Green Thumb Secrets by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Photo of young woman walking along a garden pathI’ve given in to the call of spring and decided to share some green thumb secrets with you.

I tried to resist spring’s siren call, but I couldn’t ignore neither the fragrant jasmine outside my kitchen window nor the soft evening breeze that brought with it the smell of roses.

So I had a meeting with my houseplants first—hey, haven’t you heard you should talk to your plants?—and we all agreed it was time to repot some of them.

How To Make Houseplants Happy

(1) Before you stick a plant into a new clay pot—which is mostly what I use—take time to condition the pot first. Immerse the clean clay pot in a bucket of water and leave it until the bubbling stops. (If you lean close to the bucket, you can hear hissing. That’s all the minute particles of trapped air in the clay filling with water.) The conditioned pot will have absorbed moisture so it won’t “rob” water from the potting soil. This makes newly-potted plants less likely to wilt.

Park Bench and Large Potplant

My front patio with large pot plant

(2) If you plan to use a larger pot that has been used before, make sure you wash the pot thoroughly. Just because it holds soil doesn’t mean any old dirty pot will suffice. Bacteria, mold, and/or plant disease cells may exist in a dirty pot. Give the plant you’re repotting a fighting chance by putting it in a clean pot.

(3) Know how much to water a plant. Always use a plant saucer below the pot. Then water until water is running from the drain hole in the bottom of the pot. Stop. Empty the water from the saucer and replace.

(4) Every other month, if possible, immerse your pot plants in a tub of water so all the roots get wet. When the bubbling stops, remove the pot and set it in a place to drain. I’ve got some huge pots on both patios so I can’t do this with them so I try to take the time to let a trickle of water from a garden hose cover the entire top surface.

(5) If you don’t have a lot of time to tend houseplants and your plants are pront to drying up, set the pot plant inside a second larger pot. Line the space between the pots with sphagnum moss. Soak the moss once a week, and the moisutre will seep through the inner clay pot to evenly moisten the plant.

Romance and Gardening

I’ve never had a heroine or a hero who gardens, but in The Trouble With Love, Susannah’s mother is a gardener extraordinaire. The description I give of her mother’s landscaping was the way my yard looked when I wrote the book. After all, write what you know, and I know marigolds and other summer flowers and shrubs.

Cover art for The Trouble With LoveHang on to your Stetson as the fun and games begin in a sexy romantic comedy hotter than a bowl of Texas chili! By-the-book Deputy Susannah Quinn has all she can do to resist rule-breaking FBI Special Agent D. E. Hogan.

To catch a thief, Susannah and Hogan pose as husband and wife and go undercover. Unfortunately, Susannah and Hogan have already been undercover—in a Houston hotel where they first met.

For her part, Susannah wishes her lapse in judgment would take a flying leap and land on Jupiter. Hogan, on the other hand, wants to get the contrary deputy into his bed, but the complications caused by family—his and hers—pretty much guarantee that’s never going to happen.

Throw in an over-the-hill Romeo and his lady love, a middle-aged mom determined to have her own love affair, and the charm of a small Texas town, and you get a story with heart, soul, and passion—lots of passion.

Can Susannah and Hogan, two mismatched lovers doing everything in their power to avoid falling in love, catch a thief and recover stolen jewels? The clock is ticking. They have only seven days—and nights—to complete their assignment and resist the sweet siren call of desire.

The Trouble With Love is a Kindle Unlimited free read if you’re a subscriber, or only $3.99 if you want to buy and keep forever. It makes for great holiday reading fun.Social Media Icons

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The Authors Billboard May Giveaway has Amazon Gift Card up for grabs. Be sure and enter today. Also shop the fabulous box sets we’ve created. You’ll find them on Authors Billboard Books Page.

Wishing you the Joy of Spring as well as the Joy of Reading!

 

Universal Laws of Life by @JoanReeves #mgtab #ABB

Life has been rather grim lately, hasn’t it? I thought I’d give you a chuckle or two today and maybe lighten your mood with a list of Laws of Life.

Maybe, you’ll find something here that will make you laugh like a baby whose feet are being tickled.

Universal Laws of Life

Everyone knows about Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.”

Did you know there are a whole bunch of laws like this? Here are a few I found. You may have  experienced some of these first hand, but didn’t know there was a name for it. So, check out these Life Laws and get ready to chuckle.

1. Law of Mechanical Repair
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch. And you’ll have to pee.

2. Law of Gravity
Any nail, screw, nut, bolt, or tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner. This is especially true if you’re standing on a ladder.

3. Law of Probability
The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

the Women’s Law of Close Encounters

4. Women’s Law of Close Encounters
The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are out without makeup, dressed in ratty workout sweats, and your hair is a mess.

5. Law of Biomechanics
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

6. Law of Coffee
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

7. Law of Physical Surfaces
The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet or rug.

8. Law of Logical Argument
Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.

9. Law of Variation
If you change lines at the bank, or lanes in traffic, the one you were in will begin to move faster than the one to which you moved.

10. Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy
As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Cover of April Fool Bride.Bored? Want An Escape? Try April Fool Bride!

Is it a marriage of convenience or something more?

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

She decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer and turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were growing up—until one disastrous night when she acted impetuously.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else? Something that sizzles like steam heat between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist!?

April Fool Bride is a free read for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers or buy for only $2.99 and keep it forever. (I always hope readers will add my books to their Keeper Shelf. *g*)

The Authors Billboard April Giveaway has Amazon Gift Card up for grabs. Be sure and enter today. Also shop the fabulous box sets we’ve created. You’ll find them on Authors Billboard Books Page.

Wishing you good health and happiness—and happy Reading!

I Need a Hero by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Gorgeous male model in wet t-shirtDo you know that song, “Holding Our for a Hero,” sung by Bonnie Tyler? When Tyler sings, “I need a hero,” that’s exactly what romance authors think as we breathe life into the character our heroine will fall for.

Readers are looking for a hero to thrill them too.

As a romance author, I spend a lot of time thinking about heroes and how to make a story’s hero be perfect for the heroine.

What Is a Hero?

Is he the guy in the wet t-shirt? He’s got brooding good looks and toned body. Does that make him a hero? People lay claim to football players, rock stars, actors, and other famous types as heroes, but is that really what a hero is? Do extreme success and likability make someone a hero?

Not in my opinion. Popularity, personality, and skill in a demanding field just makes an interesting man. Maybe it makes someone a potential hero, but it takes more thran a pretty face, good body, and charm to be a hero—in a romance novel or in real life.

Soldier surrounded by children.Real Heroes Give

A real hero gives unselfishly to help others. Most people don’t think about the heroes in their own family, but I think you should look no farther than your own father, grandfather, brother, or other male family members to find heroes.

Think of the men in your family who work hard to give their children a better life. They’re heroes. Far better to idolize them than some hip hop artist or bad boy football star.

Real heroes—whether male or female, on a personal level or the world’s arena—give. They sacrifice, often for strangers. Sometimes that sacrifice is the ultimate one that claims the hero’s life. Real heroes are the Fire Fighters, Police Officers, and other first responders. They are the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us.

They are the doctors and nurses who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, the emergency room medical staff, the volunteers in free clinics, and the dentists who spend their vacation in third world country villages, providing care for the poorest of people who have little access to any care.

They are the volunteers who dig water wells in poor villages where people don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted like clean water. So many heroes, and they’re everywhere.

Novel Hero Versus Real Life Hero

Is a romance novel hero vastly different from a real life hero? Maybe the romance hero is a little better looking and has six-pack abs rather than love handles, but the qualities of protectiveness, unselfishness, and caring exist in both the romance novel hero and the real life hero.

This desire to protect and serve is why so many romance heroes are soldiers and cops. In my romantic comedy, CinCa Blue, I have a cop hero and a cop heroine. I did a bit of a flip-flop with what the reader might expect. In most stories involving a cop hero, the cop avoids commitment at all costs.

In Cinderella Blue,, Detective Bruce Benton, first introduced in Nobody’s Cinderella, is commitment phobic, but so is Detective Andrea Luft, his new partner who he realizes is perfect for him. He’s the first in their growing relationship to want commitment.

I had fun solving Andie’s problems stemming from her emotional baggage. Here’s a short excerpt to show you these two cops in action.Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves

Excerpt, Cinderella Blue

Heat shimmered in waves above the pavement. Across the street, Bruce Benton saw a cluster of shops that created one-stop shopping for women looking to drop a few grand on a pretentious wedding. He crossed the street and headed to the flower shop.

As he passed the glass storefront of a photographer’s studio, he saw a woman inside. A nano second later, he stopped abruptly. The heat must be frying his brain. He retraced his steps, casually glancing in again. The woman wore a wedding dress, but instead of a bridal bouquet, she held a handgun.

Bruce drew his Glock and eased the door open. A bell over the door jingled. He cringed as he slipped inside. Maybe she was deaf.

The woman whirled. Nope. Not deaf. She held her gun in the same shooter’s stance as he. “Take it easy, lady. Maybe the photographer took some lousy pictures of you. That’s no reason to shoot him.”

“That’Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reevess funny.” The blonde suddenly grinned, but her gun never wavered. “You’re cute. Anyone ever tell you that you look kind of like Karl Urban?”

“Let’s not talk about some Aussie actor. Let’s talk about you. Why would a sweet thing like you have a gun?”

“Sweet thing?” Irritation replaced her grin. “Lower your gun. Lay it on the floor.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You see I’m a–”

Everything happened at once. A man rushed from behind her, slammed into her, and sent her flying into Bruce. They went down in a tangle of arms, legs, and miles of white satin. She came up snarling.
Bruce leaped up, gun in hand. “Freeze!”Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves with Cityscape background.

He grinned and pulled out his handcuffs. “I always wanted to say that. Just like a TV cop. You lost your gun, sweet thing.”

He stepped toward her. With a snarl, she whirled. He saw a white blur and felt agony in his hand. A roundhouse kick to his solar plexus cut off his gasp of pain. He hit the floor. Wheezing, he tried to rise, but the blonde stood over him with her gun–and his–pointed at him.

She smiled. “Uh uh, sweet thing. You stay right where you are.”

Bruce groaned. Not from pain so much as humiliation. Crap. He’d never live this down.

Your Thoughts

What kind of a hero do you like best in romance novels? Does your ideal hero reflect the qualities you admire in your real life heroes?

Soup Month: Mom’s Potato Soup by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Did you know that January is National Soup Month?

I guess the people who create these “national” months and/or days figured National Cold, Windy, Rainy Dreary Month didn’t sound very appealing.

Yesterday evening I came home—cold, wet, and bedraggled—from a day of fighting the traffic amidst a downpour. By the time, Darling Hubby and I walked into the kitchen, darkness had fallen.

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay

What’s For Dinner?

He’d been out in the bad weather with me all day, and we had missed lunch because of one thing or another. I didn’t take offense when he tiredly asked, “What’s for dinner?”

I gave him an equally tired answer. “Soup.”

He brightened, and so did I because soup is my go-to meal for dreary winter days. I fixed Potato & Greens Soup, an unusual potato soup because of the fresh greens in it which is Mom’s effort to push veggies at every meal.

Potato & Greens Soup

  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 pound of your favorite sausage with the casing removed
  • an additional 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Peal and dice the potatoes. Place in a pot with the salt, black pepper, and 2 cups of chicken broth. Cook until potatoes are done then mash the potatoes in the broth that remains. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

Slice the sausage thinly. Saute and drain well. In a large cooking pot, pour in the other 2 cups of chicken broth, heat to boiling. Add the fresh spinach or other fresh greens of your choice to the hot broth. Cook until just wilted. Whisk in the mashed potatoes, cooked sausage, and mix well.

Serve with one or all of the following as garnishes: a snip of fresh greens, a grating of black pepper, and/or a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. Serves 6 hungry appetites.

Warm Up Winter With DEAD HEAT, an Exciting Romance

Sabrina Snow knew she was going to get herself killed if she didn’t get help. Someone was after her, and he wasn’t going to stop. She ran to the only man she trusted…the only man who had the skills to save her. Too bad he probably hated her.

But she owed him the truth even though she’d wanted to keep the knowledge from him. What if she were killed? John needed to know where to look. If he’d hated her before, what would he feel once he learned the depth of her deception?

Navy SEAL John Galloway doesn’t trust Sabrina. She lies for a living so how can he? So what’s he supposed to do when she shows up in the last place he ever expected to see her?

DEAD HEAT, available as a Kindle Unlimited Free Read or buy and keep forever.

Remember to enter our January Giveaway, and also check out all of the wonderful box set collections of romances on Authors Billboard Books.