Teaching An Old Dog ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #PCers

Autumn-Tree-RS4Web-600x514There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, I’m here to say that learning, be it a human or a dog, is a life-long experience and one that can’t be turned off. Fall is the time for new classroom beginnings. It’s a time to reflect on if a class will help you do something better. Writers by nature know that learning can enhance what they put down on paper, or screen in this case.

I love to learn and I love to help other writers do the same. This year, I decided that since my husband was going to be on a five, yes count them as I did say 5, week business trip spanning November and December.

At first, this made me want to cry because I’m in a city where I know few people and most of those are associated with his work. Many of those will be with him on that same trip. Then there was the fact that one of the most important holidays, American Thanksgiving, would occur when he was gone. It’s been years since I spent a Thanksgiving alone and I didn’t want to make this the first but again, I have little choice in the matter. So far, it’s just me and Pup Harry but I have hope that it will turn out to be something better.

By deciding to start taking some classes, I had to see where I stood and where I wanted to go. My field of study when I was in college was Nursing and Geology then I added computer science by getting a professional certificate and almost a Masters degree in Computer Management. I was just a couple of classes shy when I realized that being stuck behind a computer coding or managing the geeks, this is said in a good way with utmost respect, wasn’t really what I wanted to do.250x226

This time around, I knew that it had to do something with my writing. It could include writing classes themselves or classes on research. I signed up for a lot of them…probably way too many…but so far, it’s been fun. The first writing class was one where I had to write and revise a whole book in a month. That one is still going pretty well but I have to admit, I was totally burned out after the writing part and have been very slow in the revising part.

The other classes I’ve been doing are more on the science side since that appeals to me. The plan is to start going back to write the things I love and that is sci-fi/fantasy with or without romance. Then there’s all things paranormal as well. I can practically write those with my eyes closed but I have some ideas where I felt my science needed to be a little stronger. Therefore with that in mind, I’m taking Immunology, which is kicking my butt, and Epidemics. Both are reminding me of the things I’ve forgotten over the years about the human body and all the biology involved there. I’m also taking a water class, some planetary astronomy classes and a few more thrown in.

The point is that like I previously said, learning is a life-long process. Whether you know it or not, learning happens every day. You won’t notice it until you realize you’re doing something slightly different than before. Usually, it’s because it’s more efficient and your subconscious helped you to make it a part of your conscious being. Biology is interesting that way and immunology is reminding me just how interesting.Vienna-Fall-Resized-4-Web

If I can learn new things via the classroom route, anyone can. This can keep you more engaged with new things, reinforce older learning and keep one’s mind sharp, fresh, new. How are you all doing with your fall regime? Taking any classes? Truly, I’d love to hear about them. You can reach me at lynncrain@cox.net with all the great things you’re doing this fall. See you next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Those first days of summer vacation

For those in the U.S. today is Memorial Day, a time reserved for honoring all the men and women who passed away in military service. Parades, special ceremonies and cemetery decorations are often scheduled as a way to show our respect and to memorialize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect and preserve our freedom and our nation.

For many, this is also the final day of a three-day weekend and the unofficial first day of the summer vacation season.

This month we’ve been talking about firsts here at Heart-Shaped Glasses—everything from first kisses and dates to first adventures.
As for me, I’m eager to hear all about your plans for the first days and weeks of summer vacation.

After a particularly long winter, I’m excited to finally see the sun and feel these warmer temperatures. The school year has ended so we’re no longer helping the little ones study for final exams or state standardized tests. The smells of freshly cut grass and charcoal grills and grilling meat wafts through the air. Everyone seems to be gardening, so beautiful bushes and flowers are blooming everywhere and fresh vegetable plants are just starting to peek from the red earth.

We’re making plans to visit family and friends we haven’t seen in a while and a trip to the coast to swim in the ocean and build sandcastles isn’t out of the question.

These first few weeks of summer vacation are stress-free and full of promise and excitement as we make plans for our well-deserved and long-awaited summer vacation.
So what are some of your suggestions? How do you and your loved ones spend your summer vacation?

About Tina Vaughn

Tina Vaughn is an award-winning journalist and contemporary romance author who's always dreamed of being a writer. Her writing career began in elementary school when she wrote her friends' love letters to their boyfriends in exchange for Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. After spending nearly fifteen years as a journalist and newspaper editor, Tina remembered she preferred fiction to fact and began writing what she loves most...steamy contemporary romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband and daughter, and is known for commemorating milestones with silver jewelry, tattoos and/or ice cream.

Bethanne’s Thirteen Firsts

Hello!! Welcome to our blog, Through Heart-Shaped Glasses. Everyone’s been hitting up the topic of Firsts. Firsts… life is full of firsts, isn’t it? When I found out the topic, I told my husband. He kind of looked at me funny, lifted a brow, and gave a small shake of his head. <grin> Ha!

But then, I thought, this is another first–group blog. And since not everyone knows me, I think I’ll do a Thursday Thirteen Firsts.  A cross between our theme for the month and a meme.

13. First move — 3 years old, from New York to Florida. There have been  many moves since then ranging from New York to Florida to Michigan to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Colorado to Ohio to Virginia to Illinois to Georgia, and finally, back to Colorado.

kiddie photo12. First day of Kindergarten — I had two of those, actually. Flunked out the first time.

11. First Detention — 2nd grade. I forgot my homework, which sounds sooo familiar now that I have two kids who are alot like me. It’s not intentional. It’s a thing…hopefully they get better at organization and remembering than I am.

10. First shot of insulin — November 23, 1988, my Diabetes Birthday

9. First written story — 6th grade, which my teacher loved, but suggested I not end with the cliche of waking from a dream. That was the first writing advice I ever recieved. I have never forgotten it. Later in life–high school, I read a smutty romance novel that actually ended that way…with the heroine waking from a dream. And I thought, “that book was so stupid!” And I knew Mrs. Richter had been right. Happily Ever After is too important to get fudged by a dream.

8. First College — Franciscan University of Steubenville, a good Catholic girl who wasn’t convinced to study nursing and did 3 years of an English Literature degree before getting pregnant, getting married, and moving on with her husband. 🙂

7. First Kiss — from the not-yet-hubby, a lovely asked-for kiss…the ultimate peck on the cheek. Heart racing, hands sweating. It’s a kiss you never forget.

wedding6. First Husband — And only husband! haha. Love that man so much. <3

5. First Baby — Her name is Virginia. She’s 13 now. OMG! THIRTEEN!

4. First Manuscript — A story inspired by Trixie Belden called Certain Suspicions. Well, now it’s called that. I can’t remember the original title.

3. First critique group — Charlotte Dillon’s Crit Group. A nice group, for the most part, yet too big, too anonymous. 🙂 I love my CRITIQUE group, Passionate Critters!

ForLoveorDuty 200x3002. First Book published, June 2012, For Love or Duty

1. First Contract — Wheeeee! With Entangled Publishing! A contract for my Christmas story, Letters from Home.

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.

The Conference Virgin

Conference LanyardSome “firsts” are experienced between two people or witnessed by only a few – attending your first writing conference is not one of them! Every year thousands of romance writers converge on a new city and spend days mingling, networking, going to workshops and putting faces with online names.

Just the thought of signing up for a conference can be enough to send an introvert into terror-mode! Maybe you’ve been convinced by a writing buddy that it’s the next step to take in your career, maybe you’ve simply decided a few days away with people that truly “get” what you do in the wee hours of the night would be fun.

My first conference was a little bit of both…I really wanted to go and meet the women I knew only by their emails, but if I didn’t get the extra push from a friend who offered to be my roommate, I never would have taken the leap and signed up. And I’m glad I did. My first conference was the RWA National in Dallas. I had my first razzarita in a bar with an agent, I pitched my first book to an agent and an editor, and I attended my first standing room only workshop with the wonderful Nora Roberts. I definitely came home on a high.

So what can YOU expect from your first conference? Hoards of writers just like you! Late nights in the bar and lots of laughs. Expect to spend money on food, because not all your meals are included and you’ll want to go out with your new friends! You’ll be overwhelmed both by the crowds and the positive energy pulsing everywhere you go. Expect to take lots of notes in all the wonderful workshops you’ll be attending. EXPECT to come home pumped to write and take your manuscripts to the next level.

Lastly, here’s a few tips on what to bring and what to leave home:

The conference rooms where the workshops are held are usually freezing – definitely pack a sweater. Business casual is the standard dress code, except for awards night when you’ll want to dress up. Bring your comfortable shoes – you’ll be walking a lot! (I know, you’ve got to bring all those great heels in the closet…so if you’re a high heel kinda girl, go for it.)

Most conferences give you a tote bag at check-in, my advice is to keep it light and leave the huge, everyday pocketbook at home. At my first conference I got a lanyard with a large inner pocket and it has gone with me to every conference since. During the day I put some money, my room key, my business cards and my phone in there and that’s it…don’t weigh yourself down.

Business cards are nice to have, but you’ll mostly be handing these out to your new writing friends – agents and editors won’t be looking for your card, if they’re interested in hearing from you, they’ll give you theirs.

Leave your manuscript at home! No passing it over the table or under the bathroom stall. 😉 Again, if an agent or editor requests to see it, they want to you to send it to them.

Have I mentioned the books? OMG…at RWA National you will get more books than could possibly fit in the luggage you arrived with. Most people find a box during the conference, box them up and ship them home (don’t worry about figuring this out – you’ll no doubt see the masses lined up with the hotel staff doing exactly this!)

Bring your smile! Romance writers are awesome, generous women and everyone remembers being a conference virgin.

Do you remember your first time at a writing conference or is your first time looming in the near future?

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

The First Line

SONY DSCSince our theme this month is Firsts, I thought I’d write about first lines of books. To me, the first line of a story is like meeting you, the reader, for the very first time. More often than not you will have read the back matter, which may have been written by me, someone else, or a group of marketing professionals. You might have admired the cover, and that tempted you. Covers aren’t usually made by the author, but by a graphic artist. Whatever way it happens, the first line of the story is the first building block for your reading relationship with me, the author. It’s when things get real.

It’s essential that the first line makes you want to keep reading. It needs to spark your curiosity. With any luck, the first line will make you think, OMG! Who? What? Where? Why? I have to know! And you keep reading, turning those pages until the very end.

This holds true whether an author writes historical, inspirational, rom coms, or time travels. The first line should fit the world the author has created and capture the tone of their work.

I write contemporary romance with romantic suspense elements, and I admit to being surprised when I typed the first lines from my series together. They really do fit the tone of my books. Here they are:

Winning this might keep him alive. – Slide Job

Death lingered quietly in the dark, dressed in worn blue jeans. – Beyond the Winner’s Circle

Would he die today, or tomorrow? – Running Three Wide

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t add the first lines from some of my favorite reads. Here they are in no particular order:

Most people don’t stare at the scars. – Burnt Offerings, Laurell K. Hamilton

Caught in the crosshairs of wind above the Bitterroots, the jump ship fought to find its stream. – Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts

They had betrayed her with a promise of the sea. – My Heart Stood Still, Lynn Kurland

Although in different genres, each first line is tempting. I can’t wait to dig in and find out the rest of the story.

What about you? Do you have a favorite first line?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

First Adventures

I’ve always been a practical person. Okay. Sort of… No, not really. In the earlier years of my life, I used to indulge myself in eating and trying new foods, shopping for everything unnecessary, and spoiling myself with as many books as I can fill my house with (Good thing for e-readers!). I had hobbies, I had great friends, and I was never bored. I worked, I wrote, I went to school. I kept busy and I had more than others, so I should be happy, right?

But life became so unfulfilling… Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spoiled. I worked hard for everything I wanted, but nothing seemed good enough. I realized it was time to move on…

Time for an adventure.

What did I do?DSC00745

I packed all my belongings, quit my present day job, dumped my boyfriend at the time (Trust me, it was time. Four years with the same man with no future was definitely a good motivator.) and moved out of New York.

Where did I go?

Hawaii! My very first adventure.

For a girl who has never left home, change seemed to be the enemy but I was ready to have some fun! I saw the opportunity and I took it. How could I turn it down? Adventures come in many shapes and sizes.

The first time I stepped foot off the plane, all I could think about was “the air smelling so soapy and why was everyone just smiling?”

I was almost tempted to get back on the plane, but I wasn’t ready to give up.

Everything was a change. The pacing in life was worse…

My first instance with bringing my New York road rage to Hawaii taught me a lesson. There’s no need to rush anywhere. It’s okay to drive 25 mph on a 65 mph highway. It’s okay to take walks to work even if it takes an hour. It’s okay to sit all day at the beach and just watch the blue water or count fish in the Harbor. Or spot men in trees…. I had all the time in the world to do as I pleased. And I got to write, write, and write! I found the chance to concentrate on something I totally wanted. Who would have thought?

I learned so much on my adventure. Not only about the culture, the land, the fabulous food, and the people, I learned about me.

It’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What was your first adventure?

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About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

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