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.

The Holiday Blues

I admit that December is not my favorite time of year. I do like Christmas–I enjoy giving and receiving presents, being with family, seeing the joy on my son’s face when he opens that gift he really, really wanted. But the holidays are extraordinarily stressful for me. The stress of getting the perfect (or sometimes, just any) gift, for making treats for my kid’s teachers, sending all the presents off so they get there in time, the 13 hour drive, yadda yadda yadda.

In an effort to make the season a bit more sane, a few years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards–I just couldn’t do it any more, although I am sorry not to receive cards from friends. This year we decided not to make treats for all of the teachers–sorry, guys. There’s even some doubt that we will put up the Christmas tree this weekend, although I am trying to get into the spirit. I am strangely world weary this year, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Life is good, work is busy, family is healthy, and next month, my first book will be published. Perhaps it is my innate cynicism waiting for the other shoe to drop, or perhaps I just need a little vacation.

Do you get the holiday blues? How do you get yourself out of them?

 

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.

Turning Over a Healthier Leaf

Sorry, this is a day late, since it’s been that kind of week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wellness lately. A week ago I finished my second book. I wrote 13,500 words in three days–an unprecedented burst of creative productivity for me, so I had to ride it out. The next day, of course, I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck so bad I had to lie in bed for hours, unable to move my head unless it was to suck down more ibuprofen.

This was a bit of a wake up call for me. During last winter’s Polar Vortex I gained about 15 pounds, none of which I’ve managed to lose, although I will admit I haven’t really tried very hard. I love to eat and I hate to exercise, so you can see where this has led.

Writers, or so the stereotype goes, often live unhealthy lives. They drink too much, eat a lot of bad-for-them foods, and exercise very little. This is not always true, of course, as evidenced by Julia Quinn‘s treadmill desk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips‘ Facebook pics of all the healthy meals she eats and crazy hiking trips she takes. I drink more wine than I ought, could happily eat Lay’s Lightly Salted potato chips all day long, and time not spent working, writing, editing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring the kid around town, reading, sleeping, or washing the dishes is usually spent watching Hulu or playing Angry Birds Transformers.

But as I mentioned, the pinched nerve woke me up to the fact this is probably not the best way to live, and after a lovely massage yesterday I am ready to turn over a new leaf–now, before all the crazy holiday stress eating starts. Weight Watchers tracking has begun, as has the new exercise regimen–20 minutes on the trusty old NordicTrack I’ve had since 1989. Wish me luck, for I will need it.

Are you a fitness fan, or do you struggle with staying motivated to exercise? Favorite bad-for-you food?

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.

On Things That Go “Eww!” in the Night

I have The-Most-Disgusting-Dog-Ever.

Sure, Sneaky Pete looks adorable, and he is very sweet (and he did line up all his bones in a row ALL BY HIMSELF on the embarrassingly dirty carpet), but don’t let that fool you. He eats many disgusting things. He also eats things that aren’t particularly disgusting before he eats them, but are most definitely so afterwards. Last winter, we noticed an unusual uptick in the number of single socks in the laundry basket. In the spring, when the show melted, we found all the missing socks in the back yard, processed by Pete’s digestive system.  I was chastised for reporting on Facebook exactly what I had to pull out of the dog the other day, so I will spare you all.

But it got me thinking about gross things in general, which is apropos for Halloween.

I write romance, so there’s very little gross in what I write. I don’t particularly enjoy reading disgusting or violent things, although if it’s a small part of a good story that’s okay. But I have an 11-year old boy, and he delights in reading about stuff that’s gross, even more so when he can read it aloud to me while I’m making dinner.

Sometimes I wonder what it is about human beings that we enjoy things that are base, visceral, bloody. I Googled “humans gross” and “why do humans enjoy gore” and learned that I am not the only one who has pondered such things, but I still don’t have an answer.

I had a work colleague once who adored horror movies, the gorier the better. She would wait until her husband and kids were out somewhere and she had the house to herself, then turn off all the lights and fire up the DVD. *shudder*

I, as you have probably surmised by now, am not a fan. In high school I saw Phantasm on a disastrous first (and only) date. Can’t remember the guy’s name, but I still remember that movie. In college I saw Don’t Look Now, a 1973 scary-as-hell psychological thriller with Donald Sutherland. To this day, 30 years later, I still freak out just a little when I see a kid in a red raincoat. I tried to binge-watch Supernatural, which is a great show, but just couldn’t take it–after the Bloody Mary episode I couldn’t look in a mirror for a week.

I will admit, however, to having a strange fascination with vampires. I read and watch them all: Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Angel, and of course, Buffy. (Oddly, I have never been able to get into Anne Rice’s novels, although I have read a couple. Go figure.) I recently finished watching the first three seasons of True Blood–so good, but quite possibly the goriest, most disgusting thing I have ever seen on TV. Thankfully I was forced to stop because the remaining seasons weren’t free on Amazon Prime. I much prefer the way vampires died on Buffy–ashes, the outline of a skeleton, poof.

So what about you? Do you enjoy scary, gross, gore, or violence? Not so much?

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.

New Beginnings

I love autumn.

Cleveland Heights-20111010-00114

I love the back to school season–mostly because I’m only one in the family who doesn’t go back to school every year. I love the smell of the fall, the nip in the air, the fruits and vegetables that reach their peak, the brilliant colors on the trees, the beginning of hockey season.

To me, autumn is more a season of new beginnings than the spring. School is starting, which for teachers means a new crop of students. For students, there are new schools, new friends, new challenges. For athletic teams, the promise of a winning season still looms large, and anything is possible.  Yes, leaves are dying and starting to fall off the trees, but that has its own beauty as well.

This fall, these feelings of new beginnings are particularly strong because my first book is on its way to publication. This brings plenty of new challenges–having to surrender my book baby to the publisher and accept that my editor knows much more than I do about this business, for one. Forcing myself to come out of my introverted shell to market my book is another. I have never been one to toot my own horn, and I am always my own harshest critic. Things are largely out of my hands, which is always hard for a control freak like me, but it’s good. It’s a new beginning I always hoped I’d experience, but never truly expected.

And so as the leaves start to turn and the arguing with my kid over homework begins, I will surrender myself to the the season and let all the new experiences take me where they will.

How do you feel about fall? New beginnings, or end of summer?

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.

Cooking Historically

It’s food month here at HSG, a theme I can embrace wholeheartedly. I love food. I love to cook it, and I love to eat it. I like to read about it, and even write about it as well.

One thing, out of many, that I enjoy about historical romance is imagining what my characters eat, and the methods employed to cook it. In Victorian England, of course, there was no such thing as fast food, except perhaps for the pie man on the corner, and most foods were painstakingly prepared. Just baking a loaf of bread was a monumental undertaking, given the vagaries of coal or wood stoves.

In my first book, set in 1860s England, the heroine is a cook. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what kinds of things she would cook or how she would go about it, so I did some research.

To imagine what a Victorian-era kitchen would like like, take a glimpse at an actual Victorian kitchen,virtually untouched for a century: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2037644/Victorian-kitchen-remained-untouched-60-years.html.

The cookbook as we know it today was first popularized in the Victorian era, in response to the growing middle class and the increased need for servants, especially cooks. There were over 100 best-selling cookbooks and household guides published during the nineteenth century, intended primarily for the middle class. There were a number of celebrated cookbook authors, among them Eliza Acton; Isabella Beeton (whose Book of Household Management has been revised continually since 1861, even though she died in 1865); and Charles Francatelli, who at one time served as chef to Queen Victoria.

Many of these cookbooks can be accessed for free at GoogleBooks.  I can’t guarantee the instructions are easily translatable to modern times, however.  For example, the recipe for Turtle Soup in Mr. Francatelli’s book is three pages long, and begins, “Procure a fine lively fat turtle, weighing about 120lbs. . .”  The first instruction reads, “When time permits, kill the turtle over night, where it may be left to bleed in a cool place till morning. . .“  I think I’ll stick with the Mulligatawney Soup, thanks.

Do a search for Victorian cooking and you’ll come across a lot of sites.  Here are just a few:
* http://19thcentury.wordpress.com.  Browse and you’ll find a number of posts on cooking.
* http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/francatelli-bills-fare.php, which features a menu for each month of the year, taken from the 1861 cookbook by Charles Francatelli.
* This is a great site which features original articles from Victorian publications. http://www.mostly-victorian.com/cooking.shtml  In addition to articles on cooking from “Girls’ Own Paper,” you’ll find articles on beauty, fashion, how to host a children’s party, and a bride’s first dinner party.

I did try to cook a few things from a modern book (the name of which I have utterly forgotten) which featured Victorian-era recipes. My family was unimpressed–my baking skills often leave much to be desired, but my attempt at baking Victorian biscuits was worse than usual.  My son was fairly certain they’d be an adequate substitute for hockey pucks.

Are you interested in historical recipes?  Feel free to share your favorites!

 

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.

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

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.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    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.