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Thursday, January 28, 2021

'Can Spring Be Far Behind?'


Thus far winter has been mild in the Shenandoah Valley. I haven’t yet needed a heavy coat to go outdoors. A thick gardening jacket, gloves, and a scarf will do. Last week found me still planting crocus and other small bulbs, unheard of in January. But the extended forecast suggests we are in for a stretch of colder temps, though not a lengthy period. The long range forecast points to a warmer February and March while still having some chilly nights. This works for me. After a snowfall or two, I’m satisfied that winter has paid us a respectable visit and we can move on to glorious spring, my giddy season.

The number of bulbs I’ve planted this fall/winter, added to the vast host already in place, promises a stunning display of color, fragrance, and beauty. And there are forget-me-nots, iris, peonies, violas, roses…a wealth to look forward to. All seems possible and probable in January. I’m filled with gardening schemes and dreams.

While I contemplate digging up the front yard, (an annual dream) I grow lovely things in my window garden and the sunspace, and I’m starting seeds. The garden makes me happy and I feel more deeply connected to God and the dear ones who’ve gone before me who also loved the good earth. And since I’m quickly done with winter, I’ll beat the groundhog to his prediction, whatever it may be, and declare an early spring. You’re welcome.

More images from my window garden to brighten your day.

(Amaryllis, orchids, cyclamen, paperwhites…)

‘Spring stirs under silent snow.’ ~Terri Guillemets

‘Winter and spring overlap at the seams
chilly breezes and warm green dreams!’
~Terri Guillemets

‘Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.’ ~W. Earl Hall

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

FINISHING WHAT I STARTED - A New Year's Resolution

                                             by Judy Ann Davis

There is a Polish proverb that says, “It’s better not to begin, than having begun, to leave unfinished.”

My New Year’s writing resolution is to try to embrace that proverb. I found that this last year, I concocted all kinds of ways to procrastinate and not finish writing some stories I started and later abandoned. Was it the pandemic mood or did I just need an excuse?  I have to admit, I had plenty of time to write while my husband and I were keeping ourselves safe at home. And, I sure didn’t enjoy cleaning my closets.

So why do I write? I think it’s more than just having something to say. I’m a daydreamer. I’ll admit it. I often have a story to tell. I like to create, and my mind is always churning out scenarios. Writers have ideas that won’t leave them alone. Or more personally, I have characters stomping around in my head who won’t leave me alone. They go to sleep with me and wake up with me in the morning. 

I also have found when I write, I enjoy the research, and I try to incorporate something unique in my manuscripts. My current work has one of the characters losing one of her mother’s Edwardian aquamarine earrings from 1910, with the stones originating from Santa Maria, Brazil. The earrings are unique and irreplaceable. What a great time I had looking at old jewelry. (Do you see any possible procrastination in that activity?)

There’s a mistaken notion from the public that our writing just flows out—into a perfect flawless story, just ready for print. Oh, how I wish it were so. Writing is work. But like other occupations, it can be enjoyable and gratifying.

I only have one New Year’s “writing resolution” for 2021. Like the proverb above, I plan to finish what I start. (Now on to the edit phase of a current work-in-progress!)

Did you make any resolutions this year? If so, will you share?

 Coming soon: VALENTINE'S DAY!

"Can one sweet kiss revive an old romance?" 


Friday, January 22, 2021

Reading aloud

 by Rain Trueax


We took down the last of Christmas-- the tree-- on Epiphany, which seemed an appropriate time given the story of the Wise Men. At first our home seemed incredibly sparse without all the greens, but I've settled back into it. I love this simple little house and feel grateful many times just walking into a room that is so us. It is full of art and furniture collected over many years with no idea it'd end up here when it was purchased. It's not finished as in changes may come, but that's the beauty of life. We can change.

Earlier this week, I got curious regarding how many books we had together read in 2020, our way to escape into other worlds. My husband and I began reading aloud, taking turns, last January and it has proven a good experience. Previously, Ranch Boss (need a new name for him that relates to the desert since our son is running the ranch) had done very little reading aloud; so it was a new experience for him, which he came to like. We often talk over what we read when we are finished with the snippets. People did this for many centuries, once books were available (before that maybe they related myths), but then other entertainments became more appealing. I think this is one that bears a new look as a way to share. It might seem odd that a romance writer would choose all nonfiction, but I think it's really very typical and the ways we do research.


Our choices were all nonfiction, some originally published as articles in literary or nature magazines. Many were kind of memoirs-- sharing a small part of the authors' lives. They are set in the Southwest with a couple of exceptions. Most we had already owned. A few led us to buy a book that carried on a theme. A couple I had to buy that I knew I owned in Oregon, but a used version was cheaper than asking our son to find them and mail them down here. I didn't think to write titles down as we finished them last year but we searched them out. They are not in order. Two of them we mailed to our son for him to read (the first two below).

The Happiness Equation

The Dude and the Zen Master

The Desert Year

The Hidden West


Taos Memory

Home is the Desert

One Life at a time, Please

Book of the Hopi

Pumpkin Seed Point

The Desert Smells like Rain

The Dancing Healers

The Theft of the Spirit

Kindling Spirit.

I was surprised to find we had read 14 with one more that we started in December but didn't finish until the new year. I might write more about it-- unless something else comes up for next Saturday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Fond Memories of Snow Days , Snow Cream, and Sled Rides by Laurean Brooks.

When I was a child, my siblings and I impatiently waited for the last week of January because it usually meant the promise of snow days. As the end of the month neared, we crossed our fingers and prayed for a snowfall deep enough to close Palmersville School.

When snow fell during the night, Mama would turn on the radio the next morning and tune into the local WCMT station. We'd huddle with bated breath waiting for the radio announcer to belt out, “Weakley County Superintendent Biggs Danner has announced, there will be no school in Weakley County.” When we heard this, we shouted, squealed, and danced a jig. Well...everyone except Mama.

With the first layer of fresh snow lying like a pristine blanket on the ground, Ralph, Jewell, Paul and I couldn't wait to finish breakfast and pull the makeshift sled from the well house where it was stored for safekeeping. Our older brother, Ralph had constructed it from rough lumber. It was cumbersome and resembled a wooden pallet. Only after the snow was firmly packed would it glide down the hill.

In addition, Ralph had converted a lid from an old wringer-washer into a circular sledding machine by removing the knob. The circular top was impossible to steer, spinning its passenger around and around. as it swiftly descended the wooded hill and raced toward the frozen creek at the bottom. All the rider could do was get a good grip, pray, and hang on.

The most exciting part of the ride was halfway down the hill where the sled or top met a gnarled root protruded from a tree stump. The ice-covered root became a launching ramp for the sled and propelling the sled and top through the air. Staying on the sled was much easier than clinging to the washing machine lid, once it struck the root.

Gripping onto the lid for dear life, we struggled to stay upright. Ofttimes we were flung off at that point, spoiling the fun. Dizzy from the ride, it took a couple of minutes to get our bearings after the ride ended—that is if we made it to the bottom of the hill intact. The ride on the washing machine lid was comparable to a tilt-a-whirl, except it was free and we could ride as many times as we desired. At least until we tired of slogging up the hill with the lid tucked under one arm.

When our fingers and toes started to grow numb, we'd trudge up the hill to the house. On the porch, we'd stamp off the excess snow from our boots before we entered. Sometimes Mama had cups of steaming cocoa ready for us.

After we'd drunk it and warmed up to the Warm Morning wood stove, she might send one of us out to pack snow in a large mixing bowl, for snow cream. We were instructed to scoop it from either the truck hood or the the top of the well house.

“Just be sure there's no soot in it,” she'd holler from the back door, noting which way the wind was blowing the smoke from our chimney.

When we brought the snow in, she stirred in sugar and vanilla, then milk. She always used evaporated milk to make it creamier. Mm...I can almost taste that snow cream now.

Which January memories pop into your mind? Please share them with us. We would love to hear them.


When Jaela learns a devastating secret about herself, she flees her hometown. But can she hide from the truth? Or will the meddlesome, but charming Handyman who's renovating the Victorian home, her summer abode, push her to face the truth and guide her toward love and forgiveness?

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Quotes You Can't Live Without by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

I may have been presumptuous when I entitled this post Quotes YOU Can't Live Without.

I probably should have called it Quotes I Can't Live Without because these offer inspiration for different areas of my life.

Some I read when I need a booster shot of inspiration for tackling difficult projects.

Others I read when I need a chuckle.

Still others I read when things don't go my way.

Then there are those that inspire my writing. Perhaps a quotation perfectly fits something with which my heroine is struggling. Or maybe a quotation clarifies why my villain is a villain.

Sometimes, I read something funny someone said, and I'll have a character speak that in conversation. Since I write romance, I thought I'd share some profoundly emotional quotes that define Romance because I describe the kind of romance I write as "profoundly emotional."

Love and Romance

And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. —Khalil Gibran

Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It's the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, "This is me, and I'm interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not." —Ashton Kutcher

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. —Maya Angelou

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. —Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

What is love? It is the morning and the evening star. —Sinclair Lewis

True love stories never have endings. —Richard Bach

I'm into all that sappy stuff - a surprise picnic, nice dinner, or traveling. I'm kind of an old romantic. —Will Estes

Love is friendship set on fire. —Jeremy Taylor

Love Is Friendship Set On Fire

That quote from Jeremy Taylor was the basis of the romance in my latest release The Key To Kristina.

When Kristina Rivera meets Wyatt Morgan, it is NOT love at first sight. In fact, she thinks he's everything she detests. She doesn't trust him. 

Kristina is broke—financially and emotionally. Yet, she finds herself undertaking a Quest with Wyatt that turns into the adventure of a lifetime.

More than a treasure is at stake. Danger stalks Kristina her every mile of their journey as she tries to discover the meaning of The Key To Kristina.

The Key To Kristina is a women's action-adventure romance with a mystery that keeps the pages turning. At least that's what reviewers are saying, along with "awesome" and "brilliant."

You be the judge. You can "read free" if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber or buy it and keep it forever!

Follow Joan Online
Thanks for reading! 

I wish you an easy winter, filled with sunny days, blue skies, and wonderland days—and good books to read when the weather is not so beautiful.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Snow Day! by Bea Tifton

I confess. I love fall and winter, but not so much summer and spring. I live in North Texas. In the summer, the heat is searing and overpowering. I’ve always been susceptible to heat exhaustion, so summer is not my friend. I have to miss many fun things outside because I can’t take the heat. Really.  And Texas only has two meteorological seasons, summer and winter.  I dream of moving to a place where it snows. Not those killer blizzards that I couldn’t begin to know how to negotiate, just some light snow that would make it seem like a good day to stay inside by the fire where it’s cozy and dry. Yes, I know that’s a fantasy, but it’s mine. Please don’t hate me if you’re snowed in against your will.

Imagine my delight when the meteorologist began talking about a possible snow fall. Really? A snow day? My inner child and inner school teacher, let’s be honest, kicked in. How fun. A snow day. Then, the weatherman began hedging. Maybe it would miss me. Those North and West of me would get some. I scowled at the green patch on the map that was splotched right over my house. Still, I remained hopeful that Sunday would be Funday. 

And you know what? In midafternoon, it began snowing. Lovely, big flakes. True, not much was sticking. But it was so pretty. I watched out my sliding glass door, fascinated, joined by a very puzzled Maine Coon Cat. It had not snowed an inch since 2015, and not more than an inch since 2010. But it did snow in 2021.

Of course, I had to go out to see it. I bundled my very senior dog, Otis, up into his bear suit (he’s very cold natured and sort of, well, bald in places with age) and my younger dog, Zoe into her sweater, blocked Ranger the Main Coon Cat from going out with us, and bounced out the door. Zoe is pretty Zen. She runs out into the rain and does her thing, doesn’t get cold easily, and is not easily impressed. She didn’t seem to even notice the snow that much. Otis, however, was not a fan. He is almost completely blind, so he was very confused. What the heck WAS this stuff? We didn’t stay out long. 

Then I had to go out the front door, sans dogs. My house looked so pretty with the snow still falling and just enough to cover the ground blanketing the yard. As soon as I walked on it, the snow became slush and my grass showed through, but I managed to get the required, “Hey, it’s snowing in Texas” pics. I used the snow on my car to make a snowlady. Her name was Lola and she was wearing holly berry red lipstick.

The snow didn’t last long. Some parts of the area where I live got up to seven inches. Some didn’t see a flake. By the evening in my neighborhood, the snow was no longer falling and by Monday, it was gone. But what a glorious, fun Snow Day it was.