For the most part, authors work alone. We spend hours upon hours inside our heads, crafting worlds of our own making. Even when we work with others–web designers, publicists, or assistants—our interactions with our co-workers are confined mainly to email.
That’s why it’s so much fun to occasionally step out of my self-imposed solitude to work with others. Last year I worked with Anna Campbell, Kate Noble, and Jaunty Quill Vanessa Kelly to write A Grosvenor Square Christmas (which is still free, by the way!).
This year I had to opportunity to work with Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville to write connected novellas for an anthology titled Christmas in the Duke’s Arms.
The Duke’s Arms is a cozy inn in the Nottinghamshire countryside. A duke lives nearby as do several other interesting characters, which Neville, Burrowes, and Jewel bring to life.
For my part, I wanted to bring a little action to the sleepy village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. I introduced the idea of a highwayman who’d stylized himself The New Sheriff of Nottingham. He’s been attacking the post coaches and the locals, and it’s up to fledgling spies Pierce Moneypence and Miss Qwillen to capture him.
If you read my recent release, Love and Let Spy, you’ll recognize Moneypence and Q and hopefully enjoy a more in-depth look at their relationship.
Tell me, readers, with 71 days before Christmas, are you thinking about the holidays at all or aren’t they on your radar yet? Two readers who comment will win copies of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms (print or ebook). Winners randomly chosen and announced Sunday. Print books mailed out after October 27.
An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.
These yuletide tales are set in rural Nottinghamshire and feature couples who dream of holidays filled with true love, however unlikely that might be. A highwayman, a cozy country inn, a Christmas assembly and copious bundles of mistletoe contribute to merry, romantic holiday happily ever afters.
A Knight Before Christmas by Grace Burrowes
Sir Leviticus Sparrow is a man of business who means business when it comes to offering Penelope Carrington marriage under the mistletoe.
In The Duke’s Arms by Carolyn Jewel
What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?
Licensed to Wed by Miranda Neville
If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes.
The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe by Shana Galen
Fledgling spies Q and Moneypence pursue love and a highwayman in The Duke’s Arms.
Buy It Now (only $3.99)!
First of all, I’m totally allowing spoilers in the comments and I’m making them in this post, so if you haven’t seen the series, and you don’t want it spoiled, click away now…
Now that they’re gone, we can talk.
I want to start with the casting.
Jamie–love Sam Heughan. He IS Jamie to me. I think he’s done a fabulous job.
Claire–don’t love Caitriona Balfe. I remember Claire seeming to practically look for trouble in the book, but I don’t remember being annoyed by it. Difference between print and film or the actress playing the part? Not sure.
Jack Randall/Frank Randall–Tobias Menzies is great. I don’t like him as Jack and I sympathize with him as Frank.
Next let’s talk setting. It’s gorgeous. I’d watch the show just for the scenery. Castle Leoch is visually stunning. Can you imagine living in a place like that?
The men’s clothing is awesome. I don’t love the bum rolls (is that what they’re called?). I appreciate the designer’s attention to costume accuracy, but why did anyone think that was a good look? Okay, I guess I have pictures from the 80s that call my taste into question as well, so who am I to talk?
The wedding…come on. You know you want to talk about the wedding episode.
Who’s watched it more than once? More than twice? If time constraints weren’t an issue, I’d have watched it more than once! It was very sexy, and by that I mean I am grateful for the casting of Sam Heughan. Some readers mentioned they didn’t like the flashbacks. Not sure there was a better way to film that episode. It would have been boring to watch all the lead up and have to wait for all the sexy times. And then it might have been sexy times overload. Perhaps the flashbacks increased the suspense? Of course, having to wait until episode 6 was maybe too much suspense…
So what are your thoughts on Outlander, the TV series? Love? Hate? Favorite parts? Least favorite parts. Spoilers allowed.
I’ve been thinking about what makes a great book cover lately. I know a lot of what appeals to readers depends on genre, so I’d love one of the Jaunties who writes contemporary to tackle this same topic in a future post.
I can speak to my observations with covers for historical romances and what I think makes a cover appeal to readers.
1. The cover is lush.
Not surprisingly, historical readers love covers with pretty dresses, gorgeous colors, and beautiful scenery. If I’m jealous of the cover model’s dress, chances are I’m going to pick that book up, if only for the cover alone.
2. The title catches the readers’ attention.
The title and the author’s name are often just as important as the cover image. Is the author’s name big or small? Is the title long or short? The best titles are those readers remember. Authors will often play with common phrases, movie titles, even song titles in order to catch a reader’s attention.
Sarah MacLean’s titles are one example.
So are Kieran Kramer’s.
3. Most importantly, a great book cover leaves the reader with a question they can only answer by reading the book.
Sarah MacLean accomplishes this with NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER. The question? Why is this lady from an era when women wore dresses, wearing trousers. The title is another example of a play on a common phrase.
Sophie Jordan’s novel HOW TO LOSE A BRIDE IN ONE NIGHT piqued readers’ attention by making them wonder if the heroine really is lost on her wedding night.
One of my best covers is LORD AND LADY SPY. Not only does it have colors that pop, it deliberately mirrors the movie posters for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. As an added touch, the designer has the female model standing on a box marked Explosives. That’s a fun nod to the lighter tone of the book and a play on the double meaning of explosive—the traditional blowing up meaning and the sexual connotation.
I’m thrilled my next full-length novel, EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN (February 2015), has so many of the qualities that make a great cover. Take a look. Does it leave you with a question? Is the title memorable?
Congrats! Look for an email or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.