2017 Goals by Julie Jarnagin

The Passionate Critters have been in planning mode this week. Everyone has been sharing their goals and dreaming about the year to come. It has been fun to see the similarities and differences in how we’re planning for 2017, but we all have the same hope – to have a healthier, happier, more productive new year.

Here’s a few tips I’ve collected from seeing the goals of our group:

  1. Decide how to break it down: Some people have set monthly or quarterly goals. Especially as writers, it’s hard to plan for November and December now. So many of us have set early goals that we’ll look at again later in the year.
  2. Balance: Most of the goals have a balance of personal and professional goals. We all included writing goals (because we’re a writing group), but many of us also set family and health goals too.
  3. Realistic but big: We all have big dreams, but we also try to keep our feet on the ground. Several of us have day jobs, young kids, and other big responsibilities outside of writing.
  4. Keep it simple: My plans consisted of only a few bullet points because too many goals tend to bog me down. I want to keep the most important things top of mind.
  5.  Having friends to encourage you is key: We’re lucky to have a group of encouraging ladies to cheer us on. Share your goals in the comments, and we’ll cheer you on too.

Do you have reading goals for the year? My goal is to read 100 books in 2017. Join my in the Goodreads reading challenge. https://www.goodreads.com/challenges/5493

My Latest:

Engaged by Friday

From a USA Today bestselling author Book 4 in the Matched Online series

Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?
After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis. Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

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Kobo
iBooks

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

Heart Songs

Like most of us, I’m part of several social media groups. One of them revolves around a cable TV show and it’s quite entertaining. Of course there’s a dashing male star, we’ll call him… Fred. Someone asked everyone to post pics of the ‘Fred’ in their life. Looking at the posts there were photos of men who were tall, short, thin, not so thin, bald, and every other male attribute you could imagine. The only thing they had in common with the male star were the women in the group. The comments made it clear that every woman who posted was very proud of her ‘Fred’.

I love my Fred, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. And I realized it’s those very qualities that ring true for us in our writing. It’s not only about love, although that’s primary for romance, it’s about those indefinable characteristics which draw us into love in the first place, and then ultimately keep us there. Intelligence, kindness, honor, integrity, gentleness, valor and other qualities that reach into our hearts and make them sing.Christmas Wishes

Even though this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, myself included, I feel so blessed. Not only to have a great man in my life, but to have the treasure of great writer and reader friends who share my love of the romance genre in all its many forms.

As writers we have great talents, and we are unique in the way that we give the gift of love through our stories. For that shining moment of HEA or HFN we help people believe in the magic that sings to their heart, and allow them to be a part of something unique and wonderful. That’s a remarkable thing. And yes, it’s a ‘thing’. It was a thing long before ‘things’ were popular.

At this time of year I’m most grateful for this writing journey and for each of you. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. During the holidays when everyone is focused on family, food, and whatever may pass for fun in your world, step into the quiet for just a moment, listen to the music of your heart, and know you are loved.

Wishing you the best of holidays! See you next year!

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.

Collaborating with Other Authors by Julie Jarnagin

One of my favorite parts of being an author is getting to work with other writers. One way I get to work with awesome authors is through the critique group I’m in with the ladies on this blog.

Another way is getting the opportunity to take part in anthologies. This month, I’m excited to announce a new novella, Engaged by Friday that you can get on its own or as part of a four novella anthology.

One reason I love working on projects like this is because of the creativity that comes when more than one author brainstorm together. It was so much fun to come up with the idea of four women on a high school reunion planning committee making a pact to use online dating to find reunion dates. From that idea, we all helped each other come up with our own twist on the original idea. There’s something about writing within the confines of a collection that helps me come up with fun, unique ideas.

Not to mention, that I love these authors as people. So I hope readers have as much fun reading these stories as we had creating them!

Engaged by Friday

From a USA Today bestselling author Book 4 in the Matched Online series

Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?
After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis. Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

Amazon
B&N – Coming Soon
Kobo
iBooks – Coming Soon

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iBooks

In this four-book anthology, join four friends on a journey to find the perfect guy—online.

With their ten-year high school reunion on the horizon, four girlfriends make a pact to find reunion dates through online dating. But nothing is simple when they are Matched Online…

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Dates by USA Today bestselling author Lacy Williams

Single mom Angela thought she was ready to date again, but several disastrous online matches have her reeling. And it turns out she’s more attracted to the handsome coffeeshop barista than any of her dates. Drew Scheffield is only in town for the summer, looking for a distraction from debilitating grief. But as he gets to know Angela he discovers his heart isn’t as dead as he thought. As Angela’s online dates continue to go wrong, she falls for Drew. Will Angela lose the perfect guy in 10 dates?

A Package Deal by Robin Patchen
It’s been years since her cancer treatments, and Jo is finally ready to move past her illness and try dating again. Her first online match seems perfect, except for a mysterious call that has him ending the date early. Carter should have been upfront with Jo about his five-year-old daughter. Now that he’s falling for her, he fears telling her will push her away. When they learn the truth, can Jo and Carter accept each other’s package deal?

Rival Hearts by Susan Crawford
After a senior-year humiliation, the only thing that could’ve brought Morgan home is her passion to bring a much-needed food bank to town. Somehow, she got wrangled into being on the reunion committee. And into a pact to find a reunion date online. Sparks fly when she’s paired with her high school rival—the man who ruined her life. Slater is not the same class jokester he used to be. When he sees Morgan again, he wants forgiveness—and something more. Can Morgan open her heart to the former rival who might just be her perfect match?

Engaged by Friday by USA Today bestselling author Julie Jarnagin
Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?
After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis. Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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


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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!

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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.

The Process of Failure

Fear of failure has stalled many a writer. In growing up, we’re taught that failure is bad. Don’t fail your test, don’t fail your classes, don’t fail the team, and don’t fail your family. Just. Don’t. Fail. At anything. When we ‘fail’ we are conditioned to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We are not worthy of success. (To this I say, “Hooey.”) We can be paralyzed by our seeming inability to do what someone else appears to do effortlessly.

Failure as a writer can take many forms, and it can take us out of our comfort zone in a big way.

  1. Bad reviews of our work, or no reviews at all.
  2. Few or no book sales.
  3. Basic invisibility in the publishing world. No one seems to notice all the hard work you’ve put into your book. What if nobody reads it?
  4. Rejection letters.
  5. Your editor or critique partner doesn’t like the passages that you poured hours of work into and feel are some of your best work, and they suggest you cut them all.

Really, what would happen in your life if any of these things took place? I can tell you every single one has happened to me. And ultimately they didn’t change my life in the ways I thought they would. The sun still comes up, I still go to the evil day job. Still fix dinner, and still struggle to find time to write. Maybe I’ve failed enough times that it doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Or I finally understand that writing is a process, and what others may view as failure is really just part of one’s progression as a writer. I can’t not write, therefore I must continue on.

The act of writing is what brings me joy. Creating a vision with words and sharing it with the world fulfills me like nothing else. And yet, it includes failure. Just like it includes editing, proofreading, formatting and all of the other things that are necessary to make a book happen. Failure simply means discarding things that aren’t working and keeping at it, until you find out what does work. As I’ve come to understand this, failing doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it used to.

Here’s to embracing our failures because truly, they are part of our success.

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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.

Finding Great Ideas ~ #LynnCrain #PCers

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Many times I have been asked where I get my ideas. That question can be asked at a book signing or a conference and can come from a reader or another writer. My ideas have been considered outside the box and many times an idea will sit in a file until I can either use it or keep it until the right time. Most of the time though, I am quite happy to tell people I have a great imagination but there are times when I will take something that is known and twist it to my own ends.

Still, those germs of imagination have to come from somewhere so here are my top five of where I get my many, many ideas.

1 ~ I am a voracious reader ~ Most authors would agree that they will get some ideas by reading stories by others. Frankly, you can’t be a great writer unless you’re a great reader. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve been reading novels since I was in second grade. Sure, they were little kids’ ones but they were much longer than the standard book.

The one thing I do as a writer is not read in the genre I’m writing. Meaning, when I’m writing sci-fi romance, I read regular romance. When I’m writing fantasy romance, again I will read some form of regular romance. No writer wants to find out they’ve ‘accidentally’ used something from their favorite writer and one needs to be very, very careful there.

2 ~ Science Magazines ~ Being that sci-fi anything is one of my favorite genres to write, I constantly look over the many science magazines online. They can be a fount of information and I’m always game for twisting the currently known and making it my own. It’s where I found my first holographic display, where I noticed that the nanites were getting smaller and smaller. Anyone can use magazines to find out the current trend in the world then figure out to best use it in their story, no matter what the genre.

3 ~ Music ~ How many times have you listened to a song and wished there was a full story behind it? Add a music video along with that and sometimes it just clicks. Of course, you’d have to change it to make it your own but it does give you that germ of an idea for the ball to start rolling.

4 ~ TV Shows ~ This is the easiest one for me because there are times I’m a very visual person. You can watch a scene then think to yourself, ‘What if I took it one step further?’ And again, the ball starts rolling. Another thing I’ve done is watch a totally contemporary story and wonder what it would be like if it were set 200 years in the future or in the past. Some shows keep the ideas flowing for days.

5 ~ Be an observer of people ~ This is the best one. I used to go to airports early while waiting for my husband because I loved watching people. I would try to figure out their stories and then wonder if I could make it my own. Many times I’ve been caught in a restaurant booth where I overhear a conversation that grabs my interest. Of course, I know you don’t get the whole story that way but I realize I can make it my own. Think of the many times you’ve seen people and wondered just what was going on or what their story was.

One thing to remember is to be very careful that whatever method you use, it’s totally new because it’s from your mind and your perspective. It is never cool to take a story from somewhere else and claim it as your own.

For the ideas I don’t use, I keep an idea file that is sorted by genre then by type. If I’m ever at a loss for what to write about, I will pull out that file then scan the contents. Sometimes I will use one I’ve previously done or it will trigger a totally new idea and I’ll go off on a different tangent. The one thing I do know is that I have more ideas than I’ll ever write. At last count, my idea file had over 180 ideas in it. Now if I could just write a story a day…and that’s what makes writing so fun…it’s never boring!

See you all next month!

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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.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    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.