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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Meanwhile, Back On The Farm

When you're up before dawn googling 'What does the queen have for breakfast?' it's fair to say you're a royal junkie. Not only am I captivated by the current royals, but also the legion who have gone before them. I've long been absorbed in British, as well as American history. My genetic heritage. Past tragedies affect me, like Anne Boleyn's cruel fate, and the fickleness (to put it mildly) of Henry the VIII. As to the question of whether or not old King Henry should be exhumed, I can see the validity in that. Tests could determine if he had a rare genetic disorder and related mental illness, and help to explain why he became an evil tyrant. Understandably, Queen Elizabeth disagrees. I suppose she feels he should rest in whatever peace he's got, and if you allow one ancestor to be dug up, where does it end?

(Henry and Anne)

(My favorite Henry and Anne)

Like the eager hordes, I've been following the drama of 'Meghxit'. Mostly, I'm concerned for the survival of the monarchy and poor Queen Elizabeth, who has nobly endured a great many trials. I don't have an inside track on what Harry and Meghan have endured, but I embrace the adage: 'With great power comes great responsibility' (Spiderman). My mom always says, "You do what you have to do." And I have the overwhelming knowledge of 'The Greatest Generation' who did what they had to do and saved the world from Hitler.

How do you tell your grandmother, the queen, who has denied herself and placed duty first her entire life, that you're done? And how do you transition from life as an adored prince to whatever it is Harry will become? If he changes his mind, then what?

We remember his great uncle, King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne for the woman he loved. Uncle Dickie led a lonely life in exile, even with Wallis Simpson by his side. Harry's situation is very different from Edward's, but there are similarities. Edward was a very popular king, and the people hated to see him go. Harry is a highly valued prince who will be sorely missed. The royals follow a strict set of rules which you cannot break and still uphold your place. You cannot have it both ways. Either you're in or you're out.

I've read many articles ranging from angry Brits who want Harry to pull his socks up and get on with it, to those who strongly sympathize with the couple. As the months pass, will throngs still follow their every move when they're apart from what it means to be a royal? 
***Shakes head, sad sigh.

Poor William and Kate will be rushed off their feet with all the added duties. Little Prince George and Princess Charlotte may have to be bustled off from nursery school to make appearances The corgis could assume new roles. When the queen said she was too old to get another corgi pup, it pained me. I think she should. She has adequate staff to assist with training and care for the dog(s) that outlive her. And if anyone needs a puppy, it's her.

Back on the farm, I'm battling this year's respiratory thing--with the welcome help of an antibiotic--and striving to finish the paranormal time travel mystery romance I've been at work on for two years. Everything from grief over my dad, to illness, to life happens has slowed me down, but I'm finally making headway. This may be my best book ever. I'm not sure how to entitle it. Technically, this is number four in my Ladies in Time series. But these stories do not need to be read in order. The theme is the main thing. This book could stand alone but it loosely ties into the one before it. I will be quite sad if it flops because of the faulty thinking that books need to be read in order. Any ideas? 

Somewhere My Lady: Book One, Ladies in Time

Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn't expect to receive a note and a kiss from a handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.

Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart's life before the Midsummer Ball.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

COFFEE ANYONE? by Judy Ann Davis

Coffee anyone?

I enjoy coffee. I drink coffee when I write. In fact, my morning is not complete without a cup, and my night ends with a decaffeinated cup. Although I don’t enjoy many flavored coffees, I do like to add a splash of a flavored liquid creamer to give my coffee a slightly different taste. Right now, our grocery store has come out with a new flavor, Marshmallow, with colorful bunnies on the container. I’m assuming it’s been released in preparation for Easter.

I personally salute goat herder Kaldi who, centuries ago in Ethiopia, discovered the wonderful coffee berries when his goats ate them, became energetic, and wouldn’t sleep at night. He shared his findings with the local monastery, and in turn, the local abbot helped spread the word east to the Arabian Peninsula.

By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in Arabia, and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey where it was enjoyed in homes, but also public coffee houses.

In the mid-1600s, it was brought to New Amsterdam, later called New York, and replaced tea in the New World when the colonists revolted against the heavy tax on tea imposed by King George III.

Most interesting to me is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Coffee…the favorite drink of the civilized world.” After learning Jefferson wrote that quote—and knowing he wrote The Declaration of Independence, I wonder how many cups of coffee was consumed by him as he created such an important document that changed our lives forever?

By the 17th century, European travelers brought the beans to Europe, and coffee became a breakfast drink, replacing beer and wine. It was said the people who drank coffee, instead of alcohol, began the day energized and the quality of their work improved. <Who knew??? Just kidding! :) >
Missionaries, travelers, traders, and colonists continued to carry coffee seeds to new lands, and coffee trees were planted worldwide. By the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world’s most profitable export crops. After crude oil, it is the most sought commodity in the world.

What is your favorite drink in the morning or when writing or when relaxing? 


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Beginning again-- Ever as Before

by Rain Trueax

Hi, I've been in Smart Girls Read Romance before, but it's been a while. For those who don't know or remember me,  I am a writer of historic, contemporary and paranormal romances. I have two adult children with four grandchildren, all of which I love very much.

When in Oregon, with my husband of many years, I live on a small ranch where we raise cattle and sheep (yep, they get along fine); and when in Arizona, I live on a little piece of desert, which we share with bobcats, javelina, coyotes, birds, rattlers, and other wandering though desert denizens. Both places inspire me to write my books, which always have a setting in nature.

Lately, my writing has turned to contemporary paranormals... well, I call them that because I don't have a better name for romances with supernatural elements. Unlike some paranormals, this family of witches are fully human with all the weaknesses and advantages that involves. The difference is they were born with extra skills like shape-shifting, apparating, seeing into the past, etc. They work on solving cases as a family-- no covens nor do they connect with other natural born witches-- least of all not with wantabe witches, who can ruin the reputation of then all. Some of them use the Akashic Records to find what has been written in the Book of Life... Oh yes, and they could work with spells-- but that's more a grandmotherly thing.

While they call themselves witches, when nobody is listening, they don't advertise given the history of how humankind has seen witches. They meet men who sometimes have their own supernatural skills-- or not. Some of the heroes don't believe in magick as a reality until they come face to face with something they cannot explain any other way. Whether they have a supernatural skill or not, they are always men offering something strong and unique to the women they will choose for their mates.

Until this week, there were four books about the Hemstreet witches, all based mostly in the historic Barrio Viejo, of Tucson, Arizona. The books came about when I went there to find el Tiradito, the only shrine dedicated to a sinner. I felt the energy of those streets, the mix of regeneration, history, and spiritual power. I saw the possibility for books about career women with a secret life of mysticism. Each of four sisters has their own supernatural powers-- want them or not. They are a close family working to protect the street from evil.

This year, I am releasing the fifth, which is in pre-release for a series I call Mystic Shadows (with other paranormals that are unconnected to the Hemstreet family). It will be published January 29th right before Imbolc. 

Maria raised her four daughters, with the help of her also widowed mother and mother-in-law, after her husband was killed years earlier. She operates with her feet in two worlds to protect others and, of course, her family. Being alone so many years, her friend tries to tell her she should find a new mate. How can she when she had married the love of her life, a man who was her ultimate match, a warlock of unsurpassed power. Still, there are several men who would like to change her single status. She can't deny her friend might be right. With an empty nest, she needs to find a new purpose just as she comes to realize old and new forces are threatening not only her family but the world.  Finding a new mate is about to be the least of her problems.

Imbolc is the perfect time for this book to begin. For those unfamiliar with the Celtic seasonal calendar, Imbolc (meaning ewe's milk) marks the beginning of the lambing season, although this year, we already have had our first lambs. It is the true beginning of spring and new life. It is thought to be about the goddess but it also is when the god returns. It is a time to let go of the past and embrace the future. Life-force is stirring. Celebrate with fire, with candles, that the darkness of winter is ending, growth is coming, as life renews.Ever as Before has the ritual celebrated by the Hemstreet witches.

It is available now for pre-order and will show up on your device (if you're hooked up to wireless) on January 29th. You are only charged when it arrives. It, as with Dangerous Match, Vislogus, Complicated Bargain, and Unfinished Business, is exclusive to Amazon and available for borrowing for members of Kindle Unlimited. It also will be in paperback along with the others. It is spicy and has some violence-- a witch has gotta do what a witch has gotta do.


Monday, January 20, 2020

How We Blasted in The New Year --Laurean Brooks

How did you ring in the New Year? Did you watch the giant ball fall in Times Square? Did you watch a fireworks display? Or did you go to the bed at the usual time and snore through the strokes of midnight?

My hubby and I celebrated a little differently this year. I began to get fever and congestion early on New Year's Eve. By evening, I was running a four-degree temperature, coughing and getting chills. I had worked on a manuscript all day, taking only short breaks to eat and breathe. Then I realized I had the flu.

Don't leave. I'm getting to the good part.

At 9 p.m. I fell into bed, thinking I could sleep for days. At 11:45 p.m., when I trudged to the bathroom, I heard a gusher behind the wall that sounded like Niagara Falls. I went back to the bedroom and shook my husband awake. “I think we have a bad water leak, and it's coming from the closet where our water heater is located.”

He walked into the spare room and pulled the partition loose in the closet. Water blasted him in the face. “Turn the well and hot water off!” he screamed.

I hurried to the breaker box and flipped the well and hot water switches while he pulled on a coat and walked out to the well house to turn off the faucet on the tank. Thank goodness, we keep 10 gallons of water on hand for emergencies. Like flushing the toilet. 

At the stroke of midnight, I was throwing down rags and towels, stomping on them to soak up as much excess water as possible, from the soggy carpet. Then I plugged up a fan to help blow help dry it out.

I fell back into bed around 1 a.m. exhausted. But not before I wished my half-asleep husband a “Happy New Year.” He rolled over on his stomach and groaned.

We had a blast at our house. Tell me, how did you celebrate your New Year's Eve?

Enjoy this sweet romance about a young woman who learns a family secret that turns her world topsy-turvy. Will escaping to Macon solve Jaela's problems, or will they follow her there? 
Witty, loveable characters, suspicious neighbors, and a twist of circumstances make BENEATH A MACON MOON a must-read. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hate Resolutions? Blame the Romans by @JoanReeves

Tired of posts about New Year resolutions? If so, you can blame the whole New Year Resolution stuff on the ancient Romans.

You can relax, this post isn't about writing resolutions. It's about why this is a tradition many of us would like to forget. *LOL*

Fuel for Jokes

Some people write resolutions. Some don't. Some like to set goals for the New Year. Others feel doomed to failure before they start.

Comedians joke that a list of resolutions is a list of things you'll never do. (Too true for most of us.)

A Very Short History

New Year's is the oldest celebrated holiday, dating back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians who feasted and "otherwise" celebrated for 11 straight days. There's just not that much history to explain the New Year and resolution thing.

Most historical accounts relate New Year's celebrations to the Romans. Supposedly, in 153 BC, Romans placed an image of Janus, the god of beginnings and the guard of doorways or entrances, at the beginning of the calendar. Yes, that's why the first month of the Julian calendar is called January.

2-Faced Janus
Coin with Janus
Coin depicting Janus. Public Domain Image
Janus was a two-faced god, literally. He had a face that looked back on the past and a face that looked forward to the future—all at the same time.

I guess it was appropriate for him to become the symbol for the new year. Perhaps they made resolutions for new beginnings in the New Year, and that's what started it all.

Romans celebrated Janus, looked for forgiveness from enemies of the past and looked forward to the future by exchanging gifts before the beginning of the new year.

(Above at right: coin depicting Janus. Public Domain Image

When Was New Year's Day?

Two thousand years ago, the New Year didn't begin on January 1. Even in our modern world, not every country marks January 1 as the first day of the new year.

In 46 B.C., January 1 became the beginning of the New Year because Julius Caesar developed a calendar (the Julian calendar) that more accurately reflected the seasons than previous calendars had.

Fast forward to today. We still celebrate the coming of a new year, probably pretty much like the Babylonians and Romans—you know, drinking, eating, dancing, music, and some kanoodling with your sweetie.

If you've already fallen off the diet wagon, don't feel bad. In a study on resolutions, more than 50% of the participants were confident they could achieve their goals, but only 12% actually achieved success. Forget that and drown your sorrows in a New Year Romance like Last Chance New Year?

For only 99 cents, you can see how a workaholic executive takes a leap of faith—hoping the man she loves will catch her.

Get Last Chance New Year at Amazon Kindle.

I'll leave you with these thoughts. New Year's resolutions mean changing habits. That's hard work.

Master change the sane way. Pick one thing to change. Work consistently on that until you've mastered it. Then pick another thing to change.That's the secret to successful new beginnings.

Oh, and remember, breathe, relax, and read!


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Year's Magic by Bea Tifton

Ah, the New Year. All that talk of new beginnings, a blank book, etc. A friend of mine posted something on Facebook along the lines of, “Well, it’s almost the new year. Time for all those ‘Everything’s going to be different and perfect posts.’” I was struck by her cynicism. 
 Don’t get me wrong. I realize that people don’t completely reinvent themselves just because the ball drops on Times Square. The world doesn’t become a Disney movie with helpful animals dropping by to clean my house, (still waiting for that to happen), everything doesn’t magically become perfect.  I’m a grown up, so I know that.

Background vector created by gluiki 

 But isn’t there something magical about new beginnings? They’re hard, sure. They can be messy, even painful. But the optimism. Isn’t that important? We haven’t’ lost our optimism. This year was a very difficult one for my family. There’s something comforting about a “This year will be better” outlook.  I think it drives us to better ourselves. To pick ourselves up and try again. To strive for better habits, a better life.

I’ve often heard people say, “If only I could go back. This time I wouldn’t make so many mistakes. I’d do things differently.” It’s a tempting thought. But the caveat is that we’d have to know we were going back, for without that knowledge, wouldn’t we just make the same mistakes? I’m pretty sure I would make just as many. They may be different ones, but still.

I prefer a different philosophy. Everything I’ve done. Every time I didn’t take that great advice that would have made such a positive difference, every time I impulsively made that illogical decision, and every time I made just the right decision made me who I am today. If I’d followed different paths, be they better or worse, I would be a different person. And after, um, (mumbles indistinctly) years on the planet, I like me. I’ve chosen to like me. And to be proud of the accomplishments I’ve made. And not to live in regrets or what ifs.
Viktor Hanacek Buy Me a Coffee

The New Year. A blank book. What an amazing feeling. What a great thing.  The possibilities are endless. Make the most of it.