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.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Summer Dates and Summer Nights by Kara O'Neal

My husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary this month. I told him that I wanted to ride the ferris wheel with him, so we traveled to Kemah. It's a gulfside town in Houston. They have a boardwalk and rides and shops...all the things you would need to have a day of summer fun!

This is us at the top of the ferris wheel and there's a Texas sunset behind us. We had a lot of fun.

My husband is absolutely my prince charming, and I'm so glad I get to do life with him! He's steady and strong, and always so very patient. I've never met someone who's more patient than my husband.

He's quite talented, too. He's an artist. My hallway is covered with his artwork -- and our children's -- and my cupboards are filled with pottery he's made.

I'm always amazed by how he sees things. He looks at objects very differently and pulls out nuances that I hadn't noticed. When we visit art galleries, he's able to explain why a Jackson Pollock painting is worth so much. (And I think that's quite a feat!)

And, of course, he's designed my book covers for me. (And always with a smile on his face no matter how hard it was.) Here they are.....

They're like a rainbow, huh?

I could talk forever about my husband. About all the little facts he harbors, his never-ending knowledge about history and the presidents, his jokes and his athletic ability. But I won't.

Instead, I'll end with saying that I love my hero, my prince charming, my reason for living and my inspiration for the romances I write. Thank you, honey....I'll love you for forever.

Thursday, July 28, 2022


How old is old? How much a part does genetics play in longevity? What part does attitude play in our longevity?

When I was a girl, I remember there were two ages of adults. If they weren’t gray, they were old. If they were gray, they were really old. Now that I’m … not so young any longer, I have a new perspective on age. Wow, do I ever!

In fact, a friend who is my age and I were discussing that this morning. We wondered how many more years we had to write. I figure I’ll write as long as my fingers move and I can string together at least semi-coherent sentences. My husband’s cousin died sitting at his desk with his fingers on the keyboard. Now, that’s the way to go.

On the other hand, a friend lived to 105. When she was 90, her doctor told her she had less than three months to live. She outlived the doctor who gave her that news. In fact, she had a new home built at 90, where she lived the rest of her life. (Word to the wise: she had cancer insurance and had home hospice every day for her last few years.) Several of her siblings lived to be in their late 90s.

We all know similar stories. There’s no figuring the guy who is a health nut and dies at 40 and the chubby, sedentary person who lives to be 95. No one said life was fair, right?

So what are we to do?

My personal opinion is that we should live every day to the fullest. Do something kind for someone else. Look on the bright side. Every day is a gift. Give thanks for each day because it’s a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. No I didn’t come up with that, but it’s true.

As Joan says, the take-away truth is: Attitude may not add years to your life, but it will add life to your years.

Go forth and make today a day worth living. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

My Dream Vacation is in the Library by Laura Hunsaker

 I am in a Facebook group for readers and someone said that it takes 1,000 books to be classified as a library. I on. How many of us could hit that 1K book mark in our lifetimes? Or have you already? If I had the space, I would absolutely have a library. I would sit in the window seat and read all day long. It would be the best room in my house.

But it got me thinking. My local library is  building a new one within 3 miles of my house. I want to drink an iced coffee and sit in a chair by the windows and read all afternoon. That is my dream. No one will bother me, no one will need me for anything, I could just spend an afternoon reading. And it would be amazing. 

My husband and I are trying to plan a big vacation for the family and I mentioned that I'm all for hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding...but I think one activity per day is good. My husband would love to do all that in like one day. He's an active kind of guy. He asked, well, what would your ideal vacation be? Reading on the beach. No hesitation, instantly, I said, "Reading on the beach." He told me that I can't spend thousands of dollars to just read in a different location. (bet me LOL), but honestly that would be my dream vacation. I want to read in every fabulous place in the world. Cafe in Paris. Beach in Hawaii. Deck chair on a cruise ship. Hammock in Cabo San Lucas. I mean, that is literally living the dream to me.

Is it so terrible that my favorite ideal days all involve reading? But since the vacation isn't planned yet, library in my own house is just in the imaginative stages, and the library up the street is real...I mean I guess I could just read in the new library and call it a vacation, right? I mean, reading can take you anywhere.

So how about you? Is it just me? Should you vacations involve outings and activities? Or is it okay to have some downtime with a book and realize you paid a bunch of money to read when you could do that at home? Or...are you like me and consider your book your adventure?

Laura Hunsaker can be found on

Saturday, July 23, 2022

SUMMER ON MY SWING: Pondering Answers

by Judy Ann Davis

“Hot July brings cooling showers, apricots and gillyflowers.” - Sara Coleridge

I admit as a writer I enjoy time alone to sit and think which is why I like July, why I like summer. My patio swing calls me to rest, enjoy the warm days or balmy nights, and ponder the world. It’s said curiosity is instrumental in driving our thought processes. It’s when I’m wrapped in that solitude when I ask questions which may or may not have answers: 

  • Why can’t we see the wind? 
  • How does the song sparrow learn its many different songs?
  • Do woodpeckers get headaches? 
  • What do northern squirrels think when they eat their first southern peanut from my bird feeder? Can they have an allergy to them? 
  • Fireflies flash in patterns that are unique to each species. Have they ever learned another pattern like we learn second languages? 
  • Why was the daisy chosen to be the flower plucked with the chant: He loves me, he loves me not?

 And my weird wondering brain chugs along…

Maybe in our attempt to explain things in nature, we need to accept there are mysteries which may never have explanations. As humans, we like explanations. We like plans. We like the predictable.

And, we like to ponder.

After all, isn’t that what creativity really is? The use of our imaginations or original ideas in the production of an artistic work?

So I leave you with this July wish: Take time to rest, relax, and contemplate the world around you. And if you get a bizarre or curious thought, drop it in the comment box below so we all can ponder the answer!


Visit my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE to see all my books.


Monday, July 18, 2022

About Quitting and Gifts by Liz Flaherty

I'm not loving the business of writing lately. On more days than I like to think about, I'm not even loving the writing itself. My sales numbers are abysmal, reviews nearly nonexistent, and publishing itself has grown so...weird, hasn't it? 

Author Ilona Fridl posted this on Facebook
last week: "I'm not depressed, but I'm wondering if writing is a waste of time for me. I've got eight books out, and not any of them are selling much. Maybe I don't write what people want to read. Anyway, I was thinking of hanging it up. After over ten years out, I should be doing better than this."

Many of the 40-some responses to her post--mine included--said, in essence, Me, too. Included in those comments was Kathie Giorgio's recommendation that Ilona read her blog that day. Kathie's post has become recommended reading for me. Did it fix what ailed me? No. But it applied needed unguent to the painful places.

I'm not going to hang it up, because I am at the tail end, where I know my writing days are numbered, and I have no intention of giving up any of them until I have to. But I still empathize with Ilona. I still feel the same way, even if I won't give it those same words. 

I hope some of the comments or perhaps Kathie's blog gave Ilona answers she needed to hear. I loved the conversation, that for that day at least, someone's Facebook page was a meeting of friends. That's kind of a gift, isn't it? It's necessary, if we are to survive as writers these days in publishing, that we find, accept, and enjoy those gifts when we get them. 

When I got a massage last week, Jessie, the wonderful therapist who makes me feel 10 years younger every time I see her, mentioned a blog I'd written for Window Over the Sink. It made some waves, got some comments, and created some thought. We talked about it, and when I left that day, she told me to "keep on being badass."

I got more than a massage out of that visit, and when my husband and I went to our favorite coffee house last night, owner Scott Johnson introduced me as a "famous author," told how many books I'd published, and said, "She's a badass."

Being called a badass twice in one week when you're 71 years old and lacking in professional Those are gifts I'm going to hold close and enjoy. And I'll keep writing until I love it again. I hope you do, too, Ilona.
Reinventing Riley

He’s afraid a second time at love wouldn’t live up to his first. She’s afraid a second round would be exactly like her first.

Pastor Jake McAlister and businesswoman Riley Winters are in their forties and widowed. Neither is interested in a relationship. They both love Fallen Soldier, the small Pennsylvania town where they met, even though Rye plans to move to Chicago, and Jake sees a change in pastorates not too far down the road. Enjoying a few-weeks friendship is something they both look forward to.

However, there is an indisputable attraction between the green-eyed pastor and the woman with a shining sweep of chestnut hair. Then there’s the Culp, an old downtown building that calls unrelentingly to Rye’s entrepreneurial soul. And when a young man named Griff visits Jake, life changes in the blink of a dark green eye.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Dogs Are the Most Fun by Joan Reeves

Good morning! This is Freddie, our granddog.

We're dog sitting this week which means we get a LOT of exercise because he's a Golden Doodle, half golden retriever—you know how active they are—and half poodle, also a playful active dog.

Freddie sleeps with Puppy, that's the brown stuffed animal he has in his mouth. It's so cute the way he snuggles with Puppy at night.

Having Freddie in the household also means I get up at least 2 hours earlier than usual. When he awakes, he first prowls around our bed making soft woof sounds.

If that doesn't penetrate our sleep, he progresses to little whines. If that doesn't work, he jumps up on the bed and lands like a fifty-pound bowling ball between us.

"Okay, I'm up, I'm up," I mutter groggily and stumble out of bed.

Off he goes to the back door. I punch the button on the coffee make and then try to punch in the alarm code accurately. (Thank goodness, there's only 1 button on the coffee maker.)

Once outside, he doesn't dash to the grass immediately. First, he goes to the wrought iron fence across the breezeway and stands there, delicate nose quivering as he gets the latest news from the animal kingdom.

Satisfied with what's going on at crack of dawn, he prowls around the patio, following the scent trails of the many squirrels who think they own this property, and we're the intruders.

After that, he scopes the perimeter of the house and the fence, stopping at his favorite places—the stone edging around the Purple Passion shrubs, the pole that holds the birdhouse aloft, the corner of the garage near the azaleas just to name a few—to relieve himself.

That's his way of telling the squirrels that he is the rightful owner of this land, and they'd better stay away. Yes, he's lord and master of all he surveys, and other critters enter the yard at their risk.

Satisfied, he returns to the patio and settles onto the bench for a stint of guard duty. By this time, my coffee has finished making so I pour a cup and sit beside him while I complete the process of waking up.

Although Freddie doesn't drink coffee (bad for doggies), he does love to visit Starbucks where the drive-thru barista always gives him a Starbucks Pup Cup.

Since the Pup Cup is piled high with slightly sweetened whip cream, we ration it, allowing him to have only a little at a time. When the cup is empty, he'd eat the cup if we allowed!

For some reason, he has this fetish for paper and paper products. When he was little, he could empty an entire large box of Kleenes. That was funny.

But then he tried to eat the tissues too. Not so funny.

Yes, Freddie is a genius dog. He has a toy where he has to open little gates or doors to find a treat. On some of these doors, a cover has to be slid across to get to the treat. There are 12 of these challenges.

We thought this would occupy his attention for at least 15 or more minutes. Nope. In less than 5 minutes, he had them all figured out.

His favorite people /animal watching spot is on the media room couch. He likes that position so much, I finally covered the couch with a sheet.

He can rest his head on the back cushions and look at everything that moves on the street.

When Freddie is in residence, I get very little writing done which is why this post is going up now instead of being written yesterday to schedule in the wee hours of this morning as I usually do.

Freddie is a delight, but having him around is like having an inquisitive, smart little toddler. Like many pet lovers, we talk to him as if he's a person.

His favorite place in the house is the kitchen because that's where all the good smells come from when food is cooking.

He makes us laugh, makes us walk more which is a good thing, and generally entertains us with his antics.

He's affectionate, funny, intelligent, and delightful. In other words, he's a dog, a human's best friend for thousands of years.

Takeaway Truth

I told Freddie to blow the readers a kiss, and  he obediently blew a version of a doggie kiss. Have a happy weekend.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

You've Got to Have Friends by Bea Tifton


I was talking with a group of friends from church that I hadn’t seen in, well, two years. One friend made the astute comment that for us, life would always be divided into two eras, PrePandemic and PostPandemic. We digested this bit of wisdom and agreed. I realize the pandemic isn’t completely over, but the rat race is being run once again.

As an introvert, I wasn’t affected as badly by the lockdown. No meetings to attend? Great. No being pushed and pulled as I trudged through the big box stores for groceries or other items? Wonderful. But almost all people, even introverts, need human interaction. To be part of a tribe, one’s natural family or the family one has picked. And let’s face it, maintaining quality friendships takes work.

I read a great article talking about “friendship fade.”  She admitted that over the course of the pandemic, many of her friendships had petered out. I tried to make a point of texting people. I zoomed for Sunday school socials, and I even talked on the phone with friends, which for me is a big deal. But, we’re all Zoom fatigued. We’ve played all the icebreaker games we can handle. And there’s not much to discuss when we’re not doing much. I read voraciously, so I talked books with people, and I have pets and family who provided fodder for witty anecdotes, but…

I was surprised at the people who disappeared, what a millennial might call “ghosting.” I had a church friend who wasn’t responsive to my texts. A former coworker told me flat out she didn’t want to set aside certain times to text or to zoom. One former colleague and I pledged to support each other through good times and especially through the bad ones. He doesn’t even respond to my texts or emails. A 20 year friendship is just gone.   I admit, that one stung the most. I never would have thought it would

be a casualty of world events.  But some people experienced the pandemic differently. I mean, I have lost family and friends to Covid.  My favorite cousin and a friend in my bookclub died, but we couldn’t attend the funerals due to Covid restrictions. My  mother almost passed away, and now she’s on oxygen 24/7 for the rest of her life, her hearing is gone, and her eyesight has been affected.  I was deeply affected by anxiety over the state of the world. Many people were immobilized by anxiety. They Just. Couldn’t. And I am keeping that in mind and trying to give those people the grace they need and deserve.

But I know from reading books like The Blue Zone that in person friendships add years to one’s life. We need those groups. People we would want in our lifeboat--even through, or especially through, life’s worst moments. We’ve emerged scarred but resilient from lockdowns with all the life changes the pandemic brought. It’s time to reconnect.

 Call a friend. Stop by with one of those sourdough or banana bread loaves you learned to bake during the lockdown. Go back to church or club meetings. Man your lifeboats once again. Facebook friends can be good friendships, but people are pack animals. We need face to face, heart to heart friendships. Connections. Zoom can’t hand you a tissue or high five you, hold your hand or give you a needed kick in the rear.

And if the friendship can’t be revived? Maybe you learned all you needed to learn from that person and it’s time to grieve, then move on. Reconnecting is different from chasing after people who are through with you. Cherish the true friends who have withstood all our PostPandemic challenges  with loving hearts and supportive words. Don’t put it off. Call or go see a friend you haven’t seen since PrePandemic.  They are thinking of you and they will be delighted that you made the first move.  Truly, Friend Reader. I think they will.

Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

O’Malley, Katie. “I’m suffering from Friendship Fade”

Photo Credits:

ELEVATE: "Four Women Chatting While Sitting on Bench"

George Milton: "A Woman Reading a Book Near the Shelf While Sitting on the Floor"
Andrea Piacquadio: "Woman Sitting on Chair While Leaning on Laptop"
David Geib: "White Boat on Body of Water"
Pixabay: "Person Holding Baked Pastry Covered With Towel"
Marcus Aurelius: "Friends Hugging on the Street"

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Book of Brave Deeds- a cookbook~ Sherri Easley


This looked like the one in our house. 

Growing up, we had a Hoosier cabinet in our kitchen. It was very old and passed on from my dad’s family. Somewhere along the way, Mom painted it mint green to match the built-in cabinets in our house, so I am not sure of the original color, although I do not think it was bare oak.

Her Hoosier had two top cabinets with a drawer in the center that was a flour bin. Mom always kept her cookbooks in that drawer. It had two drawers under the pullout workspace and a large storage area at the bottom with two doors.

These cabinets were popular in from 1890 to 1930, since they did not build houses with cabinetry. The primary manufacturer was the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, thus the name Hoosier Cabinets. The name was as common as Kleenex is to tissue.  

By 1920, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company had sold two million cabinets, not counting those sold by other manufacturers. It is thought that as many as 10% of all households owned one.


My Hoosier


I loved that cabinet and had hoped I would inherit one day, but that did not happen, so I bought one of my own, which I hope to remodel one day.

So back to that center bin and the cookbooks…

I am not sure what the draw was to that center part of the cabinet, but I explored it at every opportunity. Before they sold printed cookbooks, my mom cut recipes out of magazines like “The Progressive Farmer” and “Good Housekeeping” and pasted them over the pages of a regular book.

One day, I found a book titled “Book of Brave Deeds” and thought that title was fitting for a cookbook for a new bride. For my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, I received recipes and stories from across the country from friends and relatives and compiled them into a cookbook with the name “Book of Brave Deeds II” circa @1991.

Most of the contributors have long since passed and many of us have made copies of copies. Finally, I got it saved to a pdf.

I have attached the book here so feel free to download and enjoy.!Ah2AtgQYR-z4jx6-dFcGLgFrF0oi

Saturday, July 2, 2022


 By Caroline Clemmons

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

In addition to celebrating the independence of the United States of America, we celebrate another occasion.

One year ago a neighbor called our youngest daughter to ask her to please come get a dog off her front porch. You have to understand that our daughter has a way with animals that borders on magical. When she went to the neighbor’s home, she found a toy poodle mix in a corner, shaking from fear. Fireworks were going off within hearing distance in spite of a light rain.  She took the dog home with her.

When she told me about Baxter (yes, she’d named him), I said I wanted him. She took him to the vet before she let him around her animals. Baxter did not have a chip, but was healthy. The vet estimated he was just over a year old.


He was not well behaved, in that he barked/bayed at inappropriate times. Each of the dogs we’ve had over the years has been a rescue, but each has already been housebroken and fairly well-trained. We were at a loss with Baxter. Our solution was to sign him up for a training class at PetsMart.

He was expelled because he bayed at the other dogs trying to play with them. Can you imagine how embarrassed we were? The trainer scheduled us for private lessons. They helped. Baxter loved them, I think because of all the special treats the trainer gave him.

Here we are a year later. Baxter is still rambunctious, mostly due to the breed part of him that is not toy poodle. He never tires of playing fetch—we do. Baxter is a good companion and sleeps on our bed with us and our two cats. Good thing we have a king-sized bed, right?

Hero gets up first each morning, but Baxter waits on our bed until I get up. Then he rushes to sit by Hero's chair. Baxter is a sweet and loving boy. I'm glad we have him in our family.

Help us celebrate a year with Baxter as well as Independence Day weekend.

Have you rescued animals?