A Seasonal Effect

fall

September was always my favorite time of year. School always started on the 1st. There would be new clothes, new books at school, new pens. New teachers and new friends. Crisp autumn mornings and flaming leaves ushered it all in.

Fall meant change for me and always has. Even after I graduated from college, I would still sniff the change in the air one morning and feel hopeful suddenly. It’s become a time to begin new projects (most of which I never finish)–new blankets to crochet, new story ideas, even a new wardrobe makeover. Even though the leaves turn and float to the ground, I can’t see it as an ending, thought it’s often referred to that way metaphorically. For example, I’m nearly 40–does that mean I’m in the Autumn of my life?

Actually, that’s totally okay. I do want a new beginning. I do want to begin developing new habits. I want to eat healthier, I want to live happier, I want to see life more clearly. Maybe it means we can look at our lives and just let ourselves explode with color, begin the work that will bear fruit in the future.

What seasons affect you the most? I can’t be the only one who takes a cue from their environment. Does summer make you vow to enjoy life more? Does spring make you hopeful? Does winter make you sentimental?

Don’t forget, every comment is entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card from Julie!

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.

Back-to-School for Adults

Learning

My son started preK this year. It was exciting and a more-than-a-little scary to drop him off on his first day, but he’s not the only one in the family who is working to learn more this year. As an author, I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills. Whether you’re a writer or have a different passion like learning new languages, improving your health and fitness, or couponing, living a life where we’re always striving to learn more and better ourselves can help us live more successful, fulfilled lives. Here are a few of my favorite ways to learn something new.

  1. Read a book. Whether it’s a book on writing or a great novel, reading broadens our horizons and teaches us valuable lessons.
  2. Go to a conference. I’ll be headed to a conference later this month, and I can’t wait to connect with like-minded people and hear experts teach. There is nothing like being able to escape the expectations of your daily life to immerse yourself something you love to do.
  3. Take an online class. If conference fees and airfare are too much of an investment, check out some of the free and cost effective online classes available. Online classes can provide access and sometimes even feedback from some of the biggest names in the field.
  4. Find a group or support system. I have a stellar writers’ group in my area and another amazing group online (waving to all my wonderful critique partners). Whether it’s face-to-face or through the computer, having a group of peers who constantly push and encourage us is vital to growing and improving.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to learn something new?

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

We’re going back to school this month on Heart-Shaped Glasses

pencils

Sharpen your pencils because September means it’s back-to-school month here on the blog. Whether we’re talking about new schedules, the joy of school supplies, college days, or sharpening our writing skills, it’s the perfect month to celebrate all things school related.

At the end of the month, we’ll draw one winner from all the commenters in September to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

We’ll also be hosting guest professors Cynthia Owens on the 15th and Jennie Marts on the 30th.

So put on your thinking caps because it’s time to go back to school.

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

Guest Post — Robin Bielman

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be back on Heart Shaped Glasses! I love this month’s theme! Huge thanks to all the gals and especially to Bethanne for inviting me here today.

~*~ Treasured Places ~*~

I love to travel. Actually, I take that back. I love being in new and/or favorite places. The getting there is often hard for this motion sickness afflicted girl. Not that I’m going to let that stop me! I have plans. Big plans. Plans that involve a tower in Paris and a coast in Amalfi and a few places in between.

Until then (cross your fingers everyone!), I do have a few favorite places here in the states. Places my family and I have traveled to that have been the perfect setting for fun, adventure, and lasting memories.

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The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, my breath literally caught. I was in total awe. Pictures just don’t do its grandness justice. While there, we got to experience beautiful blue sky and snow. It was magical both ways and the only time I wished I could blink and be back in our cabin was when my then eleven-year-old thought it would be funny to get waaay too close to the edge of the trail we were hiking on. Talk about my heart dropping to my feet. In my newest release, Risky Surrender, the setting is Arizona and there’s a scene at the canyon’s El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. We had dinner there one night and the view of the rim was amazing.
DSCN0254Besides Europe, my travel bucket list includes as many national parks as I can get to. We’re fortunate to live within a half-day’s drive to Yosemite and once again, we were in awe of the natural beauty surrounding us. We hiked and went river rafting. Laughed and wondered how we’d react if we saw a bear. (We didn’t.)

Our most favorite spot so far, though, is Hawaii. We love Maui and Kauai and have been fortunate to visit a few times. We love going on adventures in between lying out by the pool and spending time at the beach, and these pictures are from our last trip to Kauai. We took a hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls along the Na Pali Coast. That first picture is the easy part of our trail. As we got closer to the falls, the terrain grew rugged and slippery and we pretty much had to follow a stream to the waterfall since there was no obvious path. The trail ends at the foot of the waterfall (picture #2) and it’s spectacular. We jumped in despite the water being freezing cold and then hiked our way back. The hike took most of the day and I’ll always remember it.

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(You guys! In the middle of writing this, I took a quick break to eat dinner. Chinese take-out. And guess what my fortune said? You will discover an unexpected treasure. I thought that tied in nicely with my title of this post and had to share. J)

Okay, so lastly we recently decided to play tourist in our own backyard and hike to the Hollywood sign. We brought our dog, Harry, and we trekked up the wide-open trail. A far cry from Hanakapi’ai. And I loved this little sign! Especially because really, anyone could get to that point.  Our little Harry (he’s a mini labradoodle) was barely out of breath.

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So tell me, where’s the one place you’ve visited that you’ll treasure forever? Leave me a comment and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy of the first book in my Risk It series, Worth the Risk.

About Risky Surrender

Risky Surrender- 1600She was in search of an ancient treasure…and stole his heart instead.

Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she’s forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she’s carefully constructed around her heart. 

Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she’s up to something. She’s secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Risky-Surrender-Entangled-After-ebook/dp/B00EGJE3MC/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/risky-surrender-robin-bielman/1116394349?ean=9781622662395

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/risky-surrender/id687063778?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/risky-surrender

Robin in velvet pastel haze 620About Robin Bielman…

Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini labradoodle, Harry. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Kissing the Maid of Honor and Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers. Visit her online:

 

http://robinbielman.com

Twitter @RobinBielman

http://facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

http://goodreads.com/robinbielman

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.

Heart-Shaped Glasses August Mash Up

IMG145Can you believe that August is almost over? I know I can’t. While my favorite season is just around the corner, I still always feel sad when those last days of summer roll around and the kids had back to school.

We hope you enjoyed the August blog theme of “travel and settings” – I know we all did. And for those of us who weren’t able to vacation this summer, I felt as if I traveled the world this month with all of you.

As you sit back and enjoy the last days of the month, we’ve got a few sites and articles we’d like to share.

Nina recommends:

What Does a Literary Agent Want to See When They Google You?
http://thewritelife.com/what-does-a-literary-agent-want-to-see-when-they-google-you/

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Bethanne shares:

http://ramp.ie/index.php/reviews/books/top-ten-horrible-book-covers/

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Debora suggests:

Great article on writing dialogue:
http://writerswrite.co.za/writing-great-dialogue

Small actions, deeper characters, better stories!
http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/small-actions-deeper-character-better-scenes/

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Jennifer likes:

Why authors should respond to reviews of their book on Amazon http://www.takepermission.com/publishing-books/self-publishing-reviews-amazon-respond/ via @andytraub

How Can I Possibly Write AND Market? Here’s How! – http://ow.ly/nNxtH

13 Ways to be a Better Writer http://rebeccatdickson.com/2013/08/22/13-ways-to-be-a-better-writer/

And…

42 Fiction Writing Tips for Novelists – http://ow.ly/o1DJ2    #writers #writetip

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Julie enjoyed:

Both reader and writer friendly. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/magazine/stephen-kings-family-business.html?_r=0

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Tina recommends:

The trademark issue in writing sports romance
http://romancingthejock.com/2013/08/the-trademark-issue-in-writing-sports-romance/

The Three Pillars of Selling More Books
http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/3-pillars-of-selling-more-books-online/

 

We hope you find a little bit of inspiration or learn a little something from the links we’ve passed along. Remember that all comments through the end of the month are entered to win our monthly prize, this month it’s a free download of the winners choice from the Decadent Tease imprint sponsored by Clarissa Yip!

Have a link to a great article or blog you’d like to share with us? We look forward to seeing it in the comments!

See you next month!

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Small Towns, Big Stories

Setting is so important. The perfect setting can frame and showcase your characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Your setting can add deep layers and meaning to the developing romance, heighten the sense of mystery and danger or accentuate heartwarming and heart-wrenching family dynamics. For me, nothing helps me achieve my writing goals like a small-town setting.

I’m fascinated by small-town dynamics…probably because I spent more than fifteen years as a community newspaper reporter and editor.

I love the dichotomy of citizens’ public and private personas and how those differences fuel the gossip and “scandal” in communities,  influence both personal and public decisions and, most importantly, impact personal relationships. These conflicts make for great tension in your writing, especially when they involve a hot hero and strong, sassy heroine.

There are three main reasons I enjoy writing, and reading, romances with small-town settings.

The small-town setting lends itself to certain tropes and themes I enjoy. Forced proximity, conflict of interest, leaving home, returning home, reunion romances, bad boy/good girl, etc. The list is endless.

The sense of community. Friends, family, personal history, gossip…I love all the characteristics (good and bad) of small towns and communities.

Creative freedom. I create fictional towns, which means I’m not bogged down with a lot of research. I have complete control over my own little corner of the world. (The control freak in me loves this.)

So do you live in a small town? Enjoy reading or writing romances with small-town settings? I’d be interested in hearing your impressions and experiences.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into our August giveaway. The blog swag this month is a FREE digital copy of the winner’s choice from the new Decadent Tease Imprint courtesy of Clarissa Yip.

About Tina Vaughn

An award-winning journalist and contemporary romance author, Tina's writing career began in elementary school when she drafted her friends' love letters to their boyfriends in exchange for Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. After spending nearly fifteen years as a journalist and newspaper editor, Tina remembered she preferred fiction to fact and began writing what she loves most...steamy, contemporary romance.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    Cyn D. Blackburn's Wrapped Up in You releases on November 13. *** The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was 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, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.