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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Through the Ears of a Child by Bea Tifton

 Filling in for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel today. 

Through the eyes of a child.  I think there is something to be said for being childlike (not childish). Viewing the world with wonder and never losing that curiosity. But sometimes the eyes, and the ears, of a child can get a little confused.

When I was little, I would watch the early news with my mother.  News programs weren’t as graphic then as they are now.  

At one point, the newscast was about some guerrillas hiding in the hills of some exotic foreign country. For days, I listened to the news and wondered time and time again why they were upset about gorillas hiding in the hills, and then I became concerned about the fact that these particular gorillas were armed to the teeth.

We always watched the weather report. In the middle of winter, I was puzzled because the meteorologist always gave the windshield temperature. I finally figured out that of course, he was saying how cold your windshield would be that day. I’m not even sure how old I was when I realized it was called wind chill, and how that affected the weather. Older than I would probably care to admit.

As a small child, I absolutely loved to draw. I was so excited when the teacher would hand out that vanilla paper for us to draw. I knew why it was called vanilla paper; it was the color, of course. I still think vanilla paper is a better name than Manila paper.

Children are trying to figure out their world, and sometimes the explanations at which they arrive are, well, a little off. I was lucky to have parents who explained things to me no matter how often I asked, “Why,” which was a lot.


Are there any words you misunderstood as a child? Leave a comment below.

Pexels Photo Credits
Skitterphoto: "Girl Blowing Dandelion Flower"
Kevin Burnell: "A Gorilla in the Zoo"
Erik Mclean: "Heart Symbol on Windshield Covered with Frost"
RDNE Stock project: "Little Girl in Blue Sweater Holding Ice Cream Cone" 
Allan Mas: "Interested little boy exploring stone" 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Vacations From Hell In A No-Tell Motel by Laura Hunsaker

 At this precise moment, I am sitting on a bed in a terrible motel not allowing my feet to touch the ground without shoes on. This is actually the norm for my family in a motel, but if my bare feet touch the carpet accidentally, I don't panic. This place, there is panic.

We are in beautiful San Diego, California for sports tournaments for one of the kids, and we stayed at the motel his buddy's dad recommended. The pictures online are 100% not the room we stayed in. The best we can figure is that all of the photos are from either a staged room, or from one room being renovated, or maybe just really old.

It was a dump. Look, it's a motel, I know you get what you pay for. However, we paid a whole lot of money for that room! So we all felt scammed. I feel I need to stress that it's not just me being snobby. The doors didn't fit the door jams. In one of the players' rooms, it looked as if the door had been kicked down and replaced but not actually fixed or fit. I texted my daughter who couldn't come with us for the trip, and told her how creepy this place was. She sent me a funny meme about ghostbusters and the Winchester Brothers. You guys...I cannot stress enough how I wish the room being haunted was the problem. It was more meth creepy, and less ghosts creepy.

This place was sketchy.

This all leads to what made me write about it. In some of my books, I've had the characters hiding out in a "no-tell motel" and while it's hella sketchy, with lumpy beds, and cracked walls, I don't think I really thought about how bad those places really are. 

Now to be fair, this is not actually the vacation from hell, the beach is gorgeous, I'll add some pics! However I'm sunburned, covered in beach sand, and I am going to go watch more sports on a field where we were swarmed by bees yesterday (not joking). So wish me luck, wish my kid's team luck, and cheer me up with your bad vacation stories.

And one very cool thing that happened, is one of the parents of a teammate is from Chester, CA the small town where I set my Fatal Instincts series!! (a couple hours outside of Reno, NV in the Sierra Mountain Range).  So, if you want to read about Lark and Jay in some better than this and nowhere near as creepy motels, check out Dangerous Past, coming out this summer! 

Add to your Goodreads Shelf

"A thrilling romantic suspense!” —USA Today bestselling author, Katie Reus

She’s running from her past…

Lark Seawell is the daughter of a serial killer. His reputation has long been a shadow looming over her since his arrest when she was a child. Especially since she’s the one who called the police. She has spent her entire life trying to live as anonymously and quietly as possible. She is not her father’s legacy.

He wants to be her future...

FBI agent Jay Sutherland is visiting a friend in a small mountain town when free spirit Lark asks for help with her injured dog. He is instantly enamored with her, and their one night stand stays with him far into the next morning, though Lark is long gone. When his partner realizes that she is the daughter of The Highwayman, Jay refuses to believe Lark is anything like her father.

What happens when she stops running…

When a trail of dead bodies follows Lark on her cross-country drive, the FBI believes she’s the killer. How can the sweet woman who rescues injured animals and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in years be a murderer? The bodies don’t lie. Jay knows there’s more at play. If he’s wrong, and Lark is as much a monster as her father, he may be the next target…

Friday, June 23, 2023


 by Judy Ann Davis

NOTE: This is a post from my personal blog
but, for me, very timely for June.

June is a paradox for children who grew up on farms. It heralds the end of the school year when there are no more books, no more homework, and no more long bus rides winding through the rural back roads ten times a week. It is also a month when the hard work on a farm gets even harder.

June is haying season. It’s a time when hot summer days bring temperatures in the 90s, and farm kids work a job that’s hard, dusty, and endless.

Outside, mowers clatter along in the fields slicing swaths of sweet smelling clover, timothy, fescue and other grasses to be dried in the sun. Later, the hay is raked into fluffy windrows and collected and hauled to the barn’s haymow, pronounced “haymau” with the “mow” rhyming with “cow.”

Before we owned a baler, we collected our loose hay onto an old flatbed milk truck pulling a hay loader. As the dried hay was swept up onto the truck bed in an endless ribbon, Dad spread it evenly around until it reached a heaping full load. Often he let out a sharp whistle to the driver to stop while he pitched out a snake who took a free ride up with the hay. A whistle would also ensue when part of—or an entire—load slid off the bed on a steep hillside with him sailing along with it.

When fully loaded without mishap, the truck was pulled into the haymow where a two-tined hayfork on a track running along the barn’s peak was dropped by a pulley and rope and inserted in the hay. Pulled back up by another rope, the hay bundle slid up and along the rail to be tripped and dumped at the proper location in the barn’s loft.

The words mowing away hay to a farm kid's ears will bring a series of grunts, groans and weary-sounding expletives as a retort. On a hot day, mowing hay meant tearing apart the big heap of hay with a pitchfork and spreading it out to all corners of the loft. The mow was often several temperatures higher than outside. This exhausting, sweltering task went on again and again until the truck bed was empty. 

I often mowed hay for my dad. And I can truly say, I uttered a relieved sigh each time the last forkful was dumped, spread, and I could escape the itchy hayseeds and broiling heat to get a cold drink. Then it was back to the hayfield to do it all over again, constantly searching the bright sky for the smallest hint of rain—the farmer’s worst enemy during haying season. 

~ * ~


Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards, the Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie Award, and the American Fiction Awards.


 by Judy Ann Davis

The weather in Central Pennsylvania has been fickle this year. Rain falls unexpectedly every other day, followed by periods of extreme heat. It makes for a wonderful atmosphere for our garden plants and flowers which are flourishing this year.

In one of my flowerbeds, as you enter the house through the back door, I have a bed of grape hyacinth which blooms profusely each spring. This summer, some critter keeps digging holes and unearthing the bulbs every night. I was blaming it on a skunk, but the other night my husband discovered a porcupine in front of our unattached garage, located outside the back door. He (or she) was not a large one, and we’re guessing from his size, he’s probably a yearling.                    

After some research, I found that porcupines are nocturnal herbivore rodents, and they eat things such as fruit, roots, tree bark, leaves of plants, flowers, vegetables, and bulbs. They also have a preference for salty items.

They are the largest rodent found in North America and weight around twenty pounds. Basically loners, these rodents prefer to live and forage alone. They are good swimmers and excellent climbers, regularly scaling trees in search of food. Contact with others only occurs during the breeding season when the young, called porcupettes, are born. Bearing twins is unusual.

by jggrz, Pixabay

     Porcupines have about 30,000 quills they can use for 
     defense, but they cannot throw them as many legends 
     have earlier indicated. Porcupines have a range of about 
     14 acres and live an average of 18+ years in North 

     Now, the burning question is how does a homeowner get
     rid of this irksome rodent? Unfortunately, the only permanent way is trapping him or fencing your plants, garden, and flowerbeds. Sometimes a liquid repellent from your local hardware store will deter him.

So basically, I’ve concluded that we’re stuck with pesky Mr. Porcupine since none of the above is possible or has worked. I’m told, when he runs out of food, he’ll move on. I’m guessing we’re in a relationship with this critter for the remainder of our summer months. 

                                    SPECIAL SALE FOR CHIRSTMAS IN JULY!


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A Day in June by Liz Flaherty

My mind is on the mushy side today. It happens a lot these days, but especially when I try to crowd more events and thoughts and things-to-do lists into it. So I think I'll meander. I hope you come on along.

My grandpa Neterer died in June. He was what everyone's grandfather should be. Kind, gentle, funny, and so full of stories about a life well lived that I could never get enough of hearing them. He'd grown up a farm boy, although he worked his whole adult life at what had once been Buescher Band and went through several names during his tenure there. But even as Elkhart, Indiana grew up around the home he shared with my grandmother, Grandpa still went barefoot and wore overalls when he was at home. They had city water, but they also had the hand pump in the yard, where he and the grandkids went to drink from the well. 

I was only 13 when he died, but I was able to save up a lot of memories from those years. 

Our county fair is in June. I was there yesterday, helping to sign in adult projects. The fair used to be in August, but since it managed to storm every year in addition to being punishingly hot, it eventually moved back to June. It's often still wet and hot, but inspiring to see the kids with their animals and their projects. They learn so much in 4-H, and they have a good time.

I'm doing revisions right now, on a Christmas Town novella and on a book I've finished. I always worry during revisions--Is this what they want? Is it still my story? Seriously--they want that?--and yet there's an adrenaline rush that goes along with them, too. The thought that the story will be better when I'm done, because usually it is. 

Our youngest grandson is here this week. He's 13, the age I was when my grandfather died, when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, when boys started looking really different and I put makeup on when I was on the school bus because I wasn't allowed to wear it. So many changes that year, and I can see changes in our grandboy, too. He's fun and funny and smart. Grandpa Neterer would have loved him like we do. 

Three birds are hanging on one suet feeder while a woodpecker keeps the other one to himself. I used to be amazed that my mother-in-law could spend so much time watching birds. Now, in my much bigger yard, I watch birds, deer, rabbits, and squirrels, and I understand Mom a lot better. 

In A Soft Place to Fall, Early and Nash and Nash's dad, Ben, sometimes sat on the porch. I imagine they were watching and listening, too. Some books are special. You love them more. This is one of those for me. 

Thanks for going along on my meander. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Car Shopping, A Driving Tale by Joan Reeves

I woke up at 4 AM this morning and remembered I needed to blog on Smart Girls Read Romance.

Yesterday, we car shopped in 97 degree heat, from 9:30 in the morning until 6:15 in the evening. After getting home, I was too tired to do anything but collapse into a recliner in the air conditioned comfort of home.


We had a Lincoln MKX SUV for the last few years. Although it was an excellent vehicle in every way, I wanted something larger. We take a lot of road trips and something larger is simply more comfortable.

We knew what we wanted and Darling Hubby, CEO of all things automotive, had done his research and consulted with me. "Hey, do you like the look of this?" Me: "Okay."

He was ready to go, all but rubbing his hands together in glee. He loves test driving cars and negotiating a purchase. Me? Not so much. Especially not in the summer.

In 2004 for Valentine's Day, he bought me a retro-styled Thunderbird manufactured as a limited edition by Ford from 2002 to 2005. My T-Bird is Merlot Red—tan interior and tan convertible top— with a removable hard top via a hard hoist in our garage.

I mostly drive it with the top down. I love that car and love to drive it on the winding roads in the hill country.

(Although my car is not the pink vintage model shown in this picture, I thought this image was so cute I wanted to share it.)

Now, back to our car shopping adventure.


One of the funniest things I ever read was Dave Barry's riff on car buying, Stalking the Wild Car Price. This treatise on the game of car buying is hilarious and includes such classics as buyer makes offer, and sales person says: Let me talk to my manager.

How many times does the sales person say this? Yesterday, it was only 5 times I think. Our sales person was a polite, friendly young woman. (I think Hubby missed the challenge.) While our Sales Person talked to the Manager, Hubby and I traded jokes from Dave Barry's routine.

The other classic is the sales person calling the buyer by name. In Barry's classic, here's what happens when the Sales Person asks his manager if he can reveal the price.

SALESPERSON: He wants to know if it's more than $9,500. Can I tell him?

MANAGER: How many times have you called him "Dave"?

SALESPERSON: 1,672 times.

MANAGER: Not yet.
The deal was made quickly since they made a good offer to Hubby for our trade-in sight unseen.

But we had a complication. We'd loaned our Lincoln SUV to our daughter whose car was in the shop.

We'd driven from our home in the northwest part of the Houston Metro area to the dealership in the southwest part of town. Then we test drove the larger SUV. 

Once we had the deal made, we had to drive  home to pick up the title. From there, across to the northeast part where daughter lives.

We parked the truck which we were driving at daughter's home. Had a quick lunch with her, moved all of the crap from the car into the truck, and then drove back to the southwest part of the Metro area, arriving a little after 3:00. By then, the day was a scorcher and rush hour was beginning.

The rest was all paperwork. You'd think paying cash for something would make a car purchase fast. Nope. Not in today's world. Since this was such a "speedy" transaction, the car which had arrived on the lot the day before, had been sent to the make ready shop. Long story short, they gave us a loaner and said they'd deliver the car to us at home the next day and drive back in the loaner.

So, we don't have our new wheels yet. *LOL* Welcome to today's world.


I loved my sports car so much that I featured it in one of my books, Romeo and Judy Anne, a sexy romance about taking control of life rather than becoming a doormat.

In this book, the Romeo drives a T-Bird like mine.

This book is a Kindle Unlimited selection in case you're a subscriber.

Review: "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

99¢ SALE

This month Heat Lightning, a steamy romance wrapped around a suspense thriller, is on sale for only 99¢.

Review: "Reeves has deftly created a page-turning suspense with strong visual imagery and characters that tug at your emotions." —Morgan Review


Thanks for dropping by. The month is passing fast. Remember to take a little time just for you—relax and do something you love.

Joan participates in Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, affiliate advertising designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon. She may receive a small commision at no extra cost to you.


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Shake Hand, Buy Car by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

Car, Auto, Valentine's Day by Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

Driver, Traffic, Man, Vehicle, Angry by Azmi Talib from Pixabay

Saturday, June 10, 2023

My Life as a Grammar Cop by Bea Tifton

I have a confession to make, Dear Reader. I am a grammar cop.

I don’t correct people’s grammar out loud; that would be obnoxious and rude. But, yes, I am silently correcting grammar. I just can’t help it. When I watch the news, my behavior is like that of a crazed fan watching his favorite sports team mess up royally. “Did you really just say that?” “Was that a subject verb agreement mistake?” “Ohhhhhh!!!”

When I read advertisements or see billboards now, my teeth hurt, perhaps because I am grinding them.

I peruse Facebook and I want to yell, “Your, you’re all under arrest! 

Everyone stop there, they’re, their, typing and posting at once!”  I confess that sometimes I see really cute memes that I would love to post but I. Just. Can’t. because there are grammatical errors. I don’t want anyone to think I was the originator of the meme; I’d have to turn in my badge.

I hear people my age and older lament, “Oh, they (who are “they”, anyway?) just don’t teach grammar anymore.”  I was in education for 20 years, ten as a classroom teacher and ten as a school librarian. The thing is, we do. Grammar isn’t taught the same way as it was when I was in school, but it is taught. The trouble, I think, is that teachers, sadly, must teach to the standardized test in their state, and some of the cramming results in short term knowledge that is not absorbed and used in everyday life.

I was the kid who loved diagramming sentences. I was good at it and it made sense to me. Math, not so much on both counts. (Ha!  See what I did there?)

I know that language is not static. It’s constantly changing and evolving to reflect society. Grammar rules are being relaxed. Some things are not stressed at all anymore. I don’t want to be a curmudgeon as I age, so I know I need to relax as well. But I’m going to be grammatically correct while I do it.



Do you notice bad grammar? Does it bother you? 

Pexels Photo Credits: 
Kindel Media "A Policeman Wearing Dark Sunglasses"
Polina Zimmerman "Photo of Woman Using Laptop"
Dids "Woman Writing on Green Chalkboard"
Marcus Aurelius "Woman Holding Her Smartphone While Smiling at the Camera"






Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Confession of a Tree Hugger~Sherri Easley


I did something this week that I never thought I would. I called a nursery to buy a tree. Not just a little tree, but a semi-mature tree. Unfortunately, the company I called was not in the office, so I have to wait until next week to find out the verdict. I understand they are very pricey, especially if they plant them for you.

So how did I get to this?

When I bought my house five years ago, part of the attraction was that it had a fairly large, 1/3 acre yard and I envisioned a tropical oasis, or at least, my little piece of country in the city. Imagine my horror when I went to plant my first tree, to find out I live on a rock. Six inches down is shale, solid and deep.

As a child, being an introvert living in the country with few people around, I spent a lot of time hanging out on the low flat limb of a gigantic oak tree at the back of our property, reading books, making leaf crowns and creating little acorn people. I have mentioned before; I was the youngest of five children and my parents were older, so I was, well, feral and spent most of my daylight hours in the woods, exploring and dreaming.

During the school year in my tiny country school, there were nine people in my class, and when the mean girls decided to not include me which was most of the time, I sat at the base of a one of the oak trees on the school grounds and read books. When you experience the behavior of mean girls from first grade all the way to seventh, you grow thick skin and become comfortable in your isolation.

Trees have been my anchor, my comfort in stressful times, so is it surprising that when my son died two years ago, that I would need the comfort of trees? I looked for a country home with no luck, so I am opting for plan B, buying a semi-mature tree for my house in the HOA.

The next time you are near a mature tree, put your hand on the trunk and close your eyes. Listen to the rustle of the leaves and the birds and wildlife that make it home and think of the life and the history of everything that the tree has endured to be here. Rain and drought, wind and bitter cold, and yet it still stands strong. Hopefully, you will feel the same peace in your soul that this brings me. 


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Gardening, Pizza, and #MakeNFVisible by @JacquieRogers


This is going to be a short one because I've been busy as the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger since the weather warmed up.  I should say "we" because I'm not doing even 25% of the work this year but I've been doing a lot of cooking (more on that later) and supervising.  I'm banned from shoveling these days, which is not a good thing because shoveling is one of the best therapies there is.

I have 16 4'x4' raised beds, so 8 Big Boy and 8 Early Girl tomatoes (I bought starts late so didn't have a lot of choice), some sweet red peppers, poblano peppers, potatoes (this is Idaho, after all), asparagus, Walla Walla Sweet onions, another kind of onions that I'm too tired to remember right now, and more...

Spaghetti squash, with a basil plant lurking in the back.

Pole beans.  Someone needs to weed these.

What's left of an 18" pizza after my crew (two 16-year-old boys) got done with it.

May was Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month so my daughter Mercedes Christesen, Mr R, and I went to the watch party for the national fundraiser.  Mercedes was featured at the beginning of the show--she's considered an "influencer" because she has over 75,000 followers on TikTok, which makes me nearly faint every time I think about it.  

But that's not all, she was also featured on a Snapchat show called Unwritten Beauty.  Be sure to watch it!  ☺ It was a fantastic interview and Mercedes gave a beautiful and heartfelt presentation.  I'm a very proud mama.

Also, it was her birthday.

Tresa Hiatt, me, & birthday girl Mercedes Christesen
Not a flattering photo--wine may have been involved.

What's happening the rest of the month?  More planting, lots of weeding, and then we get our grandson for the first two weeks of July.  We're so excited!  He's 17 and quite a cook, and he told me that I could sit back and relax while he cooks.  I'm not sure the relaxing will last through washing the dishes, though. Hahaha!

Stay safe, and until next month, Happy Reading. 📚😍

If you're on TikTok, friend me!  My handle is @jacquierogersbooks.  
You can get videos of Honey Beaulieu and Sassy's latest updates there.  And goofy videos of her scribe.  Heck, we even do a few cooking videos.

Saturday, June 3, 2023


 By Caroline Clemmons

We re-watched the musical "Oklahoma" last night. Now I keep singing (to myself because I'm a terrible singer) "June is bustin' out all over..." I love that song. Actually, I love all the songs in that movie. The voices of Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones blended beautifully. (You have to love Ado Annie's two songs, "I Cain't Say No" and "All or Nothin'.")

I have a few questions for the producers, though. Why did they cast Eddie Albert as the Arab peddler, Ali Hakim? Were there no dark-haired men available who could act? I loved Eddie Albert as an actor, especially in his television series "Green Acres," but he was too old and too white to play the part of the Persian peddler. He must have had a terrific agent.

Peace Rose

I digressed. June IS busting out all over. I don't care for hot weather, but I do love flowers. We have beautiful roses this year. Roses are my favorite flower. We don't really have a good place for them, but Hero found space for three: Peace, Pink Fragrance, and Mr. Lincoln. It's true that little things mean a lot. I appreciate him managing to dig the flower bed, edge it with bricks, plant the roses, and keep them lovely. When you consider he has advanced Parkinson's, you can understand how hard this was for him. See why I call him Hero?

Mr. Lincoln Rose

Pink Fragrance Rose

The bad part of June is the insects. In spite of the fact that we have barley rings in the bird baths, I have mosquito bites. I'm serious when I say if there's one anywhere within a block of me, the little creature will pass by others to find me. Perhaps A- blood type is a favorite dessert for mosquitoes. Grumble, grumble. We are trying to attract bees and butterflies. Hero planted a dozen butterfly bushes.

I enjoy our neighborhood. The other houses on our block have neat lawns--at least the ones I can see easily. I enjoy looking at all the trees, shrubbery, grass, and flowers. Nothing here is as spectacular as Beth Trissel's gardens, but she is unique. I'll wager some of you also have lovely flowers in bloom. Put a photo in the comments if you can. If not, tell me your favorite flower. As I said above, mine is a rose.

Geranium in a hanging basket

Stay safe and keep reading!