Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine for Christmas

     Seeing that title, you're thinking I'm confused, right? It's Valentine's Day after all. What does this holiday have to do with Christmas? Quite a bit actually, at least in my house. Let me tell you the story:
     Back in 2002, I discovered the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators and decided to start writing exclusively for kids. I was a writer long before that, having worked on newspapers since high school. But after seeing a brief in the newspaper about a children's writing workshop at Augustana College, I signed up. That's where I learned about SCBWI and all that it offered a fledgling childrens writer like me.
Esther Howland valentine, circa 1850
     In the beginning, I made a list of goals: write everyday, submit something every week; have five pieces circulating at one time. I hoped to sell a non-fiction piece first, since that was my 'specialty'.  Later that year, after researching, revising, and hand-wringing when I finally worked up the courage to send them off, one of my stories sold to Highlights for Children magazine. My very first sale! I was yell-from-the-rooftops, jump-over-the-moon excited! And so was the rest of my family.
     The story was about Esther Howland, a 19th-century New Englander who started her own valentine-making company. Mid-century, she was the largest company in the United States, grossing over $100,000 with the cards that she and a handful of local women assembled in the attic workshop of Howland's home in Worcester, Massachussetts. I read her story in a local newspaper article and it fascinated me, as well as the photos of the delicate, multi-layered valentines.
    Flash forward four months to the Christmas after I'd made the Highlights sale. My husband has always had the gift for finding me just the right present, but that year he topped them all, past and (mostly likely) future. His gift was perfect: romantic, creative, and very personal. Contacting one of the sources I'd used for the article, a lady who collected antique valentines and had Howland valentines of her own, he asked to buy one for me to commemorate my first sale.
     Needless to say, I was stunned when I unwrapped the valentine, encased in a heavy plastic sleeve, and read the collector's accompanying letter. She wrote she had never sold one of her valentines before, had no intention of doing so again, but this was an 'extenuating circumstance'. Indeed, it was. I look at the valentine now, framed and hanging in our front room, as a token of love and recognition for an important milestone. I can't imagine a more thoughtful gift.
     Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

17 comments:

  1. Best valentine-story to start the day with- grateful for your post.
    P.S.
    The card DH gave you is a keeper.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fantastic and very sweet story! Congrats on the sale and the beautiful gift as well. =) and a Happy Valentine's Day to you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very sweet! Happy Valentine's Day--even if I'm a day late.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great story - that's a very thoughtful husband you've got.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aww, that's so sweet! :D

    Nice to meet you! Fellow Campaigner and new follower here! ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  6. How sweet! And congrats on publishing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a beautiful story and a beautiful valentine!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a wonderful gift from the heart!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's a gorgeous valentine - and what a lovely gift!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a sweet story, Dawn! I'm finally making it around to the remainder of my campaign group. Good to 'meet' you...I'm in campaign group #1. Looking forwards to learning and growing our writer-selves together!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That might be one of the greatest Valentines Day stories ever. Especially for those of us who love and appreciate writing for kids. : )

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you, Cynthia! And thanks for the follow!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm stopping by from the Platform Campaign. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love it! So cute :).

    Just stopping by from the campaign! I hear Sara Crowe is an awesome agent...you're lucky to have her! I'm also agented, and super excited for the future. It's great to meet you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. @Kate: Hi there! Congrats on finding an agent. Here's to an exciting future, and thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...