About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Plotting vs Pantsing: How Does Your Garden Grow?

So the other day I came across this quote, attributed to George R.R. Martin: “I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener.”

photo 2

I love this. Not only is it a different take on the whole plotter vs pantser debate (plotting a story vs flying by the seat of your pants), but it provides wonderful imagery to explore.  It is spring here, and plants are popping up all over the place. All the bulbs I planted last fall (except for the ones the chipmunks ate) are springing to life. I planted an assortment, so there was no telling whether a white or a yellow daffodil would come up, or a red or purple tulip.

 

photo 4

I definitely tend to the gardener side. My writing is a bit like my bed of bulbs. I know the story will have lots of daffodils, but many times their height, color, and style have yet to be determined until the story starts to flow. Other places will have herbs–their traits and purpose clear. Then there is the occasional ornamental shrub, which blooms for just a few days, overwhelming you with its glorious beauty and fragrance, before it turns green and a bit boring for the rest of the year.  Still other plants in my garden stay green all year–no flowers, no scent, no purpose except to occupy space and provide some color and contrast even on the drabbest of winter days.

photo 3

 

But even herbs and shrubs can surprise you, and there is always the bulb the chipmunk stole and buried in the middle of the lawn–writers and gardeners always need to be ready for a surprise.

photo 1

 

 

What type of writer are you?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

IreAnne Chambers on Using Social Media, and a Giveaway!

IreAnne ChambersToday’s guest is my friend and NEORWA chaptermate, IreAnne Chambers.

Welcome, IreAnne! We are delighted to be your first foray into guest blogging!

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EXTRA!  EXTRA!  READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Getting the word out has come a long way since the early 1900s.  For a new author, finding a readership can be challenging.  Using all the social media available today may feel like these words are screaming out across the internet.  Many avenues are available, such as websites, social media, book trailers, author interviews, podcasts, book readings, to name a few.  All of these are created with the hope of attracting readers.

I have found the quest for readership both fun and sometimes a bit discouraging.  If you are an author reading this, no doubt you have too.  If you are a reader, maybe you didn’t know about all the places you may be able to connect with your favorite authors.  Below are some things I have tried and my experiences on my journey so far:

  1. Wattpad – This was the first place I went. I found it a great place to interact with other writers and readers.  It is also a way to get feedback on what you have written.  As it turns out, my first draft of my debut novel still gets votes and reads.  Yes, I actually posted my first draft and for now, it is still there.  I decided to leave it up until the final is published.
  2. Facebook – I love Facebook. There is no limit to the number of characters you can post in a comment.  You can post videos and pictures and I find it to be the most commonly used among authors.  The drawback with Facebook, as many of us know, is the lack of control on who we reach.  Facebook only allows us access to about 10% of friends.  So, I find myself reaching out to other forms of social media.
  3. Goodreads – My experience with Goodreads is really just limited to sharing what I like with others and sharing some reviews. You can choose to belong to different groups of interest as well.  I have found some “good reads” here.
  4. Website No. 1 – The design of my own website using WordPress. This first attempt at a website revealed the need for a more professional look.  More on this below.
  5. Twitter – Twitter is much different than the Facebook realm – trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Keeping tweets to only 140 characters is challenging.  Learning the significance of hashtags is also challenging.  I’m still learning those.  I found out the hard way you can only follow 2,000 people before Twitter doesn’t let you follow anyone else if you follow more people than follow you.  I tried to find help on Twitter.  Of course, there are no email contacts for exactly what I was looking for help on.  So, I tweeted and emailed different help contacts.  No one from Twitter responded.  A Facebook friend recommended Manage Flitter.  I tried the free version.  So far, this has been wonderful!  Manage Flitter helped me get my Twitter account under control and manage it.  I found out it is important to keep your follow/following ratio close and follow less people than follow you or Twitter will consider you a spammer.
  6. Google – I have been told this is the place to be for the future. I have a profile.  It seems similar to Facebook and for now I am just posting updates on blog posts.
  7. Website No. 2 – Adventures in Guernsey Interactive Blog Series. As noted above, I took on the challenge of designing my own website using WordPress.  This was a learning experience.  But, clearly, as time went on, I realized I needed a professional.  So, I hired one who helped me get the job done.  This, by far, is where I hope to interact the most with my readers.  Here is where I will feature new releases and book trailers as well as continue my current Adventures in Guernsey blog series.  I want to encourage readers to comment on what they think will happen in the next chapter of this series.  I want to incorporate some of the ideas and keep the story going.  I thought it might be a fun activity for readers to suggest what they think happens next and then see if it does.
  8. Guest Blog Posts – This is the newest addition to my quest. My first guest blog post is here at Heart-Shaped Glasses!  To celebrate, at the end of this blog I have a rafflecopter giveaway set up for a $25 Amazon gift card.  It will run through the weekend.

I have also joined Tsu and, as noted above, Google, but I have not been able to cultivate those yet.  There are so many ways to reach out and find people.  The question is, does it work?  I have had some tell me absolutely yes and others tell me no, not so much.  While I have a presence on the major social media networks, I am focusing on my Website, Twitter and Facebook for now.

So, what have I concluded?

  1. If you want to find readers, you need to write a good book. If you write a good book, readers will find you.
  2. It will rarely be an overnight success. Building a readership will take time, patience and perseverance.  Focus on writing and don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
  3. There needs to be balance when it comes to social media. As authors, you need time to write that good book.  Find the balance that works for you.

So, my friends, if you are a reader, where do you like to connect with your favorite author?  Writers, what have you found to be the most successful way to connect with your readers?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

St. Patrick’s Day Redux

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. My son and I went on a mini vacation and so missed all the craziness at home. There is always a huge parade in downtown Cleveland. People start drinking at 9 am, leading invariably to those same people throwing up in alleys before the parade starts. Good times.

I recently did an AncestryDNA test and discovered that I am 46% Irish. I always thought it was closer to 25%, all on my mother’s side, but it turns out my father had quite a bit of Irish as well. So this St. Patrick’s Day found me somewhat more reflective on all things Irish, including St. Patrick himself.

St. Patrick, Salisbury Cathedral, UK.   Source: Wikimedia Commons

Who was not Irish.

He was born in Britain to wealthy, Roman Christian parents circa 386, and reportedly died in Ireland on March 17 about 460. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, who enslaved him in Ireland for six years, which he spent tending sheep. After six years, he heard the voice of God in a dream, telling him to escape, so he did. (I can’t help but wonder why God had him wait so long, if it was this easy, but I digress.) He walked roughly 200 miles to the Irish coast and then somehow got to Britain and reunited with his family. Once he managed this feat, an angel came to him in a dream and told him to go back to Ireland, as a missionary. So he traveled to France and studied to become a priest, then returned to Ireland to join other missionaries. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland–it was already there.

Patrick weaved Irish traditions and stories into his Christian teachings, rather than attempting to eradicate them. The Celtic cross–an Irish symbol of the sun superimposed on a Christian cross–is an example.

Celtic cross. Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Patrick’s Day was originally started 1,000 years ago as a religious holiday in Ireland, which included church followed by a family meal of cabbage and Irish bacon (corned beef definitely wasn’t on the menu).  Irish pubs were required to be closed on March 17 until the 1970s.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in 1762, organized by Irish soldiers serving in the English army.  Over the years, St. Patrick’s Day became a way for ever-increasing numbers of Irish immigrants to connect with their heritage. In the mid-19th century, it became a way for Irish immigrants to protest their treatment by American society and to show their strength as a growing political machine.

Today, of course, parades and festivals take place in over 100 U.S. cities–there’s one in Dublin, Ireland now, too, which over a million people attend. There are over 34.7 million people of Irish descent living in the US, more than seven times the population of Ireland, and they are very, very proud of their heritage.

I will admit that I have spent my fair share of St. Patrick’s Days drinking beer–preferably not green–and singing Irish folk tunes at the top of my lungs. This year was much quieter–a pizza and a pint of Irish cider, but I did force my son to listen to the High Kings and the Chieftains for a while.

A belated St. Patrick’s Day to all, whether Irish in truth or in spirit.

Sources:
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick
http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729#missionary-work
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/st-patricks-day-facts
http://www.history.com/news/st-patricks-day-myths-debunked

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Guest Post – Why I Like Gritty Heroines

My NEORWA Chapter sister, Becky Lower, is back at Heart-Shaped Glasses today to talk about her newest Cotillion Ball release, Expressly Yours, Samantha. Welcome, Becky!

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When I first began writing my Cotillion Ball Series, I envisioned lavish ballrooms in Nelower authorpicw York City filled with young ladies from the elite of New York society making their debuts, all dressed in elaborate white gowns. But the time frame for my series at times took me away from New York and high society.

America in the late 1850s and early 1860s was an exciting, tumultuous time. Tensions were rising between the North and South, which would explode into the Civil War in 1861. There was the westward expansion, with wagon trains leaving St. Louis and St. Joseph, MO every spring, en route to a better life. Gold had been found in California, and the Pony Express began operation.

It seemed natural to me that the two younger boys in my large New York family would want to get in on the action. So their books take place on the edge of the frontier, far away from the fancy ballrooms of New York City. And the women they fall in love with are as far removed from the debutantes as you can get. Not at all what I envisioned at first. But, both Temperance (Banking On Temperance) and Samantha (Expressly Yours, Samantha) have become my all-time favorite heroines. They each, in their own way, embody the spirit of early America. They aren’t afraid of hard work, they figure out a way to make their mark in the world, they fall in love, hard, with the right man. They wear homespun, not silk. They get exercise not by taking a turn around the park, but by chopping firewood and cleaning out barn stalls. And when life hands them a set of circumstances beyond their control, they rise to the challenge.

At a time when the law of the land was on the side of men, these gritty, strong and resilient women made their mark. Both of them value family above all, and would take any risks they had to in order to keep their loved ones safe. They may have lived far from the elegant ballrooms, been less privileged and dressed in more crude clothing, but their strength and backbone were essential to the shaping of America.

So, which do you prefer? The beautiful settings and gowns of a Cotillion or the gritty, rough life of a settler on the frontier?  I’m giving away an e-copy of Expressly Yours, Samantha to one lucky commenter.

roses2 Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.

Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.

He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.

Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com.

Author Links:
Website: www.beckylowerauthor.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/becky.lower
Twitter: http://twitter.com@BeckyLower1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authorbeckyl/
Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower
Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Romance on the Big Screen

‘Tis the season of pink hearts, heart-shaped candy boxes, red roses, and romance. I have never been a huge fan  of Valentine’s Day–way too many Valentine’s Days spent in disappointment in my younger days–and my husband and I made a pact when we married that we would never celebrate it. (Just as well, as we were apart for this one.)

But I am, of course, a fan of romance, and I have enjoyed my fair share of romantic movies. With the release of “Fifty Shades” on the big screen–which I haven’t seen yet–romantic movies are on every one’s mind. No, this will not devolve into a discussion of where Fifty Shades falls on the romance scale. But I did think it was a good opportunity to spend a little time talking about my favorite romantic movies.

1. The Princess Bride (1987)

Those sultry eyes of Cary Elwes, the innocence of Robin Wright, the allure of True Love–how can you not put this near the top of the best romantic movies of all time?

2. Pretty Woman (1990)

Okay, so it’s one big cliche, but I can’t help it, I love this movie.  Julia Roberts is endearing as the hooker with a heart of gold, and Richard Gere is romance personified.

3. The Sure Thing (1985)

I was still in college when this came out, so it must have resonated with me. John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga are marvelous in this classic opposites attract flick.

4.  Notting Hill (1999)

Another Julia Roberts, I know, but she is just as endearing in this one as the lonely, misunderstood movie star. And Hugh Grant is adorably swoon worthy.

The Philadelphia Story. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Screenshot from The Philadelphia Story. [Public domain], viaWikimedia Commons.

 

6. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

A classic love triangle (quadrilateral?) with two of my favorite leading men–Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. It was the movie that taught me how fabulous Katherine Hepburn was.

 

Bringing Up Baby publicity photo.  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

7. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Cary Grant as the absent-minded paleontologist, pursued by the flighty heiress, played by Katherine Hepburn, and her pet leopard, Baby.

 

 

 

8. Before Sunrise (1995)

Two attractive twenty-somethings spend one perfect night together, then go their separate ways. I really wish they hadn’t made a sequel to this, because it didn’t live up to the first one.

Still from Sabrina (1954). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

9. Sabrina (1954, 1995)

I have seen both of these–the original with Humphrey Bogart and the remake with Harrison Ford. I don’t think I could choose which one I like best.

 

 

 

10. Lone Star (1996)

Okay, so technically this isn’t a romance, but there is a passionate, rather scandalous love story woven into the mystery, and it is amazing.

I could have chosen about 20 more, but I thought restraint was in order. Now it’s your turn–what are your favorite romances?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

A New Year’s Reflections

Here it is January again, when one’s thoughts turn reflective. Last year around this time I posted some wishes for 2014, so I thought I’d check in and see how I did.

1. I will send out my queries. . .

In 2013 I won two contests, and one of them included a request for a partial and a full manuscript of Stirring Up the Viscount.  In January 2014 I sent the partial, waited six months, and received a “sorry, but you’re too dark for me” rejection. Which stung but kind of amused me.  In July I sent off the full MS to two other editors, and received two offers. I accepted the offer from The Wild Rose Press, and January 2015 will end with the release of Stirring Up the Viscount. Woot!

2. . . .and finish writing my second book.

I did this too, in December, and started writing a third.

3. I will attend the NEORWA conference in May and present a pitch to an agent.

Okay, didn’t do this, but this was because (a) there were no agents at the conference last year; and (b) it was my kid’s birthday and he would have killed me if I spent the weekend at a conference.

4. I will blog more regularly this year. Maybe.

I did this too, and started a new website. I also blog every month here.

5. I will upload that pile of old photos into Ancestry.com.

I uploaded some of them, but now I’m not entirely sure where I put the rest….

6. And exercise. I should probably exercise.

Um. No.

It is safe to say that, writing-wise, 2014 was awesome. 2014 was far from perfect in other respects, however, but I have high hopes for 2015.  My goals include publishing my second book (fingers crossed my editor likes it!), finishing and submitting two more books, going to RWA Nationals in New York, and going to England for *ahem* research.

And exercise. I should probably exercise.

What are your hopes for 2015?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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