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Writing Detours

I write historical romance. I love taking a break from the crazy modern world and immersing myself in another time. But of course, to be a historical author requires research, which I love. My husband calls me the research weasel, and he knows that within minutes I can usually find the answer to whatever question arises. Sometimes I suspect he does this in order to distract me, but never mind–it always works. It’s “oh, look, a squirrel!” for geeks.

albino squirrel

Anyway, my research wanderings often interrupt the flow of my writing, although I try to keep that to a minimum by doing quite a bit of research before I start. The heroine in my first book is a cook, which required me to find recipes from 1866. On rare occasions I made a few things, with mixed results. On the second page of the book I needed the heroine to mail a letter, which naturally required an hour of research into the English postal system in 1866. Then the heroine needed to take a train to Durham, which required two hours of research into train fares and timetables in, yes, 1866.  Now you might think this was not so important, and indeed, the stamp question really wasn’t, impacting, as it did, exactly one sentence in one scene. The train question, however, had an impact on what time of day she had to leave London, how long it took her to get where she was going, and how much money she would need, and it framed several scenes. In the end, I couldn’t find some of the answers, and I took a little bit of literary license because if I didn’t, I’d be flying to York to visit the National Railway Museum. Which would be awesome, but somewhat impractical.

When I sit down with a book idea, I try to anticipate most of the research questions I’m going to have before I start to write. This approach does give fewer opportunities for meandering, which is generally a good thing for one’s productivity. Sometimes I will come across a research question while writing, and I’ll put a question in brackets in the text, and will come back to it later. But some questions you absolutely must answer before you can keep going, and these are the ones that drive me crazy, because sometimes there is no answer, or not one that’s easily found. Do I spend hours researching, or do I just skip the scene and go back to it later? I am new enough to writing that I don’t have a method that works for me yet–maybe I never will, but perhaps that’s okay too.

So I am curious, writer friends. How much research do you do when you write, and at which stage in the process do you do it? How many squirrels do you chase?

About Marin McGinnis

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. A newbie writer of Victorian-era romance, she clings tenaciously to the as-yet-elusive publishing dream. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching small children skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out here with her HSG friends, Writing History at marinmcginnis.blogspot.com, or on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis.

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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 the fast lane of Atlanta for life in the slow lane, in the hills of Bluegrass Country. Her existence is never dull as she works to blend city expectations with country reality. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing on the deck with a good book, or cooking for family and friends, which is another story...

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Anyone for Robots…

I’m a romance writer. I write in all sorts of genres, paranormal, sci-fi, contemporary, suspense, but up to now my stories have always had romance at their heart. But I love trying new things. So when I was offered the opportunity to write a short story for a science fiction anthology, The Robot Chronicles, I jumped at the chance and made the scary decision that this time there would be no happy ever after.

For a while now, I’ve been plotting a series that takes place around a spaceship, The Pioneer, sent from Earth in the not-too-distant future. The ship is crewed by androids, but there are also one hundred human passengers, all sleeping during the long trip. They are awoken when the ship reaches a habitable planet, and the series follows their adventures and interactions with the new world, the android crew, and their fellow passengers.

I got to thinking about what sort of people would sign up for a place on The Pioneer, for a trip into the unknown which might never have a happy ending. So when I was deciding on my story for The Robot Chronicles, it seemed the perfect excuse to explore just why Vicky Harper, ex-senior homicide detective, wakes up after a long sleep to find herself on a faraway planet.

robot chroniclesEthical Override by Nina Croft

The year is 2072, and under the administration of the Council for Ethical Advancement and its robotic Stewards, the Earth has become a better place.

Bored and restless in an almost perfect world, senior homicide detective Vicky Harper dreams of adventure among the stars—and of faraway planets where people are allowed to make their own mistakes. It seems an impossible fantasy.

Then one of the ruling Council members turns up dead, and someone offers to make her dreams come true. All she has to do is lie.

The Robot Chronicles releases on 25th July!

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.

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Inspiration as of late…

Wow, I almost forgot to blog today! I was busy shopping and having yummy lunch and buying pretty cupcakes. :) It was a nice getaway and a much needed break from my routine of hardcore Friday writing. Right now, I’m finishing up the second full novel in my River Bend series–Can’t Get Enough–and it’s funny how much I’ve been inspired by country music while writing this book. Luke Bryan has been especially inspirational, but the video that I can’t stop watching (and the song I can’t stop listening to)??  This one…

What do you think? Does this sound like a small town romance? Heck, yes, it does! Love it!  What’s your favorite song right now? Or what are some other songs that might be good for a steamy small town love story? I could use all the inspiration I can get!! :P

 

About Molly Mclain

Molly is a talker. Get her chatting about books (or book boyfriends) and she can go for hours. Socializing is her favorite part of blogging with a bunch of like-minded authors. It's like having coffee with your friends at all hours of the day. Molly also likes coffee. A lot. Blogging at HSG? It's a win-win in Molly's book!

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Forty

My birthday is this month and forty is just around the corner. I’m not sure I can easily describe what this summer has, already, been about for me. I’ll try: one lost (and found!) pet, poison ivy, am I middle-aged, two-thirds of my children are adults, and discovering the farmer’s market.

I’m feeling pretty aged this summer so I thought I’d make a list of the top five perks to being over forty:

  1. We’re layered. Much like Shrek, at this point, we’ve accomplished things, failed at others, been irresponsible, been so, so freaking responsible, and pretty much watched the age of computers and video games evolve from infancy. Not to mention music videos and the first Real World. (“This is a story about seven strangers..”.). We know things and we’re still young enough to impress with this knowledge.
  2. There was no such thing as social media when we were in high school and college. I breathe a sigh of relief nearly daily for that.
  3. We observe first. As mentioned earlier, we’ve seen so much come and go and come back again, we don’t jump in without checking the water first. It’s a wisdom thing.
  4. imagesWisdom. We haz it.
  5. We’re still fabulous. I think we’re likely the generation who will not go quietly to elderhood. We’ll dye our hair, drink a sangria, and tell you about that great book we just finished. And you will listen. Because it’s rude to interrupt your elders.

I hope your summer has been full of awesome and, more importantly, you’ve read some great books!

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. It's all about the story. Always.

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Four Ways to Declare Independence

Patriotic Pampered Pocket Pooch Posing Proudly from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Randy Robertson, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Julie here! Tomorrow is Independence Day, which we usually celebrate with fireworks and cookouts. This year, let’s celebrate by declaring independence from all the things that hold us back.

1. Independence from other people’s expectations. Sometimes women tend to care too much about what other people think of them. It’s time for us to break free and follow our hearts.

2. Independence from our body issues. I just had a baby in March, so I get it. Sometimes we don’t love the way babies or age changes our bodies, but it’s time for us to stop letting the way we look in a swimsuit rule our emotions. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t going to make us feel better about ourselves. So accept your body at whatever stage it’s at and dive in.

3. Independence from comparisons. In this age of being surrounded by glossy marketing and social media, it’s difficult not to compare our lives to the things we see around us. Whether it’s the cover of a magazine or our Facebook friend’s seemingly perfect summer vacation, keep in mind that things aren’t always what they seem. You’re seeing photoshopped pictures and edited versions of other people’s lives. Embrace your authentic life and take everything you see with a grain of salt.

4. Independence from our own high expectations. Being in a critique group with the other ladies here on Heart-Shaped glasses, I’ve learned that we’re all our own worst critic. We need to learn to give ourselves as much forgiveness and understanding as we give others.

How are you celebrating 4th of July this year?

 

 

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

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  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Out now from Ellora's Cave, HOW TO CAUSE A SCANDAL by Tina Vaughn *** Nina Croft's LOSING CONTROL is out! *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available. *** Congratulations to Julie Jarnagin now represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency!