The Art of Tenacity by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Sign saying Thoughts of Inspiration, Optimism, Faith, Hope.I grew up during a time when we had to read stories of bravery and courage in school and when old movies on television were about people struggling against great odds to achieve a worth goal. Much of my character was formed by those stories in print and on TV. One story I read that has stuck with me through the years was Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard, a little essay published in 1899.

Message to Garcia is a testament to tenacity, defined as “the quality or fact of being very determined.” The story takes place during the Spanish American War. Here’s a brief summary of the story.

It was of the utmost importance that the President get in touch with the leader of the Cuban Insurgents, a man named Garcia who was somewhere in the mountains where no telegraph could reach him. The President needed his cooperation, and he needed it immediately. A letter, sealed in an oil-skin pouch, was given to a man named Rowan.

This messenger—this Rowan—strapped the package over his heart, and in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba. He disappeared into the jungle. Three weeks later, he came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot. Rowan delivered that letter.

Just think…a night landing in the ocean…swimming to the shore…going into the jungle…hiking all over the island and into the mountains…living off the land..three solid weeks of this…twenty-one days—then he comes out on the other side. Mission accomplished.

Could you have done something that required such physical courage and strength as well as the sheer will to get it done…the will to prevail? When Life is tough, I think about that little essay. Rowan had tenacity…the will to prevail. Accomplishing something important comes down to the will to prevail. Tenacity. You either have it, or you don’t. It’s not a skill or talent you’re born with. It’s one you cultivate by living.

Hubbard’s essay was once the 5th most widely distributed book in history. In the last few years, it’s fallen out of favor because critics focus on the fact that the messenger accepted his orders without challenge. Well, that was a more than a hundred years ago. A different time and culture. I think the focus should still be on the importance of human initiative and determinaton. That’s what inspired me the very first time I read the essay, and it inspired me when I recently read it again.

Book: Vacation Between Two Coverssun Hat, Ebook of Cinderella Blue, Beach

When Life is tough, reach for a book. May I suggest something funny like Cinderella Blue?

Detective Andrea Luft—Andie to her friends—loves to say those three little words. Especially to bad guys who SO deserve it. Andie is undercover to catch the thief stealing designer wedding gowns from San Antonio bridal boutiques. She’s about to make an arrest when Detective Bruce Benton barges onto the scene. The suspect escapes, and, as a reward for this screw-up, Benton and Andie are paired together as partners to close the case.

These two commitment-phobic cops have nothing in common except their tendency to annoy each other—unless you count the desire sizzling between them. But a cop romance just isn’t in the cards for them. At a cop shop, a workplace romance can cause you to make careless mistakes that can be hazardous to your health—and your career!

Too bad because Benton realizes feisty, smart-mouthed Andie is the woman he’s been waiting for. He just doesn’t know how to convince her of that.

“This book was so much fun! I loved the humor and the barbs our couple threw at each other. And then there is the electricity between them….
This was a great beach read.” —NetGalley

Post Script

Maybe we all need some tenacity in our lives to get through COVID-19. Stay healthy. Be happy. Be tenacious. Read a book!

heart shaped ribbons

 

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

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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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Wishing you the Joy of Spring as well as the Joy of 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?

Gingerbread Cake Means Christmas by @JoanReeves #mgtab

In our home, it’s not officially Christmas until I make Old-Fashioned Gingerbread.

Everyone talks about gingerbread men and gingerbread houses during the holidays, and both of those items are really cute. But, to me, they look better than they taste.

I don’t like crisp, hard-baked gingerbread cookies. Maybe it’s because my mom never made gingerbread people or houses. She made gingerbread cake and served it warm from the oven with a dollop of cream cheese frosting sprinkled with lemon zest on top. From scratch.

Oh, my goodness, the smell of the gingerbread baking made salivary glands go into overdrive. And the taste? Amazing.

Many people think it takes too long to make a cake from scratch so they buy a cake mix. I’m sure the cake mix is probably a good product, and you may want to try it.

However, I’d like to share my recipe for homemade gingerbread with you. It’s darker in appearance than the picture shown on the box. That’s probably because my recipe calls for molasses. That’s what gives it the darker color, rich aroma, and depth of flavor.

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

  • 1/2 cup sugar, white or brown
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup hot water (hot from the tap, not boiling)
  1. Butter a 9x9x2 inch baking pan and set aside. Turn your oven on and set it for 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour into a small bowl along with the ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and add the egg. Beat well.
  4. Add the molasses to the butter mixture and beat well.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture a little at a time. Mix well after each addition until all is incorporated.
  6. Carefully stir in the hot water and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and place in the preheated oven.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Serve warm plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

I made Gingerbread this past weekend so, for me, it’s officially Christmas!

Be sure and enter our Rafflecopter on our Home Page and check out all the wonderful Holiday Romances—books and box sets galore—you’ll find from the very talented authors of The Authors’ Billboard.

Holiday Romances by Joan Reeves

Above are a few of my Christmas Romances for your consideration. I invite you to sign up for my Newsletter which has new release information and giveaways too.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!