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.

Friday, December 14, 2018


By Bea Tifton

When I was four years old, I was wafting through the house, caught in the pre-Christmas euphoria and excitement, when I saw, just peeking up from our window, a little man with a beard peering in. As our eyes made contact, he ducked down and vanished. 

Elated, I ran to my mother and yelled, “Mommy! I just saw one of Santa’s elves!”

“That’s wonderful.” she replied. “He was checking to see if you’ve been good.” 

Then, she rushed me out of the room and walked calmly to the telephone, where she proceeded to call the local police and report that we had been the latest victims of the neighborhood peeping Tom.

Okay, so that wasn’t actually one of Santa’s elves. But, where did we get the whole idea, anyway?

Elves at work

Elves came from early Norse mythology. The word elf comes from the word √°lfar, also known as hulduf√≥lk, or "hidden folk." They could be good to people who treated them well or play pranks on people who treated them badly. Elvan pranks included sitting on someone’s head to give them nightmares, tangling their hair, (so that’s what happens to me every night), souring their milk, or stealing their sausages. If someone left a bowl of porridge on their doorstep at night, the elves would be appeased and would leave them alone.

Santa, the right jolly old elf.

The first reference to Christmas elves has been attributed to the 1822 Clement Clark Moore poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” which refers to Santa as a “right jolly old elf.”

 In 1857 Harper’s Weekly then published “The Wonders of Santa Claus.” The poem includes the lines

"In his house upon the top of a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps a great many elves at work,
All working with all their might,
To make a million of pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up you know
By the little girls and boys."

The Wonders of Santa Claus

And, of course, there’s that creepy little fellow, The Elf on the Shelf. In 2005 Carol Aebersold self-published her book and sold each one with a little toy elf. The story detailed a little Christmas elf who kept an eye on children to tell Santa whether they are good or bad. A sort of elven Homeland Security.  I have to admit, as much as I loved elves and fairies when I was a child, I’m glad that I was a grownup before this particular tradition became “The Thing.”  

And, just a little friendly advice in the true spirit of Christmas. If you do see a Christmas elf peeking into your window some night, you might want to pick up the phone and call the cops.

Pappas, Stephanie. “Elf on a Shelf: The Strange History of Santa’s Little Helpers.” Live Science, December 18, 2013.
Radford, Benjamin. “A History of Elves” Live Science. October 31, 2017.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Recipes, Audio book, and End of year cheer by Paty Jager

Whether you celebrate Christmas, some other holiday, or no holiday, everyone has to eat. This month I'd like to share a recipe with you that I like to make for family, friends and neighbors and a recipe from my character Shandra Higheagle.

My recipe is for Caramel Corn- which could be from my character Shandra because caramel is one of her favorite things besides her horses, dog, friends, and Detective Ryan Greer. ;)

Caramel Corn 

15 cups of popped corn
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Divide popped corn into 2 ungreased cookie sheets with sides. In saucepan over medium heat, heat  sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt, stirring occasionally, until bubbles begin. Continue cooking over medium heat for  5 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in soda until foamy. Pour half the mixture in each pan, stirring until the popped corn is well coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. (this recipe was originally from General Mills I've adapted it)

Shandra Higheagle's recipe is for her famous cinnamon rolls- Well, they are famous with my readers and the fictional characters in Huckleberry, Idaho.

Shandra's Sixty-minute Cinnamon Rolls

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
2 packages Active Dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
Brown sugar to cover the dough
Cinnamon to cover the brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 11/2 cups flour, sugar, sale, and undissolved yeast.

Combine milk, water, and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120-130 degrees F) ( I use the microwave and a Pyrex measuring cup) butter does not need to melt. Gradually add this to the dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; place in warm (98 degree F) to rise for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out on floured board and roll into a large rectangle. Spread with melted butter, cover with brown sugar, and sprinkle with cinnamon. roll up long side and cut in 1-11/2 inch slices depending on if you want fewer but larger rolls or more rolls. Place cut side down in a buttered 9" x 13" pan. Let rise in in a warm, free from draft area for 15 minutes. ( I usually fill my small sink with hot water, place a cooling rack over it and set the pan on that with a towel over the top. My daughter uses the warming oven)

Bake at 425 degrees F, for 15 minutes or until done. Drizzle with a milk and powdered sugar glaze.

(This recipe was originally a Sixty-minute dinner roll recipe but my daughter and I sweetened the dough and added the cinnamon roll elements.)

These are both treats you can make any time of the year. 

In time for this season, book 7 in the Shandra Higheagle mysteries, Yuletide Slaying, is now out in audio book format. 
Here are a few of the reviews: 

A nice cozy mystery with a likable heroine and her police officer other half to-be,as well as a
lovable dog that has a penchant for finding trouble when she least expected it.
If you get a chance to listen to the audio version you'll enjoy it a lot. The voice-over actress is
really good and quite believable and you wanted the story to keep on going.
It had a lot of humor and some quirky characters that were fun in troubled times
and a few characters or two just might need a story of their own. *Amazon Review*
This is a tightly plotted mystery with several twists and turn. I was on the edge of my seat turning the pages as quickly as I could read. I adore how Shandra's grandmother comes to her in her dreams to give her clues. I also enjoyed learning about the native American culture presented through the story. *Goodreads Review*
Author Paty Jager is a wonderful storyteller, she has written an engaging and suspenseful mystery. I was fortunate enough to get to listen to the audio version of this book Narrated by Ann M Thompson. Mrs. Thompson’s ability to bring the story off the pages just make the reading experience that much better. Mrs. Thompson's voice, accents, diction, and timing are captivating.

I definitely recommend this book to Paty Jager fans, fans of Shandra Higheagle series, and to all mystery buffs. If you get a chance to listen to the book as well I would recommend that too. *Goodreads Review*

This audio book is $10, though some of the vendors have had it on sale this month so check around if you are on multiple audiobook vendor sites.

Book 7 of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series
Family, Revenge, Murder
When Shandra Higheagle’s dog brings her a dead body in a sleigh full of presents, her world is turned upside down. The man is a John Doe and within twenty-four hours another body is found.

Detective Ryan Greer receives a call that has them both looking over their shoulders. A vengeful brother of a gang member who died in a gang war is out for Ryan’s blood. Shandra’s dreams and Ryan’s fellow officers may not be enough to keep them alive to share Christmas.

Audio Links:
 iTunesNook:    Scribd:    Playster:    Amazon:    Audible

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Favorite Christmas Cookies & Other Traditions

Hello friends and followers of Smart Girls Read Romance,

Thanks so much for stopping by today. This month is a great month to visit the blog because you'll find all sorts of Holiday traditions and recipes you'll want to keep handy.

Here's a recipe for cookies I make every year. They're easy-peasy yet mouth-watering delicious.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour. Stir in pecans.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 2-1/2-in. logs and shape into crescents. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 325° for 20-22 minutes or until set and bottoms are lightly browned. Let stand for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

* * * *
What could be easier, right? And I know your family will love them!

Now...what about some of the first Christmas traditions in America?

Of course, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition. However, the first American Christmas tree can be credited to a Hessian soldier by the name of Henrick Roddmore, who was captured at the Battle of Bennington (Vermont) in 1776. He then went to work on the farm of Samuel Denslow in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where for the next 14 years he put up and decorated Christmas trees in the Denslow family home.

The first Christmas tree retail lot was established in 1851 by a Pennsylvanian named Mark Carr, who hauled two ox sleds loaded with Christmas trees from the Catskill Mountains to the sidewalks of New York City.

The first president to set up a Christmas tree in the White House was Franklin Pierce, and the first president to establish the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn was Calvin Coolidge.

On December 22, 1882, Edward Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, created the first string of Christmas tree lights. They were first sold in New York City.

* * * *

The first department store Santa was James Edgar, who, during Christmas seasons beginning in 1890, would wander about his store (the Boston Store) in Brockton, Massachusetts, dressed as Santa Claus, talking to the children of customers.

December 7, 1898: The first Christmas postage stamp was released in Canada
December 7, 1907: Christmas seals sold for the first time
Wednesday, December 1, 1909: The Christmas Club savings account began

* * * *
I'm celebrating Christmas a little early with a great SALE on my full-length novels:

* 35 ‘Five’ Star Reviews
* RWA Molly Contest Finalist
* Red Carpet Review Top Award Nominee

Determined to win Morgan Gatewood’s love, Olivia Breedlove lures the decadent man into a game of cat and mouse. What began as a ploy to force him to commit, tumbles into a world rife with voyeurism, sin and murder. Morgan must not only beat Olivia at her own game but stay one step ahead of the scheming vixen once the serial killer has her in his sights.

Enter L’ Amour Immortelles, an affluent brothel, where no one is who they claim to be, and no one is safe. Enter the world of Decadent Deceptions where the hunted becomes the hunter to save the woman he loves. 

Thanks so much for visiting today, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

It's December.. and in Hawaii that means we're having some pretty mundane weather... for us.
Lots and lots and lots of rain...

... and the rain usually leads me into a meditative kind of mindset. Thinking back over the year as we get ready to move into 2019!

Looking back over this year, I've had some real ups and downs.

I went to my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference and then I was stuck in the Denver airport for more than 12 hours, but I bumped into one of my favorite cover models at the gate - crazy cool!
But to get home to Hawaii, I had to travel from Denver to Dulles, from Dulles to Hawaii- and huge thanks to the crew on the Dulles-Hawaii flight. I had a full blown panic attack at the back of the plane and they gave me the room to sit down and walk myself through the meditation that I needed to get myself under control until I could get back to my seat and my medication. They were truly kind and helpful.
I went to the InD'Scribe Writers and Readers Conference in Burbank, CA and got up in front of everyone at the Karaoke Contest and won! It felt great to just get up and sing after years of not doing it. And meeting so many great readers and authors? So exciting!
Psst... I also went to Olive Garden (Hawaii doesn't have them but we have the commercials - it's torture!
It was also my first signing! So exciting and scary at the same time!

And on top of all the great stuff... I had to have surgery on my right wrist. In Denver, my wrist and hand were so numb, I was dropping pens and coins. It was shocking and scary, but my physical therapist is Wonder Woman - literally! She's running in the Honolulu Marathon this weekend! I'll be hiding in my room (from the traffic) and writing.

Writing? Is that what I do?
in 2018 I wrote and published:

A Dance for Christmas (Coming December 11)

They're all on Kindle Unlimited so you can read them all for free if you're a member!

I'm really looking forward to 2019!  My birthday is February 19 so it'll be 2/19/2019 it feels like magic to me... I hope you'll continue to hang out with me on my journey through my publishing career. 

Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Christmas & Continuity by Carolyn Hector

Christmas & Continuity
So here I am LOVING these Christmas movies on Lifetime, ION, UPtv, TV One, and of course Hallmark & Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Last year you may remember the tragic incident where my husband updated our genies which in turn… DELETED ALL OF THE MOVIES.
The pain is still there.

Anyhoo.. I think he feels bad because he’s been watching the long list of movies I have recorded so far. And he allows me to make my comments while watching.
What comments? Y’all know I can be a bit snarky and kinda roll my eyes during some of these movies. Either way, I really do love them. I'm just jealous and waiting for the day that one of my books is selected for a TV movie.  

So one of the reasons I’ve titled this blog continuity is because of watching this one particular movie where the hair over the girl’s ear kept disappearing and then covering her ear. Also while on a carriage ride it began snowing. She makes a comment about the snow and then a scene or two later she and her boyfriend start to build a snowman and she says something along the lines of, “it’s finally snowing.”

So here we are...

*I* have no room to talk. During the editing process. I suck at catching it.

This is why I am a hybrid panster-plotter. I tend to jot down and make boards even cut out photos from magazines for my characters for my heroes and heroines. On my boards I can see where I’m going. It’s great and you’d think looking at the boards I could pick up anywhere and start writing. Problem is, when I start writing chapter 10 when I’m solid on chapters 1-2 and then try to add things together, I tend to repeat myself or miss things. When I get to the full editing process my heroine’s top can change from a scoop neck to a V-neck in a matter of paragraphs. Thank God for Editors who catch what I don’t!
So here I am… learning more each day. My goal this next book is to dig a little deeper with my outfits. 
Remember paper dolls?

How do you keep up with your continuity?

Alright y'all I have a lot of work ahead of me. Happy Holidays! See you next year!

Oh.. and in case you need something to read over the break....

Check out A Tiara Under the Tree. It's just $1.99 right now. And my latest Beauty Queen is out now.  Her Mistletoe Bachelor 


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Holiday Season by @JacquieRogers #family

It's the Holiday Season!

The entire month of November is a blur.  Good grief--Christmas is bearing down on us like a freight train.  Some of us (like my sister) finished shopping in August.  Me?  Haven't started yet.  Love free two-day shipping. Ha!

We had a grand time over the Thanksgiving holiday.  My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter visited from Seattle.  Here's a glimpse of Camp Rogers activities.

My son and his family arrived on Wednesday afternoon, but since we were going to the Mishlers for Thanksgiving we had our T-Day dinner on the following Sunday.  That meant my son couldn't have leftovers.  Translation: turkey pot pie.  So I cooked a turkey breast in the Instant Pot and made turkey pot pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  Yes, mothers do silly things like that.

We did have a fun time at the Mishlers but my granddaughter stayed up past her bedtime and I think she was plenty ready to come home.  Plus, there weren't any other six-year-olds for her to play with.

No trip here is complete without a trip to The Bowling Alley in Homedale.  They have super good food at reasonable prices.  My granddaughter had raspberry lemonade but actually allowed her mom to take a taste.

We had burgers, finger steaks, and drinks all for the same price we'd have paid at McDonald's, only the food tasted a lot better, plus the staff is always friendly.

Next up: PIZZA!  Our son is a champion pizza decorator rivaled only by his sister.  You can be assured that you'll get a taste of every ingredient with each bite.  Plus, it was a lot of fun to tease him about his OCD pizza decorating.

Turns out, my granddaughter only wanted the topping so my daughter-in-law ended up eating mostly crust.  She seemed not to mind, though!  We still have pizza in the freezer--this is just one of two, which was way too much for four adults and one little gal to eat.  Especially since we'd been eating for two solid days.

 But, not to be daunted, I began planning for our big Sunday meal--Thanksgiving at Camp Rogers.  To be honest, every day is Thanksgiving here, but this is an excuse for family to hang out together and create something wonderful.

My granddaughter is quite the cook when she's not climbing trees.  She even brought her own apron.  We made five pies, Rice Krispie squares, two cheesecakes, and bread.  When we were done, she gathered all the pie dough trimmings and carefully packed it into a cream cheese box to take home.  I don't know if her mom actually let her take it or if it was discreetly tossed.

And more pictures of the tribe:

For us, holidays are family-centric.  Sometimes family isn't blood-related, but that doesn't make much difference to us.

And now, for the Christmas lights.  Caldwell, Idaho, really knows how to put on a show.

Happy Holidays!  And don't forget--the authors of SGRR have lots of wonderful Christmas stories available for your enjoyment.

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Monday, December 3, 2018


By Caroline Clemmons

As you gathered from the title, this is my favorite time of year. The anticipation, the music, the planning, the happiness… I get carried away. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Winter Solstice, this is a joyous time.

Honestly, I don’t know how some people manage to get everything done, especially at this time of year. For instance, Carolyn Hector is raising her nephews as well as her own children yet she still makes time to write. Paty Jager helps her husband farm their land yet is still a prolific author. In fact, all the members of this blog are amazing women!

Do you read seasonal stories year round or only at the holiday? I read them all year, but especially at this time. I didn’t write one this year because I had too many other projects going. I have three from past years, though. If you haven’t read them yet, please do. 

Here are the mini-synopses and buy links:

MISTLETOE MISTAKE is a humorous novella about Riley McCallister, a Montana sheriff who contracts with a New York doctor by mail. When the doctor arrives, he turns out to be she, Shannon Callahan. This Old West sheriff feels women are supposed to tend the home and raise children. Seeing his struggle to accept this woman doctor is fun. Unfortunately, Shannon is used to being criticized for her role in what is often viewed as a man’s profession. She proves herself to be an excellent doctor but is this enough to win the town’s respect?

ANGEL FOR CHRISTMAS is a contemporary story about Jacob, a billionaire who crashes his fancy sports car and meets St. Peter and St. Michael for a last chance assignment on earth. Help Susan Stephens save her family’s orphanage by Christmas Eve. Many fans have told me this should be a Hallmark movie. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Sigh.

STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS is part of the Stone Mountain, Texas series. Christmas has been Celia Dubois’s favorite time of year as long as she can remember. When she moves back with her parents a year after the death of her husband, the young widow is appalled at the town’s lack of Christmas spirit. Two months earlier, banditos had burned the church and crushed the townspeople.  Celia vows to return holiday joy to the town. Perhaps doing so might help mend her aching heart. Eduardo Montoya is determined to do whatever he must to capture Celia’s heart.

I wish each of you a special December filled with joy, love, and family.