Tea and Poetry Tuesday

Today’s Tea Tidbit:

Silver Jasmine is a delicious flower that adds a sweet fragrance
and light flavor to green tea.

To Him That Was Crucified
by Walt Whitman

My spirit to yours dear brother,
Do not mind because many sounding your name do not
understand you,
I do not sound your name, but I understand you,
I specify you with joy O my comrade to salute you, and to salute
those who are with you, before and since, and those to
come also,
That we all labor together transmitting the same charge and
We few equals indifferent of lands, indifferent of times,
We, enclosers of all continents, all castes, allowers of all
Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men,
We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but rejoice not
the disputers nor any thing that is asserted.
We hear the bawling and din, we are reach’d at by divisions,
jealousies, recriminations on every side,
They close peremptorily upon us to surround us, my comrade,
Yet we walk unheld, free, the whole earth over, journeying up
and down till we make our ineffaceable mark upon time
and the diverse eras,
Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and women of
races, ages to come, may prove brethren and lovers as we

Star Ratings and Book Reviews

Because of a response I received when I wrote a review on a book and gave a different “star rating” on Amazon than on Goodreads, I decided to do a little survey. Also, because a comment was made to me that “people only look at the stars”.

If you don’t know, the star ratings are different on Amazon than on Goodreads. Of course on both sites, a five-star rating means the reader thought the book was outstanding, fabulous, etc. However, on Amazon a 4-star rating means “I liked it”, whereas on Goodreads a 4-star rating means “I really liked it”. On Amazon a 3-star rating means “It’s okay”, whereas on Goodreads a 3-star rating means “I liked it”, and of course, on both Amazon and Goodreads 2 and 1-star ratings aren’t anything a writer really wants to see, nor will they encourage readers to read such a book.

My little survey consisted of three main questions, but based on the majority of the responses I received, I will be adding two more to this post. By the way, I posed my questions to three groups of readers and writers and received a total of 114 responses. However, if you add all of the responses listed below, you may or may not get a total of 114 because some responses didn’t really answer the questions or only answered one or two questions. Therefore, I am posting the responses that actually answered questions I posed.

Question: Do you only check the star ratings?

Yes — 10

No — 7

Several people said they check both the star ratings AND read reviews. I did not place these people’s answers in either of the specific questions.

Question: Do reviews mean more than stars when deciding to read or purchase a book?

Yes — 42

No — 1

Question: When writing a review, do you share your honest opinion?

Yes — 32

No one said they don’t share their honest opinion, but 13 people said if they can’t give at least a 3-star rating, they will not write a review.

However, 3 people said they would write an honest review even if they had to give less than a 3-star rating, but would be kind or would only share what the book is about.

There were 24 people who said they neither look at “star ratings” nor read reviews. They simply decide whether or not they want to read or purchase a book based on the back cover blurb.

I found this little survey a fun and interesting thing to do and I think it gave me a little insight into “star ratings” and reviews.

One person said, “Why wouldn’t someone write an honest review? The reviews are for the readers, not the writers.”

I found that comment extremely interesting, since so many writers place big importance upon reviews because good reviews can boost book sales. However, another thing quite a few people responded was that they only read books that have been recommended by friends or family members (ah yes, word of mouth — apparently still working today even with all of the technology).

Do you have an opinion? I’d love to hear your responses to these questions and this post. Feel free to leave a comment.


Flash Fiction Friday: Rodeo Love


Photo by Jordan Heinrichs on Unsplash

Rodeo Love
by Kelly F. Barr

Lily Stanton passed through the gate with her friends. A large oval-shaped arena sat before them. On the far left were chutes, cattle, horses, and cowboys.

They passed a large group of cowboys. Her friends flirted. Lily tried to pass unnoticed but a cowboy on her right tipped his hat and smiled at her. She offered a small, tight smile and a slight nod of her head.

The heat of his gaze on her back followed her until she turned the next curve.

Lily and her friends sat on the middle level of the bleachers. She watched the chute area, busy with cowboys preparing for events. There he was—the cowboy who’d tipped his hat to her, straddling the top fence rail, searching the crowd. His eyes met hers. She couldn’t look away. He was strikingly handsome—tanned, weather-worn skin and dark waves of hair peeked from beneath his hat.

During the rodeo Lily was on the edge of her seat every time that cowboy was in the arena. She gasped and put a hand over her mouth each time he fell from an animal, and she whispered a prayer for his safety.

He won first place in bull riding and calf roping and second place in the bucking bronco competition and in steer wrestling.

She and her friends rose from the bleachers and headed toward the exit. As they drew near the cowboys, the same one stopped Lily. “I hope you enjoyed the rodeo, miss.”

“It was very exciting. Congratulations on your winnings. You’re quite talented.” Lily smiled and turned to walk away.

“Would you like to go grab something to eat?”

She turned and met his gaze. “Thank you, but I don’t think so.” She turned and walked away.

Lily waited at the car for her friends. She knew the cowboy would be gone in a couple days, otherwise she’d be tempted to fall in love with him, but she didn’t want to start something he couldn’t finish, leaving her with a broken heart. Those old “love ’em and leave ’em” country songs had some truth to them. He’d probably left a girl with a broken heart in every town. She wasn’t going to be one of them. She wanted a love that would last forever.

When her friends arrived at the car, Lily stood alone in a nearly empty parking lot. Her friends

told her they’d talked with several cowboys and would be meeting them later.

They stopped for a bite to eat at a large restaurant with a western motif. A waitress took their drink orders and returned a few minutes later with their drinks.

A large group of cowboys entered the restaurant, and the waitress became distracted and left without getting their food orders.

The cowboys were led to a long table in the center of the room.

Lily’s heart skipped a beat at the sight of the cowboy she’d spoken to. His eyes met hers and he smiled.

The waitress finally returned for their food orders, and as she left their table, Lily noticed the cowboy rise and stride to the left side of the room where there was a jukebox and a dance floor. He put money in the jukebox and pushed some buttons. A western song began to play, and the cowboy approached her table. He stopped next to her chair and looked down at her. “May I have this dance?”

Her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t speak, but she took his hand, rose from her seat, and he led her to the dance floor.

After the first song, a slower song began, and the cowboy pulled her into his arms.

“You live around here?” His gritty voice caused goose-flesh to prickle her skin.

“Yes … but you don’t.”

“No, I’m from Wyoming. “What’s your name?”

“Lily Stanton, and you’re Jack Dawson.”

He grinned. “I reckon it was announced often today.”

She smiled. “How long will you be in town?”

“We pull out early Monday morning.”

The music and dance stopped, but Jack didn’t release her. “The rodeo season ends at the end of October. Can I come back and see you then?”

“That’s four and a half months from now.”

He nodded. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. There’s something about you—drawing me to you. I don’t know what it is, but I’d like time to get to know you and find out.”

“I don’t have any plans to leave Ohio, but you’re a rodeo cowboy. You never stay in one place for long … and I … don’t want my heart broken.”

“I don’t plan on breaking your heart. You know, rodeo cowboys wear out and have to quit the circuit eventually.”

She searched his face. “You’re young. You have lots of rodeo years left.”

He looked into her eyes. “There are some things more important than the rodeo.”

“Rodeo is in your blood, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, but you could be in my heart.” He took her hand and placed it on his chest.

Lily felt his heart beat beneath her fingers. Could he be her “forever love”?

“Will you give me your number and address … Lily?” With each word, he lowered his head

closer to hers until their lips were nearly touching.

His breath caressed her lips. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was certain he could hear it.

“Yes.” She whispered.

His lips pressed against hers. His soft kiss grew firmer. He tasted of tobacco and peppermint. Lily’s senses were reeling. She slid her hands down his arms—arms that bulged and curved beneath her fingers. She took a step backward. Jack, still clasping her hand escorted her back to her table.

Lily picked up her purse, pulled out a notepad and pen, and wrote her address and phone number. She folded the paper in half and slipped it into his hand.

“Spend time with me after the rodeo tomorrow and Sunday.”

After a brief pause, Lily said, “I’d love to.”

Tea and Poetry Tuesday

Today’s Tea Tidbit:

The first bowl sleekly moistened throat and lips,
The second banished all my loneliness
The third expelled the dullness from my mind,
Sharpening inspiration gained
from all the books I’ve read.
The fourth brought forth light perspiration,
Dispersing a lifetime’s troubles through my pores.
The fifth bowl cleansed ev’ry atom of my being,
The sixth has made me kin to the Immortals.
This seventh…
I can take no more.

Lu Tung

Life on the Pony Express
by Kelly F. Barr

The horse gallops, my spirit soars
As we kick up dust across the prairie.
My throat grows parched,
Yet I manage my “coyote call”,
Then slide from the saddle,
Mochila in hand–
Upon the saddle horn of a fresh horse to land.
I guzzle a ladle of cool well water,
Then back upon a horse
And off to the next station house.

When I finally arrive at my home station
Across the miles, covered in dust and grit,
I dismount, walk stiff-legged,
And rub my lower back and rump.
Bouncing across the prairie
Tires a body–
But lifts my spirits and lifts my restlessness.
Such is the life of a cowboy like me–
One only left in books on history:
A rider for the Pony Express.