Tribute to Al Jarreau

A song is much more than mere music. A three minute tune can capture the history of our lives, times of joy or sorrow. A song can elevate our souls and lift us up when we’re down, energize us when we feel we can’t go on. Jazz and pop singer, Al Jarreau does all of those things for me. May he sing on.

I first heard him in the 80’s, and I was blown away by his scat-singing, his smooth, flexible voice, and above all, the sheer passionate joy he conveyed in every note. I’d never heard anything like it in my life. As a young mother of three small kids, to play his music while going about the same old routine (diapering, cleaning, preparing meals, seeing to everyone else’s needs) probably saved my sanity more than once. As the kids got older, I enjoyed blowing their minds with scat-mad songs like “Roof Garden,” and the unique version of “My Favorite Things.” He came into my home, bringing his vocal playfulness, filling the rooms with  joy.

Later, when my father became ill and passed away,  and while another family member recovered from a life-threatening disease, Al Jarreau placed his hand upon my shoulder with his music, and in kindness and comfort lifted me up with hope. There is compassion in every note he sings, and his love for life is contagious.

He will live on and gift his afterlife with passion and joy, transporting us out of the darkness, lighting up the world with his brilliance, turning three minutes into musical magic. Sing on, Al. And thank you.

Govt. Task Force: Bathing Suits

Good afternoon! I thought I’d depart from my usual blogs and hopefully provide a few well-needed laughs.  I wrote this piece in a Writing Humor Class at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival 1995, taught by the great Dan “Dr. Science” Coffey. He was a member of the famous Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre. What a great class, and a talented teacher.  Enjoy!

*** NEW GOVERNMENT WARNING LABEL***

The Special Government Task Force on Bathing Suits recently made known their new label mandate. This special warning will be stamped in bar code on the front of each thong (or bum-floss) bathing suit sold.

The warning reads: “Thong bikinis, when worn by any person over age twenty, have proven to be threatening, even dangerous to the casual observer, and just downright butt-ugly.”

This dictate was precipitated by a lawsuit between the State of Florida and a forty-two year old woman, who, while crossing the street, stopped in the middle to extricate aforesaid thong from her buttocks. This precipitated a multi-car collision, the likes of which have not been witnessed since the ill-fated Wonder Bra incident of 1994.

The male population of the nation is not without guilt in contributing to this national threat. On Miami Beach, an unsuspecting elderly woman was putting up her beach umbrella. She happened to glance up, saw eighty-six year old thong wearer, Dick Withers, and accidentally pushed the eject button on her umbrella. It took several lifeguards, a team of paramedics, and three pounds of Crisco to extract the hysterical woman out from under the potential deathtrap.

To prevent casualties such as the two described above, officials will activate the following procedure: Federal Proctors will be placed at strategic areas in beach parking lots. Each individual wearing a thong suit will undergo a special bar code check with instruments developed by NASA. This will enable officials to monitor these citizens. Those who cannot see past their stomachs will need to be reminded that they are wearing this device.

Numerous petitions have been signed by various civil rights and nudist groups in adamant protest of this new regulation. But a strong supporter and former victim of this national problem says, “You don’t ever think this kind of thing will ever happen to you, but when it does it really bums you out.”

Author Marin McGinnis

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I’m so happy to be interviewing fellow historical romance author Marin McGinnis. We both write for the fabulous Wild Rose Press, and have the same amazing editor in common. Today we’re celebrating the release of her third book, Tempting Mr. Jordan. Hang out with us for a while, and we’d love to hear from you.

***GIVEAWAY!!  Marin’s giving away an e-copy of Tempting Mr. Jordan to a randomly selected commenter.

Hello, Marin! Welcome!

Marin: Thanks for having me!

Let’s start off with the back cover blurb of Tempting Mr. Jordan:

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“After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

What was the spark that got you excited about writing this third book?

 Marin: I liked Julia from the moment I wrote about her in Stirring Up the Viscount. She’s so lively and curious. But I think the spark came when I knew her love interest was an artist—Geoffrey was an interesting character to write about. My mother will shake her head and wonder what I’m talking about, but to me he’s a curious combination of my parents, who met in art school, as well as my own imagination (of course!).

 How interesting! When did you first become interested in writing romance, and why did you choose historical romance?

Marin: The first romance author I remember reading, other than Danielle Steele, was Nora Roberts. I wish I could remember which book it was, but I was struck by the fact it had such a strong, kickass heroine—she didn’t need a man to save her, but she was open to love. It was an eye opener. My first historical romance author was Julia Quinn—the first Bridgerton novel. Her style was so different from Nora Roberts’, but also featured a strong—and funny—heroine, and I loved the historical setting. I was totally hooked.

What do you especially like about this third book? What got you excited? And in what way do the three books all relate?

Marin: I have to say that Tempting Mr. Jordan is my favorite of the three. Julia and Geoffrey are such different characters. Despite Geoffrey’s moodiness, I find them much lighter in spirit than the characters in my other books. I also love the remoteness of the Maine setting, the challenges of a New England winter, and more than any of my books, this book is oddly colorful in spite of the bleakness of winter—the blue of the sky, the oranges and red of the sunrise, Julia’s vibrant hair.

The three books relate through family relationships. The second book, Secret Promise, features the long-lost brother of the heroine in the first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, and Tempting Mr. Jordan features the sister of the hero in Viscount. All three can be read as stand-alone novels.

Marin, I’m currently reading your first book, Stirring up the Viscount. Your heroine, Theodora, is vulnerable yet strong, and the story of her struggle to make a new life for herself is compelling. Jonathan, the hero, leaps off the pages with his innate goodness and appealing personality. (Not to mention good looks!) I love the fun eccentricity and good humor of his family. Most of all, I love how you seamlessly weave historical details into the story. It’s those minute details that send a reader back in time, the best part of historical fiction, in my opinion. I love that!

Marin: Thanks so much, Jennifer! I do love those details—they are what make a historical story come to life for me.

Even though the historical details are used sparingly, you must have done a lot of research for the books. Would you care to share your method with all the budding authors out there?

 Marin: I do do a lot of research, and I wish what I did could actually be called a method. J Once I decide on the story’s plot (or sometimes while I’m developing a plot), I pick a time frame, research it in broad terms, then focus on some details. For example, for Tempting Mr. Jordan I had to do quite a bit of research into transportation. How long did it take to cross the Atlantic? What kind of ship? What did they do onboard? Where did it leave England and where did it arrive in the US? As an immigration lawyer in real life, I am also obsessed with getting those kinds of details right—what was the procedure for arriving visitors to the US? What was the immigration station called? Once they arrived in Boston, how did they get to Maine? How far north did the train go? In addition to general research sources on the time period, never underestimate the usefulness of contemporaneous sources. Newspapers (available online in many library systems) and travel books (Google Books) are great sources of information.

Once I have those basics, I sometimes play a little fast and loose with the facts for the sake of the story I want to tell, but I try to be accurate as possible.

I’d like to play a game called, The Moment When:

Where were you the moment when you decided to write your first romance?

 Marin: At home, probably, reading a romance. J I got an idea in my head and one day just sat down to write it.

Where were you the moment when Theodora and Jonathan, your H and H of Stirring up the Viscount, came to life?

Marin: It was somewhere between watching Downton Abbey and a BBC series on YouTube called The Victorian Kitchen. I had the germ of an idea—a dark-haired, haunted heroine and a hero who looked like Jason Connery (from the ‘80s Robin Hood TV series, which gives away my age). Throw in a little Sleeping With the Enemy (ditto on the age thing) and voila. J

Tell us about the moment when you got the good news of your first contract.

 Marin: I had to look through my email to recreate this, but it was Monday, July 28, 2014, and it came via an email from my editor, Allison Byers. I did a little happy dance all by myself, since I was working from home at the time. Perhaps the best Monday ever.

It’s such a special moment, isn’t it? What do you like to do for fun?

Marin: I watch far too much Hulu and Netflix, but I also love to cook, do genealogical research, hang out with my son and husband, spend time with my writer friends, and—of course—read.

What’s next for you?

Marin: I have two books I am hoping to put the finishing touches on in the next few weeks. Both are set in England in the 1850s, and are a bit more on the romantic suspense side. After that I have to plot the third and final book in that series (an idea came to me when I woke up this morning and for once I actually managed to write it down before I forgot it!), then I’m going to try my hand at a cozy mystery series. Really excited about all of those!

Thanks so much for joining me today, Marin. Best of luck with your new release. I can’t wait to read it.

 Give yourselves a treat and visit Marin’s website at www.marinmcginnis.com

Marin: Thanks so much for having me, Jennifer! I loved the interview.

Here’s an excerpt from Tempting Mr. Jordan:

Cranberry Cove reminded Julia of home, her family’s estate in Durham, where ton rules were abandoned in favor of lazy days riding, reading, caring for her pets, or playing the piano. It occurred to her that she had not played in weeks. Her fingers itched to touch a keyboard, and she flexed her hands inside her calfskin gloves. She vowed to play soon. She thought she had seen a harpsichord in the drawing room of Maria’s enormous house.

Reaching the end of the little lane on which Maria lived, she took a right onto Main Street. It consisted of several houses similar to the one in which she was staying, so she turned left onto Maple Street, which was much more interesting. There was a green grocer, a bookseller, a milliner, a tailor, a blacksmith—everything one could want in a village. The streets were clean—much cleaner than London—and the air was crisp and fresh, even if it smelled ever so slightly of fish.

Julia was staring into the newspaper office—a badly written but oddly gripping tale about missing lobster traps was plastered to the window—when she was nearly knocked off her feet.

“Oh, I beg your pardon!” She managed to right herself, wondering why she should be the one to apologize. She looked up into the hooded eyes of Geoffrey Jordan, who held a book in one hand. “Mr. Jordan!”

“Lady Julia.” He reached out to steady her, the touch of his hand on her arm causing a charge to shoot up her spine. “Please forgive me. Are you hurt?”

“Are you in the habit of running over tourists on your streets?” She freed her arm, flustered by her own reaction, and busied herself with adjusting her hat. When she regarded Mr. Jordan again, he was smirking.

“No, just the ones who stop in the middle of the street,” he said.

Julia opened her mouth to retort, but he held up a finger to silence her. “Nevertheless, I am sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. And the scintillating prose of our local newspaper could halt anyone in her tracks.”

She laughed. “It is not The Times, to be sure.”

His lips quirked up at the tips in something approaching a smile. Julia thought she hadn’t seen him do that before and found it oddly entrancing. “Where are you headed, Lady Julia?”

She forced herself to look away from his lips. “Um. Nowhere in particular. I was in need of a walk after luncheon, so I thought I would explore a bit.”

“The Universalist church, just around the corner, is particularly beautiful, and you will need to sample lobster from the establishment run by the Maclays, on the pier. It will melt in your mouth.”

The way he looked at her as he made the remark made her own mouth dry. Her cheeks burned.

“Um. Yes. That sounds lovely.” She gazed down at her feet until she collected herself. Raising her head, she found herself caught in his sights. She swallowed nervously. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Jordan, I really must get back. Constance will be wondering where I’ve got to.” She brushed past him, her shoulder tingling at the contact with his arm.

“Lady Julia?” His tone was vaguely amused.

She stopped and turned to face him. “Yes, Mr. Jordan?”

His thin lips turned up at the corners again, and he pointed behind him. “I believe your house is that way.”

“Oh. Yes. Of course.” She willed herself not to stumble as she passed him, at least not until she’d cleared the corner.

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Stirring Up the Viscount

Seeking to escape an abusive husband, Theodora Ravensdale answers an ad in The Times for a job as cook in a country home. A fortuitous house fire enables her to fake her own death and flee to northern England and live under an assumed name. But Theodora’s refuge is not all she would wish, when she stirs emotions in the heir to the estate, Jonathan Tenwick, and in herself.

Meanwhile, as the connection between Theodora and Jonathan grows, her husband learns she did not perish in the fire, and searches for her. Fearing he is close to finding her, Theodora must flee again to protect the family and the viscount for whom she cares deeply. In the final confrontation with her husband, Theodora learns she is stronger than she ever knew, and love is worth fighting for.

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Secret Promise

Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew. Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she’s not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.

Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.

Marin’s Links:

Buy Links:

The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Bookstrand.

Social Media Links

Website: http://marinmcginnis.com

Blog: http://marinmcginnis.com/blog

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarinMcGinnis  (@MarinMcGinnis)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12256384.Marin_McGinnis

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00S03YY60

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marinmcginnis/

Bio:

A northeast Ohio native, Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page. She’s dabbled with writing for a long time, but didn’t start writing in earnest until she discovered historical romance about a decade ago. Marin has three historical romance titles published with The Wild Rose Press, and is a member of RWA and its Northeast Ohio, Hearts Through History, and Kiss of Death chapters. She will serve as President of the Northeast Ohio RWA chapter in 2017. Marin lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in a drafty 100 year old house with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be in the running for an e-copy of Tempting Mr. Jordan! The drawing will be Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Owl Hoots, Bee Skeps and Fog

 

Courtesy of the Rye Museum:                http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/smuggling-in-rye-and-romney-marsh/

If you’re out walking at night in the fictional 18th Century coastal town of King’s Harbour, England, beware the owl hoot. Perhaps it’s just an owl, but it could be a member of the notorious Hawkhurst Gang.  Suddenly the fog rolls up from the English Channel and throws its cold wool blanket over you, and the only way to get home is to feel your way.

Midwife Maggie Wilson, heroine of Mercy of the Moon, Book #1, has some sage advice for you: the less you know about the smugglers, the better.

Travelling is a source of great inspiration for writers, and this month I’ll be talking about travel.

Several years ago, I visited the town of Rye, England, an important port town for centuries. Late one night, I stood alone in the middle of ancient  Mermaid Street, cool air from the English Channel misting my skin. My pulsed raced as the timelessness of the place took hold of my soul; it could’ve been 1300, 1500, or 1700. Long after I went home, the moment stayed with me, and the setting for my Rhythm of the Moon series was born. The more research I did on the charming town, the more the ideas flowed.

Owl hoots could be a signal from a member of the Hawkhurst Gang, a group of notorious smugglers in southeast England in the 18th Century. That’s the way they communicate. No matter how many times Maggie sees them during her nighttime baby calls, she’ll never get used to the glimpses of the men with the bee skeps over their head, holes cut out for eyes, carrying a signal lantern in one hand and a gun in the other. Turn the other way, and speak to no one about it!

Although King’s Harbour is a fictional town, the Hawkhurst Gang was very real. Thanks to research help from Jo Kirkham, and the Rye Museum in Rye in England, I learned that the smugglers donned man made bee hives, with holes cut for eyes, and communicated with owl hoots when on a smuggling escapade.

Smuggling was very common, and important for the economy of the coastal towns, but the Hawkhurst Gang did more than their fair share of nefarious deeds. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating Cinque Port town of Rye (my inspiration for the setting) or the smugglers,  visit http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/

You might ask yourself how the Hawkhurst Gang figures into the plot of Mercy of the Moon.

There’s only one way to find out.

Stay tuned for some fun blogs about travelling in far-flung places. What locale inspires you?