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.

Fairies and Bogmen and Distractions…oh my!

Being a writer makes a person curious, about a lot of things. You start off doing research on one thing, like…say…fairies. Suddenly, you’re immersed in all kinds of lore, and not so lore. You’re on the yellow brick road, kids. A path to knowledge, a Quest to Learn.

Your whole life is a journey into research of all sorts. It makes you excellent at Trivial Pursuit (if people still play that) or at Trivia Crack. You know stuff that no one knows. (Except other writers.) It makes people think you’re smart. (In my neck of the states, that’s pronounced smaht. But I digress.)

Sometimes your research becomes detrimental; it consumes you and you want to delve deeper and deeper into a subject–but you know you’re only delaying the inevitable: having to work on your current manuscript. (Eww. Work!) Life is full of wonderful distractions that make it hard for you to get to work–the internet is an especially wonderful distraction.

So many memes! Oh the memes I have seen… 

 

 

And GIFS. Good Lordy!  (I’d insert some, but then I’d have to look for them and I’d get distracted. Which–really–is the point. It’s easy to get lost in the research. And the finding. Especially when there’s Sam and Dean. But once again, I digress.)

Back to the fairies….

So I looked up fairies. I found out where the lore on fairies originated:

While most of Northern Europe lay under a thick canopy of forest, bogs did not. Half earth, half water and open to the heavens, they were borderlands to the beyond. To these people, will-o’-the-wisps—flickering ghostly lights that recede when approached—weren’t the effects of swamp gas caused by rotting vegetation. They were fairies.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/europe-bog-bodies-reveal-secrets-180962770/?utm_source=onesignal

There’s enough in that article for a whole slew of stories…if I do the research.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Cupid’s Cafe: The Journey Continues

Greetings friends!

Today is the launch of my new release, Painting For Keeps, a contemporary romance and matchmaking story. If you haven’t noticed Cupid and matchmaking are in the air for the month of June, as Lori and I have both have releases that are part of Afterglows Publishing Kismet Line. Want to read more about Lori’s own contemporary romance you can check out her post here.

My book is a second-chance, matchmaking romance about a recovering bulimic nutritionist who’s getting over being dumped by her cheating boyfriend and the bi-polar, brooding painter who seeks to help the only muse for his art. This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series. The first book, Lori’s Exactly Like You, is available now.

A refresher, Cupid’s Cafe is a fictional, magical place set in Louisville, KY off Bardstown Rd. You can catch a more detailed post on the live research Lori, myself, and Cate, the series creator, did in preparation for this series. Each couple is granted a ‘second-chance’ at romance via Cupid, through a handwritten invitation to the cafe. The couples have always met in the past somehow and both hero and heroine have reached their limit or they don’t believe themselves capable of love due to what issues they suffer from.

Painting For Keeps

An invitation to Cupid’s Café will change your life. 

 

Agatha, Aggie, Kakos lost her boyfriend, her apartment, and now, is one brownie bite away from purging her binge when an invitation to Cupid’s Café shows up on her doorstep. Fighting bulimia and her mother’s constant verbal abuse has never been easy, but this nutritionist is determined to be stronger than her weakest link. She’ll meet a secret admirer at Cupid’s for a morale booster if nothing else.  

 

Following a break-in and the destruction of his paintings, starving artist Murphy O’Shea finds himself at wit’s end. Not only does he need to create twelve more paintings, but in the midst of another manic depressive episode, the challenge seems impossible. He’s got two months or he’ll have to cancel his first show. The Cupid’s Café invite offers him a chance to find his muse. He doesn’t expect it to be the woman he’s mirrored the past two year’s paintings on, nor does he plan on being able to offer Aggie the help she needs.  

 

Can they find a way to conquer their inner demons or will they succumb to the idea they aren’t worth a happily ever after?

 

Buy now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

 

This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series, a Kismet book, from After Glows Publishing. Would you be interested in writing for this series? Email me at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com.

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.

What, Romance? via TL Reeve

Good morning everyone! Thank you for having me here today at the Through Heart Shaped Glasses blog!

I have a confession to make. I’m not a romance writer.

Shocking… I’ll give you a second. Go ahead. Catch your breath.

*Grabs a cup of coffee*

Good to go now? Awesome.

Back to what I was saying. I’m not a romance writer. See, I create stories to fit around the romance. If it happens? Great. If not? Great. My characters have lives. They’re like you and me. They don’t go out of their way to seek out a mate or a partner or what have you. It kind of just happens.

For Jupiter Baldwin, she has a career, she has her pack and she is quite comfortable with herself and her situation. However, in her little world, though she sees her pack, she doesn’t consider the realities of what they need.

That’s where her father steps in.

Though he might be a bit of a hard ass, he knows things need to be fixed and he’s willing to do whatever it takes… at Jupiter’s expense.

This is where it gets complicated, and where I usually torture people. Because of a pact her father made, Jupiter has to choose between five men. Yes, five, and mate one of them to take over the pack.

But, what if she can’t choose?

What if she doesn’t want to try?

Well…I guess you’ll have to stay tune and find out. *wg*

To find out what happens to Jupiter and her men, check out Jupiter’s Shadow available now at: Books2Read

Jupiter’s Shadow by TL Reeve

Jupiter “Pip” Baldwin, isn’t ready to settle down and produce heirs for the Sequatchie Pack. As the Alpha’s daughter and only child, she is destined to continue his bloodline, while allowing her mate to lead the pack—an archaic rule of the collective Smoky Mountain Wolves packs.

On her thirty-second birthday, five men will be presented to her for choosing. It’s not about love in her pack. It’s about power. When each man reveals who they are, and what they’re capable, Jupiter finds herself in over her head.

Will she be able to narrow down her choices, to the perfect “match,” or will Jupiter find she can’t let any of them go?

Change is coming to the Sequatchie pack, and Jupiter must blaze the trail…

Excerpt:

“As we speak, three members of our pack have begun the journey to the Chickamauge, Nickajack, and Conasauge pack lands. When the chosen female has picked her mate, those not chosen will return to their homes.”

What in the hell had my father signed up for? “What?”

Echo glanced down at me and gave a quick shake of his head. “Allow me to introduce Jupiter’s suiters.” He motioned to each person as he said a name. “Meet Bowie, Benning, Mace, and Scout. You already know Dax.”

I looked to my best friend. I couldn’t believe he would go through with this and not tell me. Anger followed by a heady dose of humiliation surged through my veins. “Why?”

He wouldn’t say anything. He left me floundering as my dad continued his speech and explained the rules. “If you see them with Jupiter, please allow them to get to know each other. Do not interfere.”

Because I am a prude like that. I couldn’t believe my father. Why? Why would he do this? I got it—thirty-two, no mate and no pups to carry our line. But this…he was way out of line putting me on the spot, treating me like a piece of meat to be passed around.

He held his hand out to me and I hesitated for a moment before taking it. I should have let him flounder. It would have served him right. I was his daughter, not a commodity. “Now, Jupiter will continue her night alone with her suitors to get to know them. There will be refreshments and drinks for another few hours for you to enjoy on this special occasion.”

No one moved. I think they were all just as shocked as I was. I cleared my throat and gave each man a once over. How the hell would I pick one guy over the next? In truth, my wolf enjoyed this—a little too much.

“Take us to your home,” Bowie said, breaking the silence between us.

I quirked a brow. “Excuse me?” They should be lucky I hadn’t torn any of them apart.

“I think this conversation should happen where no one can listen in,” he added. “Don’t you?”

He had a point. “Fine. I walked. It’s not far from here.”

They formed a semi-circle around me and followed as I made my way back through town. “Are you being forced to do this?” Okay, so I couldn’t wait for us to get back to the house to start asking questions.

“No,” Mace grunted. His disposition didn’t throw off the cute and cuddly vibes, in fact, he reminded me of a pissed off shark.

Did it make me the chum?

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.

Cupid’s Cafe: Welcome to the Creator

Hello, Through Heart-Shaped Glasses Readers!

By now you’ve enjoyed Lori’s post about the series her and I are a part of along with her amazing book, Exactly Like You, that’s releasing on June 20th. Lori and I wish we could take the credit for this fantastic idea of a series, but of course, we can’t. No, the honor belongs to the fabulous Catherine Peace and I convinced her to agree to an interview on the series.

Just a few questions mind you, Catherine is a busy woman working on her own Cupid’s Cafe story.

First up, as the mastermind behind this series, where did the idea for the series come from?

Dang, already with the tough questions! 🙂 Well, here is where we get a little deep. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life before I even had a name for them. I hit a….really bad patch a couple years ago that led me down a rocky road to treatment, which involved group therapy five days a week. The first day in my therapy group, it was the last day of a man who was a recovering meth addict. And he talked about his ex-girlfriend who’d cheated on him and treated him terribly because of his addiction and a couple other mitigating factors, and he said, “I guess I don’t deserve to be loved.” My heart shattered, and I looked at him and said, “You’re wrong.” I don’t think he expected that, especially from the newbie, but it’s true. People deserve love by virtue of being people. It doesn’t matter the background, the road, the ups and downs and mistakes and victories. People deserve to be loved and treasured. So in a way, this series came from wanting to prove him wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie.

Wow! I remember tearing up myself when you told me that story, and that’s when I fell in love with your idea too. That being said, what is your goal for the series?

Kind of what I said in my last answer, to show that people deserve to be loved and treasured. In a way, this series came from wanting to prove the guy from therapy wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie, but it’s one of the easiest to believe. I want to show people like him, people like me, that we’re not too broken to have worth and value. And hopefully, show them–us–that we’re able to rise above the challenges if we allow ourselves to be loved. It’s not that people don’t love and care and want the best for us. It’s that we simply cannot fathom it. 

Now, the series is set where you live, do you think that make things easier from a research standpoint?

In a way, yeah. The fun thing about Louisville is that it’s SUCH a diverse city. My roommate and I talk all the time about the racial and cultural diversity just in our apartment complex, and you can find that all over the city. It has its problems with racial violence and drug abuse, but it also has opportunities to offer people. It’s a city of entrepreneurs and small business owners, tattoo shops and music stores and SO. MUCH. FOOD. Dear Lord, I could set 50 different series here and never reuse an idea. My roomie works at a health clinic that caters to the homeless, and she’s able to help them in a way she never truly expected. I love this city. It still has small town charm regardless of being a metro, a lot of opportunities, and a lot of idea fodder. 

How do you think this series differs from other matchmaking romance series out there?

To me, it’s the focus on characters with mental health issues. Considering my own, I’ve noticed a lack of representation for people like me. I’ve seen a few that touch on PTSD, but it’s mostly these gruff Alpha dudes and these badass bitch ladies, and while that has its place, there’s STILL a need to open up the dialogue about mental health. Still, a need shed light on it, especially with what’s going on in the world now and how stressful it is. The characters in these stories are people who are at the ends of their ropes, people who need One Good Thing to give them hope. To help them see they’re worthy of love, of help. These aren’t going to be fluffy stories, I know. They’re dark. They’re tough. But they’re worth it. 

If any one of these stories helps someone, they’re more than worth it.

The first two books in the Cupid’s Cafe series are coming this month. Be sure to check out Exactly Like You and Painting For Keeps. If you’re interested in writing for the series reach out to Landra at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com

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.

Loving When Matchmakers Meet Their Match

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

Cupid is in the air this month at The Heart-Shaped Glasses blog! And I’m here to talk about one of my very favorite tropes in romance books. And that is “The Matchmaker”.

Oh, my goodness, why do I love this trope so?

  1. Matchmaker books usually lead to a LOVE TRIANGLE. Oooh! Drama!
  2. Matchmaker books are usually very FUN, especially since either the person doing the matchmaking or the person on the other end of the matchmaking is not happy with the situation.
  3. Matchmaker books force one or both of the characters to realize their true feelings pretty fast then fight for them

If I could, I’d write another Matchmaker book, but since my last one–WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH— came out 6 months ago, I’ll have to wait. Boo-hiss.

But I have a few other favorite matchmaker books to share with you!

  1. Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst — really fun and hot! Plus, there was a little paranormal twist added that I loved.
  2. Match Me if You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips– super fun and funny! And she happens to be my fav author.

Hope you get a chance to read my book, Wrong Brother, Right Match or one of the other two books I mentioned and enjoy them as much as I have!

 

Do you like matchmaker romances? What are your favorites?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a 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 upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.