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

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

I’m Late, I’m Late…for a Very Important Date

Clock-TracksOr maybe…I’m a day late and a dollar short?

Whatever the saying, I’m here, hanging my head in shame that I missed my scheduled post.


Last week was Spring Break around my house, though sadly we didn’t go away. I still got up at the usual time, wrote new pages in the morning, then trudged off to the day job – while the kids stayed in bed and lounged around the house all week.

I remember being a teenager and looking forward to those lazy days of hanging around with my friends and having nothing to do, nowhere to go.

Lately it just seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to get my whole to-do list tackled, and man, am I ever stressed.

So, tell me…when Spring Break rolls around, do you de-stress with the kids or is it just another date on the calendar?


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.

I Don’t Care What You Think

Yes, I do. Really.RTW 250x400 11.17

For a lot of writers, myself included, nothing could be further from the truth. We worry way too much about what the people closest to us might think of our work. Although I’ve heard many reasons why people won’t write a certain way, or in a certain genre, I can only speak for myself.

When I started seriously writing my first book in 2006, I worried. I worried about the language, the settings, the details, the SEX! Whether the door is closed or thrown wide open with invitations included we all know romance has a physical aspect. But what would my ex-MIL think? What about my teacher from high school? Better yet, I wasted countless hours being concerned about how my family and my partner’s family might perceive my work. What would the people in my office think if they found out? I didn’t write for a long time because I struggled with this.

For the sake of argument, I’ll give you the office one. If you’re in particular fields and you write erotica it’s probably best that some people don’t know. But for the rest, looking back on it, the only thing I really did was waste my own time and resources worrying about it. It only mattered to me. Not them.

Over the years when family members ask, ‘So how are your books doing?’ I’ve come to realize they are doing it to be polite. For us introverts, it’s a conversation starter. Nothing more. And the other big one I get from family and friends a lot is, ‘I’m going to read your book, but I haven’t yet because…(insert any reason here, I’ve heard some doozies). Then they go on to talk about the latest book they have read.

Time has given me a little perspective. As a writer, our creative talents are best served when we are true to ourselves. Even writing to the market there are aspects of our stories that come from deep inside us as artists. We should honor that creative energy, not stifle it because someone else may not approve. That’s just sad.

Even if people don’t approve, I’ve come to understand I need to write my story the way I need to write it. Not alter it based on fear. Fear of disapproval, fear of success, or just plain old what if nobody likes it?

What about you? Have you ever worried about this? Did you get over it, or do you still struggle with it?

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.

Guest Post — Lynn Cahoon

Researching or how to make it to the front of the line at the bookstore.

When I was thinking about The Council series, I wanted to be accurate in my portrayal of a witch out of water. Parris McCall doesn’t know she’s a witch when the story starts. Sure, weird things are more likely to happen to her than to others. And once, when head cheerleader, Brittany the bright, made fun of Parris, one too many times, the queen bee’s hair turned pink.  In English class. In front of the entire junior class.

amemberofthecouncilWhen she got home from school that day, Gran had weaved this fairy tale about her powers and her parents, but even then, Parris had refused to accept or even listen.

So what was an unknowing witch to do?

I didn’t have a clue.

As in most cases, when I’m looking for answers, I visit the information mecca. No, not the internet. I went to the library. There I found all sorts of historical books about the Salem witchcraft trials along with some basic Wiccan handbooks. Not a lot. Most of the how to books were in the area of Tarot reading or horoscopes. I live in a small, conservative town.

After racing through all those books, and probably getting a warning code attached to my library card in case of a plague of locusts or roving witch hunters, I hit the book store.

Visiting the book store actually gave me more options in books. I bought a handbook of spells, one on elementary magic, and one boasting an encyclopedia of spells, castings, and potions.

When I got in line with my treasures, you could see the tension when people around me noticed my choice of reading material. Several stepped aside, mumbling how they’d forgotten something.  And I hadn’t cast even a little spell.

I’m still researching for the last book of the series. Picking up bits and pieces here and there, I’ll use my writer magic to weave together into a story that finishes Ty and Parris’s quest. Or at least that’s my plan today.

What’s the most unusual subject you’ve researched?


A Member of the Council – The Council #1

A rogue hunter, a clueless witch and a mission to save an unknowing world.

Parris McCall, owner of the dive bar, The Alibi, has finally constructed a life where her

little quirks don’t show or matter to anyone. As for her grandmother’s warnings that she’s different, well, she’ll cross that bridge if she comes to it.

But when Ty walks into her bar, both lives are instantly changed.

Buy Links – http://www.amazon.com/Member-Council-Lynn-Cahoon-ebook/dp/B00IPQX0AI/


CahoonBIO – Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published author. An Idaho native, her stories focus around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Lynn’s published in Chicken Soup anthologies, explored controversial stories for the confessional magazines, short stories in Women’s World, and contemporary romantic fiction. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Contact Lynn at her website: www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/LynnCahoonAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynnCahoon

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.

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