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 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

Guest Blogger — Shelley Munro

Earthquakes, Art Deco Napier and New Zealand

Earthquakes have been in the news recently in my home country of New Zealand, since another large one struck Seddon in the South Island yesterday. Aftershocks rippled through the region and into the Wellington area of the North Island. Luckily for me, I live in Auckland and have yet to experience the earth moving in this manner. We have fields of volcanoes in my city, but that’s another blog post!

Napier-Masonic Hotel exteriorBack in 1931 at 10:47am an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the seaside town of Napier in the North Island of New Zealand. Fires broke out and soon destroyed the buildings that had survived the earthquake. 157 people died in Napier due to the earthquake and the resulting fires.

Instead of rebuilding the Victorian-style town immediately, the locals formed a planning committee and made a careful plan for their new town. After much research, they decided to build in the new Art Deco style. This was a practical decision because the buildings were square in shape and robust. Most desirable should there be another earthquake! The Art Deco style was also cheap to build, which was a must in the current economical climate of the depression. The third reason for choosing Art Deco was that it was very fashionable.

Napier-Colenso BuildingThe Market Reserve building was the first of the new Art Deco style structures to be constructed after the quake. The builders were instructed to use rivets on the steel frame instead of welding in the normal method. The planning committee wanted as much noise as possible to send a message of hope to the residents. Rebuilding had commenced!

These days Napier is a modern town, but the Art Deco buildings remain as a feature and bring lots of tourists to the area. My hero and heroine in my contemporary romance, One Night of Misbehavior visited the Napier area for a weekend, and like me, the heroine rather liked the plain, blocky style of the buildings and the decoration that comes from intricate zigzags, starbursts and Egyptian and Mayan designs on the facades.

Napier-MusiciansMy hero and heroine visit the Art Deco store to purchase clothes to wear to a 1920s costume party. The Art Deco flavor of Napier is enhanced with music, souvenirs, cars and costumes. Even the fountain is an Art Deco design to blend with the town buildings. Visitors can take a walking tour around the different buildings or do a self-guided tour. It’s a pleasant walk with lots of cafes and pubs along the way when you require a break. There’s also a long stretch of beach to amble along, and if you’re a fan of wine, the local wine-growing region shouldn’t be missed.Napier-vintage car

If you’re ever down this end of the world, I highly recommend a visit to Napier, or if a trip to New Zealand isn’t on the cards, grab one of my New Zealand set books and do some armchair traveling instead. J

New Zealand is a beautiful country. If you were to visit New Zealand what part would you visit first? What would you like to do first?

~*~*~

Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.

Shelley is also a writer blessed with a VERY vivid imagination and lives with her own hero in New Zealand. She writes mainly erotic romance in the contemporary, paranormal and historical genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at the following links:

WEBSITE: http://www.shelleymunro.com

BLOG: http://www.shelleymunro.com/blog

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/ShelleyMunroAuthor

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/ShelleyMunro

PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/ShelleyMunro

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ShelleyMunro

NEW ZEALAND SET BOOKS: http://www.shelleymunro.com/books-by-theme/#newzealandsetting

 

One Night, FINAL200x300Shelley’s Latest book: One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CB8801A

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.

Travel vs. Moving

I love to travel, which is probably a good thing, because I’ve spent all my life moving, from one place to another. I’m going to give the short blog, list version of my travels….

Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids to Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh to Manila, Phillippines [a side trip to see the Pope and visit distant family there]–a once in a lifetime opportunity that I earned by writing an essay. Paid-for-trip by the Knights of Columbus… I always stick a dollar in their Tootsie Roll fundraising. 😀

In here, I travelled the country with a mission group, stopping in many states of the western side of the United States–MN, WI, KS, OK, TX, NM, CA, CO…

Pittsburgh to Fairfax, VA

Fairfax to Steubenville, OH [for college, where I got married]

Steubenville to Denver, CO [for husband’s post-grad]

Denver to Steubenville, OH [back to our old stomping ground to start off “real life”] ***also where I started writing!!

Steubenville to Fairfax, VA [where we lived with my parents and husband studied for the CPA exam]

Fairfax to Decatur, IL

….and then we joined the ARMY! haha.

Moving vs. Travelling

There are always two sides of the moving coin. The excitement of starting off new, of tweaking behavior, trying something different. And the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. I think what I love about moving around so much is the chance to grow more roots, make new friends. Find something different to make my life fuller. Maybe the truth is…I’m not much of a traveller at all. I like being home. Maybe that’s why I’m destined to move so much.

Now, if I could just get the Army to move us to Belize! or Ireland! or Spain–for a season! 😀 Have a great weekend, folks. Enjoy where you are.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win this month’s prize.

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.

5 Benefits of Taking a Vacation from Writing

beach

I’m going to be doing some traveling this month to visit family. I’ve been considering whether or not to take another kind of vacation while I’m away–a writing vacation. Here are five good reasons to take a vacation from your manuscript.

  1. Gives you time to have experiences that will inspire your writing. A weekend trip to the lake, a concert in the park, or dinner with interesting people are all the kinds of life experiences that can lead to new story ideas and fresh characters. If we spend all our time in our respective writing caves, we won’t have anything new to draw from.
  2. Helps you see your writing with a fresh set of eyes. Writing needs to breathe before the editing stage; otherwise, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. A break between the first draft and the edit can be just what you need to see your manuscript more objectively.
  3. Reminds your friends, family, and loved ones what you look like without a laptop glued to your fingers. Balance is vital, and we need to learn to protect our relationships. Being on The New York Times Best Sellers List won’t mean anything without the people we love there to share it.
  4. Provides time for reading. We all know writers should also be readers, but sometimes it’s difficult to find time to read for enjoyment when you’re writing. Take a writing break and fill your e-reader with all those books you’ve been dying to dive into. Not only will they provide wonderful information about trends in your genre, but a great book will remind you of the power of story and why you love to write.
  5. Gives your mind space for creativity. Just like a page layout needs white space, our minds need room to wander and play. Silence, quiet walks, and prayer or meditation can all improve creativity.

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

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.

Heart-Shaped Glasses June Mash-Up!

IMG145

Welcome to our monthly mash-up of places and things we found interesting this month!

Bethanne likes:

For Writers, Avoiding Cliches, http://suspense.net/whitefish/cliche.htm

Another one for Writers on using a Facebook Fan Page as a website?
http://janefriedman.com/2013/06/29/facebook-cant-replace-website/

Debora likes:

Writers looking to  grow the skills necessary to compete in today’s ever-changing publishing industry have help. This July, join ten speakers in the Muse Camp Telesummit. This online event provides information about marketing, blogging, Twitter, self-care, as well as ways to navigate between digital-first and self-publishing options. It’s free to register for this two week event, which begins July 8, 2013.

Visit http://www.musecamp.com to register for this FREE event and to learn more.
May the muse be with you

And for the history lovers…Interesting photos of the time of an Oklahoma 1913 time capsule.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/treasures-unearthed-from-oklahomas-1913-time-capsule

Julie’s find:

A great blog post I ran across about writers and doubt! http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2011/07/writers-and-doubt.html#.UPna045gslJ

Jennifer recommends:

A few links to guestimate your amazon sales based on ranking:
http://kdpcalculator.com/index.php

http://www.theresaragan.com/p/sale-ranking-chart.html

Visit our special guests!

Because we love our guests…here’s a link to our June guest bloggers one more time!

Melanie Reyes Photography:  http://www.melaniereyesphotography.com

Author Jeannie Moon:  http://www.jeanniemoon.com/blog

* * *

That’s all we’ve got for this month – but if you have a great link you’d like us to check out or would like to see us feature…don’t be shy, add it here in the comment section and we’ll give you a shout-out next month!

As always, every comment is another chance to win our monthly giveaway! Thanks for stopping by and we’ll be back next month with more fun links!

 

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.

  • 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.