Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies.
The eight stories in the series are:
10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller
10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts
10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter
11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore
11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish
11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis
11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan
An Author’s Reflections: Cynthia Moore
What inspired you to start writing? My favorite books when I was a child were Nancy Drew mysteries, Cherry Ames nurse stories and Charles Dickens novels. I remember immersing myself in these books to the point that I felt I was living the life described inside the pages. I thought about how wonderful it would be to write my own story filled with characters and situations from my own imagination.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out? When I first started writing novels, I would be very concerned that every sentence I put down on the page was perfect. This caused me to worry so much about the content that very little of the story was ever written down. Instead, I kept deliberating the pros and cons in my head. Now I have found that if I write what I’m thinking without worrying about the structure, I can always go back later and fine tune the words and the sentences. At least I have something to work with and it’s not just floating around inside my brain.
What comes first: the plot or the characters? When I come up with an idea for a story, the characters and their personalities drive the plot. In other words, if my heroine is fiercely independent, the plot will involve an equally strong-willed hero who vows to change her attitude so that she realizes she needs him in her life. From there, I set up the circumstances and the entanglements of their journey until they reach the ‘happily ever after’ ending.
Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about? A few months ago, I was asked to submit a work of poetry or a short story into a gothic-themed art show. I had never written anything in the gothic genre before but I did manage to produce what I felt was a very moving two page story. I have taken that short piece and made it into a prologue for a full-length novel. I hope to be finished with the story before the end of the year.
What are you reading now? My maternal grandmother was an avid reader. She discovered Betty Neels stories in the early eighties. She gave me a few of her books and I was immediately hooked on them. Her novels are of the few works that I am able to read over and over again without ever losing interest. I’m presently reading her story Tangled Autumn for the fifth time.
About Snug in a Snowstorm
Lady Isabella Porter and Lord Gerard Malden have known each other since they were children. Isabella thinks of Gerard as someone who teased her unmercifully and made her feel inadequate as a young girl. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs for Gerard because he has loved Isabella for many years.
A sudden, fierce snowstorm and misplaced notes informing both of a change of plan mean Isabella and Gerard are forced to spend the Christmas holidays together in very unusual circumstances. Gerard realizes he must use the time he has been given with Isabella to change the opinions she formed as a girl so she may look upon him with favor and, if he is fortunate, lasting affection.
An Excerpt From: SNUG IN A SNOWSTORM
Copyright © CYNTHIA MOORE, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Open up, Jasper!”
“Yes, it’s me.” He moved past her and shut the door. A dusting of powdery snow fell from the collar of his heavy coat. He stared at Isabella with obvious exasperation. “What in blazes is going on? The front porch is covered with bags of all sizes, Jasper is not here to answer the door and you greet me wearing the cook’s apron.”
“It appears the note that informed you of the change in plans never reached either.” Isabella made a point to hide her feelings of relief when she realized Gerard would be on hand to assist her with this rather astounding state of affairs. For some reason that she would think about later, she was hesitant to be in a position of obligation to him.
“What note?” Gerard shook the frozen slush from his caped coat and placed the garment on top of her recently discarded pelisse.
“It seems that your sister’s baby decided to arrive early. Your parents were informed of the fact and they left for London yesterday. Apparently a missive was dispatched to each of us telling of their intentions. I never received anything and obviously neither did you. I arrived here a short time ago to find only a caretaker in residence, his wife who is sick with a bad cough, and a groom to take care of the horses. We are all tired, cold and hungry. I plan to fix a meal for us tonight and will return to my home tomorrow morning.”
“Quentin is in charge?” Gerard reached up to loosen his cravat and then he removed his other garments, leaving on only his shirt, breeches and boots.
“Yes. What…whatever are you doing?” Isabella glanced at him and then could feel herself begin to blush as she noticed the outline of Gerard’s muscular chest clearly visible through his shirt. She hastily looked toward the floor and in doing so got a glimpse of his firm thighs encased in formfitting breeches. She quickly refocused her gaze and attempted to study the frieze of dancing cherubs that decorated the domed ceiling above them.
“The snow is coming down quite heavily, no one is going anywhere for a few days. It’s obvious you need assistance. I’ll bring the bags up to your rooms. My valet has gone with my coachman to the stables. He should join me momentarily.” He turned toward the door.
“Wait.” Isabella’s voice shook as she realized she was stuck in close quarters with Gerard for an extended period of time. Well, she wouldn’t concern herself with the awkward situation now. There were many things to be seen to first. “I need my herbal supplies to fix a special tea for Mrs. Quentin’s cough.”
Gerard held the door open and indicated that she should precede him. “Take whatever you need.”
Isabella was momentarily astounded as she observed the pile of bags that were gathered on the porch. Equally surprising was the sight of the thick white blanket of snow that was rapidly covering everything outside. She refocused on the bags and glimpsed the black leather handle of the satchel she required. She hastily moved forward to pick it up. “My groom should also be available to help you.”
Gerard bent over to grab a few of the cases. “Don’t concern yourself, Isabella. Because of the scarcity of servants, I’m sure all of us are going to have to pitch in and do things we normally don’t do while we are here.”
Still, Isabella hesitated, somewhat unsure of how to act with Gerard at present when their roles were changed in such an extreme manner. “Well, I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”
Gerard followed her into the house. “I know where to find you. Let’s try to make the most out of this Christmas together.”
“Yes, yes, that would be wise.” Turning away to make her way down the hallway, Isabella frowned in confusion as she replayed Gerard’s last words in her mind. Was he planning some kind of mischief to make the holiday more memorable? She certainly wouldn’t put it past him to do something to put her in an embarrassing position once again. Perhaps that was why she was hesitant to be under any obligation to him. She took a deep breath as she entered the kitchen. There was no time to worry about Gerard and what his plans were at present.
About the Author
I’m a native Southern Californian. When I was very young, I discovered my local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. As a teenager, I became a huge fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, I came upon Regency period novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since my chance introduction to this wonderful era in time, I have read over three thousand fiction novels and own a large collection of research books on the period.