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Monday, February 28, 2022

Giving Grace by Bea Tifton


I'm filling in for Beth Trissel. 
Years ago, in one elementary school in which I was teaching, we would have a moment of silence. I always tried to center myself and asked that I would be able to get through the day with humor and grace. Grace. Not the Audrey-Hepburn-walking-across-the-room way. I know how unrealistic that is for me. I mean, friends have joked that I need to wrap myself in bubble wrap and one friend made me promise never to try snow skiing lest I end up in a full body cast.

No, I mean grace as in being gracious. Not losing my temper, acting with integrity and class.   And I still tell myself to try each day.

We’ve had a tough couple of years, Dear Readers. People are stressed out, angry, and divided. I’m not seeing too much grace in the world right now. But maybe I just need to look harder. The people with natural grace are there. It’s the bad actors that get the most attention.

I have a friend who is the most gracious, the least judgmental person I know. When I cut someone a little, or a lot, of slack recently after some particularly mean behavior, she said, “I’m glad you’re giving her some grace.”

Giving her grace. Isn’t that a great way to say that you’re giving someone the benefit of the doubt? Or simply refusing to react when you just want to blow like Mt. Vesuvius on a bad day? Think if all of us started to do that. I don’t mean letting someone get away with criminal or harmful behavior. Just letting the little things go and giving people grace. 

Recently, I was unloading my cart at a big box store as quickly as I could, but there was a man waiting and I had a lot of stuff. He walked up and said, “May I help you with those?” and when I said yes he began carefully putting things in my SUV. He was cheerful and polite, and then when he was through he hopped back into his car. He could have honked, or given me the evil eye, or even used expressive hand gestures because I was taking so long, but he reacted with grace instead. And he made my day.

Giving people grace. Maybe we should be doing that more and reading emotionally manipulative memes on Facebook less. I don’t know. But I’m going to continue working on it each day. 

Photo Credits

Woman Thinking: Cottonbro                                                                                                              Woman with Crutches: Victorio Borodinova                                                                                    Stressed Woman: Andrea Piacquadio                                                                                                Woman Eating: Nicole Michalou                                                                                                 Dandelion: Artem Beliaikin

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Productive or Procrastinating? by Laura Hunsaker

 No one is more productive than a writer who is procrastinating. Full stop. This is fact. 

I was exposed to C*OVID at work, so I had some days off to wait for symptoms. I was kind of excited to get some daytime and uninterrupted writing done, maybe fix that plot hole that's been sitting there, tripping up my characters, you know...some alone time!

Well...did I write? No.

Did I at least fix that plot hole? Also no.

What did I do? Well I'm so glad you asked! Like a million loads of laundry, cleaned out a couple of closets, make blueberry jam, baked some brownies, got the kids to the dentist and orthodontist, and definitely did not open my WIP (work in progress). 

What the heck, brain! I was so excited for some time alone with my book! I love seeing my writer friends on Twitter or Facebook talk about doing the same things. One of my favorite authors "procrasti-bakes" when she's on deadline. Another is like me, more of a cleaner/organizer when she procrastinates. I wish I knew why my brain did this, but I have all day today! Wish me all the words! 

Today is my last day home, I can go back to work tomorrow, and I am going to totally sit down and write some words! Right after I finish prepping dinner...

How about you? What do you procrastinate?

As my latest novel goes off to my editor, grab the first book in my Fatal Instincts series to catch up!
Dark Past is out now! Read the series Alexandra Ivy has called, "...filled with charm, heartache and the promise of love that will bring a smile your face."

The small town was supposed to be safe...

Kate Landry is tired of running. Thinking she's safe, she settles in the small logging town of Chester, California to manage a cafe. She may be keeping a low profile, but she's hoping to return to a normal life.
When FBI agent Kyle Donovan visits to Chester to stay with a friend, and to recover from his latest case, he never expects to meet sexy barista Kate.

But someone is following Kate...

Kyle worries he brought trouble to her door, while Kate worries her dark past is coming after her.
With danger lurking around every corner, her safe haven isn't as safe as she'd thought. Kate will finally have to trust someone enough to tell him her secrets. Secrets that may just get them killed...

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

HUCKLEBERRY HAPPINESS - Ice Caves and Wild Huckleberries

 by Judy Ann Davis

She dreams of winning the contest, but what does her heart want? 

Huckleberry Happiness, a  novella for The Wild Rose Press “One Scoop or Two” collection, highlights two things unique to Pennsylvania: ice caves and wild huckleberries. In 1885, Emerlia Stone, the heroine, wants  to make huckleberry ice cream to win a dessert contest offered by the railroad.

       The hero, Joe Sawicki, owns an ice cave and supplies ice to Emelia’s bakery and the townsfolk. Huckleberries are native to Pennsylvania, dating back to the first bushes which survived as the ice cover was melting over 13,000 years ago. Ice caves are rare phenomena that maintain freezing temperatures year ’round and contain ice during the hottest days of the summer.

Strip mining erased almost all traces of them after the 1920s.


         In 1885, Emelia Stone and her sister must learn to operate their deceased parents’ bakery in a small town in Pennsylvania. A large mortgage looms on their family home. When her sister leaves town, Emelia is forced to handle the bakery and burden alone.

The Pennsylvania Railroad is searching for the perfect dessert for its passengers. Joe Sawicki, owner of Sawicki Brothers Ice Company, is certain Emelia can win the contest and the hundred- dollar bonus if she creates a special ice cream to accompany her popular huckleberry pies. He has loved her since they played hooky in grade school to explore the company’s ice cave.

Can Emelia find courage to stand up to the town’s bully to win the competition? And will Joe have the mettle to express his undying love and win first place in Emelia’s heart?


            An engaging romance for only $1.99 HUCKLEBERRY HAPPINESS

Friday, February 18, 2022

Just A Piece of Perfect by Liz Flaherty

"You'll still have me."

It was 1982, the week of my mother's funeral. I was 32 and my life was everything I wanted. I had a husband and three kids who were my world, a job I liked, a house I loved, and enough money to pay the bills if we were careful. 

And I was overwhelmed. It was a bad year in the marriage--you have those in 50 years; it just happens. A kid was heading into puberty, my husband and I worked different shifts, and I couldn't keep up. I couldn't be the kind of housekeeper all my in-laws were. I couldn't stay slim. I had bad hair. And then my mother died.

I would survive, and thrive. I knew that. That was just what we did, right? But I sat at my mother-in-law's kitchen table and told her what I knew to be the truth. "I realized this week that when Mom died, there is no one left who will love me regardless of anything that might happen."

That was when my mother-in-law looked into my eyes and said, "You'll still have me."

I did, for 34 more years, and although our relationship wasn't seamless, the love within it was. I was blessed by having her. I'm so grateful, but what I'm writing about is that sometimes, the perfect thing is said. 

I wrote about it for Valentine's Day, when, on our way home from receiving a "benign" verdict on my breast biopsy, my husband said, "It's the best day off I've ever had."

The first time my son-in-law met my daughter's grandmother, he got a bowl out of the cabinet that she couldn't reach. Later, at dinner, when someone complimented the contents of the bowl, Jim said, "Grandma and I made it," and won her heart forever. 

I needed more than anything the words my second mom said to me that day. Being overwhelmed was a life state for quite some time, and occasionally still is. When I am, when I feel emotionally needy, I think of her again. And of those words.

We get to do that as writers, the difference being we get to create the circumstances that produce the perfect words. The "my dear, I don't give a damns" and the "I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

I'm not sure I had a good reason for writing this post, except that...yes, as romance authors, love is our literary bottom line. Happily Ever Afters are not only the readers' reward, but ours as well. And if we manage to write something--just once in a while--that is perfect and stays on someone's heart for a long time giving comfort and joy, well, that's even better, isn't it?

This is an interactive post! What are some of the perfect things you've said, heard, read, or written?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Love Is Complicated by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

We write about romance, passion, and love—all of which can be very complicated.

We tend to think people in days of old had an easier time with love and romance, but that's not true.

Love has always been complicated and bewildering, but like Quentin Crisp once said: "The war between the sexes is the only one in which both sides regularly sleep with the enemy."

I just finished writing Foolishly Yours, a book with a heroine who is puzzled by the feelings she has for a man she doesn't want to like. In fact, he's nothing like the kind of man she expects to bring home to her parents.

So why does she want him? I think  because Voltaire was right when he said: "All the reasons of man cannot outweigh a single feeling of a woman." 

Samantha—everyone calls her Sam—has feelings she doesn't understand, but they are too compelling to ignore, suppress, or banish.

In the beginning, she thinks it's simply desire, but desire, between the right man and woman, can pave the road to love.

What Is Love?

For millennia, people have tried to explain what love is. Poet Robert Frost said, "Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."

Freud said, "One is very crazy when in love."

Director John Ford described love as, "Desperate madness."

The general consensus is that love is volatile and all-consuming.

The heart wants what the heart wants. 

Even feminist Gloria Steinem admitted that, "Some men and women seem to need each other."

So what happens in a romance novel? Author Theodore Deriser summed it up this way, "You walk into a room, see a woman, and something happens. It's chemical. What are you going to do about it?"

So what do Samantha Ruiz and Grayson Crawford do about their situation? You know they end up together, after all, it is a romance novel. But the fun is always finding out exactly how they overcome their challenges and get their happily ever after.

Foolishly Yours is available for pre-order now. It publishes February 28. Samantha and Grayson invite you to get your copy today.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Wandering by Bea Tifton


I am sitting at my desk, typing my blog. The reason I mention this is that I am so proud of myself for knowing exactly where I am. If I get thirsty, I can walk to the kitchen for more iced tea. After several glasses of tea, I can mosey down the hall to the necessary room. But once I leave the house, it might be an entirely different story.

I have absolutely no sense of direction. I can get lost in my own neighborhood. Tell me I can’t miss something? I take that as a personal challenge. Yes, I can. Truly, I can.

When I was growing up, this lack of awareness really didn’t matter that much. I was little, and my feet wouldn’t reach the pedals, so the big people in my life drove me around. There was one awkward time when one of the teenagers from church gave me a ride home from youth group. We found my house. Eventually.

I’m usually a very prompt person. I arrive early to meetings, right on time to social events. But I used to have to leave early whenever I had to be somewhere to allow time for me to get lost and regain my bearings. I actually missed a nice dinner meeting once because there was construction and I missed my exit in an area where several freeways intersected. No recovering from that one until the meeting was long over. I use landmarks to find things and if construction or new builds change the landscape, I’m toast.

My mother was always up for an adventure when we were running errands. She would impulsively zig instead of zag, saying, “Let’s see where this road leads, “or “We’ve never gone this way.” If we were traveling and we saw something interesting, we’d stop to investigate. It’s a running joke in our family that everything is “on the way” even if we have to go way outside the quickest route to get to it. I mean, we stop on the way home, right? Therefore, it's on the way.

One of my dearest friends is as hapless at finding her way as I am.

It’s really the blind leading the blind. We’ve, um, gone exploring many times and actually have seen some very interesting things. Please don’t use words like, “north,” “south,” “east”, or “west” when telling me how to get somewhere. I make it a point not to drive when I’m with friends who get frustrated with my many detours. Going straight from point A to point B is so rigid, anyway.

I think the person who made GPS available to the general public deserves a Nobel Prize. As long as I have my phone, I can get there. Yes, there have been a few odd exceptions where the GPS is as confused as I, but most of the time it’s a life saver. I know when I have to leave the house and how I’m going to get there. 

 That’s not to say that I still don’t take a few detours to explore. Life should not always be straight from point A to point B when there are so many fascinating unknowns in the world. Remember what J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”

Road signs: Wikimedia Commons
Child in Car: Melike Benli
Next Four Miles: Isaac Garcia
Woman in Car with Map:Dominika Roseclay
Winding Road: Liam Gant
Mysterious Forest: Pedro Figueras

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Year of Firsts by Liz Flaherty


I'm sort of sneaking in's not really my day. Instead, it's Release Day for A Year of Firsts, Book 1 in the Second Chances Series from Magnolia Blossom Publishing. 

I love Release Days, in part because I don't even try to be productive--I spend the entire day and evening annoying virtually everyone I know by promoting the book. I've had a lot of firsts myself lately, but never even drew a parallel between my life and the book's until today. My firsts are different from theirs, but still firsts.

Speaking of firsts, though, let me tell you about Syd and Clay's story. 

Widow Syd Cavanaugh is beginning a “year of firsts” with the road trip she’d promised her husband she’d take after his death. An unplanned detour lands her in Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, where she meets the interesting and intelligent editor of the local newspaper.

Television journalist Clay McAlister’s life took an unexpected turn when a heart attack forced him to give up his hectic lifestyle. He’s still learning how to live in a small town when meeting a pretty traveler in the local coffee shop suddenly makes it all much more interesting.

While neither of them is interested in a romantic relationship, their serious case of being “in like” seems to push them that way. However, Clay’s heart condition doesn’t portend a very secure future, and Syd’s already lost one man she loved to a devastating illness—she isn’t about to lose another. Where can this relationship possibly go?

It's a romance--we know where it's going. It's the trip that's so much fun. 

Although I was probably as glad as anyone else to see 2021 end, the release of A Year of Firsts has made me think about experiences of my own. 

There were new travels--a wonderful writing retreat in North Carolina with near and dear friends. A first-time-ever trip to the coast of Maine with my grown sons. (I swear, they were never that much fun when they were kids, and I liked them then, too!) A new publisher. 

New things, too--the Roomba our kids got us for our anniversary. The smart TVs they got us for the living room and my office that opened up whole new things, like watching the first nine seasons of Call the Midwife with only minor breaks to watch the news and go to the bathroom. (That may be a stretch, but only a minor one!)

Syd's year of firsts included some Big Things, like a Road Trip on her own--where she met Clay; how cool is that?--and a Red Car and Live by the Water, but it also included some others. She wanted to learn to knit well, an entry she crossed out and asterisked so many times it might have become illegible. She wanted to cut her hair and wear leggings.

When I wrote the book, I was just telling Syd and Clay's story, but it became more than that. The year of firsts doesn't actually have a calendar attached to it for most of us. It has different names, too: our bucket list, dream jar, and so forth. It is wishes, hopes, and dreams coming true. 

Maybe there's nothing new here, but it was for me. Those firsts that I had in 2021, of course, and the re-learning that our jobs as writers are so exciting because we get to tell stories of people who've made themselves at home in our hearts. And every time is like the first one. 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Just Smile! ~Sherri Easley


One of the reasons I write is because my mother told me these incredible stories about growing up during the Great Depression and living through WWII.

I know it wasn’t as romantic as I want to believe. Times were hard and people were resilient.

I have been trying to finish this second book and was thinking through the characters when something came to mind. My book is set in the 1940s, but what if the setting was today? I mean now, during this pandemic.


Here is an excerpt from my book in progress:

The driver’s shout brought her back to the moment, and Emma made haste to reclaim her seat. It annoyed her to see that stretched out on the seat in front of her was one of the young men from the back of the bus, especially since there were so many empty seats.

He was wearing a silly grin as a mop of sandy brown hair fell recklessly over his twinkling blue eyes. He nodded to greet her. Emma almost smiled at his goofy, anxious grin, but she bit her lip and turned away, pretending to ignore him.

“Can you play that guitar?” He faced backward over his seat and motioned toward the case.

“As a matter of fact, I can.” The corners of her mouth turned up slightly before she turned back to watch the traffic.


Now today’s version:

The driver’s shout brought her back to the moment, and Emma made haste to reclaim her seat while being sure to stand six feet apart while waiting in line to board the bus.

It annoyed her to see that stretched out on the seat in front of her was one of the young men from the back of the bus, especially since there were so many empty seats. Immediately, she began searching for one with more distance from the rude stranger. At least he is wearing his mask, she thought.

A mop of sandy brown hair fell recklessly over his twinkling blue eyes, but his mask covered his mouth, so she was not sure if the twinkle was from friendliness or if he had ill intent on his mind. He nodded to greet her.

Emma took her seat and turned away, calculating in her mind if his germs would reach her and wishing he would go away.

He faced backward over his seat and mumbled something inaudible as he pointed to her guitar case. Was he here to steal her guitar or did he want something else?

“I’m sorry. I can’t understand what you are saying. Speak up.”

There are so many things in our life I have taken for granted. Things like a tender embrace, Sunday visits, shopping, and facial clues. The thing I miss most, though, is seeing people smile.

I am really hoping when this is all said and done; we have not forgotten how to smile. 


I would love to see an excerpt from one of your books- In today’s setting! Show me your stuff!

Friday, February 4, 2022

Love, Writing, and #TikTok by @JacquieRogers


 Love, Writing, and TikTok

A year ago last Christmas, my son and his family visited for a week, and we really had a great time.  Especially my granddaughter and me.   We cooked--she's quite the fashion statement in her little green apron--and we played games.  One thing she loved to do is make and edit selfies of the two of us on SnapChat.  When she got tired of that, she said, "Grandma, you need to get on TikTok."

"I don't know the first thing about TikTok," I told her.  "Besides, the last thing I need is another social network that requires posting, comments, and moderation."

"But Grandma, what big teeth you have."  She covered her mouth and giggled.  "Just kidding.  But seriously, no one goes on Facebook anymore."

"My friends do."

"Your friends are old."

I didn't point out to this precocious eight year-old that nearly everyone is old to her, but I do have to confess that my bones creak, I know how to use a dial telephone, I watched Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon, that I have seven grandkids, and even three greats.  I reckoned there was little choice but to throw in the threadbare towel.  "You're right, my friends and I are old.  But as for TikTok, I have no idea how to load it or use it."

"I can load it for you."  She took my phone from me and started poking at icons.  As the app was loading, she said, "I can show you how to make a video, too."

I consented.  After she logged me in, I asked her, "What's your handle so I can friend you?"

She shrugged.  "Oh, I'm not on TikTok.  My mom won't let me."

But she sure knew how to use it.  I'm still laughing.  You can follow me on TikTok at @jacquierogersbooks.  The thing of it is, I have no idea what to post on there.  I write western historicals and some fantasy.  I have enough story ideas to last me until I'm about 450 years old, but I'll be durned if I can come up with a cohesive TikTok strategy.  Maybe I am that old.  Holy moly.

Speaking of strategy, I've shifted gears on my work in progress, and now I'm writing a novella about Honey Beaulieu's ghost sidekick, Roscoe.  I have lots of ideas for the story but I'm still niggling about POV.  Should I stick with Honey's POV?  Or maybe go into Roscoe's.  I'm sorta thinking that Honey should narrate and Roscoe should tell his own story.  At any rate, I had a long talk with Diane Garland and we worked on getting the already published facts about Roscoe listed so I don't mess up.  

Working title is Crazy Curse in Crowfoot Cove.  How does that sound to you?  I'm between 50% and 60% happy with that title.  Roscoe might toss me another as I'm writing.  He keeps whispering in my ear that if I have alliteration, it should be with R since his first name starts with that letter.  Then again his last name is Peevey, so we could do something there.  I think P is a funnier letter than R--or C, for that matter.

Whatever... I guess I better get to work!

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.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

I WISH YOU LOVE by Caroline Clemmons


Happy month of love! Well, love is welcome in any month, but we hear more about it in February. I hope you share romantic love with another and the love of friendship with many.

As a writer, I sometimes write love at first sight. Many people don’t believe that can happen. It can. It happened to me.

The first time I saw my Hero is still clear in my head. I remember what I was wearing, what he was wearing, what his sister was wearing, and where his mother stood in the doorway from the living room to the dining room. The occasion was at his sister’s thirteenth birthday party. He was fifteen and I was six weeks shy of thirteen.

Needless to say, I did not date him until years later. I feel eternally grateful that he and I have been wed for many, many years!

That’s my story. Also the story of several couples I’ve known through the years. See, love-at-first-sight does exist!

But not for everyone ...

For some, love grows from a long friendship. For others, dislike or competition slowly turns to love. However you find it, I wish you true and enduring love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

P.S. Candy for Valentine's Day is nice for us, but it can be fatal for cats and dogs. Protect your pets from chocolate!