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.

School for Grown Ups

I have to admit that I approached this theme with some trepidation. I don’t have children and the whole summer holiday’s thing just passes me by.

But maybe going back to school shouldn’t just be for children. I think as we get older (and I do know a little about that) we need to make the effort to learn new things.

My life up to the age of twenty-four was pretty much all schooling. First, actual school, then University where I studied Ecology and Marine Biology, and finally, studying for my Accountancy qualification while working in London (by far the hardest). Anyway, once that was over, I understandably decided, no more—I was through with learning.

Or so I thought.

Of course I wasn’t. All through life, we pick up new skills. In this age of fast changing technology we have to or get left far behind. But I did manage to put off any formal education for a good long time. And didn’t return to “lessons” until I took up writing seriously and realized just how much I had to learn.

My first venture into re-educating myself was an Open University online course called “Start Writing Fiction.” I loved it. That was around eight years ago after we’d moved to the mountains in Spain—the perfect place to write—and it was my first creative writing course.

I’ve done a lot since then, everything from, writing dialogue, description, branding myself, marketing myself, how to edit, how to crit, how to kill someone with a pointy (or blunt) weapon, how to plot not to plot… There are courses for everything. And I’ve found I really enjoy learning new ways of doing the same things—but of course doing them better (I hope).

Gencianna

But writing is pretty much my life now, and I think it’s important to look outside that and learn something different, some totally new skill. My latest re-education venture is far different from writing—I’m learning to trim my horse’s hooves. I have a mare called Gencianna. Up until now, like most horses, she’s worn shoes. No more—she’s going barefoot, which means she needs a regular pedicure. And so far, it’s a lot harder than learning to plot.

 

So have you been back to “school” recently? What did you learn? And if not, is there anything you’re dying to study. Let me know for a chance to enter into this month’s draw.

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.

Places Worth Writing About…

I think having visited a place can add a sense of authenticity to descriptions in a story, giving settings a vibrancy and vividness that otherwise might be lacking.

I used to love travelling and for many years we (me and my other half) would travel whenever we could, often working to save enough money and then heading off for a few months. We visited, Africa, South East Asia, India…

These days we’ve settled down on a farm in the mountains of Spain, together with a whole load of animals, which means it’s no longer possible for us to travel (at least not together—which takes the fun out of it) but I still make use of the places we visited in my stories.

We’re both sun-lovers and we usually headed for hot and exotic locations. But before moving to Spain, we lived in Scotland for four years. We did plenty of travelling around the country, and I came to love the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

For me, one of the most enjoyable ways to appreciate the countryside is to walk. I did a four-day walk, part of the West Highland Way, from Loch Lomond to Glen Nevis, with my sisters. My husband would drive to meet us at the hotel each night so we didn’t have to carry our luggage. He usually had large brandies set up on the bar to warm us up—have I mentioned it rains a lot in Scotland?

  © Copyright Pip Rolls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Pip Rolls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

We spent one very wet day hiking over Rannoch Moor, but it was worth it for the breathtaking scenery. So when I was looking for a particular type of location for a story, the moors came to mind.

My latest release, Losing Control, takes place mainly in London. But the hero and heroine do go away for a weekend (the plan being to have a weekend of wild, torrid sex, get the whole sex thing out of their systems, after which they could go back to being friends) and they wanted somewhere remote. So I took them to a romantic Scottish castle situated to the north of Rannoch moor. Needless to say, their plan didn’t quite work out.

Do you like to read or write about places you have been? Or do you prefer a whole new experience? Let me know for a chance to be entered in this month’s draw.

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.

Home or Away?

Home

Home

Someone recently asked me—if I could go anywhere this summer, where would I like to go? I answered—can I stay at home, please?

But then, I’m writing this sitting in the shade of an almond tree on a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s the middle of a Spanish summer, it’s hot, and I love it!

Summer is my favorite time of year.

I come from the north of England. Growing up, I yearned for the sun, and when I started reading romances in my early teens, I was always drawn to the ones with hot, sultry settings and with tall, dark, handsome heroes; Greeks, Italians, Spaniard’s, all hot-blooded and spectacularly rich (owning their own island always helps). I dreamed of Spanish summers and of one day lying on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach with a stunningly gorgeous, very-nearly-naked hero of my own. He’d be all golden skin and rippling muscles, and one look from his dark eyes would melt me into a puddle in the sand.

So, at eighteen I headed south in search of a real summer.

I never found my Mediterranean hero, but I did find a lovely English guy instead. We spent a lot of time travelling when I was younger but when it came to settling down, it was hardly surprising that I ended up not far from the Mediterranean. In fact, I now live on a farm in the mountains of Southern Spain, which looks down onto the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s a remote area of mountains and steep rugged gorges, where mules still plough the small vineyards, and mains electricity is something they have in the towns. We have no near neighbors and the nearest shop is nearly an hour away. I share the farm with my husband, my horse, two goats, four dogs, three cats, a three-legged Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, and a handful of chickens (so it’s just as well we like staying at home).

I love the area, the people, the food, the fiestas, and the summers…

It’s also a fabulously inspiring place and it’s not unsurprising that I now find a few of those smoldering heroes slipping into my own work.
Even in my science fiction romance, Break Out, which takes place over a thousand years in the future, and in a distant solar system, the hero, Ricardo Sanchez, comes from Spain. And he’s hot—just like the summers here.

LC_500 (1) (1)

 

 

So where would you spend your ideal summer…home or somewhere more exotic? And who would you spend it with? Let me know and all comments will be entered into a draw to win a $5 gift card and an ecopy of my soon to be released contemporary romance, Losing Control.

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.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong…?

I may be being less than romantic here, but I decided to take a look at fictional weddings that don’t go quite as planned. There’s a whole load of preparation goes into the happy day and consequently a lot can go wrong. Accidents happen, natural disasters, or maybe even deliberate sabotage. Occasionally, the bride or groom don’t even make it to the ceremony. They don’t turn up either by accident or design—perhaps they’ve gone to the wrong church, or the car’s broken down, they’ve been kidnapped or just changed their minds.

But my favorite potential for disaster has to be when the minister speaks that sentence…

First, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now…

Aren’t you always holding your breath waiting for someone in the congregation to jump up and declare? The one that leaps into my mind is the almost wedding scene from Jane Eyre…so sad!

“The marriage cannot go on. I declare an impediment…Mr Rochester is a married man.”

And while not everyone has a mad wife locked in the attic, there are a whole array of other impediments that could come to light…

Then of course we have those people who change their minds at the last minute:

N, will you take N to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour her and protect her and forsaking all others be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Er…No.

How about Four weddings and a Funeral when Hugh Grant’s character is about to marry Duckface? They get as far as the altar, but in the end he can’t go through with it. And anyone remember Private Benjamin? That was definitely an example of where saying ‘no’ was the right thing to do. But more often, if the wedding doesn’t take place, it’s not a good thing. One of the saddest for me was Zander and Anya’s wedding from Buffy, when Zander changes his mind. Anya ends up walking down the aisle alone in tears – aww!

And things can still go wrong after the vows have been said.

Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.

 The internet seems to have been awash with reactions to the recent wedding on Game of Thrones (which I haven’t yet seen!). By all accounts, the “red wedding” is pretty horrific and very rarely, even in fiction, do we come across quite such a drastic end to the celebrations.

And I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite wedding disaster—Donna’s almost wedding in Dr. Who. She was so indignant, but then she didn’t realize that she’d only narrowly missed being married to some guy who planned to feed her to a giant alien spider…

What are your favorite fictional wedding disasters? Let me know and all comments will be entered in the monthly draw to win an Amazon gift card.

 

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.

First Words…

Hi, I’m Nina Croft and for my first post on Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, I thought I would say a little about how I first started writing and my first book.

I didn’t write when I was younger; probably because I was too busy reading. Then, at the age of twenty-seven, I found myself living in a remote village on the banks of Lake Kariba in Zambia. And almost totally bookless.Lake Kariba at sunset

For the previous few years, I’d been working in London as an accountant. I was bored and restless (I wanted life to be more like the books I read!) and in desperate need of some sun and some excitement. So together with my brand new husband, I signed on with a charitable organization sending volunteers all over the world.

img016Lake Kariba is a man-made lake formed when the Zambezi River was dammed in the 1950s. We were working for a charity helping the people displaced when the dam was built and their homes flooded. They were subsistence farmers and fishermen, living in villages dotted along the edge of the lake, and much of my time was spent whizzing around in boats (dodging hippos and crocodiles!)

It was a stunningly beautiful place, but very remote, with no electricity, no TV, no internet and very limited access to books (and this was way before kindles!). For someone used to reading a book a day, it wasn’t long before I was suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.

Even food was a logistical nightmare. A boat ride away was a small supermarket. Unfortunately, it rarely stocked food; on a good day you could buy toilet rolls and toothpaste. We could order beef locally, but it tended to arrive still warm and with the hoof still attached—a little off-putting. Then there was the local dried fish—kapenta—the most disgustingly smelly stuff to ever come out of the water…

Obviously, I needed something to take my mind off the lack of food and books. What I did have was an extremely large laptop provided by the charity (and powered by a solar panel) and it occurred to me that my only solution was to write my own stories. And that started my first venture into writing and resulted in my first partial submission to Harlequin (several years later) called, The Best of Intentions. Sadly (but not surprisingly) it was rejected but with a very positive letter and a compliment slip for if I wanted to try again.

That was my first attempt at writing, but definitely not my last. So are there any major changes in your life that have made you take up something for the very first time?

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.

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