Monday, February 29, 2016

**GIVEAWAY** Guest Post by author Carol A Spradling


Thank you, Debbie for featuring me on your website. There are almost as many styles of writing as there are authors, but if you ask authors what you should write, most of them will say, write what you know. While there's a certain amount of truth to that statement, I had one thought when I was given such advice. A person can always research what they don't know, especially in this day and age. Technology makes research so much easier than it was years ago. 
In my book, For Mercy's Sake, I needed to know how long a person could remain alive while buried in a coffin. That wasn't something I had personal knowledge of. I did a little research and placed my unwilling (fictional) heroine in the box, covered her with dirt, and waited. It was a good thing the hero found her in time. It did take a while for her to speak to me after those scenes were written.
In essence, I did write what I learned, so in a sense, I did write what I knew. However, I didn't allow lack of knowledge on a topic prevent me from writing a climactic scene.
But more important then facts and authenticity, to me anyway, is to write what you enjoy. When writing a book of any length, you will spend a lot of time with your characters and the life you are giving them to live. If you are miserable while writing, it will show in your story. Enjoy being with them. But beware, the characters will argue with you, and boy, can they be stubborn.
In the first book of my Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues Series, Her Scottish Rogue, I introduced a minor character named Baron Lacey. My plan for him was to be a horrible person through and through. He had other ideas. And after he and I came to terms with his storyline, it was decided that Baron needed to tell his own story. A reason behind the man, if you will. So, His Rebellious Heart, the second book in the Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues Series was born. Sometimes it's annoying when the characters are right. At least, Baron lets me take credit for his existance. ;)
Beck Montgomery, from Her Scottish Rogue in the Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues Series was as cantankerous a man as they come. He was grumpy from our first meeting. Even when I introduced Wren, our heroine for this story, he had a sour disposition. That's all right. Wren knew how to break the ice with him. And when she did, well, I'll just say he was much easier to talk with.
When writing your story, let your characters and the lives they lead become real. Don't worry about book length or what the latest literary trend is. Spend time with your characters, enjoy being with them, and write what happens when you are with them. When you've done that, you will have characters and a story that other people will want to spend time with. And trust me, all of you, the author, the characters, and the readers will have a much more satisfying experience because of it.

If you would like to see how Beck warmed up to Wren, or how charming Baron truely is, I am having a giveaway. The winner will have their choice of Her Scottish Rogue or His Rebellious Heart. Both of these books are from the Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues Series. Of course, if you'd like to see how much of a close call Anna had escaping death while buried alive, you can choose, For Mercy's Sake. The giveaway is for an e-copy Open Internatioanlly

Wren Taggart is no lady. Her life consists of kitchen duties at Newcastle Inn. Mistaken for Lady Anne, the illegitimate daughter of England's Prince Regent, she is kidnapped and forced to marry a man who cares nothing for her or for Britain. Deception and lies is the only way for her to return home. But when her heart softens toward her new husband, she fears she will lose more than the life she's known.
Scottish born, Beckett Montgomery is no lord. The bastard son of a nobleman, he despises everyone and everything British. To restore a family name and fortune he doesn't want, he must convince all of Longton nobility and England's Prince Regent that he is the honorable Sir Lacey, and the rightful heir to Longton Castle.
When a murderer targets women who bear a resemblance to Wren, Beck must choose between returning home to Scotland and protecting the woman he's come to love. 

BUY IT: B&N/Amazon

Read an excerpt:

Beck glared first at his wife and then his brother. Wren had rushed past the door to the study only moments ago, not stopping when he'd called her name. He'd watched her from the window to see where she ran in such a rush. Baron's horse was hitched to the front of the barn and he looked as though he prepared to leave without saying a word to anyone. Did Wren intend to have him escort her back to Newcastle?

"Will neither of you answer my question?" Beck demanded again.

Baron flicked a glance from Beck to Wren and then shrugged.

"Your lovely wife and I were having a small chat. Isn't that right, Lady Anne? Now that we're finished, I'll be on my way." He walked to a table and began tossing things from the surface. "Where's my whisky bottle?" His body straightened and his eyes lit up. He reached his hand and pulled a bottle from behind a pile of soiled rags. "Ah. Tis not whisky, but rum. Even better. A gentleman's drink." He pulled the stopper from the opening and tipped the bottle. Amber liquid spilled into his mouth and splashed down his chin. Finished, he wiped the back of his hand across his lips.

"Ah, my manners." He rubbed the opening with the palm of his hand and then shot his arm toward Wren. "Ladies first."

Beck swung his arm wide. The cracking blow caught Baron under his chin. The rum bottle soared into the air, breaking against the wall. Beck didn't wait for him to steady himself. He threw himself forward, catching his brother around the neck, and dragging him to the floor.

"You had everything, you spoilt whelp of a jackal, and you do na ken enough to treat a lady with respect," Beck ground through his teeth. He hauled Baron to his feet, and steadied him for another blow.

Baron punched upward, his fists striking under Beck's ribs, first with one hand and then the other. Beck's breath rushed from his lungs, and he doubled over. Wheezing, he watched for the next blow.

"Spoilt whelp, am I? You stinking, Scottish bas––"

Already bent forward, Beck didn't wait for him to finish his slur. He rushed forward, hitting his brother low in the gut and shoving him backward. Knocking him over a feed bale, the two men soared through the air, tumbling backward and then rolling into an empty stall. Beck scrambled to his feet and sat atop his sibling. He swung his arms, aiming for anything solid. Muscular legs wrapped around his head, hauling him backward. Baron twisted out from under him, sprang to his feet, and flew at him, his hands spread wide.

Movement silhouetted the door opening, and Beck glanced over his brother's shoulder and then charged forward. Sir Lacey stood next to Wren, calmly taking in his sons' behaviors. A slight flicker of approval lit his da's face. Did he enjoy seeing his offspring at each other's throats? If he did, he would...

A wooden crate shattered across Beck's side. He stumbled sideways, grunting loudly.

"What the… are your fists no good enough for you, whelp? You have to pick up a weapon?" Beck asked, regaining his balance.

"Sir Lacey, you must stop them. They'll kill each other," Wren shouted from the front of the barn.

Why dinna she return to the castle? A bonnie brawl wasna anything for a lass to witness, and God knew he needed to work off his anger. He'd become enraged thinking Wren might leave him. What better way to take out his angst then with a friendly scrap with his brother?

Beck turned his gaze to Baron. His brother was hunched forward, and clutching his side. His cheek was beginning to swell, and a dark circle formed under his eye. Other than the way he held his hand, he looked ready for a second round of fisticuffs. A crooked smile formed beneath his glare. He launched himself forward, and Beck extended his arm, flattening his brother's nose. Dazed, Baron's eyes crossed and his body swayed like a hawk in a windstorm. Blood flowed down his face as he reached for a nearby wall. He touched his hand to his lip and looked at the blood.

"Damn barbarian," he sneered. He wiped the red liquid on his pant leg. "My nose is my best feature. Now you've broken it."

"The break gives you character, something you sorely need," Beck sneered.

"You've hated me your entire life." Baron swung a rake handle, its aim in line with Beck's head. Beck's eyes widened, and he ducked.

"And with good cause, you arrogant fop. You had everything, and you squandered it all. You care for nothing but yourself. Swine."

Beck caught Baron in the chest and shoved him against the wall. Baron drew his knee up, hard and fast, catching Beck between the legs. His body jerked, and he moaned. Holding to his groin, he fell to the floor.

"It's mine to squander," Baron shouted. He stood over Beck, breathing hard, but momentarily out of harm's way. "Or is that why you're here? You're interested in securing an inheritance."

He stomped past Beck. Nearly out of reach, Beck's arm shot sideways, and he grabbed Baron's ankle, wrenching his brother's leg backward. Baron flapped his arms, searching for something to break his fall, but thudded to the ground. Dust and hay wafted up around them. On hands and knees, Beck scurried up to him. He grabbed hold of his shirt, yanked his body up, and glared down at him.

"You have nothing I want, you or Sir Lacey. The only reason I'm here is to clean up your mess, whelp."

"That's too bad," Baron said, dangling from his brother's grasp. "Because I want something from you."

Beck paused, and then shoved Baron back on the ground. He rested his hand on his thigh. Breathing heavily, he glanced to his side. His da and Wren no longer waited at the door. It was good that they'd left. With the direction the skirmish seemed to be taking, it might be wise that neither of them heard what they discussed.

He looked through the hay-infused air to his brother. His fight was more than an opportunity to work off spent up tension. Although he didn't know what Baron wanted, he doubted he'd be willing to give him anything.

"What could I possibly have that would mean anything to you? You were raised with everything you wanted. You were respected by all your peers. I worked, and fought, for the little respect I could force out of people. Only to later learn that it was fear that I saw in their faces, not regard. They never saw me as anything more than a bastard. So I ask you again, brother. What could I possibly have to give you envy?"

Beck fell to his backside and leaned against the front of a stall. Baron watched him closely, and then pushed himself to a seated position.

"I want the one thing I could never have," Baron said. "My father's love."

Beck's chest heaved and then relaxed. He lifted his gaze. Dark brown hair covered his eyes.

Baron pushed himself opposite of Beck and leaned against an inside wall. "Our father provided me with a castle to live in, servants to tend to my every whim, money to buy everything I wanted." He threw his hands forward, pushing away his explanation. "You have no idea what it's like to try to win a person's favor, knowing all the while you were being compared to. . . you." Baron drew his legs up and rested his arms on his knees. "Father never said it, but in his eyes, I could see him weigh my measure against yours, and always, in the balance was you. All my efforts were for naught. I can't fight a ghost, brother, and you weren't here for me to best. He may have given me everything, but you were the son he wanted, the son I could never be."

Beck crawled to his feet, and then offered his hand to Baron. "Whether we like it or no, we're more alike than either of us want to admit."

"But I'm better looking," Baron said, standing to his feet.

"You were better looking," Beck said, swatting Baron's broken nose.

"Ow," Baron howled. "Did you have to hit me square in the face?"

"I thought you'd duck."

Both men laughed. Beck wrapped his arm around Baron's shoulders. "Do na forget, Sir Lacey," Beck said, teasing the younger man. "I'm a barbarian, but you envy me."

Baron looked up at him, admiration beaming upward. "Not any more. Now, I respect you."

Sir Baron Lacey lives a life of prominence and position, until he's falsely accused of his fiancée's murder. Unable to claim his title and family estate, he follows a killer's trail from one end of England to another.
Lady Ella Baxter always does what is expected of her, except where Baron Lacey is concerned. When she finds the man she loves shot and close to death, her loyalties will be challenged more than ever before.
Tracking a killer was difficult enough for Baron but when Ella becomes the murderer's next target, he must decide what is more at risk, Ella's life or his rebellious heart.

BUY IT: B&N/Amazon

Read an excerpt:

Baron lifted his chin in the direction of the satisfied customer. "Is that the one?" he asked the proprietor.

The tavern owner glanced over his shoulder and then continued to wipe the table where Baron sat. "Um-hmm. His name's Payne Crumley," he answered. He paused and looked Baron straight in the eyes. His bloodshot glare indicated the intensity in which he spoke.

"I don't want any trouble in here. Whatever business you have with him, you take it outside." His voice was gruff when he spoke.

Baron didn't want any trouble either, from the tavern keeper or the man's patron. But sometimes, in order to acquire what was needed, he couldn't always guarantee the safety of the surrounding area. "I'll see what I can do," Baron said.

Ignoring the man's harsh glare, he grabbed hold of the whiskey bottle and headed toward the door. He didn't need to be told how to conduct his business. For years, he'd made good on damage he'd been responsible for. It hadn't been his preference to remodel one establishment after another, but his generosity had established a bond with a variety of people who provided him with sensitive information.

He staggered from side to side and shuffled his feet as he walked. He'd not had anything to drink, but the man leaving the whore didn't need to know that. Footsteps neared Baron. He'd timed his departure well, and his body now blocked the exit. Baron stopped moving and stared down at the floor. He leaned against the doorframe and jiggled one leg.

"...And good whiskey, too." he said, his words slurred. He turned to the man behind him, and lifted his knee toward the stranger. "Milksop, does this smell like booze...?"

"What? Move out of my way, drunk," the man said. He stepped to his left, and tried to side-step Baron.
Baron spread his arms from his side, keeping the man in front of him. "There's no need to call names. I just asked a question."

The man snarled his lip, and shoved his hand against Baron.

This was the reaction Baron had hoped for. Without hesitating, he grabbed his attacker's upper arm, and slammed him into the wall. His opponent's face crushed against the wood, and the man gasped. Not giving him time to squirm, Baron shoved his shoulder into the center of the man's back, pressing his weight hard into him.

Baron waved off the barkeep and positioned his mouth next to the pinned man's ear. "If you don't like my question, how about a statement? Another woman is dead, and you're involved, Payne Crumley."

The man's eyes bulged, and his skin paled. "How do you know my name?"

"Just know that I found you once, and I can do it again."

Squirming against the wall, the man looked as though he struggled to keep control of his bodily functions. "I didn't kill anyone," the man sneered. He pushed backward against Baron's fist.

Baron wrenched the man's arm behind his back and yanked his hand up to his hairline. "No? But you know where I can find the man who did. Where is he?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I think you do, and I'll ask again. Where is Lacey Macey?" Baron cringed at the use of the name. He'd never get used to connecting his name with that of the killer.

Baron had been warned he wasn't likely to get any cooperation from the man. But this was his only lead, and he couldn't risk another woman being attacked. He yanked his dagger into the open with his free hand, and held the blade near the wall.

"I have a theory. Would you like to hear it, Crumley?" He didn't wait for an answer. "If the murderer can escape the hangman, he might stop killing innocent women."

"You don't know that. Maybe he'll see himself as invincible and kill even more. He is mad, after all."

"Yes, he is," Baron agreed. The thought of freeing a murderer was the last thing on his mind, and he had no intention of letting a madman run loose. His theory was only a means to loosen Crumley's tongue.

No one needed to remind him of the mental state of a murderer. Baron had witnessed the carnage first hand. What had prevented him from reporting what he knew to the authorities was the madman's identity. The king would do anything to protect his son. Baron turned his dagger in his hand. Light played along the sharp edge of the blade, sliding from hilt to tip.

"You've been in the same town as every woman who's been murdered. It should be fairly easy to convince a judge you're a murderer."

Crumley's eyes widened further. "That means nothing. I didn't kill anyone. Didn't you hear me?"
Baron leaned in close to the man's face. In his mind, he played his final card in a winner take all poker game. Everything both men owned lay on the table in full view. A game of this magnitude took skill and courage. Baron may not have a winning hand, but at least he had his wits to rely on.

"You have to remember," Baron said, his voice heavy. "Your arrest will stop future murders."

Baron didn't believe the logic to his words anymore now then when he'd come up with the idea. Still, he was certain that Payne Crumley knew more than he was willing to share. He'd most likely be unwilling to tell Baron what he knew, but Baron's aggression might be the motivation the man needed to expose the killer. If Crumley knew where the murderer was, chances were, he would warn Macey about Baron. And if Crumley, like Baron, meant to bring Macey to justice, he might tell Baron what he knew in a means to escape being arrested for a crime he didn't commit. Either way, Payne Crumley wasn't leaving without Baron gaining an advantage over Macey.

"I told you to take your business outside. I'll not have my place busted up," the tavern keeper shouted from the upstairs balcony.

The business owner's shout was all the distraction Crumley needed. Shoving his chest away from the wall, he knocked Baron to the ground, and then raced out the door. Baron fell backward, landing hard on the floor. He cursed under his breath, but shot to his feet. He'd bluffed about going to the magistrate, but he couldn't let this man get away now. His source of information had been adamant that Payne Crumley knew where to find the murderer.

Bursting through the door, both men raced into the back alleys and onto the main street. A white shirt billowed in front of Baron as Crumley weaved his way past several street merchants. A small boy ran in front of them, breaking the fugitive's stride. Baron closed the distance between them and reached for the fleeing man's shirt collar. Crumley rounded the corner, and instead of grabbing cloth, air filled Baron's grasp. He'd almost had hold of him, and a change of direction had prevented him from capturing his best chance of bringing a murderer to justice.

The sound of boxes falling to the ground brought both men up short, and Baron skidded to a stop. He bent forward, his lungs burning. He could hardly confront the man in front of witnesses. Besides, from the sound of the commotion, Crumley had crashed into someone who'd had their hands full. Baron doubted someone would let Crumley race off without restacking what he'd destroyed.

"What did you call me?" a feminine voice asked.

Baron's body clenched, and he jerked his head in the direction of her question.

"Lady Ella," a man said. Crumley panted as hard as Baron.

Baron inched toward the edge of the building. He thought he recognized the voice of the woman who'd spoken, but it was impossible that Ella Baxter was here. She lived in Longton and never ventured from her home any further than the distance it took to travel to nearby neighbors. He'd even nicknamed her Mouse because of her meek demeanor. Pressing himself against the wall, he peered around the corner and looked in the woman's direction.

Dressed in a tan colored, silk gown with brown lace trim, a brightly faced woman confronted the man Baron had been chasing. An assortment of boxes littered the ground around their feet. Baron could stare at her for hours, but he pulled back to keep from being seen. From what he could tell, this young woman was Ella, but he could only guess as to what she was doing here.

"I prefer to be addressed as Lady Eleanor," she said.

She spoke with an assertiveness he'd never heard her use before. She'd told Crumley to call her Lady Eleanor. Baron smiled. He'd always called her Ella, and she'd never objected to his use of the nickname.
Crumley helped Ella into her coach and then loaded her packages, one item at a time, in with her. The boxes were small and could easily be stacked in one pile. Why did he take such care to lift them individually? Once the last parcel was inside the coach, Crumley took an extraordinarily long time to take his leave. After a long minute, he closed the door and disappeared down the street.

Baron waited, debating if he should follow after him or say hello to Ella. She and Crumley had tried to appear as though they were strangers. Passersby had not seemed to question the meeting. But for someone whose life depended on adequately interpreting other people's actions, not to mention, who also knew Ella, there was more to this unexpected meeting than one might think. With his decision made, Baron walked up to the coach and pulled the closed door open.

"We have nothing left to discuss. I'll meet you on Saturday," Ella said.

"And where shall we meet?" Baron asked.

Clutching her hands to her chest, Ella jumped in her seat. Blood drained from her face, and her mouth fell open. He could hear her heart pounding from where she sat.

"Baron! You recov…Why are you…how did you…" she said, her eyes darted nervously past him to the street.

"It's good to see you, too, Ella," he said. Without waiting for an invitation, he climbed into the coach with her.

Again, her gaze swept the street. "What are you doing? You can't be here…alone…with me. We have no chaperone."

She had always been proper and conservative in her manner, but there was something different about her today. The dreamy-eyed stare he was used to seeing was missing. Instead of hanging onto his every word as he'd known her to do, she looked appalled to see him. Did she expect Crumley to return, or did she indeed look for a chaperone?

"You need to leave, Sir Lacey. My aunt will be here momentarily."

Five years her elder, Baron had never thought much of how interested she was in him, but he disliked being dismissed like an unwanted houseguest.

"Have I done something to offend you, Lady Ella?" he asked, deliberately using his nickname for her.

Her lip twitched and her cheeks reddened, but she didn't correct him about the use of her name. "As I said, my aunt—"

"Eleanor, dear, please open the door. My hands are full," an older woman said from outside the coach.

Ella rolled her eyes and blew out her breath. Well, that was a new expression he'd not seen her use before. He wasn't sure if he liked her childish behavior or not, but one thing was certain, he wouldn't be easily dismissed. Baron smirked, and couldn't help but chuckle. Without speaking, he opened the door and stepped onto the street.

"Good afternoon, ma'am." Baron nodded his head to the woman. Mischief lit her eyes, and Baron welcomed the unlikely ally. "Your niece and I are neighbors in Longton. If you will allow me to introduce myself, my name is Sir Baron Lacey. Ella had dropped her packages while entering the carriage. Being as she is a friend of the family, I thought it only proper to keep her company until you were able to join her. I hope you don't object to my being so forward."

Baron didn't know which woman was more overwhelmed by what he'd said. Ella's aunt remained silent, but her appreciation of him or his gallantry was evident in her eyes. Her niece shifted behind him, most likely, trying to draw her aunt's attention. Having no intention of allowing Ella the chance to influence the older woman's first impression of him, he moved to block her view.

"I'm very grateful you were nearby, Sir Lacey," the older woman said. "I'm Eleanor's Aunt Frances. It's very nice to meet you. Are you staying in the area or are you passing through."

"He's passing through, Auntie," Ella said in a rush from behind Baron.

Baron quirked a brow, intrigued by Ella's insistence that he not dally. "My plans are currently undecided," he said, both in answer to her aunt's question, and as a warning to Ella. He didn't know why the sudden change in her demeanor toward him, but he liked the idea of interrupting her game with Payne Crumley.
Aunt Frances smiled over at him, and then ducked her head and took a seat next to Ella.

"Since you have no firm plans, you must accompany us to the dance on Saturday? My cousin has invited a few people to his home as a means to welcome Ella to Windermere."

The coach shifted beside Baron. "No, Auntie, he can't," Ella quickly added. Her voice squeaked as she spoke.

Both Baron and Frances looked at her with duplicate, confused expressions.

"What I mean is," Ella started, and then stopped to clear her throat. "We can't impose our plans on Sir Lacey. He is most likely in Windermere on business."

"For two beautiful women, I will change my plans." Baron had never known how intriguing it could be to irritate someone he didn't plan to extort information from. Yet, something in the back of his mind niggled at him. He had the odd sense, that extorting information from Ella Baxter was exactly what he intended to do.

Ella's mouth dropped open, and she stared at Baron incredulously. She rolled her eyes, leaned back in her seat, and crossed her arms roughly over her chest. Her bottom lip protruded, and Baron's smile widened. He didn't realize how much enjoyment could be found with Ella.

Aunt Frances looked from Ella to Baron, and a slow smile sneaked across her lips. Seemingly pleased with her niece's discomfort, she clasped her hands together. "Then it's settled. We will see you on Saturday, Sir Lacey."

Baron chuckled throatily. "You will, indeed," he agreed.

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As a youth, I loved reading Trixie Belden books. She was great—smart, witty, and surrounded by good-looking guys. What’s not to like? While in my teens, I discovered the answers to that question when I heard someone mention a romance novel she had read. Her shallow breathing and flushed face was enough to pique my interest. A trip to the bookstore was in order. I read with wide-eyed amazement. Trixie never spoke of such occurrences! 
Other than the obvious, I found myself trying to appreciate what my friend had enjoyed about this book. Yeah, there was the hot guy and beautiful woman, but the book as a whole frustrated me. Why did it take 380 pages for the couple to admit they loved each other? To me, this is where the story began. Much to my sadness, I found this to be the writing norm. 
I was determined to find an author who felt as I did. This is how I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. Yes! Someone who could tell a story with the two main characters committed to each other before the final pages. Needless to say, she became a favorite soon followed by Diana Gabaldon.
I hope to follow in both of these ladies’ examples and combine history and romance throughout the entire story.

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  1. Love that the author wrote what she knew but also didn't let that hold her back in any way. Lovely guest post!

  2. I have heard that saying a lot: write what you know. Good to know it didn't prevent the author from researching something new! :)

  3. I always wondered just how that worked the write what you know. If I wrote only what I knew it would be pretty limited. ;)

    Scottish Rogue sounds good.

  4. What put her in a coffin and left her. Thank goodness the hero found her! What a nightmare. Got to say book sounds like 'read me!'

  5. Great post on writing what you know but not limiting yourself. I love a good rogue and a Scottish one to boot..yum!

  6. I love the history and knowledge about the past era also the gowns and balls and in highlander novels I love their brawniness brogue and body men in kilts drives me nuts

    1. Thanks Natasha and men in kilts does that for me too!

  7. Write what you enjoy is great advice. I never really liked the write what you know line of thought. This one looks pretty great!