Recipes for Dinner Tonight from Perfectly Honest!

In Perfectly Honest, Mrs. Davy looks after Sam’s house when he’s not there and fills the fridge with meals that Sam can reheat. She makes a mean spaghetti sauce, and both Sam and Mikaela love Mrs. Davy’s chocolate chip cookies. And she makes a gluten free version!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened but not melted

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 ½ cups gluten free flour mix

2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla in large mixing bowl. (I just use a fork and stir it vigorously.) Add eggs and mix well. Add flour and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by heaping teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Mrs. Davy’s Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce

2 lb lean ground beef                           2 Tbsp sugar

1 onion, chopped                                3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

7 ½ oz can tomato sauce                  1 tsp Tobasco sauce

3 cups water                                       2 Tbsp each oregano and basil

5.5 fluid oz can tomato paste             2 tsp each garlic salt and celery seed

28 oz can crushed tomatoes                1 tsp pepper

In large pot, sauté the meat and onion until cooked. Add all remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly. Simmer uncovered 2 ½ -3 hours, stirring often. Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan cheese.

Perfectly Honest cover_850

You never know where your words will take you…

When Mikaela Finn agreed to be Sam’s “fiancée” for a weekend, she probably should have told him that she’s a doctor. Sam O’Brien, aka “Dr. Eye Candy,” is trying to shed his playboy reputation and convince a small town hospital that he’s ready to settle down. But when his “fiancée” helps deliver a baby in the middle of the meet and greet, it’s a bit of a shock. If he’d known the whole truth, he might have done things a little differently because somehow his “fiancée” ends up stealing his job and his heart. Not exactly the change he wanted.

Lies and deceit – it’s a match made in heaven!

Enjoy an excerpt from Perfectly Honest ~

your horoscope

ARIES (March 21-April 19) Emotions will escalate and confusion will set in with regard to a partnership you thought you could count on. Take time to absorb what’s happened. You are sitting in a much better position than you realize. Bide your time.

As they stirred their tea, Marla leaned forward with excited eyes. “I want to know all the details. What’s your sign?”

Mikaela blinked. “My sign?”

“Yes. You know, Sam is a Scorpio. I hope you’re not a Virgo. All the Virgos are a little…zealous. Too much energy, if you ask me. And I don’t know that Pisces would be a good fit either. They tend to daydream the day away, don’t you think? I think Sam needs someone a little more grounded. Taurus would be okay, but they do tend to be a bit stubborn and Leo, well I think a Leo would be a bit too boisterous, maybe a bit too bossy for Sam. I wouldn’t like to see another Scorpio. Could you imagine? That would be the worst kind of clash. Don’t you think? Now, last year, I would have said Sagittarius. It was a good year for Sagittarius. This year, I’m thinking a Libra or Aquarius would be good. I could see that working. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve told Sam. I told him he has to watch the sign, but I never know if he really listens.”

Mikaela’s head spun. “Ah, I’m an Aries,” she said hesitantly.

“Oh perfect.” Marla clapped her hands. “That’s a good match, especially this year. The moon cycle is perfect for an Aries-Scorpio match. I’ve always thought Aries was best at thinking things through before they do something irreversible. That will be the perfect balance to Sam’s Scorpio impulsiveness,” she announced confidently.

Mikaela almost burst out laughing. Yup, that was her all right. Thinking things through. Planning change. Avoiding the irreversible. Marla’s nailed it, she thought ruefully. Sam really should have paid more attention to the sign.

“What is your Chinese zodiac?”

“Pardon?”

“You know. Your heavenly stem, your earthly branch, your animal, your element?”

“I’m not really sure.”

“Hmmm. We’ll have to figure that out. Sam is a Tiger. At least he’s born a Tiger. Personally, internally I think he’s a dragon. Truly there is a bit of ox and secretively, I suspect a little goat. But then I’m his mother.” She patted Mikaela’s hand. “So if you were a horse, dog or dragon, that would be wonderful. Oh dear, I do hope you’re not a monkey. That would not be good.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m not a monkey,” Mikaela assured her.

“That’s a relief. There are so many things to think about when you choose a mate. Are you a yin or yang?”

“Yin?” Mikaela guessed, hoping to make Marla happy.

“Perfect,” Marla beamed. “Sam’s a yang. The perfect match. You know Olivia and Ron are yang-yang, so I do worry. But they produced the most beautiful daughter. Just goes to show there’s something good there somewhere.”

“And what is your favourite color?” Marla asked earnestly.

Seriously? She was engaged to her son and that’s what she thought was important? She was beginning to understand why Walt went for a swim. “Ah, aquamarine?”

“Oh, aquamarine,” Marla repeated, nodding her head. “Now would that be more blue or more green?”

Mikaela just stared. “Blue?”

“Oh lovely. I love blue, too.”

“That’s important to finding someone compatible?” Mikaela asked skeptically.

Marla laughed. “No, now that would be silly, dear. No, I just asked because I enjoy quilting in my spare time, and I’ve decided to make a quilt for each of the kids as a wedding present. So yours shall be blue. And I’ll get started on that right away.” She leaned forward. “Have you picked a date for the wedding?”

Perfectly Honest ~ Medical Romantic Comedy PG-13

Buy link (free with KU): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08V9CWRMK

Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Website https://www.lindaoconnor.net

Twitter https://twitter.com/LindaOConnor98

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindaOConnorAuthor

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/795688.Linda_O_Connor

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Linda-OConnor/e/B00S7CNLEA

Newsletter https://lindaoconnor.net/contact/

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Hurricanes, COVID, Manuscripts, Clapton, and the Saints:

Hurricanes, COVID, Manuscripts, Clapton, and the Saints:

Life along the Gulf Coast has been challenging these days—to say the least. Like the rest of the world, we have struggled with the pandemic. As a teacher, I have experienced the complexities of hybrid teaching. Students have been online and in my classroom. This year, the students are in person, but numerous students and staff have quarantined because of COVID. Since the students no longer have the online option, they often fall behind in their work. Seeing that they catch up is a problem and additional challenge. 

In Louisiana, nature threw us another harsh reminder of our frailty. Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana with savage ferocity. In New Orleans, we were spared the hurricane’s most powerful wrath; however, the coastal communities of Grande Isle, Jean Lafitte, and Houma suffered catastrophic damage. In New Orleans, the downed trees and power lines resulted in loss of electricity and internet/cable. Hubby and I stayed for the storm but soon evacuated to Biloxi once our roof received the necessary tarp. Most of the people in the New Orleans area dealt with some form of damage, but our ordeal was nothing like our more coastal neighbors. As of this writing, power and Internet are restored. School, however, won’t start for some of us for another month. My school, for example, has to dry out until the start of October. 

This enforced time away from my day job has given me the time to write. I completed one manuscript and will soon research and complete another. This time away from the hectic schedule of grading, meetings, and teacher gossip has allowed me more time for reading as well. I have enjoyed many books by modern and not-so-modern authors as I also deal with roof repairs and generator maintenance. 

Yes, we also have signs of normalcy returning to our community, but both COVID and the pandemic have changed the landscape and how we socialize. Our New Orleans Saints have played two games away from our Dome because of Ida’s wrath. One game was phenomenal; the other showed us where we had to improve. Like all New Orleanians, we had to produce our vaccination cards when we watched the game in a public place. (Thank God!) We also saw guitarist Eric Clapton live in New Orleans. We produced our cards again and wore our masks throughout the show. Yes, “normal” is returning, but “normal” will forever be different from what it was. 

Like the characters in many of my books, we have adjusted to the times. Change and adaptation are necessary in this life. People who lived during Prohibition, WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII all had to adapt, change, and adjust their lives. Such change only makes us strong and proves our resilience. 

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Generating Gravity has been released!

Hi, everyone and welcome to fall!

I’m pleased to tell you all that my fourth Universe Chronicles novel—this one titled Generating Gravity—was released on September 8th. I am so excited to share it with you all!. We shift the scene to Miami in the aftermath of the Bogeyman’s assault on the Universe group in that city. This time it is twenty-five-year-old Logan, a gravity talent, who gets sent down to Miami to determine if the head of Miami Universe, a gorgeous woman named Valentina, was innocent or complicit in the recent attack.

The Universe Chronicles is coming along nicely. I have book #5 drafted and have started on book #6. We have more twists and turns in store for those who enjoy reading about Universe, Whisper and the superpowered humans who meet and fall in love while battling enemies seen and unseen!

I hope that you enjoy the fourth installment of the Universe Chronicles as much as I did writing it. If you are so inclined, let me know what you think!

Stay safe out there, and be well. Here is a bit about the prior three books to whet your appetite!

Shifting Auras

When Maya gets yet another call to retrieve her drunken roommate, her mind shows her a hot, amber-eyed Universe operative.

Once before, Ian failed to protect a sensitive from a brain-scrambling attack. He will not fail Maya . . . if it means using his talent—or his body—to stop a bullet.

Tracking Shadows

Jiana escapes the paranormal agency Night Stars, only to fall into Quillan Hardis’ iron grip.

Under a secret order to unlock her untapped power, Quillan takes Jiana on the run, where desire blooms. But fear could drive Jiana so deep into the shadows, not even Quillan’s love will find her. 

Storming Time

Zared’s weather manipulation makes him Universe’s ace agent extraction specialist. But when Hannah dives into his front seat, their instant attraction strikes like lightning. Recently, Hannah’s chrono power’s been glitchy. And as her control slips, someone with a hidden agenda sets her up to fall—straight into Whisper’s trap.

Claire Davon

Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits. Her novels can be found in the paranormal romance and contemporary romance sections, while her short stories run the gamut. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine. Claire can be found at: www.clairedavon.com

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Comfort Zone

In times of hardship we all long for comfort – favourite carb loaded foods, soft blankets, and warm drinks and a book. Until a year or so ago, most of us perhaps thought these things would never end – that comfort would always be at our fingertips. But they are not. The world of late has become scarier – or we have become more aware of the precarious nature of our comfort zone.

But is our comfort zone also well, just perhaps a little boring and confined? Don’t we escape into books to test out another’s discomfort zone? To boldly go where we fear to actually go ourselves? For a few hours we can thrill with the discomforts of a heroine in the past managing her personal hygiene while sharing side glances with a muscly barbarian. Or travel the stars and meet exotic aliens and ignore the coldness of space just beyond the walls of the starship.

We can test ourselves with real life examples. Bear Grylls apparently does early morning runs in the rain, rolling in mud puddles to toughen himself up. (I say apparently since there is absolutely no way I will witness early morning runs!) (unless it’s Jason Momoa). Take a trip to Antarctica with Scott, and marvel at the toughness of surviving on penguin sandwiches and then travelling for months to rescue his crew. (Southern is an epic read). Watch recreated history for how people lived on a farm in 16th Wales with Ruth Goodman.

The human mind and body go better with a challenge. A good one can be hard to find – will you jump out of an aeroplane or try a new to you food? Sometimes it is easy to fob it off with excuses, that we are too old, its too expensive or silly. We can dive back into our books and live another’s life, yearning secretly to do the same. Slump back once again into our Walter Mitty dreams of adventure.

But if this last year has taught us anything, it is that life is precious and can be snatched away. One day it will be too late for you to skydive, to tell someone you love them, to adopt another cat, to smile at a stranger, or to take the path less travelled.

So be brave – go beast mode today and do one little act that you secretly want to do – or even one that scares you. Go do that thing. Your comfort zone will still be there, waiting to welcome you back.

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. The Organized Author provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Or pick up a copy of the free 30 Organizing Tips for Writers.

Contact Cindy on

Website: https://www.cindytomamichel.com/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyTomamichelAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/AdventureNews

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cindy-tomamichel

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Parking Meters: A Twenty Year Flashback to 9/12/2001

9/12/01. The stench of burning jet fuel, plastic, paper, and human beings wafted over the NYC. Every rear car window and front door sported an American flag poster, as did fences around schools, churches, security grates on storefronts.

Everyone waited patiently in security checkpoint lines at the bridges and tunnels. No bosses said a word if you were late for work. No horns, no reckless driving-there wasn’t anyplace that seemed important enough to hurry to anymore.

The sounds of commercial jets had been replaced by F-16’s flying over the City at regular intervals. The wail of sirens sent people into fits of tears, and there was always someone, often a stranger, there to comfort them, help them.

Candles started appearing at dusk. In windows, on front porches. In my Queens neighborhood, people were spontaneously drawn, carrying anything they could find with a light source, to an impromptu march down the main drag, led by exhausted police officers and firefighters. We lined the sidewalks, waving flags, burning our fingers, holding hands, singing God Bless America.

I didn’t think to record it. I was too busy comforting a bereft friend and my kids, barely restraining my own emotions after the horror of the previous day.

A whole block of parking meters was adorned with votives, flames dancing in the warm breeze. While the fires raged downtown and frantic rescue efforts were underway, candle wax dripped over glass and metal onto the concrete sidewalks while viewfinders flashed “time expired.”

The feeling of comfort those flickering points of light in the darkness inspired in me, and no doubt many others. My most fervent wish is that the twenty year anniversary of the attacks will rekindle the peace and tolerance that the United States is so in need of after endless natural and manmade disasters and seemingly endless strife.

Before the old-fashioned parking meters disappeared, to be replaced by muni-meter boxes that issue tickets for your car window, I immortalized a few as a reminder.

9/11/2021: Twenty years later, the big empty pit at Ground Zero has been replaced by reflecting pools which channel tinkling water down 50 feet to where the foundations of Towers One and Two once stood.

I sobbed while listening the names being read. My heart still races when I hear a siren in the night, a low flying jet screams over my house, or a helicopter hovers with beacons flashing, looking for someone or something.


I will never forget that routine morning at work in a hospital, donating blood and waiting for the casualties that never came. The images were the most horrible I ever experienced, making me wonder how people in Israel, Gaza, and other war-ravaged nations survive.

I will never forget the unimaginable loss, The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the lowly parking meter, forever linked in my memory.

9/11/2021

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How Low Are Your Energy Pennies?

By Jeanine Englert

One of the greatest author finds of 2021 for me has been discovering Becca Syme (www.betterfasteracademy.com), her books, and Quitcast podcasts. The second greatest find for me has been www.wishidknownforwriters.com and their podcasts.

And my biggest takeaway was this: That my energy is finite.

Let me say that again: your energy is finite. How you use it matters. Thinking about how you use it also matters. Perhaps you already knew that. While I think I also knew that deep down, I didn’t KNOW it in the way that I should. Nor did I really think about how much my energy and how I chose to use it mattered during this pandemic.

It does.

Listening to www.wishidknownforwriters.com’s latest podcast by Becca Syme on “Empathy, Energy Pennies, and Expectations” and how the pandemic impacts us all, especially writers, and “I’m Tired, Becca” from the Quitcast podcasts reminded me of three important things: it’s okay that I’m really tired, I can turn off the world, and that all I can control is my response to the stress in my life.

In a nutshell, I felt very seen and quite relieved. I might have even cried a little. Okay, I did.

Teaching in person as well as hybrid last year was the most stressful year of my 23 year career in education. Coupled with a parent in the hospital during the pandemic as well as the constant uncertainty about well, everything, my emotional and physical health took a huge hit. Huge. It took me most of the summer to just stop vibrating with stress, and I started this school year without the full well of energy I usually have.

And I couldn’t figure out why.

Knowing my Gallup CliftonStrengths (I highly recommend the expense as I’ve learned a huge amount about myself as a writer as well as a person by taking this test), and how the pandemic and stress impacts me because of those strengths gave me a huge aha moment. My energy pennies (a way to think of the energy you have each day) were being depleted not in a 1:1 ratio of task completion to energy usage, but in more of a 1:4 ratio. It took me four times the normal amount of energy to do the same task.

I didn’t have to be a math genius to realize that I had been expending more energy pennies than I had for way too long and that my body had literally crashed because of it. So, now my goal is to make those small choices to aid in small progress, to turn off the world when I need to, and to help rebuild by health and wellness one step at a time until I feel healthier, stronger, and more full of those energy pennies.

If you are like me and need to reboot yourself and your energy this year, check out these podcasts and their messages. And, give yourself the kindness and grace you give everyone else.

Jeanine Englert is a double VIVIAN ® FINALIST, Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Where you can find me:

Website: https://www.jeaninewrites.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeanineWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46222432-lovely-digits

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanineWrites

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeanine-englert?list=about

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeaninewrites/

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Labor Day Reflections

It’s the unofficial end of summer, or I prefer, the beginning of autumn – my favorite season. Due to the blazing hot spells this summer in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve noticed trees prematurely turning color.

My motivation to write isn’t strong today, and honestly, I’d rather be aboard Lance, following Danger again out in Rosie’s Meadow, pictured above. Problem is, I have a book calling for attention. Deadly Formula, or Broke and Broken, needs work. Introducing a feline character modeled after my clever cat, Spock, has helped. Let me know what you think of the back cover copy-at least I finished that!

Wedding day plans implode for event coordinator Tanna Carlisle’s own nuptials, catapulting her away from a perfectionist fiancé in Florida. She lands squarely on her butt in the middle of a Seattle street with a fractured leg and an opinion that men stink worse than a three-day old crab puff. She’s determined to reject the assistance of the handsome Italian scientist taking responsibility for the car accident, until reality hits that she’s broke, broken, and beyond desperate. While her break mends, taking the temporary clerical job to assist the inventor on the nationwide rollout of his fracture healing serum won’t really kill her. Or will it?

Scientist Lorenzo Lando created BoneGlu to combat pain. Administering a dose to Tanna aids the recovery from her broken leg, but her emotional hurt strikes deep into his compassionate soul. He’s determined to garner the trust of the alluring American utilizing every molecule of Tuscan charm he can muster. Problem is, someone’s threatening him to turn over the BoneGlu formula by staging accidents. While mutual attraction builds between Tanna and Lorenzo, so does his concern for their lives as scare tactics turn deadly.

If you love slow-burning chemistry, fast action, fearless felines, and relentless villains, then dive into another story on a winding path to Emma Springs, Montana.

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YORKIES AND CANNING by DE ANN SMALLWOOD

It’s fall in our neck of the woods. The trees are thinking about changing colors and the rain we received yesterday had a cold, wintry feel to it. We live in Colorado so we can expect snow in October. My niece lives in Vail Co and sent me a picture of the first snow capping the tall mountains. Of course, she was ecstatic, expecting an early ski season. But for me, this time of year is canning season. Yep, the season of picking veges, fruit, washing jars, and spending hours stirring, tasting, and marveling.

I pry myself from my computer and giving a rueful look at my last typed pages of tender historical love, march with a determined step to my garden and kitchen. The Yorkies raise their puzzled faces from their pillows in the window next to the computer and watch me leave the room. Mom is usually good for a lot longer. In fact, their day evolves around my writing and my few forced breaks to acknowledge my husband and the demands of my home.

In the spring its easy to over plant. Of course I need five tomato plants. Absolutely I have to plant more rows of potatoes. Include sweet potatoes this year? Why not? Let’s not forget banana peppers and bell peppers. Oh, yes, a few jalapeno and let’s try anaheim peppers for something different. I swear there was a bounce in my step when I ran the rototiller over an even bigger patch for my cucumbers. More dill pickles to can come fall.

Aww, the joy of canning. The tired legs. The aching back. The ouch of hot jelly syrup on your arm. as you stir the bubbling mixture. The waiting to hear lids pop as they seal on the cooling jars. The angst when a jar doesn’t seal. To us canners this is the music that fills our souls while we put food away for the winter. I may not sound it, but I love canning. My grandmother canned as well as my mother. Fall to me was bushes of peaches, tomatoes, pears, and more waiting for busy hands. There is a sense of fulfillment that is hard to describe when you take a tired step back and see the rows of processed jars cooling on the counter. I’m old fashioned. I prefer canning to freezing. Of course, you need a cool place to store all the jars. I’ve had cellars, large dirt potato cellars, and store rooms to keep my canning. Now I utilize my insulated garage and a large refrigerator to keep my jars of canning, jelly and jam cool.

As I’m writing this, I glance over the sleeping Yorkies and out the window to my garden. I blink and look closer. Yep, the potato vines are definitely yellowing and dying. I have two rows ready to be dug, washed and stored. Delicious new potatoes. Soooo tasty I try to not mind digging them. I also try to maintain my disposition when I don’t put my shovel in deep enough and cut through a potato. All in a day’s work. I look past the potatoes and see purple clusters of the concord grapes hanging from the vine. Grape jelly just waiting to be made.

But before I start the fall jobs, I’m stealing another hour or so and write more pages on my new book: ONE BROTHER RETURNS. If you’ve read ONE MAN TO HEAL, you’ve met the brothers Dev, Ted, and Dev’s love, Charity. You’ll know why Ted quietly rode away, vowing to run from his broken heart. Running from the cruel manipulations of a woman he thought loved him. Running until he realizes home is where he belongs-where he’ll find the happiness he seeks. Home is where he’ll bring his adopted son to…well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Hopefully, I’ll finish this tender story in the next couple months and you can read all about Ted, baby Will, and Ted’s finding his one true love in the most unexpected place-home.

Meanwhile, I’ve got peaches ready to wash and fill waiting jars. Of course, I’m stealing several to make peach cobbler. I can’t be expected to can everything. Fresh peach cobbler topped with ice cream. Perfect end to a perfect day.

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 1 Comment

A Few Of My Favorite Things (Real Life Edition)

Usually, I use my blog spot to talk about my favorite tropes, scenes, and themes in romance. However, this time is going to be different. On Monday, I lost my grandmother. It wasn’t unexpected, but it still hit me hard. Today, I want to share with you what an awesome lady she was and put in my two cents of opinion about keeping close with people you care about.

My grandmother was 93 when she passed. She lived through the Depression, which expressed itself through an impressive talent for making leftovers into brand new dishes. However, there weren’t often leftovers in her house. She married a gentle giant of a man (6’5″) and they had six kids who all had enormous appetites. It was a running joke that you grabbed what you wanted at her table on your first serving or you might not get any of it. It was a further running joke that Grandma would make sure you ate at least two servings or else she would be certain you were sick because you clearly “didn’t have an appetite.” There are two steak houses in Calgary which no longer allow members of my family to do their 96 oz “eat it all and its free” challenge because we’ve done it too many times.

At one of those steak houses, we had a boisterous family gathering (because we don’t know how to have any other kind). My uncles had ordered their usual massive steaks and sides and the waiter came to my Grandma, who was a petite lady. His jaw dropped when she declared that she wasn’t “too hungry” and would only have the 16 oz. Rare. He attempted to talk her out of it and she fixed him with her very best “bless your heart, child” glare and told him that she knew damn well what she wanted and moreover, she would never waste food by ordering more than she wanted to eat. Then she patted him on the arm and said that she was grateful he was checking up on her and she knew he was just doing his job but she’d be fine and he should go about his business. We were all laughing at his flummoxed expression, but he pulled it together and delivered a great steak.

My grandmother was also notorious for making friends wherever she went. She loved people and was fascinated by their stories. When she met someone, she wanted to know all about them and would remember details about trips, jobs, kids, etc., years after the initial meeting. It made her a favorite at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Everyone knew to “ask Fran” since it was way faster than looking anything up, even after they got computers.

I’ve always had trouble with being brave enough to converse with strangers but she gave me the advice that has seen me through many conferences. “People like being noticed. Asking them about themselves lets them feel important and special. Just listen without judging and you’ll learn more than you could have ever imagined.” She was absolutely right.

In recent years, her prodigious memory began to dissolve into the mists of dementia. She couldn’t recognize her children or grandchildren (or great-grandchildren), but she could tell story after story about her childhood. Some of my fondest memories with her were when she would tell me the family stories, like the one where her grandfather rescued people from a hotel fire by scaling the building, or about the arguments about changing the family name when we emigrated to Canada, or how she and her sisters married brothers and raised their kids together as much as possible. I heard stories about how my dad used to get my uncle in trouble (and vice versa), what it was like moving to Germany in the 1960’s, and the challenges of dealing with doctors who thought they knew more about the hospital and its patients than her.

She was a dual income family before that was common. She worked nights while my grandfather worked days. The key to success was napping while the kids were at school. Despite the hectic schedule, all of her kids agree that she always had time for them, no matter how big or small the issue was. Once all of her kids were grown and she and my grandfather had retired, they got an RV and spent several years touring North American, going as the whim directed them (which was usually aimed at seeing her grandchildren).

She always had dogs. She said they kept her young by ensuring she got out for a walk daily. Not to mention that she could meet the most interesting people with a dog at her side. Her last dog passed almost fifteen years ago and she reluctantly decided not to get another since she couldn’t be sure that she would outlive her pet. She always loved her animals and took great pride in their care.

When she moved into a long term care home, a new side of Grandma appeared. Now that she wasn’t responsible for cleaning and cooking for herself, she was more carefree. Her memory had already gone, but that didn’t stop her from introducing herself daily to the staff and asking them about their lives. It also didn’t stop her from wheeling herself down the hallways to raid other residents’ rooms for chocolate and candy. Turns out that Grandma had a sweet tooth and a criminal mind. Who knew?

She was the first person to believe in me as a person and a writer. She always made me feel that I could do anything and while she didn’t read my books (too much sex, in her opinion), she would hand-sell them to anyone she came across.

I’m going to miss her a lot. I’m glad that I made the effort to spend time with her while she was with us. And I know that she’s arrived on the other side with her memory restored and is probably giving the afterlife a once over, just to see what might be needing her help. She’s probably catching up her siblings and my grandfather on what’s happened since they passed over, and then they’ll go grab a perfectly done steak and visit with the locals.

Rest in peace, Grandma. You made this world a little brighter with every day you were here.

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Writers Are Readers, Too

August is a great month for reading, with all kinds of events aimed at romance readers in particular. I hope you found a panel or bookstore event to support for Romance Bookstore Day. I certainly enjoyed the event from the audience side!

Like most authors, I’m an avid reader, though I was a late bloomer when it came to reading. As a child my own imagination was strong enough that I never saw the point in reading picture books, when I could tell myself a story based on the images that was much more compelling. It wasn’t until my mom started reading chapter books to me that I really understood the power of the written word. At that point I was hooked, and I’ve been a voracious reader ever since.

There are summer reading programs offered by many libraries (yes, even for adults!) which can be a lot of fun. I like the year long reader challenges on sites like Goodreads and StoryGraph. I often blow past my modest goals, since I’m the type who likes to meet my target. This year I’ve had a personal challenge to review a book a week on BookBub and other sites. I know how much reviews mean to authors, so I try to give back and let my favorite authors know that I really appreciate their work.

I also find reading important for me as a writer. I like to know what other authors are doing to stretch genre boundaries and to have a feel for what other books are out there. I also enjoy exploring all the worlds offered between the pages of a good book. I love to travel, and haven’t done much of that lately, so I’ve enjoyed reading even more, especially books with unique settings that let me feel like I’ve totally stepped away from the real world for a spell.

What about you? What do you look for in a good read? Do you set any reading goals for the year?


Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.

When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Jaycee is a Golden Heart® finalist and author of the Hands of Destin series. The award winning first book in that series, Taxing Courtship, released in June 2018. The final book in that series, Crowning Courtship, came out in May 2021.

Learn more about her around the web:

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