If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

School Valentine Exchange

When I was in elementary school, Valentine’s Day was fraught with anxiety. At the end of our school day, we knew we would be exchanging valentines.

Most of the students brought in valentine cards. If your family didn’t supply them, you would be hugely
The valentines we exchanged
aimed at being clever,
but seldom succeeded.
embarrassed, although of course you’d pretend that the entire idea was ridiculous, and you were glad you didn’t bring anything as childish as valentines.

There were a number of reasons why a child might not have valentines. Usually it was due to disorganized or uncaring parents, but sometimes it was a financial burden for a family. In those pre-birth control days, most families in the neighborhood had between four and twelve children.

My family (smack in the middle, with eight children) always purchased valentines for us to distribute. They came in large books, each page with a variety of valentines to cut or punch out.

My father would often be dispatched to Woolworth’s to purchase the books. There were few valentine displaying popular figures, like Mickey Mouse, and they were much more expensive than the more generic ones. My father had an unfortunate tendency to get the ones with smiling red trucks and bulldozers rather than dolls or cupids. That was fine for my brothers, but we girls weren’t happy with it.

They were full of cutesy images.
We would take the list of students in our class, which had been handed out the first week of school, and begin the agonizing decisions on which valentine to send to whom. And trying hard to remember who had joined the class during the year.

Some teachers insisted that anyone who brought valentines bring one for each of the other students. My mother subscribed to this theory, so we always had a valentine for each classmate. And one for the teacher. Since our classes were big, that was often more than forty valentines. Sometimes the book only had thirty six, which left us with a dilemma. We could always make a hand-drawn one for the teacher, who for some reason was never offended by this unprofessional presentation, but the same couldn’t be said for the kids who got them. Was it better to give the home-made ones to your best friends, and explain, or to the popular kids, who wouldn’t pay much attention to what they got from the nobodies like us?

You definitely didn’t want to give them to fellow nobodies who weren’t your particular friends, since you knew how awful it felt to get such rejects.

And if the teacher didn’t insist on the valentine-for-everybody system, you knew you were destined to get maybe three, while other kids got lots more. You’d put on a brave face and shove your three deep in your bookbag, sitting quietly while the more popular kids showed off the ones from their equally popular friends.

As we got older, the whole valentine exchange seemed to lose its importance. Was the day really so important? But I know that there are still people, many of them school children, for whom Valentine’s Day remains a source of stress.

Some of us may take a grim satisfaction in the report by Huffington Post that people who enter into marriage on February 14 are one third more likely to divorce than those married on other days. 

The company that started it all in the U.S.
mass producing commercial valentines.


Jim Jackson said...

I remember the bags to collect valentines were maintained at the back of the classroom, near where we hung our winter coats. But, I don’t recall the process or the angst. Probably means I’m blocking it out!

~ Jim

Margaret Turkevich said...

So many expectations, so much stress! Valentine shoe boxes in elementary school, flowers, stuffed animals, and candy by the shopping bag for my daughters in high school.

Heart-shaped sugar cookies, heart-shaped layer cake, red velvet cupcakes.

And a grubby nursery school valentine with my child's photo stashed in a drawer.

Tina said...

Perhaps we've hit the reason I don't celebrate Valentine's Day very much. It feels too fraught! My SO's birthday is Thursday, so I've always concentrated my efforts there, preferring to avoid the commercial crush of V-Day. Neither did my child. We sent one valentine to every kid in class, and got one from every kid. And the teachers limited the sugar.

Regardless, happy Day of Hearts to you, K.M.! Thanks for sharing the memory!

E. B. Davis said...

I remember getting and giving Valentines in school. I hope it has been eliminated from the school schedule.

Throughout the years, my husband and I have celebrated, but in a very small way. Tonight--we'll eat tuna he caught on the Gulf Stream. Sushi grade, but I have a marinade--the best tuna recipe ever! In retrospect--we are celebrating in a big way. Now I have to think up a dessert!

Warren Bull said...

My mom bought a bag with lots of different valentines in it. I sweated over which valentine went to which student. I couldn't give a girly card to the boys and I couldn't give a mushy card to a girl. I gave a valentine to everyone in class.

Gloria Alden said...

Like Jim, I know we did the Valentine bit, but I honestly don't remember it. I'm sure any of the valentines were cheap ones. What I remember more is when I was teaching third grade. I made a point of insisting they give valentines to everyone. What was kind of sad was those who brought in beautiful boxes their parents helped them make to put the valentines in while others had no help, who either forgot to make any or just brought a brown paper bag. What really tickled me is how excited kids got over cheap generic valentines and would read each message carefully as if the one who gave it to them had written it themselves. It was a big event in the lives of third graders. We always had a party, too, with room mothers bringing in cup cakes, etc.

Shari Randall said...

I don't remember much about school valentines - I think there was a decorated shoe box involved.
But I do cherish the valentines my kids gave me! They are on my refrigerator still - and my kids are 25 and 30!

KM Rockwood said...

Jim, maybe you were one of those rare kids (almost always boys) who just seemed to rise above the fuss. I always envied them.

Margaret, I bet that grubby nursery school valentine was one of the best ones you ever received.

Tina, it sounds like you and your child had this down.

E.B, I'm afraid many schools still do the valentine exchange. I hope more of them opt for the "if you bring them, bring one for each child." I worked in one school which sold valentines (with candy) to students, to be delivered at the end of the school day. I had a self-contained special education class, so I was able to shield them a little from the mass hysteria, but I was not at all in favor of that fund raiser.

Warren, you're a man after my own heart!

Gloria, I'm sure your third graders benefited from your care in handling this situation.

Shari, those are some of the most meaningful ones!

Grace Topping said...

Believe it or not, I met my husband on Valentine's day!! We met 43 years ago. We celebrate this anniversary more so than our wedding anniversary. Every year he gives me beautiful valentine cards inscribed with wonderful sentiments. I am one lucky Valentine Day's girl.

KM Rockwood said...

What a lovely story, Grace!