d picked out the ring in a store in California, but wanted me to go along in case I wanted something else. Of course, I wanted the one he picked out and wouldn’t think of looking at another ring. While at the store, when Jim pulled out his wallet to pay the balance, the clerk told him it was paid for – in full. He’d only told a couple of people where we got it, and we have our suspicions, but both of those individuals have now passed into glory. So, to this day, we don’t know the identity of our anonymous benefactor. It remains one of the most selfless gestures I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Getting goose bumps just hearing that story! How very special and such a wonderful reminder every time you look at your ring! Well, ladies, let’s take a little break and chat with all of our visitors.
Hope everyone can join in the conversation. Don’t forget, we have book giveaways today!

Happy Valentine’s Day! So glad you all are joining us today for our blog party. Let’s meet the lovely ladies who are guesting. Hope you can hang around to chat with us throughout the day between now and 7 tonight. We have giveaways too! 

JoAnn Carter writes stories that will encourage your faith through her inspirational romances. She resides in Vermont with her wonderful husband and four children. JoAnn is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats. JoAnn's Website     JoAnn's Amazon Author Page
Connect with JoAnn on Facebook

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators.  She is also a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC authors.  Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books.  At present she teaches high school social studies.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, collecting vintage Christmas ornaments, and playing with her grandchildren. Elaine's Website   Elaine's Blog
Elaine on Facebook  Elaine on Twitter

Grace Greene writes fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration ~ always with a strong heroine at its heart. Grace is also an artist and photographer who loves houses and landscapes that ooze character and is fascinated by human nature. A Virginia native, Grace lives in central Virginia. Her debut novel, Beach Rental, was released in July 2011. Her most recent, Kincaid’s Hope, was released January 2012. Kincaid’s Hope is available in trade paperback and ebook at Amazon  B&N  and all of the usual retailers. 
Grace's Website   Grace's Blog  

Find Grace on Facebook  

Find Grace on Twitter

Meg Mims is an award-winning author, artist and amateur photographer. 

She loves writing blended genres – like historical/western/romantic suspense, historical mystery, and comedic contemporary romance. 

Meg is a staff writer for RE/MAX Platinum’s website in Michigan and for Lake Effect Living, a West Coast of Michigan tourist on-line magazine. 

Meg's Website   

Meg's Blog  

Meg on Twitter

Kendra James lives in London, Ontario with three assorted cats and a collie-cross, named Tiff. Her three children have flown the coup. She prefers spending time with her granddaughter, Jasmine, writing, reading, or time in her garden to being in the kitchen. She writes romance under the pen name of Kendra James. Her mystery, YA, children's novels, and poetry is written as Bev Irwin. 
Kendra's Website  Kendra's Blog 
Find Kendra on Facebook                   
Find Kendra on Twitter

Elaine Marie Cooper grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in the Midwest with her husband, her three dogs and one cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandchildren who are now almost two-years-old. Her debut novel, The Road to Deer Run, was a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival. The sequel, entitled The Promise of Deer Run, was released in 2011. Elaine is currently under contract with Sword of the Spirit Publishing for Book 3 of the Deer Run Saga. She is also a contributing writer for Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson. Deer Run Books and Promise of Deer Run   Find Elaine on Facebook

Up until two years ago Lyn Sofras was a harassed English teacher, running her own department in a busy Surrey comprehensive and her life could not have been more stressful. A short illness made her re-think her lifestyle and she took the plunge to give up teaching and focus on her life-long ambition – to be a writer. Of course she felt she’d always been a writer; ever since she was first able to write she was penning little stories and losing herself in fictional worlds, but this was for real. She wrote all day and every day, and even made money from it! She began as a freelance writer and editor to subsidise her creative writing and from there, her first contemporary romance, ‘The Apple Tree’ was born. Manic Scribbler Blog  Find Lyn on Twitter

JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular contemporary romantic adventures, Awakening, and its follow-up, Second Time Around, published by Torn Veil Books. Her third (but not final) book in the series, Twin Hearts, releases next month. JoAnn, her husband, Jim, and their three children live in her native southern Indiana after living in TX, CA, PA and MA. She likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word.” She’s a full-time wealth administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky, law firm, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. All of JoAnn’s books are available via all major online book retailers. JoAnn's Website    

Thanks again ladies for guesting here for Valentine's Day. I'm so excited to chat with all of you. 

To get this party started, I'd love to hear from everyone on what was your favorite Valentine's Day memory? We'll have six blog posts today so hope you all can stop back throughout the day.

I’m a true romantic at heart.  I guess that’s why I love writing romance novels.  I’m a big fan of romantic comedies and dramas, anything with a happy ending.  What’s your favorite romantic movie? 

Without a doubt, I have several that are my favorites, but the top ten are The Cutting Edge, The Notebook, Knight and Day, Pretty Woman, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, While You Were Sleeping, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, and P.S., I Love You.

One of these days, I’d love to have my book made into a movie.  Wishful thinking, maybe, but in the meantime, if you’d like to check it out, you can find it here: Mr. Shipley’s GovernessFind it online

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