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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Words From A Gardener

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. ~Author Unknown

Spring arrived in the Shenandoah Valley with balmy mildness in mid March and carried into early April. Glory days. Roses and other beloved perennials responded to the unseasonable warmth by leafing out--too soon. Raw wind blasted the vulnerable plants as I battled to cover them with blankets. Tender leaves suffered from hard frost. Sigh. On the brighter side, early vegetables escaped and the roses, delphinium, foxglove...are growing out.

Image of the hills and mountains behind our farm taken from the kitchen window on April 27th.

Virginia is headed into the third month of the quarantine, so heaven knows I've had ample time for garden projects. I've expanded my memorial garden and enclosed the addition with a low stone wall and wiggly Piggly fence, laboring over them for days. The whimsical fence is made from lengths of wood, including the special sticks Dad had saved to carve into canes, far more than he completed. I incorporated a few he'd worked on.

Other wood I gleaned from our farm, my folk's place, and daughter Alison's field above the creek, plus I repurposed objects and old metal. Everything is carefully chosen. Dad would heartily approve as he believed in recycling and making things yourself from materials at hand. I've also gathered worms and composted manure from the farm and added wheel barrow loads to my garden and beds.

(Wiggly Piggly garden fence with water feature made from an old metal tub. I added the solar fountain. Bunny statue below by my stone wall. Only the bunny wasn't repurposed, and is from  And yes, I own stock in the company. :)

Garden savvy folk probably know this, but seeds from online catalogues are selling out like mad. I'm a seed addict and have a large box filled with packs. Even so, I need to restock a few varieties and was challenged this morning in my efforts. Like many others, it seems, I'm choosing heirloom kinds that produce savable seed. These are especially sought after. I'm also avoiding local nurseries this year and starting many vegetables, herbs, and flowers on my sunspace.  So far, they're sprouting well.

Image below of my spinach patch we've harvested from for weeks. I sowed the seed last fall and covered the patch over the winter, added compost when I uncovered it. 

The spinach has thrived, as has the asparagus pictured below. It's been here decades. And seedlings on the sunporch below that.

In these uncertain times, people are putting in gardens more than ever. If you have any interest, best hop to it and get your seeds while there are any left. The garden world, like many others, has run mad. Seed and plant companies are sending out emails saying they've never seen anything like the deluge they've come under. Some have had to shut down, others are sold out and or experiencing shipping delays. Oddly enough, you're more likely to find a rose bush for sale online than beet seeds. 

Who the heck knew this was coming?
Not me.

The last of my tulips. These beauties are in a sheltered spot and have bloomed for weeks. My new favorites.

Onward ho and good luck with all your gardening endeavors. I'm in hustle mode before the heat settles in, planting and mulching like crazy.

Oh, and baby chicks are sold out. Backyard chickens have taken off.  I'm toying with getting an incubator and eggs, or ducklings...

Friday, April 24, 2020

* ~ * WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: A Celebrated April Playwright * ~ *

by Judy Ann Davis
It’s been a long, long month for people in our nation with our “stay in home or shelter in place” orders from our state governments. I hope everyone is doing well.

For me, more of an introvert than an extrovert, my days are not as difficult as others. I’m busy with small household chores or various activities as such as baking, sewing, crocheting, woodworking or writing. And I’m very used to solitude when I’m writing.

April is the birth and death month of one of our most well-known writers in literature—William Shakespeare. Ironically, Shakespeare lived through the first wave of the bubonic plague. It shut down the theatres in London and lasted sixteen months (during 1593-1594), killing approximately 20,000 people in London and the surrounding area. This was one of Shakespeare most prolific times for writing poetry. He is credited for writing over 150 sonnets. (NOTE: The Great Plague of 1665 occurred later, where 15 percent of London’s populations perished again.)

William Shakespeare was born to John Shakespeare, an alderman and successful glove maker, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. Since there was no documentation of his exact birth date, history uses April 26, 1564, his baptism date instead. He was the third of eight children and the eldest surviving son. At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he was. Together, they had three children.

Although it’s not known exactly when Shakespeare began writing, records of theater performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. He would have been only 28 years old.

After 1594, his plays were performed only by a group of players called Lord Chamberlain’s Men, of which he was a player himself, and which also became the leading playing company in London. In 1599, a partnership of members of the company built their own theatre on the south bank of the Thames which they named the Globe. The partnership also took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre in 1608. Records show that his property purchases and investments with the company made him a wealthy man. He bought the second-largest house in Stratford for his family.
History best remembers Shakespeare as an accomplished playwright, poet, writer, and actor. Along with his poems and sonnets, he wrote 37 plays during his lifetime. Some of his most well-known works are Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Taming of the Shrew. Sadly, he died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52.

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare work that you like? As a romance and mystery writer, I would have to admit that Romeo and Juliet was my favorite, despite the tragic ending.

COMING SOON from the "Two Scoops or One" Wild Rose Press Collection:


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dream Work

by Rain Trueax

 at the entrance to the Native American section at Arizona State Museum

Some keep dream journals. It seems a good idea. I don't and mostly it's because when I wake at night I want to go right back to sleep. Sometimes I remember a dream long enough to tell my husband. I count on that to hold the dream for a while. It doesn't always work. I've wondered many times why certain characters show up in my dreams, often nobody I know in real life at all and nobody I had been thinking about. Dreams are really the brain having fun with us. Maybe the energy of the dream stays with us even when we forgot the details.

When I've remembered a particularly interesting dream with some surprising elements, in the morning, I will head for an online Dream Dictionary to see if it has a message from the muse or my subconscious. 

With full moons, my dreams are often particularly vibrant, colorful and unique. With the world outside so troubled, having a dream that promises something good, is of great value. I had this one some years ago.
The hummingbirds were all around. When my cat caught one, I got it away, assessed it was unharmed, and freed it. It flew to land on my shoulder. 
Since hummingbirds flit around our house all the time, to dream of them isn’t unexpected. The unique part was its landing on my shoulder. Surely, that would have a message-- not that I found. I even went so far as to look for birds landing on your shoulder. Apparently, that doesn’t happen often enough in a dream for a meaning. They did though have one, which if this ever happens to me I’ll be sure and remember-- if you dream a bird got its beak stuck in your neck, it means you have been gossiping too much! 

In books, when it fits, I have used my own dreams as dreams for a character. Some of my dreams are like watching a movie with characters and plots. One gave me an opening scene, and I saw what the hero looked like, for a contemporary romance that became Her Dark Angel. Another led to my paranormal, Diablo Canyon. If a movie dream interests me enough, they don’t all, I spend the usual time figuring out the flesh of the story as they are very much bare bones. Logic is not required for a dream but definitely is needed in a book.

Some years back in a dream, I was told I had been a Yaqui in an earlier life. The people in the dream (none of whom did I know) told me that they were my family and in the next room was my Yaqui soul mate. The dream ended before I went through that door. I did a digital painting though of what I had felt in the dream. It was peaceful, beautiful and very connected to community and the land.

My interest in the Yaqui culture has led to collecting books, like the two below, on their view of their place in the cosmos: 

Yaqui Deer Songs Maso Bwikam, a Native American Poetry 
by Larry Evers & Felipe S. Molina 
Yaqui Myths and Legends by Ruth Warner Giddings

The Yaqui concept of the five enchanted worlds and their teaching regarding seatakaa (more on it in Yaqui Deer Songs) are at the heart of their culture even today when many of them practice Catholicism but have not left behind rituals like the Deer Dance. 

from the Yaqui section in the Arizona State Museum 

Yaqui characters and their beliefs have been in some of my Arizona historicals and the paranormals. Learning about a people connected to spirituality and nature seems particularly beneficial to think on right now for our own troubled times. 

Some years back, for our desert home, we found several what I see as deer dancer figures that had been created in Mexico. One is at our front door here. One is where we feed the birds. They offer comfort to me as giving me a little of what the creator perhaps imagined when putting the metal together.

In two of my historicals, Yaqui culture plays a part-- [The Marshal's Lady] where the heroine is very interested in spirituality and what might be. In [Forbidden Love], the hero is Yaqui in a time where that's causing some to be suspicious of him for an earlier Yaqui uprising in Mexico.  In the contemporary, witch family, the Hemstreets, they are descendants of that earlier Yaqui hero. Mysticism is in many Native American cultures.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Does God Use Roses to Deliver His Messages? -- Laurean Brooks

Revised from Original post on April 14, 2012

Roses seem to be harbingers in my life. Let me explain: My in-law’s rose bush flourished every summer. Fragrant pink blooms had covered it. After the blooming season in 1994, my mother-in-law passed away.

The following summer, 1995, a single rose appeared. This was the only bloom the entire summer. Was God giving us a sign? Did this solitary rose represent my sweet mother-in-law who had joined Him in heaven?

The next summer, 1996, a solitary rose appeared again, in May, soon after my father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. I couldn't help wondering what it meant.

Less than two months later, on July 1, my father-in-law passed. After the funeral, I thought about the rose bush. When I checked it, I could hardly believe my eyes! Another pink rose flaunted itself next to the other bloom. Two people who dearly loved one another were reunited forever.

My husband and I now live one hill over from his parents' home place. Our yard is also graced with a rose bush. It conveniently blooms the week before Mother's Day. I can pick my mom a bouquet for the occasion. 

This year a strange thing occurred. During the second week of April, one beautiful rose appeared high on the bush.

I contemplated what the early rose meant. Was someone dear to me about to pass? I checked the bush the following day. Still, the one rose remained

Two days later I read the news online that my sweet soul sister and author,  Sharon Donovan had passed away. I was heartbroken. Sharon was a treasure and an inspiration to all who knew her. We instantly bonded, sharing our joys and tears.

Legally blind by the age of 25 from complications of diabetes, Sharon did not let her disability stop her. She pursued her dream of becoming an author by tackling and utilizing a special computer program that read the typed words back to her. Within five years, Sharon had several published romance novels to her credit.

The week following Sharon’s April 13th passing, my rosebush stood in full bloom, the once solitary bloom now surrounded by many others. I believe God sent the solitary rose to comfort me and to let me know Sharon had joined Him in heaven
But, what did the surrounding roses signify? Did these new blooms represent Sharon's friends--the ones her sweetness and generosity touched while she dwelt among us? Through encouragement and love, she blessed so many.

Sharon Donovan, after all these years, I still miss you. But I can't quench the thrill you when I imagine you with perfect eyesight exploring the awesome wonders of heaven. You loved roses. I can visualize your eyes opening wide at the sight of gorgeous flowers, streets of gold, and the crystal sea. Beauty beyond compare. A place no sickness, no pain, and no tears can dwell. Where only love, pure joy, and laughter exist until eternity.

April 18, 2020 Note: The rose bush still blooms the week before Mother’s Day. My mother received her last bouquet from it in 2018, four months before she passed. I wonder if Mama and Sharon are enjoying one another’s company in heaven. I believe, if they've met, they have become fast friends.

I’m not sure why God uses roses to relay messages to me. But it’s past mid-April again, and I am keeping a wary eye on that rose bush.

Looking for a sweet summer romance? Severed Hearts will take you back to 1970 when sweethearts were separated by war, although it was never labeled a war. Many soldiers returned home alive, but others did not.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

New Release: Liam's Wild Irish Rose by Joan Reeves

I apologize for missing my blog date in March. Did you miss me? I was going cray-cray over trying to get an ebook published.

A funny thing happened on the way to publishing it, which was Book 4 in my A MOMENT IN TIME short story romance series. The book vanished into cyber space upon publishing it on Amazon.

Seriously, this was a book created for St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, it didn't show up on Amazon until March 31 then only the cover was shown. After another week of correspondence, it showed up with HTML code interspersed in the description. More emails. Finally, a few days ago my St. Patrick's Day targeted romance was up with the proper description, and almost corrected formatted.

Authors, do you ever get the feeling that a book is doomed from the start? I'm trying to shake that feeling  so I hope some of you dear readers will plunk down a measly 99cents and buy and review LIAM'S WILD IRISH ROSE, a story that was dead upon arrival after all the cyber shenanigans.

About Liam's Wild Irish Rose

This story brings back heroes and heroines from the first 3 books in the series and introduces Maura O'Reilly, owner of O-Net, a Houston internet solutions company, and Liam Harper, former soldier and now owner of Third Coast Security.

Let's take a peak at what's happening between these two...

Maura O'Reilly doesn't want a relationship--she just wants Liam Harper. But Liam wants more than sex. Just the thought of being tied to one man makes her anxious. She tries to resist him--she really does, but every time she sees him, her resolve and good intentions melted away. How can she cut him loose?

Of all the women in the world, Liam Harper had to fall for the one who seems to have no interest in him. At least no interest outside of the bedroom. A lot of men would think that was the perfect relationship--hot sex with a beautiful woman who had no interest in a relationship.

Unfortunately, Liam wasn't one of those men. He wanted Maura, and he wanted more than sex. He wanted all of her. Could he have the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day and finally get Maura to commit to him?

Liam's Wild Irish Rose is Book 4 of a 13-story series, A Moment in Time.

These highly sensual romance short stories—some amusing, some dramatic—are by moi, a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Each short story introduces new characters and brings back the heroes and heroines of previous stories.

Joan Reeves...Keeping Romance Alive—One Sexy Book at a Time

Escape today in the pages of a'll be glad you did. Wishing you good health and good times while social distancing. See you next month!