I know it’s been a minute or two since I last wrote and posted. I have a whole list of ideas to write about, and time just flies by without me getting around to it. Like everyone else, I’m busy. It seems like we were just in 2019, tipping our toes into 2020, and now incredibly we’re half way through the fifth month of 2021. Hard. To. Believe.

Does your day ever look like this:

Mine does.

It seems that I am always on the go, always on, always available. Anyone else able to relate to that? So to counteract the constant chaos and commitments, I have learned to look for–and be grateful for–those quiet blessings that come my way.

Everyone’s idea of quiet blessings might look different, but mine looks a little like this: a butterfly larking from flower to flower, sunlight streaming through the clouds, and the soft petals of a rosebud slowly opening. Dew on the morning grass. Fish lazily swimming in the pond. Wagging tail of a happy dog. Moonlight and twinkling stars. All some of my favorite things.

And I’ve learned quiet doesn’t necessarily mean no-noise. Quiet can be soft noise too. Birdsong. Gurgling brook. Rain. Porch swing chains. Chickens scratching in the dirt and chirping. I could listen to those noises all day long.

If only, right?

Another quiet blessing I have learned to treasure is just the opportunity to sit somewhere; a bench, a swing, a rock, and just be still. Quiet. Just breathe, just empty my mind. I don’t necessarily break into a meditation but I slow down my thoughts, my breathing, and everything else. Be still and breathe slowly, deeply, purposely. Isn’t that a blessing?

And what makes these events so special is, at least for me, their rarity.

Today an old friend texted for a quick catch up. Another friend stopped in to chat. I value both of these visits as precious blessings, albeit only one was “quiet”. Sometimes it’s just the smile from a friend or loved one, or a word to say hello. Knowing we are being thought of is blessing in itself.

So while most of us are required to be part of the motion train, in one form or another, be sure to step away once in a while and take time to notice the small, quiet blessings in your daily life. They are out there, we need only open our eyes to see them.

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Read on for  a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

After years of work, I am so thrilled to finally announce that book 1 of the “Winds of Destiny” series is released! Drum roll…. Introducing “River’s Journey”

River Gallagher loves three things—her family, Frank Finn, and her hometown. Her property management career is going great, or at least it was until Calder Finn arrives in town. His rash plans threaten her and the future of everyone in Sweetwater Harbor, NC.

Calder Finn returns home to settle his father’s estate. But not only is his father still alive, he has a wild and beautiful guardian. River not only threatens Finn’s intention for a quick escape, she also questions his beliefs. Something very few people have ever done before.

Tempers flare and personalities clash until an uneasy alliance is forged—at least temporarily.

Amazon Link

Here is a little excerpt from “River’s Journey”, where River and Calder are discussing their thoughts about falling in love:

Are you telling me you would never marry a man if it were just mutually beneficial between you? Is that what you are implying?” he challenged her, bringing his palms back to the tabletop.
She shook her head, moving tangled hair out of the way. “No, I would only marry for true love and nothing less.”
He envied her confident answer. Yet, it explained why this tumultuous woman was still single. However, his curiosity won out. “Okay, and what do you consider nothing less than true love?” Was there even such a thing?
She smiled.
Her smile was the first real smile he’d seen from her. Almost dreamy, it slammed into his chest with all the tenderness of a bulldozer. He counted the seconds until he could force a shallow breath back into his lungs. One…two…three…four…five… Would she ever answer him?
“That’s hard to put into words. It’s more something two people will feel when destiny speaks, and they are the right two.”
He could have almost laughed, if he had been able to breathe properly. “Then you think it’s destiny that makes two people fall in love?”
“No. I think destiny brings them together. They fall in love because they are meant to.”
Ah, crystal clear, considering it was coming from her. “Well, that is an interesting point of view, I suppose.” He brushed off any crumbs that might be on the table or stuck in the scarred ridges. “However, my arrangement with Miss Jordon is my business and none of yours, so kindly keep your opinions to yourself.”
“You asked.”

 Book 2, “Storm’s Warning” is currently in edits, book 3, “Raine’s Promise” is waiting for edits, book 4, “Winter’s Wish” is my next work in progress, and I am outlining books 5 and 6! Did I mention how stoked I am to finally have this series underway? 

Here is the best part…In honor of this series launch, I am turning my website into a treasure hunt. Yes! Go over to my website, http://www.ryanjosummers.com and read through it looking for answers to the following questions. (Trust me, this is super simple and quick to do). To enter, just email me from the ‘Contact’ tab and give me the correct answers. I will draw five random readers to each win $10 Amazon gift cards.

Here are the particulars:
1… Readers must find answers to questions (below) on author’s website, and contact author with right answers using ‘Contact” form on website. 
  2…Author will randomly select five (5) correct entries. Each random winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Entrants must leave a contact method for author to let winner know.
3… Last day to enter is midnight, Monday, March 22, 2021. Winners will be notified by March 24th, 2021     4 .. Questions are:
               —Name of my official office assistant
               —Name of song I wrote for “Cinnamon’s Courageous Heart”
               —Name of dog on the cover of “Ty’s Journey”
               —Give one hobby listed on the ‘About Ryan Jo Summers’ page
               —What title earned the US Review of Books Silver Star of Recommendation?
Good luck!

Since Covid-19 has struck, symptoms have been a large part of the conversations around the virus. Lately the loss of the sense of taste or smell could be indictive of having Coronavirus. And today, while listening to the radio, a musical artist was being interviewed who had coronavirus and recovered. He stated his only real symptoms were the loss of taste and smell.

He stated he wasn’t able to smell food frying in the pan, and it tasted funny. He could not smell his shampoo or hygienic products. He went about the house and tried to smell a pumpkin candle and other items that should have had distinctive scents or taste’s. He was apparently unable to ascertain any smell or real taste.

I guess that makes sense (no pun intended) as I’ve heard taste and smell are connected. I wouldn’t know though. I was born with anosmia… the technical term for a lack of smell. Good, bad, indifferent, I’ve never had an awareness of a scent.

People would talk about the delight of bacon frying, flowers blooming, coffee brewing or certain perfumes. They would cringe when discussing skunks, dirty bathrooms, rotten eggs, and sour milk. Fresh cut grass. Pumpkin spice anything. Newly painted rooms. Dead fish. Christmas trees. House on fire. I’m forever clueless about any of these.

Seriously, true story. I almost burned the house down when I was newly married. I was heating up oil to fry dinner, turned my back to the stove to attend to other things. (Yes, I knew better, but for whatever reason was preoccupied that day and “forgot” cooking lesson # 1) The pan burned, filled the kitchen directly behind me with smoke, and by the time I turned around, flames were licking up the walls. It all ended well, fortunately, but anyone else would have smelled the smoke moments before I turned around.

Years before that, I wanted to cook a bagel in the microwave at work. Being new to both bagels and microwaves, I felt five minutes was a good starting point to cook the bagel. Five minutes later I had a scorched hockey puck and a building full of smoke that took the rest of the day to air out. I found it interesting that people smelled the smoke seconds from walking in the door yet I had completely missed it mere feet from the source (where once again my back was turned).

Some things remain a mystery to me still. Take flatulence. How can something that allegedly will make people turn green and hold their breath as they dash from the room slowly “just disappear” over time, whereas the stench of musk glands, burnt popcorn or curdled milk stays indefinitely? How can perfume linger on clothes, letters, and other fabrics while disappearing in the air, but perfumes can hang in the air at places like the perfumery or the cosmetic counter? I have never understood the whole some scents just stay and some fade. How is this stuff decided upon?

When people learn I can’t smell, it usually leads to the question of: If you can’t smell, can you taste? I have excellent taste, thank you. (yes, pun intended) And yes, I can taste what I put in my mouth, just slightly different than most people would. My taste buds are… different.

Anything with the tiniest bit of spice or heat is able to make flames shoot out of my mouth like a dragon. Mild? No such thing! Mild flavor or mild heat will have me gulping the water. Ditto for pepper. That rules out a lot of foods from my plate. Many things are too similar for me to tell apart. Butterscotch and caramel are two examples that both taste the same. Most berries are another. Most fish too. There normally isn’t enough distinction for me to tell one kind from another.

And sweets! I seldom have had enough sweets in anything. It’s almost impossible for me to have anything too sweet. I like a little salt, like chips, but prefer sweet hands down any day.

So that leads me to a question of my own… for someone who already has little to no sense of taste or smell, how would they know if they were having those specific symptoms of Covid-19? In the absence of the other common symptoms, it could be misleading.

Does anyone know of someone else with Anosmia? Or how it can be helpful or detrimental to Covid-19?

It is autumn now; the days are shorter, wind and rain a bit more chillier, nights cooler, and everywhere I look I see brown. And I also see vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and gold. The sky alternates between clear azure and dark swirls of greys and storm clouds.

The only time I enjoy all the reds and crimsons is on a gorgeous maple tree. Fall has been one of my favorite seasons for as long back as I can remember. It signifies an end to the sweltering hot summer and ushers in the holiday season with a colorful blaze of glory and excites the senses. Fall is great!

But recently I’ve also come to look at fall in a different light. I was speaking to a friend, and she mentioned how much she hated this time of year. Everything is dying, the grass is brown, the trees are losing all their green leaves and it was just depressing.

She had an argument. I could not deny the physical things she pointed out. But then I went a step further and added my thoughts on why the grass was brown and the trees lost their leaves.

Nature, in her infinite wisdom, was letting go. She was preparing herself for something better but first she had to let go of what she had. Nature is a wise tutor.

The grass has to stop growing, stop feeding, so the earth could rest. It would only be by letting go of this season’s blades, the earth could be prepared to regrown a fresh lawn next year.

The trees had to let go of their leaves, after giving them a fond fair-well of color. Some leaves released themselves quickly, skittering along their path of fate. Others hung on, stubborn and defiant to the wind shaking them from their lone posts on the branches. But resistance is futile and eventually all leaves whither and fall, becoming food or a blanket or some form of comfort to others on the ground. Once bare, the trees can rest, sleeping the winter away to bring forth new buds in the spring.

Renewal is great. We love to see flowering shrubs, blossoms sprouting forth from the ground, and warm sunshine splashing down on us. However, in order to enjoy all of those rich blessings, we first must share in the season of letting go. Then we experience the season of rest. Mother Nature slumbers, quiet, still, planning.

In light of that, I’ve been thinking I need to start letting go this fall, prepare myself for a mental slumber instead of a holiday rat-race, and plan for the day when I can burst forth rested and ready for a new season.

Today as I lay in bed and watched dark turn to light, my mind drifted back about four decades when Saturday morning meant two things: Mom making us a nice breakfast and Saturday morning cartoons. These were standards we could count on. Breakfast would be something like French toast or pancakes and cartoons were Scooby Doo, the Flintstones, The Jetsons and a few other favorites. Early animation at its best.

black crt tv

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After a hearty meal and a couple hours of cartoons and probably some School House Rock, it was time to let the rest of our day unfold.

Those carefree Saturdays are long gone behind me, but the memories apparently still linger. The deeper question is what made me think of that now, today, after all these years? So, as an excuse to lay in bed a bit longer, I pondered that. And here is what I’ve come up with…

As a kid, we usually can’t wait to grow up. The whole string of childhood years is marked by “I can’t wait to be ___ years old!” or “I can’t wait until I grow up!”, at which point we do mature and quickly wish we were kids again. Responsibility is a tough word,  both to spell and to live with. Perhaps, at some subliminal level, my subconscious is seeking a break from all this adulting stuff and wishes to spend a little time in that easier era where the weight on my shoulders wasn’t quite so heavy.

woman standing on road

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The other thought is this: we are living in uncertain, scary times. To a lesser degree, so do most kids. So much is out of a child’s control, they are at the mercy of so much we adults don’t usually stop to consider. There is so much they don’t understand yet and so much they worry about. The questions we adults are asking during the pandemic are similar to what kids routinely ask. Granted, the weight of those questions differ greatly, but the emotions are familiar.

So could my mental stroll back to youth been another subconscious break from the pandemic stress? Could I have been connecting with the child of my past, where we can share questions rooted in uncertainty and worry, and see that it all worked out back then,  so I can assure myself it will probably work out now? Back then, and through the years, I’ve had to reinvent myself and find a new normal when the old ones were ripped away. It was tough, scary, rough, and stressful, but I managed, took those leaps of faith, and landed on my feet. This would be no different.

The kid that lived for Saturday morning cartoons and French toast is the same kid that stumbles to the coffee pit after letting the dogs out, the one who grabs the morning devotionals instead of Scooby Doo, and plans my day around an appointment calendar instead of mom’s agenda.


These days I have dozens of magazine articles and several books under my belt. I have signed contracts for more books to come. I am considered to be a serious writer by my friends and family. So when I say I can’t go somewhere or take part in some event, because I have deadlines or edits, they accept it peacefully.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

Back before I ever had an article or story published, I was mostly a closet writer. Few people other than my immediate household knew I wrote. Many knew I loved to read, but no one put a connection between the two. Writing remained a secret endeavor of mine.

adult frowned male writer working on typewriter at home

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When I was working on something great and was asked to attend something, it would be awkward to find excuses not to so I could stay home and write. Sometimes I really didn’t want to attend the function. I wanted–needed–to stay home and write but the explanation would go over as well as saying I couldn’t go out because I was washing my hair. Without published clips, I lacked the credibility to say I had to stay in and write.

But the fact is, writing those early “learner” stories, short shorts, poems, articles are all just as important as our tenth or twentieth published, or “real” book or article or poem. They all need to be drafted, written, revised, polished, etc…. Whether they make it fully through the road to publication is immaterial to their value–even in the eyes of our family and friends.

crop woman with coffee writing in notebook on bed

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The ones that end up in the bottom of the drawer are just the necessary stepping stone to publication. But are they valid “writing”? Enough to be used as an acceptable excuse to avoid temporary socialization? Can we say we need to research now or have edits due back to the publisher Monday or submission deadline and be viewed as legitimate? Or just using a lame excuse?

woman in gray sweater sitting on wooden floor typing on portable computer

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When do we become the “writer” or “poet” or “artist” who can use our craft as acceptable validity to remain in and work just as any other real work worker? The lawyer preparing for trial, the student studying for finals, the medical professional, the self-employed person who has after hours admin. All of them are excused because they have “work to do”. When does the literary artist cross that line and join their ranks?



via Friday Features September’s Song by Ryan Jo Summers

I am in awe

I’ve been writing a story for a little while now, and happened to a scene where one character needed to put on a Christmas-y smelling perfume. I’ve already written a few lines here and there about pine tree scent and cranberries and such hackneyed things, but I wondered, okay, what does a Christmas-y perfume smell like?

christmas cookies on tray

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Disclaimer here, I have anosmia, which means no sense of smell. Zero. Never have and doubtlessly never will smell a single thing; good or bad. It’s just one of those quirky things that makes us all different.

Actually, since I’ve never smelled anything, I don’t have a clue what I am missing out on, which is okay in my book. On the flip side, I did nearly burn the house down once and did try cooking a bagel in the microwave for five minutes once. Both ended kind of badly since I had my back turned away and did not notice the black smoke directly behind me. So lessons learned. It could have been worse on both counts.

photo of woman smelling red flowers

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Yet, on the other hand, I also don’t know how to describe everyday things. Fresh cut grass for example. I’ve heard it smells good, but it’s very hard to research what it really does smell like. I’ve heard flowers and fresh baked goods are pleasant. Again, hard to pinpoint exactly what makes them good. The list is endless.

Same for bad. What makes a fart bad? How come some are bad and some are not even noticed? How long does the scent linger in the air from bad odors? Why do people say a dog smells like a dog? What is it supposed to smell like? If the air outside is smoky and smelly, and you open the windows to air something out, wouldn’t that same smoky and smelly stink get inside? And if so, how do you get it out?

I have so many questions regarding smells, it would literally take days for researching them all or someone to explain this stuff to me. But back to my Christmas-y perfume quandary for the story. I found this place on line that makes oils, candles, and all sorts of things for every scent possible. Literally every scent one could want.

I was in awe. They have Christmas scents, childhood scents, pet scents, (ya know I had to check that one out) masculine scents, Easter scents, spa scents, and on and on and on. Oh my stars! It was like Narnia or something. I kept clicking away, trying to figure out what made these things smell good.  Again, not much to work with in the understanding department, but I was trying.

And some of these scents just made no sense. (Yes, pun intended)

Doodlebug. Boogeyman. Bite me. (Vampire) Black tie.  Best friends. Bermuda triangle. Elf sweat. Aliens. How in the devil does one know what those things smell like? How can one make a candle, or whatever that smells like that? Yeah, hey, come on over and sniff my new boogeyman candle. What do ya think? Just like the real boogeyman, right?

aroma aromatherapy aromatic blur

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But aside from the improbable scents to nail down, they had an impressive array of things that sent me scrambling for a notepad and pen. Coffee scents is a big one that that stumps me. It smelled like coffee. Not good enough. The chocolate page is great, but it made me want to run to the kitchen for some chocolate. Men’s cologne is another one that stumps me. Now I have some names in my arsenal.  Not sure what they all are, but I can work with what I now have.

beverage breakfast caffeine chocolate

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And the impressive thing is there are other holiday scents I can tap into and even events if need be. And this is just one site I discovered. What if there are other pages like this one, dedicated to describing the scents that go into making sense of the smells? Really?

I am just in awe.