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.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

An Apology and Something For Your Sweet Tooth

Hi, everyone. I owe you, and mostly Caroline Clemmons, an apology for not being present lately. It's been a difficult time for me, our family, and my writing family. From my husband's cancer diagnosis two years ago, the loss of my brother and author friends this year, my creativity is practically non-existent. Thanks to the grace of God and a little luck, I'm getting back in the swing of things.

Caroline reminded me this morning that I missed my post for this month. So pulling from a post in 2018, I thought I'd share a favorite family recipe with you.

My Grandfather, John Garland Carr, was, among other things, an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad. He started at Santa Fe during the depression and retired about 1965. His hours were anything but routine depending on the runs he made. He loved his black coffee and my grandmother's pound cake, which she made before every trip. She packed slices in his lunches and he would grab a slice on his way out the kitchen door. In addition to the cake, there was always a pot of coffee sitting on the stove, and he would always stop and take a swig of hot coffee straight from the spout of the pot. I remember watching and wondering how he kept from burning his mouth! Yikes!

The name of the recipe is Crisco Cake, but we all called it John Cake for the obvious reason. I hope you'll try the recipe and love it as much as our family does.

John Cake aka Crisco Cake
1 3/4   cup    sugar
2        cups  flour
1        cup    Crisco shortening
5            eggs
1     tsp  vanilla
1/2  tsp  salt
1   Cream sugar and shortening
2   add eggs one at a time, beating well, to make batter fluffier
3   add vanilla
4   Mix salt into sifted flour and add to creamed sugar, shortening and egg mixture
5   Bake one hour at 350 degrees in greased and floured tube pan
Servings: 12


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Why Horror? by Joan Reeves

Horror and Romance?
Trick or Treat? Yes, it's that time of the year for ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night.

Horror is big not only in October but also in the other months of the year. I'm not much for horror movies. In fact, I don't even like the movie trailers when they're shown on television.

But romance in horror as in vampire romances? I'm okay with that. In fact, horror in romance is big, i.e., the above mentioned vampire romance with a hero who's usually a sexy hunky vampire.

Horror or Romance

As a romance reader, are you sometimes puzzled why horror is so popular with readers?

Reading taste has been studied by people much smarter than I. They say there are subconscious psychological reasons for why we choose what we choose when it comes to books and visual media.

The reasons are universal—people all over the world respond to the genres because of the same reasons. These reasons speak to an individual on a sub-conscious level based on what the individual values.

Appeal of Horror

Horror appeals because of the desire for good to triumph over evil.

You can take any horror book or film and boil it down to its basic components, and you'll find it's always a battle of good versus evil. At least the successful examples of this genre are.

I think the unsuccessful examples probably were meant to be that, but somewhere along the way, the story had an identity crisis, maybe because the writer didn't know the genre well enough to understand its dynamics.

From Primitive To Contemporary

The horror story is ancient. I imagine some caveman telling stories around the campfire tried to scare the T-Rex out of his listeners.

Horror connects with those not-so-logical parts of our brains. You know, those primitive parts that tell us to get scared by what goes bump in the night.

Stories from ancient times to today's urban myths are the end result, and people voluntarily listen, read, or watch in order to be frightened and to subsequently be reassured that good wins over evil.

The Horror genre has always reflected the anxieties of each generation. In the original Dracula film Nosferatu, the story wasn't just about a vampire.

The original Dracula was a metaphor for the seemingly senseless and random deaths in the first world war and the later world flu epidemic.

The Dracula tale is told anew for each generation. What's really interesting is to take older horror films and contrast them with remakes to see whether the same character remains a villain or has transformed into the hero of the piece.

In previous decades, vampires, mummies, Wolf Man, and zombies starred as monsters. After the war with the threat of nuclear bombs, aliens and robots became the monster along with giant insects and other animals.

All these reflected fears arising from the unknown. From UFOs to the effects of radiation, people were worried and writers and movie makers used this in their work.

Modern Monsters

Today, even with amazing visual effects, it's hard to create a really terrible monster when the evening news is full of stories about Ebola, serial killers, war, kids killing kids, school massacres, etc. So tellers of tales ramp up the horror thus giving us unimaginable horror books and movies.

Trick or Treat!
Horror works not because of the visual effects genius at work but because the audience's imagination is at work. The scariest horror films are the ones where the "monster" isn't seen until late in the movie, after he's picked off the victims one by one.

It's that fear of the unknown that taps into our primitive brain. Remember the original Alien or Predator films?

You didn't see the menace until you were good and scared. The unknown. The fear of what goes bump in the night when you're imagining the absolute worst. And then you find out what you imagined wasn't nearly bad enough.

Now that's horror! So, how do you feel about horror?

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—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.

Sign up for Joan's Newsletterand be the first to know about new books and giveaways
plus receive a free ebook after you confirm and opt-in.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Trip to the Farmer's Market by Bea Tifton

I love fall. I love the crisp, cooler air, the pumpkins everywhere. We don’t have dramatic fall leaf foliage in North Texas, but the leaves do change. 

When I was a little girl, my mother would go to the Farmer’s Market occasionally. Each fall, just by the pumpkin patch, there was a “Magic Pumpkin.” The children couldn’t see the string by which the small pumpkin was suspended, and it seemed to dance by itself. A quick child could actually catch it. I was small for my age and my older sister was tall for hers. One visit she said contemptuously, as only older sisters can, “You’ll never catch that. You’re just a squirt.” I felt the embarrassment and sadness as two children standing nearby snickered. I still stretched up my little arms, and the magic pumpkin just settled right into my waiting hands. The other children gasped. Bless the kindly adult on the other end of that string. 

A week ago I decided to usher in fall with a trip to a local farmer’s market. I talked one of my best friends and her husband into meeting me early on a Saturday morning. Our first stop was this magnificent pickup just filled with brightly colored pumpkins in all the colors of fall. I bought a few baby squash, a cantaloupe, and the best cherry tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Later that day I ate most of the tomatoes just like candy.
Most vendors are more than happy to talk about their wares. We met a man who was selling olive oil and olives from a family olive farm in Italy that goes back generations. He showed us family pictures and told us stories about going back and forth throughout the growing season. One man is an urban beekeeper with rows of amber colored honey jars for sale. Another older farmer had delicious gluten free pumpkin, zucchini, and banana breads. His granddaughter is gluten intolerant so his wife learned how to make them.

We wandered around the market for most of the morning. There was a small town feel in the midst of the big city. People with dogs strolled about happily and we had to pet each one. Children were running around freely. For just a moment, we forgot genetically modified food, heavy traffic, fighting for parking spaces wherever we drove. The world outside just melted away.
Have you ever been to a farmer’s market? If not, put it on your bucket list. If so, go back soon.