Weekend Read: Our Little Secrets

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend, all. Wow. Can’t believe the Olympics are winding down already. So psyched about Andy Murray’s gold and first big win!

Just finished reading Our Little Secrets by Merry Farmer, indie author, fellow Twitter-pal (and PA ‘neighbor’ :)).

This captivating historical, set circa the early 1900s, caught my attention immediately.

Premise: Girl seeking to escape her past steps off a train in a frontier town. She meets the general store’s owner, an apparently kind and clever chap with whom she immediately feels chemistry. He’s looking to change the town’s perception of him, shall we say? So, within 24 hours, Miss Charlotte Baldwin and Mr. Michael West agree to a business arrangement and marry. They make a pact not to ask questions about each other’s pasts. 

I absolutely loved the characters and liked the story circumstances that brought this pair together—especially a MAJOR twist—and helped them grow and change as individuals and as a couple. The author did a wonderful job creating chemistry between “Charlie” and Michael, as well as fun, witty interchanges between the two that were delightful to read. I also tend to enjoy stories where the hero/heroine are on each other’s side from the start. This story did not disappoint.

Being a reader who tends to go for the gorgeous alpha-looking hero with the beta-guy’s heart, I liked that I was endeared to Michael even though he wasn’t described as the eye-candy type. Who he was off the bat—and the inner hero brought about via the story events—made me often forget he wasn’t necessarily packaged in that traditional leading man model we romance lovers tend to expect. (BUT: Part of Ms. Farmer’s dedication was to her first celebrity crush named—hmm, Michael. Despite a clue she provided I’m still wondering who he is, lol.)

Set against the incredible Montana landscape (one I hope to visit one day), Ms. Farmer did a very nice job painting the setting and period details. I definitely felt transported to the turn of the century and felt grounded there the entire time. She kept me turning the pages and now has me looking forward to the sequel (to which she provides a sneak-peak at the end of the book).

A great weekend read! Get Our Little Secrets (and/or Merry’s other titles) here: Nook or Kindle

Visit Ms. Merry at her website.  Like her on Facebook and/or follow her on Twitter and let her know your thoughts on her works! (We authors LOVE that!)

And after all that, if you liked the content here, won’t you kindly SHARE below?

Have a great weekend! Thanks for your time,

Joanna

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Clay Court’s King Stakes SEVENTH Claim on His Reign!

So psyched about Rafa Nadal’s win at the French Open Tennis Championships Monday! Rafa fans know, that boy NEEDED to show the awesome Djok  the world’s current Number Two player hasn’t gone away yet. I am so interested to see what the following two slams will bring! (Can you imagine to what level each of these guys will be lifting their game assuming their ‘rivalry’ continues?? Whoof!)

Congrats to both champions–I hate that someone has to lose but so glad Rafa won! And both winners were gracious as always in their post-game interviews, pure class acts. (Rafa’s language barrier is definitely decreased, too.)

dailytelegraph.com.au

Photo courtesy bostonglobe.com

ricky.org

blog.zap2it.com

globaltvedmonton.com

english.rfi.fr

Thanks so much for indulging me! And VERY special thanks to those of you  kind enough to SHARE. So much appreciated!

Have a great day–I certainly plan to 😉

Joanna

Healthy Snack–I’m Thinking Not–Part 2 (Makeovers)

Good day, everyone. Looking forward to a great day and weekend filled with tennis. The French Open is seriously sidetracking me from other things I should be doing, lol. Coverage for this tournament has seriously improved. (Thanks, ESPN, NBC and Tennis Channel. You’re all making one girl quite happy! : Maybe I’ll even get all that junk mail sitting on my enclosed front porch separated and ready for the mobile shredder–one can hope and set those lofty goals, right?))

For fellow blogger Janet S: See how the middle of the zucch blossom looks as if there are multiple stamens in there? That’s the bloom you DON’T pick! 😉

Back to business: Last time I went into a mini-rant about the hidden hazards of foods deemed “healthy” by one internet article I read. I also promised a few of my fixes for the problem. Please keep in my mind I AM NOT A HEALTH OR NUTRITION EXPERT. These are simply some tweaks that have worked for me. Check with your physician if you have any questions, and especially if you have any health concerns.

Having shared that disclaimer, here are some ways I “healthy up” a snack:

Flavored yogurts: unless they’re sugar-free (and usually sweetened with aspartame or sucralose), I’m looking at 26 gramsof sugar per 6-8-oz serving or the equivalent of 6.5 added measured teaspoons. On one container from the fridge (hubby likes them), sugar was the second ingredient listed; corn syrup the fourth.

Are you kidding me???? See what I mean about hidden diet dangers? I’ve learned to substitute a fat-free plain yogurt (Greek-strained is awesome), flavor it with natural daniva (i.e., vanilla, as my son used to say), sugar substitute or even some sugar-free coffee creamer.

I know, I know. Honey and fresh or frozen fruits (i.e., strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc) would be better sweetener choices.  Remind me to work on that. 😉

Cookies: no matter WHAT you choose you’re looking at starch. Starch—good or not—is bound to expand bellies, butts and thighs. I believe no food group should be eliminated, so how about oatmeal cookies or graham crackers? Both made from better grains than most store-bought chocolate chips or shortbread. (Ever do natural peanut butter and jelly on either of my preferred two? Guaranteed awesome snack, dessert or even breakfast. Sprinkle on some plain—preferably not instant—oatmeal for added fiber. (BTW, if you’re into baking, cookies made with whole wheat white flour—especially oatmeal-raisin—usually bake up really similar to their white-flour counterparts.)

Cereals: what a bummer this was for someone who probably made her career weight-gain chomping down on bowl after bowl as a kid watching soaps during summer vacation from school. If you’re under10 gramsof sugar for any box of pre-sweetened cereals, consider that one of your better choices. “Healthy” options (i.e., raisin brans, etc) are usually 15 grams/serving or more.

What’s a weight-conscious person to do?

My super-easy fix: measure half a serving of your favorite mixed with an unsweetened “filler.” Example: I love Honey-Nut Cheerios. I’ll buy a box of that and one of regular Cheerios (which really do have an awesome taste all their own with1 gramof sugar/serving). Mix equal parts of each, or even bump up the unsweetened counterpart—as long as I taste the sweeter one, I’m good! Another ready alternative: have that traditional oatmeal on hand and mix it with your favorite sweet cereal using the ratios I just listed. Takes a bit of getting used because of its chewiness, but easy to love in the long run.

Pre-packed oatmeal is another major trap (unless it’s plain) and easy to healthy-up with little to no effort. So much cheaper too! I stir milk, vanilla and sugar substitute into a serving of old-fashioned oats (the canister kind) and heat for one minute on high in the microwave. Breakfast is served. (Doing the cereal-mix here too, especially with plain Cheerios or shredded wheat makes for a seriously hearty whole/multi-grain breakfast. Add cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries, bananas—whatever excites you—and you’re talking serious yum to start your day.

So how do you stay clear of pitfalls that look good enough to eat? Please share if you dare and maybe click a SHARE button before you go, too. As always, I thank you!

Here’s to a wonderful day to all,

Joanna

Coffee and Because I’m Slow On the Uptake

Hey friends and followers,

Happy final Friday of 2011! Can’t thank all of you enough for all the ways you’ve made this blog such a happy place for me. You may have contributed a post or a comment, told somebody else about it or simply clicked LIKE and/or FOLLOW; maybe you just read or happened by via search engine. No matter what, you’ve touched me whether you know it or not! Please know how precious you all are, whether I know you by name or not.

       

Now, since I forgot to announce this on Wednesday (that’s the ‘Slow on the Uptake’ part of the this post’s title–the ‘Coffee’ woke me up ;)), I’m inviting y’all to Calisa Rhose’s Chit-Chat space for a cup of virtual coffee and discussion on why sittin’ and chillin’ has gone wayside in today’s digitally-driven, insanely busy world. Plus, her first published historical romance, HOME, debuted this week, on her birthday. And being the kind soul she is, she reminded me (during her recent virtual visit here) that I celebrated NO MATTER WHY‘s second anniversary this month too.

So, if you can spare a few, come on down!

A safe and happy new year to all (though I’m thinking this is my 199th post–why not close out the year with Number 200?),

Lotsa luv,

Joanna

Writing Into the Past with Author Calisa Rhose

I’m so excited to be here Joanna! I often wondered if…no, when this day would come for me. Celebrating my first book release. Thank you for hosting me on my HOME blog tour!

You’re so welcome, Calisa. Thrilled to have you. Among the things I love best about writing and social networking are the wonderful online friends I’ve made. And I guess the cyber-world has it’s ‘small’ moments too. Calisa and the very sweet Anna Kittrell (whom I hosted earlier this year—read that post here) work as critique partners so we’re all sort of friends together.

Before I get to the reason I’m here I want to wish Joanna- or rather her book, NO MATTER WHY, a happy 2nd release day anniversary!

Thanks for the reminder, Calisa. My TWRP release date was January 15, 2009, but friends started buying right about December 9, 2008. (How cool. On Donny Osmond’s birthday no less. Is there a connection, lol?)

       

OMG, I LOVE!!!! your cover. Perfect colors–it simply breathes! Congratulations on having achieved that oh-so-exciting-and-life-changing-milestone in your writing journey! Tell us how HOME came about:

There were several challenges for me while writing this story of hope and finding what’s always been right under your nose. My daddy always said sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. In HOME that was certainly true.

BLURB:  What could a gypsy and a Vietnam veteran have in common?

Silvertown’s outcast, Poppy Tippen, has loved football hero Sam “The Force” Callahan forever. But he never seemed to know she was alive. Now he’s home from the war and she suddenly finds herself comforting him from the demons of “that damn war.” Is his attention merely an escape from the haunting nightmares? Or does she hold the interest of the only man she’s ever truly loved?

Sam Callahan’s only solace from the war nightmares wrecking his life comes in the unlikely form of a gypsy girl with stigmas of her own. He’s known Poppy his entire life, but there’s something different about her now. Something special he desperately wants to hold on to. Can he convince her she’s the only thing he needs to put the past behind him?

When this story presented itself to me I was stunned by the deep need to tell a story set in theVietnamera. That alone was a challenge. I typically write contemporary, whether western or paranormal romance. HOME is my first attempt at historical. Sure I lived in the 60’s but I was a tiny tot. I don’t remember much of those years past my own front step on theMojave desertin centralCalifornia.

The other challenge? I write full length novels. My typical story is upwards of 55,000 words. HOME is just 21,000. Yikes! How am I supposed to get everything about these two characters into less than half a book? And did I cut it with the historical part? I’ll let you read HOME when it comes out next Wednesday, December 28th, and judge for yourself how I did with these challenges.

For now I would like to talk about how I managed to write something I wasn’t accustomed to.  HOME is set in August,1967 ina small, fictional town inOklahoma. I don’t do a lot of research for my contemporaries, and slightly more for my paranormals. But for HOME I spent a lot of time going back to the 1960’s life styles, clothing and music.

Music. It plays a large part in my writing. I listen to what suits the story theme, whether it’s cowboys, wolves or days of war and protests. So I loaded up on popular songs from the sixties and wrote. I didn’t use the music to fit scenes exactly. I had trouble putting myself in the era. Music from the Beatles, Elvis and my heroine’s favorite, the Chiffons helped me get into that time frame mentally. There’s just something about that time and the music that draws you in. Have you watched GREASE lately? Though set a little before my story, much of the music is the same. Bonnie and Clyde debuted in fall of that year, too.

One thing I had to do, and didn’t enjoy as much, was research the main topic of those days; the Vietnam war.

Sam Callahan was sent to the front lines as a doctor. For three years he watched young boys die, and being much older than the average soldier at twenty-seven, he had to accept that he couldn’t save them all. Hard to do for a man who was raised to believe there was nothing he couldn’t do.

I read so many horror stories while learning what would impact Sam once he returned home. PTSD which was called shell shock back then was his biggest damage. He would relive those years ‘over there’ with no reprieve. Until he met Poppy.

Poppy Tippen was a treat to write. Full of pep and vinegar as my gramma called it, she wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to Sam. She loved him unconditionally. But how does a gypsy fit into the 60’s? It was a time of more wives’ tales than curses and boogeyman. So how did the curse of a doll affect these two? I’ll let you read to learn that, but I will say that my Poppy was a modern gypsy woman.

(Here’s an excerpt!)

Get HOME at The Wild Rose Press when it releases on December 28th. Consequently- I’d love for you to buy my book that day. Why? It’s my birthday! What a wonderful gift for me!

Psst: Calisa’s buy link came in early; you can buy her book here! I’m sure many of you have reader friends out there who might just love this very special debut love story!

You can find me at my website, and on my blog on the same site in the Chit-chat tab. I love to hear from you so feel free to shoot me a note in the Say Hey tab. I’d also love it if you follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook.

If you missed the official tour Kick-off post earlier this week, you can do it now at my blog, Pen of the Dreamer. I’ll wait. Back? And that’s how HOME came to be.

I had a wonderful time here, Joanna!

Always a pleasure to connect with you, Calisa! Really looking forward to this release! Remember friends, December 28, 2011 at The Wild Rose Press!

 Thanks to all of you who stopped in! Until next time,

Joanna