School for Grown Ups

I have to admit that I approached this theme with some trepidation. I don’t have children and the whole summer holiday’s thing just passes me by.

But maybe going back to school shouldn’t just be for children. I think as we get older (and I do know a little about that) we need to make the effort to learn new things.

My life up to the age of twenty-four was pretty much all schooling. First, actual school, then University where I studied Ecology and Marine Biology, and finally, studying for my Accountancy qualification while working in London (by far the hardest). Anyway, once that was over, I understandably decided, no more—I was through with learning.

Or so I thought.

Of course I wasn’t. All through life, we pick up new skills. In this age of fast changing technology we have to or get left far behind. But I did manage to put off any formal education for a good long time. And didn’t return to “lessons” until I took up writing seriously and realized just how much I had to learn.

My first venture into re-educating myself was an Open University online course called “Start Writing Fiction.” I loved it. That was around eight years ago after we’d moved to the mountains in Spain—the perfect place to write—and it was my first creative writing course.

I’ve done a lot since then, everything from, writing dialogue, description, branding myself, marketing myself, how to edit, how to crit, how to kill someone with a pointy (or blunt) weapon, how to plot not to plot… There are courses for everything. And I’ve found I really enjoy learning new ways of doing the same things—but of course doing them better (I hope).


But writing is pretty much my life now, and I think it’s important to look outside that and learn something different, some totally new skill. My latest re-education venture is far different from writing—I’m learning to trim my horse’s hooves. I have a mare called Gencianna. Up until now, like most horses, she’s worn shoes. No more—she’s going barefoot, which means she needs a regular pedicure. And so far, it’s a lot harder than learning to plot.


So have you been back to “school” recently? What did you learn? And if not, is there anything you’re dying to study. Let me know for a chance to enter into this month’s draw.

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Back to School = Back to Writing Routines


There always seem to be an ebb and flow to my writing. The ebb usually coming in the summer. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those consistent writers. I do tend to slack off a bit in the summer to spend more time with my family.

But now that school has started again and the beach is no longer calling my name, it’s time to get back into my normal writing routine. But I confess, it’s been kind of hard to get into the groove even though I really want to.

So to better prepare for my writing days ahead, I’ve done FOUR things.

1) I downloaded the first ten chapters of my WIP (where I left off) to  my Ipad and have read through it entirely and made some notes. Truth is, I kind of forgot my story and needed to reintroduce it to myself. (it’s not half bad!)

2) I’m caught up on all my laundry, food shopping, and house cleaning. (No need to have any added excuses around vying for my attention)

3)I went to the library and took a walk around—just to SEE the books. I took a look around and thought, “Oh yeah, if all these people can get  ‘er done, so can I.”

4) Lastly, I looked at my beginning of the year goals, made some adjustments, and rewrote what I want to get done this fall. (I do love goals)


I’m ready for the flow to come back now and I’m off to edit!


How about you? If you’re a writer, do you tend to write less in the summer?

If you’re a reader, are you anxious to get back into your normal household routine now that school has started again?

***The blog swag this month is a $10 Amazon gift E-card courtesy of author Julie Jarnagin! Comment on any post in September to be entered to win!***

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. 🙂

A Seasonal Effect


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


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.

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


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.

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.

DSC00747_1 (1)

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.



(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.



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.



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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:

Twitter @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.

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