Goals for 2017

In the past, my January posts have generally been about how to accomplish as much as possible in the new year. I hate resolutions. In this post, in which I detailed how important it is to set a measurable goal, I said:

[Resolutions] tend to mask a lot of self-hate pretending to be good for you.

I’ll never not feel that way, I think. However, as I said previously, I do believe in commitments and measurable goals.

I have lots of writing goals for this year. I’m writing a 40k novella in January, a full-length from March-July, and finishing a partially complete full-length from August to November. I’ve learned over the last two years of increased productivity that I need December off. Not just because life is so busy, but because I need a break. I’ll be doing lots of editing over the coming year, as well. All those first drafts have to be shaped into something useful.

Personally, I have two main goals. One, I’m giving up my beloved sweet tea. I’m going to miss it–a lot. But, I’m going to replace it with water to make a healthier choice.

Second, I’m going to Dirty Dance. Yes, you read that right. I bought this DVD from Amazon and plan to use it every day, slowly increasing my exercise time over the months ahead, to rebuild the muscles that have stagnated over the last few years of my illness (I have fibromyalgia).

I’m excited to start getting healthier and I believe if I apply the methods I’ve used to increase my writing productivity, I’ll have a lot of success.

Tell me all about your New Year commitments. You can even use that horrible “R” word (resolution).

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Top FIVE Reads of 2016

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

Are you on Goodreads? I love it because it categorizes all my books, what I’ve read and what I plan to read. For someone who functions on organization, it’s a must. And it also helps me set up reading goals for 2017–which is 45 books, by the way. 🙂

As I was setting up my reading plan for the new year, it made me take a look back at what I read throughout 2016.  There were so many great books!

It was hard to narrow down–a few romances, a few “chick-lit”, and a non fiction–but I’d like to share my

TOP FIVE READS OF 2016:

  1. ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes  (Actually, my FAVORITE read of all)
  2. TO THE MOON AND BACK by Jill Mansell
  3. THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne
  4. NIGHT by Elie Wiesel
  5. IF YOU ONLY KNEW by Kristan Higgins

Looking forward to more great books in 2017!

What was your favorite book (or books) you read last year? Have you read any of the ones I listed?

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.

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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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 two young sons 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

Seasons Greetings to All!!

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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.

Release Day for Tempting Mr. Jordan!

Today is release day (happy dance!) for Tempting Mr. Jordan, an historical romance set primarily in Maine in 1871.  The heroine in this book is Julia Tenwick, who we last saw in Stirring Up the Viscount as the hero’s precocious little sister. Now she’s all grown up, and heads off to America for one last adventure before settling in to life as a spinster and doting aunt to her brother’s children.

As usual in romances, she meets a man who throws a wrench in her plans–the arrogant, reclusive painter from northern Maine, Geoffrey Jordan. Geoffrey isn’t based on any one person, but I imagine him a curious hybrid of John Thornton (played to swoonworthy perfection by Richard Armitage) from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Frederic Edwin Church, a 19th century American painter who spent a lot of time in Maine, and any number of arrogant, talented men I’ve met in my life. There have been a few…

One of my favorite scenes in the book comes from a sketch I saw at the Cleveland Museum of Art a couple of years ago. It was in an exhibition called “Maine Sublime,” which featured landscapes by Church and other members of the Hudson River School. In it, there was a sketch he used to paint one of his more famous paintings, Twilight in the Wilderness.

Twilight in the Wilderness, Frederic Edwin Church, 1860

Twilight in the Wilderness, Frederic Edwin Church, 1860

I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of the sketch at the museum, and I can’t find it online, but it looked a bit like this one:

Sketch by Frederic Edwin Church, 1853

Sketch by Frederic Edwin Church, 1853

It was a rough sketch of the scene, accompanied by the names of colors here and there. Church used descriptive sketches like these to paint later. It inspired me so much I hurried home to write this scene:

Marin McGinnisJulia pulled her cloak around her shoulders and left by the kitchen door. Soft snowflakes danced lightly around her head as she made her way toward the water. She loved the crisp air, the snow, the scents of wood smoke, salty waves, and pine. She walked around toward the lighthouse, imagining how much her brother would love it here. He’d have his sketchbook tucked under his arm, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice when the mood struck.

The snow began to fall faster, swirling around as she clambered over the large rocks at the water’s edge. The sky was streaked with red, orange, blue, and gray, and she stopped, perched, just to watch.

“Get out of the way!”

She jumped at the strident tone, nearly toppling into the water. Regaining her balance, she turned carefully, and sighed.

Geoffrey Jordan sat on a neighboring rock behind her, sketchbook in hand. His expression was darker than the sky had been when she started on this walk. Julia was unable to stop herself from stepping back in surprise. Apparently there were bears near the shore as well.

“You’re blocking my view.” The muscles of the man’s face settled into a grimace which Julia found only marginally less frightening than his scowl.

“All right, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there.” Julia took another step back and cried out in pain as her foot slipped into a crevice between the rocks.

Geoffrey swore and tossed his sketchbook to the side. He strode over to her and held out a hand.

Given his expression, Julia considered whether it might be safer to remain where she was. Geoffrey stuck his hand out again, waving it impatiently.

Julia finally realized she was more annoyed than afraid. “How am I supposed to grab your hand when you wave it about like that?”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” He reached down with both hands and grabbed her waist, pulling her to her feet. She ignored the tingling of her skin where he touched her and focused on her anger instead.

“I don’t know why you’re so angry at me. It’s not my fault I fell. You startled me.”

“You stepped into my line of sight. And now the sunrise is nearly gone, I’ve missed it, and it’s entirely your fault.”

Julia realized his hands still rested on her hips, and she pushed them away. “You sound like a petulant child.”

He returned to his sketchbook and sat down again. He started scribbling, ignoring her. She ignored him as well and gingerly ran a hand over her throbbing ankle. Her stocking was torn, and a shallow cut showed through it. Deciding she should return home to clean the wound, thanks to this odious man, she slowly made her way across the rocks past him. She caught a glimpse of his sketch as she passed. Intrigued, she stopped and bent at the waist, looked over his shoulder.lighthouse-1039189_1920

“You’re barely drawing anything at all. What does that say?”

He scowled again, but he answered, “Scarlet.”

She pointed at the corner of the drawing. “And that?”

“Azure. I thought all proper English ladies could read.”

“Your handwriting is terrible. What does that say?” She pointed again.

“Orange.”

She peered closer. “It does not. It looks like ‘crindle.’”

He laughed, and she turned her head to look at him. He was much less frightening when he laughed. Handsome. She blinked and unbent.

“‘Crindle’? What on earth does that mean?”

Her cheeks warmed. “Well, I don’t know, do I? It’s your drawing.”

“And it says ‘orange.’ What are you doing out here anyway?”

“I wanted to go for a walk.”

“At the crack of dawn?”

“I didn’t think I would see anyone.”

“Why didn’t you want to see anyone?”

She sighed. “Because conversation tires me, sometimes. This one in particular.”

“I don’t disagree.” He stroked his pencil across the paper a few more times, and she craned her neck to look.

“Why didn’t you just paint the sunrise? Why describe it?”

sky-1599469_1920“Because the sunrise is a fleeting thing. It never lasts long enough for me to paint it, so I sketch the scene and write the names of the colors, to jog my memory when I am in my studio.”

Julia turned to look at the sky. It was gray now, with little wisps of blue and white streaked across it. All of the stunning red and orange hues were gone. She suddenly felt terrible for ruining his view.

“I am sorry I got in your way. I don’t suppose you could try again tomorrow?”

He shrugged. “A sunrise like that one is rare.”

Now she felt even worse. “Well, I am sorry.”

“Where did you think you were going? The rocks lead out into the water, and the tide will be in soon. What if you’d fallen when I wasn’t here to help? You’d have drowned.”

Shame was quickly replaced by annoyance. “I wouldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t startled me!”

“Well, it was careless.”

Julia placed both hands on her hips and stared at the insufferable man. “You haven’t a very high opinion of my intelligence, have you?”

“I have no opinion of your intelligence at all. I think you take risks that a lady shouldn’t take.”

“I was hardly doing pirouettes out here! I would have been fine if you hadn’t yelled at me.”

“I didn’t yell at you.”

“Yes, you did!”

“Fine! I’m sorry I yelled at you. Now go home, before you truly hurt yourself.” Before she could reply, he tucked his sketchbook under his arm, stood, and scrambled away across the rocks like a crab.

She watched him go, annoyed with him and herself in equal measure. Well, mostly with him. Insufferable man. She gingerly followed, lifting her skirts higher to avoid the rising water. The tide was indeed coming in.

She hated that he was right.

You can read more about Tempting Mr. Jordan–including buy links, should you be so inspired–at my website. And should you find yourself in northeast Ohio, you can see the original of Twilight in the Wilderness, which hangs in Gallery 206 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Perhaps it will inspire you too.

And if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads, you can enter to win this great Maine-themed gift box, offered by me and author Becky Lower.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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 the hills of 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.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    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.