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Autism Warning Signs For New Parents to Know

As mom to an adult son with autism, you can bet I’m already aware about it! But for those of you not in the special needs trenches, autism is a neurological condition that affects the language and social functioning of up to 1 in every 68 children. Children’s developmental milestones are part of my skill-set. With the help of my Speech Pathologist sister-in-law, my child was ultimately diagnosed as a toddler and received early intervention services right away. We were lucky, because research is showing early treatment of the condition can significantly improve an affected child’s learning outcomes.

Autism or No?

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to watch for the possible warning signs of autism, which may appear as early as two months old. And, as they recommend, “If you observe any of these, talk to your doctor, who will then decide whether more testing is necessary. Don’t fret if you occasionally see one or two of these—it could be another type of language, learning, or behavior problem, or even nothing at all.”

2-3 months: Your baby isn’t making frequent eye contact.

3 months: He isn’t smiling at you.

6 months: He doesn’t laugh.

Around 8 months: He isn’t following your gaze when you look away from him.

9 months: He hasn’t begun to babble.

1 year: He isn’t consistently turning to you when you call his name. He hasn’t begun to wave bye-bye.

12-14 months: He hasn’t said a single word.

14 months: He isn’t pointing to show interest.

18 months: He doesn’t play “pretend.”

Delicious Key West Shrimp and Pasta Recipe

Delicious Key West Shrimp Dish ingredients:

1 lb. peeled and de-veined shrimp (20-24 shrimp)

1 lb. pasta (For gluten-free option, we use Sam Mills Gluten-Free Pasta d’Oro)

1 heaping tablespoon of Key Lime Seasoning by Key West Spice Co.

1 and 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces broccoli florets


Boil pasta in salt water until done. Keep about ½ cup of pasta water aside, then drain pasta.

Steam about 12 ounces of broccoli florets until al dente and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil to medium heat, then put shrimp in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add broccoli florets to the skillet, and tossing and turning shrimp so it cooks evenly for another 2-3 minutes.

Add pasta to the skillet with the shrimp and broccoli, along with the half cup of pasta water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss mixture and serve.

Serves about four.

Delicious Key West Shrimp
South Beach is located at the end of Upper Duval in Key West
The skinny on TeeBeez Delicious Key West Shrimp and other Recipes:

I’m beyond blessed to live with a man as passionate about preparing great-tasting meals for his loved ones as we are about eating them. Celiac disease, dairy intolerance,and assorted food, dye, and preservative sensitivities could deter the most seasoned chef. But not my man. Unafraid to take risks, he overcomes such culinary challenges on a daily basis, and invents new and tasty combinations for us to enjoy.

There’s one minor chink in my awesome personal chef’s apron. Rarely does he bother with such traditional cooking methods as measuring. When questioned about a particular dish’s ingredients, he’ll rattle off a few obvious ones, then scratch his head and distract you with his trademark smile.

I suppose I could hold it against him, but personally, I’d rather just hug him close and thank him for feeding us so well. Besides, this has given me the perfect opportunity to put my obsession with snapping foodie pics, writing, and hounding my man for details to good use. For fun, I even came up with a name and slogan for our growing collection. Ha!

TeeBeez Recipes. Because good food ought to be shared. 

All joking aside, Celiacs and other food-related restrictions can be super inconvenient, but it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste, or always eat a different meal than everyone else at the table. You might want to visit the gluten-free section of All Recipes for more ideas, too. Enjoy!

#Jolysebarnettgiveaway Update

Ah, heck, it’s Christmas in July! You’re all winners this week. Everyone who commented on last week’s blog post may email or PM me to select a romance paperback (out of the ones still available from my stash!) That means you, Jill Weatherholt, Bn100, Denise, and Jasmine! ox

For your chance to win a romance paperback and my small town contemporary romance, Christmas Light in ebook format next week, simply comment below in response to this week’s question. Then check back here next Thursday for the list of winners. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be feeling like Santa again next week. After all, I will be in Orlando celebrating the world of romance writing.

Until then, happy reading!

What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to making meals?

Five Recommended Books With a Happy Ending

Looking for your next great read? Well, here you’ll see five recommended books I’ve read over the past few months. As a bonus, how about a chance to win two books while you’re here?

In last week’s post, Can Romance Novels Rescue You?, we chatted about romantic stories and how the hope they provide can give you a much-needed respite from your everyday worries. Whatever your current emotional state, perhaps there’s a title or two among these five recommended books that hits the literacy spot for you. But be cautioned, my reading tastes are eclectic. Some of these stories are a tad more spicy or angst-ridden than others, and many are older releases mixed in with a few hot off the press. The two things these five recommended books all have in common, though, are the promise of a beautiful happily-ever-after…and my bookish girl stamp of approval.

five recommended books

Contenders for a Place on Your Keeper Shelf

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenwaldt

Even after her beloved mother’s passing, 20-year-old Irma longs to stay in her Abruzzo mountain village, plying her needle. But too poor and plain to marry and subject to growing danger in her own home, she risks rough passage to America and workhouse servitude to achieve her dream of making dresses for gentlewomen.

In the raw immigrant quarters and with the help of an entrepreneurial Irish serving girl, ribbon-decked Polish rag man and austere Alsatian dressmaker, Irma begins to stitch together a new life . . . until her peace and self are shattered in the charred remains of the Great Chicago Fire. Enduring a painful recovery, Irma reaches deep within to find that she has even more to offer the world than her remarkable ability with a needle and thread.

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He’s unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier’s life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie… 

Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt

Jackson Daughtry’s jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad’s number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner’s hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie’s pretty brown eyes. Now it’ll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she’s already home.

The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

The Letter follows the life of Tina in the 1970s who seeks respite from her abusive marriage by volunteering at a charity shop. One day, while sorting through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter. It is still firmly sealed and un-franked. Unable to resist the pull of curiosity, Tina opens the letter. It was written on 4th September 1939. She is so moved by the contents and bemused as to why the letter was never delivered, she embarks on a quest to find out what became of the writer and his intended recipient.

The mystery of how this love letter ended up in Tina’s hands is also uncovered through Billy’s story from the early 1940s. He writes a letter that will change his life forever, unaware that it will not be read for another 34 years, and then by a complete stranger.


#jolysebarnettgiveaway Winners

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at my keeper shelf with that list of five recommended books, it’s time to announce the winners from Week One of my second annual Christmas in July #jolysebarnettgiveaway. They are:

  • Pamela Spaulding-Paterakis (chosen from my Facebook Author Page)
  • PJ Sharon (chosen from last week’s blog post comment)
  • Shari Bartholomew (chosen from last week’s blog post comment)

Woohoo! Ladies, I’m so excited for you! Please email or PM me by Wednesday, July 19th, and I’ll get you set up with your two new reads.

Your Chance to Win a Paperback and eBook

For your chance to be one of three lucky romance book winners this week, comment with the title of a recent fave of yours that includes that all-important HEA. I’ll select two winners here, and another over on my Jolyse Barnett Facebook Page. Feel free to enter at both sites.

Three lucky winners each week in July! If you enter, you could win one romance paperback and an ebook copy of my #1 Amazon Bestseller, Christmas Light. Just saying. Happy reading, and good luck! ox Jolyse

(International winners will receive ebooks only. Sorry.)

five recommended books

Can Romance Novels Rescue You?

Romance novels have heroines and heroes, so I suppose it makes sense they have the power to save us. Right?

We’ve all been there. Life is sailing along, then one day we hit a rock and we’re fighting against getting swallowed up by ten foot waves. We do what we have to, and at the end of the day, we turn to that great escape read to help us forget the pain and difficulties. Even if for a little while. Since you’ve found your way here, I’m guessing you might understand what I’m talking about. You know, bookworm to bookworm. We all could use a little book therapy now and again, and romance is the most optimistic, hope-filled genre I know.

That’s why I’m happy to announce that your summer #JolyseBarnettGiveaway is here! If you’re game for a chance to WIN TWO ROMANCE NOVELS this week, you’ve come to the right place. To enter, simply write a comment after reading this short post. (Psst. Writing can be a lonely pursuit at times, and I really do love to hear from readers, so please don’t be shy.)


To show my appreciation for your precious summer minutes, there will be TWO weekly winners selected from the comment entries left between now and Wednesday, July 12th. Winners will be announced on my July 13th blog.

For a THIRD chance to be one of my weekly winners through the month of July, visit my Jolyse Barnett Facebook Page after you leave a comment here.

But first, a little catch-up…

“We have a situation here.”

That statement pretty much sums up the first half of 2017 for my family. Since the majority of issues involved my children, I’ll keep the details low key. I can, however, share the wonderful news that both have bounced back. Once again, my children are healthy and happy.

My children are my heart. So happy they’re happy!

Escape into Reading

During our family’s struggles this winter, I kept writing–even if it was only a little each day. I love my character and stories. (If I’m a new author to you, feel free to read a sample or two on my Jolyse Barnett Books page.) When I was just too exhausted to create, I escaped into other people’s stories. In all, I’ve read almost fifty novels since January! Not only did I read many terrific contemporary romances, but I also discovered a handful of new-to-me authors of commercial, women’s, and literary fiction. When you check back next Thursday for the list of winners from this week’s entries,  stick around for a minute to read the list of my favorites. Feel free to share your recommended recent reads then, too.

Lose yourself this summer in a great romance!

Take the Good with the Bad

With the arrival of Spring came a long-awaited family vacation. So much fun! We loved all ten incredible, relaxing days together on our Western Caribbean cruise.


Recharged, I returned home all fired up, and I worked diligently to finish my work-in-progress. Since then, things have been looking up, highlights including our son’s Senior prom and high school graduation.

My babies are all grown up.

Now that summer is here, I’m home full-time and loving everything about my new writing office. Four projects in progress…

I hope you’ve enjoyed your journey through the first half of 2017. If not, I hope that you’ve found solace and hope in great romance reads. Go, bookworms!

Now it’s your turn. Share something about your first half of 2017, or a goal you have for the remaining months…


5 Unique Life Lessons Can Create a Yin Yang You

What makes you unique? I was asked a variation of that very broad, daunting question as my prompt for a recent guest post. After much soul searching, I listed as many creative influences about my life as I could. Soon, I noticed a pattern, not only in my life, but in my personality. I’m quite the study in contracts. A delicate balance of Yin Yang, if you will. For my post, I chose to write about 5 unique life lessons among those that shaped me most.

Here’s the beginning…

Professional worrywart. Dedicated dreamer. Introvert. Adventurer. Stickler for details. Dancer to her own tune. Basically, if Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood had a love child, she’d be me.                               

5 Unique Life Lessons

5 unique life lessons
Playing Big Sis
  • Baby of the Family/First-Born:  I’m the baby girl in a family with five children, five-and-a-half years younger than my parents’ third child and the older of two youngest children by two-and-a-half years. In effect, I was bossed around and cared for by older siblings, while I alternately envied and ignored my little brother. The dynamics changed when I was twelve. With the older ones off at college, I grew into his responsible, caring older sister.
  • Loving Family/Mean Girls:  As the fourth kid in a large family surrounded by oodles of aunts, uncles, and cousins in a ten minute radius, I grew up with love and built-in friendships. Then there was my school life, a haven when my family encountered a rough patch. At other times, thirteen years in class with the same thirty kids could spell trouble…

There’s more to the story over on Eri Nelson’s blog. Hop on over to “What Makes Me Unique as an Author,” where you can read the article in its entirety. Then be sure to stop back here and tell me what you think.

What’s one life event you feel plays a significant role in what and how you (or others) may choose to create?

NCC Book Signing and Vlogging Fun

NCC BOOK SIGNING What a fun evening at Nassau Community College Foundation’s annual Ladies’ Night Out, “Cocktails and Couture.” I enjoyed meeting so many great people and chatting books, chocolate, writing,  and relationships (ha!) as one of the event’s vendors providing exclusive shopping opportunities.

For those of you visiting here now for the first time–either because you met me at the event or elsewhere, feel free to take a look around the site. On my books page, you can read sample chapters, listen to readings of selected excerpts, and locate buy links.

I love to connect with readers online as well as in person, so don’t hesitate to find me over on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. In addition to my passion for writing, I’m a voracious reader. Please connect with me on Goodreads if you’re there!

NCC signingNCC signing


VLOGGING FUN Here’s a scene from ONE MORE TOUCH where Willow makes good on her vow to shed her inhibitions. Figuring it’s now or never, she wears the itty bitty thong bikini bottom she finds inside her magic suitcase…and nothing else. Before she can change her mind, she steps outside her resort suite and onto the Wild Side Beach. Watch this short video to discover what happens when she realizes the hottie billionaire she’s fantasized about the past few months back home and just kissed earlier that morning is one of the people welcoming her into the Wild Side hot tub…



Women Love Smartphones More than Men?

“Women Love Smartphones More Than They Love Their Man” and similar headlines are scattered across the internet as I type this article. No doubt, they’re effective at grabbing readers’ attention.

A new study published Sunday showed a significant disparity between how much leisure time women spend on their Smartphone compared to time with their romantic partners. This relationship study’s findings tap into our innate curiosity about gender differences and our desire to learn secrets for successful romantic relationships in spite of modern distractions.

Previous studies on this topic showed that men use their Smartphone more hours per week, and that men are slightly more likely to sleep with their Smartphone in bed than women. However, this newest one focused not only on tech usage comparisons between the sexes, but tech usage versus connection with each other. The conclusion was that women, on average, “…spend twelve hours more a week interacting with their Smartphone than with their partner.”


Most articles related to this study slammed home the same message. Women who choose to spend more free time with a Smartphone than a partner must either be avoiding or neglecting him. Hmm. I assume the intent is to warn women their Smartphone leisure use has the potential to endanger a long-term romantic relationship.

Online men’s magazine articles add fuel to the fire, too, proposing that men affected by this kind of “harmful” behavior better act fast, or risk losing their relationship altogether.

women love smartphonesAre Study Findings The Tip of the Iceberg?

Curious about the strongly implied warnings regarding the concern women love Smartphones to the detriment of their romance, and the validity of the same over-simplified causal relation presented in article after article on the topic, I knew I had to dig deeper. As expected, I discovered plenty of studies to support my belief there are a variety of factors equally likely at play. For example, studies have shown that men, on average:

So, if a man isn’t at home or available to engage in leisure activities with his partner, couldn’t that account for a woman’s amount of Smartphone use during her free time? Maybe I’m naïve, but I choose to think more optimistically about the majority of couple’s affection for each other. We don’t have to keep a tally of how many minutes we spend together versus being apart. Many of us women (and men, for that matter) might love how our Smartphones enrich our lives, but we’re not in love with them.

The REAL Reasons We Women Love Smartphones

This informal list is based on my experience and observations of my girlfriends who also happen to love their Smartphones. It’s not comprehensive, by any means. Nor are the items in order of importance. I’m simply sharing my thoughts because I want to know whether you agree, disagree, or have other reasons you feel should be included on the list.


  • Better than running errands after a long workday or crammed into activity-filled weekends
  •  Easier, quicker comparison shopping to stretch our hard-earned family dollars further
  • Conserves gasoline, our car’s life-span, and precious time
  • Avoids stressful driving in crazy traffic, being exposed to that nasty stomach bug going around town, waiting in long lines, and the hassle of fighting for a parking spot on big sale days
  • More selection (My Pinterest Board – Love My Heels – can serve as Exhibit A) and cool online-only opportunities (Can you say, LulaRue?)
  • Can be accomplished while squished between other patients in the doctor’s waiting room, while beautifying at the nail/hair salon, and between numerous trips chauffeuring our kids to-from school, sports, church, and other important functions

Social Media Friendships

  • To catch up on news of our friends and family who live far away, or connect outside of work with coworkers in a relaxed, fun setting
  • To develop and nurture friendships with like-minded people we’ve met and connected with online (Yes, these can become REAL friendships!)
  • To reach out to others in times of grief or loss or stress for comfort and support, and to provide the same in return
  • To B.S. with the girls via texts (Yeah, we do it, too.)


  • Current events
  • Books, movies, art, travel, cooking,  or any hobby or topic we’re interested in
  • History
  • Helpful tips for our daily life–housecleaning, laundry, pets, sewing, health, exercise, travel, etc.
  • Planning for the future

But in the end, does it really matter if we women love Smartphones or not, or how we choose to spend our leisure time, as long as we’re not harming anyone or breaking any laws?

And they all lived happily ever after…

Years before I became a novelist or felt the need for a Smartphone in my life, I recall my shock upon overhearing two coworkers discussing their attachment to the device, and how one of them actually took it to bed with her.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I woke up one morning to discover my Smartphone lying on the bed between my Honey and me. I paused to reflect on that for a  moment. But I didn’t feel any less attached to my Honey because the phone happened to be there. When he glanced meaningfully at the Smartphone, I smiled as I reached for it. Setting it on the nightstand to keep it nice and safe, I then rolled back over and snuggled closer to my husband.

It’s your turn. Do you love your Smartphone? If so, please take a moment and share why! 


Tropical Plants: 10+ of the Most Unique Flora You’ll Ever See

Tropical Plants PhotosTropical Plants Galore

10+ of the most unique tropical plants you’ll ever see just might be located all in one place. As much as I enjoyed learning the history of the famous Old Town home, I was even more fascinated about the Audubon House’s surrounding flora. (If you missed my last blog post, you can check it out at Audubon House: 3 Surprising Facts About This Popular Attraction.) I’m so excited to finally share these beauties with you!

Tropical Plants: The Flowers

Tropical Plant Photos


Tropical Plant Photos



Tropical Plant Photos

Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos

Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants Photos


Tropical Plants:  Two Cool Trees

Tropical Plants Photos

If you’ve ever wondered where limes grow, look no further. The Audubon House grounds have two types of lime trees. There’s the Spanish Lime and the Key Lime. The fruit above is the same kind used to make one of Key West’s famous Key Lime Pie. Yum!

Tropical Plants Photos

I thought it was cool to see this banana tree plant, too. Us northern types don’t often get to see a plant like this in person.

So, that’s the end of my little tour of some of the most unique tropical flora you’ll likely ever find in one locale. I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to share your pretty flower and plant photos in the comments section.

A Few More Audubon Tropical Garden Photos

Tropical Plant Photos 20160724_131328 20160724_134348 20160724_134514

If you love photos of pretty flowers and want more, follow me on Instagram where I post all my best pics from my outdoor explorations near and far. All photos are taken with my Samsung Galaxy 6 Phone Camera. And in case you’re curious, most are cropped but few are filtered. Nature is beautiful enough without me messing with it. 😉

Before You Go!

In book news, I’m thrilled to announce that Book 1 in my Mystic Escapes series has re-released as of today, a light romantic suspense with a dash of magic. Check out One More Sunset, this Key West-set short novel, or any of my contemporary romance books at my Books Page.




Audubon House: 3 Surprising Facts About This Popular Attraction

Audubon House
Audubon House

Audubon House of Key West

John Audubon never lived at the Audubon House. In fact, none of his relatives ever resided there, either.  It turns out that the home was built by John H. Geiger. He lived in it with his family, and it was handed down through the generations to their descendants until the mid-1900s. At that time, the house was sold to a Key West native, and it was they who decided to convert it into a museum honoring the famed bird naturalist.

Audubon House
Historical Marker Outside the Audubon House
Audubon House
Sketch of Black Cormorant

Flamingo tongue was a delicacy served to the Geiger’s house guests upon their visits. However, the black cormorant was likely the meat they feasted on the most, since it was said to be “the best bird to eat, much like the black duck of the north” according to Henry A Patterson’s diary. I found that historical tidbit a tad ironic, considering the Audubon Society’s mission has always focused on the protection of waterfowl populations. But I can’t be too upset with the Geigers for that particular transgression. After all, they did serve their guests wine from a really cool wine chest.

Audubon House
Dining Room of Geiger Home
Audubon House
Wine Chest in Dining Room

Women who lived at the Audubon house enjoyed a life of luxury. According to a letter written by Ellen Anderson in 1849 and later published in Echoes From a Distant Frontier, she woke up between 6-7 AM, ate a leisurely breakfast made by her servants, then taught the children for about an hour before she sewed. Dinner was at 2 PM. After her meal, she would go out and return at 6 PM for the family’s last meal of the day. Of course, her day wasn’t complete without another stroll around the piazzas.

Perhaps Mrs. Anderson’s description shouldn’t have caught me by surprise, but it did. Key West was isolated during the 1800s, but apparently the wealthy family managed to create a pampered lifestyle. Of course, their servants’ lives were a harsh contrast, and it struck me that Key West hasn’t always been known as a proponent of their present-day “One Human Family” motto. Then, too, I was reminded of Hemingway’s novel, To Have and Have Not, which featured prominently in my heroine’s adventures in One More Sunset. (Scroll down for One More Sunset‘s big cover reveal in anticipation of its re-release October 3rd.)

Audubon House
Master Bedroom in Geiger Home


Audubon House
The Drawing Room

Next time we’ll trek outside the property and explore the flora of the Audubon House’s Tropical Gardens, my absolute favorite part of the grounds.

Audubon House

Final Winner of Summer of Love Giveaway

Congratulations to Denise H.! You’re the winner of my fourth and final Summer of Love Giveaway. Contact me to receive your autographed copy of Jennifer Gracen’s paperback book, Someone Like You and assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. Thanks again to everyone who entered. I enjoyed spreading a little summer love and I wish you all a wonderful autumn.

One More Sunset Big Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to share the first piece of my romantic suspense’s brand new, beautiful cover! What do you think? Eager to see more? I promise there are more pieces to reveal throughout the day. See you later!

One More Sunset Cover Art

“She drank him in like the first sip of caffeine on a groggy morning, sunshine filling her soul. If she were greedy when it came to Dylan, then so be it. She wanted him. “




“I’m here for you Abby. You’re not going to scare me away.”

Was that a catch she heard in his voice? She opened the truck door, plopped onto the leather seat, and promptly burst into tears. Great, he’d totally ruined everything. He was too damned sweet. With her luck, she’d fall for him like she had from that infernal machine. Hard.



“The elevator stopped, and the doors slid open. She stared at a man running down the hall toward her. Her hair stood on end, and she held her breath, unable to think, unable to look away. Was it him? She jabbed the elevator button again and again, each press of her finger using more force than the last. Close. Close. Close. Should she have walked the three flights instead? She shuddered, recalling another stairwell in another building not long ago… No, the stairs weren’t any safer.”



One More Sunset's NEW Cover!!
One More Sunset’s NEW Cover!!

Abby trailed her hand down his tan, muscled back. Manual labor agreed with him. Dylan was even more gorgeous in the early morning light, his hair mussed and face scruffy. She gazed at his peaceful expression, tempted to kiss the freckles on the bridge of his nose but unwilling to wake him.


Now it’s your turn. Did you experience any surprises during your travels this past summer?




3 Easy Steps To The Most Stunning Flower Photos

Stunning flower photos? Well, I’ll let you be the judge when it comes to mine. I’m not a professional photog, but I’ve always been the family shutterbug on vacation and during holidays. And once we began our annual trek to Orlando each spring starting in 2005–which just so happened to overlap with EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival–I also become known in my little world for my flower photo obsession.

Stunning Flower Photos
EPCOT Flowers w/Backdrop

Unlike the other how-to articles about taking flower photos, I don’t know much about fancy cameras and can’t teach you about perspective. I switched out my trusty Canon a few years ago in favor of a Smartphone camera, and I’d never so much as read a how-to article related to photography until today, when I read a few to ensure I was bringing you a fresh take on the subject.

Stunning Flower Photos
EPCOT Bougainvillea

A decade of trial-and-error and literally hundreds upon hundreds of flower photos in the name of fun have helped me master a few tricks for capturing images that, at times, might just rival some of those stunning flower photos taken by professionals.

Stunning Flower Photo
Taken in my front yard…

So, whether you want to take pictures for art’s sake or memory-keeping, or you simply enjoy looking at pretty flowers, here are my three easy steps to help you see the subject through a different, stunning lens.

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 1:  COLOR

Stunning Flower Photos
Fuchsia Azaleas
  • Does the flower’s color pop out at you?
  • Is the flower itself an unusual shade or hue that draws you in, surprises you, or fills you with happiness?
  • If you respond yes to any of the above questions, then you likely have an excellent candidate for a memorable photo.
  • My most popular flower photos are those with fuchsia, orange, purple, and yellow.
  • If you respond no to all of these questions, your flower might still be a good candidate if it possesses other qualities listed in Steps 2 or 3.

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 2:  CONTRAST

Stunning Flower Photos
Zoomed-in, Bird’s Eye View, Purple, Unique Texture


  • Is there one angle or distance from the flower that allows more of a contrast in color, lighting, or texture than others? Be sure to try eye-level, bird’s-eye view, off-kilter, zoomed in, or skyward, etc.
  • Does the same flower look prettier to you at certain times of the day, or in special weather conditions?
  • Is there an interesting backdrop to accentuate its beauty? (Remember to look at the flower from different vantage points.)
Stunning Flower Photos
White Azalea Textures

Stunning Flower Photos STEP 3:  CHARACTER

Stunning Flower Photos
Golden Hydrangea???

Once I let go of my Virgo approach to photography, I began to consider a flower’s character. I know it might sound silly, but one of the greatest surprises for me as an amateur photog was the realization that locating the perfect angle with the perfect, pristine flower wouldn’t necessarily equate to the most stunning flower photo. Turns out, some of my best flower photos are of imperfect or past-their-prime flowers.

Stunning Flower Photos
Bee on Flower

I can still remember my Honey teasing me about choosing to post a photo of our white hydrangea whose petals had begun to decay. But I thought they deserved one last shot and was amazed by the result. (Scroll back up to see the Decaying White Hydrangea…)

Stunning Flower Photos
Easter Lily

Perhaps it’s the flower’s unique shape, texture, or arrangement that  encourages the human eye to explore it further. Whatever the reason, my Golden Hydrangea experience has encouraged me to think outside the box when it comes which flowers are the “perfect” ones.

Stunning Flower Photos
Amazing Audubon Tropical Gardens

What about the Audubon Tropical Gardens?

No, I haven’t forgotten that I’d teased you all about sharing more photos from our recent getaway to Key West’s Audubon House & Tropical Gardens. But this little tutorial turned out to be way chattier than I’d planned, and I’ve yet to announce the Summer of Love Giveaway winner for this week. Besides, the history buff in me insists I also include a few shocking facts I learned about the house’s history to go along with the purty pics.

I hope you’ll join me then!

Winner of the Summer of Love Giveaway #3

Congratulations to Janine! You’re the random winner of my third Summer of Love Giveaway, featuring Jeannie Moon’s autographed copy of Until You, a Jeannie Moon canvas tote bag, and assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. Please contact me with your mailing address.

This is Jeannie’s release week for her contemporary romance novella, Truly, Madly, Deeply, too! If you’re a fan of Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay series, you’ll definitely want to check out Jeannie’s Barefoot Bay Kindle World books. (I was lucky enough to read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book, and I adored it. Just saying…)

Enter to Win the Summer of Love Giveaway #4

This week’s giveaway features the fab Jennifer Gracen, a woman referred to as “a hot new voice…definitely one to watch!” by RT Book Reviews. She generously donated a signed paperback of Someone Like You, the second book in her Harrisons series. Talk about hawt heroes and family dynamics! Each of her novels are stand-alones, so it’s not a concern if you haven’t read the first Harrison one yet. The lucky winner will also receive assorted Jolyse Barnett swag. (I love surprises like that, don’t you?)

Here’s an excerpt from Jen’s contemporary romance to whet your appetite:

Someone Like You_MMThe HARRISONS series -SOMEONE LIKE YOUBook Two

Pierce Harrison–yes, that Pierce Harrison, black sheep of the wealthy Harrison clan–has come home to his family’s luxurious Long Island compound. The big question is why the dangerously sexy soccer star agreed to coach a kids’ soccer team. His co-coach Abby McCord should be grateful. Instead she’s fending off some seriously smoldering advances from the scandal-ridden athlete. Good thing bad boys are so not her type . . .

Abby is definitely not lacking in passion, but the sweet-faced beauty needs to learn a thing or two about taking a team to the championship–and a whole lot about how to let a man into her once-broken heart. Pierce definitely knows how to make the moves, but will Abby trust that the bachelor the world has condemned as a scoundrel can settle down with the one woman who has taken hold of his heart?


Now it’s your turn..

What’s one of your hobbies that you could teach to others? Or is there a hobby you’d like to start, but for whatever reason you haven’t begun yet?

So…before you go, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the fourth of my Summer of Love giveaways! Good luck, and check back to see if you’ve won this cool prize courtesy of Jennifer Gracen! I’m excited to do my small part spreading a little summer love…

One winner will be selected at random from the comments and announced in the next blog post (Generally on Mondays, but subject to change due to life’s ups-and-downs…). The winner will have seven days after announcement to contact me via my website contact page and supply a valid US mailing address for the package to be mailed. Otherwise, a new winner will be selected. Thanks so much for playing!