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, November 26, 2021

Author Sightings In the Wild by Laura Hunsaker

 In my day job, I work at an elementary school. Every now and then, I've had parents recognize me, or ask if I'm that Laura Hunsaker a la Romancing the Stone.


But the other day, I had a parent stop by the front office and ask if I would sign her book. You guys. That was the coolest feeling in the world! Sometimes I feel a bit like I'm signing someone's yearbook Stay sweet and have a fun summer! But for the most part, I try really hard to make it personal for them. I've had book signings, and I've been to conventions, and signing a book never gets old. But, having someone spot you in the wild, so to speak, is just another level of awesome that I don't think I was prepared for.

Have you ever spotted an author in the wild? 

And in case you were curious, the book she asked me to sign was this one:

Roughing It  and I'm Kenzie MacLir in this book.



Caught in the Crossfire by Stacey Agdern

Bryce Emerson only agreed to draw an account of the Empires Goalie Tryouts to humor his brother. But when a vision convinces him the woman who saved his prized pen from a snowy grave is in danger of being injured by a faulty mask, he takes it upon himself to make her a new one.

Goaltender Carly Fein is trying out for the New York Empires, and the last thing she needs is the complication of an artist. But when she agrees to let him make her a new mask, Bryce Emerson finds his way under her skin.

Can Bryce and Carly figure out what happens when they’re caught in the crossfire of love and hockey? Or will the stress of new love and competition drive them apart.

Crashing the Net by Isabo Kelly

Billionaire Connor Evans needs a challenge. Trying out for the New York Empires’ hockey team fits the bill, even if it is just a publicity stunt and a way to shut his twin brother up. Running into the woman who left him six years earlier, a woman he’s never gotten over, is not part of the plan. Once he sees Matty, though, Connor knows he can’t let her go again. But he’s got secrets he can’t risk sharing. And Matty is the one person who could uncover those secrets if he lets her get too close.

After traveling the world, Matilda Thomson is ready for a real job and a more stable life. Her internship with the New York Empires will give her the experience she needs to move into that future. But first, she has to face Connor again, and one of the most painful losses she’s ever experienced. The only way she can move forward is to confront her feelings and risk her heart one more time.

Heat and passion spark as hot as ever between them. But trust doesn’t come easy. And if Connor can’t open up and let Matty in this time, he’ll lose her forever.

Against the Boards by Kenzie MacLir

Kyle Sandberg is living his best life. He’s one of the top hockey players in the world. Has two amazing best friends and all the sarcastic hockey t-shirts he could wear. After his own family turns their backs on him, he’s happy playing for the Empires and hanging out with his own found family. What he doesn’t want is his pain in the ass twin brother back in his life or a mate.

When paramedic Faith Church left Puerto Rico for New York, she had zero intentions of getting involved in the local pack. Having had her fill of pack politics, she was ready to go lone wolf. But being left alone was too much to ask when her cousin was the Alpha’s mate.

What neither was counting on was Fate, having her own plans for them. A chance encounter at a traffic accident changes everything. Kyle and his wolf are willing to go with Fate’s plans. But Faith, having finally broken away from her pack’s expectations wants nothing to do with Fate, or Kyle. Too bad her wolf disagrees…




Wednesday, November 24, 2021

CELEBRATE YOUR UNIQUE TALENT DAY

by Judy Ann Davis

November 24th, is “Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day.” This is the day to celebrate what makes you special. Do you love to paint, dance, draw, play the piano, sew, construct model cars, cook, garden, or do something that makes you happy? This is the day to show off and embrace your unique talents.

We all have favorite things we love doing. They may be simple tasks or hobbies that let us set aside our worries and just enjoy the present moment. Our unique talents also allow us to free ourselves from negative internal dialogue and disquieting thoughts.

For me, my woodworking shop is my get-away-from-it-all place. With the scent of pine wood around me, I can sketch a design for a birdhouse, or fashion and paint wooden snowmen or angels or rocks from my flowerbed. I also like to sew. Both these talents put me in a creative zone where I can shut out the world.

Now it’s your turn. What is your unique talent which you enjoy, which makes you happy, or which helps you to escape the humdrum of life?

And...before I forget, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

 Releasing on December 7th

A Maple Cookie Homecoming

$2.99

Click here for Amazon Pre-order

Blurb:

When Julien Franklin returns home for Christmas after retiring from the military, his first mission is to taste his home town's maple cookies and find office space for his civilian website business. He's delighted to find the apartment above The Book Bin bookstore is for rent and owned by his old high school sweetheart.

Natalie Pinkett, widow and single parent, has some tragic secrets gnawing at her soul, but she needs to rent the empty rooms to help with her many expenses. To complicate matters, an old love will be literally working above her head—and he owns a rambunctious puppy her daughter has fallen in love with.

Can Julien woo the pretty bookstore owner and get her to reveal her painful past? Will the two be able to cross the divide of twenty-four years and find love again

Monday, November 22, 2021

Beatty, Nevada's burros

 After living in a vacation trailer for 5 months, I don't have a lot to say. I do though have some photos-- the best ones from Beatty, Nevada, where the burros run free through town. Some years back the government had to reduce the herds, where they ended up in farms around the country. Currently there are 69 or so. 

The first ones we saw were in broad daylight as they roamed around for for food to eat. The second was one night when we saw a baby burro with its young mother-- too dark for photos. All were a treat. Fortunately, our trailer had a big window out the back to fully enjoy their freedoms and what this town has let them have. They were from the miners work but now they are wild and hope they stay that way.













I am still barely getting it together after the long hours of travel and time in the trailer. I don't think full-time RVing would ever be my thing.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Loud Voices and Moving On by Liz Flaherty

I am set in my ways. There, I've admitted it. Although I've had a few indie releases of my own and am a squee-worthy part of the Heartwarming authors' group who releases the Christmas Town stories every year, my preference is still traditional publishing. My real preference would be the way traditional used to be, when the publisher did the marketing and most of the promotion. 


Yes. I know there are down sides to trad publishing. Lots of them. I know it's not good for everyone. I know the rejections alone are so discouraging...

Well, there we are. That's my real problem right now. Rejections. I've written about them before, apologizing for my skin that is not only wrinkled but remains thin even after over 20 years of being published. But they've been pretty...common lately. 


I was never one who counted how many rejections I got (there were lots) or laughed about papering my bathroom with them (I could, and our bathroom is pretty big) or gave in to the urge to stop writing forever and ever. Although...let me interrupt myself with a story.

Back in the 90s, I was a member of Outreach, the RWA chapter for people who couldn't get to chapter meetings, and I enjoyed it a lot. I entered its contest with my first completed manuscript. And won. First place. Wowser! What a coup for my first time out of the contest gate. The prize was a critique by members of a RWA group from Canada. (Sorry--some details have escaped me.)

To make a long story short, I was so blistered by the critique that I didn't write a word for three months. I was more broken, writing-wise, than I was before or have been since. Much of the critique was accurate, objective, and appreciated. Much of it was also mean-spirited, subjective, and cruel. Guess which "much" had the loudest voice. 

Oh.

I kind of wondered what I was trying to say here, and I guess that's it. I am upset about recent rejections. I am bothered that I feel as if my age is held against me in this industry that I love. I do worry that I'm going to have to stop writing before I'm ready because I can't find either a publisher or a market. 

It sounds like I'm listening to the wrong voices, doesn't it? If those are the loud ones, I should turn them down and go on without them. It has nothing to do with whether I prefer indie or trad or hybrid or with my thin, wrinkled skin; rather it has to do with how I choose to proceed. At the end of the day, it's up to me.


Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving and good voices. 


 


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Romance as Big as Texas by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

Did you miss me yesterday on the 16th, my usual blogging date? I was physically tired from moving "stuff" from our house in the country to our new (to us) house in Houston.

I was so tired I couldn't think of anything about which to blog so I climbed into bed and watched a movie instead. As it turned out, the movie inspired this post I'm writing.

Darling Hubby and I watched Texas Rangers, a movie starring Dylan McDermott, James Van Der Beek, Ashton Kutcher, Alfred Molina, and others you'd probably recognize. 

Directed by Steve Miner, the story is about a group of Texas Rangers in the post-American Civil War era. 

The film is loosely based on Taming the Nueces Strip by George Durham who used his own experience of serving in Captain Leander McNelly's Texas Ranger group. 

Public Reception of the Movie

The film was panned by critics and was a box office bomb. In fact, a review said: "It is very much a film for boys, both young and old..."

Well, readers, I guess I'm a boy at heart because I loved the movie. In fact, I turned to my hubby and said, "I'm such a sucker for western movies like this."

What I meant was, I'm entranced by stories of heroism. People tackling the dirty, rotten, stinking jobs that others are too scared to do or don't want to do—the jobs that make life civilized for the rest of us. Texas Rangers did it. Police, firefighters, soldiers, sailers, marines, and airmen/women do it. And we take it all for granted.

Back a hundred years or more, books about brave men taming the west and other such topics were labeled Adventure Fiction, defined as a type of romance that usually presents danger, or gives the reader a sense of excitement. 

Maybe that's the underlying reason why I like heroic movies like.

Hubby loves that I'm always open to watching Open Range starring Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, and Robert Duvall.

Other favorites are The Sacketts (we have the complete set of those in hardback) starring Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, and Glenn Ford; military movies like 13 Hours starring John Krasinski and Max Martini, and so many other films of the Adventure genre like The Last of the Mohicans.

Heaping Serving of Romance

I've never tried my hand at writing western historical romance. I like to leave that to authors like Caroline Clemmons who owns that genre. Check out one of her 2 new releases, Mail Order Gloria.

Instead, I write about Texans of today, the men and women who people many of my romance novels. After all, I married a Texan, and he's the epitome of the Texan male—strong mentally, emotionally, and physically; compassionate; loving; great sense of humor; and always willing to fight for what's right.

All of the heroes I write contain those characteristics, and if they weren't born in Texas, they end up there if the heroine is Texan.

Romance as Big as Texas

I think of the love story in the books I write as "big as Texas" because the heroine and hero persevere to get their  happily ever after. 

In Romeo and Judy Anne, high school principal Judy Anne Palmer wonders if a good girl can ever win? It doesn’t seem that way to her because she was always a good girl who never did anything impulsive or rebellious and look where it got her? Stuck in a life she hates!

Then boom! One night in Dallas she has a nuclear meltdown and goes off the rails when she meets him! Nothing's ever the same again.

Reviews

"Roman Carlisle is a wonderful hero, sophisticated, handsome, and charming. But what really engages the reader--aside from Roman's uber sexiness, ahem--is the warmth he exudes and his heartfelt pursuit of woman he wants but hasn't quite decided what that means.

"I can't recommend this story enough. The characterization is deep and the end as satisfying as the reader could hope for." —CRich, VINE VOICE

"I just adored Roman/Romeo. Perfect hero material, hot, rich and a lovely guy. He's definitely my favorite of Joan Reeves's heroes. Judy Anne is a likeable heroine with a difficult family situation that she tries hard to deal with. The start of this book sucked me straight in and kept me reading. Another great read!" —Loves Reading

Your 2¢

Now that I've told you why I like Adventure Fiction in books and movies, please leave a comment and tell me what kind of books and movies you like!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We'll have 2 of our kids and families this year. Last year, like many, we had zero loved ones gathered around a real table. I'm looking forward to the big day. Hope yours is full of joy. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Sunday, November 14, 2021

THE CAT IN THE CLOSET

By Caroline Clemmons for Bea Tifton

I wanted to title this "Coming Out of the Closet" but didn't want to misrepresent the post's subject matter. Ha ha. You see, we recently moved in with our youngest daughter. But let me back up a year or two.

One morning after a fierce rainstorm, we found a beautiful cat pressed so close to our patio door you couldn't have slid a thread between them. Softhearted Hero puts out food for the stray cats and other critters, so he fed the cat. She was afraid of him, but gobbled the food eagerly once he stepped away.

 Obviously, she had been a house pet at one time and either got lost or was abandoned. She must have cried so much she damaged her vocal chords. Instead of a meow, she has a sort of croak or bark.

She continued to haunt our yard a couple of days. Hero asked neighbors, but no one claimed her. Our next-door neighbor on the west said the cat had been living in his greenhouse, but he didn't want her there. We invited her to come into our home, which she did. Before we could get her to the vet and let her around our other cat, Sebastian, we kept her in the laundry room. She appeared grateful and made no attempt to run back outside when the door was open. Since she didn't have a chip and no one claimed her, we named her Jasmine and made her a part of our family.

Jasmine, the shy cat

Those who are pet owners know that each pet has an individual personality. Jasmine is shy and sweet, but she is afraid of almost everything except us and our other cat. As a result, she's spent a lot of time under our bed. Now that we've moved into a house with a couple of dogs in addition to ours, she found a new place to hide--the back corner of our walk-in closet.

Each of our pets is a rescue that becomes a valued family member. Jasmine is no different. I'm pleased that she has started to feel more at home, which I decided because she comes out of the closet (there's that phrase) more and more often. She even ventures into the other rooms, especially when the dogs go outside to frolic in the back yard twice a day. In addition, her personality appears to be blossoming. She is more loving and confident. 

Life is a process of small incidents woven together to make life's blanket. Jasmine is a part of our family and out story. Do you have pets that have added to your life?

While I'm here, let me wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!






Friday, November 12, 2021

'Tis the season for Holiday Romance books, by Peggy Jaeger

 I know it's only November, but a writer's actual holiday preparation starts in the Spring and early Summer. That's when the new crop of holiday romance books must be completed so they can be put on sale from October through December. Some authors even have Christmas in July events to promote their new and upcoming holiday romances.

I simply adore a good holiday love story no matter what time of the year it is. I don't get my fix of holiday romcoms and smalltown stories from the Hallmark or Lifetimes channels on TV,  though, but through reading. I can count on several authors each year releasing a new book for the season and like clockwork, I buy them all.

I adore slipping away for a few hours with the newest Nancy Naigle holiday story, or Jill Shalvis' most recent holiday romcom. Brenda Novak and Debbie Macomber never disappoint in the holiday fiction department, either.


My love affair with holiday romances began when I read Nora Robert's ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS when it was released in 1994. This lovely story of twin boys who ask Santa to bring a new mommy for them and their daddy pulled at every heartstring in my chest. Since then, reading these kinds of stories has become my happy place around the holiday season.

When shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, office parties, and relatives-you-could-do-without-seeing all
occur within a ten-week period of time, hiding out for an hour or two with a good holiday-centered-romance is my way of staying sane. In fact, now that I write my own romance books, holiday love stories have become a thing for me to release into the world too!

This year's addition is FIXING CHRISTMAS - A DICKENS HOLIDAY ROMANCE ( Dorrit's Diner), which released on 11.9.2021. Last year I was honored to be part of a group of authors who penned the CHRISTMAS COMES TO DICKENS stories about a small fictional New England town during the holidays. Several of the authors - including myself - loved telling the stories so much we teamed up for another season. Each book is a standalone romance but from book to book you meet some of the same townsfolk. It's a truly charming town and the stories are all heartwarming.

Here's a little about FIXING CHRISTMAS:



She's a neurotic, snarky, chatty writer trying to get her professional and personal life back on track.

He's a quiet, widowed, ex-military handyman.

When her rental house starts falling down around her ears, he's charged with fixing the issues - and just might be exactly what she needs to fix her own ones as well.

You can get your copy here: FIXING CHRISTMAS

Who are your favorite holiday romance writers? 



Saturday, November 6, 2021

I'm Not Ready Yet ~ Sherri Easley

I confess- I have not been myself the last few months. I have struggled with the loss of my son in August due to Covid. It has been hard to find joy in any of the creative things I used to do like writing or sewing, because in those quiet times, the memories seem to sneak up on me. 

So, in the midst of my sadness, I will post my letter to my son after his death. With 750,000 lives lost and counting... to this deadly virus, I want to put a face to that one percent so many seem to dismiss - because it has a 99% survival rate. 


Dear Scotty,

I was scared out of my wits when the doctor told me I was pregnant. At 16 and just married, I shook my head in disbelief and told him- I can’t be pregnant, I’m not ready yet. 

Over the next few weeks, I thought I would puke you out. Pregnancy made me so sick. But, within a few weeks, when I felt the quickening low in my belly, the tiny flutter acknowledging your existence, my heart was full. So, I began nesting and buying things at garage sales for you. We were as broke as two kids get, but we were ready for your arrival in early December.

Two days after Thanksgiving, when I was having indigestion, my mama timed my pains. They were 5 minutes apart, so she rushed me to the hospital. Your daddy was off deer hunting. I said, he isn’t due for another week and his daddy isn’t here. I’m not ready yet.

But five hours later, on Saturday, November 26, 1977, you came screaming into the world at a whopping 8#15 ½ oz. I giggled because your Gramma Betty wondered whose fingers you had- hers or your dads. I knew they were like mine.

You were a big, beautiful baby and people would stop me in the grocery store to tell me how cute you were.

And when you had colic or ear infections, I would rock you and sing to you and we bonded even more. I was afraid to let you sleep alone in your bed so; you slept with us.

I guess in many ways; we grew up together. I honed my sewing skills on my grandmother’s old sewing machine and made you little old man suits. I’m sorry about that now, but there weren’t a lot of options back then and we just barely scraped by. But we loved you and you didn’t care. You preferred to run around in just your diaper, anyway. 

You were my fuzzy headed little dude and turned my life upside down. 

Then you learned to toddle about. Oh my Scotty, I was not ready for that. You played in the toilet and the dishwasher and just about any place you could get into. It was easy to see from an early age you were incredibly intelligent. I think I still have the cassette recording of you reciting John 3:16 when you could barely talk.


Even at a very early age, you had a fascination with wheels and would scream out the make of a car just by looking at the hubcaps. It is as much a mystery to me now as it was then on how you did that.


You made me a better person, Scotty, in so many ways. I remember when my friends graduated from high school; I took my GED. When Mr. Jackson called me back to tell me I should go to college, he told a woman working there, “listen to how she talks about that little boy”. You were my moon and stars and he used that as leverage to convince me, I should go to college for you. So I did.




We lived out in Argo, not far from my parents. They through the sun rose and set in you, too. They kept you while I went to college and took you camping. You loved living in the country. You had a cat named Toman- you know, like Toman Jerry you told me. We had lots of dogs and you even had a pet bull named Billy.




You also loved your three-wheeler. Oh Scotty, I’ll be honest. You drove that  thing like a bat out of hell. I was definitely not ready for that and held my breath every time you got on it, but your daddy told me you would be okay. And you were.

 




Then, your daddy and I separated and you and I took off on an adventure alone and moved to Arlington. You weren’t ready for that and cried so much the first week in daycare that you had a fever and I had to come get you.

A few months later, we moved back to Mt. Pleasant, and I married Ira. You were not ready for that either. After being an only child for six years, you rebelled at the idea of sharing your mama with other people.





But Ira came with a perk. Suddenly, you had a brother just three months younger than you. You and Brandon tore that yard up with your cars and super heroes. You dug hole and built bridges everywhere. You two were joined at the hip in adventure. I am not sure I ever saw two little kids play so hard or fight as hard as you did. You nearly wore the wheels off your bicycles.


The next year, I had Ashley. You weren’t sure about a little sister. One more person to share your mama with, but you were a good big brother… for a while, at least.


Those were glorious years with vacations to Colorado, and Disney and Hot Springs and the beach. We had birthday parties and Halloween fun, and Christmas was a big deal.





I never realized once your kids left home how holidays wouldn’t be the same. I never will forget that one Christmas when you got a tool set. The joy on your face was one I saw many times after that brought on by tools.



Things get fuzzy after that–Teenage years are hard. You got your first car and kept the road hot. I was so not ready for that. Every time you were a minute late, or I heard a siren, I just knew it was you. But it wasn’t, and we made it though. 

I will always remember how you walked into a room and stood a little straighter so I could see your 6’5” stature, and how you would reach up and touch the ceiling- just because.

My mama always told me that just about the time you finally decide you can live with your young adult child, someone else does too and they get married. She was right, of course. Because mothers always are. Right? 😉

I was not ready for that. Who was this female replacement for me, anyhow? But married you did and after a few years, you blessed me with my first grandchild. I could not have loved Coby more if he were my own. It is hard to explain the love a grandmother has for her grandchildren. It’s like a piece of the love I had for you broke off and evolved into a new mini version of you.

As the years moved on, you went through some tough times, but made it through and married again. This time adding a stepson and then blessing me with another grandchild.

When I talked to you last in the hospital, you were finally living your best life and I was so proud of you,  but I was always proud of you, Scotty. 

 You showed me photos of your new house and all the work you did on it and your “new to you” car and told me how that Volkswagen was “like a Porsche”. You showed me your tractor three times and couldn’t wait to be back on it. You showed me your phone and wanted a watch to sync with it.  

Mostly, though, you were proud of your boys. All three of them. Coby and the business he started, and Brian and Aiden with their school and music. You were proud of the influence you had on raising them.

I watched you struggle for breath as the monitors beeped, and nurses messed with your tubes. That terrified me Scotty. I know it terrified you, too. I could see it in your eyes, but we both tried to hide it from the other. I didn’t tell you, but after that first day of seeing you hooked up to all those monitors and fighting so bravely, I cried all three hours of my drive home. I didn’t want to leave you but could tell my being there prevented you from resting.

Many people will say you go when it’s your time. Scotty, this wasn’t your time. You had three boys to raise. You wanted to have a farm and do things around your house. You had dreams and aspirations. This virus took that away from you and all the thoughts and prayers in the world could not save you.

So here we are, at a new place. Once more, with you running along ahead of me

…and I’m just not ready yet.  

Michael Scott Wynn 11-26-77 to 8-9-2021


Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Story of Music at the Grand Ole Opry by @JacquieRogers #western

 

 Music is a Story


Yep, I have a new release.  Relatively new, at least.  And while the other stories aren't Christmassy, mine is.  And it's mostly true, too.  It's the story of how my folks met, only I set it 70 years earlier.  Instead of a brand new 1949 Chevy, I used a nice new buggy.  Works the same.  Most of the same buildings were in Marsing (Henderson Flats) and Claytonia, as then.  Now, too, for that matter.  It's fun to visit those places and remember my parents' stories.




Andrew McBride, author of Coyote's People, reviewed: "Of my most favourite stories in the anthology, one is HOLLIE JOLLY COURTSHIP by JACQUIE ROGERS, a warm, funny, beautifully-written western romance about an Idaho farmer’s quest for a bride."  Anyway, this is probably the shortest story I've even written but it's a fun one and I hope you enjoy.  To take a look, click here.

Mr. R and I have been traveling and one of my lifelong dreams was to see the Grand Old Opry.  We didn't get to Ryman's, but we did have the opportunity to tour the current GOO.

Mr. R and me in front of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee

Honey visited, too.

Honey Beaulieu at the Grand Old Opry

And then we went to Madame Tussauds Nashville Wax Museum.

I'm hanging out with Muddy Waters and Mr R
The Beatles and Rolling Stones were huge fans of Muddy Waters.

Minnie Pearl was a mainstay of the Opry and Honey and I were huge fans.

If you loved Minnie Pearl, too, let me know your favorite bit of hers in the comments below!

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Just wow--lots of talent right there

Jerry Garcia really is Grateful Dead now.
He led the pack and many artists emulated him then and now.

Jimi Hendrix, fabulous talent, and early influencer of rock.
The members of Queen admired him a lot.

Little Jimmy Dickens--only 4'11" but a hugely talented musician and comedian.
He was my favorite when I was a kid.

The talented Vonn McKee has an album coming out sometime in early 2022.
Be watching for it!

And then we rolled off into the sunset, to visit another talented soul, Caroline Clemmons.  Maybe she'll sing to us.






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.