Summertime Blues

Greetings HSG Readers!

As I type this we’re still in June. Of course the post will be live the end of July, maybe by then I’ll be a bit perkier.

In childhood, summertime is filled with the month’s each kid dreams about. From lounging around the house, sleeping in, library reading programs, vacation bible school, summer camp, and also those outdoor activities I can’t remember a summer I wasn’t ready to dive in to.

At least until adulthood came. I don’t get three months off work any more. In retrospect, this makes me wonder if I should have been a teacher.

Now the summers are filled with being stuck indoors, slaving in front of the computer, and I’ll admit the whole thing has turned me a little blue.

To perk things up, I’m creating the ultimate summer playlist. This is a list of the oldies, the newbies, and those unforgettable songs you grew up jamming out to during the summer.

So far, I’ve come up with a few that get me excited. Like, John Fogerty’s Centerfield, it’s the perfect summer anthem to the All-American sport, baseball.

Bryan Adam’s has his own summer ballad, Summer of ’69, that reminds me of youthful exploits.

And of course, the musical lover that I am, can never ever leave out Grease. Summer Lovin’ is the epitome of the high school experience. Those meet ups with someone new over the summer only to cut things short and return to regular life come the fall.

What am I missing? I know there’s some new stuff, like Will Smith’s Miami or LFO’s Summer Girls. Tell me your favorite summer-themed music and help me cure these blues. 

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

When You’ve Never Been…

People say write what you know about. I’m not a total believer in that, but I have to admit it does make things easier. I’m English from Kendal, a small town in the north of England (though I now live on a mountain in Spain) and most of my books are set in England, mainly in London, where I lived and worked for a number of years.

However, I love to try different things, and so the book I’m writing now is set in a small town in America. I could have set my small town anywhere, but I settled on Virginia’s eastern shore, close to the island of Chincoteague, because when I was a child, I read a book called Misty of Chincoteague and fell in love with the area and the ponies.

Four wild ponies of Assateague Island, Maryland, USA crossing the water of the bay. These animals are also known as Assateague Horse or Chincoteague Ponies. They are a breed of feral ponies that live in the wild on an island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. It is unknown how the animals originally populated the island, although there are a few legends.

So now I need to get a feel for my small town, what’s it like, who lives there, what do people do in the evenings, at the weekends, does everyone go to church, do they welcome newcomers with open arms or does it depend on who you are…?

Maybe I need to visit. I would in fact love to visit, but it’s not going to happen any time soon. So I’m attempting, from the comfort of my own home, to steep myself in all things small town and east Virginia in particular. Here’s my list of things to do in the name of research:

  • Read books set in small towns
  • Watch movies set in small towns
  • Google my chosen area (http://www.chincoteague.com/)
  • Google small town America – some fascinating articles come up.
  • Ask questions

What do you think is the best way (short of getting on an airplane) to get a real feel for a place you are writing about?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Fairies and Bogmen and Distractions…oh my!

Being a writer makes a person curious, about a lot of things. You start off doing research on one thing, like…say…fairies. Suddenly, you’re immersed in all kinds of lore, and not so lore. You’re on the yellow brick road, kids. A path to knowledge, a Quest to Learn.

Your whole life is a journey into research of all sorts. It makes you excellent at Trivial Pursuit (if people still play that) or at Trivia Crack. You know stuff that no one knows. (Except other writers.) It makes people think you’re smart. (In my neck of the states, that’s pronounced smaht. But I digress.)

Sometimes your research becomes detrimental; it consumes you and you want to delve deeper and deeper into a subject–but you know you’re only delaying the inevitable: having to work on your current manuscript. (Eww. Work!) Life is full of wonderful distractions that make it hard for you to get to work–the internet is an especially wonderful distraction.

So many memes! Oh the memes I have seen… 

 

 

And GIFS. Good Lordy!  (I’d insert some, but then I’d have to look for them and I’d get distracted. Which–really–is the point. It’s easy to get lost in the research. And the finding. Especially when there’s Sam and Dean. But once again, I digress.)

Back to the fairies….

So I looked up fairies. I found out where the lore on fairies originated:

While most of Northern Europe lay under a thick canopy of forest, bogs did not. Half earth, half water and open to the heavens, they were borderlands to the beyond. To these people, will-o’-the-wisps—flickering ghostly lights that recede when approached—weren’t the effects of swamp gas caused by rotting vegetation. They were fairies.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/europe-bog-bodies-reveal-secrets-180962770/?utm_source=onesignal

There’s enough in that article for a whole slew of stories…if I do the research.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs and one cat in the coastal state of Rhode Island. She has been writing and editing under many pseudonyms for many years because her real name is too difficult to spell unless, like many Rhodeilslanders, you're of Italian descent (or married into it and forced to learn how). She avoids laundry, loves horses, and her favorite thing to do is make others laugh.

Birthday Gifts for the Reader in Us All

This month is my birthday. I’ll be 43, a rather middle of the road, nice-early-forties birthday. No biggie. Which is all the more reason to celebrate by sharing some monumentally cool gift ideas for the reader in your life–you, me, whoever!

Romeo and Juliet Cover Earrings

I’m not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet. They were too young and it’s not a romance by any stretch of the imagination–Happily Ever After, anyone?

All the same, when I came across these earrings, I couldn’t resist how beautiful they were. And, hey. It’s Shakespeare and a classic. We’ll bend just a little to own these beauties.

Romance Novel Notebook

I’ve had my eye on one of these for years and I think I may just indulge myself this time…

Who doesn’t love 80s romance novel covers? They remind me of the books my grandmother devoured a book a day. I never read this one, but it speaks to the nostalgia in me, plus it’s spiral bound. It’d be perfect for dropping in your purse to jot down notes.

By the way, what is she wearing? A pantsuit? In denim blue? Clearly at work, since there’s a desk and that ginormous leather briefcase in her hand. And, seriously? That hair. Bangs for the win!

Jane Austen Pendant Necklace

Getting serious again, I absolutely love this necklace. The quote rings true for any avid reader and, come on–it’s beautiful. I’d be happy to wear this anywhere. And, honestly, for $14.18, it’s a steal!

 

Literary Cofee Mug

Last but not least, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include a mug. You may not know, but I collect mugs and hang them all around my kitchen. I also collect mugs just for drinking. It is such a great way to start my day by asking myself, which mug will I start the day out with? Is that weird?

Anyway, I love this quote. It’s a shoutout to book lovers and a demand to be accepted on our own terms. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Did you see anything you just had to have? If so, let me know in the comments, share your finds, or even your own cool book lover swag. I’m all about the book swag.

Have a great July!

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Romance Trends that Make You Go Hmmm…

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

As a romance reader as well as a writer I have noticed certain trends in popular romance books recently.

Not saying these trends are necessarily bad. Just… interesting. Like people are interesting. You just never really know how the human brain ticks and what readers will suddenly be clamoring for. If I did know, I’d sell the secret and probably retire to the Amalfi coast somewhere.

But I digress…

However, I do have to say that some of these trends–not all–do have me scratching my head. But that’s just me. I might be old-fashioned. Curious to know what I’ve seen? Let me put you out of your misery.

Romance Novel Trends Jennifer’s Seen Within the Last Few Months:

  1. Lots of “Daddy” titles.  Really? Yup. Not sure I want to touch this subject but I’m pretty sure these romances are NOT incestuous just dealing with um, “daddies” of some nature. 🙂

I’m sure they are great books–and obviously popular. It just makes this little romance reader go:

via GIPHY

   2. Lots of Billionaire romances.  Well, gee, this trend isn’t so hard to understand. I mean, who doesn’t fantasize about a handsome, rich (crazy rich) guy after you. It’s a dream. However… who knew there were so many in the world?

3. More Women’s Fiction than Straight Up Romance books.  This one I find most interesting. A lot more of your best selling romance authors seem to be making this move to women’s fiction with romance, instead of pure romance. Are readers looking for more than romance? I don’t know. But it’s an interesting one to watch for sure.

4. Lots of Virgins.  Wow. It’s nice so many characters seem to be saving themselves for that special someone. (Usually the Billionaire in #2) I haven’t seen this trend since…the 80’s? I guess if bell-bottom jeans can make a comeback so can virgin 30 year-olds. 🙂

That’s my observations anyway.

What about you? Any trends you’ve seen in romance novels? What do you think of the trends I mentioned?

Until next time, HAPPY READING!

Jennifer

xoxo

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

Louisville: Cupid’s Cafe Setting

My story, Exactly Like You, and Landra Graf’s story, Painting for Keeps, are part of the Cupid’s Cafe Series. These stories take place in Lousiville, Kentucky. We were lucky enough to be able to visit there in February of this year. We traveled from the house we were staying in down to Bardstown Road (which is a really great part of town), where the fictional Cupid’s Cafe is located.

It was a cool, rainy day, but we decided to drive there and take pictures for inspiration. We wanted to orient ourselves to that part of town and the places nearby. Below, you can see some of the pictures I took from the car.

I loved the murals and that one building. I’m not even sure what it is. A church, maybe? If anyone knows, please say so in the comments. But that building just called out to me. All of it did. What a great place to live.

In my story, Aidan is a firefighter and I was able to locate the nearby fire station. I could just see Aidan and his best friend, Kurt sitting outside talking (granted, on a much prettier day since my story takes place in the summer). I put that scene in my story, thankful for the tangible that inspired me.

There’s also a store pictured here, Eyedia. That name caught my eye and, I’m just going to say it: I can recognize a thrift store a mile away. I snapped the picture and looked it up online later. Turns out it’s a high-end furniture consignment store. So, I was right–thrift store–but way cooler. Check out their website to see some of the gorgeous furniture they have. I even referenced the store in my story. It’s just for a moment, as Roxie drives by it, just like I did, and remembers shopping there before the events that turned her from an effective social worker into a depressed and (in her own eyes) boring cat-rescuer.

I hope you’ll check out our stories, available now anywhere you might buy books online. Stay cool!

Buy Exactly Like You now: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Scribd

Buy Painting for Keeps now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

P.S. We’re giving away two beautiful necklaces and two $10 Amazon gift card. Enter right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.