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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Dive Into Romance Recs by Laura Hunsaker

 As I was trying to think of what to write this month, my daughter came in to bug me and as I tried to shoo her away because I'm trying to be creative, but she cured my writer's block! 

Some background information: my kids are swimmers, and this particular child of mine actually coaches swim and teaches swim lessons. One thing she brought up for a post idea was that she would love to read a swim romance.

And it got me to thinking. I know hockey romance is huge right now, and I know football and baseball have been huge in the past. Even rugby has had some time in the sun. But swim? I can't think of a single swimmer romance. I can think of one where the hero was a swimmer in high school (a Julie Garwood novel), but it's not much more than that. 

Obviously, my brain couldn't leave it alone, and I started going through sports romances (that is one very large subgenre!) on Goodreads. Well, I found a list, but not very many of them involved swimmers. Mermaids, surfers, and beaches, yes. Olympic swimmers, not so much.

So, for my daughter's sake, can anyone think of any swim romances out there? Give me all of your recommendations!

And if you'd love some great hockey romance, don't forget that I also write hockey romance as Kenzie MacLir. The New York Empires is a unique series where each book is an anthology with 3 stories that overlap. It's also slightly paranormal. Except for my latest one. Werewolves playing hockey are the best, and Roughing It definitely has werewolves playing hockey.

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Saturday, March 23, 2024


by Judy Ann Davis

In the  IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) this month, the March 6th questions asked members what I am repeating here and which I consider pertinent questions for all writers:  Have you "played" with AI to write synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

Out of curiosity, I'd like to hear from everyone what are your thoughts. Here is a portion of my response:

Universities are already working closely to develop anti-AI software and advocating student dismissals from a class if it is being used when human creative input is required. AI will result in a great deal of lay-offs in numerous industries once it advances. 

Many people believe we will lose the "genius" of the human mind since AI books and works will flood an already flooded market. How many aspiring young writers or even present-day writers will give up or throw in the towel not wanting to compete with it?

Someone recently posted on Facebook a saying that sums Artificial Intelligence up for many people: Why should I bother reading something that nobody could be bothered to write?"                                 ~*~

What are your thoughts and insights as writers, artists, or someone who has explored AI's advancements?

NEW - NEW - NEW     
COURTING BETSY - Book 3 of the Ashmore Brothers Series

                          VISIT MY   AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE FOR ALL MY BOOKS 


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

When Things Break by Liz Flaherty

Sometimes things break. Even things we love and count on can be broken by neglect, by wear, by the elements. And every time it happens, a little part of us breaks with them. 

I have a favorite tree, the cottonwood that sits in the side yard outside my office window--the one beside my desk. The tree is beyond the clothesline, nearer the field than the garage that houses the office. The tree has gone from healthy-sapling-size to huge, as cottonwoods do, in the years we've lived in this house. It has been struck by lightning more than once, so that its center trunk looks...well, as if it's been struck by lightning, but the tree is both home and playground to a plethora of squirrels and birds. Rabbits are all over the place, looking up. Deer wander around under the tree--unless they know they have an audience. Watching the animals cavorting around and hearing the birds shouting in the process lends brightness to the dimmest of days.

I am an optimist, a positive-thinker, a cup-more-than-half-full girl, but even at that, I have to acknowledge that there are a lot of dim days. Or, at least, dim hours. Being a writer, while it has been one of the greatest joys and satisfactions in my life, has also contributed greatly to that dimness. Speaking of things broken. 

The wind blew hard here last week, as it often does in March and April. More of the center trunk of the tree came down either from that or another lightning strike. A big part of it. I worry that the tree won't be able to survive nature's latest onslaught, that squirrels were hurt. Although they're still out there, fluffy tails flying. 

My husband wants to cut the tree down. Its core is dead. Cottonwoods are junk trees. But it sits far from the house so that it won't damage property even if it does come down. It hurts no one. It provides succor--how's that for a writer's word?--to both the animals and to the writer watching from the window. "Not yet," I say. 

This then is what we do when, as aging writers, our work isn't always welcomed in the publishing arena, the venue we've loved for so long and worked so hard to remain a part of. Sometimes parts of us get broken by changes we can't control. We flinch and swear and think about quitting because another piece of the center trunk has hit the ground hard. But we still have words, ideas, scenes we need to write, don't we?

On my tree--she's a girl; did I mention that?--the leaves still come back in the spring and the squirrels and the birds are still in the branches, the rabbits and the deer still gambol around. 

They bring brightness, just as we do. And joy, just as we do. And knowledge about other things, just as we do. It's the just as we do that I'm thinking about. Once again, quitting's not an option. 

Not yet. 


Early McGrath doesn't want freedom from her thirty-year marriage to Nash, but when it's forced upon her, she does the only thing she knows to do - she goes home to the Ridge to reinvent herself.

Only what is someone who's spent her life taking care of other people supposed to do when no one needs her anymore? Even as the threads of her life unravel, she finds new ones - reconnecting with the church of her childhood, building the quilt shop that has been a long-time dream, and forging a new friendship with her former husband.

The definition of freedom changes when it's combined with faith, and through it all perhaps Early and Nash can find a Soft Place to Fall.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

5 Ways to Enjoy Life More by Joan Reeves

A couple of months ago I read Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager, a great book you should read because it will make you think about what happiness really is or should be.

All of us are happy at certain times in our lives. The trick is being happy the majority of the time. 

Sometimes we unwittingly sabotage ourselves and/or make decisions that set us up for unhappiness.

I thought about some personal rules I created to help me avoid messy situations or increase my chances of being happy most of the time. I blogged about these "rules" a few years ago on my personal blog, SlingWords, and thought I'd share them with you today.

5 Ways to Enjoy Life More

1. Never take advice from anyone who's more screwed up than you.

Everyone likes to give advice, but always ask yourself if the person dishing out the advice is living life more effectively with less hiccups than you. If not, smile and nod and feel free to ignore what they say. Unless what they tell you is based upon what they learned from their own bad experience of doing the opposite.

2. Learn from others who have been where you want to go.

Model their behavior. Find out how they did it and adapt their method to your efforts.Unless the way they achieved it was dishonest and goes against your own beliefs and integrity. You can't model negative behavior without far-reaching consequences.

3. Working effectively is better than working hard.

Unless you assess your efforts and realize you really aren't working hard - you're just giving lip service to the idea of working hard.

4. Enjoy yourself more.

Unless you're already spending way too much time in the pursuit of pleasure, learn how to enjoy your life. Life is short. Don't waste it. Find a way to balance hard, effective work and play.

5. Change your attitude about work. 

Sometimes when we describe an activity as work—even though it's something we truly adore doing—the activity, in our mind, becomes linked to work which equals unpleasantness. The more you enjoy something; the less it should seem like work. Your goal is to achieve something with the investment of your time, energy, and brain power—and have fun doing it.

Post Script

Life should be enjoyed. Now that's a goal worth pursuing.

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Monday, March 11, 2024

Spring Broke by Bea Tifton

Ah, March. It's alternating between cool and hot in North Texas, confused trees and flowers are budding out, and it's spring break. Spring break doesn't affect me one way or another anymore, but that wasn't always the case. 

One memorable spring break was the year my roommate and I decided to go to the beach. My roommate's grandmother had recently moved to a little cottage by the beach, and she was going out of town so we could use it for free. We were very excited. Spring break beach trip with free lodging!

The first little hiccup was when we drove up to the cottage. It was actually pretty far from the tourist beaches, and it wasn't quite on the beach. But it was free and we were young and optimistic. When we went in, instead of one of those cute little beach cottages featured in magazines, it was rather shabby and not tremendously clean. We picked our respective sleeping spots; Jessica, my roommate, got the bedroom since it was her grandmother and I got a sagging, but still usable, sofa bed. 


Since we were visiting the beach, sort of, Jessica wanted sea food. This was before gps or the internet, so we just drove around until we found one. It was okay, and we went to bed fortified for a great day at the beach the following morning. It was raining when we woke up. When there was a break in the rain, we played on the beach. Not really many spring breakers, but that meant more room on the beach for us, right? But when the rain returned and we were driven back inside to the cottage, an odd thing happened as we sat on the couch, chatting. Jessica began to scratch and scratch. Then I felt this tiny little stinging sensation and began to itch. Soon, we were both feverishly scratching. The entire cottage was teaming with sand fleas. 

That night I tossed and turned. I must have gone to sleep because I had a horrible nightmare. I was looking at the door as I lay on the sofa bed, and a man came to the door and peeked into the room. He was scruffy and scary. He peered into the gloom right at me and said in a low voice, "I know you're in there. I see you." It was so real that I woke up with a scream. Jessica came running in. I told her about my nightmare, and it scared her, too. We were usually much tougher than that, but it was if he had really gotten into the cottage, and the nightmare definitely had gotten into our heads. Jessica even asked me if I needed to bunk in with her but I said I was okay. 

The next morning was gloomy outside and in. As we sat scratching and tried to figure out what we were going to do with our day, Jessica said, "This isn't quite the vacation I pictured." I agreed  and she said, "Want to just go?" 

We packed up and started on our way. As we drove away from the disappointing landscape, we turned on a local radio station. Turns out, a bad hurricane was coming and the officials were recommending evacuations. We hadn't watched TV or listened to the radio in the cottage so we had no idea. 

Do you have any vacations that didn't live up to your expectations?  Leave a comment below. 

Photo Credits:
Anelia "Pink Flowers"
Ben Mack "Terrace of Modern Villa Overlooking Ocean"
Scott Platt "Shell With Hole"
Donald Tong "Rear View of a Silhouette Man in Window"
Ogy Kovachev "A Volkswagen Type 2 (T3) Parked on Beach Sand"

Monday, March 4, 2024

Marching to the Garden and #Eclipse2024 by @JacquieRogers

 Can You Believe It's March??? 
(Because February Was One Big Blank!)

Disclaimer:  I can't preview this post so please excuse the inevitable typos.  

In my last blog post, I mentioned that we'd been without internet for four days.  Well, now we've been without service for a month and four days.  After many trials and tribulations (if I got into it, this post would be 10,000 words long) we finally got a T-Mobile 5G hotspot that we can use either in the house or when we're traveling, so cool.  But our high speed provider is still down.  Well, they did get the tower back up but the antennae didn't make it.  And then the property owner wouldn't let the internet company back on the site.  

So while the lawyers were haggling, we had no internet service--and no patience, either.  That's why we finally got the hotspot.  I do hope the company gets us back online soon, but at least I can order more seeds now.  Don't tell Mr. R.  You'll see why in a minute.

Okay, well you won't see because apparently this computer doesn't have good enough wifi signal to upload photos (that I just spent three hours editing).  Anyway, let's carry on.

Greenhouse lessons

  • When you plant a little tray with 40 cells, a seed or two in each cell, it fits nicely on the shelf on the heating mat and under the grow light.  
  • But then the seeds sprout and grow.  Super good germination rate, so two or three plants per cell.
    • You're supposed to sacrifice the weak ones to the gods but oh no, I have to save them all.  
  • I have a tiny little 6'x8' greenhouse.
  • The little baby plants outgrow their cells.
  • You guessed it--must pot them up.  Now, instead of 40 one-inch cells, you have 80 four-inch pots. (Remember, it's a 6'x8' greenhouse that only a munchkin can stand up in...)
Um, yeah.  So I have 48 basil plants, 36 beefsteak tomato plants (I need eight), at least 30 geraniums, close to 100 snapdragons, three shelves of petunias... and many, many more trays of seedlings.  Of course, there are many more things to plant--all the flowers for the pollinator garden and such.  Not sure where I'm going to put all these plants, but it's the first year I've ever used a greenhouse so I guess I went a little hog-wild.   

I blame the internet because since I was down, I couldn't do much else besides cook and plant seeds.  Oh, and read.  Lots of the SGRR authors have new books for us to read.  Caroline Clemmons has a new one out so check her author page on Amazon.  I can't get the exact title or link because I only have one bar of wi-fi right now.  Not sure why.  

Anyway, so it goes on Windy Hill Farm.


For reading, I've been into biographies lately.  How about your New Year book choices?

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, March 2, 2024


 By Caroline Clemmons

Spring has sprung in our part of the world. If the old adage “In like a lion, out like a lamb” is true, we’re in trouble. For now, we are enjoying lovely weather.

Spring is my favorite time of year. In spite of the fact that it brings a problem—allergies. Ahhhhchooo! Our immediate family members each suffer from allergies. Big time.

Hero added two new roses to our tiny rose bed. Almost no person is allergic to roses. In addition, they are my favorite flower. The two new ones are both floribundas. One is a white one chosen by Darling Daughter 2. The other is called Ebbtide, and has purple petals. We’ve never seen this rose in bloom and are eager for flowers.

Yesterday, we went for a drive south to Waco. The weather was perfect—blue sky and cool breeze. A day sure to cheer almost anyone. Hero was having a flare of his Parkinson’s but didn’t tell us until we were home. He assured us he enjoyed the day in spite of his illness.

We weren’t able to sightsee because we were on a mission. Darling Daughter 2 occasionally does little things for a rescue group called Highway Hounds. A woman in Waco had adopted a puppy and was certain he was dangerous because he chewed on things. Hello, puppies chew. She said unless he was picked up yesterday, she was calling the pound. What a meanie!

Armed with a box of Kleenex, we left in time to stop at West, a city founded by Czechoslovakians. The Chzek Stop has lovely baked goods. Once when we were there we heard a little boy tell his mom he wanted a “square donut,” and that’s what we usually call the kolaches. Yes, we’re kind of a corny family.

After our brief stop, we munched kolaches as we rode along I35. Well, Darling Daughter 2 ate one at our stop and then drove. We arrived at the woman’s apartment at the appointed time to pick up this “dangerous” dog, an adorable eight-month-old puppy named Moe. He had been living in a small box-like area of her small apartment. Moe was so sweet, a lab/chihuahua mix. We delivered him to the rescue group, Highway Hounds, and learned a foster home awaited Moe.

We enjoyed a day well spent in our favorite time of year. What is your favorite time of year?

If you want to curl up with a great historical western romance, please preorder Keith And The Mail Order Bride.  

Friday, March 1, 2024

Leap into Love by Bea Tifton

 Posting for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel, but the computer gremlins wouldn't let me post yesterday. 

It’s leap year! I don’t know why we feel those are so magical. Maybe it’s because they only come every four years. I love celebrating them, but I’m glad I wasn’t born on February29. Too many complications. One man said on the news that he’s had trouble getting credit cards, filling out official forms, etc. because February 29 isn’t accepted by the bot. I never even thought of that one.

Leap years occur because the earth doesn’t really take 365 days o orbit the sun; it’s actually 365 days, 6 hours, and 9 minutes. We have to tack on the extra day or the calendar would be off and our seasons would shift.

But leap day has its folklore.  In Scotland, February 29 is considered unlucky, because “leap year is never a good sheep year.” In Greece, the day is considered very unlucky and couples are discouraged from marrying on that day, lest the marriage go sour and end in divorce.  In Ireland, women are able to propose to men on February 29. The origin of the belief is that in the 5th century, St. Brig hid complained to St. Patrick that the men were too slow to propose. St. Patrick chose leap day as a day when traditional roles were reversed and women could do the asking.

We celebrated leap day at my house by watching the charming rom com “Leap Year” with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. We usually watch the movie each February 29 but it was fun to watch it on the actual day.

In England a bartender invented a special cocktail called the Leap Year. It contains gin, vermouth, lemon juice, and Grand Marnier. Dutch courage for special February 29 proposals, maybe?

So mix up a Leap Year for yourself and settle down to watch the movie. It’s four whole years before you have another chance.

Photo Credits

Vlad Chetan "Man Jumping from a Rock"

Maksim Goncharenok "Couple Facing Each Other at the Beach"

Kampus Production "An Elderly Couple Watching Television Together"

Karolina Grabowska "Woman Holding a Glass of Wine and Watching TV in a Bed"