Aw Darn, You Mean I Have To Go There?

AubreyWynn_DantesGift_BandNoble_1333x2000 copy

As you know, if you read my blog, I’ve asked my author friends if anyone has done research for the setting of their book by actually visiting the area. Their experiences were something I wanted to share. Today I have a guest blogger, my author friend, Aubrey Wynne. She talks about her time in Chicago and how going being there helped write her book.Hope you enjoy!

Aw Darn, You Mean I Have To Go There?

Research can be time-consuming and tedious. It can also be fascinating and fun. As a history geek, I often get sidetracked with the interesting trivia I find in little known sources or while talking with experts. But whenever I can, I visit the destinations in my books.

When I began Dante’s Gift, I knew I wanted the contemporary couple to live in Chicago. I live an hour away from the Windy City and informed my husband we would have to make several trips in order to fulfill my research needs. “Darn it,” he said. “But whatever I can do to support my wife.”

My main characters live in the same city but opposite ends. Dominic lives in Lincoln Park, one of the older neighborhoods, while Katie is in the Lake Point Condos near downtown. Her building sits along Lake Shore Drive next to Navy Pier and is an amazing piece of architecture.

The hubby and I are both foodies. Alinea’s, located on the east side, is one of the most expensive and prestigious restaurants in the city. Winner of the James Beard Award for Best Service in the United States and the coveted Michelin 3-star rating, I could only afford to look at the building from the street. Meals average $400-$600 and tickets are sold a year in advance. A bit out of my league but definitely on the bucket list.

Heaven On Seven, however, is a “must-do” for lunch when visiting the city. Located on the seventh floor of the historic Garland building on Wabash, the atmosphere drips with New Orleans charm. This is my husband’s favorite restaurant and has some of the best Cajun food in the Midwest. The prices are reasonable and the service is excellent. But expect a wait—the locals love this place, too. I recommend the gumbo and jalapeno corn muffins.

The other location in my story is Benevento, Italy. I gave my husband that look when I showed him pictures of the lovely, ancient city. With a long sigh, he said, “Please tell me it’s tax deductible.” Yup! So, our summer vacation is in the planning stage… 

Check out the Chicago restaurants in Dante’s gift:

Alinea’s https://website.alinearestaurant.com

Heaven On Seven http://www.heavenonseven.com

Dante’s Gift

Kathleen James is far too practical for her own good. But on the most important night of her life, she gives way to romance and prepares for an intimate dinner with the man of her dreams—and an engagement ring. Unfortunately, the evening doesn’t end the way she envisioned.

Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong—until his Nonna calls from Italy. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie’s life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.

Nonna, a wartime bride from the ‘40s, knows how precious love can be. Can her own love story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?

????????????????????????????????????

About the Author

Award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas.

Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies received Best Short in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice of 2013 and 2014.

Aubrey’s latest holiday romance Dante’s Gift, includes both a present day and WWII love story intertwined. It is included in the box set Christmas Pets and Kisses and sold as a single. Her true love is historical romance and Rolf’s Quest, the first in a medieval fantasy series, will release in 2016. Sammi’s Serenade will debut in the box set Valentine’s Pets and Kisses.

Website:

http://aubreywynneauthor.wordpress.com

Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/AubreyWynne/e/B00II8QD6G/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Newsletter: https://madmimi.com/signups/122105/iframe

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/magnificentvalor

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Aubreywynne51

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/aubreywynne51/

 

Buy Links:

Amazon:http://amzn.to/1OTMBmL

B&N:http://bit.ly/1MFcvpM

Kobo:http://bit.ly/1LGmdse

iBooks http://apple.co/1N0XSSd

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26120629-dante-s-gift

.

Advertisements

To Love a Scotsman

valentine-618930_1280

If you read my blog, you’re aware I’m reading the Outlander series. Time traveler Claire meets Jamie the Scottish Highlander in the 1700s.  I’ve also read other historical novels with a Scotsman as a lead character for comparison.

Here are the things I’ve learned about these men.

They always wear their plaid. It involves much draping around the body with a brooch as a finishing touch. Taking it off is much easier. Just loosen the pin and the entire outfit falls to the floor. Very convenient.

Speaking of convenience, the plaid can be used as a sleeping bag and even wrap up two people for warmth and comfort. Also, since the kilt is made a certain way, when nature calls just lift the skirt. (P.S. No underwear.)

The men love to say “verra” a lot. I think you can figure out it means very. The word pops up a lot as I read. I sometimes find myself slipping and using the word when I speak.

The Scots are either dark-haired, handsome and strong or red-haired, handsome and strong. What’s not to like?

They speak Gaelic. I’ve tried to phonetically sound it out as I read but finally stumble over the words until I, hopefully, get to the translation. The women in the book are usually English so they have no idea what their man is saying. They usually think it’s something quite romantic or complimentary. He could be telling her, “I’m going out to shoot a deer and I’ll be back in time for supper. After that you can help me skin and prepare the animal.”She nods, smiles and fawns all over him because it sounds so wonderful. He leaves thinking he has a pretty awesome wife.

The men end up using their dirk in some way. Now, it’s not what you’re thinking. A dirk is a knife they carry at all times. It may be used when fighting to defend oneself or kill food for dinner. It comes in verra handy.

So how could you not love a Scotsman? He is a perfect heroic figure for a romance novel or a historical book. And as you can see, I’ve learned a lot. Reading can take you so many places. I’ve enjoyed meeting-and loving-these Scotsmen.

Taking Chances

success-413093_1280

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner

Taking chances.  How many times do you begin something then give up? Mr. Faulkner was right. It may be bad.  But you have a starting point. It can be improved upon, fixed, tweaked, torn apart and redone. That sounds a lot like writing a novel.  And since he was an author, I’m sure that’s what he meant in the quote.

If you feel your first draft is your best, you’re wrong. It’s just the beginning. When you finish your book, the feeling of euphoria envelops you. You deserve to feel that way. You are done. You’ve accomplished a mighty task.

Now walk away. Don’t do anything to this manuscript. Wait a week or two. Then start to read it again. Hopefully you’ll realize it’s just a first draft, a stepping stone to something better.

When I first started writing, I felt as if my book needed to be sent out into the world immediately.  After looking back on some of that work—Ugh! I can’t believe I felt that way. I now read my story at least three times before I have anyone look at it. That can take time, and in this day and age, a lot of us don’t have the patience for that. But if you want something to be good, I think patience needs to be added to your list.

Take chances.

Scary? Yep.

Exhilarating? Sometimes.

Unsure? Always.

But if you don’t take that first step, you’ll never know. You know the old saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. So go ahead. Take that chance. You may be one day closer to something good.

What are You Reading Today?

man-156900_1280

I just finished the third book of the Outlander series, Voyager. I can’t stop thinking about these books and am holding back on buying the next one. There’s a lot to absorb in these novels. The first in the series was 560 pages, but Voyager was over 1,000.

The author tends to go into quite a bit of detail. In fact, I could use less details. Get on with the story! I’ve learned a lot of history, too. Mostly about the failed attempt of the Scottish Highlanders trying to regain the throne for Bonny Prince Charles in the 1740’s.

The book is a time travel novel, too. Clair Randall accidentally steps through one of the stones at an ancient stone circle while visiting Scotland with her husband. It takes her back to 1743 where she meets husband #2, Jamie. There is too much story to sum up in a few sentences, so I won’t try.

If you’re not a reader and think the story line is interesting, Starz has turned the books into a series. My husband has watched and liked it. Although, be forewarned, I had to skip over some scenes in the book and knew I couldn’t watch during the series. There are highly mature themes of a sexual nature in these books–Outlander especially.

The story of Jamie and Clair continues on for eight books. I thought I could stop after book one. But the need to read the next kept gnawing at the back of my mind. The characters stayed with me. Such a good lesson for writers. Shouldn’t all good books do that?

So tell me, what are you reading today?

The Sorcerer and the Apprentice

market-182158_1280

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

Remember The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Mickey Mouse played the part of the Apprentice in the Disney movie–Fantasia.  Mickey, the young apprentice of the sorcerer Yen Sid, attempts some of his master’s magic tricks after the man leaves for the night. he puts on the magic hat and commands the broom to do his work–carry water to the cauldron. Only something goes wrong. The broom doesn’t stop. So Mickey grabs an ax and chops it into pieces. Problem solved, right? Nope. The pieces turn into more brooms that bring in more water. He doesn’t know how to control them. Once the brooms start flooding the place, Mickey is over his head.

Sound familiar? We all say, “Oh, I could do that”, when someone else is doing it. “That looks easy” is another comeback. But is it? Mickey thought so, and look how that turned out.

Sitting down to write a book isn’t an easy task. I tried to talk myself out of it. I had an argument going on in my head as I walked to the computer. You can’t write a book. Who do you think you are? The other side of me pushed on. I have a good idea. I’ll start writing and see what happens.

The brooms kept bringing the ideas in and dumping them in my brain. Could I keep up? Sort them all out? Turn them into a book? There was no master handbook, no guide.

Well, what happened was my first published book, Waiting for Dusk. I still had a lot to learn, but I took the first step. I had no idea how many words were in a book when I first started writing, but I did know the genre—Young Adult. I thought I had a good handle of the English language, always getting good grades in the subject. But I had to look up and refresh my memory on many topics. Commas were the worst. So much to still learn!

When I finished the book, I felt proud. When I got my first edits, I cringed. How could I ever master the craft?

I don’t ever want to get overwhelmed like Mickey or in over my head. He couldn’t keep up with those brooms pouring water on the floor. Bucket after bucket kept coming. Thank goodness the sorcerer eventually showed up.

When writing a book, the sorcerer never shows up. I think that’s Hemingway’s point. There isn’t one designated master in the writing world. If there was, people would try to copy and we wouldn’t get diversity. Not everyone likes the same cup of tea.

Some people may rave over the recent bestseller, while others pan it. Writing is subjective. Everyone has their own opinions. So I say, keep writing. Strive to be the master, but never stop learning.

7 Things About Me as a Writer

Nancy 1952

I never said, “I’m going to be a writer.” I always liked to write, but never thought I’d be an author. I wanted to be a teacher since third grade and accomplished that goal. Funny thing, when I retired the writer came out in me again. It was always hidden in there somewhere, I guess.

The story plays out in my head. I picture my stories as acts and scenes. I write the first scene, knowing how it should blend into the next. There’s a feeling of accomplishment when one scene is completed even if the story isn’t done.

A song can give me an idea. Or the inspiration for a character. Or the hook I was looking for. I might hear a song for the first time and says, “That’s __!”

I try not to think about promotion, which is harder and harder to come by.  I have a good group of author friends who are willing to send me posts for my blog and post my things on theirs. I appreciate this new group of friends. Thanks, girls! And guys.

I read somewhere you should try to write every day. I try to do that, if possible. Sometimes weekends get in the way! I read that Steven King said he tries to write ten pages a day and not stop until he’s done with a novel. He said it should take about three months to finish, like a season of the year. Looking back on how I write, I have to agree. I usually finish in that time frame, too.

I like to write without music. I know many writers have it playing as background, but it would distract me and I’d start listening to it instead of write.

As a writer, I’ve been asked this question. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you travel to the past or the future? I would have to go to the past. I would visit the Grand Canyon in 1927 and see how I did. I would eat at El Tovar and have a Harvey Girl wait on me. I’d try to peek in the back kitchen to see what’s going on. I’d run to Kolb Studio to see the real Emery and Ellsworth Kolb and hope I’d get a glimpse of Drew! I’d visit all the places and trails mentioned in the book and compare them to how they look today. Hopefully not too much of the Grand Canyon has changed.

Talk to Each Other

10449494_10152248760566498_2311145604370473267_n

No Wifi
Talk to each other!
Call your mom!
Pretend it’s 1993!
Live.

What a great sentiment. Much has changed in such a short time. I like that this coffee shop wanted to remind people that it wasn’t so long ago, this is how we lived.

I have one minor adjustment to the sign. I would add “Read a book” to the list.

And if the sign was true, picture walking by that coffee shop and looking in the window. In a small booth, a solitary figure has a book in one hand, coffee mug in the other. He’s immersed in the story, stylish glasses sliding slightly down his nose.

A group of four young women are at the table across from him. They are chatting, heads close together. A sound of laughter erupts from the circle and they reach for their cups, pausing from the easy camaraderie to take a sip. Once in awhile one of the girls glances over her shoulder at the man holding the book, checking him out. No one stops to look down at a phone or send a message.

At another table, two businessmen are having their morning coffee as they jot down notes for a meeting. They make eye contact, converse and nod, smiling as they are distracted by light sound of giggling as it travels across the room.

The place is alive with energy, not filled with silent pods of people—together or alone. No one is distracted by a text or call. They don’t have to stop midsentence in their story or ask someone to hang on for just one minute. The business meeting flows smoothly with no interruptions. The young man marks his place in his book as he slams it shut, ready to head for class. He gives a slow nod and an appreciative smile to the girls as he slides from the booth. The girls pretend not to notice, but the giggles begins anew.

You are still an observer, watching from the window. Suddenly you’re overwhelmed with a feeling. You just have to go in there, buy a cup of coffee and live like it’s 1993.