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.

Reading is Powerful

Recently, I got a lot of bad news. The kind that adds to my already not so great year thus far. When it rains, it pours and that kind of stuff.

I wasn’t sure how to cheer myself up. The books I’d been reading were all fine and dandy, but nothing of the page gripping caliber. Not since that lovely contemporary by Alyssa Cole earlier this year. So when I found myself out of Candy Crush lives, and wanting to do anything besides turn on the television or actually write words (avoiding writing like the plague at the moment) I opened up a book on my Kindle.

Side note: Before I started taking my writing seriously I reviewed books. One, because I liked it. Two, because I would get to read books from my favorite authors months in advance.

Back to the book, which is one of my review books for the month of May. I started it and immediately became enthralled. It’s been a little bit. I’d forgotten the thrill, the rush of emotion. The heart pounding and endorphin rush when the hero and heroine clash.  The anxious clench in the gut before the first kiss. The disappointment when they are so close, followed by the eager drive to read faster just to get to it. Beyond that, it’s the tiny bits of the story – the dialogue, the plot, the tropes, the active writing. Oh, and the conflict.

Regardless, somehow I forgot about those things in the last months of life events, publishing woes, and responsibilities. My , I fell into a rabbit hole of a story. Hours passed and I crawled into bed around 2am with still 50% left. 5 hours later I awoke and I wasn’t tired or exhausted. I was eager. Eager to dive in some more. Dive, drove, devoured is what I did. I finished the book in a little over 12 hours. Life interruptions influenced my finish time. Reaching the end, I was immediately eager to know the rest… and that is the power of reading.

What verbs do you describe with reading? What emotions do you like to experience when picking up a book?

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.

Diversity in Romance #change #readingnewauthors

Greetings Readers

Welcome to spring. It’s officially the end of the first quarter of the year — where does the time go? Too many books and not enough time. Speaking of books, that’s what I want to talk about today, diverse books.

First, before I get started this is not a post on a soapbox, just a post about personal change. Over the last four years I’ve started joining in on the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I say how many books I’ll read and then through the course of 12 months I record via Goodreads what I read and what I didn’t.  One thing I noticed, I was reading the same authors. Now, don’t get me wrong, once I find an author I’ll mine their backlist or buy whatever they put out. But I realized most of the books I was picking up were by white authors.  Is this bad? I don’t necessarily think so, but in today’s climate, political and social I kept experiencing the same messages:

“Be the change you wish to see in the word.” – Gandhi

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could’ve been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” – Michael Jackson

Those words, they mean a lot and they come from a place of purity. That being said, one of my personal reading goals for 2018 is to read more books by authors of color. So, far I’m batting about 50/50 and I’ll admit it’s changing how I view other books. I’m looking for diversity in my stories now, looking for the melting pot we live in. I’m trying to be mindful of how I plot my own stories and educating myself in the process.

But back to the books, I’ve found some fun gems and new author’s to read.

Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory about a STEM heroine who falls for a Prince.

Mia Sosa’s Pretending He’s Mine with super hunky, sexy Julian a Hollywood agent and the best friend’s little sister trope. Too bad little sister Ashley is harboring a serious crush.

Alisha Rai’s last book in her Forbidden Hearts series, Hurts to Love You. It’s like diverse Dynasty and I ate it up.

Books on my radar:

  • Vanessa Riley’s first book in the Blackamoor Brides series, The Bittersweet Bride
  • Courtney Milan’s upcoming release, After The Wedding.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan
  • The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  • FIT series by Rebekah Witherspoon
  • The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley

Now that I’ve regaled you with my list. What’s on your TBR? Any diverse authors or stories I need to check out?

 

 

 

 

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.

New Beginnings #amwriting

There is nothing quite like starting a brand new story. I love all the aspects of writing – plotting, wording, editing, publishing. I complain about some of it. There are parts I like more than others. One of my favorites is plotting.

I talk about plotting on my own blog on a semi-regular basis. From cool tools to use, to the things I do for my stories. I’m not here to chat plotting today, but actually writing a new story.

I recently wrapped my second book in the Bona Fide series (the first book is coming out on March 6th), but I once again digress.

New stories (my top five things about them):

  • Fresh characters – these are new people, with new flaws, wounds, misconceptions, traits, and histories. I love digging into their backgrounds and discovering the things that make them tick.
  • Discovering the world – there’s something special about a new book’s world. Whether revisiting a previous setting from a series story or visiting a new one – if it’s a different pair of eyes certain things will stick out more than others.
  • The endorphin rush – the slow burn, the first kiss, the falling in love, the simmering attraction. It hits all my high notes.
  • The pet name – every book I write the hero has a pet name for his heroine. Most of the time I don’t know what this is in advance. It’s a discovery as I write.
  • The chapter hooks – it’s a special art to write a good chapter hook. I have no problem hunting for them and my brain is pretty fast at picking up on how a chapter or scene should end. Let’s hope it translates to the reader in the long term.

For my writers – what are your favorite parts of starting a new story?

For the readers – what do you like about reading a new story? Is it tropes? Is it the possibilities? A favorite setting?

 

Bona Fide Beauty ~ Coming 3.6.18 ~ Book 1 in the Bona Fide Series

Blurb: 

She’s going to lose her house.
Kathleen Baum has four months to complete the city’s required code changes to her grandma’s home. Otherwise, she loses it. Strapped for cash, Kat’s only way to get the funds is to bargain with her devil cousin. She agrees to an unwanted makeover, but she’s not good at taking direction, pretend or not.

He’s going to lose his business.
Devid Esposito has worked all his life to build a successful image consulting company, but if he doesn’t start bringing in new clients the business will be bankrupt in three months. The board is ready to oust him when his partner, Kat’s cousin, enters with the opportunity to get his mojo back; all he needs to do is help Kat, with a makeover. Unfortunately, Dev doesn’t take on female clients anymore since the last one broke his heart and used his tips against him.

When they find out they have a common enemy, his heart-breaking client is her code-breaking-whistleblower, and the easiest way to bring the foe down is to accept the other’s help. Losing their hearts to each other was the one thing they didn’t plan for.

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.

Shape Up or Shape Out

January is notorious as the month people eat healthier and attempt to deploy healthy habits. From quitting smoking, giving up soft drinks, working out, taking up a new hobby, becoming more organized – I can think of how every January I came into the month determined and by the last day I was ready to give up.

So far, I’ve been shaping up. The shape out is not in sight. My shape up goals include getting organized (my 30’s have revealed a forgetfulness I don’t want anymore) and to be more active. This gal, who’s the heaviest she’s ever been, needs to start moving and grooving if I don’t want to have a heart attack before 40.

What’s the point of this silly post?

I’m going to give you my tips for Shaping Up – sticking to your goals throughout the year.

1. One day at a time. It’s scientifically backed that a person has to consistently do something for a minimum of 30 days to form a habit. Take one day at a time, and you’ll get there.

2. Set reminders. We’re human, life happens, and we forget. Set the reminder on your phone.

3. Prepare for Rain. There’s this movie I love, Facing the Giants, the movie is about a high school football coach’s faith and strength, it’s tested to capacity. There is a good quote from the movie that I believe in, though this is a shortened/paraphrased version – “I heard a story of two farmers praying to God for the rain to come. Both prayed but only one prepared the land. Who do you think trusted God more to send the rain?” In whatever you plan to do, you have to prepare for it to succeed. You want to work out, get a bag of those clothes together to take with you. You want to eat healthily, make a Pinterest board and clear out the cabinets of the foods that won’t help you. Want to get organized, purchase the journal, take it with you everywhere, etc.

4. Don’t procrastinate. The more you put off the one task  – Making the lunch, scheduling the work out appt., getting up from your computer and going to the work out room. We, as humans, are quick to believe there will always be tomorrow. This is your goal, how important is it to you?

5. Get some accountability. Another thing a lot of us have a challenge with is completing a task when there is no riding our butts about doing it. If you have a workout group, an app, a single person, the cloud – there are dozens of options to choose from. No matter your goal something exists to assist.

6. Develop Tangible Rewards (if needed). I don’t follow this practice because it doesn’t work for me, though I find it’s harder to commit to something where the results may not be visible right away. If that’s a problem for you, if you need instant gratification, then set some up. From a special cheat day to a new book or movie. Whatever you need to do, do it. There are apps out there that require you to put money into them and if you don’t reach your target weight you don’t get the money back – scary crap – for the right person that’s a tangible, motivating, reward.

Finally, 7. Be kind to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and success is not instantaneous. Goals are accomplished in small steps and they build to bigger ones, but that won’t happen if you put yourself down. Nor, if you give up at the first sign of weakness. It’s important to know that you are capable of everything you want to do and so much more.

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.

HSG Top Reads of 2017

Greetings Readers!

The end of the year is upon us and 2018 is only days away from arrival. I sound super upbeat, right? Well, if not… I am! I can’t wait to see what the new year brings and am anxious for better days.  To gear up for those better days all the ladies of Through Heart Shaped Glasses thought we would bring you our top reads of 2017.

Jennifer’s Top Pick of 2017: Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

I picked up this book originally because I thought it was an American dream story: poor boy pulls himself out of poverty. Yes, it was that but much more. Fascinating and raw insight on a part of American culture that is often overlooked or pigeonholed. My attention was captured from the very first paragraph of the introduction all the way to the very last sentence of the acknowledgment page. Read this book in a weekend, which is impressive because it’s not a short or quick read. 
If you’re looking for a non-fiction read, I highly recommend
Amazon~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Marin’s Top Pick of 2017: Secrets of Nanreath Hall, by Alix Rickloff

I picked up this book at a publisher event at the RWA National Conference in July. I’d never heard of the author, but the book sounded interesting. I read the entire thing on the plane home from Orlando. I have since told anyone who will listen about this book–I loved it that much.

Set during WWII in Cornwall, Secrets of Nanreath Hall tells the story of a nurse who is assigned to a military hospital in her late mother’s ancestral home. Her mother had defied convention and run off with a painter and had never made peace with her estranged family. Rickloff weaves past and present in a beautifully written and complex book that explores the intricacies of family, heritage, duty, and love. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Her related book, The Way to London, just released, and it promises to be as engaging as the first.

Amazon~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Keri Kelly’s Top Rom Com Pick(s) for 2017:  Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Intrigued by the modern retelling of my favorite classic, Pride and Prejudice, and the literary praise for Sittenfeld, I opened Eligible with high expectations. The novel lived up to the hype. Sittenfeld stays true to the classic while incorporating twenty-first-century tidbits. Fun, lively, and light, Eligible is the perfect read for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Romantic Comedies.
Amazon~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Honorable Mention: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
My Not So Perfect Life is classic Kinsella – funny, timely, and smart.
Amazon~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Beth’s Top Pick 2017: The Purest Hook by Scarlett Cole
The Purest Hook was my first MC Romance ever. I went into it with some trepidation. I didn’t want too much Sons of Anarchy!! But I was pleasantly surprised. The characters drew me in. The longer time frame of the story created depth, much like an old Nora Roberts novel, which I love. My reading list was short this year, so there wasn’t a ton to choose from, but I’m still a woman who loves her romance, wants something to make her heart pound, and values a good story with a Happily Ever After! Here’s to a New Year of MORE READING! Cheers!
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Lori’s Top Pick for 2017: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

This book is so sweet and funny. Not sweet in the no sex way–because the slow, slow burn that this couple has is rewarded with some steamy, emotional love scenes. It’s sweet because the heroine is so earnest and giving–I think I fell in love with her along with the hero. The descriptions (setting and food, specifically) are rich and generous. And the ending–no spoilers–is right up my alley with the family hijinks and the hunky hero fighting for the less-than-sophisticated heroine. I recommend it for devout romance readers and those who are maybe making their first foray into romancelandia.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Landra’s Top Pick for 2017: The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

While this isn’t the first historical M/M romance ever published, it is the first from Avon. This book was a pleasant surprise. I love historical romance, call me the head junkie of such regency fare, and I love Avon authors. So, I had to give this book a chance. Sebastian does an amazing job of writing historical romance with characters who don’t hate themselves for being LGBT. In fact, these characters accept themselves as they are, even in a challenging and difficult world. These books become more about the situations and lives of the characters, the conflict driven by class differences and not their sexual orientation. The entire series is fabulous. For a person who doesn’t typically purchase M/M, I believe Sebastian has created a fabulous, tasteful world with characters I can adore.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads 

Honorable Mention: Say Goodbye to Hollywood by Jenny Trout

This is a fabulous first person POV (which I am normally not a fan of) and a fine take on some satire with a little BDSM sprinkled in. It’s a good story that pokes fun at all the hubbub and crazy that came with 50SOG and not the least bit preachy. I’ll be re-reading this one for sure.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Nicola’s Top Pick of 2017: Year One by Nora Roberts

This was a late-in-the-year read for me, but I absolutely loved it, and it kept me totally engrossed right to the end. I love books that mix up the genres, and Year One definitely does that. It tells the story of “The Doom” a deadly pandemic disease that decimates the human race and is somehow tied to magic, both dark and light. It’s told from multiple POVs, and while not a romance, there were several romance strands threaded through out the book. I can’t wait for book 2!

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads 

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.

Tis the season… for thanks

The start of the holiday season as arrived, Heart Shaped Glasses Readers! It’s the peak time for shopping, stuffing oneself with delicious food, and gathering with loved ones. I’m already in the full swing and have consumed at least four different turkey dinners, pie (Pumpkin and Apple), and a variety of holiday themed side-dishes. I was told multiple times by my children that this is their favorite time of year and they begged and pleaded with me to hold off on unleashing the Christmas music until the day after Christmas.

If you’ve read my earlier posts through the year, you know that 2017 hasn’t been a fantastic year of celebration for me. It’s been a bit challenging, from the daily life and writing life perspectives. I’ve fought depression blues and learning a family member has dementia. That’s why I want to use this post to mention a few things I’m thankful for. There’s an plus in the small things:

  • My health
  • The ability to read
  • Friends, like my fellow authors on this blog and members of the Passionate Critters Critique Group.
  • Netflix – Stranger Things is something I’ve enjoyed immensely. Now, after binge watching both seasons in the course of a weekend I can finally check out the rest of it.
  • Afterglows Publishing – For giving my first full-length contemporary romance series a shot.
  • Red Robin – I’m a huge fan of their Tavern Tuesday special.

What are you thankful for?

Tell me in the comments and be automatically entered to win a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Anything counts, from being able to always find matching socks or celebrating 2 days. It’s the season of thanks and giving!

*Note: Contest only available to residents of the USA. Contest ends November 30th at 11:59pm PST and winner will be contacted via email to claim their prize.

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.

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