What Summer Means to Me

Gate-ResizedEveryone has their own definition of summer and I guess I’m not your average summer person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the season as long as there are no bugs involved. I love beaches, cool summer evenings and how the desert calms as the day ends on a hot summer day. And here in Vienna, Austria, I get to walk through the vineyards on cloudy days while looking at the city.

Yet, I do have a very different perspective as I look at it from the day of my birth. See, I was born on Summer Solstice and therein is my problem. My birthday is the longest day of the year and for some, that moniker isn’t that all inspiring. Except when you spend it in Scotland.

In Scotland, on my birthday, the sun doesn’t go down until sometime around 11 pm and it makes an interesting time. Especially when one decides to stay up the whole night to see what really happens. When the sun does go down, it’s not the real down you might imagine. It just kind of dips beneath the horizon, hovers there for a few hours then rises again. You can still see the light from it but muted as it is below the edge of your world.

So then, just why do people get some all hot and bothered by the day? Let’s look at its history. The word solstice is derived from a combination of Latin words mean sun and to stand still. It comes from the fact that as the days get longer, the sun rises higher in the sky and appears to stand still. It is considered a major celestial event. However, when we in the northern hemisphere are having our longest event, those in the southern hemisphere are having their shortest day. Those in the southern hemisphere have their longest day on December 21st.

The actual solstice celebrations were pagan in origin. Pagans call the midsummer moon a honey moon for the mead made from fermented honey. Mead was part of the summer solstice wedding ceremonies then and the happy couple would ‘honey moon’ the night away. Those same pagans celebrated the day with bonfires as couples leapt through the flames in hopes that their crops would grow as high as they could jump.

Pagans also believed it to be a time of magic when the veil thinned thus allowing evil spirits to appear. They would wear protective garlands made of herbs and golden flowers from calendula and St. John’s Wort. The plants were picked on this day for use throughout the year. St. John’s Wort is still used today to chase away the devil within us.

As Christianity entered pagan areas, midsummer celebrations were incorporated to be new Christian holidays that tried to mix the old and the new. Interestingly enough, those in northern Europe celebrated the event on varying days between June 21 and June 25. It was called St. John’s Day in honor of John the Baptist’s birth and celebrated on June 24 by the Christians with St. John’s Eve celebrated on June 23. In Roman times, it was celebrated on June 24. And surprisingly enough, June 21 isn’t always the longest day of the year.

I know that solstice celebrations vary from place to place in the US. The most interesting one I haven’t gone to was one at Stonehenge. We were near the area on my birthday twice and neither time could we make as you have to purchase tickets up to two years in advance to get into the monument.

Another one I haven’t attended but plan on doing so before I leave Austria is the spectacular procession on ships down the Danube River through the Wachau Valley just north of Vienna. Apparently up to 30 ships sail down the river in a line as the river banks and hilltops erupt with fireworks and bonfires blaze. Vineyards are light up and castle ruins also host fireworks as one cruises for a 90 minute jaunt downstream. Now that would be a birthday to definitely remember!

Welcome to summer…now go out and enjoy those summer days…and catch some lightning bugs for me!

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.

Hot Summer Nights

Everyone likes to do something different in the summer. For many years race tracks were my thing. I know, how smart do you have to be to drive around in circles, eh? Most people would tell you, not very. But it’s not the driving that gets me. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s the challenge of racing. Taking a bare chassis and building something piece by piece until you have a car. Directed primarily by a loose set of rules, each part thought about, calculated into the whole, saved for and pushed to the limit.

At the track, it’s dark, it’s loud, and it’s endless. There are so many tasks to perform before a race, during a race, after a race and during the week. And that doesn’t count what you have to do if you manage to wreck the car. Primarily it’s the mental challenge that drew me. The math, the calculations all done at every instance just to make sure your machine goes faster than someone else’s. I realize competition is a dirty word these days, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

I know how far I can push myself, physically and mentally, and it’s much further than I ever dreamed. Those hot summer nights are something I’ll never forget. The winning, and the blood, sweat, and tears. The losing, the sweet smell of fuel additive and best of all, dinner with friends at three in the morning.RTW 250x400 11.17

When it came time for me to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write my first book, I wrote what I knew. Literally. If I had a question, I knew the right people to ask. I’ve been able to use many of my experiences as a basis for incidents in my books.

This left me able to concentrate on the writing. Exciting beginnings, no sagging middles, and the prerequisite HEA. It’s with a grateful heart that I post about my latest release, Running Three Wide. It wouldn’t be finished without the help and encouragement of the Passionate Critters. Thanks, Ladies!

Here’s the blurb:

Drive hard. Turn left. Find love…and danger.

Sarah Miller has finally become crew chief for a racing team, but her dream job comes with a hitch—dirt late model driving sensation and the man she swore she’d never see again, her old flame, Damon Blade.

Damon has too many women trying to run his life: his mother, his sister and his boss. Getting stuck with a female crew chief is the last straw…until he discovers its Sarah. And that someone else from his past is holding a grudge and determined to kill them both.

Balancing dirt track racing and staying away from a murderer has them running three wide. Headed full speed into the turn, will there be room for romance?

If you’re interested you can buy it here.

Here’s wishing each of you a great season. What do you love to do in the summertime?


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.

Summer Lovin’ & Movie Music

Image: zoomerradio.ca

Image: zoomerradio.ca

Admit it…you started singing this, didn’t you? That’s okay. So did I. It’s hard not to! Such a catchy tune!

Anyway, I started this blog intending to talk about great beach reads, because reading is my absolute favorite thing to do in the summer. We went camping for Memorial Day and I devoured Lexi Ryan’s entire Wish series. What is it about books when the sun is shining and you’ve got a cool drink at hand? They just seem SO much better, don’t they?

Well, I shifted directions and today we’re going to talk about movie music instead. But Molly, you say, May was movie month. Yes, yes, I know. And I totally blame Youtube for this post. I went in search of the above link and, well, the Youtube sidebar was too tempting and before I knew it, I’d watched a bunch of videos for my favorite summer movies. Not so coincidentally, they’re all chick flick type movies. I do write romance, you know! *smile*

My favorite is probably the soundtrack from Dirty Dancing. It never fails–even if it’s the middle of February–when I hear She’s Like the Wind, Hungry Eyes or Time of My Life….I wanna roll the window down and let the wind blow through my hair. Watching those videos, I also realized where I got my urge to write books. I think I watched that movie a hundred times the summer between 6th and 7th grade. And that’s probably not an exaggeration. Frankly, I’m surprised the VHS tape didn’t start on fire.

How about Top Gun? I was never a big fan when it was popular, but I watch it now and I could totally fangirl over Tom Cruise before he became a jaded crazy person. This song and this video? Seriously hot stuff. Makes me wanna join Netflix again just so I can binge on old Tom Cruise movies. *sigh*

Then there’s Armageddon and this song, which made me think of Pearl Harbor and this Faith Hill classic. Okay, so I might’ve watched that video and sobbed like a flippin’ baby. I know PH isn’t the most popular movie among romance authors, but I love it to pieces. I may have named Josh in Can’t Shake You after Josh Harnett. In hindsight, I realize that my plot (boy meets girls, boy goes off to war and girl falls for boy’s bff at home, only to have boy return) is also a bit much like the PH plot. That, my friends, must’ve been entirely subconscious because it certainly wasn’t planned. It must also be a testament to how hard I love that movie. Netflix is sounding better and better with every passing second…

Anyway, I could go on and on–and on–but I’ll stop and let you take a turn sharing your favorite movie songs. I can think of at least a half dozen more of my favorites. I bet you name them!!!

Happy Tuesday! ~Molly

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.

Guest Post — Gina Conkle

How Do You Feel About Adventures?

Years ago my oldest son asked that question while we ran errands.  He was near the end of kindergarten and summer stretched before us. But, his simple question started a family tradition that we all love — The Adventure List.

Every summer and Christmas break, our family makes a wish list of things we want to do on poster-sized paper.  Sometimes our quests are simple: see the latest superhero movie, day at the fair, or go-karts.

Once in a while, we get brave and go big.

Our latest plan?  Tallinn, Estonia for Christmas!

Maybe you’re scratching your head…Estonia-where?  Then you consult a map and see how close Estonia is to the Arctic-freakin’-Circle!

But here’s a few gems to consider:

iStock_000011311558Small-Tallinn Old Market Square decorated for Christmas*Tallinn, Estonia’s home to one of Europe’s best preserved medieval old towns.  Why not celebrate the holiday at the Christmas Market on Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) decorated for the season in Middle Ages style?

Tallin_Tavern*Need to keep warm? Try Black Pepper Schnapps in one of Europe’s oldest still-in-business taverns.  That ceiling? It’s over 700 years old.

*Like variety? Explore a multi-cultural mix of architecture: German built castles, Russian Onion Dome churches, and Baroque Kadriog Palace (when Peter the Great ran Estonia) all in the same city.  But, if that’s not old enough for you…

Old town of Tallinn Estonia*Talinn’s Old Town is 62 square miles of antiquity ready to be explored.  A UNESCO site, the Old Town boasts archaic shops with people still living in medieval buildings.  And the pharmacy? Opened in 1422 and famed for everything from marzipan to “powdered unicorn horn” (for male potency)! Even Russian Tsars ordered medicine from that very shop.

iStock_000004151112Small-Pepper Pot turrets, Tallinn*Do you like wi-fi and a cappuccino with your history? Tallin’s counted among the top ten digital cities in the world. You can experience the past with present comforts. While sipping your hot beverage, meander past pepper pot turrets, architecture that was all the rage in castle building from the 13th century through the Renaissance.


Alexander Nevsky Cathedral*But if that’s not old enough for you, learn about war-like Oeselians (Estonian Vikings) whose relics are thankfully found only in museums.  Ptolemy wrote about them in Geography III (2nd century BC), and famed Viking skald Snorri Sturluson recorded their antics in Norse Sagas.

Now, we’re getting to time periods I love.

Archaeologists recently uncovered a rich Viking grave site (a two ship burial) on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, and I plan to visit those Norse artifacts in toasty, warm Tallinn museums.

Not a bad list of offerings for a place once described by a Muslim cartographer as “a small town.”

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes going off the beaten path yields the best treasures.

What’s on your Adventure List?


19129_255294294601511_2017641803_n_(397x349)Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

On my website: http://ginaconkle.com/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/ginaconkle

On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/180kL1y

On Pinterest: http://bit.ly/180l9gu


Norse_Jewel-800pxDon’t miss Gina’s Latest release, Norse Jewel

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Helena, a captive woman, wants her freedom. The Frankish maid wasn’t born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her and she’s desperate to escape their camp.  Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her far north.

A hard Norseman who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. She lures him with kindness, weaving happiness that’s short lived. Deceit and old loyalties vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he loves?


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.

Summertime…Music to My Ears

This month at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, our theme is summer. We’ve talked about everything from movies to favorite vacation spots and activities. We’ve talked about romances with summertime settings and our awesome vacations and staycations.

I’m a huge fan of summer. I love hot weather and our annual beach vacation. My birthday is in July. We’re no longer bound by the “school schedule.” For me, there’s plenty to love about summertime. I even have a summer playlist featuring some of my favorite songs that remind me of warm weather, vacations and all things hot and fun. 🙂

As a writer, a playlist helps me set the right mood for my writing. For example, if it’s the middle of winter and I’m writing romance set during summer vacation, my playlist helps me forget that softly falling snow and remember, in vivid detail, the feel of hot, grainy sand between my toes. Also, during warm weather, I love rolling down the car windows and blaring some of my favorite warm-weather tunes.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites.

Summertime, New Kids On The Block

Cruel Summer, Bananarama

Summer Breeze, Seals and Crofts

Sealed with a Kiss, my version is performed by Bobby Vinton

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Dirt Road Anthem, Jason Aldean

Carolina Girls, General Johnson and The Chairman of the Board

So, what are some of your favorite summertime songs?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a $5 Amazon e-Card and a digital copy of Nina Croft’s upcoming release from Entangled , Losing Control.



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.

Like Oil and Water


It NEVER looks so peaceful!!

Let’s face it…

After starting this blog entry three different times, I have to to admit, I’m not a summer person. I don’t like the heat. I’m not a fan of humidity.

My stories don’t often include The Beach…or boats, towels, pails, or pina coladas.

Once in a great while. That’s it for me. Like my story, Dark Summer, which takes place in Belize, during the late summer months. And also, Flashback, which is an early summer story set on the banks of North Carolina.

Give me a cozy cabin story, anyday. A hike through high altitudes when the rest of the country is sweltering, but I am enjoying wonderful 70 degree air. That’s me….

I remember being a kid and visiting Lake Michigan, during the winter months. Snow banks, ice, and COLD wind, blowing off the water.

Sybils_Cabin_Winter_Rear_2There are many things to like about summer, and I can enjoy a summer day just as much if not more than a winter day [when my husband’s with me], but over all, I’m a fall/winter kind-of-gal.

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.

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