High Stakes Birthday Bash

On Saturday, my daughter went to a birthday party and, with her friends, she played a game where all the kids with straws and plates and cups, sucked M&Ms onto the straw and dropped them into the cup. And wow, the pressure. The speed, the competition. And my daughter, like me, has a decent sense of the competitive. She’s number 5 of 6, so there’s a lot to live up to. So much beat in her little world. That when the game ended with her as a front runner,  and the girl next to her said, “You have two on your plate.” She sorta lost it.

Yes, mine is the one who cried at the birthday party.

I smoothed things over with her, talked her out of the tension, and life went on. What she doesn’t know is she’ll always be the one who cried over a stupid game at that birthday party. Maybe a few parents completely understood…or maybe they didn’t and they were thinking, WTH kind of spoiled brat cried over a game?

But I think we all have these kind of moments where we have to put our worst behind us and move on. We can’t worry about what other people are thinking, what they thought, or how they’ll think in the future.

I’ve done this before–professionally and personally–lost my cool or cried over nothing, or something that I should have had the balls to handle. Other times, I just need to put it behind me, promise to do better, and keep going. Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Anyone who says differently is lying or extremely conceited.

So, it’s a new year and a new day…

Go out and do something kind today. And good for you.


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.

My Obsession with Hallmark Christmas Movies

Hi, all! Jennifer here.hallmark

Well, we are officially now into the “Christmas season”, which means decorating for the holidays, shopping, wrapping, making cookies, reading Christmas books, and of course (my personal favorite): watching Hallmark Christmas movies!

Yes, HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES. you might even say I’ve been a bit obsessed with them. 🙂

Why? They are the ultimate feel-good kind of comfort people like me like to wrap themselves into this time of year. It’s a time and place where love always wins, people are more important than money or things, kindness can never be overdone, and memories are to be made and cherished. A good part of that is why I read romance novels too. Because in a world where there is nastiness, sorrow, pain, and ugliness, these vehicles are the perfect escape and the perfect reminder that there is a lot of good in the world too.

My FAVS (so far) this year have been:

  1. The Mistletoe Promise (I liked it so much, I bought the book!)
  2. A December Bride (will buy this book too)
  3. Fir Crazy
  4. Snow Bride
  5. Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas
  6. Love Always, Santa
  7. The Christmas Ornament
  8. A Very Merry Mix-Up
  9. Best Christmas Party Ever
  10. Family For Christmas

It should also be mentioned that my husband is a huge fan of “A Grandpa for Christmas”. 🙂

I haven’t had time to watch them all, but rest assured that I have been taping them and will slowly make my way through all of them by the end of the month. (I may even have to re-watch a few of them in January!)

In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season in whatever way you like!

Do you love/watch Hallmark Christmas movies too? What is your favorite one?


wrrmsmallAlso, if you love Hallmark Christmas movies, don’t forget to pick up my new Christmas sweet romance  which releases tomorrow, December 5th!


Matchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.

Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

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.

What I’m Grateful For ~ #LynnCrain #AmThankful #amwriting


First, let me apologize for being really, really late. While I love holidays, sometimes they make writing impossible and hard to do. Normally I would have scheduled my post but I thought I had plenty of time…and then I wondered where the month had gone…basically I had assure myself, yes, Lynn, it really is the 25th! LOL!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US and most of us gather around friends and families to celebrate our thanks for the year.

But this year, like no other, has been really hard for me and I have to constantly remind myself to be thankful. After, all we did an international move, found a new home in a new state and are renovating two house. As anyone knows, those last two can certainly take one over the edge in any country.

Still, there are many, many things I’m grateful for and I’ve decided to numerate them here for all of you. So here goes…

1) I am always grateful for friends and family. They are the ones that make happy, drive me crazy and are always there when I need them.

2) I am especially grateful for the folks here at Passionate Critters. We are our own special family, bonded for our love of writing and a deep caring for each other. Never have I been in a critique group who genuinely care for each other and are constantly trying to help one another. You guys ROCK!

3) As awful as the election was here in the US, I am grateful for it. I’m sure many of you are asking why but that’s an easy answer. I was gone from this country for 4 years and 9 months. I knew that people were having a bad time here and we were too but I did not realize just how unhappy people were. I didn’t realize they were struggling quite so much and now I do. I plan to do as much as I can for everyone, even if that means bucking the system if I must. Thank you America for letting me know we need to get the ‘we’ back in we the people.

4) NaNoWriMo is always a fun thing to do but this year it’s been especially important. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back into my groove of writing nearly 5000 words a day. NaNo proved to me I could do anything I needed to do to put those words down on paper. I promise to have a strong finish!

5) I am thankful that I can write and publish myself and others. I just finished another anthology piece and I clicked publish on it. I am so very, very grateful that authors can now take their career in their own hands and make it work for themselves. It’s an awesome life.

Yes, there are many, many more things that I am immensely grateful for but I just wanted to give you all for my top five. What are you thankful for in your life? If you comment, you’ll be entered into my monthly drawing for a $25 gift certificate that I run on my regular blog.

Thanks for stopping by and see you all 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.

Life…one weird to the next!

So, as the year begins to wind down [yes, I just said that], it’s been in my face how life seems to be a long journey from one frickin’ mishap to the next. And lately, it’s a weekly occurrence. Today was my phone. Just died…not like blue-screen death, but a funny happenstance which included the words “no service” in the top left corner…when I do have service. Auto-pay every month on a darn go-phone and that doesn’t renew until December, so it’s not an issue with the service. Apple takes the phone…nothing wrong with the software…must be hardware. GREAT! For almost $300, they can fix it, but the authorized retailer suggested that might be dumb, because the iPhone SE is only $399. [insert crazy laugh]  So, it’s off to ebay I go…. to see if I can find a decent replacement for way less than either of those options.

Last week it was the laptop. More hardware. A loose wire.

And so on and so on…

….what was the point?

Oh! Right. Life. It can really kick us in the butt, right? Kids, spouses, cars, phones, homes,…always something, you know? And always when you least expect it, or least can afford it.

So, I’m sitting here, thinking about Thanksgiving and how tomorrow starts with pie making day. And I’m thankful that my phone is broken and has ‘no service’ because there isn’t a soul who doesn’t have an iphone who will be able to reach me!! I’ll open my wine early and peel apples and slice them up with my daughter who has been looking forward to this day for forever!!

And maybe…in the grander scheme of things, not having that phone working will be a blessing.

So, thanks Murphy.

With Love,


P.S. If you missed my new release this past week, make a sharp left to Amazon and get it now! <3

strikeback-200x300-1He would let her go if it would keep her safe…

Strong, self-reliant Nathan Hawkins—owner of Hawk Elite Security—can’t fathom a world in which he can’t protect the ones he loves. But the ticking time bomb of scar tissue in his head threatens to end his career and his marriage, even his life. But the scar tissue is nothing compared to the twisted enemy from Nathan’s past who returns, wanting Nathan to pay for his transgressions, pay with his wife.

As the bonds of her once rock-solid marriage disintegrate, Stacy Hawkins is ready to strangle her distant husband if that’s what it takes to break down the barriers. Then she meets a man who makes her feel special again, one who makes her long for what she’s lost with Nathan.

…she would give anything to reach him.

A vacation to their favorite spot in Belize isn’t enough to draw Hawk away from the team, especially when it seems that each mission in the past six months is rife with misfortune. And when Stacy becomes the target of a deranged killer out to punish Nathan, they must confront their own personal demons before they can triumph over the evil intent on leaving them dead.


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.

All The Don’ts I Learned Publishing My First Novel

I am never at a loss for words and yet I hardly know where to start this post. Information first, I think.

My novel, Infamous, is being released on December 14, 2016, by The Wild Rose Press. So… ya know, yay!


That has literally been me since I signed the contract in April. And then it was me when I finished edits. And then it was me when I got a release date.

Like this whole process is so incredible-crazy-awesome, and yet so challenging. Editing is challenging. It’s one thing to kill your darlings. It’s quite another to have someone else say, “You know this scene, that you wrote with love and time and sweat and tears? It’s got to go.” Not that the editor was wrong, but someone else was murdering my darlings. Or, at least, asking me to obliterate them.

And then, that part’s all done, and you think, “Whew. Hard part is over.” But it’s not. Because then you realize, you know absolutely nothing about marketing. Why would you? You’ve spent 24-7 for years learning craft. Because, take it from me, kids, you’ve got to know craft before you worry about who will publish your awesomely fantastic story.

But, fine. Marketing. I can learn that.


Marketing is hard. Mostly because many people who are giving advice don’t really understand it themselves. It’s more a laundry list of don’ts.

  • Don’t schedule your tweets throughout the day.
  • Don’t not schedule your tweets/posts, or you risk flooding someone’s timeline and being obnoxious.
  • Don’t try to sell your book.
  • Don’t not craft the perfect tweet/post to sell your book. How? We don’t know.
  • Don’t use too many hashtags.
  • Don’t forget to use hashtags.

I could go on, but I won’t because we’re not getting anywhere.

  • Don’t waste valuable blog space complaining about marketing.

Oops. Sorry about that.

But, really, it’s all good. I’m very excited to finally join the ranks of published authors. In the six months between signing that dotted line and today, I’ve finished book two. Of course, there will be edits, but… *sigh*. I’m learning so much, in between the edits and the dont’s, I’ve picked up a thing or two that I’m putting into practice.

I’m signing off, but I’d love to know about your first publishing experiences! Please share, because there’s always more for all of us to learn.


Never-seen-anywhere-else excerpt:

infamous-_-available-december-14Justine put her fists on the bed and dipped her head until they were cheek to cheek. Turning to face him, she let her lips skim across the stubble on his cheek. A short sound escaped him at the touch. So like a growl, it inflamed her. She’d wanted to experience all of him, to touch and taste, a savage need to possess him took over. To take his mouth, to take him inside of her, until she drove all thought from him, the way he’d done to her. His scent flooded her senses, leaving her breathless, as she sought his kiss.

He pulled back to look at her, his eyes as unreadable as ever. He lifted his hand to her cheek and stroked her bottom lip with his thumb. “What is it?” she asked, her breath still coming in uneven bursts.

“I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.” His hand dropped and he eased himself from the mattress.


He crossed behind her, to the door, and she twisted on the bed to look at him. Her robe gaped open with the movement, and she yanked it together with a hand, exposed now.

But he wouldn’t meet her gaze, wouldn’t look at her at all, so it didn’t much matter. He looked at the TV, the window, the floor. Everywhere but at her. “About us.” Finally, he let his gaze rest on her.

Justine flinched slightly, and she hoped he hadn’t noticed. She forced herself to maintain eye contact. “You should go now.”

Sawyer spoke her name, his voice soft and full of pity. For her.

“Don’t. Don’t say it like that. Pathetic Justine, so unwise when she chooses a lover.” Justine climbed off the bed and walked the ten steps across the room to stand in front of him. “You know, I never thought I’d meet anyone more emotionally broken than me.”

“I’m trying to do the right thing here, which is a pretty novel experience for me, so…give me a break.”

Justine whirled away, grabbed his jacket off the chair where he’d dropped it earlier, and threw it at his head. “Get. Out.”

Sawyer caught the jacket before it slapped him upside the head, which disappointed her. He opened the door and then wrenched back around to look at her. “This is twice I haven’t taken advantage of you when you threw yourself at me. Next time, I’m using you for sex. You couldn’t possibly be more pissed by that.”

“There won’t be a next time!”

The door slammed behind him, and she jumped, staring at it for the longest time. She couldn’t get back in that bed, not now. She’d been so foolish, attributing feelings to him he didn’t have, to rationalize her own desires were getting the best of her.

Pre-order now!

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.

How to Save an Author

Hi, all! Jennifer here.save-an-author

I’m here with a friendly service reminder to all you book lovers out there and that is THIS:

Write a review.

You’ll save an author.

Wha?? Yes, it’s true. Book reviewers are just as important to authors than buying and reading their books. Why? Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Around 20-25 reviews, Amazon starts including the book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists. This increases your chances of someone finding your title.
  • Around 50-70 reviews, Amazon looks at your book for spotlight positions and the newsletter. This is IMPORTANT.
  • Number of reviews may affect Amazon sales ranking.
  • Some websites will not consider or promote your book unless you have a number of reviews on the page
  • And, of course, readers may read through your reviews and decide to purchase or not purchase the book based on this.
  • The book market is extremely competitive and extra reviews might tip the scale for another reader to purchase a book or not

But what does all this mean, really, for an author and how does it save them?

If people are reading books but not reviewing then an author can’t compete and earn an income. Unfortunately, if that happens then an author will have to decide if a writing career is truly viable for them or not if they don’t have support to help them.

Now you might be thinking, “But Jennifer, I don’t know HOW to write a review or WHAT to write for a review.”

No problem! The talented author Nancy Herkness has written a step-by-step guide on HOW to write reviews on Amazon which will take you only a minute or two and WHAT to write. It really is that easy. Check them out!

So give it a try. You might just save an author. 🙂

Are you intimidated to write a (good or bad) review for an author?

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.


    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.