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The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome historical author Victoria Roberts to the blog today. She’s the author of the new release, My Highland Spy. RT BookReviews said, “Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of My Highland Spy.
Shana: Welcome, Victoria! Tell us about My Highland Spy.
Victoria: First, thank you for having me today at The Jaunty Quills. This is my first visit and I hope not the last. *waves from western PA*
My Highland Spy is the first book in my new Highland Spies series. The series is about four English sisters in the Scottish Highlands. The oldest sister is a spy for the Crown sent to the Highlands to discover machinations against the realm.
Shana: Tell us about your hero, Laird Ruairi Sutherland. First of all, how do you pronounce his first name? Secondly, is he as sexy as he sounds?
Victoria: The name is pronounced ROOR-ee, and yes, he’s as sexy as he sounds. I think it’s hard to resist a man in a kilt, eh? Ruairi would do anything for his clan, especially his son. And let’s just say he’s not very happy when the English show up on his doorstep.
Shana: Those Sassencahs! Who would be happy? (Can you tell I’ve been watching Outlander?)
I love spy books, and your heroine Ravenna Walsingham is a spy for the Crown. What’s she trying to discover?
Victoria: When Ruairi refuses to send his only son to the Lowlands to learn English, King James sends Ravenna to Ruairi’s home in the Highlands. Ravenna masquerades as a governess and her mission is to discover whether or not Ruairi and other Highland lairds conspire to raise arms against the Crown. Ravenna’s not thrilled to be that far away from her sisters for so long and she’s even more flustered by the fact that Ruairi is not the man she expected him to be.
Shana: Tell us what drew you to Scotland. Other than kilted men, that is
Victoria: I was drawn to Scotland the moment I read my first Scottish historical romance. The book was one of Hannah Howell’s Murray brothers. After that, I read every Scottish historical romance I could get my hands on. I fell in love with the genre, and I fell in love with Scotland.
Shana: Do you have a day job? I know from our conversations at conference you have two children and a husband. How do you manage to write and do everything else?
Victoria: Yes, I haven’t quit the day job. I work as a Business Analyst. My job allows me to work from home so I write before and after work and in between family functions. At times, it’s a wee bit hectic in the Roberts’ household to say the least.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Victoria: I’m working on a Scottish historical anthology will bestselling authors Willa Blair, Eliza Knight, Vonda Sinclair and Terry Spear. Readers can look for Kissing the Highlander Valentine’s Day 2015.
Thank you so much for having me today, Shana. It’s been great fun.
Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s so sexy about Scotland? One reader who comments will win a copy of My Highland Spy.
“An exciting Highland tale of intrigue, betrayal, and love.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of Highland Master
“Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”
—RT Book Reviews
This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown
Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.
But this lady spy might make him…
Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.
If she doesn’t betray him first
Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1l4KJa5
Award-winning author Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as “one of the most promising debut authors across the genres” and was also a 2013 RT Reviewers’ Choice award winner for X Marks the Scot.
Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America® and several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.
Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty one years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish adventure, she’s dragging her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun.
Welcome Marissa Clarke, my good friend and author of the new release Sleeping with the Boss.
The meet-cute is exactly what it sounds like.
Definition: A scene in which future romantic partners first meet in unusual and often comic circumstances.
In film, the meet-cute can be traced back to the 1920’s and was often a way to get a couple from different socio-economic backgrounds together. Today, that’s not as much of a consideration, but it’s a great device that not only adds immediate humor or awkwardness, it can act as a time machine to speed up the relationship. (Source: HollywoodLexicon.com)
I love meet-cutes. There are lots of great ones in movies and books, but my favorite meet-cute is my own when I met my now husband, Laine.
Once upon a time, long, long ago…
A friend begged me to go on a blind date because there was a guy she liked whose friend wanted to go hear the band they were planning on seeing, but he didn’t want to be a third wheel and needed a date.
Operative words: he needed a date.
Nope. Not doing it. I did not need a date. I had other things to do besides babysit some guy who couldn’t find a girl to go hear a band with him.
After lots of discussion, and perhaps some threats from my friend, I agreed, just to shut her up—but I wasn’t going to go along easily. I had never been on a blind date, and was certain it was a loser proposition before I even left to go pick my friend up to meet the guys. (I insisted on driving so I could make a quick escape.)
To make sure it was a short night, I threw on on a white polka dotted sundress with a sweetheart neckline, pulled my hair in a ponytail and wore no makeup at all—spot on for a Junior League luncheon and the worst possible choice for a nightclub. Perfect! This was going to be the shortest date in history.
When we pulled up in the parking lot to meet the guys, a hot man was leaning against the bumper of a car. He was exactly the kind of guy I found attractive—complete with a runner’s build and jeans faded in all the right places. I thought to myself what a shame it was I wasn’t meeting up with him instead of some dud who couldn’t find a date for himself.
You guessed it. That was my blind date.
My friend, dressed to the nines in a tight black dress and heels busted out laughing. I was mortified. I was decked out for a picnic, not a night on the town. I didn’t find it quite so amusing. Fortunately, my date did, and disclosed to me years later that the Pollyanna look followed by several embarrassing events that took place that night involving a new car with manual transmission I hadn’t mastered yet (imagine that horrifying grinding sound of a poorly executed gear shift) and a broken heel, were what had attracted him the most. Well, that and my sparkling personality and fine-tuned wit. Ha!
And to think, if I hadn’t been an unsuitably dressed klutz that night, we might not have celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last week.
Definitely my favorite meet-cute.
There’s a meet-cute in my recent release, Sleeping with the Boss, in which the heroine spills her purse in the elevator, then rips the back seam of her skirt when she leans over to collect her things, giving the hero (a total stranger who turns out to be one of the owners of the company for which she’s temping) an eyeful of the results in the polished brass doors of the elevator. Embarrassing and awkward—well, for one of them at least.
I wonder why I related so well to the heroine… I can’t imagine.
Marissa is offering a Rafflecopter giveaway: Kindle Paperwhite + two $25 Amazon or B&N gift cards
Sleeping with the Boss
For the last five years, bookish Claire Maddox has been living for the dying. Now that her stint as caretaker is over, she’s off to see the world. She needs quick cash first, so a temp job at Anderson Auctions seems perfect, especially with the unexpected benefits, including the hottest man she’s ever laid eyes—or hands—on.
Former Marine William Anderson has been burned one time too many. His military training makes him the perfect man to flush out the spy undercutting his family business, but no amount of training can prepare him for the kind of undercover work he’ll have to do when the sexy new temp is implicated. Desire lands them in bed…but duty may cost him his heart.
Buy Links (only 99 cents for a limited time!):
Marissa Clarke lives in Texas, where everything is bigger, especially the mosquitoes.
When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, husband, and a Cairn Terrier named Annabel, who rules the house (and Marissa’s heart) with an iron paw.
Marissa Clarke is a pseudonym. Her real name is Mary Lindsey and she also writes young adult novels for Penguin USA. www.marylindsey.com
She loves to connect with readers and can be found at www.marissaclarke.com and on Twitter at @MaryL_MarissaC
For updates and insider information on Marissa’s upcoming books, subscribe here: http://tinyurl.com/marissanews
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome Kate Noble back for Bring a Friend Friday. Kate’s new book, The Game and the Governess, is the first in the new Winner Takes All series. Keep reading to find out how to win an autographed copy of The Game and the Governess!
Shana: What a fabulous premise for your new book, Kate. Pride and Prejudice meets Trading Spaces. Tell us more.
Kate Noble: Oh, I love this story, and I’m so excited that The Game and the Governess is finally out in stores. It’s the beginning of a new trilogy, which kicks off with three friends making one incredibly ill-advised wager…
Ned Granville, the Earl of Ashby, has never been short on luck. So when he makes a bet with his best friend and secretary John Turner – namely, that he can win any woman without the benefit of his title – he has no reason to think anything will go wrong.
Thus, Ned and Turner switch places for a two-week trip to the country. But once they do, Ned’s luck suddenly abandons him: the ladies now have eyes only for Turner. But when Ned meets governess Phoebe Baker, he becomes intent on gaining her affections.
Phoebe wants nothing more than to keep her head down, teach her students, and go unnoticed — especially by the Earl of Ashby. But his rakish secretary has the infuriating habit of constantly crossing her path. Yet Phoebe cannot deny that her pulse quickens in Ned’s presence. But what will happen when the truth comes out? And just who will win the dangerous game of love they’ve unwittingly been playing?
Shana: You aren’t just Kate Noble. You’re also Kate Rorick. Tell us what your alter ego is up to.
Kate Rorick: My alter ego is as busy as my Kate Noble one. Kate Rorick writes TV, web stuff, and books. I am currently a writer for the new TNT show The Librarians (coming this December!) as well as having worked on the Emmy-award winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which spawned the novel The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, which I wrote.
I’m really quite tired.
Shana: One thing I’m super-jealous about (besides your beautiful covers) is your co-workers. Didn’t you work with Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: The Next Generation recently?
Kate No..Ror…Kate: Ha! Yes, Jonathan Frakes is not only an actor but an accomplished TV and film director. He directed an episode I wrote for The Librarians and is, without question, a super-great guy.
Shana: Tell us about your writing process. Plotter or pantser? Silence or noise/music? Do you have daily page or word goals? Do you use images of people or settings to spur your imagination? Tell us everything, Kate!
Kate: For books, I consider myself something in between a plotter and pantser. I do write an outline, which helps steer me as I go on, but I find that the details I come up with in the moment are really what enrich the story. Heck, sometimes I come up with the plot of my next book while I’m pantsering on this one.
In terms of how I work, I try very hard to set hours for myself, but often life gets in way. So I have a dedicated group of fellow writers who I will often meet at various coffee shops around the city, and there I manage to get work done, away from the distractions of the house.
However, my ability to churn out word count is entirely dependent on how close I am to my deadline.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Kate: I’m currently hard at work on the next book in the Winner Takes All trilogy – The Lie and the Lady. It’s John Turner’s story – when he met the Countess of Churzy, he was pretending to be his employer the Earl of Ashby. But now, he’s determined to win the Countess with his own name, and on his own terms…
Readers, now it’s your turn. If you could trade places with one person, who would it be? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win an autographed copy of the Game and the Governess. (This giveaway is US only.)
Jaunties, we get a lot of questions about covers. I thought you might enjoy hearing from someone who designs book covers. Please welcome Misty Helm.
A Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer
Hi all! I am Misty and I am a graphic designer. I have been creating various web and print designs for close to fifteen years now, but it has only been in the last year that I finally threw my name into the cover design ring. Today I thought I would share with you a bit of the process that goes into designing those wonderful covers that you see online and on bookstore shelves. I cannot share all of my trade secrets as the cover design business can be somewhat competitive and each artist has their own signature style, but I can show you the basics of what goes into the design process.
I start with a set of basic images that I believe will blend together to make a sharp city set contemporary romance cover. They look something like this:
Can you picture all of these in a single image? I’m not a fan of the bright pink dress, so my first step would be to change the color of the dress without losing the integrity of the couple.
Now each artist creates their designs differently, for myself personally I like to set up the layout and then work within the confines of what the final image will be. I do this by combining all of the images into a single picture with multiple layers (I should be naming those layers as I go, but I’ve never taken to that notion so I leave them as is).
This is where I begin to work my magic, by blending these images into one solid piece. I like the city scene as is, but in order for it to look a bit more natural I will need to either cut, or erase portions of that city scene.
From that moment in time I work almost uniformly until I come up with an almost finished product that I personally like. With the above images I’ve managed to form something like this…Now for me I like this image as is, but most importantly to me is the author’s vision. It is at this stage that I would typically send this piece off to an author for final approval.
As I designed this for today’s blog, I shared it with a street team to get their opinions on it and everyone came back with the general consensus that it was too dark!! The biggest challenge and the key in any cover design is to make that client happy, a happy client means a happy designer. I took this back to the drawing board, shifted a few of the images, tweaked some of the coloring and added text to give it an overall book cover feel. For me working in text is one of my favorite things, it can present a challenge finding just the right font to make the image come together and sometimes it can make or break the entire cover. The image bellow is making its public debut and is the finished cover.
I would tell anyone who wanted to get into to design to just start playing. Grab yourself a copy of GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and Google tutorials. You won’t learn how to design over night as it takes practice and coffee…a lot of coffee! But it’s fun to learn and understand what goes into deigning something that looks so simple to make. This is actually how I got my start. I was bored and one day a friend handed me a digital design program for my computer, and the rest is history. It took a lot of practice to hone my skills but by the time I entered college to study design, I was not a novice. I had already done several commission pieces for friends and local business owners. I chose to go to college in order to better my skills and understand composition. I am very new to the cover design world but it has been a virtual lifelong dream to be designing quality eye catching covers for the authors I love.