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.

2017: Year of the Coarse Corn Cob

At the rate of sounding indelicate, I’m going to phrase the next couple paragraphs as structurally-sound and innuendo-laden as I can. Gird yourselves as I discuss… duh, duh, duuuuhhhhh… the year of the Coarse Corn Cob.

“Capital,” you say.

Eh?

“Letters,” you say.

Indeed, friends, this year deserves some alternative language (and horrifying visuals) as much as it deserves honesty, integrity, and a slew of other words we haven’t seen being used in speech or action. My year started out with big plans, rocket-to-the-moon size plans. I wanted to write X (being a number) of books, submit to agents/publishers, and get on to the next part of my 5-year plan.

Then the Coarse Corn Cob appeared and started it’s unholy pursuit to choke me on dry, kernels and wiry silk. Everyone thought I was joking, making up stories, and speaking the ridiculous rhetoric of the Negative Nancy. Then the Coarse Corn Cob came for them, their family members, their pets, computers, cars, and bank accounts. Soon everyone had crusty silks in their teeth and a bad taste in their mouth.

Hopes and dreams were crushed, jaws left hanging open and in pain. The battle became real for so many. The Coarse Corn Cob, relentless and thick, tried to stuff itself where the sun don’t shine and soak up any moisture remaining, in an effort to spread its putrid seed across the globe.

While I battled, attempting to pry said cob from my over-extended maw, I discovered that I need not fall victim. I spoke with over would-be victims who fought back and found regurgitation a form of defense. There were other methods to wrench control over the Coarse Corn Cob, to make oneself an uninhabitable environment for the cob to sprout spawn.

Such survival required patience, determination, planning, and strength of the mind and body. None of these are easy when being attacked in such a brutal, invasive manner. While the war is not over, I’m slowly winning battles, taking back control, and granting my face much-needed moisturization and relaxation.

So remember this, dear reader: Only you can stop deep cob pummeling and it’s only a matter of time before we shove 2017 Coarse one back in the dark hole it belongs in.

 

Shameless plug: 

Landra recently released a book. The second in The Raven series called The Raven Who Caught The Canary. If you like action-adventure/speculative fiction with some romance, this book might be for you. If you don’t appreciate inter-racial romance or people fighting Nazis, stay away. Check it out at all major ebook retailers. Don’t like searching for stuff? Neither does, Landra. So, she posted them below. To the right, you can see her pretty cover.

Check it out at all major ebook retailers. Don’t like searching for stuff? Neither does, Landra. So, she posted them below. To the right, you can see her pretty cover. Psst, there are more books coming in The Raven series, more Nazis getting their butts handed to them in an alternate historical timeline.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

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.

Summertime Blues

Greetings HSG Readers!

As I type this we’re still in June. Of course the post will be live the end of July, maybe by then I’ll be a bit perkier.

In childhood, summertime is filled with the month’s each kid dreams about. From lounging around the house, sleeping in, library reading programs, vacation bible school, summer camp, and also those outdoor activities I can’t remember a summer I wasn’t ready to dive in to.

At least until adulthood came. I don’t get three months off work any more. In retrospect, this makes me wonder if I should have been a teacher.

Now the summers are filled with being stuck indoors, slaving in front of the computer, and I’ll admit the whole thing has turned me a little blue.

To perk things up, I’m creating the ultimate summer playlist. This is a list of the oldies, the newbies, and those unforgettable songs you grew up jamming out to during the summer.

So far, I’ve come up with a few that get me excited. Like, John Fogerty’s Centerfield, it’s the perfect summer anthem to the All-American sport, baseball.

Bryan Adam’s has his own summer ballad, Summer of ’69, that reminds me of youthful exploits.

And of course, the musical lover that I am, can never ever leave out Grease. Summer Lovin’ is the epitome of the high school experience. Those meet ups with someone new over the summer only to cut things short and return to regular life come the fall.

What am I missing? I know there’s some new stuff, like Will Smith’s Miami or LFO’s Summer Girls. Tell me your favorite summer-themed music and help me cure these blues. 

 

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.

Louisville: Cupid’s Cafe Setting

My story, Exactly Like You, and Landra Graf’s story, Painting for Keeps, are part of the Cupid’s Cafe Series. These stories take place in Lousiville, Kentucky. We were lucky enough to be able to visit there in February of this year. We traveled from the house we were staying in down to Bardstown Road (which is a really great part of town), where the fictional Cupid’s Cafe is located.

It was a cool, rainy day, but we decided to drive there and take pictures for inspiration. We wanted to orient ourselves to that part of town and the places nearby. Below, you can see some of the pictures I took from the car.

I loved the murals and that one building. I’m not even sure what it is. A church, maybe? If anyone knows, please say so in the comments. But that building just called out to me. All of it did. What a great place to live.

In my story, Aidan is a firefighter and I was able to locate the nearby fire station. I could just see Aidan and his best friend, Kurt sitting outside talking (granted, on a much prettier day since my story takes place in the summer). I put that scene in my story, thankful for the tangible that inspired me.

There’s also a store pictured here, Eyedia. That name caught my eye and, I’m just going to say it: I can recognize a thrift store a mile away. I snapped the picture and looked it up online later. Turns out it’s a high-end furniture consignment store. So, I was right–thrift store–but way cooler. Check out their website to see some of the gorgeous furniture they have. I even referenced the store in my story. It’s just for a moment, as Roxie drives by it, just like I did, and remembers shopping there before the events that turned her from an effective social worker into a depressed and (in her own eyes) boring cat-rescuer.

I hope you’ll check out our stories, available now anywhere you might buy books online. Stay cool!

Buy Exactly Like You now: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Scribd

Buy Painting for Keeps now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

P.S. We’re giving away two beautiful necklaces and two $10 Amazon gift card. Enter right here:

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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