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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Coupon Queen by Bea Tifton

 Filling in for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel.

Groceries. Who doesn’t love going to the store, winding around pushy shoppers, trying to find everything on your list, and finally, having to pay for your pile of monthly provisions. Currently, I’m trying to alleviate the pain by using coupons.

When I was a little girl, we went on vacation every year. Every time we entered a new state, my father would stop by the visitors' information center. While my family browsed and my father chatted with the clerk, I would gather pamphlets. I especially liked the ones with coupons, and my family made fun of me for it.

One trip my father had driven for hours. We were tired and grimy, and he decided it was time to look for a hotel. I piped up and said I had a coupon for the hotel we were passing. Dad pulled in and looked at it, and it he was surprised at how much we could save. After that, whenever we stopped at the tourist information centers, Dad would pull me aside and say, “Go find a coupon.”

For years I tried to use coupons. Inevitably, I would either buy things I didn’t need because I had a coupon or forget the coupons at home. Enter the age of apps. Now all I have to do is choose the coupons I want  and link them to my account. Sooooo much easier.  And I’ve learned to resist the temptation to buy something just because I have a coupon.

I can’t say I’ve become the Coupon Queen. I don’t have the ability or the perseverance to gather so many coupons that I end up paying $1.25 for an entire cart of groceries, but every little bit helps.

And I still stop at the visitors' information center as soon as I cross state lines.

Photo Credits
Rulo Davila "Women Shopping in the Grocery"
Jeffrey Czum "Concrete Building Under Blue Sky"
Matheus Henrin "Woman Sitting on Beige Floor Tile"
Joshua T "Welcome to Utah Poster Under Blue Daytime Sky"

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Is It Fall? by Laura Hunsaker

 It's about 100 degrees where I live, and my air conditioning is still running, so why on Earth did I buy a Pumpkin Spice Latte today? 

Because it dropped below 100 and we had cooler temps for a week courtesy of the Hurricane, and next thing you know I'm wearing a scarf and drinking a PSL! School is in, I'm seeing Halloween candy in the stores, and today Starbucks dropped the mother of all fall beverages, the call to fall, the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

So with fall practically here, and my boots and scarves on stand-by, I am ready! The main thing I think of with fall isn't apple picking, or leaves changing, or any of the typical fall activities that I see online. (I don't live somewhere where we do that), my main fall activity is wanting a hot coffee, a blanket, and a good TV show. Which brings me to my big question: What should I be watching?

I don't watch a lot of TV but I am buddy watching Supernatural with my daughter, and Good Omens with a friend...but what is out there that you love? What would I add to my list. Usually I re-watch faves, or I watch stuff with my children, but I want to branch out. I feel like I spend too much time online and I want to try something new.

So my post is a two-parter: What do you love about fall, and since I love being cozy in my house with a hot coffee and show, what should I be watching? Tell me all about it! 

And keep an eye on my website because I have Dangerous Past and Dreams of the Future releasing soon...perhaps this fall...

In the meantime, enjoy the Backstreet Boys parody, "Pumkin Spice Latte."

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


                               by Judy Ann Davis

 Summer is slipping away, and fall is slowly nudging its way in as I write this. I'll miss summer. It provides one of the most beautiful landscapes for us in Central Pennsylvania. 

How aware are you of the world around you? Do you take time to hear the song of the birds in the morning or the serenade of insects at night? Do you pause to hear the far off lonely sound of a train whistle? 

Do you stop what you’re doing to gaze skyward and enjoy a colorful cloud formation floating across the sky? When you see a bed of vibrant flowers that catches your eye, do you stoop to touch their soft petals and smell their fragrance?

Too often in life, we are rushing through the world, heading from one activity to another, unaware of the universe around us. We become so caught up in our personal activities that we confuse being alive with living. True living means we’re connected with the universe around and cognizant of it. Being alive is merely breathing and being functional, and often we erroneously confuse rushing from one activity to the next as living. It's not.

We all need to take time to pay attention to what is around us and make a connection to the world and the people in it. To live means seeing, sensing, and connecting with everything and everyone around us—using our five senses of taste, sight, touch, hearing and smell.  It’s taking time to appreciate our marvelous planet and its people. It’s also a wonderful way to squeeze in a few moments of calmness, awareness, and sheer enjoyment in our chaotic lives...and maybe share those moments with others as well.  

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Writing in A Small Town by Liz Flaherty

I found this when I was looking for something else. I laughed some when I read it, a little self-consciously, because I'm not a fan of my own snark. But it's as accurate for me as it was then. The real reason I laughed when I read it was that then was in 2014. 

There are always trends going on in the writing of romance, and right now that’s a good thing for me because one of those trends is toward small-town or even rural romance. In the first place, this makes me snicker, because the definition of “romance” is fairly absolute—I don’t think small-town or rural people feel one bit different than their urban counterparts when it comes to falling in love.

In the second place, from the vantage point of having spent my whole life in what is often classified (usually by those who don’t live here) as “the middle of nowhere,” I am in the smug situation of knowing the truth about life in a small town—or outside it, as the case may be. Speaking of truth, there are a few that are absolute.

1. People don’t mind your business in small towns unless it somehow involves them or unless you’re particularly entertaining, rich, or snotty.

2. Country folks can be smart, educated, and even sophisticated. You can dress well, eat healthy, and pay too much for a haircut. Many of us do not drive pickups with guns in the back windows. Personally, I’ve driven an SUV since 2006, which I consider quite cosmopolitan of me.

3. We are not all waitresses with bad grammar and hearts of gold or men who sit out in front of the general store and play checkers and spit.

4. If you’re in a town of less than 1000 residents, don’t talk about calling a taxi—there probably isn’t one.

5. Don’t say “ain’t.”

6. Don’t assume that kids in rural or small-town high schools never get to college or know what to do when they get there. They do.

7. Fort Wayne, Indiana had a population of 254,555 in 2012. It’s fine to refer to it as a small town, but I wish you’d explain to me how it qualifies. I live near Deedsville, population 101—now that’s a small town.

8. We go to plays, concerts, and movies (first run!). We travel, love our kids and pets, and worship at will.

Those are my truths, and I only write them out in this rather snarky fashion because I’ve rolled my eyes at (and not finished) too many books where the authors didn’t do their homework on life on the non-wild side.

And now there is the other side. There is the fact that sometimes when I write about large cities or even suburbs, I’m not always sure of what I’m saying. What would a city mouse say or do in the circumstances I’m writing about?

I think I have a tendency to give city-dwellers less common sense than those of us from the boonies. I make them unable to change their own tires or fix their own drains. I make them less sympathetic to the human condition. Less likely to attend church, cook well, or put together a nice outfit from the thrift shop if that’s what they need to do.

Really? I mean, come on, really? And I was being condescending about how country people are portrayed? Makes me think that, as well as sharing the truths I do know, I should pay some attention to the ones I don’t.

And I'm probably not the only one. 

Speaking of small towns, A Year of Firsts has been re-released. It's the first story from Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania. The series name has changed to A New Season. If you missed it the first time, I hope you'll give Syd and Clay's story a look. Syd is small town and Clay is big city, but their story is all heart. 

“I’m Sydney Cavanaugh. Just passing through.”

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, August 16, 2023

What To Do When You Don't Want To Do Anything by Joan Reeves

I've never been really sick before other than a cold or allergy stuff—until this summer.

After visiting for a granddaughter's high school graduation and my brother's birthday, I returned home feeling quite well and happy.

Two days later, I came down with a horrible "unknown pathogen" according to lab tests. I spent the rest of the summer too sick to go anywhere or do anything.

Gradually, my immune system fought off whatever it was, and I began to get better. Unfortunately, it's been really difficult to get my energy back. For almost 3 months, I couldn't eat, lost weight, and could do little more than lie in a recliner and watch TV.

What To Do When You Don't Want To Do Anything

Being sick is tough on the body, the emotions, the brain, and the spirit. I was so sick I didn't even feel like reading! Now that's bad.

For weeks, all I felt like doing was watching TV. I became well acquainted with all of the streaming services.

In the belief that 'laughter is the best medicine," I sought comedy in whatever intelligent form I could stream on the big TV where the recliners are. Funny dog videos on YouTube were my favorite along with DryBar Comedy.

I caught up with all of the new RomComs on Netflix, Prime, etc. and the classics too. When I couldn't find anything funny, I watched British police and detective procedurals—anything that made me think to figure out a mystery.

4 Ways To Feel Better When You're Sick and Tired

1. Laugh. There's a reason RomComs are so popular. If you're too sick to read, find something funny with streaming.

2. Think. That's what the myriad mysteries and suspense TV series and movies made me do. Puzzles are good for the brain.

3. Listen to uplifting music. I have a few favorite Pandora stations I created. They are: string music, Classical Romance, and pop music from my high school era. Set up a free Pandora account and create a radio station featuring the kind of music that makes you feel good.

4. When you start to feel better, manage your energy level. Those with chronic diseases know all about the "spoon" philosophy of energy management. Just because you start to feel better, don't overdo it.

Figure out what you can do without exhausting yourself, or you'll end up back in the recliner instead of making progress. It's better to consistently spend an hour each morning working at something than spending 5 hours one day and then having no energy for the rest of the week.

You can build on an hour a day, but when you end up flat on your back and exhausted there's no way you can build on that.

Back to Basics

Today begins my first writing day in a while. I have a backlog of work—an edited manuscript to rework, 2 Kindle Vellas to draw to a close this month, a new book to start, promotion to get sales to pick up, blog posts to write, and so much more.

Since, I can only do 1 project at a time so I'll kick off this "back to blogging" with a sale on Second Chance Bride, a  delightfully romantic and emotional love story about second chances in life and love. 

For the next week, this book will be on sale for 99¢ at your Kindle store. If you love this book, please do me a favor and leave a short review so others can find this romance.

I wish you cooler weather—it's been triple digits here since July—and happy reading!

 Joan Reeves participates in the 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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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Wandering by Bea Tifton


In the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf said, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Well, yes. Except me. I am definitely lost. Again.

I have absolutely no sense of direction.

Now, people who have a great sense of direction cannot comprehend how I can drive to a place three times (or more) and still need directions. I had a friend who yelled, “North. North. How can you not know what direction that is?” when I was driving once and she was loathe to give me directions. Again. We remained friends but from then on, she drove, and we didn’t speak of it again.

Construction can throw me so much that I can’t always recover. I was supposed to go to training once in a nearby city. We were going to get a nice dinner and it would have been wonderful. Would have been. These were the days when I had a printed set of Mapsco directions and a fervent prayer. I missed a highway exit and I missed the meeting.

Those freakish people who can go to a place once and always remember how to get there are great to have around, but they puzzle me. My uncle was that way. My cousin is that way. I cannot even imagine how that would be, but I would love it. My best friend has no sense of direction, either, so it’s the blind leading the blind. We laugh and laugh as we blunder through the city and we’ve seen some interesting things. My mother is very tolerant of my lack of direction and we, too, have seen some interesting things.

Let’s talk gps. When I discovered that my phone had a maps app, it was as though a shaft of light shone right down on my phone and I swear I heard the angels sing. I try not to be overly dependent on it, but it’s so nice to know that I will get to my chosen location. And if I’m out and decide it’s time to fuel up, or go to the bank, or get ice cream, you know, the really important things, while I’m out doing errands, I can just put that new location into my phone and find it.

As a teacher researching my students’ special needs, I found out that some people say not having any sense of direction is a learning disability.  I can believe it. I know that I can’t help it. I’ve gotten better than I used to be, but I still heavily rely on gps. And why not? But I still take time to wander at times to discover things I’ve never seen and had no idea that they even existed. Sometime I’ll do a blog about that.

But now I need to go get some ice cream, er, to do an important errand. And I can definitely find the ice cream place from my house. Credits:
Andrew Neel "Assorted Map Pieces"
Leah Kelley "Woman Looking at the Map"
cottonbro studio "Two Women Riding in Car Laughing"
James Lee "Photo of Parking for Aliens Only Signage"
cottonbro studio "Ghosts Outdoors"
Brett Sayles "A White Horse Dressed in Flowers"
Megan (Markham) Bucknall "Woman Wearing Brown Coat During Daytime"

Sunday, August 6, 2023

OOPs I DID IT AGAIN ~ Sherri Easley


Not the first time I’ve done this. Not even the 100th time. I never seem to learn. I think there is a deep down need for a crisis in my life. What is this dilemma I keep finding myself in? 


Five weeks until DFW Fiber Fest–at the Irving Convention Center- and I have a booth.

In the meantime, I have been taking that new diet drug Wegovy and I have symptoms similar to morning sickness, while working my corporate day job, and helping with the littles three days a week. 

The littles are ages 7 and 4 and while they entertain themselves watching TV, they equate visiting Mama C with doing something special.

Anyway, I will keep this message brief. If you are in the Dallas area, come out to see me. My booth's name is Button-N-Boo. I will have knitting project bags, Harris Tweed purses and bags and a few other miscellaneous sewn crafts.

 I will be next to my friend Maureen, who hand dyes yarn at Charming Ewe.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Committee Survival Guide

 Filling in for the lovely and talented Caroline Clemmons, who is not feeling well. 

 Sir Alec Issigonis famously said, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” I know committees have their place, and that most of us have a place on committees, but there are a few rules to avoid losing your mind.

How did I learn these rules? At one time, I was uber active in my church. And as soon as I joined one committee, other committee leaders said, "Hmm. She has the big red volunteer 'V' on her forehead. I should ask her to be on my committee." And they asked me, and then their friends asked me... Oh, so many good causes and so little ability to say no. 

Oh, yes. The rules. 

Do not ever volunteer to take notes. Make any excuse. "I'm sorry. I had a traumatic note taking experience that involved wrestling an alligator and being abducted by aliens. I couldn't possibly take the notes of the meeting. " Committees have informants. Word will get around. Once you take the meeting notes, you will be secretary for the rest of your life. In every committee. For.The.Rest.Of.Your.Life. 

When unpleasant responsibilities come up, learn to yell, "One, two, three, not me!" while simultaneously touching your nose (or not) if that is a custom in your geographic region. Practice this maneuver at home and loosen up before each meeting so you will be ready. Failure to do so will result in your being in charge of said grunt work. Remember, informants. Word gets around that you will be willing to do so. And the alligator/alien excuse only goes so far.

Every committee has one. That member who brings up the same thing every meeting simply because he or she didn't like the decision when it was made. Make a game of it. Every time he brings it up, take a drink of coffee. Put the incident in the notes. (Come on, admit it. You're the committee secretary because you hesitated to use the alligator/alien excuse. Did I not warn you?) "Once again the tiresome Renold Holdwieller brought up the same ridiculous article in another futile attempt to get his own way." Committees thrive on passive aggressiveness. Embrace it. 

NEVER miss a meeting. If you do, you will automatically be put in charge of everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. 

I hope these rules help you navigate the world of committee memberships. Now, I've got to go. I have a committee meeting to attend. 

Photo Credits:
Frans van Heerden "Close-up of Brown Camel"
Monstera "Excited Black Woman Using Laptop"
Andrea Piacquadio "Thoughtful Woman Writing in Notebook at Home"
Michael Meyer "Ashtray with An Alien Toy Inside"
Polina Zimmerman "Portrait of Young Woman" 
Sarah Estes "A Woman in a Super Cropped Sweater"