Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Impressive May Apple

by Judy Ann Davis
Have your ever eaten a May Apple? When my husband and I transplanted some clusters of ferns from the woods to our flowerbeds many years ago, we received as a bonus the mighty May apple along with them. The plant grows from a single underground rhizoid stem which sends up dozens of finger-shaped shoots in springtime and which reach a height of twelve to eighteen inches. You’ve probably seen these umbrella-looking plants with their delicate white blossoms at the edge of boggy meadows or in the open woods when hiking or taking a leisurely walk. They prefer shade to sunlight, and exist from Quebec to Florida, west to Texas and Minnesota.
Each year, May Apples--having other names like the “umbrella plant, duck’s foot, hog apple, ground lemon, wild jalap, Indian apple, raccoon berry, and American mandrake--bear a small lemon-shaped fruit that can  be eaten and collected to use in preserves or summer punch. But it must be dead ripe. By dead ripe, the fruit or fleshy berry is clear yellow, with no green, and the pulp should be translucent with the berry ready to fall to the ground. Many people who collect the May apple’s fruit won’t pick them until the fruit actually has fallen onto the ground. By that time, the plant’s foliage had died off and only dry, bare stems and the fruit remain.

Other parts of the May apple have had a wide range of medicinal uses with Native Americans. Its botanical name is Podophyllum peltatum, and it is a powerful plant, not to be used lightly: The Indians also used it to commit suicide. Two drugs are made from the May apple, etoposide and teniposide. Etoposide is for testicular and small-cell lung cancer, teniposide is used in conditions like brain tumors and infancy leukemia. It was also used in the well-known “Carter’s Little Liver Pills,” and a main ingredient that made the pills a laxative, but having nothing to do with the liver at all.
Although I’ve never tasted the May apple’s fruit because we always cut them down to allow the ferns to flourish, I’m told the taste is a sweet, mildly acid, exotic flavor. There are actually May apple recipes beside that of a trail side nibble. It can be the basis for a cold drink, or used for jelly (add pectin) compotes, marmalade, pies, and a sauce like applesauce. May apples can be canned; and they freeze well. Do not eat the seeds. Remove them before cooking. This year, I may try to allow a few plants to survive to a mature state with ripened fruit. And if I'm daring, I might try a couple.

                                                                               ~* ~  ~*~  ~*~
         Four White Roses - Just released on May 17th

   "Can a wily old ghost help two fractured souls
                          find love again?"


When widower Rich Redman returns to Pennsylvania with his young daughter to sell his deceased grandmother’s house, he discovers Grandmother Gertie’s final request was for him to find a missing relative and a stash of WWI jewels.

Torrie Larson, single mom, is trying to make her landscape center and flower arranging business succeed while attempting to save the lineage of a rare white rose brought from Austria in the 1900s.

Together, the rich Texas lawyer and poor landscape owner team up to rescue the last rose and fulfill a dead woman’s wishes. But in their search to discover answers to the mysteries plaguing them, will Rich and Torrie also discover love in each other’s arms? Or will a meddling ghost, a pompous banker, and an elusive stray cat get in their way?

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Distraction or Not?

by Rain Trueax

One of the bigger problems I wrestle with as a writer is-- what goes into the book? How much of what I know should be in the plot or revealed as part of the character's personality? It's not a simple question, as writers know. Most every book takes a lot of research. There is that which is done before the first word is written, but then new questions must be answered as the story unfolds. There is always much more than the average reader would probably find of interest.

Even writing blogs, I've noticed, can end up derailed by something I thought a minor point, but ends up the only thing that gets comments. I wonder how many readers have stopped at a point where a writer found it so interesting to describe the heroine gardening. What one person finds fascinating, another is ho-humming and wondering if it'll ever end.

My paranormal, work-in-progress has several of those potential pitfalls. For one thing, politics are a subplot. Considering our current political atmosphere, in terms of plot, not much would seem unrealistic-- even without ghosts, monsters, witches, and demons to complicate it.

Then I debated whether I should have my hero be in a political party that is not popular with my normal readers-- right away they won't like him. The thing is nothing else would work for the plot. The heroine and her family, of course, are in the opposing party. How much of that to put into the book? And that doesn't even get to my interest in reincarnation theories, an element of the plot. It's not like the average romance reader wants their book to turn into a treatise on spiritual theories.

With this, and assorted other distractions, my WIP will be lucky to get out by the end of May. This has frustrated me because I read that minimally you should have a book coming out every month. Some say every two weeks with the ultimate goal being 2 to 7 books a week. Seriously!!!???

Even one a month, is not happening for me, last year, I released 5 books-- a full length novel of 111,248 words; 2 contemporary paranormals 60,965 and 61,555, and 2 novellas (women starting over-- one contemporary and one historical-- 22,710 and 29,386. After looking up their word count for this piece, I added them together-- 295,864 words (good math practice). Even if they'd all been novellas, that only would have made for ten books-- assuming I had ten original plots in mind. This year with no released books is definitely not keeping up-- not smart if someone wants to sell. Neither, of course, is switching genres as I did in '16, but a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do! I think...

The photos are from April and a lovely trip, with long-time friends, to the Oregon Coast (of course, another distraction to writing). I want to set a contemporary romance along the Oregon Coast someday. When I was there, I came up with the possible plot and the two main characters. It would be contemporary, in the women starting over series, and novella length-- maybe, if I can ever get through this 55-60,000 word paranormal ;).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Writing in Interesting Times

By Sandra Nachlinger

That saying has been repeated over the centuries and is supposedly an ancient Chinese curse. To writers, however, interesting times can ramp up conflict in a story—and that’s definitely not a curse! I’ve been reading historical fiction (and nonfiction) recently, and events that occur during the books’ timelines add even more drama to plots that would be compelling no matter when they occurred.  

The Secret Wife (by Gill Paul) has two separate plots that come together in the end. One story takes place during the last days of the Romanovs. Russia is at war and there’s unrest throughout the country when a military man and one of the Romanov princesses fall in love. That would be a good story by itself, but the plot is heightened by death threats to the royal family (with the overthrow of the monarchy) as well as military conflict which involves the hero. Definitely interesting times.

The Boys in the Boat (by Daniel James Brown) takes place during the Great Depression. World War I is over; disturbing rumblings are being heard from Germany, where the 1936 Olympics will be held. The story of a crew of dedicated oarsmen who overcome odds to win a gold medal would make an inspiring book; but with the added stresses of worldwide tension and with the climax of their hard work set on Hitler’s turf, a good book turns into a great one.  

Right now I’m reading The Widow of Wall Street (by Randy Susan Meyers). An ambitious man from humble beginnings builds a highly successful investment business by questionable means. Then “interesting times” occur in the form of the subprime mess of September, 2008. (I’ve read that the real-life Ponzi scheme operated by Bernie Madoff inspired this plot.) The character’s phenomenal accumulation of extraordinary wealth and the illegal means by which he gained his success would have made a good story at any time; but because it occurred at a time of crisis brewing on Wall Street, the story’s tension builds even more.

I’ve learned a lot from each of these authors’ research, and I’m looking forward to learning even more about history through my eclectic reading choices. I'll be watching for more books that take place in interesting times to add to my bookcase shelves.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017


This month, I'd like to share the pre-order and June 1st release of an anthology I'm privileged to be in. This group of novellas, by seven USA Today and Award Winning authors, is called, A COWBOY TO KEEP, a Contemporary Western Romance Collection. I'm in love with this cover, the great stories, and wonderful group of authors!

Read about the exciting stories that tell of romance, Cowboys, suspense, men in uniform, new adult, and second chance romance:

Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …

Dinah Horne is in danger of losing herself. Leaving her friends and family for Dallas, Texas, she’s determined to make her mark. Unfortunately, the big city has other ideas. When her money runs out, she returns to her hometown and the man she can’t forget.

Ben Hammond is sheriff of the small community of McTiernan, Texas. Once he’s over the woman who stole his heart and shattered it, he decides to buy the Hard Luck Ranch and settle down. Problem is, odd things are happening that may be tied to the previous owners. As he begins his investigation into the past, he is faced with an even bigger problem—the reappearance of Dinah Horne.

Rodeo star and rancher Chay Ridgway has left Wyoming to follow his girlfriend, K.C. Daniels, to New York. Leaving behind all he knows for a small bite of the Big Apple, Chay discovers the canyons of city streets may be too claustrophobic for this cowboy, especially when the trauma is compounded by the fact K.C.’s parents dislike him, their housemate is a harridan, friends are few, and the only job he can get is rounding up dinner plates.

As K.C. continues her two years of study for her Master’s degree, can she also keep a rein on Chay’s heart? Will this cowboy become a city boy, or will the wide-open spaces of Wyoming call his country heart home?

BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Braden Delaney has taken over the family cattle business after the death of his father, but faced with difficult financial decisions he contemplates selling a portion of the massive Delaney ranch holdings known as Whisper Rock, a place of unusual occurrences. The sudden appearance of a pretty relic-hunter while he’s collecting his livestock, however, is about to change his mind.

Archaeologist Audrey Driggs arrives in the remote wilderness of Northern Arizona searching for clues to a life-altering experience from her childhood. When she rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney, it’s clear she needs his knowledge of the area to complete her quest. But if she tells him the truth, will he think she’s crazy?

Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.

Addison Reed doesn’t want to believe her foreman and family friend is responsible for her missing stock, but the man isn’t making it easy. Hoping to prove he’s innocent, she follows him into a seedy bar and finds herself in a bigger mess…kissing a complete stranger.

Drifter Sawyer Dawson never settled anywhere for long. In fact, landing a job on a ranch as the new foreman fell into his lap, and he figured Montana was as good a place as any to settle down for a while. Of course, sticking around might have something to do with a sexy blonde with an affinity for kissing cowboys.

HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
When someone is murdered, it's definitely not a normal week in the usually quiet town of Lovely, Montana.

With the sheriff gone, deputy Mark Hunter had planned for another slow week at work, but when the first murder in twenty years happens, his past as a city detective comes to life. It’s no time to fall in love.

The last twenty-four hours have been hell. Between a fight with her ex that left her with a bruised face and now finding a dead man, Eliza Brock can barely keep it together. But despite the mess, she still manages to feel an undeniable attraction to the handsome deputy, and damn if she can’t resist him when he knocks on her door.

Leticia Villarreal is lonely. Widowed for eight years, she keeps busy with her ranch and charity work, but they don’t fill the empty place in her heart. When she considers establishing a Quarter horse racing stable, her new endeavor reunites her with an old acquaintance and exposes her horses to danger.        

John Clay Laidlaw, a handsome, self-assured, millionaire rancher, has been attracted to Leticia since high school. When he was young and first divorced, he tried to get Leticia to date him, but she didn’t like his arrogant and high-handed ways. Separated from his second wife, John Clay offers to help Leticia with her new racing horse. Remembering how he acted when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?

PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
Harper Donovan thought she had it all when she turned her dream into a reality—opening a restaurant in New York City. But when the venture fails and her fiancรฉ leaves her, Harper has little choice but to return to her family in Arizona.

When she meets handsome firefighter and cowboy Frank Flynn, she decides it’s time to get in the dating game again. Except Flynn shows no interest and dodges her, but not before claiming they’ve met before. Solving the mystery of the complicated Flynn gets under Harper’s skin, making her even more determined to seduce him.

When the two finally come together, the smoldering passion ignites into a heat that rivals the Phoenix desert. Now that Flynn has opened his heart, can Harper handle this wounded cowboy who’s playing for keeps?

I hope you'll pick up this great collection of stories and give us a try.  They are on Amazon for the great price of 99 cents and also in Kindle Unlimited.

Carra Copelin

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Golden Treasure Or Old Fogey @JoanReeves

This book has a secondary romance: 2 senior citizens!
My daughter and I were having a conversation about aging. We have a mutual acquaintance who is rapidly becoming a boring old person--and she's not even that old yet!

Our conversation ranged from what makes someone seem old to stories about my grandfather who was 100 when he passed away.

My grandfather was as vitally alert and intelligent until the day he passed. Everything I've read about aging makes me think about him because he lived a lifestyle that was exactly what is espoused by all doctors and scientific studies.

I guess I've patterned many of the senior citizen characters in my novels after him and the other remarkable, long-lived seniors I've known. In several of my novels, like Still The One for instance, I've had a secondary romance involving senior citizens.

So how come some senior citizens are vibrant and engaging and others are mere shells? The subject is interesting. After all, none of us are growing younger each day. So I thought I'd pass along some information I read recently and show it in relationship to my grandfather's life.

What the Medical Community Says

To be healthy, mentally and physically, do these things:

1. Exercise
All studies show exercise is crucial. When aerobic exercise like walking is combined with strength training, the rewards are even greater. A 30 minute session is better than three 10 minute sessions. My grandfather walked at least a mile or two every day.

2. Engage in activities that challenge your brain.
Read books, write letters, and learn something new like a language or how to navigate Facebook, etc. My grandfather worked crossword puzzles every day. He was a voracious reader. When he was in his 70's, he bought a portable typewriter. He wrote me a letter just about every week. One of his favorite sayings was: "Learn something new every day, and you'll be smarter and happier."

3. Avoid isolation.
Strengthen your friendships and family relationships. Meet new people. Volunteer, join a club, or a special interest group like bridge club. Go to worship services, and talk with friends. My grandfather was sociable. When he moved into a retirement home, he was the one everyone gravitated to.

4. Eat a healthy diet.
If you're eating margarine, convenience foods, fast food, and too much empty calorie foods, make a list of changes you can make to get better nutrition. Tackle it one step at a time. My grandfather never ate sweets. He just didn't care much for them. He ate simple meals and snacked only on fresh fruit. He never ate after supper. He drank mostly water, tea, and coffee.

5. Get a good night's sleep.

Sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep is linked to cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's. Sleep apnea puts people at higher risk for memory problems and dementia so if you think this may be a problem for you, talk to your doctor.

My grandfather went to bed at the same time every night. He also rose every morning at the same time. Two hours after lunch, he'd lay across his bed and take an hour's nap. My brother and I were talking about that one day because neither of us nap. We sometimes feel like a nap, but we never give into the feeling because we always have so much to do. I wonder sometimes if this was a key to my grandfather's longevity.

6. Keep your heart healthy.
Studies show that what's good for the heart is good for the brain. Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. My grandfather had no heart issues until his last year. His heart problem was due as much to age as anything because he never had high blood pressure or cholesterol issues.

Take charge of your life now. Make changes now. Design your old age the way you want it to be. Who knows? Maybe you'll inspire an author to create a character after you. 

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at  Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. In 2017, new print editions of her books will be published.

All of Joan's books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Sign up for Joan's mailing list/free NL and receive a free ebook. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


I’ve finally done it. I’ve quit my day job. I worked only 3 days a week, but it felt like 9. It took sooo much “thinking” time away from my writing. Beyond that, when I thought about the stress level compared to the pay, I just couldn’t find a reason to do it anymore.

Now I’ll be able to concentrate more of my time and energy on writing. I have several projects underway or on the back burner.

#1 is THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 of my Sons of Texas trilogy. I’ve blogged here about it before. It will present a romance for Troy Rattigan, horse whisperer and youngest son of the Lockhart family. It will also complete the arc that began in Book #1, THE TYCOON and solve the riddle of who is threatening and harassing the Lockhart family and the Double-Barrel Ranch. My books usually are between 25 and 30 chapters. I’m up to 15 chapters now, so I don’t have too far to go.

#2 is MAN OF THE WEST, Book #2 of the Strayhorn trilogy. This book was traditionally published as a mass market paperback and I FINALLY have the rights back. I’m going to revise it a little and re-lease it with a slightly new story and a new cover.

 #3 is CLAIMED, the 2nd book of Miranda’s Chronicles. The first book, DESIRED, is a 40,000-word erotic novella. CLAIMED will be a full novel. I want to complete this duet because I really liked writing in first person and I liked the 2 main characters in this story. When I wrote DESIRED, I believed I had created one of my strongest, therefore best, heroines in Miranda.

#5 is to write Book #3 of The Strayhorn trilogy. This will be Cable Strayhorn’s story. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but I’m toying with MAN OF THE HIGH PLAINS. I’m also thinking about THE PRODIGAL because it will be the story of a Strayhorn heir who leaves the fold for a different life, then returns after personal tragedy. I know—soap opera. ๐Ÿ˜Š I don't yet have a cover. I have to settle on a title before I can choose a cover. ..... What do you think about the 2 titles?

Woven between all of these is a new Dixie Cash zany adventure for the Domestic Equalizers. I’ve got the title: WHEN I SAID YOU'RE THE BOMB, I DIDN'T DREAM IT WAS TRUE. I've also got the basic plot idea formed in my head and am doing research, but so far, I have on 3 chapters on paper. The title is a clue to the story. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ..... This will be the biggest challenge of all of all my writing projects because I no longer have my sister as a partner and she is the funny one. I don’t have that “Saturday Night Live” sense of humor that she does.

Also woven among and in between all of this is an attempt to narrate my own audio books. The fees for narrators makes them too expensive to do very many. If I can do a decent job on my own narration, I'll be releasing more audio books.

As you can see, just because I've quit my day job doesn't mean I won't be busy. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ I only hope to live long enough to complete all of these projects. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Happy Anniversary and BSP!

This post is blatant self-promotion. I don't like doing it, but my husband keeps hounding me to tell people I'm a writer, tell them about my books. He's not a reader. Which I would think would make him understand that I can't walk up to every person I meet and say, "Hi, I'm Paty Jager. I write books and I think you'd  like one." Readers would say, "What do you write, I might like your book." Other than the blatant in-their-face selling. I don't like it when someone tries too hard to sell me something, and I don't like to do it to other people. But walk up and talk books with a non-reader...They get petrified or mad.

My husband tells everyone he meets I'm a writer and they should check out my books. He hasn't read a single one, because, as I said up above he isn't a reader. He reads the local newspaper and the Capital Press--a paper about agriculture. And he reads the manuals to his tractors, but he reads very little other than that. But he has never given me a hard time about all the books I read early in our marriage and later my writing. He's always been supportive and let me do what I needed to do to get better.

But I suck at promoting myself in person. That's where he steps in and takes over. After 38 years, today, of marriage, we are the perfect couple. We fulfill in the other what they lack.

And for the BSP:

Brody one of the books in my Letters of Fate series has been nominated for the RONE award. This is an award given to books that have been reviewed in the InD'Tale magazine and have received a 4 or higher review. The next step in the award process is for fans to vote on their favorite books. So, if you have read Brody and enjoyed the book, I would appreciate you going here and voting.

You will have to register if you haven't been on the website before. This is only to keep everyone only voting once, they won't send you anything.  This is week four of the voting and this group can only be voted on until the 14th. 


If you haven't read Brody,  here is the blurb:


Historical western filled with steamy romance and the rawness of a growing country.

A letter from a grandfather he’s never met has Brody Yates escorted across the country to work on a ranch rather than entering prison. But his arrival in Oregon proves prison may have been the lesser of two evils. A revenge driven criminal, the high desert, and his grandfather’s beautiful ward may prove more dangerous than anything he’s faced on the New York docks.

Lilah Wells is committed to helping others: the judge who’d taken her in years ago, the neighboring children, and the ranch residents, which now includes the judge’s handsome wayward grandson. And it all gets more complicated when her heart starts ruling her actions.


Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 30+ novels, a dozen novellas, and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award, EPPIE, Lorie, and RONE Award. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what readers have to say about the Letters of Fate series- “...filled with romance, adventure and twists and turns.” “What a refreshing and well written love story of fate and hope!”

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