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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Social Media Ain't So Social Anymore by Suzanne Rossi

Hello everyone.

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day. Our weekend was very quiet, which was how we planned it.

I think I've blogged about social media before, but now it's time to take another crack at it.

I've been on Facebook and Twitter for over ten years. I enjoyed catching up with old friends and relatives who live a thousand miles away. But that is slowly changing. The "hello, how are you" of Facebook is no longer there. The trivial and silly "Had bacon and eggs for breakfast" of Twitter is a thing of the past. And the reason for this is the sites have been politically weaponized. It's impossible to log into either of them without politics rearing its ugly head. And the saddest part is that both have encouraged the process.

Let's start with Twitter. What began as a simple avenue to let others know about you has developed into an arena of raging politics. Most of the tweets coming over my news feed are political in nature. Now, I don't mind people indulging in their opinions online. If I don't agree, I can scroll by and ignore it. The problem is the vitriol has gotten out of control. And the content of the tweets is questionable as to being the truth. It's hard to separate fact from fiction. Recently, even the site itself has come under fire for implementing its political inclinations into the mix. Many users have been suspended or banned for stating their beliefs. Twitter used the art of "shadow banning" wherein what you have tweeted is shown in your news feed, but not in others. Therefore, your statistics on retweets, likes, and replies take a serious dip. Twitter has also taken it upon themselves to delete some of your followers, so those numbers change, too.

To be honest, I no longer promote my books on Twitter and I notice fewer and fewer authors doing the same. I'll also admit that I'm politically opinionated and frequently use the site to air those opinions, but not under my author moniker.

Facebook became the social media darling. Users could connect with high school or college friends and distant relatives. It took the place of e-mail, which took the place of the telephone, which shoved an old-fashioned letter right out the door. It was instant communication on a large platform. It was fun. I have two FB pages--one professional and  one personal.

But in the last few years, Facebook has also has come under the gun for dubious business actions. When you sign up for Facebook, you list a lot of personal data on the site--e-mail, where you went to school, city of residence, even phone numbers. It turns out that FB was selling that data to others. Suddenly, the robocalls skyrocketed as did the unsolicited e-mails from various companies trying to sell their products. The sad part is, the ability for them to do this is laid out right in front of us with the "Terms of Service." You know, that unbelievably long statement in legalese that nobody other than a lawyer can understand. Does anybody really plow through all that and read it? No. We simply hit the accept button and move on. About a year or so ago, I went through my privacy settings and turned off as many as possible.

Facebook has another trick they play on their users--they regulate which postings you see. Yep. They use an algorithm to determine which of your "friends" postings are shown first. Now, I'm not sure what an algorithm is--it's got something to do with math and computers. I'm lucky I can turn my laptop on, let alone understand how all this works. However, I have about 350 "friends" yet often  only see the same 25 or 30 people popping up in my news feed. And some of those people have very strong political opinions that are opposite of mine. I rarely answer and scroll past, but every day, there they are again. If I haven't seen "Mary's" postings in a while, I go to her timeline and discover the section called, "Posts you may not have seen." She's posting--it's just not showing up on my page. Now, when I friend a person, I do so with the expectation of seeing their posts. Not seeing them leaves me feeling cheated.

As a result of all of this, I've cut back my time on Facebook, too. I try to post updates on my writing and my books, my everyday life, and of course, funny sayings. Occasionally, I post something political, but make the attempt to keep it general in nature.

There are other social platforms out there. One is It was started by someone sick and tired of censorship on Twitter and Facebook. There are no rules. People can post whatever they like without fear of being reprimanded by the site. The only censorship is what the user feels is necessary. He or she can mute another user and not see their posts. But beware--Gab by its very nature of no censorship is filled with hate groups. You have to decide what to mute. I find I'm not using it as much as I did when I first signed up 6 months ago. Can't stand the negativity or the ugliness of the words.

I also recently heard about a new site called "Parler." I have no idea how it is set up, but will check it out soon.

On the upside, I just finished my final edits for Judge Not. I'll have a release date soon. I also am happy to announce I received a contract for Killer Country Club, book #4 of the Snoop Group series.

Hope everyone is sliding from Spring into Summer gracefully. I've been looking forward to warm weather for months. Have a good one and I'll see you in June.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw

"My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings. The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming." ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon,

(Foxglove and roses in my Memorial Garden)

Living on a farm allows me more than a bit of earth, but the garden is also where I find my bearings. As much as I savor fresh fruits and vegetables, it's the flowers that feed my soul. Beds dating back to my late mother-in-law's day wrap this old white farm house and flow along the side of the road where drivers roar past. The road wasn't such a menace in Mom Trissel's time. Now, it's 'gardener beware'. I've reeled back more than once while working in that bed when a driver zoomed by alarmingly close. I have this crazy hope they will slow down to admire the flowers. Plus the barnyard geese graze in my front yard and sometimes wander near the road. We have about two dozen squawky Pilgrim geese. We'd have even more but they aren't great parents and often misplace goslings. We've rescued some babies but can only do so much. It's a running joke about the geese hating me, while not minding Hubby Dennis or daughter Elise. I think it's because I clap and shout to get them away from the road and out of my yard. In addition to grass they graze on my plants, like phlox and bee balm. Tender lettuce is also a favorite but the vegetable plot is fenced in. Pic of goose with the monarch was taken last summer. Those are tithonia flowers the butterflies love.

Below are Shirley Poppies, Larkspur, yellow evening primrose, roses, iris, yellow coreopsis, and blue Love in the Mist blooming now in that massive bed along the road. A giant old-fashioned rose commands the far corner. This sea of color overflows with wildflowers, perennials, heirloom flowers, roses, and herbs. The abundant plants are so thick there is little need for mulch. It's my living barrier to that beastly road. Grandchildren also play in the yard, but on this side of the border. The kids love to explore the many beds that comprise my garden, but they aren't allowed to stick a toe in that one. Only I risk life and limb.

I've whittled down the vegetable plot over the years and expanded Mom Trissel's flower beds while adding others. Herbs and blossoms surround my vegetable garden and mingle with the edibles. Drifts of wildflowers I seeded in April are lush with promise but I've knocked myself out dragging the hose around during dry spells. Blooms fill our small back garden from the white snowdrops in late winter to pink Queen Charlotte anemone in late summer. I watch from the kitchen window as feathered friends visit the bird feeder and hummers dart. Because this garden is enclosed by a wall, I can only expand it so far. Aggressive plants like fragrant Egyptian mint and Queen Anne's Lace have taken too much ground, though both are beautiful. The mint should have been planted in a pot but I didn't know that thirty years ago. Battling mint is an ongoing struggle and I must thin Queen Anne's Lace. Iris and Dame's Rocket (below) are finishing up for this season, as are Mom Trissel's peonies. I moved some of her peonies and iris to the kitchen and Memorial gardens. My dear grandmother gave me this white iris years ago.

Dear to my heart is the expansive Memorial Garden I've labored in since late February. Not only have I worked there every day the weather permitted, but often when it didn't. Cold wind blasted me in my scarf and multiple layers. Raw drizzle misted my face and chilled my muddy gloved fingers. In the early days, if temps hit the upper forties, I headed out the door. Fifties was a heat wave. Sometimes I waited until mid-day for the ground to thaw enough to dig. Everything was brown and depressing at first, apart from emerging daffodils. The only beauty lay in my vision of what could be. But I was bent on digging out wild asters that had overrun this enormous bed and creating a glorious site. I still dig tenacious roots out daily, but I've left some asters growing along the fence. They are butterfly magnets. The colorful mounds, some reaching over six feet tall, flutter and buzz with life in late summer. If I'm not careful, though, that's all I'll have. And I badly needed a goal and physical work this spring.

(Me digging aster roots. Hubby took pics when I didn't realize)

I spent hours crawling around in the bleak cold getting out roots. See the tiny plant surrounded by stones? It's a poor little rose that got lost in the asters, much happier since its rescue. Asters pictured below.

"Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it." ~Author Unknown (Truth! My back ached terribly in those first days,not much now.)

"I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me." ~Robert Brault,

The garden has, indeed, cared for me. My father's passing in late December, only a year and a half after my brother Chad's death, left me overwhelmed with grief. Then my mother-in-law died. The Memorial bed is also for her. All the digging, clean up, planting, mulching, path making, and ongoing planning for what to put in where has given me a much needed focus. Writing eluded me as I never thought it would. But nature hasn't. And Lord knows the seed catalogues and online garden sites are there for me. Local ones, too. I have discovered some wonderful gardeners through the world of YouTube. My favorite is artist Jeri Landers. the Storybook Gardener, who has been of much comfort and inspiration. I love her creativity and gardening style and avidly follow her YouTube channel

Like Jeri, I would describe my garden as cottage, country, with native plants. I'm not in the least formal. In one video, Jeri suggested finding an unsightly--even ugly--corner and making it beautiful. So I tackled the kitchen garden, another bed ruled by an overreaching plant, Bishop's Weed. It was a hard slog, but I am delighted with the transformation. Then I took on a third bed overrun with a different kind of wild aster, and so on...You see the pattern here. I worked until I dropped, but it helped lift my spirits. 

Jeri raised stunning foxglove from seed this year, while I bought plants, so guess what seed I ordered, plus. I have a little greenhouse Dennis built for me eons ago, but it relies on solar heat. Too often seeds I sow in spring don't germinate, even with a heating mat. I like Jeri's idea of starting some of the hardy flowers in summer and wintering them over to bloom next year.

My most enticing plant lure are roses. At last count, I've moved four from various corners of the yard where they weren't thriving to join five existing roses in my Memorial Garden. Two more roses were given to me, and I've purchased fourteen. So far. You can't have a remembrance garden without the queen of flowers. Most came from English rose breeder David Austin and Jackson and Perkins. (J and P had a super sale this past week.) Several roses spilled into my newly reclaimed kitchen garden. I eagerly await those that have not yet bloomed. Among my new Memorial Garden additions are delphiniums, various buddleias, oriental lilies, gladiolas, hollyhocks, sweet William, iris, peonies, hardy geraniums, dianthus, bellflowers, less aggressive perennial asters and an annual aster, heuchera (coral bells) Lady's Mantle, phlox, yarrow, saliva, rudbeckia, violas, columbine, different varieties of poppies, foxglove, lupins, verbena, catmint, sweet alyssum, lavender, chamomile, lemon marigolds... I'm still adding. Pics below from emerging blooms in that garden: roses, nepeta (catmint) miniature delphinium and violas. I started violas and alyssum from seed.

Carding Mill -- David Austen Rose

Grief has its own timetable, with unpredictable ups and downs, as uncontrollable as the tide. I'm slowly finding my way, but know the sadness will never fully leave me. I already knew this from past grief, but never quite so sharply. I'm blessed with a close loving family and dear friends. They are my lifelines. I hope to find my way back to writing. This is the most I've written in months and it hasn't been easy, but cathartic. For me, gardening is a vital part of healing. At some point, I will add a plaque, statue, or remembrance stone to the Memorial garden. Maybe all three. It's a work in progress. 

"I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation." ~Phyllis Theroux

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Celebrating Memorial Day Back in the 50's ~ by Vonnie Davis

This year Memorial Day is celebrated on my birthday. My seventy-first, in fact. Yeah, I'm older than Methuselah. What can I say?

Growing up in south-central Pennsylvania, this holiday was one of relaxation for my work-focused parents and carries good memories. Days before Memorial Day, Mother watched the buds on the row of peonies planted along the driveway bloom. Extra care was also given to all the irises, or flags as she called them, to bloom. She and her four sisters traded all the colors of irises growing in their yards until each had a vibrant assortment of colors. My favorite was a salmon-pink. There were also roses--red, pink, and yellow. Mother could get a stone to bloom.

Early in the morning, we'd make bouquets from flowers blooming in our large yard in Mason jars. These were created to place at the headstones of family members--grandparents, brothers, sisters, great-grandparents, nieces and nephews.

With flower-filled jars placed in boxes and a whicker basket full of fried chicken, potato salad chilled in a jar, pickled eggs, sliced cheddar cheese, pies--both apple and blueberry, we'd take off to town 1/2 hour away to  attend the short Memorial Day parade.

After the parade, we drove to four different cemeteries to place the jars in front of headstones. Then came the guessing game of who'd brought which bouquet. My mother would sneer with disdain. "Look, I bet those are flowers from a store."

Once all our home-grown arrangements were delivered, we'd go for a long drive. Gas was 26 cents a gallon at the time and we had a '54 Chevy. We'd drive for what seemed like an hour or more to a church in the country or a field. We'd crawl over the fence if there was one and Dad would carry the filled basket of food. Mom, the igloo cooler of homemade lemonade, in which she always added a half-cup of vinegar to make us pucker. After all, our thirst couldn't be quenched until we puckered. A recipe handed down from German great-grandmas. 

We'd find just the right spot to spread the starched and ironed tablecloth. We'd eat until we couldn't swallow another bite. Dad would stretch out and nap on the grass. Mother would tell me stories until she fell asleep. Then I'd sit under a shade tree and make-up stories of my own. Now, I'm still making up stories.


Vonnie Davis writes contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Follow her on Amazon at

Friday, May 24, 2019

Celebrating "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB" ~ by Judy Ann Davis

Now that I have a seventeen-month-old grandson, born in Alaska, I consider it my duty as his Grammy to introduce him to books and send them to him for all major holidays and life events.

While searching for poems, I stumbled upon the information behind the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which was published by the Boston publishing firm, Marsh, Capen and Lyon, as a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on March 24, 1830—189 years ago on this date.

Supposedly, the idea for the poem came from a true story of a fourteen-year-old girl, Mary Sawyer, who took her lamb with her to school after some encouragement by her brother. Naturally, the pet did not go unnoticed and ended up a distraction for the children.

There is speculation that parts of the poem might have been written by a young John Roulstone, who was visiting the school that day, but Sarah Josepha Hale is given credit. Later, the musical sheet was written by composer Lowel Mason in the 1830s.

What I believe is most amazing is that this simple poem, starting with Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, has survived centuries upon centuries and is still sung or recited to young children even today. Can you remember all the words? If not, here is the complete poem.

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cried.
"Oh, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher then replied.
       ~ Author: Sarah J. Hale - 1788-1879 (1830)

If you have a favorite children’s poem you remember from childhood, or one you liked to use with your children or grandchildren, please share in the comments box. Grammy is always on the lookout for suggestions.

My Latest Release: 
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"Can two stubborn hearts find love under the tall white pines?"

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorializing Memorial Day by and New Release by Josie Riviera

For many of us, Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 27th.

This is a federal holiday in the United States when we honor and remember persons who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

My great-uncle is one of the people I remember on this day. Only in his early 20's when he died while serving overseas, my Mom often spoke of his passing and he is greatly missed.

Who do you memorialize on Memorial Day? Please leave your comments below.

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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. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Essential Oils? Only for stress? Think again -- Laurean Brooks

My interest in Essential Oils piqued a few months ago when I watched a holistic doctor and his wife on television, who swore by them. Previously, I had used the occasional drops of lavender or chamomile in my bath water for relaxation. Now, I dab scented oils, depending on my mood, in a diffuser for aromatherapy, on my wrists as a perfume, and sprinkle drops on my pillowcase at night to help me sleep.

The use of Essential Oils goes back thousands of years. 
In China, the first use was recorded during the reign of Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor around 2697 to 2597 BC.

The wise men brought Frankincense and Myrrh to the Christ Child. Even in Biblical days, perfumes were made from blends of aromatic oils.

You may recall the Bible story of a woman who poured an alabaster jar of precious oil over Jesus' head. Could it have been Rose oil? Did you know it takes 22 pounds of crushed rose petals to make a 5 ml bottle of oil? No wonder Rose oil one of the most expensive Essential Oils!

While browsing the web, I discovered essential oils which not only help with sleep, stress, physical and mental fatigue, but those which aid emotional healing by helping us through grief, experience peace, joy, and release unpleasant memories.

A few of these are:
Geranium, Bergamot, Lavender, Cedarwood, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, and Clary Sage.

Until I began my research, I did not realize the wide selection of oils available. Each has a distinctive scent. While some are either woodsy or flowery scented, others are fruity or citrusy.

Add a couple drops each of Vetiver, Myrrh, Sandalwood, and Bergamot to a diffuser for a peaceful night's sleep. The tantalizing fragrance lingers in the bedroom for days.

 The sense of smell breaks down the blood/brain barrier and is closely linked with memory, more so than the other senses. If you prefer not to use a diffuser, put a few drops on your pillowcase before you retire.

Those with full olfactory function may be able to recall certain smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in bloom or the spicy scent of Mom in the kitchen baking cookies.

Below is a rundown of a few of my current favorite aromatic oils.

Bergamot oil is known for its healing effects on physiological distress. Use it when you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed and need to find balance.
  • Cortisol levels
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
Patchouli oil is often used to relieve the feeling of emptiness or emotional disconnection. Use it when You are feeling disconnected from yourself or community.

Sandalwood oil is known to move stagnant energy, helping with centering or grounding. Use it when you're feeling stuck where you are and need a boost to feel at peace.

Frankincense can help improve your body's ability to protect and heal. It is also useful for relieving feelings of grief or emotional trauma. Use it regularly as a preventative measure or during painful times, like losing a loved one. 

Lemon essential oil can help reduce excess congestion mentally, physically, and emotionally, and provides lightness. It can also:
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Reduce anger and agitation
  • Uplift emotions
  • Relieve depression
Rose oil is excellent for improving mental well-being and boosting loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. This oil is known for its sedative healing properties, providing emotional relief due to:
  • Excessive worry
  • Anxiety
  • Grief or loss
  • Jealousy
  • Post-traumatic stress
For joy and happiness, blend together a couple drops each of Ylang Ylang, Cypress, and Marjoram. It will quickly pull you out of an emotional slump. Some writers swear that massaging a few drops of Citrus oils into the area below the belly button, inspires creativity.

The many uses of essential oils boggle the mind. I urge you to try them for yourself. Start with a few bottles--maybe one for energy, another for joy, and the third for relaxation. You can add to your collection as the need arises. I keep Peppermint Oil, on my desk for mental clarity, and Rosemary to boost the memory, On my headboard and nightstand, I keep oils for relaxation.

I have gradually added to my bottles of Essential Oils and will add more as I research and learn of their properties. I urge you to try them, starting with four or five. 
Here's a link to get you started. I hope your experience with Essential Oils is as productive and exciting as mine. 


Jill knows Rob has a dark secret. Why won't he confide in her? And why does he become evasive when she asks perfectly innocent questions about his past? Can their relationship survive the test of trust?
Over The Coals - an intriguing, heartwarming summer romance