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, August 30, 2017

Moving On by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

Most of us accept changes in our lives and move on to what we hope is something better than what we had. The same is true for writing and the publishing industry.

A while back, I downloaded several books I'd been meaning to read for ages. Two of them, by well-known authors, were disappointing. I haven't finished either and it's been three months. In frustration, I turned to some oldies stashed on my bookshelves. You know the ones--those that have carried you through high school, college, kids, and whenever you just needed a good story. I quickly discovered how writing has changed.

I grew up with Nancy Drew until I found Agatha Christie. I devoured about everything she wrote. Good plots, good characters, and a happy ending. What more can a reader ask? But this time around, I noticed something I'd never realized before. Her point of view is all over the place. And somehow, her characters weren't as satisfying as they were years ago. Maybe it's my romance writing background, but often there is no defined hero or heroine. The main character is Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Harley Quinn, or Tommy and Tuppence. I can appreciate their deductive reasoning that leads to unmasking the killer; however, I'm looking for more emotion now.

Confused by the constant head-hopping, I switched gears and reached for one of my favorites from the 60s, Exodus, by Leon Uris. Once again, the POV was ragged and the volume of backstory dragged me out of the main plot, which is the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. I'm glad to know the pasts of the characters, but there are so many of them and the exposition is so long I often got lost. Totally distracting.

This got me to thinking. As readers we have become impatient when it comes to details. We want the action to begin immediately and the characters' emotions to be strong enough to drive the plot. Subplots today are limited to one--two at the most. In the case of Exodus, there are what seem like dozens. It's hard to keep up with them all.

So writing styles have changed over the years. The changes are sometimes slow--so slow we don't recognize them when they occur. We read, accept the differences through sheer repetition, and move on. The publishing industry, however, did recognize the shift.

Think of the books we now call classics and their authors--Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fizgerald, William Faulkner, Agatha Christie. Would any of them be offered a contract in today's publishing world? And don't forget, James Michener! All that narrative would never sell today. The first hundred or so pages of Hawaii were all about how the islands were formed and its first inhabitants. Plus, nowadays readers just don't pick up six-hundred page novels. We want our stories condensed into reasonable lengths.

To be honest, I never could get into Hemingway--way too masculine for my taste and his female characters never seemed sympathetic to me. I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school. Once again, I had problems connecting with Jay Gatsby and the Buchanans. None of them were worth my time or effort. I considered Faulkner long-winded. I don't care if he did win the Nobel Prize, I found him boring.

I wonder if fifty years from now, a reader will find one of my books in a dusty bin in a garage sale, pay a dime, read it, marvel at how out of date the writing is, and ask, "How on earth did she ever get published?"

There are times when I wonder that myself.

Have a good Labor Day and I'll be back next month.

Suzanne Rossi

Monday, August 28, 2017


We here at Smart Girls Read Romance send sincere condolences to Beth Trissel. A few days ago, her younger brother Chad died as the result of a traumatic brain injury he received several years ago. Please join us in sending Beth and her family prayers.

Beth is one of the truly nice people we are fortunate to meet occasionally—even if the friendship is only online. In addition to writing, she is a farm wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and aunt. She has taught classes on herbal plants and their uses.

I’m sharing a poem by Mary E. Frye that we use in our family when we have a loss:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

What is lovely never dies, But passes into other loveliness. Thomas Bailey Aldrich

To desire and expect nothing for oneself and to have profound sympathy for others is genuine holiness. Ivan Turgenev

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”
Charles Dickens

“Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either” 
Golda Mier

Thursday, August 24, 2017


By Judy Ann Davis

Treasures may be tangible or intangible. They can be held in the hand or simply stored in the mind. My treasure for today is stored in my mind.

Recently, I took the plunge and had my DNA tested. I knew all four of my grandparents emigrated from Poland to the United State shortly before or shortly after the 1900s. I found I was 98% East European/Polish and 2% Finnish. Though surprised by the 2%, I knew from research that the Finnish tribes were the first ones to settle the north Baltic coast of what is today called Poland.

Why my grandparents are a treasure is for their strength, stamina, and bravery to leave their homeland—and everything they owned—to undergo a perilous journey, not in the least comfortable, to a foreign country an ocean away. Then they had to find work, learn English, and become citizens.

Unfortunately, I never really knew three of my grandparents since they died when I was a small child. My paternal grandmother, Victoria, was only sixteen when she boarded a ship in 1906 to come to the U.S. where her sister was already located. Talk about fearless!

Both of my grandfathers worked the mines and owned farms. My Grandfather Lashinski bought a farm in Northeast Pennsylvania which my father and mother later purchased from him and where they raised my sister, brother and me.

It was on this bountiful farm where I scampered over acres of pastures, forests, and fields. A carefree child, I walked on stonewalls build by the Irish in the early 1800s. I splashed in the creek winding through our property, and I caught crayfish and minnows. I daydreamed. I stared at star-filled skies and wondered about the vastness of our universe. I smelled the sweet scent of dried hay, wild roses, and ripe blackberries.

But most of all, I was always safe and never hungry--like many Poles left behind in the “Old Country.” History tell us they had to endure endless domination by other countries as well as the very sorrowful hardships of World War II where 2.7+ million perished.

Without my bold, risk-taking grandparents, I would not be the person I am today. I would never have experienced the wealth of opportunities that living in the United States afforded me. They are a treasure.

So if any of my grandparents are peering down from the heavens above, I’d like to shout out a “Thank you.” And I ask only one small favor: Can any of you tell me which side of the family the 2% Finnish comes from?

Check out Judy Ann’s latest novel:

     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?

Judy Ann Davis holds a degree in Journalism and Communications and has written for industry and education throughout her career. She writes both short stories and contemporary and historical novels. When she’s not behind a computer, you can find her looking for anything humorous to make her laugh or swinging a golf club where the chuckles are few. She is a member of Pennwriters, Inc. and Romance Writers of America, and divides her time between Central Pennsylvania and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Visit her on
Facebook: Judy Ann Davis Author
Twitter: @JudyAnnDavis4

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Yellowstone in July

 by Rain Trueax

In the middle of July, my husband and I took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. We had been there the first time in 1992 and maybe six or seven times since. Our last trip had been in 2010-- way too long. 

We had intended to get back several times. In 2013, we had reservations at Old Faithful Inn-- the time they shut the government down, which meant all the national forests and parks. 

 A year later, we had again reserved a room at the inn but had to cancel based on conflicts with other events in our life. I was concerned something would block us from making it this trip (the farm has so many places that could happen) despite having reservations at the inn and for one of the little cabins at Roosevelt Lodge (get those reservations early folks-- they go fast). 

For me, Yellowstone is one of those special places with so much to see or take in, from big things to little ones, that a lifetime wouldn't let a person know it all. Most of it is not reached by roads. In this trip, with only five days, we went to those that are. We spent time in places that simply are and that let someone just be.

Yellowstone personally takes me to a place of beauty and creativity, of birth and death. It is a place with the potential for abrupt change. Fires have ravaged it, and always it comes back. Possibly its potential for violence, that is so evident in the geyser basins but also among the wildlife, is part of what makes it special. Where else can we, from our culture, come so close to touching the earth at its rawest? 

Yellowstone has the pretty, innocent kind of beauty, but there is also the savage beauty, where life changes in a heartbeat. As a super volcano, it could erupt and destroy all that is there and a lot of the United States. With that kind of energy, it's not surprising that photographers, artists, writers, and those of a creative mindset are drawn to spend time there, to try to know it, and maybe let its energy permeate them. It's what I always want when there.

More of the photos from this trip (a tiny smidgen of what I have) can be seen at [Rainy Day Thoughts]. For the blog, I broke the photos into subjects-- small geysers, wildflowers, waters, skies, wildlife, and opportunities. I might eventually do a video using music but have to finish the fourth in the Hemstreet Witches series before I play.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


By Caroline Clemmons

Why do I write novels? Mostly because I can’t stop. LOL  There have been a few times when I became discouraged with my career path and decided to quit writing. I couldn’t. It appears I HAVE to write.

Seriously, I believe romance offers hope to readers who face what seems like insurmountable problems in their own lives. Reading about characters who overcome challenges and achieve happily-ever-after offers readers the dream that they too can achieve their dreams. In fact, I say romance authors sell hope. Since I’m an eclectic reader, I’m an eclectic writer. I write paranormal, contemporary and historical romance. I've also written two mysteries, although I’m happier writing romance.

Romance books offer hope to readers

I write the kinds of stories I enjoy reading. As a theme, I want readers to find hope in my novels. Another theme is family in various forms, but always that family support one another--even if family is bonded friends rather than blood relatives. Finally, I think a second chance/redemption is a continual theme. Don’t we all wish we had a second chance to right past wrong decisions?

I want readers to sigh with pleasure at the outcome of the characters at the same time they’re sorry the book is ended. Also, I want readers to feel hopeful after one of my books. Let’s face it, I’m not Ken Follett and I don’t write books like PILLARS OF THE EARTH. I love Follett’s books, but that’s not at all what I want to write. Romances and cozy mysteries are what a lot of people call mind candy...novels intended to entertain and provide escape from worldly cares. Otherwise, why not watch the evening news?

I just want to write my kind of books

One of my big passions is genealogy and family history. I’ve always loved history, and learning about family brings history alive for me. My brother and I compiled and published a book on my father’s family. My dad is no longer living, but he had asked me to do this book, so my brother and I honored the request. I also love the old family photos and collected those for the book and for my own family. 

Antique pie safe we did NOT buy.

Another passion is browsing antique malls. My younger daughter and I used to have booths in a couple of antique malls, but the time required to maintain a good selection is too much for us. We loved it, though. If either of us won the lottery, that’s probably what my younger daughter would do with her life. Maybe I should remember to buy a lottery ticket.

My husband and I like to watch movies (thanks, Netflix!). Most of my free goof-off time is spent reading. My husband’s an avid reader, so some evenings we read instead of watching TV or a movie.

I appreciate so much the readers who have told me they like my books and my writing. Positive feedback fuels my progress on the next book. I appreciate my family for their support and assistance. My husband maintains my website. Both daughters help in various ways. Every day I get to do what I love. Consider me a lucky woman living her happily-ever-after!

Friday, August 18, 2017

How About A Kiss?

The other day, I saw a movie. Whoa, you say, this is not earth shattering news here. I watch movies all the time. So much so that, in the older movies especially, I can spout a lot of trivia. But, I digress. In this movie, there was a scene where the heroine practiced for a date. She watched her movements in the mirror, talked to herself, checked out how she looked during conversation, smiled, flirted and kissed the back of her hand. All to practice.

This got me to thinking - a scary proposition on a good day. Plus, I was probably sleep deprived much as I am right now. Have I lost you? Are you still with Me? Oh, good, because you'll be asked to participate later on. So, anyways, that movie brought back a flood of old memories for me.

All of us receive our first kiss from our mother and, a wild guess here, our second kiss we get from our father. Nice. We rock along through the years being kissed by our grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. In this last case, the sibling kiss is dreaded and only given/received under duress by direct orders from the mother or parental unit. We've all heard at one time or another, "Kiss your brother/sister right now and tell him/her you're sorry. You know you love each other." I can't tell you how many times in those formative years, I would've rather taken a beating than to have kissed that chubby cheek. Love him now, back then it depended on the day. <G>

What I'm really talking about is that first boy/girl kiss. My first one came from the boy who lived next door to my grandmother. His name was Mike (first names only given here). We became fast friends the summer I was eight and he was a much older ten. We always played Gunsmoke in his front yard. He was the very handsome, Matt Dillon, I, of course was, Miss Kitty, and my brother was either Chester or the villain depending on which part was needed at the time. Mike played the roll of the sheriff very well and saved me multiple times, so naturally I received many kisses from my first hero. We became so close he wrote me a letter after his family moved away. That letter had smoochy lips, professed I love yous and a Dime Store diamond. Yes, Matt Dillon asked me to marry him. My mother nearly hyperventilated.

My second kiss came during a multi-family get-together. My parents bowled on several leagues back in the early sixties and on weekends they would have parties at the various houses. While the parents played cards, dominoes or listened to party records, us kids were relegated to the back rooms. The one evening that stands out in my mind was in winter and school was in full swing. A couple of girls and myself were thirteen, a couple girls were freshmen in high school and Rusty was also a freshman. He was tall, cute and we were giggly and we were playing spin the bottle. My knees turned to jelly when he kissed me. I made gagging noises as was expected, but  being kissed by a freshman football player - yowza!

For a few years after that, I did a lot of practicing. Unfortunately, I didn't kiss anyone else until I met my future husband. Was he the brave one? The stupid one? He says he'll never again pick up a girl at the A&P. Well, duh. There's simply no need, is there?

Ok, that's my story. Here's where your participation is needed. Tell us about your first kiss. We're all dying to hear your tale.

Thanks for stopping by today and hope I sparked some good memories,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Southern Grandma & Small Towns by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

Occasionally, I post something funny. Since I'm late blogging this morning, I thought I'd share a joke with you. (See the end of the post for a FREE ebook offer.)

Actually, this joke is more than a joke. It's a picture of life in small towns and rural America--and not just in the South.

A friend who grew up with me sent it to me by email a while back. We are both from the same small southern town.

He and I could probably name more than a dozen women, heck, make that two or three dozen, who could be the Southern grandma at the heart of this story.

Let the Joke Begin

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife. You manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The judge asked both attorneys to approach the bench. In a near whisper, he said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."

In Summation

Yes, that's how it is in small towns. Everyone knows everyone else from cradle to grave. One thing about it, you can't get away with anything in a small town.

That sense of community--the good and the bad--is why I love setting a book in a small town. Recently, I published a romance short story, another in my short reads series A Moment in Time.

Blame It On Chocolate

A Moment in Time is all it takes for Love to be revealed.

Chloe Elliot was the good girl. She’d never been a hell-raiser. Never gotten drunk, used drugs, smoked pot, or slept around. She didn’t even curse!

Since her dad was the son of a minister and the oft-elected mayor, and her mom was the elementary school principal, she'd had no choice but to live a life above reproach. Truthfully, it really hadn’t been that difficult.

Until Hunter Cole returned to his home town.

That was the beginning of Chloe's fall from good girl status. There was just something about the man that addled her brain and created havoc in her body.

Hunter Cole reckoned he had the best of all possible worlds. He'd played for the NFL, and even though two back surgeries had ended that career, he was lucky enough to follow in his dad's footsteps and work the family ranch and also follow his granddad's path and be the sheriff in his west Texas town. Life was perfect.

Until he dropped by the library to say hello to his best friend's little sister.

Chloe wasn't so little any more. In fact, just looking at her made his common sense evaporate. She affected him like no other woman--and he'd had women throwing themselves at him since he was a high school quarterback! If he made a move on her, her brother would nail his hide to the wall. There was only one thing he could do, but did he really want to do that? The thought of it made his bachelor heart shudder with alarm.

This romantic comedy short story, Blame It On Chocolate is only 99cents, and it's available only at Amazon Kindle for now.

Get a free ebook today! Just click to claim yours. Joan is giving away copies of one of her most popular romantic comedies. Just click and follow the prompts.

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available in audio, ebook, and print. All of her 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. Visit Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Monday, August 14, 2017

New Old Book.....

Getting the rights to a book back from a large publishing house can be a challenge. I spent at least three years trying to get the rights back on my last traditionally published book, MAN OF THE WEST.

Last year, I finally got that letter returning all rights to me. I'm now currently in the process of making some revisions and will soon be releasing it as an Anna Jeffrey book. It was originally published under the pseudonym Sadie Callahan.

I had to have a new cover designed. First, you aren't allowed to use the publishing house's original cover because they own it. Second, it had Sadie Callahan's name on it, a pen name that I will probably never use again. So I called on the fabulous Kim Killion (as I always do) to design the new cover.


This book is a sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN. The hero is the second Strayhorn cousin who is still trying to live down his father's disgrace.

Sheriff of a small, remote town in the Texas Panhandle, Jake Strayhorn’s calm and uncomplicated life changes when he meets the Circle C Ranch's new cook. He’s drawn instantly to her wholesome beauty, different from any other woman he’s ever known. As a career cop, his honed instincts detect she’s running from something, but she refuses to reveal her past. How can he protect her if he doesn’t know what's making her so skittish?
Escaping an abusive, drug-addicted husband in the dead of night, Jolie Jensen found the perfect hiding place on the Circle C Ranch, working as a cook. This seems to be the safest place she's found in years, yet fear lingers. Billy Jensen’s bound to find her and their daughter, and with no family, the only person she knows she can lean on is the too-attractive sheriff. He’s shown himself willing to be her protector, but can she protect her heart from the quiet, strong Jake Strayhorn?
 I love writing sagas about big families and all of the drama that can be associated with them. And here's the blurb to LONE STAR WOMAN, a book that was also originally released as a Sadie Callahan book.

Jude Strayhorn, the only child of the vast Circle C Ranch’s CEO, is in constant conflict with her father and grandfather. Her greatest desire is to exert her education and influence on the ranch’s operation, but the two men thwart her at every turn. Giving up, she goes outside the Circle C intending to use her trust fund to buy a small spread from a deceased widow’s estate where she can put her ideas into practice. That is, until she runs headlong into the widow’s heir, Brady Fallon, who has his own plans for the 6-0 Ranch.

Brady Fallon is no stranger to Willard County, though he hasn’t been around since childhood. His inheritance needs a lot of work and he needs money to put it back into shape and revive it as a cattle operation. He hires on as a hand at the Circle C Ranch, a move that leads to unexpected benefits for his future as well as unwanted conflict with his boss’s daughter. Can he set his attraction to her aside for his own good?

A third book is planned for this series. It will be the third Strayhorn cousin's story. The title is SON OF THE PLAINS.