#WriteTip + #Kindle Fire #Giveaway - Sources are Key by @JessicaCale, spotlighting her @LSB_lsbooks #Romance

I have to admit  research is not my strong suit. For this reason, even though I adore historical fiction, I have yet to write a single one. To help fill this gap in my blog's content, I've invited my Liquid Silver Books pub-buddy over for a chit-chat. Without further ado, I'll cede the stage to Jessica Cale

P.S. She's giving away a 7' Kindle Fire,
so don't forget to scroll all the way down!

Don’t be afraid of primary sources

by Jessica Cale

When you’re researching your project, sources are key. Don’t give into the temptation of pulling information from dodgy websites when it’s just as easy to get it straight from the source. This really applies to writing historical fiction. Many writing guides will advise you not to do too much research for your historical romance, but let me assure you, there is no such thing. While you shouldn’t let your research slow down the narrative, it is crucial to do the work to create a world that feels real.

Although there are history books available on just about every subject, you don’t have to rely on other authors to digest the information for you. Primary sources can be great for anecdotes and providing an overall sense of the period and the language. You will get closer to the way your characters would have spoken by reading the letters of their contemporaries than reading Wikipedia entries.

Primary sources don’t have to be daunting. Source books can be found for many periods and these can be a great place to start if you’re looking for a roundup of the people writing at the time without limiting all of your research to one perspective. If you find something useful in a history book you’re reading, check the footnotes and bibliography to trace it back to its original source. Chances are, the original source will have more to say about it than the piece that made it into the final book.

You can also look for collections of letters written by people in the period. Letters can provide a more personal, human angle than history books. When I was researching my new book, The Long Way Home, one of the sources I used was Elizabeth Charlotte Duchesse d’Orleans’ translated Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency. Does this look like a scary academic text book? Yes, but the contents are very accessible. It’s like reading the gossipy notes and diary of a snarky woman who just happens to have intimate access to some of the most famous people in history. She has something to say about everyone! How else would we know that the Queen’s makeup artist was called “the repairer of the Queen’s face” or the Duc de Sully was “subject to frequent fits of abstraction” and once made it all the way into church before he noticed he didn’t have any pants on?

Here’s one of my favorite anecdotes:

“A village pastor was examining his parishioners in their catechism. The first question in the Heidelberg catechism is this: “What is the only consolation in life and in death?” A young girl, to whom the pastor put this question, laughed, and would not answer. The priest insisted. “Well, then,” said she at length, “if I must tell you, it is the young shoemaker who lives in the Rue Agneaux.”

And people think history is boring!

It’s little details like these that you won’t find in many history books, but they will help you to get a grasp on the period and will make it come alive for your readers. The next time you are researching something in the past, look to the primary sources to breathe some life into your history.

You are cordially invited to The Long Way Home Leap Year Ball.  Chat with your favorite authors in this Facebook Party and enter to win fabulous prizes all day
Saturday, February 27th. RSVP Now!

“Really brilliant writing that's so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!” – Romazing Reader

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The Long Way Home


by Jessica Cale

A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.        

After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?


The palace was quiet, and he imagined most of the residents were away at meals of their own, or perhaps watching His Majesty do something else inane. The enormous rooms were dim, the lesser used ones only half-lit by candles. The marble walls appeared to glow warm with some internal fire, and the gods and monsters in the oil-painted ceilings seemed more alive in the semi-darkness.

Versailles was at its best when it couldn’t be clearly seen. By daylight, the rooms were too garish, too heavily embellished to be tasteful, but alone in the night, Jack could have believed he was sneaking through some secret corner of heaven.

As if to underline this point, Alice’s door opened and she slipped out of the darkness like a divine vision, the only sound she made the whisper of her skirts sweeping against the door. Her dress was the deepest midnight blue trimmed with gold lace, the muted shine of the silk like a moonlit night. Her hair had been arranged carefully and ornamented with three dazzling gold stars above her left ear. She was wearing less powder than she often did, and she looked more like the Alice he knew, only dressed splendidly as a goddess of the night.

She gasped when she saw him standing there, leaning in the arch of the doorway. He hadn’t realized he had done it, but some part of him must have known he needed the support to look at her. She looked him over slowly, bashfully, and her face did not reflect any of Achille’s earlier disappointment. Her eyes appeared to be a hazy gray in the dim corridor, and were so beautiful they were almost painful to look at. It was not disappointment he saw in those eyes, but something altogether more confusing. Was it guilt? Apprehension?

Dear God, it might be lust.

He wondered if her room was empty, and if she had tied her corset with the knot he’d shown her. He knew he could have her dress off in a matter of moments. Just one little tug and her corset would follow, and she’d be in his arms and very nearly his. Jack felt his temperature rise for the second time that night.

If she was a murderer, she must be very good at it. She could have his own knife out of his boot and between his ribs before he could pull his gaze away from her lips.

Remembering himself, he straightened and bowed deeply. He offered her his arm. “My lady.”

Alice took it without a word, flipping open a painted fan with her other hand, fanning her face as they began to walk. Jack was tempted to ask if he could borrow it for a moment. Lord knew he needed to cool down.

They walked slowly together through the dim rooms, the only sound the click of his boot heels and the swish of her skirts. The candlelight gave her face a lovely, rosy glow, but he had seen enough of her that afternoon to know that every inch of her skin really was flawless. His gaze flitted once more to her peony-colored lips. He had kissed her once before. Dare he do it again?

As if she could read his thoughts, Alice looked up at him and he almost tripped over his own feet.

Murderer, he tried to remind himself.

His heart insisted wife.

He cleared his throat noisily. “Y-Your shoes aren’t making any noise,” he observed, and cursed himself for the ridiculous observation. He wanted to compliment her correctly, but he was afraid he would accidentally tell her she looked like something straight out of his most illicit dreams, so instead he blurted a silly comment about her shoes.

Well done, Jack.

Alice didn’t seem to mind. Instead of looking at him with the pity she probably should have felt, she grinned up at him and stopped walking. She removed her hand from his arm and, to his considerable surprise, she raised her skirts to show him the lower half of her curvy calves in silver stockings. He realized after a moment it was not her legs she was showing him, but her shoes—she was wearing a pair of flat, fluffy slippers.

They didn’t look like any slippers Jack had ever seen. They were generously cut and enveloped her little feet completely, so it appeared that instead of wearing shoes, Alice had grown the feet of a bear. Jack grinned at the ridiculous thought. “Those are fur.”

Alice nodded enthusiastically. She raised her skirts a little further and, after she checked that no one else was around, took off running through the now empty Petite Gallerie du Roi. She stopped suddenly and the slippers kept her sliding an extra several feet through the arch into the next room. She looked back at him over her shoulder, her delight plain on her lovely face. Jack laughed, the sound echoing through the cavernous palace.

Something about her running playfully made him want to go after her. The last time he had done that, he had lost control of himself completely and kissed her in the rose garden. That’s how he had ended up going to this damned supper in the first place. Still, her skirts began to shake as she ran a few more steps, and he couldn’t help it.

He chased her.

When Alice noticed him jogging behind her, her face lit up and she took off running in earnest, tearing through the empty rooms and halls as fast as her dress would allow. He chased her through them, grinning so hard his face hurt, until they reached another hall of private apartments and he caught her.

His hands closed around her waist and he spun her around in his arms, trapping her against the gold-trimmed wall. She looked slowly up at him with those devastating eyes, and he knew one thing for certain.

She had let herself be caught.


Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in North Carolina. 

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#NewRelease from @LaynaPimentel and @LSB_lsbooks - Scandal at Vauxhall, a #historical #romance

My Liquid Silver Books pub-buddy Layna Pimentel has hosted me many a time, so I'm stoked to finally be able to return the favor. Without further ado, check out this scorching cover for her historical romance, Scandal at Vauxhall.

Scandal at Vauxhall

Pleasure Garden Follies, Book 1

by Layna Pimentel

The love and happiness Isabel Salisbury expected in life when she accepted the proposal of the Marquess of Stoughton takes an unexpected turn, when he leaves on a mission for the war office. She is married off to the Duke of Brimley.

Nathaniel Thompson, the Marquess of Stoughton, is devastated to learn upon his return that Isabel has married the duke. When news of her husband’s death surfaces, Nathaniel sets out to make amends and will stop at nothing until she’s his marchioness.

But when London learns of a promiscuous tryst between them in the Daily, their credibility is at stake. They soon discover that nothing in life is simple, nor private, and all is fair in love and war.


On a night like tonight, however, she was thankful for the lack of her husband’s presence. These types of occasions always put him in a sour mood. He’d wind up playing whist and lose. Then, he’d drink himself into a stupor, drag her away from whatever conversation she was having, take her home and bed her roughly, only to fall asleep before giving her any pleasure in return.

Pfft. What is pleasure anyway? Yet, while she didn’t have much experience in the ways of lovemaking, it was highly unlikely most marriage beds were like hers. Especially during these moments, she wished she had the courage to run.

Is married life supposed to be like this? Leaving me feeling filthy, unworthy, and so lonely? She hadn’t the slightest clue about what she'd ever done wrong, but the pang of regret over not standing up to her husband made her frailer with each passing day.

Distracting her from such sad thoughts, Lady Balfour approached, fanning herself with expediency. “My dear, have you heard? The Marquess of Stoughton has just arrived. My word, he hasn’t aged one bit, and he’s looking quite fit.”

Nathaniel! He’s alive. Isabel’s heart pounded in her chest as her gaze settled on him.

She hadn’t seen him since he’d told her he was leaving on business for the war office. Her pulse kicked up furiously to the point that she felt light-headed and breathless. He was still a sight for sore eyes. His dark hair and piercing blue gaze stood out in the crowd. The sheer breadth of his shoulders framed his muscular size. She watched as he stopped and spoke with other gentlemen, his back now facing her and Lady Balfour.

My God! He really is here. Would he even recognize me? Hardly. He’s probably here to fetch his mistress for the evening. Why would he even pay me any mind? Besides, she was a duchess, very much married, and obliged to keep up appearances.

“My, would you look at the size of his thighs,” Lady Coxley announced as she approached the ladies, garnering a few giggles from prying ears.

Isabel smirked, knowing all too well in what direction this conversation was headed.

“They are wonderfully built, but I’m sure some other lady has laid claim on the marquess.”

“You haven’t heard, have you, Isabel?”

“What haven’t I heard?” she asked. Her breath hitched and her pulse raced. What could I have missed?

“Come away with me to the terrace. I wish to speak to you in private. We can’t have half of London listening in.”

She followed Lady Coxley outdoors, leaving behind the sounds of merriment to be embraced by the shrouded darkness of night and silence.

“They say the marquess will not marry until he’s found her.”

“Until he’s found who?”

“The one who broke his heart. But in all honesty, everyone knows it’s you. With any

luck, perchance some horrible fate will happen upon Henry.”

If I were only so lucky. “You shouldn’t talk like that! And for the record, the marquess and I were done long ago. Remember, he’s the one who left me.”

“Isabel, you cannot expect me to believe that you haven’t thought about that man— at least once or ever—during the course of this sham of a marriage of yours. The haute ton in its entirety knows where he is right now. And you’d be a fool to think Henry gives two ninnies about your welfare.”

The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted them.

“Excuse me, ladies, but I was wondering if perchance I could steal Her Grace for a dance.”

Good grief. Did he hear any of our discussion? I cannot believe he’s actually here.

Heat coursed through Isabel at the thought of holding him once again. She nodded and held out her gloved palm for him to take. “I’d be honored, My Lord.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Your Grace.”

Leaving behind Lady Coxley, she followed his lead inside for a waltz.

“It’s been too long, Isabel. I’ve missed you terribly,” he whispered as they took a turn about the dance floor. Nathaniel bowed and took her hand. His touch warmed her, and the gentle squeeze that followed reassured her that the flame they once had was still there.

She and Henry hadn’t danced since their wedding and even then, he quickly discarded her to dance with the Duchess of Downsbury. If she’d only known her dismissal that evening would be the first of many others. For the most part, her husband had two left feet, but Nathaniel whisked her away gracefully to the tune. She wished to kiss him again and remind herself of their time together. Good heavens, Isabel. You’re married. Enough of this foolishness!

Isabel felt him pulling her closer as his arm at the small of her back pushed her in. His head dipped down, and, naturally, she looked up at him, ignoring every stare and whisper as they moved together. She finally cringed and mustered the courage to ask him the one thing weighing heavily on her mind. “Why did you take so long? Why didn’t you come sooner? Nathaniel, there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of you.”

As the music wound down and the dancers departed, Isabel locked her eyes on his and felt a tear escape. “You’ve been missed greatly, My Lord.”

His thumb swiped away the drop. “My dear, there hasn’t been a day, hour, or dream you haven’t occupied.” 

About Layna Pimentel

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Layna discovered her love of reading at an early age. She’s a bestselling author at All Romance eBooks, and multi-published author of historical, paranormal and contemporary erotic romances. When she isn’t devouring salacious romance novels or writing, she enjoys losing herself in researching ancient history and mythology, weaponry, and hiking. She lives in Northern Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.

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#WriteTip - Develop Secondary Characters by @HaleyWhitehall (spotlighting her #historical #interracial #romance Midnight Caller)

It's been a while since Haley Whitehall paid a visit (I kid.... a couple of months, at the most). She and I met through an author loop at the same small press many moons ago (approximately 24), and since then some of our titles have hit the rights-reversion mark. While I'm still hovering on the indie sidelines trying to decide if I want to tackle re-editing and re-releasing my own titles, Haley has valiantly taken the plunge. Here's a writing tip from Ms. Whitehall, along with a closer look at Midnight Caller.

Develop Secondary Characters

by Haley Whitehall

I’d like to thank Tara for having me on her blog today and help celebrate my re-release of Midnight Caller. My write tip: develop your secondary characters. Many times the secondary characters are overlooked and if they are developed at all are often cliché characters.

Many writers focus all their attention on the main characters. If it is a romance, they spend all their time developing the hero and heroine and of course the bumpy road that leads to them falling in love. However, in real life, people do not live in a bubble. We do not have tunnel vision and only think about, see, and talk to our significant other.

Secondary characters serve many important functions in a story. They can be a sympathetic ear for the main characters and offer advice. With their help the main characters might be able to figure things out and make life decisions. They can help the main characters out when they are in a fix, or they can cause problems for the main characters either intentionally or unintentionally.  There can be many secondary characters in a story. I love the small town romances where you get to know the whole town: the nosy neighbor, grumpy old man, a few rambunctious children etc. Secondary characters can bring the setting to life, and make it feel more real to the reader. And you know what the best part is? Sometimes secondary characters beg to have a story of their own!

I recently re-edited, lengthened, and re-released Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance, Book 1). After writing three books in the Moonlight Romance series it occurred to me that an important secondary character in Midnight Caller needed a story of her own. Mrs. Dimshire is a widowed matron in Louisville, and she encourages Emma to take a black lover. I got to thinking what is her story? So when I lengthened Midnight Caller for the re-release I went back and added a few more details about Mrs. Dimshire’s life. If secondary characters are more developed, it makes them more real as well as making it easier to write their stories later.

Secondary characters need to be more than names. We need to take time to describe them and develop them. In my opinion, the more the secondary characters are brought to life the more the story will ring true. Just be careful and don’t let them take over the story!

Midnight Caller

Moonlight Romance, 1

by Haley Whitehall

Life without love is painful, but in the Reconstruction Era South forbidden fruit can be deadly. A fiery romance between a widow and an African American man has more consequences than either of them imagined.

Slavery has ended, but racial prejudice remains in Kentucky. Emma Bennett guards a secret that could destroy her life. Until now she never considered the price of her security. Becoming a well-respected member in Louisville had seemed a dream come true, but at what cost?

Her husband’s death from a carriage accident releases Emma from her loveless, controlling marriage. Now she has a chance to find happiness and raise a family. But before she begins courting again she wants to experience her freedom. At the advice of the leading socialite in town, she takes a black lover to fulfill her sexual needs. His raw masculine power awakens feelings she didn’t know existed. After the first touch, she craves more.

Frederick works as a roustabout by day and moonlights as a prostitute. He knows better than to fall in love with his white client, but Emma enchants him the first time he calls on her. To keep them both safe, he works hard to put up barriers. Unfortunately, he can’t protect Emma from the slimy Mr. Hawthorne, who wants her as his bride. Frederick vows to keep her safe even if his forbidden love costs him his life.

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About Haley Whitehall

Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.

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