Tag Archives: #research #writingresearch

#bookrelease featuring #WRPbks Author Jean Grant, A Hundred Breaths

You all know I lovelovelove when one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs comes for a visits and brings me info on a new book they’ve got releasing. Today, JEAN GRANT is visiting and telling me – and you ! – about her new book release A HUNDRED BREATHS available today! First, Jean’s giving us a little insight into how she does her research for the book. Then, stick around because she’s got a little sumthin’ sumthin’ from the book to whet your reading appetites!!

Here’s Jean…..

Researching Culture and Setting: Viking ships, Abbeys, and Enchanting Castles

Like any novel, I take my research seriously! A Hundred Breaths delves into the Norse culture and I was fortunate to tour an actual Viking ship, the Draken Harald Hårfagre, last year. When I heard this ship was coming to a port near us (Mystic, CT, and only an hour drive away), I messaged the captain and booked myself tickets. The researcher in me squealed with delight. The ship did not let me down. I asked questions, got to walk along the deck, and my sons got to “steer” with the steerboard. This ship was built as a fully working replica based on much research of Norse vessels. The crew was handpicked and sailed it cross the Atlantic Ocean. Exploring the vessel gave me a taste of what it must have been like to sail the ocean as a Viking.

 

Gwyn and Simon’s journey in A Hundred Breaths also takes them to Dryburgh Abbey. I had loved Scotland for years, and in 2008, finally planned a visit there. One stop was to visit the lowland abbeys. I’ll admit that Dryburgh Abbey was an idea from a previous manuscript (ahem, a “practice one”). With a bit of brainstorming, and since I had already done the research and visited the rosy stone abbey, I worked this setting into part of the story. Though much in ruins, a few of the sidewalls remain. Echoes of yesterday blew on the wind (aye, wet wind…did I mention it rained during our entire trip to Scotland?) as we explored this ancient landmark. It was eerie, exquisite, and inspiring.

Aside from the moors and machair of the Western isles, the other key location for the series is Eilean Donan Castle. This castle originated in the 13th century, becoming the future seat of Clan MacKenzie, and has been burned, attacked, and rebuilt numerous times. The sun shone on us during this visit, and right before a tour bus unloaded, we snapped some picturesque shots of this highly photographed romantic Scottish castle.

Next on the wish list? To get to Uist, Lewis, and Harris on our next trip to Scotland (we made it to Skye, and it was a soaker), visit some standing stones, and find out if I can also feel the earth’s hum within them…and for the hiker in me, I would enjoy the multi-day trek along Hadrian’s Wall.

A HUNDRED BREATHS

 

1263, Scotland

Simon MacCoinneach’s vengeance runs deep. The blade is the only way to end the blood-thirsty Nordmen’s reign upon Scottish soil. His soul might be lost, but the mystical Healer he kidnaps from the isles could be the answer for his ailing mother…and his heart.

Isles-born Gwyn reluctantly agrees to a marriage alliance with this heathen Scot in return for the sanctuary of her younger brother from her abusive Norse father. Her brother’s condition is beyond the scope of her Ancient power, for larger healings steal breaths of life from her own body.

As Simon and Gwyn fight to outwit her madman father and a resentful Norse betrothed, Gwyn softens Simon’s heart with each merciful touch. Gwyn’s Seer sister foresees a bloody battle—and an end to the Nordmen—but Simon will also die. Will Gwyn save Simon on the battlefield even if it means losing her last breath?

Excerpt 

“I’m your wife, and still I am guarded?”

Simon shrugged though she couldn’t see. He’d given up on excuses. “What must I do to prove I won’t flee? I signed your marriage contract. I said my vows.” Her voice broke on those words.

Was she crying? He laid the tray of food on her table and approached. He didn’t touch her, as much as he wanted to link his arm within hers as they’d done during their walks. He reached inside his ganache and withdrew her small, simple dagger. Unadorned with jewels or carvings, it possessed a bone hilt and a blade worn from use. Likely from tree limbs, flowers, and household use. His smith had sharpened it and cleaned the hilt.

“Here,” he said, placing it in her lap. Gildy had retrieved the sheath from Gwyn’s laundered gown.

Gwyn stared at it, her fingertips dancing butterfly wings hovering over the hilt. After a moment, she drew her hand around it and pulled it from its leather sheath. She rose and whirled on him, the dagger pointed out before her, barely pressing into his chest.

He didn’t retreat as he met her fiery, misty gaze.

She made no move to remove the dagger’s tip.

“A smidge to the center, Gwyn, and you’ll be square over my blackened heart.” He held her glower. The heat blazed in her entrancing blue eyes like the devil. He fought a smile.

Buy links: 

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google Play

A little more about Jean Grant….

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Social Media links:

Website  //   Twitter //  Facebook //  Goodreads // Bookbub //  Amazon Author Page

Peggy here – Jean, thank you so much for being my guest today. Good luck with A Hundred Breaths and all of your other endeavors!

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#MFRWauthor How I celebrate completing my manuscripts…

Is there an author alive who doesn’t love the words THE END? Who doesn’t get excited and thrilled and relieved and a swelled ego at finishing something as monumental as a fully-formed book? Well, yes, there is.

Me.

Let me ‘esplain it to you Lucy.

As everyone knows by the now, the title of my website is Writing is my Oxygen. This is because to me, if I don’t write everyday I feel like I die a little inside, just like if I didn’t have air to breathe, I’d die. So when I’m writing a new book I feel alive, energized, filled with positivity and purpose. I literally live and breathe my characters, their story, go through all their trials, tribulations, conflicts and dilemmas. When the story is complete, the resolution, well, resolved,  and the h/h have their HEA, I feel elated. For about an hour. Then I get sad and morose because these people who I’ve lived, breathed, and loved for months no longer need me.

Le sigh….

So, instead of celebrating with a bottle of wine or the purchase of a spa day, I tend to do what I do all the time when I am sad. I emotionally eat.

Gorge, really.

Like, really.

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies by the truck load

Hershey’s kisses by the case.

Iced Cream Cheese pastries.

Anything and everything chocolate I can get my hands on.

It’s kinda sad and wicked gross.

When the sugar high wears off ( because eventually it does) and my pants are so tight again no amount of gym-trecking can really help, I step back ( okay, waddle back, if we’re being honest!) and evaluate the situation. In due time I realize I need to suck it up. Like my daughter no longer needs me for guidance, thoughts, or emotional counseling because she’s a grown ass woman, my characters no longer need me, either. When this epiphany happens I usually do double workouts at the gym ( pastries, you know?), drink buckets of water to flush the sugar from my system, and then………look for new characters and plot lines that need me.

Thus, the life of a writer.

Since this is a blog hop, some of the other authors in this series probably celebrate in much more constructive and fun ways than I do at the completion of a manuscript. Check them out.

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#MFRWauthor blog challenge: What I’ve learned from my worst review…

There’s an old saying: reviews are like_______; everybody has one.

Now, if you’re like me the word you wrote on that line was one I really can’t use in a public blog, heehee, but it rhymes with ashmoles. The word that I’m replacing it with is opinions. Think about it. Everyone has an opinion about something, and a book review is really just the person who’s writing the review’s opinion on the work. Like in every day life, some people agree with you, some people do not. It’s the same for reviews.

I’ve read glowing, absolutely the best book you will read all year reviews on books I truly thought were horrible.

I’ve also read soul sucking, pass this one by people reviews on books I lovedlovedloved.

It’s all a matter of opinion. Unfortunately, in the business I now find myself in of writing and publishing, those opinions can mean the difference between a month of good book sales and one of disaster. I have  strong ego. Truly. Ask anyone who knows me. It takes an awful lot to rip me down emotionally and lay me bare, so reviews never hurt me or my feelings. I know not every book is for everyone because I know not every book is for me. The reviews I take exception to are the ones that were written by mean spirited, jealous little trolls who you know didn’t even finish the book because their reviews were full of mistakes and incorrect plotline summations. Trogdelytes who’ve never written a word of fiction, painted a picture with a well formed sentence, or won an award for ANYTHING, much less writing. Pissants who can’t put a constructed thought on the page in a way that conveys meaning to anyone reading it. Morons who……

Okay, so rant over. Sorry about that. Back to  the topic.

What I learned from the worst review I ever received was to laugh it off. I wrote a Valentine’s day story a few years back called 3 WISHES. The story was about CHLOE and MATT. I put their names in caps so you’ll remember them when I tell you this quick synopsis story of the review.

In the book, CHLOE AND MATT are the hero and heroine. I had a subtle subplot revolving around Chloe’s parents ( Francesca and Joey) and an affair Joey had that forced him to leave his family. Did you read the word subplot in the last sentence? I used Joey’s defection from the family as a way to introduce who Matt really was in the story and how he connected to Chloe. A reviewer on Goodreads rated my story a 1 ( A 1!!!) and said I wrote the wrong book. The story of the parents was where the real emphasis should have gone.

Look up the word stunned in the dictionary and you will see a picture of my face when I read that review.


                                           (Not really my face!! heehee)

But, Really? I could understand if the chick didn’t like the story, but to tell me, THE AUTHOR, that I’d written the wrong one? Really? When I could speak again I wanted to write the hag– I mean the reader– a letter saying if she thought I’d written the wrong story then she should go ahead and write the one she wanted to read, because 3 WISHES was ALWAYS CHLOE and MATT’S story. Always.  And just FYI, the individual who wrote that I penned the wrong story is not a writer herself. I never wrote the letter. There was no need to. Once people who had read the book got a gander at that review, it kinda instigated a little reviewer backlash against the chick, primed with vile slings and arrows aimed straight at her.

God, I lovelovelove my readers!!!!! The ones who will defend me, lay down their literary swords for me, and take on the trolls. They are, simply, the best.

So, again, back to the main point here. What I learned from the worst review I ever got was to laugh off the negativity, leave the person in God’s hands, and delight in the fact that I’m getting paid to live my dream life while that bad reviewer….isn’t. ( those of you who know me know I could have gone bat-shit crazy with that last sentence, but I refrained from doing to. Proud of me? heehee)

Sine this is a blog hop made up of AUTHORS who have all probably had at least 1 bad review, hop on over to their sites and read their posts for today.

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#Research…a necessary evil or funfunfun to do?

I love trivia. The more arcane or weird an item of info is, the better for me. When TRIVIAL PURSUIT first burst onto the world stage in the 1980’s no one wanted to play against me. Le sigh…..

Because I like knowing weird trivia facts, I lovelovelove research. My characters are all over the map with regards to their careers and knowledge bases. I’ve had doctors, veterinarians, tv producers, writers, lawyers, and artists, just to name a few. And for every book and different career choice, I’ve had to do a little research to ensure I was staying true to not only the character, but how their career fit in with the plot line.

Some of my favorite pieces of info that I learned from researching my books are:

  1. a cow has 4 stomachs
  2. the gestation period for a horse is 11-12 months
  3. a Coroner doesn’t have to be a medical doctor.
  4. the first digital camera was invented and used in 1975
  5. milk chocolate tempers between 87 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit
  6. White chocolate is really a chocolate derivative made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids
  7. the basic cake recipe for almost every baker is simple to easy.

Writers need to get things right in their work. In the past, publishers had fact checkers to make sure when an author added a piece of info into their story it was correct. Not so much anymore. But now, with the information needed at our fingertips, anyone can and should be a fact checker simply by using Google.

There are two reasons I am so anal about research. One is from a writing viewpoint, the other as a reader. A few years ago I read a book by a very well known and well paid romance writer who said that the hero was wearing Bausch and Lomb Blue colored contact lenses. At the time, I was a contact lens technician and KNEW B&L made no such lens. As a reader I was disappointed in the writer and the publisher for not fact checking that. (FYI, B&L now does make a blue colored lens in their disposable brand of lenses. Back when this book was written, they did not and would not for several years.)

The personal reason I am such a devout researcher has to do with my first book. It was about an ice skater who’d won  2 Olympic gold medals. When I was describing her winning routine, I spelled the move she made as A-X-L-E. Now, I skated for decades myself, but never knew the word when used in this skating context was spelled A-X-E-L. An agent I’d sent the manuscript to also happened to be an ice skater on the side. When she saw how I’d misspelled the word, she wrote me back that she never read the rest of the book because that mistake questioned my credibility as a writer of the subject to her. Lesson learned. The hard way.

So, research. Fun or tiresome? You already know my answer.

Since this is a blog hop, lets see what the other authors have learned from their book research:

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