Tag Archive | short story

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Aileen Fish and “Helena’s Christmas Beau”

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

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

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

Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions can cover the gamut from big events to the little things like hanging the stockings year after year. In Helena’s Christmas Beau, Helena is a stickler for making certain some things are done—and done right. Her Christmas season begins with “stir up day”, when the puddings are made, giving them time to ripen properly before the holiday meal. And there is a ritual to the day that involves everyone in the household, lest it bring bad luck to the family. Traditions and rituals are all well and good, until you run into someone who can’t see the purpose in them!

What inspired you to start writing?

helenaschristmasbeau_msr smallI was always writing when I was a child, and by eight or nine I had announced I wanted to do it when I grew up. When I was twelve, I heard S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders at the age of seventeen, so I started my first novel. I think I got three chapters in. It took a lot of spurts of starting and stopping before I submitted my first novel anywhere, and finally came down to seeing everyone else succeed to make me push hard enough to sell my first novella.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to change critique groups until you find a group you can work with. Feedback is necessary to improving your writing, but don’t let them change your voice! Write, rewrite, polish then submit.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Each story is different. Sometimes I come up with a plot idea or a trope, then think about who would work best in this setting. My main focus at the start is the conflict. What will make it difficult for them to get together at the end? That line of thought finalizes the plot and characterization.

About Helena’s Christmas Beau

Blush sensuality level This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

Facing her second Christmas since the loss of her fiancé, Helena relies on her favorite traditions to bring back the joy of the season. Yet from stir-up day to bringing in the greenery on Christmas Eve, her cousin’s brother-in-law, Duncan, is underfoot, questioning her every action.

As Duncan plays along with the outdated rites, he realizes how much he’s missed Helena’s laughter. When he hears she plans to re-enter the Marriage Mart next spring, he is struck with jealousy. Is he falling in love, or simply under the spell of the holiday season?

A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave


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About the Author

aileenWhen Aileen Fish was eight or nine, she told the mom next door that she wanted to be a writer, but she hated writing her stories down. At twelve, she wrote her first novel after reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Well, she wrote most of it. That writing it down part got in the way again.

Aileen’s early works as an adult included a parallel-world Young Adult fantasy based on Native American mythology, which she wrote with the help of Ray Faraday Nelson in the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Workshop. Her short fiction at that time was primarily dark fantasy, and her first sale was “Saturday Night” in the Summer 1991 issue of After Hours Magazine.

Obviously, Aileen has trouble remaining in the real world. Even as she ventured into romance, there was always a paranormal twist. She has tamed the inner beasts and demons into short periods of submission, which allow traditional historical romances to escape onto the page. Oh, and she no longer has that problem with finishing a story. Now, it’s a matter of finishing fast enough for the next hero to get his turn.

Author Georgiana Louis and “Ellie’s Gentleman” + Giveaway

My guest today is Georgiana Louis, author of Ellie’s GentlemanGeorgiana is offering a digital copy of Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons’ Happily Ever After to the person with the most original comment.

Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Fiona, and thanks for consenting to be interviewed!

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

To be honest it depends on the book. For Ellie’s Gentleman it was the characters. I saw Ellie in her carriage, riding home after another failed Season in London. I could just feel her relief to be out of the city and then just wrote. She literally falls over Robert in the next scene and it just unwound like that.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A total pantser. I often write for submission calls, as this one was. A publisher asked for sweet stories in the Regency era, with a Christmas theme and 12-25,000 words. So I thought, “I can do that.” Started writing and ended up somewhere in the middle.

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

Yes, I have a few. But the one that stands out is:

“I wish I was a glow worm, a glow worm’s never glum, coz how can you be grumpy when the sun shines out your bum?”

What author or authors have influenced you?

Sabrina Jeffries was the first author I read from the Regency period. Her book To Pleasure a Prince lured me away from the Mills and Boon books I was reading and I never looked back. I love her style, also Eloisa James, Julia Quinn. Diana Gabaldon’s style of invoking the senses and using both first and third person has been interesting to read and learn from too.

Do you ever suffer from writers block and if so, what do you do about it?

I do on occasion, with Ellie’s Gentleman especially. It was my first true sweet book where you can’t use physical contact to move the story along. It was much harder than I ever thought it would be.

I just put it down and wrote another story. Then I’d pick it up again and get stuck. I asked my beta readers and critique partners for help and even asked my husband for plot ideas.

I love to write and do so every single day. So if one story isn’t working I start another and write till I’m stuck or tired again.

It works for me.

About Ellie’s Gentleman

Ellie Sommers is twenty years old, beautiful, lively and intelligent. She has finally returned to her family home after another long London season. She wants nothing more than to stay in her beloved country town and ride her horses. Enter Robert Blakely, a widower and a true gentleman. He has come to spend Christmas with his long-time friend William, Ellie’s father. Robert has no wish to marry again and is shocked to discover his own interest in the beautiful daughter of his friend. The only problem is that he is twice her age and a widower who has convinced himself he will never marry again.


“Oh Father! Whatever have you done?” Ellie raced along the hall to her father’s side. Her father merely laughed and growled at her.

“I twisted my ankle. Stop fussing. I’ve had a big enough lecture from Robert.”

Robert frowned at him. “Well, you know how many potholes are in those fields, whatever were you doing walking through one?”

Ellie's Gentleman300dpiHer father just grumbled and after struggling free, hopped to a chair.

“Jennings, call the doctor for an opinion and get me to my room. I’m sure by dinner I will be much better.”

He turned his steady green gaze on her. “Ellie, my dear, how has your day been?”

She smiled. Her father was the very best parent she could hope for. “It has been good, thank you father. I was hoping to go for a walk shortly.”

Robert removed his jacket and shook his head at her. “It’s raining quite heavily now I’m afraid.”

Ellie sighed, she didn’t feel like doing much else today. “Perhaps you could play a game of chess with her, Robert.”

Ellie heard her father’s suggestion and smiled. He had always been proud that she could play chess as well as any of his friends.

Robert smiled. “I wouldn’t have thought you could play, Ellie.”

She lifted her eyebrows at him. “My father needed an opponent for many years when I was younger. It is set up in the library Robert, if you would care to join me?”

She watched his reaction and saw a fleeting panic before he nodded. “Of course. Allow me to see your father settled first.”

Her father hmmphed and called to two of the younger footmen. “You go and enjoy yourself and I will see you at dinner.”

Ellie stood side by side with Robert as her father was helped up the stairs to his bedroom. Ellie waited, hands clasped behind her back. Robert turned to her and indicated down the hall. “Lead the way Miss Ellie.”

Ellie blushed and turned. Why was she not able to control her face better around this man?

She walked slowly so that her cheeks would calm down, then made her way straight over to the chess board. “I’m always white, if that is all right Robert?”

He smiled and nodded his head. “I am always black, so I believe that is perfect.”

Ellie hid her smile as she sat down into the chair and Robert sat opposite her. She moved her first piece and watched his clever eyes begin to make many moves ahead. A real chess player.

“Which mount did they give you to ride today?”

A ghost of a smile flitted across Robert’s lovely wide mouth before he moved his piece and looked up.

“A lovely, docile gelding.”

She nodded. How typical!

“You should have taken Storm Cloud. He would have enjoyed a walk.”

Robert’s grey eyes lit up at the mention of the stallion. He appreciated a beautiful horse just as she did.

“I did not think a stallion like that one would want to walk.”

Ellie giggled at his tone and moved another piece.

Robert frowned but moved his piece just as quickly.

“He doesn’t generally, but he does enjoy being out of the barn. I’m sure you could handle a gentle gallop.”

Robert looked at her wide eyes and burst out laughing. Ellie couldn’t help the accompanying laugh that bubbled up from her throat. He had such a wonderfully relaxed way of being.

Ellie moved her pawn, captured Robert’s castle and watched him frown once again.

“You are quite aggressive, young lady.”

Ellie flushed. Hardly. “My father taught me to put all of my effort into an endeavor if I wish for it. And in this circumstance, I wish to beat you.”

Robert laughed again and moved his pawn to capture another of her pawns. “At this rate, you just may. But I won’t give up without a fight.”

Ellie smiled and concentrated harder. “Oh, I wouldn’t expect it of you Robert.”

His dark eyebrows rose for a moment but he dropped his head and concentrated on their playing.

It was a quick, intense game that Ellie won by the skin of her teeth. As she took the black king into her sweating palm, victory filled her. “That was so enjoyable!” she squealed at him.

all photos sept 2011 282Robert groaned and slid back in his chair away from her. “For you, maybe. It has been many years since I have lost a game of chess.”

Rolling the chess piece in her hand, Ellie stood up to leave the room. It would be dinner time soon; she must dress. “Perhaps we could play again?”

Robert stood up and bowed to her, putting out his hand for the chess piece. Ellie looked at his hand for a moment before she reached out and placed it in his warm palm. Her fingertips grazed the skin of his palm and he gasped before he curled his fingers around the king.

Robert cleared his throat his throat and nodded. “Yes, I would like that.”

With feet that felt like they were floating on a cloud, Ellie ascended the stairs and made her way to her room. Which gown would be best for tonight?


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About the Author

Georgiana Louis is a chiropractor, wife and mother in the real world. However, her passion for writing could not be denied. She fell in love with romance novels at the tender age of eleven. Thousands of books have been read, absorbed and enjoyed since then. More recently, the wonderful world of Regency romance—dashing heroes and beautiful heroines in an era just beginning to accept love matches. Please join her in the fictional world, where everything ends as it should, happily ever after.


A Favorite Scene From Treasuring Theresa!

The official excerpt is on http://www.susanaellis.com/pub.html. This scene comes later, however. Enjoy!

Copyright © SUSANA ELLIS, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

????????????????????????????????????????When does the waltzing begin?” he whispered as they performed the elaborate steps of the country dance. “I must claim the first waltz.”

We do not waltz here,” she whispered back. “It’s considered far too scandalous. Besides,” she added when they came back together, “we have already danced twice. A third would make us the talk of the shire.”

He chuckled. “Isn’t that what you were aiming for at the Sedgely ball? A juicy scandal to divert the gossips’ attention?”

She looked up at him in surprise. “You know,” she said, “I just realized I don’t care about that anymore. I’m glad Reese is happy with Eugenia.”

Indeed,” he managed, wondering why he suddenly felt so relieved.

She did condescend to dance another set with him, and Damian hoped all of the old biddy gossips had noticed.

On the return trip, Mrs. Noble babbled on incessantly about gowns and stale cakes while Damian found his eyes lingering over the curvaceous form of the young lady on the seat across from him, the light of the moon being thankfully dim enough to conceal his bold appraisal.

She was silent, in a reflective mood, her head turned toward the window and the shadowed images of the scenery outside.

Imagine that scamp Dickie Fielding enticing the Hampton chit to meet him in the garden!” Mrs. Noble exclaimed indignantly. “Why I thought her father would explode when they were discovered.” She lowered her voice. “I have it on good authority that they were embracing,” she revealed. “A dreadful scandal indeed should they not marry post-haste.”

theresa2.5webTheresa’s head shot around to face him, and he knew she was recalling that night at the betrothal ball when she’d tried to lure him out to the terrace and he’d made a hasty escape. He rather thought now that he would enjoy a pleasant interlude alone in the moonlight with her. He would hold her against him, her head on his chest, while his hands swept over her curves. When he felt her pulse rising, he would draw her chin toward him and take her lips in a long kiss while his other hand would cup her breast, already pebbling with her desire.

Damian froze. What was he thinking? Cousin Theresa was no strumpet. The only way he could indulge in such carnal delights with her would include an obligatory wedding first. And that was out of the question.

Wasn’t it?

Don’t forget: the Epilogue to Treasuring Theresa is also available as a bonus read on my web site. Be sure to read the original story first, however.