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

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.

The Season of Love ~ @oddlynn3 #PCers #LynnCrain

c455524_m February is commonly known as the season of love but there are some hidden gems when researching the actual day. Here are five facts about this very special day:

  • An estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making it the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
  • The Catholic Church recognizes at least 3 different saints with the name Valentine.
  • Valentine’s Day originated as a Pagan Festival. Many believe that this day originated with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus.
  • At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day to honor the Valentine that died or was buried in the middle of February A.D. 270. However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages it became associated with love because of the commonly held belief in France and England that February 14 marked the state of the bird-mating season. And this just added to their notion of romance.
  • Valentine’s greetings have been popular since the Middle Ages, though the paper ones didn’t gain popularity until after 1400.

Valentine’s is really only celebrated in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, France and Australia. The rest of the world is slowly following suit. People in the US started exchanging handmade cards in the 1700s. In the 1840s, the first mass-produced cards were made by Esther A. Howland, who became known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

As a romance writer, I tend to look at c156651_mall the nuances of the day. Even with all these facts, it is certainly a holiday filled with love. If you’d like to read even more, here’s a couple of websites to help you on your search.

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine’s_Day

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

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

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.

Highly Unlikely

February is the Red Hearts Blank Smallmonth for romance. At least from the view of retailers, and all those guys who are not so with it the rest of the year. Whether you’ve found the man of your dreams in real life or not, for us romance fans, there’s a hero just waiting for us in the next story we choose to read. Although he may be digital or between the pages of an actual book, one thing is fairly certain. To the heroine, he’ll be irresistible. And sometimes her polar opposite.

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes. For me when the sparks fly and the personal growth happens to a couple who are so different, and yet they manage to find a way to reach a middle ground really works for me. There are so many that have become my favorites over the years. Too many to list here. But my favorite of all time, and one I never get tired of reading is Nora’s Eve Dallas and Roarke.

The straight-laced, uptight cop, who mistrusts people so much she’s almost backward with it, and the charming devil-may-care, Irish con-man, who made the bulk of his fortune illegally. A perfect match!

Ms. Roberts has done a masterful job of weaving personal and relationship growth into every book, keeping their love fresh and entertaining to the reader. Although some of the story lines are serious, there’s plenty of humor to go around. As a reader, it’s pure entertainment.

Do you have a favorite unlikely couple that you enjoy reading about?

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 — Emily Mims, Season of Enchantment

The Writing and Revisiting of ‘Season of Enchantment’

Recently I had the pleasure of revisiting my favorite novel of my first writing career when Boroughs Publishing purchased ‘Season of Enchantment’ for reissue.  ‘Season of Enchantment’ is based on the true story of the rescue of one of my husband’s colleague’s sweethearts from behind the bamboo wall of 1985 Vietnam.  The story of the enduring love this young couple had for one another during ten long years of separation struck a chord deep within me and got me to thinking-how many couples, even couples who love each other very much, would survive such a separation?  What kind of love would that take?  And what can the rest of us, especially those of us who are skeptical about the power of enduring love, learn from lovers such as these?  And so two love stories were born-the story of Jim and Li, star-crossed lovers who have been separated by politics and fate, and the second story of Debbie and Ben-a young woman desperately seeks love from a man who refuses to acknowledge that it even exists.

 photo 01de53b5-6ac3-4af7-88be-18d825066cf3_zpscc0e7886.jpg

Dollar Photo Club image, by ricardoreitmeyer

The interwoven love stories were easy to plot and write.  Li and Jim’s story was fairly tightly based in fact-our friend did work for ten long years to save the money to have his fiancée broken out of a Vietnamese work camp.  He did hire mercenaries.  They did rescue the young woman, who did marry our friend.  Ben and Debbie, on the other hand, were complete fabrications of my imagination.  But it was fairly easy to weave together the two stories as Jim and Li’s struggle to overcome their physical separation mirrors Ben and Debbie’s struggle to overcome Ben’s deep skepticism and distrust of love.

Although telling the love stories in ‘Season of Enchantment’ was not difficult, there was a rather large obstacle I had to overcome in putting this story on paper.  Normally I have a hard and fast rule that I do not write about a place I’ve never visited-there is too much potential for errors that are going to have my readers shaking their heads in dismay.  Obviously, I had to break that rule for ‘Season of Enchantment’.  There was no way I could visit 1985 Vietnam, and at that point it was impossible for me to make a trip to California either.  And in 1985 I sure couldn’t Google it!  So I found people who had been to both places and picked their brains.  I got two very different pictures of Vietnam.  Our friend saw his homeland as a wonderful place of enormous beauty and appeal, and the Army captain I talked with?  Let’s just say I got another picture entirely!  I wove the two together into what I hope was something close to the truth.  And a fellow teacher who had lived in Marin County killed a bottle of wine with me and got me up to speed on that portion of the world.

I was faced with an interesting dilemma when I sat down and looked at revising ‘Season of Enchantment’ for the market thirty years after the fact.  Do I leave the manuscript as it is or add the technology to bring it into 2015?  Unlike most of the reissues on the market, with stories that are timeless that could be updated a bit and told in just about any modern timeframe, ‘Season of Enchantment’ is quite specific in its timeframe and had to be left in 1985 for it to make any sense.  (Today Ben and Debbie could have gotten passports and flown in-no problem!)  Yet I didn’t want to just leave the story in the past.  After a bit of thought, I decided that maybe a glimpse into these couples’ lives thirty years later might be in order.  So I wrote a new epilogue which expresses the same sentiments as the original, but in which we get to see how it all turned out for them.  And (shame on me!) I planted the seeds for another generation to have an enchanting season of their own!

***

 photo cebd3bb3-48af-4f28-9cde-016ff0770de2_zpsbea3ae80.jpgIn 1985, to save a friend left behind in fallen Saigon, a young woman will undertake a desperate mission-and discover an even more desperate passion.

THE RESCUE
1985. Before cell phones and Facebook, before Glasnost and our brave new world, America and Communism remained at odds. Vietnam was a front line, and when it fell, there were those left behind. Like Debbie Cheong’s friend Li. Yet there was hope…if someone was willing to go in after her.
Only one man was up to the job. Cold and ruthless, mercenary Ben Sako lived by his own rules and trusted no person or feeling. The ex-Green Beret would take the mission for a price, and he would demand more of Debbie than she expected to pay. But the expedition would also reveal an undeniable attraction and a soul of powerful sensuality-and deep feeling. Debbie’s upcoming journey would be filled with danger and desperation, passion and peril; it would rescue an innocent from imprisonment and a man from himself. It would be a season of enchantment worth any price.
ISBN 978-1-941260-60-9
Buy links:
AllRomanceBooks
Amazon
Smashwords

 

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Emily_W_Mims_2012Author of nineteen Romance novels, Emily Wright Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons, she and her husband Charles split their time between central Texas and eastern Tennessee. For relaxation she plays the piano, organ, and dulcimer. She says, “I love to write Romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman – if she’ll just let it.”

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.

Going from a Plotter to a Seat-of-the-Pants Writer

When writing books, I’ve always been a plotter. In the weeks leading up to beginning a new story, I would meticulously plot every scene of my novel. I loved the process. The analytical side of my brain thrived on creating a spreadsheet with scene summaries, POVs, motivations, etc. I completely nerded-out on this stuff.

On the last two books I’ve written, that all disappeared. I’ve written the last novel and novella as a seat-of-the-pants writer. With the novel, I had a blurb and a pretty good sense of my two main characters. On the novella, I had the synopsis that I turned into the publisher (that I didn’t stick to). But there was no spreadsheet and no scene-by-scene plotting of the story.

This was partly done out of necessity. I had my second child last year, so while writing is still a big part of my life, it hasn’t been my number-one priority. I’ve been too busy changing dirty diapers, taking the six-year-old to karate, and doing my best to survive on limited sleep to obsess about a plot. So with deadlines upon me, I just wrote – freely, quickly, creatively.

It was wonderful.

I’m shocked by how great it has been. I’m a planner by nature. For my own sanity, I thought I had to have a fully plotted novel before I started writing.

I was wrong. All this time, the creative side of me wanted to break free. I just didn’t know it yet. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Instincts will take over – Learning the craft of writing is important, but after years of reading, studying, and listening, I needed to trust that all of that was inside me somewhere and just write. I’m still going to continue to learn, but now is the time when I can begin to trust my own writing instincts.

2. Seat-of-the-pants writing is fun – I don’t always know what’s going to happen next. And that’s exciting. It keeps me interested in the story. Is he going to kiss her? Even I don’t know. 🙂

3. Edits are easier – This sounds backwards, but by trying to force my characters down a particular road, my motivations weren’t ringing true, causing me to have huge rewrites. Now when I get ready to start a new scene, I trust my characters to guide me.

I’m not saying that I’ll never go back to plotting. I think there’s definitely a happy medium for me somewhere, but at this stage in my life, I’m enjoying the thrill of jumping into stories with two feet.

What about you? Are you a planner?

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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