|A Twelfth Night Tale|
Susana Ellis, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, A Twelfth Night Tale.
Genre: Traditional Regency Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Cover artist: Ellora's Cave staff
Length: 25,000 words (about 81 pages)
Heat rating: sweet
Tagline:A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions.
Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.
Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley's attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend's brother. But he's always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality...and Lord Bexley.
Andrew has returned from the
with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it's
his sister's friend "Little Lucy" who shows him the way out of his melancholy.
He can't help noticing that Lucy's grown up into a lovely young woman, but with
an eligible viscount courting her, he'll need a little Christmas magic to win her
Ellora's Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/a-twelfth-night-tale.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-twelfth-night-tale-susana-ellis/1117057957?ean=9781419949234
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Lucy Barlow is 18 and the oldest of five sisters.
Andrew Livingston is 25 and recently returned from serving in the
Peninsula to settle down and
prepare to manage the family estate.
The Barlow Home, near Charlbury, Oxfordshire
23 December 1813
"It's so kind of you to call, Lord Bexley. The flowers you sent are simply lovely, are they not, Lucy?"
Unable to miss the warning tone in her mother's voice, Lucy sat up straight in her chair and smiled sweetly at their caller.
"Oh yes indeed. They are undoubtedly the most beautiful I've ever received, my lord."
Of course, she did not mention that they were the first flowers she'd ever been sent by a gentleman. And considering that there were few opportunities to meet eligible gentlemen in the quiet little neck of the woods where the Barlows resided, the arrangement was quite likely to remain the only floral tribute to come her way.
Her caller beamed with pleasure. "They were the best I could find at the florist, but of course they cannot hold a candle to your beauty and sweetness, Miss Barlow."
Lucy swallowed and forced herself to reply. "You embarrass me with your flattery, my lord."
"Not at all," he insisted. "You were quite the belle of the Christmas Ball last evening, Miss Barlow. I was much envied to be allowed the honor of two dances with you when so many gentlemen had to be turned away."
The "Christmas Ball" was merely a small celebration at the local assembly rooms. Her mother had encouraged her to favor Lord Bexley, but in truth, Lucy herself had not found him objectionable. He was an accomplished dancer and quite distinguished-looking, in spite of the fact that he had at least twenty years over her.
At eighteen, she was of an age to be out in society, and Lord Bexley, a wealthy widower from Warwickshire, was undoubtedly the most eligible gentleman in the county. Recently out of mourning, he was seeking a new wife and a mother to his three children, and as Mrs. Barlow kept telling her, Lucy should be flattered that he seemed to be favoring her for the role.
Well, she was flattered. Wasn't she? The number of young ladies far exceeded that of eligible gentlemen, and she didn't wish to be left on the shelf. With her family in financial difficulties and four younger sisters to be married off, Lucy knew she owed it to them to marry well and do what she could to find her sisters suitable matches as well.
She was prepared to do her duty and make the best of it, but somehow, when she thought of marriage and children, it was not the kindly Lord Bexley who came to mind. It was the face of the strapping, dark-haired Adonis with laughing gray eyes who lived on an adjoining estate with his younger sister—her bosom friend Jane—who had teased her unmercifully from the time she learned to walk. She couldn't remember a time when she hadn't been in love with Andrew Livingston—she'd even asked him to marry her at the age of five when he'd been twelve and about to leave for Eton. He'd laughed and quipped that it would be like marrying his sister, and she'd nursed a broken heart ever since.
She sighed as she frequently did when she thought of Andrew and his affianced wife, and her mother glared at her. Fortunately, Phillips wheeled in the tea cart and Mrs. Barlow's attention was mercifully diverted.
"Please do the honors, Lucy. An excellent opportunity to practice your housewifely skills."
Lucy flushed. Could her mother's intentions be more obvious? But Lord Bexley did not seem to notice. He smiled kindly at her somewhat shaky inquiry as to his preferences, and thanked her graciously when she brought him his tea and a plate of cherry tarts.
"Quite charming," he commented as he regarded her with obvious approval. It was unclear whether he was speaking to her or to her mother, and Lucy wasn't sure how to respond.
Fortunately, there was a shriek followed by the sound of fierce arguing from the back rooms of the house. Lucy turned instinctively to the door, which was promptly thrust open and filled by the figure of her sister
who was breathing hard and wringing her hands in agitation.
"Do come, Lucy! Lila and Louisa are having one of their rows again, in the kitchen of all places. Lila broke one of Cook's mixing bowls, and Cook swears she'll leave if someone doesn't stop them and you know you're the only one who can, Lucy!" She flushed when she saw Lord Bexley and her mother's angry face.
"Oh...pardon me, I didn't realize we had a guest." She backed out into the hall, shooting Lucy a pleading look as she did so.
Relieved for an excuse to terminate the social call, Lucy muttered her excuses and scrambled out of the room. But not before she heard her mother's mortified apology and Lord Bexley's soothing reply that he found it quite agreeable to discover a young lady so accomplished in the maternal skills.
Goodness, he really was intent on courting her! She should be flattered. She was a sensible girl, and it was pointless to set her cap at Andrew Livingston, in any case. Lord Bexley would be an excellent match for her. His three daughters could not possibly be as troublesome as her two youngest sisters, after all.
She gritted her teeth and hurried to the kitchen, the ineffectual
as usual trailing behind her. The second eldest Barlow daughter was as helpless
as their mother at controlling the two youngest children. When Lucy married and
left the house, as she would in time, her bookish middle sister Laura was going
to have to take up the reins.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I've been a voracious reader all my life, and when I retired from teaching, I decided to follow a lifelong dream and become a romance writer. I joined a writers' group and eventually was persuaded to submit a short story to Ellora's Cave's Blush Cotillion line, and was astonished when they picked it up in FOUR DAYS! Since Treasuring Theresa was released last January, my life has become a dream come true!
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
Social media. I confess I knew very little about it when I first started, but when I knew I would have a story to promote, I became motivated to learn, beginning with two blogs (each posting twice weekly), a Facebook profile, Twitter account, etc. Through these avenues I have become acquainted with lots of people—many of them authors I have met at conferences. It's become a lot of fun, but does take more of my time than it probably should!
If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
When I wrote Treasuring Theresa, I meant to submit it to a publisher with a 12,000 word limit, so I was somewhat constricted in what I could include. In retrospect—since it went to Ellora's Cave instead and they don't have such a limit—I wish I had made it longer. So before it was released, I wrote an epilogue to the story that is available free on my website: http://susanaellis.com/Treasuring_Theresa.html.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I've always visualized characters and stories in my mind, and it's such a release to get them out for other people to read and—hopefully—enjoy. Equally, I enjoy writing stories that I myself would like to read. For example, I like a good romantic triangle, where the hero has a little competition in winning the heroine. I didn't have space enough in Treasuring Theresa, but there is one in A Twelfth Night Tale.
If you could choose anyone to be your mentor who would it be?
Diana Gabaldon. True, she doesn't write sweet Regencies, but she is a master at characterization. I will do anything to find out what Jamie and Claire get up to next. I'd love to get in her head and learn how she creates such compelling characters.
Incidentally, I had lunch with her last month (the result of a Brenda Novak auction win). A dream come true, for sure! You can read more about that here: http://www.mvrwa.net/2013/11/meeting-claire-and-jamies-creator.html
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Write! Don't let doubts and fears make you think it's a waste of time. Just do it!
Frankly, in the past, though, all the writing books and magazines seemed to indicate that becoming a published author was nearly impossible. Things are much different now that you don't have to wait for the big
New York publisher
to find your masterpiece in the slush pile. There's no excuse anymore for anyone
who wants to write not doing it.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
No, because I write historicals and I can't imagine my family or friends in the sort of situations my characters fall into. But I have noticed that I have a tendency to focus on rural settings—I come from a farming family even though I've lived in the city for over 20 years—so I think my background has a strong influence on my writing.
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
I was a foreign language teacher for 30 years. Before that, I worked as a secretary in
"Kelly Girl" sort of work during the summers, and worked in desktop publishing
at Kinko's before everyone got their own computers and learned how to do it themselves.
In college I worked as a nurse aide at a nursing home. Quito,
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
Mostly historicals, but I also enjoy paranormals, romantic suspense, contemporaries, futuristics, and just about any type of romance out there, all heat levels. I've heard some authors say they can't read their own sub-genre while writing, but I do. It helps me stay in the period, with language and behavior, etc. I can't have my characters sounding too 21st-century-ish!
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
I'll throw a few clothes in a suitcase, grab my laptop, and take off for
I'd love to rent an apartment for a couple of months and soak in the historical
atmosphere as I visit castles and cathedrals and museums throughout the UK and
let my imagination go wild.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
New Year's. Because it represents a brand new start and gives me the impetus to evaluate the past year and reflect on what I'd like the new year to look like.
What good book have you read recently?
C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen. As a former Spanish teacher, I was fascinated with his take on Juana la Loca. Was she truly mad, or simply a victim of her husband's and father's ambitions? Did she suffer from postpartum depression? Historically, women who fought against their husbands' dictates could be institutionalized as "mad." But Juana was Queen of Castille and her husband merely her consort. How could this happen? I'm thinking
Elizabeth I was a wise
woman indeed to remain single; she is known for frequent outbursts!
What do you like to do when you're bored?
Oh dear. I must be honest. I play Candy Crush on Facebook. And I'm addicted to Law and Order reruns (in all its incarnations). And read, of course.
If you were a color, what color would you be?
I love pink. It's a happy, feminine color and it suits my coloring. I almost painted my kitchen pink, but was convinced to go with slate blue instead. (Blue is my second favorite color.)
Please underline which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed."
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."
Please complete the sentences:
I love pizza with sausage.
I'm always ready for a new story idea.
When I'm alone, I feel happy and peaceful.
You'd never be able to tell, but I sometimes procrastinate.
If I had a halo it would be a pink sapphire tiara.
If I could afford it I'd live in
I can never dance because I'm too uncoordinated.
Books Coming Soon:
A Twelfth Night Tale
I'm giving away one A Twelfth Night Tale bracelet to one commenter chosen at random from the commenters on this blog.
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