Author Roundtable: Garden Favorites

Did you know that the lovely bouquet you’re eying in the florist shop could actually contain a secret message?

Well, not today, maybe. These days, a rose is just a rose. But in the Victorian era, young people would use the commonly accepted meanings of flowers to express their feelings for each other. (Pity the poor suitor who didn’t know that yellow tulips meant “hopeless love” or that snapdragons meant “deception or presumption”!)

Here are a few of our authors’ favorite flowers and their corresponding Victorian symbolism.

Becky Wade: Geraniums

GeraniumMeaning: True friendship

Kimberley Woodhouse: Tulips

TulipsMeaning: Declaration of love

Jen Turano and Elizabeth Camden: Sunflowers

SunflowersMeaning: Loyalty

Ann Tatlock: Violets

VioletsMeaning: Faithfulness

Melissa Tagg:  Daisies

DaisiesMeaning: Innocence, hope

Nancy Mehl: Irises

IrisMeaning: Faith, wisdom

Ann Mateer: Gardenias

GardeniasMeaning: You’re lovely, secret love

Regina Jennings: Zinnias

zinniasMeaning: Thoughts of absent friends

Dee Henderson, Leslie Gould, Kate Breslin: Roses

RosesMeaning: Love

Mary Connealy: Daffodils

DaffodilsMeaning: Respect

Here’s a fun idea: Look at the meanings of certain flowers and think of friends who fit that description perfectly. Then buy seed packets of those flowers and mail them to your friends with a note about why this particular flower and meaning made you think of them. (Zinnias are always good for a “Thinking of You” card!)

What’s your favorite flower, and what does it mean? (There are some variations in meaning from place to place, but most of these I found here and here.)

Love Never Fails: Romance in the 1800s, Part One

(Congratulations to our winner from last week’s post, Hannah Brown! Hannah, please email your mailing address to me, Amy, at agreen@bethanyhouse.com so I can send you a copy of Rebellious Heart. I loved reading all of your thoughts about the best aspects of life and love during the Revolutionary War.)

Now we move from the era of tea taxes and revolution to the frontier of America in the 1800s. The rules for love and romance have changed a bit, adding interesting features like mail-order brides and women who have to put in long, hard hours of labor on farms and ranches. It’s Valentine’s Day, the perfect time to see what our sisters from a century or so in the past thought about love and romance.

The first to represent the West, Mary Connealy shares some perspective on finding love in Texas in the late 1800s.

Match Made in Texas

Book Title and Setting: Meeting Her Match, from the A Match Made in Texas novella collection, 1893 Texas

My Question:
What was an interesting courtship tradition of this time?

Mary’s Answer:
One of the things I found most interesting was that as the school marm at that time, to have any scandal attached to her name meant being fired immediately. Even if everyone in town was quite sure you were innocent, it was just unthinkable that even a hint of wrongdoing could swirl around the teacher—that’s how high her moral standards had to be. And once that bit of scandal was attached to my heroine, Hannah, she was forced to marry.

The flip side of that was that no married woman was allowed to teach school. There might have been exceptions, but they were rare. It was considered an insult to the husband for his wife to work, as if saying he wasn’t able to take care of her.

Hannah and Mark

My Question:
What about the relationship in your story was typical of the time period, and what was atypical?

Mary’s Answer:
The thing that was not typical between Hannah and Marcus was their ages. Hannah was over twenty. In her mind she was firmly a spinster at that terribly old age. The chance for marriage had passed her by. Today if a twenty-year-old gets married, we are all very nervous because they are so young. It was also far less typical that Hannah was a working woman; most women lived at home until they married.

Connealy_MaryConnect with Mary on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Next, Regina Jennings, one of the other novella contributors, describes an entirely different scenario between her two characters.

Book Title and Setting: An Unforeseen Match, from the A Match Made in Texas novella collection, 1893 Texas

My Question:
Describe your main characters’ relationship.

Regina’s Answer:
Because she’s going blind, Grace is forced away from her responsibilities as a school teacher and from society in general. Clayton realizes how much she values her independence, and he wants to help her maintain it, although he’d prefer that she’d learn to trust him instead. He’s torn between showing her that he can take care of her and teaching her how to take care of herself.

Palo Duro Canyon, the book's setting, via the A Match Made in Texas Pinterest Board.

Palo Duro Canyon, the book’s setting, via the A Match Made in Texas Pinterest Board.

My Question:
What about the relationship in your book was typical of the time period and what was not typical?

Regina’s Answer:
In the West it wasn’t unheard of for a single woman who owned a homestead to have a hired hand. There was plenty of work to go around, and the role was clearly defined. In An Unforeseen Match, however, Grace’s blindness blurs the lines. Clayton shouldn’t come inside the house, but who is going to cook? How can he guide her around the ranch without touching her? They constantly find themselves in unconventional situations.

Jennings, ReginaConnect with Regina on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

In Tracie Peterson’s new book, the heroine doesn’t meet her intended husband until their wedding day, something quite different from dating and marriage today.

A Sensible Arrangement

Book Title and Setting: A Sensible Arrangement, 1893 Texas and Colorado

My Question:
Describe your main characters’ relationship:

Tracie’s Answer:
Marty Dandridge Olson—originally from the LAND OF THE LONE STAR series is a widow who wants to get out of Texas and answers a newspaper advertisement for a Lone Star Bride. Jake Wythe is originally from the STRIKING A MATCH series. When his Colorado banking job insists he have a wife, he looks for a platonic mate with whom he doesn’t have to risk his heart.

My Question:
What about the relationship in your book was typical of the time period and what was not typical?

Tracie’s Answer:
Advertising in the newspaper for a wife wasn’t all that unusual in the 1800s, but in truth it was probably done less in the later years of the century. However, for my rural ranch characters who lost mates and have no desire to fall in love again, a platonic, arranged sort of mail-order marriage works well. Today we have the Internet, but in the 1800s it was newspapers if you wanted to advertise for a wife or husband.

Peterson, TracieConnect with Tracie on Facebook and her website.

More giveaway fun for you, readers! This time, you have a chance to win A Match Made in Texas. To enter, just comment on the blog with an answer to this question: if you were writing an advertisement for a spouse who you would marry sight unseen, what three characteristics would be most important to you? (If you’re already married, pretend you’re writing the advertisement for your son or daughter.) The winner will be announced in next Friday’s post!

Prayer for Authors: January 2014

Happy January, everyone! Today we’re starting a new Bethany House Fiction tradition: taking time on the first week of every month to pray for authors who have new releases coming out. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and these authors mean a lot to me. I appreciate you joining me to pray for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

11413_BHPfiction_Jan14-FBcover

Authors with Books Releasing in January:

Mary Connealy
Carol Cox
Regina Jennings
Julie Klassen
Tracie Peterson
Karen Witemeyer
Kimberley Woodhouse

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer

  • For readers to find the authors’ books at just the right time for God to use the books’ messages in their lives.
  • For peace and focus during release month (often a busy and stressful time for authors).
  • For God to give clarity and endurance to the authors as many begin new projects.
  • For freedom from comparison, worry, and pride—that the authors will be able to put their identity in God and not in their writing.

If you have a prayer request on your mind, for yourself or for someone you care about, share it below. I’ll read through every comment and pray for your requests as well. Thanks for joining us!

Memories of Christmas: Mary Connealy

I have this wonderful Christmas memory of practicing with my brother and sisters—practicing sneaking past my mom and dad’s bed. (They weren’t in it. It was daytime.) My brother and one sister played the roles of Mom and Dad and lay down in bed with their eyes closed and listened. Then one of my sisters and I—three of us slept in the bedroom past theirs—would tiptoe past while “Mom and Dad” listened for creaking floorboards. I’ll back up and set this up just a little.

First, it’s important to know that Mom and Dad could have put a stop to this if they’d wanted to, but they probably thought it was fun. Either that or they were just too nice. But every Christmas morning, all my growing-up years, my brothers and sisters and I would get up crazy early in the morning and open our presents. I have no idea how early. I have a sneaking suspicion we were getting up almost the instant my mom and dad went to bed.

Instead of growling at us to get back to bed, my parents would just come out and watch and enjoy the madness and let us tear into the gifts. There was no order to it. None of the lovely “taking turns” I hear about in some families. Nope, we just launched ourselves onto the tree, tossing presents to each other, ripping them open when we found one with our own name on it. It was chaos.

This went on until we got the tree utterly stripped. Then we played and talked and just generally had the time of our lives for who knows how long before going back to bed.

Connealy 1

I’m the one farthest left…close to Santa. I’m almost five.

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