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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Herbs For A Fairy Garden

Who doesn’t want to attract fairies to their garden? Of all the herbs associated with the little folk, the most important one is thyme, which I love. I’m forever planting more varieties of thyme. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania, the fairy queen, sleeps in a bed of wild thyme growing on a bank. Sure. Why not?

(Thyme in our garden)

Foxglove is also essential for a fairy garden. According to legend, fairies sleep in the bell-shaped flowers, and wear them as gloves. Which use they choose, probably depends upon the size of the fairy. Other common names for foxglove include fairy fingers, fairy thimbles, and fairy cap. However, I'm extremely challenged in growing foxglove in my farm garden(s). The plants soon figure out they're not in their native dappled woodlands.

Another favorite herb is saffron, also known as the saffron crocus, which bloom in the fall. Fairies are said to be especially fond of this culinary herb/spice used for flavoring cakes and dyeing cloth. Other recommended plants are fragrant rosemary and roses. Roses are much loved by fairies for their beauty and divine scent, and by me. And I am never without rosemary. I bring these essential herbs indoors in pots in late fall. They’re not exuberant about life in my sunspace but generally survive to glory again in summer. Wood anemones are beautiful plants preferred by fairies because the flowers close at the onset of bad weather and at night and offer the tiny beings a safe spot to rest or wait out the bad weather. I have some anemones, also called windflowers. These beauties grace the spring garden.

(Rosemary, Geraniums, and Lavender in my garden)

Not to neglect bluebells, also beloved by fairies. These beautiful blue flowers that carpet woodlands in spring are also known as harebell, Scottish bellflower, and fairies thimble. It was, and maybe still is, widely believed that fairies live among the flowers. Another name for bluebells is Dead Man's bells because fairies were thought to cast spells on those foolish enough to pick or damage the delicate blossoms.

When meandering through drifts of bluebells, it’s wise to stick to the path, or you may stir up the wrath of fairies and release the spells trapped in the blooms. Never a good idea, and one that would be echoed by our resident fairy expert, my 12-year-old niece, Cailin, who warns never step into a circle of flowers or go anywhere without the fairies' permission, or they will get very upset. And you do not want an upset fairy, or fairies, on your hands. Particularly the furious wind fairies, but that’s another story.

(Virginia bluebells and narcissus in my garden) 

A dear author friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable about fairies says they love many kinds of herbs and flowers. She has spotted some tiny ones in photographs of my garden. I’ve read they are drawn to the same plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Keep watch, you never know where they may be.

If you're interested in learning more about herbs and herbal lore, you may enjoy my book, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Islesavailable in print and kindle with lovely images at:

Blurb: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

For more on me visit my blog:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Blast From the Past is Blowing Me Away

~~ by Vonnie Davis

Calvin and I used to belong to a local writers' group that met every Tuesday. For awhile, we did writers' prompts and shared our short, short stories. One prompt was: "Write 500 words about someone finding something hidden in a tin can."

I wrote a tale about a carpenter doing a remodeling job and tearing out a wall. Behind it he finds an advertising tin box filled with love letters, a charm bracelet, and other mementos from WW II. He takes the tin home, reads the letters of an ill-fated love, and decides to find the owner of this tin can. Doing an online search, he discovers the man has passed away, but the woman who married another to give their baby a name and a father figure is still living.

The carpenter calls her to explain what he's found. Would she like to have it back? Her reply is very positive and he visits her in a nursing home. As she pours over the items, she shares long-held secrets. He returns to see her every week and a friendship blooms.

I kept thinking, with some changes, wouldn't this make a great romance? From time to time, the story would rise to the forefront of what gray matter I have left and I'd think, "yeah, I'll have to get around to that story sometime."

Well, ladies, sometime arrived and parked it's rusty RV in my front yard. Not really, but you know what I mean. The story bugged me constantly until I stopped working on the two bear shifter stories I was writing--one in the Scottish Highlands and the other on a fictitious island off of Scotland--and wrote Chapter One of The Golden Charm. That was two weeks ago and I'm on Chapter Nine now.

My biggest decision was whose romance would I focus on? The one told of in the letters between Mary Beth and Jimmy  or one between the carpenter and Mary Beth's granddaughter? I decided on both. What was I thinking?

I changed the war to the Vietnam War and had Mary Beth graduate in 1966 when I did. I recall vividly the hairstyles, dress, and social attitudes of that time. Mary Beth is the daughter of a strict and physically abusive minister. So, when she finds out she's pregnant with Jimmy's child and he's in Vietnam, she's in fear.

Eli Golden, the carpenter, is a widower with a spoiled retriever, Toby. Melanie Stone for various reasons is living with her grandma Mary Beth. Eli and Melanie meet when he stops to help her change a flat tire on her red Mustang.

I'm bouncing between a romance set in 1966 and one in present day. So far, I'm not confusing myself and I'm hoping that's a good sign that I won't be confusing my readers. The story is flowing quite fast. Thank goodness. Because I have two Scottish shifters who are a wee bit miffed with me for ignoring them, so they are.

Melanie and Mary Beth decide to go for haircuts and manicures. The older lady uses a cane to walk since a stroke and is practically housebound. Here's an unedited snippet.

The door to the beauty shop opened. All female heads swiveled toward the muscled man whose shoulders practically filled the doorway. The yellow t-shirt he wore with “Golden’s Home Improvements” printed in black was stretched tight over muscles made from hard work and not time spent in a gym. He glanced around and then slowly sauntered in.
“He’s my next customer,” one stylist breathed.
“Like hell,” another growled.
One customer fanned herself with a magazine. “I think I just popped an ovary.”
Ignoring all their remarks, his brown-eyed gaze locked on Melanie’s as he approached. Her heart rate kicked up a notch or two. Her stylist had stilled to watch as he hunkered in front of the beautician’s chair.
“I recognized your car out front.” He tapped her capri clad knee twice with one fingertip. “Did you take your flat tire to a repair center yet?”
A spark of anger flamed. After all, she wasn’t incompetent or stupid. “Who named you my father?” Yes, she sounded bitchy, but the man was a total stranger whether he’d helped her, or not. “And how did you just happen to spot my car?” Stalk women much?
“I was on my way to Home Depot for supplies. It’s two blocks away. Want me to pick you up a hammer so you can whack me on the head next time you see me? That’ll save you from your usual mulish greeting. I think they’re in aisle ten.” He flashed a smile that made her melt—just a tad.
Gram snorted before she leaned her head back and laughed like a fool. Melanie shot her a dirty look to which the older woman flashed her a thumbs up.
Yes, I dropped off my tire. No, I don’t need a hammer,” she replied through clenched jaws.
“Are you the bastard who beat her? The bruises may be fading, but everyone can still see them.” Melanie’s hairdresser waved her comb at Eli.
“No ma’am. I’d like to get my hands on the son of a bitch who did though. I’d teach him how to treat a woman. The only reason I brought up the topic of a hammer is every time I see this lady, she’s ready to rip my eyebrows off.” He flattened a palm over his large pecs. “Me. A nice guy like me. Can you imagine?”
The customer with the magazine leaned forward. “She must be a fool. Come sit by me.”
A dog barked frantically. “Is that Toby I hear raising hell?” Melanie wanted to get him out of there. God, he was so good looking. If she didn’t hang onto her resentment of men, she be vulnerable again.
He stood. “Yeah. The big cry baby. I had to get special permission last year to take him into Home Depot. He likes riding in the cart.” He winked at her. Is he flirting with me?
For more information about my writing, visit my website: 

Friday, February 24, 2017

SWEET KISS ~ Lots of Love for February

by Judy Ann Davis
Can one sweet kiss revive an old romance?
Last year, a group of writers for The Wild Rose Press created novellas which are collectively called the "Candy Hearts Series." Each writer had to use the saying on one of the candy hearts that are available in stores around Valentine's Day and use it to create her story. We wrote in a multitude of genres-- mystery, sweet romance, fantasy, paranormal, historical, and the list goes on. 

My novella, "Sweet Kiss," is about a marina owner  and bistro owner who get a second chance at love amid the vibrant smell of strawberries as they make  jam for a Valentine's Day Celebration in their hometown. "Sweet Kiss" is a mystery, romance, and comedy. And it's very appropriate for February which is Strawberry Month in Florida--the time of the year when plump red berries are stacked high on the shelves of every supermarket  throughout the state.

Hard-working Kate Clark opens a thriving coffee shop that quickly becomes the local hang-out for students and the community. Her one wish is to eventually buy out her sister’s share of the old Florida home they inherited. However, Violet is in desperate need of cash and has other plans.

Tappe Vanderberg, Kate’s childhood friend and high school sweetheart, has sold his lucrative internet security business to return to Little Heron Shores and fulfill his dreams of owning a marina. Now the handsome Dutch-born businessman is making waves with single women all over town—including loony, post mistress Eva May Poole who’s in search of husband number three.

But it’s Kate Clark who’s wreaking havoc with Tappe’s heart, not Eva May. Can he find a way to shake the dingbat post mistress and convince Kate to give him a second chance and the sweet kiss he remembers from an earlier time?

Tappe picked up the grimy jar of candy hearts. "No way! I can't believe Fay saved this." He twisted off the lid and shook one into his hand.
     "Neither can I. Don't you dare put that into your mouth. Those candies are over a decade old!"
     "So? Sugar doesn't spoil."
     "Okay, go ahead. Eat it. Poison yourself. Why should I care?" Kate said dryly. "Just don't call me in the middle of the night."
     She turned back to the stove, removed the pot, and started filling the jelly jars.
     "You don't mean that." He dropped the candy back into the jar and started nuzzling her on the side of her neck.
     "Do you realize I'm working with hot liquids?" She tried to be stern as she squirmed away still holding the scalding pot.
     But he was on a roll.
     "Not as hot as you are. Want to make out?"
     Kate looked at him askance. "Now? Are you sane?"
    "Yes, I'm fairly lucid. But if your answer is a no to making out, then can I lick the pot instead?"
     "If you promise to quit licking my neck."


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Romances are about connections

Some think romances are just about the romantic relationship at their heart. While that relationship is the core, it's not remotely all that is in the best ones.  

From the time we are born, connections establish much of how we see life. It begins with family and expands into friends, community, school, workplace, and even government. Writing a book leads to looking for those connections for the characters. Whether someone has created a fantasy world or is using an existing one, I believe the most interesting books reveal these connections.

When I start writing, I have a personality profile, but it’s only as the story comes together that I begin to see the full picture of who these people are in terms of the grounding in their lives. If they are true vagabonds, with no such connections, that’s part of their story but do they then get planted somewhere. I have never written a book where there aren’t such important connections. 

Because I live in a rural community, I have seen the power of that kind of community in negative and positive connections. I live on a place that is still called by the names of the previous owners though we’ve lived here now almost 40 years.

Writing on my work in progress, a paranormal that is set in a real place with descendants of my historicals, it has been interesting to see more connections appear—ones that hadn’t made it to those profiles. The fact that I know new details does not mean they will all appear in the book. I read critical reviews of someone else’s book, where readers felt too many characters had cluttered up the story. If a character has been a hero elsewhere, fans of a series do like to see them appear to see how they are doing, but it can be brief. The key is though understanding that these connections deepen the personality traits of the protagonists and are reasons for readers to care more.

One thing I did this year was create timelines that not only gave the births of my characters (major and secondary) but also what was happening at that time to impact their lives. If you have read the book Generations you saw how the authors showed the connections and impacts on one generation to another in the United States history (a good book for historical writers). Another book I’ve found helpful for those other influences is The Timetables of History

Once again, not everything you know has to make it into a book, probably should not; but it helps to know what else was going on, which books were popular, who was governing as it is way to make the characters have depth and be grounded in their world.

I did a timeline also for the Oregon historicals but here’s just the Arizona one:

I also created a booklist because I wanted in one place all of the books, to help readers who might’ve read a book with an interesting secondary character and find of interest that there is a story for them.

Lambing season is all about connections, 
and these lambs must find their place in the flock.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Coincidences in #Writing

By Sandra Nachlinger

It's fascinating when coincidences occur in life, isn't it? The man you talk to at a Chamber of Commerce dinner turns out to be a fan of your favorite author. A woman in your exercise class shares your love of quilting. While gaping at the view from Switzerland's Schilthorn, my husband and I struck up a conversation with a couple who lived in our hometown in Texas. But in storytelling, too many coincidences can cause disbelief in a reader.

I recently read a book where this happened more than once, and it made me question the whole plot.  I won’t reveal the details of the book because I actually liked the characters and the main idea of the story, but I’ll give a made-up example.

Angelica has just bought an old house – a fixer-upper – and the structure has more problems that she realized. One day she’s walking Fluffy, her beagle from the Humane Society, and she encounters Rick, out for a stroll with his mixed-breed dog, Bruiser, also a rescued dog. Fluffy’s fur bristles and she barks, lunging at the mutt. The resulting apologies lead to a conversation which reveals that the man is a building contractor who specializes in restoring old homes.

Okay, maybe I could believe that. It could happen. But then:

Angelica’s sister comes home from college and brings her new boyfriend, who is studying to be an architect. She says, "I told him you're restoring an historic home, and he's looking forward to giving you some pointers."

Hmmm. That’s awfully convenient. If one more coincidence occurs, I may or may not finish the book.

Do these kinds of things bother you? Or is it just me?

I.O.U. Sex (co-authored with Sandra Allen)


Saturday, February 18, 2017




I'm a sixth generation Texan on my mother's side. My ancestors helped to settle Dallas in 1845 and stayed in the area. I am proud to be a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Matelyn Gloria Roddy and Phillip Arthur Carr met in Dallas in the summer 1942. She was 14 and he was a much older man of 18. They dated, with my grandmother's permission, until he enlisted in the Army in February 1943. A very determined young girl, my mother boarded the train a few days after her 15th birthday and headed  for North Carolina to say, "I do".

Matelyn and Phil Carr c.1943

Gloria Lynn Carr (Cope) aka Carra Copelin about 9 months old in this snap.
I'm proud to say I've managed to maintain my girlish figure. 

I came to Dallas on December 6, 1947 at 11:55 am, via Florence Nightingale Hospital.

My first abode - 1022 Kings Highway

My parents lived with her family in a beautiful old home in Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas.

Mother and Daddy bought their first house in 1951, in the newer neighborhood, where my brother made his appearance in 1952. We lived there until 1956 when we moved to the little town of Arlington. My dad wanted his children raised away from the big city.

Carra in 3rd grade

 I attended school there from 2nd grade through the 12th and graduated from Sam Houston High School.  

Jerry Cope about 10 months

Now, oddly enough, I met my future husband, Jerry Cope, at the local A&P Grocery in 1966 and as folks do we got to talking. He was born at Florence Nightingale Hospital, lived in Oak Cliff and moved to Arlington in 1953. Turns out we've always lived within five miles of each other.

Jerry in 3rd grade

Jerry and I married in May, 1967 and started building our home in 1969, in Arlington. Where else? It remains our home today.

Our daughter, Amye, came along in 1972 on Thanksgiving morning and our son, Brady, was born in 1976 in the Bicentennial year. 

I worked as a Medical Laboratory Technologist from 1965 (I did start in high school) until the clinic I worked for sold the lab in 2008. Since Jerry was already retired, I decided to stay home, too. Why should he have all the fun?

Writing became my focus and my first book, Code of Honor, Texas Code Series, Book One ,was published in July 2013. Three other titles followed with a fifth due out soon. I'm a member of RWA and serve as President of Yellow Rose Romance Writers.

Jerry and I this past summer on our Arkansas vacation.
I enjoy getting together with friends, critique partners and my bridge group. Our grandkids come over frequently, oh and Jerry is now a chicken farmer. He has twelve chickens out back in their area we call, Cackleberry Farms. Save your cartons, we have plenty of eggs.

Angel and the Texan from County Cork, a novella, is the third book in the Brides of Texas Code Series. It will be available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks in August.


 Jamey O'Donnell has reached a crossroads in his life. It's time to make his own way and stop living off the charity of others, specifically from his brother-in-law, Ian Benning. Off to find his new life, Jamey stops to help an old friend only to find out the friend has been killed. Can he help the widow restart her life and then walk away? Will he be able to ignore the newly awakened emotions she brings to the surface?

Angel Rivers buried her first husband on the trail after a short three month marriage. Now, one year later, her second husband, Will, has been shot and killed leaving her to fend for herself, to work a ranch with little to no knowledge. When the stranger shows up in her barn on the coldest day she's ever experienced, can she trust that he's her husband's friend and not a henchman sent by her neighbor? The same one she suspects of the killing? Will she embrace her bad luck in marriage and bury the feelings stirred by the stranger to live a life alone?


Book One, Katie and the Irish Texan is available at Amazon:

Book Two, Matelyn and the Texas Ranger is available at Amazon:


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sweet Scent of Giveaways by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

I'm not in the office today. Actually, each day this week has found me leaving home early and arriving back late--just like a regular commuter--except I'm commuting to doctors' offices.

So I decided to give some books away.

I have 2 Amazon Giveaways, and they're both Instant Wins. Plus, I have a 99 cent sale that started today on Scents and Sensuality.

(No Purchase Necessary. Official Rules. Just click the link to enter and you'll see immediately if you win. Giveaways end the earlier of Mar 1, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed.)

(1) For a chance to win an Amazon Kindle copy of my new release, Last Chance New Year, A Moment in Time Romance Short Story, just click here to enter and see if you win.

(2) For a chance to win an Amazon Kindle copy of FRIDAY IS CAKE DAY, a collection of 52 cake recipes from 3 generations of family bakers, plus a dozen frosting recipes to mix and match, click here to enter and see if you win.

99 Cent Sale on Scents and Sensuality

From now through Feb. 20, my romantic comedy, Scents and Sensuality, is on sale. Amanda Whitfield is a perfume designer who's desperate for a date to her cousin's wedding, scheduled for Valentine's Day of course.

That desperation kicks off a chain of events that's funny and romantic when she meets Harrison Kincaid, a software millionaire who's tired of his matchmaking mom's schemes.

Amazon Reader Review

Amanda is a beautiful perfumer who can't seem to find a man. She needs one desperately as a date for her cousin's wedding.

Harrison has no trouble attracting women, but his mother is tired of waiting for him to settle down and believes Amanda could be Ms. Right. When she offers her son as Amanda's date, Harrison resents her matchmaking and sets out to sabotage her efforts--until he meets his date and realizes he's made a mistake that he can't easily put right.

Meanwhile, Amanda is pretending to be someone she isn't in order to hold his interest. As they grow closer, being honest with each other means discovering truths about themselves.

Great fun to read, this novel crackles with delicious sexual tension and humour. Joan Reeves has a flair for snappy dialogue and creating characters that come alive on the page. Vivid descriptions make you feel like you're in the room watching it all unfold. A satisfying romance.

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, February 12, 2017

Cowboy First Rides by Paty Jager

There is nothing better than cowboys and getting an awesome deal on western romance books. This is one of the best deals you will ever see! When you see the list of authors, you know you'll want to get this set. And the best part of all?  It's only $0.99!

First Ride Cowboy Collection- You'll Never Forget Your First-- Saddle up for a sexy ride with 18 best selling and award winning authors as they share with you their first in a series. These cowboys will claim your heart with their rough edges and raw emotions. Dust off your boots, and join us for a ride you'll never forget.

Forget Me Knot by Lori King 
Will her vacation into the heart of cattle country turn out to be a mistake?

Cowboy Crazy by Em Petrova 
Five brides for five brothers…at least that’s the deal the Daltons have struck with their boys. Each son must marry in order to inherit a piece of the ranch they love so much.

Watching Fireflies by Jaycee Ford 
A cowboy who knew nothing of love. A city girl who wishes she didn't.

Sweet As Candy by Sidda Lee Rain 
She may be the softness to smooth his rough edges. That is...if he can convince her to give an ol' rodeo bum a chance.

Lazarus by Beth Williamson 
Being a Graham isn't easy, and it's about to get a lot harder for one stubborn lawman and the woman who still owns his heart.

The Heartsong Cowboy by Melissa Keir 
Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?

Gimme Some Sugar by Stephanie Berget 
She’s is a genius with cupcakes and croissants. He needs a ranch cook to whip up beef, beans and bacon. Love never tasted so good.

Her Fated Cowboy by Donna Michaels 
Thrown back into the path of her first love, she finds hers is not the only heart fate has damaged.

Cowboy Proud by D’Ann Lindun 
She left town to chase her dreams…he stayed and ignored his…can they find love again?

Davis: Letters of Fate by Paty Jager 
A marriage of convenience ignites into a steamy romance and brings two strong wills together.

Make Mine a Cowboy by Sandy Lea Sullivan 
She writes fantasy cowboys for a living...but she never expected to find her own on the back roads of Hill Country, Texas.

Chocolate Cowboy by Kirsten Lynn
Returning to Wyoming two things surprised GySgt Jared Worrell…becoming the town chocolatier and Lucy Thomas. Coming home never tasted so sweet.

Montana Bachelor by Hildie McQueen 
Rich Bachelor seeks Single Female who won't mind complications of elite society, a suspicious father and an evil ex-girlfriend…

Cowboys Never Fold by Lexi Post 
A cowboy honors a promise by working at a nudist resort but to win the sexy owner’s heart, he must bare more than his soul.

River’s Edge by Gem Sivad
From gunslinger to ranch owner. He's finding respectability a lot more dangerous than his former life of sin.

Under Pressure by Rhonda Lee Carver 
The Stone sisters know their way with a gun, rope, three-inch heels, and a cowboy's heart.

Jake: Men of Clifton by Susan Fisher Davis 
He can tame the wildest stallion, but can he tame a stubborn redhead that wants nothing to do with him?

The Real McCoy by Sabrina York 
She mistakes him for a stripper...he is happy to comply! 

Buy Links:

Amazon: Kobo: Nook: Apple

 You can find a majority of the authors in this boxset February 17th hanging out around the corral at The Ultimate Box Set Bonanaza. Come by, learn more about each of us and our books and win prizes!