“Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” -Dr. Seuss

normalwvviewI live in the mountains. Actually, I live in a valley surrounded by mountains and when I was a little girl I imagined that living in a bowl would be exactly the same.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that some of the sights I see every day–endless trees bursting with color, gurgling streams where rocks jut out to create the perfect sleepy fishing hole, fluttering snowflakes that settle inches thick to blanket my part of the world–are things people spend money to vacation to see.

Of course, most of us don’t appreciate what we have and long for that which is far away and exotic. I have found those places in books all my life.

The bustle of a New York city street, munching croissants in a street cafe in Paris, sloshing through the constant rain on a busy London sidewalk. I’ve been all these places and more. An Irish pub, an Italian villa, a Bahamian beach bungalow.

The thing is, it didn’t quench my desire to see these places. It only made me want more. I set the first novel I wrote in a city, a big one, and struggled to write it because I knew nothing about living in a big city. I did throw in a visit to a small town, which I think is one of the highlights of the story. I’ve since realized to write what I know; I can tell you everything about small town life. I suppose there are people out there that long to read about the simplicity and connection that comes with living in a small town.

I have hopes of being able to take some “research” trips one day. Tell me about your favorite books where the setting stood out as much as the characters.

(My first recommendation? Anything by Nora Roberts set in Ireland. Seriously, wow.)

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 Benefits of Taking a Vacation from Writing

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I’m going to be doing some traveling this month to visit family. I’ve been considering whether or not to take another kind of vacation while I’m away–a writing vacation. Here are five good reasons to take a vacation from your manuscript.

  1. Gives you time to have experiences that will inspire your writing. A weekend trip to the lake, a concert in the park, or dinner with interesting people are all the kinds of life experiences that can lead to new story ideas and fresh characters. If we spend all our time in our respective writing caves, we won’t have anything new to draw from.
  2. Helps you see your writing with a fresh set of eyes. Writing needs to breathe before the editing stage; otherwise, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. A break between the first draft and the edit can be just what you need to see your manuscript more objectively.
  3. Reminds your friends, family, and loved ones what you look like without a laptop glued to your fingers. Balance is vital, and we need to learn to protect our relationships. Being on The New York Times Best Sellers List won’t mean anything without the people we love there to share it.
  4. Provides time for reading. We all know writers should also be readers, but sometimes it’s difficult to find time to read for enjoyment when you’re writing. Take a writing break and fill your e-reader with all those books you’ve been dying to dive into. Not only will they provide wonderful information about trends in your genre, but a great book will remind you of the power of story and why you love to write.
  5. Gives your mind space for creativity. Just like a page layout needs white space, our minds need room to wander and play. Silence, quiet walks, and prayer or meditation can all improve creativity.

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.

Summer Schedules

 

dreamstimefree_102201Summer is my favorite season, but as much as I love it, my writing does go down because I’m constantly running kids to the beach or camps or trying to adjust to NOT having a schedule.  But this summer I’m on a mission to finish my manuscript and have it subbed by the end of July (Or early August)

*cough cough*

Anyhew, this self-imposed deadline has forced me to do a few things differently in order to meet my goal.

Here’s what has helped me:

1) I get up earlier. Having a new puppy has certainly helped with that respect, but I found it’s a GREAT time to get some needed editing or writing done while the kiddo is sleeping in.

2) I exercise more. What? Yes, this actually has given me more energy and my mind seems to be in better focus in the early morning.

3) I cut my blogging schedule. As much as I enjoy reading and writing blogs, that is A LOT of time to use that I don’t have until the fall. And guess what? I still have my bloggy friends and my sales have not been affected.

4) I cut my Facebook time. Yes, I like Facebook and I like all my Facebook friends. But I check in ONCE a day for 5 minutes and then I’m out of there. And guess what? My FB friends still like me and my sales have not been affected.

5) When I have two or three hours of time to work on my writing—I ONLY work on my writing. Yes, I’m tempted to throw in a load of laundry or just quickly empty the dishwasher, but those little things add up to BIG time eaters. I do them AFTER I’ve worked on my writing.

6) I’m reading less. Is that a good thing? Well, for me, summer is usually my reading time, but since I’m writing, something has to be sacrificed. Not that I’m not reading at all, just not reading as much or as fast.

That’s my summer schedule and I’m sticking to it. So far, it’s been working out great. 🙂

 

How about you? Does you writing schedule change in the summer? How do you keep on track?

Don’t forget, every comment this month is entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card AND a FREE digital copy of Nina Croft‘s July release from Entangled, Losing Control.)

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Wedding Romances? I do

This month we’ve been talking about weddings here at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses.

While I wasn’t a June bride, I was a summer bride. My husband and I will celebrate our twelfth anniversary in August. Why August? Well, it was for a most practical reason. We chose the date because, by then, my husband had completed his college coursework and received his degree.

That’s the thing about weddings. Sure, they are romantic and full of promise, but they can also be practical. Just look at the use of weddings in romance novels and movies.

As an avid reader and author, I find that marriages of convenience and fake engagements are fabulous tropes for a romance author.

Ask yourself this question: What if true love isn’t the reason a bride or groom says “I do”? If they’re not marrying for love, why are they willing to wed?

There are an infinite number of possible answers. It’s obvious our hero and heroine need something from each other. Maybe the wedding will help seal a business deal. Maybe those nuptials are a publicity stunt. Or maybe one of our characters needs money.

The thing is, getting married isn’t going to solve all their problems. It’s going to create a whole set of new ones. Our hero and heroine aren’t interested in love, but that’s exactly what they find. And this is the type of tension and angst that, in turn, helps create the stories I love to read—and write.

Weddings in romances can also help set the tone for the entire novel. The wedding can be the happy ending. Weddings can even be the tool we use to introduce or reunite our hero and heroine. And, don’t forget this: the hero and heroine don’t necessarily have to be the bride and groom. What if their professions bring them into the wedding sphere? Think photographers, planners, florists, caterers, bakers, ministers, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Do you like to read or write wedding romances?

Please comment and share some of your favorites with us.

All comments this month are entered into a drawing for a $5 Amazon gift card.

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.

Wedding… eh

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I’m going to step over a few boundaries…being a romance writer and all…and I’m going to blog about why the wedding just isn’t the Cat’s Meow [for me, anyway]. An era [or two] ago, the wedding was the pinnacle, the day girls dreamed about…the brass ring [or the gold one].

I’m a huge advocate for weddings. I’ll admit to crying when I go to them. I love the dancing, the food, the dressing up. If you’re lucky…free drinks, too!

But, the truth is… It’s a day, a start to something much bigger.

[Disclaimer –>] Its importance [for me] is the sacrament it brings to the relationship, the Grace of a blessing from above [cuz most of us need that like air to breathe]. Perhaps if you’re not Christian the importance might be the legal binding it adds to the relationship… or the tax break. 😉

But as a married person, the wedding day seems more like the catalyst to everything else. As a writer, I believe that it’s the journey, not the goal, that is important. That being the case, the wedding is…eh. Wear white, wear red, wear black. None of that will change who you are and how you’ll need to change or grow in order to live in peace with your best friend. It won’t change the trials you go through, the highs of being in love, and the lows of being hurt.

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When I finish a story and I think to myself… epilogue or no epilogue??? I’ll tap my pencil on my desk and think. What do I want to show? It’s NEVER the wedding day. It’s always beyond that…to the real HEA. The joys of married life and having someone beside you through thick and thin.

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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