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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A Fond Farewell by Suzanne Rossi

Hello, everyone.

This coming November I will celebrate my 72nd birthday. Even as I contemplate another year in my life, I have to wonder, where did the time go? Seems like only yesterday I was a vigorous thirty-year-old woman with  two kids. I had a lot on my plate, but managed to get it all done in the time required. When the boys were on their own, I turned my energies to writing--something I'd wanted to do for a long time. My father wrote short stories. I found them in a folder when I was a teenager. After he passed away, I made sure they were always in a safe place. By today's standards, his stories are pretty awful what with POV and dialogue, but the fact is they gave me the push I needed to pen my own. I had my first book published in 2010 and all I could think of was how proud Dad would have been.

Last week, my oldest son and his three sons came for their summer visit. Naturally, the final edits for Judge Not landed in my inbox and a few days later, the first round edits for Killer Country Club joined them. Not wanting to miss family time, I put off doing anything with them. Have to face the music now and get to work. But one thing stood out this past week. When my company returned home, I realized I was exhausted. It took two days to recover. And I had no inclination to do my job. Those two book edits are still waiting. I have to face the fact I no longer have the stamina I did even five years ago. And while my general health is good, I'm beginning to discover little aches and pains that weren't there last year. Plus, I've found I'm having a hard time focusing on what I should do, and instead squander hours on nonsense like social media and gaming.

In view of this, I came to a reluctant conclusion. After these two books are released, I will take a break from writing. So what if I only write five hundred words a week just to keep my mind active. I'm sure that one day I'll find my muse again and have at it. But for now, I'm sick of deadlines.

I also made another decision. This will be my last blog entry. I've had a ball this past five-plus years, but it's time to call it quits. I've struggled for several months on subject matter and honestly feel I've been lacking. I'm going to miss all of you. Smart Girls Read Romance is a terrific outlet for both readers and writers. I hope I've given you a few laughs and smiles along the way. To readers, I hope I've shown you a glimpse of what it's like to be an author. To my fellow writers, I hope I've imparted some of my knowledge and experiences to help you along the way--or to have you nod your heads in agreement and say, "Yeah, I can relate to that!"

I'll still read SGRR and make the occasional comment. Who knows? When my head is screwed on straight again, I may crawl on my hands and knees begging Caroline Clemmons for another go at blogging.

Finally, I'd like to thank you all for your support, comments, and readership.

So long, farewell, auf weidersein, adeiu, and good-bye--at least for now.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Need a Laugh?

These funny Mom texts (below) gave me a hearty chuckle. I totally get the difficulty with texting (autocorrect) and haven't even attempted voice text. Navigating the world of acronyms and emoticons is perilous. Uncharted territory. My advice: 'when in doubt, don't'.  But you can't always help it. Like yesterday, I'm  in the garden taking flower pics with my nifty iPhone (from my last birthday) when I spot weeds taunting me. I tuck the phone under my arm and bend down. After a few minutes an alarm blares. I'm so startled I nearly fall into the beans I haven't picked. Yet. I will.

What the heck? It's coming from my phone and there's a red emergency SOS threatening to send. Or did it already go out? Insert panicked bad word here.
I can't turn the phone off fast enough. Are cop cars gonna roll into my yard demanding the nature of my emergency? I didn't even know the phone had an alarm, let alone how to engage it. I do now.
What a monster this deceptively innocent device can be.
Oh, and then there's the whole Mom Memory lapse thing. I nearly forgot to mention it.
Fortunately, like the moms in my post, I'm blessed with helpful kids. My daughter Alison's silly goats worked best image wise. It looks like they're amused, or can't believe their eyes. I've included some 'best of' text exchanges between moms and their offspring.
Mom: Hi Bridget I space space space space how space are space you space doing period capitol eye love this new phone exclamation point
Bridget: I see you're using voice text. You don't have to say space Mom it does it for you.
Mom: I cucumber lettuce pea Ritalin
Bridget: What? Mom stop just type.

Mom:  What does IDK, LY and TTYL mean?
Daughter:  I don't know, love you, talk to you later.
Mom:  OK, I will ask you sister.
Mom: Andy, I can't find my phone. Can you call it so I can track it down?
Andy: I don't even have time to be quippy, Mom. It's in your hand.
Mom: What? No it's not. I've got a bag of groceries in my hand. Are you saying it's in the grocery bag? How do you know these things?
Mom: Never mind. I found it. Thanks!
Daughter: Mom where are you???
Mom: Leaving Walmart. Halfway home. Why sweetie?
Daughter: You brought me to Walmart with you...
Mom: Oh DARN! Be there in a bit!
Madre: I left my friggin charger in Dayton.
Mom: Do you know how worried I've been?
Madre: Mom I'm sorry. I couldn't get a hold of you.
Mom: I almost broke the treaty to be sure you were OK.
Mom: Yes.
Mom: Your great Aunt just passed away. LOL
David: Why is that funny?
Mom: It's not funny David! What do you mean?
David: Mom lol means laughing out loud!
Mom: Oh my goodness! I sent that to everyone. I thought it meant lots of love! I have to call everyone back. Oh God.
Mom: Please stop changing the google logo so much. I like the original one.
Son: Mom I don't change the logo. Google changes it.
Mom: You don't run the google?
Son: If I did I wouldn't be driving a 2004 ford.
Son to his Mum:
Finally, you've entered the digital age and got a smartphone!
How is it?
Why aren't you answering?
Mum: Howdoyoudoaspace?
Son: Got an A in chemistry!
Mom: WTF, well done!!
Son: What do you think WTF means?
Mom: Well that's fantastic!
Mom: Good morning beautiful. :) xoxo Your imaginary boyfriend.
Daughter: Thanks Mom
Mom: Hi Honey how was your day? 8=======D
Daughter: WTF Mom! Why'd you type a penis emoticon???
Mom: I don't know what you mean. 8=======D is an alien smiley face.
Daughter: No it's not! It's a penis. Who told you that?
Mom: Well I saw it in some of your brother's texts to his girlfriend and when I asked he said it was an alien. Wait so 8=======D~ { (0) } isn't a space alien getting on a ship?
Daughter: No Mom it isn't.
Mom: I'm learning how to hashtag!
Son: That's great, Mom.
Mom: Hashtag conversation with son

There are a lot of these hilarious Mom texts online. I laughed out loud. LOL.
I don't write comedy but I do have a keen sense of humor which comes out in my books. For more on me please follow my Amazon Author Page:

***Goats like to sit on rather than in their house.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

JULY - A Time to Relax - by Judy Ann Davis

My Patio

There are so many splendid things about the month of July. It heralds mid-summer in Central Pennsylvania. The song of the birds in the bushes and trees are an old welcome melody and many times a morning alarm clock as they scurry to establish their second brood.

Even the drone of the bees grows louder and more pronounced as multitudes of blossoms appear and clover blooms in the fields, luring them in.

The weather has turned warm and balmy, and this year—rainy. Vegetation sprouts greener, lusher, and higher than ever before. The fresh smell of newly mowed grass and summer phlox waft through our open windows and doors and forces me to pause for a second and just enjoy the sweet fragrances.

July Flowers
July is a reminder that we can slow down a bit. We can take a leisurely stroll or sit by an open camp fire. We can take a break in the sunshine—or in the shade—and read, watch wildlife, or just mediate.
Lighting Up the Sky

As night creep up over the hill and day creatures rest, the pines and bushes are bombarded with a volley of fire flies this year. They twinkle like little white Christmas lights.

For me, this is a month that allows for peace of mind. My favorite spot is a swing on our covered patio where I can sit, close my eyes, and listen to the sounds of nature around me.

Where is your favorite spot on a pleasant summer day?


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Trouble on Track V by Laurean Brooks

One of my favorite vacation memories occurred one summer during this same week of July when my husband and I took a trip to Branson. My sister, Ruthie, her husband, and kids made plans to join us a couple days later.

Terry and I got in town two days ahead of the rest of my family, since any chance of sight-seeing would be dashed once the entourage arrived. You see, my teen-aged nephew Shannon, his dad, David, and my teenaged niece, Mandy were avid fans of the Branson go-kart tracks.

The guys had already placed bets on who would win the title at Track V. The sign at Track V read: “Fastest Go-Carts on Highway 76.” The guys had boasted regularly since the previous summer about who would take first place in the race, while my niece smiled demurely.

Mandy is a “girlie-girl." She goes nowhere without perfect makeup and every hair in place. But don't let that fool you. She can hang tough with the best of them. I can still envision the guys' shocked faces as she raced past them yelling, “Catch you later, Dudes!”

But, I digress. Back to the real story.

My husband and I met the entourage at Track V on the afternoon of our third day. Their Ford Expedition was there when we pulled in. We found my sister standing near the gate. When Ruthie informed us that her husband, Shannon, and Mandy were already in the ticket line, Terry dashed off to purchase his own.

Ruthie and I watched her son slam into his dad's go-kart and spin it around 180 degrees. I remember thinking no sane female would get in on this action. Well... none except my niece, Mandy.

My husband, a kid at heart, never turns down a challenge. Combine his determination to win with my thrill-seeking, 16-year-old nephew, and prepared yourselves for explosives.

The guys and Mandy climbed in their carts and fastened their seat belts, rearin' to go. The wiry teenager in charge of the track was feisty in a Barney Fife sort of way. He could have been invisible for the attention he received from the impatient go-kart drivers.

Another young man’s voice croaked over the speakers explaining the rules of the race, while impatient drivers revved their engines, drowning out every other word.

“Do NOT crowd! Do NOT tailgate! Do NOT bump or push!” My husband and nephew had heard these rules many times, and as usual, turned a deaf ear, adhering to their own rules.

The announcer continued: “The gas pedal is on your right and the brake pedal on your left! Do not attempt to take off until all stops are removed!”

Then the Barney Fife character pulled the stops. Va-room! The race was on. Ten cars launched onto the track single file, burning rubber, as the slight employee fled the scene.

Terry gained on Shannon and tried to overtake him. Shannon moved to the center to block. He sideswiped Terry’s car, sending him and it hurtling into the guardrail.

When the spinning stopped, a dizzy-headed Terry was unharmed, but his car faced the wrong direction. (These go-carts have no reverse). In an attempt to turn it around, Terry repeatedly hit the accelerator, ramming his cart against the guardrail.

Seeing his plight, one track employee ran over to help. Together they pushed and heaved until the kart faced the right direction. Terry plunged into the seat and raced off with a burning determination to get revenge on Shannon.

Terry and Shannon's horseplay put them last across the finish line, in the lineup. While ten exhilarated drivers waited in procession for permission to abandon their go-carts, Shannon raced full speed towards the finale. I clapped my hands to my face. I knew there would be trouble. The boy didn't even slow down.

Smack! My nephew rear-ended the car in front of him, knocking it into the next one, that one into the next, on down the line--all the way to the car in front occupied by his dad Heads jerked back at each blow while Shannon did a lousy job at repressing a grin.

The red-faced Track Commander stamped toward Shannon until my husband's car zoomed into sight. Startled by the excessive speed, the poor guy darted a safe distance away. 

Terry's entrance made my nephew's look tame. Once more--Whack! Whack! Whack! When Terry's car rammed into Shannon's, my nephew's head jerked backward, erasing the smirk. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked around to see who had struck him. Again, the sound of metal striking metal, reverberated through the line-up of go-carts, jerking all heads backward.

By now the Track Commander was enraged. In true Deputy Fife character, he marched straight over, his face contorted, to where our guys sat. Trying to appear ashamed, Shannon wore a sorrowful expression. Terry didn't even try. His shoulders shook from suppressed laughter.

The Deputy Fife employee first shook his bony finger in Shannon’s face and screamed, “You will NOT ride anymore today!” Then he took a few steps to the back of the line and shook his finger in Terry’s face. 

“And YOU—don’t COME back!”

I could hardly believe my ears. My husband and nephew expelled from Track V for reckless driving. Both claimed they had mistaken the accelerator pedal for the brake.

Yeah, right. We took their stories with a grain of salt.

Ruthie and I hoped our guys would be sorry for what they'd done to get their driving privileges revoked. But, they weren't While Terry's face showed a sheepish grin, Shannon slapped him on the back and grinned. “Uncle Terry, you know what? The shift here changes in a couple of hours. We can eat supper and come back. The next shift won’t have a clue about this.”

You may ask who won this race. The Answer: David, Shannon’s dad, came in first. Not being the aggressive type, my brother-in-law putted along like Goofy on a pleasure ride. Except for the one time Shannon spun his dad's kart around, my brother-in-law enjoyed an uneventful ride. Like old Goofy, he laid back, putted along, and took in the fresh air of the Ozark mountains.

As with the Tortoise in the famed tale, The Tortoise And The Hare, David took first place by plodding along, minding his own business. No honors, no trophy. Just the glory of being called by his family, “The Winner at Track V.”

The title was well-deserved. Moral to the story: "Playing by the rules pays off. "

Her fiance' broke their engagement two days before the wedding. Miranda swears she'll never open her heart to love again.

Brady's still grieving over his the death of his wife, who was struck by a drunk driver. He feels that his heart was buried with her.

An ice storm, fallen trees, and cups of hot cocoa throw this unlikely pair together. Will they fight their attraction to each other, or will they allow God to heal their broken hearts.

Could the jonquils bursting through the snow be a sign of new beginnings?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Texas Road Trip Fun by @JoanReeves

I hate to be trite, but there really is no place like home. At the end of this post, you'll find the musical soundtrack to our vacation, along with the YouTube link so you can listen to what we listened to as we drove.

After taking a Texas Road Trip vacation, and driving all the way from Houston to Colorado, I was delighted at the prospect of sleeping in my own bed last night.

From Texas to Colorado

Okay, we truly are road warriors. Most people in Texas are the same because Texas is a big state.

By the time we arrived home, our odometer showed 1,925.5 miles! Of course, that was pretty much 1,925 miles of fun for us, and we may have taken 1,925 photographs too!

Texas has some beautiful architecture, and it's shown in the county courthouses and old churches. Of course, it makes the trip longer every time I say, "Stop. I want a picture of that."

The Hill County Courthouse takes up a square block. Many of the Texas county courthouses do.

The monument in front of the courthouse memorializes those who fought the World War.

When it was erected, there had been only one World War.

Another favorite subject for my camera lens is the water tower. I've got dozens of pictures of water towers from the one painted like a watermelon in Luling, Texas, to the rusty old ones emblazoned with "Seniors...of whatever year."

I made notes about every town we went through because these small towns with their oddities will find their way into my books. Oddities like The Drunken Pig bar, the ranch names and brand symbol on the gateway cross bars, the huge wind farms throughout the sparsely populated areas of Texas, and Rest Areas that are also labeled tornado shelters.

Texas to New Mexico to Colorado

Our destination was my younger brother's home in Colorado. That's it on the left, peeking above the trees on his property.

His home is at an elevation of nearly 8,700 feet. From the road, there are, I think, 5 switchbacks to get up to the house.

In case you don't know, a switchback is usually a 180 degree bend in a road leading up the side of a mountain. At a couple of the switchbacks there were huge piles of boulders, with each one taller than a person.

You can stand on his front deck and look across the valley to the snow-covered rugged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 14 miles away.

The Sangre de Cristo is the southern range of the Rocky Mountains. The peaks—most of them 13,000 to 14,000+ in elevation—all have names, and all the locals can point to each peak and tell you the name.

My brother called me a couple of weeks before we left and said he was standing on his deck and watching it snow in the mountains.

We spent the week with him, driving through the mountains and valleys, and I took pictures.

While he drove us to Bishop's Castle or to various other sites like Good Hope Gulch, my imagination was busy playing "what if."

What if a woman found herself kidnapped and hidden away in an isolated cabin in the mountains? What if she escaped? What would she encounter if she tried to make her way down a mountain? Would it even be possible?

Grand Finale

The grand finale of our trip was the High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival.

Billed as "one of America's premier bluegrass events in the heart of Colorado's Wet Mountain Valley," it's held every year at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliffe, Colorado.

Oh my goodness. That was so much fun. If you're like me and love jsut about every genre of music, you should go to this Bluegrass Festival.

I discovered musical groups that were totally awesome such as Savage Hearts, a trio of women, and Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, shown above. Wow. Original music...amazing instrumentation...awesome vocals. Seriously. Wow.

Soundtrack for Texas Driving

Of course as a music lover, I put together a soundtrack for our Texas Road Trip. I'm sharing it here with the YouTube link so you can take a listen.

Amarillo by Morning by George Strait

Luckenbach, Texas by Waylon Jennings

Waltz Across Texas by Willie Nelson

If You're Gonna Play in Texas by Alabama

God Blessed Texas by Little Texas

Galveston by Glen Campbell

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind by George Strait

Texas When I Die by Tanya Tucker

All My Ex's Live in Texas by George Strait

Girls from Texas by Pat Green featuring Lyle Lovett

My Texas by Josh Abbott Band

Dance Time in Texas by George Strait

Miles and Miles of Texas by Asleep at the Wheel

I Can't See Texas from Here by George Strait

What I Like About Texas by Gary Nunn

Blame It On Texas by Mark Chestnutt

Red Neck Mother by Jerry Jeff Walker

This is Where the Cowboy Rides Away by George Strait

San Antonio Stroll by Tanya Tucker

Bob Wills Is Still the King by Waylon Jennings

Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Waylon and Willie

If It Wasn't for Texas by George Strait

You Never Even Called Me By My Name by David Allan Coe

Write This Down by George Strait

The Yellow Rose of Texas by Michael Martin Murphey

You'll Never Take Texas Out Of Me by Waylon Jennings

Codigo by George Strait

There's a Little Bit of Everything in Texas by Willie Nelson

That's My Story

That's my vacation story which seems to be mostly about Texas landmarks, photographs, family, imagination, and music.

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.

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