I just had to share this. My chapter-mate Erica is blogging today. Please go over and see it and say hi! If you like Regency Gothic romances she’s really good, I think! *waves to Erica* The link is:
I just had to share this. My chapter-mate Erica is blogging today. Please go over and see it and say hi! If you like Regency Gothic romances she’s really good, I think! *waves to Erica* The link is:
Thanks to everyone who came to our little Christmas party, and to all the authors who participated. *Mistress checks the computer files* I see we have some winners. So, without further ado…
The ladies shall be in touch with you soon.
Well, that concludes our Christmas party for this year. We hope you all enjoyed our guests and maybe found some new favorites. From my minions and myself, we enjoyed hosting all our dear author friends, and we hope you, our dear guests and friends, have a safe and happy holiday! See ya soon, if not, next year.
*Night Mistress reemerges and looks over the Christmas Chaos* We are officially in the Twelve Days. Wrapping paper seems to be flying everywhere, Tinsel. I hear tell Santa Claus is making last minute checks on the reindeer, the sleigh and of course, the list. Me? Mrs. Claus and I have a long-running jealousy of each other, so I suspect I know where I stand. Never mind… Did you make the classic list?
Our next guest, award winning Romance author Beth Trissel, is here today talking about the classic Christmas story of the Victorian age “A Christmas Carol” and also a little about her latest release: a Christmas romance called Somewhere the Bells Ring. Beth, whenever you’re ready…
A Christmas Carol and My New Christmas Romance
I’m A Christmas Carol junkie. Dickens himself would be hardpressed to find a bigger fan. As to the history behind this popular Christmas classic, Wikipedia (and you know they’re always reliable) says, “A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge‘s ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim.
The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain when it was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions, and at the time when new customs such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards were being introduced. The tale has been viewed as an indictment of nineteenth century industrial capitalism and was adapted several times to the stage, and has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity in Britain and America after a period of sobriety and sombreness. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, opera, and other media.”
No kidding. I’ve probably seen every film made with this title or theme, plus the play performed by the local Shakespeare troupe who changed things up a bit for Christmas. My favorite movie is the production with George C. Scott. Tiny Tim gets to me every time. I’m also partial to The Muppet Christmas Carol, well done and not as scary for those who find Jacob Marley (what a moaner) and that creepy Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (not much for chitchat) rather unnerving. I recently got around to watching the animated version with Jim Carrey. He was great in the film, but it is not for young children. It would scare my grandbabies and young niece to death. Make merry at Christmas or go to Hell was the impression that flick left me with. And I don’t think Dickens meant that to be the message we take away with us, but rather that this is a story of redemption. In Scrooge’s words, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
And now, a word about my new Christmas release Somewhere the Bells Ring: ‘Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Spending Christmas 1968 at Maple Hill is a dismal prospect until a ghost appears requesting her help, and her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, returns from Vietnam.’
If you enjoy an intriguing mystery with Gothic overtones and heart-tugging romance set in vintage America then Somewhere the Bells Ring is for you. And did I mention the ghost? Not a scary, but intriguing ghost. I met him in the vivid dream that inspired this story and takes place in the beautiful old Virginia home place where my father grew up and I visited over the holidays.
*If you leave me nice comments I will give away an ebook, pdf, ePub, or kindle, winner’s choice.
*For more on me, my wordpress blog is the happening place: http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/
About Beth Trissel:
Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles.
So, interesting, Beth! Gotta love the ghost. I’m not saying I knew Dickens, but *preens* I think I’ve met Marley. He was…quite the partier. *innocent look* Again, the minions are rolling their eyes. Why is that? What did I do now? *sigh* Oh, well. Thanks for being with us, Beth! We enjoyed having you and hearing about this Christmas Classic. Good luck with Somewhere the Bells Ring! Folks, don’t forget to leave Beth a comment or question for a chance to win. And thanks for joining our Christmas fest. We hope you enjoyed it and have a merry Christmas!
*Handsome minions run to and fro shooing elves away from Christmas tree*
*Night Mistress leans against the doorjamb* Oh, dear. *eyes Christmas tree* What do you think? Is that Christmas tree real or fake? The snow on its boughs looks real enough, doesn’t it? *sniffs* And is it just me or does that not smell like real pine? *sneezes* Yep. It’s fake. *sigh* No wonder the minions are chasing those elves. The forgetful little rats ignored my warning about provoking my allergies. *sneeze* Plastic does it every time.
*sighs* I miss the old days. What old days, you ask? Back when we had nothing but the real thing. How long ago was that? *folds arms across bosom* Don’t make me put you on the rack beside those little elves.
I’ll give you a hint though, our next guest, Linda McLaughlin, is here to tell us a little bit about her Regency romance novel, Lady Elinor’s Escape, and the era and area in which it’s set. Something I know *cough* nothing about I assure you. Miss Linda, why don’t you come on over here by the fire and, whenever you’re ready, tell us about your intrepid Miss?
I’ve been in love with historical fiction for most of my life, and Regency romance is one of my favorite subgenres. In 2003, shortly before Lady Elinor’s Escape was released, I had the pleasure of a jaunt through the “Regency triangle” of London, Bath and Brighton. It was one of the most enjoyable trips of my life. The photo on the book’s cover was adapted from one I took during my trip.
Lady Elinor’s Escape is kind of a Cinderella story in reverse. Though Elinor is well-born, the daughter of an earl, like Cinderella she is trapped in an untenable situation, stuck with a crazy, abusive aunt rather than a wicked stepmother. Elinor’s only hope is to escape to London where she hopes to send a message to her father, who is currently stationed in Lisbon. While in London, she pretends to be a seamstress in the shop of her mother’s former maid, Mimi, who plays the role of Fairy Godmother. The hero, Stephen Chaplin, plays the role of Prince Charming, though his social status is below hers, yet another complication once he realizes the woman he rescued is really a lady.
This isn’t your typical Regency romance. Much of the action takes place in the shop, showing a different side of the Regency. Not everyone lived in a grand town house with servants at their beck and call. Staying with Mimi gives Elinor a taste of “real life” and the experience makes her a stronger, more compassionate person.
Oh, I forgot to mention the book was a Finalist in the Regency Category of the 2005 Golden Quill Contest, sponsored by the Desert Rose Chapter of RWA.
Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a ‘rescuer’ of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled by guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.
Read an excerpt:
(Note: Elinor has run away from her abusive aunt who hit her the day before. She meets Stephen Chaplin at a nearby inn.)
“Excuse me, madam, but I could not help overhearing you say that you must leave for London immediately. Allow me to introduce myself. Stephen Chaplin, Esquire, at your service.”
Elinor turned to face the gentleman who had suddenly appeared. She stared at him through a haze of black, taking advantage of her veil to get a closer look at this tall, dark-haired, seemingly well bred gentleman. He was above average height, with finely chiseled features, and while he could not, strictly speaking, be deemed handsome, there was something in the intense scrutiny of his light brown eyes that drew her to him. By the cut of his bottle green Superfine coat, which emphasized his broad shoulders, but was not so tight as to hamper movement, and his casually tied neckcloth, she surmised he was no society dandy.
“How do you do?” she said politely, extending one black-gloved hand.
“Fine, thank you.”
As he took her hand and bowed over it, Elinor savored the warmth of his touch for a moment. It had been a long time since someone had touched her out of kindness. Suddenly realizing she was clutching his hand, she withdrew hers. He studied her, his gaze seeming to penetrate the veil, and she could only stand like the veriest lump under his scrutiny.
“I beg your pardon, madam, but what did you say your name was?”
“Eli—” Elinor broke off and feigned a cough, panic bubbling up inside. Her name. Dear heavens, she needed a new name. If she told him who she was, he would never agree to take her to Mimi. She stared down at the gentleman’s yellow nankeen trousers and shiny brown boots. “Brown,” she stammered. “Ellie Brown.”
“Mrs. Brown, may I offer my assistance? I’m heading for London myself and would be pleased to convey you as far as Chippenham, where you may pick up another stage coach.”
Relief flooded through her at his offer, but could she trust him? No proper young lady rides in a closed carriage with a gentleman who is not related to her. The words of her governess rang in her ears. “I do not think—”
“Of course, you are cautious,” he interrupted smoothly. “Any genteel lady would hesitate to trust a strange gentleman.”
“But I am not a lady,” she blurted. If Aunt Sarah learned that a ‘lady’ had been here, she would know where to look for her. “I am merely a seamstress.”
“Really,” he drawled, doubt evident in his tone.
“Yes, I have a position awaiting me in London.” She was surprised, and a bit uncomfortable, at how easily the lies flowed from her lips, but they were necessary.
“Then you had best accept my offer, lest your position go to someone else. Miss Wainwright can vouch for me. We traveled here together from London. Nancy,” he called out. “Over here.”
A young serving woman who was obviously in the family way approached them. “What can I do fer ye, Mr. Chaplin?”
“I have offered to convey Mrs. Brown to London, but she is not sure I can be trusted.”
Nancy giggled. “Oh, ma’am, ye’ve naught to fear. Mr. Chaplin’s the finest gentleman I’ve ever met. And we gets quite a few gents here at the Horse and Cart.”
“Yes, I expect you do.” And not all of them honorable, Elinor thought with a glance at Miss Wainwright’s belly.
Elinor pondered her choices. It was either Stephen Chaplin in a closed carriage or back to Aunt Sarah’s cottage where, at best, she would be locked in her bedroom after today’s escapade. And at worst…
She remembered Aunt Sarah’s pistol and promptly made up her mind. Stephen Chaplin was undoubtedly the lesser of two evils.
“Very well, sir, I accept your escort.”
“Would you care for some breakfast first?”
The inn was warm and she’d like nothing better than to settle near the fire and break her fast. Her stomach felt like it was stuck to her backbone, but she shook her head, afraid to stay a moment longer.
Scant minutes later, Mr. Chaplin led her outside to a closed traveling carriage standing in the inn yard. He must be a gentleman of some means, she mused, to have his own carriage. He supervised the loading of their luggage then held out his hand to help her into the carriage. As she stepped up, the wind caught her veil and blew it upwards. For a second she had a clear glimpse of his startled face.
He had seen the bruise.
Oh, poor Elinor. I’d go with Stephen, myself, how ’bout you gals? Well, care to give us a little peek at the trailer, Linda? I hear tell it’s very well done.
Lady Elinor’s Escape is available in e-book format from All Romance eBooks, Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble eBookstore, Fictionwise and Sony Reader Store. Trade paperback is available from Amber Quill Press and Amazon.com.
Linda McLaughlin sold her first romance novel in 1997 to Kensington Precious Gems. Since then she has written historical and Regency romance for Amber Quill Press and, under the name Lyndi Lamont, she pens steamier romance, including male/male erotica, for the erotic imprints of AQP. You can reach her online at:
One commenter will win an electronic copy of Lady Elinor’s Escape.
Thanks for bringing us this intriguing tale, Linda! Good luck with it, and all you do, and… Don’t forget to leaven Linda a comment or question for a chance to win.
Five days and counting…Merry Christmas all!
Oh, hi. Back again I see? No, no. Don’t worry about those rope ladders, we’re not being invaded.
No, today, we have an interesting guest for you, Miss Heather Hiestand, writer of romance and steampunk stories such as her latest, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas. No, she’s not one of Santa’s elves but she’s could help him get around. *Points to roof* see, she’s all about early air travel—yes, almost like the contraptions my former master (yes I had one, centuries ago) tried to get me up in. Sorry. I think I’ll stay Earthbound.
Either way, I’m sure, should Santa show up early, he and my guest would have much to talk about. Anyway, she’s here to share a bit of history with us. Heather, you have the floor.
The story behind the Story
by Heather Hiestand
I adore Christmas stories and do my best to devote at least a couple of weeks in December to reading them each year. Being a writer, I also get ideas for holiday stories too. “Victoriana” my first published romance (and Christmas story!) came to me in complete form in a dream. It’s in the Holiday in the Heart anthology available electronically and in print. Last year, I wrote “Christmas a Go-Go” for Ellora’s Cave under my Anh Leod pseudonym and then this year published “Victoriana Adventure”—the January sequel to the original “Victoriana.”
This summer, I had bronchitis and it interrupted the flow of the Victorian-set Christmas romance novel I was writing. By the time I was well again, my toddler had given up napping and my free time was gone. I decided my brain needed something shorter than a full-length novel if I was going to ever get any writing done again (Tot playing at my feet quietly while I write? Not so much.) and I noticed there weren’t too many steampunk romance Christmas stories out there. Since I’ve already co-written one full-length steampunk novel, I thought I was just the writer to add to this sub-sub-erm-sub? genre.
The original idea came to me about a year ago, and the kernel was a girl finding a ladder waiting for her at her attic window. Above? An airship, with a life of possibility. Below, all the responsibilities of being a housemaid at Christmastime.
London, December 24, 1892
Linet Fenna shivered in her attic bedroom as she stared out the open window. Downstairs, all was merry and bright with evergreen branches, mistletoe and handmade garlands festooning trees and mantles. Under the eaves here, wind blew through a crack in the undecorated wall and rustled in the chimneys above.
A fever had made the first housemaid take to bed just after breakfast and Linet, the second housemaid, had been run ragged all day by her demanding mistress and her ever-arriving family. Now, finally done with work, she just wanted to stare at the stars and dream.
“Close the window,” Ann-Marie said, coughing from her iron bedstead in the darkest corner of the room.
“In a minute.” Linet took one last breath of chilly air and had her hand on the sill when she heard a metallic chugging in the distance. The sound came from outside, and wasn’t likely to be Father Christmas.
What are you stuffing into stockings this Christmas? Leave me a comment below.
One commenter will win an electronic copy of my sweet holiday romance, “Victoriana.”*
Heather Hiestand is the author of seven novels as well as many novellas and short stories. Her imagination keeps her entertained with romance, mystery and futuristic/fantasy story ideas, many of which eventually become words on a page. She lives in Washington State with her husband and son. For more information, see her website at http://www.heatherhiestand.com.
Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas Blurb:
Housemaid Linet Fenna would rather be an air pirate than a servant. When she finds the ladder to an airship dangling outside her garret window on Christmas Eve, 1892, she ascends to the skies above London on her late father’s flagship dirigible, the Christmas. The new captain is someone she never expected to see again, a dangerous, sexy foe. Is the Fenna family nemesis offering Linet her heart’s desire or a dastardly trap?
Captain Andrew’s motivations are as foggy as the coal-soaked sky. Prime Minister Gladstone’s Blockaders, a horde of automen and a teenage girl named Hatchet want Linet to fail in her quest to discover what happened to her missing family, but she is determined to have a happy Christmas.
You can get Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas at the follow places:
I love this premise, don’t you folks? Oh the romance of the Victorian age… Don’t forget to leave her a comment or question for a chance to win a copy of Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas! Thanks for being with us, Heather, good luck with Captain Andrew–I mean, with your book about the Captain– (why is my minion looking at me like that? I didn’t say a word.) Have a great holiday!
*Giveaway has ended
Before we move on, I wanted to say, Miss Linda LaRoque chose the winner of her book giveaway…. Kathryn Anne, congrats! Linda should’ve gotten in touch with you by now.
And Eilis Flynn, you’ve won Heather’s “Victoriana” giveaway. I’m sure she’ll be in contact with you soon.
Congrats to you both and Happy Holidays!
Oh, hi. Back again I see? No, no. Don’t worry about those rope ladders, we’re not being invaded. *Eyes the minion by the chimney* At least, I don’t think so? Everything okay here, Vlad? Ah, I see. Okay, no, no. He’s just waiting there to give Santa a boost, if necessary. Sometimes ye Jolly old Elf needs a bit of help getting through our …ahem, unique chimney system. *Wraps arms around self* My goodness, it’s chilly today isn’t it? Why don’t you come inside, then? Our next guest, romance writer Miss Caroline Clemmons, is waiting by the fire to assail you with her memories of Christmas past. *Steps inside, closes door* What’s that? Yes, I promise, I’ll douse the flames before Santa shows up.
Ah, Caroline, good. We have guests waiting to meet you, dear, so anytime you’re ready, the floor is yours.
Ten Days and Counting…
Yes, I’m as eager for Christmas Eve as any six-year-old kid. Anticipation swirls through our home. I’m a big list maker, so I’m checking off the list as if I were the real Mrs. Claus. Wait, maybe I am. LOL Tree up and decorated, cookies made, candies made, gifts wrapped (thank goodness for gift bags!) and under the tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care. Now I can relax and enjoy the holiday. Uh-oh! The cards, the Christmas cards aren’t addressed and stamped. Ah, well, that’s for this afternoon.
What are your favorite Christmas memories and traditions? Are they from your childhood, handed down for generations, or did they originate with you?
My parents each had dismal holidays as they grew up. When my dad was four, his mom died on Christmas Day. He and his siblings were never allowed to celebrate the time because my grandfather thought it would be disrespectful to Dad’s mom. My mom grew up very poor, and her stepfather showed marked favoritism to his own children. One year when my grandmother was ill, she sent my step-grandfather to town with the money to buy gifts for my mom, her sister, and her stepsister. Unfortunately, Mom’s stepfather bought her an orange, her sister and apple, and his daughter a doll. Sad year for my mom and her sister.
I don’t want to be Debbie Downer, so please let me tell you the happy result of the bad times my parents endured. As a child, I was always given a wonderful Christmas. (Actually, I had a wonderful childhood.) We didn’t have much money, but my parents made certain I didn’t realize it. Except for a Red Ryder B-B gun (my mom and dad really did say I’d put my eye out), I received everything I asked for from Santa. So did my brother–except for the year he asked for a pool table. Where he thought we’d put one in our small house, I have no idea. Anyway, Christmas was always a BIG day following a month filled with dreams and anticipation.
My favorite childhood Christmas was when I was three. I remember everything about that Christmas Eve, even where I sat and who was there. That year, we lived in Southern California and the Christmas Eve celebration was at our home. All the relatives were there. Santa arrived with gifts for each of the children. Imagine how impressed I was that Buster Reed knew Santa personally and arranged to pick him up at the airport just for us! Wow, who knew one of my favorite relatives had that kind of pull? Years later, I learned Santa was really Buster’s older brother, Roy, in a very realistic red velvet suit. Buster, Roy, and their brother Chester also had a sparse upbringing. Buster knew how to overcome adversity, and he determined to spread joy wherever he went…and he did for all of his life.
Fast-forward almost twenty-five years and my husband, our eldest daughter, and I were visiting the Reed family for Christmas. Once again, Santa appeared, this time crawling through the Reed’s two-way fireplace so that it appeared he’d come down the chimney. His appearance was so realistic that the college-aged non-family guests couldn’t believe Santa hadn’t slid down the chimney. The suit may have been the same one, or a very good copy, but this time Herschel Johnson wore it. My daughter’s eyes were as wide as mine must have been years and years earlier. She didn’t even look at the doll Santa gave her until he had to leave for the North Pole.
The point is, traditions don’t have to be many generations old. We can build our own traditions that we choose to observe each year. We have the opportunity to build new memories as we embrace the old ones. What traditions are your favorites? What traditions began with your generation?
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
*wipes tears from eyes* Oh, Caroline! How funny. Thanks so much for coming by with some Christmas Cheer. Folks, if you’d like to learn more about Caroline and her fine books, check out her website at: http://carolineclemmons.com/