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2017 Book Recommendations

I read 21 novels through to the end this year, (and probably started another 30 that I didn’t make it past a few chapters) but can really only recommend 8. I obviously need someone to give ME good book recommendations for 2018!

The 8th spot is held by The Viscount’s Wallflower Bride, a book that I can only marginally give a thumbs up to, but I did give it 4 stars. It has interesting characters, but drags a bit in the middle.

 

 

At #7, A Midsummer Bride is a light-hearted romance. Again interesting characters, but also drug a bit. 4 stars

 

 

At #6, Divine is a wonderfully clean, yet tingly romance, but due to “plot stretching” and an overabundance of gooseberry history, I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

 

#5, The Danger In Daring A Lady, is another 4 star book that was well-written with great characters. There were a few scenes, however, that were over the top, and therefore it lost a star in my opinion. Also, the cover and title couldn’t be less appropriate for this book. After reading it, they both seem completely nonsensical.

 

The Stranger She Married came in at #4. A twisty plot that kept me thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading took this book to 5 stars.

Holding the #3 position is a historical romance that is based on diary snippets and correspondence. Between Two Queens is interesting from a historical perspective and as a rich story with intriguing characters that grow over the course of the book. 5 stars

 

Page, my #2 pick, is another rare gem with broken characters that slowly grow and change. 5 stars

 

At #1, The Girl On The Train is far and away the best book I read this year. Intriguing, twisty, and full of flawed characters who you really don’t like, but want to find out about anyway. I read this one in a day. 5 stars

Get er done!

Right now my house is a complete disaster.

A painting project plus a cover photo shoot plus Christmas decorations take-down plus a headcold= one great big mess.

But usually it’s not. Usually, you could drop in on me almost any time and I wouldn’t be embarrassed by the state of my home. And I don’t spend every waking minute cleaning either. In fact, I write two 100,000 word novels a year and record, edit, and master two other books every year.

Recently, I’ve seen a chore plan floating around facebook, and even for a clean freak like me, it seemed completely overwhelming. So I’m going to share my secrets.

Live in the NOW. There’s no later.

You ate a meal, so you clean the dishes NOW, not later. The stovetop is cleaned NOW. The counters are wiped down NOW. Thnk of the cooking, the eating, and the clean-up as one project. You’re not allowed to leave the kitchen until it’s clean.

When the dishwasher is clean, unload it NOW. Don’t just take out one clean dish and leave the rest. It will only take 5 minutes to get it all put away.

The mail is sorted NOW. It isn’t laid down in a massive pile of collected mail. As soon as you bring it in the house, it is sorted into important and not. The not is thrown away. The important is taken to your desk.

Leave a room the way you found it.

When you leave a room, look back. Could you grab those dirty socks, dishes, shoes, knitting project, etc. and carry them to where they belong? You know you could, so do it.

Make your bed as soon as you get out of it

Okay, you can go potty first, but this just sets the tone for your brand new organized day that you are in control of. Those blankets, comforter and pillows don’t control you. You control them. You put them in place.

Corral clutter and demand that it stays there.

We all have that one place in our space that is prone to clutter. For the ladies, it’s probably our bathroom or vanity counters containing all our lotions, mousse, nail polish, and beauty products. For the guys, it’s their work bench that is constantly strewn with tools and projects. Often, some organizational baskets or drawers are needed, but we still need to be diligent in putting them back where they belong rather than just tossing them on the counter willy nilly.

Schedule weekly chores

I do bills and enter receipts in Quicken every Wednesday. EVERY WEDNESDAY. Only something unexpected keeps me from doing this every single Wednesday. If some crisis occurs, I do it on Thursday. Nuclear war would have to break out to push it to Friday.

I dust mop my living room, dining room, and kitchen every Saturday morning. I clean my wood laminate floors every week but Shark my kitchen floors and clean my downstairs bathroom every other week. The weeks I don’t Shark the floors, I vacuum my lower level. My dear hubby does the upstairs, but if he didn’t, I’d plan a different day for vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms. I do laundry on the weekends. The point is to HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT.

Note that I don’t have a special day to clean the kitchen (other than the floors) because the kitchen gets quickly cleaned after every meal.

I don’t have a day to de-clutter, because de-cluttering is a constant cleaning up after yourself. And I dust when I see dust and feel strongly about dusting. I don’t plan that one.

And yes, there are things that you only do once or twice a year like cleaning the garage, but if you try to schedule everything, the list will look too big, and you won’t do anything.

If even my simple plan is like a foreign language, then try adopting one change at a time. Start with never going to bed with an uncleaned kitchen. Once you have that habit set, concentrate on another area without stopping the first. Pretty soon, these will just be second nature.

If something is distracting you from your goals, use it as a reward for a job completed. I try to never turn on my computer until after I’ve exercised, taken a shower, and am all ready for the day. This is a tough one for me, but E-mail and Facebook could take up my whole morning if I let it.

So, here’s to 2016. Life’s messy, clean it up.

 

On Sale Now!!

Just .99 through Dec. 7!

Cover front NEW

Interior designer Amanda Billings is plagued by nightmares but determined to press on as if her ex-boyfriend hadn’t turned her world completely upside down.

Ad man Mick Thompson believes Amanda is the one to make him forget the fiancée who dumped him and prompted his move to Kansas City from Napa Valley.

As Amanda begins to transform his depressing life right along with his sterile apartment, Mick is ready to jump on the relationship road with her, only to find out that the past is tagging along.

Interiors By Design contrasts manipulation and selfish obsession with true love and sacrifice. It is a story of two people’s struggle to escape past mistakes and move forward to make a new life together. 

FREE in the Kindle Store through March 31!!

Interiors coverMick, in jeans and a freshly pressed white button shirt, surveyed his living room one more time. There really wasn’t much he could do to improve the look of one beige sofa and a TV—only make sure there wasn’t any dust on them—so he forced himself to go into the kitchen and sit at the table.

It had taken him the better part of a week to get up the nerve to call Interiors by Design and ask for Amanda Billings. She wasn’t there, so someone else had made the 10:00 a.m. appointment for her to come to his place for an evaluation.

And that time was now.

Mick looked at the clock on the stove. Well, nearly now. Play it cool, Mickey boy. You’re just a guy who needs some throw pillows.

Mick was surprised at how much he had thought about this girl in the last week. After feeling nearly dead for a year, it scared him a bit to feel his heart beating and blood coursing through his veins.

The doorbell rang, and Mick jumped as if it were the last thing he was expecting. He walked to the door, wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans as he went. He reached for the knob, took a deep breath, and pulled the door open.

The redhead he had been waiting for smiled and held out her free hand. “Hi, I’m Amanda Billings from Interiors by Design.”

Mick seemed to be frozen. How did I miss those green eyes before?

Ephesians_front

The Church looks ridiculous to unbelievers. I know I’m married to one.

They see a people loosely bound together by belief in God, but fighting about every other detail.

They see a people that professes a powerful God that seems to be completely impotent to answer even the smallest prayer.

They see leaders in the Church giving lip service to love, but there’s no action behind the words.

In short, they see Christians not the same as your average Joe, but worse than your average Joe. They see a people who are not honest with themselves or anybody else.

The Church sends missionaries to the far corners of the globe but can’t seem to reach the average Joes right under its nose. The Church as a whole the body of Christ has become lost and ineffective.

This didn’t just happen. The Church has had a target on its back ever since the second chapter of Acts.

Paul knew that the Church needed certain things if it was going to be able to stand against Satan’s schemes and be effective in reaching the world for Christ, and he outlined them in his letter to the Ephesians. It is God’s plan, purpose, and power for the Church.

More Than A Pretty Crow

A blast from the past–a column I wrote for the Tonganoxie Mirror around 2006. To read all those columns, go to the home page and look for Cat’s Eye.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Why Bother?

It’s all my fault, I know. I’m the one who sent my son, Tracy, out with the trash. If I had taken it out myself, I probably would have walked a different way—I wouldn’t have seen it. But I didn’t do it myself, and Tracy did see it, and he picked it up and insisted we “save it.”

The “it” was a young blue jay–too old to be called a baby, too young to survive by itself. I have to admit my heart sank at the prospect of attempting to keep it alive. And anyway, weren’t blue jays just pretty crows? Did we really need to save one? Wouldn’t it just hog all the bird seed next winter from the more…..more…..special birds? Why bother? But I didn’t have the heart to leave it to starve, or worse yet, be the afternoon entertainment of one of my eight cats.

It had its wing feathers so it seemed at least possible that we might be able to keep it alive for a day—then we’d take it to Wild Care. Except that we found out that Wild Care in our area no longer existed. Thus began our three-week adventure with “Birdie.”

After it kept hopping out of its bucket “nest,” I put it, ironically, in our cat carrier with a stick poked through it for a perch and hoisted it up in a tree to keep it away from cat paws and cat jaws.

It got hungry every hour or so, cawing and flapping its wings when we approached. Thanks to the web, we found out we could feed it raisins and raw hamburger–catching enough bugs to fill it up proved to be very time consuming. The vet told me that worms would help its digestion, and if I rolled them in dirt and sand, they would be even better. The worms, however, must have been listening, packed their bags, and left the state. Hardly a worm could be found, so I sent my husband to a bait shop.

There we got more worm than we bargained for—night crawlers so big, only a hawk could have downed them. So the squirmy things had to be cut up, and even then some of the more wriggly pieces tried to crawl back up as Birdie attempted to gulp them down. She made a funny little sound when she ate that I called her “yum yum sound.” And she grew.

And somewhere in there, we started thinking of it as a she, even though the internet said that male and female were virtually indistinguishable. And somewhere in there, she stopped being any blue jay—she became our blue jay.

I loved the way she stretched her wings first on one side, then on the other. I laughed every time she stuck her strange, barbed tongue out of the side of her beak when she was full, and I was impressed with her manners when I gave her a nut, which she politely laid back down in her dish.

Only a pretty crow? What we learned from Birdie in three weeks continues to amaze us.

We found out that birds poop right after their first bite of a meal—evidently there is just so much room in there.

Watching her hop from shoe to shoe, and later from branch to branch, completely changed what we thought we knew about the way birds learn to fly.

Trees became more than just tall things with leaves that bring us shade—looking through a bird’s eyes, they became highways in the air filled with crawly things to eat.

We observed up close how feathers grow in and how their color changes in the sunlight; that a blue jay cleans, or perhaps sharpens, its beak by striking it against a branch; and that even young birds have definite culinary tastes.

Then it happened.

I went to the small tree she had been hopping around in to see if she wanted to come down for something to eat, (at this stage she loved cat food and blueberries) but she was gone. After surveying the ground for a pile of blue feathers and calling for her in the surrounding trees, I was satisfied that she had really flown away. A sad moment, but also a sense of relief (no more hourly feedings!) and accomplishment. We really had done it—we had kept her alive until she could fly away.

Why bother? Because we could.

Bye-bye, Birdie, and thanks.

Valentines Day Promotions & Spread Some Indie Love Blog Hop



Thank you to our blog hop host, Debdatta

7 book covers

Hi, my name is Jodi Bowersox, and I write mostly romance, although I have a couple of children’s picture books, as well. I write clean romance, most of which have elements of faith. I’m a firm believer in REAL, so even in my Christian fiction there are romantic sparks and sexual temptation. That’s real life, and I don’t apologize for it. I also don’t apologize for the mild language I use. (If you can’t tolerate a few “shits”, “damns” or “sons-of-bitches,” stop right here and move on to the next stop on the blog hop.) If, however, you appreciate a well-crafted story that has its feet in the real world with characters you’ll remember long after the book is over, read on.

Horses, Adrenaline, and Love is FREE in the Kindle Store through Valentines Day.

HAaL_v0-1-2He looked at her for a second, that expressive face paused in thought. Then he grabbed his produce bag and her hand—Oh gosh, is he made of electricity?—and pulled her up.

Come on.” He led her toward the door.

Sarah was very aware of the eyes under raised eyebrows turned toward them as he released her hand to open the door for her, gently placing his hand on her back as she crossed the threshold. Sarah thought she was going to melt in a heap, and it had nothing to do with the warm June air.

Where, pray tell, are we going?”

Marty pointed across the street. “Park bench.”

She grabbed a belt loop as he threatened to zoom ahead of her. “Well, if I’m going with you, you’re going to have to slow down. Hurt foot, remember?”

He paused, but as she reached his side, he swept her off her feet and started across the street.

Who is this guy?

She slid her hands around his neck, her breathing going all funny, and smiled a quizzical smile.

He smiled back. “What? I haven’t got all day.”

I will be running a Kindle Count Down promo for Rocky Mountain Sunrise (Book #2 in the Rocky Mountain Series) starting Valentines Day. The price will start at .99 on Feb 14 and increase through the week until it is back to the regular price of $3.99. Jump in early for the best deal!

front coverHe broke off the kiss and bent his head with his eyes closed. “I’m so sorry, Mari.”

She leaned her forehead against his. “If you’re apologizing for kissing me, I’m going to be pretty upset.” She sat back and ran a hand through his hair. “If you’re apologizing yet again about the house, then stop it. What’s done is done. God has another house for us.”

Joe lifted his gaze to hers, his voice husky. “Have I told you how much I love you?”

“Yes, but feel free to tell me again.” Mari’s eyes sparkled, and Joe slid his hand into her hair, pulling her lips toward his once more. He took his time, exploring and nibbling, each kiss lightening the burden of losing his Victorian treasure. Giving her one last dizzying kiss, he snuggled his nose into her hair and held her tight. This treasure is all I need.

“So, are you going to tell me?” Mari whispered.

“Tell you what, sweetheart?”

She pulled back to look in his smoky blue eyes and blinked. “How much you love me.”

The corners of his mouth lifted in a sly smile making his dimples pop, and his fingers dug into her ribs just a bit—a warning for impending tickles. “I thought I just did.”

Sign up for my e-newsletter (published quarterly) by leaving your e-mail address in the comments by Feb. 21, and you will be entered in a drawing for a free book of your choice. You may choose from any listed at the top of this post.

My Top 10 Reads for 2014

It was a slow year for reading. I only read 27 novels. And, frankly, I was hard-pressed to dig up 10 to recommend. I actually had to cheat and go back to Nov. 2013 to find that 10th one. I guess I read a lot of dogs this year. My resolution for 2015 is to STOP reading a dog and move on to the next book. This is one case where I don’t need to finish what I start. Life is too short, and I’m sure there are great books out there waiting to be found.

All of these books demonstrate excellence in writing, character development, dialogue, storyline, and un-put-downability. And I rate would rate them with either 4 or 5 stars. Four out of the ten were independently published. Here’s the list in the order that I read them:

Dance With Me by Louanne Rice. A contemporary romance that explores themes of loss from various perspectives, and how each character deals with it.

The Alignment by Kay Camden. A contemporary, somewhat paranormal, romance with an intricate plot that will keep you reading. The 1st person, present POV is a bit off-putting, but the story was good enough to override that irritation. Warning: 1st book in the series–cliffhanger ending.

Ridiculous by D.L. Carter. Historical romantic comedy that is thoroughly entertaining.

Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley. Historical romance. One of the year’s favorites. There’s just so much here to love: A savant hero, a tortured heroine, and how they save each other. <sigh>

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Another historical romance with great character development and sizzling romance.

MacCallister’s War by Dana George. A bit short in the romance department, but it has an interesting historical story set in the midst of the  American Indian wars.

Dreamspell by Tamara Leigh. They don’t get much better than this. A time travel romance with an intricate plot and no loose ends. A romance with lots of sparks and yet, pristinely clean, this is my favorite read of the year.

97: The Warloch’s Pact by V. L. Holt. Contemporary YA paranormal romance. A very imaginative plot with roots in the medieval era that has implications for the present when a Battle Bred Warrior on his 97th life (out of 100) just wants a normal life with a normal girl while being tracked by the monstrous Lochspawn.  More of a novella in length.  Warning: 1st book in the series–cliff hanger ending.

The Gypsy Pearl: Caren by Lia London. YA Sci Fi adventure. Another very imaginative plot that I can’t begin to condense down to a sentence. This is a YA book that doesn’t feel like a YA book. Even though the main characters are teens, it has appeal for all ages. Novella in length. 1st book in a series, and you know that the story isn’t over, but it doesn’t feel like a cliff hanger. This particular part of the story feels resolved.

The Gypsy Pearl: Craggy by Lia London. Yes, Ms. London won two spots on this year’s list, as I had to go buy the 2nd in the series after reading the first.  Lovable characters that grow and change with an intricate plot that won’t let you put it down. Novella in length. Warning: The 3rd in the series hasn’t been written yet. Get with it, Ms. London!

Now go buy a book! Authors need your love!

 

 

Meet the Characters in Rocky Mountain Sunrise: Rhonda

Rhonda slipped an arm around her waist and stood looking out with her. She wore a pale pink, knee-length sheath and matching peep-toe pumps. Mari looked at her sideways. “What? No glib reassurances?”

Rhonda returned the look with eyebrows raised. “I don’t know this guy well enough for reassurances. For all I know, he won’t show.”

Mari turned her attention back out the window. “Thanks a lot, that helps.”

“With or without a groom, you are by far the prettiest bride I’ve ever seen.” She gave Mari’s waist a squeeze. “You didn’t mention that he was as dumb as a box of rocks, so I’m sure he’ll be here. This is just another exercise in faith.”

Mari turned away from the window. “I’ve exercised my faith more in the last week than the previous thirty-one years, but look at me now.” She held out a shaky hand.

Rhonda took it. “Remember to the last, that while there is life there is hope.”

 

Meet the Characters in Rocky Mountain Sunrise: Ben

Ben was singing Chanukah hymns with a light heart as he prepared latkes for their traditional Chanukah meal. As he grated the potatoes, he couldn’t keep from thinking about the pretty girl he had just met as he was leaving campus. With long, curly auburn hair past her shoulders and green eyes that flashed with irritation at her current car troubles, Ben had been captivated and more than happy to lend his assistance.

She had left an interior light on that had drained her car’s battery. Ben gave her car a jump and made sure he got her name before she left. ­Susie Minnet. Her name rolled around in his head as he pulled eggs out of the refrigerator and started breaking them into a bowl.

He remembered with satisfaction how she had lingered for a few minutes even after she had her car started, asking him about his jacket with the zoo logo on it. That jacket was far too lightweight for the sudden cold wind, but he would have stood out with her until he was frozen solid just to look into those eyes.