Creating Characters by Victoria Roberts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Victoria Roberts, whose newest book Kilts and Daggers releases tomorrow. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win a copy of the book.

5_4 Victoria Roberts' KILTS AND DAGGERS
Creating Characters
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.
—Walt Disney
As a writer, isn’t that statement the truth? That’s one of my favorite quotes by Walt Disney.

Imagine my surprise when I finished my first manuscript in September, submitted a full to an editor in October, and then received an offer for a Scottish historical romance series from a traditional publisher right out of the gate. Believe me, I was an exception to the rule. That rarely happens to anyone. A friend of mine submitted her manuscript through the slush pile and landed a deal with the biggest publishing house in the United States her first time out. And yes, that rarely happens to anyone. But as Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Since the writing business is all subjective, that’s what makes our efforts so darned hard. What I think of your writing style, what your family thinks, what your critique partner thinks, is not necessarily the way the publisher, editor or agent thinks.

So how do you survive the ever-changing tides of the industry?

Follow your gut. Do you remember the books you’ve read that have literally blown your mind away? I’m sure you do. Now think back to the doozies that you’ve read and try to figure out why the story didn’t work for you. What would you have done to fix the pages from within?

Characterization and plot elements are extremely important when penning your novel or short story. A few weeks after my first novel was released, I received several e-mails from readers who told me they were so wrapped up in the story that they actually cried. That moved me, and apparently my characters moved them. If we can touch a few readers with our words, isn’t that the reward we seek? That’s every author’s dream.

Determining how we can make readers fall in love with our hero and heroine can be a grueling task, but the answer may be a lot closer than you think.

What are some characterization strengths that you would list to define a hero?

If I break down the hero from my first book, his characterization strengths would be as follows: (I’ll list five to keep it short and simple.)

1. Highland laird who has a duty to his clan above all else
2. Protector, defender, provider
3. Natural leader
4. Compassionate
5. Honorable

Those are some pretty admirable strengths of character. You may find the task of writing character conflict to be a lot simpler if you take the strengths and test your hero’s resolve. After all, that’s what makes us human. Think about the strengths of our hero and how his character would react/change when placed in a conflicting situation.

1. Our hero is a Highland laird who has a duty to his clan above all else, but what happens when the neighboring clan forces him to break the king’s command?
2. Our hero is a protector, defender, provider, but what happens when he has to leave his younger reckless brother in charge of the clan in his absence?
3. Of course our hero is a natural leader, but what happens when things don’t go according to plan?
4. Oh, this guy’s compassionate, but what happens when he can’t wed the love of his life?
5. Our hero is honorable, but what happens when he offers to escort a woman to the northern Highlands and then realizes he doesn’t want to let her go?

Those are examples of how outside influences impact characterization.

Remember when I wrote that determining how we can make readers fall in love with our hero and heroine can be a grueling task, but the answer may be a lot closer than you think?

Don’t rule out family dynamics. We all have them. Use them. Family dynamics play a large part in all my books. After all, falling in love is easy. It’s all the outside influences that drive characterization. Who didn’t love the Starks from Game of Thrones? And who didn’t cry when they were massacred? I felt for every single one of them. Make your characters realistic in actions and behavior. If your characters are somewhat “off the wall,” let us know why they act the way they do.

There are no guidelines that will tell you what kind of character strengths and conflicts will make a successful novel or short story. But whatever genre you write, get into the heads of each of your characters and experience what they experience. How would you act in a certain scenario? What would you say? The hero from my second book had me so angry at times that my blood pounded, my heart thumped, and my fingers couldn’t keep up on the keyboard. You want that love/hate relationship with your characters. Keep it real.

One of the hardest things to accept is the fact that not everyone will love your work. Our stories are like people. You care for some and do not care for others. What I firmly believe is to stay true to your path. Whether you write poetry, science fiction or historical fiction, write your passion. Do not let anyone tell you differently. If you put your heart and soul into your words, readers will feel that too.

I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite quotes.

All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
—Walt Disney
I’m living proof of that fact. If my words meant something to one of you, I’ve done my job.

Happy Writing!

5_4 book cover kilts and daggersEver since Lady Grace Walsingham discovered her uncle and sister are spies for the Crown, she has yearned for adventure. She’s counting the days until she can leave barbaric Scotland behind, even if she must endure Highland captain Fagan Murray’s company for weeks.

Fagan has a simple mission: escort the haughty Lady Grace back to England. But nothing is ever easy. The sharp-tongued woman needles him at every turn. But when a menacing threat follows them on their journey, Fagan’s grudging tolerance for Grace turns to respect…and into a perilous attraction that could seal their fate.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Mister Murray, I don’t feel at ease discussing these subjects with you.”

“Then call me Fagan. Mister Murray was my father’s name anyway.”

Grace looked around and then softened her voice. “Now is that truly appropriate?”

“I told ye before. Ye’re a long way from England, lass. Lest ye forget, ye’re in the Highlands now. We do things differently here.”

She lifted a brow. “How could I forget?”

“Ruairi said ye’ll be staying with us for a few weeks. More to the point, I already call Ruairi’s wife Ravenna.” He turned up his smile a notch. “Ye and I are practically like family. Ye will call me Fagan, and I will call ye Grace, or I could always call ye bhana-phrionnsa. I’ll be kind enough to give ye a choice.”

“Ravenna may permit you to call her by her Christian name, but I certainly do not, Mister Murray. Although you do make me laugh, I’m afraid you and I are far from family.”

***

When Grace’s eyes smoldered, Fagan knew he shouldn’t get too close to the flame for fear of getting burned. There was still enough time to take his leave. Otherwise, he’d be verbally sparring with a lass in the middle of the great hall. Ruairi would no doubt have his head for causing mischief with his kin so soon after the wedding.

Fagan slapped both hands on the table and casually stood. Instinctively, he took another step back in case the lass suddenly had a strong urge to reach across the table and throttle him—or worse. Nevertheless, once she heard what he was about to say, the table wouldn’t provide enough space between them.

“Verra well then. I think bhana-phrionnsa suits ye quite nicely.” When Grace’s cheeks turned scarlet, Fagan smiled. “Donna say I didnae warn ye. Remember I did give ye a choice.” He winked at her and then turned on his heel.
“Wait!”

He had a hard time trying to mask his smile. He turned around slowly and lifted a brow. “Aye?”

Grace flew to her feet, walked around the table, and closed the distance between them. She lifted her head, and by the way she was unsteady on her feet, he swore the daft lass was standing on the tips of her toes in a futile attempt to look him level in the eye.

“England and Scotland have been warring for centuries, Mister Murray, yet somehow Scotland has never won.” Lifting her skirts, she brushed his arm with her shoulder and took a few steps away from him.

That was until he called after her and stopped her dead in her tracks. “Cuine a chì mi a-ris thu, Grace?” When will I see you again? He made certain he said the words as though he spoke to his lover, which obviously had the desired effect because her whole body stiffened, and then she left him without a backward glance. Fagan’s mood was suddenly buoyant. He wasn’t exactly sure why he loved to unnerve Princess Grace, but he had one hell of a time doing it.

About the Author: Victoria Roberts writes sexy, award-winning Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. Prior to ever picking up a single romance novel, she penned her first young adult novella at 16 years old. Who knew her leather-studded motorcycle hero would trade in his ride and emerge as a kilt wearing Highlander wielding a broadsword? Victoria lives with her husband and their two beautiful children in western Pennsylvania.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads
Buy the book at Amazon, Apple, B&N, BAM, !ndigo, or IndieBound.

Buy the first book in the series, My Highland Spy, at Amazon, Apple, B&N, BAM, !ndigo ,  IndieBound, or  Kobo.

 

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How to Handle Negativity by Victoria Roberts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews congratulates Victoria Roberts on the release of her newest book, My Highland Spy. Answer Victoria’s question below for a chance to win a copy of the book (US/Canada only)

*******

Thank you so much for having me today at LASR.

Want to know my golden rule of thumb for handing negativity?

There is no way you’re going to please everyone. Once you accept that single fact, your life will become so much easier. Don’t get me wrong. It took me years to wrap my head around the idea as well. Enough negativity can bring anyone down, but the sooner you learn to handle it, the better.

As an author, we want every reader to love our work. Why shouldn’t they, right? We’ve certainly put our blood, sweat, and tears into our babies. But let’s be realistic. Do we honestly believe we’re going to please every single reader? Of course not. I’ve read some of the most popular books in a genre and after I’ve finished the book, I couldn’t understand for the life of me what all the fuss was about. Think about when you watch a movie. I’ve watched movies that have won tons of awards, and guess what? I didn’t like them. Does that mean the work is terrible? No. What it does mean is that the movie wasn’t for me.
Everyone has different tastes and ideas of what pleases them. People come from different backgrounds and have different expectations, have life experiences that may not be similar to our own. I’ll never forget one of the most hurtful reviews that I’d ever received for my second novel, X Marks the Scot.

“The novel’s cover and title suggest a conventional kilt down, tresses up smut fest, but the story itself tries to deal with themes of marriage, love and sacrifice. I would love to see Roberts expand her pretty awesome assassination plot and place less emphasis on the Liadain’s and Declan’s by-the-books love story. But as it stands, “X Marks the Scot” is just a bottom-bin romance in a gilded kilt.” Rating: 2 arrows to the knee/stars

That last sentence and the rating “2 arrows to the knee” nagged me for days. I was letting one reviewer opinion drag me down. Oh, yes. At the time it felt as though a knife was impaled into my heart, but guess what? One opinion didn’t matter. X Marks the Scot won the 2013 RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Medieval Romance.

So yes, my golden rule of thumb for handling negativity: You are never going to please everyone. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and don’t let negativity bring you down. Behavior breeds behavior. Stay positive and things will work out for the better, even though you may not be able to see that now.

How do you handle negativity? Sourcebooks will give away one paperback copy of My Highland Spy (US and Canada only, please.)

“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

9_16 victoria roberts My Highland Spy (1)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?

9_16 Victoria RobertsAbout the Author:    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. Visit her at www.victoriarobertsauthor.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.roberts.395

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763317.Victoria_Roberts

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

Teaser Tour: My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts – Excerpt and Giveaway

8_21 VictoriaRoberts-BlogBadge4It’s wonderful to be here today at LASR, the fourth stop on the My Highland Spy Teaser Tour!

My Highland Spy is the first book in my new Highland Spies’ series, and I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. We left off yesterday meeting Ravenna’s tenacious younger siblings.

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt Four/Chapter One:

“Uncle Walter, what a pleasant surprise. I’m so glad you’re here with us on such a lovely morn,” said Ravenna, pulling out her chair.

He swallowed his oatmeal and smiled. “I have to meet with His Majesty later this morn and I thought to pay you girls a visit.”

Lord Walter Mildmay, her mother’s brother, had been appointed the Walsingham family’s guardian, but their situation was more pretense than anything. Uncle Walter had his own estate and family, while he permitted Ravenna and her sisters to stay under their own roof. At twenty-five years old, Ravenna handled all the accounts, managed the servants, and had served as a mother figure to the girls since the deaths of their parents.

Uncle Walter, with his dark hair and tanned skin, was the complete opposite of Ravenna’s fair-skinned mother. No one would ever think they were of the same relation, especially because his hair was as black as night. Ravenna always thought the man looked like a bloody pirate.

Ravenna’s father, Lord Francis Walsingham, had been Queen Elizabeth’s principal secretary until his death. Little did anyone know that her sire had also been the queen’s spy. Given that Ravenna’s father had handled all of the royal correspondence and had determined the agenda of the council meetings, he had been a very influential man in his time, which fortunately now worked in Ravenna’s favor.

In short, she was a spy for King James and the Crown, the same as her father had been under Queen Elizabeth’s reign. When Ravenna was old enough to show an interest in political matters, her father had educated and conditioned her to one day take his place. She lived in a man’s world, but that’s why she was so proficient at doing what she did—a mere woman was the last thing anyone would expect. Her family meant everything to her, and she was deter¬mined to keep her siblings sheltered and protected for as long as possible.

Especially from unsavory establishments like the one last eve.

After everyone finished their meal and polite conversation, Ravenna and Uncle Walter excused themselves and met behind the closed doors of her father’s study. With the dark wooden furnishings, the large desk, and her father’s books lining the wall, the room always reminded Ravenna of her father. At times, she could swear she even smelled his scent, almost as if he wanted her to know that he still watched over her.

“What did you find out?” asked Uncle Walter, tapping his fingers on the desk.

Ravenna sat in her father’s chair. “I followed Lord Cobham into the Devil’s Tavern. The man he met with was Charles Paget. I thought he was still in Paris.”

Her uncle sat forward, his eyes narrowing. “I suppose it should come as no surprise. His Majesty gave Paget back his manor of Weston-on-Trent and his other homes in Derbyshire, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on him. As usual, I’ll pass along the information to the king’s advisors. You did well, Ravenna.”

“Grace is questioning my sudden disappearances, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep the truth from her.”

“You know as well as I do that it’s better she doesn’t know what you do. Perhaps we should start thinking about arranging a marriage for her.”

Ravenna rubbed her fingers over the bridge of her nose. “I really want to give her some time. She doesn’t show an interest in anyone at the moment, and I’m not quite ready to force her into a marriage.” She paused. “Let me think about it.”

He bobbed his head. “There is another assignment from His Majesty.”

“So soon? I just completed this one.” She sat forward, frowning. “What is it this time?”

Sourcebooks will give away one copy of My Highland Spy to a lucky commenter (US and Canada only, please.) Did you ever spy on anyone as a child?

8_21 highland spyThis 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?

“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

About the Author: 8_21 victoria

Victoria Roberts writes sexy, award-winning Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. Prior to ever picking up a single romance novel, she penned her first young adult novella at 16 years old. Who knew her leather-studded motorcycle hero would trade in his ride and emerge as a kilt wearing Highlander wielding a broadsword? Victoria lives with her husband and their two beautiful children in western Pennsylvania. Visit her at www.victoriarobertsauthor.com.

Website: http://victoriarobertsauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.roberts.395

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763317.Victoria_Roberts

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | !indigo | iBooks

 

 

8_21 victoria My Highland Spy - Promo Image

Why Scotland? by Victoria Roberts

Thank you so much for having me today.

Why Scotland?

As soon as I picked up my first Scottish historical, I recognized this is where my path led. Everyone has different ideas of escape, and mine happens to be in Scotland with kilted men riding gigantic steeds and wielding broadswords. Have you seen pictures of Scotland? The countryside alone is breathtaking. Add a few Highland lairds and a couple of feisty heroines and it makes for a steamy romance of epic proportions.

My latest release, X Marks the Scot, is the second book in the Bad Boys of the Highlands trilogy. Declan MacGregor (Laird Ciaran MacGregor’s bad boy brother from Temptation in a Kilt) is back with a story of his own. Our heroine is none other than the bloody Campbell’s sister from Temptation in a Kilt, Lady Liadain Campbell. These two actually made quite the pair.

Here’s a fun excerpt.

“MacGregor!”

With lightning speed, he bolted through the trees toward the sound of her voice. He spotted her still form and stopped. Cautiously, he raised his bow while searching the surrounding landscape. Once he knew for certain there was no viable threat, only then would he attempt to approach her.

He remained alert, trying to decipher what was amiss. The healer was frozen with her skirts lifted up, giving him a perfect view of her creamy thigh.

Tears choked her voice. “Please, MacGregor.”

Following her wide-eyed stare, he recognized the reason for her distress. The culprit was making a beeline toward her. Lifting the bow, Declan took his shot, and as soon as the arrow made impact, he realized his mistake.

When the tip penetrated the reptile, the snake involuntarily jumped…right onto her foot. Her shrill screams rang through the trees and she jerked back several feet. To his surprise, the lass did not stop there.

She hiked up her dress even higher. She bounced up and down as though her feet were afire. Curses were thrown like stones as she swore like a man in the heat of battle. The shocking spectacle made any words that came to mind wedge in his throat.

The lass suddenly turned and raced back through the woods. Declan gaped as he caught glimpses of her bare, shapely legs fleeing through the forest trees.

What the hell was that? He threw back his head and roared with laughter. Who would have thought that the woman who resided under the same dangerous roof as the bloody Campbell was deathly afraid of snakes? Hell, she had lived with one. The idea was truly unbelievable. Honestly, he had never thought of her as faint-hearted.

He shook his head and walked back to the horses. He hoped the lass had enough sense to stop running and that he would not have to chase her down. Although the way she behaved, nothing would have surprised him.

The healer sat upon her mount, her back stiff and straight. When he approached, she cast her eyes away from him and shifted in the saddle.

“Why did ye run? The snake was dead.”

“I donna like snakes. I donna, donna, donna. I really donna. It touched my foot,” she blurted out and then shivered.

Declan tried not to chuckle, but one involuntarily escaped him. “I gathered that ye donna favor snakes, but ’tis dead.” He extended his hand to her. “Come down and stretch your legs before we ride again.”

She waved him off. “Nay, I am fine right where I am,” she said as she studied the ground. “I had more than enough stretching.”

“There are nay more snakes, lass. Come down.”

“Unless ye intend on pulling me from my horse’s back, I am nae moving,” she said stubbornly.

The words were out of Declan’s mouth before he had a chance to stay them. “Ye know, they could as easily be in the trees above your head as they could be upon the ground.” He patted her horse on the rump. He was teasing her, affectionately, not maliciously.

She paled and became watchful of the branches above. “Ye know? Ye may think ye are humorous, but let me assure ye that ye arenae.”

“Suit yourself.”

It was so much fun to be here. Thanks for having me.

Sourcebooks will give away one copy of X Marks the Scot (US and Canada only, please) to a lucky commenter. Where is your favorite place to travel?

2_27 X Marks the Scot Final

He was a Highland Rogue—Wicked with a Bow and Just as Wicked with the Ladies.

Declan MacGregor hadn’t a care in the world beyond finding a soft bed and a willing woman…until he had to escort Lady Liadain Campbell to the English court. The woman needles him at every turn, but he can’t just abandon her to that vipers’ nest without protection.

She Never Asked for a Bodyguard…

Liadain wasn’t thrilled to be left in the care of her clan’s archrival. It was as if the man never had a lady tell him no before! And yet as whispers of treason swirl through the court and the threat of danger grows even sharper, her bitter enemy soon becomes the only one she can trust…

Praise for X Marks the Scot:

5/5 – Reviewer Top Pick
“Enthralling Highlander romance. One of the best Highlander stories I’ve ever read. This is one author who just keeps on getting better.”

―Night Owl Reviews

“For a complex story brimming over with pride and passion, betrayal, trust and most of all the power to make a bad boy a hero, pick up this read.”

―RT Book Reviews/4 ½ Star Review

About the Author: Victoria Roberts writes sexy, 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 is also a 2012 Reviewers Choice Nominee for Best First Historical novel for her debut, Temptation in a Kilt.

Her second novel, X Marks the Scot, is available February 2013 and the third, To Wed a Wicked Highlander, September 2013.

Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America®, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Western Pennsylvania Romance Writers, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine, Celtic Guide.

Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of nineteen years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish romp, she enjoys reading, nature, and antiques.

Purchase/Links:

Sourcebooks: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/x-marks-the-scot.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/X-Marks-Scot-Victoria-Roberts/dp/1402270097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357084005&sr=8-1&keywords=x+marks+the+scot

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/x-marks-the-scot-victoria-roberts/1112689759?ean=9781402270093

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M27gsMb4Ro

Website: www.victoriarobertsauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/victoria.roberts.395

Celtic Guide: www.thecelticguide.com