Seven Useful Tips To Organize Your Way To Success

Did you now that living an organized life can save you time and energy, plus make you more productive? And I guarantee you’ll be happier. Try these tips to get you started:

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1. Set up a paper throwaway system. Dispose of your unwanted mail immediately after you read it.
2. Automate your bill payments for everything! Go paperless when you can.
3. Keeping a daily journal will ease your mind. Write down those appointments and thoughts that nag at you and stay organized.
4. Name all your computer documents the same way every time. Try topic/title/date.
5. Empty our purse when you get home. Leave your must-have items, such as wallet, lip balm in one place so it’s easy to change purses.
6. Trim down your financial budget to three categories: what you want, what you need, and what is best for your financial future. You’ll get out of debt sooner and you’ll watch your money continue to grow.
7. Leave your mindless work for when you’re tired, and optimize your tasks for when you perform best.

Do you have any organizational tips? Please leave your comments below.

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.

Follow her on Instagram.

 

 

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Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings and It’s Singing

Signs of spring are everywhere on the farm. February is like an erratic March. So was January. We’ve had little real winter. Almost no snow. Our weather blows mild then cold then warm again, even balmy before the wind cuts through us once more. The geese are in hyper fussy mating/nesting mode. Don’t even try to talk to them now. Fuzzy pussy willows will soon burst into full-blown catkins. Possibly today. I’m calling it. Spring is here. I’ve got pea seed and early greens ready to plant.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkBack to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Several years ago, daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman.

I bought the image of the meadowlark. Sigh.

For more on me visit my blog: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/

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Beauty and the Beast—Space Opera Style

“… if you’re looking for a romance that’s not another of the cookie-cutter offerings out there, this is a great place to start.”   –Nights and Weekends reviewsold-manuscript

“Ms. Sweeney always creates stories that are thrown miles outside the box, and Sinbad’s Wife is no exception.” –Margaret Marr reviews

“…the dramatic sh’en Singh family dynamics…in this book makes for a truly wonderful read” –Two Lips reviews

~~~~~~~~

Many years ago, I was so intrigued by a TV show called Beauty and the Beast, that I wrote my own homage. My own spin on that story became The Adventures of Sinbad,.which eventually evolved into a seven-book series.

My Beast isn’t simply a man who by some quirk of birth looks like a lion.  He is a lion, or rather a native of Felida where the inhabitants evolved from a feline species instead of simians.  Sinbad’s Last Voyage was published in 2016, with Sinbad’s Wife, the story of his courtship and winning of his Beauty, published in January of this year.

Sinbad sh’en Singh, a half-feline smuggler, a man wanted on seven worlds of the United Terran Federation, with more than a million credits bounty on his head.  That was all right with Sin, because he intended to thumb his nose at the UTF for as long as he could—and then he met a little Terran named Andrea Talltrees and got shot right out of orbit…

…in flames.

His Beauty is Andrea Talltrees, a feisty little woman, raised by the Navajos after her father is killed in the Terro-Felidan War and her mother dies of a broken heart.  When her husband is accused of being a spy in yet another war and is arrested, she doesn’t just sit around.  She goes to the one person her godfather suggests might help…a certain Felidan smuggler who hates Terran women almost as much as he hates the Federation…

…And that’s the way they meet.  It’s a culture clash of epic proportions with a disturbing explosion of instant attraction as Andi and Sin try desperately not to fall in love with each other.

The current story is Sinbad’s Pride, Novel #4 in the series.


When Andrea Talltrees married Sinbad sh’en Singh, she knew they’d have problems, all newly-weds do, but married life with a part-Felidan ex-smuggler seems to be nothing but 4sinbadspride3cover-002one crisis after another.

Being law-abiding simply isn’t part of Sin’s lifestyle and he’s already found a way to legally restore Felida’s pre-war glory by making it a prime smuggling planet—and the Federation can’t do a thing about it!  In order to do that, however, he needs the cooperation of the second and third most powerful prides on Felida, and they in turn want to cement the deal through a family relationship…by offering Sinbad their nubile daughters a concubines.

Felida is a male-oriented planet, chauvinistic to the nth degree and the fact that Sinbad sometimes consults his wife and concedes to her wishes doesn’t sit well with his grandfather or any of the older males in the Pride.  That Andi is a hated Terran doesn’t help, either, and the feisty little Navajo finds herself forcefully striving to act more like a Felidan female and less like her usual independent self.

In other words, the newly-reinstated heir and his spouse have a lot going against them and only their determination to be accepted going for them.

That’s why Sin finds himself with a very angry Prime Wife, as he tries to explain to Andi why he’s taking not one but two concubines though he swears he loves her and wouldn’t be unfaithful in a million years.  If he doesn’t handle this right, Sin is facing a future which may involve sleeping on a sofa until he’s an ocotogenerian.

Sinbad’s Pride is a play on words.  A Pride on Felida is made up of various clans loyal to one chief.  Sinbad is the heir to the largest pride.  He also has plenty of pride in the usual sense of the word, and whether he’s confronting the lawyers of the Federation, an incensed wife, or an adulterous child, he has to decide when to let that pride go and when to balance revenge with mercy. No matter what happens, however, one thing is certain:  Sinbad loves Andi and he’ll do anything to keep that love.

It’s also a story about family, and how a man who has lost everything must now try to keep together the one he’s suddenly blessed with in the face of crises which could blast that family apart.  How Sin works it out makes up the majority of that story.  It’s erotic, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic adventure, and one I think readers will enjoy it.


AUTHOR’S BIO:

 This past December, Toni V. Sweeney celebrated her 74th birthday. This month, she’s celebrating the release of her 74rd novel.toni

Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone.   In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US) . She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the paranormal Romance Guild.

Find out more about Toni:

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

Twitter:  @ToniVSweeney

BLURB:

Being a family man can’t keep a smuggler on the straight and narrow.

Sinbad sh’en Singh returns to his former occupation, with help from a loophole in Felida’s treaty…which means the Federation can’t do a thing about it.

The Fed may not be a threat, but wife Andi is. She doesn’t want a smuggler for a husband.

Things get even rockier when two of the pride chiefs offer their daughters as concubines to the pride chief’s heir. It’ll take a great deal of sweet talk to make Andi agree to that!

Then there’s that smuggler who received Sin’s territories, and won’t give them up without a fight…

Overconfident as always, Sin’s sure he can handle it all…except for Andi. Bringing her around will be his biggest challenge.

Domestic bliss may soon be a thing of the past.

EXCERPT:

“I’ve received a message from Salu-Khan,” Murad announced, glancing at the scroll he held.  “He’s eager to become a part of your operation, Andrew—so eager in fact that he’s 4sinbadspride3cover-002requesting permission to join!”

“Grandsire, that’s great!  With Salu-Khan’s participation, we’ll have two-thirds of the Prides behind us.”

“Salu-Khan wants more than a business association, I’m afraid,” Murad went on.  He tossed the scroll onto the desk and looked down at his grandson.

“What do you mean, Grandsire?”

“He has a daughter of breeding age.  He’s requesting a union with our Den through marriage.”

“Doesn’t he know Amir-Kasdan’s bonded?”

“He wants you for his daughter, Andrew.”

It wasn’t respectful to laugh at his grandfather but Sin couldn’t help it.  “Guess he’s out of luck then since I’m already married—“

“—and I’ve sent him my reply, agreeing to the affiliation,” Murad went on, as if he hadn’t spoken.

“B-but I can’t—  Grandsire, I already have a mate!”

“Salu-Khan’s aware of that and accepts the fact that his daughter will be merely a concubine,” Murad went on imperturbably.

“I don’t want a concubine!” Sin exclaimed.  “Besides, Andi wou—“

He broke off quickly.  He’d almost said Andi would never allow it, and that was definitely the wrong thing to say to the Head of the Clan.

“Andrea went through a Felidan marriage ceremony with you, Andrew,” his grandfather reminded him.  “She agreed to follow our customs and laws and Felidan law allows a kh’ta concubines.  Your mate has no say-so in the matter.”

Murad’s tone made it final, the matter settled, but Sin wasn’t about to accept his grandfather’s command so easily.

“What about my say-so?  I say I don’t want another female, either as a wife or a concubine!  I—“

“As you just pointed out, Andrew, we need Salu-Khan’s backing.  In something this important, there can’t be any dissention among the participants.”  Murad was forcing himself to remain calm, since he understood how his grandson felt about his wife, having himself been so in love with his own mate that he’d never thought to take another after she died.  “As Pride Heir, you must obey.  You have to do this.  For the Pride.”

“Forget it!” Sin retorted, turning away and stalking to the window.  From Grandsire’s side of the house, he could see the high cliffs rising above them and the trees trembling in the winter wind.  He looked back at Murad.  “No.”

Just that one word.  No arguments.

Murad sighed again.  “I’m afraid you have to, Andrew.  We can’t afford to insult Salu-Khan’s Clan a second time.”

“Second time?” Sin frowned.  “Other than his obvious important, Grandsire, why does Salu-Khan’s name sound so familiar?”

“His brother was the Pride Chief your mother was bonded to, the one your father killed in order to make her his mate and save the unborn whelp that became you, my beloved grandson!”

“Oh.”  Sin was suitably silenced for a moment.  He stood there without speaking, for once not really knowing what to say, and Murad seized his moment of uncertainty to plunge on.

“The female will arrive here in four days.  On that afternoon, the Ceremony will take place.  You will receive her and make her your concubine.”

Silently, Sin glared at his grandfather, wanting to argue but knowing there was nothing he could say.  Murad sh’en Singh had spoken.  The Pride Heir had to obey.

Ducking his head in a quick bow, he answered, “I’ll obey, Grandfather, but I wish to go on record as protesting this union, and state that I’m definitely entering into it unwillingly!”

Before Murad could reply, he whirled and stalked out.

Oh God!  How am I going to tell Andi?

 BUY LINKS:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/sinbad-s-pride-detail

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/704125

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06VWQVV8W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487274934&sr=8-1&keywords=Sinbad’s+Pride+by+Toni+V.+Sweeney

 

 

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Diving into the Deep End of the Webinar Pool!

Last week I dove into the deep end of the webinar pool.After watching webinars on selling, business building, and giving webinars, I  tried my own.  I created the event and sent emails to people I thought might want help with editing. I created slides. I posted on loops and on Facebook. I have been editing for years and figured I could make suggestions  almost anyone could use. My year of Skyping convinced me I really did not want people watching my thought processes and my expressions while I tried to show slides and explain about mistakes I see often and ways to fix those errors.

I showed several slides and offered my wisdom.When I paused to check the comments I found the attendees weren’t seeing the slides. They were seeing my face. Lord help me, I went on and tried to remedy the mistakes. I think I finally did, but I WILL LEARN TO DO IT RIGHT BEFORE THE NEXT WEBINAR!

NEVER ASSUME YOU KNOW HOW TO DO ANYTHING!

ALWAYS CHECK FOR MISTAKES AND CHECK AGAIN AND AGAIN!

https://www.facebook.com/MaryMarvella Edits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Supercharge your Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful celebration of love and lovers, a day to fall in love! It’s a special time to exchange cards and gits. Chocolate, romantic dinners and flowers are always a fun way to celebrate. Valentine’s Day goes can be traced back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility, the Feast of Lupercalia, celebrated even then on February 14th.

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Here’s two interesting facts:
During the year, 75% of chocolate purchases are made by women. However, the days before Valentine’s Day, 75% of the chocolate purchases are made by men.

February 14th was known to be the first day of the bird mating for the season. This fact brought about the custom of sending valentines.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment below.

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.

For a sweet Valentine romance, I Love You More “reads like a Hallmark Movie!”

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I’m not a Nightingale. Shush…I’m a Magpie!

These self-discoveries come to haunt us, right?

Bling, Bling!sterling-silver-rectangular-clear-cz-pendant-8-002

Isn’t it said Magpies are attracted to shiny objects.  Well, there I am.  I love sparkles!  My recent obsession has been large, gawdy CZ jewelry.  Thing is most of it is actually beautiful – not like its real counterpart – but sparkly!

I bought a large emerald cut ring, drop earrings to match and a bling watch (Marquise cut fantasia).  Now, I must STOP. My Discover card is screaming.  Contrary to my original opinion, CZs are no longer cheap. Maybe the design has altered. They are very clear and (sparkly) glitter and shine.  By the standards of the Olden Days, they are no longer inexpensive.  The emerald cut ring wasn’t ANYTHING like a diamond price-wise, but I did experience sticker shock expecting below $20. But it is a ROCK.

r382-2-002I’ll be in England visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in May. My daughter-in-law came clean and admitted to being a Magpie.  I bought a pair of glittering earrings for her. My granddaughter, a budding young Magpie, has a prom for graduation from what is elementary school here.  She’s shopping for her prom dress with grandma.  She’ll get some nice bling, too.

Do you like shiny things? You may be a closet Magpie. And genuine diamonds aren’t the only way to shine.  Bling! Bling!

There are several good on-line marketers:  Most expensive, Berricle—high quality; Mid-range: Bling Jewelry and Palm Beach Jewelry; and very good prices: Dreamland Jewelry.  I now tend to shy away from eBay because you find jewelry from the above on eBay at a markup.

Visit me at http://www.lindanightingale.com – Not for Bling, but for Books. Bling and books go together, don’t they.

Happy Friday before Valentine’s Day.  You may want your honey to buy some bling.

r238-01-2-002Linda

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Keep warm with a quick and easy Crab and Shrimp Bisque Recipe

It’s cold outside, but this delicious soup recipe will warm you and your family up in no time.

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You’ll need:

1 can celery soup
1 can tomato soup
1 can mushroom soup
1 can green pea soup
4 cups milk
1 cup cream (I use light)
1 7 ounce can crabmeat
1 can shrimp

Mix all 4 soups together with milk and simmer. Add crabmeat and shrimp and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add cream and sherry and stir.
Serve with fresh parsley and black pepper.

Do you have a favorite cold weather recipe? Please share in the comments below.

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.

Connect with her on Facebook.

 

 

 

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A Ghost Story for the Faint of Heart – Disclaimer: Smelling Salts Encouraged

I wrote a ghost story.

I know. Different from angels and vampires, right?  Her General in Gray was inspired by the Ghost and Mrs. Muir that I saw years ago, only my sea captain is a Confederate General.hergeneralingray_w11068_med

It’s official! I have a publication date of April 4th.  YAY.  Here’s the blurb.  A friend commented that it told the entire story—do you think so? TMI?

Autumn Hartley purchases Allen Hall at a steal, but the northern lass gets far more than a beautiful plantation in the South Carolina Low Country. The house comes complete with its own ghost, a handsome and charming Civil War General—for the Confederacy. The stage is set for another civil conflict.

John Sibley Allen died in battle from a wound in the back, the bullet fired by the turncoat, Beauregard Dudley. The traitor’s reincarnation is Autumn the Interloper’s first dinner guest. Sib bedevils her date and annoys her with fleeting, phantom touches, certain he can frighten her away as he did previous purchasers. As time marches on, her resident ghost becomes more appealing while her suitor, Beau, pales in comparison. Autumn finds her ability to love didn’t perish in the divorce that sent her south seeking a fresh start.

After over a century in the hereafter, Sib discovers he is falling for none other than the feisty Yankee girl, but what future could a modern woman and an old-fashioned ghost possibly hope for?

Tidbit:  The hero is named after my grandfather, who was quite a guy himself. Oops, I forgot to tell my aunt and she’ll know immediately that I pilfered his name.  I don’t think she will object, but it might be a good idea to mention it since she’s his daughter and my age.  Long story.

A short excerpt:

“You are not there.” Autumn dropped her book and leapt to her feet, shaking her fist at the apparition standing beside the fireplace.

The frolicking blaze shone through the whatever-he-was lounging by the hearth, his arm stretched along the mantel.  A ceramic clock beside his hand chimed the hour—seven golden notes. Tall candles in brass candlesticks flickered in an eerie fire dance. He appeared to be a Civil War soldier of the South, his opaque uniform gray with a nasty red-stained hole near the heart.  Double rows of gold buttons decorated the coat. Three gold stars and a wreath on the collar glittered in the firelight. No blood spilled from the apparition.  Except for his wound, he looked perfectly healthy—for a dead man!  He nodded and bowed elegantly…as much so as his lost society had been, regardless of the strong backs supporting that way of life.

“Oh, but I am, Miss Hartley.”  He straightened, longish hair gently curling over his face.

A chill raced over her, but she suppressed the tremor of apprehension.  Autumn swallowed hard and adjusted her white cotton blouse.  “I don’t believe in ghosts.  You’re not welcome here. I bought this house and am struggling to pay for it.  Get your Halloween self out of my living room.”

He smiled.  “It’s not Halloween, and we share this house.  It was mine, you know, and still is.  I’m willing to share it with you—even if you are a Yankee.  After all, the conflict is over, and I’ll hold no grudge against the Northern aggressors. Even though the South will never surrender.”

“Northern aggressors?”  She inhaled sharply. “And, for your information, the South did surrender.”

Happy Friday! Comment for chance to win your choice of an eBook from my backlist of 9! I must have way too much time on my hands!

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Review of A Man Beyond Reproach by Evelyn Pryce. A Montlake Romance

manabovereproachcover-002Elias Addison, Earl of Lennox, always does what’s expected of him. Therefore, when his father dies leaving massive debts, he foregoes staying at university and accepting a professorship to pay them and assure his little sister the debut she deserves.

Why? Because it’s expected.

Lately, however, Elias has been having secretly rebellious thoughts…like what would have happened if he’d been born a stable boy instead of a noble.

In an attempt to distract him, best friend Nicholas, takes him to an establishment called the Sleeping Dove. It is there he meets the woman called “the Bawdy Bluestocking” and his life is changed forever, for Josephine Grant is a woman on a mission.  Left with only a small bookstore when her father dies, she supplies music at the Sleeping Dove in the evenings. She also helps the girls of the Dove escape to better lives.

Elias is attracted to Josephine and immediately begins paying her attention she neither wants nor expects.

 “How much will buy your exclusive company for the evening?”

“I am sure that you have been informed that this is not an option.”

“I am not asking to share your bed,” he said curtly. “I am asking for the freedom to speak with you whenever I wish.”

Elias pursues, Josephine flees, pausing long enough for conversation now and then. Neither admits they are falling in love.

Now there’s more at stake than whether Elias can melt Josephine’s defenses. He has to save her as well as discover who she really is, for he’s learned she was once a part of that nobility she now condemns…and they don’t want her back.

There are choices to be made and Elias makes them. Some of his decisions seem extreme, several absurd, but one is most definitely right because it comes from his heart . . .

…and it isn’t expected.

This is a delightful Regency tale, full of that wonderful give-and-take dialogue one comes to relish in such a story. Both Elias and Josephine are well delineated as seen by each other and by their peers. The sins and secrets of their society are pointed out and contrasted to the way both think and how each tries to solve them.

A love story between two strongly opinionated people, it’s also the tale of what happens when a man considered above reproach by his peers does what he wants and not what society expects of him.toni

A full-length in-depth review of this novel is posted by Toni V. Sweeney at the New York Journal of Books Online.

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/man-above-reproach

sinbads-wifeSee Toni’s latest novel, Sinbad’s Wife on Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Sinbads-Wife-Adventures-Sinbad-Book-ebook/dp/B01MS7VUPB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486008847&sr=8-1&keywords=sinbad’s+wife

 

 

 

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9 Delightful Love Stories for Valentine’s Day

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Life keeps us busy! Planning a webinar takes time. Selling that webinar takes time! Selling our books takes time.Tutoring and editing keep me from having time for much mischief. Cleaning is not happening!

I have no time to read novels I’m not editing, but I can manage to read an occasional short story. Anthologies are wonderful since they contain shorter reads.  When Gilded Dragonfly Books planned an anthology for Valentine’s Day we wanted to write stories with an audience that includes people who might not read typical romances. Some of us chose older heroines and unexpected  couples. We promise a happily ever after in these nine stories in Finding Love’s Magic.

Finding Love’s Magic is the perfect gift for someone you love or for yourself!  In Cupid’s Bow, Georgia anything can happen.  No one knows a goddess lives in the southern town playing matchmaker. Ghosts haunt houses and normal people find new love and renew old relationships. It will live up to its 5 star reviews and Amazon Best Seller status!

A collection of short stories of romance and second chance at love. Welcome to Cupid’s Bow, Georgia, a small town with its own magic. Nine authors share their stories of new found love, magical love and love lost but found again. The magic of Cupid’s Bow brings each couple love to lasts a lifetime and beyond. This project is filled with Southern voices and Southern charm, pull up a chair and sit on the porch for a spell as our authors weave their romantic tales.

Except:

Maribelle’s Magic  By     Mary Marvella

Maribelle Bridges stared into her bathroom mirror. She rather liked the glamour she chose twenty-two years ago when Venus led her to the small stop in the road now called Cupid’s Bow. Her long brown hair had just enough gray streaks now to make her look fiftyish. Her smooth porcelain skin still looked smooth, after all, she was immortal. She certainly looked nothing like the young woman Venus had banished from Olympus more than a thousand years ago. The goddess could really hold a grudge!

On the marble counter a scroll glimmered and vibrated. When she picked it up it became a pink Smartphone. Even an exiled demigoddess needed to get with the program of the twenty-first century. The text message she viewed made her blood run cold.

Ready to give up? You might as well.  The couples you must unite this time will never get together. You will fail. Besides, Jayus loves me now.

Maribelle tapped her response.

Not on your life, Venus. Bring it on!

M

Here is your list and your deadline. I would wish you good luck, but I would not mean it.

V

The text ended, but Maribelle couldn’t ignore the picture Venus had sent. She couldn’t look away from handsome, blond-haired Jayus in Venus’s arms. It had to be a fake! Surely Jayus still loved her. The vindictive goddess looked at her and winked.

“Time to get to work so I can free Jayus,” she muttered. She braided her waist-length hair and wrapped the braids around her head in a coronet. One day she would reclaim her love, her black hair, her youth and her real home.

***

Walking to work warmed her heart as she passed large old houses with porches and white picket fences. When she returned home to Olympus she would have a house with a porch and swing like the one she owned here in Cupid’s Bow. Many of the houses had been in disrepair twenty-two years ago.  Now they shone with fresh paint and their owners tended their yards like show places. Daffodils lined walkways and bordered houses. A few pansies still bloomed in yards. Waving at her neighbors, she marveled at flowers raised by green thumbs and the magic of love.

Jasmine Green’s name had been at the top of Venus’s list.  The woman had been angry since the day Maribelle met her twenty years ago.  Her yard, like her house, looked perfect, like her sign, Green and Green, Attorneys at Law. Jasmine had never removed the first Green, though her father, Able Green, passed away ten years ago. The old home had no swing or rocking chairs on the front porch. Matching statues of lions beside the front door looked so lifelike Maribelle expected them to roar. When one turned a shaggy head toward the demigoddess she pushed that thought from her mind so it wouldn’t happen. She had to be careful with that little power Venus had let her bring here.

By the time she strolled into Maribelle’s Flower Shop she had taken three text orders for “something exotic” and the “perfect candy” for anniversaries. Love my Smartphone!  Cassandra already worked behind her candy counter in the building she shared with Maribelle, making the most perfect flower candies, a bit like marzipan but even better. The woman had a way with candy that bordered on magic.  And Maribelle should know.

“Good morning, Cassandra. I have three orders for you. I’ll write them down.”

“Did you get them on your phone?” Cassandra placed a tray of orchid shaped candies in the mirrored glass case.

“Yes, I’m finally learning to use it.”  She waved a hand in the air as though she hadn’t been fighting with the gadget for months.

“A call or text?” Cassandra straightened up and raised her black eyebrows.

“Why?”

“You could forward a text to me.”

“If I knew how!”

“Hand me your phone.” The candy maker grinned as she tapped the face of the phone. “Got it.”

When Maribelle curled her lip at Cassandra the younger woman laughed. She has such a pretty face and lustrous curly black hair. Why would such a lovely person not have a boyfriend?

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