When I was brainstorming for my Valentine’s story, “My Candy Valentine,” I thought of those candy hearts with sayings printed on them. I was surprised to learn that “conversation hearts” have been around since 1866, in plenty of time for my 1916 story.
Necco, the company that makes the conversation hearts, adds new sayings every year. Recent additions included things like “be my hero,” “diva,” “moon beam,” “girl power,” “1-800-Cupid,” and “page me,” so I struggled a bit to find which hearts would have been popular in 1916.
In the end, I settled on fifteen sayings that in turn served as guideposts in telling the romance between candy maker Catrina Jensen and Gilbert Williams, a stranger in town who seems almost too interested in her sweets. They became my chapter titles: dream, ask me, sweet talk, cutie pie, how nice, you’re sweet, I miss you, hugs, looks good, sweet heart, show me, one kiss, call me, true love, ending with yes!
In researching the conversation hearts, I also learned that they played a role in the fictional romance between Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe of Anne of Green Gables. When Gilbert attempted to give the “you are sweet” heart to Anne, she ground it under her heel. Anne is my character Catrina’s literary heroine, and Catrina nearly swooned when she met her very own Gilbert.
Where else to set the story than in a town with a love theme? Loveland, Oklahoma, was settled in 1908, when the railroad passed through the “big pasture” along the Red River Valley in southwestern Oklahoma.
Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home near her son and his family. Four hospitalizations in less than a year can do that to a person, but she has found new freedom in having her physical needs attended to. She has written over thirty books and has written more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. Check out Darlene’s Facebook page for information on book giveaways and other developments at https://www.facebook.com/Poet.Darlene.Franklin. Look at My Candy Valentine too!