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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Princess' Knight (A Redemption Story) by Kara O'Neal

THE PRINCESS’SKNIGHT is book 17 in the TEXAS BRIDES OF PIKE’S RUN series. And it almost never existed.

I started writing the Texas Brides series in the year 2000 and had no plans to give a story to Madeline Talbut. Because…well…Madeline is the “mean girl”, and I had every intention of keeping her that way.

Except as I went through the series, little tidbits popped up about her, and she ends up with a backstory that is pretty heartbreaking. I felt for her. I thought, “Well, perhaps she does deserve redemption.”

But I hadn’t any idea who her hero ought to be.

Then I wrote book 8 – THE EDITOR’S KISSES – and Carl Dawson, a sixteen-year-old, know-it-all who preferred a wandering life to getting hitched declared that he’d never settle down, least of all with someone like Madeline.

And that was it. THE PRINCESS’S KNIGHT was born.

I enjoyed messing up Carl’s plans, and I really enjoyed watching Madeline redeem herself. That was something I didn’t know if I could tackle correctly. I feel as if Madeline’s arc is well-done, but readers will have to tell me the truth!


Pike’s Run, Texas, 1890

Carl Dawson finds himself in a Georgia prison with only one way out – get Madeline Talbut, the viperous ice princess and his childhood nemesis, home to Pike’s Run, or lose a year of his life in jail. He takes the deal and finds her playing hostess on a magnificent showboat.

Madeline Talbut has a past she’d like to forget, and she can do that while taking care of the guests aboard the Princess. But, as she sails the mighty Mississippi, a newcomer infiltrates her space, shaking up her heart, awakening the desire she’d thought dormant and reminding her that the past must be dealt with.

Carl learns there is more to Madeline than he’d once thought, and she’s becoming more important to him than he wants. But he must hide his identity from her, or she might not return to Texas and all the pain it holds. And, even worse, if she discovers who Carl really is, he might lose her. Forever.


“Miss Talbut has taken on all my duties aboard the Princess,” Mrs. Cole explained to Carl, “and I’m so grateful to her. And, as you can imagine, I can’t have anything happening to her.” She sniffed, then with care, she smoothed the hair at Madeline’s temple. “Tell me, Mr. Dawson, what do you do for a living?”

Not an odd question, but he felt it was going to lead somewhere. But what could he reveal without giving away who he was? He continued to sense it was better that Madeline not know his connection to her. At least, not yet. “I don’t have a profession. I travel, do odd jobs here and there.”

Mrs. Cole smiled at him. “And save damsels in distress everywhere you go, I bet.”

He’d aided ladies, yes, but not everywhere.

“I’m quite certain you’re nothing but a gentleman. A true knight,” Mrs. Cole remarked, while Madeline shifted uncomfortably.

“I try, ma’am,” Carl answered.

Mrs. Cole removed her hand from Madeline’s tightly linked fingers and leaned forward. “I have complete faith that you do, and I must ask for your assistance.” She gazed at him in earnest. “Would you watch over Miss Talbut for me? Be her protector while she carries out her duties?”

Well…damn it all. Relief poured through him. He glanced at Madeline again and saw her lips had pinched, and she looked ready to argue. But…she didn’t. Another revelation.

“I’ll pay you, of course, and it’s temporary. My husband will get better, and no one would dare harm Miss Talbut when he is present.” Mrs. Cole gave a sharp nod to emphasize her statement.

He studied Madeline for a brief second, realized she would abhor him guarding her. But did he have any other choice? “I’ll take the job.”

“Wonderful!” Mrs. Cole exclaimed, clapping her hands together.

Madeline looked ready to spit nails.

Well, he’d seen her tantrums. He could handle them.



Monday, March 28, 2022

My Life as a Turtle by Bea Tifton


I'm filling in for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel.

I’ve always been shy. When I was a child, I was painfully shy. And painful it was. Like hate-seeking missiles, the bullies found me every time. I would hang back at times, sort of wanting to do something but really not wanting to call attention to myself.

My well meaning mother made me go to a dance at church one night, and during the dance, one girl took the microphone and started singing along with Blondie. My affable but dim youth sponsor said, “Don’t you wish you could be more like her? Don’t you wish you were popular? You should be more like that.” No and no. He did teach me to dance, though.

I was in several choirs along the way. I always loved to sing. When I was singing, something happened.

The sheer joy of creating music overrode my often crippling shyness.  Singing took my full concentration and I lost myself in it. In high school I also took drama, and it was the same thing. I just lost myself in the roles during class and the few times I appeared on stage.  

When I became a teacher, I knew I had to do something. I would have to talk to the students and, gulp, their parents, without hesitation.   So, I drew upon my drama experience. I assumed the role of a fourth grade teacher. It worked. Teaching was like singing. It took my full concentration so I forgot to be shy.  I became able to chit chat with parents. I still had trouble in social situations, though. But I would draw upon my inner star. I have a wry, but often silly sense of humor, and I was able to make people laugh. I love telling stories, of course, so I was able to do so as well. I don’t mean I was being fake.  I just had to use the technique to get me started. I was actually being myself as I was to my friends all along. 

I had one particularly obtuse fellow teacher on one of my teaching teams. She was a former cheerleader, loud and attention seeking, and not particularly empathetic or sympathetic. Blond and blue eyed, busty and well dressed. But um, not very nice. I couldn’t stand her. Since we had to work together, I was pleasant and patient with her. I truly don’t think she ever realized how I really felt. We got along well enough.  Once when we were having a meeting after school, I said something that made the other teachers laugh. She said loudly, “Oh, look. That’s great. Bea’s coming out of her shell.”  Ugh! I remember thinking, What am I, a turtle? 

Sometimes, shyness is mistaken for snobbery. Years ago, many psychologists thought that shy people were selfish. Not sure how they got that, but okay. One theorist proposed that being shy was actually in itself an attention seeking behavior. That seems counterintuitive, but common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone's garden. Now researchers have discovered what they believe to be a shyness gene. It's like having hazel eyes instead of blue, part of a person's genetic makeup. 

I’ve known so many shy people who were wonderful once I got to know them. Many brilliant performers are shy in their personal lives. There’s no reason to pity shy people, or to underestimate them. For one thing, since we listen rather than talking all the time, we know many different things.

 I have a great life, full of volunteer opportunities to help the homeless, a passion of mine, trips to the museums in my city, and other activities with friends who laugh at my jokes and never thought I had a shell in the first place. If you see someone hanging at the fringes of the conversation or hesitating, reach out and be patient.  Just don’t call them a turtle.

 Photo credits: 

Child Reading: Mikhail Nilov
Disco Ball: NEOSiAM 2021
Turtle: David Dibert
Hazel Eyes: Craig Adderley
Little Girl Dancing With Little Boy: Public Domain

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Talk Wordy To Me by Laura Hunsaker

I'm in a book group on Facebook where it's "everything books." All genres, all questions, all formats, and especially photos of book hauls. Every now and then someone complains about people buying books and how they should use the library. It usually winds up with lots of wild popcorn-worthy comments. 

One thing that got me thinking though, is that I do go to the library. Often. I take my younger kiddos, and my eldest takes herself. We utilize the crafts they do, the classes they offer, the story time, the challenges, the read-alongs...literally anything the library offers, we are there for. Recently my youngest checked out a pre-loaded kindle. It was pretty amazing.

I've also noticed (about myself) that certain books, I prefer to own. Certain books I like to borrow. Often we borrow a book at the library and like it so much, we purchase it. So I like to think that as much as I support my local library, they also support us. We read so much in my house.  I couldn't afford my book habit if it weren't for the library. 

My library even has a few of my books listed in the local author section, which I find so incredibly cool. I've had book signings, given talks, and even met some amazing authors through my library.

So what about you? I realize not all places have the kind of access I do to an amazing and supportive library system, but if you do, do you utilize it? What's your library like? Are you far from one? Do you prefer to own the book, or are you like me, where you'r sort of a mixed bag? 

At least it's not drugs, right? 
-me about my book habit.

Here I am at the last book signing my library with some copies of my paperbacks. My library is pretty awesome!

She needs rest, he needs relaxation…

Jenny Travers wants a fresh start. Leaving the nightmares of her past behind her, she heads to Last Chance Beach. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds peaceful and relaxing, which is exactly what she needs.

What she doesn’t need is a man.

Lieutenant Commander Scott Gordon was injured by an IED on his last mission, and while his leg has healed, it’ll never be strong enough to stay on his SEAL team. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds like the perfect place to figure out how he’s going to handle his new normal.

He never expected to find a woman in his bed.

A mix-up at the rental agency means Jenny and Scott are both renting the small cottage. Sharing a space with a stranger should be hard, yet they both feel more at peace than they have in months.

Will their summer romance last, or is the magic of Sea Glass Cottage all they’ll have…

*This short story was previously published in the Last Chance Beach: Summer's End box set. It has an updated cover, some new content, and is available at all ebook retailers instead of just through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

MARCH - Women's History Month

                                                          by Judy Ann Davis

Every year, March is designated Women’s History Month by presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history.

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California.

One of Ours
In 1978, The California Education Task Force of the Sonoma County     Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day, and the movement spread across the country to other communities.

In 1980, the National Women’s History Project, a consortium of women’s groups  and historians, which is now the National Women's History Alliance, lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.”

The month-long event was created to shine the spotlight on the many women who have selflessly given of themselves to improve the lives of their families, communities, and the world-at-large in all areas.

Obviously, women writers of yesteryear come to mind who have led the way for female writers today. There are many who came before us. Six of my favorite writers both novelists and poets are: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Willa Cather, One of Ours; Alice Munro, Dear Life; Louisa May Alcott, Little Women; Emily Dickinson, Hope is the Thing with Feathers; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How Do I Love Thee?

I have a copy of  How Do I Love Thee on my living room wall. It was artfully crafted, starting outward in a circle and spiraling round and round, ending in the center. It is still my very favorite of all poems.

          How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Who do you think has helped shape women writers of today? Who do you admire? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

                Join me on my Amazon Author Page to see all my various works:

Judy Ann Davis


Friday, March 18, 2022

BY ANY OTHER NAME by Liz Flaherty

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day! Although my husband and I are both only about 12 percent Irish according to those handy-dandy things you can get, our last name has given me a greater love for our heritage there than it might deserve. I've always told Duane that if we ever get a divorce, I'm keeping the last name--not only because of the kids but because I love the name Flaherty so much. My daughter and son-in-law even gave it to one of their sons as a middle name. 

My part of the Irish came from the McKissicks when my great-great-grandfather Jim brought his family here during the potato famine. I've always thought if I changed genres, I would use a pen name and it would be Sarah Mary McKissick, getting two of my great-grandmothers represented in there. Can you imagine signing that and how much room it would take up on the cover?

My friend Jim Cangany became J. C. Kenney when he switched from

romance to cozy mysteries. I have to admit, I love his mysteries more than I did his romances, but must also admit that whenever I see his nom de plume I think of the department store, J C Penney. Since I like Jim and always enjoyed Penney's when they were around, it's okay. I'm pretty sure he won't thank me for bringing that up (earworm anyone?) but maybe that means he and Nancy will be up at the winery soon and he can get mad at me in person...

Author Nan Reinhardt says that if she used a pen name, she'd be Leigh Bennett, her middle and maiden names. That's pretty and would be much easier to sign. It would also look great on a cover if it was in a pretty font, wouldn't it? However, whenever I look at Nan now, I'll be thinking of Janet Leigh (the origin of Nan's middle name) and the Bennett sisters of old-movie fame who came from a tiny town near us called Bennett's Switch. 

I love George Eliot's name, and the names the Bronte sisters used so that no one would know they were women. All these years later, I still despise the cultural and societal causes for those pseudonyms. 

I've gone a ways from talking about being Irish, haven't I? But I don't think I ever realized before that I was interested in pen names, their origins, and who their bearers really are. Mostly, I'd like to understand the whys of using them--not to criticize but just to understand. I wouldn't be good at it. I'd be signing the wrong name and wouldn't answer when called, but, still...Sarah Mary McKissick. It has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Question time. If you use a pen name, would you mind sharing that "why" and talking about the goods and bads that go along with it? We'd love to hear!


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 paper.

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 harbinger 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?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

9 Truths in an Uncertain World

I had to come home from the country because our WiFi no longer works there. It seems a cell tower went down which means anyone who wants internet is S.O.L.

Even though I was home in time to get this post published, I fell by the wayside due to tiredness.

(Giveaway Alert: See details at end of post.)

So I'm writing this the afternoon of the 16th instead of the day before when I should have done so and scheduled it.

That leads me to the subject of today's post:

Undeniable Truths in an Uncertain World.

1. Truth: Some things change.

Two years ago in March, I was blogging about how to sew surgical masks if you couldn't find any disposable ones to buy.

2. Truth: Some things stay the same.

CoVid is still with us in its ever-mutating vampiric life.

3. Truth: Evil people still walk the earth.

Hey, Putin. Why invade a sovereign country? As a student of history, your actions are scarily reminiscent of Hitler.

4. Truth: Duct tape and Gorilla Glue can fix just about anything.

One of our holiday guests who shall remain nameless knocked my laptop to the floor or stepped on it or played keep away with it or something. It has a crack completely across the bottom of the case, another crack at the top left corner of the screen, and the outlet where the power cord plugs in won't hold the cable now.

With Hubby's help, I took the whole thing apart, cleaned all the dust from the inside, painted the cracks of the case that could be seen on the inside with Gorilla glue, let it dry, put it together, then ran beads of glue on the outside cracks, let it dry, then duct taped every broken piece of the case. Guess what? It works again, and the power cable stays in the slot.

5. Truth: When you need to see a Chiroprator, don't delay!

This is the root cause of my extreme tiredness. I postponed an appointment I had for last week, thinking I'd go this week. Well, guess what? He's on spring break!

6. Truth: Best intentions mean nothing unless you take immediate action.

That's the reason I haven't been keeping up with my posting responsibilities for Smart Girls Read Romance. Too many things on my plate. 

Late at night, I look at my To Do list and realize I didn't get a post written. Each time, I think, "I'll jump on that tomorrow." When tomorrow comes, the same thing happens. Mea culpa. I actually wrote a goal on my day planner today to fix this problem!

7. Truth: Daylight Savings Time sucks!

We are no longer a nation of farmers so why can't they leave the blankety blank time one way or the other. 

8. Truth: Prices will continue to escalate.

Darling Hubby who spent his career in the Financial side of Risk Management and Energy Trading said this is just the beginning. The gasoline situation you see unfolding will have a domino effect on just about everything. Batten down the hatches folks.

9. Truth: Reading is a perfect escape from harsh reality.

Like I always say, "Too much reality is depressing. Read a book and escape." You can read in print, audio, or digital. Ebooks can be read on dedicated devices like a Kindle, a tablet like Kindle Fire or iPad, on a laptop, desktop PC, or on your cell phone.

If you're a reader, teach the others in your family or friends group the joy of reading. Find out what they like in movies, TV, video games, and find books with those plots, themes, characters. That will hook them on reading.

A good book can sweep you away from the problems of the world for at least a few hours. Reading is like a little vacation between the covers of a book. Reading is also one of the cheapest forms of entertainment. 

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of free ebooks of every genre offered by authors who hope you'll discover their wonderful books.

When you find authors you like, subscribe to their newsletters for the best bargains. Most ebooks are priced from 99¢ to $3.99 usually. Or, you can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for a mere $9.99 per month and read as many books as you desire. (All of my full-length books are on Kindle Unlimited.)

For Your Consideration

I have a new release that's on Kindle Unlimited, Foolishly Yours.

About Foolishly Yours

Her ex-fiancé didn't break her heart, but he dented Sam's confidence. She's careful now not to become romantically entangled. Then she meets Grayson, a rude, insensitive beast, she decides.

She's appalled when she learns he’s on the island to stay. What’s worse, he seems to turn up everywhere she goes! Now, she can't stop thinking about the jerk! He's everything she disdains in a man—an unemployed slacker with no ambition. So why does he take her breath away?

Giveaway Alert

I'm giving away a free copy of Foolishly Yours by random drawing.

To enter this giveaway, go to my personal blog SlingWords.

Read the short post and click one of the links to watch the video for Foolishly Yours. It's only 30 seconds long.

Then leave a comment on that post with your email addy written out and tell me if you think the video is too short, too long, or just right.

Drawing is open until March 20, 2022, at midnight. Winner notified by email.

Post Script

Sign up for my free Newsletter and receive a NL twice a month with free and bargain books. You'll also receive a welcome gift of a romance ebook.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Is That Your Phone? by Bea Tifton


Recently, I had to get a new cell phone. I didn’t want to, because I had my old one set up just the way I wanted it, but the old one broke and wasn’t functioning. And I had to get one quickly because, well, everyone needs a cell phone, right?

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone. I have since one of my best friends dragged me kicking and screaming into the cell phone dealer for my first cell phone all those years ago.  And another friend encouraged me to text over my objections as well. I’m not a Luddite. I just didn’t see that it was necessary for people to be able to get hold of me every minute of every day.

Remember when we had to stay home because we were expecting a phone call? Not now. You can find out about your extended car warranty wherever you are. And remember when we, gasp, just blindly answered the phone? Now my phone is nice enough to warn me of “Potential Spam” and I let it go to voice mail. And, come to that, I remember how grown up I felt when I got my first answering machine my freshman year of college. I spent hours on the phone in junior high and some in high school. These days, I prefer to text even among my closest friends. One of my best friends and I have a running joke. On the very rare occasions when we call each other, one of us will answer, “I don’t use my phone for this, but go ahead.” My lifestyle could be broken into two time periods, BC, or “Before Cell,” and AD, or “After Domination,” for my cell phone has come to the forefront of my life somehow.

Now my cell phone is my office. I have all of my contacts stored in it. I laugh when I remember how many phone numbers I used to have stored in the attic of my mind. Now, I know my parents’ cells, but that’s it.  And I have all my appointments, occasions, etc. entered on my cell phone’s calendar.

When I was getting my new cell phone, I was anxious that my photos wouldn’t transfer. I know, I know. I should have been uploading them to cloud storage, but I didn’t. And even though it was set to backup, the phone had not backed up since October and I didn’t check. As I watched the phone wizard at my local cell phone store try this and then that to make my photos transfer, I thought of what was there. My photos of baby Grace, the kitten I started bottle feeding when she was just two weeks old. Pictures of my parents, pictures documenting various aspects of my life. Luckily, the amazing woman at the phone store was able to get into the wrecked phone just enough to transfer all my photos after about three hours. Good thing the phone store wasn’t busy or I doubt she would have spent that much time trying.

I have a friend who loves taking pictures. Wherever we go and whatever we’re doing, she’s running around like a manic hummingbird, flitting here and there taking photo after photo. Honestly, I wonder if

she's not so busy documenting the things she does and the places she goes that she fails to actually experience them. 

And there's my friend who will not put her phone down. She * has* to check her work email even at times when she can’t do anything about the current crisis, then it ruins her meal or her day out as she stews or fumes. And when I’m talking to her or we’re eating, she’s checking social media and half listening. Sometimes I wonder if she knows I’m there at all.

A local tea shop has cell phone lockers and, while guests are not required to use them, they are certainly urged to do so.  One of my friends marveled at how freeing it was not to be able to check her phone. She had to be mindful of her experiences and was so much more tuned in to what her friend was saying.   Even if we aren’t in a place with a phone locker, putting down our cells and not checking them for a while seems like such a great idea. Less technology, more people time. And if we stop to smell a few roses while our phones are tucked away or on silent, all the better.

Photo Credits:
Cell Phone: Harry Cunningham
Girl on Rotary Phone: Rodnae Productions
Baby Grace: Bea Tifton
Hummingbird: Steven Paton
Woman Smelling Flowers: Anekke


Wednesday, March 9, 2022


By Caroline Clemmons

I recall when the reminders to “be kind” began on the Facebook posts I receive. I can’t speak for everyone, but Judy Esposito was the first of my Facebook friends who sent this reminder. She always has a beautiful post that brightens the day. 

Judy Esposito's post for today.

Soon, others among my Facebook friends did the same. Then Kristen Osborne, who has a gazillion followers, reminded everyone to be kind. Suddenly, Facebook had become a nicer place to visit each day.  

I suppose this is not as amazing as it might be when I recall that I unfriend anyone who sends out political or mean-spirited posts. I simply don’t have the time or patience to deal with negative people. Why even respond to those comments or posts? One of our past ministers said, “You can’t reason with an unreasonable person.”

One of Kirsten Osborne's posts.

There was a time when I thought I had to be open-minded enough to listen/read whatever acquaintances had to say. No longer will I tolerate that behavior. Sure, everyone has a right to speak his or her mind—and I have the right not to listen.

Don’t you love stories of paying kindness forward? They remind us that most people are caring and thoughtful. Those are the people we want as friends.

Kindness is contagious. Go out and pay it forward today—even if it’s only with a smile. 

Stay safe and keep reading!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Bobbin the Teenage Manx~ Sherri Easley

Unfortunately, my day job has been chaotic and my house a near full time job in cleaning due to a sickly senior dog, so I have had little time for writing. 

What happened to him? Well, last week my cat Bobbin bit him on his tail and poor Bandit now has a gimpy tail. Who knew that cat bites were so toxic? He is on antibiotics and doing much better, but not before he violated both of the rugs in my house. 

Meanwhile, I am trying to destress by reading Caroline's new book- Death in the Perfect House. So far, I love everything about it-- from descriptions of the small-town politics to colorful characters. Check it out! 

So, in the absence of a blog, I leave you this- Photos of my cat Bobbin, the teenage Manx. Manx cats are genetically disposed to not have normal tails and you can see his cute little butt in these pics. He is nearly three years old now and a little over twenty-two pounds of chonk unlike his delicate sister Button, weighing in at 8 pounds. He is also bigger than my two dogs. 

You can easily see from his kitten pic, how he came into my house and stole my heart, but you can also see from his teen-age pics, he is a stinker-