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Reviving The Old

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Spring is the time for renewal and while most springs don’t give me that sense overall, this year it’s come on like gang busters. Maybe that’s because we’ve had a mild winter here in Austria, maybe it’s just my attitude this time around. I know this year, I feel more alive than ever before.

Along with this renewal comes a need to change up the website, the blog and start some awesome stories. I’m taking classes, deciding what stays or goes with the old things and how I can make it all work. And this is exactly what spring is all about or at least to me.

During the season of spring, the Earth is beginning its tilt relative to the sun, which results in the rapid increase of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere life is moving toward fall. As the land begins to warm, new plant growth can be seen thus the term ‘spring forward.’ Also, during this time, snow begins to melt, streams swell with the run-off and flooding can occur. In our hemisphere, spring is heralded by the blooms of some deciduous trees such as magnolias, cherries or quince. Still, spring can be a volatile season with many storms caused by cold/warm air currents.03212015-Easter-Market-#2

Some have told me I’m taking on too much this time around. Still, I’m writing more than ever yet changing it up in different ways. For example, one of my works-in-progress has taken a life of its own. It started as a little paranormal story with quirky characters and a few murders. It’s blossomed into the heroine’s journals, a series of short stories and flash fiction, and more book ideas than I could have ever imagined. Not bad for renewal if I say so myself.

There’s one last thing I love about spring and that’s the Easter holiday. Easter is very important for a religious country like Austria. While I don’t celebrate it so much any more, I can appreciate the wonder and splendor of it all. The pictures this time are from one of the fabulous Easter markets they have strewn around the city. I’m an egg lover myself and used to decorate them in a variety of ways. However, what I did can’t hold a candle to what they do here.

However, this year, besides loading up on a variety of wonderfully decorated eggs, I purchased an undecorated ostrich egg. My husband was skeptical as to what I’d do with it and I quipped that I might just decorate it. Then again, I might just leave it for another time.

Hope you all are having a fantastic spring season with all the hope and joy that renewal should bring. Until next month…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest though her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria with her husband of many years as he works his dream job.

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And then March…

March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.

That’s the saying anyway, and this year, soooo very true. When my daughter’s basketball was over, I made that official [annoying] announcement that all extra-curricular activities were cancelled until further notice. I take that back, it’s not cancelling if there’s nothing going on, but it was the kabosh on any new starts. It’s true, my kids are deprived. They are allowed to do ONE activity a year–one sport, one club. This year my son did soccer in the fall and my daughter did basketball in the winter. And then March came and I was excited because finally, I wasn’t going to be a taxi driver anymore. Whooot! For three months this year, the only school activities will be the volunteering that I, or my kids, do. And there’s always the social aspect, which I’m not pulling either. Six kids, phew! I don’t know how my MIL did it with seven. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m doing it with six…or if I’m doing well-enough.

I’m grateful for March this year. It did come in like a lion, and it is leaving like a lamb. There are still things on my plate. But I’m able to focus a bit more on my writing, which is key for this girl’s sanity. Not only that, I’ve been able to pick up some reading as well.

I’m sure April showers will bring a few storms…some thunder and lightning. But I love this life. And I can’t wait for what the rest of this season brings…

Make Every Minute Count this year!! #MEMC

With Love,

Beth

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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Spring Branding Checkup

As the weather gets warmer (hey, I can hope right?) I start opening the windows and letting in the sunshine, which usually sheds light on all the places I’ve missed with my dust rag. Spring cleaning is a ritual many of us engage in with respect to our homes, but I got to thinking it might a good time to also evaluate the state of my online “homes” as well.

Today an author isn’t just responsible for writing a kickass book…we have to promote it everywhere and anywhere we can. Having a website is only a portion of what your online “house” should like. We have to be engaging, like we’re inviting someone over for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake…you’d clean first right?

So, how do you know if you all your social ducks are swimming in a row? If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your own links, you might be missing out on some media outlets that could be beneficial to you, or worse, you could be working harder and not smarter to get your brand across to the masses.

Fortunately for me, Nina Croft, fellow Heart-Shaped Glasses blogger and critique partner extraordinaire, recently came across a link to get a free website branding analysis! I jumped at the chance to have my sites evaluated…I need all the tips I can get.

I ended up getting a pretty high score for all my sites, but they did come back with some great advice that I plan to implement this week.

Click this link here and be sure to come on back and let us know how you did!

http://noveldesignstudio.com/2015/03/07/free-branding-healthchecks-2/

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

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St. Patrick’s Day Redux

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. My son and I went on a mini vacation and so missed all the craziness at home. There is always a huge parade in downtown Cleveland. People start drinking at 9 am, leading invariably to those same people throwing up in alleys before the parade starts. Good times.

I recently did an AncestryDNA test and discovered that I am 46% Irish. I always thought it was closer to 25%, all on my mother’s side, but it turns out my father had quite a bit of Irish as well. So this St. Patrick’s Day found me somewhat more reflective on all things Irish, including St. Patrick himself.

St. Patrick, Salisbury Cathedral, UK.   Source: Wikimedia Commons

Who was not Irish.

He was born in Britain to wealthy, Roman Christian parents circa 386, and reportedly died in Ireland on March 17 about 460. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, who enslaved him in Ireland for six years, which he spent tending sheep. After six years, he heard the voice of God in a dream, telling him to escape, so he did. (I can’t help but wonder why God had him wait so long, if it was this easy, but I digress.) He walked roughly 200 miles to the Irish coast and then somehow got to Britain and reunited with his family. Once he managed this feat, an angel came to him in a dream and told him to go back to Ireland, as a missionary. So he traveled to France and studied to become a priest, then returned to Ireland to join other missionaries. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland–it was already there.

Patrick weaved Irish traditions and stories into his Christian teachings, rather than attempting to eradicate them. The Celtic cross–an Irish symbol of the sun superimposed on a Christian cross–is an example.

Celtic cross. Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Patrick’s Day was originally started 1,000 years ago as a religious holiday in Ireland, which included church followed by a family meal of cabbage and Irish bacon (corned beef definitely wasn’t on the menu).  Irish pubs were required to be closed on March 17 until the 1970s.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in 1762, organized by Irish soldiers serving in the English army.  Over the years, St. Patrick’s Day became a way for ever-increasing numbers of Irish immigrants to connect with their heritage. In the mid-19th century, it became a way for Irish immigrants to protest their treatment by American society and to show their strength as a growing political machine.

Today, of course, parades and festivals take place in over 100 U.S. cities–there’s one in Dublin, Ireland now, too, which over a million people attend. There are over 34.7 million people of Irish descent living in the US, more than seven times the population of Ireland, and they are very, very proud of their heritage.

I will admit that I have spent my fair share of St. Patrick’s Days drinking beer–preferably not green–and singing Irish folk tunes at the top of my lungs. This year was much quieter–a pizza and a pint of Irish cider, but I did force my son to listen to the High Kings and the Chieftains for a while.

A belated St. Patrick’s Day to all, whether Irish in truth or in spirit.

Sources:
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick
http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729#missionary-work
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/st-patricks-day-facts
http://www.history.com/news/st-patricks-day-myths-debunked

About Marin McGinnis

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes Victorian era romance, set in whichever locale takes her fancy at any given moment. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tweenagers skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out here with her HSG friends, at marinmcginnis.com, or on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis.

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Guest Post – Why I Like Gritty Heroines

My NEORWA Chapter sister, Becky Lower, is back at Heart-Shaped Glasses today to talk about her newest Cotillion Ball release, Expressly Yours, Samantha. Welcome, Becky!

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When I first began writing my Cotillion Ball Series, I envisioned lavish ballrooms in Nelower authorpicw York City filled with young ladies from the elite of New York society making their debuts, all dressed in elaborate white gowns. But the time frame for my series at times took me away from New York and high society.

America in the late 1850s and early 1860s was an exciting, tumultuous time. Tensions were rising between the North and South, which would explode into the Civil War in 1861. There was the westward expansion, with wagon trains leaving St. Louis and St. Joseph, MO every spring, en route to a better life. Gold had been found in California, and the Pony Express began operation.

It seemed natural to me that the two younger boys in my large New York family would want to get in on the action. So their books take place on the edge of the frontier, far away from the fancy ballrooms of New York City. And the women they fall in love with are as far removed from the debutantes as you can get. Not at all what I envisioned at first. But, both Temperance (Banking On Temperance) and Samantha (Expressly Yours, Samantha) have become my all-time favorite heroines. They each, in their own way, embody the spirit of early America. They aren’t afraid of hard work, they figure out a way to make their mark in the world, they fall in love, hard, with the right man. They wear homespun, not silk. They get exercise not by taking a turn around the park, but by chopping firewood and cleaning out barn stalls. And when life hands them a set of circumstances beyond their control, they rise to the challenge.

At a time when the law of the land was on the side of men, these gritty, strong and resilient women made their mark. Both of them value family above all, and would take any risks they had to in order to keep their loved ones safe. They may have lived far from the elegant ballrooms, been less privileged and dressed in more crude clothing, but their strength and backbone were essential to the shaping of America.

So, which do you prefer? The beautiful settings and gowns of a Cotillion or the gritty, rough life of a settler on the frontier?  I’m giving away an e-copy of Expressly Yours, Samantha to one lucky commenter.

roses2 Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.

Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.

He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.

Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com.

Author Links:
Website: www.beckylowerauthor.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/becky.lower
Twitter: http://twitter.com@BeckyLower1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authorbeckyl/
Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower
Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd

About Marin McGinnis

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes Victorian era romance, set in whichever locale takes her fancy at any given moment. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tweenagers skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out here with her HSG friends, at marinmcginnis.com, or on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis.

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The Beginning, Again

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. By this time I’ve had enough of winter, and this year like so many other people, I’m suffering from winter overload. Warm and sunny can’t come soon enough.

And this year for the first time since I started writing, I’m contemplating a new series. Although the details haven’t been laid out yet, it’s exciting just mulling the possibilities. What kind of series should it be? One based on setting? Or a particular group of characters? In a certain time period or unique  location?

When I look at my bookshelf, there are some stand-alone stories which I love. But most of the books are series. The BDB of course, which takes place in the same setting but each story features a different couple. Then there’s Eve and Roarke, Kay Scarpetta, Anita Blake, Stephanie Plum and of course Claire and Jamie. This tells me I really like a series that stars a main group of characters. As we go on we get to experience their personal growth in a much more detailed manner in book after book. And there are so many books!

This is where my insecurity as a writer raises its ugly head. I’ve been reading these writers for more than ten years. They are my idols. In no way does my experience equal theirs, yet I’m driven to still write my own stories. And once again, I’m at the beginning. Where do I start?

For me, reading a series is like sitting down with an old friend. A comfy chair, a cup of tea, and hours of enjoyment. And I would really love for my readers to have the same experience.

Do you have a favorite series that you look forward to reading?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the fast lane of Atlanta for life in the slow lane, in the hills of Bluegrass Country. Her existence is never dull as she works to blend city expectations with country reality. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing on the deck with a good book, or cooking for family and friends, which is another story...

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  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Out now from Ellora's Cave, HOW TO CAUSE A SCANDAL by Tina Vaughn *** Nina Croft's LOSING CONTROL is out! *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available. *** Congratulations to Julie Jarnagin now represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency!