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.

Hot Summer Nights

Everyone likes to do something different in the summer. For many years race tracks were my thing. I know, how smart do you have to be to drive around in circles, eh? Most people would tell you, not very. But it’s not the driving that gets me. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s the challenge of racing. Taking a bare chassis and building something piece by piece until you have a car. Directed primarily by a loose set of rules, each part thought about, calculated into the whole, saved for and pushed to the limit.

At the track, it’s dark, it’s loud, and it’s endless. There are so many tasks to perform before a race, during a race, after a race and during the week. And that doesn’t count what you have to do if you manage to wreck the car. Primarily it’s the mental challenge that drew me. The math, the calculations all done at every instance just to make sure your machine goes faster than someone else’s. I realize competition is a dirty word these days, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

I know how far I can push myself, physically and mentally, and it’s much further than I ever dreamed. Those hot summer nights are something I’ll never forget. The winning, and the blood, sweat, and tears. The losing, the sweet smell of fuel additive and best of all, dinner with friends at three in the morning.RTW 250x400 11.17

When it came time for me to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write my first book, I wrote what I knew. Literally. If I had a question, I knew the right people to ask. I’ve been able to use many of my experiences as a basis for incidents in my books.

This left me able to concentrate on the writing. Exciting beginnings, no sagging middles, and the prerequisite HEA. It’s with a grateful heart that I post about my latest release, Running Three Wide. It wouldn’t be finished without the help and encouragement of the Passionate Critters. Thanks, Ladies!

Here’s the blurb:

Drive hard. Turn left. Find love…and danger.

Sarah Miller has finally become crew chief for a racing team, but her dream job comes with a hitch—dirt late model driving sensation and the man she swore she’d never see again, her old flame, Damon Blade.

Damon has too many women trying to run his life: his mother, his sister and his boss. Getting stuck with a female crew chief is the last straw…until he discovers its Sarah. And that someone else from his past is holding a grudge and determined to kill them both.

Balancing dirt track racing and staying away from a murderer has them running three wide. Headed full speed into the turn, will there be room for romance?

If you’re interested you can buy it here.

Here’s wishing each of you a great season. What do you love to do in the summertime?

 

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.

Summertime…Music to My Ears

This month at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, our theme is summer. We’ve talked about everything from movies to favorite vacation spots and activities. We’ve talked about romances with summertime settings and our awesome vacations and staycations.

I’m a huge fan of summer. I love hot weather and our annual beach vacation. My birthday is in July. We’re no longer bound by the “school schedule.” For me, there’s plenty to love about summertime. I even have a summer playlist featuring some of my favorite songs that remind me of warm weather, vacations and all things hot and fun. 🙂

As a writer, a playlist helps me set the right mood for my writing. For example, if it’s the middle of winter and I’m writing romance set during summer vacation, my playlist helps me forget that softly falling snow and remember, in vivid detail, the feel of hot, grainy sand between my toes. Also, during warm weather, I love rolling down the car windows and blaring some of my favorite warm-weather tunes.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites.

Summertime, New Kids On The Block

Cruel Summer, Bananarama

Summer Breeze, Seals and Crofts

Sealed with a Kiss, my version is performed by Bobby Vinton

Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

Dirt Road Anthem, Jason Aldean

Carolina Girls, General Johnson and The Chairman of the Board

So, what are some of your favorite summertime songs?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a $5 Amazon e-Card and a digital copy of Nina Croft’s upcoming release from Entangled , Losing Control.

 

 

About Tina Vaughn

Tina Vaughn is an award-winning journalist and contemporary romance author who's always dreamed of being a writer. Her writing career began in elementary school when she wrote 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. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband and daughter, and is known for commemorating milestones with silver jewelry, tattoos and/or ice cream.

Summer Freedom

Freedom…

To sit by the pool

…and the beach

Go on trips

Soak up the sun

Visit city fairs

Eat corn dogs

Excuse to go shopping for Summer Clothes!

Okay, so maybe Summer isn’t the only time to be free, but when this hot, hot, hot season rolls around, these are all the things I think about.

I’m definitely not a heat person, but then I don’t like the cold either. What can I say? I’m a hard person to please… But I do love the things that I can associate with summer. Who can resist all that happy sunshine and festival food? (Make sure you throw me in an air conditioner as an option in case I roast too long outside.)

I have to say my best summer was in Hawaii. Okay, maybe it was my best year…

First Cruise

First I went on a cruise. First cruise ever! And it was pretty amazing…except for my friends having motion sickness the whole trip… But the food, the ocean air, the stops on exotic islands, and shopping–totally impressive! I would do it again if I could…

DSC_0032Then my move to Hawaii, where I experienced the hottest months of my life (I’m talking about whether for those whose minds wander…). The weather was gorgeous everyday. My trips to the beach were fun and careful, and I’ve never seen bluer water. Along with the amazing food, cultural experiences, I had no trouble adapting to Bohemian life. I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity.

The opportunity to experience life and freedom away from home was the best gift I had ever gave myself. It was my best summer–my summer where I had the chance to reflect upon life and figure out what I really wanted, which was to write. And it was also the time, I had the chance to find myself. DSC_0058

Summer brings me freedom and the chance for me to wind down and remind myself that I need to slow down and enjoy life.

What does Summer mean to you?

About Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

Home or Away?

Home

Home

Someone recently asked me—if I could go anywhere this summer, where would I like to go? I answered—can I stay at home, please?

But then, I’m writing this sitting in the shade of an almond tree on a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s the middle of a Spanish summer, it’s hot, and I love it!

Summer is my favorite time of year.

I come from the north of England. Growing up, I yearned for the sun, and when I started reading romances in my early teens, I was always drawn to the ones with hot, sultry settings and with tall, dark, handsome heroes; Greeks, Italians, Spaniard’s, all hot-blooded and spectacularly rich (owning their own island always helps). I dreamed of Spanish summers and of one day lying on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach with a stunningly gorgeous, very-nearly-naked hero of my own. He’d be all golden skin and rippling muscles, and one look from his dark eyes would melt me into a puddle in the sand.

So, at eighteen I headed south in search of a real summer.

I never found my Mediterranean hero, but I did find a lovely English guy instead. We spent a lot of time travelling when I was younger but when it came to settling down, it was hardly surprising that I ended up not far from the Mediterranean. In fact, I now live on a farm in the mountains of Southern Spain, which looks down onto the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s a remote area of mountains and steep rugged gorges, where mules still plough the small vineyards, and mains electricity is something they have in the towns. We have no near neighbors and the nearest shop is nearly an hour away. I share the farm with my husband, my horse, two goats, four dogs, three cats, a three-legged Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, and a handful of chickens (so it’s just as well we like staying at home).

I love the area, the people, the food, the fiestas, and the summers…

It’s also a fabulously inspiring place and it’s not unsurprising that I now find a few of those smoldering heroes slipping into my own work.
Even in my science fiction romance, Break Out, which takes place over a thousand years in the future, and in a distant solar system, the hero, Ricardo Sanchez, comes from Spain. And he’s hot—just like the summers here.

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So where would you spend your ideal summer…home or somewhere more exotic? And who would you spend it with? Let me know and all comments will be entered into a draw to win a $5 gift card and an ecopy of my soon to be released contemporary romance, Losing Control.

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.

Summer Camp Romance

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The setting of my novel, Canyon Walls, has a special place in my heart. I loved attending camp every summer through my junior high and high school years, but my best memory of camp was meeting the man who became my husband.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I was hired at the camp I had attended since 7th grade. I moved into a tiny cabin with three other girls. I spent my time cooking in the cafeteria and cleaning cabins. Serving cafeteria food and scrubbing bathrooms wasn’t a glamorous job, but it taught me a lot about hard work. It was also fun to spend the summer among the campers.

Toward the end of the summer, a cute guy showed up at the camp to spend the week as a counselor. We became friends, and before the summer ended, he had asked me on our first date.

If you’ve ever attended a summer camp, you know that the time spent in the camp separated from the demands of everyday life can make it feel like another world. For me it also included the awesome experience of falling in love. It made a summer camp the perfect setting for my first novel. Each day writing the story of a camp director fighting to save a struggling camp allowed me to be transported back to that place and time in my life.

Did you attend summer camp? Did you have any special experiences there?

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

  • 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.