Novel Settings

At the moment, I am plotting a book. If you’ve read my books, you know I don’t get excited about the typical setting for historical romance, the London ballroom. I love the lesser known places, the slightly wild and occasionally remote–Durham, Northumberland, the Lake District, Yorkshire, the northern coast of Maine. That’s where my heart lies.

The first book in my new series is set in the 1850s in Kendal, Cumbria, the southernmost gateway to what is now Lake District National Park.

Kendal Castle, which I visited in October. (HSG’s very own Nina Croft used to play in these ruins when she was a child.)

So when plotting the second book, it’s been fun to peruse maps and the web for an even wilder and more remote spot, isolated, in a crumbling castle within which is hidden treasure beyond price. These are my contenders:

The Isle of Skye (off the west coast of Scotland):

Isle of Skye. By John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

An as-yet-undetermined location near Hadrian’s Wall:

Hadrian’s Wall between Housesteads and Once Brewed (fabulous name!). By Michael Hanselmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 County Powys, Wales:

Looking through one of the remaining walls of Castell Dinas Brân towards the north east. Source: Wikipedia.

Lundy Island, off the coast of Devon:

Four Celtic inscribed stones from Beacon Hill cemetery, Lundy. By Grantus4504 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons.

The Yorkshire Dales:

Swaledale. By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons.

I might come up with something entirely different in the end–it’s often more fun (and okay, easier) to look for settings than to actually write the book. 🙂

Writers: how do you come up with your settings?

Readers: What kinds of settings do you like the most? Civilized cities, or natural places? Glittery ballrooms or spooky castles?

And which one do you think I should choose? I’ll give away an ecopy of one of my books–your choice–to a randomly selected commenter!

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Feeding the Muse

As you read this, I am somewhere in England, traipsing over the countryside near Keswick–famous during the 19th century for poets and pencils, known then and now for its breathtaking beauty.

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, as viewed from Latrigg north of the town. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells. Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Illustrated Magazine of Art, Vol. 3, No. 16 (1854), pp. 252–254

Pencil-making at Keswick, 1854

October, sadly, is the wettest month of the year in northwest England–by several inches–but I am hoping my new hiking boots are up to the task.

My primary purpose for this trip, aside from the very real pleasure of seeing a few college friends, is for research. The book I am hoping to finish this week (oh please, dear Muse!) is set largely in southern Cumbria–which is also on the agenda.

William Westall, Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge, c. 1840

Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge. William Westall, c. 1840. (public domain)

My friend Helen and I will be visiting Blists Hill Victorian Town (a living history sort of museum, or so I understand), Mayfair (because nearly every English historical romance is set there at least part of the time), the Jack the Ripper museum (it promises to be stomach-churningly gruesome so I suppose we’ll have to eat afterwards…), a tour of Parliament with a friend who reportedly does lofty important things there, a few literary landmarks like Jane Austen’s house and Stratford-upon-Avon, and what I fully expect to be a record number of tea shops and pubs en route.

Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hampshre. By Rudi Riet. CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire. By Rudi Riet.             CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never truly taken a writing research trip before. I have found unexpected inspiration on trips to Italy, Paris, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, and other places, but this is the first time I’m setting out to go where I want to go solely for the purpose of gathering information for my writing (with the advice and consent of my traveling companion, of course, who is strangely willing to indulge me–thank you, Helen!).

I’ll be scribbling in notebooks and taking lots of pictures to share with you all, and I hope the Muses will help fill my head with wonderful stories to tell when I return in about a week–starting with a new book for NaNoWriMo.

Until then, may your Muse be with you, whatever your endeavor, wherever you are.

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

 

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Location, Location…

If you’ve read my books, you’ll know I like to set them in locations slightly off the beaten path–very few Mayfair ballrooms for me! Stirring Up the Viscount takes place largely in County Durham, England, where I spent a year in college. Secret Promise characters can be found in Boston, where my mother lives, an island in Lake Erie an hour or two from my house, and Wallsend and Tynemouth in Northumberland, inspired by this photo of Tynemouth Priory:

Tynemouth Priory. Photo by Chris McKenna (Thryduulf) via Wikimedia Commons

My third book, which I’ve just finished–finally–takes place in Maine, inspired in part by this gorgeous painting by Frederic Edwin Church in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Twilight in the Wilderness (1860), by Frederic Edwin Church. Cleveland Museum of Art.

Dalemain House, Penrith, Cumbria. (Source: VisitCumbria.com.)

 

My next book is unrelated to my first three, and takes place in a location inspired by own family tree. My paternal grandmother’s ancestors hailed–some five centuries ago–from Kendal, England. Formerly in the County of Westmoreland and now part of Cumbria, Kendal lies just south of the more famous Lake District. The heroine in the book is an heiress from Kendal, and might live in a Georgian home like this one.

 

Levens Hall, Kendal, Cumbria. (Source: BritainExpress.com)

Or possibly  a 12th century house like this one, which was owned by the Bellingham family from 1562 to 1688. If my family history is accurate–no guarantees there–there are Bellinghams in my family tree.  I’m hoping to head over that way this summer (assuming I don’t sell my house, which looks less likely with each passing day) to tromp through graveyards in search of ancestors, and soak up atmosphere for the next book.

What inspires you in your writing or your reading? Any ideas where I should set the next book? I’m always on the lookout for the next great location!

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Guest Post — Robin Bielman

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be back on Heart Shaped Glasses! I love this month’s theme! Huge thanks to all the gals and especially to Bethanne for inviting me here today.

~*~ Treasured Places ~*~

I love to travel. Actually, I take that back. I love being in new and/or favorite places. The getting there is often hard for this motion sickness afflicted girl. Not that I’m going to let that stop me! I have plans. Big plans. Plans that involve a tower in Paris and a coast in Amalfi and a few places in between.

Until then (cross your fingers everyone!), I do have a few favorite places here in the states. Places my family and I have traveled to that have been the perfect setting for fun, adventure, and lasting memories.

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The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, my breath literally caught. I was in total awe. Pictures just don’t do its grandness justice. While there, we got to experience beautiful blue sky and snow. It was magical both ways and the only time I wished I could blink and be back in our cabin was when my then eleven-year-old thought it would be funny to get waaay too close to the edge of the trail we were hiking on. Talk about my heart dropping to my feet. In my newest release, Risky Surrender, the setting is Arizona and there’s a scene at the canyon’s El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. We had dinner there one night and the view of the rim was amazing.
DSCN0254Besides Europe, my travel bucket list includes as many national parks as I can get to. We’re fortunate to live within a half-day’s drive to Yosemite and once again, we were in awe of the natural beauty surrounding us. We hiked and went river rafting. Laughed and wondered how we’d react if we saw a bear. (We didn’t.)

Our most favorite spot so far, though, is Hawaii. We love Maui and Kauai and have been fortunate to visit a few times. We love going on adventures in between lying out by the pool and spending time at the beach, and these pictures are from our last trip to Kauai. We took a hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls along the Na Pali Coast. That first picture is the easy part of our trail. As we got closer to the falls, the terrain grew rugged and slippery and we pretty much had to follow a stream to the waterfall since there was no obvious path. The trail ends at the foot of the waterfall (picture #2) and it’s spectacular. We jumped in despite the water being freezing cold and then hiked our way back. The hike took most of the day and I’ll always remember it.

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(You guys! In the middle of writing this, I took a quick break to eat dinner. Chinese take-out. And guess what my fortune said? You will discover an unexpected treasure. I thought that tied in nicely with my title of this post and had to share. J)

Okay, so lastly we recently decided to play tourist in our own backyard and hike to the Hollywood sign. We brought our dog, Harry, and we trekked up the wide-open trail. A far cry from Hanakapi’ai. And I loved this little sign! Especially because really, anyone could get to that point.  Our little Harry (he’s a mini labradoodle) was barely out of breath.

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So tell me, where’s the one place you’ve visited that you’ll treasure forever? Leave me a comment and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy of the first book in my Risk It series, Worth the Risk.

About Risky Surrender

Risky Surrender- 1600She was in search of an ancient treasure…and stole his heart instead.

Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she’s forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she’s carefully constructed around her heart. 

Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she’s up to something. She’s secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Risky-Surrender-Entangled-After-ebook/dp/B00EGJE3MC/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/risky-surrender-robin-bielman/1116394349?ean=9781622662395

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/risky-surrender/id687063778?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/risky-surrender

Robin in velvet pastel haze 620About Robin Bielman…

Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini labradoodle, Harry. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Kissing the Maid of Honor and Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers. Visit her online:

 

http://robinbielman.com

Twitter @RobinBielman

http://facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

http://goodreads.com/robinbielman

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.

Small Towns, Big Stories

Setting is so important. The perfect setting can frame and showcase your characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Your setting can add deep layers and meaning to the developing romance, heighten the sense of mystery and danger or accentuate heartwarming and heart-wrenching family dynamics. For me, nothing helps me achieve my writing goals like a small-town setting.

I’m fascinated by small-town dynamics…probably because I spent more than fifteen years as a community newspaper reporter and editor.

I love the dichotomy of citizens’ public and private personas and how those differences fuel the gossip and “scandal” in communities,  influence both personal and public decisions and, most importantly, impact personal relationships. These conflicts make for great tension in your writing, especially when they involve a hot hero and strong, sassy heroine.

There are three main reasons I enjoy writing, and reading, romances with small-town settings.

The small-town setting lends itself to certain tropes and themes I enjoy. Forced proximity, conflict of interest, leaving home, returning home, reunion romances, bad boy/good girl, etc. The list is endless.

The sense of community. Friends, family, personal history, gossip…I love all the characteristics (good and bad) of small towns and communities.

Creative freedom. I create fictional towns, which means I’m not bogged down with a lot of research. I have complete control over my own little corner of the world. (The control freak in me loves this.)

So do you live in a small town? Enjoy reading or writing romances with small-town settings? I’d be interested in hearing your impressions and experiences.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into our August giveaway. The blog swag this month is a FREE digital copy of the winner’s choice from the new Decadent Tease Imprint courtesy of Clarissa Yip.

About Tina Vaughn

Tina Vaughn is an award-winning journalist and contemporary romance author who's always dreamed of being a writer. Her writing career began in elementary school when she wrote her friends' love letters to their boyfriends in exchange for Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. After spending nearly fifteen years as a journalist and newspaper editor, Tina remembered she preferred fiction to fact and began writing what she loves most...steamy contemporary romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband and daughter, and is known for commemorating milestones with silver jewelry, tattoos and/or ice cream.

Traveling Romance

ArizonaIf you subscribe to this sort of thing, I must have been a nomad in another life. I just can’t wait to find out what’s over the next hill. Or see what the shining lights are across that stretch of plains. If I’m home too long, I get the itch to travel. I get grouchy. I feel deprived. Weird, huh?

But I never leave home without my trusty ereader loaded with my latest TBR’s. After all, there might be some down time. It would be a shame to waste it not reading.

I read my first romance at twelve. It was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’m fairly certain it was the first thing I read that included any descriptions of England, islands, pirates, ball gowns and the way someone else might have lived that was so different from the way I lived. It truly swept me away. I’m still awed by the work she put into her novels. Although it wasn’t written for my age group, her attention to detail, her vivid and thorough descriptions were captivating. As a published author, thinking about them still makes me go, wow!

San FranciscoAnd when I travel, I try to catch those little details that will bring my work to life. The way one small town differs from another, the way one big city is so opposite another. The architecture, the landscaping, the town squares or skyscrapers, and the accents of the citizens. I look at houses or buildings and wonder who lives or works there. I want each thread carefully woven together to resonate with readers in the same manner as hers did with me.

SONY DSCBefore I could afford to travel, I went lots of places through romance novels. People can scoff as much as they want, but if all of the writers I know are any indication, you can pretty much count on the settings being based in reality, and the details being accurate. Not that we don’t have our way with a plot thread, but it is fiction after all. When I think of reading or writing, I think of big sweeping stories, and grand adventures that change lives. But with that grand adventure, I want the details that bring the setting to life.

The novels I’ve written thus far are set in America because that’s the place I’m most familiar with. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s comfortable. And it’s a big, diverse place. Every time I travel I come up with more ideas for stories. I’m constantly taking pictures out the car window to keep for inspiration.SONY DSC

Do you have a favorite location you enjoy reading or writing about?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for this month’s swag!

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.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous 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, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.