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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Best Laid Plans by Laura Hunsaker

In my little corner of the world, school just got out for the summer. The last week of school was incredibly stressful for me, so I took a few days off, now that there are no students. I had so many plans! I was going to do so many things! And it's Memorial Day weekend!

I wound up binge reading some books.

This came about because we got the carpets cleaned, and one of the things we do when we get them shampooed is to get everything off the floor, as much as possible, anyway. This prompted a big spring cleaning, and one of my kids brought out stack upon stack of books that she wasn't interested in keeping anymore. Well, you know, before we could donate them, of course I had to check them all out.

Back in 2016, she came with me to RT Vegas (it was a great book con!), and she was given so so many books! I don't think I've ever seen her so thrilled. So, of course as I saw the stacks of books come out of her room, and I see the RT books that were so exciting that night, I went through them all. I read probably 4 and apparently 2016 was the year of post-apocalyptic YA.

She wound up taking 2 or 3 books back to her room, and I think we had fun reminiscing. So, while I'm kind of bummed to see the books go, I'm glad we got to hang out and chit chat about books together.

So, I wouldn't say I wasted my time off by any means, but I will say that none of my plans got done. ;)

And a quick note! Dark Past is on sale for $.99 right now and until the end of the month, so grab it on the sale price!

Amazon Link

The small town was supposed to be safe...

Kate Landry is tired of running. Thinking she's safe, she settles in the small logging town of Chester, California to manage a cafe. She may be keeping a low profile, but she's hoping to return to a normal life.
When FBI agent Kyle Donovan visits to Chester to stay with a friend, and to recover from his latest case, he never expects to meet sexy barista Kate.

But someone is following Kate...

Kyle worries he brought trouble to her door, while Kate worries her dark past is coming after her.
With danger lurking around every corner, her safe haven isn't as safe as she'd thought. Kate will finally have to trust someone enough to tell him her secrets. Secrets that may just get them killed...

Thursday, May 23, 2024


 by Judy Ann Davis

 "May is the month or expectation, 
the month of wishes, 
 the month of hope.”—Emily Bronte

It’s the merry month of May. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the warmth of the sun beckons us outside to smell the newly mowed grass. It’s the dig-in-the-dirt month, too. Everyone is scouring the nurseries for flowers and plants to decorate their porches and flowerbeds and for their gardens.                                                      

Most nights, we can hear our resident owl hooting away, often beyond midnight. He’s taken up a nightly position nearby our bedroom window, possibly on the roof of the house. It’s a comforting, if not slightly eerie sound to lull you to sleep.

  I always have too many projects in half-started  states when spring arrives. The birdhouses have to be cleaned, refurbished, and set out. My hummingbird feeder is now suspended along our patio for early arrivals. The robins are nesting under our deck and in the rhododendrons. The aggravating grackles have returned, chasing away the small birds at the feeders. The sparrows have taken over the bluebird house. The chaos has begun for our springtime feathered friends.

Central Pennsylvania is in the migrating path of orioles heading north, and I was lucky to catch an orange flash of one clinging to the hummingbird feeder the other morning.

Our weather has also been erratic during the entire month with more rain than usual.  Rainy days teaches us to slow down. It’s nature’s way of telling us to shift to a more unhurried pace, interrupting our rush to get things done, but allowing us to experience the joy of spring. If we are lucky, we may even be rewarded with a rainbow stretching from horizon to horizon above budding and blooming trees in hues of green, white, lavender, and pink. 

Do you have a favorite month...or even months?

Oh, how I love the colorful month of May with warmer temperatures and beautiful landscapes here in Pennsylvania!                  

~ * ~  

 A sweet romantic western and mystery!
Best Book Award Finalist!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Word of the Day by Liz Flaherty

Because I'm so tired today I can barely keep my eyes open, I went digging for something old and I found this. It's old enough (2011) that I don't expect anyone to remember it. I don't even remember writing it, but what's interesting is that I still feel the same way about consistency. Isn't that...consistent of me?

Thanks for reading. Let me know how you feel about consistency. 😊

The word for the day is “consistency.” I never realized, until I was pouring cereal this morning, how often consistency—or lack thereof—shows up.

I’m cheap. Oh, not that way—I’m way too old to even go there—but cheap in that I’d rather pay two bucks for a generic item than three for a name brand. Except for sometimes. Like when cheap cereal has a different consistency than the name brand. I may feel a little silly paying more to have something feel right on my tongue, but I still pay it.

I don’t consider myself a picky eater (though my mother always did), but I won’t eat mashed potatoes with lumps, large curd cottage cheese, or tapioca pudding made from the bigger size of ball bearings. And yes, I know they’re not real ball bearings; they’re pearls, but I always thought ball bearings sounded like more fun. Whichever term you use, it’s all in the consistency.

When I was raising kids, everything I read, heard, and figured out for myself had to do with consistency. Whatever you said the first time, you needed to stick to it. If the curfew was midnight, that’s what it meant every time; it didn’t mean eleven minutes after. No allowances were to be made for being caught by a train, running out of gas, or having too much fun and losing track of the time.

I’m learning to make quilts, which is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. The first lesson in making quilts is to sew with a consistent and precise quarter-inch seam allowance. I’m not there yet, by any means. My blocks tend to be a little crooked even though I’ve just about worn out my seam ripper.

Most of us want consistency in the work place. Preferential treatment leaves dissent and ill will in its wake; so does making a scapegoat out of someone.

Consistency in weather is something Hoosiers laugh at. Like promises in politics, legitimate gas prices, and no-calorie chocolate cake, it would be nice, but I’m just about positive it’s not going to happen.

Which leads me to think maybe consistency is overrated.

As in refusing to eat food because its lumps bother me is something that I would probably think was goofy if someone else said it. Aren’t you glad you didn’t?

As in, though I should have been a lot more consistent when the kids were growing up, that particular ship has already sailed. If I had it to do over again, I might do a better job. Then again, I might not. I really like the end product that was achieved without consistency.

I’ve made three queen-size quilts and lots of child-size ones. To date, no one has complained because my seams are crooked. (2024. I've made a lot more. Still no complaints.)

Even in the workplace, where we would all hope for equality, compassion has its place. Sometimes rules need to be bent or downright broken; sometimes one employee is more important than another; sometimes you just need to damn the torpedoes and do the right thing.

Which leads me to—my goodness, I’m doing way too much thinking for one short post—the truth of the matter. In all but the question of weather and possibly food, if we usually do the right thing, or try to, consistency will take care of itself.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Plum Busy by Joan Reeves

My apologies for posting this mid-morning. I'm just tired. *LOL*

We're at our house in the country because the 4 Methley plum trees are ready to pick.

A Methley plum is the size of crabapples and are a deep crimson on the inside. Sweet? OMG, they should be named sugar plums. 

We started yesterday and will finish today—I hope because I'm really tired.

Funny how many muscles are used in picking fruit that aren't normally used in day to day activity.


Even though we're tired from yesterday's fruit picking, we went walking down the country lanes this morning.

We left at 7:15, and the air was crisp and smelled so fresh and clean. No noise of morning rush hour traffic intruded. We heard only doves cooing and song birds tuning up.

Indian Blankets by vafamilyof3Pixabay.
We walked down the hill from our house and took a couple of lanes that basically made a big loop around our place.

A slight breeze kept us company as we walked through the quiet countryside.

All the wildflowers that begin in mid-spring and continue until fall are blooming.

Indian blankets, wild pink phlox, black-eyed Susans, and evening primrose all grow together in the fields around our house, creating a landscape that's breathtaking.

Even the tall stalks of the bull nettles are pretty as long as you don't touch the thorny things.

Our morning walk worked out the stiffness in our muscles so we're going back outside to finish harvesting the plums as soon as I get this uploaded. I should say we'll finish what's ripe. There are stilll green plums on the trees. Another 2 weeks will see them ripened, and we'll again be picking plums.

Black-eyed Susan by BBLDWPPixabay.

This may sound like a lot of work to you, but there's something relaxing and soul-fulfilling in gardening and backyard orcharding.

That alone makes the "work" worthwhile. Then there is the taste of something grown in your home garden and/or orchard. Incredibly delicious!

I've never found anything superior or even as good in the produce section of a supermarket—no matter how upscale that might be.


We just received a call from the collision center that has been repairing our Explorer after it was rear-ended by a Ram pickup on the freeway almost a month ago. It should be ready to be delivered tomorrow.

We found out that the driver of the truck had no license. The truck he was driving did not belong to him. The insurance information he provided to the police and to us was apparently non-existent or faked. It seems to me the police should be doing something about this.

Of course, that means our insurance for uninsured motorists covered our repairs.

Since I've been seeing a lot of online "news" about auto insurance hikes, I wonder if our rate will go up because of our company having to shell out big bucks for repairing our vehicle?


We were lucky since we escaped without injuries. I think our 2016 Ford Explorer was built really well. 

The whole thing could have been much worse. When the truck that hits us "flew" up in the air, it could have crashed down on top of us instead of beside us. I feel blessed.

By the way, several of my books are available "wide" now at most ebook retailers. If you're interested, check out Books2Read-JoanReeves. The books that are available will be clickable. Eventually all will be available there.

Enjoy this beautiful May!

Joan Reeves — https:/

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If you too love to read, sign up for I LOVE READING, Joan's free newsletter.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Well, That's Awkward by Bea Tifton


I know I seem sophisticated and witty, Dear Reader, but I have two confessions. First, I know that first sentence was nonsense. Secondly, I am awkward. I am not on the autism spectrum, and I know the rules for social graces, but I am indeed awkward.  I don't make what I call "cocktail party chatter" easily. The reason is simple. I am painfully shy. 

When I was growing up, I was hampered by my shyness. Ironically, while I was often overlooked by teachers and peers, the bullies always found me. Since I was tongue tied and easily embarrassed, I was a helpless guppy in a sea of sharks. I did have friends, but most of them were shy, too. We just understood  each other. 

When I began teaching, I immediately realized I would have to overcome my shyness. I wasn't going to be a fake person, but I was going to have to fake being outgoing. I drew on my drama class training. Teachers must be able to talk to their students and to the parents of those students. I needed to appear confident and effective. So, even though it was hard, I learned how to talk to people, more or less, and how to ask questions that must be answered with more than a simple yes or no, then building on that answer. In my professional life, I did pretty well at hiding my shyness. But every profession has mean girls all grown up and they were never fooled. Sigh. 

It was still difficult to overcome my shyness in my personal life. And parties or events? I dread them. I realize as soon as something weird comes out of my mouth as soon as I say it, but it's to late to avoid the strange or puzzled looks I get. Recently I volunteered to help with an adoption event for a rescue I support, Highway Hounds of Texas. I was excited because my job was to play with the dogs, walk them, and answer any questions for would be adopters. I was nervous because I only knew a couple of people, the founder and her right hand helper. So, yes, I was a total nerd, I'm sure, but everyone was very kind and I'll do it again soon. 

I volunteer for a homeless program called Room in the Inn. Unhoused guests come to one of a consortium of churches and stay overnight during the hottest time of the year and the coldest time of the year and enjoy a home cooked meal, a safe place to stay, and conversation. Oddly enough, my job is to be a greeter, which means I sit and chat with the guests before, during, and after our meal. I talk and talk, and I've met some fascinating people with great stories. I've even assisted with training for new volunteers. How do I do it? I just go into teacher mode. It's too important a cause to take a pass on participating  and I've gotten so much out of it. 

So, if you need me to be professional and help you with an event or to volunteer for an organization, I'll just go into teacher mode and power through it, even enjoy it. And if you invite me to your party, I'll probably come. Just don't expect me to have scintillating conversations with the other guests. 

Highway Hounds of Texas can always use your donations.

Photo Credits:
Anna Listova "Turtle on Stone Pavement"
Mushtag Hussain "Little Girl Hiding her Face in a White Dress"
Max Fischer "A Teacher Standing in the Classroom"
Blue Bird "Smiling Woman Petting Two Beautiful Dogs Outdoors"
MART PRODUCTION "Homeless People Eating in the Park"
Gabriela Cheloni "Woman in Black Standing on Sunflower Field"

Monday, May 6, 2024

Smooth Sailing: A Guide to Using Pirate Ship for Shipping Your Packages ~ Sherri Easley


Ahoy, fellow writers! Do you frequently mail your books or other packages? Do you hate waiting in line at the post office? Are you ready to embark on a voyage to streamline your shipping experience? Then set sail to learn about Pirate Ship! Pirate Ship offers a treasure trove of tools to help to save you time and money.

Okay- for real. This is one of the best-kept secrets on the web. You can print your labels at home, take to the post office or schedule pickup and it is FREE! There are few things that make me smugger than skipping the line and placing my pre-labeled packages on the counter. Supplies are minimal. You will need a scale and something to       measure your package and, of course, a printer and tape. 

In this blog, I’ll take you through the steps of using Pirate Ship to ship your books and other cool things with ease and efficiency.

Setting Sail with Pirate Ship:

1.     Sign Up and Log In:

To get started, visit the Pirate Ship website ( and sign up for an account. It's free to join, and you'll gain access to all the features and tools Pirate Ship offers. Once you've signed up, log in to your account to start shipping.

Enter Package Details:

After logging in, you'll be prompted to enter the details of your package, including the destination address, dimensions, weight, and shipping preferences. Pirate Ship supports various shipping carriers, including USPS, UPS, and FedEx, so you can choose the carrier that best suits your needs.

3.     Compare Rates and Services:

Once you've entered the package details, Pirate Ship will generate a list of shipping options with corresponding rates and delivery times. Compare the rates and services offered by different carriers to find the best option for your shipment. I personally use USPS all the time for the convenience of stuffing it in my mailbox for pickup by my carrier. For shipping books, there is a media mail option.

4.     Purchase and Print Labels:

After selecting the desired shipping option, you can purchase and print your shipping label directly from Pirate Ship. The platform offers discounted rates for USPS shipping labels, helping you save money on postage costs. Simply follow the prompts to complete the purchase and download your label.

5.     Schedule Pickups or Drop Off:

Depending on your shipping carrier and preferences, you can schedule package pickups or drop off your shipments at designated locations. Pirate Ship makes it easy to schedule USPS pickups directly from your doorstep, saving you time and hassle. I put mine in my mailbox with the flag up. 

6.     Track Shipments:

Once your packages are on their way, Pirate Ship provides tracking information so you can monitor their progress every step of the journey. Keep an eye on your shipments to ensure they reach their destination safely and on time.

7.     Manage Shipments and Orders:

Pirate Ship also offers tools to help you manage your shipments and orders efficiently. You can view your shipping history, track expenses, and generate reports to keep your shipping operations organized and streamlined.

My Story: 

I found Pirate Ship during the Pandemic when I was mailing out masks. It was so much easier than going to the post office and waiting and easier than using stamps, and never having the right amount. I assumed everyone knew about this, but when I ordered a Celtic calendar of Men in Kilts- because you know how much I love Harris Tweed, it came to me in a very expensive priority mail envelope and was creased right across Mr. March.  After discussion with the seller, she said she only used priority due to insurance and tracking. I turned her on to Pirate ship and she sent me another calendar. Said I saved her more than $25 in shipping the first day!!!



Saturday, May 4, 2024

April Travels Aren't Good For May Flowers by @JacquieRogers

 April Travels 
(And at Home, a Greenhouse Disaster!)

I do love to travel.  We have a teeny little RV called a Casita, and when we bought it, I had no idea it was a thing.  But it is, and there are Casita rallies all over the nation.  The one we go to is in Grapeland, Texas.  Yep, that's a fer piece from Idaho, but the people are great fun and we have a blast listening to all the music and visiting with new friends.

Our Casita--it's only 14' long but has a kitchen, bathroom, and a king bed.

We drove hell-bent for leather from Idaho down to Houston, Texas, and I'm pleased to report that we didn't have any pipes freeze.  However, the first night out, a pipe connection in the closet burst and our poor little Casita had two inches of water on the floor.  Every single item of clothing we brought was soaked.  It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't a great start to our grand voyage, for certain.  I'm very grateful that Mr R can fix almost anything.  Whew!

When we finally got to Houston, we visited the Johnson Space Center (I'm telling you, the Apollo rocket is HUGE), then the Houston Museum of Natural Science where we had a little chat with King Tut.  The craftsmanship of the artifacts is incredible and so beautiful.  The display is very well done, with items positioned close to how they would've been in the actual tomb.  We spent several hours there, and of course we had to look at the dinosaurs, too.

My childhood friend, Lynda McCoy, lives in the area so we were able to meet up for breakfast outside of Houston.  Our time together went by in a flash and I was sure sad to say goodbye to her.

Then off to Grapeland for the Third Annual Texas Dogwood Casita and Friends Music Rally.  This is a mix of professional and amateur musicians--anyone who loves music.  Everyone who wants to perform gets a turn, so it's a mixed bag but lots of fun.  You can see an example on my TikTok page.  I couldn't get it to embed here.

We stayed for the eclipse but the weather wasn't kind.  We did see the before and after, but the totality was covered by clouds. Boohoo.  Then we left on Tuesday to head for our friends' house.  That would be the famous author Caroline Clemmons, Hero, and Bea Tifton.  Oh, and a whole slew of cute dogs and cats.  There's always a pet to cuddle at their house.  We did some catching  up, some computer work (by some, I mean very little), and a lot of eating.  Bea knows all the best restaurants and the best foods at each one, so we rely heavily on her advice, for sure.  We had leftovers for three days after leaving their house. LOL.  I regret that we didn't get any photos.  I was too tired to smear on my war paint, though.

On down the road at Pyote, Texas, I posted on Facebook.  Lo and behold Mr R's high school buddy and his partner, who currently live in Eastern Idaho, were overnighting in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  They'd driven to Texas to see the eclipse, too.  So we met up in Demming, NM, for a nice long breakfast visit.  That whole situation was quite a coincidence, but it was sure good to see them.

From there we went to two other famous authors' house, Ann Charles and Sam Lucky.  Ann picked a good one--Sam's not only a talented author, but he's also a dang good cook.  No weight was lost there, believe me.  Anyway, while Sam toiled away on the last chapter of his book, Ann took Mr R and I to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona.  That was really fascinating.  And up the road was what I've been waiting for decades to see, Wupatki, red sandstone ruins from a flourishing community prior to the early 1100s.  These people were the ancestors to modern indigenous peoples of the Four Corners area.

The Citadel

Hanging out with Ann Charles

A much-deserved rest with Mr R

The trip home from Arizona was uneventful, but being a desert girl, I had to admire the beautiful spring landscape in the middle of Nevada.  The green bushes against the snow-capped mountains were too beautiful not to photograph.  So here we are:

The beautiful Nevada desert.

And we were happy cross the border back into Idaho, to finally get home, take a long, hot shower, and sleep in our comfy bed that we didn't have to crawl into from the foot.  I love the Casita but I also love being home again, although I do have my next two trips planned already. 😊

But all was not well at Windy Hill Farm, because most of the plants in my greenhouse had cooked.  So, starting over there.  I knew the risk when we left, plus, I'd planted some things way too early.  It's the first year for the greenhouse so I learned my lesson.  Next year, the planting schedule will definitely be revised.

Anyway, so it goes on Windy Hill Farm.


For reading, I've been into fantasies lately.  How about your 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.

Thursday, May 2, 2024


 By Caroline Clemmons

Recent spring rains have made our area green and pleasant. Our roses appear to appreciate the rain, too. 

Roses cut for the living room

Fortunately, there was a break in the rain here for our friends Jacquie and Mark Rogers visit. That is, it was not pouring here, but they about washed away driving in to Fort Worth. They were pulling their little Casita and that slowed them more. Thankfully, they arrived safely! We always enjoy seeing them. They feel like family, the good kind.

Then the rains returned. Don’t you love to curl up with a good book on a rainy day? Any day is a great day to read, of course, but there’s something about a rainy day that increases my urge to read. Bad when I’m supposed to be writing, but writers are also readers.

What are you reading? We have a wonderful group of writers here at Smart Girls Read Romance (Smart guys read romance, too)! I hope you’re reading the books offered by our writers.

Ahem, my latest is KEITH AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE, book 5 of the Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides Series. 

Here’s the blurb:

Elliana Barrington is sent to escape before a deranged cousin learns the terms of their grandmother’s will. So, it’s arranged that Elliana is to marry a man in Texas, who hopefully can protect her. Elliana is kind and generous and willing to share her legacy with her crazed cousin. Knowing Elliana’s nature and the cousin’s greed, her grandmother devises an unbreakable will which is specific—if Elliana attempts to share funds with her cousin, everything they each inherited will be forfeited to charity.

After escaping a difficult situation, Keith Martin created a new life as the banker of Harrigan Springs, Texas. He’s won the respect of the community and has made many good friends. After buying a house, he sends for a mail order bride. What a surprised to receive a letter from a young woman’s attorney, complete with a contract. Although not sure he’s doing the right thing, Keith agrees to marry the woman and fulfill the contract’s conditions. He expects a shy, overprotected bride—but he’s in for a surprise!

Fate has troubles in store for Elliana and Keith, threats that involve everyone in their household. They strive to protect themselves and the three orphans they’ve adopted. But, how can they reason with her crazed cousin? How can this couple overcome their complex circumstances to build a happy life together?

 Keep reading!