NEWSLETTER #7 SHARON MCGREGOR
For those of you looking to bypass Cupid's arrows this year, it's time to start ducking. Valentine's Day is on its way and romance and love are in the air.
This month's trivia quiz and jumble puzzle are all about—naturally—St. Valentine's Day. You'll find them a little further down the page.
One question writers often get asked is "Where do you get your ideas?" After a first quick response, "The bath", I would say my family has played a role—in my historical romances, at least.
My Dreams series takes place in and around the prairie town of Timber. They fall under the term sweet romance and were published by Prism Book Group. Unfortunately Prism is no longer, but luckily it was bought out by Pelican Book Group so my series continues to thrive with Pelican.
Autumn Dreams takes place in the late 1940s and tells the story of Maggie, a young woman who comes to teach in a country school and board with a family there. My mother's two sisters were both one-roomed country schoolteachers. One taught for a brief time and then married and raised a family. The other sister made teaching her life's work. It is from her that I heard all the stories about families she boarded with, box socials, riding in open sleighs and dealing with all her young charges as well as their families.
For Acres of Dreams I went back an extra generation. This novella tells the story of Katy, a nineteen year old girl who is sent by her family in Ireland to Canada to find a husband. In its beginnings, this parallels the story of my grandmother. She was one of six girls in a family of twelve and, in the late years of the nineteenth century eligible men were few and far between in rural Ireland. So—first she was sent to Chicago to stay with a married sister and then to Toronto, to live with another sister. It was in Toronto that she met my grandfather, a cousin of sorts, married him, and set off into the unknown to homestead in Manitoba. Beyond this point Acres of Dreams is, of course, strictly fiction.
Fiona's Knight of Dreams also takes place in Timber in the late 1940s. These three in the Dream series are available as e-books separately or all together in a paperback, Prairie Dreams.
Now let's get to the trivia quiz:
1. What ancient Roman celebration was a forerunner of our modern St. Valentine's celebration?
2. What occupation is St. Valentine the patron saint for?
3. What flowers symbolize romantic love?
b) Red roses
4. In medieval times it was not the heart that was considered to be the source of love it was this organ--
5. In what year did conversational candy hearts originate?
6. In Roman mythology who is Cupid's mother?
7. Which Italian city, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, receives a thousand valentines a year addressed to Juliet?
8. Where does Valentine's Day rank in the number of cards sent?
a) First, of course
b) A close second
9. Who created the first box of chocolates designed especially for valentines?
10. Who receives the most valentines cards each year?
a) Wives/ girlfriends
1. E T I G E R N G D A S C R
2. L O H C O T E C A S
3. E I N T A L V E N
4. D I C P U
5. A H N M P G E C A
6. E F E M R P U
7. N I R D E N T E A D
8. D Y A N C E R T H A S
9. C E M R O N A
10. W E L F R O S
1. The answer is a) Lupercalia. This ancient Roman festival was intended to promote fertility. The men would kill a goat and dog. They would then cut thongs from the hides and run around naked swinging the bloody thongs at themselves and at women who deliberately got in the way, hoping for successful pregnancies from the ritual. This would be followed by a romantic?? interlude. I think I prefer chocolates and perfume.
2. The answer is b) beekeepers. There are, throughout the world's religions, several patron saints of beekeepers. St. Valentine is one of them. Legend has it that Valentine presented his love with a crocus, the first flower of spring to be a gift to the bees.
3. The answer is b) red roses. While all roses are associated with love it is the red rose which represents romantic love. Pink roses are a token of admiration, yellow roses a symbol of joy and friendship and the white of spirituality and remembrance.
4. The answer is a) the liver—uuggh! I much prefer the idea of the heart.
5. The answer is c) 1902, but it could almost be 1866. Oliver Chase invented a machine to cut lozenges into shapes in the 1840s. In 1866 his brother Daniel invented another machine to stamp words onto the candies. But it wasn't until 1902 that the candies came in heart shapes.
6. The answer is a) Venus. Myth has it that Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and Mars, the war god. What a perfect pairing for romance—love and war.
7. The answer is c) Verona. Thousands of letters and cards are sent to Juliet each year, mostly from people suffering in the pursuit of romance. She's become a sort of "agony aunt" from across the ages. She gets so many letters that an organization —The Juliet Club—was formed to handwrite answers to all the letters.
8. The answer is b). Christmas is still Number One.
9. The answer is a) Richard Cadbury. In the Victorian era St. Valentine's day really came into popularity. Lavish cards and gifts were exchanged. Richard Cadbury's chocolate company had already come up with a way to make a sweet chocolate drink and now he turned to candy which used up an excess of cocoa butter produced in the creation of the drink. He created beautiful boxes for the candy which he designed himself, although he never patented the idea of the heart shaped boxes.
10. The answer is c) teachers. Students are such suck-ups aren't they? I don't imagine the cards result is straight A's for all the card-givers, do you?
And now for the answers to the Scramble:
1. Greeting cards
7. Dinner date
8. Candy hearts
I hope you've had a little fun with the puzzles and it's put you in the mood for the big day. So write a Valentine's card for your significant other, your mother, or your teacher. Or even your fur-baby. Then relax with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of bubbly, a box of chocolates, and sink into reading a fine romance.
Check out my romances along with some humour and mystery on my web page at