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.






Monday, October 18, 2021

The Ripple Effect by Liz Flaherty

Hi, everybody. This is my introductory post to Smart Girls. I'm so happy to be here and so glad no one checked my qualifications before inviting me. I seem to have a lot of days lately where smart just doesn't happen. 


But I still read and write romance. I've segued into women's fiction quite a bit and have published two books of essays, but I've found I have trouble separating genres. To me, every story I write is a love story--including the essays. As a reader, if I can't find the love in a book, I generally won't finish it. If the ending isn't at least satisfying, I won't recommend the book. The happier the ending, the more loose ends tied up, the better. 


The other day, on Facebook, a romance author on my friends list referred to Hallmark movies as "insipid."

Really?

Does she have any writer friends whose books have appeared on Hallmark or other family channels in movie form? Did she tell them, "Hey, your stories are insipid?" Have her books been optioned? I know mine haven't, but I'd really, really love it if they were. 

One of my favorite parts of the romance community is how we've always supported each other on our chosen paths. Don't like erotic romance? Great--don't read it, but don't do social media monologues on what's wrong with it. Don't like inspirational? Same goes. 

But don't use words like insipid, because, you know, it's just not smart. What you say has a ripple effect, doesn't it? Derogatory words don't apply just to the channel or the story or the actress in the movie--they also end up including the people who write the stories and the ones who read them.

I'd rather say, "Wow, what a great cover!" If something's going to ripple, let it be positive. 



***

The Christmas Town writers are at it again, and Christmas Town Homecoming will be released tomorrow. Right now, it's 99 cents and in the middle of a book tour and giveaway. Join us on our release journey.

Thanks again for allowing me to join you. See you next month!



Saturday, October 16, 2021

Love Mystery by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

Ah, the magic of a good book. I discovered that magic when I was a girl.

I had read all of the "kid" books in my small town library and loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but I wanted bigger stories. 

I went to the grownup section and browsed through the shelves. That's when I discovered Ed McBain's 87th Precinct mysteries.

Wow. Suddenly I was transported to New York City. I devoured the books about Steve Carella, his deaf wife Teddy, and the cops of the 87th Precinct.

I've always been glad that the librarian never called my parents to tell them about the books I was reading. Instead, she just looked over her glasses at me and quirked a gray eyebrow but said nothing.

My mom was a reader, and she never questioned the books I checked out. She understood the desire to escape—to dive into an adventure one can't usuallly experience in real life.

Today, October 15, is Ed McBain's birthday. If he were alive, I'd write him a fan letter and tell him how much his books meant to me.

Discover Ed McBain

Ed McBain was born Salvatore Albert Lombino. In 1952, he legally changed his name to Evan Hunter

As an author and screenwriter, he wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain which he used for most of his crime fiction. 

The other pseudonyms he used include John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten.

His 87th Precinct novels were made into movies and a television series. Those books became the foundation of the police procedural genre.

You can learn more about Evan Hunter aka Ed McBain at his Wikipedia page

If you want to discover his 87th Precinct novels, grab a copy of Ed McBain Books in Order by Book List Guru. This Kindle book is on Kindle Unlimited, or buy it for only 99¢. It's a comprehensive list of just about all of the works by Ed McBain.

Mystery and My Writing

Until I discovered romance, I'd planned to be a mystery author. I still love mystery, but most mysteries in the old days had very little to offer in the way of romance. Romance in a mystery meant sex without commitment, and all of it was sex from a man's viewpoint which meant without emotion.

The 87th Precinct novels were a bit different in that Steve Carella was in love with Teddy, his wife who happened to be deaf. McBain was ahead of his time with a love relationship, a woman character who was deaf, and several other aspects uncommon to genre fiction then.

In the last few years, I've begun weaving mystery into some of my romance novels.

Recently I sold video game rights to 2 of my novels, The Key To Kristina, a mystery romance featuring a Quest, and Old Enough To Know Better, a romance, not a mystery,  between an older woman and a younger man. 

The huge tech company that bought the rights will be turning each into a video game somewhat like a "choose your own adventure." I'm excited because they already have a worldwide audience for their games. 

If you're interested in seeing what intrigued the tech company, you're in luck. Old Enough To Know Better is featured in my Reader Friends Newsletter today. It's on sale for only 99¢ until midnight CDT on October 18.


I send my free newsletter each month (except for this summer which had too many family emergencies). 

In my newsletter I offer a free ebook and sale books from me and some of my friends. This newsletter has Just One Look as a free ebook for subscribers.

Until next month, may you read wonderful books!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Third Times' the Charm: The Clafouti That Almost Killed Me

 

Whew! Ever feel like life's a tornado and you're Dorothy? Sorry for the repost but I just moved and I'm in a snit because I can't find my toothbrush. 


I, Bea Tifton, am a major dork. I know. I know. You see the witty, sophisticated fashionista and think, Oh, no, Bea, that can’t be true. But yes, Dear Readers, it is. And here is my story. 


 I’ve gotten so used to being, er, “Event Prone,” as my lovely and talented mother terms it, that it seems normal to me. But, as my favorite maternal cousin once said with a laugh, “Bea, stuff just happens to you.” Okay, she didn’t say “stuff.” Whether it’s forgetting to unfasten my seat belt, punching myself in the eye trying to change the toilet paper roll (don’t ask), or catching my purse strap on my storm door’s handle almost every time I go out, that’s just part of my daily routine. But recently, things took a surreal turn. 

When the sheet to provide homemade breakfast items for an upcoming reception at church was sent around at my book club, I cheerfully signed up. 

The night before, I put the fruit on to drain and set my alarm for dark thirty the following morning. The next day I hummed as I mixed, stirred, and baked. After extricating myself from the storm door, I carefully put my baking dish in the car and drove to church. Since it was so early, the organizer of the program promised she would have a person outside with a cart so we wouldn’t even have to get out of the car. I hadn’t slept much and I’d cut it pretty close, so I decided to do something I never do. I stayed in my pjs. No one would see me, right? 

But when I got to the church, no one was waiting. Hmmm. It was just a minute after the appointed drop off window, so maybe she gave up early. I got out of the car and peered into the church, ringing the doorbell because it was before the receptionist reported for work. No shower, no makeup, pjs. Our custodian answered and almost fell over as he took in my appearance. He looked as though he was afraid my butter had slipped my biscuit, but as always, he was unfailingly polite as he explained the breakfast was on Wednesday. 

It was Monday. 

The next evening, Tuesday, I set the fruit to drain. Then, Wednesday at dark thirty, I again rose to make my clafouti. I hummed as I mixed, stirred, and baked. This time, I put on light makeup and got dressed. As the timer went off and I took Clafouti II out of the oven, my sleepy mind searched for what was wrong. It smelled great, the pastry had puffed up nicely and browned just slightly, but something was different. The fruit. I had forgotten to put in the fruit. My heart seized as I frantically tried to decide what to do. I looked around and paced a bit 

“That’s it,” I said to my dog. “I can’t do this.” I forced myself to calm down. “Think, Bea. What would a contestant on The Great British Baking Show do?”

They would start again. This time I did not hum as I mixed, stirred, and baked. I hauled fanny. Since I’d memorized the recipe by now, things went much quicker. And I made it to the church with a minute to spare. My friend waved merrily as I drove up. She oohed and ahhed appropriately, and I left dear little Clafouti III to meet its fate. 

Oh, and some of you are probably wondering what happened to Clafouti I. After smelling it in my house and in my car? I ate it. It tasted delicious.



Clafouti

1 TBSP butter
1 1/3 cups milk
2 TBSP sugar
4 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups plus 1 TBSP white flour
1 bag frozen fruit of choice, drained (I use a berry medley)

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave, then pour into 9 x 13 inch pan and tilt to evenly coat the pan with butter.
3. In a mixer, add milk first, then all remaining ingredients, except fruit and 1 TBSP of the flour. Blend until frothy and well combined.
4. In a small separate bowl, toss together the fruit and the extra flour.
5. Pour the batter into the baking dish, spoon in the coated fruit, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until it’s puffed up and lightly browned.
6. Cut into large square and serve immediately. This also tastes good left over at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

October in New England, by Peggy Jaeger

Since this is my first post for Smart Girls Read Romance, I thought introducing myself a bit, and telling you a little about where I hail from, was warranted. 
So, the name's Jaeger. Peggy Jaeger.
If you just read that in your head and heard your inner voice say Bond, James Bond - yay!! 

Hee hee.
I write contemporary romcoms, romantic suspense, and I'm dipping my writing quill into paranormal romance.
I currently live in beautiful New England where the calendar is staying true to form this Autumn. Have you ever experienced a New England Fall? Ever taken a road trip up the East Coast anytime right after Labor Day and before Halloween? If you have you'll know the colors that paint the landscape are some of the most vibrant and beautiful in all North America.
This is a picture of my backyard, taken today.



In another week, every bit of green will be gone from those leaves, leaving my backyard awash in ginger golds, Macintosh reds, and burnt oranges. With maybe a little umber mixed in.

And speaking of Macintosh reds, one of my favorite things to do in October is to go apple picking in one of our local orchards. When my daughter was younger, this was the perfect opportunity for a holiday card photo. I think for seven solid years we had a picture of her picking apples as our Christmas card! Nowadays, it's just hubby and me at home with our puppy,  so when we go apple picking I take pictures of him to share, LOL.
Here are a few of us on a recent sojourn. 



We were picking Golden Gingers because I wanted to make applesauce and that species is perfect for it. Naturally sweet and the apples hold up well during canning. BTW, Hubby didn't have his glasses on and couldn't see the camera screen clearly, plus he had a piece of apple in his mouth, which explains the bizarre look on his face.

Have you ever been to New England during the fall season? Are you like me, and live in this beautiful part of the country? Introduce yourself below because I don't know many people on this blog and if you can, add a picture of your little neck of the woods. Inquiring minds want to know all about you.
Okay, it's me. I'm the one with the inquiring ( some would say NOSY ) mind!!!

If you're looking for me, I can usually be found here:


Website/blog TwitterAmazon Author page ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub ~ Instagramyoutube










Sunday, October 10, 2021

Good Books Begin With Change by Joan Reeves (subbing for Keta Diablo)

My friend Keta Diablo is still on sabattical so I'm subbing for her today. 

You can visit Keta's Amazon page to find a list of her books.

Keta and I write different kinds of books, but we share one thing in common. We know a good book begins with change.

Change. Oh, how some people struggle against it as if one could stretch out and seize the world, making it stand still.

Readers may wonder why a good book begins with change so I thought I'd talk about that today.

The Only Thing Constant Is Change

When you begin a book with change, you create a book with forward motion that pulls the reader along.

The best opening sentences show or imply change because change affects a character immediately and the change has downstream effects on the character's life. Change in one's life can have unexpected and surprising effects on a person or a character if we're talking about writing, which we are.

Here are some more samples of opening sentences that foreshadow or show change is coming.

From Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz

With the woman on his mind and a deep uneasiness in his heart, Spencer Grant drove through the glistening night, searching for the red door.

Analysis 

He's driving. So he's on a journey of some kind, and journeys involve change.

A woman is on his mind. He's obviously not connected to her already, or she'd have been named.

Uneasiness in his heart. Strange woman and uneasiness = change is coming.

Searching for the red door. Why? What happens when he finds it? Change of some kind is coming.

When you put all of that together, you get a page-turning beginning that's evocative because of his word choice, i.e. uneasiness in his heart, glistening night, red door, and the active voice. Koontz didn't say Grant was driving. He said, Grant drove, searching. Koontz didn't say Grant was thinking about the woman, and he felt uneasy. Look at every part of the sentence and see how the individual elements combine to create a powerful opening sentence.

From Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.

Analysis 

You know that neighbor is going to be a problem, and that means change to her peace of mind, her life, her entire environment.

Wrap Up

Sure, there are opening sentences that catch the attention without being about change, but when you read a sentence that makes you stop, backup and read it again, chances are pretty good it's because the sentence is about change—either stated directly or implied and picked up by that part of our brain that is receptive to the human shared subconscious.


 

From the opening of THE KEY TO KRISTINA, my latest Romantic Mystery:

What on earth was she doing here?

She was so far out of her comfort zone she might as well be on Mars. Kristina Rivera looked around the elegant law office which offered a stunning panoramic view of downtown Houston and the pewter-colored sky that portended rain. She’d expected the Gulf coast to be sunny and warm even though it was late September, but, like much of Texas, the weather was often unpredictable.

She shouldn’t have come.

The Key To Kristina is a Kindle Unlimited free read or $3.99 to buy and keep forever.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Biography: write what you know by Jan Scarbrough


Whether it is the Bluegrass of Kentucky, the mountains of Montana, or Medieval England, Jan Scarbrough brings you home with romances from the heart.

Hi! My name is Jan Scarbrough. I’m new to the blogging group, but I’m not new to writing. In fact, after a life-threatening illness when I was thirty-eight, I decided it was time to make my dream of being a novelist come true. So, I did!

I’ll print my website biography, then comment on it so you’ll get to know me better.

The author of two popular Bluegrass series, Jan writes heartwarming contemporary romances about home and family, single moms and children, and if the plot allows, about another passion—horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books and the excitement of a Bluegrass horse race or a competitive horse show.

“They” say to write what you know. I live in Kentucky, so I set many of my books in my home state. I’ve been a single mom and raised two children. I like to ride American Saddlebred horses, so some of my books involved the show horse world. I also own a very small percentage (think ½ per cent) of a few thoroughbred racehorses. I’ve stood with other owners in the paddock of Churchill Downs and walked with them to the owner’s seats. I haven’t been in the winner’s circle yet for a group picture, but there’s time.

The Ghost Mountain Ranch series contains a trilogy of three contemporary western books with a good blend of mystery and happily-ever-after romance.


I actually have two western series on KindleUnlimited. The Dawsons of Montana is about a family whose father dies. I’m working on the fourth book in that series now. You need to read at least three books of the Ghost Mountain Ranch series to find “who done it.”

Slade: Ghost Mountain Ranch is actually on sale for 99 cents until Saturday (10/09)

Jan leaves her contemporary voice behind with two paranormal gothic romances, Timeless and Tangled Memories, a Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Heart finalist. Her historical romance, My Lord Raven, is a medieval story of honor and betrayal.

Most of my writing career I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write, so I wrote two gothic romances and one medieval. I love all three of these books.

A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan self-publishes her books with her husband’s help.

Without Bill’s help, I couldn’t self-publish my titles. I have a great editor named Karen. That’s my team.

Jan lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with one rescued dogs, one rescued cat, and a husband she rescued twenty years ago. She needs a weekly horse fix and takes horseback riding lessons at Premier Stables and likes to volunteer at Alley Cat Advocates.


Our two corgis died this summer. So, what did we do? We went to the Kentucky Humane Society and adopted a sweet red tick coonhound named Bella! From eight short legs to four LONG ones! Slowly, we’re learning how to live in the city with a hunting dog. Oh, she’s already killed a backyard raccoon! They’re not called coonhounds for nothing!

I hope you take a look at my books. They won't cost much, and if you're on KindleUnlimited and like cowboys, you've got it made!


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

My Obsession with Harris Tweed ~ Sherri Easley


Okay, I confess, when it comes to fabric, I have an addiction. It’s to the point now that when the doorbell rings; I peek through the curtains to make sure it’s not the camera crew from “Hoarders”, the TV series. Seriously though, I emptied my house so I can do a fast sell if I find my dream house, and my crafts and fabric alone have filled a 10’ x10’ storage building.

When I went to Scotland in 2019, and because of this need to collect beautiful fabric, my cousin ensured we visit a weaver of Harris Tweed. Until that point, I did not know what it was. Who knew that would be the start of an obsession.

I pulled some info off Wiki about Harris Tweed.

Harris Tweed, (Clò Mór or Clò Hearach in Gaelic) is a tweed cloth that is handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. This definition, quality standards and protection of the Harris Tweed name are enshrined in the Harris Tweed Act 1993.


The creation of Harris Tweed begins with the fleece of pure virgin wools, which are shorn from Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep. Although most of the wool is from the UK mainland, in the early summer the island communities join to round up and shear the local sheep to add to the mix. All the wool is then blended to gain the advantages of their unique qualities and characteristics.

The wool is cleaned and set in large bales before being delivered to the mills of the main tweed producers, where it is dyed in a wide variety of colors for blending.

The freshly dyed colored and white wools are weighed then blended by hand to exact specification to get the correct hue. It is carded between mechanical, toothed rollers, which tease and mix the fibers thoroughly before it is separated into a fragile, embryonic yarn. This soft yarn is then twisted as it is spun to give it maximum strength for weaving before winding onto bobbins to provide the ingredients of weft (left-to-right threads) and warp (vertical threads) supplied to the weavers.

All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver's home. The weaver will 'tie in' their warp by threading each end of yarn through the eyelets of their loom's heddles in a specific order, then it begins to weave, fixing any mistakes or breakages that occur until completed.

The tweed then returns to the mill in its 'greasy state' and here it passes through the hands of darners who correct any flaws.

Once ready, dirt, oil and other impurities are removed by washing and beating in soda and soapy water before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped.

The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority, which visits the mills weekly, before application of their Orb Mark trademark, which is ironed on to the fabric as a seal of authenticity.

Only genuine Harris Tweed can bear the Harris Tweed Label.

I added a few photos of things I have made. Unfortunately, I only like to create and not sell, and most of my creations are given as gifts.





Monday, October 4, 2021

Harvest Time and #GTT by @JacquieRogers

 Harvest Time and... #GTT


This is such a busy time for me!  Besides keeping up with my regular chores, there's the fall harvest.  And boy howdy, did we ever get a LOT of produce!  Right now, I have delicious red-ripe tomatoes everywhere I look.  Green ones, too.  

I'm saving this beauty for a BLT in the morning!
Makes me drool just looking at it.


We'll only get another week, maybe two, until it frosts here in SW Idaho, so I'll have to figure out how all these durn maters are gonna get processed.  So far, my daughter and I have canned tomatoes plain, and we've also canned them with Indian butter chicken flavor, chili flavor, stewed tomatoes, and tomato juice.  We've canned lots of salsa, too--mild and hot.  We never seem to manage to hit the medium mark. Hahaha.

Mostly plain tomatoes and chili mix in 
the latest batches.

Right next to the boxes of jars is the dehydrator.  It's brand new, and believe it or not, I've never dehydrated veggies before.  I've dried herbs in my toaster oven but that's about it.  My daughter suggested that I could dehydrate veggies and make my own soup mix to take with us when we travel.  Good idea--throw some meat, broth, and dried veggies in the Instant Pot and voila! Soup.  The bags of veggies would be less bulky and weigh far less then canned goods, so I'm going to give her suggestion a go.  We do have to pay attention to weight in our new Casita (which we've named Tillie the Tank).

Only the peppers were grown in the garden, 
we bought the carrots and celery.

All this while Mr R is still working on the kitchen remodel (it's now officially a year into this project--we don't call him Mr. Speedy for nothing).  The latest accomplishment...okay, so it's not done yet but is functional...is the oven/coffee center.

Top left is the microwave and under that, the Advantium 240v oven.
The right side is the coffee center.
Mr. R is still working on the cabinet, obviously.  In case you're wondering,
the drawers will be painted purple and orange. 
I like color.

Meantime, I thought you might like to know what it's like to stare at a screen with only 70-80,000 words left to write.



The writers who see this will know exactly what this means. LOL.

So what's #GTT?

Well, in the olden days Southerners often had to give up their property and a lot of them headed to Texas, so they'd write GTT on the door or gatepost and leave.  Later, GTT was used for an outlaw who was on the lam--they'd Gone To Texas.  Didn't matter where they actually went, people still said they'd GTT.

And we're headed to Texas in a few weeks, so #GTT.  We're not outlaws but we'll be visiting some pretty dicey characters, among them the famous author Caroline Clemmons.  That woman has a wicked sense of humor and keeps me laughing so this is gonna be a ton of fun, for sure.  We'll see how patient Mr R and Hero are with us.  Throw in their daughters, and we know for certain we'll have a very, very lively and entertaining week.  Oh yeah.

Stovetop oven in our dinky Casita travel trailer.

I'm really excited to have an RV this trip.  I have food allergies so we needed a place where I can cook my own food.  It's never fun when you stop by a burger joint and they try to poison you.  The Casita is a dinky little fiberglass travel trailer, but we can cook, poop, and sleep in it so I'm happy.

After we leave Caroline's house, we'll be headed to Arizona to see my longtime buddy Ann Charles.  She's always a hoot, and I'm looking forward to visiting with her and her crazy family.

I guess I better get some words on the page before someone starts throwing rotten tomatoes at me.


Until next month, Happy Reading!




If you're on Snapchat, friend me!  My handle is jacquierogers.  You can get videos of Sassy's latest updates there.  And goofy pictures of her scribe.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

THAT PERSON WHO'S ALWAYS AN EXPERT!

By Caroline Clemmons

We all know a self-proclaimed expert we can’t avoid. Likely he or she is a relative, sometimes a co-worker. Talking about this with my husband reminded me of a funny story. Several years ago, my friend Jennifer told me this tale:

Although Jennifer’s husband Bryan is a nice man, his brother Mike is a bore who considers himself the authority on any subject. Since Mike has a college degree and Jennifer doesn’t, apparently Mike enjoys regaling her with details of everything. 


She says it’s as if he thinks he’s an expert who feels compelled to educate her. His tone of voice indicates derision, as if she is too dumb to know anything. (Actually, I’ve always found her to be clever.)

One day when Jennifer’s nerves were on edge after an exhausting day at work, Mike dropped in for a visit. In conversation he pointed out that Jennifer—a working mom with two young kids—needed to dust the spider webs from her light fixture. His comment snapped Jennifer's last frayed nerve.

She said, “That’s not a spider web—it’s a cob web." She paused and looked at him. "Oh, I’m sure you know cobs are quite different from spiders.”

Surprisingly, Mike shook his head.



Jennifer wove a story about the minute cob species, their habits, and benefits. By the time she had finished her explanation, the cob approached being the benefit to many of the earth’s problems.

When she told me the story, her eyes twinkled. “I wonder how many people Mike has informed about the work of cobs.”