Happy Reading

I know there have been a couple summer reads posts on the blog already this month, and this is another one, but hear me out. A Facebook friend posted a “must read” list the other day, and every one of the books was intense–about mental illness, or cancer, or the Holocaust, betrayal, murder, suicide. I asked if anyone read happy books any more, and the answer was no. Really?

I will say that I don’t always read happy books, and I definitely don’t watch happy TV–I’m binge watching Bitten and Penny Dreadful at the moment–whoa. The books I write, although they have happy endings–a requirement in romance, of course–tend to be on the dark side. But every once in awhile, I need something light-hearted–the literary equivalent of an ice cream cone. And when I want to read happy, I’ll usually pick up a romance.

But the Facebook exchange got me thinking. I can’t remember the last time I read a happy book that wasn’t a romance, although cozy mysteries come very close–my faves are the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton, and the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. Browsing through Goodreads, it’s hard to find one–every description seems to contain the words “poignant,” “deeply affecting,” “deeply moving,” “haunting,” yadda yadda, which are usually code for “will make you bawl until snot comes out of your eyes.” I’m sure they’re great books, but they’re not for me.

So my challenge for you, friends, is to help me come up with a list of feel good books for the summer. Happy, but not happy-ever-after. I found a few that look promising, and they’re on my TBR list for an upcoming road trip to Massachusetts and Maine:

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The title alone is enough. I actually read and finished this book after I drafted this post. Read it. You must, must read it.

 

 

The Whistling Season. Aptly demonstrating the power of a good blurb.

 

 

 

My Lady Jane. I’m not entirely sure how happy this will be–Lady Jane Grey didn’t exactly have a happy ending–but I am intrigued nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

What books do you recommend, or have on your TBR list?

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.

Summertime!

Whether the calendar agrees or not, June is my official summer kick-off. Kids get out of school the first week of the month here in Las Vegas and we are ready to take a vacation! Sadly my littles and I haven’t been on a vacation in two years, but that is about to change. We are heading to California for a little beach, fun, family, and R & R! And of course as I started writing, music started popping into my head, so let me share with you, my Summertime Kick Off Playlist!

A few to take us back….

Just got to love a little DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Oh! And how can you think of taking a vacation without this little gem in your head?

And no playlist is complete without a little Jake Owen…

If I’m totally honest, this last video is my favorite. I love me some Jake! Well I love me a lot of country singers, but that is a topic for another post. So tell me, what are some songs that just pop into your head when summer hits, or vacation is coming up?

About Kinsey Corwin

Kinsey Corwin, a contemporary romance author who really is drawn to small town stories, beaches, and cowboys (I know, that is quite a mix). She is a single mom of amazing boys, a fan of kitchen experiments, a lover of country music, and a dreamer.

End of Summer Funk ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #amplanning #PCers

By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.

It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.

This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.

With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.

Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.

I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.

While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.

Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.

For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.

Planner-Cover

Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.

Goal-Page-#2

The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.

Goal-Pages

Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.

Day-Pages

Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.

Priority-Page

The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.

Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.

I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.

What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.

Until next time…

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.

Summertime

This weekend marks the start of summer. ‘Tis the season of weddings (I’m sitting in the airport, on my way to Oklahoma for my nephew’s wedding, as I type this), vacations, no arguments with the kid about homework, warm and lazy afternoons spent reading by the neighborhood pool, firefly chasing, evenings on the patio drinking sangria with friends, and, hopefully, lots of writing as well.

Summer is also the season of writing conferences. I went to one a few weeks ago, hosted by my local Northeast Ohio RWA chapter. It was fun, informative, a bit exhausting. I consider it preparation for my first trip to the RWA National conference in July, which will, I expect, be like the NEORWA conference on steroids. Lots of steroids. I honestly can’t wait.

Because I’m too tired to keep writing–I had one of those nights where you wake up every 20 minutes because you’re neurotic about oversleeping–I will ask you: What’s your favorite part of summer? What are you most looking forward to this year? And if you’ve been to RWA Nationals, feel free to share some tips!

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.

Another Corner, Another Café

First, I really apologize for getting this late. I don’t have the excuse of kids going back to school or any of the other things others might have. See, I decided to take classes myself this year and I had my first test, or quiz as they call it, of the course yesterday. More on that next month.

Beer-ResizedThis month, it’s all about food or things that go along with food. Living in the city of Vienna has given me a completely different aspect of food overall. People here take their meals very seriously and many summer nights can see them lounging in the cafes talking about the latest something or other. Most of the conversations are in German but those that I do manage to understand are on subjects we all hold near and dear: home, family, school, work and more.

Sidewalk-Cafe-ResizedDuring the summer season, the doors are thrown open and the inside comes out. Most all restaurants and cafes have outside eating areas and those that don’t are at a loss for customers. The space can be fancy or not, big or not, but all of them have a sense of something special that is so hard to define. Never have I found a place like these in the States. I’m sure they exist but it won’t have the same ambiance as the places here.

 

From your seat, you can see marvelous things like bike races along the Ringstrasse. If you go further afield away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown, you’ll see the vineyards that dot the Vineyard-Resizedhills around the city. It can be on a narrow street, where you wonder just what is happening at either end or it can be in the center of a platz where you wish the people would move along.

Dessert ResizedNo matter where you are in Vienna, you’ll find a café and more delights than you ever imagined!

 

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.

Unexpected Gifts

Many years ago, when I set out to write my first novel, all I could think about was the story. Where would these characters go? How would they get there? Who would accompany them on their journey? Would anyone even want to read about them?UnderDeckFlowers

After all these years, it’s still about the story. But I’ve received some priceless unexpected gifts along the way. And they are the relationships I’ve cultivated with other writers. The people who ‘get’ me and the things I worry about. And the things I want to work toward.

When I started out, it never occurred to me that I would meet some of my best friends on this journey. Everyone says writing is a solitary occupation, and it is to some degree. But the support of my fellow writers, those who’ve reached out to help me along the way have made a wonderful impact on my life, and I’m so very thankful for all of my writer friends.

They’ve turned out to be kind of like this petunia I discovered under my deck today. A beautiful, unexpected gift waiting for me in a place I never thought to look.*

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!

 

*(And just for the record, I didn’t plant or buy any petunias this year.) But nevertheless, it’s still a lovely surprise. Lucy was disappointed it wasn’t something to eat.

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.

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