#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.

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“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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#ProjectPurseDump - Week 2 - 22 Lipsticks by Jessica Cale (@JessicaCale) - #writerslife #cat #photobomb

The second week of Project Purse Dump delves into the mysterious lipstick addiction of my Liquid Silver pub-buddy and historical fiction author Jessica Cale. And without further ado, here's her purse! 

Twenty-two lipsticks. Eleven bottlecaps. Seven black pens. Five magnets. Three tins of Altoids. Hello Kitty bandaids. A Mucha compact mirror from Paris, and a coin from House on the Rock.

These are a few of things I found this week when I emptied my purse out onto the floor.

In my defense, it is a very large purse. I have a few you might call “sensible” purses, brightly colored leather with understated embellishments and clever pockets, but the one I keep returning to is an oversized, flimsy thing I got at World Market for I think $8. It’s grey and it has crows on it. Size aside, it’s fairly nondescript, and goes well with my worn out jeans and band t-shirt aesthetic, plus I can fit half a library (and a hoodie!) into it should the occasion call for it. All of the things you see here were in it on a day that it was fairly empty, apart from my cat there, but he could have fit into it, too.

So what’s inside? It’s a kind of survival kit, plus a few extra bits and pieces I picked up along the way. Let’s take a closer look.

The essentials:

Seven black pens and two packs of post-its: I usually also carry a notebook full of graph paper with me for story ideas, but post-its and pens will do in a pinch. If I get story ideas--anything from bits of dialogue to major plot points--I write them on post its and stick them to the cards in my coin purse if I don’t have a notebook handy. Apparently I can also write notes on my phone, but this still feels too futuristic for me most days, and I usually forget.

Makeup: I don’t intentionally have twenty-two lipsticks on me at all times, it’s just that they gather in my purse. I don’t have any anywhere else in my house. I have them in my purse, in the coin purse inside, and more inside the Union Jack makeup bag. This makeup bag also contains hair pins, more ponytail holders than I have anywhere else, two eyeliners (one black, one purple), face powder, blush, mascara, orange scented roll on perfume, and a souvenir Mucha makeup mirror I got in Paris ten years ago. Because you never. fucking. know. Some days you just need eyeliner, and lots of it. I once loaned one of my friends a fire engine red Stila lipstick to write down her number for a random guy, and a couple years later, loaned the same lipstick to another friend when he was hosting punk rock karaoke as a kinky sailor. Who wore it better? My vote’s on Dave.

Coin purse: I haven’t carried a wallet in many years. In Britain, coins are far more common than paper bills, so carrying a coin purse was far more practical. I’ve been back in the states for a couple of years now, but I still carry the same coin purse I bought at New Look for a pound almost ten years ago. Today it’s full of all of my cards, some random change, a spare set of earbuds, post-its covered in story ideas, a customs declaration, a list of Edith Piaf songs (really), a guitar pick, some fortunes from cookies (“Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be enjoyed today…” in bed (snicker), hair pins, and more lipstick. Could you fit all of that into a wallet? Didn’t think so.

A coin from The House on Rock: How else will I make the crazy music play?


Bottlecaps and magnets: Okay, there’s a reason for this, I promise. My friend Lily gave these to me a couple of weeks ago so I could make some bottlecap magnets for my fridge. She made some and they look awesome, so I’m going to give it a shot.

Three tins of altoids: Why have three when one should be curiously strong enough? None of these are actually mine. My husband keeps buying them and asking me to hold them, so I put them in my purse. He forgets they’re there and buys more, asks me to hold them, and voila. Three tins. Can I offer you a mint?

Not pictured: The phone I use to obsessively ignore my email and ogle pictures of macarons on Instagram, my work badge, and my keys.

This might seem like a lot, but if you need to be minty or photo-ready, I’ve got your back. You know, just in case.

About Jessica Cale

Jessica Cale is a recovering journalist writing historical romances out of a grey bedroom in North Carolina. 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 a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

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Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at www.taraquan.com


#WriteTip - Consider the Calendar by Jessica Cale (@JessicaCale), a @LSB_LSBooks #HistoricalRomance Author

Fellow Liquid Silver Books author Jessica Cale has a brand new historical romance out. In addition to snagging an excerpt from Virtue's Lady (which, incidentally, has a smoking hot cover), I also convinced her to give me a writing tip. As we all know, authenticity is important for historical settings. This author has a tip to for keeping the details straight.

Consider the Calendar by Jessica Cale

When writing fiction, it’s easy to forget special days like weekends, holidays, and birthdays unless you’re writing something around a holiday theme, but allowing for these and working them into your story is one way to anchor your writing in reality. Few weeks go by without a unusual day or two. If it’s a public holiday in America, your heroine might not get an important letter, or if it’s a Bank Holiday in Britain, the weekend before is likely to be full of parties and pub crawls.

Remembering holidays and notable days in history is especially important when writing something set in another time period or country. Christmas celebrations vary from country to country, and depending on where your story is set, there might also be feast days or important anniversaries that could help your plot along. For example, in seventeenth century England, Guy Fawkes’ Day was called Bonfire Treason Night, and it was actually the law that everyone had to celebrate. Every town was lit up with bonfires and alive with celebrations that lasted through the night. So much for staying home!

Virtue’s Lady takes place in Southwark between September and December of 1671, so my heroine, Jane, would have definitely been a part of the celebrations on November 5th. I worked this into the story and ended up with a couple of scenes that were smoking hot in more ways than one.

People love reading about different celebrations and customs. For your next project, remember the calendar, and consider including birthdays, holidays, and other notable days to enrich your plot.

Thank you for reading!

Virtue’s Lady

by Jessica Cale

Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.

After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.

When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.

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Poor Lady Jane. She’s ruined now.

Jane’s eyebrows knit in irritation. She most certainly was not. The way she saw it, she had only begun to live.

She heard a sniff and looked up sharply to see Greta hastily wiping away a tear. Greta had been with her all of her life, and she took it hardest of all.

Jane sighed impatiently. “Please do not cry.”

“I beg your pardon, my lady.” She wiped her eyes and set down the brush, her task long since completed.

“I wish you would not be so upset. I’m not.”

Greta sank onto her stool, uncharacteristically emotional. “I blame myself. If I would have been here, I could have protected you.”

Jane turned to face her, unsure of how to handle her tears. At a loss, she offered her an embroidered handkerchief. “Truly, I am unharmed. See?” She raised her arms as if to demonstrate that she was still in one piece.

This seemed to make her cry harder.

Jane was growing impatient. “What is it?”

“But you are not! The damage to your reputation alone, the scandal! Your prospects are greatly reduced, my lady.”

“A small mercy,” she muttered. “Why would it trouble anyone that I was kidnapped, so long as I am unharmed?”

“You were gone overnight. I’m afraid they must assume the worst.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “What do they care, so long as I am wealthy?”

“Forgive me for saying, my lady, but few would willingly take a damaged wife.”

“Who says that I am damaged?”

Greta wiped her eyes and looked around the room, as if to satisfy herself they were alone. She lowered her voice and confided, “I apologize for speaking indelicately, my lady, but I know what happened.”

Jane tilted her head in confusion. “You do?”

Greta nodded. “Your small clothes. There was blood…”

Jane grasped her hand. “Does Father know?”

Greta shook her head frantically. “I daren’t tell him or Lady Hereford.”

“I beg you, please do not. They will never forgive me.”

“Forgive you?” Greta looked incredulous. “It is not your fault you were ravished, my lady.”

“Ravished?” Jane frowned. Greta had assumed the worst.

As her suitors had sharply declined in number, it was clear that everyone else had assumed the worst as well.

Jane patted Greta’s hand affectionately. “I assure you, I was not.”

Greta threw up her hands and looked away. “Of course. We should not speak of such things. I will keep your secret, and we shall pray you are not with child.” She stood at once and opened Jane’s closet, quickly sorting through the glut of pastel dresses before settling on a newer one in pale yellow.

Jane rose and obediently stood on her short stool, raising her arms to be dressed. Greta draped the yellow dress over the chair and straightened the already meticulously even laces of her stays before slipping the skirt over her head and dropping it to brush the silk stockings that covered her feet. She pulled the panels of bodice together in the back and began to lace them together from the bottom, taking care not to wrinkle any portion of the lace-edged chemise beneath.

When Jane had returned home, her father had asked her in his usual blunt fashion if she had been ravished and she had answered truthfully that she had not. He had openly wept tears of relief. Try as she might, she could not bring herself to tell him the whole of it for fear of breaking his heart.

Jane had hoped that by taking a lover, she would render herself unmarriageable and free herself to live the life of adventure that she craved, away from the responsibilities and expectations that came with being the daughter of an earl.

She had been right about the unmarriageable part.

Don't forget to check out the first book in the series...

Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Winner of the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.

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About Jessica Cale

Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. 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 a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

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