Reading – Year in Review

Today I was scanning through my Goodreads bookshelf and realized I’ve read some great books this year!

Unlike some novelists, I love reading nonfiction. I like books on business, marketing, parenting, and faith.  I read several non-fiction books for writers, including The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke and 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron. One of the best books I read this year was a non-fiction book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I recommended it to several people at work, and they also loved it.

I read several Christian novels this year. I especially like romances with a good dose of comedy like Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt and Sandwich with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips. I also read Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade, one of my favorite authors. I love her voice, and she creates some of the best heroes around.

I read sweet romances, including The Husband School by Kristine Rolofson and A Little Bit Cupid (which I highly recommend) by our very own Jennifer Shirk.

And when I wanted something different from all that romance, I read Proof, a great medical thriller by Jordyn Redwood.

Over Thanksgiving break, I read three different Christmas novellas. Mistletoe Magic by Terri Weldon and Faith House by Robin Patchen, two talented authors from my local writers group, and Muffins and Mistletoe by an extremely talented Heart Shaped Glasses author, Debora Dennis. There’s nothing better to get you in the holiday spirit than a great Christmas romance.

Well, those are some of the amazing books I read in 2013. I can’t wait to see what wonderful books 2014 has in store for me. What are some of the books you read this year?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

Three Things I’m Learning from NaNo (so far!)

2013-Participant-Vertical-BannerHi, all! Jennifer here. As you may have seen on my personal Blog and/or Twitter, I joined NaNoWriMo!

**Cue the menacing music**

This is a huge deal for me because it’s the first time I’ve decided to join. I’ve balked at NaNo before because I’m basically a slow writer by nature and also because I can’t think of a worse time to have to commit to writing regularly. I mean, November? Right before the holidays?

Really?

Why can’t it be in the winter, when I have absolutely nothing to do but sit and try to stay warm? Oh well. I am but one mere mortal and cannot change things, so autumn it still is.

It’s only been about a week into this thing, but I can tell you I’ve already learned some things about myself as a writer.

What are they? I’m glad you asked!!

1) I am still slow writer, but not that slow. Meaning, I can definitely get in a good amount of writing in a short amount of time. The only difference is I’m not going back and rewriting sentences like I normally would.

2) Having buddies really helps. The first thing I do before I start writing is check on my buddies’ progress. When I see that their word counter meter has moved, I think, “If they can do, so can I.” And then I get right down to work. Then nothing feels as good as being able to post my own progress.

3) Life doesn’t have to stop.  I personally have the time (and prefer) to write in the mornings. I can always get what I need to get written in that time frame and then I have the rest of the day to get on with other things in my life. And yes, that means, nobody in my household is suffering or not having dinner because I’ve committed to NaNo.

I like the pep talks and emails I get from the NaNo site too. Everyone there is so supportive and it’s all so very motivating.

So far so good!

In the meantime, have a great November and see you in December! (Hopefully with my book complete!)

Don’t forget: The blog swag this month is a $10 Amazon gift E-card and a copy of Letters from Home courtesy of Bethanne Strasser! Comment on any post in November to be entered to win.

 

If you’re a writer, are you doing NaNoWriMo? If not, what helps you to stay motivated to write every day?

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: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

DON’T Scare Me

Hey, all! Jennifer here.

© Cristina | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Cristina | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The theme this month at the Heart-Shaped Glasses blog is SCARE ME, which had me thinking…

In all the YEARS I’ve dressed up for Halloween, I’ve never dressed up as something scary!!

This stems from the fact that I scare easily. Or I guess you could say that I am a weenie. 🙂

Either way, here is a list of

The Top 10 NON Scary Things I’ve Been for Halloween

1- Red Riding Hood—I was young. My mom made the costume.

2-A Bunny—Yes, the ultimate in weenie apparel. But my mom made that too.

3- Little Bo Peep—It’s getting worse, isn’t it?

4-A Nurse—not weenie, but maybe too nice

5-A French Maid—ok. Now we’re talking. But still. NOT scary.

6-Thelma from Scooby Doo—Are you seeing a weenie pattern here?

7-1920’s Flapper- Oooh, run for the hills.

8-a Hobo—is that even politically correct today?

9-Pink Poodle– Yes, PINK. I can’t make this up!

10-President Reagan –I was in high school. What was funny was that my friend dressed up as a sheik (complete with stereotypical dark sunglasses and turban) and people made us pose for pictures all day, shaking hands like we were making an oil deal. LOL

Hmm…maybe that last one was a little scary.

Obviously, I am not only a weenie but a GEEK too. 🙂

What about you? Do you like to dress up as scary things for Halloween or are you like me?

**don’t forget** The blog swag this month is a $10 Amazon gift E-card and an eCopy of Beyond The Winner’s Circle courtesy of Sutton Fox! Comment on any post in October to be entered to win.

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: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

Back to School = Back to Writing Routines

 

There always seem to be an ebb and flow to my writing. The ebb usually coming in the summer. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those consistent writers. I do tend to slack off a bit in the summer to spend more time with my family.

But now that school has started again and the beach is no longer calling my name, it’s time to get back into my normal writing routine. But I confess, it’s been kind of hard to get into the groove even though I really want to.

So to better prepare for my writing days ahead, I’ve done FOUR things.

1) I downloaded the first ten chapters of my WIP (where I left off) to  my Ipad and have read through it entirely and made some notes. Truth is, I kind of forgot my story and needed to reintroduce it to myself. (it’s not half bad!)

2) I’m caught up on all my laundry, food shopping, and house cleaning. (No need to have any added excuses around vying for my attention)

3)I went to the library and took a walk around—just to SEE the books. I took a look around and thought, “Oh yeah, if all these people can get  ‘er done, so can I.”

4) Lastly, I looked at my beginning of the year goals, made some adjustments, and rewrote what I want to get done this fall. (I do love goals)

Whew!

I’m ready for the flow to come back now and I’m off to edit!

 

How about you? If you’re a writer, do you tend to write less in the summer?

If you’re a reader, are you anxious to get back into your normal household routine now that school has started again?

***The blog swag this month is a $10 Amazon gift E-card courtesy of author Julie Jarnagin! Comment on any post in September to be entered to win!***

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: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

Writing Out of My Comfort Zone

photoHI, all! Jennifer here.

This month on the HSG blog, we’re talking travel and settings.

Settings in my romance books usually revolve around two places I love and know well: the Jersey shore and the Boston area.

I can’t help it. There is a certain amount of comfort level there.  But maybe I’m too comfortable. Maybe I’m even in a bit of a –gasp—rut.

photo (2)Well, my recent trip has totally inspired me to take my next book into a completely different location: MONTANA.

I just love that area. It’s so lovely and totally different from the fast-paced lifestyle of the east coast.

Here are a few tidbits I experienced there:

1) I traveled through two towns (about 20 miles apart) and still couldn’t find an ice cream parlor.  (what the?)

2) It’s common to travel from town to town and have ZERO cell phone service. (scary)

3) There’s no sushi in or around Helena, the capital of Montana (hint, hint)

4) It was kind of hard to eat vegetarian. All I really wanted was a nice big salad. No. But plenty of hamburgers and steak and fried chicken (sigh)

5) There were a lot of biker bars (fun)

6) No chance of frizzy humidity hair head (booh-yah!)

Needless to say, I can really play these experiences up and have some fun with my heroine. It’s about time I take travel experiences and apply them to my writing.

 

What about you? If you’re a writer, have you been stuck in a setting rut? What setting are you dying to put your characters in?

Have you ever been to Montana?

**DON’T FORGET** The blog swag this month is a FREE digital copy of the winner’s choice from the new Decadent Tease Imprint courtesy of Clarissa Yip! Comment on any post in August to be entered to win.

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: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

Summer Schedules

 

dreamstimefree_102201Summer is my favorite season, but as much as I love it, my writing does go down because I’m constantly running kids to the beach or camps or trying to adjust to NOT having a schedule.  But this summer I’m on a mission to finish my manuscript and have it subbed by the end of July (Or early August)

*cough cough*

Anyhew, this self-imposed deadline has forced me to do a few things differently in order to meet my goal.

Here’s what has helped me:

1) I get up earlier. Having a new puppy has certainly helped with that respect, but I found it’s a GREAT time to get some needed editing or writing done while the kiddo is sleeping in.

2) I exercise more. What? Yes, this actually has given me more energy and my mind seems to be in better focus in the early morning.

3) I cut my blogging schedule. As much as I enjoy reading and writing blogs, that is A LOT of time to use that I don’t have until the fall. And guess what? I still have my bloggy friends and my sales have not been affected.

4) I cut my Facebook time. Yes, I like Facebook and I like all my Facebook friends. But I check in ONCE a day for 5 minutes and then I’m out of there. And guess what? My FB friends still like me and my sales have not been affected.

5) When I have two or three hours of time to work on my writing—I ONLY work on my writing. Yes, I’m tempted to throw in a load of laundry or just quickly empty the dishwasher, but those little things add up to BIG time eaters. I do them AFTER I’ve worked on my writing.

6) I’m reading less. Is that a good thing? Well, for me, summer is usually my reading time, but since I’m writing, something has to be sacrificed. Not that I’m not reading at all, just not reading as much or as fast.

That’s my summer schedule and I’m sticking to it. So far, it’s been working out great. 🙂

 

How about you? Does you writing schedule change in the summer? How do you keep on track?

Don’t forget, every comment this month is entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card AND a FREE digital copy of Nina Croft‘s July release from Entangled, Losing Control.)

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: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH.

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