Smart Girls Read Romance





Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.






Friday, August 28, 2020

Roses Roses

If you follow me on Facebook, or anywhere else, you will know that I love roses. I am sharing a rose post from the past and hope you enjoy it.

Excerpt from my herbal, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles,

rosebud
(Old fashioned rosebud)
The English Tudor Rose is the heraldic floral emblem of England. The red rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster during the English War of the Roses. The badge for the House of York was the white rose. When Henry V11 took the crown of England from Richard 111 in battle, 1485, he ended that particular war. He introduced the Tudor rose, combining a red rose, representing the House of Lancaster, and a white rose, representing the House of York, as a symbol of unity after the English civil wars of the 15th century which later came to be called the Wars of the Roses.
The exact species of the Lancaster’s Red Rose is uncertain, but it’s thought to be Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as the Apothecary’s Rose, possibly the first cultivated rose. We used to have this ancient variety, but it finally succumbed to a hard winter and needs to be replaced.
Galica Rose
Rosa gallica officinalis
“My wild Irish Rose,
The sweetest flow'r that grows.” ~Chauncey Olcott
I have an old-time rosebud salve that I love made by the American based Rosebud Perfume Company, founded in 1895 by George F. Smith. They still carry the original salve but have expanded their product line; all are gluten-free, a plus for those of us who are severely intolerant.
Roses have an ancient history. The first cultivated rose likely originated in Persia and spread out from there. The part used is the flower, although the hips are also employed in tea, jam, jellies, syrups... The hips are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Some varieties of roses produce better hips for this use than others. Rosa canina, commonly known as the dog rose, is one that does.
Back to the flowers. The most favored rose for medicinal use is the above mentioned dark red rose, R. gallica, also known as the Provins Rose and the Apothecary’s Rose. Only flower-buds just about to open are collected, and the lighter colored lower portion is cut off from the deep red upper part. For making a confection, they are used in the fresh state. For an infusion, the flowers are thoroughly dried first and stored out of humidity.
Abraham Darby Rose by David Austen
(Abraham Darby Rose from my garden. A David Austin rose.)
The old pink cabbage rose is used for making rose water by distilling the fresh petals. A soothing ointment of rose water (cold cream) is also made by blending melted wax and almond oil with rose-water and rose oil.
Culpepper gives many uses for red, white, and damask rose cordials and conserves in the treatment of internal maladies including fever, jaundice, joint aches, weakness of the heart and stomach, fainting, an aid to digestion and fighting infection, comforting the heart and strengthening the spirit. Rose ointment is recommended for most any skin condition.
In his 18th century Family Herbal, John Hill gives a recipe for Honey of Roses that sounds delightful. He specifies using red roses. And I doubt he means modern cultivars, but old.
Honey of Roses Recipe: “Cut the white heels from some red rose buds, and lay them to dry in a place where there is a draught of air; when they are dried, put half a pound of them into a stone jar, and pour on them three pints of boiling water; stir them well, and let them stand twelve hours; then press off the liquor (liquid) and when it has settled, add to it five pounds of honey; boil it well, and when it is of the consistence of thick syrup, put it by for use. It is good against mouth sores, and on many other occasions.” (Which means it has many other uses.)

(More David Austin Roses from the garden).



Nonfiction Herbal
Nonfiction Herbal
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles available in kindle and print at Amazon.
An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them.
Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~
“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib

186025443

Monday, August 24, 2020

WHAT I'VE LEARNED...

    by Judy Ann Davis

When I taught career development to single parents and homemakers, we always tried to sneak in a little uplifting, motivational segment to help everyone stay emotionally healthy. Going through some old papers, I found one which was titled, “What I’ve Learned.” Here are six from the list that I particularly like:

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I learned that making a living is not the same as making a life.
 
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn!

The pictures I included are just flowers from around my house. This year, they seemed to thrive. Flowers are uplifting to me, especially in times like we are now experiencing. I like to stop and smell the flowers and appreciate their beauty. 






Saturday, August 22, 2020

Romantic Suspense Plus a Little Magick

  by Rain Trueax

A few years ago, I got an idea for a fantasy romance series, set mostly in an urban setting with characters I saw as ordinary people but born with magical powers, which they could choose to use or not. It interested me enough that I wrote the first two within a few months, the two older sisters in a family of four sisters and their widowed mothers. I saw the grandmothers as playing a role and set it in a place I much like-- Barrio  Viejo. It's right alongside downtown Tucson and made up of old adobe homes that were being restored.
I had come across the neighborhood in looking for El Tiradito, which I've written about before, a shrine to a sinner, who had been murdered in the barrio years ago. The place is full of spiritual and historic energy. 
What I didn't manage to do was carry the readers, who had enjoyed my historicals, along with me for the ride. Changing genres always has that risk. Some writers use two different names to build up a different readership. i prefer sticking with Rain Trueax. The lack of readership hasn't stopped me as there are now five books that only a few have discovered. Hey, that's the breaks of the game when being an indie writer. I originally thought of the books as paranormals, but they are not hard edged enough for that, the heroines don't live forever, and mostly they take place in what is a normal world in outward appearances-- except what most see is not all there is. 
What inspired me to see life that way, though I also don't see that 'other' side, was knowing
those who did. We were taking meditation instruction from a farm neighbor (who incidentally was black) and he came to one of the sessions describing going to a meeting of Buddhists in a nearby town and he saw what he saw as demonic trolls on the back of chairs, like spirit gargoyles. I believed what he said. I just think some see more than most of us.
When I wrote the first five books (another is started), we hadn't had all the trauma we have experienced recently with first the pandemic and then the violence in our cities. I just saw it'd be fun to write about people with the power to do something about what was evil around them. Don't we all wish sometimes for more of that? These women were born with the power of a witch and found it useful in their jobs, especially for the one who was a detective.
My books have always been about people being willing to fight for what is right, willing to risk it all to make the world a better place. The heroes have run the gamut of professions as have the heroines. My concept has been a hero can be a high school principal, an artist, a truck driver, etc. It's what they do when problems arrive that makes them into the hero archetype. 
The problem has been how to get my readers to follow me to a different genre. Likewise how  to find new readers who might appreciate something different. I feel that my fantasies offer the same kinds of characters as all of my books. Because a story is set in contemporary times doesn't mean the characters are that different-- what they face is. They are actually kind of sweet-- except all my full length books have spice. I could take that out but I have believed that
healthy sex is important for readers, that it can be inspirational for their own lives. 
In my case, I don't go on for pages and pages about the sex. I also am not into making them graphic as that doesn't work for me either when I am reading. If a book has too much of the story taken up with one element of the couple's life together, it gets boring to me and misses out on the rest of what relationships are about. What I need to find is readers for sweeter books, those who like Hallmark movies, but can appreciate a harder edge where danger lurks. 
How do I find such readers? What can I offer? Well, one thing is the first in the series will be free from August 21st to midnight the 23rd. A way for readers to try something new with no cost. So we (that is my husband as he handles advertising) will be running some ads, and I thought I'd mention the free part here.
This first book is Dangerous Match. It begins with a murder, which the heroine detective must use all the magick she possesses to solve before the wrong person is accused of the crime. It's the love story of a warrior and a witch-- a potentially dangerous match indeed.
Read the blurb and sample exclusively at Amazon; so that for now, the series can be sound in Kindle Unlimited for borrowing. 
 https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01GKH4DJA/ 
.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Our Surprise Visitor by Laurean Brooks




Last August on a hot afternoon, almost to date, the dogs started barking in the front yard. When I walked to the window to see what the commotion was about, I found the cutest gray donkey standing in the yard, head held high. He was the hairless kind--gray, slick, and shiny. 

The donkey ignored the dogs and began to fill his belly with the rich green grass of our lawn. The thought occurred, “If we owned a donkey, we wouldn’t need to mow the grass.”

A farmer who once lived down the road penned his sheep in his yard. The herd kept both the lawn and the hedges nicely trimmed. Maybe a little too close. The family never needed to perform any yard work. Unless it was to shovel sheep droppings. But, I digress.

When one of the dogs tried nipping at the donkey’s heels, the donkey’s patience wore thin. He kicked up his hind legs to back them off. It worked.

 

After a few minutes of watching the scenario, I ventured outdoors to coax our visitor to come closer so I could pet him. He only took a few steps toward me before the dogs chased him back.

We had just finished a watermelon. My husband told me to get the dogs inside the house while he gathered up the rinds. After they were safely inside, he fed the rinds to the donkey. I watched through our window with a good view of the backyard. The animal apparently loved watermelon. He chewed one rind after another while juice ran out of both sides of his mouth.

We figured the stray donkey belonged to the neighbors south of us. Since we did not have their phone number, I verified this by calling neighbors north of us. But, I messaged the owner via Facebook. We received no reply that evening. We found out later, they were attending midweek prayer service and of course, had their cell phones off.

Meanwhile, the sun began to set and the little fellow was still circling in our yard. I began to worry. Would he be safe out there? Where would he stay for the night?

Then a thought occurred. If I drove toward his home, would he follow my car? I did, and looked in the rear-view mirror to find him trotting behind. He stopped halfway to his house and watched while I continued down the road and circled back to mine. I prayed that he’d make it the rest of the way home.

The next day I received a message from the donkey’s owner. “He’s back home. He had a “habit of jumping the fence.”

They said they kept him around to scare off coyotes. When I asked the sweet donkey’s name, I was told, “We haven’t named him, because we plan to sell him.”

It was sad to hear the little fellow had no name. A line from the 1971 song, “You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name...” swirled through my head. The donkey needed a name. I decided to call him “Roamer.”


What would you do if a donkey showed up in your yard? What other creatures have paid you a surprise visit?



*******************************************************

Want a sweet summer romance with a bit of intrigue? I recommend BENEATH A MACON MOON. 

Jaela's life is shattered when her mother reveals a secret. With an urgent need to get away, Jaela moves to Macon, Georgia to house sit for a couple who are touring Europe for the summer. Little does she know that she cannot run from her problems. 

The handsome handyman is not only mischievous, but he urges Jaela to face her problems head-on. 

Eric is attracted to Jaela. He sees beyond her self assured young woman to the the hurting little girl behind the mask. But how can he make her see that she stands to lose it all?

Chocked full of wit, humor, plus hilarious elderly neighbors. 


https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Macon-Moon-Laurean-Brooks-ebook/dp/B00UZXUL88/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Beneath+A+Macon+Moon&qid=1597781774&s=books&sr=1-1

Sunday, August 16, 2020

August Quotes & Musings About August by Joan Reeves

In today's world, I'm forced to ponder about the use of august as an adjective modifying the word quotes in the title of this post.

As writers, we all know august, with a small a, means respected and impressive. The word, august, is derived from the Latin word augustus, meaning consecrated.

You may remember hearing in world history about Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor. The Roman Senate changed the name of the month, Sextilis, to Augustus to honor the emperor.

Language is suffering in the contemporary world. Blame it on the public education system, on texting, or on the decline in reading, but perhaps all of those reasons are responsible.

However, this is a post about wise quotes about the month of August, not a thesis on the damage to our eloquent language.

August Quotes About August

(1) August is the month of the high-sailing hawks. The hen hawk is the most noticeable. He likes the haze and calm of these long, warm days. He is a bird of leisure and seems always at his ease. How beautiful and majestic are his movements! —John Burroughs

Saturday, at our house in the country, a huge hawk landed in our backyard and spent an hour
beneath the peach trees eating the insects and seeds that lay about after mowing. The wing span was impressive—easily 3 1/2 feet. It hopped/flew from the peach trees on one side of the property to the apple trees on the other side. 

After a bit, the hawk flew up to the peak of the roof and settled there. It was interesting to see how the other birds that usuallly hung out on the high lines and in the trees steered clear of the house.

In fact, a mockingbird came swooping toward the porch. I guess it saw the hawk up on the roof and literally made a U-turn and flew away.

(Red-tailed Hawk image By Greg Hume (Greg5030) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17099408)

(2) That smell of freshly cut grass makes me think of Friday night football in high school. The smell of popcorn and cigar smoke reminds me of the stadium. The cutting of the grass reminds me of the August practice. —Garth Brooks

The freshly cut grass makes me think of band practice out in a field on a scorching day in August before school started.

(3) It must be the PGA Championship if it's August and you can sit down and talk to the heat or reach inside your shirt, where it's 110 degrees, and grab handfuls of humidity. —Dan Jenkins

I believe it was 112 at our house in the country yesterday. Stifling. I totally understand what Jenkins meant about grabbing handfuls of humidity.

(4) Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. —Kent Nerburn

I'll leave you with that last thought. 

It's an eloquent and poetic way of saying there's simply no rhyme or reason why things happen so be kind to each other.

If you're looking for some entertainment, look no further than Last Chance Beach: Summer's End

This romance collection of all-new short stories includes Hot August Night, my story. 

When they met, it was hate at first sight. Now they're stuck in the same overbooked beach cottage and horrified to discover they have the hots for each other!

I hope you'll enjoy this story of Houston's celebrity chef, Zander Rojas, a former Navy S.E.AL., and Chelsea Elliot, a Houston police detective. The two have a lot to learn about each other.

The Last Chance Beach: Summer's End box set is only 99cents for 14 wonderful stories.

Visit me online at any of these websites:


To receive witty and/or informative content about once a month along with some offers for free or discounted books and giveaways, sign up for Joan's Reader Friends, my free newsletter

When you confirm your subscription, you'll receive a free ebook or a chapter from an exclusive book not sold publicly.

Have a wonderful August. I'll see you in September!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Being Human by Bea Tifton

 

Sometimes, being human is wonderful. Have you ever pondered the wonders of the universe, learned something new, or experienced those moments of profound joy?

But, light must have its dark. Our lives are a precarious balance of opposites, heavy and weightless, empty or full. Happy or sad. 

Something terrible happened to me recently. Something that left me shattered.  I lost my little Sammy. 

I rescued my little Sammy from a neglectful home. He had been through a lot. He was found wandering around after a terrible tornado a few years ago, and when no one claimed him, an older couple adopted him.  A few years later, the woman died, followed by the man six months later. But before he died, Sammy’s owner begged his daughter to take care of little Sammy. And so she was, as she said to me, “Stuck with him.”  Finally, after three years of virtually ignoring the little guy, not even making sure her other dog didn’t eat Sammy’s food, she decided to find him a new home.

And so Sammy came into my life. He was skin and bones, badly in need of grooming, and very depressed. I knew little old man Sammy wouldn’t live to be a hundred. Such is the sad part of pet adoption. But I resolved to pamper and cherish him for as many years as he was with me.  Something about the little guy captivated me instantly. I was utterly besotted with him. 

 

Zoe, my little female Shi Tzu, loved Sammy, as did my cats. Bridget, my Chiweenie, and Liam, my Shi Tzu mix, not so much. They seemed jealous. I kept Sammy apart from Bridget and Liam, but Zoe was free to go play with him or sleep with us in the bedroom. I had a baby gate between the living room part of the house and the bedrooms. When I went to pick up curbside groceries and curbside pet food, Sammy went with me.
I took him out to the backyard separately from Bridget and Liam. And, at the end of the day, this quirky, gentle soul and I would sit in my big, white chair. We would smell the flowers and the breeze, watch the squirrels and the birds, and listen to piano music. It was our favorite time of day. Complete relaxation and peaceful joy. 

In July, I came home from a doctor’s checkup and couldn’t find Sammy. Liam and Bridget had apparently barreled through the bottom two hinges of the baby gate. Bridget bit him repeatedly and Liam shook him. I found him under the kitchen table. After a frantic trip to the veterinary ER and three tortuous days in the ICU unit, my little Sammy succumbed to his injuries and slipped away.

I was devastated. My doctor says I have “Acute Stress Syndrome.” I had to take something for a week to “Get me over the hump.” For days I lay curled up on the couch, watching one episode of “Murder, She Wrote” after another. I listened to the Allison Krauss station on Pandora. I took a lot of naps and had nightmares. I couldn't talk to my friends, except for one person who'd had a similar experience.

Grief envelopes people differently. For me, it was like a dark, heavy fog swirled around me.At times, it was a stabbing, unbearable anguish. And many people think grief is linear. It’s not. It’s a zigzag, making progress, then losing ground.  Bridget and Liam have been rehomed to a couple without kids or any other pets. Zoe and the cats are mourning, subdued and unsettled.

 

 

I’m trying. I rearranged the furniture in the kitchen after Bridget and Liam left. I threw away the baby gate. I smudged my home with sage and sweetgrass. I began writing again. My friends and family will be glad to know I’m showering regularly as well. But this horrific experience will take a long, long time for me to get over completely. Sometimes in one’s life, a “Once in a Lifetime Pet” comes in. That one pet that, for some inscrutable reason, makes more of an impact and is harder to get over. I love my pets deeply and mourn them deeply as well when they leave, but little Sammy. Oh, little Sammy. 

I have yet to sit out in the evenings again. But someday, I’ll be able to go out at dusk, sit in the big, white chair, smell the flowers and the breeze, watch the birds and the squirrels, and listen to piano music once again. Just being human.