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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Ahhhh, Spring! by Suzanne Rossi

Hello, everyone.

It is now officially Spring. Thank goodness. And the last few days have been like a picture postcard of the perfect Spring season--bright blue skies with a few fluffy clouds, warm sunshine, the occasional light breeze, and all the signals that we are coming out of that dull, dead Winter. The grass is greening up, the dogwoods are in full bloom, and the trees are beginning to bud out again. Even noticed the nubs of flowers on the magnolia trees along the street while walking the dogs this morning. Can the azaleas be far behind? As I sit here typing, I can see and hear a cardinal serenading me from the crepe myrtle near the pool. Robins are plentiful and it's lovely to wake up at five-thirty in the morning to hear birdsong in the oak trees outside my bedroom window.

I don't know what it is about this season that makes me so happy. Maybe it's because I view Spring as a renewal of life. The leaves, the flowers, even the dandelions in the yard give me joy. Daffodils have been glowing in flowerbeds now for several weeks. Birds are building nests in anticipation of new arrivals in their families. The cold, dark, dreary days of Winter are almost over. Oh, we'll still have gloomy rainy days, but it makes a difference when the rain falls on green grass. Of course, the sun shining though the windows shows me that a little elbow grease is necessary to scrub off six months of crud, but I don't mind. It's Spring.

Whenever the weather warms up, I find myself more productive. I no longer mind going to the gym. And even though the scale in the locker room doesn't show me losing weight, I feel lighter.

I'll be glad to begin wearing shorts and tank tops again. And flip-flops--can't forget the flip-flops. No more jeans, sweaters, or socks. My wool gloves, stocking hat, and muffler are on the top shelf of the closet, not to see the light of day until December. My new winter coat will also soon be relegated to a safe place. I'll replace it with a raincoat and a lightweight hoodie on the hook in the laundry room. And I know it won't be long before I can once again sit out on my patio after dinner with a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset. And grilling--ah, yes, grilling! My husband can slap some meat on the barbeque and have at it. All I have to do is microwave some veggies and make a salad. Whew, I'm beat. LOL

I also find that my writing improves with the warm up. Plot problems suddenly get resolved. Characters that didn't gel, now become whole. Settings that didn't inspire blossom with promise. And while I'm on the subject of writing, I'm happy because I received a contract on my eighteenth book, Judge Not. Next month, I expect to submit book four of The Snoop Group series, Killer Country Club. I struggled with that book all winter, but with the first day above sixty degrees, it all came together. I wish I could explain it.

I hope you all are also experiencing the joys of Spring. I view it as the renewal not only of life, but of the spirit as well. Looking out the window at that blue sky, the fluffy clouds, and the birds flitting from branch to branch, I know it's going to be a lovely summer, too.

Until next month,


Thursday, March 28, 2019

My Memorial Garden

I've crawled from the garden to share my quest of turning a large flower border into a memorial garden in memory of my dear father, my brother Chad, and my mother-in-law (Nana). Each of them were avid gardeners, and Nana gardened here before me. I don't have lovely images to share yet because the glorious cottage style garden I'm envisioning hasn't yet come to life. Mostly, I'm looking at bare earth I've labored days in, digging out wild aster roots that spread far and wide. Several roses already reside in this border, but were overwhelmed by asters and will grow more happily now that I've dug out bushel basketfuls of roots.

Hubby Dennis even brought in his tractor loader and we heaped it twice for him to haul away a giant pile of roots. Exhausting. Especially as I spent the winter in slug mode and have to get back into gardening shape.

 I've planted seven more roses, three of which I dug up and moved from other corners of the yard. The new ones I've added are from the wonderful English rose breeder David Austin and Jackson and Perkins, who always send me quality plants. Four more roses from J and P are coming to make twelve new additions. Roses are the star flower in my sentimental border, but planting and caring for them is a lot of work. They're worth it, though.

My garage is filling with boxes from plant companies, and more deliveries are assured. If I don't keep up with planting, I will be buried under them. It's possible I went a little crazy, but as my gardening hero, English gardener Monty Donn, says, If you're undertaking a big venture, go mad. Or words to that effect. And I have.

I'm including my favorite flowers, blue delphiniums, dianthus, peonies, foxgloves, coral bells, lilies, bellflowers, salvias, phlox, lavender, improved asters, poppies... Many old-fashioned herbs and flowers will fill this bed, interspersed with the roses. I've started sweet alyssum, violas, and forget-me-nots in my little green house that will be soon be planted. A solar angel (on the whimsical side) will go into the bed when there's more growth for her to watch over. Her wings are supposed to glow in the dark. I'm on the prowl for a solar fountain.

I've ordered special compost from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm for the flowers and daughter Elise gave me worms from Uncle Jim's so I can make my own. I've set up a little worm corner for them.

Dad's death, on top of my brother Chad's, hit me hard, and my father and mother-in-law died on either side of Dad. I know they're all in a better place, but it's still very difficult. I'm battling anxiety and depression. Writing is a struggle. But creating this memorial garden brings me comfort. There is much healing to be found digging in the earth.

One of the gardening shows that inspires me is Big Dreams, Small Spaces with Monty Donn. I highly recommend it. I also like Gardener's World with Monty. You're probably noting a pattern here. British gardening programs with Monty Donn, but the Brits have a love of gardening that goes beyond most Americans. I have much in common with them. As my garden grows, I will share images. For now, I'm sharing spring pics from other parts of the garden.

"If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden." ~Robert Brault,

For more on my work, visit my Amazon Author Page. Proceeds from book sales go toward my memorial garden.

Monday, March 25, 2019

My First Tea Party by Vonnie Davis

On Saturday, I had a delightful experience. My first tea party. I was invited by a friend who also asked twenty other friends to attend an afternoon tea at Ploughcroft Tea House. Her only requirement was to "wear a hat." 

I had no idea Lynchburg had such a lovely establishment full of antiques and beautiful tea services. A British flag hung beside the front door flanked by flowerpots full of pansies.

Some ladies wore vintage hats that were simply gorgeous. Others wore church hats (also known as 'crowns') or straw hats festooned with flowers. We had a grand time, talking and laughing. Pots of various types of tea were served: Earl Gray, Hibiscus, Tea of Heaven, Ginger Peach, and Oolong. I especially enjoyed the Ginger Peach and Oolong teas.

I'll be sure to include a tea house in one of my stories. Afternoon tea, perhaps, served in lovely flowered pots and cups just like we had.

This was our menu.

Elizabethan Tea

A freshly baked scone served with clotted cream, preserves and fruit garnish

Dainty open faced sandwiches to include;

Cucumber and butter, Egg Salad, Curried Chicken Salad and Smoked Salmon with cream cheese.

Served with an Endless pots of Tea.

Here we are--

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Potato Pancakes for Lent

by Judy Ann Davis 
Pancakes have existed since prehistoric times. They are round, flat cakes prepared from a thick batter made of flour, milk, and eggs as well as other ingredients like corn and potatoes. Cooked in oil in a  frying pan or on a griddle, they are made in almost all countries of our world—from the delicate French dessert crepes to the hearty ones served for breakfast with eggs and sausage. The first pancakes made in the United States were called griddle cakes, flapjacks, and Johnny cakes. There is a national holiday in the United States for the recognition of pancakes in November.

In Poland, potato pancakes known as Latke and Nalesniki Ziemniaczane, are very popular. Traditionally, they are eaten on Fridays as a meat substitute for Catholics and often consumed during Lent.

4 large potatoes (russet, Idaho, and golden potatoes work well)
1 small onion
1 egg
tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
2-4 TBSPs flour
(2 cups vegetable oil for frying)
3 tsp. butter

Turn oven range onto low, about 200 degrees F or 95 degrees C. [This is needed
to keep the pancakes hot while frying the entire mixture.]

Finely grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl and drain, squeezing out the liquid.
Beat eggs in a bowl and add to potato mixture along with salt and pepper.
Add enough flour to make mixture thick. (2-4 TBSPs)
Heat ¼ inch oil in bottom of skillet over medium heat and add a teaspoon of butter
Drop two or three  mounds into hot oil.  Flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes.
Fry until golden brown, turning once.
Drain on paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in low oven until ready to serve.
Continue until all the potato mixture is used, adding more butter with oil
as needed to fry entire amount.

VARIATIONS: Serve with eggs and sausage. Serve alone as a meal. Top with sour cream, or
applesauce or cranberry sauce. These are also served with melted cheese or meat and fish
mixtures on top.

In my novel, “Willie, My Love,” to be released April 15th, 
the heroine is eating a pancake on her birthday:

             Jonathan found her at the table hacking a flapjack into a million pieces. It didn't take any more brains than an earthworm to see she was in the vilest of moods for someone about to celebrate her twenty-fourth birthday. Following his explicit orders, no one from the entire household staff had made mention of it, and she was moping.
Whistling merrily, Jonathan dropped into a seat facing her.
Release Date: April 15
“People who are so joyful in the morning should have their hearts ripped out,” she muttered and poured more than a generous stream of maple syrup onto the shredded pancake.
A smile ruffled his handsome face. “You're just in a poor mood because you didn't find your birthday presents we stashed in the stables. Everyone knows you've tipped this house upside down in search of them. Think all that sugar might help your disposition?”
“I should have known,” she sputtered, coming to her feet, “only buzzard bait like you would stoop to such a childish trick.” An unexpected stir of excitement rose inside her. “So what are we waiting for?”
He followed her out into the summer sunshine. The first rays of dawn had already burned off the dew from underfoot. The doors to the stables were flung open, and he had to quicken his pace to keep up with her.
“I guess in all fairness, I should show you where we hid them.” Inside the barn, he led her past Silver Cloud's stall to one at the far end of the stables. Her eyes sparkled luminously when she saw a pure white horse, prancing in the stall, still uneasy with its new surroundings. His coat glistened like new snow in the slanted sunlight filtering through the stable windows.
She was so shocked, she could only stare.
“Happy birthday.” He leaned a shoulder against the stall. “A new saddle from the staff is arriving from Maryland next week. I ordered it special to fit the mount.”
            “Oh, Jonathan, he’s beautiful. Thank you.” She blinked back a tear. 
            No one had ever given her such a splendid gift since the day she received her first horse.

Now Available for PRE-ORDER on Nook and Kindle:

Friday, March 22, 2019

A First Place Winning Recipe for Irish Brown Bread by Josie Riviera

The perfect Irish recipe for the month of March, when all things lead to leprechauns and shamrocks.

I can’t claim this recipe as my own, as it’s a recipe from a dear reader and writer. However, this bread won first place in a Columbus baking contest!

You will need;
6 cups raisins
2 cups raisin water

Cover the raisins with water and cook until tender. Drain, but save two cups of liquid after cooking.

Dry ingredients:
7 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon allspice
4 teaspoons nutmeg
4 teaspoons baking soda

Wet ingredients: (all at room temperature)
1 cups softened butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Blend butter, sugar, and eggs. Add 2 cups of raisin water, then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Stir in the 6 cups of wet raisins and blend well.
Pour into 4 greased loaf pans. Bake 1-1 ½ hours at 325 degrees. When done, the top will spring back when touched lightly.

Do you have a favorite St. Patrick's day recipe? Please share in the comments below.

Love sweet St. Patrick's Day romances and everything Irish?

Reader favorite, OH DANNY BOY, is available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback.  

And now on pre-order: 1-800-IRELAND, book 3 in the Flipping For You series.

Irishwoman Kathleen Kelly wants to renovate her new tea house in America to a sparkling shine, enticing droves of customers to Roses, NC. But the project quickly takes a turn for the worse when her hard work falls flat.

Rob Taylor knows a thing or two about running a business. He’s built Rob’s Marvelous Muffins into a thriving business catering to hundreds of customers.

With Rob in Miami and Kathleen in Roses, a May-December romance isn’t a part of Kathleen’s carefully laid-out plans. Besides, they’ve both admitted to each other how unlucky they are in love. Better to leave romance out of the picture and stick to friendship and hard work.

Kathleen has no choice but to face what she is most afraid of … commitment.

And it will take more than hot tea and marvelous muffins to bridge the gap between them.

Pre-order today! Free on Kindle Unlimited!

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. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

Laurean Brooks’ husband is just home and recovering from a frightening time in the hospital. Since Laurean has to be Florence Nightingale for a while, I’m filling in for her this month.


As well as being an author, I’m also an avid reader. I love to find bargains on books from authors I enjoy. I’m a Virgo, but my youngest daughter and I tease that we were born under the Sale sign.

If you love bargains, let me tell you about some great ones I’m offering this week.
Originating for St. Patrick’s Day but lasting through the 21st is a sale for three books with an Irish heroine and each is on sale for 99 cents. Two are western historicals romances.

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is set in the Central Texas.hill country. This book is also book one of the McClintock series. Dallas McClintock is a man of honor trapped into wedding a beautiful Irish woman. Cenora O’Neill knows marrying Dallas is unfair, but she’ll do anything to protect her family and to save herself from marrying the brutal man who leads the Travelers. Buy this one at

THE RANCHER AND THE SHEPHERDESS is book two in the Loving A Rancher series. Mail-order bride Gormlaith McGowan arrived in Montana to find the man who’d sent for her had died. Garrett McDonald had no intention of getting a wife when he went to Cottonwood Springs for supplies but the sheriff convinced him to accept the young widow as his wife. This one is 

The third is a contemporary time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE, a romance with suspense. Deirdre Dougherty runs from a mob in 1845 Ireland, jumps from a cliff into the ocean, and lands in a Texas lake over 170 years later. While adjusting to her new life, she helps Detective Brendan Hunter unravel the mystery of who’s framing him for murder. This one is at

Viviana Mackade is hosting a Spring Fair. Historical romances on sale are featured on Wednesday only Although she is featuring historical on only one day, my book, MAIL-ORDER MORIAH, will be on sale for 99 cents on March 29-21. This is the first book in my new Pearson Grove series. I plan for this series eventually to include seven books.  You can buy the book at


All month is the March Madness Romance E-Book Giveaway organized by Constance Bretes. The link is Look about halfway down on her blog and you’ll find the graphic and Rafflecopter. My featured book is GARNET. You can see the cover peeking from the upper left corner of the above graphic. The book is regular price of $2.99 at but there’s a great Rafflecopter giveaway for entry. 

On March 26 I’ll take part in Jacquie Rogers’ Party at the Pickle Barrel Bar and Books. The party will start at 7 pm Eastern time. There will be prizes and/or swag by all the authors participating. Jacquie is a fun person so I’m looking forward to her Facebook party.

Happy Reading! Now for the recipe:


My mom prepared a lot of dishes handed down in her family. One we enjoy is her version of stew. This works well in a slow cooker or instant pot, but usually we use the old-fashioned range-top pan.

1 or 2 lbs. stew meat cut in smaller chunks (the amount of meat depends on your pocket book)
1 can (15 oz.) of diced tomatoes with juice
4 or 5 carrots, sliced in rounds
2 potatoes, cut in chunks
1 small onion, diced
Pinch of salt
Bit of pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder or more to taste (we use more)

Optional: 1 can whole kernel corn.

Add about two quarts of water to a large pan then add stew meat. (Some people sear the meat first, but Mother did not so I don’t.) Add other ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Simmer for about an hour. Add more water if needed. Stir occasionally to insure meat does not stick to the bottom of the pan. I add parsley flakes about five minutes before taking off the stove. Freezes well, reheats well. We prefer a lot of thick soup, so I simmer it a bit longer than necessary. 

Serve with cornbread muffins or the bread recipe Josie Riviera will post on the 22nd..

(my mother-in-law made this with seared ground beef instead of stew meat.)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ah, Spring!

Hi, everyone and welcome to Smart Girls Read Romance! Are you ready for Spring? I'm not ready for the warm weather that accompanies the next few months. Here in North Central Texas, we hardly ever have spring. More often than not, we jump right to the nineties and go up from there in the summer. What I am looking forward to are the green grasses, the trees, and the flowers blooming. Wait, where did I leave my allergy medicine??

Indian Paintbrush

Texas Bluebonnets
Crape Myrtle
Below is but one of the major pieces of machinery needed to keep all the growing and blooming under control.

In addition, I also look forward to the birds and other wildlife that visits us for the spring and summer.



All of the pictures I've shared were taken at various times, through the years, in our yard and small acreage. The little family of sparrows found a way into our enclosed porch and decided it was a safe place to raise their babies. We thoroughly enjoyed watching them learn to fly.

Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow and family

The picture below is one I took out my car window, as I left the house on my way to work. The sun's rays were special and I haven't seen the sight since. I liked to believe my parents and the Lord were watching over us that day.

I hope wherever you are, your spring will come sooner than later. I know more than a few of you are looking forward to thawing out. Thanks again for visiting today. We love to see you here. Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite time of the year is.


Love. Romance. Family.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Writing for Love by @JoanReeves

I write about Love, and I write for Love—the Love of Writing, that is.

All of my books are some form of Romance. I write (1) funny, sexy romance with a chick lit attitude, (2) edgy Romantic Suspense, and (3)  Contemporary Romance with characters falling in love when they least expect it.

I write these kinds of books because I love putting words together to create a story that resonates with the reader. Writing is my vocation and my passion.

Several years ago, I heard a University of Houston Literature professor, who was also a published poet, say that only poets wrote for the love of writing. His reasoning was that poets never make any money from writing so they do it strictly because they love stringing words together.


I disagreed with him then, and I disagree now. I know many, many writers who have written hundreds of thousands of words and have never been published yet they still keep writing.

I also know too many authors who write wonderful stories that sell only a few ebook copies. Hardly enough to pay an electric bill.

Why do these authors keep writing?
Because they're storytellers. Because they want to share the vision in their heads with readers.

Because, dare I say, they do it because they love the writing—selecting and putting words together to show someone else the vision of their story.

Ebooks were a game changer for Authors, and Readers reap the rewards of great books that cost less than a Venti Cappuccino at Starbucks.

For Your Consideration

I really loved writing Brianna's Season for Miracles. Here's a short excerpt.

Last Christmas was the last straw for Brianna Walker. Too much whisky, too much misery, and too much loneliness. That was the unholy trinity that resulted in a very public embarrassment.

Vowing never to return to her hometown, she left for Vegas, a city where she could be anonymous instead of grist for her hometown’s gossip mill.

Brianna really hated her life. Instead of partying all night and sleeping all day, she faced the fact that if she wanted her life to be different, she had to change.

Determined to ditch her so-called friends and the seductive persona she hid behind, she vowed to do whatever was necessary so she could look at herself in the mirror without being disgusted. She knew that changing her actions wouldn’t do a darn thing to “fix” her, but she had to start somewhere.

When her father demands she come home for the holidays, she’s devastated and afraid she’ll revert to old habits to deal with social situations that have always terrified her.

Then she meets Daniel Kelly, his warmth and kindness—qualities she’d never found in any of the men she’d dated—attract her. To her surprise, she finds his intelligence, courtesy, and niceness enormously appealing—and sexy.

Best of all, he’s a stranger in town and doesn’t know her reputation, but she’s learned it’s safer to avoid men like him for fear she might want forever out of the relationship.

A man like Daniel would never want forever with her once he knew her true self. Knowing that doesn’t stop her from falling for him.

Daniel already knows the secret Brianna is hiding. He knows he shouldn’t complicate the situation he’s in, but the attraction between them is hot and sizzling.

What will happen when Brianna realizes Daniel has a secret too?

Brianna's Season for Miracles is a Kindle Unlimited Free Read if you're a subscriber, or buy and keep forever.

Post Script

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. All of her stories have the underlying premise that it's never too late to live happily ever after.

Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. 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 her Mailing List/Newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream by Bea Tifton

In one of my all-time favorite shows, “As Time 
 Goes By”, Lionel often wakes himself out of a sound nap while saying something odd. I laugh every time I see this, because you see, I do much the same thing. I wake myself up talking in my sleep. Last week I said, “I just don’t want to eat the calamari.”
The weirdest thing I’ve ever said was, “We don’t need a flying toaster.”

Ah, dreams. Some we remember, some frighten us, and some slip away as we wake. But what are dreams? The short answer is, scientists aren’t sure. Some say that dreams are our subconscious mind’s way of working things out, but some say they are merely random synapses creating pictures.  Most of us have heard the folk belief that if a deceased loved one appears in our dreams, they are stopping in to check on us. 
"If You Want to Get High, First, We Dream 2/52" by Santi Xander on Visual Hunt

Do your dreams feature specific things when you are experiencing certain things in your waking life? Recurring images or symbols? Many people believe in dream analysis, a way of looking at our dreams to figure out what is or what is going to be really happening.  I looked up a few. The dream dictionaries sometimes vary about the same things in detail or in meaning, but here are a few examples of dream symbolism.

Seeing snakes. If you dream about snakes in your dreams, the general consensus is that you're  worried or facing a situation in your life that threatens your peace of mind or well-being. 

Being naked in a room of dressed people. You are feeling particularly vulnerable or fear being found out about something. You could fear being misjudged. You might feel unprepared for something. 

Being able to fly. You may feel a new sense of freedom and optimistic about your future. 

"The Power of Inspiration" by Santi Xander on Visual Hunt

Having a flying toaster. You’re just weird. No other explanation. You don’t need a flying toaster. (Okay,  I couldn't actually find this one in the dream dictionary.)

Do you ever have odd dreams? What do you think they mean? Leave your comments below.


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