St. Patrick’s Day Redux

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. My son and I went on a mini vacation and so missed all the craziness at home. There is always a huge parade in downtown Cleveland. People start drinking at 9 am, leading invariably to those same people throwing up in alleys before the parade starts. Good times.

I recently did an AncestryDNA test and discovered that I am 46% Irish. I always thought it was closer to 25%, all on my mother’s side, but it turns out my father had quite a bit of Irish as well. So this St. Patrick’s Day found me somewhat more reflective on all things Irish, including St. Patrick himself.

St. Patrick, Salisbury Cathedral, UK.   Source: Wikimedia Commons

Who was not Irish.

He was born in Britain to wealthy, Roman Christian parents circa 386, and reportedly died in Ireland on March 17 about 460. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, who enslaved him in Ireland for six years, which he spent tending sheep. After six years, he heard the voice of God in a dream, telling him to escape, so he did. (I can’t help but wonder why God had him wait so long, if it was this easy, but I digress.) He walked roughly 200 miles to the Irish coast and then somehow got to Britain and reunited with his family. Once he managed this feat, an angel came to him in a dream and told him to go back to Ireland, as a missionary. So he traveled to France and studied to become a priest, then returned to Ireland to join other missionaries. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland–it was already there.

Patrick weaved Irish traditions and stories into his Christian teachings, rather than attempting to eradicate them. The Celtic cross–an Irish symbol of the sun superimposed on a Christian cross–is an example.

Celtic cross. Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Patrick’s Day was originally started 1,000 years ago as a religious holiday in Ireland, which included church followed by a family meal of cabbage and Irish bacon (corned beef definitely wasn’t on the menu).  Irish pubs were required to be closed on March 17 until the 1970s.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in 1762, organized by Irish soldiers serving in the English army.  Over the years, St. Patrick’s Day became a way for ever-increasing numbers of Irish immigrants to connect with their heritage. In the mid-19th century, it became a way for Irish immigrants to protest their treatment by American society and to show their strength as a growing political machine.

Today, of course, parades and festivals take place in over 100 U.S. cities–there’s one in Dublin, Ireland now, too, which over a million people attend. There are over 34.7 million people of Irish descent living in the US, more than seven times the population of Ireland, and they are very, very proud of their heritage.

I will admit that I have spent my fair share of St. Patrick’s Days drinking beer–preferably not green–and singing Irish folk tunes at the top of my lungs. This year was much quieter–a pizza and a pint of Irish cider, but I did force my son to listen to the High Kings and the Chieftains for a while.

A belated St. Patrick’s Day to all, whether Irish in truth or in spirit.

Sources:
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick
http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729#missionary-work
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day
http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/st-patricks-day-facts
http://www.history.com/news/st-patricks-day-myths-debunked

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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!

*****

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:
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Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

The Holiday Blues

I admit that December is not my favorite time of year. I do like Christmas–I enjoy giving and receiving presents, being with family, seeing the joy on my son’s face when he opens that gift he really, really wanted. But the holidays are extraordinarily stressful for me. The stress of getting the perfect (or sometimes, just any) gift, for making treats for my kid’s teachers, sending all the presents off so they get there in time, the 13 hour drive, yadda yadda yadda.

In an effort to make the season a bit more sane, a few years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards–I just couldn’t do it any more, although I am sorry not to receive cards from friends. This year we decided not to make treats for all of the teachers–sorry, guys. There’s even some doubt that we will put up the Christmas tree this weekend, although I am trying to get into the spirit. I am strangely world weary this year, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Life is good, work is busy, family is healthy, and next month, my first book will be published. Perhaps it is my innate cynicism waiting for the other shoe to drop, or perhaps I just need a little vacation.

Do you get the holiday blues? How do you get yourself out of them?

 

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Turning Over a Healthier Leaf

Sorry, this is a day late, since it’s been that kind of week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wellness lately. A week ago I finished my second book. I wrote 13,500 words in three days–an unprecedented burst of creative productivity for me, so I had to ride it out. The next day, of course, I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck so bad I had to lie in bed for hours, unable to move my head unless it was to suck down more ibuprofen.

This was a bit of a wake up call for me. During last winter’s Polar Vortex I gained about 15 pounds, none of which I’ve managed to lose, although I will admit I haven’t really tried very hard. I love to eat and I hate to exercise, so you can see where this has led.

Writers, or so the stereotype goes, often live unhealthy lives. They drink too much, eat a lot of bad-for-them foods, and exercise very little. This is not always true, of course, as evidenced by Julia Quinn‘s treadmill desk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips‘ Facebook pics of all the healthy meals she eats and crazy hiking trips she takes. I drink more wine than I ought, could happily eat Lay’s Lightly Salted potato chips all day long, and time not spent working, writing, editing, blogging, cooking, chauffeuring the kid around town, reading, sleeping, or washing the dishes is usually spent watching Hulu or playing Angry Birds Transformers.

But as I mentioned, the pinched nerve woke me up to the fact this is probably not the best way to live, and after a lovely massage yesterday I am ready to turn over a new leaf–now, before all the crazy holiday stress eating starts. Weight Watchers tracking has begun, as has the new exercise regimen–20 minutes on the trusty old NordicTrack I’ve had since 1989. Wish me luck, for I will need it.

Are you a fitness fan, or do you struggle with staying motivated to exercise? Favorite bad-for-you food?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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