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.

Distractions

It’s March already and maybe time to see how the year is going. I set myself some pretty hard goals for 2017, and while I’m not doing too badly, I could definitely do with a few more words on the page. One of my problems is I’m very easily side-tracked at the moment. So I thought it might be useful to actually work out what I am spending my time on when I should be writing.

Here’s a list of the main contenders…

  • Meet my number one distraction this year. This is Rufino, who joined the family just after Christmas. He’s a seven-year-old Spanish/Arab gelding and he’s lovely. If I’m not actually riding him, grooming him, or training him in the round pen, then I’m watching Youtube video’s on how to ride him, groom him, and train him… Plus, I still have my mare, Gencianna, and I have to spend lots of time with her so she doesn’t feel left out.

 

  • Facebooking – this one has got to stop. But there are so many interesting posts about how to ride, groom and train your horse.
  • Reading – I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and still have about 50 unread books on my kindle, so not going to stop anytime soon.
  • Binge watching 24 – Sigh – I love jack Bauer. But I’m on the final season so this one will end soon.
  • Killer Sudoku. I seem to have become a little obsessed with playing killer Sudoku online (http://www.killersudokuonline.com/). But apparently, it keeps your brain functioning, so I don’t beat myself up about it. My brain needs all the help it can get.
  • Milking an uncooperative goat. Honestly, this was not on my agenda. And it shouldn’t be happening. But my goat apparently has something called precocious udder, which means she is producing milk (unless she’s been out shagging and is actually pregnant—this better not be the case.) Normally, this goes away on its own, but honestly, her udders were positively gargantuan, they were almost dragging on the ground. I needed to do something.

 

So they’re the main things taking up my time at the moment. What about you? What’s your biggest time suck from the things you really should be doing?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

The Writing Blahs

I had a rough January. My grandmother passed away after a long battle with dementia, my mother was in the hospital for the first 25 days (she’s doing much better now), and my daughter had her baby 8 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia (mama and baby are also doing very well). My brain, my energy, my heart–it was elsewhere.

And I had self-imposed deadlines to meet. Those may seem unimportant, but they’re just as important (to me) as “real” deadlines. I suspect many of you understand. Unfortunately, my writing output began to slow to a trickle. I was in that dreaded middle of a story, before you top the hill, when it seems like there are a million bad words behind you and a million new words to go. I had the writing blahs.

I asked the wonderful ladies here at HSG for advice and they, to a one, suggested reading a good book. I haven’t taken their advice yet, though I tried, because I just can’t seem to turn my brain off. When I do read, I have writer-brain. “Oh, nice hook,” or “I see what you did there.” I’m going to persevere, even as I try to reach my writing goals daily.

I did some research (because I certainly wasn’t writing) and came up with some great quotes and articles I thought I’d share with you.

From Lydia Sharp on Writer Unboxed:

There are times I must immerse myself in research, or pull out an old story and do line edits, in order to refresh. This is the result of a right brain/left brain imbalance. The scales are tipped, and equilibrium can only be achieved by adding to our noncreative side. Fact begets fiction.

From Carly Sandifer on One Wild Word:

If you’re tapping out your sentences on your computer, pick up a pen or pencil and write by hand in a notebook. For that matter, some people enjoy typing on an actual typewriter.

I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, but deemed it too slow for my higher output. I’d cut out the middle man (I thought), but maybe sometimes you need the middle man to negotiate a treaty between you and your brain.

This great post (which is more about writing blogs) from Henneke Duistermaat at Smart Blogger:

Feeling a little frustrated?

Well, let it out.

Before you start writing, curse like a sailor. Get angry. Be emotional.

Write something you’re passionate about. Have a good rant. Don’t worry about going too far.

There’s worse advice out there. After all, if you’re writing flat, your reader will be able to tell. Maybe move on to a particularly moving scene?

What’s you best writing advice for defeating the writing blahs and getting past a block?

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. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

How Do I Find Books to add to my TBR List?

Hi, all! Jennifer here!

Lately I’ve been seeing some great questions posed on social media. But one in particular really had me thinking about what I read, when, and how.

Are you on GOODREADS? Well, if you aren’t you’re missing out on a great way to organize books you see. Especially if you want to read it but need to put on the back-burner because of time–or the fact that you already have a stack of books to read!

But anyway, after some careful thinking and analyzing, I can now share with you my process.

How I Find Books to Add to My TBR List

  1. Goodreads  When I check into Goodreads, I see lists of books my friends have read and reviewed. If I see a 4 or 5 star review with major gushing in their review, I automatically add that book to my TBR list.
  2. Instagram and Facebook Ads  Well, believe it or not this is true. If I happen to see eye-catching ad, I will click on the link. If I read the blurb and the books sounds interesting, yes, I will either buy it or add to my TBR list.
  3. Recommendations from my Critique Group We obviously don’t just talk writing. We talk books as well. And we usually check in and share what we’re reading. If a CP looks a particular book, I will definitely add it my list.
  4. Amazon  Yes, I’m one of those people who comb the best-seller charts. If it has a good rating, a good price, and the blurb interests me, I will buy it or add to my TBR list to see what the hype is about.
  5. Award Winners  I’m one of those readers who actually DO pay attention to award-winning books or even RITA nominated books. Again, if the blurb interests me, I will add it.
  6. Bookbub  Well, sometimes there is a sale on a book I’ve had my eye on, but sometimes if the cover and blurb look good, I might just snatch a new book up and add to my TBR pile for the heck of it.

Anyway, that’s how I find books I want to read.

What’s your method? How do you find books to add to your TBR list?

Do you use your library? Bloggers? Twitter?

I’m interested to know!

Until next time,

Jennifer 🙂

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

Decades of Love and Life ~ #DecadesofLove #LynnCrain #amwriting #amreading

I really hate missing my blog date like I did last month. It always causes me some angst but last month was the month for angst. Now I’m not saying this for sympathy or anything but to let you know where my mind has been then you’ll understand my cause for the later celebration.

My beloved husband was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. He’d had his required colonoscopy for people our age and had been having gastro problems for a while. We were told immediately after the test on January 3rd but the diagnosis wasn’t finalized until the next week. All through January, it was a flurry of tests and things to see what the prognosis was and so on. I am happy to say, his prognosis is 100% cure with about 8 rounds of chemo and two surgeries to remove the two tumors they found. Yippee!

One of the things we did during that month was re-evaluate our lives and what we’d been doing. That included a long hard look at writing and what I did for a living. I am also a life long learner and had been waiting to go back to college for some classes I wanted then onto a Masters in Writing program so I could teach more. Writing and teaching others about writing are the two things I love most.

Anyway, after many discussions my husband told me adamantly that no matter what happened, he did not want me to give up what I was doing as far as writing goes. He loves the fact it makes me happy and told me he wouldn’t trade it for the world. He then told me to plant the butt into the chair and make sure I did these things. This was one of the reasons I married him all those years ago.

Fast forward to today and I’m pleased to announce my next release, the anthology Decades of Love. It’s all about Vegas, baby! And there were moments that I never thought it was going to happen. Why? Because I was the ebook producer and the print formatter for it. And those things were due in January. I announced to the group right away my life issue and they were all so supportive. I was truly blessed with such a great group of authors and found it within me to get everything done only about five days late. But enough about me…here’s a little more about the book…

Love hits the jackpot in these six seductive tales, each set in a different decade in the hottest, wildest, most sinful of cities – Las Vegas.  In Elizabeth Spaur’s Miss Atomic Bomb, a beauty pageant brings a cowboy and city girl together.  A desperate singer finds new hope with a not-so-jaded casino owner in B.A. McIntosh’s Home at Last.  In Lynn Crain’s, Hooked on a Feeling, two Vietnam vets get a second chance at love while facing enemies at home.  A rodeo star falls hard for a showgirl in Diane Deeds’s Total Eclipse of the Heart.  In Kay Phoenix’s An Unexpected Knight, a hero on a mighty steed captures the heroine’s heart. A good girl learns that being bad can be very, very good in Tami Cowden’s It Happened One Vegas Night.   Mobsters and G-men, cowboys and showgirls, singers and dancers, and even a knight in shining armor all find that Sin City is not just a place to have fun – but  also a great place to fall in love.

It is a truly amazing collaboration of authors and talents. You should check it out at the pre-order price of just $0.99 at Amazon. We’re also during a release event on February 28 at our Facebook Page. Come join us for fun and prizes! We’d love to have you.

I also need to say a very big thank you to the Passionate Critters group, you know, the ones that bring you this blog every month. These ladies have been my support for many years and I am so blessed to have each of them in my life. They’ve allowed me the latitude to figure out this huge life challenge by talking to me about anything and everything. Cancer is definitely one of those big life issues and it’s only when you have the great support of wonderful friends that you can overcome even the most horrendous thing you’ve ever face. These ladies are those friends, through thick and thin…and I love them all!

Like they say, when life gives you lemons…make lemonaide…and it’s so true. I am so blessed with an amazing life, author friends and a husband who believes in me. See you next month!

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.

A New Book and a Fun Giveaway by Julie Jarnagin

The Vegas Proposal is available! As a big thank you to my readers, I’m giving away an awesome Las Vegas prize pack. It includes a Vegas themed insulated mug, pen, magnet, snow globe, and post card, and a $5 Amazon gift card.

Enter here. I’ll announce a winner on Valentine’s Day!

Here’s a little about the book:

A celebrity wedding would save her family’s Las Vegas chapel—as long as she doesn’t fall for the groom.

The Traditions Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas has been in Claire Grigg’s family for three generations, and she dreams of restoring the struggling chapel to its original glory. When Claire discovers the chapel’s financial problems and the strain it’s putting on her parents’ marriage, Claire commits to doing whatever it takes to save the business.

Vegas is the last stop on Ben Karr’s tour, and he’s afraid he’ll soon be added to a long list of one-hit wonders. He’s determined to prove that his talent deserves to be taken seriously and all the sacrifices his grandmother made were worth it. He’s known more for his frequent break-ups with famous women than his music. Until he can repair his public image, Ben’s label refuses to invest in another album.

Ben devises a radical plan to save his career—a fake wedding to his starlet ex-girlfriend—but the adorable chapel director and her talk of true love and commitment is making him rethink the scam. Will Claire and Ben let go of their dreams and risk it all to grab onto a shot at true love?

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iBooks – Coming Soon
Goodreads

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 two young sons 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

  • 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.