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.

4 Books to Help Improve Your Writing Craft #writing #writetip

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

I talked a little about one-word goals last month. But this month I wanted to talk about some individual goals I have for the year.

Here within my critique group every year, we all post writing and personal things we’d like to accomplish.

One of mine was to improve my writing craft.

Even though I am a published author, I still feel as if I have only scratched the surface of what I know and where I want to be as a writer. So in conjunction with me attending conferences and taking online courses, I also made it a goal to read at least FOUR craft books this year as well. In fact, I’ve already picked them out and read one of them.

Here are the four I’ve chosen to Help Improve My Writing Craft this year:

Layer Your Novel: The Innovative Method for Plotting Your Scenes by C.S. Lakin

I liked this book. It gave loads of examples from various books on how authors build upon their plots.

Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson (Goodreads Author), Jordan E. Rosenfeld (Goodreads Author)

I just started this book. But I chose it because I heard good things about it and was interested in going “deeper” with my writing.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)by Lisa Cron

Picked this beauty up because of a critique partner who was reading it. I’m about halfway through and so far I’ve been nodding and agreeing with everything that was said.

Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)  by Orson Scott Card

I picked this one up because I was looking for something beyond plot. I wanted to work on my characters. I hear this author is a master on this subject so I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

Hopefully I’ll be able to read more than just 4, but I haven’t found any other craft books that interest me.

Maybe you have some suggestions of your own! If so, please let me know!

Until then,

HAPPY WRITING

Jennifer

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: BARGAINING WITH THE BOSS.

How to Find New Authors

Anthologies including stories from different authors seem to be becoming more and more popular. They are a great way for authors to get their book in front of a new audience, take advantage of joint promotions, increase visibility. And they’re a great way for readers to try new authors in their favorite genres, usually at little expense.

I have a story, Release Me, in a paranormal romance anthology coming out in February.

20 Shades of Shifter is a limited edition collection of new and exclusive paranormal romance novels guaranteed to suck in you from page one.

A shape-shifting dragon must win over his reluctant mate and stop Jack the Ripper. A Fae trucker becomes allies with an MC member when trying to deliver magical motorcycles to the Fae Queen. A wolf shifter is held captive in a human research lab where he is tortured until he meets one sexy scientist. An angel risked it all to steal the elixir of life and save his mortal love’s life and over two millennia later must get her to remember she once loved an angel. These stories and many more are included in this steamy, hot collection.

Mine’s the angel story and it’s book 3 in my Storm Lords series (though a standalone romance). Here’s a little blurb…

Release Me

Two thousand years ago, Finn Stanton was cast out of Heaven for stealing the Elixir of Life to save his mortal wife. Now, a wolf-shifter and a demon of the Abyss, he’s found her again, and has a chance of redemption and eternity with the woman he loves—all she has to do is remember that long ago, in another forgotten lifetime, she loved an angel.

2o Shades of Shifter is up for pre-order on Amazon right now for only 99 cents!

So what do you think of anthologies as a writer or a reader? Have you discovered any new and favorite authors through an anthology?

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.

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.

The End is Near…

Sounds so ominous right? But honestly, I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, I immediately find myself in panic mode because it signals the end of the year is just around the corner. And every year it seems to come faster and faster. As I reflect back on the year I’ve had, I’m pleased with what it has brought me. I packed up and moved my boys and I to a small town in Utah and it has made a positive impact on all our lives. I mean, just look at that scenery…gorgeous!

I released a new book that I am in love with that is set around the holidays and introduces readers to my new fictional town of Serendipity, Texas. The characters in this series really speak to me and I can’t wait for the second book to come out.

I adopted two little fur babies and gave them a forever home. Kona was my first and she brought so much joy that when the opportunity to take in a another, I brought home Maui. They are a handful but so much fun!

All in all, it has been quite a successful year and I am thrilled to be where I am. It’s taken a long time for me to get to a point where I could say that. So tell me, how was your year? Share your proud moments…your accomplishments…your little thrills.

About Kinsey Corwin

Kinsey Corwin, a contemporary romance author who really is drawn to small town stories, beaches, and cowboys (I know, that is quite a mix). She is a single mom of amazing boys, a fan of kitchen experiments, a lover of country music, and a dreamer.

My Grown-Up Christmas TBR List

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

I don’t know about you, but I love READING Christmas books almost as much as I love WATCHING Christmas movies on TV this time of year! It just gets me in the spirit for the holidays.

There have been so many great choices of Christmas books I’ve seen on Goodreads and Instagram it’s hard to choose. But choose I did. Some of these books I bought in paperback and some are on my Kindle now waiting to be read.

So just in case you want to know what’s on my Christmas To-Be-Read List, I’ll share it with you now!

  1. Coming Home for Christmas by Jenny Hale — this is actually a Hallmark movie now. I haven’t watched it yet. I waiting to read the book first!
  2. Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis— this was recommended to me by one of our fellow authors here, so I downloaded it. Can’t wait!
  3. A Bramble House Christmas by CJ Carmichael— Ok, so this is a Hallmark movie too. But one I already watched and loved so I HAD to go and buy the book. 🙂
  4. An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne— love a good friends to lovers romance so I bought.

And if you happen to be looking for yet another holiday read, don’t forget to check out my book:

Wrong Brother, Right Match

Matchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.
Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

What Holiday books are on your To-Be-Read list?

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: BARGAINING WITH THE BOSS.

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