Memorial Day observances

Memorial Day is a day reserved for American soldiers who laid down their lives so that others may live a peaceful life. It’s a special day to pay tribute to the courage and love for our country that these American soldiers displayed.

So, how should we celebrate Memorial Day?

Remember your family members and loved ones by visiting cemeteries and placing flags and flowers.

What are some other ways you can celebrate Memorial Day? 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.

Subscribe to her newsletter and receive a free historical romance!

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Our May Garden

May is the wackiest, loveliest month, swinging from soaring heat to frigid cold. Now that the month is almost over, seasonable temps have arrived, and we’ve gotten some nice rain. Despite this roller coaster weather, most of the plants survived.

We grow hardy perennials, reseeding heirlooms, wildflowers (some might be called weeds), herbs…greens, especially Swiss chard, and a forest of dill. It’s possible I accidentally planted two seed packets. We’re reluctant to thin the excess as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on the ferny foliage. Much of the dill is left to bury whatever else we had in that vicinity. Carrots, maybe…beets…  Some of the adult butterflies are soaring about the garden(s).

(Image of Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar and ladybug below taken today)

(Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm from a past summer)

Our garden is not carefully planned, and exists as much for the bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as for us. We have a lot of ladybugs, lacewings, baby praying mantis, hover flies that resemble honey bees but are beneficials…and I’m not sure what, but a lot of good bugs to battle the bad. The plants often determine what grows. Those that do well tend to be takeover varieties, requiring some management.  By August it’s a jungle. Every single year. But this spring we’ve  mulched with a lot of hay, made valiant attempts at order. We even mulched many of the flower beds with bark like other people do, leaving spots for the reseeding flowers to do their thing, and make frequent rounds to pull out weeds, thistles, etc. But the ‘etc.’ has a way of overcoming all. Perhaps it’s best to do what we can and glory in the untamed beauty. We rarely achieve tamed.

(Swiss Chard with Peas behind below)

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Dale (Thanks, Anne)

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown


I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens,

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Author Unknown

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary. ~German Proverb

(Heirloom peony)

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897 (Thanks, Jessica)

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson

(Happy Coreopsis)

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All Hail the Peanut…Nature’s Most Nearly Perfect Food


All Hail the Peanut…Nature’s Most Nearly Perfect Food

Toni V. Sweeney

I love peanuts! No two ways about it—roasted, parched, boiled, in salads, in soups, in candy—you name it, I probably like it. Is there another food, other than grits, which is considered more Southern? My grandfather had rows and rows of peanut fields. The plants were pulled, the nuts harvested, the plants themselves dried and baled into hay for the cows.

Believe me, there’s nothing better than boiling peanuts in a huge, cast-iron washpot in October… In a parody of MacBeth’s three witches, my cousins and I would hover over the cauldron, watching the water bubble and the peanuts floating around. Using a hoe, we’d stir the mixture, then lift out a few to sample…then we’d sit on a nearby log and tell ghost stories while the full moon shone down on the leaping flames and the wind nipped chillingly and the peanuts boiled… Ah, memories!


The li’l ol’ peanut has a fascinating history. It’s a native of the Americas—South and Central, that is—and is one of the gifts along with corn and tobacco that Native Americans gave to the white man. They are also known as goober peas and groundpeas. This little legume had a spot in the hearts of the natives of the Americas. From Peru, circa 300 AD, there are surviving sculptures of peanuts.

The peanut is unique in that it has two sets of chromosomes from two species. It’s believed that peanuts were first domesticated in Peru around 7,600 years ago. When the conquistadores came to Central America and wended their way to Mexico City, they found peanuts, called tlalcacahuatl, being sold in the markets there. The plants were taken back to Europe and from there to Africa in the 1800s, where they were re-introduced to the United States in a roundabout way. Peanuts were taken to China in the 1600s by Portuguese traders where they were used in many dishes and sometimes boiled.

Boiled peanuts is a Chinese dish? So there, those of you who look down on this Southern delicacy!

Today, China is the largest producer of peanuts in the world, followed by India and then the US, although the US is the major exporter. In fact, most of the peanuts in the US are grown in or near Dothan, Alabama, where the Annual Peanut Festival is held each fall.

Peanuts grow best in sandy soil, with five months of warm weather, and good rainfall. They ripen in 120 to 150 days. There are four types of peanuts: Spanish, Virginia, Runner, and Valencia. Subgroups are Tennessee Red and Tennessee White.

During the 1940s, 90% of the peanuts grown in the South were Spanish peanuts, which are small, red-skinned peanuts but today most of the varieties grown are Runners. Virginias are the kind usually called “cocktail nuts.” There are also many strains inside each group.

Thanks to George Washington Carver, who discovered so many ways to process the peanut, it is used in confections, oils, flours, as a high-protein, energy paste to stave off malnutrition, as well as in plastics, cosmetics, nitroglycerin, dyes, and paints. It has been stated that refined peanut oil can be safely consumed by people with a peanut allergy because the protein is destroyed during processing. (If you are allergic, please verify this with a professional before using, however.) Peanuts are a good source of niacin, resveratrol, CoQ10 enzyme, and antioxidants. I personally like (in order of importance) boiled peanuts, dry roasted, Snickers bars, Paydays, and peanuts used in tossed salad.

Challenging Milk’s motto, surely the peanut is Nature’s most nearly perfect food! At least to this Georgia gal, anyway!

Would you like to have some boiled tlalcacahuatl while you watch TV tonight?

3 Cups chicken broth 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 pound carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds 1/8 tsp red pepper
1 med onion, chopped salt and black pepper to taste
1 leek, chopped

In heavy medium saucepan, combine broth, onion, carrots, and leek and boil until vegetables are tender. Spoon into blender and puree. In small bowl mix peanut butter and red pepper. Mix peanut butter mixture with pureed vegetable broth in saucepan and summer 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold garnished with croutons.
About the Author

When she’s not eating peanuts and other Southern concoctions, Toni V. Sweeney writes scifi/fantasy novels. She’s also promotions manager for Class Act Books magazines, a certified professional reader, and reviews books for the New York Journal of Books.
Her latest novel is Sinbad’s Homecoming, from Class Act Books.




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Motel Hell, What Would You Do?

M.J. Flournoy (Melba Moon) and I attend a lot of workshops together. For one such workshop there were no reasonably priced rooms near the workshop venue. I went on Priceline to find a room. When I found a good price I booked our room for 2 nights. Many people know that booking anything from Priceline often requires a nonrefundable payment. So. I paid for our room. The motel room wasn’t one with a 5 star rating or even a 4 star. Since it was in a nice town and near the workshop venue we figured we could make it work.

When we checked in and went to our room we found the door lock loose. On the way to grab supper we reported this to the manager. He assured us it would be repaired by  the time we returned. It wasn’t, so we tried to get our money back. After reminding me the deposit I had paid was nonrefundable, the manager let me cancel the second night.

Since we knew there were no available rooms around the area, we propped a chair against the door, used the lock that did work, and slept in our clothes. I’m not done yet!

When we got up after sleeping very little I spotted a hair in the sink too short and black to be mine or Melba’s. We took pictures of that and a stain and short hairs I found on my sheets near the bottom of the bed.  Melba found a stain on her bed, too! Good thing we slept in our clothes!  Showing the photos of the hair to the manager on our way out accomplished almost nothing,  since we had stayed in the room. His explanation that sometimes linens came from the laundry with fuzz, even though they had been through scalding hot washes and hot driers, did nothing to make me feel better!

He did offer us coupons for discounts later, but we chose to post on social media and travel sites instead.

What would you have done?

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Do you want to lose 10 pounds? (by Dave Barry)

Today I’m sharing a chuckle-worthy post by Dave Barry. Enjoy!

“You want to lose ten pounds but you don’t have a personal trainer like the celebrities do? Well, you will just have to rely on willpower. And of course you don’t HAVE any willpower.


If you did, you’d be doing stomach crunches right now, instead of reading this. But there you sit, limp-like, while the millions of fat cells in your thighs mate furiously and give birth to gigantic litters.”

LOL! Hope you enjoyed this fun post. Please share your healthy eating tips 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 an old house forever needing renovations.

“Like” her Author Facebook Page.

Love British narrators? Check out my audiobooks:

Seeking Patience

Seeking Catherine

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The Cowboy, an American Original

Cowboys…gotta love ‘em!

Toni V. Sweeney

Fotolia_3270817_M copy-1

He’s an icon…a symbol of America’s Old West…a representation of all that’s wild and free but adhering to a brand of justice as well as a creed all his own.  Representative of the United States perhaps even more than the Minute Men.  After all, it wasn’t George Washington who took his Wild West Show to Europe and dazzled kings and queens.


The cowboy was revered in song and novel even during his own time, and has continued to be so, beginning with Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) which is considered the “first great novel of the American Western Literature.”  It’s also where the famous line “When you call me that, smile!” originated. With the adventure of movies and later television, his fame grew.

There were individuals from that era who became famous simply because they were cowboys. Real people now legendary…how many don’t know of Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, or Bat Masterson, or from the distaff side…Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane?

One of the first movies made was The Great Train Robbery (1903), considered a milestone in filmmaking because of its innovative camera work.  The westerns that followed are too numerous to mention, from silents into talkies, television, and comic books. A good many novels by Louis L’Amour and Zane Gray were made into folms. Consider Riders of the Purple Sage, Shane, and The Virginian. We all remember that last scene from Shane, don’t we? Then, how about High Noon and 3:10 to Yuma.

For a while, television was dominated by the cowboy with series for both adult and children. The Lone Ranger was present, as was Fury. There were entertaining but juvenile ones such as Cowboy G-Men. Then…once again…there was The Virginian, famous for being the only 90-minute series on television, as well as the fantastic and hilariously satiric episodes of the Adventures of  Brisco County Junior, which sent actor Bruce Campbell rocketing to fame.  There was F Troop and Bonanza, Wagon Train and Laredo and Laramie. Even Disney got into the act with The Ballad of Andy Burnett, Texas John Slaughter, and Elfego Baca.

Of course, there was the most famous of them all, Gunsmoke, considered the first “adult” Western TV series, because it represented a truer accounting of Western life and the hero didn’t always get the girl or ride off into the sunset.  Sometimes the hero actually got gunned down in the street. This landmark almost starred John Wayne as Marshal Dillon, but he opted out of the “small screen” for a newcomer named James Arness.

Matt Dillon and Paladin might’ve been Kings of the Western, riding back-to-back on Saturday nights, but Warner Brothers was the kings of the series.  Almost every night contained a Warner Brothers series in the listings…from 77 Sunset Strip to Hawaiian Eye.  They certainly held the title for most Westerns, too.  There wasn’t a night of the week that one couldn’t see one of Warners’ cowboy heroes on the small screen.

They were:

Cheyenne (1955-1953) – Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, a cowboy raised by the Cheyennes.

Bronco (1958-1962) Ty Hardin as Bronco Layne, a former Confederate officer from Texas, now a cowboy.

Sugarfoot (1957-1961) – remake of a Will Rogers’ movie, with Will Hutchins as Tom Brewster,  an Easterner who comes to Oklahoma territory and studied law by correspondence. He was called “Sugarfoot” because that designation was even lower than a “tenderfoot.”

Colt .45 (1957-1960) – Wayde Preston as Christopher Colt, as an Old West pistol salesman. In 1959, Donald May took over as Sam Colt, Jr., cousin of Christopher.

Lawman (1958 – 1962)  – John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop and Peter Brown as Deputy Johnny Mackay, in Laramie, Wyoming.

The Alaskans (1959 – 1960) – Roger Moore as Silky Harris and Jeff York as Reno McKee, a pair of Skagway, Alaskan conmen out to scam as many Yukon-bound travelers as they could.

And, of course, those best-loved of all, the Mavericks (1957-1962).

This series consisted of a family of Texas gamblers.  There was Brett Maverick, the original and titular character, his brother Bart, English Cousin Beau, and father “Pappy” and his brother, Uncle Bentley.  During one season when there was a dispute going on between the stars, a new character in the person of another brother, Brent, was introduced but for such a short time, he’s barely remembered now.  The Maverick franchise won fame for its stars and engendered several made for TV movies.

No matter how many series, novels, or movies there are, they all embody one thing…the allegory of the struggle between good and evil in a land where a man could forget his past and start over, but sometimes that past would catch up to him and then he had to make a choice.

The cowboy has become a symbol of a special kind of nobility and freedom. If there is truly a “Noble Savage” then the cowboy could be considered his counterpart.

Toni V. Sweeney generally writes scifi/fantasy but she’s also written her share of  Westerns, all published by Class Act Books:

NEVengeance from Eden-1

NEBRASKA:  Vengeance from Eden


NEBRASKA: Walk the Shadow Trail


The Man from Tipperary


The Cattle Baron’s Kid

The Sunday Man     5.TheSundayMan-1


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Happy Mother’s Day! (and exciting book news)

Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated annually in more than 150 countries, although it is celebrated on different dates. This day is a tribute to all mothers and motherhood.

The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, in 1908. Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. Anna began a campaign to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.



And…in other news…if you haven’t yet nominated OH DANNY BOY for the Kindle Scout program, you can nominate the book at the link below. No purchase necessary. And, if selected, you’ll receive the copy absolute free!  Thank you!

#KindleScout #contemporaryromance




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 an old house forever needing renovations.

Subscribe to her Youtube channel

Sign up for her newsletter for a free ebook!


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Favorites Foods, Movies, Books, and Cars

My favorite kid book was The Box Car Children.

Favorite movies— Hmmm I still watch Sweet Home Alabama and almost anything with Reese Witherspoon.

I LOVE Fords and vintage Mustangs.

I am a chocoholic, but I can eat my wright in shrimp and roast beef or pork roast.

Favorite books? The ones I am reading.I don’t read books over and over again. Author/121044561311561

Follow Mary Marvella on Twitter @mmarvellab's Mustang

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Introducing USA Today bestselling author, Donna Fasano!

I’m thrilled to host USA Today bestselling author, Donna Fasano, on our blog today!

And … here’s Donna:

I’ve always loved books where a man and a woman are brought together by a child. My newest release, MADE IN PARADISE, is just such a story and one I hope will touch your heart. It’s the second book in A Family Forever, a series of stand-alone, themed romances where couples find love and a forever family after being brought together by little ones.

Here’s more about MADE IN PARADISE:

Made In Paradise
A Secret Made in Paradise…

Her child is alive! For ten years Amber has believed her child was lost to her forever. Then an unexpected inheritance leads the lovely doctor back home… to the man she’s always loved. There she discovers her beloved Jon is a bachelor father, and the little girl he is raising is their daughter!

Jon has vowed to protect and cherish his child, yet he opens their lives to let Amber in. But this dedicated father is no longer the young lover Amber remembers. Can she uncover the tender man she has never forgotten, and convince him to take a chance on their newly formed family, and their own true love?

You can find the eBook in these stores:

US Kindle

UK Kindle





Coming soon in Paperback!

Please welcome Donna to our blog by leaving 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.

Follow her on Instagram.

Subscribe to her newsletter and receive a free historical romance!

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Cowboys and Indians

Though none of the cowboy stories in our anthology The Cowboys of Clark’s Folly has any Native Americans, Texas was home to hundreds of tribes of American Indians. I’ll only name and discuss a few, living around the location in Texas where our fictional town, Clark’s Folly, would be.


The Apaches dominated almost all of West Texas and ranged over a wide area from Arkansas to Arizona. Two groups of Apaches, the Lipans and the Mescalaros, were of primary importance in Texas. Apaches were among the first Indians to learn to ride horses and lived a nomadic existence following the buffalo.


The Biloxis gave their name to the area around Biloxi, Mississippi, where they first encountered European explorers. They began to migrate westward in the 1760s to avoid white interference. By 1828, a group had settled along the Neches River in present-day Angelina County. The Biloxies became allies of the Cherokees and were caught up in the violence in 1839 that drove the Cherokees out of Texas.


The Cherokees were one of the principal Indian nations of the southeastern United States. Wars, epidemics, and food shortages caused many Cherokees to migrate west to Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas in hopes of preserving their traditional way of life. Those who remained behind in the Southeast were eventually removed forcibly to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the incident known as the “Trail of Tears.”

Cherokees settled in Texas near the Red River. Pressed further south by American settlement, in 1820 about sixty families under Chief Bowl (Duwali) settled in Rusk County near the Caddos. As Americans settled that area, distrust grew between them and the Cherokees. Hoping to gain a legal title to their land, the Cherokees invested a great deal of energy in cultivating a relationship with Mexico. Hoping to protect this relationship, they remained neutral between Texas and Mexico during the Texas Revolution.


The Comanches dominated a vast area of North, Central, and West Texas. There were at least thirteen active bands of Comanches, with five playing prominent roles in Texas history. These unparalleled horsemen led a nomadic lifestyle following the buffalo. They controlled trade in produce, buffalo products, horses, and captives throughout their domain. In the 1700s, the Comanches made their presence known in Texas by warring with the Apaches and the Spanish. Fearing that they would lose Texas to the Comanches, the Spanish negotiated a peace treaty with them in 1785. When the Spanish were unable to keep their promises in trade goods and gifts, Comanche raiding against the Spanish resumed, with many of the stolen horses being traded to newly arrived Americans.

There is also mention of the Cheyenne and who could forget the Kickapoo Indians?

The Cowboys of Clarks Folly is an anthology of four stories of love and romance in the Lone Star State.  Interestingly enough, three of the authors are from Georiga—MM
Mayfield, MJ Flournoy and Carol Shaughnessy.  I’m a transplanted Texan, originally from South Carolina.  The settings are interesting seen from different views of the landscape of Texas.

Happy Friday from England!


****Leave a comment and you are entered to win an eBook of my horsey book Gambler’s Choice!****

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