It’s beginning to look a lot like–

Poop. Christmas? Already?

Yes! Before Halloween, even. Dis-gusting, I know. But, it could be worse.

Shortly before Christmas last year, I was contracted by Entangled Press to write a book for them.  It wasn’t a book of my own creation, but one they’d outlined. It was up to me to flesh it out.

It was–rather, I should say is–a Christmas-themed book.

When I first started writing Santa Maybe, carols played, lights twinkled, and everyone was merry and bright. But, as usual, the holiday passed. The air grew warm. The Easter Bunny came and left. Flowers bloomed. And I was still writing that &#@!*$ Christmas book.

Baseball season began; my son played first base while I sat in the car with my laptop, melting and cursing Christmas. By this point, I was channeling my hero, Justin. Justin loathes Christmas, mostly because his dad was killed during the holiday. It’s not his happiest time of year. (Understandably.) That little character “thing” made the book that much harder to write. Depressed heroes are not fun–or funny. (Did I mention this was supposed to be a romantic comedy?)

Finally, I finished the first draft and in May I sent the book to my editor. (If I could have flung it at her, I would have. By this point, I did not love this book. I mean, seriously. Santa in the Springtime is just plain wrong.) Worse, she sent the wretched thing back. For revisions. In August! I had to wonder how they can stand Christmas in Australia; it was hard to write (or think) sentimentally about snow, sugar cookies and the scent of balsams when you’re gulping iced tea and slathering on sunscreen. (I considered sticking my head in the freezer a few times to get in the right mood…)

You know, I even had dreams that it was Christmas, and it was muggy and there were leaves on the trees (and shrimp on the barbi? Which was really weird because I live in Rhode Island, USA), and everyone looked at me like I’d gone insane. Because I kept asking, “Where’s Santa?” And–of course–because it was the Fourth of July. Insanity! Holiday chaos!

Finally, after a summer full of Christmas, the book was completed, the final version was approved, and a release date was scheduled: November 13th.  Hurray! And you know–I’m kind of looking forward to Christmas this year. At least it won’t be beach weather. 🙂

Here’s a little video that gives you an idea of poor Justin’s story. I can promise you that in the end, he loves Christmas at every time of the year.

About Cyn D. Blackburn

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Release Day for Tempting Mr. Jordan!

Today is release day (happy dance!) for Tempting Mr. Jordan, an historical romance set primarily in Maine in 1871.  The heroine in this book is Julia Tenwick, who we last saw in Stirring Up the Viscount as the hero’s precocious little sister. Now she’s all grown up, and heads off to America for one last adventure before settling in to life as a spinster and doting aunt to her brother’s children.

As usual in romances, she meets a man who throws a wrench in her plans–the arrogant, reclusive painter from northern Maine, Geoffrey Jordan. Geoffrey isn’t based on any one person, but I imagine him a curious hybrid of John Thornton (played to swoonworthy perfection by Richard Armitage) from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Frederic Edwin Church, a 19th century American painter who spent a lot of time in Maine, and any number of arrogant, talented men I’ve met in my life. There have been a few…

One of my favorite scenes in the book comes from a sketch I saw at the Cleveland Museum of Art a couple of years ago. It was in an exhibition called “Maine Sublime,” which featured landscapes by Church and other members of the Hudson River School. In it, there was a sketch he used to paint one of his more famous paintings, Twilight in the Wilderness.

Twilight in the Wilderness, Frederic Edwin Church, 1860

Twilight in the Wilderness, Frederic Edwin Church, 1860

I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of the sketch at the museum, and I can’t find it online, but it looked a bit like this one:

Sketch by Frederic Edwin Church, 1853

Sketch by Frederic Edwin Church, 1853

It was a rough sketch of the scene, accompanied by the names of colors here and there. Church used descriptive sketches like these to paint later. It inspired me so much I hurried home to write this scene:

Marin McGinnisJulia pulled her cloak around her shoulders and left by the kitchen door. Soft snowflakes danced lightly around her head as she made her way toward the water. She loved the crisp air, the snow, the scents of wood smoke, salty waves, and pine. She walked around toward the lighthouse, imagining how much her brother would love it here. He’d have his sketchbook tucked under his arm, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice when the mood struck.

The snow began to fall faster, swirling around as she clambered over the large rocks at the water’s edge. The sky was streaked with red, orange, blue, and gray, and she stopped, perched, just to watch.

“Get out of the way!”

She jumped at the strident tone, nearly toppling into the water. Regaining her balance, she turned carefully, and sighed.

Geoffrey Jordan sat on a neighboring rock behind her, sketchbook in hand. His expression was darker than the sky had been when she started on this walk. Julia was unable to stop herself from stepping back in surprise. Apparently there were bears near the shore as well.

“You’re blocking my view.” The muscles of the man’s face settled into a grimace which Julia found only marginally less frightening than his scowl.

“All right, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there.” Julia took another step back and cried out in pain as her foot slipped into a crevice between the rocks.

Geoffrey swore and tossed his sketchbook to the side. He strode over to her and held out a hand.

Given his expression, Julia considered whether it might be safer to remain where she was. Geoffrey stuck his hand out again, waving it impatiently.

Julia finally realized she was more annoyed than afraid. “How am I supposed to grab your hand when you wave it about like that?”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” He reached down with both hands and grabbed her waist, pulling her to her feet. She ignored the tingling of her skin where he touched her and focused on her anger instead.

“I don’t know why you’re so angry at me. It’s not my fault I fell. You startled me.”

“You stepped into my line of sight. And now the sunrise is nearly gone, I’ve missed it, and it’s entirely your fault.”

Julia realized his hands still rested on her hips, and she pushed them away. “You sound like a petulant child.”

He returned to his sketchbook and sat down again. He started scribbling, ignoring her. She ignored him as well and gingerly ran a hand over her throbbing ankle. Her stocking was torn, and a shallow cut showed through it. Deciding she should return home to clean the wound, thanks to this odious man, she slowly made her way across the rocks past him. She caught a glimpse of his sketch as she passed. Intrigued, she stopped and bent at the waist, looked over his shoulder.lighthouse-1039189_1920

“You’re barely drawing anything at all. What does that say?”

He scowled again, but he answered, “Scarlet.”

She pointed at the corner of the drawing. “And that?”

“Azure. I thought all proper English ladies could read.”

“Your handwriting is terrible. What does that say?” She pointed again.

“Orange.”

She peered closer. “It does not. It looks like ‘crindle.’”

He laughed, and she turned her head to look at him. He was much less frightening when he laughed. Handsome. She blinked and unbent.

“‘Crindle’? What on earth does that mean?”

Her cheeks warmed. “Well, I don’t know, do I? It’s your drawing.”

“And it says ‘orange.’ What are you doing out here anyway?”

“I wanted to go for a walk.”

“At the crack of dawn?”

“I didn’t think I would see anyone.”

“Why didn’t you want to see anyone?”

She sighed. “Because conversation tires me, sometimes. This one in particular.”

“I don’t disagree.” He stroked his pencil across the paper a few more times, and she craned her neck to look.

“Why didn’t you just paint the sunrise? Why describe it?”

sky-1599469_1920“Because the sunrise is a fleeting thing. It never lasts long enough for me to paint it, so I sketch the scene and write the names of the colors, to jog my memory when I am in my studio.”

Julia turned to look at the sky. It was gray now, with little wisps of blue and white streaked across it. All of the stunning red and orange hues were gone. She suddenly felt terrible for ruining his view.

“I am sorry I got in your way. I don’t suppose you could try again tomorrow?”

He shrugged. “A sunrise like that one is rare.”

Now she felt even worse. “Well, I am sorry.”

“Where did you think you were going? The rocks lead out into the water, and the tide will be in soon. What if you’d fallen when I wasn’t here to help? You’d have drowned.”

Shame was quickly replaced by annoyance. “I wouldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t startled me!”

“Well, it was careless.”

Julia placed both hands on her hips and stared at the insufferable man. “You haven’t a very high opinion of my intelligence, have you?”

“I have no opinion of your intelligence at all. I think you take risks that a lady shouldn’t take.”

“I was hardly doing pirouettes out here! I would have been fine if you hadn’t yelled at me.”

“I didn’t yell at you.”

“Yes, you did!”

“Fine! I’m sorry I yelled at you. Now go home, before you truly hurt yourself.” Before she could reply, he tucked his sketchbook under his arm, stood, and scrambled away across the rocks like a crab.

She watched him go, annoyed with him and herself in equal measure. Well, mostly with him. Insufferable man. She gingerly followed, lifting her skirts higher to avoid the rising water. The tide was indeed coming in.

She hated that he was right.

You can read more about Tempting Mr. Jordan–including buy links, should you be so inspired–at my website. And should you find yourself in northeast Ohio, you can see the original of Twilight in the Wilderness, which hangs in Gallery 206 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Perhaps it will inspire you too.

And if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads, you can enter to win this great Maine-themed gift box, offered by me and author Becky Lower.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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.

Falling Down the Christmas Romance Rabbit Hole

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays and my favorite thing to do at Christmas, besides watch Christmas movies or bake cookies is read Christmas romances. There is nothing like a good Christmas romance anthology. Over the years I’ve read many, and each season a new one becomes available for the masses.

There’s the historicals, which are always marvelous because who doesn’t love seeing how in a time when couples had difficulty falling in love in the first place, let alone being alone together, a pair of romantically matched people find themselves declaring love for one another in less than forty thousand words.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

Christmas in the Duke’s Arms by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen ~ All the tales occur around an inn, in a small town. My favorite is a friends to lovers tale. twg-final-large

The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan ~ Delicious romance with rakes, benefactors, and unlikely heroes

All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke by Valerie Bowman, Vivienne Lorret, Tiffany Clare, and Ashlyn Macnamara ~ Dukes. Need I say more?

I’m mighty proud of the fact I’ve offered you stories by 11 different Historical romance authors, and they are all fabulous. This is just the tip of the romance iceberg because several other historical authors offer up full-length Christmas tales, including an entire series from Theresa Romain, which right now they are all together as a Holiday Pleasures Bundle in an ebook steal deal.

Then I have that ‘but wait; there’s more’ moment. Because I haven’t discussed contemporary romance. There is plenty of holiday joy to be shared around there. The ones I fell in love were the typically full length and the run the gauntlet from sweet to steamy. Regardless, they are all romances and feature Christmas in some capacity.

A few more favs:

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis ~ first in the Lucky Harbor series.maybe-this-christmas

Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsey ~ part of the Last Chance series.

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan ~ a friends to lovers tale and part of her Snow Crystal series.

And, if you haven’t heard a fellow HSG blogger/author, Jennifer Shirk has her latest release in the Christmas contemporary romance category. Check out Wrong Brother, Right Match. A shameless plug, but I’ve already got it pre-order and on my list of holiday romances to indulge in.

Of course, as with all things, these are just a handful of Christmas romance books available. I’m leaving out Maisey Yates and her cowboys, and Jessica Lemmon with her Bad Boy for Christmas book. I could go on and on, but I do believe that will cut into my reading time.

Do you have a favorite Christmas romance book? If so, tell me, I’d love to add it to my list.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Beth Rhodes is in the House

A day late and a dollar short, as far as the blog goes!!

I’m such a blacker [blog and slacker mix] or should I say bloacker? I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me. 😀 Ha! But, I’m here. My day, the 23rd. I picked it because it’s my birthdate of the month. And I figured that would be easy to remember.  It is!! But that doesn’t mean I’m any better about blogging.

This month, I’m in a bit of a limbo… I have new work on the brain, but nothing really started. I have a release coming out in December, and I’m undecided about my cover, so that’s taking longer than expected…and I’m supposed to have a big REVEAL on November 6th, which–by the way–is much closer than you think! 😀

Phew. Crazy stuff. A busy month, leading into a busy season–holidays. I love them. This morning, after two days of clouds and rain, I woke up to snow on The Peak. I love that… there’s something spectacular about seeing the first snow of the season. And the trees are all gloriously colored while the leaves fall to the ground.

11058087_10153293520044372_8785619066829172274_o

Everything in life turns over… and even though winter is a season for hibernation, we still grow. For me? I’m just hoping my word count grows! LOL 😀

Hope you are all enjoying the cool weather, the falling leaves, and the chance to get all snuggly under your covers with a good book.

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.

Seriously, Winter?

Spring. It’s 14 days away and it can’t come soon enough. I’m not an outdoor person. I enjoy my central heat/air year-round for a constant room temperature 68 degrees F.

Unfortunately, even I can’t ignore Mother Nature or Old Man Winter or Elsa or whoever it is having an emotional weather breakdown and ruining my life.

winter-boyfriend-girlfriend-funny-ecard-tpt

I have lived through several feet of snow. Like, that’s not an exxageration. It’s all  still outside if you don’t believe me. Know why it’s still all outside?

Crazy extreme temperatures. Remember when extreme became this cool thing to be or do? Extreme sports. Extreme home makeovers. Extreme caffeinated drinks. Well, trust me when I say extreme and weather should never be in the same sentence.

desperately-feeling-body-sun-funny-ecard-cJ4

And then, there were locusts. No, not really. But there was flooding. Anyone else starting to wonder if we’re the victim of some crazy mummy-plague-curse thing? Just me?

I spent the entire day and night (sort of; I passed out at 2:30 a.m.) watching my yard for rising water and trying to explain to my kids that our possessions were just things we could replace. Turns out, they’d prefer not to do that.

miss-hating-the-summer-heat-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Please, please, someone else join me in complaining about the weather.

complaint-weather-comparatively-less-annoying-seasonal-ecards-someecards

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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

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.

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