Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
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Friday, December 6, 2019

Unexpected Acts of Kindness

I thought long and hard about my first post for this group and then decided on one that influenced my outcome in life and explains a little about how I got here today.
Unexpected Kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change” ~Bob Kerrey
I am a huge proponent of kindness, both planned and unexpected. I can only wish more people in the world felt the same. Today though, I want to talk about unexpected kindness. The kindness that is given to perhaps a total stranger with no benefits for yourself.
I got married when I was sixteen and dropped out of school before end of tenth grade to start a family. I know this sounds crazy today but at the time, it wasn’t so much. My own Mother married at 15 and then there was the belief that if you weren’t married by X (usually early twenties), you were destined to be an old maid. I digress.
I always knew I was a fast learner and that was enhanced by my insatiable curiosity of the world. However, when I went for my first job interview, I was told I needed a high school diploma. My friends had graduated by then so I took my GED. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect but the kind man at the learning center gave me my test and I left. When the results came in, I was called to come back to the site and get the results. I think this was not common. They were usually mailed.
The gentleman, Mr. Jackson, called me into the room and told me I scored very high on the test and that I should take some CLEP test and go to college. I shyly admitted I wanted to go to college but didn’t have any idea how to do it or what a CLEP test was. He explained it was a college level placement exam that gave you credits if you passed. He also told me if I didn’t do it for me, I should do it for my son.
After his motivational pep talk, I took my Mama’s Psychology text book from her Highschool correspondence course and read it then went to take the test. I also took the test for two semesters of English. I passed the English and lacked one point on the Psychology. Later when I talked to the college entrance advisor, he didn’t make me take any of the college entrance exams or prerequisites because I had passed a CLEP test. I went on to finish a bachelors degree and later a masters. My daughter saw how education benefited me and got her masters as well. We will see if this cycle continues with her children.
I can honestly say if Mr. Jackson hadn’t lit that fire in me, I wouldn’t have had the courage or confidence to go to college but that one act of kindness, encouraging a young mother to continue her education- made a huge impact in my life.
Now to my second story, how I got here. I have wanted to be a writer all of my life and thus, have been working on one book or another for forty years. After I moved to Fort Worth, I was telling my cousin about it and she said, I have someone I want you to meet so she took me to this lady’s house. I will not name her but if she chooses to self-disclose, that’s great. I walked in with a few ideas and walked out with a rough outline for a novel and a lot of encouragement.
 I wrote diligently for the first year between my corporate job and my small sewing business and then lost confidence in my abilities. I spent several months listening to hours and hours of all sorts of books. I listen during my three plus hours a day commute to my day job. What I realized though is that I may not be on the best seller’s list but there are books out there for everyone and that mine will fit somewhere.   
So, I got back on the computer and finished the book. This lady, now my mentor, kindly read, critiqued and offered suggestions, even though she was in the midst of writing her own books. Thanks to some more help, I finally published my book in early November.
Now, this is a great story in itself, how this once stranger showed me what to do and encouraged me to write my novel, but it’s not the end.
My neighbor messaged me and said, I have been taking all these photographs from my recliner and have a collection I want to print but no publisher has taken me and asked about my publisher. I told him I self- published. Three weeks later, he texted back to tell me he self-published his photo book and also a booklet of stories his Grandpa told…still not the end.
My cousin has a novel she worked on twenty years ago that was accepted by a publisher but life got in the way. She said, you did it, I think I will publish mine too. She is now at 200 pages and on rewrites.
A friend messaged me and said, I have two novels I have been trying to get published and have to keep rewriting them for the publisher, maybe I will self-publish too.
I have at least six other friends, family and coworkers who were inspired my publishing and now are motivated to do the same.
This unexpected act of kindness to me has touched many lives and created a ripple effect of encouragement and possibility.
Do things for people, not because of who they are or what they do, but because of who you are.” ~ Harold S Kushner
So, as we go forward into the holiday season, be kind and remember, you never know whose life you may change and in what way just through simple words of encouragement or unexpected acts of kindness.
I would love to hear how unexpected acts of kindness have impacted your life- Please comment below.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Identity Crisis + Tradition--It's That Time of Year! @JacquieRogers

Identity Crisis
plus Tradition

"Identity crisis," you say?  My first thought when I hear that phrase is the title of one of my critique partner's early books.  I don't think that manuscript has seen the light of day, but nothing ever goes to waste--it was a stepping stone to something better.

So... for my identity crisis.  When a person gets old, odds are high that this old fogey will develop cataracts.  Which (not saying I'm old, mind you) is exactly what happened to me.  Yesterday, the first one was whittled off.

Nowadays, they have some pretty fancy lenses.  I should mention that my good eye has never been corrected to better than 20/60.  I have no discernable vision in my bad eye.  Anyway, we sprang for the astigmatism correction--an extra $1,200 but Mr R and I figured these lenses would be worth the money.

What I didn't realize was how entirely macabre it would be not to wear glasses.  I've worn glasses since I was six years old.  All the time--sometimes even in the shower.  And speaking of the shower, it'll be really nice to be able to tell which is the shampoo and which is the conditioner!

I keep trying to push my glasses up.  I've lost me readers about 17 times already and I've only had them for an hour and a half.  I keep moving my head up and down to get a better focus (because I wore progressive lenses for decades) but I can already see better than I think I can.  The doctor said it takes the brain a while to catch up. 

One thing I'm really tickled about is that the surgeon thinks I'll be able to read print books again.  That would be so awesome!  I have hundreds of excellent research books but haven't been able to use them for several years.  Mr R is always game to look up something for me, but that's not the same as browsing through myself.

Life can change a lot in a year, but some things we can rely on, and one of those is holiday traditions.  Christmas is a fun time in Idaho and we take our lights seriously here.

Christmas at Indian Creek in Caldwell, Idaho
More holiday lights--I love how they reflect in the creek.
Mr R and I are going through lots of changes.  He retired (I never will), we moved from Seattle to Idaho, and we're taking huge steps to improve our health.  We've gone from city living to growing our own apricots and tomatoes, canning our own peaches, and buying real beef from a real farm. 

But one certainty is the calendar.  The Yule season comes every year and with it a remembrance of what is important in our lives.  For me, it's the blessing of family and friends.  I might add that our definition of "family" is a bit arbitrary and quite a bit more inclusive than blood ties.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Happy reading!  

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Monday, December 2, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

Great news for those who love prizes and Christmas stories!

The month of December is filled with special deals from every store imaginable. Authors don’t want their readers to lose on the spectacular buys. Here are some sites that offer you a chance to win a great prize while exposing you to the Christmas stories you’ll want.

Beginning December 2, Cathy Brockman is hosting a Holiday Giveaway. From December 2-26, the Rafflecopter on her blogsite will allow readers to enter for prizes. My day on this blog is December 2. The url for this is

All month every month, Romance Gems hosts a giveaway on their blog. This month the contest is titled Candy Cane Kisses. Each day on this blog, an author greets readers with a post and an opportunity to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. What a deal! My day to post is December 20.

Loving the Book’s Christmas Countdown runs from December 2-20 at I’ll be on the blog on December 18.

These are just a few of the many opportunities for readers this month. Have a great month and a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Old Homes and the First Thanksgiving

As many of you know, I'm mad about old homes and often feature them in my books. My latest time travel romance series, Ladies in Time, is all about cool old homes. Maybe living in antiquated houses most of my life has influenced me. The farm house my husband and I live in now was built just after the Civil War, probably because its predecessor was burned, but that's another story. History fascinates me, and Colonial America has a powerful draw. Virginia is great state to immerse myself in that era, among others. The Civil War...


Years ago, while doing research for Traitor's Legacy, the sequel to colonial American historical romance novel Enemy of the King, the idea came to me for ghostly time travel romance, Somewhere My Love. In addition to touring colonial Williamsburg, mom and I visited some of the lovely James River Plantations. Two of these stately homes, Berkeley and Shirley, inspired the house in Somewhere My Love, Foxleigh. Berkeley, originally called Berkeley Hundred and named after one of its founders, has a wealth of history behind it. As we toured the grounds, a strong sense of the past flowed over me, carrying me back.

The magnificent terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extend a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River. The mansion itself wasn’t built until 1726, but the plantation’s history reaches much farther back into America‘s roots. I didn’t realize this, but Berkeley was the actual site of the first Thanksgiving in America on Dec. 4, 1619.

 (Breadseed Poppy-- seed from Monticello)


 (Foxglove--historic herb/flower)

On December 4,1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie. It was about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving.

In 1622, nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundred were killed in a Native American uprising, as well as a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points. After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. 


Benjamin Harrison, son of the builder of Berkeley and the plantation’s second owner, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia. William Henry Harrison, Benjamin‘s third son, born at Berkeley, nicknamed Tippecanoe for his fame as an Indian fighter, later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President.

Many famous founding fathers and mothers were guests at this gracious estate. For more on Berkeley Plantation and a fascinating glimpse into early America visit: 
 If you have the opportunity to visit in person, by all means go.

(Chipmunk on pumpkin by my mother)

For more on my work please visit my Amazon Author Page:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving and a "A Musical Christmas" - by Judy Ann Davis

Thanksgiving, a national holiday in our United States, originated as a harvest festival. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. As a farmer’s kid, I especially like the idea of celebrating the fall harvest. It means all the hard work in the fields is done for the year.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the last Thursday of the month since the time of Abraham Lincoln. In 1941, President Roosevelt made the final permanent change by signing a bill making Thanksgiving Day fall on the fourth Thursday of November, regardless of whether it is the last Thursday of the month or not. This year it falls on November 28th.

I’m a fan of Thanksgiving. It’s a day of celebration where gifts are forgotten and the food is plentiful. I love the smell of a turkey roasting with the scent of sage and spices filling the entire house. And I am a huge fan of pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream.

Now Available
In the northern states, Thanksgiving also is a reminder that Old Man Winter is on his way with flying fat snowflakes and sparkling white snowbanks. For many, the national holiday also heralds the start of the holiday season as stores and shops blare carols, hymns, and contemporary songs of Christmas from their speakers.  And Christmas music is something I can get behind, even if I dislike shopping for presents.

Releasing Soon!
This year, I created a “Musical Christmas Series,” consisting of three novellas. My first one, JUNE ~ The Pianist, was released the end of October. Each female main character plays a musical instrument and has a story to tell. I’m excited to reveal that ADELENE ~ The Violinist is also releasing at the end of this month in time for the Christmas season. LUCY will be released next year. What is her instrument? It’s a secret. [wink, wink]

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holidays. The next time my post comes up, it will be Christmas Eve.

LINKS:    JUNE on Kindle   JUNE  on Nook      
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My Blog    Website   

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


When I was growing up, Thanksgiving Dinner might consist of a couple of squirrels or a rabbit that Daddy brought home from his early morning hunting excursion. Daddy rose early on Thanksgiving day, took his rifle off the rack, and trekked through the woods with our trusty dogs, Rex and Joe at his side. 

These dogs were a funny-looking pair. Rex was an Airedale mix while Joe was mostly Daschund. One small, one large. “Mutt and Jeff,” we used to call them. It didn't bother them. They were best of buddies.

After Daddy skinned the rabbit or squirrels, Mama did the cooking and made creamy mouth-watering gravy to go with it. No matter what meal we shared on Thanksgiving Day—turkey, squirrel, or rabbit, with mashed potatoes and gravy, pinto beans, green beans, sweet potato pie, and banana pudding--the best part was the conversation. And it flowed among our large family gathered around the long table as we caught up on the latest developments in each others' lives. Plenty of laughter filled the air, good-natured teasing and such.

Only when the older kids went to work, did our family feast on Butterball Turkey for Thanksgiving. Henry I. Siegel, where I worked, gave one away to its employees at Christmas, while my brother got one from his factory for Thanksgiving.

When I was in my teens, my two older brothers joined the service to fight in the Vietnam conflict. They were sorely missed, more so during the holidays. The empty chairs around the table spoke volumes. But, although they were absent in body, they were still in our hearts and in our prayers.

These Thanksgiving memories dwell in my heart as proof that family ties, love and laughter can still exist while conflict rages across the ocean. I thank God for those special family get-togethers and for bringing both my brothers safely home.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends. Enjoy these special holidays with your loved ones. But most of all make lasting memories while you can. 

May God bless you all. 


When Josh Kramer picked up his aunt's house help at the depot, he had no idea she had actually ordered the young woman as a bride for him. The plot thickens. Carrie Franklin isn't even the young woman Josh's aunt ordered. She's an imposter, running from the law. 
If you enjoy Western Romance with plenty of unexpected twists, you will love NOT WHAT HE ORDERED.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Winter Comes to Texas by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

With these reminders, how did I forget to blog?
When I was a kid, if I didn't move fast enough, my grandparents would say, "You're as slow as Christmas!"

Well, that's me lately. I've been crazy busy for about 2 weeks so it was inevitable that something important—like writing my monthly post—should fall through the cracks.

Even worse, I realized I hadn't written my Smart Girls Blog about 4 hours ago, but I was handling another crucial issue so I couldn't drop everything and write it.

Until now. So let's talk about Winter in Texas. If you have to have a winter, then the ones we have in Texas are tolerable.

Winter? Brrr!

Yep. I don't care much for winter. I spent a year living in South Dakota, and I spent a couple of winter weeks many years ago in South Korea—truly one of the colder places on the planet. Both those experiences left me with a lasting disregard for cold weather.

Bronze mums with still-blooming lantana.
Still there are some pleasant aspects of this less desirable season. Mums spring immediately to mind.
I love chrysanthemums of every hue.

When I lived in Japan, the flower lady came by every week with a dishpan full of pom pom mums on her head. I bought from her every week even though the flowers lasted for several weeks.

For years, I've bought a pot of mums from my local supermarket at least once a month. They grace my living room coffee table until they begin to fade. Then I cut them back and plant them in my yard.

I have just about every color of mum growing in the yards of both of my houses. They defy the Texas winter.

Holiday Books and Box Sets

Winter brings the wonderful holiday romances and box sets that I love to read and to which I love to contribute.

First up this season is a brand new box set, Christmas Shorts, a collection of 18 holiday short stories.

I totally love this cover. Isn't it  adorable?

Stories in Christmas Shorts

Christmas Runaway by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

The Captain's Christmas Leave by  Mona Risk, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Christmas Games by Stephanie Queen, USA Today bestselling author.

Second Chance Christmas by Jen Talty, USA Today bestselling author.

Meeting Sam Klaus by Melinda De Ross, USA Today bestselling author.

Stuck On The Naughty List by Joan Reeves, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: Can the new Police Chief mend Cassie's broken heart?
I love this cover too!!

A Match Made in Mistletoe by Leanne Banks, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Candy's Christmas Rescue by Cynthia Cooke, USA Today bestselling author.

A Christmas Creek Caper by Rachelle Ayala, USA Today bestselling author.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by Taylor Lee, USA Today bestselling author.

Peter Elph by Dani Haviland by USA Today bestselling author.

Christmas Cupid by Nancy Radke by USA Today bestselling author.

A Love on the Edge by Jennifer St. Giles by USA Today bestselling author.

Because We're Snowflakes by Susan Jean Ricci, USA Today bestselling author.

A Magical Christmas by Jacquie Biggar, USA Today bestselling author.

A Chance of Snow by Alyssa Bailey, USA Today bestselling author.

Holiday Pickup By The Sea by Traci Hall, USA Today bestselling author.

A Chocolate-Box Christmas by Josie Riviera, USA Today bestselling author.

See Capitola in the northwest corner of Mason County?

I wrote this story and set it in Capitola, Texas, a town which exists only in memory now.

Capitola is one of more than a thousand ghost towns in Texas. I seem to have formed the habit of creating fictional towns from these ghost towns.

I loved the characters so much that I could not say goodbye when I finished the story.

So I decided to make this story the beginning of a series about this town that was named by the town's postmistress for the heroine of her favorite novel, Capitola the Madcap.

Add Christmas Shorts To Your Romance Library

For only 99cents, you get 18 holiday romance short stories, including mine. You're bound to find some stories you love!

JOAN REEVES—Keeping Romance Alive...One Sexy Book at a Time!
Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dog Days by Bea Tifton

I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial saying something like, “Your dog sees everything you do. And they don’t care.” I started thinking about that. I’ve been told I’m er, eccentric.  I live alone, except for my pets, so they probably do see some pretty strange things.  In fact, if someone ever does perfect a device allowing dogs to talk, mine are going to have to put their paws on the dotted line of a confidentiality agreement. 

Yes. I talk to my dogs. Why not?  They’re here, staring at me all day. I couldn’t ignore them because why have them if you’re not going to interact.
There are times when I think I’m completely hilarious. Other people, not always. I make what are commonly called “Dad jokes” and crack myself up. And some jokes never get old so I repeat them often.
I love to sing. That can have unfortunate effects, such as when I learned the words to “Baby Shark” and had an earworm that lasted for days. But sometimes I just sing. I have opera day, where I sing most things I say as a recitative.  Sometimes we have Broadway day as well.  I think the dogs prefer show tunes.
When I’m watching TV, they are treated to a running commentary of what I think about things. When I watch “Antiques Roadshow,” I express dismay, envy, or astonishment at what something is worth. When I watch a mystery, I am bad about yelling, “He did it!” early on. The dogs never get upset with me for spoiling the ending.
Zoe at the groomer

I run around in some pretty strange, but very comfortable clothing when I’m at home. My dogs have never commented on my fashion choices. 

If I choose to eat, well, an entire bag of chips? (Hey, give me a break. I’d had a really bad day.) Other than staring at me in hope of a handout that won't come, nary a judgement passes their doggy lips.  Or if I choose to eat dinner on the sofa, they don’t seem to be bothered at all.
Brighid smiling for the camera

That’s the thing about dogs, though, isn’t it. Their unconditional love has no bounds. They, by their very existence, simply want to be loved. It’s worth the alarm clock barking to be fed first thing in morning, the fur on my clothes or around the house, the rare naughtiness.  They are company without comment, comfort through the bad times, reasons to laugh at their quirkiness. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. 
Liam at the groomer

Do you have pets? Do they witness you in all your glory, being yourself and loving you anyway? Leave a comment below.