I am so happy to welcome to my blog four talented Australian authors, who have banded together to produce a wonderful Christmas anthology – Eva Scott, Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, and Noelle Clark. This beautiful publication will be released on November 28th, 2014, and will be available for free download from Amazon.
Four short stories on the Christmas theme, spanning time, places. Uplifting, funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming, ‘A Season to Remember’ will make your heart sing.
‘Three Ships’ by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
An adventure romance set in the early 19th century on the Devon Coast.
Excerpt from Three Ships
“Why doesn’t the lieutenant do something?” Laura whispered tautly.
“Just wait,” her father insisted.
Blackwell too had stopped running as he watched his two men close the gap. They were now only ten yards away when Renten picked up the lantern, pulled out the candle and dropped it in the cauldron.
The blackguards closed in – five yards, two yards – then the powder in the cauldron ignited. Renten disappeared in a flash of light and billowing smoke.
The two men ran into the miasma and, a moment later, their cries of distress were heard as they ran right off the edge of the cliff.
Laura gripped her father’s hand at the sound and the sight.
When the white-blue smoke cleared, the cliff edge was deserted, save for the cauldron.
‘Sands of Time’ by Noelle Clark
Kitty faces her first Christmas without the love of her life. She looks back with fondness on the memories of Christmases past and, with the love and support of her grandson Joe, finds inner strength to face the future with anticipation. Kitty realises that, as she gets older, time passes so quickly. Although sad and happy memories flood through her on this special Christmas day, she chooses to embrace every moment of life.
Excerpts: Sands of Time
They were nearing Kingfisher Island. Not a grain of the tract that joined the small sandy cay to the mainland was visible. A couple of small boats were moored along the deep channel on the southern side of the causeway, with people fishing from them. The boats bobbed up and down on the whitecaps, sometimes disappearing from view, then emerging again.
“Just over there, please, Joe. Near that clump of mangroves.”
Joe pulled on one oar, turning the bow of the boat towards where she pointed. Within a minute, she heard the sand scraping against the keel under the boat. Clamping her hand on the gunwale for support, she stood carefully and jumped over the side, landing in knee-deep water. Joe shipped the oars and joined her, the water not even reaching halfway to his knees. He grabbed the pointy prow and pulled the boat up onto the beach.
She gazed around her, the familiar sight of the few remaining stumpy mangrove trees, and the covering of pigface on the small dunes bringing a lump to her throat. The mauve star-shaped blossoms of the coastal succulent groundcover looked exactly as they had done for all these years. Nature’s legacy, constant and predictable, unlike humans, whose term on this planet was fleeting. For a moment she recalled the faint, salty perfume of the little dune succulents whose strong roots helped the sandy hillocks from washing away with each tide. When crushed, they emitted a soft waft of delicate scent. Not for the first time, she wondered why they’d been given the hideous name of pigface.
Joe’s outstretched hand appeared before her eyes, inviting her to take it. She refocused her vision, reached out, grasped it, and took a few steps through the water and up towards the sandy beach. Joe tugged gently on her hand, helping her to stand upright in the choppy waters which made the little boat bob roughly. A cascade of spray caught them both in the face as it slapped against the side of the wooden boat with a thud. They laughed in unison, blinking at each other through salt-filled eyes.
“Gotcha, Nan.” Joe’s smile, always so generous, beamed at her. She smiled back, raised her arm, and wiped her face with the sleeve of her blouse.
He held on to her hand until she reached the dry beach, then he stretched into the prow of the dinghy and pulled out an anchor attached to a sturdy rope, walked further up the beach, and buried it firmly into the sand. When it was secured, Joe turned and retrieved the picnic basket and the rest of the things they needed for their visit to the island, and deposited them where the low dunes met the beach. She walked to the picnic basket, leaned over and opened it, took out an old blue blanket, and spread it down on the sparse tufts of grass. Ignoring her sand-encrusted feet, she stepped onto the blanket, sank back on her elbows and gazed dreamily up at the cobalt sky.
“Merry Christmas.” He reached into a small canvas tote and pulled out a small, square box wrapped in Christmas paper and tied with red and green ribbon.
She took his face in her hands and kissed him tenderly.
He pulled away, his face as eager as a child’s. “Here, open it.”
She ripped off the ribbon and tore at the paper. Inside was a dark red velvet box. She flipped open the lid, revealing two gold earrings set with dark blue sapphires. Love swelled inside her, almost making her swoon. Unshed tears stung the backs of her eyes.
“They’re beautiful!” Her words were barely audible. She kissed him again, deeply, lovingly. When they broke their embrace, Billy rose and walked over to his wooden dinghy, untied the plastic mistletoe, and returned, attaching it to a stumpy mangrove bush next to where they were lying on their towels.
He lay down next to her again. She still remembered how his eyes looked that day—deep, dark pools exuding love. He bent his head and kissed her. “I love you so much, Kathryn. I adore you.”
Their embrace, fuelled by their love, fanned the flames of passion. There, on the sandy crescent of beach on Kingfisher Island, with no witnesses save some gulls and a few waterbirds, they consummated their love for the first time, pledging their devotion—and their lives—to each other.
‘All That Glitters’ by Eva Scott
Molly is a modern day Cinderella, second best to her half-sister Aimee and never measuring up to her step-mother’s expectations. Now Aimee has the chance to marry an elderly millionaire and Molly is expected to keep the man’s grandson, Connor Rathmore, from sabotaging the event. Handsome, charismatic and very, very sexy – how is she going to keep him from sabotaging her heart?
Excerpt: All That Glitters
“Well, are you ready?” She sounded rude but it was all she could manage to say. On the way over to pick him up she’d been too preoccupied to consider him at all. Instead she replayed the conversation she’d had with her stepmother. After receiving a reprimand for arriving late, Maria had grilled her over Connor Rathmore and found her answers less than satisfactory. Then the lecture started on her appearance. Where were the shoes? She’d kicked off those horrible expensive shoes at the airport and hadn’t given them another thought. An unforgivable act in her stepmother’s eyes. It was impressed upon her that she must try harder and remember her sister’s happiness. Of course. Molly loved her half-sister, Aimee, despite the fact the girl was spoilt rotten. Underneath all the embellishments she really did have a good heart. It wasn’t Aimee’s fault she’d been raised to be a life-sized doll.
She appraised the man before her. She steeled herself not to react to him. When he’d opened the hotel room door, more primal male than any man she had ever encountered, something unexpected happened to her. Bam! Right to the heart. Very inconvenient and impossible, the idea could not be entertained. Not for a millisecond. The consequences would be devastating.
“Good evening to you too.” He bestowed what she assumed was his best killer smile. “Shall we go?”
He stepped through the door, so close the heat radiating off his body hit her like a furnace. Her natural reserve began to melt. The scent of him was so… masculine and her knees wobbled as she caught her breath. Moving away wasn’t an option, even if she tried.
He smiled as if aware of the effect he had on her. Without looking back he strode towards the elevator and pushed the button. They stood in silence side by side while they waited. The animal magnetism between them shimmered, increasing with every passing second.
Molly’s senses scrambled. She stumbled into the lift. This situation would need careful handling. The man beside her must not guess his presence caused a meltdown. Her attraction to him created a complication she did not need. Just one week. Please help me make it through this one week. If her stepmother suspected an attraction between Molly and Connor, all hell would break loose.
‘A Touch of Christmas’ by Susanne Bellamy
As Starship Bluefire settles into orbit around Earth, Captain Andra Veluthian anticipates meeting her favourite human, Colonel Nick Madigan. Have his efforts to save the planet succeeded? And if so, will she lose any chance to be with him?
Knowing Andra’s fascination with all things Terran, Nick has planned a surprise for her. After all, it is Christmas, the season of giving. But when Earth’s leader and the Gravlarian captain spend time planet side, the temperature soars.
Excerpts: A Touch of Christmas
Starship Bluefire – Log entry #1878 Orbit established around Planet Earth. Local time: 0715 – 22 December 2525 AD
“Reverse thruster off. Docking complete, Captain.”
Captain Andra Veluthian ordered her viewing screen to retract, rolled her shoulders then rested her head against the padded headrest of her Conforma-chair and looked at the view. Framed by a huge window on the bridge, planet Earth appeared close and surprisingly whiter than on her last stopover two years earlier. Through breaks in the dense cloud cover she could even discern the long coastline of what Earth dwellers used to call South America and, just appearing on the western edge across an expanse of ocean, was the island continent they called Australia. Home of the wombat, wallaroo and one handsome colonel.
Colonel Nicholas Madigan, political leader and guiding hand in Earth’s struggle against extinction.
Last visit, the fair-haired colonel had set more than a few hearts pounding among her crew. Including hers.
Beyond a set of double doors, a large, round, backlit table occupied the centre of the conference room. Patterned with galaxies and distant star systems, it was a thing of beauty in an otherwise utilitarian space. As a symbol, it was priceless. Gravlarian attitudes were rather like the Arthurian legends he’d read about. As in the fabled court of Camelot, their round table accorded all attendees the same right to speak as equals.
Light refreshments were served as a preliminary to the serious business ahead of them and his delegation intermingled with the Gravlarians. Diplomacy demanded he chatted with members of her staff but when they assembled at the round meeting table, Nick made sure he was beside Andra. She stopped beside two vacant seats. Was the starship captain’s inclination the same as his?
At the touch of his hands, a seat automatically unclamped from the table. He held it, knowing the gesture would not be lost on her. Her tawny eyes widened and their colour deepened, rivalling a desert sunset. Basking in the glow, he almost forgot the reason for their meeting today, the report cached in his wrist-corder.
Clearing his throat, he keyed in his guest access code on the reader embedded in the table, followed by his palm print. “I’m ready.”
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
A future with words was always on the books for Elizabeth Ellen Carter who started writing her own stories when she ran out of Nancy Drew mysteries to read at the age of ten. Using her mother’s Olivetti typewriter with all italic keys, she spent endless school holidays making up her own (italicised) stories and then using the Dewey Decimal System to arrange and categorise her bookshelf.
Somewhere around the age of 13, she determined to become a journalist and at 17 was awarded a newspaper cadetship. She covered news, council, education and health but had the most fun as an entertainment and features reporter covering film, TV and music.
Best of all, she met her husband at the newspaper and, together, they started a small award-winning media, marketing and advertising agency. Today, she works as marketing manager for an international organic skin care company.
In 2012, Elizabeth also returned to the keyboard to write stories (and found laptops are so much better than manual typewriters).
Her debut novel, Moonstone Obsession, was shortlisted for the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Awards for unpublished manuscripts.
Elizabeth is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Australian Romance Readers Association and the Gold Coast Writers Association. She is currently published by Etopia Press.
Noelle Clark is an Australian author of contemporary romance and commercial historical fiction novels. Her books weave romance, intrigue, and adventure into colourful, exotic, and interesting locations around the world. Widely travelled, Noelle uses real life experience of places, culture, and people as a backdrop to her stories, giving the reader an authentic taste of the location. Her novels feature strong, mature heroines and heroes, who—often without knowing it—are ready for new beginnings. She lives close to the sea and shares her home with two cats and two dogs. She has two grown up children, and five very small grandchildren. When Noelle’s not writing and travelling, she plays guitar, tends her vegetable garden, enjoys the company of family and friends, and—of course—reading. Noelle is a member of Queensland Writers Centre; YON Beyond Writing Group; Romance Writers of Australia; and Australian Romance Readers Association, and is currently published by Etopia Press and Secret Cravings Publishing.
Eva Scott writes contemporary romance set in her homeland of Australia and historical fiction set in the Ancient World. Her books offer passion and adventure in some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in the world. Her heroes and heroines are strong, sassy and ready to rise to their challenges, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.
Having lived overseas for several years, Eva returned to study Anthropology before heading off to live in Papua New Guinea for a year. There she met the love of her life, author G.W. Gibson, who was stationed there with the Australian Defence Force. The rest is history, romantic history.
She now lives on the Redcliffe peninsula with her husband, small son and an assortment of animals. When Eva is not writing she enjoys mentoring first-time authors, cooking up a story, practising yoga and getting out on the bay on her stand-up paddle board.
Eva is a member of Romance Writers of Australia; North Lakes Writers Group; Queensland Writers Centre and Australian Romance Readers Association. She is published by Musa Publishing and Harlequin Escape.
Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to the real life one she married. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia with two children and their dog.
Paris will always be one of her top spots, and she fell in love with Scotland when they visited the west coast (nothing to do with fine single malts!), and recently had her first real trip to Italy–tick off one Bucket List item! She has enjoyed New Year in Kathmandu and trekked in the Annapurnas, sailed in Ha Long Bay on a junk, and stayed on a floating hotel beside a tethered elephant in Thailand. The Peak in Hong Kong and Mt Faber cable car ride in Singapore are favourite spots. Susanne loves travelling to new places and exploring the culture and history, and meeting new people. These experiences are gradually being incorporated into her stories.
Her as yet unrealised dream is a trip into Earth’s orbit.
Susanne is a member of RWA and enjoys mentoring new authors. She is published with Escape Publishing, and will be a 2015 release author with Entangled Publishing.