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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Battered and Bruised, But Hanging in There

Hi, everyone.

Hope you all have had a smooth transition from summer into fall. Unfortunately, mine has been a little rough.

I have never been what you can call graceful. I'm not accident prone or a klutz--well, okay, I am. I constantly trip over nothing. At any rate one of the lingering memories of my mother is her telling me, "For Pete's sake, child, lift your feet!" Now, my mother was a big believer in the worse the medicine tasted or the more the topical application stung, the faster I'd get better or heal. Her favorite weapon was Methiolate--no Mecurachrome (not sure of the spelling so bear with me), but the stuff that stung like hell. I don't think either are available anymore. I went through my early childhood with orange knees, elbows, and band-aids. The situation didn't improve with age. I was always one of the last kids picked for team sports during Phys. Ed. Just not coordinated AT ALL.

So that brings me up to a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I were walking the dogs. Now, we live in an older neighborhood with mature trees. Those old tree roots have worked their way under the sidewalks in some places causing them to buckle and crack. In other spots, the sections built over utility lines have sunk causing more unevenness.

I'm walking Fred who pulls and tugs. He's always in a hurry, so much so that I call him FredEx. Anyhoo, he suddenly jerked to the left. My right foot hit one of those upheavals. I fell and did a face plant on the sidewalk. I've always heard about incidents occurring in slow motion. It's true. I remember the sidewalk slowly coming my way and not being able to do a thing about it. Kinda scary.

I tried to get to my hands and knees. That's when I saw my glasses shattered on the concrete with blood dripping on them. Then the pain hit. I rolled over onto my back and groaned. My husband had both dogs and couldn't help me up. Luckily, a neighbor was outside and came to our assistance. He and his wife got me to my feet and into a lawn chair where they wiped the blood away as much as possible and provided a baggie full of ice wrapped in a towel for my forehead. Hubby hustled the dogs home and picked me up for a trip to the the ER.

Three hours later I was back home. Thank goodness I wasn't badly injured and didn't even need stitches, just those little strips. The CAT scan and X-rays showed my brains weren't scrambled any worse than before. My head hurt like hell and the next day both of my eyes were black--and I mean black. I resembled a character in a horror movie.

This happened about two weeks ago. The bruises are slowly fading, although I may never again wear purple eye shadow. We still walk the dogs, but you better believe I keep my head down and watch where I'm going. On the up side, I don't have to do much for a Halloween costume. I'll simple go as a raccoon.

Oh, and FYI, did you know that the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk in front of their home? The city reserves the right to dig up the slabs for routine utility work, but if they don't do a good job replacing the section, it's up to you to shoulder the correction if you want. Many of my neighbors are older and on fixed incomes. I would never sue a neighbor over something like this, but some people will. I plan on buying a lot of ice melting chemicals for the walk in front of our house this winter.

So that's about it. I wear a large hat and sunglasses whenever I need to go out. In today's climate of accusations and finger-pointing, I'd hate to have my husband stared at as a wife-beater. Nope, nothing like that. I'm just a klutz.

Geez, I almost forgot. Book #3 of The Snoop Group series will be released in both e-format and paperback on November 26, 2018. Books #1 and #2, A Novel Death and Killer Conference are out now and available through The Wild Rose Press and on Amazon.

I'll wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and hope you have a great time with friends and family.

Until next month.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

My Kitten Muse and Holiday Release!

I am greatly entertained by my new little buddy, Sparky McGee. Big kitties like him and Puppy Cooper plays and plays with the baby. Our rescue dog, Jilly, is on board. When I sit on the couch with my laptop to write I often have a purring kitten curled beside me, a second cat humming in my ear, a third tucked in as closely as possible, and a fourth perched overhead. The dogs each have their spots. Oh how happy we all are cozied up together. The only challenge with writing is staying awake because these sleepy rumbling kitties make me drowsy. I often end up tucked beside them for a nap. 

(Sparky McGee surveying his kingdom from his perch)

You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals. ~George Mikes

A kitten is the most irresistible comedian in the world. Its wide-open eyes gleam with wonder and mirth. It darts madly at nothing at all, and then, as though suddenly checked in the pursuit, prances sideways on its hind legs with ridiculous agility and zeal. ~Agnes Repplier

(What I see when looking down beside me as I write)

A catless writer is almost inconceivable; even Ernest Hemingway, manly follower of the hunting trophy and the bullfight, lived waist-deep in cats. It's a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys. ~Barbara Holland, The Name of the Cat, 1988

If I called her she would pretend not to hear, but would come a few moments later when it could appear that she had thought of doing so first. ~Arthur Weigall

(Sparky McGee admiring my autumn arrangement)

Recent news on the writing front: A New Release!

I’m excited to have my time travel fantasy romance, The White Lady, in the new holiday boxed set release from The Wild Rose Press. Available in preorder now–out November 8th.
Blurbs for An Enchanted Holiday:
Mr. Jack Frost by Amy Hahn
Once upon a wintry evening she made a wish on Christmas snow…
Reagan Thorton never expected her wish to come true, even when Jack Frost appears on her doorstep. She doesn’t believe such nonsense or in happy endings.
Jack has until Christmas Eve to make her rediscover happiness in life and joy in the holiday season. But Reagan is falling in love and Jack knows that once Christmas Eve arrives he’ll vanish forever in a swirl of snow. Or will he? After all, he has become the reason for her happiness.
The White Lady by Beth Trissel
It’s just two weeks before Christmas, and Avery Dunham cannot change Ignus Burke’s mind. They must travel back in time to rescue the White Lady in the portrait above his fireplace. The magic-wielding wizard is obsessed with her. Avery was right: this adventure is not going to be like any other.
A Witch’s Holiday Wedding by Tena Stetler
Elemental witch Pepper McKay happily agrees to marry former SEAL Lathen Quartz. Planning a wedding and operating their wildlife rescue on enchanted McKay land takes a toll. Will the nosy McKay ghosts, Lathen’s werewolf pack, Pepper’s parents, and her best friend help or hinder the wedding and holiday plans?
A Magical Highland Solstice by Mary Morgan
Laird Cormac Murray has vowed to never take a wife. When a lost path in Scotland leads Eve Brannigan to a handsome but gruff Highlander, she fights the temptation to allow love to enter her heart for the first time. Can the Fae and the magic of the Yule season bring together two souls who have forsaken love?
The Christmas Star by Roni Adams
A holiday fling with Nick Christopoulus on a Greece Isle is just the vacation Chrissy Star needs from her world of elves. When she disappears after a night of magical sex, Nick is determined to track her down. But how can Nick, a non-believer, find a magical place called Christmas Town?
For more on me visit my Amazon Author Page:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Back Home, Blurry-Eyed and Bumm-Numb by Vonnie Davis

Evie, my nine-month-old Shih-Tzu--also known as "Buick Grill" (note smile)--and I putted into the driveway around 3:00 yesterday afternoon. It had taken us 18 hours to drive from northern Indiana to southern Virginia. A two-day jaunt. Getting there took us 21 hours. My daughter Amy kept calling. "Where are you now, Mom?"

I may have made a few wrong turns here and there!

Yes, I do have a GPS. Two old ones, in fact....LOST in my garage. My grandson downloaded WAZE to my cellphone. But I still managed to zig when I should have zagged. 

Seeing the family is always great, isn't it? Hugs and kisses amid laughter.  My two little great-grandsons, Benjamin and Zander have grown so much. And just how I could have "greats" when I'm barely 39 is a mystery to me.

If I hadn't driven enough, I drove across the state to meet up  with two other authors for an afternoon of writing talk and laughter.

Sunday brought my son-in-law a surprise. I had tickets for Bart, Amy, and me to attend a Colts game. Thank goodness they won.

During the 44 hours of driving this past week, I did a lot of plotting for another series. This may explain my getting lost so many times. How many of you plot or mentally write a chapter when you drive...or shower...or go to the movies? Odd how our minds work, isn't it?

And I'm home. My bed is waiting for me. Evie is already there. When you travel, do you feel like you need a vacation after you get home? Boy-oh-boy, I will definitely sleep in tomorrow. Until next time, take care and stay healthy. Hugs.
Vonnie Davis writes sizzling romance with a twist. Visit her at

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mid-Autumn Mushroom Hunting - by Judy Ann Davis

A Czech adage warns that “every mushroom is edible, but some only once.” Obviously, this translates to the fact that there are both safe edible varieties and ones that are deadly or extremely hazardous when consumed.

Many mushrooms grow around the stump of trees.
Do you like to eat mushrooms?

The other day I found some in our yard, and it reminded me of my childhood days on our farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania when my mother and father would set off on a foggy morning into the woods to collect them. Mushroom hunting is an old Polish tradition that was handed down when my immigrant grandparents came to America and brought their knowledge with them. They are hunted in both the spring and fall.
Hello Fall!

However, over the years, the popularity of mushroom picking has grown into nationwide celebrations, usually held in September and October. These festivals, honoring these funky little fungi, range across the United States from Boyne City, Michigan down to Madisonville, Texas and as far as Girdwood, Alaska to Kennett Square in Pennsylvania.

Of all the things I’ve tried to recall about mushroom foraging, I do remember my mother and father had favorite places to hunt them—around certain conifer trees and rotting stumps. They used paring knives and cut the mushroom from the bottom, allowing for renewed growth from underground. Carefully, they’d place them in wicker baskets. Plastic or metal containers don’t allow for air to circulate around the mushroom and can encourage mold. A wicker basket also allows for the spores to fall out of the container and hopefully land in a perfect environment to reproduce. 

In most cases mushrooms are cooked. Only those you know for certain should be consumed raw without cooking. Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, and German people use them extensively in many of their dishes including soups, sauces, and pierogis. They also fry them in butter with onions and serve them as a side dish.

Pine mushrooms, chanterelles, morels, and oyster mushroom are among the most popular ones. They can be canned or dried to be used later. I remember one year when my mother pierced the mushrooms’ stems with a needle and string and hung them to dry in our basement. They looked like little upside down umbrellas until they dried into a shriveled state.

The poisonous fly agaric
Although I’ve never tried hunting them myself, I know there are important things to remember if you plan to pursue the sport. The first rule is very simple. Make sure you know which ones to pick. Your first forage should be with someone who is experienced about identifying them since there are look-alikes among the many existing types. Remember, there are poisonous varieties like the false morels which are deadly or the red fly agaric with its large white-gilled, white-spotted top. I remember my father chopping the fly agaric up in a shallow metal pan and sprinkling sugar on it to attract the barn flies which died after munching on it.

Additionally, you need to wear protective clothing. There are insects, ticks, and snakes in the wooded areas and forging sites. You also need to check with the property owner to determine whether you are allowed to hunt on their land. Many state and national parks not only issue permits, but also have certain rules about the amount of mushrooms that can be harvested per person.

I’m told there are many mushroom clubs throughout the United States where you can join and go in groups to forage for mushrooms. I, myself, am content to use the grocery store whites or portabella ones when I sit down with my steak topped with the delicious, funky, little fungi.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

What in the World is a Volcanologist?

In my new holiday sweet romance, Aloha to Love, the heroine is a screenwriter and the hero is a volcanologist. The story takes place on a cruise ship and the beautiful island of Hawaii, where the hero is taking on a new post as a volcanologist, studying volcanoes.

Through my research, I learned that a volcanologist is highly educated, and a specialist in geophysics. Some of their work includes viewing volcanoes from helicopters, measuring earthquakes on the ground, scientific studies, and chipping away at rocks to gather molten lava samples.

Here’s an interesting fact: Over 600 million people live near one of 1500 active volcanoes. Volcanologists are the people who are keeping them safe.

Love Hawaii? Pick up your copy of Aloha to Love today!

Have you ever heard of a volcanologist? Please leave your comments below.

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations.
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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Memories of Palmersville's Halloween Royalty Celebration

by Laurean Brooks

When I was in school, one of my favorite times of the year was the annual Halloween Royalty held in October. It was an exciting month beginning the first week and ending the last week, as each grade competed for a coveted glittering crown.
Palmersville's school was small, staying at around 300 students in grades 1 - 12.  Because of the size of the school and our rural town, everyone knew everyone. Sure, we had occasional disagreements, but in the end,  all was forgiven, and we became family again. 

There were three categories in the Halloween Royalty competition. From grades 1-4, Maids and Paiges were elected. Grades 5–8 elected Princess and Princes. The high school grades elected Queens and Kings. All were voted on by the students from his/her class. The boys and girls who had been selected were excused from classes for one hour a day to practice a waltz in the gymnasium that would be performed at the Halloween Royalty celebration on the last Friday night in October.

The grades in each category competed against one another. Each grade strove to raise money by selling food or chances on items. Or they hosted hayrides, plays or sock hops. The class from each division who brought in the most money would win the coveted crown at the Halloween Royalty.

In sixth grade, one of my classmates brought his cotton candy machine to school. Our class took turns bringing cups of sugar to school to make the treat. I helped and can remember my amazement at watching the machine spin out cotton candy. The sweet concoction was a big seller. One day we ran out of sugar. But, never fear; I lived a short distance from the school. Our teacher, Mr. Trevathan, sent me home for two cups. Our sixth-grade class easily won the competition that year. They said we raised even more money than the senior class, which was unheard of.

On the night of the Halloween Royalty, the totals were tallied in each grade category. The three winning classes were announced over the loudspeaker and gold glittering crowns were placed on the heads of the elected royalty from those classes. As soon as the royalty winners were crowned, the three winning couples swept onto the dance floor to perform a waltz. 

The music swelled as the couples swirled about the dance floor while the entranced crowd fell silent in the gymnasium. The boys, decked out in suits and bowties, were handsome indeed, while the young ladies adorned in colorful, floor-length formals were a beautiful sight to behold.

The Halloween Royalty celebration was a magical night now etched in my memory. Our school looked forward to the excitement and camaraderie it brought.

All proceeds from the event went to the school to help with repairs, renovations, teachers' supplies, and other things that might be needed. 

In 2001, Palmersville School was consolidated. It was a sad day for the entire community. But we knew we had done our best. The funds from the Halloween Royalty had kept our little school alive and thriving for decades to come. The wonderful memories of tears and laughter shared from days-gone-by, still linger on.

                          (Credit for Palmersville School photo goes to Robert Reynolds)


A Vintage Era romance where two broken hearts are mended

Julie Blanton's dream is realized when shy Johnny Michaels all but professes his undying love. But, when he enlists two days later without so much as a goodbye, her world crashes.

Johnny has loved Julie since high school Civics class. But before he can muster the courage to ask for a real date, he overhears words that cut to the core. Humiliation drives him to make a rash decision. Will it cost him Julie's love?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Where Did That Idea Come From?

Have you ever wondered where an author gets their ideas for the stories they write? Well, I did. Once I began to write my own stories, I wondered how I would come up with the plots and ideas to get to the end of the book. Turns out, after I finished the first book, the ideas for the next ones began to reveal themselves.

    More recently, a couple of story ideas were inspired by my brother and a few of his life experiences. For those who don't know, my brother is Country Gospel singer/songwriter, Gunner Carr. 

    Last year he helped me come up with an idea for a book I was writing at the time, The Legend of Bad Moon Rising, and I asked him for some insight into a character he had helped me develop. The character was not part of the contemporary romance, but a major part of the history of the story and namesake in the title. I wanted to get the flavor of the man right in his story and dialogue, so I called Gunner.
    As we talked and I read him some of what I had written, he said, "Sis, I don't know anything about writing books. I'm just a three minute man." Well, I knew that statement from a songwriter, would have to find its way into a book. Four books later, I was able to sit down and write that story.
    This past summer I told you I was writing a Christmas story titled, CHRISTMAS, LIBERTY, AND THE THREE MINUTE MAN. It's a fun read about a sassy event planner from Nashville and a sexy cowboy songwriter from Texas.

   Liberty Ann Hart, tries not to fall for a local carpenter, but his charisma is difficult to ignore, especially at Christmas and in the rustic setting of a Texas town called Mistletoe. Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show the headstrong city woman a country life. Will a Christmas fundraiser spark a lifetime of love?

    It will first appear in the anthology, A CHRISTMAS COWBOY TO KEEP, that is now out in preorder. I think you'll like it. 

Don’t miss this holiday collection of modern-day cowboys and the women they love, featuring the same USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors from “A Cowboy to Keep,” which garnered 55 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars.

Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show headstrong city girl Liberty Ann Hart that a country life in Mistletoe, Texas, is the perfect Christmas gift.

A CHRISTMAS CAROLE by Andrea Downing
Carrie Matheson and her son are trying to settle into a new life in Wyoming. Tate Schrugge is trying to ditch his Scrooge and play Santa to the young boy. But will there be a Dickens of a romance by Christmas?

Lawyer Skye Mallory returns home for the holidays due to an unexpected inheritance, and cowboy Joe Carrigan stands in her way.

When Kristen Kelly receives a Christmas kiss from Cole Lawson, she doesn’t believe it means anything. But Cole sets out to make things right with the woman of his heart.

SLAY BELLS by Hildie McQueen
At a small-town Christmas festival sparks fly between Carmen Dias and Detective Jared Bowden, but a dead body and a pesky ex-girlfriend don’t exactly spell romance.

All Sofia Rossi wants is to re-connect with her estranged son. But can Gar McCulloch, a handsome cowboy who runs a juvenile rehab ranch, be the answer to her problems?

Wedding planner Melody Evans views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye. Veterinarian Leland Jennings IV thinks Christmas is for kids. Can the holiday spirit bring them together?

Happily and gratefully yours,
Love. Romance. Family