Write Your Heart Out

I had the pleasure of reading a young writer’s manuscript recently, and though it wasn’t perfect, every line held a breath of excitement and anticipation. I could feel the enthusiasm for the story. She was writing her heart out.

Sometimes, we get in a rut–as writers–and we forget to write our hearts out. We’re too concerned about right and wrong, political correctness, diversity, or any of a number of thrill killers. We forget the most important element–the story. Without the story, none of those worries matter–even a little.

Don’t you think, sometimes…it would be nice if an editor had a problem with one of your characters. Wouldn’t it be nice if my publisher hated my hero because he was a complete a$$hole, I think to myself.

Because that would mean you had an editor! And a publisher!

We start stories in excitement for the characters, the turning points, the idea of this amazing [or funny or quirky or sad] story, and we have to hold on to that excitement or never get to the end. How do we do this?

  1. Ignore everyone: that simple. Get off social media, find the voice inside of you, and write.
  2. Make time everyday: an hour to sit and just write, to be in the story and get excited.
  3. Talk about your story: tell a friend, writer, spouse…someone! Talking about your project nurtures that excitement and gives you the courage to keep going!
  4. Acknowledge the joy in the process of writing: Whether you love the creativity of imagination or the science of putting words together, enjoy the process, sink into it with all of your author instincts…

and write the book. 

And don’t miss the release of book five, Counter Strike, coming in July!! Sign up for my newsletter to get all the updates!

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Binge-Worthy, Female Positive TV You Should Be Watching

I was binge-watching TV shows before it was cool. I know, I know–who cares? Now, it is the thing. one. does. But my baby girl is home from school this summer, which gives us a little more time in the evenings. I write in the mornings, do this sort of things on the weekend, but… evenings, I spend with my daughter (who is 14.833).

Miss P is a binge-watcher that can blow you away. Years of Grey’s Anatomy? Give her 10 days. We both knew she’d fly through Stranger Things 3 before I’d get around to it (and tBinge-Worthy, Female Positive TV You Should Be Watchinghen we’d rewatch it together). A weekend. (Still haven’t gotten to that yet. I know, I know–I should.)

What have we been watching? I’m so glad you asked.

  • Agen Carter. After she and I both binged the Marvel movies (I beat her this time and went to watch Endgame with friends, then when she finished, I took her. We cried. Like, a lot.) Which is just a lead up to why you should watch this show. Peggy Carter is a badass. A classy badass and Jarvis? He is such a good, decent, honest, caring man who plays her sidekick. Even after watching all the movies, this show rooted me in the MCU like nothing else. It is criminal that it only got two seasons, but I promise you–those two seasons are phenomenal.
  • Veronica Mars, season 4. Years ago, I fell in love with Veronic Mars–the character and the show. She was so tough but vulnerable with a lot of snark. Anyway, the show got three seasons. Then, a few years ago, a movie (set ten years later) was crowdfunded in hours. A movie. Was funded. By fans. In hours. That’s how devoted we Marshamallows are, and with very good reason. Somehow, the TV gods smiled on us again and Hulu took up the mantle for season 4, set 5-6 years after the movie. Kristen Bell (oh, did you somehow not know the Kristen Bell got her start as Veronica Mars?) said, “I want my girls to have this character in their life.” She added:

“Now I see why a lot of young girls and women said, thank you for doing that show. It wasn’t just because we entertained them, it was because she was a force in their life,” the Good Place actress went on. “She was an example.”

  • Wynona Earp, season 3. Ok, I’m going to be honest–we haven’t started this one yet. But now that we’ve finished Agent Carter, it’s next on the list. Did you know this show almost didn’t get a season 4? Disastrous. I love the strong women on this show, the LGBT representation, the sexy Doc Holliday who is immortal (or was?) in this incarnation. It deserves to be on your queue.

And that’s it from me. Looking back, I can see I’m encouraging you to add some strong female positivity to your viewing. And that might be the best reason of all to try these shows.

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.

5 Summer Date Ideas For Any Couple

Whether you’ve been together almost 25 years, as with my husband and me, or this is your summer of love after all the losers, there’s always room to add some fun and sparks to your relationship. Here are some date ideas to take advantage of the beautiful weather summer offers.

  • Go see an outdoor concert – Even in the most rural of rural areas, we do have summer concerts at fairs and events that go on all summer long. If there’s at least one close to me, there’s one close to you. Go enjoy some great music, an easy-going atmosphere, and a balmy summer evening. (Don’t forget the bug spray though–mosquitos don’t play.)
  • Go to the drive-in – When my husband and I first started dating, our first official date was at the local drive-in movies. That place is gone now, but there are some still within driving distance. There’s nothing like rolling down your window a bit and listening to the crickets chirp as ambient noise, a breeze move over you, while you and your love take in a summer flick.
  • Get out early for an outdoor brunch – Several weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip to Charlotte, NC, just to get away. While there, we had the most delightful meal out on the patio. It was just the two of us, the food was delicious, and we were very connected. Sometimes a single meal in a pretty locale can reconnect you in this busy world.
  • Watch the sunset – Get in your mode of transportation (I’m hoping you have a car since buses don’t really go to quiet, deserted areas) and go somewhere that you can be all alone. Put a blanket out, maybe turn on some tunes from the radio, and just be for a bit. Watch the sun go down over a mountain, the ocean, or just the horizon. It’ll be a beautiful moment for you both.
  • Daytrip somewhere new – There are lots of small but interesting communities within a fair distance from us. Pick somewhere you haven’t been or even one of your favorite places and go. You’ll talk in the car (because what else is there to do–put your phone down), you’ll see somewhere charming or artsy or fun, have a meal, and then discuss your day as you head home. It’ll be something special.

These are my suggestions and I intend to try every one of them. Except maybe the concert one–my husband would love it, but that sounds awfully peopley.

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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like–

Poop. Christmas? Already?

Yes! Before Halloween, even. Dis-gusting, I know. But, it could be worse.

Shortly before Christmas last year, I was contracted by Entangled Press to write a book for them.  It wasn’t a book of my own creation, but one they’d outlined. It was up to me to flesh it out.

It was–rather, I should say is–a Christmas-themed book.

When I first started writing Santa Maybe, carols played, lights twinkled, and everyone was merry and bright. But, as usual, the holiday passed. The air grew warm. The Easter Bunny came and left. Flowers bloomed. And I was still writing that &#@!*$ Christmas book.

Baseball season began; my son played first base while I sat in the car with my laptop, melting and cursing Christmas. By this point, I was channeling my hero, Justin. Justin loathes Christmas, mostly because his dad was killed during the holiday. It’s not his happiest time of year. (Understandably.) That little character “thing” made the book that much harder to write. Depressed heroes are not fun–or funny. (Did I mention this was supposed to be a romantic comedy?)

Finally, I finished the first draft and in May I sent the book to my editor. (If I could have flung it at her, I would have. By this point, I did not love this book. I mean, seriously. Santa in the Springtime is just plain wrong.) Worse, she sent the wretched thing back. For revisions. In August! I had to wonder how they can stand Christmas in Australia; it was hard to write (or think) sentimentally about snow, sugar cookies and the scent of balsams when you’re gulping iced tea and slathering on sunscreen. (I considered sticking my head in the freezer a few times to get in the right mood…)

You know, I even had dreams that it was Christmas, and it was muggy and there were leaves on the trees (and shrimp on the barbi? Which was really weird because I live in Rhode Island, USA), and everyone looked at me like I’d gone insane. Because I kept asking, “Where’s Santa?” And–of course–because it was the Fourth of July. Insanity! Holiday chaos!

Finally, after a summer full of Christmas, the book was completed, the final version was approved, and a release date was scheduled: November 13th.  Hurray! And you know–I’m kind of looking forward to Christmas this year. At least it won’t be beach weather. 🙂

Here’s a little video that gives you an idea of poor Justin’s story. I can promise you that in the end, he loves Christmas at every time of the year.

About Marnie Blue

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.

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.

Happy Reading

I know there have been a couple summer reads posts on the blog already this month, and this is another one, but hear me out. A Facebook friend posted a “must read” list the other day, and every one of the books was intense–about mental illness, or cancer, or the Holocaust, betrayal, murder, suicide. I asked if anyone read happy books any more, and the answer was no. Really?

I will say that I don’t always read happy books, and I definitely don’t watch happy TV–I’m binge watching Bitten and Penny Dreadful at the moment–whoa. The books I write, although they have happy endings–a requirement in romance, of course–tend to be on the dark side. But every once in awhile, I need something light-hearted–the literary equivalent of an ice cream cone. And when I want to read happy, I’ll usually pick up a romance.

But the Facebook exchange got me thinking. I can’t remember the last time I read a happy book that wasn’t a romance, although cozy mysteries come very close–my faves are the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton, and the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. Browsing through Goodreads, it’s hard to find one–every description seems to contain the words “poignant,” “deeply affecting,” “deeply moving,” “haunting,” yadda yadda, which are usually code for “will make you bawl until snot comes out of your eyes.” I’m sure they’re great books, but they’re not for me.

So my challenge for you, friends, is to help me come up with a list of feel good books for the summer. Happy, but not happy-ever-after. I found a few that look promising, and they’re on my TBR list for an upcoming road trip to Massachusetts and Maine:

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The title alone is enough. I actually read and finished this book after I drafted this post. Read it. You must, must read it.

 

 

The Whistling Season. Aptly demonstrating the power of a good blurb.

 

 

 

My Lady Jane. I’m not entirely sure how happy this will be–Lady Jane Grey didn’t exactly have a happy ending–but I am intrigued nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

What books do you recommend, or have on your TBR list?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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